A Place to Heal
This story is dedicated...
...to the victims of the Japanese Tsunami on March 11th2011, and those who risk their lives every day in their battle to finally regain control of the nuclear plants.
It is also dedicated to those who lost their homes and loved ones in the disaster.
And to my friends in Stargate-land who encouraged me to go through with this zine.
Sgt. Davis yawned as he put his coffee down. A quick glance at the clock confirmed his shift would last another four hours. It was three am and there hadn't been one single incident. Things were quiet and had been for a while now. Which was... unusual.
Teams had moved out and come back on schedule, nobody was injured and no aliens showed up uninvited. No lockdowns and no threats coming through the gate.
Not that he wished for any of those incidents to happen. He'd had his share of scares and dreadful situations over the years, thank you very much. Even a temporary power failure would turn into something worse down here if the gate malfunctioned and the computer went down.
Yet... the night shifts had never been so boring; hours stretching into dull eternity as Walter was just sitting there, writing something on a clip board and sipping his coffee, thinking about how much quieter it had become since SG-1 was no longer a part of the SGC.
The flag team and trouble magnet of Stargate Command was no more. Colonel Carter had moved to Nevada where she worked at Area 51 now. Teal'c had left Earth to help the free Jaffa to build a new government, and to find their place in the universe again.
Daniel Jackson was dead.
In fact, he seemed to be dead for good this time.
Nobody had believed it at first - not even the general. Especially not the general. General O'Neill had refused to hold a memorial ceremony for Doctor Jackson because he insisted that he'd come back, waltzing through a door any minute. That he just waited for them to go all sappy over him and then he'd be back alive and kicking.
Except this time Doctor Jackson had never come back. Not after a week, or a month, nor a year.
SG-1 had fallen apart, the general had left.
Walter had no idea where he'd gone. One morning when he had arrived at the mountain a new general had taken Jack O'Neill's place and was already re-decorating his office. It was beyond Walter how this could have happened without his knowledge.
He used to know everything that was going on at the mountain.
Yet, he hadn't known O'Neill was going to retire and leave over night, without a trace.
Sometimes he kept thinking he should have seen the signs of withdrawal. He'd been working for the man, had seen him everyday. He'd known O'Neill was much more sensitive than he'd let on. The dumb soldier act was exactly that - an act. He'd also known the general and Doctor Jackson had shared a special bond. To anyone who didn't know SG-1 and their complex relationships it would have seemed that the general and the archeologist never got along well. That they had been the thorn in each other's side. Yet, there'd been a dynamic between them not even Walter understood completely. But then, O'Neill had been very different from most men Walter had worked for. His leadership style had been unusual at times and in the beginning Walter had more than once missed Hammond's presence in the halls of the SGC.
O'Neill had kept a lot bottled up inside, showing his people only fragments of who he was. SG-1 might have known him better, Walter mused. Colonel Carter had had feelings for the general for a long time. Everyone on base knew – or believed to know – about that. Teal'c and O'Neill used to be like brothers in arms. Doctor Jackson, however.... Doctor Jackson had reached the general in ways nobody else could. Maybe he'd been O'Neill's biggest weakness, or his greatest strength. O'Neill had had a very soft spot for the archaeologist. Well, everyone had. Doctor Jackson had been one of a kind. Passionate, strong in his beliefs, hard working, coffee addicted. He'd been diplomatic and yet stood his ground with a stubborn, sometimes almost pig headed, insistence. He'd fought for what he thought was the right thing to do and no General Jonathan O'Neill had been able to hold him back. Nothing could. And no one.
Now he was gone. A brilliant scientist, a genius mind... gone for good.
So Jack O'Neill had waited, lit a candle for Jackson to find his way home.
Until a year went by with no Doctor Jackson waltzing through the door.
One morning the general had been gone, too; his desk empty, his medals and pictures gone from the walls.
The candle had died.
Walter picked up his coffee mug and wondered once again how quiet it was, now that SG-1 was no more. How almost boring. The ghosts were still here, though, and not only those of the absent flag-team. There were others that were missed sorely. Janet Fraiser, Jacob Carter...
The klaxons went off.
Unauthorized off world activation.
General Landry joined him a moment later. He looked tired. Walter assumed he must have been catching up on paper work during the night. "What do we have here?" he wanted to know, scrubbing a weary hand over his face as he stepped to the window of the control room, observing the armed SF storming in. So far it was all routine. The SF took position in front of the spinning gate, weapons aimed.
"I don't know, sir. Unidentified..."
"Close the iris."
"Yes, sir." Walter punched in the order.
The iris didn't close.
"Iris won't close, sir," Walter said, stating the obvious.
The event horizon opened with its usual kawoosh. Alarms were ringing through the base.
The iris still wouldn't close. The SF were waiting for Landy's order to shoot or stand down.
When the traveler stepped out of the wormhole with the typical splashing sound, Landry let out a curse. "What the hell... Could that be one of those... Ancients? I mean, the robe and all..."
"I don't know, sir," Walter said. “It looks Abydonian. The robe.” Simple brown clothing, flowing down to the travelers feet and a hood covering his or her bent head. A cord loosely slung around the small figure's waist was holding everything together.
Landry bent over the microphone in the control room, cleared his throat and tersely addressed their late night visitor. "Who are you and what is the purpose of your visit? Identify yourself!"
Slowly, as if afraid to look around, the traveler raised his head. The hood skidded down and fell back on his shoulders to reveal a long matted mane of hair and a pale young face staring up at them blankly.
Landry groaned. "A kid! And how do I know it is really a kid?"
"I don't know, sir," Walter offered, knowing he wasn't helpful and the question was most likely rhetorical.
The boy on the ramp continued to gaze up at them for a moment, with empty eyes. Then he silently doubled over and fell.
"Stand down," Landry barked at the SF. And to Walter, "Get a medical team in there."
Walter followed the order and then watched as the general left the control room to appear in the gate room a moment later, the medical team showing up shortly after. The medics bent over the still body of the young boy, measuring his pulse and checking his eyes for reaction before they put him on a gurney and hurried out again, followed by Landry.
Walter started running a gate diagnostic, wondering if maybe the quiet days were over now.
Doctor Carolyn Lam was no longer a newbie. She had worked at the SGC for almost two years now and had seen her share of the unknown, unbelievable and yet, real things the universe offered at times, or threatened them with. She knew about the Ancients and the Ori and had dealt with injured Jaffa and various other aliens. So when the unconscious boy was brought into the infirmary, she was not more than mildly surprised.
She looked down at the small face and the professional medical part of her brain registered a few things immediately. The boy was maybe 10 or 11 years old. He was underweight and his skin of a very unhealthy, almost ashen, complexion. His hair was a long blond mess, going down to his elbows. He wore rough oversized textured robes. He was also dirty and in bad need of a bath. Wherever this child came from, he hadn't been taken care of very well.
Immediately she tried to find possible reasons for the child's arrival and his neglected state.
Maybe he was from a planet at war and had managed to escape. Maybe his world had been conquered by the Ori and somebody had sent him for help? Did he come from a planet known by the SGC?
"We have to get him out of these robes," Lam ordered and started to open the old cord holding them together.
Two nurses started to undress him carefully when the boy suddenly stirred. Long, dark lashes fluttered and flew open, revealing a pair of vacant blue eyes that seemed to stare right through everything around him. He stiffened at the nurses' touch and at a nod from Lam, the women stepped away from the bed.
"Hi there," Carolyn tried and smiled at him. "I'm Doctor Lam. Don't be afraid. You’re safe here. We want to help you, okay?"
There was no reaction. The child stayed unresponsive, just gazed at her, unseeing. Catatonic, Carolyn thought.
However, as the nurses took hold of the robe again, she had to amend her assessment at least partly. Suddenly, as if bolting out of sleep from a nightmare, the kid jerked away from them. Two small hands grabbed for the robe and pulled it back around the skinny body. Shaking his head frantically, the kid made an attempt to jump from the gurney.
"No! Wait!" Carolyn tried to take hold of thin arms and took a hit to her cheekbone that sent her stumbling several steps away from the child. The surprise slowed her reactions for a moment. Dumbfounded she rubbed the aching spot at her face as the boy ran towards the open door leading into the corridor, somehow slipping through the hands of the two guards posted there.
"Don't let him get away," Lam shouted at the two men who had escorted them from the gate room. Both guards were following the boy even before she had called out.
She nodded at the nurse who offered her a syringe with a mild sedative. Armed like that she stepped out into the corridor where she was greeted with a heartbreaking sight.
The child was sitting in a corner, shaking his head wildly, kicking out at the guards who were trying to get near him. He had both arms wrapped around himself. His eyes were wide and dark with sheer panic. When he spotted the Doctor coming towards him, he even seemed to squat himself further into the corner.
"Doc?" one of the guards questioned. They'd be able to overwhelm the child, but both men were fathers themselves and didn't feel comfortable using force on this kid that seemed to be scared beyond everything.
"I'll get it," Lam said.
They aimed their weapons at the boy, but wouldn't shoot unless it was absolutely necessary. However, the universe had taught them to be careful. What looked like a harmless frightened child could be anything but harmless.
She took another step towards the boy, trying to keep her voice low and crooning as she started talking, hoping he'd understand what she was saying. "Don't be afraid, okay? Nobody is going to hurt you. We want to help you. We’re friends. I'm a doctor. I just want to make sure you're okay... Please? Let me take you back inside and we'll give you something to eat... are you hungry? It's okay... no need to be scared."
More head shaking and self hugging. He drew his legs up to his body, grabbing them with his hands and buried his face behind his knees until he looked like a human ball, rocking back and forth.
Did he even understand a single word she said?
Carolyn took another step towards him. "I'm not going to hurt you, okay? Please don't be scared..." She had the syringe ready as she stepped forward again.
The boy suddenly let go of his knees and pressed his arms between his legs and body. Apparently he understood the purpose of the syringe and wouldn't allow her to use it. He curled up on the floor, giving her no access to his arms.
Lam was almost there, praying the boy wouldn't start to lash out at her so that she'd lose the syringe. She just needed to touch him, stroke his hair maybe, give him reassurance. She needed to make a connection. He had to understand she wasn't his enemy. Carefully she reached out for his hair...
"Do not touch the child," a female voice told her in a kind, but firm tone, as a white light illuminated the corridor and everything around Lam and the scared child in the corner. The alarms started to howl again as Carolyn looked up and into the face of a young woman. Lam blinked as she took in the beautiful soft features of a face that seemed to be blended with the light, framed by dark long hair. The light seemed to be in her, coming out of her and surround her at the same time. It was spreading out through the corridor and almost tenderly embraced the young boy, who now closed his eyes, a single tear emerging from under the long lashes, running down his pale exhausted face.
"He will sleep now," the gentle voice continued. "When he awakes, he will be calm. Do not touch him if he does not want you to. He has endured much. Now he is on a path back into life. He must rest. And heal. You need to respect this." The woman bent over the sleeping boy and picked him up. She cradled him into her arms as she carried him back into the room and laid him down on the gurney, the white soft light wafting over and around her and the boy.
"Is that Oma Desalla?" Lam mumbled as she watched the glowing woman.
She knew the entity was most likely an ascended being. She had read reports about them. The child curled up into a ball again, which made Carolyn's heart clench. Even in his sleep he tried to protect himself from... what? Abuse? Torture?
The ascended woman hovered over her charge for a moment and then turned to Lam, a wistful smile on her face. She looked... Arabic, Lam decided. Her black hair was long and curled, her eyes as far as she could see them, were dark and her face showed the typical oriental features of the Arabic.
"Who is he?" Lam asked, determined to gather as much information about the kid as possible. "Why did he come through the gate? And who are you?"
"I am not important. He is the zia of the one called O'Neyl. He carries great knowledge, but before he will reveal it his soul needs healing. Therefore he has to return from the refuge he has locked his mind in and step back into life."
Lam blinked. The white light was blinding and the whole room seemed to be bathed in it now. "O'Neill? You mean General O'Neill? He isn't here anymore."
"O'Neyl," the Ascended repeated. "Find O'Neyl. For the sake of this child he will open his heart again."
Lam watched as the light began to fade. "Wait! O'Neill retired. He isn't on base anymore and I can't let the kid leave the mountain!"
"Hear me," the woman spoke, her voice urgent now. "You must not hesitate. Find O'Neyl. Bring him the child so he can reunite with him. They are not meant to be separated." She bent down and her lips brushed over the still sleeping boy's hair. "Ma'assalama, my love," she whispered before she vanished like a light breeze, leaving only a white shimmer of light lingering for a moment.
"Do you want to extract blood samples while he is asleep?" one of the nurses whispered.
Carolyn looked at the curled up back of the child and reluctantly shook her head. "I'd better talk to General Landry first." She walked over to a wall phone and made a call.