MajorCarter's breath comes in short huffs as she appears at my side.
"Teal'c, did you...?" Her face is troubled and her voice quivers for an instant before she becomes a soldier again and straightens her shoulders.
I heard it," I assure her. "We must find them quickly. There were many rounds of ammunition fired."
We set off through the forest of P6Z-225. We must be on guard even as we search for O'Neill and DanielJackson. We do not know who is out there in the forest. The attack was unexpected.
MajorCarter and I were gathering plant materials for study when we heard the shouts from the ruins of an ancient temple and the sound of gunfire. When we arrived at the site, there was no sign of O'Neill. The only sign that DanielJackson had been there was an array of the brushes, notebooks and small tools he uses when working scattered about, as if their owner had hurriedly left them.
Close by my side once again, I perceive that MajorCarter's blue eyes are troubled. I recognize her fear, that we may not find them or that we may be too late. I see it then, a small smear of blood on the trunk of one of the trees O'Neill claims take up more of the planets we visit than anything else. I motion to MajorCarter and we move closer, ascertaining that it is indeed a human hand print. There is more blood on the leaves of the forest floor, drops indicating a strange zigzagging pattern. At least one of them is injured.
Taking a deep breath, MajorCarter tightens her hands on her weapon, her knuckles turning white. She does not like this uncertainty, not knowing of our teammates' and friends' welfare.
We do not speak as I follow the traces of men that appear to be desperately running, not taking time to hide their passage. There are signs that one of them has weakened, leaves scraped into piles by dragging feet, a depression in a muddy puddle--a knee, perhaps when one of them slipped on the forest litter. There are other ominous signs.
MajorCarter points silently to the unmoving body of a man unfamiliar to us. He has been shot. I find the next body. This man lies with his arms thrown out to his sides, his open eyes staring at the tall trees, a weapon I do not recognize by his splayed hand. I say nothing as I kneel by him to feel for the pulse I know is not there. I notice MajorCarter's eyes widen in realization. The weapon that killed him was not O'Neill's but DanielJackson's.
The forest is silent but for the sound of our footsteps in the dead leaves, an occasional bird song. Whatever has happened was over swiftly. MajorCarter moves to thumb her radio in an attempt to contact O'Neill and DanielJackson. My hand covers hers and I shake my head. We cannot risk it. If more of the enemy is still about, we would give away our teammates' position. She nods her head in understanding and runs a shaking hand through her hair.
We stop, standing silently when the tracks seem to disappear. And then we both hear it, the small sounds of someone trying to be quiet, to hide. We find them in a shallow ditch, DanielJackson's back against the far slope, a bloody hand clamped to O'Neill's shoulder. MajorCarter approaches rapidly, hands outstretched to take charge of O'Neill and tend to his wound. DanielJackson moves sideways away from her, shaking his head violently.
I reach out a hand to restrain MajorCarter. "No," I tell her. I have seen the look on DanielJackson's face on other faces after a battle: the disbelief that it is over, that one is safe, that help has arrived.
"Let us tend to O'Neill, DanielJackson." I hope that my words penetrate the shock. For it is shock I see in our youngest comrade's face. I fear the worst, that O'Neill is indeed already dead, he lies so limp and still in DanielJackson's arms. DanielJackson shakes his head as I reach for O'Neill, and he leans forward to whisper something in O'Neill's ear. There is no response from our leader.
MajorCarter whispers a choked "Please, Daniel," and there is a tiny nod before he releases O'Neill into my arms.
O'Neill is a heavy weight as I gain my feet. His body is warm; his blood quickly stains my hands. I hear a groan and realize that O'Neill, despite appearances, is alive, but we must hurry if we wish him to remain that way.
DanielJackson is being supported by MajorCarter, and she is speaking urgently and softly to him. She meets my eyes and turns her head slightly. I nod to let her know I see. There is another man in the ditch with O'Neill and DanielJackson. He is dead, a knife by his body, DanielJackson's revolver scant inches from his hand. I spare a glance to my friend, our youngest team member, our soul and conscience, and I am afraid for him.
The journey to the Stargate is, by necessity, furtive, our senses on high alert. O'Neill has only spoken once since that groan, a whispered "Danny," that has DanielJackson stumbling to my side.
For DanielJackson the price of this mission has been extremely high. He is leaning further into MajorCarter's side, his feet weaving an unsteady path. I do not have time to tend to him now. Even I recognize that DanielJackson needs respite, respite that we can not give him until we are safe on the other side of the Stargate. He is in shock; his hands are covered with blood: O'Neill's blood and the blood of the man he killed with his bare hands. I know what it feels like to have a man's life bleed out under your hands, to wound your enemy and feel his last breath on your face. I regret with my life that DanielJackson now knows it also.
MajorCarter lets out a small cry as she views the Stargate. She hits the glyphs on the DHD hard, taking her anger and frustration out on the inanimate object. DanielJackson stands staring at the Stargate as if he is unsure of what it represents. He takes a weaving step towards it, towards home.
"Sam?" DanielJackson grabs at her waist as he wobbles unsteadily. "Teal'c?"
"We're going home, Daniel." She is reassuring, her voice low and strong. "We're going home."
"Jack?" DanielJackson looks to me, his blue eyes large and lost in shock.
"O'Neill is unconscious but he still breathes, DanielJackson."
I nod to MajorCarter as the wormhole appears. She takes charge of him again, pulling him close as all four of us go through the Stargate together.
There is silence around the briefing table. O'Neill is in the operating room; DoctorFraiser informed us that the weapons of the natives contained many small projectiles that are buried deep in our leader's chest and shoulder. DanielJackson is staring at his hands, now mercifully clean of the blood that stained them earlier. GeneralHammond calls his name for the third time and my friend and comrade looks up, startled.
"I'm sorry, General." DanielJackson reaches for a glass of water with shaking hands. MajorCarter gives it to him, wrapping her hand around his as he holds the glass. She gives him a look of concern.
"I'm fine, Sam," DanielJackson nods his head once and her hand falls away. She looks to me, her blue eyes troubled and saddened.
I am saddened also. MajorCarter, O'Neill, and I are warriors by choice, trained to kill, trained to eliminate the enemy by any means necessary. DanielJackson has become a warrior also. But a warrior by necessity. I know that on past missions our scholar has been forced to kill. I know that a deep hatred for the Goa'uld burns within his soul. But DanielJackson has always resisted violence; he has always searched for another way to solve conflict. This time he was given no choice. This time he was in a situation that demanded he kill to save the life of one he loves.
"Dr. Jackson," GeneralHammond speaks softly, gently, as if he were speaking to his own child. "Can you tell us what happened?"
DanielJackson pushes the glass of water away from himself, staring at the small drops of water slowly running down the sides. When he begins to speak, his voice is low, so quiet, that we must lean forward in our chairs to hear him better.
"I was finishing filming the last grouping of petroglyphs. Jack was grumbling about the time. He wanted to get back to the Gate. He said," DanielJackson stops a moment, his eyes once again growing distant, then he raises his head and looks at the general with renewed purpose, "he said that he had a bad feeling. I asked him what he meant. Jack said it was his soldier's intuition. I argued with him. I only needed five more minutes. Just five.." He looks down at his hands once again.
"I should have listened to him." Those words are said in a quiet anguished whisper.
"Don't, Daniel," MajorCarter whispers. "Don't second guess."
He only shakes his head at her words.
"What happened then, son?" the general asks in the same tone I used when Rya'c was much younger and was afraid of my reaction to his actions.
"They came out of nowhere." DanielJackson's voice grows louder, remembered fear coming to the surface. "I mean, all our scans showed it was uninhabited. I don't even know where they came from. They shot at us. They were yelling at us. I couldn't understand them. I tried to, but then Jack got shot and the sight of blood seemed to make them even more willing to kill us. We ran. I didn't know what else to do. Jack was hurting and they followed us. I think I shot some of them. I'm not sure. I think I killed them." His voice rises and his hands clench into tight fists. "We stumbled into a ditch. I wasn't watching where I was going. And Jack..Jack, I thought Jack was dead." DanielJackson stares at the table. I know he is seeing their flight from danger once again, reliving it and trying to assess what he could have done differently. Attempting to reconstruct the past and change its outcome. "The man jumped on us. My gun...I had used all my rounds in our escape. He was choking Jack and he had a knife." He looks up at us, an anguished glance at MajorCarter, GeneralHammond, and finally me. "I didn't...I couldn't let him kill Jack. I remember yelling at him to let Jack go. He had a knife." He repeats. "I killed him. We fought over the knife. I took his knife and I..." DanielJackson's voice fades. His fingers are now twined together tightly. I can see his hands trembling.
"It's okay, son," GeneralHammond says in a gentle tone. "You had no choice."
"I killed him. I took his knife, jumped on his back, and I slit his throat. There had to be another choice." DanielJackson looks at the general almost angrily. "There had to be."
"Daniel, please," MajorCarter pleads with him, wanting to assuage his grief and guilt.
"Am I excused, General?" DanielJackson asks. He ignores MajorCarter and I see her pull back. She is unable to understand his reaction, her pragmatic nature knowing only that she would not have hesitated to do the same.
But what DanielJackson now understands is that he did not ever, not even for a breath, hesitate to kill the man who threatened O'Neill's life. He knows. He has glimpsed the darkness that lurks in every soul and he knows that he would do it again without question.
"You may go, Dr. Jackson," GeneralHammond dismisses him. MajorCarter begins to stand to follow him but she sits down at the general's head shake.
"Begging your pardon, sir, but Daniel needs someone." She is upset over her friend's distress.
"I know he does, Major Carter," General Hammond sighs. "I just don't think that you're the person he needs right now."
We look at each other across the table. I hope that O'Neill will awaken soon.
As I enter the infirmary a day later, I see that O'Neill is awake. He is pale, but the lines of pain have eased around his eyes. He gives me a weary smile.
"Hey, T," O'Neill whispers. He gestures to the man slumped in the chair beside his bed. "Do you think maybe you could persuade him to get a good night's sleep?"
DanielJackson has not left O'Neill's bedside since being dismissed from the briefing room twenty-seven hours earlier. I know that MajorCarter has pleaded with him, that DoctorFraiser has threatened to have him forcibly removed if he does not get some rest. I understand his need. His need to assure himself that O'Neill is alive, that he will recover, that he did the right thing. I understand that DanielJackson is afraid of the darkness, is afraid of the scenes that will haunt his dreams. As long as he is with O'Neill in the light of the infirmary, those dreams will not come. I have waited patiently. I have no words to give my comrade. I have nothing that will take away the blood and the guilt.
"Teal'c?" O'Neill beckons me closer, not wanting to disturb DanielJackson's rest, uncomfortable as it may be.
"You know what happened on that planet?"
"I know, O'Neill," I hasten to reassure him.
O'Neill moves a hand to cover his eyes and his breath comes out in harsh gusts. "Daniel blames himself. He...God, T. It should have been you or me in that position."
I know what O'Neill means. I regret that I was not there to save DanielJackson the pain of taking another life. I spare a glance for our friend. He is frowning, even in his sleep, his rest troubled.
"I'll be out of here in a few days, T," O'Neill whispers, his gaze now returning to DanielJackson. "Doc says I'm healing up nicely." He turns his eyes to me, willing me to understand the words he does not say aloud. O'Neill can not take care of my young friend now, ill and weak as he is. He must turn the care of DanielJackson to one who is stronger for the moment. It is a hard thing for a warrior to do.
"I understand, O'Neill. I will endeavor to make DanielJackson rest. MajorCarter will assure adequate nutrition."
O'Neill grins at that. MajorCarter has endeavored for many months to have DanielJackson eat what she calls 'three squares' a day. So far her efforts have gone largely unrewarded. O'Neill says it is her nesting instinct, although she bears no resemblance to a bird. He explained that it was her need to mother someone. MajorCarter scoffed when I repeated that to her and questioned if she desired a child. She said that Colonel O'Neill was the pot calling the kettle black when it came to mothering DanielJackson. After explaining that O'Neill did not resemble an article of cooking equipment, I assured both my comrades in arms that DanielJackson has no need of being mothered. He is a capable and strong adult. O'Neill and MajorCarter shook their heads and walked away muttering.
I do not believe that a mother is what DanielJackson needs or wants. Indeed, who he needs at this time is lying in the bed I have just left in the infirmary. For I have discovered a very simple truth, DanielJackson needs very little, except O'Neill. When O'Neill and then CaptainCarter were trapped in the Antarctic, DanielJackson worked unceasingly to assure their return, despite his own injuries. It was then I realized how very deep the friendship between those two very different men was, a relationship I often observed between members of the Jaffa. It was at that time I realized how blessed I was to be one of the few DanielJackson named a friend. For I have no doubt that were I to disappear into the void tomorrow, DanielJackson would risk anything to find me also. Despite every wrong I have done him, despite every grief I have added to an already burdened soul, DanielJackson names me fri end. When we believed him dead on Nem's planet, horribly taken from us in flames, O'Neill said that DanielJackson was our conscience, our heart. I knew those words to be true then, but it was only after I fired the shot that took Sha're from DanielJackson and he forgave me that I knew another truth. That DanielJackson is, for me, a candle against the darkness that sometimes threatens to overwhelm us all.
"Teal'c?" O'Neill whispers again. I look at him, willing strength to him. He smiles fondly as he looks at the hunched sleeping figure on the chair. "Thanks, big guy."
I nod, although I am unsure if O'Neill is talking to me or DanielJackson. I squat by DanielJackson's chair, lightly placing a hand on his shoulder.
"DanielJackson," I use my quietest voice, the one that I used to use years ago when Rya'c was a child just learning to walk.
He comes awake with a start, his eyes swinging wildly to the bed, seeking out O'Neill. DanielJackson shudders under my hand when he realizes they are home, they are safe, all will be well. He ducks his head and mumbles an apology as if he is ashamed for showing a weakness.
"Hey, Daniel," O'Neill reaches out a hand to touch DanielJackson's knee. He shakes it gently. "It's okay, buddy. It's going to be okay."
DanielJackson takes a deep breath and gives us a very tiny smile. "Yeah."
He does not believe it, I know. He believes that every night will be haunted by the man he killed. He believes that his hands will always appear red with blood when he washes them. He believes that he is not worthy to be forgiven. That is another truth I have discovered about DanielJackson. He forgives others with unmatched generosity. He is not that generous to his own soul.
"Go with Teal'c, Daniel," O'Neill urges. "You need to get a good night's sleep."
DanielJackson's eyebrows raise at that comment. "You woke me up to tell me to get some sleep?"
"Sleeping in an infirmary chair is not conducive to rest, DanielJackson," I remind him.
"Please, Danny." O'Neill's eyes lock with DanielJackson's and some silent words are shared.
"I'll be back in a few hours," DanielJackson promises O'Neill as he uncurls from the chair and stretches.
"You'll be back when you get a decent amount of sleep," O'Neill orders.
" In a few hours." DanielJackson has a stubborn look in his eyes.
"Ten," O'Neill says.
"One. Well what do you know, I may as well stay." DanielJackson takes a step back towards the chair.
I take his arm gently. "Ten," I tell him.
A panicked look crosses his face and he looks back to O'Neill who is smiling at him.
I release DanielJackson's arm so he can take the few steps to O'Neill's side.
"It's okay, Danny," O'Neill reassures him. "Teal'c will be there."
DanielJackson says nothing although I can hear him swallow. He turns and walks away from the bed rapidly.
I begin to follow him, but O'Neill beckons me back to his side.
"Don't let him get lost, T." Our eyes meet, warrior to warrior, friend to friend, in total understanding.
"I will be at his side, O'Neill," I assure him.
O'Neill once again covers his eyes with his hand and I leave his side knowing that sending DanielJackson away is one of the hardest things he has done.
DanielJackson sits on the bed in my quarters. I light one single candle in the darkened room.
"I could have bunked somewhere else," he says with a hint of anger.
"You complain of O'Neill's snoring when we travel off world. It is only magnified in the bunk rooms." I settle cross legged on the floor, preparing for Kel No Reem.
"I don't mean to sound ungrateful." DanielJackson is now picking at the blanket that covers my bed.
"You did not," I tell him.
He yawns and looks around the room curiously. "Uhmm...Teal'c, not that it's any of my business, but don't you usually light all of these candles?" He makes a sweeping gesture.
"I do, DanielJackson."
"Should I light the rest?" He starts to get off the bed, eager to find some activity to keep from sleeping.
"Not tonight, DanielJackson." I turn to face him. "One candle in the darkness can appear to give more light than an entire roomful."
He stretches out his legs and lies on his side facing the room and the candle. "Once I went on a caving expedition with some friends when I was on a dig. One of the guys got an idea for us to all turn off our lanterns at the same time, you know, to experience total darkness. We did, but Simon forgot he had a watch with a luminous face and didn't cover it. It was like that watch face lit the whole cavern." He yawns once more. "Just a little light."
"Exactly, DanielJackson." I watch as he closes his eyes. They open again and again, drawn to the candle.
"It will burn through the night," I say. "I will not let it go out."
His eyes fix on mine then. "Thank you," he whispers and closes his eyes. This time they stay closed.
I sit motionless for a long time, listening to DanielJackson's breathing change to the rhythm of sleep. Although I hope that his sleep will be undisturbed by nightmares, I will be here for him if it is not. I watch DanielJackson sleep. The lines that have creased his brow for the past day are now gone, his face expressionless as he slumbers. One hand is pillowed under his head, the other curled beside him reminding me of the way Rya'c slept when he was a child. DanielJackson makes a small sound and a brief frown crosses his face. I move closer, reaching out to him. His hand curls around mine, trustingly, as Rya'c's used to not so long ago. DanielJackson is young enough to be my son. They all are, even O'Neill.
I have seen many horrors in my lifetime. I have done many terrible things. But I have also seen many wonders. Perhaps in a small way I have done some good things that have begun to change the weight of the scales of my life. It is because of them, but most importantly because of DanielJackson. I followed O'Neill from that prison on Chulak because I believed that he would lead my people to freedom. I continue to follow them because DanielJackson has shown me time and again that one candle can light the darkness.
We will face the darkness together, my unlikely friend and I. If he should get lost in the dark, I will keep my candle burning, I will hold it higher until he comes back to us and is walking in its light once again.
|Genres:||Angst, Drama, Hurt/Comfort|
|Summary:||Teal'c realizes some things about Daniel Jackson.|
Author's Chapter Notes:
Although this fic is labeled slash, it can be read as gen also. It is really about the love that Teal'c feels for Daniel. Jack and Daniel's relationship is rather ambigious in this.