A Simple Belief
By Amberfly

 

Unrelenting

Three weary soldiers trudged through the alien wasteland in silence. The intense heat sapped their strength and they needed to preserve what little energy they had.

Unrelenting, the sun bore down and baked the land. Stuck in its interminable cycle of drought, the planet’s terrain was arid and hostile. The only things thriving were stinging gnats, and thorny, hissing lizards.

The bleached bones of creatures lay scattered at the bases of the dead or dying trees. Shuddering at the reminder of their own mortality, a feeling of despondency crept into the soldiers’ eyes. The planet and its sorry inhabitants waited to die and their time seemed very near. A thriving planet thousands of years ago, the climate had changed, leaving it a graveyard.

Backs saturated with sweat, the three soldiers rolled their shoulders and tugged at their shirts, desperate to shift the clinging material and create some moving air. Over-heated and dehydrated, they marched on.

The three were an unlikely combination. The leader was an older man, lean and wiry. To his left marched a towering dark-skinned soldier. Powerful and wary, his eyes never stopped hunting. The last was a young woman. Fair-haired and beautiful, she looked oddly out of place.

The sand invaded every inch of the lean soldier’s clothing, insinuating itself into his eyes and mouth. The ground beneath his feet was scorched and rock-hard, causing his heavy boots to rub and blister his heels. Water supplies were low and carefully rationed, and despite the coarse sand grinding into his eyes, the soldier knew he couldn’t spare any to relieve his discomfort.

Running her tongue over her cracked and swollen lips, the female soldier hoisted her weapon higher up her ribcage, and on point, constantly scanned the dunes. Her watchful eyes darted back and forth, but the heat sapped her strength. Blinking and trying to focus, she listened to the sound of her blood pounding a steady beat in her ears. The sun reflected off the harsh white sand, and with stars bouncing in front of her eyes, she felt both nauseous and dizzy. Dry swallowing her remaining Tylenol, she gagged and threw it back up. Furious with herself, she cursed the waste of her precious fluids.

The heat bore down on the dark-skinned soldier’s bared head, and he forced himself to swallow bitter bile rising in his throat. The ground beneath him was cracked, hard, and uneven, and he felt constantly wrong-footed. Sprawling thorny bushes covered the ground, adding to the planet’s savage terrain. The needle-like thorns caught at his legs and scratched him, and upon imbedding themselves in his clothes, were impossible to find and remove. Placing a boonie on his head, he winced as sweat trickled down his face and into his mouth.

There was no need for small talk; the bonds forged long ago were unbreakable. The stony-faced leader couldn’t allow his heart to rule his mind. The relentless searching ate at his soul, but as the commander, he didn’t have the luxury of falling apart. Planet after planet the trio searched, and returned through the Stargate, deflated and desperate.

“He’s out there, Teal’c. Why can’t we find him?”

“Patience, O’Neill, we will locate him.”

“Sir, I know we will find him. We just have to keep looking.”

The team of friends made their oath, and fighting off exhaustion, continued their search of the galaxy.

The SGC had been patient with its second – in command, and the soldier appreciated the latitude. However, one day his superiors patted his back, and shaking their heads with sorrow, ordered the soldier to stop searching. Desperate, he stormed out, and played his final card.

Favor begged for and reluctantly granted the commander knew the dead planet was his last hope. Something scraped at the corner of his mind, and with a heavy heart, understood the desert would prove to be either his salvation or his surrender.

Shading his eyes with his hand, the lean soldier flinched as small rocks dislodged and tumbled carelessly to the ground. Falling to his knees, he bunched his fist and waved for his teammates to fan out and take cover. Disappearing into the dunes, they blended perfectly, and cocking their weapons, took careful aim. Tracking the movement through the sight of her weapon, the young female caressed the trigger and felt a tiny surge of adrenaline.

The dark-skinned soldier blinked slowly in the sun, and shifting his frame slightly, wondered what kind of monsters he would need to fight on this ugly planet.

Stumbling over the dunes, an apparition appeared and the soldiers caught their breaths in unison. For the first time in months, they allowed the smallest spark of hope to ignite. Lowering their weapons simultaneously, the woman and her companions waited, and brimming with hope, watched the drama unfold.

A toddler, thin to the point of emaciation, stood half-naked and in full view of them. Whimpering and clutching a raggedy doll, the little boy stared fearfully. Even in his heartbreaking state, it was clear he was fair-haired and blue-eyed. Filthy torn rags clung to his skinny ribs, and as the soldier raked his eyes over him, he couldn’t stop the growl escaping his throat at the child’s deplorable condition.

His tiny feet cut and bleeding, the child hobbled painfully forward, his rough, ill-fitting sandals hampering him. Crashing to the ground, he scrambled for his doll, crooning very softly.

Tears spilled down his little face leaving grimy tracks, and waving his stinging hands in the air, struggled painfully to his feet. His bare limbs bore signs of livid bruising, and his bottom lip was split and swollen. The rag doll he clutched close to his chest was in a similar sorry state. The left leg was missing, and one of its bright-buttoned eyes had fallen off long ago. Only a few strands of indescribably colored wool covered its head, and its mouth--ripped in a jagged line--made its smile appear almost ghoulish.

Lowering his weapon and handing it to his friend, the grey-haired soldier stood slowly, and with his heart beating far too fast, he walked towards the trembling child. Kneeling down in front of him, he smiled gently and offered his hand. Eyeing the bruises covering his tiny frame, he brushed the boy’s swollen lip and felt a stab of blind rage course through him.

“Hey, looks like you may have lost the fight.” Tugging the remaining leg on the doll, the soldier said kindly, “Looks like your little friend might need the doc’s help. How about you come home with me and we’ll fix that lip at the same time?”

Encouraged by the child’s slight nod, the soldier inched forward and took the little boy’s arm, drawing him into his protective embrace. Leaning close and whispering that he was safe now, the soldier wrapped his strong arms around the trembling body, and rocked back and forth.

Reluctant to release his hold on the traumatized boy, the grey-haired soldier scooped him up and cradled him tightly to his chest. Looking with great sadness at the boy’s emaciated, grimy face, he couldn’t stop the disobedient tear that rolled down his cheek.

“I’m sorry it took me so long to find you, Danny. I kept looking in the wrong places.”

The small boy sighed softly. “S’kay, she always said you’d come, Jack.”

 

Home

The colonel cradled Daniel gently, his eyes flickering over the emaciated body with sadness. Flinching at the ugly cuts and bruises, he was shocked to discover how easily his hand blanketed the tot’s ribcage. Forcing himself to relax his hold, he allowed his warm breath to tickle Daniel’s ear.

Jack knew it was madness. He hoped his resilience, his will to survive, could somehow manifest itself into Daniel’s frail body--maybe give him the strength to endure for just a little longer.

Finding himself hoisted up a little higher, Daniel listened to the steady beating of the colonel’s heart. Sighing and closing his eyes, the little boy rocked back and forth in time with Jack’s stride, and struggled to remember how long he had been lost. Shivering, a jolt of fear running down his spine, he wondered if Oma would ever truly let him go. Allowing a strangled sob to escape, Daniel breathed in deeply, the musky scent of his friend comfortingly familiar. Snuggling close, he prayed that Jack could save him.

Daniel’s pitiful condition provoked feelings in the colonel that he thought were safely dead and buried. Staring straight ahead and not trusting himself to speak, O’Neill felt a murderous rage. Despair and grief opened fresh gaping wounds leaving him bleeding and raw. The search for Daniel had driven him to the brink of despair, but now that he had found his friend, he struggled with the urge for revenge.

His friends fell a step back, and watched with alarm as their commander’s back stiffened and his gait lengthened. The anger radiating off O’Neill exhausted them physically and mentally. Daring to glance at each other, Carter and Teal’c chose to remain silent and forced themselves to match his pace.

Jack O’Neill was natural born leader. His superiors had long ago predicted he could effortlessly inspire the confidence and respect needed for command. Despite his irreverence and tendency for being hot-tempered, O’Neill knew when to keep his mouth shut. Therefore, he had been selected as an outstanding recruit and one to deploy for the more secretive and grueling of tasks when all else had failed.

With his strong sense of loyalty, decency, and innate intelligence, O’Neill worked his way through the ranks. He survived the dirty wars and personal tragedies, albeit barely and always at a great cost. Awarded the rank of colonel, he understood the game and played it perfectly.

On the dead planet, light years away from the superiors who watched his every move, Jack knew he needed to curb the fire in his belly and get his people home safely.

World-weary O’Neill had learned that sometimes the mission’s objectives were not always possible. Build a bridge and cross it, soldier. Swallowing his fury, he snapped his focus back to surviving, and not the luxury of hunting down and eliminating Daniel’s abuser.

Canteens dangerously low, the three soldiers ignored their initial instincts to give all the precious water to Daniel. Surrounded by the stark evidence of dehydration and death, they averted their eyes and drank their share.

“I’m thirsty, Jack, can I have more?”

“Soon... we’ll be home soon.”

The walk back to the Stargate was terrible. The temperature soared and the sun bore down relentlessly. Licking his lips and seeing black stars jump around his eyes, the colonel blinked slowly, idly wondering why the world seemed to spin. Stumbling and jolting Daniel, the soldier winced at the child’s sharp cry of pain.

“Daniel, I’m so sorry.” Hoisting him higher up his ribcage, O’Neill stumbled again, falling heavily to his knees. Grabbing his friend’s outstretched hand and looking into his worried face, Jack agreed to share the burden.

Teal’c nodded, took the frail child into his arms, and smiling gently, promised his little friend that he would carry him home. As the sweat poured down his face and the stinging gnats buzzed around his ears, Teal’c told O’Neill that he could rest, that it was his turn now. A feeling of brotherhood passed between the two soldiers, and watching closely, Daniel felt the tight bonds of family reclaim him.

Shoulders sagging and her breath ragged, Carter swayed and struggled to place one foot after the other. The heat and the emotions of Daniel’s discovery drained her, and flinging a hand out to steady herself, gratefully found her commander’s arm wrapped tightly around her waist.

“Steady, Carter.”

The four friends unconsciously closed ranks, drawing much needed energy from each other. The last six months had been the darkest, loneliest, and most frustrating times of their lives. None of them could admit, but it had been increasingly difficult to maintain the facade of hope. Now, despite atrocious conditions, despite odds stacked against them, they had finally found their heart and soul.

Leaning into the colonel’s sweat drenched body; Carter sighed with exhaustion and struggling to hold herself upright, rasped. “Sir, I don’t get any of this. What possible reason could the Ancients have to do this?”

Squeezing her tightly, O’Neill listened to the labored breathing of the barely conscious child. Narrowing his eyes, his face a mask of control, he muttered, “Later, Carter, I’ll think about all this later.”

In silence, the four members of SG1 trudged towards the Stargate and towards home.

 

Janet’s Story


“I just don’t know if I’m ready for this, Doc.” Jack bowed his head and spoke quietly to the dark haired woman eyeing him warily. Unable to hold Janet’s gaze, he rubbed the palm of his hand against tired eyes and sighed softly. “Why’s he still asleep? Shouldn’t you wake him, give him something to eat?” Leaning closer to the bed, Jack picked up the little boy’s hand and tapped at the plaster holding the IV line secure. Scowling at the drip, he asked, “Does this hurt him? It looks too tight.”

Her eyes widening at the colonel’s fidgeting fingers, Janet gently reclaimed the boy’s hand, and placing it back under the covers, said kindly. “No, it’s fine, and he needs this sleep, Colonel. Please try to understand, Daniel’s body suffered intense trauma and it will take time for him to heal.” Janet tilted her head on the side, and sighing, badly wanted to console her friend. She longed to tell him what a waste of energy his endless recriminations were, and that the weight of the world didn’t rest on his shoulders. She knew, however, that he was an intensely private man, and how strong he built emotional walls. He justified his actions, but in the quiet of the night, Janet heard the restless sounds of the lost soul. “Colonel, I’m here if you need to talk.”

Feeling his shoulders sag with weariness, Jack struggled to think of the words she wanted to hear. Sighing, he wondered if talking might be marginally better than reliving the same nightmare every time he shut his eyes.

“Yeah, okay, let’s just get this over with.” Shifting his butt in the hard plastic chair and slumping on his spine, the exhausted man started softly. “Where shall I start? We originally thought she was an Ancient. Claimed she was a follower of Oma and that her people had fought the Goa’uld for centuries. She was obsessed with finding someone called Isaiah and gave Daniel this journal. As you can imagine, he was tremendously excited by the piece of junk, he wouldn't put the damn thing down. I told him to give it back to the nice lady, but do they ever listen? The old woman said Daniel reminded her of Isaiah, and that his writings would be Earth’s salvation.” Clicking his fingers, his eyes widening with awareness, the colonel said, “That journal is the key to this. I’m sure of it.”

Scratching and rubbing at a cut on his lip, Jack added sourly. “Daniel wanted to bring her back to the SGC, but I told him that was never going to happen. We argued and he stomped off, that’s the last we saw of either of them. Every word that came from that woman’s mouth was probably a lie. Nodding at the sleeping child and caressing his pale cheek, the colonel’s gruff tone instantly softened. “Just as soon as sleeping beauty here wakes up, maybe he can tell us more.” Needing to keep his hands occupied, he played with the button on his jacket pleading, “Doc, he will wake up, won’t he?”

Her breath hitched, and struggling to regain control of her emotions, Janet couldn’t trust herself to speak. She knew how much this man needed to protect his team, how integral nurturing was to him. To leave the most vulnerable of his family behind had sorely tested his emotional well-being. Shifting in her own chair uncomfortably, she had been aware of how physically exhausted Jack had been from the failed missions. Reading the tests results repeatedly, she had agonized over his borderline results. Janet just couldn’t bring herself to shatter his hopes by grounding him, so signing his post mission reports; she prayed she had done the right thing. Clicking her pen, she replaced it in her pocket with a thoughtful pat. Janet had known he’d find the strength to survival mode, and somehow cope.

“Of course, Danny is only mildly sedated, sir.” Looking at his darkening expression, she knew how angry he was and how dangerous that could be. Taking his hand in hers, she squeezed it quickly before dropping it and said, “Colonel, I don’t understand; if this female wasn’t an Ancient then who was she?” Waving at the tiny form asleep in the bed, “What possible reason could there have been to reverse his aging like this?”

One of the nurses had left another rag doll for Daniel, and picking it up, Jack tugged at the bright blue coils of hair. “She fixated on Daniel from the start, and was incapable of answering a straight question. She followed Danny everywhere, always trying to touch him, and muttering about this Isaiah.”

“So, we don’t really have any idea who she was or what she wanted? Why would she take him only to abuse him like this? Surely the Ancients would know if one of them turned renegade?”

“Well, that just goes to show you don’t it? Another oh-so superior race that wouldn’t know the truth if it bit’em on their superior asses. She said her people were descendants of the Ancient’s, and we had no reason to disbelieve her.”

The nerve in his arthritic knee twitching uncontrollably, Jack shrugged a shoulder and continued to stare at the sleeping boy. Despite his emaciated condition, he was a beautiful child. Dark lashes, a smattering of freckles across his nose and fine blonde hair, Danny was adorable. The contrast of the peaceful sleeping child, and of the shattered child whimpering in fear, tormented Jack. Eyes glistening with tears, Jack leant across the bed and whispered, “Wish I’d found you sooner, buddy.” Stretching out his long legs and massaging cramping muscles, he shut his eyes and replayed the last ten hours in his head. Shuddering involuntarily, he knew they had been very lucky to survive.

* * * * * * * * *

The journey back to the planet’s Stargate had been horrendous. Dehydrated and suffering the effects of sunstroke, SG1 had struggled to put one foot after the other. Jack had forced himself to hand Daniel over to Teal’c, and with every step, he wondered if it would be his last. Carter’s lax body leant heavily into his, making keeping his balance difficult, and seeing the Stargate, he had almost cried with relief. "Thank God. Carter, think you can dial us home?”

Slurring her words and stumbling towards the dais, Sam couldn’t focus, couldn’t see the symbols to push. Swaying and clutching at the colonel’s shirt, she stammered “I’m ssoorry, ssirrr,” and slumping to the ground, Jack barely managed to catch her.

“That’s okay, Major, Teal’c knows the way home.” One arm around Sam, and nodding to his exhausted teammate cradling the small child, Jack stepped through the event horizon. Bringing his team home, more dead than alive, but intact once more.

Stumbling down the ramp in the Gate room, the colonel peered through his blood shot eyes and zeroed in on the general. With unspoken trust and with a sense of relief, General Hammond nodded at him, and waved the team through, delaying the debriefing until he deemed it necessary. His face anxiously searching the colonel’s exhausted one; he said kindly, “Colonel, good to see you brought our boy back.”

Throwing Teal’c a quick look of gratitude, Jack tilted his head, and giving his hand a flick, wordlessly demanded Daniel. Jiggling him gently, and baring his teeth into a snarl, he swore for every bruise, for every blow Daniel suffered, someone would pay.

Teal’c’s eyes never left the tiny body of his friend, and raising his head to look into the grim face of O’Neill; he nodded, and started to walk towards the infirmary.

“Carter, go with Teal’c.”

Taking the pale faced Major gently by her arm; Teal’c pulled her along, insisting softly that she follow. “Come, Major Carter, your well being is as important as Daniel’s.”

Leaning into his chest and sighing, Sam turned around and faced the colonel, ready to argue her case. “Danny will need me, sir.” Seeing his stern look, she lowered her eyes, and knew she had to obey. Swaying slightly and grabbing at Teal’c’s arm, she slurred, “S-sir, you’ll let me know the moment something happen-s-s with Daniel?”

"The moment I know something, Major, you'll know something. Now, infirmary. That's the second time, Carter; don't make me say it a third."

Despite the weary smile taking the bite from his words, Carter heard the order loud and clear. “Yes, sir.”

Nodding at Teal’c, his face carefully neutral, O’Neill pushed past the hovering medics muttering, “I’ll take Daniel; see to the rest of my team.” Scattering out of their way, the medics watched as SG1 walked in silence to the infirmary and admitted themselves to Janet’s care.

Ashen faced with exhaustion; O’Neill briefed the general and returned to check on his team. Leaning over Carter, he frowned at the angry welts on her cheeks and neck, and tenderly brushed the hair from her eyes. Seriously dehydrated, Sam had collapsed, her body needing to rest and replace lost fluids. Sound asleep, her face twitched with her thoughts and dreams.

Jack watched her sleep for a while and slowly walking around to Teal’c, smiled tiredly, and touched his shoulder. “Hey, am I interrupting? You’re’ not doing that kel-no-reem thingy are you?

“You are not. I am unable to kel-no-reem as I once did since I began taking tretonin.”

“Oo-kayy. Still has to be better than having Junior, right?”

Nodding, and with a ghost of a smile, Teal’c shifted into an upright position and said, “Indeed.” Reaching over and nodding at a chair, Teal’c lowered his voice and said, “We need to return to the planet, O’Neill. Someone there ensured Daniel Jackson’s survival.”

Needing the contact and allowing his hand to linger on Teal’c’s shoulder, Jack nodded, and sat heavily into the chair. Pulling it closer to the bed and narrowing his eyes, he replied. “Ya think? From where I’m sitting they didn’t do much of a job.” Throwing his hands in the air, he added in a bone weary voice, “Look, Teal’c, it’s been a long day, and we all need to rest. Those folk can wait another day or two. Trust me; I’m holding whoever is responsible very accountable.”

Fiddling with a loose sleeve button until he pulled it off, O’Neill cursed silently, and thought about Teal’c’s words. He figured nobody could live on that dead planet; SG1 had barely survived eight hours there. There had been no evidence of a village, farming, or fresh water. Something didn’t add up, and his feelings of frustration grew by the hour. “No, that’s not where we have to look.”

Placing the flat of his hand behind his back and standing stiffly, Jack glanced as Carter moaned in her sleep. Nodding at Teal’c and walking away, he felt confused and angry by the many questions that would probably never have their answers. Taking a step into Janet’s office, he leant against the doorjamb and greeted her softly. His head pounding, he massaged his temples, took the offered Tylenol gratefully and guzzled another bottle of water “Colonel, please! Your body is telling you it needs to rest”

“I’m fine, Doc. A quick shower and a coffee and I’ll be fine.”

Standing under the hot water and feeling the heat warm his body, he leaned against the wall and let the water run down his back. Hating the feeling of the coarse sand that stuck stubbornly, he idly wondered how much hot water Cheyenne Mountain really had. Dragging his aching body from the shower and toweling off quickly, he hurried back to Daniel’s bedside, and gulping cold coffee, sank back into his chair. Rubbing the skinny little limbs and talking softly, Jack hoped his very presence could chase away the nightmares. He wasn’t naive: he’d experienced enough pain in his lifetime to know kind words were just that. Jack braced himself and knew the damage done to Daniel would never be truly undone. Picking up the limp hand and staring at the filthy, ragged fingernails, he whispered that he was home now.

The little boy’s eyelids fluttered, and holding onto Jack’s hand, he moaned in his sleep. Lightly touching the nasal cannula and feeling a flash of paternal love, he said wearily, “We will never really know what that bitch put him through, will we.” Palming his eyes, he pleaded, “Please, just make him better.”

Looking into the colonel’s eyes, Janet nodded, and whispered, “Of course.” She turned around and reached for a glass of water with a shaking hand. The past twenty-four hours had been chaotic, and she badly wanted to see her daughter and sleep in her own bed. Sam’s signs were not as promising as she’d hoped; the dehydration had taken a terrible toll on her body. Teal’c’s brooding anger unnerved her, and she found his grim presence daunting. The colonel looked dead on his feet, and narrowing her eyes, she decided it was time to make her stand. Studying the dark bruises under his eyes and the deeply etched lines of exhaustion on his face, she slapped her hands on her thighs.

“Colonel, permission to speak freely?” Seeing curiosity flicker in his eyes, Janet took it as her invitation. “No one on this base ever doubted that SG1 would find Daniel and bring him home. I should have pulled the three of you from Gate travel months ago, and you know it. But, I didn’t, I gave you your shot.” Standing up and walking around the bed, she picked at imaginary lint and continued. “Now, I don’t understand what or why this crazy woman did what she did to Doctor Jackson, and I’m very sorry I can’t fix it. The fact of the matter is that we don’t have the technology to undo what she did. What we can’t fix must be endured.” Sitting down, and watching O’Neill intently, Janet put all the persuasiveness, all the eloquence into her voice that she could. “Some battles are just plain un-winnable. Sometimes we just have to accept what we cannot change and make the best of it. I’m sorry if I sound hard, but killing yourself with exhaustion is not going to help Daniel. The thing to do here and now is to find the best way to help Daniel cope. Am I making myself perfectly clear, Colonel?’’

Jack grunted sarcastically and leaning closer, made no attempt to hide his annoyance. “Well, I guess I did kinda grant you permission to speak freely.” Rocking back into his chair, and frowning, he snorted, “Point taken, Doc. I’ll rest and I’ll even take your damn happy pills.” Taking her hand in his, he arched an unimpressed eyebrow, and said, “Quite the military mind, Doctor. You are right of course; this battle was lost before the first shot was fired. We don’t have anywhere enough Intel on her. We don’t know the reasoning behind kidnapping Daniel and then reverse his aging. I do know one thing though; they weren’t on that planet for long. For whatever purpose, she just dumped him there to die.”

Janet gave him an appraising look. “That’s probably true, Colonel. However, he didn’t die did he sir? You found him, and for now, he’s a little boy that’s going to need your love and protection.” Putting her palms of her hands flat on the bed, she leaned towards the sleeping boy and studied his freckled face. Looking over her shoulder at Jack with smiling eyes, she said. “He should be our only concern, don’t you think?”


Watching the slight rise and fall of Daniel’s chest and listening to the steady hum of his monitors that counted each breath, each heartbeat, the colonel raised his head. Looking into Janet’s eyes carefully, he nodded, and with a tiny smile tugging at his lips, began making his plans to trick and bamboozle her into letting him take Daniel home early.

Janet suppressed a tiny smile at Jack’s wolfish grin, and narrowing her eyes, made a contingency plan of her own. Leaning in his space, she crooked a finger at him and whispered, “Oh, don’t think I don’t have you made, Colonel Jack O’Neill.”

 

The End


It’s quiet in the infirmary at night. So noisy in the day, but so quiet at night. Jack thinks this is a good thing, “How else can a man and boy get some sleep?”

Janet agrees. The curtain is pulled the whole way around by bed, and I feel a little trapped. She wants me to sleep, but the dream monster will find me. If I stay awake, I’ll be safe. If I stay awake, I can see Jack. Janet doesn’t understand, but Jack does.

He’s asleep now. His head is resting on my bed, and he’s snoring. He sounds like a buzzing bee, but I mustn’t wake him. Janet said he is exhausted, and I have to be a brave little boy until he wakes up. If I shake his shoulder, he catches his breath and snorts a little. I need him to wake up, if he doesn’t; the monster will know.

People in uniforms whisper what a sad little boy I am. They watch me, scribble things on clipboards, and shake their heads. They talk behind their hands about the terrible things that happened to Doctor Daniel Jackson. The nurses don’t like them, and they shoo them away. I want to smile for them, but I daren’t. If I smile, the monster will know.

A dark haired nurse took my friend. She promised to bring it back all mended with a new leg. So, for now, I have this new one to hold. Its okay, the monster doesn’t know its name yet. If I hold onto my new friend tightly, it will be safe with me.

Another nurse with curly hair asked me what my new friend’s name was. The monster called me nobody, but the nurse shook her head hard making all her curls bounce. She whispered in my ear that she liked Raggsie. She gave me a kiss goodnight. She didn’t give Jack a kiss though, and he said, “Rats.”

Sam and Teal’c visit me all the time.

They don’t sleep here though; not like Jack. I only ever want Jack to stay with me, but I don’t say anything. It might hurt their feelings.

I explained this to Jack and he said we needed to have a talk -- man to man. He told me that Sam and Teal’c are part of my family now, and that they love me as he does. Every time they visit, I say hello, and if I remember, I smile.

I don’t remember them. Not really. There is something familiar though, I feel safe when they are close. Teal’c says this is my subconscious, and that is enough for now. Sam explained it’s because a family’s love is unforgettable.

The monster said that nobody could love me, and I had no family. She said I am an abomination and I should have died. Jack coughed, and looked as though he’d cry when I told him. But, Jack’s a soldier, a colonel! Colonels never cry and are very brave. I want to be a soldier so I can be brave and fight monsters.

Jack told me I was a man of peace. Men like him become soldiers. Men like me change the world. Still, I want to be just like him.

Jack’s got all these scratchy whiskers on his face, and they tickle when he kisses me goodnight. He said daddies have whiskers so they can make their little boys giggle. I want to be a soldier and a daddy with tickly whiskers, just like Jack.

I have lots of family now. Teal’c tells me my family will always protect me, but he’s wrong. They can’t protect me all the time. The monster in my dreams isn’t frightened of anyone, except maybe Jack.

Sam is happy now. She brings me walnut cookies and glasses of milk. I don’t like milk, and walnuts make my throat hurt. I eat them all up, because when she smiles, she’s pretty. Sam used to cry all the time. Now, she laughs. Sam has the best laugh, and sometimes, even though I don’t know why, I laugh too. I know I have to be careful. The monster might hear me.

Teal’c is very quiet, not like the others. He brings me special Jaffa tea. One day, he asked me if I liked my milk, and when I said no, he took it away. He wasn’t cross with me though; Teal’c is never cross with me. He calls me Daniel Jackson. I asked him why the monster hated me, but he didn’t know. Sometimes the drip in my hand hurts, but I don’t cry. Teal’c is a warrior and he tells me that warriors don’t cry. He did though; when he thought I was sleeping, I saw a tear roll down his face.

Lunchtime is the best time in the whole wide world. Jack comes down from his important meetings and lets me sit on his lap. We eat tuna and mayonnaise sandwiches, and he tells me strange stories about who I used to be. At first, I thought he’d be cross with me if I couldn’t remember. I try to concentrate hard, but it doesn’t help, all I remember is the monster. I don’t really remember Jack either, but I remember his smell. He smells safe.

Jack was sad when I told him I didn’t remember him. He hugged me close and said it didn’t matter. Jack loves bear hugs. He says no one can give a bear hug like Jack O’Neill. I couldn’t breathe properly, so a Jack O’Neill bear hug is good, but a little scary at the same time.

I try to remember not to make him sad because he might decide not to tell me any more stories. He might decide not to let me sit on his lap anymore, and share tuna sandwiches. They are my absolute favorite because they make Jack silly. He meows at me, and when I asked what sort of cat he was, he said a mean ole tomcat. Sam laughed so hard, Coke ran out of her nose.

I love it when Jack laughs.

I love it when Sam laughs.

I love it when Janet laughs.

The monster is scared of laughing, and hides where I can’t find her.

If everyone keeps laughing, I will be safe.

The End.

 

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