A Lesson Learned
By Amberfly


“What the?” Lieutenant Grogan called out his cryptic warning, seconds before the Jaffa aimed his zat and fired. Crumpling like a rag doll, he slurred, “W-washh shou, Col-lel!”

Startled, Jack turned at the sound of the zat fire just in time to watch his lieutenant’s body hit the tiles. He knew it was too late to aim his P90, but he raised it anyway, with a grunt of pig-headed defiance. Pain enveloped his body and jerking backwards; he fell to the floor and moaned a soft, “Crap” before slipping into unconsciousness.


“O-okayy! That hurt.”

Didn’t matter how many times he was zatted; Jack was always surprised by the lingering pain. Legs and arms stiff and sore, he glanced at his unconscious young lieutenant and sighed quietly. This day started off bad and progressed quickly towards being horrendous. Marul had been out of his depth and his people woefully unprepared for the violence of the Goa’uld. He had tried to warn Marul, explain with a patience he didn’t feel that they had run out of time, but the small man blinked at him with confusion.

“We are innocent! My people have done nothing!”

Now, forcing a bloodshot eye open, his face a mask of pain, Jack figured they were all going to have to pay. Marul’s naivety was going to cost his people dearly. Swallowing down bile rising in his throat, O’Neill stretched out a leg and nudged the young soldier.


Stirring, his eyes blinking with pain and confusion, the lieutenant looked over and nodded.


“You okay?”

“Yes, sir, you?” Grogan struggled to sit up, and failing, slumped back down with a groan.

“Fine.” Jack could hear the fear on the boy’s voice and forcing himself into a sitting position, kidded him softly. “Hey, still a target I see.” He watched a smile flicker across the young face, and nodding, added, “It’ll be okay.” He needed Grogan to remain positive; he was the only one who knew a way out of Marul’s palace. Hearing the telltale thud of marching Jaffa, Jack looked at the frightened soldier and warned, “Stay down, Lieutenant, leave the talking to me.”

The fear made Grogan’s eyes round, and with a small shake of his head, he rolled onto his side.


Lying in the infirmary, Jack blinked at the light glowing gently above him. His team somehow had survived, dodged another Goa’uld bullet. O’Neill had always known the mission to P2A-018 was going to be precarious, relying on convicted felons hadn’t filled him with confidence, but what choice did he have? That rat bastard Grieves had compromised Latona’s only defenses, and SG-1 needed to repair the damage. Svarog’s goons had surprised him, and the questioning had been brutal. With every fist that slammed into his body, Jack grunted with pain, but kept his mouth shut. He had worried about the young officer, but Grogan’s obstinacy had impressed him. The rookie cried out, but he gave the Jaffa nothing.

“Leave him alone, you bastard, he doesn’t know anything!” Mouth split and bleeding, Jack’s eyes flashed dangerously, and lurching forward, he spat his fury.

“How do I know this if I do not ask him?” The Jaffa’s face twisted into a caricature of a smile as he drove the pain stick into Grogan’s belly. “Where is this Sentinel?”

Flinching at the sound of the young soldier’s scream and struggling against his binds, Jack’s frustration made his voice hoarse and guttural. “Bastard! He’s just a kid!” Bitter experience had taught Jack he needed to conserve his energy; concentrate on blotting out the pain, and he prayed the kid found that inner strength he would need. If not, Grogan was in for a hard lesson no one should have to learn.

Carter, Daniel, Kershaw, and even Grieves had come through, fixing the Sentinel, and the Jaffa disappeared into nothingness. As Daniel freed him from his shackles, Jack stretched cramped, abused muscles. Settling for a cold stare, and a dangerous tone, he’d rasped, “So, Teal’c, bad guys gone and world saved.” Listening to Grogan’s ragged breaths, Jack nodded at Carter. “Major, the lieutenant first.” Svarog’s goons were rough on them, and reading about torture and enduring it were two different matters.


Forcing himself into a sitting position, he winced as his drip pinched, and rapping his fingertips against the IV pole, groped for water. Waking up in an infirmary was something he’d gotten used to, and truth be known, sometimes he was glad of the quiet time. Time to think, to reflect, and give thanks to gods he didn’t know anymore, that he’d made it out alive.

“Sir, let me!” Lieutenant Grogan’s boyish face crinkled with concern. Carefully pouring a glass of water and handing it over, he ducked his head, a flush starting at his neck, and traveling to his ears. “Sir? Should I call the doc?”

The question was a whisper.

Taking the glass and twirling it gently, Jack shook his head, and sipping the water, thought carefully about his next words. Whatever he’d say, he knew from experience the rookie would memorize them word for word. Hero worship was something O’Neill discouraged, but he wasn’t naïve enough to know it didn’t happen anyway. Every time he strolled down the hallway, some wide eyed recruit would watch him, wishing there was some-way they could make him stop and notice them. It amused him, when he was a rookie the last thing he wanted was some hard ass colonel noticing what he was up to.

Glancing across at Grogan, watching the kid shuffle his feet, Jack sucked in a deep breath, and figured he had two options. He could do the hard ass officer thing, and bark harsh words. Tell him to suck it up and stop feeling so damn sorry for himself. Or, he could offer advice on how to survive and deal with the aftermath of being tortured.

Pulling himself up straighter, Jack looked Grogan in the eye, and with his face schooled into careful neutrality, the colonel began the kid’s education.

The End.

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