MY HERO
By Carlyn and Snarky

“God, what a shit day,” I mutter to myself, the darkness of my living room swallowing the words and leaving me cold inside. I’ve been wandering around the house for about an hour now, trying to distract myself from thinking, preferably about anything, but more specifically about the past 24 hours—I just can’t seem to stop running this day through my mind.

I walked into the briefing room knowing it was a search and rescue mission, but lacking specifics. Taking a seat by Teal’c, Sam and Daniel, I nodded at the leaders of SGs 2 and 6 across the table from me. A few last stragglers found their way to their seats before the general cleared his throat.

“Fifteen hours ago, SG-12 went to P24-8355 on a recon mission, after standard MALP and UAV surveillance indicated possible signs of strip mining near the Stargate. Their objective was to determine whether or not there were mines present, and if so, whether such mines contain naquada.”

I remembered the look on Hammond’s face as he briefed us, and at that moment, I knew how hard it was for him to send us off each mission, not knowing if we’d return. Sitting at that briefing room table, I hoped I’d never have to feel that myself.

Hammond continued speaking, “Major Christy confirmed their safe arrival, and I instructed him to investigate the area fully, including the potential mines, and report back in ten hours. When neither Christy nor anyone from his team contacted the SGC at the designated time, we tried for another three hours to contact them. Without success.”

He solemnly gazed at each of us seated quietly before him. “Now it’s your turn. SGs 1, 2 and 6, you are all going in under the command of Colonel O’Neill.” He nodded at me briefly. “Bring them home.”

 

I’m trying to be quiet. The moonlight spilling weakly through the curtains lends an ethereal quality to the room around me, which I don’t want to shatter with noise. Restless as I am, however, I can’t help but make a few muffled sounds as I make my way carefully over to the fireplace. The diffused light is just enough to avoid cracking my shins against furniture, but not enough to see more than a shallow reflective glare off the picture frames resting on the mantle. One picture, I know by heart, even without being able to see it. I pick up the frame, smoothing my fingers across the anonymous glass.

The horror in my mind sucks me back in time to P24-8355 and what we found there.

 

Once the ‘Gate closed down behind us, I ordered Major Geiger and his team to stay and secure it, advising minimal radio contact so as not to prematurely tip off a potential enemy to our presence.

I moved out with my team and SG-2 in search of our missing men, putting Teal’c and Carter on point—Teal’c to track and Carter to scout. SG-2 brought up the rear, everyone keeping close. We had no idea what we might be walking into.

After we traveled a few hours through increasingly dense forest, Teal’c signaled everyone to stop and hold position. He and Carter moved on a short way alone.

Coming back a few minutes later, Carter reported a gathering of people, about a hundred yards off – standing around, she said, in a rough circle, totally immobile. Ordering SG-2 to spread out a bit and watch our backs, I followed Carter to the ‘gathering,’ Daniel in tow.

As we came upon Teal’c’s position, Daniel moved to the far side of our Jaffa teammate, as it appeared the circle of people wound closer to us in that direction.

We crouched behind some leafy bushes to watch the action. Or inaction.

For as far as I could see in either direction, there were people, dressed mostly in loose-fitting tunics, just standing there facing away from us, looking fixedly at something on the ground in the middle of the group. There were too many of them to see what might have captured everyone’s attention so completely. And they were eerily silent.

Turning to Teal’c, I hissed, “Have they moved at all since you spotted them?”

I kept my voice low, though I suspect I could have set off a round of claymores without getting a reaction from that crowd.  But I did notice Daniel shifting and glared at him to stay put.

So quiet I had to strain my ears to hear his response, Teal’c replied, “They have not, O’Neill.”

“Right.” I moved carefully to my archeologist’s side. “Daniel?”

He turned to me, eyebrows raised.

“What do you make of this?” I asked, nodding my head at the scene before us.

Gazing out over the assembled, Daniel shook his head slightly. “Could be some kind of ceremony or ritual.”

“Religious?”

Daniel shrugged. “There’s no way to know without more information. For all I know they could be watching a chess match.” 

“Yeah,” I said, rising up slightly to get a better view, “They are unnervingly quiet. Do you think they’re drugged?”

Again, Daniel shrugged.

Suddenly, the outer band of people began to move. Turning silently, they started to disperse, each of them seeming to follow a pre-chosen path, winding their way on either side of our position.

As the crowd thinned, I noticed there was something on the ground in what would have been the center of that circle. Something green. And red. When the majority of the crowd had moved off, I stood to get a better look. And wished to God I hadn’t.

Lying as if haphazardly dumped in a heap on the forest floor, were four bodies. SG-12.

Instantly, my whole being flushed with rage, and I pushed through the bushes, bringing my P-90 to bear on the few indigenous people remaining in the area. Before I could fire a shot, someone grabbed my arm to turn me away, and shouted at me.

“No, Jack!”

Pulling at the hold on my arm, I raised my weapon to avenge my colleagues’ deaths.

“Jack! You can’t. We don’t even know if these people killed SG-12.”

A hand rested on my cheek and suddenly through the red haze I saw Daniel’s pain-filled blue eyes, gazing anxiously into mine.

“It would be murder, Jack. Please.”

Immediately, I lowered my weapon and started to shake.

 

Just the memory of it is causing me to shake again, which in turn rattles the glass in the frame of the picture clenched tightly in my hands. I brace my forearms against the mantle, trying to draw strength from its solidity and failing utterly. The shaking is getting more violent now. I could have, no, would have killed every alien within sight if not for Daniel.

Concerned for the safety of the cherished picture of Charlie, I carefully return it to the safety of its fellows, wincing as the knowledge that this is not the first time Daniel has kept me from allowing my wrath to overcome my conscience settles in my mind with as much grace as the chattering frame settles on the mantle.

 

Abydos. My grief and anger after Charlie’s death were the only things moving me forward, if heading towards death could be considered moving forward. My mind, my soul, my heart…they were all useless to me. Buried with my son. Consumed by my guilt. What was left was my shell, useless to the world, to my wife, or so I thought, until the Air Force let me know they could still use me. They needed someone to detonate a nuclear weapon on another planet in order to destroy the Stargate there.

Of course I went. I had my orders...and a real desire to kill myself.

Daniel discovered my plan, and I listened, unmoved, as he quickly pointed out that I’d not only be killing myself, but also him and everyone else in Nagada. Not even his declaration that he didn’t want to die would have stopped me.

But then Daniel said he thought it was a shame that I wanted to die. There was such sorrow in his eyes—for me. I had to do something to take that pain away. So I used the bomb on Ra instead.

 

I’m standing in front of the liquor cabinet, not quite sure how I got there. My mind doesn’t remember telling my body to move from the fireplace, but obviously it had decided on its own that I needed help dealing with these memories.

I look down to see my hands gripping a shot glass half full of what I can only assume is rum. In the dark, what I know is a red label on the Tanduay Rhum Dark bottle to my left looks brown, and the reddish-brown of the drink turns into inky blackness.

I know if I drink it, I’ll be inviting a more figurative darkness into myself that I’ve kept at bay for years through stubborn denial and the help of Daniel.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I know that the liquor is smooth, and I’ll enjoy it. Finding the local equivalent of Captain Morgan’s is the only good memory to come out of a black ops operation during my time in the Philippines. But I don’t want to skip down the road of forgetfulness. I don’t want to bury the memories in blurred-edge alcoholic dream time.

Daniel tells me often that I’m a good man. It’s times like this that I just don’t believe him. And these times are just reinforced by the memories in my mind.

 

On K’Tau, blinded by rage at the lives sacrificed to stupidity, I was set to put a bullet in the man I felt was responsible, Malcus. And then Daniel was behind me, yelling, “Jack!”

Glaring into the insane eyes of the man lying beneath my gun, I had never been more tempted to pull a trigger in fury than at that moment. Somewhere nearby, I could hear Elrod, the putative leader of the K’tau rambling endlessly on about something or other, but it was hours later that I realized he was begging for Malcus’ life.

To the casual observer it probably looked like I was giving in to Elrod’s words. But at that moment, I could feel nothing but the smoldering presence of Daniel behind me. He wasn’t judging me. Even without seeing his face, I knew that. But he was willing me to make the right choice. The choice that a good man would make. The choice I didn’t want to make.

Daniel was what kept me from killing Malcus, and when I wanted to walk away and leave those people to their fate, Daniel reminded me that such an action would be irredeemable. We stayed to help the people of K’Tau, in spite of the fact that they had murdered two members of SG-6.

 

The drink in my hand didn’t move any closer to my mouth, but it wasn’t far enough away from me either, to reassure myself that I could make the right decision in regards to it. In my current state of mind, slipping back the fiery liquid would be too easy to do, and the consequences of that action, too hard to endure.

The shaking starts again, subtle tremors of my hands that don’t really feel like my hands. My fingers around the glass are numb, and if I could see them clearly, they’d be white with tension, I’m clutching the glass so hard.

How many times do I have to make the same decision? How many times do I have to fight with myself to do the right thing?

 

Cartago was a planet we went to in our first year as SG-1, when we were still new and testing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I watched Daniel passionately argue for Teal’c’s right to live, I saw him convince the Byrsa that he was ultimately a good man, though he had committed atrocities.

They wanted to execute him for his actions as First Prime of Apophis. I would have shot my way through every one of those villagers to save Teal’c, but Daniel knew that saving Teal’c at the expense of killing innocents was no more right than the Byrsa’s demand for Teal’c’s life for what he had done under Apophis’s command.

Daniel stopped me from killing a lot of innocent people – again – in the process of convincing me that there was another way to free Teal’c.

Ultimately, the folks on Cartago became allies.

 

With a reluctance I’m not proud of, I see my hand slowly lower the glass to the table top of the liquor cabinet. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Daniel, it’s that there’s always another way. I might not like it, and it might go against my every instinct, but it’s always there.

These memories of Daniel saving me from my own bloodthirsty inclinations easily spring to mind, because there are so many of them. And yet, they are eclipsed by a ragged memory of when he wasn’t there. And I gave in.

 

We left Euronda on less than good terms with our supposed “allies.” My friendship with Daniel at that point had probably been on even worse terms. I had sent Daniel through the gate before my encounter with Alar. If he’d still been there, I know he would have made me tell Alar about the iris. Or told him about it himself.

I should have told Alar point blank that following us would result in his death, but I didn’t.

Only Carter was there, witness to my moment of revenge, and she never said another word about it. Outwardly nothing changed: I showed no remorse for my actions so no one had any reason to suspect that I had deliberately caused a man to perish against our iris. But inside it tore me up for quite a while.

 

Every day I wish Daniel had been by my side instead of Carter. Daniel would have saved Alar. Daniel would have saved me.

The glass is quietly resting where I placed it, still full of quivering rum just starting to settle, and I slowly back away from it. The steps are tentative, shuffling, and I know I need just one more moment of strength, just one more reason, to turn away from its beckoning call.

“Jack?” I turn and find a sleepy-eyed archeologist gazing in my direction. He comes to me slowly, wrapping his arms around my waist and snuggling against me, laying his head on my shoulder. “Come back to bed.” 

And just like that my stormy mind is calmed again. Leading me back to the bedroom, Daniel crawls into the bed and turns on his side, reaching his hand out to me. I climb in behind him, working my right arm beneath him and pulling him towards me. Wrapping my left arm around his waist, I hold on tight. Daniel settles his right arm across my chest and his head on my shoulder, falling asleep almost instantly. I sigh contentedly.

This has become our ritual after a day like today. Ordinarily, Daniel needs his space when he sleeps. But he knows I’ll need him nearby tonight to keep me from getting too caught up in my failings. So he’ll let me hold him close like this till morning, when he’ll roll over and invite me to lose myself further in him as I bury my cock, balls deep, in his warm, willing body.

As I start to drift off, I wonder at Daniel’s innate beneficence which makes it possible for him to find something good in the people he meets out there. And to find something salvageable in a stubborn old Colonel with a short fuse, and an irreverent sense of humor. It’s quite an admirable trait.

Teal’c once asked me how the Tau’ri define a hero. I looked it up. Webster’s defines hero as a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities. That’s my Danny all over.

By definition, Daniel is a hero just by virtue of the work he does. But for me that word means so much more. Daniel’s achievements include loving me so much that he won’t let me become a victim to my baser instincts. When I feel the escalating need for vengeance, at whatever cost, Daniel talks me down. He saves me from myself – by offering all of himself to me.

He’s my best friend, my lover, my heart. My hero.

 

The End

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