Breaking Point


Teal'c looks...bad. I don't know what I expected. Jack told me Teal'c had most likely been tortured - I mean a Goa'uld wouldn't get its hands on the infamous Shol'va and treat him to cookies and milk - but I didn't think it would be this...bad. His battered, bruised and burned torso glares at me accusingly, imprinting the abuse it suffered in my mind. Teal'c's pouch is blackened and distended slightly, head bleeds from several gashes and lip is swollen painfully. God, the whole time we thought him safe on Chulak gathering supporters among the Jaffa, Teal'c was going through hell. And now he's just laying there, motionless and chalky pale. Rak'nor has a fire stoked, but I feel no warmth from it. I don't think Teal'c does either.
I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do. It's like I've suddenly grown roots and though I think I should go to his side, my body refuses to comply. What good would it do him for me to kneel next to him, looking at him with pity and concern? He is just so broken. I don't want to take the chance something I do will cause him further harm, so I hang back for a bit, let Sam check him out. I catch a glimpse of Jacob and Rak'nor speaking, pulled away from the rest of us a short distance. I don't care who this mystery Jaffa is, I'm grateful to him for saving my friend's life. There is no doubt that if Teal'c had been turned over to Apophis he would have been killed. Probably repeatedly, definitely cruelly.
My attention is drawn back to Teal'c when he moans a barely discernable sigh. Sam's cleaning the wounds on his face, her hands moving gently over the tender bruises. His blood is glistening by the firelight, sickeningly captivating. I pull my eyes away from the gore, across the fire to Jack. His face is set so tight and hard it could be made of marble. Oh, yeah, he's upset.
Teal'c finally moves a little and I swing my head back to him. For a terrifying moment, Teal'c shows panic and distress, the unfamiliarity of his surroundings seeming to catch him off guard. Sam unsuccessfully tries to hinder flailing arms, her actions changing from gentle to frantic. Jack and I leap to her aid simultaneously. Up close, Teal'c looks very...bad. Sam scoots back out of our way as Jack grabs Teal'c's legs and I his shoulders.
I'm rocked to the core at how weak Teal'c is as we easily subdue him. Oh, very, very bad. I send a quick glance to Jack, both to transmit my concern and to gauge his. Jack doesn't return my look but his jaw clenches. I can't help staring at Teal'c's wounds, everything moving in slow motion. How could he have lived through this? I relax my hold as Teal'c wilts. It couldn't get any worse.
Then Teal'c opens his eyes.
I let go of him completely, reeling back in shock. He snarls at me gutturally and his hands are around my throat before my brain even registers his movement. Guess he's not that weak. Squeezing, he's squeezing my throat...can't breathe...God...stop...
I faintly hear alarmed shouting in the distance. So far away. Where did everyone go Teal'c it's me stop! The night becomes darker and darker and I can't see anything except for what is directly before me.
Teal'c's eyes. Unrecognizably cold. Dead.
Oh, God!

Ice envelopes me, relentlessly invading my veins, my organs, my thoughts. Bra'tac is dead Bra'tac is dead Shau'nac is dead. Dead. Dead. I do not believe for an instant Bra'tac would denounce his beliefs because some insane zealot tortured him. He would rather die, which is why I know he must be. Dead.
It is so cold. I feel a fire, crackling and popping invitingly, but it provides me no warmth. I hear a woman's voice speaking softly to me, but I cannot move. Mother? Drey'auc? Shau'nac? My muscles are atrophied as if in death. Death. Am I dead? Like Shau'nac? My mind is set in an endless loop, focusing only on the loss of my love and my mentor. Loss because of the Goa'uld. Tanith. Heru'ur.
Heru'ur is regrettably dead, this I know. I long for him to have somehow survived so that I may be the one to hold the last breath he takes in my own two hands. The thoughts spur my body to give up its stubborn rigidity, ice breaks and begins to float away. It gives way to surreal warmth, borne not of comforting heat from the fire, but of rage.
Soft, soothing words are now edged with something else - fear. Good. I am envisioning Heru'ur's final moments, seeing him tremble with the knowledge he will not live to greet the sun ever again. It is more than he deserves to die a painless death, but I take vindication in it. The death of any Goa'uld is good and is cause for celebration.
Shau'nac's face replaces that of Heru'ur above me. She is breathtakingly beautiful and smiles at me warmly, love and serenity shining out of her eyes. She beckons me closer and I feel my arms reach for her automatically, their movement strangely sporadic and uncontrolled. Wait for me. She is fading, smile transforming into a grotesque mask of pain as unidentified hands grasp her slender neck and cruelly choke her. I see her features twist and redden, face reflecting fear and disbelief. Then she is gone. No!
Tanith now leers at me, smirking his victory. Warmth sparks to hot, red, livid bruising wrath. I want nothing more than to kill him. Remove every organ from his body and force him to eat them. Rip him apart with ruthless, unforgiving malice. I cannot. There is something holding me down, preventing the vengeance I deserve. I strain against it fruitlessly. Tanith roars with laughter as I relax. I will not be a pawn in his game.
He mocks me, mocks my anger and pain. The weight upon my shoulders vanishes and I must take advantage of the freedom, lunging for the mirthful monster in front of me. I am pleased to find my strength has returned in full force. I hold Tanith's pitiful life in my hands. His blue eyes are wide in surprise, lips turning purple. Die. He must pay for what he has done.
Hands fight to pry me from him, but I will not allow it to happen. He must not escape his punishment. I want to laugh as the eyes roll back and his body sags. He no longer struggles and I have won. Blue eyes? A blow to my face follows my sudden realization that Tanith does not have blue eyes. Panicking, I turn toward the sagging form in my grasp.
No...NO! What have I done? Tanith is no longer before me. Instead, I hold a lifeless Daniel Jackson in my hands. I loosen my grip and he slides gracelessly to the ground and lies there, still as death. Death. I have killed my friend.

Cold rage blinds me to my surroundings as I look at his struggling form. Daniel's got a good handle on Teal'c's upper body, darting me a quick look that is desperately worried. I can't give him the reassurance he seeks and can't meet his eyes. My jaw snaps shut, cheek muscles twinge uncontrollably. I've endured torture. I know the pain and confusion Teal'c is going through. Right now he's lost in his own mind, seeing only the horror. What happened to him while in Heru'ur's hands will be the predominant memory, but the floor is open for any bad thing that has ever happened to him. Judging from what little Teal'c has told us, he's got a wide variety of nightmares from which to choose.
Teal'c calms down abruptly, seemingly fading back into sleep. I maintain my position on top of his legs, hoping the physical damage doesn't extend that far down. I can't release him quite yet, not sure he's fully out. I open my mouth to warn Daniel to keep his hold on Teal'c, but before I can say anything, Daniel lets go the shoulders. Shit! Instantly, Teal'c is moving. He's so fast we can't stop him and I doubt Daniel even saw it coming.
Carter is screaming for Jacob and Rak'nor as we try to remove Daniel from Teal'c's vise-like grip. God, I can hear Daniel gasping right in my ear, breath rattling ominously. Teal'c's going to break his neck! I have to stop this. Daniel! Teal'c! Shit! I can't hear Daniel anymore. Desperately, I grab Teal'c's face for a moment, try to snap him out of his hallucination by delivering a blow across his least damaged cheek. His eyes clear suddenly and he twists toward Daniel, but he does not release his hold.
Oh, no, no! Danny doesn't move, dangles limply in Teal'c's grasp. Let him go let him...breathing? Is he breathing? My concern for Teal'c gets shoved aside when he finally jerks his hands open and pulls them away from Daniel's neck. Daniel is sliding to the ground and I lunge for him. Jacob and Rak'nor latch onto Teal'c as Carter and I rush to the inert body sprawled before us. Please be alive. Please be breathing. Please.
My own breathing is questionable as Carter's shaking hands seek out a pulse. Her eyes widen so far I can see the dancing flames of the fire and my own pale face reflected in them. No, no, no. Daniel, don't do this. Teal'c didn't...he couldn't...wait, she's nodding slightly now. I swallow the bitterness that has risen in my throat and slouch back, resting my hand on Daniel's forehead as though keeping physical contact ensures he'll keep breathing.
I rub my other hand across tired eyes, keep it there as if to block out the scene before me. The only thing I can hear is the fire snapping and Daniel wheezing, the sounds filling my head. I look back over to Teal'c. He's unconscious again, still being restrained by Jacob and Rak'nor.
We need to get home, the sooner the better.

The colonel sits silently for a few moments, face revealing nothing, though I know he's disturbed by Teal'c's attack on Daniel. I know as well as he that Teal'c must have been hallucinating, but there is something extra gruesome about watching the dream come to life right in front of us. Helpless. We couldn't free Daniel and if the colonel hadn't got through when he did, I'd be kneeling next to a dead friend.
Make that two dead friends. Teal'c never would have forgiven himself if he had... I pull myself away from the useless thoughts. What ifs have no place here. I suddenly realize none of us have really spoken since we arrived on the moon when the colonel's voice cuts into the tensely charged air.
"We've got to get them home. Now."
This is not a request, the colonel's tone is stiff with suppressed emotion. I can see, Selmac, I think...bristling. His hands clench on Teal'c's shoulders for an instant, eyes shoot daggers at the colonel.
"We must first - " Yes, it is Selmac.
"NO! Do you hear me? I've got one man the victim of torture, with who knows what other side effects and another the victim of those who knows what other side effects! Home. Earth, Jacob," the colonel shouts. "The fastest that goddamn hunk of Goa'uld technology can fly us!"
I wince as the colonel kicks a log with venomous force and stalks away into the night. Oh, he's upset. I trail him for as long as I can before I turn back to Dad. He's looking at me already, an apology plastered on his face. I smile at him briefly and refocus my attention on Daniel, feeling for his pulse again even though I can hear him breathing. It's still weak and said breathing is extremely reedy. I'm worried Teal'c may have done more than bruise.
Probing Daniel's neck gingerly, I feel for internal damage. It worries me he doesn't flinch at my touch as my fingers massage the abused throat. I do flinch as I inspect the bruises, so deep I swear I can see Teal'c's fingerprints in them. I hear Dad and Rak'nor struggling with Teal'c. They are hauling him to the cargo vessel expediently. The colonel will be back any second and everyone knows to be ready for departure.
"Make sure you secure him!" I can't refrain from calling.
"We will, Sam," Dad replies instantly.
From what I can tell, Teal'c didn't break anything. Thank God. I brush Daniel's short hair to the side and begin dousing the fire. The colonel's long strides approach and I look up to greet him, stopping before I start when I see his face. He goes directly to Daniel's side, bends down and easily hoists him onto his shoulders. Daniel's arms sway limply, hitting the colonel's back as he carries him to the ship. I decide talking can wait until later.

An obnoxious humming echoes in my ears, radiates through my head and spikes excruciatingly right behind my eyes. Images jumble into a kaleidoscope on my closed eyelids, tinged with bright red. Heru'ur's ship exploding, Sam and I under the mine, Jack's closed off face when we realized Teal'c had been transported to Apophis' ship, Teal'c...Teal'c! No, Teal'c! All other images disappear and I'm left with only Teal'c's eyes. Two cold orbs, void of anything resembling the man I call friend.
Black. Soulless.
I shudder as I'm sucked into that vacuum of darkness. It seeps into me and I search for a glimmer of light, an indication Teal'c is still in there somewhere. I'm overcome with the grim reality that he may not be there. He's been pushed so far, asked to endure too much and the strain finally broke him. No, I won't believe that. Teal'c is too strong to give up on good. I force myself to look further into the void and I will pounce on any sliver of Teal'c I can find.
Hate! Pure venom oozes from the most remote corner of the dark place Teal'c has become. It's sharp and brutal, stabs into me, jabs my throat with its spears. Oh, God! That's all there is. Only hate, no room for anything else. The blackness turns to red and I try to back away. It's too strong, suffocating me, dragging me into it like a lamb to the slaughter. Help, no! I can't! Teal'!
I hear a pathetic voice call and I don't recognize it. It's harsh and scraggly, as if the speaker is a seventy-five year old chain smoker who's done so much damage to his lungs and throat he sounds inhuman. Who? God, my throat is...
I'm suddenly vertical and swaying. I didn't even know I was lying down. The room flops and my stomach is alternately in my chest and feet. Oh, I'm going to puke. The bile rises into my throat, burning like acid. I choke it back down desperately. I can't it'll hurt too much. I have to lie down again to stop the merry go round effect of the room. I'm unable to control my descent, my head clunks loudly on the floor. Floor? Inside? How did? A warm touch engulfs the left side of my face and nudges me gently. The memory of Teal'c choking me assails me, replacing the offered comfort. His eyes burn into me but all I feel is cold. I turn my head away, bat weakly at the hand.
"Easy, Daniel. It's just me," Jack gruffly snaps.
"Daniel, can you open your eyes?" Sam asks quietly.
I turn to her voice, settling down now that I know they are here. Why wouldn't I be able to open my eyes? To answer her question, I crack them apart a slit. Sam is crouched at my side, face all 'Major', assessing and clinical, but I can still see her concern. I'm fine, Sam, just a little freaked out. Nothing new here. I'm unable to say the words I want - my esophagus has seen better days.
"Good. Do you remember what happened?"
Of course I do. How could I possibly forget? I shiver and give her a slight nod of affirmation. Her level of concern eases a bit. My throat and neck are throbbing.
"Do you think you can talk?"
Okay, that is a stupid question. I pin her with a 'yikes, are you kidding me?' look. Speak? Hardly. Even if I hadn't just had my neck pinched together by an extremely strong Jaffa, my mouth is as dry as the sands of Abydos. She gets my point and offers me a canteen of water with a word of caution. I manage to swallow a third of what I'm aiming for, the rest spills out of my mouth and dribbles down behind my head.
"Where...ugh," I start, grimacing at the razoring across my throat.
"Try whispering, Daniel," Jack recommends.
"Teal'c?" I rasp.
"Don't worry, we have him trussed up. He won't hurt you anymore. Daniel, you know he..."
"No. Not..." I heave out, "that. He's...oh, God." It's worse than that. So much worse. I have to know.
"What, Daniel?" Sam leans toward my face as she urges me to continue. She seeks out Jack and I turn in time to see him shake his head. They have to know how much danger Teal'c is in, from himself.
"Trouble. I have to see him," I assert, finally able to piece together a sentence.
"I'm not sure that's such a great idea, Daniel," Jack vetoes. "I mean, he's still pretty out of it. Still dangerous."
He is dangerous, yes! Jack should see this. He should know Teal'c's in trouble.
Please, Jack.

Daniel pleads with me silently. Whatever it is that has him so riled up must be worse than my poor brain can imagine. It's not just that Teal'c tried to strangle him. That's a symptom, not the disease. The point is moot anyway. Teal'c's still unconscious. I sigh as Daniel's eyes bore a hole in me.
"Fine. We'll come get you when he wakes up," I concede. I hate not knowing what's going on and I doubt either Daniel or Teal'c will clue me in.
"Promise?" he whispers hoarsely.
His neck looks terrible - all deep purple-black, with finger shaped bruises wrapping all the way around it. I wish he wouldn't talk. Reminds me even more of what happened. Or what might have happened. I've never seen Teal'c lose control to that extent before and I hope I never will again. He almost reached that point on Vorash after Shau'nac's murder, but he restrained himself in proper Jaffa fashion. I mimic the shudders that have been coursing through Daniel since he's awakened.
"Jack?" Quieter this time.
"Yeah. I promise. Just rest, okay?"
"Eyes," Daniel murmurs and stares at a spot between me and Carter, shaking his head firmly. I frown as the pain broadcasts across his face. What does that mean? Carter clears her throat and my head snaps to her. She jerks her head, signaling me to follow her out of Daniel's earshot. I give him a short squeeze on his shoulder and a nod, grousing that I'm mad he's not going to rest as ordered. He clenches his jaw. Uh oh. Very bad.
"Carter, what's up?" I hiss when I draw up to her, keeping my head turned toward Daniel.
"I don't know, sir. I'm just worried, I guess. Teal'c hasn't shown any signs of regaining consciousness since we moved him and it took Daniel an awfully long time to wake up, too. I guess I'm just being paranoid or something."
"Carter, you're starting to sound like Daniel," I state unkindly.
I shouldn't take out my aggravation on her. She's as concerned as I am and apparently has picked up on the vibe I'm getting from Daniel. He looks haunted by something and his refusal to even close his eyes is disturbing to say the least. Great, two people with post traumatic symptoms. It doesn't make sense. The attack on Daniel didn't last so long that he should be terrified like he seems to be. There has to be something else going on.
"Sorry, sir," Carter whispers back. "I'm going to go check in with Dad and see how long till we reach Earth."
I give Daniel one last glance. He's still staring at some random point, not blinking or moving. His face is set in a perplexed frown, but he looks all right. Physically. I don't really want to leave him alone. I don't really want to stay with him, either. His condition only reminds me of Teal'c, who reminds me of torture, which reminds me of Iraq. It's a sick loop I'd rather not deal with right now, so I opt to run.
"I'll come with you. I'd like the chance to talk to this Rak'nor fella."
Maybe he can give me specifics on what Teal'c was put through. Oy, looks as though I'm not going to be able to avoid referencing torture no matter how much I'd like. Better if it comes from a source I don't care about.

Images shift in front of me with breakneck speed. The faces of Shau'nac and Daniel Jackson superimpose over each other with appalling implications. Both have been killed by someone whom they trusted.
Daniel violently forces himself in front of Shau'nac his face set in panic and agony. I struggle to sit up, reaching toward his ghost, as though I can grab onto him and pull him back to life. He backs away quickly, fearful now. I drop my hands and hang my head in shame. When I raise my head again, Shau'nac has come once again to the forefront. She beckons me as she did before and I find myself drawn to her side.
She coos her love for me, running a hand down the side of my face, trailing down my neck, shoulder, and arm. It changes direction at waist level, jutting rapidly for my primta. Her hand swishes around in my belly with vicious efficiency and the pain is intense, rivaling that of the torture I have endured. Shau'nac laughs and spits in my face, anger flaring her nostrils.
"How dare you claim to align yourself with the resistance? You who would kill a friend!" she accuses as she squeezes the larval Goa'uld. It squeals ceaselessly, the noise disruptive and alarming.
I feel no pain now, only numbness and cold. She is correct. I do not deserve to remain with the Tau'ri in the fight against the Goa'uld. Not with my crime.
Daniel Jackson is dead and I am responsible.
I gaze at her, aware she is killing me. I make no move to prevent it and she is satisfied. Gloating, Shau'nac turns from me to look back at Daniel. He shakes his head and moves his mouth in a frantic attempt to speak. No sound emerges from his lips. Shau'nac faces me once again, but she is no longer my love. Tanith has replaced her and he sneers at me with contempt.
"Fool! You will never defeat me!" He tosses his head back and roars with laughter again.
No! The emptiness disappears and I am filled with rage. I launch myself at him, determined to destroy him once and for all. It is because of him that I have betrayed my friends. He throws up a hand and I bounce off it, slumping to the floor.
I cannot allow him to win. For Shau'nac and now for Daniel Jackson I must be successful, regardless the price. Daniel peers over Tanith's shoulder. He shakes his head and looks sorrowful. I pause and stare at him.
Daniel continues to shake his head. He turns away from me, walking into the shadows. I am suddenly bereft. He does not approve of my actions. I must make him understand.
"Daniel Jackson, wait!"
I sit up, lungs heaving. Where am I? I look to my surroundings, surprised to find myself aboard the Tok'ra Teltak, hands and feet bound securely. My injuries have healed considerably. I have been here for some time. I jump as I hear movement to my right and pivot to face whoever is with me.
It is Daniel Jackson.
"Teal'c?" he froggishly croaks.
Is he real or an illusion? He cannot be real. I killed him. Dead. My hands are bloody with guilt. How can I ever face O'Neill and Major Carter? Dead. He's here to haunt me, to cry out the injustice of his own death. A soul in unrest. I have the opportunity now to explain. To apologize to his ghost and I cannot. The words will not come.
Daniel's eyes search my face, unblinking and calm in their perusal. He looks as he did when attempting to decipher a difficult passage of text, puzzled and determined. He will never look this way again. I swallow back the lump that has developed.
"I am sorry, Daniel Jackson," I finally whisper.
There. I have said it. Perhaps the specter before me will depart and my own soul can gain some peace. His eyes soften and relief radiates from them. I close my eyes and turn my head in shame.
"It wasn't your fault, Teal'c," Daniel murmurs, pain etching the words. "Are you all right?"
Quaking hands are undoing the bonds around my wrists. How is this possible? A ghost should not be able to do this. I jerk away from the touch before the task is complete.
" are not real. Please leave me. I am sorry. Please," I cannot bear to look at him and am unable to maintain my composure. It is a discomfiting feeling.
"Not real?" the horrible voice scrapes. "What? No, Teal'c. It's me! I'm real!"
The urgency strikes me, as does the reapplication of the fingers upon my wrists. Real. Not dead? I snap my head to meet Daniel's eyes, mere inches from my own.

Maybe I shouldn't be untying Teal'c's hands. Who can say if he'll experience any more hallucinations? It's a chance I'm willing to take. I just can't see him a prisoner of his own friends. He's shaking, either from cold or fear and his hands are icy.
Jack's going to kill me for coming to Teal'c and especially for letting him loose, but I don't care. I had to come. The instant he and Sam were out of my sight, I was up and moving. They don't understand what's at stake here. They didn't see what I saw. What I thankfully no longer see.
Teal'c whips his face toward me when I finish loosening his bonds, dark eyes wide with the realization that I am indeed alive. He relaxes a bit, using the wall as a support. I fold my warm hands over his cold ones and rub them in the hopes the friction will make warmth seep into him. He's only a couple of fingers width away from me, eyes tracking my every move as if he's still not completely convinced I'm here. I drop my hands and start undoing his feet, anger rankling me. They carried it a bit far with the restraints.
Once he's finally freed, I take the opportunity to check out his physical wounds. He looks much better than he did before. I smile with relief and search his face again for signs of distress. He's Teal'c again. Eyes are brimming with concern, the void is gone. Its absence is welcome and yet I can't shake the fear it set upon me. Even thinking about it brings goosebumps. I have to know it won't reappear.
"Alive?" Teal'c hesitantly asks at last.
"Yes," I say softly, holding back the cringe as searing pain scores through me. He doesn't need that reminder.
Teal'c reaches up to touch my abused neck and I am unable to hold still. My body reacts, even though my brain knows there is no threat. He drops his hands instantly and looks away when I fall to my butt and slide away. Shit! I curse myself and catch the limbs before they fall into his lap. Teal'c tenses, but looks back to me.
"I am sorry, Daniel Jackson. I was not aware-"
"I know, Teal'c. You have nothing to apologize for."
"How can you say that? Can you not feel and hear what I have done to you?" Teal'c cries, suddenly angry.
For some reason, I find his question funny. I chuckle and immediately regret the action. Pain rips through my tortured throat and I choke and gurgle alarmingly. It only causes more agony. Teal'c flies to my side, hand rubs my back in a circular motion and assists me back to a normal breathing pattern. I don't jerk away this time, a fact I know he notices. I sober, acknowledging the validity of his points.
"Oh, I feel it," I comment wryly. "But I know it wasn't me you were strangling. Who was it, Teal'c?"
His hands stop at my query and he moves from my side. "I remember nothing."
He's lying! Teal'c and lying do not mix. What the hell is going on? "You're not telling me the truth, Teal'c."
I don't know why this is so important, just that it is. Teal'c shifts to his side and rises on trembling legs. He walks farther away from me, still not meeting my gaze. I want to stand as well to prevent him from escaping me, but I'm suddenly bone tired. I can only watch him pace in front of me in an unsteady stride. My uneasiness creeps up with every step he takes, every moment he avoids me.
"Who was it, Teal'c?" I repeat.
Suddenly Teal'c is in my face, leaning in so closely I can feel his breath gusting onto my cheeks. He's angry, eyes flashing his rage. I'm not afraid of this rage. It's different from before, not all-consuming darkness. For infinite seconds, we simply stare at each other and then Teal'c grabs my face with fierce strength. I yank my head back in panic, unable to break from his grip.
"It is better if you do not know," he spits enigmatically and withdraws from my personal space. His eyes are now distraught and sad.
What the hell is that supposed to mean? "Better for me or better for you, Teal'c?"

I have to remember to ask Dad why these things aren't equipped with better seating arrangements. Rak'nor has just finished giving us an extremely detailed account of Teal'c's torture and I can't feel my legs. I allow myself to lean into the wall, one hand clamped firmly across my mouth.
I knew it was...bad...simply based on Teal'c's physical injuries, but not this bad. Teal'c is lucky to be alive. I think I understand exactly what was going through his mind back on the moon. God, he thinks Bra'tac is dead. We have to tell him it's not true, a vicious lie told to break his spirit.
The colonel touches my forearm, a silent question on his face. I nod that I'm all right, embarrassed to be showing my weakness in front of him. He shakes his head as though he knows my thoughts and gives me a tight-lipped smile.
"You know for sure Bra'tac has not been captured?" the colonel asks Rak'nor.
"I do. I was present during all interrogations and not one Jaffa would disclose his location," Rak'nor replies, ducking his head in disgrace.
"Sir, we have to tell him. Bra'tac was like a father to him. Just the seed of the idea he may be dead would be unthinkable for Teal'c," I say unnecessarily.
"I know that, Carter," the colonel retorts with irritation. "Let's go."
The hand on my arm tightens and drags me toward the hold where we've placed Teal'c. As we pass Daniel's location, I peer into it to see how he's faring. I dig my heels into the hard floor when I see he's not there.
"Sir! Daniel-"
"Goddamnit! Does he never listen to me?" the colonel snarls.
I almost laugh at that question - never has there been a more rhetorical one. The seriousness of the situation Daniel may have got himself into quells it before it can spring to life. Knowing Daniel, he's gone and untied Teal'c.
My half joking supposition is confirmed as we race into Teal'c's prison. There in the big Jaffa's arms is an unconscious Daniel. The colonel and I jump for Teal'c at the same time and manage to pry his hands away.
Daniel falls.

"Better for me or better for you, Teal'c?"
"For all, Daniel Jackson."
Why does he insist on this line of conversation? Once started, Daniel will not desist and even knowing this, I do not wish him to know the evil I am capable of rendering. I sneak a covert glance at the young man sitting on the floor. He sees. He knows. He is concerned for my soul, not concerned for my physical well being. I suddenly understand he has already been a witness to the evil within me.
"I don't buy that. Who was it? The guy who tortured you? Who?" Daniel demands with his scratchy voice.
He has given me a way out. "Bra'tac is dead, killed by the Goa'uld who inflicted these injuries upon me."
My words garner the reaction I intended. "Wha...what? Are you sure?"
"Terok, my torturer, told me it was so. I know if Bra'tac fell prey to him, death would be his only option."
Shock and disbelief set Daniel's features as he struggles to assimilate the information I have shared with him. Now he will think it to be my torturer whom I was envisioning when I held his life in my hands. I do not know why it is so important to me that he does not know my true motivation.
"Well, Teal'c, don't you think it possible he was just telling you that as a psychological means to wear you down?" Daniel surmises. "How do you know he was telling you the truth? No, I-"
He knows I am lying. "Daniel Jackson."
Daniel looks up at me, eyes narrowing now with suspicion. "When I came in, you were dreaming. You called out for me and for Shau-"
His eyes widen, comprehension flooding them. He scrambles to his feet, taking a tentative step toward me. And then his eyes roll back into his skull and he's falling. I lunge forward and catch his shoulders in a tight hold, only to have them forcibly removed. O'Neill and Major Carter wrestle my still weakened body away from Daniel and he slips through all of our hands.
He lands on the floor with a sickening thud.

It's different this time. Teal'c doesn't possess the strength of one caught in a nightmare. He yields easily to mine and Carter's and he loosens his grip on Daniel. This distracts me and I'm not fast enough to stop Daniel's drop. Shit. He plunges face down onto the floor and we all just look at him.
"O'Neill. I was not harming Daniel Jackson," Teal'c reproaches me.
I actually take the time to assess Teal'c and see he's back with us. Shit. What have we done? Carter is aghast, instantly releases Teal'c and falls to her knees next to Daniel. I follow suit and we manage to turn him over onto his back. Teal'c, oddly, remains standing.
Carter snatches a wrist and feels for a pulse, knowing any pressure on Daniel's neck will cause him more pain. He's got bump forming quite nicely on his left temple. Talk about adding insult to injury. I look intently at Carter's face, satisfied when she smiles.
"He'll be fine, sir."
"Of...course...I will be," the victim of all our harmful good intentions weakly groans, scrunching his face into a grimace. "Just stood up a bit too fast, that's all. Head rush. What are you guys doing here?"
"Gee, Daniel. I dunno. Could it be we came back to check on you and found you AWOL?" I grumble. "What the hell were you thinking? Teal'c could have killed you! No offense, Teal'c."
Teal'c's face cracks for an instant. Great. I've just rubbed salt in his already no doubt sore wound. His jaw twitches spastically and he turns away from us. I scrub my hand through my hair.
"Good, Jack." Daniel's harsh rasp reprimands me more than his actual words. Like Teal'c needs any additional reminders of the recent events. Seriously, if it were physically possible, I'd kick my own ass.
"Teal'c, I didn't mean-"
"It is all right, O'Neill. Daniel Jackson's actions were indeed foolhardy. There was no way for him to be certain of my state of mind," Teal'c intones solemnly.
"Hey," Daniel protests vainly.
"Yeah, about that, Teal'c. We just got done, uh, talking to Rak'nor and he said that Terok guy told you Bra'tac was dead. It's not true," I say simply.
"He lied to get to you, Teal'c. Rak'nor assures us he's still alive," Carter chimes in.
Teal'c's tense body relaxes and he abruptly sinks to the floor. He cradles his face in his hands for long moments and then raises his head again. I've only seen Teal'c laugh in earnest once, and now I get to experience it again. It's a beautiful sound and yet disturbing in its veracity. He continues on for a good minute until I become a bit uncomfortable. Carter squirms and fixes her gaze anywhere but on Teal'c. He really believed his teacher to be dead.
"Teal'c?" Daniel whispers and struggles to rise. Carter guides him to a sitting position and he sways a bit. "Teal'c?"
It's the strangest thing. Teal'c stops laughing immediately at Daniel's voice and looks at him. Daniel stares back and suddenly it's as though Carter and I aren't even in the room. Both of their expressions are unreadable and intense, communication flying soundlessly. My head whiplashes between them, trying to get a fix on whatever it is going on between them.
Teal'c breaks the silence finally, saying only, "Bra'tac lives."
"Yes," Carter confirms again, with a certain hesitancy in her voice. I look at her quickly. She sees what's going on too, and is equally bothered by it.
"Then all will be well," Teal'c states with finality.
Conversation's over. We won't be getting anything out of him or Daniel. It frustrates me to no end the ability these two have to clam up. Especially when that which they strive to conceal usually ends up biting me in the rear. Okay, I can let this slide. For now. I sigh loudly, giving in to both men sitting next to me.
Why do I think this is all far from over?

Teal'c shakes his head at me, a shadow of a movement. Once again, I'm aware of information he doesn't wish, or isn't ready to share with Jack and Sam. I'm not stupid. I know what he's asking me to do. I also know I shouldn't do it. But I have to trust Teal'c to do the right thing. To tell Jack would be a betrayal of that trust.
At the same time, to not tell Jack is a betrayal of his trust. I've become Daniel Jackson: Walking Moral Dilemma. I hate it. It's a responsibility I haven't chosen and certainly don't want. Teal'c pleads with me, and I think I find that the must upsetting thing about this whole mess. Why is it so vital to him that it remains a secret? It doesn't make sense. Jack saw the fury on Vorash, knows Teal'c's hatred for Tanith is boundless. Jack should figure it out...
Jack already knows! How could he not? He's choosing to ignore the problem, allowing it to fester instead of attempting to heal it. What he doesn't know, what he didn't see, is that Teal'c is capable of pure, unadulterated revenge. It won't matter to him who stands in his way. Should an opportunity ever arise to slay Tanith, Teal'c will take it.
I'm not positive I can trust Teal'c to do the 'right' thing. In fact, I'm pretty sure the opposite is true. God, what should I do? Maybe I can intercede with Teal'c before he ever has such a chance. Reason with him, make him aware of the repercussions his bloodlust might wreak.
Teal'c's still stares at me, assuring me silently that he will not come undone. I swallow and answer his headshake with a nod. I have to look away, closing my eyes.
There, floating before me, I see Teal'c's cold, dead eyes and I shudder.
The End

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  Hawk50 Nancy Bailey Carrie AnnO  
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Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This is a parody for entertainment purposes only. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted anywhere without the consent of the author.