Confusion of Truth

Though he knew flight to be cowardly, Teal'c ran. There was no other option. He had tried on numerous occasions to reach his enemy's armory; to obtain access to weaponry that would aid him in killing as many of them as he could before forcing them to kill him. All attempts had failed and Teal'c felt himself begrudgingly impressed with the inferior species' unexpected cunning. So now he ran for the Stargate. If he could not immediately avenge his master with blood of the Tau'ri scum, Teal'c would retreat and rejoin Apophis. Together, they would wreak horrors upon Tau'ri and Tok'ra alike.
The corridors of the SGC were almost bare, confirmation in Teal'c's mind of the weakness of his foes. Those in his way were easily dispatched with swipes of his arms. The weaklings landed on the floor behind him with satisfying force. Teal'c found amusement in the human obstacle course he was creating for his pursuers. They would not capture him. By the time the fools reached him, his safe passage would be guaranteed.
Teal'c took the stairs three at a time, barreling into the control room like a tornado. The pitiful technicians all gawked stupidly at him, mouths agape. He launched himself toward a familiar, gray-haired and spectacled man sitting at the control keyboard. Before the man could react, Teal'c wrapped an arm around his neck. He held his mouth close to the left ear.
"You will input the coordinates for Delmak," Teal'c ordered, keeping an eye on the other occupants of the room and the staircase behind him.
Satisfied the Tau'ri daring to call themselves his allies were not yet approaching, Teal'c turned back and watched the shaky hands click the chevrons. Soon he would be where he longed. Away from these distasteful creatures. He could tolerate such close proximity with them no longer and wished only direct service to his master. The chevrons began to lock on the Stargate and Teal'c forced his prisoner to his feet. He snaked his other arm around the man's waist and steered him down the stairs leading to the embarkation room. The cowardly technicians in the control room made no move to prohibit him.
As he entered the 'gateroom, Teal'c switched his hold, shifting so his hand gripped the Tau'ri's slender neck. His prisoner let out a pathetic mewl and Teal'c fought the urge to snap the neck his hand held. SFs stood with weapons poised, ready to fire upon him. They would not so long as he kept his prisoner in front of him. Teal'c maneuvered his way to the foot of the ramp.
"If you fire upon me, this man will die," Teal'c proclaimed to reinforce the threat.
The man whimpered again and Teal'c reveled in the power; he had so missed the feeling of domination he had had to repress for five long years. The sparkle of the event horizon beckoned him. He was only steps away from returning to his rightful place at Apophis' side. With the knowledge he had gained here, victory over the Tau'ri and Tok'ra would be swift and sweet. Before he could even step onto the ramp, however, the iris closed. Rage coursed through his veins. He was a fool! How had he forgotten?
An enraged glare to the control room revealed Major Carter's panicked face. That woman. As though his time on the first world had not been revolting enough, to have to serve side by side with a woman had been torture. How he longed to rid the world of her existence. Foul creature. Tainted by the Tok'ra. Both her and her father. Teal'c swore he would one day see her crumple in death.
"Teal'c! Let him go!" an angry shout called from his left. "You're not going anywhere."
O'Neill. Teal'c spat the offensive name in his mind. The fool he had duped into trusting him still clung to the misguided beliefs of his nobility and loyalty to the Tau'ri. O'Neill, too, would die begging for mercy. To think he had had to claim himself the friend of such a buffoon when all he had really wanted was to crush O'Neill's skull. The colonel had a zatnikatel trained on him. Coward, afraid to kill him.
"You will open the iris now," Teal'c boomed. "Or I will snap the neck of this insignificant one."
"No you won't, Teal'c," Daniel Jackson's voice joined from the right.
Teal'c swung his body so it was centered between both threats. Daniel Jackson also had a zatnikatel. Teal'c scoffed. The puny scholar probably could not operate it properly. Every moment he had spent with the inept archaeologist had been a constant reminder of the reason his god had undergone suffering. Were it not for Daniel Jackson, the Stargate would never have been opened.
Teal'c knew he had failed yet again and blind anger resurged. He clenched his fist around the throat his hand held, eliciting a squeak from his prisoner. He could feel the muscles spasm beneath his fingers as the man struggled to breathe. A telltale click and whine from his left told him O'Neill was about to fire upon him.
With lightning speed, Teal'c unwound his arm from the man's waist and punched the hapless technician fiercely in the back. He relaxed his grip on the neck and threw the sagging, gasping body toward O'Neill. In the same motion, he spun toward Daniel Jackson.
The scholar would die now.

Daniel's hand shook with fear and concern. He kept reminding himself that it wasn't Teal'c standing before him. Wasn't Teal'c holding Sergeant Davis like he was a rag doll. Desperately, Daniel tried to replace Teal'c's face with someone he knew to be evil. Apophis. For all intents and purposes, it was Apophis standing before him, he realized. Even after death, the Goa'uld had the power to attack. Daniel shook his head. Straying thoughts wouldn't help here. He shot a look across the 'gateroom to Jack.
In the space of a few seconds, the world got even crazier. Now Teal'c wasn't relatively passively holding a member of the SGC hostage as a means to return to his 'god', he was brutally shoving Sergeant Davis at Jack. Daniel gaped as Jack fumbled to catch the smaller man, at the same time directing a shout to him.
"Shoot, Daniel!"
Shoot? Daniel was momentarily confused, but regained his composure almost immediately. Teal'c was lunging right at him, face a horrible mask of hate. He pivoted, snapping his zat up decidedly. Arming the weapon, he shot as Teal'c drew so close Daniel could see the rage burning from the Jaffa's eyes. Teal'c was enveloped in blue electricity and fell to his knees, eyes still tearing right through Daniel. Shit. Amazingly, his, not his friend...didn't fall. Teal'c remained on his knees and was moving forward again. Daniel froze. This wasn't supposed to happen. Teal'c should have been knocked senseless. What was he supposed to do now? He couldn't fire the zat - it was too soon after the previous discharge.
Pinned by the hate, Daniel stared helplessly as Teal'c invaded his space. The Jaffa climbed shakily to his feet and made for him again. Instinct kicked in. Daniel tried to dodge the assault, succeeding only for a short time. Teal'c quickly compensated and delivered a powerful blow to his abdomen, following it up with a punch to his ribcage. Daniel gasped as pain rocked through him, fighting to keep from heaving up the meager contents of his stomach. He fell to his knees, but had the presence of mind to lift his arms in defense.
Daniel heard muffled, but insistent shouting and multiple sets of running feet. Teal'c loomed above him, occupying his entire range of vision. Spun above him, to be more accurate. Then the big man was just gone. Lowing his arms and wrapping them around his abused midsection, Daniel peered around. Teal'c was being restrained by four SFs, veins popping out of his neck. Daniel caught the Jaffa's eyes one last time before Teal'c was dragged from the 'gateroom, cursing in Goa'uld. They held venom and the promise of more pain. Daniel shuddered.
And jumped when he felt a hand squeeze his shoulder. He let a startled yelp cross his lips, face turning red when he saw Jack crouching next to him. Daniel briefly looked away from the knowing expression. Jack didn't say anything for long seconds, just sat there with his hand on Daniel's shoulder.
"You all right?" Jack finally broke the silence.
"Yeah. Feel a bit stupid, actually. It's not like this is the first time Teal'c's attacked one of us," he breathlessly muttered.
"First time he got close enough to do physical harm. C'mon, let's go see the doc," Jack suggested, holding up a finger when Daniel showed signs of protest. "Just to make sure. I know hard Teal'c hits, Daniel."
"Okay. Fine. I'll go to the infirm..." Daniel faltered and turned horrified eyes to Jack.
"What? What, Daniel? Are you really hurt? Where?" Jack worriedly fussed, misinterpreting Daniel's actions. The older man started patting him down with rapid hands.
"Sir, is everything all right? Daniel?" Sam called, running into the 'gateroom with a tense expression.
Daniel watched her approach and opened his mouth to let them know he was fine, but before he could, Jack answered her.
"I don't know, Carter. I think Teal'c may have done some damage," the older man tersely replied.
"Oh, God. Daniel, let me see," Sam's hands took over where Jack left off.
"Stop! I'm FINE!" Daniel abruptly shouted, causing both Jack and Sam to freeze. He softened his tone and continued, "Really. I'm good. I was just going to ask if Sergeant Davis was okay."
Sheepish looks set upon both of their faces. Daniel put out a hand and Jack pulled him easily to his feet. No doubt about it, his ribs were going to ache for days. The physical pain was nothing, though, compared to the yawning hole in his heart. Teal'c was showing no signs of returning to his normal self. They'd been back for a week already. Daniel was starting to think the 'normal' Teal'c truly had been an act. That this version was truth.
He shot Jack and Sam assessing glances. Both were haggard and pale, worry shaping their features making them almost unrecognizable. Daniel was certain he looked exactly the same. This was the hardest battle they had ever fought and even if it wasn't a physical battle, its effects were. Daniel could only hope it would get easier. He wasn't sure what would happen if they lost Teal'c. The balance of the team would be absent and he didn't think they'd ever get it back.
"Let's get you to the infirmary and we'll find out about him," Jack murmured, guiding him both out of his reverie and out of the 'gateroom with a not quite steady hand on his back.
Sam took up position on his other side and together they left for the infirmary. Daniel struggled to keep the hopelessness at bay. He wasn't sure how long he could withstand Teal'c's relentless emotional assaults. With the heightened concern for physical safety, he wasn't sure he was strong enough to face whatever would be thrown at them next.

The walls were gray.
Of course, they always had been, but Sam had never noticed how utterly dismal the corridors of the SGC were. There was always something brighter and more important on which to focus her attention. But as she and the colonel escorted Daniel down to the infirmary, she could honestly say there was nothing riveting in the air. Only the depressing, toneless gray of the walls seeped into her.
Her dad had left after only two days, Selmac emerging to inform them the Tok'ra High Council expected a report on what had transpired. Sam was certain both Selmac and her father's real reason for leaving was that there was nothing for them to offer as a means to get Teal'c's mind back. From wherever it had gone.
She knew her dad and the Tok'ra could do nothing. She'd accessed Jolinar's memories; scoured them for anything of use and had come up completely empty. They were running out of choices. General Hammond wouldn't be able to keep using whatever resources he could get his hands on indefinitely.
Daniel stumbled a bit next to her and she automatically put out her hand, giving him another once over at the same time. The archaeologist looked as if he had lost about ten pounds in the past week. Stress did that to some people - made them appear gaunt and exhausted all the time. She smiled as Daniel eased out of her grip with a rueful, tired smile. No amount of coffee could keep him awake; no amount of Fraiser-threatened sedatives would keep him asleep. None of them, actually. It wasn't fair to put Daniel in the bone weary, stressed out, worried sick category all by himself.
Sam looked at the colonel. Subtract ten...or fifteen...years from him or add them Daniel and the men could be twins. She knew how hard this must all be for her CO. Teal'c was a good friend. No, more than that. The colonel had told her about how Teal'c called him brother when they were stranded in the death glider in the cold of space. If Teal'c had professed that deep a bond with the colonel, Sam was certain he had meant it. And she knew how much the words had meant to Colonel O'Neill.
The trio entered the infirmary at last, and Sam immediately saw Janet tending a frazzled Sergeant Davis. That poor man. She shivered with sympathy, selfishly thankful she could only imagine what it was like to be at the mercy of the Teal'c she feared would be permanent. A Teal'c ruled by the evil of Apophis.
Janet frowned at them and crossed the room, leaving Davis with a pat on his shoulder. The petite doctor kept her eyes focused on Sam, narrowing as she got closer to them. Sam knew that look. That was the infamous 'you look like hell, you'd better either fix it on your own or expect not so divine intervention' face. Sam sighed. She'd seen her reflection in the mirror and knew she could easily fit into the colonel and Daniel's odd family resemblance. Tired, heart sore little sister to the exhausted, depressed twins.
"Hey, Janet," Sam greeted her friend before the lecture began, spitting the words out in a breathless stream. "Things got a little rough again. Teal'c got to Daniel and how's Sergeant Davis?"
"He's going to be just fine. Doctor Jackson, if you'll come with me?" Janet got down to business, her eyes telling Sam she wouldn't forget to bring up the unspoken warning at a later time.
Dragging his feet, Daniel shuffled after Janet. She and the colonel stood rooted to their spots for a couple of seconds. Sam hoped Davis was all right, but didn't really know what to say to him. 'Uh, sorry our friend pounded on you. Hope you'll get better soon!'? Peering up at the colonel, Sam saw the same conflict flitting across his face. His expression was exactly the same as when he had visited Sergeant Siler after he'd sent the engineer toppling down the staircase while wearing that Atenik armband. Sam had to chuckle at that memory.
The colonel glared at her, squashing the brief moment of levity. Sam squared her shoulders and started walking to the wounded technician, still completely at a loss on how to offer sympathy. The colonel took care of that for her.
"Hey, Davis. How are you feeling?" he asked, using that gentle tone which always pleasantly surprised her.
"I'm fine, sir," the sergeant muttered, sounding more than a little disgruntled.
"We wanted to apologize for what happened. We should have anticipated Teal'c would try to escape," she tried to soothe.
Davis twitched once, then stuttered, "'s okay, ma'am. I...know he's not himself."
Fidgeting next to her, the colonel gruffly patted Davis' shoulder. "Regardless, we feel bad. Teal'c will, too, once we get him back."
Again, the sergeant didn't look comforted. His words gave proof, sounding downright skeptical, "R-right."
The group paused uncomfortably and Sam fought to keep from dashing away from the injured man. She actually started scoping out the infirmary for the quickest escape route when the colonel rather abruptly and lamely burst, "Well. Just thought we'd check in on you. You rest up and...ah...get better."
Sergeant Davis gave a half nod as she and the colonel walked away. Sam's mind had begun replaying the events in the 'gateroom over and over, fiercely longing to see some indication of Teal'c in the stranger now among them. Nothing. Teal'c could have been any of the countless Jaffa they'd encountered - warriors of false gods. His face had looked almost demonic with the blue sparkle of the event horizon...
Daniel's voice rang over to them the same instant Sam turned to the colonel with dread. Their words jumbled together.
"Sir, I think we have a problem."
"Jack! We may have a problem."

Conscious of the discomfort of her patient, Janet probed the already bruising ribcage with extra caution. She frowned at Daniel's appearance, worried he wasn't getting enough sleep. The archaeologist's eyebrows were knit and his attention was focused on Sam and Colonel O'Neill across the room. Fingers maintaining their gentle examination, Janet surreptitiously followed his gaze and frowned even more deeply at the instant reminder that Daniel wasn't the only one looking a little rough around the edges.
A sudden flinch from Daniel startled Janet back to him and she realized that in her distraction, she had begun poking a little too aggressively on his tender ribs. Embarrassed, she looked up to apologize and saw his gaze was fully on her now, and it wasn't one of pain. In fact, Janet was pretty sure his face was mirroring her own clinical assessment of him and his teammates.
"How are you doing, Doctor Fraiser?" the archaeologist inquired, jerking when her hands tensed mid-probe.
"Sorry. I'm fine, Daniel," Janet tried to brush off.
"Right. Fine as in the over-stressed, over-worried, over-tired kind of way?" Daniel rebutted with a stubborn set to his jaw.
"Funny, I was just going to say the same thing to you. And Sam. And Colonel O'Neill," Janet halfheartedly teased.
"Well, that would be a little like the pot calling the kettle, wouldn't it? Seriously, though. Teal'c's your friend as well as ours. This hasn't exactly been easy for any of us," Daniel continued, eyes searching her face with concern.
Janet sobered at his inquiry and was a little surprised. She regarded Daniel a friend, but they had really had any in depth conversations. Had it been Sam asking about her welfare, Janet wouldn't have thought twice about it. Daniel asking threw her off balance, but she found his concern welcome. And took it for the wake-up call it was. She had been putting in extra hours, researching all possible methods and drugs they could use to reverse what had happened to Teal'c. She was running herself ragged and getting nothing for it. Though she hadn't had to deal with the verbal and emotional abuse Teal'c was doling out, Janet could honestly say she had almost hit the wall. SG1 had to be even closer, if they hadn't already smacked into it.
"You're right. I am tired, but I'm not ready to give up quite yet. There as to be a way to get through to him," Janet confessed, rubbing the bridge of her nose with her right thumb and forefinger.
"I wish I could have as much confidence," Daniel wearily sighed. "I mean, what else can we do?"
Shocked at the resignation in Daniel's tone, Janet looked at him sharply. His concern for her had diminished into defeat. It was not a pleasant look for him, and she found her own resolve building as a result. No way would she let him, or Sam or Colonel O'Neill get away with giving up.
"We will get through to him, Daniel," Janet vowed. "It won't be pretty, but it will happen."
Janet hoped she was telling him the truth. There were so methods she'd heard of that she couldn't condone as a physician and hoped they wouldn't resort to using them. She'd have to draw the line for her profession, though she didn't kid herself that it would be easy.
"You haven't been there. You haven't seen-" Daniel began.
"Ah! I haven't seen? True. But I have seen what it's been doing to you," Janet interrupted him, pursing her lips with irritation. She placed her left hand on Daniel's bruised ribs. "Physically as well as mentally. It may not be happening to me directly, but what happens to my friends...affects me nonetheless."
Daniel blinked at her vehement response and nodded once. He reverted his gaze to Sam, the colonel and Sergeant Davis, worry lining his forehead. "Is Sergeant Davis going to be all right?"
As much as Janet had welcomed his concern, she was just as glad to change the topic slightly. She answered, "Well, like you, his injuries are superficial. He's going to be sore for a number of days, but he's fine. In fact, I was just about to go release him."
"I keep seeing Teal'c standing there, holding him like a piece of meat. Thank goodness we have the iris or..." Daniel trailed off, his expression taking on a glazed, deep in thought look.
"Daniel? What is it?" Janet hastily asked, drawing closer to the suddenly mute archaeologist's side. She lay a hand on his forearm to bring his attention to her. He looked ready to vomit. "Daniel?"
"The 'gate. I have to tell the others," Daniel muttered in a shaky voice.
With that, he slid off the bed and walked quickly to the other side of the infirmary. Sam and the colonel were already on their way back over. Janet shook her head in puzzlement and headed over to join them. Whatever was going on with Daniel, she was certain she wasn't going to like it.

"Whoa! Slow down, one at a time," Jack waved his arms in the air as Carter and Daniel's words bombarded him from both sides. "Carter?"
"Sir, the 'gate. The coordinates Teal'c put in were for Delmak," Carter tersely told him.
Jack rotated his gaze between Carter and Daniel, trying to discern what had got them both so upset. Actually, when he looked closely at them, he realized they looked like hell. An added air of panic put them right over the edge, to where he'd have to mandate sleep. Their hair was mussed...well, Daniel's more mussed than usual...and their eyes were shadowed by haunted, purple bruises. Jack caught a glimpse of the already colorful decorations Daniel was now sporting on his torso as the younger man pulled on his T-shirt with a grimace.
Shooting a helpless look at the doc, Jack just wasn't getting what Carter's statement was insinuating. Fraiser shrugged her shoulders and stared at Daniel, obviously trying to get a line as well. The petite woman also was a little worse for wear. Carter had told him the doctor hadn't even been going home at night, trusting Cassandra to be responsible while she pulled extra shifts. That, to Jack, said she was just as concerned about this whole mess as the rest of them, as if the puffy eyes and funky hairstyle didn't do it on their own.
Daniel apparently caught their confusion and thankfully explained further, "Delmak, Jack. Apophis' world. And the 'gate engaged, meaning it survived the explosion. So..."
He finally clued in. The realization almost literally slapped him across the face. "What?! You think Apophis is still alive? No way."
"It is possible, sir. We've thought him dead before," Carter reluctantly confirmed.
Head reeling, Jack grabbed it with both hands as if he could stop the onslaught of dizzying denial spinning through him. This was the last thing he needed to think about. Dealing with a psychotic and fanatical Teal'c was enough for a person to handle. Now the possibility of the guy one of his good friends was suddenly professing complete, mindless devotion to was out there alive when he should have been dead years ago was enough for Jack to crack completely.
"Shit. He'd better be dead," he growled. "Is there any way to kill that bastard? Or any way to confirm his death this time?"
"Well, I think it's safe to say we don't want to send any teams to Delmak to find out. Even if the 'gate works, it doesn't mean it's safe," Daniel thought out loud with a quick eyebrow quirk. "I'd guess the Tok'ra have probably considered this. We should contact them to find out for certain."
"I wonder why Dad didn't say anything," Carter mused.
"Sam, he'd been with you guys. I'm sure that's part of the reason he had to get back. Without a 'gate on the new Tok'ra base, we really have no way of finding out anything from them. I'm sure they'll let us know once they find out for sure that Apophis is dead," Doctor Fraiser delivered, a voice of reason. "Besides, from what you reported, I don't see how he could have lived."
Crap. He was so tired, he hadn't even remembered the Tok'ra were more isolated than ever now. Neither had Daniel or Carter, a fact which disturbed him on multiple levels. Clearly, none of them were firing with all cylinders. The doc's reassurances weren't reassuring him at all, though. Goddamnit. Apophis had already miraculously lived through a similar explosion. The Goa'uld just didn't know how to stay dead.
"Right. I'm sticking with him being a crispy critter," Jack muttered. It wasn't something on which they should expend vast amounts of energy. Regardless of Apophis' state of being, they still had to deal with their friend. "Doesn't matter. We can't do anything about it, either way. What we should not do is tell Teal'c his wonderful lord and master might still be alive and kicking."
"The chances of that are slim anyway. Daniel's right. Just because the 'gate on Delmak made it through the blast doesn't automatically mean Apophis did. We don't really know where the Stargate was in proximity to the crash site. And the 'gate on Thor's ship didn't get destroyed when we blew it up, proving the 'gates themselves are quite difficult to get rid of," Carter rambled.
Only half listening, Jack studied his second in command's face. She was exhausted, emotionally, mentally and physically. Even as she was spouting off her thoughts, Jack noted the lack of spark. Something vital was missing from her countenance and he was certain it wouldn't be regained unless they were able to bring Teal'c back from the dark side. She didn't need to think about Apophis any more than he.
"Carter, I said let's not dwell on it, okay?" Jack sharply rebuked. He was so tired.
Carter's mouth snapped shut and Jack cringed, regretting his harsh tone. He hadn't meant for it to come out like that. Stroking his temples with his left hand, he groaned inwardly. So tired. They all just needed rest, but he knew any attempt would be futile. His body had been begging him for days to take it easy. His mind, however, stubbornly refused to allow it.
"Sorry, Carter. I just don't think any of us need to add another thing to our worry list," Jack softly apologized, removing his hand to look her in the eye.
The hurt expression dwindled to one of understanding. Carter flashed him a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes. It just made Jack wince more. He turned away, to Daniel. The archaeologist's eyes were narrowed in thought, his face turned slightly away from all of them. The younger man was in a classic defensive stance, left arm wrapped tightly around his chest, right one propped on it and his fingers were rubbing his lower lip. Jack frowned more deeply.
"Daniel? Did you hear what I just said?" Jack called, satisfied to see the younger man jerk at his name.
"Jack, don't worry. I was just thinking about Teal'c," Daniel sighed. "Nothing seems to be working."
Daniel's tone was resigned, as if he'd already given up. Doctor Fraiser was pensively studying the archaeologist, and if Jack knew her, she was assessing his body language just as thoroughly as Jack. Slouched shoulders and wan face suggested defeat as well. Though Jack understood his friend's depression, he knew had to be the one to persist. To demand both Daniel and Carter not quit. He just hoped he could do it.
"We keep at it. Wear him down until he sees the truth. The real truth," Jack fiercely replied, pleased his tone sounded authoritative. "Show him we're not going to cave."
"But not until you've all had some sleep," Doctor Fraiser ordered. "Or at least some rest. You're not doing yourselves or Teal'c any good by running into the ground."
She was right. They'd go to Hammond...where was the general anyway? Jack couldn't help but wonder. His commanding officer hadn't been seen all day. For the past week, the older man had been right there with them, bearing almost as many insults from Teal'c as the rest of SG1. It also wasn't like the general to be absent when someone was wounded. Especially when the person inflicting the hurt was a member of his premier team. Jack drew his eyebrows together. Something was up. He'd lay money down that it wasn't anything good.

General George Hammond sat in his office, blinds drawn and door shut, with his hands fisted on top of his desk. He glared at the red phone as if it were to blame for the ultimatum he'd just been given. His day had been occupied by phone calls from the NID, in which he'd turn around and call the President, who'd call the NID, who'd call him back. It all resulted in a tremendous headache and no gain for his side. The President was convinced he should only allow him one additional week with Teal'c before the Jaffa would be placed in prison.
Prison. Huh. Hammond knew Teal'c's fate would not be to rot in some prison cell somewhere. He had no doubt the NID would assert themselves and take Teal'c for experimentation, which they'd threatened to do on and off for the past four and a half years. Either outcome was a death sentence for the strong warrior he had come to respect so highly. He could not allow either to happen.
Today had been the first day he'd not been able to join SG1 in their attempt to deprogram Teal'c. All of them were losing resolve, Hammond could sense it. With each passing day, Major Carter became thinner and paler. Doctor Jackson's eyes became less blue and more gray. And Colonel O'Neill's face became tighter, but tighter with exhaustion not determination. The last report he'd got from Doctor Fraiser told him the petite woman was also taxing herself too hard. Damnit, if he wasn't careful, he'd lose more than Teal'c in this mess.
He'd heard the shouts from the control room and knew Teal'c had finally made for the Stargate, a move Hammond had expected far sooner. For once in his life, Hammond hid. He didn't want to witness their failure. Couldn't bring himself to leave his office. Weak. He was a coward, grabbing instead for the phone to place one last call to the President rather than face reality. Now the guilt from his purely selfish reaction was devouring him. It was safe to assume something had happened to SG1, or they would have attempted to speak with him by now.
Hammond heaved a sigh; he was so worn and just wanted the nightmare to be over. The idea of retirement once again popped into his head. Retirement on his own terms sounded damn appealing. Part of what he had used as an excuse when Kinsey had forced him to resign his post a couple of months ago was true. He didn't know how much longer he could go on seeing good people hurt. Or killed.
But not today. Today, right now, he needed to go to the infirmary and see what had happened. Rising, Hammond moved from behind his desk and headed for the door. Before he reached it, it vibrated with a loud knock. He knew who it was.
"Come," he brusquely called, shoving his depression down as far as he could bury it.
He returned to stand behind his desk. Sure enough, SG1 trickled into the office, followed closely by Doctor Fraiser. They all looked undamaged. Hammond took the blessing where he could get it. Something had definitely got them more out of sorts, though. Even his chief medical officer was looking abnormally peaked.
"Colonel, what can I do for you?" Hammond asked, as though his presence among them shouldn't have been missed at all.
"Sir, just thought we should tell you Teal'c broke out again, grabbed Sergeant Davis as a hostage and attempted to retreat through the Stargate," the colonel rattled off unemotionally. "Daniel, I and a handful of SFs managed to stop him while Carter closed the 'gate down."
Hammond nodded. No big surprise. "Was anyone injured?"
"Sergeant Davis sustained bruising to his throat and right kidney. He should make a full recovery, though he'll be shaken up for a while," Doctor Fraiser reported, then turned to Doctor Jackson. "Daniel also suffered some bruising to his ribs, but is fine."
Hammond reviewed the faces of SG1 as the doctor spoke. All three were dead on their feet, and Doctor Jackson had an arm around his chest, the only indication of discomfort. He wanted nothing more than to commiserate with them, but he was the commander of the facility and had to present himself as such. So he simply asked, "Are you okay, Doctor Jackson?"
"I'm fine, General," the young man mumbled.
"About Teal'c, sir," the colonel began, appearing as though he didn't want to think about Doctor Jackson's injuries.
Hammond halted him by raising a hand. "Yes, about Teal'c. I'm sure you all have wondered the cause for my seclusion today. It seems the NID wants Teal'c locked up. The President ordered that if we couldn't break through in the next week, Teal'c is to be remanded to prison."
He balled his hands again into fists as all four of his staff emitted various sounds of protest. He had no doubt each of them knew his announcement had been coming and was strangely heartened to see their faces become animated with disapproval. Painful as the words were, they seem to have sparked his people into action.
"Prison, right!" O'Neill spat, hands unconsciously mimicking his own with clenched fists. The colonel strode up to his desk, knuckles white. "More likely they'll turn Teal'c into a lab rat."
"Sir, we can't let that happen!" Major Carter cried out, worry warping her features.
Doctor Fraiser and Doctor Jackson remained silent, though Hammond could read their distress. They would all do their best to prevent Teal'c's incarceration, but he felt he had to decree an order of his own. The strain they were all under...himself very much included...was unhealthy and might actually detract from success with Teal'c. Some level of rest had to be met before they could try again. With hesitation, Hammond relayed his directive.
"We won't, Major," he assured the young woman. "However, I feel it's in everyone's best interest to take a break from the...sessions with Teal'c. I want each of you to try and get some sleep. You are not to resume deprogramming him for twelve hours."
As he suspected would happen, SG1 did not take kindly to the order. Each of them looked at him with blazing eyes, and if he didn't know them so well he might have felt threatened. Hammond ensured his facial expression left no room for negotiation. He would not budge on this one. At least that's how it was supposed to go down. The first denial came from a previously silent source.
"General, while I agree we all need rest," Doctor Jackson admitted before continuing, "I don't think it would be a good idea to back off. No disrespect intended, sir."
"I agree with Daniel," O'Neill quickly supported the archaeologist's assertion. "If we leave Teal'c alone after he's just come so close to getting away, I'm afraid we'll just be feeding his delusions. He'll think he's winning and his resolve will just grow....sir."
Their argument was valid, Hammond mentally acknowledged. Though he really didn't want to change his ruling, he knew they'd continue to debate. Even if he stuck to his guns, they might even disobey him. Blame either resignation or exhaustion, he just didn't want to fight.
"Very well. You are to spend a maximum of two hours with him, then I want you all to get some rest," Hammond conceded easily.
The strain in the room relaxed ever so slightly. With purpose, Major Carter, Doctor Jackson and Doctor Fraiser left the office. Colonel O'Neill lingered and Hammond's stomach suddenly lurched. The colonel's expression now read gratification, but there was something else hidden in the brown depths of his eyes.
"Colonel, is there something else?" he inquired.
"Yes, sir, there is. Not that there's anything we can do about it, but the planet Teal'c attempted to 'gate to, sir?" O'Neill spoke rapidly, distaste coloring his words. "It was Delmak. There's a chance Apophis may have survived."
Terrific. Hammond abruptly sat down, rubbing a weary hand over his bald head. For long seconds, he had no idea what to say or do. When it rains, it pours. He could only hope the deluge would stop before they all drowned. He said nothing, choosing instead to break regulations. He opened his bottom desk drawer and withdrew the Christmas present he'd received from the man standing before him - a bottle of Chivas Regal. Hammond was glad now he'd had the foresight to keep one of the bottles on base.
"Lock the door. Care for a drink?" Hammond invited.
The sound of the door locking resounded through the otherwise silent room. He retrieved two coffee mugs and poured the liquor. It burned down his throat beautifully.

"Daniel, you sure you want to do this?" Jack asked him, a hand pressing on his shoulder.
Of course he didn't want to do it. None of them did. Jack was simply worried, he knew that, but Daniel cringed at the thought the older man didn't believe he could handle himself. He stared at the metal door in front of him and closed his eyes tightly, fighting the swelling irritation. Lack of sleep was making him want to snap at everyone and everything.
"No, Jack. I don't want to do this," Daniel confessed, unable to contain an exasperated sigh. "But like you said, if I don't go in there, Teal'c will just think he's winning. He's in restraints now and even if he wasn't I don't feel any more threatened than I did before. Let's just do it."
His head was throbbing, so much so he thought he could see the fluorescent lights flickering brighter with each pulse. The blood seemed to be forcing its way through his veins. Despite his overwhelming fatigue, now accompanied by various aches and pains, Daniel doubted he'd get any rest at all in the next day. Days. He finally looked to Jack, not surprised to see the older man's face a mask of concern. Teal'c's escape attempt should never have happened. They'd all got careless, accustomed to the Jaffa's passive behavior. Jack would be blaming himself right about now.
"He should have been in restraints before," the colonel growled. "Should have thought of that."
Daniel gave himself a pat on the back. He still found it quite amazing he could read the older man so well. Jack had been unusually quiet since Teal'c's attack and Daniel thought he caught a hint of alcohol tingeing his breath. The general's too. Not for the first time in his life, he wished he had been invited to that party. He could really use a drink. And he didn't mean the kind made with beans from Colombia.
"Colonel, you are not responsible for Teal'c. I am," the general gently reminded Jack. "He was in a locked room, was very...docile, and we had three guards stationed right outside the door. It was my call to remove the restraints."
Jack looked ready to debate the issue, but read the same thing in the general's expression as Daniel did. General Hammond's lips were pursed in a stern line, forehead creased. Even the colonel knew not to mess with him when he had that look on his face. Daniel agreed with the general. They could stand outside the door arguing on who was to blame or acknowledge no one...or everyone...was to blame and move on. Daniel wholeheartedly voted for moving on.
General Hammond motioned for the guards to let them in. Daniel fought back the wince as the plastic key card was swiped and the door clicked open. He sucked in a deep breath and went in to face what was turning out to be his worst nightmare. Well, his worst nightmare since losing Sha're. At a friend's hands. Teal'c's. He couldn't help but wonder why that ammunition hadn't been used by his not-friend yet. Teal'c had shown only contempt for them, bringing up events from the past five years and twisting them to inflict maximum emotional wounds.
But he hadn't even hinted at mentioning Sha're. Daniel admitted he had been too frightened to bring it up himself. Like it would confirm that horrible, niggling thought that persisted in the back of his mind no matter how hard he tried to rid himself of it. That thought which placed all the rage he felt at Sha're's loss on Teal'c's shoulders, when he knew it was Apophis. It was always Apophis.
Jack pushed his way through the door, followed closely by the general and Sam. Daniel hung back for a second, straightening his shoulders to enter. Then Jack and the general moved aside and he could see inside the small, drab room. Teal'c wasn't sitting there - it was Apophis. Daniel's heart started pounding even faster and he scrunched his eyes shut as if to ward off the demon. He hesitantly opened them again to find the image of the Goa'uld had vanished to reveal his friend yet again. Daniel shook the illusion from his head and stepped into the room.
Teal'c's face was as inexpressive as usual. He sat upon a metal chair, bound hands in his lap, feet anchored to the legs of the chair. There was no way he was getting out of here again. Daniel wasn't comforted, finding the manacles were causing his anxiety to actually increase. At least before he could pretend Teal'c was Teal'c. That escape was denied him and he now realized how much he had needed it.
Daniel had to stop wallowing. It wasn't doing him any good and it certainly didn't help the others or Teal'c. He sneaked glances at Jack, Sam and General Hammond. They all were still silent, eyeing Teal'c warily. The tension in the room was the highest Daniel could remember since the long week had begun. He slid around to stand next to Sam, bringing him to Teal'c's right side. He just couldn't take the full-on glare Teal'c was now sporting, face no longer impassive.
"Your presence is useless here," Teal'c spat, breaking the silence at last.
"Yeah, I get that a lot," Jack retorted, though his words held little of the flippancy they normally contained. "But bear with us, will you? We're just going to go over this stuff one more time."
"Your attempt at coercion will fail now as it has previously. You are fools," Teal'c continued as though Jack hadn't even spoken.
Teal'c was right, Daniel realized. Nothing they had already tried would suddenly break the hold Apophis had gained on their friend. There was only one thing, one last weapon they could use and he knew he had to be the one to unleash it. He took another deep breath.
"Teal'c, I have a question for you," he began, trying not to jerk when the Jaffa twisted his head and shoulders to stare at him. He faltered and mentally cursed.
"I am surprised you were brave enough to enter this room, Hassak!" Teal'c discharged, flexing his biceps until veins stood out against the taut flesh. "You cowered before like the puppy I know you to be."
Trying his best to ignore the gibe, Daniel met Teal'c's ferocious glare. He wanted to run far away from the holding cell already and he hadn't even got to the main gist of his question. Swallowing, Daniel momentarily shifted his gaze to Jack and then back to Teal'c as he continued, "Yeah, I get that a lot."
Catching Jack's surprised smirk out of the corner of his eye, Daniel watched Teal'c clench his jaw tightly and narrow his eyes in appraisal. Dark, fury charged eyes scanned him up and down. He felt alarmingly like a mouse being inspected and played with by a cat before the actual kill. With shock, he thought he recognized more than loathing in Teal'c's eyes, a glimmer of strange admiration darting across them before vanishing into complete hate.
"We all get that a lot," Sam chimed in, speaking for the first time. "There's really no need for you to keep repeating it."
Jack glared at the major, but Daniel shot her a grateful nod. Sam had her face schooled into a careful blank and Daniel could see she was trying very hard not to let Teal'c's harsh words and abnormal mannerisms bother her. He wasn't sure she was entirely successful in her attempt, her uncertainty shining from her eyes back at him.
"Teal'c, back to my question," Daniel guided the focus back toward him. "You say you serve Apophis as your god, right? Why would Apophis have you kill his queen Amaunet? That seems a little unlikely to me."
He held his breath and waited for the callous response he knew was coming.

It was a horrible comparison. Sam shuddered at the image her mind had conjured up - Daniel looked like a convict about to face execution as the holding cell became deadly quiet. She was taken aback at how candidly the archaeologist was able to pose such a loaded question. Had she been the one to have to risk such heartache, she didn't know if she'd be able to pull it off. Sam thanked her lucky stars it wasn't on her shoulders.
And instantly wanted to call the thought back. They'd all been through the wringer during the past week, but the relationship between Teal'c and Daniel made it seem worse for the archeologist. Their friendship had always been a tenuous one, filled with turmoil from the very beginning. She had no idea if Teal'c would remember any of this if...when...he finally let go his delusion, but Daniel would. Neither of them needed any more angst in their lives. Her gaze remained on Daniel as they all waited for Teal'c to answer.
"Amaunet had outlived her usefulness for Apophis and had betrayed my god by trying to hide the Harcesis child from him! She deserved to die," Teal'c fervently retorted.
"Apophis was dead at the time, or so Amaunet thought. She was merely protecting the child from the rest of the System Lords as he would wish," Daniel immediately fired back, oddly calm. "Since you mentioned Shifu, why is it that he was here within your grasp and you didn't take that opportunity to deliver him to Apophis? You failed your god, Teal'c."
Sam jerked as Teal'c roared with anger, pulling her eyes from Daniel to the Jaffa. She could see General Hammond and the colonel lean in closer, preparing to restrain Teal'c if it became necessary. Her friend's face was an enraged mask.
"Lies! Apophis was not dead then, nor is he now. Gods cannot die," Teal'c shouted, rising a fraction of an inch from the chair. "Amaunet was using the child for her own gain. Such betrayal is not tolerated! I took great pleasure in dispensing with her life."
Sam nearly gasped at the brutality with which he spoke. Teal'c was very deliberate, punctuating with precision. She spun back to the archaeologist to see his jaw twitching minutely. He said nothing. She doubted he could speak. The lump in her own throat prevented her participation. The colonel quickly stepped up, giving Daniel a once over. Sam thought she saw regret flash in his eyes and braced herself for the continued line of questioning.
"Amaunet outlived her usefulness after she gave birth. Why didn't you take the opportunity to kill her on Abydos a year earlier? She was weak, allowing Daniel to take her child. You helped him, for crying out loud!" O'Neill quietly reminded.
Closing her eyes for a brief second only to open them and see Daniel go a shade paler, Sam knew her own face was white. How could he stand this? She felt as though her heart was being ripped straight from her chest and she hadn't even been on Abydos at the time.
"Apophis did not wish it," Teal'c smugly muttered.
No. That made no sense. No sense at all. She blinked an apology to Daniel, then took a step closer to Teal'c, joining Daniel and the colonel's attack, "Didn't wish it? And yet only a year later he did, just when Amaunet was trying to save Shifu? You couldn't have known his intentions, since we all though him to be dead. Dead men...sorry, gods...can't give orders."
"Not to mention you could have delivered Apophis' child right into his arms and you didn't. Why? And at any time, you could have told Apophis Kasuf had the boy and he could have returned to Abydos to get the baby. Daniel's right. You failed in your alleged duties, Teal'c," the colonel picked up right where Sam left off.
"I did not. Apophis wished to test Amaunet's loyalty and she failed. Orders were not required. As First Prime to my god it was my duty," Teal'c maintained his position, ire brimming in his face.
God, this was like talking to a brick wall. They were never going to get to Teal'c this way; he'd suddenly become a master at twisting the meaning of their words and his own actions to suit his illusion of reality. All it was doing was causing them more pain in the process. Sam struggled to keep the contents of her stomach in her stomach, the bile rising again into her throat. She'd give anything to be out of this room. Now.
"So killing Amaunet had absolutely nothing to do with - oh, I don't know - saving Daniel's life?" the colonel exasperated.
Daniel made a tortured groan and backed up a step. Sam started at the first sounds that had come from the archaeologist in quite some time and turned his direction. He was swallowing repeatedly and bright, unnatural spots of color splashed across his pale face. Staring at Teal'c as though he physically couldn't look away, Daniel'e eyes were filled with dread.
Teal'c blazed with menace, staring long and hard at the colonel before casually eyeing each of them. Like he was inventorying them. The room was filled only with harsh breathing and ice. Their friend finally settled his gaze on Daniel, who was still looking dumbstruck with his back against the wall.
"On the contrary, it was my intention to kill this pathetic creature. Had you and Major Carter not approached, I would have allowed Amaunet to complete the task before ending her life," Teal'c's voice was subdued, but to Sam it sounded almost elated.
Teal'c paused and smiled. Sam shuddered.

"R-right," O'Neill's obnoxious voice offended Teal'c's ears. "So you knew we were gonna show up and you could only kill one of them, I suppose."
Fool. O'Neill did not even realize he was providing aid to Teal'c. Eyes focused on the timid archaeologist, pressed tightly to the wall, Teal'c watched as O'Neill's words skewered into the young man. Daniel Jackson's pain was evident, face miserably failing to conceal his anguish. Teal'c reveled in it. He changed his mind. The scholar would not die. That would be too kind and the lowly Tau'ri did not merit kindness.
"That is correct. My disappointment was great. Until," he taunted, his stare victoriously directed at Daniel Jackson, "I realized how much more pain I could inflict upon him by forcing him to bear witness to the death of his beloved wife. Every day since then I have taken great enjoyment in the knowledge I was the one to cause such heartache."
It was the same pleasure he was feeling now. Daniel Jackson blanched and appeared to want to crawl into the wall at his back. Weak. So easily manipulated. Teal'c slowly returned his attention to O'Neill to see his words were having the effect he had hoped. O'Neill held his emotions in check, save for a compassion and apology-filled glance to the archaeologist. It was all Teal'c needed to satisfy the hatred churning through him.
"That's not true! I won't," Daniel Jackson suddenly cried, practically choking on his tongue. "I won't believe that, Teal'c. You are my friend, whether you remember it or not."
Teal'c snapped his head around to find the archaeologist had advanced a couple of steps toward him. The younger man's eyes were stricken a deep blue, expression contorted. Teal'c smiled again at how gullible the Tau'ri were, that he could deceive them with so little effort. Major Carter also revealed his success, her focus switching from him to Daniel Jackson. The distress was plain in her body language. He would start with her.
"I am not, nor have I ever been your friend. It sickens me to even consider such a relationship with the likes of you. No, Daniel Jackson, the only pleasure I have had while in your company was when you were suffering," Teal'c relentlessly goaded. "When I am freed, and I will be freed by my god, I will ensure your misery is endless. One by one, I will kill your friends before your very eyes as you beg me to stop. I will begin by ridding the universe of Major Carter, filthy with Tok'ra memories. I will torture her to obtain information for Apophis, slowly sucking the life from her mind and then her body."
Teal'c paused again, relishing the reactions his threats...guarantees...were spawning. As he had hoped, O'Neill's muscles were becoming tense with restraint, fists whitening. The SG1 team leader had a dangerously intimate relationship with his subordinates, a weakness Teal'c now found easy to target. Much like Daniel Jackson, O'Neill would suffer immensely at the loss of those for whom he cared deeply. He had openly demonstrated how is own death was preferable to that of Major Carter's. Anticipation surged and Teal'c tightened his hands into fists, imagining they were wrapped around the woman's neck.
The Tau'ri before him remained silent, stunned. Teal'c continued, "Next I will kill Doctor Fraiser. What is it you say? Women and...children first."
O'Neill visibly flinched at the implication. Oh, yes, Teal'c would enjoy doing all he threatened, wreaking helplessness upon the man. Perhaps he had made an error. Perhaps it was O'Neill who should survive to witness the death of his friends. No matter. Victory would be his, whether it was O'Neill or Daniel Jackson to live in misery.
"That's enough!" General Hammoned burst, shoving past O'Neill to snare Teal'c's attention. "Time's up, Colonel. Let's go."
Teal'c's heart soared. He was winning. Even if he could not break free to return to his god, at least he had prevailed. He wanted to laugh and jeer in their faces. At the general's words, Daniel Jackson moved toward the door, coming close to Teal'c's chair. He could not resist. Willing all of his strength into his right arm, he strained against the leather strap. He ignored the pain as it snapped, seeing only the archaeologist's defeated figure.
O'Neill's angry shouts distracted him only slightly. He latched onto Daniel Jackson's wrist and bodily swung the young man toward him. Panic skittered through the archaeologist's eyes as he attempted to break Teal'c's grip. Teal'c caught them and held them with his own gaze filled with triumph and promise.
"Let go of him," General Hammond roared, grabbing Teal'c's hand in an attempt to wrench his fingers from Daniel Jackson's forearm. "Do it, Jack."
Teal'c kept his hand firmly clamped, but averted his stare to the general. The man was as emotionally invested with people beneath his rank. It disturbed him greatly he had to bow to the whims of such an ineffective commander. His resolve to break free grew again. He would see them all suffer and perish.
A sharp prick in his left shoulder invaded his body. Teal'c swiveled his neck to find O'Neill withdrawing a hypodermic needle from his shoulder. He began experiencing a vague, tingling sensation in his arms and legs and the room started spinning. They might succeed in subduing him now but soon, very soon, he would get his revenge. Letting go of Daniel Jackson, Teal'c felt his mind growing numb. He fought the drug flowing into his system, finding it necessary to focus on the words of his captors.
Blurred vision confused him but he did witness the Tau'ri fleeing the room. The door slammed shut and he was left alone. Closing his eyes, Teal'c concentrated on hearing the voices now outside his prison. He did not know why, but it was vital for him to hear the words.
"That's it. I don't see we have a choice. No matter what we say or do, Teal'c will not see the truth," General Hammond's tired voice floated through the metal. "The impartiality has to help."
Teal'c inwardly rejoiced even as his body sagged. He would die before allowing these fools to sway him from the truth.
"But McKenzie? The man doesn't know his head from his-"
"Colonel O'Neill...Jack...I understand your hesitancy and your concern when it comes to Doctor McKenzie, but I will not stand by while you, Major Carter and Doctor Jackson are put through the wringer for no good reason. I believe Doctor Fraiser is correct and my decision is final. From this point forward, Doctor McKenzie will proceed with the deprogramming. You will be able to observe through the security cameras," the general grimly ordered.
"Sir, I-" O'Neill protested again.
"My decision is final, Jack. I suggest you go find Doctor Jackson and Major Carter. Make sure they're all right and then get that rest. We have to trust McKenzie to do his job."
"Right," O'Neill skeptically sighed.
As their voices faded, Teal'c smiled. His task had just become that much easier. Doctor McKenzie was a simpleton. Teal'c knew now what he must do to escape the Tau'ri. It was so simple he cursed himself for not thinking of it earlier.
With the aid of Doctor McKenzie, Teal'c would be 'cured'. He had twisted the truth for five years. He could do it again and convince them of his sincerity. Then, when they had relaxed in his presence, Teal'c would be free. It would not be long.

Puffs of smoke marred an otherwise clear night. The cloudless sky sparkled with brilliant stars and once upon a time Janet would have found comfort in the astonishing beauty of the universe. Not now, though. She was still a bit rankled General Hammond hadn't allowed her to join the session with Teal'c. Hadn't she just as much right to be there as the rest of them? Teal'c was her friend...her patient. To make matters worse, the general also forbade her to return to the infirmary.
Forbade. God, that was so like a man. Of course, she didn't exactly obey, heading straight for her lab to continue her research. Then Cassie had called to ask if Janet ever intended to come home again and if not, was it all right if she threw non-stop raves to raise a little cash? Exhaustion had gotten the best of her. Janet cringed as she recalled the twenty-minute screaming match. Her mother had warned her raising a teenage girl could be a hazardous occupation; she thought she was prepared. Boy, was she wrong.
So, anxiety about Teal'c fueled by irritation with her daughter drove Janet to the surface, cigarettes in hand. It was so easy to fall into that habit again. Telling herself she'd quit when Teal'c was better, Janet defiantly inhaled and let the nicotine settle her nerves. She couldn't keep her mind off SG1 and General Hammond, hoping they'd be successful this time.
Advising the general the next step should be to let Doctor McKenzie at Teal'c hadn't been the easiest thing to do. As a doctor, McKenzie was adequate. As a person, Janet had her doubts. Perhaps that's precisely what was needed with Teal'c's treatment. A completely detached administrator. She could only hope so. SG1 was sure to take the news poorly.
Janet ground the butt into the boulder she was perched on, rolling the soft filter back and forth between her thumb and forefinger. She really should get back inside. The air was crisp and cool, seeping into her skin through her thin lab coat. The discomfort out here versus the discomfort down in her office. With a heavy sigh, Janet reached into her pocket and withdrew the pack of cigarettes and her lighter. One more for the road.
She flicked the lighter, the small flame illuminating a small circle around her. Drawing in a deep breath, Janet nearly choked as she heard rustling behind her. A tiny yelp escaped and she dropped the lighter. Darkness enfolded around her, the brief contact with brightness enough to temporarily distort her vision.
"W-who's there?" she called, kicking herself for sounding meek and scared.
"Doctor Fraiser?" a male voice filled the air.
Daniel. Relief coursed through her. Janet knew she was safe here - she was on a military base after all - but the thought of lions and tigers and bears had sprung unbidden into her imagination. Wait. Daniel? And he didn't sound altogether steady himself.
"Yes it's me," she affirmed, sliding off the rock to fumble around for the missing lighter. "Just getting a breath of fresh air...uh..."
Remembering the cancer stick she was waving around in her left hand, Janet trailed off with an embarrassed chuckle. Well, she was busted now. Her right hand finally found the pesky Bic and she stood again, taking another drag.
"Mind if I, uh," Daniel hedged. "Could I steal one of those? Unless you happen to have a bottle of whiskey tucked away up here too."
Uh oh. Alarm bells rang loud in her skull. She turned around to face him, eyes finally able to see. Even by the dim starlight, Janet could see the archaeologist was pale. Make that pale and shaky, she amended as he sank onto the boulder. The selfish part of her was now thankful the general hadn't let her join them. Whatever happened must have been bad.
"Well, as your doctor I have to advise against the use of tobacco products," she lamely joked, hoping to ease Daniel into talking. When he showed no reaction, she plopped down next to him and extended the pack. She might as well just leap right in. As she handed the lighter over, she asked, "Bad?"
Daniel's hand faltered in mid air. Whoa. Very bad indeed. His icy fingers touched hers for the briefest of seconds, continuing on their mission to the lighter. The flame erupted quickly, disappearing just as fast. He didn't say a word as he handed it back to her. Together they sat in silence, Daniel studying the sky while she studied him. He had Sha're written all over his face. Janet winced in sympathy.
"I know this is probably rude," Daniel abruptly whispered, shooting her a glance. "But do you think I could be alone for a little while? I just need..."
He stopped and looked away. A gigantic lump took up residence in her throat and she immediately rose. It was common for Daniel to seek solitude when he was hurting. She could do this simple thing for him. With a squeeze to his arm, Janet began walking away but only got four steps when she heard him swallow what could only be a sob. She halted.
No. She wouldn't enable him to maintain his typical seclusion this time. When Sha're had died, no one had wanted to approach the barrier he had built and it had taken almost two months before he came close to resembling the Daniel they all knew and loved. That wouldn't be an option this time, both for practical purposes and for his state of emotional health. Knowing the rest of SG1 would likely find him eventually, Janet rationalized that she was simply holding the door for them.
Straightening her shoulders, Janet spun on her heels and took a hesitant step back toward the big rock. Daniel stiffened instantly and stopped making any noise. She almost caved, having been on the wrong end of an angered Daniel Jackson before. It wasn't an experience she enjoyed. The longer she waited, the more she realized the outcome of his irritation was worth the risk.
"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked at last.
"Not particularly," Daniel predictably replied, his face turning away as she neared.
"Well, that's too bad, because I do."
"Uh, why?" he shot, putting an annoying edge and lilt to the word.
"Not talking about it won't help. I want to help you work through it. Maybe if I understood exactly what you went through I could do that," Janet gently explained, reaching her hand out, but not touching him.
"I don't think you could understand. Not that I want you to," Daniel sighed. He rubbed his left hand over his face, lifting his right to take a puff of the cigarette. "Not that I want anyone to. To truly know means you'd have to have experienced it."
"Experienced what, exactly?" she innocently asked, playing dumb. Noting he was almost done with his smoke, she reached for the pack again, she snagged two and handed Daniel one. "These are my last. I swear I'm not going to buy anymore. Teal'c will get better and I won't have to."
At the Jaffa's name, Daniel noticeably jostled. He recovered his composure quickly, snuffing the butt of his first cigarette and stretching his hand out for the lighter. Janet narrowed her eyes and flicked the flame herself, offering it to him. In the sparse light, she gathered as much information about his physical appearance as she could. Though it had only been a couple of hours since she saw him last, the shadows under his eyes seemed deeper. His eyes were pale to the point of being colorless and the lines on his forehead were more pronounced, adding years to his age. Janet frowned.
"Daniel? Please tell me," she coaxed.
"I thought I could..." he began, stopping to swallow and take another drag. "I could handle it. The Sha're thing."
So she had gotten that correct. Janet held her tongue and hoped he'd continue without prompting. She didn't have any first-hand knowledge, but Sam told her Daniel either locked everything away and spoke nothing or he let the floodgates open and let it flow. He needed to do that; she knew it.
"I really thought I had a grip on it. It's been almost two years already, you know? Still seems like yesterday," Daniel spoke as if he were a recording, the words hollow and automatic.
Janet cringed, knowing how much he had to be feeling beneath the cool exterior. Stoic presentation didn't mean he was emotionless. How often had she seen him talk about Sha're as though she were someone else's wife? Yet she recognized his ability to distance himself from reality was a mere defense mechanism.
"Teal'c twisted it all around," he mechanically continued. "Just like he did with everything else. I knew it would come to that. But before, with everything, I didn't believe him. God, Doc...Janet, I..."
He halted and peered at her through the darkness, cigarette rising to his lips. Janet almost started to speak, but then she caught his eyes. They pleaded for silence. Patiently sucking in the nicotine, she waited. She thought she had a good idea what he was going to say.
"What's worse than anything...worse than the horrible lies Teal'c that I believed him. I said I didn't, but my heart was cold with that conviction. I thought 'Oh, God, it's true. Teal'c's been serving Apophis the entire time I've known him' and it made me ill. To think he killed Sha...Amaunet on purpose, to think he's had ulterior motives with everything he's done the past five years was too much. All of it. I believed every word. It only lasted a couple of seconds, but in those few moments I betrayed Teal'c's friendship. Betrayed all I know he truly stands for," Daniel cried, his voice becoming stridently passionate and self-condemning.
Janet had no idea what to say. She hadn't expected this particular twist. He turned to look at her, his face beseeching her to help ease his guilt. She couldn't do that for him. To do so would be somewhat hypocritical, as she'd undergone the same thing. True, she hadn't been a witness to the horror herself, but Sam's stories were enough to feed her doubt. All she could offer him was a soft squeeze to his forearm.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but you are human aren't you Daniel?" a strong voice issuing from behind them made her literally jump.
Janet quickly twirled around to find herself face to face with a concerned Colonel Jack O'Neill and Major Samantha Carter.

His whole being protested the general's decree. McKenzie? He just couldn't see how the headshrinker would be able to succeed with Teal'c where they all failed. McKenzie hadn't exactly earned his trust in the two years since Daniel's run in with insanity. Artificial insanity, which should have been diagnosed by the doctor and not the patient. Jack still bristled when he thought about how they'd all given up on Daniel. He didn't want to repeat that mistake with Teal'c.
General Hammond's receding figure occupied his vision as he stood listlessly in the hall outside the holding cell. His CO's departing words rolled around in his head. Find Carter and Daniel. Both had taken off in opposite directions faster than he could spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Jack didn't blame them, especially Daniel. His jaw had just about hit the floor when the archaeologist broached the Sha're issue. When things had settled, he'd have to discuss with Daniel the importance of issuing memos when planning to drop bombs. A little warning would have been nice.
What was he doing, standing here mentally berating Daniel when he should be going to find the scientist? Making sure he was all right. He knew Daniel had likely understood he was in for a whole lot of emotional hurt when taking on Teal'c, but he doubted the archaeologist was really prepared to deal with it. Not alone, anyway. He'd go collect Carter and they'd find Daniel together. Jack took one last look at Teal'c through the window, strangely satisfied to see the Jaffa slouching in his chair. It was probably safe to send in some SFs to re-restrain him.
"Airman, see to it Teal'c's restraints are repaired," he ordered one of the guards and started walking the direction Carter had gone. As an afterthought, he tossed back, "Oh, and be careful."
Carter was exactly where he thought she'd be, looking for the doc in the infirmary. He was vaguely surprised at how much his second in command had been leaning on Doctor Fraiser the past week for support, but at the same time grateful she had someone with whom she could work through her feelings. Daniel and he had had several stilted conversations, where little real comfort was given or received. Of course, he hadn't gone out of his way to talk. To anyone. The closest he'd gotten was tossing a couple back with Hammond.
Well, it was time for that to change. Jack silently watched Carter as she slumped in the doc's office chair, head resting wearily on the desk. He snuck a look around the infirmary, but didn't spot Fraiser anywhere. A nurse noticed his scanning eyes, nodding briefly and then shook her head with a shrug. Great. No help there. It was all right with him. He'd return Carter to her vigil in the doc's office after they had their discussion with Daniel. He suddenly wondered if the archaeologist might prove hard to find.
"Carter?" he softly spoke, not wanting to startle her.
The young woman's head snapped off the desk, hands twitching in reaction. Jack could see fatigue and pain lurking behind the tear-filled eyes and he cleared his throat, looking away. Almost nothing worse than seeing a woman crying. It always brought his own emotions closer to the surface than he liked them to be. Carter looked scared and his throat tightened in response to her dismay.
"Sir, I didn't, uh, see you there," she stammered in an unnecessary attempt to recover dignity.
"Carter," he repeated, reverting his gaze to her. "It's okay. Relax."
"Yes, sir," Carter whispered, slouching back into the chair so quickly Jack almost laughed.
"Look, I know you're wanting to talk with Fraiser, but I'd like to track down Daniel. I could use some help," he invited, trying to keep his tone light.
"What? He didn't stay with...oh, right. Obviously not," she rambled, discreetly brushing her face with both hands and rising. "Oh, sir. He's-"
"Yeah," he cut her off. "You can say that again. It wasn't exactly pretty in there, was it?"
"All those things Teal'c said," she shuddered, wrapping her arms around herself in a Daniel-like manner. "That was the first time I was really afraid, you know? Of Teal'c and for Teal'c."
"That wasn't him, Carter. You have to know that," Jack gently reminded.
Only he wasn't certain of that himself. Whether it was physical and emotional exhaustion or the couple of drinks he'd had prior to entering the room, Jack had found his own stubborn will faltering under Teal'c's renewed rage. He'd, he had lost his cool, so frantic to fight against the evil vindictiveness Teal'c was readily spewing at them. In effect, Teal'c had won that round, as each of them let their feelings intrude. Hammond was right. They were all far too close, though he had to think there was a better way to deal with Teal'c than McKenzie. He just had to figure it out.
"I do know that, sir. I do. It wasn't the pleasure he claimed he got from killing Amaunet...Sha're. It was the stuff after. What he said he was going to do," Carter's voice shakily called him back.
She was standing next to him all of a sudden. Jack hadn't even realized she was moving. Closing his eyes in a long blink, he sighed deeply. The though of Teal'c's threatened killing spree shook him to the core. The Jaffa knew any of them would rather die themselves than see the others suffer. It didn't matter the threats were empty or that they were coming from someone not in his right mind. The words were as good as a sentence to life in prison. Never ending death row. And Teal'c knew all he had to do was plant that seed in their heads. They'd torment themselves for him.
"Not him. We have to remember that," he reiterated, including himself this time. "They were only words."
It sounded like the platitude it was. He shook his head and swung his arms to direct her out of the office. They really had to find Daniel. Carter nodded and brushed by him, automatically heading for the elevators. Daniel's lab seemed as good a place as any to start.
Daniel wasn't there. Nor was he in the commissary, the VIP room, any of the on base quarters or the locker room. Jack's agitation grew with each place they searched. The longer Daniel was alone, the more likely he'd withdraw into his protective shell. No way did he want that to happen. Slamming the locker room door angrily, Jack shook his head at Carter.
"Where the hell could he have gone?" Jack grumbled, sounding angry when all he felt was concern.
"I don't know, sir. Maybe we should..." Carter paused.
"Maybe we should what?" he prompted, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands. So tired.
"Cigarettes," she said out of the blue.
Huh? Jack blinked at her a couple of times in confusion.
Carter peered up at him, noting his perplexity. She quickly elaborated, "When Janet's stressed out, she smokes."
"So?" he blustered, waving his right hand for her to continue.
"Janet's up top."
"Still not getting it, Carter," Jack mumbled, cursing the sleep deprivation obviously stunting his quick mind.
"Where does Daniel go when he's upset, particularly about Sha're?" Carter asked.
Oh. Why couldn't she have just said that from the beginning and why hadn't they thought of that right away? Jack smiled at her thinly, redundantly answering, "Up top."
They jogged for the elevator once again. Jack was confident they'd find Daniel outside and he relaxed slightly. Still, when they reached the ground level, he practically trampled over Carter trying to get outside. Smoke. He could smell it the second he opened the door and the craving he continually fought reared up. Carter started forward, moving for an outcropping of large rocks Daniel frequented on his excursions to the surface.
Sure enough. As they got closer, Jack could hear a solitary voice. Daniel, speaking to a much smaller dark shape next to him. Doctor Fraiser. He couldn't quite make out the words yet, but could tell from the tone Daniel was troubled. Obviously. That was a given. There was something else Jack detected that disturbed him even more. He recognized it even before the words clarified.
"...every word. It only lasted a couple of seconds, but in those few moments I betrayed Teal'c's friendship. Betrayed all I know he truly stands for," Daniel was hollowly saying.
There was a long pause and Jack's mind screamed at the petite physician to say something, anything, to Daniel, but the woman seemed at a loss. Carter took one step forward as Doctor Fraiser finally reached out a hand to Daniel. Jack had to break the silence.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but you are human aren't you Daniel?" he softly called.
The doc noticeably started at his entrance into the previously one-sided conversation and pivoted to face them. Jack watched as she tried to nonchalantly dispose of her cigarette, her little foot casually brushing dirt over the still smoking butt. Following the offending item to the ground, he edged his eyes back up, halting when he caught sight of a similar tube in Daniel's hand. The archaeologist had frozen, his back stiff.
Eyes pinned on Daniel's fingers, Jack continued, "We've all been repeatedly attacked by Teal'c on very personal levels. Ruthlessly. Do you think you're the only one to have doubts?"
Daniel finally moved, twisting his torso to face them. The archaeologist's face was unreadable, making Jack cringe. It was never good when he couldn't even get a hint on Daniel's true state of mind. Raising the cigarette to his lips, Daniel inhaled and then let it drop to the ground like some movie hero/rebel. Except he wasn't showing any antagonism with the gesture. He remained silent. Jack's cringe turned into a frown. Maybe he hadn't approached this right.
"I thought he meant it," Carter abruptly blurted.
They all stared at her. Even in the starlight, Jack could see she had paled even further. The tears were gone, though. She looked ready to face their fears. He slouched a bit, shoved his hands into his pockets and waited.
"I thought it was over. That this was how Teal'c was going to be forever and that he'd have to be locked up," she continued, holding her eyes on him for a long second before switching to Doctor Fraiser and finally to Daniel. "You're not the only one, Daniel."
Daniel took off his glasses and blinked, not making direct contact with any of them. He seemed to focus on a spot somewhere behind Carter and the doc. Out of habit, Jack followed the archaeologist's eyes, looking for signs of trouble. He shook his head. All the signs were right in front of him.
"No, you're not," Fraiser tentatively said, looking like she wasn't sure she belonged. "I've been wracking my brain for anything to help Teal'c remember who he truly is. The more dead ends I encountered, the more I believed it was impossible. With the things Sam's told me, I thought...the reason I couldn't find anything to 'fix' him was because there was nothing to fix."
"But there is something to fix. Teal'c," Jack firmly stated, remembering his need to keep Carter and Daniel fighting. He knew, though, he had his own confession to make. Daniel was looking mildly better. Jack wanted them all to dig into their reserve stubbornness. "I won't lie and say I haven't had any doubts, but I also have to believe we'll get him back."
"God, that's all we've said for a week now!" Daniel exasperated. He rose and started pacing. "Do you really think that's going to happen?"
"I can't let myself think anything else, Daniel," Jack stated, pausing to deliberate his next words. "You said it yourself- if we give up on him now, that's the ultimate betrayal."
"That's not what..." Daniel winced, as Jack knew he would and trailed off. The archaeologist pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. Daniel tiredly continued, "It was a betrayal to believe the lies, I know that. But I know Teal'c is in there. I'm not giving up on that, I'm just so tired. I don't know if we'll see him again."
"Don't you see that's as much of a betrayal?" Jack persisted, becoming irritated at Daniel's words. "What you just said makes me think you're ready to throw in the towel. We can't, Daniel."
"Sir, with all due respect, Daniel's just voicing concerns we all share. Not acknowledging it could go down that way won't make it any easier if it does," Carter tentatively pushed her way into the conversation. "No matter how much we all want Teal'c back, the fact is, there's no way for us to be certain we'll get him. That's what's truly so horrible about all of this."
Jack knew she spoke the truth, but there was a part of him that just couldn't let it go. Damnit, he'd let Teal'c get captured. He wasn't about to let that snake win, even if it might take him years, NID be damned. Call it ego or pride. He, no they, would get Teal'c back. And that meant he'd have to convince the general to let them keep trying. Him, at least. Jack didn't know if he could make himself order Carter and Daniel to continue with the Jaffa.
"I'm not saying you're wrong, Carter. I know the possibility exists. I also know, though, I'm willing to do anything to keep that from being the end result. I can't not," he tried to explain.
Carter gazed back at him unblinkingly. Jack saw her resolution building again and his heart soared. He hadn't wanted to actually believe she'd given up. Swinging his head to Daniel, Jack prayed he'd find the same determination. The archaeologist stared at him openly, understanding of Jack's guilt washing over his face, softening his expression for an instant. Daniel nodded.
Doctor Fraiser suddenly cleared her throat, disrupting the silence. Jack looked down at her, noting she was scrutinizing him closely. He thought he saw her head twitch, shaking ever so slightly. What? Trying to figure out what she was hinting at, Jack kept his focus on her. As if sensing his confusion, the doctor fingered the lapel of her white lab coat. Crap, McKenzie.
"Except one thing," Jack hastily amended. "I'm going to have to talk with Hammond. Right now, we're all essentially banned from contact with Teal'c. McKenzie's been called."
"What? McKenzie?" Carter exploded. "What could he do that we haven't tried?"
Jack shrugged his shoulders, ruefully agreeing, "That's what I said. But Hammond and Fraiser...sorry, Doc. I have to disagree with you...think he's our best bet."
"No," Daniel abruptly said. Jack swiveled toward the younger man. "That won't work, I'm certain. There has to be something else."
"Daniel, I've considered every option. What you've tried hasn't worked. McKenzie is more than qualified to handle this," Doctor Fraiser immediately protested, though Jack thought it to be a half-hearted attempt.
"Teal'c said once hypnosis wouldn't work on him," Carter stepped up to the plate swinging. Her face belied her next words, twisting with doubt, "I'm sure he's qualified, Janet. I just don't know if that's good enough."
"Maybe we should send someone to the Land of Light for Drey'auc and Ry'ac?" Doctor Fraiser hesitantly suggested.
Jack listened quietly, very pleased to see them all at least behaving more like their tenacious selves. He rocked back on his heels a bit, relishing the rejuvenation of spirits. Things were looking up. He had them back, even if they weren't aware they had gone missing. Now they just had to find Teal'c.
"What good would that do? Would we really want to put them through this?" Daniel argued.
And it hit him.
"Bra'tac," Jack decisively called out. His three companions fell into silence. "He'll know what to do."
Carter mutely nodded. Fraiser blinked. Daniel almost smiled. Jack did smile and ushered them back into the mountain. They'd rest as ordered. But then he'd talk to Hammond and they'd get Teal'c to see sense.
He knew it.

Hammond didn't tell them he'd witnessed their discussions on top of Cheyenne Mountain. For all the colonel knew, he was a complete pushover - caving very, very easily to the demands of his first team. That wasn't so far from the truth, he admitted to himself. His soft spot was showing more and more with each passing year.
But it wasn't the case this time. He had his own doubts regarding Doctor McKenzie's ability to get through to Teal'c. The man's track record, with SG-1 in particular, was not stellar by anyone's definition. More than that, though, Hammond based his decision to allow SG-1 back in the room with Teal'c was the reinforced stubbornness he's seen return to them out there, nearly a week ago. All of them, including Doctor Fraiser, had immediately stopped demonstrating any signs of uncertainty. Hammond saw it strength visibly bolstering their countenances and that positivism held fast.
So he let them continue on with Teal'c, though McKenzie dominated the sessions. Hammond had been surprised at the relative ease with which the deprogramming had progressed. Surprised, that is, until he realized Teal'c was playing them. Almost the instant McKenzie had walked into the holding cell, Teal'c changed his behavior. Became less antagonistic, far too cooperative and slimily pleasant. Used car salesperson pleasant. The Jaffa was once again twisting the truth, but doing so now in a more benevolent manner. There was no question in Hammond's mind that Teal'c would bolt at the first opportunity.
When he first understood Teal'c's subterfuge, Hammond had conferred with Colonel O'Neill to find his subordinate also saw the deception. Together, they decided to ease SG1 out of the deprogramming and give McKenzie full reign. He admitted it - they had flat out used McKenzie, knowing Teal'c would find it far more believable that he could influence one man of his sincerity over many. Hammond knew the Jaffa would bank on the psychiatrist to convince them
And so it was. McKenzie stood next to him with a very smug and self-satisfied smile upon his face, not knowing of the trap Teal'c was about to run into. He looked sideways at the slight man and nearly snorted. At first, he'd felt a minor twinge of conscience for having to use one of his own people as a pawn in this game, but McKenzie didn't have a clue Teal'c was snowballing them. He was a psychiatrist! He should have come to the same conclusion he and O'Neill had on his own. Hammond shook his head. Perhaps it was time to assign a new doctor in McKenzie's role.
"After you," the colonel was now saying.
Hammond watched as O'Neill took a slight shuffle backward to allow Teal'c the door. The Jaffa was brimming with cockiness, poorly hidden as extreme goodwill. Strolling out of the room that had held him for weeks and into the corridor with confidence. Hammond hoped they were wrong. He hoped McKenzie had truly succeeded. But as Teal'c rounded the first corner and caught sight of Bra'tac, he knew it wasn't to be. The Jaffa's falter was almost imperceptive, but Hammond saw it.
"Hello, old friend," Bra'tac pleasantly greeted, showing no signs of suspicion.
"Master Bra'tac," Teal'c replied, sounding genuinely surprised, almost pleased. "It has been too long."
"So it has. Your friends of Earth have taken great pains to bring me here," Bra'tac continued.
The two Jaffa were locked in a friendly embrace, arms clasped tightly and Hammond found himself relaxing. Bra'tac was still smiling. That was a good thing. Muscles tensed again as Bra'tac's smiled turned into a grimace and he vocalized what Hammond really already knew.
"He is deceiving you!"
At his words, Teal'c shoved his former mentor aside and ran. Hammond's heart sank. This wasn't over. Bra'tac caught his eyes and gave him a small nod, jaw clenched with determination.
But it soon would be.

Though he knew flight to be cowardly, Teal'c ran. There was no other option. His deception had proven successful with McKenzie, but his confidence had betrayed him. Master Bra'tac's unexpected appearance told him immediately of his failure. He had been deceived, just as he had been deceiving. Teal'c took out his frustrations on the SFs standing in his way, barreling through them as though they were cardboard cutouts. He would make it to the Stargate this time.
Rounding the corner, Teal'c was greeted by Major Carter and Daniel Jackson. They, along with a handful of SFs, were blocking his way. The woman raised her arm, aiming a zatnikatel at his chest and he felt a moment of desperation.
"Teal'c," Major Carter's voice held a note warning.
He turned back, only to run into Master Bra'tac, General Hammond and O'Neill. His ire mounted.
"Shol'va!" he spat at his former mentor and lunged for him.
Master Bra'tac immediately discharged a zatnikatel and Teal'c knew only pain. Darkness edged the edges of his vision. They would all pay for this.
The End (at least for me!)

Follow the stars for the bonus, fic *
How Not To Win Friends and Influence People

Of all the rotten luck. He wasn't even supposed to be on duty today; he was only filling in for the ailing Lieutenant Davis, who thought because they shared a last name no one would notice her absence. Never mind the fact she had a dark complexion and was, well, a woman and he was fair skinned and male.
She owed him BIG time.
Walter Davis lay upon a gurney in the infirmary, back throbbing and neck burning. He had only just fully gotten rid of the burns from that whole computer entity fiasco and now here he was in the infirmary again! Unbelievable. He'd been with the SGC practically since its inception and he could count the number of times he'd been injured on one hand. Twice in a little over a month was abnormal and he didn't much care for it. He was a technician. His job should not be dangerous.
Scowling at the sympathetic looks the nurses were favoring him with, Walter mentally recounted those trips. First there was that bizarre reverse evolution thing, but that had affected everyone. Then, after Hathor's introduction, Doctor Fraiser had made it mandatory for all the men to remain confined for twenty-four hours under her care. He confessed to still being puzzled over that one.
Pondering for a while, he figured there had been a good two or two and a half year gap, then the alien body stealing foothold situation occurred. Until she could verify there would be no ill effects, Fraiser had so kindly locked everyone in that time as well. Then there was another blessedly peaceful lapse to bring him up to the present. Walter closed his eyes and brought his right hand up to massage his tender neck.
Damn, that Jaffa had strength. Of course there had ever been any question in his mind in that regard. He'd never been more frightened in his life than when Teal'c had plunged into the control room and snagged him. Walter shuddered, remembering Teal'c was in a holding cell not too far away. He doubted he'd be comfortable around Teal'c for a very long time. Not that he was ever comfortable around Teal'c. The guy was just so...silent. Disturbing.
"Hey, Davis," a voice intruded on his thoughts. "How are you feeling?"
Walter opened his eyes to see Major Carter and Colonel O'Neill standing at his bedside. Wishing they would just go away, he nodded, "I'm fine, sir."
"We wanted to apologize for what happened. We should have anticipated Teal'c would try to escape," Major Carter softly told him, regret coloring her eyes a deep sea blue.
Augh. Walter swore at himself. Don't look at the eyes. He always got a little tongue tied and weak kneed around the major. She had it all. Beauty, most definitely. But the brains were what really got him going. When everyone else glazed over at her scientific pontifications, Walter always felt the need for a cold shower.
Don't succumb.
"'s okay, ma'am," Walter stuttered and looked away. "I...I know he's not himself."
"Regardless, we feel bad. Teal'c will, too," Colonel O'Neill gruffly said. "Once we get him back."
"R-right," Davis stammered back. Whatever.
"Well. Just thought we'd check in on you. You rest up and...ah...get better," the colonel uttered, clearly uncomfortable.
Major Carter gave him one more pity-filled glance and a squeeze on his arm. The pair turned from him, heading to the other side of the infirmary, where Walter could see Doctor Jackson. He watched them silently. Their apologies were nice, but they got him thinking.
He went over his list of infirmary visits and had an epiphany. Four out of the five times he recalled being injured had resulted, even if indirectly, from something SG1 had done. No apologies were going to make up for that!
Walter settled deeper into the mattress beneath him and closed his eyes. He had always considered SG1 to be 'special' in comparison to the other SG teams. Perhaps he based his opinion too closely on General Hammond's obvious regards for them. He was definitely starting to doubt that conviction. In fact, he found himself thinking quite the opposite. Special at getting him wounded maybe.
He rolled onto his side and resolutely removed SG1 as his personal favorite team.
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.