So Tonight That I Might See

General George Hammond
How could this have happened?
The ache in my head is finally diminishing, thanks to Dr. Fraiser's insistence at my departure from the infirmary for some rest, accompanied by heavy-duty aspirin. She assured me it was only aspirin, though I have my doubts about that - I'm feeling a bit drowsier than I should - but given the circumstances I won't address her indiscretion. She'd only remind me of her superiority in medical situations anyway.
I rotate my shoulders several times, loosening muscles tense from anxiety, anger and...fear. For two days now, I've spent every possible moment at his side. Watching him breathe shallowly. No, actually, ensuring he is still breathing. Hypnotized by the beeping machines sustaining his life. Praying he'll awaken. Praying for the strength to help him through what I know will be a tremendously difficult time for him.
Covering my face with both hands, I lean down and rest my head on the desk. I'm so tired. My eyes close briefly, snapping open after mere seconds. No matter what the doctor gives me, I can' t sleep with these images floating in my head like demons, calling out at me persistently. Ghosts demanding to know why I sent them off to die horrifying, brutal deaths. These are the same images that assault me every time that damned Stargate murders another innocent soul.
I can't shift the blame to an inanimate object. I knew what I was getting into. Knew the burden would be enormous. And I still do know the potential for tragedy It ranks right up there with my blood pressure.
But they're so young. So many kids I'm sending out there into God knows what. Oh, maybe not always young in age, but definitely too young to be romping around the universe, in the devil's playground.
I thought I could distance myself. Blockade personal, human feelings to keep things professional. Black and white. Simple.
Every single team is like family to me. It doesn't matter if I don't know everyone's middle names, how many kids they have, or what their favorite color happens to be. When I send a team on a mission, I'm sending with them a piece of me.
Somehow during the past few months, I've allowed one particular group of people to take the predominant place in my unconventional family. All parents know not to play favorites, so I do my best not to let my preference reflect to observers. I'm quite sure I've failed in that respect. Anyone who has happened by the infirmary now knows the truth, though it no longer makes a difference.
How many generals in the USAF would be seen clutching the hand of a comatose subordinate, offering his strength as a lifeline? I couldn't stop myself. He just looks so frail, his face half covered by gauze, half by breathing tubes. I keep thinking if I can just hang onto him, I'll will him to open his eyes again. To live.
Dr. Fraiser granted me six hours of continuous vigil before gently suggesting that I get up and stretch. I didn't even realize how long I'd been motionless until I stood up, still grasping his hand. The bond had become just as vital for my well being as it was for his. I couldn't let go.
Eventually common sense forced me away, but I never stray far from his bedside, and never for a great period of time. Responsibilities be damned. It is far more important that I remain near him, so that I might be the first person he sees when he wakes up.
Retreating to my office after Dr. Fraiser kicked me out, I ordered her to call me the instant he shows the slightest signs of regaining consciousness. I lift my heavy head off the desk and wearily set about the hateful task I must complete. Letters to family members have to be sent out. Personal effects need to be sorted through. Files need to be closed.
I got through half of the stack before I came to the one that halted my efficient and cold progress. God. Look at her face, staring up at me with such a brilliant smile. Such intelligence. Such strength. Such a waste.
The lump in my throat is back. I've known that girl for most of her life, and now I have to make up some vague story to tell her father. I don't want to face him. He knows her work was secret, but he had no idea it could kill. Metallic tasting bile sneaks up my throat. I swallow it as I shuffle her file to the bottom of the pile, a delay tactic I know won' t last. For now, though, it masks my pain.
The next file isn't any easier. I shake my head at memories of subtle and not-so-subtle insubordination he's laid upon me. I knew from the instant I set eyes on him he'd be trouble. With a capital T. What I didn't know was he would become the finest leader the SGC has. Had. Might ever have.
I make the required notations, sign all the appropriate blanks and snap the vile folder shut. I shove it away from me as quickly as I can, strangely afraid of it. Immediately below it lays an equally distasteful folder. I thought this one would be 'easy'.
It's not, but I rush through the duty, selfishly thankful I have no means to contact his family. As soon as the thought dares cross my mind, I chide myself. What right do I have to feel relief that I' m spared one awful moment? My cowardice doesn't do him justice. He's done...damnit. He gave up so much for us. I owe him the simple decency of finding a way to let his family know how noble a man he was.
I'm back to where I started. Like the others before hers, I speed through the process. I can't look at her picture, placing my hand directly over it with a shudder. My signatures are shaky, emotions indelibly displayed with this distasteful task. I wish it were all over, that we didn't have to endure the memorial service they so richly deserve. Because the pain won't disappear after its completion.
How could this have happened?
The phone rings and I literally jump off my chair. I stare at the offensive machine numbly for three rings before I snatch the receiver off the cradle. This is the call I've been wanting, why am I suddenly so apprehensive?
Dr. Fraiser's voice tells me I'm needed in the infirmary right away. She thinks he's going to rejoin us soon.
"Thank you, Doctor, I'll be right there," I finally spit out, voice sounding thick to my ears.
I shut the last file, gather all seven neatly into a pile, and place it gently in the center of my desk. Straightening my shoulders I exit my office, leave the dead behind and head for the living.

Dr. Daniel Jackson
Awareness comes rapidly, snapping me out of sleep with the effectiveness of a bucket of ice water.
Where am I? Why is it so dark? I don't understand!
I lurch up, pain coursing through me violently. God, my whole side is on fire! Wha...? Jack? Sam? Teal'c? Someone help me!
Hands suddenly grasp my quaking shoulders and ease me back down. They rub my shoulders softly and I hear muffled voices drifting over my head, but I don't recognize them or understand what they are saying.
Why is it so dark?
The hands are on my face now, cupping my face, holding my head down firmly. Panic wells inside me. What are they doing? I struggle weakly against the grip, but can't break loose. Is it getting lighter?
Pitch black is turning to vibrant, searing orange and the pressure on my face is gone. I desperately try to pry my eyes open, but they are glued together. The hands on my shoulders continue the soothing motion and I find myself relaxing, my breathing slows.
A wet, warm cloth is pressed onto my eyes. It feels good. It quickly disappears and is replaced by the hands, gentle hands, stroking my forehead and down my cheeks. The voices are clearer now, coaxing me to open my eyes, to come back to them... I open my eyes, two concerned faces hovering over me. Dr. Fraiser and General Hammond.
My head is pulsating with every beat of my heart. I can hear the blood whooshing in my ears, deafeningly loud. Disorientation increases as I struggle to remember what happened. There's nothing. I know we went to PC3 666 to locate SG4, and then there's nothing. Nothing. God, what happened? I hurt.
"Take it easy, Dr. Jackson," Dr. Fraiser soothes. "You've been unconscious and unresponsive for two days."
Two days!? Where are Jack, Sam and Teal'c? I don't know why, but I need to see them. Opening my mouth to ask for them I feel my enflamed and sore throat constrict. Flashing before my eyes, images of blood and death assail me. Screams of people in indescribable pain reverberate through my head. I close my eyes tightly and gasp for air.
"Easy, easy!" Dr. Fraiser's voice notches up a level. She's worried.
As quickly as the daymare began, it's gone. I'm left alone to silence and I open my eyes again. Dr. Fraiser looks peaked and General Hammond alarmed.
"Wha..." I try, throat as dry as sand. I clear it weakly and try again. "Sam? Teal'c? Jack?"
"Nurse, can you bring some ice chips, please?" Dr. Fraiser calls out. "Dr. Jackson, how is your throat? You had to be intubated, and we only just were able to remove it."
Why isn't she answering my question? Ignoring her inquiry, I turn to General Hammond. He looks white and ill. He'll tell me what's going on. Ice chips are thrust in my direction quickly, forced upon my open lips. The relief is instant.
"Dr. Jackson...Daniel..." he begins.
Oh, God. He never calls me that.
"Daniel. You know. You know," is all he says. His voice is uncharacteristically husky, and he's leaning so close to me I can see tears in his eyes. He's telling me...
I won't believe it. I can't believe it.
I jerk away from him as if distancing myself from the messenger will somehow negate the message. He grabs my right hand unyieldingly, trying to ground me. I'm gasping like a marathon runner about to hit the wall, the world tilting spastically around me. This isn't happening. It's not!
Out of the corner of my eye I see someone moving toward me, and there's tugging on my other hand. Whoever it is is inserting something into my IV. I need to vomit, and I lean as far as I can off the side of the bed. Dry heaves wrack my body, followed with intense waves of agony. General Hammond flies to my side and eases me back onto the mattress, holding me in place. The heaves continue until my stomach excruciatingly cramps.
Warmth creeps seductively into me and my muscles relax involuntarily. Sedated into oblivion. I want it, I'm grateful for it, welcome it. Numbness thankfully replaces the shooting stabs of hurt, gradually assimilating my body and mind to total blankness.
No! I can't. No. Something...
Jack appears before me, his hands held up, face contorted and red. He's shouting, but I can't hear him. Whatever he's telling me, it's important. I have to hear him, understand him. Unconsciously, my arms try to lift toward him, stretch out to touch him but they won't move, held fast by three sets of iron hands.
I have to follow him! This isn't right. I shouldn't be here. With him, with them, I should be with them.
"It'll be all right, son," the general's voice intrudes, and I'm not so unaware that I can't hear the tenderness and pity in it.
"No, p-please. I can't..." I gasp, fighting the evil gray invading the periphery of my vision.
"Don't fight it, Dr. Jackson. You need rest. Just rest, OK?" Dr. Fraiser now.
They don't understand.
I reach for Jack again, but now he's turned away from me, moving farther and farther away. No, Jack, don't leave me! He's fading, everything's fading into bleary nothingness. I stop trying for him, arms falling uselessly limp at my sides. Color seeps away abruptly.
Why is it so dark?

Dr. Janet Fraiser
I've never seen the general look so haggard and frail. Even though I gave him souped-up pain medication, I can see he's not rested at all. If it continues, I may have to sedate him. He's latched onto Dr. Jackson's hand again trying valiantly to disguise the pain he's feeling, both for my patient and for the good people we lost so tragically.
I understand his motivation to remain conscious. Every time I close my eyes, I'm assaulted by the horrifying scene in the 'gateroom two days ago when SG3 brought him back. I was so focused on Dr. Jackson and assessing his condition I didn't even think about the bodies. I wasn't prepared for the atrocious nature of the injuries that killed SG4 and most of SG1.
Head spinning, I make a rapid departure from the beside and rush to a washbasin, emptying my stomach viciously. God, how is he going to survive this if I can't handle the memories? I wasn't even there, I didn't experience that misery firsthand.
Body bags were awaiting the remains, but they couldn't be placed into them quickly enough to protect anyone's eyes from the grisly corpses. They were decimated, l-limbs separated from bodies and piled up like some sick jigsaw puzzle. Most were burned beyond recognition, the only sign they were our comrades came in the form of dog tags. Dr. Jackson had Sam's in a tight fist. It took Colonel Makepeace and I both to unclasp his fingers off them, his hands set with rigor mortis strength. God.
Colonel Makepeace's face! One look at him and I knew how bad it was on that planet. He usually storms around the base, jaw clenched in his tightass way and looking ready to tear the head off anyone to cross in his path. But at that moment, our hands working diligently in union, I glanced up and caught the man behind the Marine. He looked terrified. Haunted. His words will forever be ingrained in my memory, spoken softly and haltingly.
// "He was just lying there, right in the middle of it all. In a pool of blood and on a pile of bodies. God, the stench of burnt flesh. I don't know how he..." //
Then he walked away, abandoning his duty. I called out after him, but he disregarded me completely. General Hammond shook his head at me, carefully and grimly continuing with the operation. I heard Colonel Makepeace went topside and threw up for five minutes.
I have to stop thinking about this. The general needs me. Dr. Jac...Daniel needs me.
I straighten up and wipe a sleeve across my mouth. What I really want to do is run and never look back. Taking a huge breath, I walk back to the opposite side of the bed from the general. He looks at me inquisitively. I shoot him a tiny smile, letting him know I'm fine now. Back to professionalism personified.
I know he has a million questions about Daniel's condition. I just wish I had definitive answers for him. Physically, Daniel's recovery should be fine. Mentally, however...this young man has experienced severe trauma and I'm fully anticipating some form of stress disorder, possibly leading to PTSD.
With the bandages mostly gone and the breathing tube absent, Daniel's swollen and contused face is enduringly boyish. It breaks my heart, and I reach up to brush an errant chunk of hair off his battered forehead. He's a little too warm to the touch, the previous activity causing a fine mist of sweat to break out upon his face.
"Doctor?" the general pleads, his gray eyes radiating need.
"Sir, I don't know what to tell you. Thankfully he hasn't aggravated his injuries extensively, and he should remain sedated for several hours. Judging from his reaction, Dr. Jackson may be experiencing some short-term memory loss. Or..." I hope he'll understand my unspoken implication, but he's just staring at me.
"Or he may be repressing memories that are too powerful to deal with at the present time. Look, we don't really know anything for sure, it's all speculation on my part. I shouldn't...I don't...." I struggle vainly for reassuring words. How can you reassure someone in an unreassurable situation?
"It's all right, Doctor. How is his physical recovery progressing?" General Hammond sounds, if at all possible, even more weary.
"Well, his ribs should be healed enough in a couple of weeks to permit him to move around with relative ease. The piece of shrapnel imbedded in his head that we were unable to remove doesn't pose a threat, though I'll keep an eye on it. His breathings been good since we removed the tube. All in all, sir, I think he'll be just fine. Physically." I rattle off Daniel's injuries methodically and unemotionally like an automaton.
The general's facial expression doesn't waver during my entire delivery. If anything the heartache deepens the lines around his eyes. He comprehends that I'm just trying to keep my own emotions in check, and knows that Daniel's recovery could very well take a month or two. Anyone coming that close to death requires ample time to heal.
"Very well." The general nods his head slowly and turns back to Daniel, a hopeless look momentarily flitting across his features. He doesn't give it the chance to set, replacing it with plain old worry.
I have a feeling General Hammond is relying on Daniel to come through this unscathed and whole. I hate pessimism, but I just don't see it happening. Daniel's passionate reaction at the confirmation of his team's death signifies to me that he's not ready to believe the truth. I only hope he will someday. I need to be honest. If the general's going to help Daniel through this, he should know what to expect.
"If I may, sir? You should know that it's quite possible Dr. Jackson will deny reality. You saw how he took the news...he's already denied it! He may not have vocalized his disbelief but, sir, I believe actions sometimes speak louder than words. We have to assist him with that process. I think I should put a call in to Dr. Mackenzie. I know Colonel O'Neill doesn't li..." I falter at my blunder.
General Hammond's gray face jerks toward me, eyes bulging. He sits down abruptly, still hanging onto Daniel's hand, and buries his head in the mattress. His shoulders are shaking convulsively, but he's making no noise.
Oh, God! I think he's crying. I dart my eyes around the infirmary, which is blessedly empty. To be on the safe side, I draw the curtain around Daniel's bed discreetly. The general doesn't need anyone else to see this. Hell, I shouldn't be seeing this.
I watch him silently for a few minutes, fighting back the urge to cry myself. I don't know what to do. My heart says to hug him, my head to leave him be. Screw my head. Bolstering up, I take the few steps around the bed and lay my left hand on the back of his neck.
He turns his face to me, looking grateful and embarrassed. I just give him another ghost of a smile, telling him not to worry. He bobs his head minutely and promptly turns his face back into the sheets. I can't hold the tears any longer. Screw my head. My tears scorch a trail down my cheeks, splattering onto the floor like a summer shower on a hot sidewalk.
All resolve escapes me and I fold over, placing my head on the general's shoulder. I start massaging his neck with my thumb with what I hope is a comforting gesture. He shifts below me and I stop my ministrations, fearful he is upset with my inappropriate behavior. Instead I find him shifting over on the chair, giving me room to squeeze in beside him. I accept the invitation, keeping my hand and head in their positions. I close my eyes as he switches his hold on Daniel to his left hand and awkwardly wraps the other around to rest upon my neck. He gives me a gentle pat, and I relax into him.
Together, we begin to salve our emotional wounds.

General George Hammond
// "The fact of the matter is that SG4 is 48 hours overdue. There is no reason to suspect foul play - MALP readings do not indicate a hostile situation. However, to be on the safe side, I want you to be fully prepared for whatever lies on the other side of the 'gate. Dr. Jackson, I don't believe it's necessary for you accompany SG1 on this one."
"Uh,sir! Don't mean to cause a ruckus, but don't you think this mission would be a good chance for Daniel to brush up on his field skills? Like you said, there's no cause for alarm. I'm sure SG4 just got lost in the woods and need a little help navigating their way back home," Jack says with a devilish twinkle in his eyes.
"Jack, it's really not necessary for you to speak for me. General, if it's all right with you, I'd just as soon go with on this one," Dr. Jackson inserts quickly, shooting a glare at the colonel. "And, no, Jack, not for the reasons you're giving! I'm a part of this team and I don't think I should be exempt from any mission we go on."
Bemused, I stare at the two of them scowling at each other. Captain Carter and Teal'c are silent throughout the act, but I catch the captain's big eyes roll expressively. One big happy.
"Very well. You're scheduled to leave in one hour."
Standing up and heading for the door, the members of SG1 bicker noisily amongst themselves. I smile because I know SG4 is in capable hands. //
Capable hands. I stare at my own hands now, reddened with the blood of so many. The blood of those I condemned to death not three days ago.
I'm still a bit embarrassed at my exhibition in the infirmary. Dr. Fraiser will exercise discretion, of that I am certain, but there are unwritten rules in the military strictly forbidding outward signs of weakness. I not only openly defied those rules, I may have placed myself on a fragile balance with the good doctor. She knows my secret now. Knows how deeply I feel, despite the gruff and grumble I usually present.
We finally fell asleep on that chair, intertwined together too intimately for our respective stations. It was a comfort needed by both of us, seized desperately and unabashedly. I would challenge anyone to dare imply our intent was anything but honorable.
Tragedy invokes unlikely companionship.
I stop looking at my hands, switching my eyes to the activity below me. The 'gateroom bustles with people preparing for this afternoon's memorial service. Nervous tension and energy occupy the entire base, the hub centered on that cursed room. Will I ever again be able to look upon the Stargate as the wonder I first believed it to be when I took this commission? It's brought nothing but misfortune from the instant Apophis clanked into our lives.
That's not true. It brought me Teal'c, one of the finest soldiers I have ever had the honor of commanding. It brought me Sam Carter, a surrogate daughter. It brought me Jack O'Neill, neverending bur in my saddle. And Tony Rourke, Frank Sipes, Amanda Bates, and James Shafer. Fine men and women, each of them. They are already missed.
I've decided to hold separate services for each team. I know that's setting me up for twice the anguish but I feel each team deserves individual recognition. I have no idea what I'm supposed to say or do - nothing I can say or do will bring them back. Shaking my head, I turn toward my office. I'm in denial almost as deeply as Daniel. I can't help him without first helping myself.
The glaring white paper taunts me, goading me to fill it with words and phrases to placate the battered souls of the living. There's so much I want to say I'm finding myself overwhelmed into stupefaction, unable to select the correct eulogy.
I am weak. I can't say what I want, so I'll fraction my feelings, say and demonstrate only strict military protocol. I can picture Jack in my head anyway, laughing at the absurdity of everyone wailing and moaning his loss. He wouldn't want it that way, I know. Or I tell myself. Better for everyone involved if we are utilitarian and sparse. His words on Daniel after we thought him dead on Nem's planet were the bare minimum, but so powerful. That is what I need to say, but truthfully, I wish Daniel could attend. He'd speak about his teammates' eloquently and efficaciously, assuaging the hurt like a band-aid on a child's scraped knee.
The doctor is correct - he's physically and mentally unable to cope right now. Perhaps Daniel will be up for a personal, private observance down the road, and I'm sure he will understand when I tell him we've gone ahead with the memorial. For now, though, he'll remain in the infirmary where he's safe.
I crumple the offensive blank sheets, anger surging through me. That boy has gone through enough in his life, and now he's lost his friends. No, SG1 is...damnit!! was...Daniel's family, the bond between those four individuals developed fast, furious and surprisingly. Each unique personality complemented each other perfectly and fit like a new pair of socks.
And he probably watched them die. Can he live through this? He's already been a witness to the deaths of his parents. How much can one person take and still function?
"Sir? Twenty minutes."
Sergeant Davis tentatively pokes his head into my office, looking positively green with reluctance at intruding. I nod at him with a huge sigh, snagging my jacket off the hook and following him out. I have time for a short visit with Daniel prior to the ceremony. Before I can make it out of the briefing room, I hear my phone ring and am compelled to return to answer it.
"Sir, it's Dr. Fraiser. Dr. Jackson's awake again."
"I'm on my way," I snap and slam the phone back down.
My heart pounds as I fight the urge to run all the way to the infirmary. I settle for storming rapidly, soldiers parting like the Red Sea in front of me. More than several glance at me with undisguised sympathy. I bless them all their good hearts, but don't have time to respond in kind.
Dr. Fraiser greets me as I barrel through the door, snatching my arm quickly and leading me back into the hall. Puzzled, I turn to her. "Doctor?"
"General, I wanted to warn you before you went in there. Dr. Jackson is not very responsive. The most I've gotten out of him is 'go away'. I just attempted to speak to him about SG1 - yes, I know I should have waited for you - and he simply closed his eyes and turned away from me. Basically, sir, don't expect too much."
Everything she's telling me I've anticipated. I brush aside her concerned assertions, opting instead to find out on my own. Daniel's head is turned away from the door, too long hair flopping to conceal half of his face. I quash the need to sweep it away, barely stopping my hand in time. He doesn't even twitch in acknowledgement of my presence.
"Daniel," I plead softly.
Nothing. His breathing remains steadily thin. It's as though I'm not even here. There has to be a way, something I can do to get through to him. Since he won't look at me, I go around to the other side of his bed. Dr. Fraiser assumes my vacated position, we are pretty effectively surrounding Daniel.
I suck back a gasp. God. His eyes are open, but they are lackluster, dull and certainly aren't reflecting any indication of life. The vibrant blue has seeped out of them, the color now a pale ashy gray. When he was encased in bandages, I wasn't able to discern other physical realities. Now, with only an oxygen mask concealing his nose and mouth, I can see it all. His cheeks are gaunt, cut and bruised, skin stretched over prominent bones, skeletal. The comparison can't be any more accurate or terrifying.
"Daniel," I repeat, hating the quake in my voice. "Please. Say something."
Dr. Fraiser's gaze on me is intense and smoldering, though it's not due to anger. I feel her signaling all her strength and somehow translating it to me. She's a fine woman. Giving Daniel ample time to interpret and react to my words, I return her look with equal intensity. If there's anything positive to come of all this, it'll be our newfound kinship.
"Daniel. I'm not sure how to say this...I..." I swallow frantically, trying to capture his attention. "We're holding a memorial service for SG4 and SG1 this afternoon. I wanted you to know, even if you aren't able to attend. I thought maybe we could arrange for something more personal for you when you're up to it."
His eyes show a miniscule spark at my words, swiftly dimming back into flatness. If I wasn't looking at precisely the right moment, I would have missed it.
"No," Daniel weakly rasps and turns his head to stare straight up, successfully avoiding my and Dr. Fraiser's faces.
"No?" We both simultaneously query.
"No. It's too soon." His words are distorted by the mask, yet somehow crystal clear.
I don't know if I should feel victorious for getting him to talk, or concerned at his tone. It's monotone and mechanical, a dark shadow of his usually animated speech.
"I know it seems that way, Daniel, but this is for the best. It's been nearly three days. We can't hold off forever," I appeal.
"No. It's too soon because they're not dead. They're...not...dead," he maintains, a hint of anger coloring his words.
I've never been more frightened in my life as I am at this moment. Gooseflesh actually breaks out across my arms and neck, prickling against the stiff dress uniform. This isn't just a case of justifiable denial. This is Daniel vehemently believing his words. Words I know without a doubt are not true.
"Yes, Daniel. They are." I reluctantly adopt the role of bad guy.
"Get away from me," he coldly rejects me.
"Dr. Jackson..." Dr. Fraiser attempts.
Her jaw clamps shut, teeth clattering noisily. Big, brown eyes brim with tears at Daniel's uncharacteristic harshness.
"Sir, perhaps we should leave Daniel to rest," she manages.
Daniel closes his eyes, immediately ending the conversation. I know what she's going to tell me as we walk away. She'll say that we need to monitor Daniel's symptoms closely to ensure he doesn't develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. That if someone can't get through to him soon, he's going to.
As if reading my thoughts, Dr. Fraiser states solemnly, "General, I think we need to call Dr. Mackenzie. His expertise is obviously needed."
"I know. I'll contact him," I tiredly agree.
I can't lose Daniel too.
Why do I get the feeling I already have?

Dr. Daniel Jackson
I want them far away from me. General Hammond and Dr. Fraiser are lying, both of them. I know Jack, Sam and Teal'c are alive. Because they can't be dead. They wouldn't leave me alone like this. I've never been more certain in my life. They're not dead.
Footsteps are fading down the hall, resounding in my ears, lulling me into sleep. I don't want to sleep, to be surrounded by the hideousness of my dreams. Whatever Dr. Fraiser is pumping into me to alleviate the pain, I can't fight it...
// I can't believe Jack shoved me through the 'gate. He's so infantile sometimes I forget he's supposed to be our fearless leader. He comes directly behind me, chortling like an obnoxious teenager. I resist the temptation to remind him to be cautious. We're here to locate a team who've apparently disappeared, after all. I doubt he'd appreciate me trying to usurp his place. Even if he knows I'm right.
"Sir, Teal'c says there are footprints heading in this direction," Sam calls out from the other side of the DHD.
Jack smacks me on the shoulder, making impatient as if I'm the one having a jolly old time. Some day he'll get his.
We walk in silence for fifteen minutes, not bothering to radio for SG4. Until there's a direct sign of danger, Jack says we're assuming they're just...lost. The surrounding woods and brush are eerily quiet, though. I can tell everyone's hackles are raised - and I find myself encircled by all three of them. So much for me working on my field skills. It doesn't bother me. Something's not right here.
To my left, Sam stumbles abruptly, sprawling gracelessly face down in the dirt. Jack just can't resist laughing softly. "Taking lessons from Daniel, Carter?"
Her head's turned away from us, and she lies there unmoving. I shoot Jack a disgusted look and lean down to help her up. I get my hand on her forearm before I catch sight of it. It turns the blood in my veins to ice and I...gurgle. Hefting Sam to her feet, I twist away from the gruesome site.
She's tripped over an arm, brutally ripped from its owner and strewn several feet from the body. It's Lt. Bates. Dead, dead, she's dead. Bloody and mutilated. Burned. Oh, God, I'm going to be sick please don't let me get sick. I gasp crazily for long minutes, trying to get a hold on my stomach. I'm still clasping Sam's arm, but she doesn't object to the attachment.
"Shit!" Jack hisses, hand flying to his radio. "Sierra Golf four niner this is Sierra Golf one niner, do you copy? Repeat, Sierra Golf four niner this is Sierra Golf one niner. What is your situation?"
His comm. bursts loud static before hushed, frenzied words respond, "Sierra Golf one niner, do not use comms, repeat do not...Fuck, Shafer, turn that goddamn thing off!...Sir..."
Rapid gunfire and explosions ring loudly in my ears, someone screams and the transmission cuts off with ominous finality. //
Heart racing, I fly up. They're screaming. Stop the screaming! Outside the infirmary, nearby, a drill is screeching maniacally and a hammer pounding. Stop it what are you doing? The sounds are distorting into those awful screams and gunshots. I can't tell the difference between them make it stop screaming make it stop!
I launch into full-blown panic when my mental chants don't end the dreadful memory. Forgetting my injuries, I jerk my hands to my ears and draw my legs up to my spasming chest. Agony radiates into me, attacking my lungs. Breathe I can't breathe please anyone stop the screaming stop help me someone please.
Muted voices become louder, hands grab at me roughly, shifting my arms back down to my sides. No, don't they know I need to stop hearing? Need to block it out. It won't leave me alone, haunts me no matter where I go, how deeply I retreat.
"Go get Dr. Fraiser. She's at the memorial," an unfeeling voice scathes. "Dr. Jackson, please calm down. You're hurting yourself."
Get Dr. Fraiser, yes, get her. She'll help me, I know she will. Memorial? Memorial! No, she said... No, they're not dead! My strength is all of the sudden renewed and I buck against my captors. Let go of me I have to...have to...
"Hold him down! Dr. Jackson! Stop!"
I hear Dr. Fraiser now, her voice high pitched and offensive in my ears, "Stop that goddamn noise now! Nurse, get me diazepam stat! Dr. Jackson, Dr. Jackson can you hear me? D-Daniel?!"
Now she's doing it, calling me Daniel. She doesn't call me that! I'm angered at her change of approach with me, a flailing hand meeting skin with a satisfying smack and a loud grunt. The screaming has finally ceased, blazing rage dousing it. My fury is unsubstantiated, uncontrollable, swelling into a fierce, throat wrenching cry.
"Nononononono! Not dead!" I wail hoarsely, the words come involuntarily, flowing from my mouth at their own bidding.
"Daniel Jackson." She's angry now. Good, damn her.
"Daniel Jackson." Softer this time, but bass deep. Not Dr. Fraiser.
Eyes cracking open...I had them shut?..., I see Teal'c towering behind the petite doctor the same instant I feel a needle prick into my arm. He's shaking his head at me sadly, corners of his lips upturned only slightly. I can't remove my eyes from his face, staring over Dr. Fraiser's shoulder intently. Unnatural warmth spreads through my body, muscles draining from the drugs and knowledge that Teal'c is here. He's alive.
Dr. Fraiser develops a huge crease between her eyes and she looks back at him. She'll see now. It will be all right.
"Teal'c!" I whisper as the room fuzzes and I disappear completely into the welcome cradle of sleep.

Dr. Janet Fraiser
Daniel's focused on a spot directly behind my left shoulder, I turn around to glimpse whatever it is bothering him. I swivel my head around to meet absolutely nothing but blank space. About to start back to Daniel, he unwittingly answers the question poised on my lips.
"Teal'c..." his broken voice trails off, filled with such reassurance. Oh, Daniel.
Nothing could feel more devastating to me at this point. Denial is one thing, but visual and I suspect auditory hallucinations are another. Daniel's undoubtedly the victim of an acute stress disorder, which so often leads to PTSD. I can't let that happen.
Rubbing his lax arm gently, I close my eyes even though I know what the closed lids will bring. The vividness of the images is immaculate - crisper than any of my DVDs. Charred, sickeningly bloody bodies. Unlike Daniel, I don't want to retreat into my own world. I want to face this latest monster head on and defeat it soundly. To let it win would be slander SG4 and SG1, not only making their deaths meaningless, but actually adding to the casualty list. It's a battle each of us must fight, side-by-side most of the way, but ultimately on our own.
"Dr. Fraiser?"
I flinch as a hand grasps my shoulder cautiously. It's Dr. Mackenzie, thank goodness. There isn't much else I can do for Daniel from a medical standpoint. A quick perusal of his injuries reveal he hasn't managed to hurt himself further - an infinitesimal miracle I will not take for granted.
"Dr. Mackenzie, I'm glad you could get here so quickly." I tamp down my brooding thoughts forcefully. What was it I said before? Professionalism personified, that's me. "Dr. Jackson seems to be suffering from severe flashbacks, both visual and auditory. I was away from him, but I believe the impromptu construction in the hallway generated an all out shutdown. We were able to sedate him before he caused himself harm, thankfully. I think he may also have seen one of his teammates near his bedside."
Dr. Mackenzie's face remains coolly unaffected by my explanation. Perhaps it will be best for Daniel to have an uninvolved party handle his care. Tom is perfectly capable of seeing to Daniel's other Convincing myself that shoving Daniel away into a remote corner is in his best interest is the coward's way out. It's not for him, it's not for the general and it's certainly not for me. We need to stay together. I don't know what'll happen if we aren't able to do that.
"Sounds like your assessment of acute stress disorder is accurate, Dr. Fraiser. Have you been able to speak with him at all, or have his episodes been too frequent?" Cool unaffected is good. Good.
"His periods of consciousness have been slight, and he's been rather uncommunicative. I'm sure that doesn't come as too big a surprise." I find myself practically snapping at my colleague, irritated at his necessary detachment.
"No," Dr. Mackenzie replies gruffly, scribbling notes on Daniel's chart.
"Dr. Jackson's in total denial that his team...his friends," I clarify, "are dead. He's expressing open hostility toward anyone who indicates otherwise, myself and General Hammond being number one on his list."
"I see."
I've run down Daniel's symptoms and breakouts systematically. I feel incredibly guilty, like I've just sold the archaeologist to the devil. I know Dr. Mackenzie is excellent at his job, but I'm not sure I'm ready to relegate Daniel to his care. At least not totally. Like Daniel can't let go of Colonel O'Neill, Sam and Teal'c, I can't let go of him.
Daniel moans quietly in his sleep, the sedative apparently unable to alleviate his nightmares. I swing back to him, surprised to find I wandered several steps from his bed during my dissertation to Dr. Mackenzie. His hair is sweat dampened and clings to his forehead. God, he looks so young and even in his sleep, lost. My hand reaches for his hair.
"Is there anything else, Doctor?"
Startled again, I jerk my hand back self-consciously. "No, Dr. Mackenzie, just that I be kept in on Dr. Jackson's treatment."
"Of course, of course. I'll just, uh, make myself useful until Dr. Jackson awakens again. I'd like to stay nearby, could I perhaps use your office?" he asks brusquely.
"Certainly." I wave him with my hand and watch him as he strolls away. Cool is good, but cold is bad.
"N-no...Colonel..." Daniel mumbles incoherently.
The plea sends icicles down my back. Whatever nightmare Daniel is experiencing, I just hope it's not too strong to overcome. That it won't become a reality for him again. Running my hand across his wet head, I check to ensure we're alone and I plant a kiss on his right temple, a promise that I won't leave him alone with this.

Dr. Daniel Jackson
// We stealthily creep through the thick underbrush, eyes and ears on constant lookout. I regret not being able to at least properly bury Lt. Bates. Jack seems to think some of SG4 might still be alive, but after that transmission I doubt it. I know Jack - he won't leave this place without determining unquestionably their fate.
For all I think Jack is a true adolescent, I understand why he does the things he does. Beneath the fun, Jack is nothing but business. He knows when to knock off the playfulness, and I saw the old Jack O'Neill step into my friend's shoes the instant he spotted Lt. Bates. There's nobody I'd rather have watching my back. I just wish I could return the same favor for him.
Teal'c could hear the actual gunshots in the distance and is leading us in their direction. I'm more than a little apprehensive at what we'll find. We all feel that way. I caught Jack hitting his comm. on more than one occasion, barely refraining from calling out to SG4 again. The terrified vehemence was more than enough proof that Shafer's warning was founded.
That was a half an hour ago. Half an hour ago, there were at least two members of SG4 alive. God, I hope they still are.
"O'Neill, we must proceed with caution," Teal'c whispers, breaking the silence. "There are signs of battle here. I believe it to be Jaffa - at least six of them. They attacked from that direction..." He stops and points slightly to the left.
"I don't want a play by play, Teal'c. Can you figure out where SG4 is?" Jack hisses.
Teal'c simply looks at him, non-nonplussed. He opens his mouth to reply, but instead the air is filled with weak cries. We all jar, heads spinning in every direction to locate the source. I feel something wet drop on my it raining? Momentarily distracted, I look up to check the sky.
Ohgodgodgod!! Bile singes up my throat and I retch violently, my hands floundering for Jack's attention. I feel him instantly massaging my back.
"Daniel, what is it? Daniel?" he calls worriedly.
"Ohmygod. Sir. Sir." Sam tries to get his attention.
Jack's hand clenches on my shoulder. He's seen it. Him. Oh God. Colonel Tony Rourke hangs upside down from a tree branch, breathing his last breath. How...God. His stomach is split wide open, his insides still attached and strung upon nearby limbs. I can't stop trying to throw up, my gut long empty. //
Stomach muscles in a knot, I shift onto my side, disregarding the twinge of my broken ribs. It's really quite numb, like my brain. I don't like that I can't think clearly. I need to think because there's something I'm supposed to remember. It's right there, tormenting me. I hear the general and Dr. Fraiser murmuring. Why won't they listen to me? I know they're alive. I can hear Jack, over and over. Over and over, easing me back into my dreams.

General George Hammond
I see Dr. Fraiser make a dash out of the 'gateroom after only ten minutes of SG4's service. How I wanted to take off after her! Keeping with my duty, I go through the motions and say the correct and sterile words of loss. Universal words universally recognized for what they are: meaningless, empty condolences.
Looking around the room shows me the true memorial. Words and custom mean very little in comparison to the expressions of friendship and love found in most eyes, and occasionally streaming down cheeks. Inwardly applauding the few brave enough to demonstrate their depth of feeling, I bottle my expression up like a coward.
It's too easy to do. I find my mind wandering constantly to Daniel, anxious to see what's happening to him. I've watched too many men suffer from ongoing post traumatic stress disorder, fellow soldiers and friends forever impaired by recurring flashbacks. Drugs and psychotherapy can only mask the memories. They're always there, ready to strike out at any moment. Hell, Colonel O'Neill, Black Ops training notwithstanding had flashes of Daniel dying in front of them, and those memories were false. God, I thought we'd lost Daniel then. Lost the whole...all of them. I'll be damned if I let him wither away now.
"General Hammond?" Sergeant Davis stands before me, twitching nervously.
"Airman?" I muster in response.
"Sir, I'm sorry. Do you intend on staying here until the next service?"
What? The 'gateroom has mysteriously emptied. "Uh, no, Sergeant, thank you."
Shaking out of my reverie, I begin back down the familiar path to the infirmary, hoping for good news. I find Dr. Mackenzie has arrived, he's taken over Dr. Fraiser's office while she continues to tend to Daniel. The young man is sleeping fitfully, paler and if possible gaunter than he was a short hour ago.
"Dr. Fraiser?" I don't have to be more specific with my question.
"Daniel's having visual and auditory flashbacks, sir. As soon as he wakes up again, Dr. Mackenzie is going to try to get him to talk about what happened. I'm hoping his impartiality will be easier for Daniel to deal with." God, she sounds worn.
"What do you think, Janet?"
Eyes wide at the casual use of her name, Janet stutters, "Well, sir, I'm not sure. I don't have that much experience with PTSD. I just...I just don't know if we should push him to remember what happened. He's under heavy sedation right now and he's tormented. I'm not suggesting we encourage him to repress..."
She's so upset by all of this she's talking in circles. For the first time in three days, I put my concern for Daniel fully aside and place it on the tiny woman. She's exhausted, physically and emotionally, her cheekbones pronounced even more than usual and there's emptiness in her normally expressive eyes. Janet looks as I feel.
"Janet. Will he be all right here alone?" I simply ask.
"Dr. Mackenzie is here, sir."
"Will he be OK here alone?" I repeat.
Janet nods. "Yes, sir."
"Have you eaten recently? We have time before the ceremony. To tell you the truth, I've not eaten much myself."
"That would be good, sir."
I'm not hungry in the least and I'm positive she isn't either. Food is not the most important item on the menu, however. I plan to buy Dr. Fraiser a few minutes of companionship and hopefully relaxation.

Dr. Daniel Jackson
// We're all aghast, gaping at Rourke's body. I'm still choking on dry heaves, Sam's rubbing my back now. I don't like being so weak, but my God!! Her fingers are trembling and strangled noises emit from her throat. I'm more comforted knowing someone else has the same feelings as I than by the motion on my back. Teal'c's face remains as impassive as ever. No doubt he's been a similar atrocities. Discomfited, I seek out Jack. He's...hardened. Face as stiff as wood, he softens for one instant when he looks back to me, but the grim mask returns almost immediately.
"Let's move out," Jack says with a jerk of his head.
"Jack, we can't just leave him like that!" I protest as Sam and Teal'c move away quietly.
He shoots me a glare. "Daniel, we have no idea what we're dealing with here. He could be set with something. We're not touching him. Now come on. We have two more people to find."
With that, he spins away from me, back ramrod straight and joins the others. He's right, I know, but it seems so inhuman to leave Colonel Rourke like this. I pause for long seconds, giving the colonel swaying above me a small prayer and follow my team into the dense forest. //
I hear myself gasping. I'm detached, removed from all feeling now. My eyes won't stay closed no matter how much I want them to. Instead of my usual visitors, I'm greeted by the sight of Dr. Mackenzie. I don't know if I should be glad my two bedside angels (tormentors) are finally gone or scared at their replacement. Sam told me how she had to be hypnotized by the good doctor here before SG1 was allowed back to Nem's planet. Surprisingly, I'm with Jack when it comes to psychologists. Countless doctors tried to unravel my psyche as a small child and the only thing I retain from that experience is anguish. I don't need that again because there's no reason for it. I haven't lost anyone. They aren't dead.
"Well, hello, Dr. Jackson. I'm Dr. -"
"I know who you are. Get away from me."
The man's eyebrows blend in with his hairline and he gulps at my hostility. At least he's not one hundred percent cold bastard. "Daniel, I'm here to help you."
"I don't need your help." Jack, Sam and Teal'c flicker behind him. Jack's got a 'give him hell' look that spurs me on. "Because they aren't dead. I see...hear..."
"You hear them? What are they telling you?"
He's trying to upset me. Nothing he says can hurt me. "Jack's says to stay. To stay with the dead. Stay with the dead."
I stare disinterestedly at him. Jack smiles encouragingly. Dr. Mackenzie's condescension angers me and though I know he doesn't believe me, I repeat, "Stay with the dead."
I turn from him, closing my eyes once again.

General George Hammond
"Sir, from what I've been able to get from Daniel, his flashbacks and hallucinations are not diminishing. In fact, he's demonstrating a strong desire to join his team. I feel the best course of action is to place Dr. Jackson in the Air Force hospital where I can better see to his treatment."
Dr. Mackenzie's words are unwelcome, though not unforeseen. I look to Janet with the hopes the recommendation is premature. She refuses to meet my eyes. Damnit, we just buried SG1 yesterday and now they're asking me to do the same to Daniel. I'm not ready to hear these words. No.
// "SG1 served their country well and died with honor," I choke out. Honor? What honor is there in being brutalized without cause by sick Jaffa? That's not honor, that's unjustifiable tragedy. "We commend their spirits to the universe that claimed them."
God. The wreaths are sucked into the monstrosity of a wormhole, the blue light bathing the entire room in a cold glow. They deserve so much more than this, but the bodies were in such shape it couldn't be determined which part belonged to which body. Sickened, I storm out of the 'gateroom before the ceremony is officially over. I don't care. I have to get out of here.
I go to the infirmary, needing to see the only link to SG1. To see Daniel. As I step through the doors, I see he's awake and blankly staring straight ahead, unblinking. He's colorless and still. For a second, I fear he's dead. Now I want to run again.
"You did it anyway, didn't you?"
I jump. At least he's talking. If only he'd say what we all need him to. Right. 'Hey, General Hammond, I am the only living survivor of Hell. Don't worry about me, I'm just peachy' are not exactly likely to flow from his mouth. I think I'm projecting Jack onto him in an attempt at self comfort.
"Yes, Daniel. You know why I had to go ahead with the memorial service," I reason with him. Perhaps this time he'll accept the truth.
"Stupid," he mutters angrily.
Is he calling me stupid? Desperately angry, I lash out at him, "Damnit, Daniel! Why can't you understand they're gone? They aren't coming back!"
"You don't know! You don't hear them, see them! Jack's telling me to stay with the dead. Don't you see? Stay with the dead. I have to...I have to remember. Stay with the dead."
He's shouting now, rising slightly off the bed. Damnit, Daniel. Please listen! I read Dr. Mackenzie's prognosis in his face. Every time I look at him, Daniel can't stay here and get better, no matter how much I may need that. Need him near me. If he keeps insisting they are alive he's going to be taken from me as well. //
"Sir, if you could just sign here, I can have him transported immediately." Dr. Mackenzie thrusts Daniel's chart into my hands.
I clutch it dumbly. No. There's one last, vile thing I can do to get Daniel out of his state of denial. The cruelty of what I'm about to do makes my stomach surge, but I have no choice. Daniel has to hear it.
"No, Dr. Mackenzie. I'd like to try and get through to him one more time," I insist, cutting off his objection with a sharp look.
"Very well."
Dr. Fraiser leads the way back into the infirmary. All three of us start in shock. Daniel's bed is empty.

Dr. Daniel Jackson
// "Colonel! Colonel O'Neill!"
We've been scouting for over an hour, searching for the last two members of SG4 when we hear the voice. Sam sees him first, hidden deep within the underbrush. It's Lt. Shafer. He looks awful, jumping at every snapped twig. We rush to his side.
"Thankgodthankgodthankgod," he chants. "They're all dead. Dead. I thought I was too."
"Calm down, Lieutenant. Can you tell us what happened?" Jack asks harshly, grasping the terrified man's shoulders.
"Yes. Not here. Hide, have to hide."
I cringe sympathetically at his distress. I've only seen the end result of the Jaffa brutality and I'm distraught. This poor man must have seen it while it occurred. Shuddering, I move to the right side of Shafer, assisting Jack in hauling him upright.
"O'Neill, I believe these caves should provide us refuge," Teal'c states.
Caves? How does he do that? I don't see anything, but I trust Teal'c does. He leads us to them efficiently. I can't help but wonder why we aren't leaving. We've found SG4. We need to leave this place. //
"No, no! Leave! We have to get out of here! Jack, please..." I groan.
"Dr. Jackson! Calm down, you're safe now. Safe," Dr. Mackenzie grabs my shoulders roughly, as I'm once again held captive by my memories.
He doesn't try to tell me my friends are dead this time, simply pricking me with another needle. Each time I wake up, I'm given less time. I'm remembering, but they won't let me tell them. I have to tell them! Jack, Sam and Teal'c...Shafer...they're all depending on me! Why won't they listen?
// God, we've been here too long. SG4 walked right into a Jaffa training exercise. With live subjects. Lt. Shafer told us they had split up to gather samples, having detected no threats. Until Lt. Bates and Captain Sipes discovered a fresh mass grave. They radioed Colonel Rourke and him, who headed to their location.
Apparently, the Jaffa picked up their transmission and either interpreted the message or pinpointed their location. Lt. Shafer looked petrified when he related how Lt. Bates' last radio contact ended with her telling them frantically to stay away.
Now the woods are filled with staff weapon blasts and screams. Jack wants to take out the Jaffa, to stop the massacre of the inhabitants of PC3 666. God. We've scavenged SG4's weapons and have been routinely heading out to take down as many as we can. Jack insisted at first that I have no part in it, but I refuse to sit in this cave while there are innocent people being slaughtered. I don't advocate killing, but my hatred for the Goa'uld supercedes pacifism in instances such as this.
We're approaching twelve hours. God, I hope we get out of here before General Hammond sends anyone else! //
I open my eyes to silence. I'm alone. My memories are clear now. SG1 and Lt. Shafer are alive, I know it. I have to prove it. Sam. Sam, my scientific partner in crime. Maybe if I go to her lab, she'll help me. Even if she's not there in body, her presence is. I'll go to Sam. Yes.

Dr. Janet Fraiser
This shouldn't have happened. Daniel should have been guarded by my staff. Careless, how could we have been so careless?
General Hammond looks livid and worried. Daniel's in no condition to be wandering around the base. Risk of further physical injury on top of his questionable mental health are prevalent concerns. I find myself very able to set aside personal feelings, my ire at Daniel taking over. No, not anger. Frustration. He just won't accept the truth. He won't let it go. He's killing himself and dragging the general down with him.
What am I doing, blaming Daniel for his condition? I can't do that. Dr. Mackenzie is correct. We have to find Daniel before he...oh, God!! Before he harms himself. He wouldn't...
"Stay with the dead!" Daniel's voice whispers in my head, reverberating endlessly. He keeps repeating them, somehow finding comfort in them while the rest of us are disturbed. His periods of consciousness have been fewer and fewer, and always filled with that mantra. "Stay with the dead. Stay with the dead."
He'll be whispering that in my mind forever.
Where would he go? The general looks at me fearfully. He's hearing Daniel's voice, too. I know it. We have to find him soon. Where? His lab, maybe. No, no, no! I can think of three places he could be.
"Sir! I think I know where he might be! He'd go to his friends..." I breathe with conviction.
"Agreed. I'll take Colonel O'Neill's office. Dr. Mackenzie, if you could check out Teal'c's quarters. Dr. Fraiser, head to Captain Carter's lab," the general orders, already on the same page as me.
Without further hesitation, I take off, fingering the syringe of sedative in my pocket. I'm running down the gray hallway as if for my life. I'm positive one of us will find him and he'll be OK. He has to be. I exit the elevator on the level Sam's lab is located, only getting two steps before I hear it.
"Somebody help! Medical emergency in the astrophysics lab!"
I'm flying.

Dr. Daniel Jackson
Sam's place always calms me for some reason. Perhaps it's the scientific solidity it houses, or more likely, it's just the fact that here I can come and be myself. Sam doesn't always approve or understand my methods, but she does appreciate the challenges I give her. We argue back and forth, ultimately cracking every puzzle together.
I finger her fuzzy African Violet, amazed as always that she manages to keep plants alive so far under ground. I wonder what her secret is. My daydreams are interrupted by approaching footfalls. I have to hide, they can't find me here. I stumble behind one of the closets, willing myself into a painfully small ball. My mind flashes.
// "Oh, God! What are they doing?" I gasp.
The Jaffa have the remains of SG4 and are finally piling them with the rest of the bodies. They're close to the Stargate now, in the clearing beyond the DHD. They've shoved Colonel Rourke's organs crudely back inside him. God, I'm going to be sick again! From our distance, I can still see his sightless eyes boring into me, accompanied by Lt. Bates' and Captain Sipes'.
"I don't know, Daniel," Jack hisses at me.
I know he's not really angry with me. Our campaign has been rather successful - we've killed fifteen Jaffa. Teal'c estimates there are twenty left. Unfortunately, we're extremely low on ammunition and the Jaffa have been more and more aggressive in their counterattacks. I think it's only a matter of time before we're all dead. I think Jack knows this too.
"How are you doing, Daniel?" Sam asks, studying my face. Bless her. I've already come to love Sam dearly and she's helped me so much during this mission. She probably doesn't even realize it, but her frequent queries and touches have kept me sane.
"Fine, Sam." I give her a weak smile.
Sam nods, her head tilting to the side to listen to the Jaffa. She looks at Teal'c expectantly.
"They are preparing the bodies as trophies to present to Cronus," he translates.
Cronus, Cronus...first god of the Greeks? I don't care about him, or his mythology on Earth. I just know that I don't ever want to meet him. His Jaffa have me convinced he's worse than Apophis. I laugh at myself. It's not likely I'll get off this goddamn planet. How could I possibly meet him?
The Jaffa dump SG4 uncaringly on top of the pile and go back into the woods for more. We wait to see if it's a ploy. Teal'c signals when it's all clear. They'll be gone long enough for us to escape. I look to Jack, anticipating he's thinking the same thing.
He's not, and neither is Teal'c. Their expressions tell me they want vengeance, Jack for SG4, Teal'c for...there's something, I don't know what. I have to speak, to try and dissuade them. This is the first chance in almost 24 hours we've had to escape. The Jaffa began guarding the 'gate as soon as they realized we were attacking them. We have to use their mistake!
"Jack, don't you think we should go?" I beg.
"Not until it's done, Daniel," he say impenetrably. Colonel Rourke was his friend, I understand that. But his need for revenge scares me.
"Sir." Sam's on my side, her tone cautious.
"Captain, how many claymores do we have left?" Jack ignores her unspoken question.
"Five, sir."
"OK, I want you and Teal'c to place them around the bodies."
"Jack? What are you doing?" I don't want to know...I already know.
"The Jaffa can hear our radios? I say we tell them exactly where we are. They left SG4 on open display, using them to taunt us. I say we give it right back to them. We dress some of the natives in our clothes, just in case the Jaffa can tell the difference, and we transmit a signal. They'll come running."
"No, Jack! We can't! We can't desecrate them like that. It''s..." I splutter, sickened at his suggestion. "No. They..."
"Daniel. I know it's wrong. I also know we need to stop these Jaffa before they kill more people."
"Daniel?" Sam presses my arm. "I don't like the idea either, but we have to stop them and teach the people here to bury the 'gate. He's right."
No he's not, Sam. They aren't going to budge.
"Fine," I give in. "Fine. But I volunteer to be bait with them."
"What, no!! Daniel, you know I can't let you do that. No!" Jack denies.
"Someone has to, and I can't...I have to do this. Out of all five of us, I'm the worst shot. If something goes wrong, it'll be better if it's me," I argue my own weaknesses.
"Daniel, no."
"Jack, yes. You'll be right here. Besides, by the time they come back I'll be back here with you. Don't ask me why, but I just have to be the one."
He's gaping at me, stunned by my insistence. He doesn't understand. I don't even understand. I just know it has to be me.
"Colonel! He's a civilian! We can't -"
"Carter, look at him. Do you think I'm actually making the decision here?" Jack sighs.
Sam scans me acutely for a minute, her face gradually shifting from indignation to resignation. She closes her eyes before slipping off her dog tags and pressing them in my hand. //
What's he doing? He's taking Sam's things, packing them away in a box. Out of sight, out of mind. No, it's too soon, you bastard. She's not dead, put it down! I can't believe this is happening. It can't be happening. He's taking her plants now. She's going to want those.
I lunge from my hiding place, ignoring the pain enveloping my chest. Get your hands off Sam's stuff! Brilliant yellow bursts before my eyes and I'm tripping. The airman drops Sam's violet and grabs me, easing me to the ground. God, I hurt! The plant falls, the pot shattering on the floor, soil spilling everywhere. Oh, God, no! It looks like blood, the blood. Surrounding me. Blood.
"Stay with the dead," I hear myself mumble.
"Somebody help! Medical emergency in the astrophysics lab!"

General George Hammond
Daniel's awake again. Dr. Fraiser says that his lung collapsed after we found him in Captain Carter's lab, but that he should be just fine. Physically. God. I want to try to get through before they take him. Dr. Mackenzie is like a shark in the water, circling Daniel's bed heartlessly. I have to talk to him one last time.
He won't look at me, anger furrowing his brow. I'd rather have him mad at me than dead. I have to try this. Have to. All I can do is bare my soul to him and hope it's enough to make him see. If this doesn't work, I'll be forced to prove SG1 is dead once and for all.
"Daniel, please. You have to believe me. They are dead. It's been almost four days now."
He turns deliberately away from me. I counter by leaning in closer, grasping his shoulders back toward me. This has to work, it has to.
"Daniel, they are going to take you away. They're going to sedate you so heavily you won't know what's happening to you. Please don't let them do that. Please work with me, Daniel, please. I don't want to lose you too." I'm near tears, I can feel them hot in my eyes.
"They aren't dead."
No! Daniel, please.
"Damnit, Daniel. They are! You said so in your own words." I usher Dr. Fraiser and the damned tape player over to the bed.
"I don't believe you." Daniel's voice is deadened.
I press the button, wanting to plug my ears. I've been hearing this message over and over in my head for days. Daniel's soft, terror stricken voice issues from the machine, filling the infirmary.
// '...there? Jack? God, you're dead. Everyone's dead. Sam...Teal'c...SG4...dead. Dead...I'm all that's left...shit!"
Explosions boom, Daniel screams and then there is dead air. Static bursts crackle fatefully. //
I slam my hand down on the player, allowing silence to reign. Daniel's eyes are huge. I've hurt him. Please tell me it worked!
Daniel thrashes suddenly and violently. Caught off guard, I leap back. Dr. Fraiser and Dr. Mackenzie launch forward, calling for sedatives in unison.
"No! That's not true! It's a lie! No!" Daniel screams.
Oh, God. I've lost him. He's gone.

Dr. Daniel Jackson
No, it's not real. It's fake. I remember now, but the drugs are jumbling everything. They can take their false pity somewhere else. I know I'm right. I have to be. I have to tell them. They have to listen. Please let me be right.
"Gen...General?" I'm slurring terribly.
"What is it, Daniel?" he asks gently. I barely feel him holding my hand.
"You can't do this. I remember it all now. Please." I think I'm right.
His hand tightens its grip. It jerks slightly and there's movement around me. People backing away.
"What do you remember?" His voice is hopeful.
"They're not dead." They can't be, don't you see?
The general sighs sadly and the people edge back toward me. No, not yet! I can't let them take me.
"Trap. It was a...trap. You weren't supposed to..." I lose my focus, the fight against the dark too hard. I'm floating.
"Trap? What?" General Hammond spurts, grounding me back enough to continue.
"Trap, yes. Rig...explosives...I stayed with them. Were going to ambush...Jaffa...wrong. Come back too soon...'gate opened...I..." God, please listen to me! They're still alive. I have to be right!
"What? Daniel, stay with us!"
"Mmm...God...'gate opened while I was still...still talking...Jaffa...I tried to get away...something went....wrong. Wrong...explosion...pain...Jack!...I got up, but Jack told me...stay dead...stay with the dead."
General Hammond's hand is like a vise now. Please believe me.
"It's OK, Daniel. Just rest."
No! Have to convince him. "Gen...Why am I here? Why join S..G..."
"Your wife and the boy."
"Y-yes! I don't know if I'll...find...but I believe...please...I know... where....caves...I know they're alive...caves...three kil... south of 'gate...please I know! Please believe..."
I can't hold on any longer.
I'm frightened that I'll never awaken from this horror.

Dr. Janet Fraiser
I think they might still be alive! Listening to Daniel, I'm certain we should try to find out. General Hammond lets go of his hand and begins pacing frenetically. Daniel's desperate plea has him off his game. Dr. Mackenzie starts wheeling Daniel away, toward the awaiting ambulance. I hold up my hand to stop him.
I know General Hammond has to weigh Daniel's story. Daniel could be correct and SG1 is alive out there, or his fantasy world has become so real it's indiscernible from the truth. My personal belief is that if there is even the slightest indication SG1 is alive, we should send a rescue party.
"Dr. Fraiser? What do you think?"
It's really uncanny how he can read my thoughts. "I think we have to consider the possibility that SG1 is still alive, sir, no matter how remote."
That's all I have to say; I know he just needed someone else to back up his gut feeling. He's running to the briefing room, ordering everyone out of his way.
Please let Daniel be right.

Colonel Jack O'Neill
Daniel's dead. Oh, God, how could I have let him do that? Oh, God. Daniel's dead.
// "He sounds good, sir," Carter whispers.
He does. Daniel should have been an actor. He's convinced me I'm dead. I nod mutely at her, but keep my eyes on Daniel. I can see where he's getting his motivation - surrounded by dead bodies like that. This is going to work, I know - oh, shit!!
Teal'c sees it too. The Jaffa are too close. Daniel starts moving before he's done talking, sensing the trouble. Shit! I hear the 'gate start dialing, see the chevrons light up. The wormhole bursts through the ring and lights up the clearing, shining like a goddamn spotlight right on Daniel. Shit, Hammond, not yet!
Daniel panics at the unexpected development, clumsily tripping over a pile of bodies. The top one flips off and rolls right onto a claymore. God! Daniel's down. He's down! Jaffa rush into the open plain, firing their staff weapons automatically at the morbid stacks of bodies. Daniel's fumbling, rising, crawling toward us. Blood gushes from his mouth and down his face from lacerations on his forehead. God, Danny.
He's so close. But he can't come with us. I can only hope Hammond heard him, knows something is wrong. Sends help.
"Daniel! Stay, stay, stay there! Act dead! Stay with the dead!" I scream as we retreat, heading back to the caves. He falls and I run. God, what have I done? //
Four days and I still can't allow myself to believe it. Dead. I killed him. The only comfort I can give myself is that we'll all be joining him soon. We've only lasted this long because those fucking Jaffa seem to be operating on bloodlust and not brains.
Dead. Daniel.
It was three hours before we could go back to scout around the 'gate. Three hours pinned down and trapped by Jaffa while Daniel was dying. And being transported God knows where with the rest of the dead. I should have gone back for him. I should have...God, the image of him falling will be imprinted in my mind forever. Forever. Which actually, hopefully, won't be that long.
My radio crackles suddenly and I glare at Carter. Why is she messing with her comm.? She's gawking right back at me. If it's not us...a quick glance at Teal'c and Shafer reveal they aren't culpable.
"Sierra Golf one niner, this is Sierra Golf three niner! Please come in! We have dispatched the Jaffa and are heading to your location. Sierra Golf one niner, this is Sierra Golf three niner, please respond!"
Colonel Makepeace has never sounded like such an angel. God, please tell me this means Daniel's alive!

General George Hammond
SG3's IDC code transmits back to us after only 45 minutes. God, let that be a good thing. Please.
The iris spins open as Dr. Fraiser and I run into the 'gateroom. Almost immediately, it spits out Colonel Makepeace. He's grinning. My heart soars.
Seconds behind him, Colonel O'Neill, Captain Carter, Teal'c and Lt. Shafer of SG4 walk through together, dirty, bloody and damned beautiful. I rush up the ramp at them, Dr. Fraiser two steps behind. I know I'm smiling like a fool, but I can't help it. SG3 and 5 stand awkwardly on the ramp, but I don't see them. I only see our missing...dead...people. No, they're alive!
Janet's all over them, poking and prodding relentlessly. I join her, not to aid in the medical assessment, but just to convince myself they are real. They are. Daniel was right. Daniel...
"General," Jack says desperately. He's so exhausted he's trembling, but his eyes are reflecting fire and fear. "Sir, where's Daniel? Is he..."
"He's all right, Colonel," I assure him. "Let's just get you looked at first."
"NO, sir. I need to see him," he whispers adamantly.
"We all do, sir," Sam argues. "Please, sir."
Janet nods almost imperceptibly, easing my mind that they are actually well. I can't believe they're alive! Thank God. My head is spinning and I just look at them. They're real.
"General," Jack chokes, begging. His throat is constricted, muting his plea and tearing at my heart.
God, they've been in the same position as Daniel! All four of their faces are gray and tired, huge purple bruises spreading under their eyes. They must have thought he was dead when no one came back through the 'gate. All this time. Each of us thought we had lost someone dear to us and all this time we've been wrong. I stop my perusal at young Lt. Shafer, feeling a pang of guilt at my relief. Something tells me he's going to have at least three guardian angels to ensure he makes it through his grief.
"General, please!" Jack cries again.
"I'm sorry, Jack - "
"Oh my God - " he interrupts, jumping to the wrong conclusion.
"No, Colonel, he's fine," Dr. Fraiser quickly inserts. "Just fine. I'll take you right to him, though I should warn you he's been heavily sedated. He may not wake up anytime soon."
"You said he was all right! What's wrong, what aren't you telling me?" Jack demands.
Sam and Teal'c look alarmed as well, and I'm not handling any of this very well. I just gape at them some more.
"Calm down, Colonel. You should realize he's been exhibiting indicators of acute stress disorder and looked like he was well on his way to PTSD. We heard his transmission from PC3 666, knew you were, uh, dead, and when he kept insisting you weren't, we agreed Dr. Mackenzie should take over his care at the Air Force hospital."
"Mackenzie? God, Daniel. But he's OK now? Is he still there? Why didn't you bring him back here?" Jack's still panicking.
"Colonel, Dan...Dr. Jackson's attacks were very violent. He re-injured himself slightly, and we were sedating him for transport when he remembered the entire ordeal. We didn't move him. He's still here," I finally manage to find my voice again.
Jack responds by planting a huge kiss on the top of my head. "Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go!"
It's good to have him back. It's good to have them all back.

Dr. Janet Fraiser
General Hammond is practically bouncing along. I can't find fault with that - I'm practically skipping myself. Colonel O'Neill, Sam and Teal'c are flying ahead of us, racing toward their fourth. It's hard to believe it's been less than a week that we thought they were all dead.
I sober with the thought. It's been less than two hours that we thought they might all be alive. But Daniel knew all along. He was so sure and we condemned him to sedation. Classified him as a trauma victim. Ignored his cries for help.
I don't feel like running anymore, the victory somehow tainted. Daniel will understand our motivations, of that I am certain. He'll probably even forgive us. But I don't know how long it will take before I forgive myself.
Sneaking a look at General Hammond, I can see he's feeling the same thing. All this time we'd been trying to make Daniel believe what we thought was the truth, only to learn he knew more than we did. Desperate not to lose him, General Hammond laid everything out to Daniel. I just hope it wasn't all for naught.
We slow as we approach the infirmary doors. Colonel O'Neill stops just outside them, hand raised to push them open.
"He's really in there?" he asks uncertainly.
"Yes, Colonel. He is. And he's fine," I reiterate.
"OK, I just...OK."
Daniel's lying there, as he has been for days now, unconscious and small. I know he looks bad - he's not eaten solid food for four days. The sleep he's been getting has been drug induced and filled with nightmares. I hear someone gasp - Sam - and I look over to her.
"It's OK, Sam. I know he doesn't look that well, but he really is going to be. It's been a rough few days around here," I say again. I'm starting to sound like a wind up doll.
"Thanks, Janet," she swallows convulsively.
Actually, comparatively speaking, Daniel looks in about the same condition as his three friends. True, he's got more contusions, but they are emaciated and fatigued as well. I'm giving them fifteen minutes before I make them at least shower.
Colonel O'Neill smells like a barn.

General George Hammond
We've been camping out in the infirmary for the past three hours. SG1 and Lt. Shafer debriefed me on the entire mission about an hour ago, and the images they provided me are disquieting. It was no holds barred hell over there. I'm giving them all the next two weeks off. Daniel should be able to return to desk duty by then, and I think they're all going to need to spend a lot of time together.
Jack keeps reaching for Daniel's face, stopping just short of touching the sleeping man. I know he must feel incredible guilt for what happened to the young man, but it wasn't his fault. I don't think a civilian should have been allowed in that situation, but I know Daniel Jackson. I've witnessed his stubbornness on more than one occasion, the past two days merely reinforced my opinion that his bullheadedness could stop an elephant in its tracks.
It's a characteristic I used to consider a debilitation. I now consider it a merit. Without Daniel's unwavering belief, SG1 would not be here right now. If only I had considered the possibility before I did. No, I can't do that to myself. What's done is done.
Daniel moans and shifts in his sleep, the motion bringing three people closer to his bedside. They're hovering and they know it. I'm glad the first faces Daniel will see will be his family.
Whole again.

Dr. Daniel Jackson
I'm on the ceiling, in the clouds. My head is so light, but the room is so dark. I know this feeling, have been living it for days now. Days....and days.
I hear someone tapping an obnoxious rhythm near my head, pulling me out of the haze. I groan softly, strangely pleased that I can feel the pull of my chest. Pain is good. Means that I'm alive.
I moan again, this time rewarded with something warm and solid cupping my face and someone clasping my right hand. I lean into the hand on my cheek and open my eyes. Jack! It's Jack, but is he real? I'm afraid to react, afraid to show them that I'm seeing things again.
"Hey!" Ghostjack says. "Welcome back to the land of the living."
"Daniel, hi!" Sam's here now, uh oh, this is a bad one.
"Daniel Jackson, it is indeed good to see you well." And their little dog, too!
I close my eyes, fervently hoping to find my friends at my side when I open them again, that they aren't my imagination. I crack open one eye. Jack's looking at me with a frown now.
"Daniel?" he whispers.
"Real?" I whisper back.
"Oh, God! Yes, we're real! We're real!" he exclaims.
I can feel the tears coming. I didn't cry when they were dead, why am I crying now? I don't want them to see this.
"Hey, hey, what's wrong?" Jack asks, giving my face a gentle caress.
"Daniel, it's OK. We're here, everything will be all right." She's the one with my hand and she squeezes it tightly.
"God, I wasn't sure...I thought...I didn't know...I thought you were dead...I wasn't sure...I wasn't sure!" I'm sobbing openly now, unable to control it. Through my tears, I brave a look at Jack. He wipes his thumb across the tear tracks and my vision clears again.
"Yes, you were, Daniel. You saved us. You did good. You did good..." he trails off and looks away suddenly. I think I saw tears.
"You never gave up, Dr. Jackson," General Hammond moves into my line of sight now. He's calling me Dr. Jackson again. Things must be OK. "Colonel O'Neill is right. Your persistence saved their lives and that of Lt. Shafer. You should be proud."
"Well, sir, their lives are still at risk," Dr. Fraiser calls out. "If they don't get some sleep, I'll be forced to harm them. I want them to rest. Now. Ah, this is not a request, Colonel."
Jack protests loudly, and I just smile. I have my family back.

General George Hammond
For the second time in the past week, I've been ordered out of the infirmary. Jack argued against being separated from Daniel, and Dr. Fraiser conceded. She had her nurses arrange his and Sam's beds as closely as possible to Daniel's. Teal'c automatically plopped himself down on the floor, preparing to meditate - apparently he doesn't require sleep.
I can't leave right away. I'm still in shock they're actually here and I just have to watch them for a while. I stand at the doorway unobtrusively, not wanting to disturb them. Despite Dr. Fraiser's orders, all of them are resisting sleep. It's like they are afraid to close their eyes, afraid that somehow they'll lose each other again.
So close. It was so close this time. If Daniel hadn't fought so hard, hadn't given up on his friends, SG1 would be gone. To hear him confess his uncertainty was ferociously heartbreaking. I can't imagine what he's gone through...we've essentially tortured him for the past two days, insisting his family was dead, telling him how wrong he was, wearing him down. And he still clung to that hope, pulled every last fiber of strength and make us see.
Now, watching them together, I'm overcome with emotion. I know I shouldn't be listening to them, but being the parent I happily am, I need to make sure my kids will be all right. Jack and Sam have arms extended, resting on Daniel's tightly clasped hands.
"Daniel?" Jack whispers again.
"J-jack," Daniel murmurs back, tears still choking his words.
"It's OK. We're here. We're staying. Always, Daniel."
"How c-can you be sure? I don't...Jack, I don't know if I can take something like this again," Daniel says softly.
I want to run back in there and grab that boy in a hug. Then Jack, then Sam and then even Teal'c. They need this time alone, though, my turn with them will come soon enough.
"Daniel," Sam interjects, reprimanding Jack's promise in her gentle way. "We can't promise this won't happen again, you know that. But we will certainly try."
"No, sir. As much as I want to tell myself that we'll always be together, thinking we'd lost Daniel...again, it just -"
"W-what?" Daniel stammers. "Lost me?"
"Indeed, Daniel Jackson. When there was no activity from the SGC, we believed you to be dead," Teal'c states calmly, though I am sure I heard his voice shake for an instant.
"Oh, oh, geez! I didn't think..." Daniel's really flustered now.
"Daniel, calm down. We survived, all of us. That's what matters! And we'll survive the aftermath, too. You don't have to be scared anymore, Daniel. None of us do," Jack asserts confidently.
Damn, that man has a way with words. I believe him. It's going to be a long, possibly nightmarish road, but with each other to watch each other, SG1 will be back on their feet in no time. I've never been more certain of anything in my life.
A firm pressure on my forearm startles me out of my musings and I look down to find Dr. Fraiser giving me a shy smile. She's been watching me watching them, knowing exactly what is going through my head. I'm so lucky to have this woman here, both as a doctor and a friend. Not too long ago, I thought the only good thing to come of all this was our newly formed bond. Now it's become an added bonus.
"General, didn't I tell you to go get some rest?" she chides me jokingly.
"I will, Doctor, I will. Just give me a few more minutes?" I know she won't refuse.
"Of course, but only as long as you don't mind some company."
I beam at her and turn back to SG1. Teal'c has slipped into his meditation and Sam is snoring softly, hand still attached to Daniel. Jack is fading fast, blinks becoming longer and longer, but he's staring at Daniel.
"Daniel?" Jack pleads.
"Jack," Daniel breathes.
"I'm sorry, so sorry," Jack gulps repeatedly.
"Why? There's nothing to be sorry for, Jack," Daniel assures.
I don't know what they are talking about, suddenly feeling I shouldn't be hearing this.
"God, Daniel. I let almost ...I thought I killed you! You went down, all bloody and I just ran. I never should have let you do that," Jack groans.
"I think it was you who said you didn't make the decision, Jack. It was my choice. Mine. It was not your fault. How can you even think that? You didn't know the Jaffa would be back so soon, or that the 'gate would open at precisely that moment. Not your fault, Jack, so give it up," Daniel weakly but fiercely whispers.
"No, Jack. It's not your fault any more than it is mine for not remembering sooner, and God, I wish I had. You were on that planet for s-so long! If I had remembered..." Daniel trails off.
"You did remember. You did save us. It's over," Jack says simply.
"Yeah." Daniel doesn't sound sure.
"I don't know about you, but I'm tired," Jack grumbles, already putting the tough guy mask back into place.
"Well, for crying out loud, if you would shut up we could get some sleep!"
Muffled laughter echoes through the infirmary, diminishing rapidly into the heavy breathing of sleep. I'm almost laughing with them as I turn to leave.
"General?" Dr. Fraiser hesitantly asks.
"Yes, Doctor?"
"I was wondering if you would like a hand. I'd be more than happy to help out."
"I'd like that, Dr. Fraiser. Shall we?" I warmly accept her offer, knowing I'm the only one who can officially handle this task. Her companionship is all the help I need.
I guide her out of the infirmary and walk to my office. There are four files that need to be reopened.
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.