The Beginning of Healing
By marzipan77

 

GEN; Sooo angsty, but mostly it’s a team story.
Rated: T+ for repercussions from Hathor and some decidedly strong language. Maybe M for Daniel’s memories, but, then again, I have a strong imagination.
Tag for Hathor.
A/N: This episode bothered me for many reasons, most notably the undercurrent of amusement in some scenes, and the terrible treatment of male rape. This should never be the butt of anyone’s jokes.  Adding a more serious ending was something I struggled with.  This was actually the first thing I ever wrote for SG-1, and I found it in an old notebook I opened to make some notes on another story.

Daniel shifted uncomfortably in the corner of the sofa in the darkened room, one floor lamp barely chasing the shadows from its base, his long hair funneling the darkness towards his face.  Long fingers tore tiny pieces from the edge of the plain paper plate in his hands, the slice of pizza cooling in its center.  Jack watched as the tiny bits of white Styrofoam fluttered onto the carpeting like snow from a night sky, but just couldn’t bring himself to care.  He lowered the empty beer bottle from his mouth to join its mates on the floor at his feet and made himself count the longnecks scattered around his teammate’s.  Huh.  That’s a lot.

“So, you’re okay, right Jack?”

Jack pushed himself to his feet, frowning at the unanticipated lack of protest from his knees and back.  “Yes, Daniel,” he answered wearily, “for about the fifteenth time, I’m A-okay, five by five, awesome.”  He waved his hands dramatically as he weaved his way through the brown-bottle minefield of his living room to make his way to the fridge and another round.  “No baby snake swimming around my colon, no X marks the spot.”  He sneaked one hand under his shirt and rubbed his stomach, but not for reassurance, he told himself firmly.

“Good, that’s good.”

“Yeah, you’ve said that before, too,” Jack smiled.  “Still a lightweight I see,” he enunciated carefully, ruffling Daniel’s hair as he passed.

Daniel leaned forward casually, making sure to move beyond Jack’s reach as he placed his plate on the coffee table and then plucked his beer from its resting place between his crossed legs.  Jack frowned at the flash of – something – that crossed his friend’s features before the archaeologist tipped back his head and sucked the last few ounces down his throat.  He shook his head and wondered, not for the first time this evening, if this impromptu debriefing with the young man was such a good idea.

Teal’c was the one who suggested the three share a quick drink before heading off in different directions for their two-day imposed downtime.  Didn’t quite turn out the way the big guy expected, Jack chuckled to himself, when Daniel had downed his third beer in quick succession sitting next to a largely silent Jack O’Neill.  The big Jaffa had followed them back to Jack’s house in Daniel’s car when it became clear that the archaeologist was only interested in chasing oblivion, and that Jack wasn’t far behind.  Staying only long enough to get an Airman to pick him up for a ride back to the base, Teal’c had bowed out, literally, hoping, Jack supposed, that Daniel would crash and the two would find some way to help each other over the next few days.  Yeah, Jack thought wryly, that was likely.

Finally arriving in the kitchen, Jack pulled open the refrigerator and contemplated the cardboard box on the top shelf with its depiction of the snow covered Rocky Mountains.  Bending, he reached one arm into its dark recesses and felt around, brow furrowing when his fingers met only the smooth sides and back.  Wrenching backwards he snorted when the empty twelve-pack latched onto his arm and came with him.

Stumbling down the three steps to his teammate, he waggled his arm, shifting the box back and forth, and watched Daniel’s eyebrows rise.  “Huh – I guess we finished it.”

“Crap.”

It was Jack’s turn to be surprised.  “’Crap,’ Daniel?  Not much of a linguist when you’ve had a few, are ya?”

“Mierda, excremento, shifezza, uitwerpsel,” the linguist muttered.  “Or, if you’d like more colloquialisms how about dung, manure, muck, skid marks, feces, or, of course, shit, etymology the acronym for Ship High In Transit which was painted on the sides of vessels hauling manure to relate the large quantities of methane which…”

“…Holy – stop!  Just… stop,” Jack interrupted eyes wide in panic.  “I thought you were trying to turn your brain *off*, Daniel.”

Pushing his glasses up to rest on top of his head, Daniel rubbed hard at both eyes.  “Isn’t working.”

The words were muffled by his friend’s hands, but Jack got the drift.  “Yeah, me either.”  He peeled the cardboard box from his right hand and shuffled to a cabinet that hid in the corner next to the fireplace.  Straightening triumphantly he held up the half-full bottle of scotch with two fingers.  “What do you think?”

“What is it?”

Jack sighed.  “It’s scotch, Daniel.  Glenfiddich.  Single Malt, aka ‘the good stuff.’”  He grabbed two glasses from the shelf and plunked down on the sofa.  “Very smoky, very smooth.”  He poured two fingers in each and held one out to his teammate.  Lifting his glass towards Daniel, Jack hesitated for a moment, one finger raised.  “To the stalwart ladies of the SGC without whom, well,” he swallowed, “we’d be even more screwed.”

Knocking back the liquor in one gulp, Jack missed the fear that splashed across Daniel’s face at his words, and the way the light brown liquid sloshed against the glass in his shaking hand.  The archaeologist lurched to his feet and tried to fight off the feeling of pressure boxing him in, the heat of fingers skimming his skin, the ripe smell of – he drank the scotch down and coughed, hunching over until he could control his gasps, hoping Jack would think they were just from the alcohol.

“Hey, it’s better than that swill you had the boys on Abydos making,” Jack teased, pouring himself another one.

“Sorry,” Daniel whispered.  He blinked at the moisture that momentarily blinded him and turned to face the blurred outline of his CO.  “I’m sorry, Jack.”

The colonel grimaced and waved his apology off.  “What, for not holding your liquor?”  He shook his head.  “No big deal.”

“That’s not –” he gritted his teeth and held out his glass for another one.  “Never mind.”

Jack poured.  “Freaky thing, that Jaffa-making jewel she wore around her waist,” he added, eyes glittering in the low light.  “I’ll bet Frasier would have had a field day with it if we could have held onto it.”

Daniel turned away.  “Yeah.  Too bad.”  He sipped his drink and leaned heavily against the fireplace.  He didn’t want to talk about it.  Didn’t want Jack to talk about it.  He just had to know if Jack was really okay, then he could go.

 Jack leaned back into the cushions and held his glass up in front of his face, admiring the color of the high-end single-malt.  Amber, like the Goa’uld’s…  He cut off that thought and downed his drink.  Maybe vodka would have been a better choice.  Linking his fingers together over the glass, Jack leaned his head against the high back of his sofa and closed his eyes.  Memories were blunting around the edges nicely.  He sighed and settled more comfortably.

Setting his shoulders against the wooden mantle, Daniel watched his friend as the tension oozed from his muscles, empty glass held loosely in both hands on this stomach – his unmarked stomach.  The tremors gripped him again and he was glad Jack’s eyes were closed.  He started towards the kitchen, stepping clumsily into his shoes on the way by.

“I’m just gonna…” he murmured.

“You know where it is.”  Jack’s voice was slurred, sleepy, and Daniel took a moment to watch the creases on the older man’s face smooth out as he went past.

A few minutes later he walked quietly back into the room and tugged his jacket from the back of the sofa, careful not to disturb the snoring man.  The cab he’d called should be there any minute.  Daniel stood for a moment at the door, one hand clutching the knob tightly.  Without turning, he lowered his head and whispered, “I’m sorry, Jack.”

Something woke Jack O’Neill and he opened his eyes, the rest of his body heavy with sleep.  The room was dark and the glass he’d been holding had fallen to nestle between his hip and the middle cushion.  His eyes scanned the darkened room and his brows furrowed.  “Daniel?”  He cleared a throat thick with drink and tried again.  “Daniel?”  The house was still, completely silent, and had that stale feeling of emptiness.

Stumbling, Jack made his way down the hall, hands pushing against the walls to steady his gait.  “Daniel?”  The guestroom was unoccupied, the bathrooms pristine.  He held himself next to the window and peered through the wooden slats of the blinds.  One streetlight sent a cone of light down onto the quiet street, shining from the silvered roof of Daniel’s car.

“Jerk,” Jack muttered, realizing his buddy had scampered.  “Just waited until my eyes were closed for a minute, didn’t ya, Daniel?”  He stopped off to drain his bladder, sighing heavily with relief, before shuffling to his bedroom.  His first grab at the phone on his night stand went wide, but Jack nabbed it the second time and punched speed dial #3.  A mumbled voice said something like ‘hello.’

“Carter?”

“Sir?”

“Hey, Carter,” he smiled at the warning tone she could infuse into that one little syllable.  “You heard from Daniel tonight?”

Fumbling noises on the other end resolved themselves into a much more concerned sounding 2IC.  “Daniel?  No, sir.  I thought Teal’c said he was going to stay at your place.”

“Yeah, I thought so, too, but when I woke up from a little nap, he’d gone.”  He eyed his watch. “Twenty minutes – thirty, tops.”

“Sir, was he driving?”

“Nope.  He was blitzed, Carter, but his car’s still here,” Jack assured her.  Apparently Daniel had tucked his cowardly tail between his legs and run off, but wasn’t so stupid as to try to drive.

More fumbling.  “I’ll check his apartment, sir.”

Carter was on it.  Jack’s hand was moving towards the table before she finished talking.  The pillows looked good – fluffy.  He toppled towards them.  “You do that, Carter.”

-----^-----

“Hey, buddy, we’re here.”  Geez, the guy was toast – he’d be lucky to get him out of his cab before he puked all over the damned rug.  “Hey!”  He reached back and banged his knuckles on the Plexiglas window that separated the front and back seats.

If the driver hadn’t been staring at his passenger’s slack face through the screen of his long hair in the rearview mirror he may not even have noticed the young man’s bright blue eyes snap open.  In his 18 years of driving a hack he’d seen a lot of things – some he’d just as soon forget.  And in a military town like Colorado Springs the reactions of his passengers often ranged from quietly polite with lots of sirs thrown in to belligerent and scary.  Heck, he’d opened the door for one airman once and got thrown onto the pavement for his trouble.  They’d laughed about that back at the garage and he’d never been tempted to violate the cardinal rule of hack drivers since then – “Don’t get out of the cab.”

But this guy – the way he froze like some kind of trapped animal – it was just… sad.  He blinked a few times behind those great big specs, and then seemed to melt back into the seat cushions.

“Sorry,” he fumbled in his pockets awkwardly.

The driver shook his head.  “Good thing I’m an honest guy, buddy – you already paid me, remember?  I wouldn’t pick you up until you showed me you had the cash.”  He’d been stiffed by a few stiffs before he’d made himself that rule.

“Uh, right – thanks.”  He leaned against the door, managing to grasp the handle with one hand before he spilled out onto the sidewalk in front of the apartment building.

“Hey – you gonna make it inside?  You need any help?”  Something about this kid made him forget all of his longstanding promises to himself.  He’d seen plenty of drunks staggering home after a long night and this was different – this kid was more lost than drunk.

“I’m fine.”  The mumbled phrase sounded well-rehearsed but the cabbie shrugged.  It’s not like he was the guy’s mother – but he did wait with his motor running until his fare stumbled through the doors held open by the night guard into the brightly lit lobby before he pulled out onto the road in search of another stranded soul.

-----^-----

Samantha Carter combed her fingers through her tangled blonde hair on her way out the door of her small house, not even bothering to stop to make sure the door was locked behind her.  She couldn’t get his face out of her mind – sitting there on the bed of the VIP room, the sheets bunched around him in an unmistakable way.  He’d just sat there – unmoving, unreachable, and so empty – he hadn’t even blinked when she and Teal’c and Janet burst in to try to take Hathor into custody.  She hadn’t let herself think about what the Goa’uld had done to him, not until later when the evidence was inescapable.  Oh, God.

She broke every speed limit in the quiet town getting to Daniel’s apartment and didn’t hesitate to park in the restricted zone right out front, flipping down her Air Force ID on the sun visor.  Let them tow her – it didn’t matter.  Rushing through the chill Colorado night Sam zipped the jacket of her sweat suit and rapped neatly on the locked lobby door. 

“Captain Carter.”  The night guard greeted her warmly as he stepped aside.

“Frank.  Have you seen…”  The retired airman jerked one thumb over his shoulder towards the stairs.  “I’d have given him a hand, but I’m not supposed to leave the lobby.”

She returned his sad smile before hurrying to the unmarked door around the corner and stretched her legs to take the steps two at a time.  Was it really only a few weeks ago that she and Teal’c and the colonel had come here to clean out Daniel’s apartment after his apparent death?

She didn’t have far to go before she stumbled over Daniel’s foot – the young archaeologist had managed to prop himself up against the wall on the landing between the third and fourth floors, his legs sprawled out in front of him.  Col. O’Neill was right – Daniel was out – the question was could she wrangle him up the last two flights to his apartment?  And just how much help was he going to be?

Sam crouched down next to her teammate, brushing the hair out of his face.  “Dan-“

Off-balance, she wasn’t prepared for the violence of his reaction.  His eyes snapped open and he erupted from the floor, flailing about with both arms and yelling at the top of his lungs.

“No!  Get your hands off me!  No!”  One elbow caught Sam on the side of the face and knocked her backwards against the wall.  Ignoring the pain she got to her feet quickly, grabbing Daniel by one wrist and spinning behind him to lock his elbow.

“Daniel – it’s me, Sam!  I’m only trying to help.”  She didn’t want to hurt him but she also didn’t want him to tumble down the stairs in his haste to escape.  Even in his alcohol daze he was strong – wiry – and he fought dirty, she realized, barely avoiding contact when he threw his head backwards in an attempt to break her nose.  Usually fighting was Daniel’s very last resort in any confrontation, but his lessons at the hands of Jack and Teal’c had accomplished one thing: when his logic and compassion were overruled by his emotions, Daniel wouldn’t go down easily.

Eventually, she wrestled him to the floor, one knee in the small of his back to keep him down, while she tried to get through to him.  “Daniel… it’s me… it’s Sam.  I don’t want to hurt you.”

It took several long minutes for him to hear her, and when it happened, it happened all at once.  One minute he was straining every muscle to get away, silently now, his teeth clenched and the cords of his neck standing out startlingly, and the next he collapsed, drawing in long, whooping breaths that choked off with a cry.  She kept her grip for a moment, just to make sure it was over, before releasing him and falling backwards, her own breathing loud in the quiet stairwell.

“Sam?”  His voice sounded thick.

“Yeah, it’s me.  Are you okay?”

He turned his head away from her but made no attempt to get up.  She eyed him warily as he pulled his arms in towards his body and clenched his fists so tightly that the skin across his knuckles whitened.

“What – what are you…”

Before she tackled that question, Sam decided to try to get her teammate moving towards his place.  She climbed to her feet and stood next to him, one hand stretched down for help.  “Why don’t we get you into your apartment – we can talk then, okay?”

Ignoring her offer of help, Daniel got his knees up under him and pushed his way to his feet, stumbling slightly.  “Yeah, good idea.”  He kept his eyes on the grey industrial carpeting and made good use of the banister to climb the rest of the way to his floor, sometimes swaying a bit, but always managing to avoid Sam’s willing assistance.

At his door he carefully leaned his weight against the frame and closed his eyes.  A tired smile played across his features after he patted his pockets in an unsuccessful search.  “I musta left my keys at Jack’s,” he mumbled.

“Well, it’s a good thing we gave each other a set, isn’t it?”  Sam slid through the keys on her own ring until she found Daniel’s.  He rolled to his back against the wall to give her access to the doorknob, his eyes still tightly closed.

“Thanks, Sam,” Daniel whispered once she’d pushed the door open.

He staggered through and she quietly followed, closing the door softly and watching, not quite sure what to do next.  The knee-jerk reaction he’d greeted her with in the stairwell was easier to understand than this.  He’d yet to meet her eyes – just one glance that touched the swelling she could feel along her right cheek where his elbow had connected before his glance skittered away.
Come on, Daniel, say something, she urged silently.

Using the furniture for support, Daniel made it to the couch in the living room and dropped into it heavily, letting his head loll back onto the cushions.  Sam perched on the edge of a side chair, waiting, her gaze flicking between his eyes – now staring at the ceiling – and other familiar objects: the long line of journals on one bookcase, his fish tank, the Egyptian game set up on a low table.

Finally, he dropped his face into his hands, fingers finding their way beneath his glasses.  Hand pressed against his eyes, his voice emerged more steadily than she’d imagined it could.  “It’s okay, Sam.  You should go home.  Babysitting duty’s over.”

“Daniel…”

“Jack called you, right?  I mean, you don’t usually stop by for coffee at 3 AM.”  Resentment left a raw edge along his words.  “I’ll see you at the mountain in a few days.”

“You sure you don’t-”  She didn’t want to leave him like this, but Sam had absolutely no idea how to help, or even if anyone could.  This might be something Daniel just had to work out on his own.

“Don’t, what?” he snapped, dropping his hands and spearing her with a steady glare.  “Want you to stay?  To tuck me in?  Hold my hand?”  He leaned forward, clutching quickly at the fabric of the cushion next to him to keep from falling across the coffee table.  It might have been funny if anything that had happened in the past 24 hours had been funny – or if she couldn’t see the cold despair behind Daniel’s drunkenness.

“I don’t know,” Sam admitted steadily, her own gaze troubled, but determined to get through to her friend.  “Tell me what you need.”

Daniel was the first to look away.  “Nothing,” he sighed, finally, “just 48 hours to think without any contact with the SGC.”

She knew the indecision was clear on her face when he looked up.  “Really.  No calls to Frasier or the general or anyone.”  He hid his face in his hands again, but not before she saw the pain there.  “You might want to check on Jack tomorrow, but just,” his control wavered for a moment and she heard his breath hitch, “just leave me alone.”

Sam nodded quickly and stood up, blinking back her own tears.  She put one hand on Daniel’s shoulder as she walked towards the door, but the deep flinch that rocked him made her snatch it back.  She turned once at the door and saw that he’d fallen sideways, his knees pulled up and his arms wrapped around his chest.

“Goodnight, then,” she called.  After the door had shut and locked behind her she stood for a moment in the hallway, fingering her cell phone.  During the past few months she’d come to respect and admire her fellow scientist for his quick intellect and depth of commitment.  She trusted him and Teal’c and Col. O’Neill with her life every day.  She just hoped she could trust him with his own.

-----^-----

“It seems to be healing nicely, Mr. Teal’c.”  The infirmary nurse removed the dressing from Teal’c’s leg and ran disbelieving fingers over the slight scar that was the only sign of his injury.  He raised one eyebrow, considering again when the healers of the Tau’ri would realize that he was not as fragile as his human comrades.  The small blonde woman smiled at him and he attempted to smooth the impatience from his expression.

Teal’c glanced around the busy infirmary – even at mid-day on the human ‘weekend’ the healers moved quickly and efficiently from one warrior to the next.  Many of the patients were those who had fallen under the influence of the Goa’uld Hathor, and were being examined for lingering effects of her power.  The Jaffa tilted his head, watching as the female healers attended each man with a strange brusqueness and an air of superiority not usually found in their demeanors, as if the men’s susceptibility to Hathor’s behavioral inhibitors made them somehow inferior or shameful.  The warriors themselves appeared to accept this – their eyes shifting nervously from side to side – ashamed of their apparent weakness.

An odd occurrence, Teal’c observed.  He did not consider these men weak for succumbing to the Goa’uld any more than he did O’Neill – the Goa’uld had used a weapon for which the human males had no resistance.  One could not fault them for falling before it; staff weapon wounds or gashes from expertly wielded knives would not have drawn the barely hidden contempt from these females.  Teal’c considered this past battle a lesson in the guile and deception of the enemy, and, with their victory, these warriors would be better armed, in mind as well as hand, against the false gods of the Goa’uld.

He inclined his head stiffly towards the nurse and made his way between the examination tables, making sure to meet the eyes of each of the Tau’ri as he strode past – not unlike the times he’d spent among the younger warriors of Apophis, encouraging with his very presence.  Many who met his steady gaze straightened imperceptibly, sitting taller on the infirmary beds, winning back a portion of their pride.

As he passed an open doorway, Teal’c was surprised to see the slight figure of Dr. Janet Frasier sitting behind her desk, just hanging up the phone, her left arm immobilized within a sling.  He hesitated at the doorway until the human woman looked up and met his eyes.  She and Captain Carter had acquitted themselves well during the battle for the SGC, and had been justly praised by their commander.  Today, however, the healer’s mask of brisk efficiency had slipped to reveal a deeper pain.  He watched silently as she struggled to retreat back into her stoic calm and quickly made a decision.

Stepping inside, Teal’c bowed.  “I did not expect to see you today, Dr. Frasier.  Did General Hammond not order you to leave the base for 48 hours as he did SG-1?”  He hoped his warm, level tone would express his concern effectively: Teal’c had found that many of the Tau’ri did not understand his attempts to communicate and, so, often chose to keep his silence.

A moment passed between them and Teal’c moved to quietly close the door behind him.  Settling into a chair next to the healer’s desk in order to place himself on a more even level with the diminutive woman, he leaned forward.  “Is there anything I can do to assist you, Dr. Frasier?”

“Thank you, Teal’c,” she murmured, touching his arm with one small hand before closing the medical file on her desk firmly, “but I’m not sure if there’s anything to be done at this point.”

He noticed an undercurrent of anger beneath the woman’s despair.  “It is not O’Neill for whom you are concerned.”  Teal’c had already dismissed the warrior as the object of her anxiety.

“No.  Col. O’Neill is a well-trained, experienced officer.  He’s been through something, yes, and he’ll need some time, but I believe, unfortunately, that he’s gone through worse, and that he’s adopted appropriate coping mechanisms for torture.  All of Col. O’Neill’s tests came back perfectly normal,” she added, relaxing slightly, “which, in itself, is remarkable.  I wish the Goa’uld sarcophagus technology could have been studied.  I’d love to have a tool like that for other seriously injured airmen.”

“The Goa’uld guard these closely, as they are their only means to keep their host bodies from falling to injury, disease, or old age.”  He noticed how the woman’s eyes strayed back to the file in front of her as he responded.  “Unfortunately, the sarcophagus has no power to heal the deeper wounds of the soul.”

Janet’s gaze snapped back to the warm eyes of the Jaffa, surprise clear on her features and a question in her eyes.

“I have been in the service of the Goa’uld for more years than many humans here have lived, Dr. Frasier,” Teal’c sat back in the chair, images of the atrocities and tortures inflicted by Apophis and his armies flashing across his memory.  “I have witnessed their cruelty and the humiliation they bring to their enemies for both strategic and more… personal… reasons.”  His nostrils flared as if he could still smell the stink of death and horror that the Goa’uld left in their wakes throughout the galaxy.  “I have, myself, with my own hands,” he lifted them almost unconsciously, “brought pain and death to thousands.”

Janet could think of no response.  She and the rest of the SGC had grown so comfortable with the Jaffa’s presence, had accepted him as one of their own so firmly, that the thought of his past rarely crossed their minds.  Her lips clamped shut and she stilled herself to listen.

“I have seen humans killed, tortured, and abused, I have seen their spirits broken and their bodies bowed by slavery, and I have seen them turn on each other in desperation and fear.  But it was not until I met the humans of the Tau’ri – O’Neill, Captain Carter, and Daniel Jackson – that I saw their determination, self-sacrifice, and the ability to absorb hardship that is at the heart of the human spirit.”

After a moment, her eyes full, Janet again touched the file in front of her.  “You’re right.  Some of the people we work with are amazing.  The things they’ve experienced would have destroyed others.  But, Teal’c – some wounds are so deep, some pain so caustic that the road to healing can be a very long and painful one.”

“And you are afraid that this is the case for Daniel Jackson?”  His brows furrowed, Teal’c remembered his first glimpse of the young man among the human slaves, his willingness to throw himself to the Goa’uld for his mate’s sake.  Even those wounds were still unhealed.

Janet shook her head, a slight smile touching only her lips.  “As a doctor, I shouldn’t talk about any of my patients, Teal’c, except in my official reports to General Hammond, and even those are restricted to his eyes only.”  She smoothed her hand across the medical file gently.

-----^-----

Daniel sensed her knowing smile above him as he fought himself – the constant adrenaline forcing him in two directions: towards the embrace of her smooth, centuries old body, and away, disgusted and appalled by the feel of his skin touching hers.

“You are strong, my pharaoh,” she laughed into his mouth and he felt his reason slip, screaming, beneath the blind arousal that filled him.  Somewhere inside he tried to find a place to cling to, to hold onto something of himself.  Sha’re, oh, God, Sha’re.

Daniel jerked awake, stomach roiling and clothes stuck to his skin with sweat.  Heaving himself up off the couch, he staggered to the phone and knocked it clumsily to the floor to silence the ear-splitting bell.  He pulled his damp shirt off over his head and dropped it behind him, barely making it to the toilet before he retched, his throat burning.

Okay.  Alcohol didn’t work.

Empty and shaking, Daniel pried off the rest of his clothes and fell into the shower, turning the water on full - icy cold, but it didn’t matter.  He leaned his head against the tiles and let the water batter against him until his teeth chattered and every muscle ached.  Fumbling with the spigots, he switched over to warm and closed his eyes under the soothing stream.
-----^-----

“Were we not both there in the Goa’uld’s quarters, Dr. Frasier?”  Teal’c raised one eyebrow at the healer’s statement.  What Daniel Jackson had suffered at the hands of Hathor had been all too evident.

Janet closed her eyes against the image.  “Teal’c.”

“Is this form of personal attack unknown on your world?” Teal’c asked quietly.  He had never considered this possibility.  The Goa’uld reserved this humiliation for those humans who were most personally appealing – men or women – proudly displaying their victims as if dispensing upon them a great honor.  Those who were weak of spirit often found a way to die, while the strongest survived, for a time – he had watched as their lives had become more of a living death.

The healer sighed.  “No.  Unfortunately this ‘personal attack’ as you call it, is not unknown – it’s not even particularly rare.  But our society has never been able to develop an effective treatment for the victims.  In fact,” she ground her teeth in frustration, “many ignorant people still insist upon blaming the victims themselves.”

Shock registered on the Jaffa’s stoic features, but was replaced immediately by cold fury.  Watching him, Janet’s spirits lifted, hoping to have found an unexpected advocate.  She had been afraid that the martial nature of the Jaffa culture would have him see any victim of violence as weak or unworthy of sympathy.  Instead it seemed as if the alien among them might have the most “human” response of all.

“…and,” she continued, staring hard into Teal’c’s fierce brown eyes, “victims who are male are considered even more contemptible.”

Teal’c’s eyes narrowed.  Some of the behavior he had witnessed in the infirmary became clear.  “I believe I have seen this way of behaving from the female personnel on this base just a few moments ago.”

Janet shivered, remembering how close she and Sam had come to criticizing their male colleagues for being vulnerable to Hathor’s power.  “It’s a complicated dynamic between men and women, Teal’c.”

“On any planet,” Teal’c inclined his head in agreement.  “But only a being with the arrogance of a Goa’uld could seek to blame a warrior for falling to a far superior foe.”  He had seen Apophis revel watching the humans he’d enslaved battle each other for prominence, mirroring the Goa’uld’s weapons of violence and humiliation against those weaker than themselves.

“That’s just it, Teal’c,” Janet explained earnestly.  “In our culture we’ve found that women’s vulnerability to… personal attacks… is largely met with compassion and sympathy, but men – men are expected to be strong, capable of defending themselves and their households – especially in a military setting.  Vulnerability is inexcusable.”

“Weakness is death,” Teal’c translated the Jaffa axiom.

Janet adjusted the strap of the sling where it irritated her neck.  “In a sense I suppose that’s true,” she replied wearily.

“And Daniel Jackson believes this as well?”

“Teal’c, I’m very much afraid that he does.  Our studies have shown that anyone who has suffered from ra… a personal attack of this nature carries deep psychological scars: feelings of shame and betrayal, a desire for isolation from everyone in the victim’s life, irrational bouts of anger and depression, and sometimes even self-damaging behavior.  And that behavior is only increased when the victim is male.”

-----^-----

Daniel’s shaking hands groped for his clothes awkwardly, his limbs reluctant to follow his brain’s instructions.  Leave.  Leave now.  Go.  It was all the lucidity he could muster.  As he leaned his weight back onto the bed he nearly cried out when he felt the mattress shift and one arm was flung over his shoulder and across his bare chest.

“So strong,” she murmured against his neck, “to leave my bed so easily.”  She pressed herself against his back and he froze.  “The humans of this world grow strong,” Hathor brushed her fingers against his collarbone, lifting her hand to cradle his chin and draw his head around to face her, “and beautiful.  I have not been required to use so much nishka on a man in centuries, my beloved.”

He tried to turn away, but she breathed again and he was lost.

Her voice filled his mind and raised the hairs all over his body.  “Await me here,” she whispered.  “Our children will be mighty indeed, my pharaoh.”

“No!”  The sharp pain brought Daniel back to here and now and he blinked at his fractured image in the broken mirror in front of him.  Anger washed over him in waves, tearing the perverse memories that flooded his mind into pieces.

Good.  Anger worked where alcohol had failed.  That shouldn’t be hard to maintain, especially if Jack or Sam – whoever it was – kept trying to call him.

He glanced down and the bright red stains decorating the white porcelain of the sink caught his eye.  He was bleeding, a shard of glass sticking out of the skin under his knuckles.

Pain worked, too.

-----^-----

Teal’c rose from his chair in one swift movement, suddenly towering over the small healer, his face set.  “Then I must speak with General Hammond at once.”

Janet got to her feet.  “The general isn’t here, Teal’c – Colonel Makepeace is on duty.”

“Then I will speak with him.”

“Teal’c, please, I shouldn’t have told you any of this…” her eyes were soft with concern.  “But,” she glanced down at the silent phone on her desk.  “I’ve been trying to reach Daniel all day and I think he’s taken his phone off the hook…”

“You have said nothing,” Teal’c responded quickly.  “As Daniel Jackson’s friend and brother it is my responsibility to see to his injuries, no matter the cause.”  He placed one large hand on her office door.  “There is an old Jaffa saying that my mentor, Bra’tac once taught me.  ‘He who first sees the gap in the wall must be first to fill it.’”

Her smile, still strained by pain for one of her charges, now carried a measure of hope.

“That is a true warrior,” she whispered to the empty doorway.

-----^-----

God, he hadn’t felt this good in years.  Jack pushed himself as the narrow running track started winding its way up the side of the hill.  His knees moved smoothly without a twinge or an echo of pain.  When he awoke this morning – well, almost this afternoon – fully clothed, face down on his bed, he’d expected the familiar backbeat of a headache somewhere behind his eyeballs.  Beer and scotch – yep, that combo worked every time.  After five Tylenol and about a gallon of water he’d realized that he’d been able to get out of bed joint pain-free for the first time in ten years.  Man, that gaudy Goa’uld box did more than cure evil bitch gut pouches.  He’d take a dozen.

Halfway down the other side of the hill, the stitch in his side reminded Jack that, knees or no knees, he wasn’t a kid anymore, and a ten-click run the morning – afternoon – after one of the squirreliest missions yet – and they were right there in the base at all times! – might have been a bad idea.  It was supposed to be the first down day for SG-1 in way too long when the red-haired goddess wannabe showed up and everything went to hell.  If it wasn’t for Carter and Frasier and the rest of the female Air Force personnel he’d have his own “junior” in his belly like Teal’c and the SGC would have become ground zero for the Goa’uld invasion of Earth.  Nice first command for Carter: for an egghead she did a fine impression of a combat veteran.

Jack purposefully breathed evenly to calm the rebellious pain in his side, but kept his pace, determined to take advantage of his newfound agility.  The fresh forest air smelled great after too many days in the underground warrens of the SGC.  He adjusted his damp watch cap with one hand as the fine drizzle that had been with him since mile six turned into a steady rain.  ‘It never rained but it poured,’ Kawalsky had often said.  “Yeah, you weren’t kidding about this job,” Jack breathed out to his absent friend into the foggy air.

The only thing Jack hated about running was all the free time it gave his brain.  Images flipped by and he quickly filed them away into the dark mental cabinets where they belonged.  Charlie’s tousled blonde hair and shining eyes stayed with him though, always there, a comfort and a bright shaft of pain.  Today his son’s face morphed into a bespectacled archaeologist’s, blue eyes shifting away to hide some deeper darkness of his own.  The car sitting outside Jack’s door this morning reminded him of the awkward silences between the two last night.  His teammate had been quiet – and for Dr. Daniel Jackson, that was a warning sign as big as Cheyenne Mountain.

One thing at a time, Jack, he chided himself.  Let’s just try to survive this last mile home before you take on the problem of one damaged archaeologist.  Carter was on it.  He’d check in with her later and see if between the two of them they couldn’t browbeat Daniel into a nice, team-building steak somewhere.

-----^-----

The slim pen flew from his fingers when the next flash of memory struck and Daniel couldn’t stifle the cry that burst from his throat.  Fire seared along his nerves as her mouth moved down his neck, across his chest, calling him back from his hiding place within his mind with a jolt of pain as she closed her sharp teeth over his skin.  Her face rose above him again as she arched back licking his blood from her smiling lips.  “So sweet,” she hissed, and then leaned down to share the taste of his own blood.  “Do you taste it my beloved?  Oh, it is a flavor that stirs the desire, that fuels the yearning in your goddess’s loins.”  She ground down against him mercilessly.

His panting breath ended in a thin wail, Hathor’s glittering eyes and bloody smile stretching across his vision until it filled his entire world.  Daniel closed his hand and pressed his fist against his desk, realizing that the throbbing pain wasn’t enough to totally banish the hideous memory.  He flung his chair back, stumbling to his feet and rushed from the room, cracking his shoulder against the narrow door as he fought for breath.  The doors to the balcony finally surrendered to his awkward movements and he found himself leaning against the railing in the light rain, eyes wide in panic as the rain mingled with the tears that streamed down his face.

-----^-----

A couple of hours, two sandwiches, and a shower later Jack found himself pacing across his deck dialing Daniel’s number for the third time.  The persistent busy signal didn’t fool him for a minute – Daniel had gone to ground.  His escape last night after Jack fell into a doze was the first clue that the scholar intended to wrap himself up tightly in his latest hurt until it had sunk so deeply within that he could raise his usual ‘I’m fine’ face convincingly to his friends. But Jack knew, better than most, he mused as his mind tugged at the locked cabinet that held his memories of his time in the Iraqi prison, that the broken glass and razor blades of that bitch Goa’uld’s rape would leave some damned deep and bloody gashes in his friend’s soul on the way down.

He snorted and shook his head as he remembered bits and pieces of Daniel’s words last night.  They’d been all about regret and remorse, worrying about Jack and how he was coping.  Figures.  That sorta defined the archaeologist’s whole being.  Gotta make sure everyone else was okay.  Yeah.  Well, Jack was over the worst of it, and the lingering flashes of fear and disgust would fade.  He moved swiftly through the living room on his way to the door, absently pocketing the keys that Teal’c had dropped on the table in the foyer when the doorbell rang.

“General?”

Hammond, dressed casually in jeans and a faded denim shirt, stood hesitantly at Jack’s door.

“Jack.”  Pale blue eyes took in the colonel’s tense stance and the jacket that hung from one shoulder.  “Hope I’m not interrupting anything.”

First name, huh?  “No, of course not,” Jack changed gears and stepped back.  He shrugged off his coat and followed his commanding officer down into the living room.  Watching as the major general stood beside the wall the room shared with the kitchen, fingers fidgeting over the framed photo there, Jack felt his eyes narrow with worry.  It wasn’t every day that Hammond made a house call.  “I was just headed out to check on Daniel,” he began.

Shifting to face the colonel, Hammond smiled thinly.  “That’s one of the reasons I’m here, Jack.”

Eyebrows rising in response, Jack gestured towards the sofa, automatically waiting to lower himself into the chair opposite until the general was seated.  “General?”

Hammond chuckled.  “I don’t see any uniforms here, Jack.  How about you call me George?  You didn’t seem to have a problem with that while you were smashing up my car window a few weeks ago.”

Jack winced at the memory.

“I need your opinion, Jack, off the record.”

Wow.  “Wow,” Jack couldn’t help himself.  “This is a first, Gen…ah, George.”

Another wintry smile flickered across Hammond’s round face.  He clenched his fingers together in his lap.  “I’m considering bringing Dr. MacKenzie onto staff at the mountain on a full-time basis.  This past…” he hesitated, “I don’t even know what to call it, Jack - has affected every member of my command in a way no other mission I’ve ever been involved with has, and, frankly, I’m out of my depth.”

Nodding, Jack listened.  Hammond himself had fallen under the bitch Goa’uld’s spell and had taken arms against his own people.  Veteran soldiers were trained to deal with torture, brain-washing, but for the commanding officer of the base, well, the general’s behavior had to wrench at his gut on a whole different scale.  “What can I do, sir?”

Hammond rubbed at the back of his neck.  “Military SOP requires any individual exposed to enemy brain-washing attempts to undergo a complete psychiatric evaluation before returning to duty.  Our men need help, Jack, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.”  He sighed.  “I’m just afraid they will be.”

Jack saw the guilt in the general’s eyes.  He knew that exploration through the Stargate had already resulted in some crazy crap – devolution to cave-men, rapid aging, megalomaniac officers setting themselves up as gods – and that was just SG-1’s missions.  Frasier kept MacKenzie on speed-dial, and the guy had been helpful pulling Carter’s real memories out of her subconscious from their trip to Oannes, but airmen – soldiers – had a deep and abiding loathing for head-shrinkers.  Putting themselves willingly under the microscope would go against their natures, but the backing of Col. Jack O’Neill, two “Ls”, Special Ops trained bad-ass, would go a long way towards lessening the grumbling.

“You want me to be first, George?  Set the tone?  Show the men that I’m not afraid of a little touchy-feely with MacKenzie?”

Gratitude for his 2IC’s quick grasp of the situation lightened the general’s tense features.  “I think if SG-1 stepped up, the other men might feel less self-conscious about getting some help themselves.”

The final penny dropped.  “SG-1.”

Hammond kept his gaze level.  “Yes.”

Clever, George, very clever, Jack’s appreciation for the man he was lucky enough to have as his commanding officer rose even higher.  He’d figured out a way to offer Daniel the help he desperately needed without any criticism or stigma attached.  “Daniel’s already hiding, sir.”

“I figured as much.”  Hammond sat back against the sofa cushions.  “Got a call from Col. Makepeace.  Teal’c requested permission to go off-base to visit Dr. Jackson.”

“Teal’c?”  Uh huh.  First the general and then the Jaffa.  Two guys who were way ahead of him on this one.  I’m losing my touch, Jack thought darkly.

“Don’t blame yourself, Jack, you’ve got your own trauma to deal with.”

The colonel flinched.  Trauma?  That was a bit of an exaggeration.  “I don’t think so, sir.”

“I know you don’t, son,” Hammond responded knowingly.  “But, if it helps, let me assure you that I’ll be Dr. MacKenzie’s first patient, not you.”

-----^-----

Teal’c continued to knock, listening for any movement behind the blank door of his teammate’s residence.  Shuffling steps approached, retreated, approached again, halting just the other side of the thin plank of wood that separated them.  He waited patiently, hands swinging back to clasp each other behind his back.  He felt the young man’s presence, knew he was torn, considering whether or not to accept compassion, even companionship, during his struggle.

“Daniel Jackson,” he stated simply.

A soft thud sounded, as if a heavy weight settled against the door.  A moment later the lock snicked and the door opened to a pale face straining to hold onto a thin veneer of calm.  “Hey, Teal’c.”  The young man held himself stiffly, one bandaged hand fisted bloodily at his side.

The Jaffa tilted his head.  “Would you allow me entrance, Daniel Jackson?”

“Sure,” the archaeologist mumbled, turning to lead the way into his home.  But not, Teal’c observed, into his confidence – the hunched posture that the scholar held as he stood as far from the Jaffa as the small room allowed revealed as much.

“I guess Jack sent you,” Daniel remarked when Teal’c kept his silence.

“He did not,” the Jaffa replied, straightening, his expression bland.  He took in the smear of blood against the open doors to the balcony with a swift glance.

Daniel nodded absently.  “You didn’t happen to bring my car back, did you?” he toyed with the makeshift bandage on his left hand.  Maybe he could lose himself driving through the mountains, the high clear air blowing the visions from his mind.  Then again, he snorted to himself, trying to ride out one of his flashbacks while steering around the tight curves of the Rockies might eliminate his problem altogether.

Teal’c moved to the small couch positioned against one wall and sat, his large hands moving the delicate pieces of the ancient game into position.  “I merely wished to continue our game of Jackals and Hounds.”  He kept his head bowed, gaze fixed upon the board, waiting.

“What?”  Daniel blew out his breath in disbelief.  Was Teal’c nuts?  After… after everything that happened he just wanted to, what, go on?  Forget about it?  “I don’t…”

“I believe it is your move Daniel Jackson.”

He’d taken a few steps towards the chair opposite the Jaffa before he realized it.  “Teal’c.”  Daniel’s throat closed before anything else could slip out, frowning at the large man’s strange behavior.

“Did we not speak of finishing the game during our next ‘down time,’” Teal’c repeated the strange Tau’ri phrase with precision, “when we spoke two days ago?”

Daniel tried to think back to a time before he’d seen the red-haired figure draped in a too-large coat in the SGC holding cell, but his mind couldn’t wade through the emotional flood.  “Did we?” he whispered.

“Indeed.  O’Neill then suggested substituting a game of ‘Twister’ and accompanying it with quantities of ribs and fermented beverages.”

His frown deepening, Daniel perched awkwardly on the chair and watched his hand reach for one of the dog-headed figures as if he were observing from a great distance.  Teal’c nodded and made a counter-move, his silence and serenity somehow blanketing the room, a remote, detached feeling expanding over the two as they settled in to play.  Daniel didn’t notice the quiet hours pass, the sun making an appearance from behind pervasive clouds just at sunset to send a golden shaft across the balcony and onto the table before him.  Murmured voices from his back did not intrude until, hours later, a warm hand on the back of his neck drew his gaze from the Egyptian figures, up, to meet the smiling brown eyes of Jack O’Neill.

“Hey, dinner’s here.  Want to get some before Sam finishes the cole slaw?”

The soft voice brought sudden tears to his eyes and Daniel blinked quickly to try to keep the familiar face in focus.  He shifted, realizing his muscles were sore from sitting for so long.  “Jack?”

The hand squeezed gently, once, before Jack jerked his chin in the direction of the tantalizing aroma of grilled meat and rich sauce.  “Hungry?”

Daniel’s stomach’s response was loud enough to answer the question.  “I guess I am.”  He found two strong hands guiding him as he tried to stand.  Moving towards his living room he was not surprised to find Sam and General Hammond retrieving packets of sauce from white paper bags, laughing quietly as they both reached for a large platter of ribs.  Sitting in a cushioned armchair he drew his knees up until his bare feet rested on the seat.  Someone dropped an afghan over his lap and he drew it around him, one hand accepting a plate loaded with food as he took in the muted voices and calm faces of his friends.  It all seemed so… normal.

He ate quietly, soothed by their acceptance, warmed by the very ordinariness of it all.  Somewhere, hovering, there was still pain, and a pair of glowing eyes that waited to snatch him back to relive all the anguish.  But, for now, the peace that had arrived with the former First Prime remained, keeping the memories at bay.  Daniel raised his eyes to look across the room at his teammate and found Teal’c’s dark gaze calmly waiting.  He nodded.  Teal’c raised one eyebrow as if to say, ‘Of course, Daniel Jackson, where else would I be but at my brother’s side.’

“No Twister then, sir?”  Jack’s whining comment sifted down through the blanket numbing Daniel’s awareness.

Hammond chuckled.  “Not unless you’ve got a chiropractor on speed dial, colonel.”

Daniel smiled.  “Maybe next time, Jack,” he heard himself say.

 

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