A Life’s Worth
by marzipan77
GEN
Rated T for language
Missing scenes from Heroes
We cannot decide who lives, who dies – a true memorial exists in a life well lived.

“That bullet would have hit me… it should have hit me.”

He raised his head and let the water pound against his face, disguising the tears that he could no longer hold back.  The cold fury he’d wrapped around himself was breaking down, washing down the shower drain.  He heard the slap of bare feet on the tile behind him, the shuffling of bodies, normal sounds of SGC personnel washing away sweat, fear, tension.  And blood.  He lowered his head and dashed the water from his reddened eyes.  His gaze followed the trail of water around his feet.  Why wasn’t there any blood?

He’d never been in a de-brief like that.  Shouting.  Angry accusations.  The air blue with cursing that he might have expected during one of the base’s hard fought football games, but never in the presence of General Hammond. Hammond himself sat silently, letting it happen.  Daniel remembered raising his eyes at one point from his study of his tightly clenched hands to meet the watery blue gaze of the commander of the SGC.  The eyes were empty.

“That bullet would have hit me… it should have hit me.”

The usual testosterone-heavy bantering that would ring from the ceramic tiles of the communal showers was missing today.  The quiet voices had trickled to silence when they noticed him here, standing under the water, his body untouched by violence, unmarked, not even a scratch.  He leaned against the wall before him and stared at his hands as they opened and closed.  Empty.  Where was the blood?  There should be – they should be dripping with it.

Why hadn’t he been holding a weapon?  A gun, a zat, something, something that could have helped, that he could have used to…  But no.  He’d been holding a damned camera.  Instead of fighting, protecting, he’d captured- what- her dead eyes staring up at him in accusation.  Eyes he’d see against the dark curtain of his lowered eyelids for the rest of his life.  He still heard Wells’ screams, felt the desperate tugs against his jacket as the man tried to hold himself together, to send his love to his wife and unborn son.  Janet had no time to think about sending her last words to Cassie, to anyone.  One heartbeat, one flash of lightning, and she was gone.

“That bullet would have hit me… it should have hit me.”

“Daniel.”

He felt a strong grip on his shoulder and jerked away.  Running one hand over his face to sweep away the water he turned his head.

Hands reached towards the hot and cold valves and shut off the water.  One held out a towel.  “You’re growing mold, buddy.”

Daniel glanced around at the empty room and then felt the tremors that threatened to buckle his legs beneath him.  The fingers he stretched towards the towel were shriveled and pale.  How long had he stood here?

“Dave?”

Colonel Dave Dixon stood just outside the reach of the shower’s spray dressed in a white shirt and jeans, his own hair damp.  “Yeah.”  He stepped back and crooked a half smile at the archaeologist.

 “That bullet would have hit me… it should have hit me.”

He quickly wrapped the towel around his waist as if in self-defense.  “What do you want?” he growled.

Dixon shoved his hands into his front pockets.  “I’m on a mission from God.”

Daniel frowned and stared down at the hand that wasn’t clutching at the scratchy Air Force issue towel.  He hadn’t noticed it, not until General Hammond ordered him to hand over the tape to Bregman.  Dried and brown against the silver case of his video camera, it had scratched off so easily under his fingernails, all traces gone so quickly, so completely.  He didn’t even know whose it was – Simon Wells’ or…

“How’s Airman Wells doing?”  Daniel tried to curb that train of thought.

Shrugging, Dixon turned and led the way into the locker room and Daniel had to follow to hear his answer.  “Warner says he’ll be fine, make a full recovery.”

Warner.  Not…

“That bullet would have hit me… it should have hit me.”

He dressed quickly, swiping the towel through his hair a few times just to keep it from dripping down his neck.  Dixon kept his distance, waiting patiently by the door, head down.  Daniel stood after tying his boots and his eyes rested on his hands again.  He stepped towards the sink but suddenly Dixon was there, looking as if he’d been standing there all along.  He very casually gripped Daniel’s arm with one hand, gently turning him to walk at his side through the locker room door.

“They’re clean, Daniel.”

He managed to draw his arm away when they reached the elevators.  “I should probably…”

Dixon smiled and gave him a gentle shove.  “Now, you don’t want him to hurt me, do you Doc?”

Daniel rubbed his hands against his blue fatigue pants as they walked towards the grey steel door of the private infirmary room.  He could feel the sweat beading on his upper lip, and his heart was beating so fast and hard he wondered if he was going to pass out.  Dixon didn’t seem to notice; he just knocked twice, opened the door, and raised his eyebrows at the archaeologist.

“Well it’s about time, Dave,” the familiar, cranky voice wheezed out into the hallway and drew Daniel in.

“Sorry, Jack,” Dixon responded dryly.  “Took me a while to dig him out.”

Jack, perching carefully on the edge of the bed, waved his fellow colonel away with an airy gesture.  “I’m not surprised.”

“That bullet would have hit me… it should have hit me.”

He heard the door close softly behind him, but Daniel could only stare at the man standing in front of him.  Whole.  Only the tightness around his eyes and the stiffness of his posture revealed his pain.  When had Jack’s hair gone so grey?

“Daniel.”

His throat closed over his usual response and Daniel simply nodded, folding his arms over his chest.  He lowered his head and let out his breath, surprised by the wave of relief that swept him from head to toe.  He’d known Jack was okay – they’d told him the vest inserts had protected him from the worst of the staff blast, but all he could see were Janet’s lifeless eyes, her chest a mass of seared flesh and blood and tissue.  Daniel closed his eyes and struggled for control.

Strong hands gripped his arms and slid around his shoulders, but Daniel did not let himself relax into his friend’s compassion.  After a moment Jack stepped back.

“Why was I there, Jack?  Why was I even there?” he whispered, eyes still closed.

“Daniel…”

“It was Search and Rescue, extraction, we knew they were coming, that they were waiting for us.”  He shook his head, raising it as if searching the very mountain above him for answers.  “I couldn’t help you, couldn’t help Wells, and I sure as hell couldn’t help Jan -”

Jack’s grip on his teammate’s arms tightened.  “You were supporting Frasier, helping her get the wounded airman to safety.  You were doing your job.”

“My job.  My job?!”

“Yes, Daniel, your job,” Jack insisted, twisting his head until he could finally get the anguished blue eyes to meet his.  “Dixon told me how well you managed the withdrawal – how you got the medics organized and back through the ‘gate with the wounded without taking any more hits.”

Daniel choked on his response.

Jack shook the young man.  “You did you job, Daniel.  Just like Janet was doing hers.”  He saw the flicker of denial in his friend’s eyes.  “It wasn’t your fault, Daniel.  Janet Frasier’s death was not your fault.”  His voice was soft but urgent.  “Blame the right guy, here.  Blame the damned Jaffa who shot her.”

He knew it was the truth, knew Jack was right, again, but nothing about the last few days felt remotely right.  The sand was shifting under his feet; another loss, another friend gone, another cherished face he’d never see again.  He was the one beside her, watching it happen just as he’d watched it over and over again since then in his mind’s eye.  He didn’t need a damned tape for that - it was too deep, too real.  He let the tears flood his eyes so he could no longer see the face in front of him.  God, so close.  He’d nearly lost Jack, too.

That bullet would have hit me… it should have hit me.”

Forty minutes later Daniel walked Jack to the waiting staff car on the surface, promising to come by with dinner when he left the base.  He had some things he had to do first.  He opened the passenger door and stopped the injured man with a light touch on his shoulder as he bent stiffly to get in.  When Jack turned, his eyebrows raised in an unspoken question, Daniel reached out for the hug that he’d denied before.  Jack’s dark eyes were swimming when they finally let each other go.

“Thanks, Jack.”

“Hey,” the colonel responded lightly, “just doing my job.”  As Daniel turned to go, it was Jack’s turn to reach out.  “Remember what I said.”

“I will, Jack.”

He entered the infirmary, pleased to see the airman was awake.  The look on the young man’s face nearly shattered his calm façade – even the words were his own.

“She’s dead because of me.”

“No,” Daniel let Jack’s words spill out of his mouth.  “No, she’s dead because a Jaffa shot her.”  He frowned, feeling the truth beginning to settle in his chest.  “She was doing her job, the same way you were doing yours when a Jaffa shot you.”  No, Simon, it wasn’t right, but he couldn’t play that game anymore, trying to trade a life for a life, trying to make cosmic sense of the gashes to one’s soul that this job brought with it every day.

Simon Wells was alive.  Jack was alive.  Daniel himself was alive.  But Janet was dead.  Her spirit gone, her bright energy removed from their lives.

“He hadn’t accidently taken a picture of a man dying, but of a man saving his life.”

He’d tried to close them off, put the memories of Janet behind the dark curtain where he kept all the others: Sha’re, Skaa’ra, his parents, Sarah, Robert, Kawalsky, Nick.  Closed off his mind to the losses, thrown himself back into his work.  But standing at the base of the ramp two days later, the names that Sam read swirled through Daniel’s mind.  He owed her so much – they owed her so much.  Their lives.  Their tears.  Their grief and their healing.  What they all owed Janet Frasier – what he owed Janet, was a life worth saving; a life worth her sacrifice.

“… it’s not going to change what happened. What will change is how you feel about it.”

He hoped so, hoped Bregman was right.  Someday – not today, or tomorrow, or next year – someday he’d see Janet’s death the way Kristofski had seen that soldier’s.  Someday he’d be able to balance her loss with the lives she’d saved, the lives that had to go on without her.

But not today.

end

 

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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.