Title: Surrendering
Author: Winterstar
Category: Drama, Angst
Warnings: Spoilers for “The Shroud”, Torture, implied non-con
Rating: R

Author’s Notes – I wrote another episode tag/missing scene for “The Shroud”, it is called “The Soul’s Fate”. It is quite similar to this one but they deal with different points in time. I would not call them sequels or anything like that, but companion pieces. You do NOT have to read one to read the other. …A great big thank you to Annie for reading this over and fixing my weird word selections (you’ll notice I still have a few in there – I don’t always take sage advice!). But Annie – you are a jewel for dealing with my impatient attitude and my strange turn of phrase!

 

            Surrender       

            He does not want them to touch him. Daniel wants them to stay their distance, but he keeps his face hollow, his face pliable. He pretends and smiles. He remains professional, asking, and reassuring.

            Yet, he does not want them to touch him.

            He shivers when Jack ruffles his hair, gives him a surprised, almost pained look as if to ask him not to, as if to beg him to continue. The space of the ship’s sick bay opens up before him and his team, his friends, leave him. He lets them go, but something deep in his throat screams for them to come back, to shelter him from his memories. But who is to know what has happened to him? Who is to know what he has done?

            It is not the Ori ships invading their galaxy that will haunt his dreams. It is not the cries of a million voices as they die at the hands of the Ori soldiers. In this, he is ashamed because what will haunt his dreams is what he did, what she did.

            He clenches his fists by his sides as he slips back into the bed. The trip up to the bridge took too much out of him and he needs to rest, to sleep. Daniel’s hands shake as he pulls the sheet back and a flicker of an image – of her hand doing the same thing – assaults his memories. His knees collapse but he stops himself from pitching forward and falling onto the bed.

            Slipping onto the soft, white sheet, Daniel curls in on himself and hopes his team mates do not come. He does not want them to see him like this as the sweat drips down his back, as the tears burn his eyes. He curses his weakness. Merlin had been able to fence all the images, all the memories and occurrences behind an iron wall. When Merlin companioned him, he was safe within the confines of his own mind, but when Merlin abandoned him; his mind was overrun by the plague of memories.

            Daniel tugs the sheet up around his shoulders and huddles under it. The lights are dim in the bay and he closes his eyes, only to be attacked by her.

            Adria’s hands are cold, thin, and frail. Yet, they scratch and rake across his flesh like so many daggers. She laughs at him when he assures her that he remembers nothing of what Merlin gave to him. A single eyebrow rises on her beautiful face as she leans into him and whispers how he will surrender to her all that he knows; how he will surrender himself to her.

            At first, she leaves him in the empty belly of the ship, a cargo hold with no heat, no water, no food, and no facilities. She leaves him there in the dark, alone for days. These memories boil to the surface as he fights them. The sheet on the hospital gurney is too short for him and his feet are exposed to the cool ship air. Daniel shudders against the encroaching chill.

            Those moments alone in her ship, in the cargo bay, give him time to think, to plan, to listen to Merlin. He hears the comforting voice, the whispers of the aged one, the sage advice of one so much further along in the journey of life than he is or ever will be. It will not be the first time he is led astray by one of those counted as the Ancients. He wishes now, he’d never listened, that he blocked all the words and confidences given to him by Merlin.

            Yet he knows he had no choice. Only Merlin had a choice.

            Daniel surrenders himself to Merlin in tiny steps as the chill of the cargo hold eats at his bones, as the dryness of thirst scratches his throat, as the pain of loneliness aches in his belly. He gives himself over to the Ancient One and lets Merlin use him.

            They both use him – both Merlin and Adria, but in oh so different ways. He tosses his body against the gurney, rakes his hands over his face. He needs to contain the guilt, the pain, the memories before they overwhelm him and crack his façade. His team cannot know what he gave up in order to offer them a way to vanquish the Ori. His team can never know.

            Swallowing hard, Daniel opens his eyes and stares at the gray ceiling of the sick bay. What else is there to do but to remember? Maybe he should remember, so that he can confine all these stray strands of his memories onto spools, spools that can be easily stored and put away. He blinks away the sweat and tears. Even as he gazes at the blank ceiling he can feel her, know she will always be with him, invading him.

            Adria murmurs words of sweet despair as she flays him open, as she cuts across his skin to peel away his foul contaminated flesh. His breaths come in short, broken pants as she works on his chest. He hangs from the ceiling of the cargo hold, stripped bare and chained by his wrists far above his head. She plays with him, offering him food and water for the price of pain. It isn’t the first time she tortures him. The last time it went too far and she called upon the powers of the Ori to revive him. This time, as his flesh hangs like strips of meat from his bones, Daniel knows she will let him die again only to be restored to perfect health by the Ori once more.

            The first time she resurrected him, Daniel was sure Merlin would have been lost, but he had been wrong. Merlin remained with him, against all odds. The Ancient One is a calm voice in his head, telling him to endure, to succumb to the evil that is the Ori. It is Daniel’s own stubbornness that puts him through the torture sessions Adria devises.

            When she whips him, when she crushes bones, he knows she is young and naïve in her understanding of torture. Torture in its finest form is more about apprehension and fear of what might be, not about the actual pain manifested. As an anthropologist, Daniel knows these things.

            She tells him, though, that he suffers beautifully and gives him again the gift of healing from the Ori. The pain of his flesh stitched back together, the meat on his bones regrowing to become untainted once again rips through him. It tears the screams from his throat, the screams Adria has been begging for. She smiles when Daniel cries at last, she smiles when Daniel asks her to save him.

            Adria releases him from the cargo hold, and he is taken to a private chamber. He is waited on and attended to as if he is an honored guest. As he lies now, staring at the ceiling of the sick bay, Daniel laid then, staring at the ceiling of his chamber. He listens only to Merlin’s words, to the plans. Daniel has become the instrument of a much larger war. Merlin instructs him that he must give himself over to all that Adria needs and wants. It will be the only way that Merlin’s plans will succeed.

            This flesh that he inhabits is only the tool, the housing of Merlin’s strategy to destroy the Ori. He cannot fight the logic of Merlin’s wishes, of his devices. Instead, Daniel succumbs to the whirl within him, loosens his grip on himself, and hands over all that he is to the Ancient One. Logically, there is no other choice, Daniel knows this, yet deep within the hollow of his bones, he aches.

            Merlin whispers words in his ears, words in his mind. The plan twists and turns but it relies on Daniel’s complete surrender to Merlin, to Adria. He gives himself over to it, spreads his arms wide in some cruel perversion of the crucifixion and sacrifices his mind and body. He has to trust Merlin; he has to fool Adria.

            When Adria turns him into one of her own, a Prior, a new fear rises in his chest. What is he doing? Has he gone mad? It is Merlin’s presence that calms him, soothes him, tells him this is the right course. There is a grain of fear that Merlin lies, that Merlin manipulates as well as Adria does. After all, Adria and Merlin are more alike than not.

            Daniel tells himself to trust Merlin, to conceal his fears and his sanity within Merlin’s mantle. It is this that saves him when she uses him. He stares at the ceiling in the sick bay as tears score rivers down his face. Burned flesh, ripped skin, shattered bones are repairable. Violation is not. Adria hunts his mind, preys upon it, and molds it to her liking. She bends his mind and his body to her will.

            Daniel mourns as she controls all that he is, all that he was. He releases his burden, his hopes and dreams to this strategy, this plan. He has become the weapon, even as he builds Merlin’s weapon for Adria. He thinks of himself as only the weapon, the instrument to do the will of Merlin, to acquiesce to the cravings of Adria.

            During those weeks of his confinement his submission is complete. He succumbs to every want and need Adria demands. She manipulates his mind, courses through his arteries and nerve endings to cause his body to respond to hers. His humiliation is complete as she satiates her desires. No joy exists for him, Daniel only thinks upon the day he can implement Merlin’s plan. His mind revolves around this one fact, this one need. He surrenders himself to Adria to have this one chance. He surrenders himself to Merlin to have this one chance.

            He becomes everything he hates.

            Finally, the time arrives when Adria realizes she needs him to bring more followers into the fold. She needs her Prior Daniel to join the ranks of her other Priors to bear witness to the non-believers and convert the lost souls of this galaxy. Within him, Merlin relishes the thought, whispers plans. Daniel follows orders. It is all too easy to follow instead of lead now. He has been subjugated by Merlin; he has been subjugated by Adria.

            Now, he finds himself freed of Merlin and of Adria. Daniel lies in the silence of the sick bay and dies a little more each minute. He wonders if there is enough oxygen to breathe. His breath comes in tiny pants as his eyes refuse to close, yet he sees nothing. Words drift close to him, like the ebb and flow of the tide. He hears concern from his team mates.

Vala walks up to his bed, reaches out a hand to brush against his cheek, but he cringes against it. She stumbles backwards and fades away, leaving him desperate and lonely. They all stand their vigil around his bed, but it is his last friend, his one friend who is missing.

            As his team mates part to leave him to his catatonic state, his one friend appears in the doorway to the sick bay. His friend walks up to Daniel. What words would he use to help Daniel? What words can anyone say to him to help him? His noble purpose, what Daniel is and believes, has been flayed and destroyed by her hand.  Daniel is nothing because he became what others wanted him to be, he denied his own values to be someone else’s tool, someone else’s weapon. He betrayed himself.

            His friend places a hand on Daniel’s shoulder. Maybe, Daniel thinks, there are no words to say. Maybe, he is destroyed. But the hand stays on his shoulder, firm and forgiving. There is a slight squeeze, and then the hand slips away. It is this that Daniel responds to; it is this loss that Daniel cries out for.

            Jack stands over him, like some holy sentinel. Daniel has no words as well, how can he explain to his friend what he has done? He has committed the unforgivable. He is a violation of all that he once professed to defend.

            As if reading his mind, Jack whispers, “No, Daniel, no.”

            Daniel’s focus wavers from the ceiling, and it hurts his eyes just to move them. He stares at Jack and waits to understand.

            “You’re not to blame.”

            “For the ships?” His voice seems parched and cracked.

            “That,” Jack pauses. “And what she did to you.”

            He scrapes in a breath, but it is ragged and fragmented. His words come in a whisper, “Don’t.”

            “I know.”

            “Don’t,” he murmurs again. His eyes feel scorched as if he has gazed too long into the sun.

            “Daniel,” Jack says and his hand returns to rest on Daniel’s shoulder.

            “Please,” Daniel says, yet all his strength, all his bravado escapes him at that moment. He is bare and broken in front of his friend.

            “I’m here,” Jack says.

            There is a ghost of a noise, and Daniel realizes others are moving in the room as well. Vala stands on the opposite side of the bed, her face scarred by the pain etched in his own heart. She lifts a hand and asks without speaking. He nods, and she grasps his hand in hers.

            Daniel turns back to Jack.

            “I’m here, Daniel,” Jack says.

            “We all are,” Sam says as they gather about him. They encompass him in the small sick bay. They cover and cradle him within the room, shielding him from the memories of what has happened.

            They understand his surrender; they witness the blight of the wounds it has caused in his soul.

            Daniel closes his eyes and, for the first time, does not fear the dark. The haunting memories of his surrender to Adria still lurk, the coercion of Merlin still mocks him, yet he knows the shroud of his family protects him.

THE END.

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