Stargate Horizons

Acts of Forgiveness: Children of the Gods
by Maureen Thayer

Categories: Angst, Drama
Rating: PG
Content Warning: Mild Profanity
Spoilers: Stargate Movie, Children of the Gods, Enemy Within

The gleaming, water-like surface rippled at the center of the great circle, its beautiful, peaceful appearance so contrary to the violent burst of destructive power that heralded its creation.

There was no one to ponder on this in that place, no one to stand witness as the surface was disturbed by the emergence of four figures.

The members of SG-1 stood at the top of the stone dais, their eyes taking in everything.  This was their first mission together as a team, and they were each occupied with their own thoughts and emotions.

A short distance from the Stargate were the scattered remains of what Doctor Daniel Jackson believed was once an ancient Egyptian city, and the archeologist was excited at the prospect of exploring them.  He could imagine the expression on the faces of his peers if they could see what stood before him.  Many of them would give body parts for the opportunity to explore ruins such as these.

As excited as Daniel was, however, he could not help but think about his missing wife, Sha're.  The chances of finding her here, in a place that appeared to have been abandoned for centuries, was pretty remote, but there was always the chance that they'd find something that would give them valuable information on the Goa'uld.  Daniel held onto that hope.

Colonel Jack O'Neill looked at the dead city.  He had zero interest in archeology and wasn't the least bit excited about digging around the crumbling ruins of a dead city, but when Daniel identified the architecture as ancient Egyptian, it had piqued his interest.  The Goa'uld had a connection to ancient Egypt, ergo, anyplace that appeared to have something to do with that civilization was immediately put on the list of must-see places.  Jack was hoping that whomever lived here had left behind some technological goodies.

Jack also couldn't help but recall the conversation he had with Kawalsky in the briefing room, when they were jokingly deciding which of them would go to this planet, P3A-575, and which one to P3A-577.  Kawalsky was now dead, another casualty in their fight against the Goa'uld.

Like her C.O., Captain Samantha Carter was also hoping to find some technology on the planet.  Many of the structures in the ruins showed evidence of an attack, their blasted remains a testament to the violent demise of the city.  It was possible that when the people who lived there fled – or were all killed – they left behind some things that the SGC could use.  Sam knew that the chances of this planet's inhabitants having been technologically superior to Earth were not high, not considering the appearance of the city's architecture, but it wasn't impossible.

But then, just the thought of being on another planet was a thrill.  For so many years, she'd wanted to be a part of the space program.  Now, she was on a planet that no Earthly astronaut would ever come close to seeing.  Who needed the space shuttle when they could leap across the galaxy in mere seconds?

Teal'c, the former First Prime of Apophis, looked at the sight before him and saw more lives taken by the creatures he once worshiped as gods.  They did not know yet if it was an attack by the Goa'uld that did this, but Teal'c suspected it was.  While in the service of Apophis, he had seen many civilizations decimated because, for one reason or another, the people had displeased the Goa'uld or were considered a threat to them.  He had no reason to doubt that this was another of those instances.

SG-1 left the gate and traveled the short distance to the ruins.  Jack insisted on a quick reconnaissance of the place first to make sure there were no nasty surprises around.

On the trip through the ruins, Daniel kept seeing things that he wanted to investigate more thoroughly, and Jack kept having to rein him in.  The city echoed with the archeologist's excited chatter.

At last, the team reached the other end of the ruins and came to a stop at the sight before them.  The city had been built atop a high plateau.  Stretched out far below them was a valley surrounded by rocky, virtually treeless mountains.  The area reminded the three human members of the team of places in Arizona and Utah.  It was breathtaking, only the presence of the destruction behind them muting their appreciation.

"All right, I don't think we're going to find anything of interest here, but let's do a more thorough sweep of the place anyway.  We'll head back to the gate at 1400 hours."

"What?  That's not enough time," Daniel objected.  "We couldn't even scratch the surface by then."

"Daniel, this is a standard recon mission.  That means we check the place out to see if it has anything of strategic value, something we can use against the Goa'uld.  From what I see, there's nothing here except a bunch of crumbling buildings."

"Well, now, you see, that's where you're wrong.  I want to show you something."

Daniel led them back through the ruins to one of the partially collapsed buildings they had passed.  Visible on one of the walls were the faded remains of hieroglyphics.  The linguist's eyes quickly scanned the ancient language.

"Okay, just at a quick glance, I can tell you that this is talking about the great god Re, which is another name for Ra, doing battle with the snake god, Apep," Daniel looked at Jack intently, "whom the Greeks called Apophis."

Jack stood up straighter.  "Apophis?"

"Yes, Jack, Apophis.  According to Egyptian mythology, Ra and Apophis were arch enemies.  Apophis is the personification of darkness, evil, and chaos, whereas Ra is the personification of the sun, the midday sun, to be exact."  Daniel waved his hands around.  "Jack, there's no telling what information we may be able to find here, perhaps clues that will lead us to Apophis, which could help us find Sha're and Skaara.  We can't just walk away and dismiss it all as unimportant."

Jack thought over Daniel's statement.  He recalled how, by reading the writing found on Abydos, Daniel found out what Ra was and learned of the rebellion on Earth and how humans came to be on Abydos.  Without that information, Jack would have been operating in the dark.  As much as he hated to admit it, Daniel was right.  They couldn't dismiss this as having no importance.

"All right, you've made your case.  I'll request that Hammond give us more time."  He held up a couple of fingers.  "Two days, Daniel.  I'll ask Hammond for two days, that's it.  Regardless of whether or not you're done, we leave tomorrow afternoon.  Got it?"

Daniel nodded.  "Thanks, Jack."

"All right, I'll head back to the gate.  Carter, start checking this area more thoroughly.  Daniel, see what else that wall says.  Teal'c, keep your eyes open for trouble and keep Daniel within sight."

After Jack and Sam had left, Teal'c began examining the area in the vicinity of where Daniel was now busy translating.

Alert for any signs of danger, Teal'c's eyes frequently went back to the young human.  Since coming to Earth, the Jaffa had not had many opportunities to speak with Daniel Jackson, not in private.  He knew very little about the man, only that Daniel was a scholar, someone who studied languages, ancient civilizations and cultures.  He had also learned that it was Daniel who reopened the Stargate on this planet and that he was, according to O'Neill, way too smart for his own good.  Teal'c did not understand how someone could be too smart.

Just yesterday evening, while talking with O'Neill, Teal'c had learned something else, something that disturbed him greatly.  He had learned the identity of the woman who became host to Apophis' queen.  She was Daniel Jackson's wife.  Before learning that, Teal'c had known that there was some connection between Daniel and the woman.  That had been made evident by the young human's reaction upon seeing Amaunet when she was first presented to the people.  He had been intending to ask Daniel about it, but the opportunity had never presented itself.  Now that he knew the whole truth, honor demanded that he reveal his part in the fate of the man's wife.  It was just the two of them here now, the perfect opportunity to do so, but Teal'c hesitated.  This was something he did not wish to do, but he must.

Teal'c waited a few more minutes, then, straightening his shoulders, approached the human.

"Daniel Jackson, I must speak with you about a matter of importance."

Daniel drew his attention away from the wall.  "Um, sure, Teal'c.  What is it?"

"The woman who was chosen to be the host of Apophis' queen.  I have learned from O'Neill that she was your wife."

Daniel's expression had gone from open and friendly to one filled with quiet grief the second Teal'c mentioned Sha're.

"Yes.  Her name was . . . is Sha're."

"Then I must confess something to you, Daniel Jackson.  It was I who chose your wife to be presented to Apophis and his queen, Amaunet, as a possible host."

Daniel had gone absolutely still, his whole body stiffening, face paling.  "What?" he whispered.

"As First Prime, it was my duty to select among the women gathered to be possible hosts and find one that I thought might be pleasing to my god.  I chose your wife."

Daniel's respiration had escalated.  "Y-y-you picked Sha're to be a host?"

"The final decision was not mine, but Apophis' and Amaunet's.  I merely picked her from among all the women and brought her to them so that they might decide if she was to their liking."

"But if you hadn't done that, she wouldn't have been made a host."

"That I do not know.  It is possible that she would have been made host to another Goa'uld."

"But you don't know that!  She might have been all right.  We could have saved her!  If you hadn't picked her, she might be here with me right now, alive, and whole, and-and human!" Daniel cried.  A thought leapt into his mind.  "What about Skaara, the boy who was with us in that cell, the one who's also now a Goa'uld?  Was it the same with him?  Did you pick him, too?"

Teal'c recalled the name that O'Neill had shouted when the boy in their group was taken and remembered that the youth was the one removed from the same planet as Daniel Jackson's wife.

"I was the one who presented him to Apophis as a possible host," the Jaffa regretfully told the man before him.

If possible, the anger and grief on Daniel's face grew even deeper.  "He was Sha're's brother, my brother.  They were my family, just about the only family I have left."  His face abruptly turned hard and cold.  "And you took them away from me."

Daniel spun away from Teal'c and fled the building.  Teal'c remained where he was, guilt overwhelming him.  He had committed a grievous sin against Daniel Jackson, not once but twice.  He was responsible for the loss of the man's family.  For such a sin, there could be only one way to make restitution.

Jack entered the building.  "Teal'c?  What's going on?  I just saw Daniel go running out of here like his tail was on fire."

Teal'c turned to the man to whom he had pledged his service.  "O'Neill, I must tell you about my actions before I turned against Apophis."

"Teal'c, I told you that doesn't matter now.  I know that you had to do some lousy things while you were serving him, stuff that I'm sure you're ashamed of, but you're fighting against him now, helping us stop him."

"You do not understand, O'Neill.  It was my duty, among other things, to aid in the selection of humans to be taken as hosts.  I would find those I believed might be pleasing to Apophis and present them to him.  It was I who chose Daniel Jackson's wife to be presented to Apophis and his queen."

'Oh, crap,' Jack said to himself.  Damn.  This was so not good.

"But that is not the limit of my crime against Daniel Jackson, nor against you, O'Neill, for it was also I who captured and presented the one you call Skaara to Apophis when we were on Abydos."

Jack felt his stomach lurch, and, for a moment, he was filled with rage.  Fighting to remain calm, he asked, "Why did you pick Skaara?"

"He was among those fighting against us.  When his weapon ceased to function, he attempted to strike me with it.  I restrained him and demanded to know where he got the weapon, for I recognized it as being the same kind of weapon that we encountered when we came through the gate on your world.  Instead of answering me, he spit in my face."

A little smile curved Jack's lips.  "Atta boy, Skaara," he murmured.

"His spirit and the beauty of his face made me believe that he might be one whom Apophis would find pleasing."

"What about everyone else there?  You only took Sha're and Skaara, right?"

"Yes.  All of the others were dead, injured or had hidden.  Our primary objective was to find a possible host for Amaunet.  When the woman called Sha're was brought before Apophis by another Jaffa, he was pleased with her and chose not to seek any others there.  We then left, taking only Sha're and Skaara."

Jack ran that through his mind.  "You were under orders to find hosts, right?  You had no choice but to obey since Apophis was right there with you."

"If I had not done so, I would have been killed and another taken my place."

Jack drew in a deep breath.  "I'll go talk to Daniel.  I'll make him understand."  Even as he said the words, Jack didn't fully believe them.  Teal'c had played a big part in Daniel losing both his wife and his brother-in-law.  That was an awful lot to forgive.  Jack could not say that he wasn't angry at Teal'c for the Jaffa's part in what happened to Skaara, but he could understand the concept of being under orders and having no choice but to obey.  And, with Skaara, it had been a lousy case of bad luck that he tangled with Teal'c and, therefore, drew the man's attention.  If Skaara hadn't been so . . . so Skaara, he might have slipped under Teal'c's and Apophis' radar.  Jack didn't know the whole story about how Sha're was chosen to be a host, and he wasn't sure he wanted to know.  Whatever it was, he hoped that Daniel would be able to forgive Teal'c for it.  He wanted both of them on his team, but if Daniel could never trust or forgive the Jaffa, it wouldn't work out.

"I must seek to make amends to Daniel Jackson for what I did," the Jaffa said.

"Well, hold off on that until I talk to him, okay?  I'll go find him."

Jack left the building and glanced about, wondering where Daniel might have gone.

"Sir, is something wrong?" Sam asked.  "Daniel went running by me, and he looked really upset."

"Which way did he go, Carter?"

Sam pointed to the southwest.  "That way, sir."

"Thanks.  Stay here, Captain.  Hammond gave us permission to extend the mission, but. . . .  Just stay in this area.  I'll be back."

"Yes, sir."  Being the good soldier that she was, Sam didn't ask again what was going on.  The fact that the colonel had not answered her the first time meant that it might be something he didn't feel she needed to know.  Whatever it was, though, it had obviously deeply affected Daniel.  She hoped he was going to be all right.  The poor guy had already had too many horrible things happen in his life lately.

Jack went in search of the missing archeologist.  It took about ten minutes, but he finally saw the younger man sitting near the edge of the sheer drop-off to the valley below.  Daniel's knees were up near his chin, his arms wrapped in a stranglehold about his legs.  He was staring fixedly ahead.  The sight made Jack more than a little nervous.  He didn't like seeing Daniel that close to the edge of a cliff when he knew that the linguist was probably in a very fragile emotional state.

"Daniel?" Jack said quietly, not wanting to startle him.

"Please go away, Jack," the younger man said in a quiet, pain-filled voice.

Ignoring the request, Jack cautiously moved closer until he was standing to Daniel's left, about six feet away.  He leaned over a bit and peered down, but quickly righted himself at the alarming sight of a thousand-foot sheer drop.  And no railing in sight.

"Um, how about if we move back from the edge, Daniel?"

There was a pause.  "You think I'm going to jump?" Daniel asked.  When Jack didn't answer, he continued.  "That would be pretty selfish of me, wouldn't it?  To leave Sha're like that when she needs me mo—"  Daniel's voice choked off, his eyelids clamping shut.  His chest heaved with repressed sobs, eyes burning with the tears he was trying so hard not to let fall.  He didn't know how much longer he'd be able to hold on to his control.  He'd lost it once back on Abydos when he said goodbye to everyone and again that first night without Sha're in his arms, but he felt that he couldn't let himself lose it now.  If he did, he was afraid he'd shatter completely.


The gentle, concerned utterance of his name caused an irrational spark of anger to ignite in Daniel.  He leapt to his feet and strode away several paces, arms hugging his own body tightly.

Jack did not follow him, only moving away from the edge a few feet.

"Teal'c told me about Sha're and Skaara," he said.

"He took them, Jack.  He took them and presented them to Apophis like . . . like they were pieces of jewelry he thought Apophis might like to wear."

"Daniel, you know it wasn't like that.  He was under orders—"

Daniel spun around.  "Don't you dare throw that 'under orders' excuse at me!  I'm not one of your soldiers who obey without question, without a mind or a heart!  I will never accept 'I was just following orders' as anything but a cop out, as a way of not taking responsibility for doing something awful."

"Daniel, if he hadn't obeyed Apophis, he would have been killed.  Where would that have left Sha're and Skaara?"

"I don't know!  All I know is that, because of him and Apophis, my wife is out there somewhere with that . . . that thing inside her, and I don't know if I'll ever see her again."

Daniel turned around and strode away quickly, showing no sign of stopping.  Calling his name, Jack caught up to him and grabbed his arm.  Daniel spun around and jerked out of Jack's grasp.  For a brief moment, the colonel thought that the archeologist was going to take a swing at him.  But Daniel just stepped backward a pace, chest rising and falling rapidly.  The anguish in his eyes was a terrible thing to see.  It was like a mirror image of what Jack saw in his own eyes after Charlie died.

Not saying a word, Daniel turned away again and left.  Jack didn't follow him this time.  The younger man needed some time alone.  Jack understood that need all too well.

The colonel returned to the other two members of his team.  Sam stared at him, her face a picture of both concern and curiosity.  Jack knew that, sooner or later, she would have to be told what was going on.  He just didn't feel like it now.

"Sir?  Did you find Daniel?" she asked.

"Yes, I found him.  He . . . needs a little time to himself right now.  I'll tell you about it later."

"Yes, sir."

"Where's Teal'c?"

"I'm not sure.  He went off that way."  She gestured to the west.  "He looked . . . well, I can't really say upset, but he was frowning even more than usual."  Sam paused.  "Sir, does this have something to do with Daniel's wife?"

Jack let out a sigh.  "Yeah, I'm afraid it does."

"Is Daniel going to be okay?"

"To be honest, Carter, I really don't know."

Teal'c had seen O'Neill return without Daniel Jackson and was now searching for the archeologist himself.  Using the tracking skills he was taught as a Jaffa, he followed the young human's trail to the edge of the plateau, then off in a northwesterly direction.  He needed to find Daniel alone, for what he had to say and do could not be done in the presence of others.

The Jaffa at last found his quarry sitting on the remains of a low wall at the edge of the ruins, facing the mountains to the west.  Saying nothing, Teal'c approached Daniel until he was a few feet away and slightly to the right of him.  The tension in the archeologist's body told him that the man was aware of his presence.  Choosing to allow Daniel to be the first to speak, Teal'c remained silent.  It was a good two minutes before the silence was broken.

Daniel turned a tears-streaked face to Teal'c.  "Why?" he asked, his voice hushed with anguish.

Teal'c needed no elaboration on the question.  "A great many women had been gathered from many worlds, those who were the most beautiful, the ones most likely to find favor with Apophis and Amaunet.  When the time of implantation came, as First Prime, it was my duty to present the women one by one to Apophis and his queen until one was found that pleased them both.  The first woman I chose was not satisfactory, so I returned to the chamber to choose another.  The second time, I chose your wife."

"Why Sha're?  Why did you pick her?"

"She stood apart from the rest, her back to us in defiance.  Because of this, my attention was drawn to her."

"T-that's it?  That's the only reason?"

Teal'c nodded once.

Daniel got up and walked away a short distance.  "She was my wife, and I loved her so much.  I still love her.  She was the only person in my life who—"  His voice broke off abruptly.  He drew in a deep, shuddery breath.  "What about Skaara."

Teal'c repeated what he had told Jack.

Another silence fell between them.  Teal'c walked up to Daniel.

"I cannot undo the things I have done, Daniel Jackson, though I would do so gladly if I could.  I also cannot ask your forgiveness, for I do not have the right to ask such a thing from you."

Teal'c handed his staff weapon to Daniel, who took it with a puzzled expression on his face.  The puzzlement increased as the Jaffa knelt before him.

"What are you doing?" Daniel asked.

"I must offer my life as retribution for the family I took from you."

Daniel stared at him, open-mouthed.  "Y-you'd let me kill you?  Just like that?"

"It is a fitting punishment for what I have done."

Daniel stood frozen in place for a long moment.  Then he dropped the staff on the ground and walked away.

Long after Daniel was gone, Teal'c remained where he was, staring at the discarded weapon.  He was still there when Jack found him.

"Teal'c?  What are you doing?" the colonel asked.

"I have spoken to Daniel Jackson.  I told him how his wife and brother by marriage came to be taken as hosts.  I then offered my life to him in retribution."

Jack's eyebrows rose.  "You offered to let Daniel kill you?"

"That is correct."

The colonel looked down at the staff weapon.  "With that?"


"Well, obviously, he didn't take you up on the offer."

"He did not.  He dropped the weapon before me and left."

"Did you really think he'd do it, Teal'c?"

The Jaffa looked up at him.  "Why would he not?  I have harmed him greatly."

Jack could see that the man was genuinely puzzled.  "Because that's not the kind of person Daniel is."

Teal'c rose to his feet, staff weapon in his hand.  "I know of no other way, O'Neill.  Among the Jaffa, if your actions cost the lives of another's family, it is their right to demand your life in payment, unless the actions were a commandment from one of the Goa'uld."

"And is that what usually happens?"

"More often than not."

"Well, we usually do things a little differently, Teal'c.  Most humans on Earth don't go around killing someone they blame for the death of a family member.  Oh, it does happen, but it's the exception rather than the rule."

"Then what is to be my punishment?"

"You aren't going to be punished, Teal'c."

"But I must make restitution for what I have done to Daniel Jackson."

"Maybe, maybe not.  Daniel's the only one who can decide that.  But he'll never ask that you give your life to him, and he'll never expect you to."  Jack studied the Jaffa's face.  "You need to think about what would be a better way to make amends.  Your death wouldn't bring either Sha're or Skaara back, Teal'c, and that's what Daniel wants more than anything.  Think about that."

With that, Jack left Teal'c with his thoughts.

It took about thirty minutes for Teal'c to return to where Jack and Sam were.  Still not sure if they'd be staying the extra time or if they should head back today, the two Air Force officers had set up camp in a structure that had no roof but all four walls still mostly intact.  It was near the building with the hieroglyphics that Daniel had been translating, so Jack figured that the archeologist should be able to find them.

The subject of Jack's thoughts showed up around an hour after Teal'c had returned.  He said nothing and didn't look at any of them.  He simply retrieved his pack and disappeared back into the ruins, notebook and pen in hand.

"Carter."  Jack jerked his head toward Daniel.  Sam nodded and followed the linguist.  He went to one of the few buildings that was still more or less whole and immediately started to work on a translation.  Sam could tell that he didn't want to talk, so she started wandering around the building, looking for possible technology left behind.

That's how things went for the next two hours.  Occasionally, Sam would check on Daniel and find him seemingly still absorbed in his work.  In fact, he was so absorbed that Sam had doubts that he was even aware of her presence.  It reminded her of the way she got sometimes when delving into some fascinating scientific puzzle.  Sam had to wonder, though, if this was Daniel's way of escaping from his emotions.

While Sam was setting up camp with the colonel, he told her what was going on.  The captain felt deep empathy for the archeologist.  She could understand how he must be feeling and had to admit that she didn't know what she would do if she was in his place.  On one hand, she understood duty and having to follow orders.  On the other hand, she knew the grief of losing someone you love and the anger of blaming someone else for that loss.  And she knew how hard it could be to forgive someone for something like that.  Would she be able to forgive Teal'c?  She honestly didn't know.

The remainder of the day was way too quiet.  Having no one with whom to share her thoughts, Sam did her work silently, the occasional check-in with her C.O. being the only exercise her vocal cords got.  Jack spent the day thinking about the situation, trying to figure out what he could do.  Teal'c spoke only when asked a question or when he had to point something out.  As for Daniel, he didn't speak at all, not even when Sam told him it was time to quit for the day.

Dinner was not much of an improvement on the situation.  Teal'c looked at Daniel often, his face not giving away his thoughts, but something in his eyes showing how upset he was.  Surprisingly, Daniel was utterly impossible to read.  His face was set in a blank mask, his eyes shuttered.  If anything, he looked like he was deep in thought.  Jack had tried to draw the younger man into conversation several times, but each attempt was met with short, quietly spoken sentences.  There was no anger in Daniel's voice, no bitterness, no emotion at all, really.

Jack had been tempted to take Daniel aside a few times and try to draw more out of him, but he decided that the archeologist had to work this all out in his own time.  Pushing him wouldn't accomplish anything.

Daniel went to bed early, and Teal'c requested first watch.  As Jack crawled into his tent, he hoped that the dawn would bring a resolution of some kind.  He was just afraid it would be one he didn't like.

The next morning was just as quiet as the previous evening had been.  Daniel was perched on a rock with his first cup of coffee, his eyes staring off blankly at something in the distance.  The fact that the cup was still half-full ten minutes after it had been poured was testament to how deeply in thought the archeologist was.  It hadn't taken the others long to learn how greatly Daniel loved coffee and how much of it he consumed on a daily basis.

They were due back at the SGC that afternoon, but Jack was wondering if it would be best to go ahead and leave.  He was about to say so when something happened to change his mind.

Breakfast had been eaten and the trash packed away to be disposed of back at the SGC.  Teal'c had just returned from relieving himself and was heading for his pack, which was beside the others.  Before he got there, however, Daniel picked up both his own pack and Teal'c's.  He walked over to the Jaffa, who had halted, and, looking him straight in the eyes, held Teal'c's pack out to him.  The simple act shocked Teal'c beyond words, as did the expression in Daniel's blue eyes.  There was no condemnation, no anger, no hatred.  Instead, there was an expression of calm acceptance.  Not knowing what to say, Teal'c took the pack.  Daniel gave him the tiniest of nods, then walked away to shoulder his own pack.

"Jack, I'm going to be working over to the west, near that tower," the archeologist said quietly.  "I noticed some more hieroglyphs there yesterday."

"Uh . . . yeah, okay," Jack responded, keeping his tone perfectly even.  "Carter, go with him.  I don't want anyone alone in these ruins.  It wouldn't take much for one of the buildings to collapse on someone.  Check in every two hours."

"Yes, sir."

"I do not understand, O'Neill," Teal'c admitted after the others had gone.

"Well, it looks to me like Daniel is willing to let bygones be bygones."

"What does 'bygones' mean?  I do not recognize this word."

"It means that he's forgiving you, Teal'c."

"How can he forgive me when I have done nothing to earn his forgiveness?"

"Maybe you should ask Daniel that."

It was six o'clock Colorado time, late afternoon P3A-575 time, when SG-1 returned to the SGC.  At the debriefing, no one said anything about the incident between Daniel and Teal'c.  They all went their separate ways afterwards, Daniel to his office, Sam to her lab, Teal'c to his quarters, and Jack . . . well, Jack just wandered around.  He knew he should grab a bite to eat and get busy on his report, but he didn't feel like it at the moment.  The report wasn't due until noon tomorrow, so there would be time to work on it in the morning.  It's not like there was much to report.  Daniel had found some information about the people who lived there and a few things about both Ra and Apophis, but that was all.  The success of this mission could not be measured by what they physically found on the planet.

Finally, Jack headed over to Daniel's office to see if he was ready to leave.  Sooner or later, they would have to find an apartment for the guy, but, in the meantime, Jack didn't have a problem with the younger man staying in his spare bedroom.  They also needed to get Daniel a car.

The archeologist was at his computer, typing something from his field journal.

"Hey, Jack," he said without looking up.

"Hey yourself.  So, whatcha doin'?"

"Working on my report."

"You do know that you don't have to get that in until noon tomorrow, right?"

"Yes, I know.  I'd rather start now and not have to rush."

"Have you eaten yet?"

"No.  I'll grab something from the commissary later."  He finally looked at Jack.  "Are you leaving now?"

"Well, I was, but I don't want to strand you here."

"Is there someone else who could take me home?  I mean, aren't there guys who do that kind of thing?  Or would that cause a problem?"

Jack smiled faintly.  "No, it wouldn't cause a problem, and, yes, there are guys who do that kind of thing.  Just ask at the first checkpoint, and they'll call for someone to drive you home."

"Okay.  Good."

"I'll leave the key under the mat in case you get home after I go to bed.  Just don't stay here too late."  Jack started to turn away, then paused.  "Daniel, this thing with Teal'c."  He met the linguist's eyes.  "Are you really okay about it?"

Daniel paused before answering.  "I'm not sure that 'okay' is the right word, not yet, but I understand some things now, and I'm not going to spend my life hating him."  His expression darkened.  "There's someone else who deserves my hatred a whole lot more."

Jack knew who he was talking about.  "We can all hate him together, Daniel, sort of a group therapy thing."

The tiniest of smiles curved Daniel's lips.  "Sounds good to me."

"All right, I'll see you later."

After Jack had left, Daniel got back to work on his report.  It wasn't easy to concentrated, though.  It was hard not to think about Sha're.  He hadn't slept much since it happened.  Every time he tried, his mind filled with thoughts of her.  He'd been drinking coffee by the gallon in an effort to remain alert during the day.  Sam had told him that he couldn't stay up all the time, and he knew that she was right, but that didn't make it any easier to get to sleep.

Daniel heard someone else approaching and turned to see Teal'c come to a stop at the threshold.

"May I enter, Daniel Jackson?" he asked.

The archeologist gave him a nod.

"O'Neill says that you are granting me forgiveness, but this is a thing that I do not understand.  I have done nothing to earn it."

Daniel thought about his reply for a moment.  "Forgiveness doesn't always have to be earned, Teal'c.  It's something that's given."

"Why do you give it to me?"

"Because I realized some things.  For a big part of your life, you thought that Apophis was a god.  All the things you did was because of that.  You were obeying the will of your god.  Here on Earth, a lot of terrible things have been done because someone thought it was the will of their god.  I can't condemn you for your beliefs, not when I know that your entire race believes the same thing."

"It is true that there was a time when I believed that Apophis and the other Goa'uld were gods," Teal'c admitted.  "But, in time, I came to question their godhood.  Those first doubts eventually became conviction.  Long before I went to Abydos I knew that the Goa'uld were not gods at all."

"I know.  If you still thought they were gods, you would never have rebelled.  But I'm guessing that, even when you did think they were gods, there was never a time when you actually enjoyed what Apophis made you do."

Teal'c expression darkened.  "I never took pleasure in the atrocities that I was commanded to commit."

Daniel nodded slightly, having already guessed that.  "Why did you choose to help us, Teal'c?  Why did you choose that moment to finally rebel?  When Jack told you that he could save all those people you and the other Jaffa were about to kill, you said that many others had made that claim but that Jack was the first one you believed could do it."

"Yes.  I recognized that, with your technology and determination, your people might have the strength to do battle against the Goa'uld."

"So, you decided to join us."  Daniel paused before asking the next question.  "If you hadn't believed that we were strong enough to take on the Goa'uld, would you have killed all of us?"

Though he did not want to answer that question, Teal'c knew that Daniel had the right to know.  "Yes.  I would have believed that there was no other choice."

Daniel's gaze dropped to the floor.  "There's something I need to know, Teal'c."  He lifted his head and met the Jaffa's eyes.   "If something ever happened to the SGC, if it and our gate were destroyed and we could no longer help you fight the Goa'uld, what would you do?"

Teal'c's face hardened with determination.  "I would continue to fight against them with every breath in my body for as long as I lived."

"Even though you'd be doing it alone?  You weren't willing to do that before.  What's different now?"

Teal'c did not answer immediately.  There were things that Daniel Jackson did not know, a reason for Teal'c's continued service to Apophis that the human was unaware existed: the family he sought to protect.  That was a secret he was not yet willing to reveal, but honor demanded that he answer this man's question.

"I had always believed that I, alone, could do nothing to stop the Goa'uld," he said, "that to try would only result in my death and might bring great harm to others.  But I have now sworn an oath that I will fight to the death to destroy the Goa'uld, even if, by myself, I lack the ability to do them much harm."

Daniel kept staring at the Jaffa for a long moment.  Teal'c had just confirmed what he'd suspected.  Meeting SG-1 had given Teal'c what he needed to take the plunge and rebel, and, now that he had taken that step, he could never again be the man who committed terrible acts by the order of a Goa'uld, even if that refusal would cost his life.

"Then that's what matters now," Daniel said quietly.  "I can't say that it doesn't hurt anymore that you had a part in Sha're being made a Goa'uld, and I don't know how long it will be before I can completely get past that, but . . . but I'm willing to try and move beyond it."

Teal'c gazed at the linguist for a long time.  He still did not understand how this man could forgive him.  Forgiveness of that magnitude was not something with which the Jaffa had any experience.  If he had been in Daniel Jackson's place, he would have killed the man responsible.  But, according to O'Neill, that was not the way of the Tau'ri.  Regardless, Teal'c still believed that he needed to make amends somehow.  The words that the colonel had spoken came to him.

"Daniel Jackson, I tell you now that I pledge my life to finding your wife and her brother and bringing them back to you.  I swear that I will not rest until they have been returned."

Daniel searched the Jaffa's eyes, then gave a single nod.  "Thank you."

Knowing that there was nothing more to say, the Jaffa turned away.  He was in the doorway when Daniel's voice stopped him.


"Yes, Daniel Jackson?"

"Um . . . now that you're going to be here on Earth full-time, there are things that you'll need to know, stuff about our history and culture.  In order to do that properly, you'll have to be able to read books about it."

"I cannot read your language."

"I know."  Daniel looked at him intently.  "Would you like to learn?"

"Yes, but who would teach me?"

"I would."

Teal'c could not prevent the look of shock that filled his face.  "You would teach me how to read the language of the Tau'ri?"

"Well, one of them, at least.  There are thousands of languages on this planet.  I know a few of them, but I think just learning English will be good enough for now."

"This is a great thing that you offer to me, Daniel Jackson."

"Then that's a yes?"

"I would be greatly honored and eternally grateful."

"I'm just going to teach you how to read and write English, Teal'c.  It's not that big a deal."

"On the contrary, Daniel Jackson, it is, indeed, a . . . big deal.  Thank you."

"You're welcome.  How about if I give you your first lesson day after tomorrow?  I need to pick up some readers, books that help teach reading and writing."

"That will be most satisfactory."

Daniel paused in thought.  "Um . . . there is something else.  I think it would be a good idea if I knew how to speak and read Goa'uld.  Would you be willing to teach me?"

Teal'c's chin lifted with pride, honored to have been asked to give his knowledge to the scholar.  "I would be most pleased to do so, Daniel Jackson."

Daniel nodded and gave him a small smile.  "Great.  Thanks."

After Teal'c had left, the archeologist turned back to his report, but suddenly decided that it would keep until tomorrow.  He got a sandwich from the commissary and ate it as he went to the locker room and changed into his civvies.  At the first checkpoint, he requested a ride home, and a young sergeant showed up a couple of minutes later to drive him.

Jack was asleep on the couch when Daniel walked into the house, his snores competing with the sound of the TV.  Smiling, Daniel turned off the set, got a blanket from the linen closet, and draped it over the sleeping man.  Then he got dressed for bed and laid down.

For a while, Daniel stared up into the darkness.  For some strange reason, forgiving Teal'c for his part in what happened to Sha're had lightened the young man's heart just a little and strengthened his hope that he would find her.  He didn't know how long it would take, but, with the help of his teammates – all three of them – he had faith that he would succeed.

Closing his eyes, Daniel gently slipped into the first real sleep he'd gotten since Sha're was taken, his dreams reflecting the hope that had been fortified within him.


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