by Maureen Thayer
Categories: Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Drama
Content Warning: Mild Profanity
Spoilers: Fire and Water, A Matter of Time, Out of Mind, Rules of Engagement, A Hundred Days, Meridian, Enemy Mine, Avenger 2.0, Icon
Author's Notes: Many fans have discussed what the catalyst was for the changes we saw in the relationship between Daniel and his teammates in the fourth and fifth seasons, particularly, between Daniel and Jack. In comparing those two seasons to the previous three, we can see that the bond between the members of SG-1 was not as close as it had been, not just between Daniel and Jack but also between Daniel and his other teammates. Some people think that Shades of Grey was what started it, but, while that may have been one of the catalysts, I think that it was what happened in The Other Side that caused the real damage to Daniel's friendship with Jack and made him begin to distance himself from his teammates.
Daniel winced at the sound of a faint thump against the closed iris. There was no doubt of what, or, rather, who had made that sound. Alar of the planet Euronda had just done what Jack once likened to a bug going splat against a windshield. Knowing what Daniel did about the Eurondan, he shouldn't have been upset, but it still bothered him. Had Jack known that Alar would ignore his warning and follow them through the gate? Looking at the colonel, he saw no regret, no remorse on the man's face.
Daniel stared at his teammates. Now that it was all over with, his anger over the day's events began building inside him until he felt like he would explode. Suddenly unable to stand being there a moment longer, he turned and left the gate room. He hurried to the infirmary, wishing that he could delay the post-mission physical and just disappear somewhere until the debriefing. He knew that his teammates would only be a few moments behind him, and he really didn't want to see them right now, let alone talk to them.
As he had guessed, Daniel had been in the infirmary only a couple of minutes when the rest of SG-1 came in. He chose to ignore them in favor of staring at the wall across from him.
"You guys know the drill," Janet said to the others. Daniel heard them find places to sit. The doctor returned her attention to her patient. Daniel suffered through the usual round of tests in silence, talking only when asked a question.
"Well, Doctor Jackson. Happily, you appear to have gotten through this mission without a scratch," Janet said once the checkup was finished. "You're free to go."
"Thanks, Janet." Daniel got to his feet and headed for the door, never once acknowledging his team's presence.
Jack watched the younger man leave and cursed under his breath. He'd screwed up big time, and there was no doubt that he was going to have to do some serious butt-kissing to gain his friend's forgiveness. Why hadn't he listened to Daniel in the first place? The archeologist's argument against blindly helping the Eurondans had been more that just morally right, it had also been strategically sound. You don't get involved in a war until you know who the players are and what the war is all about.
'Crap. What kind of idiot am I?' Jack berated himself. 'A first-year cadet wouldn't be that stupid.'
And, now, he'd hurt Daniel, humiliated him in front of his fellow teammates and a roomful of strangers. Yeah, it was going to take a lot to make up for this. Jack knew where his repentance was going to start. It was time to eat some humble pie and take official responsibility for his actions.
As soon as Janet found out about the control stations for the fighters and what long-term use of the neural interface did to the brain, she insisted on conducting further tests on Jack and Teal'c, ignoring the colonel's objections.
Once Sam's checkup was finished, she left the infirmary, intent on a new mission. Deciding to forego her shower for now, she grabbed a change of clothes from the locker in her lab and changed in the women's restroom, also giving herself a quick cleanup while she was at it. She then headed straight to Daniel's office, figuring that she'd beat him there if he had chosen to take a shower. Sure enough, the room was empty. Too wired to sit, she began wandering around the room.
Sam felt awful about what had happened, for the way Daniel had been treated on this mission, not only by the colonel, but also by her. She should have said something more than weakly stating that the general wanted to know more about the conflict. She should have objected when the colonel treated Daniel so horribly. Instead, she'd acted like a coward and stayed silent. And then there was the anger she herself had expressed toward Daniel after his first argument with Jack. She'd been put out with him because he seemed intent on making waves, causing trouble with the agreement they were trying to make with the Eurondans. Why hadn't she listened to what he was trying to say?
Sam was ashamed of her decisions on this mission. When had she lost sight of what was really important? When had she decided that getting their hands on advanced technology was worth the sacrifice of morality?
When the colonel ordered the iris to be closed and they heard the thud against it, the sound of Alar's death, she had looked into her commanding officer's eyes and seen there a reflection of her own emotions, shame, anger and self-loathing over the horrible mistake they'd made, over the crime that they'd come so close to committing. It was going to be a long time before Sam could forgive herself for what she had done this day.
The major hadn't been waiting long when Daniel came in. The moment he saw her, he froze, his eyes meeting hers for a brief moment. Those seconds were enough for Sam to see the pain and anger that he was feeling.
Not saying anything, Daniel walked over to one of his shelves and picked up an artifact, pretending to study it.
"Daniel, I'm sorry," Sam said.
There was a long pause as Daniel slowly set down the artifact. "Why?" he asked quietly.
Sam frowned in confusion. "What do you mean 'why'?"
Daniel turned around and looked at her. "Why are you sorry? Because it turned out that they were genocidal racists? Would you still be sorry if they hadn't been?"
Sam gasped, shocked by the question. But then she realized that he had a point, one that made her even more ashamed. "I-I. . . ."
"Why didn't you say something, Sam?" Daniel asked, not even bothering to hide the pain in his voice. "Why did you just sit there and say nothing? God, Sam, I couldn't believe that you were going along with Jack on this. I-I thought that you would be smarter than that and . . . and better. When we talked to General Hammond, I thought that you were beginning to see my point. You knew that what I wanted to ask the Eurondans was something we needed to know. Yet, when push came to shove, you backed down."
Sam closed her eyes in shame. What could she say? She knew that she had been in the wrong. "I'm so sorry, Daniel," she said in an unsteady voice, distressed not only by the fact that she had failed to be a friend to Daniel but that she had also apparently lost his respect. "I have no excuse for my actions. I backed down and chose not to rock the boat. I decided to follow the colonel's lead and just keep quiet."
Daniel gazed at her, an expression of deep disappointment on his face. "What happened to the woman who wasn't afraid to express her opinions, Sam?" he asked in a hushed, emotion-filled voice. "What happened to the person who would stand up and tell people what she thought of something, regardless of their rank? I know you can't disobey orders, but I wasn't asking you to. All I wanted, all I needed from you was for you to back me up and try to make Jack see that what he was doing was wrong. Why couldn't you do that, Sam? Why?"
"I don't know!" Sam cried, feeling tears fill her eyes. "You're right. I should have said something. I should have pushed Alar for the answer to your question. I-I-I just . . . I wanted that technology so badly, Daniel, and I let that desire influence me. In my heart, I knew you were right. I knew that we should find out more about this enemy that Alar's people were fighting, but I didn't listen to my conscience. You have no idea how ashamed I am of that. And you have no idea how horrible I feel about not supporting you like I should have."
Daniel turned away. "It hurt that you of all people would do that. It was bad enough that Jack said what he did, but when you and Teal'c went right along with it. . . . I felt like I was all alone on one side and everyone else was on the other side, standing against me. I felt like I was no longer a part of the team."
Sam's voice caught. "Oh, Daniel. I'm sorry. I am so sorry."
Sam turned and fled. Dashing away the tears that were now flowing down her cheeks, she escaped to the closest place where she could find some privacy, which turned out to be a bathroom stall. There, Sam tried to get control of herself. She hated herself for what she had done. For the second time she had betrayed Daniel's friendship and turned her back on him, the first time having been when she did nothing to prevent him from being taken away to the mental facility when he was infected with one of Ma'chello's little Goa'uld killers. That day, she had ignored the voice screaming inside her that something was very, very wrong and had taken the easy way out, listening to McKenzie's opinion of what was wrong with Daniel. And, now, she'd done it again, ignored her inner voice and abandoned Daniel to fight alone. How could she make this up to him? How could she ever gain his forgiveness and get back the friendship that she so deeply cherished? How was she going to regain his trust and respect?
Sam knew what her next step had to be. She had to state for the record how wrong she'd been and how very right Daniel had been.
Her jaw firming with determination, Sam wiped the tears from her face and headed for the briefing room.
After Sam's hurried departure, Daniel sunk into his chair and closed his eyes. Now that the words were out, he was sorry that he'd said some of those things. He'd let his pain and anger get the best of him.
Daniel knew why this was hurting so much, why Sam's decisions and her failure to help him hurt equally as much as what Jack had done and said. He and Sam had always been so close, gotten along so well. So many times when Daniel was in contention with Jack, he'd sensed Sam's support for him. Oftentimes, that support had been silent, but it had still been there. He had always been able to count on her to be his friend, the one person who really understood and respected his viewpoints and beliefs. It wasn't until now that Daniel realized how much he'd relied on that, how important it was to him.
And then there was the other thing. Daniel had been shocked and appalled that Jack would be willing to help Alar's people continue to fight an unnecessary war just so that they could get their hands on the Eurondan technology, but it had been even more of a shock when Sam agreed with what Jack was doing. Never in a million years would he have believed that Sam would so completely lose sight of what was right, even if it was as a result of her desire to help Earth fight against the Goa'uld. He had trusted her to stay true to the woman he had come to know, a woman he deeply admired and respected.
When Sam had agreed that they needed to know more about the war the Eurondans were fighting before taking sides in the conflict, Daniel had felt a great sense of relief. It had helped to reestablish his belief in her. He had thought that she was finally going to do what was right and support him. That belief had come crashing down when she sat back and did nothing when Jack brutally shot down Daniel's attempts to get at the truth.
Closing his eyes against the pain, Daniel bowed his head, wondering how long it would take for his heart to heal this time. The scars were getting so deep.
When Jack got to the locker room, there was no sign of Daniel. But then, he hadn't really expected there to be. There was no way that Daniel would have hung around and waited for Jack to arrive. It was obvious that the archeologist wanted to avoid his teammates, and Jack really couldn't blame him.
"Daniel Jackson is angered by the event on Euronda," Teal'c commented as he stepped up to his locker.
Jack let out a heavy sigh. "Oh, yeah. You can say that again."
"He has good reason for his anger."
Accepting the mild rebuke, Jack nodded.
"We must strive to make restitution for the wrong we committed against him."
Jack looked at him. "We? There's no 'we' in this situation, Teal'c. I'm the one responsible for this."
"That is not so, O'Neill. We all failed Daniel Jackson on this mission."
"How do you figure that?"
"I said nothing in his defense, though I understood the reason for his misgivings. I remained silent, and, in that way, I failed Daniel Jackson as a friend and as a teammate."
Teal'c turned away and started getting undressed. Jack sat unmoving for a while, thinking about the Jaffa's words. Then he removed his clothes and headed to the showers.
The two men barely managed to finish in time to make it to the debriefing. They both hurried to the briefing room. They were almost there when Jack saw Daniel approaching. Though the colonel was certain that Daniel had seen them, the linguist was keeping his eyes glued to the floor.
Telling Teal'c to go on ahead, Jack waited for his friend.
"Daniel," he said quietly as the archeologist passed him.
Daniel stopped walking, but did not turn around to face Jack.
"Daniel, I know you're angry, and I know you have every right to be. I said I was sorry, and I'll say it again. I made a mistake, okay? I admit that. I shouldn't have said those things to you."
Daniel turned around to face him. "You don't get it, do you?"
"What you said to me, the way you treated me, it hurt, a lot. It hurt to have my friend treat me with that much disrespect and disdain. But you know what hurt just as much, Jack, if not more? It was seeing a man I have grown to respect throw out every shred of his conscience and integrity and become this-this windup toy soldier, incapable of seeing right from wrong." Daniel stared at the man before him. "What do the Goa'uld do, Jack? Why do we hate them? Why do we fight against them? Because they use people without conscience. They use others for their own benefit, having no consideration for what's morally right. They don't care about how their actions hurt others. All that matters is what they want. So, tell me, Jack. How were your actions any different?"
With those words, Daniel turned his back on Jack and walked away. Jack stood still, absorbing what Daniel had just said, knowing that his friend was right.
Feeling like he'd just gotten punched in the gut, Jack continued to the briefing room. He had barely gotten seated when General Hammond came in.
Settling in his chair, the commander of the SGC turned to Colonel O'Neill. "All right, Colonel. Why don't you tell me what happened."
Jack started out by doing a quick recap of what happened up to the time of the first discussion with the Eurondans. The general was not happy when he found out that Jack had personally shot down a reconnaissance plane, but didn't make an issue of it since the vehicle was unmanned.
Sam took over from Jack in recounting their first discussion with the Eurondans.
"They were very friendly and appeared, at the time, to be aboveboard," she said. "We found out that they used controlled fusion as their power source. But their supply of deuterium oxide was dwindling, and they were in desperate need of more."
"I told them that we'd give them some," Jack stated. "That's when they said that they'd give us what we wanted, their technology, their medicine, probably just about anything else we asked for. I thought we'd hit the jackpot."
And that was the catalyst for the events that followed. After three frustrating years of advanced races refusing to share their technology, they'd finally found a culture that wasn't opposed to sharing, and Jack hadn't been willing to give that up. His determination to get that technology made it impossible for him to see past the carrot being dangled in front of his face.
"Daniel asked what they would use the deuterium for," Sam said. "At first, they said that it would be used to strengthen their defenses. But then they revealed that they'd also use it for offensive purposes."
General Hammond looked at the archeologist. "Judging by what I already know, I'm assuming that you objected to that, Doctor Jackson."
"Yes, I did," Daniel replied. "I tried to point out that they didn't have to keep fighting, that they could just leave through the Stargate and start a new life elsewhere, but no one seemed willing to even consider it. The whole thing made no sense to me. The air on the surface was poisoned. What was there left to win? And, now, we were talking about giving them the means to power weapons that would be used to continue a war that was totally unnecessary, to kill people that didn't have to die. How could we even think about doing something that would be supporting a needless war?"
"I have to admit that you're right, Doctor Jackson," Hammond said after a moment of silence. "And I'm sorry that I didn't recognize that fact sooner." He turned his gaze back to Jack. "Please continue, Colonel."
Jack recounted how, while Daniel and Sam returned to the SGC, he and Teal'c helped fight off some of the bombers that were attacking.
"I thought that they were unmanned, like the reconnaissance vessel," he explained. "It wasn't until too late that I found out they weren't." It sickened Jack to think about the fact that he had personally killed people he now knew were the innocent victims of genocidal maniacs.
Pushing that thought to the back of his mind, Jack continued. "After Daniel and Carter returned with the deuterium, we had another meeting with the Eurondans. Daniel asked them how the war began, and Major Carter told me that you wanted to know as well."
"That is correct," Hammond confirmed. "What did Alar have to say?"
"All he did was talk about the night that the war started. He claimed that the other side started it, but he didn't give us the information that Daniel was seeking, namely, why the war began in the first place."
"So, this led you to believe that the Eurondans were hiding something?"
Hammond stared at him. "I don't understand."
"I let it slide, sir. I didn't want to hear any more."
"Colonel, didn't Doctor Jackson and Major Carter make it clear to you that I shared Doctor Jackson's desire to know what this war was all about?"
"I didn't let them, sir. When Daniel tried to get more information, I shut him down. I didn't want to hear anything that might screw up our plans of getting that technology. All I wanted was to get that technology, and to hell with anything else. When Daniel asked for information about their enemy, Alar didn't want to answer. That should have sent up a red flag, but it didn't. I didn't let it. It wasn't until the truth was just about thrown in my face that I finally woke up to what I was doing, how wrong I'd been."
Hammond frowned. "Explain."
"Alar made a remark about Teal'c that made me realize that something was very wrong. His remark was . . . racist, sir."
"Yes, sir. After that, I told Daniel to start asking questions, find out more about this war, which is what he wanted to do right from the start. I'll let Daniel tell you what he found out."
Everyone turned to the archeologist.
"The Eurondans called the people they were at war with 'breeders'," he explained.
"Breeders?" Hammond inquired.
"Yes. People who mate and give birth to children . . . just like we do. Farrell, Alar's second in command, made the comment that the breeders reproduce indiscriminately, with no regard for genetic purity. After asking a few more questions, I realized that was the sole reason for the war."
General Hammond stared at Daniel. "Doctor Jackson, are you telling me that Alar and his people were that planet's version of Hitler and the Nazis?"
"That's exactly what he's saying, sir," Jack stated. "Teal'c and I found out that the stasis chambers were all filled with clones, Caucasian clones, their version of the master race."
"I also figured out that they were the ones who started the war," Daniel said.
"He's right, sir. They did start it," Sam confirmed. "In fact, it's clear that they were planning this war for years before it actually began. They were the ones who poisoned the atmosphere, General. They did it deliberately in an attempt to exterminate the breeders. Alar admitted it right to our faces."
"Just like the Nazis herding the Jews into gas chambers," Daniel murmured.
Stunned, General Hammond said nothing for a long moment, appalled by the fact that they had come close to allying themselves with another Hitler and helping to commit genocide.
"So, what happened then?" he finally asked.
"When Daniel told them that we weren't going to help them, they turned their weapons on us," Sam replied. "They were obviously intending to hold us hostage and force you to give them more deuterium."
"Teal'c and I were at the controls of some of their fighters at the time," Jack said. "I used mine to shoot down some of the other fighters and clear a path for the bombers. Then I flew it into the ground, right on top of the complex."
"So, let me get this straight," Hammond said. "When you realized what was going on, instead of immediately pulling out and heading back to the Stargate, letting the Eurondans fight their war on their own, you deliberately joined the other side of the conflict and, for all intents and purposes, took up arms against Alar's people?"
The general stared at him for a long, uncomfortable moment. "Colonel, do you realize that your actions could be considered an act of defiance against my declaration that we could not and would not lend military support in this war? If it wasn't for one thing, I'd be sorely tempted to hand your head to you for that. It sickens me to think of what Alar and his people did, and I can understand why your feelings drove you to do what you did. Since this nation joined the fight against Nazi Germany, an argument could be made in your favor that you were simply following that example. However, since you made that decision on your own, without the permission of either myself or this government, I'm going to have a hard time defending your actions if someone chooses to call you on the carpet over this, and that's not counting the fact that you also aided Alar's people twice by shooting down enemy craft, something you had no business doing."
"Understood, sir." Jack took a deep breath. "There's something else I need to say, General." He looked over at Daniel, who was watching him. Meeting the younger man's eyes for a long moment, he then turned back to Hammond. "I was a fool, sir. More than that, I was a disgrace to my uniform. Daniel was right about this whole thing from the beginning. He tried to tell me that we had no right to take sides in a war that we knew nothing about, and I wouldn't listen to him. I was willing to sacrifice my morality for the sake of getting the brass ring. I didn't care about the Eurondans or the reason for their war. All I cared about was getting what I wanted.
"In addition to that, I failed as the leader of my team. I betrayed Daniel's trust by humiliating him in front of his teammates and the Eurondans and by refusing to listen to him, even though what he was trying to say made sense. I screwed up right from the start and nearly got my team killed because of it. If I'd listened to Daniel in the first place, we'd have known what was going on way before things got nasty, and we could have backed out of the deal without any threat to ourselves. I have every intention of putting this in my mission report and making it clear that Daniel acted with the greatest of honor and should be commended for maintaining his integrity despite the failure of his commanding officer to back him up."
Hammond studied him closely. "You do realize, Colonel, that this will be a serious black mark on your record."
"Yes, sir, I do. I take full responsibility."
"No, sir," Sam objected. "I bear some responsibility, too. I'm almost as guilty as you are. I agreed with your objectives, and I let my desire to obtain the technology override my principles. Even after the general said that he wanted some answers, I didn't follow through on getting those answers. I could have said something more at the meeting, but I didn't. Instead, I remained silent and didn't try to dissuade you from making a deal with the Eurondans before learning more about the war."
"I, too, made a grievous error," Teal'c stated. "I came to realize what Daniel Jackson was trying to do, yet I did nothing to aid him in his quest for the truth until ordered to do so. I allowed my desire to defeat the Goa'uld to control me, and, in doing so, I made an error that shames me. In addition, I was not pleased by O'Neill's harsh words to Daniel Jackson, yet I said nothing. This, too, shames me greatly."
"The truth is that Daniel is the only one out of all of us who acted honorably throughout this mission," Sam declared. "He's the only one who upheld the high moral standards the SGC strives to maintain. I'm also going to state that in my report."
General Hammond looked at the people sitting around the table, his eyes going to Daniel last. The archeologist's gaze was riveted on the table.
"Is there anything else anyone would like to add?"
"No, sir," both Jack and Sam replied.
"All right. I'll expect all of your reports on my desk by 1700 hours tomorrow. Dismissed."
As everyone began filing out of the room, General Hammond called to Daniel. "Doctor Jackson, I'd like to speak with you in my office, please."
The two men went into the office, the general closing the door behind them. He took his seat behind the desk. "Please sit down."
Not knowing what to expect, Daniel settled uneasily into a chair. For several seconds, Hammond just watched him. Then he gave a sigh.
"I believe that I owe you an apology as well."
Daniel's brow furrowed. "What? What for?"
"For not listening to you like I should have, for showing you disrespect by using our fight with the Goa'uld as an argument against what you were trying to convey. You, above all people, do not need to be reminded of what we are fighting against. As you pointed out to me, my decision not to commit military resources to help the Eurondans win the war was a decision based partially on morality, and just because the Eurondans only wanted heavy water, it should not have changed that fact. I failed to see that, even if we were not the ones pulling the trigger, we'd still be partly responsible for the deaths of people on the other side of the conflict if we gave the Eurondans what they needed to win the war. If we had continued to help Alar's people, we'd have been no different than someone who puts a gun in the hands of a killer, then stands back and watches that person commit murder. I'm afraid that I fell into the same trap that Colonel O'Neill did. My desire to get hold of advanced technology blinded me to what was right. I have made mistakes in the past in regards to command decisions, but this mistake was almost the worst one I could ever have made."
General Hammond searched Daniel's face. "You never cease to amaze me, Doctor Jackson. Out of all the human beings on this planet, you have the greatest reason to want to see the Goa'uld destroyed, yet you refuse to sacrifice the principles you live by, even if doing so would help defeat the enemy. No matter what, you never back down from what you know is right. I admire and respect you for that. Don't ever let anyone or anything destroy that quality within you. It is a rare and precious thing, something that I wish more people possessed. This world would be a far better place if they did."
Embarrassed by the general's glowing words of praise, yet also pleased and honored that the man felt that way, Daniel stared at the hands clasped in his lap.
"Sir, what's going to happen to Jack?" he asked after a few seconds.
"I can't really say. It all depends. There are people in the military and the government who have been putting a lot of pressure on us to obtain advanced technology, especially weapons. Unfortunately, some of those people do not care all that much about what we have to do to get that technology. If any of those people choose to, they could bring down a lot of heat on Colonel O'Neill. They've got the ammunition to do so."
"Could he lose his commission?"
"I won't lie to you, Son. That is a possibility, though I will fight like hell to see that doesn't happen. But if things get really bad, I may not be able to prevent the colonel from being transferred out of the SGC." Hammond studied the face of the man sitting before him. "Why don't you go home and get some sleep. It's been a very long day for all of us."
With a faint nod, Daniel rose to his feet and left the office. He was upset by what the general had revealed. Though he was still angry with Jack and still hurt by the man's actions, Daniel did not want to see his friend forced out of the SGC. They needed him in their fight against the Goa'uld.
Daniel thought about what Jack had said during the debriefing. It was clear what Jack was doing. He was, in essence, throwing himself to the wolves, baring his throat to be ripped out by anyone who had the desire to do so. Jack was officially taking all the blame for what happened and what almost happened, leaving himself wide open for whatever punishment might befall him. There was no question in Daniel's mind as to the reason why. It was Jack's guilt and shame that were driving him to do this. He had finally realized how wrong he'd been and was now trying to atone for it. Daniel suspected that Jack's desire for atonement was part of the reason why he'd struck against Alar's people instead of just calling off the deal and leaving. It was his way of making amends for the mistakes that he'd made.
Daniel had to wonder if another reason for Jack's final actions against the Eurondans was his anger over having made such an error in judgment. Was his attack against Alar's people fueled by that anger? Daniel suspected that it was.
Knowing that there was no way he was going to be able to sleep, Daniel returned to his office. He was surprised to find Teal'c there.
"I have come to ask forgiveness for my failure as your teammate and friend, Daniel Jackson," the Jaffa told him.
Daniel shook his head. "It's not necessary Teal'c."
"On the contrary, I believe that it is. It was wrong of me not to speak in your defense when I understood the reasons for your actions and feelings. More than once, you have spoken in my defense, yet I did not do likewise when you needed my support. For this I am deeply shamed and am truly sorry."
Daniel let out an almost inaudible sigh. It was true that he'd been disappointed and angry at Teal'c for keeping silent like Sam did, but Teal'c hadn't been with them when Hammond agreed that it would be wise to learn more about the Eurondan war, so he did not know the whole situation. Would Teal'c have spoken up in defense of Daniel's efforts if he had been there to hear Hammond's order? Daniel hoped that he would have.
"I forgive you, Teal'c," Daniel said, knowing that was what the Jaffa needed to hear.
Teal'c inclined his head. "I thank you for your forgiveness, Daniel Jackson. I will strive to never again fail you in this way. I can only hope that my oath does not come too late, that the events of this day will not ultimately destroy SG-1."
"What do you mean?"
"O'Neill is a brave warrior who has great skill in battling the Goa'uld, but even the greatest of warriors can make grave errors in judgment. I fear, though, that O'Neill will not be able to recover from the guilt caused by the errors he made this day, that he will . . . 'fall upon his sword' in an effort to atone for his mistakes." Teal'c looked deeply into Daniel's eyes. "I also fear that you have lost faith in us as your friends and teammates and that you will no longer fully trust us as you once did. Yet again, we have turned away from you when you needed our aid and support."
Daniel knew that last sentence was referring to what happened when he was infested with one of Ma'chello's Goa'uld killers, and his teammates stood aside as he was taken away to the mental facility without making any real attempt to find a reason for his illness. In the year that had passed since then, Daniel had come to forgive his teammates for abandoning him to his fate, but, deep down inside, he still bore the scars. What happened today had resurfaced that old pain. It had also once again brought to the fore his feelings of isolation and aloneness.
"It is my great wish that, someday, you will come to regain your faith in us, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said quietly before leaving the room.
Daniel sat at his desk, staring unseeingly at the screensaver moving across the screen of his computer monitor. Had he lost faith in his teammates? He had to admit that, to some extent, he had. Not that he didn't have faith that they would back him up in a battle or come to his rescue if he was in danger. No, he knew they would. His loss of faith in them was more personal.
For two years, Daniel had felt secure in his friendship with his teammates, suffering only brief moments of doubt. The incident with Ma'chello's Goa'uld killers was the first time he really lost that feeling of security. The events that followed, especially the support his teammates gave him after Sha're's death, almost fully healed the wounds left by his time in that padded room. This past year had been mostly good in regards to his friendship with Jack, Sam and Teal'c. Oh, there had, of course, been moments of contention between him and Jack, but that had always been the case and always would be. Their personalities and viewpoints were too different for it to ever be otherwise. Daniel had rarely let it bother him after the argument was over, that is except for what happened when Jack went undercover to flush out the people responsible for stealing the Asgard and Tollan technology. It had taken Daniel quite a while to completely forgive Jack for the things he'd said, even though Jack had insisted that he hadn't meant a word of it. So, what about this time? This time, there had not been a good reason for Jack's cruel words, no undercover operation, no spies listening in on their conversation.
Daniel put his elbows on the desk and rested his head in his hands. The truth was that he was beginning to have some serious doubts about his place on SG-1, wondering where exactly he fit in. And it wasn't limited just to that. This incident with the Eurondans had succeeded in dramatically strengthening his feelings of being an outsider, not really belonging. It had made him feel like he was all alone, fighting a solitary war against blind military mentality, against the drive to destroy the Goa'uld no matter what the cost to their humanity. He'd had this feeling before, but it had never been so strong as it was now.
Daniel began to wonder why he even bothered when he could not hope to win such a war alone. But then he thought about what General Hammond had said. No, he could not give up. He could not sacrifice his principles, no matter how much pain they may cause him.
Though Daniel could not deny that his faith in his friends had taken a beating today, they were still his friends, and he needed to stand by them, no matter what. With that thought in mind, he got to his feet and headed to Sam's lab, suspecting that, like him, she hadn't gone home. Sure enough, she was there, her head bent over some kind of electronic gadget. However, upon closer inspection, Daniel realized that she was not really looking at the thing before her. She was, in fact, crying, silent tears sliding down her face. The sight sent a sharp jab of pain through him. He knew that at least some of those tears were because of him.
"Sam?" he inquired quietly.
Sam started violently and jumped to her feet. "Daniel!" She hastily wiped the moisture from her face. "W-what are you doing here?"
"I came to talk to you."
Sam turned back to her worktable. "Oh."
Certain that he'd seen fear in her eyes, Daniel walked further into the room. "Sam, I'm sorry about what I said to you. It was wrong of me to say some of those things, and I apologize."
Sam turned and stared at Daniel in amazement. She shook her head. "Daniel, sometimes, you astound me."
The archeologist frowned. "What do you mean?"
"I mean that, today, I hurt you. I betrayed your faith and trust in me. I disgraced the Air Force and this country and nearly joined forces with a pack of genocidal white supremacists. And yet, there you are, apologizing to me. How can you think that you owe me an apology? You have nothing to apologize for. I deserved every word you said."
Daniel shook his head. "No, Sam. I know why you acted like you did. I understand your motivations. You just . . . temporarily lost sight of things. You made a mistake. None of us are perfect."
Sam gazed at Daniel in silence for a long moment. "We really don't deserve you, you know."
Daniel blinked, his face a picture of bafflement. "What?"
"You are so . . . so good, so decent, and caring, and forgiving, and . . . and incorruptible."
Daniel gave a short laugh. "Incorruptible? Sam, I'm not a saint. Far from it. I'm just as imperfect and fallible as anyone else."
"But you are so much stronger than we are, Daniel, stronger on the inside, where it counts. You know what's right, and you stick to that, no matter what. You don't let anyone or anything stop you from seeking to do the right thing. Tell me, Daniel. If the colonel hadn't gotten suspicious and told you to start asking questions, what would you have done? What were you planning on doing when you got back to the SGC?"
Daniel's gaze fell from hers. "I was going to talk to the general again, tell him that Alar wouldn't answer my questions about their enemy and that I thought he was hiding something."
"You weren't going to give up."
"And that's what I mean. When it really matters, when it's something that you know is right, you never give up. You are never untrue to yourself." Sam closed her eyes for a couple of seconds. "Today, I was. I didn't just betray you, Daniel, I betrayed myself, the kind of person that I am. I put my conscience on hold and went after what I wanted. God! How could I have been so idiotic?!"
"Sam, stop. Please," Daniel pleaded. "You didn't mess up completely. When we were talking to the general, you did realize that what I was saying was right. You agreed that it was wrong for us to help the Eurondans without knowing anything about the other side of the conflict. You could have argued against me. You could have recommended to General Hammond that we shouldn't pry, but you didn't. You realized that I was right."
"But I did nothing about it, Daniel, not when it really mattered. I didn't back you up when you needed me to. I didn't say anything when Alar refused to answer your question."
Daniel fell silent. That was true, and it still hurt that she had not helped him, but he was willing to set that aside and move on. "Yes, you're right, but I'm . . . I'm willing to move past that now." He looked deeply into Sam's eyes. "You're still my friend, Sam," he murmured.
Fresh tears welled up into Sam's eyes. Daniel stepped forward and gently took her into his arms. She clung to him almost desperately, not even trying to stop the tears.
They stood like that for a very long time, neither one of them wanting to be the first to break the embrace. At last, Sam drew back a little and smiled weakly up into Daniel's eyes.
"You are such a good friend, Daniel. I don't know what I'd ever do without you."
Daniel returned the smile, though his was a bit stronger. "Well, let's hope you'll never have to find out." He wiped the wetness from her cheeks. "You're a good friend, too, Sam," he murmured.
They stepped away from each other, smiles still on their faces. Sam returned to her seat, and Daniel sat in the other chair that was beside the table.
"I've been thinking about what you said at the debriefing," Sam said. "Alar's people could have made a new and better home on another world. They could have escaped their life underground and lived free, yet they chose not to. Why? Why did they prefer to keep fighting? What was the point?"
"Hatred," Daniel replied. "They were fighting a war of hatred, Sam. Their true goal was not to get their planet back, it was to wipe out their 'enemy'. You heard what Alar said. They looked upon the breeders as a plague, a disease that they were determined to destroy. It had stopped being about reclaiming the planet a long time ago. Perhaps it never was about that."
The two friends lapsed into silence, thinking of how their racial hatred and bigotry had ultimately destroyed Alar's people.
Sam glanced at her watch. "It's getting pretty late. I guess we should both try to get some sleep."
"Yeah. Do you know if Jack left?"
"I think so. He mentioned something about going home." Sam gave a deep sigh. "He's really hurting."
"I know, and I'm afraid that I didn't help any in that regard. I said something to him that I'm not proud of. I need to apologize for it. Sam, the general told me that there is a chance that Jack might be removed from the program over this."
"What?! But they can't do that!"
"He said that there are factions in the military and the government that are pushing really hard for us to get our hands on advanced technologies. It's likely that at least one of those groups is connected to that whole thing that Jack got tangled in. You can bet that those people are not very happy with Jack for cutting off their source of high-tech gadgets and weapons. And, now, he's done it again. There is no doubt that some people are going to be seriously pissed off at him for having put an end to the deal with the Eurondans. They may try to get him tossed out of the SGC, perhaps even the Air Force."
"We can't let that happen, Daniel. The SGC needs him. We need him."
"I know. I'm just worried that Jack might not fight to stay."
"What do you mean?"
"Teal'c said he fears that Jack is falling on his sword, and I agree. You heard what Jack said at the debriefing."
Sam signed. "Yeah. I'm afraid you may be right. So, what can we do?"
"I know what I need to do. I don't know if it will be enough, but maybe it will help." Daniel gave Sam's hand a squeeze. "Go home and get some sleep, Sam. I'll see you in the morning."
Daniel left the lab. However, instead of heading to the locker room to change into his civvies, he went back to his office. He sat before the computer and brought up his text editing program. Then, resting his fingers on the keys, he began to type.
General Hammond entered his office with a weary sigh. He had not slept well last night. His personal guilt over the part he'd played in yesterday's near-disaster and his concerns for Colonel O'Neill and the rest of SG-1 had weighed heavily on his mind. He was afraid that the events of yesterday would result in the loss of the finest team commander the Stargate Program ever had. And if SG-1 lost Jack O'Neill, what would it mean for the rest of the team? They were so close-knit, the four of them working so well together that it was hard to picture anyone else in the role of their team leader. It was a disaster when Makepiece took over command of SG-1. Would it be any better with anyone else? The best thing might be to just give Major Carter command of the team, regardless of the politics of the situation. Daniel had argued fervently in favor of that when O'Neill left as part of his undercover operation. With the possible exception of Lou Ferretti, with whom Daniel had a good relationship, Hammond suspected that Major Carter was the only person the archeologist would willingly accept in the role of team leader if O'Neill was tossed out. Hammond just hoped and prayed that he would not be forced to make this decision.
There was a knock on the doorjamb. Interrupted from his thoughts, Hammond looked up to see Daniel Jackson standing in the doorway. There was a weariness in his posture and around his eyes that instantly made the general guess that the young man had gotten no sleep last night.
"Yes, Doctor Jackson. What can I do for you?"
Daniel came forward and handed him a file folder. "That's my mission report, sir."
Startled, Hammond stared at it. "When did you write this, all last night?"
Daniel gave him a sheepish smile. "Pretty much. I think I finished it at about five this morning."
General Hammond gave a mental shake of his head. One of these days, someone was going to have to do something about the archeologist's penchant for working through the night. "Doctor Jackson, you know that the procedure is to submit your mission report to your commanding officer for review."
"Yes, I know, and I will be giving a copy to Jack, but I wanted to give the report to you first since I have a feeling that Jack is going to want me to change some things in it that I have no intention of changing. Since you now have the report, Jack won't be able to demand that I change it."
General Hammond hid a smile. Daniel Jackson could be quite devious when he put his mind to it. "What is in this report that you think the colonel will object to?"
"I think you'll figure that out when you read it."
Hammond nodded. "All right, Son. I'll read it as soon as I'm able."
"Thank you, sir." Daniel turned to leave.
"Oh, and Doctor Jackson?"
"Go and get some sleep. That's an order."
Daniel gave him a faint smile. "Yes, sir."
After the archeologist had left, the general chuckled and shook his head. He got busy with some paperwork that he'd put off doing yesterday, but his eyes kept straying back to the folder containing Daniel's report. Finally, after around half an hour of attempting to get other work done, Hammond gave up and picked up the folder. He opened it and began reading. At first glance, the report appeared to be pretty standard. However, knowing what he already did about yesterday's events, Hammond realized that Daniel was presenting events in a way that changed the tone of what happened. The general realized what the archeologist was trying to accomplish with his report and admired the man for it.
And then Hammond reached the point where the report became something far more that a simple recitation of events. In amazement, the general read the words that had come from Daniel's heart.
Finishing the report, General Hammond laid it down on the desk, feeling pride swell in him for the young man who had written it. Perhaps there wasn't much that he could do to keep Jack O'Neill in the SGC, but Hammond had a feeling that a certain archeologist had already taken a big step toward saving his friend's career and would continue to fight for that friend right up to the end.
Feeling exhausted in both body and spirit, Jack made his way to his office. Haunted by the specter of his deeds, he hadn't slept at all last night. Several times, he had almost picked up the phone and called Daniel, but had chickened out every time. He simply didn't know what to say, and he had feared that Daniel would hang up on him.
Jack was bitterly ashamed of the way he had treated his best friend. The thought of what he'd said to Daniel was like a razor-sharp knife twisting in his heart. But that knife wasn't the only one. There were a couple of others making fillets out of the rest of his insides over the unforgivable mistakes he'd made regarding the Eurondans, his willingness to sell his soul for the technology they were offering.
Entering his office, Jack just about collapsed in the chair behind the desk. Almost immediately, he noticed a file folder that hadn't been there last night. The writing on the folder was Daniel's. Shocked, Jack realized that it was the archeologist's report for yesterday's mission. What the hell? Had Daniel stayed up all night to write it?
Jack stared at the folder, afraid to open it, terrified to read the words of condemnation that he was certain it contained. But no amount of stalling would make that report go away. He might as well just go ahead and read it and let it finish the job of slicing up his heart into tiny little pieces.
The report started out pretty normally, Daniel's usual gift for words making it flow smoothly. Daniel believed that Jack never read his reports, but that was not entirely true. Yes, he might seldom read Daniel's and Carter's pre-mission reports, but Jack usually made an effort to read the post-mission ones, wanting to see what his teammates' takes were on what went down. Of course, he usually skimmed over the archeological/anthropological/linguistic stuff in Daniel's reports, just as he did the technical stuff in the major's reports.
It wasn't until he got to the point where Daniel talked about what happened after the first discussion with the Eurondans that a frown came to Jack's face. Daniel had totally underplayed the argument between them, making it sound like a minor disagreement. When Jack got to the part about the second meeting, it was the same way. Daniel made no mention of the fact that Jack had told him to shut up in front of everyone, and the way he had worded the report made it sound like Jack had not deliberately stopped Daniel from asking more questions. Oh, Daniel hadn't lied. He'd just skillfully twisted everything around to suit his purposes. Jack was impressed by the younger man's ability to mislead so completely without ever actually lying.
This was not what Jack had expected. After the crappy way that he had treated Daniel, why was the archeologist protecting him? Daniel had every right to lambast him, to tell the world how big a bastard Jack O'Neill was. Yet he wasn't. Jack decided that he really needed to have a talk with Daniel. This report was going to conflict with the one that Jack intended to write, and he didn't want Daniel to get into trouble over it.
Jack resumed reading. He was now at the part where Daniel recounted his meeting with Farrell. Daniel's words brought to life the horror he felt upon realizing that the people in that underground complex were equally as evil as Hitler and his followers, if not more so. It amazed Jack that Daniel had been able to keep his cool and pretend not to be horrified. Jack wasn't sure he'd have been able to do the same when faced with such sickeningly twisted bigotry.
A few moments later, Jack came to the end of the mission report itself. But it was not the end of the document. He felt something begin to tighten in his chest as he continued to read.
During the days of the Holocaust, some eleven million people were slaughtered without conscience in a crime of racism and bigotry unequaled in Earth's history. This country and its allies fought to put an end to the slaughter, recognizing it as an abomination against humanity. In our triumph, we no doubt saved the lives of tens of thousands, perhaps millions.
The people of Euronda that I have referred to in this report as "the Kindred" deliberately and without conscience poisoned the atmosphere of their entire planet in an effort to utterly exterminate the population, with the exception of themselves. The targets of this attack were human beings who were guilty of nothing more than giving birth to children "with no regard for genetic purity." In other words, they were people just like us. There is no way for us to know how many of them died as a result of the Kindred's actions, though it is very likely that the death toll was in the hundreds of millions, perhaps even billions, making it a crime on a scale far greater than the Holocaust here on Earth.
If something like this had been perpetrated on this planet, there is no doubt that this country and many others would have taken up arms and struck against the ones who committed it. We would have done all we could to stop the slaughter and put an end to the guilty parties.
Upon learning of the atrocities of the Kindred, Colonel Jack O'Neill chose to do what this country would have done if this crime had been committed on Earth. He struck out against them and helped to stop an act of worldwide genocide. His actions were different from our battle against the Goa'uld only in that he was not under orders to fight the Kindred. If those actions had been carried out by another individual, one who was not violating the rules of the military at the time, that person would have been considered a hero. Just because Colonel O'Neill was not under orders to stop the Kindred should not change the fact that he was doing what he believed to be the best way to stop the war as quickly as possible, thereby saving the innocent lives of the "breeders" who would have died if the fighting had gone on for even one more day.
There are those who will say that Colonel O'Neill should not have done what he did, that he should have simply pulled his team out and left the Kindred and the breeders to their fate. They will say that it was not our war to win. Yet, when we sought to make an alliance with the Kindred, to give them deuterium in exchange for their technology and medicine, were we not taking sides in their war? The deuterium would have been used not only for defensive purposes but also for weaponry. By giving the Kindred that deuterium, we would have been an accomplice to every death that resulted from its usage. So, how is that different? Does the fact that we were getting something we wanted in return change everything? Does the fact we were "only" giving them heavy water, not weapons, make the issue of what's right and wrong not apply? We may not have been planning to give them guns, but we were, in essence, going to give them the bullets to put in their guns. Instead, because of Colonel O'Neill's actions, a Nazi-like race of mass murderers was stopped, and no more innocent people will die at their hands.
It is the duty of every person involved in the Stargate Program to stay true to the ideals and code of ethics that set us above the Goa'uld and all those like them. Let us never lose sight of what is at the heart of our continuing struggle against the Goa'uld: to put an end to evil.
Jack sat unmoving for a long time, his gaze going back over the words Daniel had written, letting them sink into his mind and heart. Jack could not remember a time when he was more grateful to have a man like Daniel Jackson as his friend and teammate. Daniel's words were a deliberate plea to everyone reading it to understand and forgive Jack's actions against Alar's people. With this report, Daniel was attempting to save the career of a man who had publically insulted and humiliated him. How many people would do the same?
But did Jack deserve it? His conscience told him that he didn't. Yesterday, he'd seen a side of himself that he didn't like, and what made it even worse was that he was not certain it would never happen again. What would happen the next time they had the opportunity to get hold of technology that would help them defeat the Goa'uld? Would he once again lose sight of what's right? As much as he hated to admit it, he could understand why Maybourne, Makepiece and the others did what they did, though he knew that Maybourne's true motivations hadn't been just to protect Earth.
Jack got up and headed straight to Daniel's office. When he got there, he found the archeologist asleep at his desk, his head pillowed on crossed arms. Jack gazed at him for several seconds before approaching the desk.
"Daniel," he said, loud enough to wake his sleeping friend. The linguist's head shot up, his eyes blinking furiously. He focused his gaze on the colonel.
"Jack?" He rubbed his eyes and put on his glasses. "Um . . . hello."
"Hello yourself. So, what time did you finish that report?"
"Uh, around five, I think."
"Uh huh. I assume the reason you worked all night on it was to get it done before I got started on mine." Daniel's expression told Jack that he was right. "I also assume that you knew I'd probably have some . . . issues with it."
"That's what I figured."
"Daniel, you deliberately sought to hide the whole truth in that report. You made things sound different from how they really happened. Granted, you never told an outright lie, but there are people who could still say that you wrote a false report."
"It wasn't false, not really. I just minimized some things and maximized others. I also did not include certain things that I consider to be of a private nature."
"You mean like me telling you to shut up in front of a roomful of people? How was that private?"
"The people who read that report have no need to know that you said that," Daniel insisted. "That was something between you and me."
"Yeah, and how about the fact that I absolutely refused to listen to anything you were saying? You made it sound like I was just being stubborn and simply had my mind a bit too focused on our desire to obtain the Eurondan technology."
"You were being stubborn, and you did have your mind too focused on our desire to get the technology."
"Oh, for cryin' out loud, Daniel! You twisted everything around to hide the fact that I was a Class A son of a bitch who had thrown every shred of ethics right out the window!"
"Exactly," Daniel confirmed quietly.
Jack's mouth dropped open in surprise. "I don't know if I should be insulted that you just agreed that I'm a son of a bitch or if I should thank you for hiding that fact from anyone who reads your report."
"Well, if it's up to me, I'd prefer the thank-you."
Jack shook his head. "Daniel, I can't let you do this."
"Because you could get into trouble if someone finds out, and I can't let that happen. You are the only one involved in that whole thing with the Eurondans who never lost sight of what was right, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let you suffer any kind of punishment."
"How is anyone going to find out? The only people who know the whole truth are you, me, Sam, Teal'c and General Hammond. I'd guess that Sam and Teal'c will go along with what I'm trying to accomplish. As for the general, he hasn't said anything to me about my report, so I'd say we're fine there, too."
Jack's eyes narrowed. "Wait a minute. Are you saying that you've already given Hammond a copy?"
"Uh huh. First thing this morning."
"Why you little sneak. You did that deliberately so that I couldn't make you change it."
Daniel's answer was a smug little smile. "I gave copies to Sam and Teal'c, too, so that they'd know what I was doing and . . . act accordingly."
"Meaning that Carter can adjust her report so that it will collaborate yours and Teal'c will keep quiet about what he knows."
"Dammit, Daniel. I swear you are the most stubborn man on the face of the Earth."
"Not stubborn, Jack, just . . . very determined."
Jack heaved a loud sigh and sat in the chair beside the desk, knowing that Daniel had won this battle. His plan to bear all in his report had just been shot down in flames. He couldn't possibly do that now without making Daniel out to be a liar. However, he still had every intention of giving Daniel all the praise he deserved for maintaining his integrity throughout the mission.
"That, um . . . stuff you said at the end of your report, the stuff about the Holocaust and the Eurondans. . . . Thank you. I, uh . . . appreciate what you're trying to do."
Daniel gave him a gentle smile. "You're welcome, Jack."
Jack stared at Daniel piercingly. "Why are you doing this, Daniel? After the way I treated you, why are you defending me? I hurt you, and I betrayed our friendship."
Daniel drew in a deep breath. "Yes, you did, and it still hurts. It probably will for quite a while. But I'm not willing to let you commit career suicide because of it, and I'm not willing to lose our friendship over a few words spoken in anger."
Amazed once again by Daniel's capacity for forgiveness, Jack gazed at him intently. "I am sorry, Daniel."
"I know. And I'm sorry for some of the things I said to you. They were out of line."
"No, they weren't, but we won't get into that." Jack rose to his feet. "Since you've already written your report, I'm ordering you to go home and get some sleep. Don't come back till tomorrow. I want to see you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning."
Jack's finger shot up. "Ah! Not a word! For once, you are going to follow my orders without complaint, you got it?"
Daniel sighed dramatically. "Yes, Jack."
"Good." Jack moved toward the door, then paused. "Oh, and, Daniel? I know you probably don't think so, but I do appreciate the fact that I have a man on my team who will always try to make sure we do what's right . . . even if I don't always listen to him."
Surprised at the words, Daniel hid his smile. "I'm glad you feel that way, Jack. Rest assured that I will consider it my duty to keep right on doing that."
Jack met his eyes, the tiniest of smiles on his face. "Oh, I have no doubt of that, Daniel. No doubt at all."