I can't think of anything else. The sounds of Jack's and Teal'c's assault weapons going on and on are screaming at me to hurry and make a decision, find a solution, save them.
"Fire on target."
Oh God. There must be something else we can do.
"Dallas is firing torpedoes."
I'm not a scientist, not like Sam. I'm an archeologist. I'm of dead societies, languages, What do I know about submarines and sending people to an irreversible fate?
"Eight seconds to impact."
Sam would think of an idea. Something scientific with numbers.
"Blackbird attempting evasive maneuvers."
I almost wish they'd miss, give me more time to think.
"Torpedoes still on target."
I need more time. There has to be something.
God forgive me. Jack, forgive me.
The last thing I saw was Jack falling to the ground, replicators all over him like scavengers and him looking right at the camera. And I knew. Somehow, I knew, he was looking right at me. For one brief moment, I thought he was going to change his mind and say abort. Maybe he'd hoped to hear my voice screaming into his earpiece, saying I'd had a last minute idea on how to get him off the ship, before the torpedoes ripped the submarine apart and he and Teal'c drowned.
There should have been something more I could do, but it was too late. Maybe Sam could think of something in less than eight seconds, but all I could do was watch the screen with the name O'Neill masking taped to the corner. Watch as one of my closest friends, maybe the only closest friend and family I've got left in this world, wait for the moment of death. Morbidly, I wondered if the camera was going to record all of it or would it mercifully stop before the final moments of his life came to a violent end. An end that shouldn't be brought upon anyone, much less a hero.
I couldn't watch.
Yet I couldn't tear my eyes away from the tiny monitor either, my hands wanting to hit something or illogically reach out and snatch my friends away through the screen.
And then...he vanished.
Oh my God.
For a moment, I thought the replicators had devoured him so quickly that he was gone. Vanished in the death he had screamed into the viewcam to me of, the one he didn't want to go by. But the sparkle of light that came around him like a cascading shower and the one behind where Teal'c was, told me otherwise.
"They're okay!" I blurted out before the word, the name of who had saved him could come to me. I pulled my headphones back, my mind spinning for the name.
Davis lifted his eyes from his cupped hand. "What?"
I could see Major Davis and Sergeant Siler look at me, then back at the screen to the empty spot where Jack had been. Even Davis blinked when he realized Jack and Teal'c weren't there any longer and his head audibly whipped back towards me for an explanation. Siler dropped his headphones in shock as he too gawked at the monitors.
"The...the..." I couldn't think of the name. Everywhere, vibrations shook the place as the explosions from afar reached us on the docks, but I didn't care. They were okay. I didn't kill them. They didn't drown. They were alive. They weren't on the sub anymore. I waved my hand helplessly towards the sky when I saw their blank faces. "The...the..." God, why couldn't I think of the name? Twenty-three different languages and I couldn't utter one stupid two-syllable word. "T-the..." I gave up finally. "Th-they're okay." It didn't matter. Everyone was cheering in the background so my half-uttered message must have been understood anyway.
Davis clapped me on the back with a relieved laugh, Siler was staring open-mouthed at the screen and I was blubbering like an idiot, still trying to tell them Thor must have come back.
They were okay. They were alive. I hadn't killed them.
I gave up trying to say who it was. I think they figured it out though as I heard excited whispering behind me. I could hear snatches of words with my headphone off, dangling around my neck. There was no sound left to hear for, anyway. Jack and Teal'c were somewhere far from the submarine. Alive. Well.
I rubbed my face with my hand. To my surprise, it was shaking. Weird. They're okay. Calm down, Jackson. Now is not the time to have a nervous breakdown. The last thing you need is for them to cart you off to the mental ward again. You remember how fun that was, right?
My hands were still shaking. God, what was wrong with me?
"Good work, people." I could hear Davis congratulating the staff as he walked over to the phone to call the Pentagon.
I am so tired. I don't understand. I didn't do anything. I just sat there, watching Jack and Teal'c risk life and limb wandering the sub's interior, Jack too terse to even make the wisecracks he was so fond of. And that's how I knew how concerned, or maybe even worried he was. To have Colonel Jack O'Neill not make one funny remark or a single one liner is saying the situation was bad. Very bad.
Where are they? Are they up on the ship? Maybe Thor beamed them back to the base. I wish he would beam them here to the harbor where we are. It's silly, I know. But I just need to see them to know they're okay. Which was why I practically ran from the infirmary all the way to the newly erected Stargate when the alarms sounded. A move I regret as my side has ached all the way from then until now.
Uh oh. I could see Janet's reflection on the turned off monitors. Maybe she just wanted to know about Jack. Maybe she didn't remember my brief...run.
"How are you feeling?"
"Fine." That's right. Nice and casual. Sit up straight, hands away from stomach.
"Why don't we step over here and let me take a look?"
Why don't I just sit here and not move, let my heart calm down first and wait for my friends to come back?
"I'm fine." I turned around and smiled at her.
She didn't look convinced.
"Come on, Doctor Jackson." Oh no, she's calling me Doctor Jackson. All business now.
"I...I just..." Couldn't she see I just wanted to wait right here? They're not back yet.
"We could just get you back to base and check you there-"
"No!" Oops. I shouldn't have said it so loud. Now everyone was looking. I lowered my voice before I could further embarrass myself. "Can't we just wait? Until they get back?"
"They may have been transported back to the SGC by the Asgard, Doctor Jackson. Not here," Davis headed back over to us after his call.
"Is there any way you can check?" I insisted. I don't know why no one's bothering to check. It felt so odd, like the ten days they weren't here. It was weird not to hear Jack complaining about something, or Teal'c helping me with a Goa'uld translation, or Sam sparring debates with me. The room was noisy, yet it felt too quiet around me without the right sounds filling the space. My stomach churned. This is ridiculous. I know they're okay, yet not seeing them here, or hearing them made me feel like I was waiting again as they had set up the replacement Stargate. "Can you call and see if they are?"
Davis looked surprised, his eyebrow rose up to his hairline. "I'm sure if they were there, they would be calling us-"
Why isn't anyone checking? "Maybe they think we're on our way back to the base so they didn't bother to call." God, why isn't anyone making sure? Doesn't anyone care? "Where's the phone? I'll go and ask-"
"Daniel." Janet took me by the elbow and began pulling me away from the desk. I was going to say something, but she had her upper lip sticking out, telling me there was no point in arguing, no point in protesting. So I looked over to Siler and Davis. "Call them," I mouthed. Davis gave me a sympathetic smile and looked like he was going to reach for the phone just as Janet was tugging me towards the back.
"Sit," she said. I checked my surroundings and found I was all the way in the back, behind a curtained off area where she was setting up a makeshift infirmary for just in case. How had we gotten here? I couldn't see the door any too clearly from here.
"Daniel, I said sit."
At least she wasn't standing in my way of the door. Maybe Thor would beam them outside the warehouse. That would make sense. You wouldn't want to startle a room full of rifle carrying soldiers by suddenly popping up out of nowhere. They would come in here looking for us and- Ow!
I jumped, practically off the seat when I felt her hand press down on my abdomen. Ow, ow, ow! Did she have to press down so hard? I jerked away before she could do it again and gave her a baneful look.
"I barely touched you," Janet pointed out, frowning at me.
"I was...startled." Okay, it had hurt a little.
"I said a week off your feet," Janet reminded me.
"That was before the replicators decided to set up camp here," I mumbled. Then again, I hadn't been doing anything strenuous. Just sitting, watching, telling Davis to go ahead and fire the torpedoes at the sub-
I felt sick.
I shook my head. Big mistake. Now the room spun.
I was really feeling sick now. My stomach was churning, I could feel myself turning green in the face, and the room was tilting wildly like I was on the submarine itself when the torpedoes hit. I opened my mouth, but again, words failed to come. Somehow, she understood, dragged me off the chair and towards an empty wastebasket where I began letting go of anything that had sat in my stomach.
I could feel her rubbing my back, saying something to someone. I tried to tell them I was fine. It was probably something I ate. No need to-
"Hey, looks like the party started without us," came a dry voice.
I lifted my head. God, it felt so heavy. The room had gone so quiet. Everyone had stopped what he or she was doing. And I could see three people standing in the lit doorway.
They were here. Sam. Teal'c.
"What? No streamers? No breaking out the good wine?" Jack as always, had something to say. "You know, Carter, I'm telling you. This saving the world stuff? It's getting old to them. We don't even get a-"
The room exploded into applause as people surged forward to clap them on the backs, people shouted "Great job!" and "You did it!", celebrating the victory in earnest now.
While I stood there, wiping my mouth, staring as they walked around the room, obviously in one piece, accepting the fanfare with broad smiles.
They were alive.
Sam must have succeeded in helping the Asgards. And then she was able to get back to save Jack and Teal'c. And they were all standing there, grinning, laughing, while Teal'c watched everyone with his version of mild amusement, the raised eyebrow and odd small smile aimed at them.
And I felt so...out of place.
Very, completely, and utterly useless.
"Daniel?" Janet came closer to me and gave me a push on the back. "They're here. Aren't you going to go to them?"
"Uh...yeah..." I couldn't get my feet to move. I didn't have to, anyway. They were headed our way.
"Daniel!" Sam beamed at me, at Janet, as she gestured towards Jack and Teal'c. "We did it!"
"Yeah...I can see..." I said lamely.
"Gee, try and contain your excitement," Jack drawled.
I managed to muster up a grin. What was the matter with me?
"Teal'c, how's your back?" Janet, as usual, remembered the important things. I'd completely forgotten he was hurt before in their first attempt. Injured, he still went back down to the sub, got through, killed the mother...bug and stood his ground while I...
While I told them to fire the torpedoes.
"Daniel, you okay?" Janet murmured before she went to Teal'c. I nodded, trying to get her to leave before she drew the attention over to me, but when I looked up, I saw Jack was staring right at me.
"Sir, Davis is reporting debris rising up a few miles off the harbor." Sam was practically rocking on her heels. In a way which said you just know she wants to go look.
Of course Jack knew this, but he grinned lazily and said slowly "And?"
"Well, I was thinking if we could find enough pieces and with what I found out from the Asgards-"
"Carter, go before you burst. Go. Shoo."
And she was gone.
Wow, I didn't think she could run that fast. I barely blinked and she was gone.
Which left Jack and me.
"So," Jack said. He suddenly looked like he didn't know what to say.
"So," I echoed. "Uh...you did it."
"Yeah. Save the world, blah, blah, blah." Jack pretended to sigh. "And I still didn't get to go fishing."
Oh yes. Fishing. He was planning to go fishing, do something normal, calm, soothing. But he got whisked up to the Asgard's ship, then Sam and Teal'c and I didn't even find out until hours later. Due to my...condition, I wasn't told of where they'd gone or that I'd been left behind. And they were up there without me, fighting for their lives.
"Hey." Jack snapped his finger in my face, startling me. "You okay?"
Was I okay?
"I wasn't running around in the submarine," I reminded him. "I was just sitting here, remember?"
"You weren't just sitting here, Daniel." Jack sounded annoyed for some reason.
"Yes, I was." I cringed at my tone. I didn't mean it to come out so...prudish.
"Okay, so you were." Jack shrugged. "But hey, you weren't just sitting there twiddling your thumbs."
It felt like I was.
"No," I admitted reluctantly. "I wasn't. I wish I could have gone. It just felt wrong somehow, sitting there watching the screen."
Hearing you tell me to tell them to fire. The connection was so bad at that point, I couldn't hear all of what you were saying, but I did hear you specifically to tell me to fire, how you didn't want to die getting eaten alive, finally screaming for Davis to do it when you didn't hear me say-
I lifted my head. I found myself sitting down. When had I done that?
Jack stared at me for a moment, until I broke eye contact and looked over his shoulder toward the others, already packing gear and beginning clean up duty.
"You had no choice, Daniel."
I turned back to Jack. He was looking at me very seriously. The half-crooked grin he'd been wearing before was gone.
"It got hairy over there and I told you to fire. And you did. No one's blaming you for that."
No one is, Jack. "It was very close." Too close. God, if Sam hadn't come back. They-
"Hey." Jack shook my shoulder. "Snap out of it. We're fine. We're okay. Everything's kosher. You did what you had to do."
"By telling them to go ahead and fire?" I croaked out. My throat hurt. I couldn't speak all of the sudden.
"Yeah. I said it was okay," His expression was sober. "I didn't go in there expecting to be coming out alive. Well, I was hoping to, but hey, there's never a guarantee-"
"God, Jack. A few seconds later and if you two hadn't been transported out of there in time, you would have-"
"But it wasn't a few seconds later and we were snatched away in time. We got beamed up Scotty style and came out all in one piece. Don't dwell." Jack looked at me sternly. "You know by now there are never any guarantees, Daniel. Just be glad it worked out in the end. That's what's important."
"I know," I admitted slowly.
"So stop thinking about it."
I stared at the floor. I still felt sick. I could still hear myself saying go ahead and do it. My stomach twisted and the wastebasket looked too far away for me to run to.
"I said stop thinking about it," Jack said in a stern voice. "Think about something else."
I could. I always had before. The what ifs and maybes always quieted down after a few nights of nightmares and endless cups of coffee. I kept the thought in my head that they were okay, that it'd turned out fine in the end, that the good guys'd won. Kept it there spinning in my mind and it did make me feel a little better. So I smiled as I rose to my feet.
"Think about what?" I asked hoarsely. I was suddenly too tired to try and keep my voice steady.
Jack appeared to consider this for a moment, pursing his lips giving it serious thought. Then he grinned. "Think about...fishing, Danny boy." He dropped an arm around my shoulder, reaching up to ruffle my hair.
"The last time you tried," I reminded him, "You got transported to Thor's ship. The next time after that, we had to go and blow up a sub."
Jack clucked. "Ah, ah. Haven't you heard of the old saying 'three times the charm'?"
"Besides, I figure I better get some practice before Thor comes back and joins us. Gotta show him the ropes. Was telling him about the bass." He spread his hands out to an exaggerated size. "They're this big-"
I gaped at Jack as he steered me out of the curtained area, his hand on my back, propelling me towards the group still milling about celebrating. Thor? Fishing? Don't tell me Jack...oh boy...
Abruptly, Jack stopped talking about fish. He pulled back his arm and studied me out of the corner of his eye. "So...you okay about all this?" Jack asked quietly.
No. But since you guys are, I will be, I thought. I smiled. Last thing I wanted to do was put a dark cloud on their mood. I thought of what Sam had said before and quipped as light as I could, "Yeah, sure. You betcha."
Jack groaned. "I say that one time! One lousy time and it comes back to haunt me! Twice!"
I laughed, feeling a lot better. I could feel my insides easing, the nausea from before vanishing as fast as Jack had on our screens. They were okay. Jack was right. I should concentrate on that fact. Next time...no...there wouldn't be a next time, because I wouldn't be staying behind again. I'd be there with them to see the mission through, by their sides, making sure I'm there to see that they're okay.
Jack glanced over at me once more and nodded, seemingly satisfied with what he saw. He mouthed "fishing" at me, chuckling when I rolled my eyes. Knowing Jack, he would drag me fishing and we would end up talking about this all over again, until he was sure I really was okay even while working out his own inner demons about the mission. And somehow, I know I won't be up at nights alone, nursing cups of coffee, not with him grousing in my face, complaining, joking everywhere I turn. And I doubt we'll even catch anything at all, except for maybe a few long nights of talking and sharing a few drinks.
Come to think of it, fishing doesn't sound too bad after all.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many thanks to Doc, who time and time again patiently guided me through writing and heck, life. Proof again that there's nothing more precious than friends and family.
© September, 2000 The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.