Author: Bardicvoice PM
Sam wrestles with her grief and guilt for having killed Martouf in Divide and Conquer, and finds support from Daniel. This was written long before Summit and Last Stand, where we finally got some closure on Martouf and Sam.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Friendship - S. Carter & D. Jackson - Words: 4,322 - Favs: 1 - Published: 06-29-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3626014
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
No infringement of the property or copyright interests of MGM and other owners of Stargate SG-1 and its characters is intended.
If it were possible to heal sorrow by weeping and to raise the dead with tears, gold were less prized than grief. Scyrii. Frag. 510. Sophocles.
Copyright 2001, Bardicvoice
With a gasp, Major Samantha Carter sat bolt upright, her heart pounding and her breathing ragged. The room was dark and silent: that soft, pleading, hopeless voice was only in her mind.
Would always be only in her mind. Martouf was dead.
Sitting on the bed, Sam drew her legs up to her chest and rested her forehead on her knees, wrapping her arms around her legs to curl herself up into a tight little ball. Sleeping or awake, it didn't matter. Her mind just kept replaying those last moments over and over again: Martouf on his knees, riddled with bullet wounds, terror in his eyes as he watched his own trembling hand like an alien thing creeping inexorably toward the self-destruct switch; then looking at her and saying her name, just that one word, freighted with an impossible burden of grief and fear and love and despair. Begging her.
And she'd done it. She'd killed him. Nothing would ever change that.
It really didn't matter that in another second he'd have blown himself unwillingly to kingdom come, and maybe taken a few of the others in the Gate room with him. It didn't matter that none of it was his fault, that he'd been taken and programmed by the Goa'uld without his knowledge, turned into a guided missile running on automatic that no effort even of his considerable will could override. It didn't matter that she'd caught him as he fell and safed the weapon. He'd been dead before she touched him, and the last memory he carried into death was the look on her face as she shot him.
She hadn't been able to cry. Not as she knelt there on the floor with his body in her arms; not when calm, remotely compassionate Teal'c lifted him away from her and gave him to the Tok'ra. Not when the SGC formed an honor guard and stood to attention as the Tok'ra solemnly carried him home through the Stargate. Not even afterward, when Dr. Fraiser had insisted that she rest in quarters at the SGC, and she was finally alone. Her eyes stayed obstinately dry.
But her mind would give her no rest.
She lifted her head and checked the luminous dial on her watch. Oh-three-hundred, the deadest possible moment on the graveyard shift. She shook her head irritably to drive the thought away. She might as well get up, because she certainly wouldn't get back to sleep. And one benefit of being on a military base was that coffee was always available. She could get a cup and go to the lab. There were always puzzles to work on, snippets of technology brought through the Stargate. If she buried herself in the lab, she might be able to concentrate on something other than desperate pain in tortured grey eyes.
The thought was the action; she was out of bed, dressed, and walking into the little commissary before she was fully aware of what she was doing. She didn't even realize that anyone else was in the room until she heard the voice as she poured coffee into a mug.
"Couldn't sleep either?"
Daniel Jackson sat at the corner table, toying with a mug in his hands. She hesitated for just a second, then walked over and sat down across from him, wrapping her fingers around the hot stoneware to fight the chill in her heart.
"No," she admitted. "Bad dreams and worse memories."
"Do you – want to talk about it?" His voice was carefully diffident. He was making such an obvious effort not to press her that she felt a fleeting touch of humor mixed with irritation; she wasn't made of glass and always hated being treated as a fragile object, but he was clearly trying to strike a balance that wouldn't upset her. She almost smiled before the aching emptiness overtook her again.
"I don't know. Really, Daniel – I don't know that there's anything to say."
He looked down at his cup, then across the room, then back at his cup again; anything to avoid looking at her, until he finally stole one reluctant glance at her face.
"There wasn't anything else you could have done," he said at last.
"But that doesn't change what I did! God, Daniel – he was my friend. Maybe – maybe more than that. And I killed him!"
There: it was out. She'd said it, admitted it out loud. Her hands were shaking so badly that the coffee was sloshing in her cup; she made herself unlace her fingers and left the mug sitting on the table. She stared down at it so she wouldn't have to see the pity in Daniel's gaze.
"I know how hard – " he began, but she cut him off, sudden anger overriding her shame to make her meet his eyes.
"No, Daniel – you don't know. You didn't kill Sha'uri. You lost her, but you didn't kill her. And Jack didn't kill his son, however much he blames himself for having left a gun in the house. What I did to Martouf – I'd have taken it back the same instant I did it, if only I could have. Even if that meant he'd have blown to bits an instant later. At least I wouldn't have done it to him, and watched him watching me do it!"
Her voice rang in the empty room, and fell into silence. For a long couple of minutes, nothing happened – Sam glared at Daniel, and then finally jerked her eyes away from his face to rove the shadows in the corner. Daniel just sat quietly, watching her, seemingly content to let the silence fill up around them until her breathing had slowed again. When he finally did speak, his voice was very soft.
"Sam – did you love him?"
She felt the question as much as heard it. It probed around inside her, poking into corners and prying open locked doors that she hadn't dared explore on her own, and the silence held its breath while she looked for answers. Too much had happened in one day, and all the worst of it in less than ten minutes. It had been troubling enough to admit that she and Jack O'Neill shared feelings improper to their position, even though they would never act on them – but to have that followed immediately by the realization that Martouf was doomed, and to watch him die at her own hand, had been too much to absorb. With a peculiar wrench, she realized that Martouf had been just like Jack: far more than friend, not quite lover. But he was unlike Jack, too, because she could have taken that last step with him, as she never would with Jack. Her eyes began to sting, and she blinked, and when she looked up at Daniel again, his face seemed blurry.
"I don't know," she whispered. "Maybe that's the worst thing of all: I don't know, and now I never will. I think – I wanted to. More than just as a friend, I mean. But I was afraid. Of his being Tok'ra, sharing himself with Lantash. Of feeling what Jolinar felt, instead of what I feel. We never had the time to work it out, to just get to know each other, without mission imperatives always getting in the way." She paused, remembering. "Almost the last thing he ever said to me was that he'd come to care for me as myself, not just as the last link he had to Jolinar; that he would miss me, not just her, if I were gone. And now I miss him – and I'm doing it, not some echo of Jolinar left in my head. I miss him, Daniel, and I killed him. And he knew it."
"You did only what he asked you to," Daniel said gently. "I think he was grateful. You gave him a clean end, instead of what the Goa'uld had planned for him." He hesitated for a second, but then took a deep breath and went on, speaking slowly to be as clear as he could about what he was saying. "Sam – we watched the surveillance tapes from the Gate room. Martouf had a whole room full of easy targets, but he missed every single one. It looked like he deliberately hesitated for just a second on every shot, just long enough for people to get out of the way. There was even one shot he didn't take at all. There's no way someone with his training and experience could have missed like that at point-blank range unless he intended to. He must have been fighting the zatarc programming with everything he had, but even though he was stronger than Graham, he couldn't stop it entirely. It was a miracle he held on and fought as long as he did. You gave him mercy. I'd have been grateful, if it'd been me."
The blurriness welled up and spilled over, the tears almost scalding hot as they ran down her cheeks. She heard Daniel move, and then felt his hands on her shoulders. She stood and turned blindly into his embrace, clinging to him for support as the dam finally broke and she wept – for Martouf, for herself, for loss and guilt and horror and the distant hope of absolution. Daniel simply stood as solid and silent as Teal'c, waiting out the storm. She finally regained enough control to push herself back from him, scrubbing at her wet face with her hands, finally giving up and wiping her nose on her sleeve when sniffing wasn't enough to stem the flow.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do that."
"It's what friends are for." He studied her carefully. "Are you going to be okay?"
"Later, maybe. I think." The tears threatened again, and she sniffed and held them back by main will, shoring up the walls of pride. She would not cry in front of him again. She knew she'd give in to it when she was alone, for a while – she'd barely scratched the surface of her grief, and Martouf deserved more – but not when anyone was around. Never again, when anyone was near.
"Your Dad sent a message through the Gate last night. The Tok'ra will hold a memorial service for Martouf and Lantash on Vorash the day after tomorrow. If you're up to it, you're invited. All of SG-1 is."
She tried to imagine it – a cave full of Tok'ra, staring at her, knowing that she had killed one of them. She couldn't help it; she pictured the service being for Lantash, the symbiote she barely knew, not for the man who had been his host. For a bitter minute she resented Lantash as fiercely as Jack had always opposed him. If it hadn't been for Lantash sharing Martouf's body and mind, she might never have hesitated; she might have loved Martouf and known her love to be real, not been trapped in this endless half-life of uncertainty and confusion.
Of course, if it hadn't been for Lantash providing his longevity and health, Martouf would have died long before he could ever have met her, even assuming that she found his native world. And while Lantash had been more impatient and irritable than his host, he had also always been gentle and considerate with her, and she couldn't doubt that Lantash had cared for her fully as much as she knew Martouf did.
She realized that Daniel was still waiting patiently for her answer, and she dragged her thoughts back to look at him, really seeing him for the first time. He looked as tired as she felt, and there were lines carved in his face that hadn't been there since the brutal days when he had searched doggedly for his wife Sha'uri, only to lose her first to the Goa'uld Amonet, and finally to death at Teal'c's hands. It was almost with wonder that she realized that he was mourning too, and not just for Martouf, but for her.
"I'll go. But do you have any idea of what to expect?"
That won a brief smile, despite his fatigue.
"I'm afraid there aren't any texts on the funerary practices of Tok'ra. You could help me write the book, when we get back." He sobered quickly, though, sensing that her tolerance for humor was very low. "My guess is that, as a culture in hiding from the Goa'uld for over two thousand years, the Tok'ra don't preserve the bodies of their dead. They could lose too much if the Goa'uld could find them and reanimate them with sarcophagi. They might cremate them – or more likely, use their tunnel-building devices to carve a tomb and then collapse it back down to its atoms, merging the body with the rock." As he said it, Sam could feel the essential rightness of the idea. She remembered her first encounters with Martouf, and the Tok'ra's deliberate destruction of their sheltering tunnels as they fled the planet before the Goa'uld's advance. She could picture Martouf's body laid in a tunnel, and the sweeping blue light of the tunnel's dissolution taking him with it, and while the image brought another sharp stab of grief, there was no revulsion in it; only acceptance and regret. A whole world of regret.
"Your Dad – or maybe it was Selmak – said that they delayed the service to give Anise and Freya time to study his body for clues to find and defeat the zatarc programming in the future," Daniel continued. "I just hope they learn something useful. It wouldn't make up for losing him – I don't mean to suggest that – but at least it would mean that he didn't die for nothing."
"He didn't die for nothing," Sam said, surprised at how steady and calm her voice sounded, but feeling the conviction of truth in what she said. "He would say he died for what he believed in, to cement the alliance between us and the Tok'ra, to stop the Goa'uld from getting what they want. He wouldn't have thought the price was too high."
"But you do," said Daniel. "And so do I." At her look of surprise, he smiled, just a little, but his eyes were sad. "You're not the only one who'll miss him, Sam. I liked him too. The Tok'ra can be an irritating, arrogant bunch, but Martouf always seemed pretty human to me."
"Thanks, Daniel. I appreciate that." She found a little smile of her own. "I'm just glad that I ran into you right now, and not Jack. I think, if he called him 'Marty' or 'snakehead' just one more time, superior officer or not, I would deck him."
Daniel fidgeted uncomfortably and glanced away, and Sam's momentary suspicion flared into certainty.
"Wait a minute – this was deliberate, wasn't it? You weren't just sitting here because you couldn't sleep, were you?"
"We, uh, took it in shifts," Daniel admitted. "We thought someone should be here, if you woke up and needed to talk. Jack got off at midnight." He looked furtively back at her, trying to gauge her mood, and whatever he saw made him bold enough to pin her with his most earnest look. "Sam, I swear – Jack has changed. He'll never say a snide or unkind word about Martouf again. Not after seeing that tape and realizing what he'd done. Jack may never be comfortable with Tok'ra, but he admits now he wasn't fair to Martouf. Right now, there are a lot of things he wishes he'd never said, and a few he'd give his right hand to be able to say."
Oh, God, the things she wished she'd said. The futility of might-have-been's closed her throat and made her blink back tears again. She wondered how many mental conversations she was going to relive and rewrite until enough time passed to take the edge off of the grief and the loss and the guilt. She wondered how long it would be before she could remember and smile at the sound of his laugh, at the delight in life that used to surprise his face sometimes when he looked at her. Before she could hear in her mind the caressing way he had always said her name, before he said it dying. Before she could forgive herself for killing him, and forget the look in his eyes as she did it.
She looked up with a guilty start, suddenly realizing that Daniel had been repeating her name with increasing concern. She raised a hand in absent reassurance.
"I'm okay, Daniel. It's just – " What she was feeling defied explanation; she couldn't find the words, much less voice them. "I'm okay," she finished lamely.
"No, you're not. But you will be." He reached out to squeeze her shoulder, and let his hand trail down her arm to grip her hand. He looked down at her abandoned mug. "Do you really want that coffee, or would you rather try going back to sleep?"
"I don't think I could sleep, and don't suggest that I take one of Janet's magic little pills, either." The answer came to her in the memory of sitting on a sand dune, talking with Martouf, their fingers interlaced. "I think I'll go topside for a while, just sit on the mountain and watch the stars. I don't want to let him go, Daniel. Not yet."
His undemanding presence was comforting, and she had the sense that she might want to talk later, to share memories of Martouf untarnished by his death. She found a wan smile.
"Not yours. But if I start talking up there, I might not stop."
"'Praising what is lost / Makes the remembrance dear,'" Daniel said almost without thinking, his delivery making it obvious that the lines were a quote. At her quizzical look, he colored and glanced away. "Sorry. Shakespeare. 'All's Well That Ends Well,' not really appropriate here, I guess. It didn't exactly end well, did it?"
Somehow, his typically tactless gaffe was reassuring, and didn't hurt the way she thought it should, all things considered. She smiled despite herself.
"Come on, Daniel. Just – don't say anything, okay? Not for a while."
Chastened, he nodded, and gestured for her to take the lead. She remembered to snag a jacket on her way to the elevator. Even in summer, Cheyenne Mountain was cold at night.
The guards let them pass with no more than a nod, and trailed silently by Daniel, she cut to the right once outside the tunnel and headed up the trail that wound around the mountain, until the road and the lights and the fences were hidden by the dark bulk of the rocks. Then she picked out a perch and sat on the rock with her knees up and her arms curled around them, looking up at the cold and distant stars in the clear velvet-black sky above her.
Vorash was out there somewhere, but not Martouf. He was as close as her heart, and she closed her eyes to seek him out. Oblivious to the passage of time, she drew up in careful order each memory she had of him, both her own and Jolinar's, telling them silently like the beads on an abacus, adding up in her mind the sum of a man until she felt the touch of his hand in the warmth of the rising sun on her cheek. She savored that caress for a long minute, and then she reluctantly opened her eyes. The finger-touch of warmth faded into dawn sunlight and nothing more, and she felt the loss of him all over again. Everything had a painful new significance, even sunrise on the mountain.
She took a deep breath, and then glanced over her shoulder at Daniel. Faithful to his promise, he was still silent, but he looked even more haggard than he had when she'd met him hours earlier in the commissary, and he was shivering in the night's lingering chill. She didn't even feel it, and had the fleeting thought that since she was frozen inside, there was no reason to notice the outdoor cold. Daniel's obvious misery crept through her shell and prompted a thaw, however, and she suddenly, finally, felt tired enough to sleep.
"Hey, Daniel. Time to go in and get some shut-eye."
"Oh. Ah." He started cautiously stretching out his kinks and looked guardedly at her. "How do you feel?"
"Better." To her own surprise, it was true. The grief was still there, but somehow the curtain of memories built over the hours wrapped and softened it. Some of the memories – like seeing Martouf tortured by Apophis on Naetu – carried their own considerable burdens of pain, and strangely enough, served to assure her that now he was free. "I was remembering him. All the times we met, all that we went through. Somehow, it's like – it's like he's not that far away. I can almost feel him here, and he's – peaceful. Sad, maybe, but not hurting. If that makes any sense."
"More than you know." Daniel looked out into the growing sunlight and saw his own ghosts there: his parents, the teacher he'd idolized, but most of all, Sha'uri. "I've never felt far from Sha'uri. I can still hear her, sometimes, laughing at me when I've done something dumb, teasing me about my silly habits. I wake up in the morning, and I could swear she's lying next to me until I open my eyes. I even smell her perfume. But in all those times, I've never had the sense that she was angry or hurt. A little sad not to be closer, but otherwise content, and wanting me to be happy. After all the crazy things we've seen and done with the Stargate and the Goa'uld and all the rest, I don't know if something of her is really there, or if I'm just imagining all of this to make myself feel better, but since there's no way to know anyway, I just accept it and keep going."
"Accept and keep going," Sam mused, and met his eyes with understanding. "I guess that's really the only choice we have."
"They'd never forgive us if we didn't," Daniel said simply. "They expect it of us."
They looked at each other in perfect accord for a moment, and then Sam offered him her hand to help him to his feet. They walked back down the trail and past the guard station, and took the elevator down to the SGC complex. There they found Jack and Teal'c virtually lying in wait, loitering along the way they had to pass. Jack looked nervous and uncomfortable, while Teal'c just looked the way he always did, accepting and contained. Sam raised a hand to forestall them.
"Before you ask, I'm okay. Or I will be, which is close enough."
"I share your grief, Major Carter," Teal'c said solemnly. "The Tok'ra Martouf was a worthy and honorable man, and I am proud to have called him friend."
"Thank you, Teal'c. He thought a lot of you, too."
That left Jack, who fidgeted and found it hard to meet her eyes. She smiled slightly.
"It's all right, Colonel." The comfortable distance of rank and protocol smoothed over the awkwardness that afflicted both of them, and she saw Jack fractionally relax, even though much of his discomfort remained.
"I am sorry about Martouf, Sam. If there'd been any other way ..."
"I know, sir. I feel the same way. But right now, what I mostly feel is tired. I'd like to get some sleep."
"Of course, Major. SG-1 is officially stood down until after Martouf's memorial service." He paused. "Take all the time you need. I'll clear it with the General."
Sam nodded, and after a momentary hesitation, Jack stepped aside to let her pass. Teal'c inclined his head gravely toward her, and then she left them behind. Daniel walked her to her room's door, then gave her a silent half-wave, half-salute and headed unsteadily on down the corridor to his own temporary quarters.
And then she was alone again, but not quite alone, either; the night's memories of Martouf still carried with them a sense of his presence. There was no accusation in what she felt; just gentleness, and sorrow, and regret.
She undressed and slid under the sheet, and wrapped the memories around her with the blanket. She promised herself that, if she dreamed this time, it wouldn't be of his death, but of his life instead.
And then she fell asleep.