AUTHOR'S NOTES: Thanks to Tina and Kiki for feedback. Thanks to Will Shakespeare for giving Titania's fairies-in-waiting nice long breaks I could write in. With fondness for the past and anticipation for the future.
Did I make it worse?
Janet says she doubts the seizure had anything to do with me. Dad says I was right to try. Selmak says my perspective may be different, but my instincts are as good as anyone's.
Jolinar doesn't say anything. She's dead.
Sometimes I'm not so sure about that. It's not just the memories. Sometimes there's an impulse or inspiration that seems like it can't possibly be mine.
But not this time. This time I was all alone with a piece of technology I don't pretend to understand, trying to stand between my friend and death.
Trying, and failing.
It should help that I know he's not really dead, but it doesn't. Sorry, Oma. We're only human. Losing him diminishes us no matter how it happens. Maybe that makes me selfish and unenlightened, but there it is.
'Healing device.' Such a flat, military term for such a beautiful object. I feel like I should know the Goa'uld word for it, but it dangles just out of reach. I'm so used to that by now that it doesn't even bug me any more, not really. Not with inconsequential things like random Goa'uld vocabulary.
When it's something that matters, though...
I lied when I said I hadn't suggested the healing device because I was afraid I could make things worse. I'm not sure what I was afraid of, but that wasn't it. All I know is I opened that safe, shut it again and walked away three times before I finally reached in. It's been months since I touched it before today, and more than two years since I used it.
I can understand why I want nothing to do with the brassy coil behind it. I can still see Seth's broken body driven into the hard-packed dirt floor of the tunnel, and the guys' shocked expressions. I could happily go the rest of my life without ever touching that thing again.
But with the healing device, a simple explanation isn't so easy to come by. I'm afraid to use it, but I was adamant about not giving it up when the base was cleared of weapons for the negotiations to add Earth to the Asgard protected planets treaty. Today I wouldn't have willingly handed it over to anyone but Dad, and then only because I know Selmak is the best there is. If anyone could save Daniel, it would be him. But we'll never know, because Daniel wouldn't give him the chance. Just like I'll never know for sure if my parting gift to him was more pain.
The door to my lab is open, but Dad knocks anyway. "Sam? You okay?"
Anyone else -- except maybe the Colonel -- would misread that as an opening for the kind of earnest discussion I really don't want to have right now. Dad just nods and accepts it. "I can stick around for a day or two. Let me drive you home?"
"Yeah. Thanks." I try on a smile. It doesn't fit very well. "Sorry I ducked out on you guys so fast. I just..."
"You needed some space," he finishes for me. "Speaking of ducking out, I think this belongs to you."
My hand shakes as I reach for the healing device. "I'm not sure it thinks so."
He slides the device over my palm and closes my fingers over it, and it's Selmak's voice that speaks next. "It belongs to you," he echoes Dad. "It is an instrument of your will, and you can master it. You made a step in that direction today."
"Yeah. A step." Even if he didn't hear the unspoken 'for all the good it did Daniel' in that, there's no way in hell Dad missed it.
To my relief, they let it slide. I guess Selmak has said his piece. "Okay, kid," Dad says, kissing my cheek before he drops my hand, "lock up and let's get you out of here, huh?"
"Sure. It'll just take a minute."
I open the safe and place the healing device inside. I close the door.
I don't know when I'll open it again.