DISCLAIMER: Stargate-SG1 does not belong to me. Stargate SG1/ characters are property of showtime/ viacom, mgm/ua, double secret productions, gekko productions
SPOILERS: The First Ones (tag scene)
RATING: PG13 for language.
SUMMARY: Tag scene for The First Ones.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is my first Stargate fic which isn't a crossover. I've read so many talented authors out there who have inspired me so much by their works. I often wondered how it was they could write such amazing tag scenes. I hope that I have learned something from reading all those fics. I love feedback and I really like to know how I can improve. So drop me a line and let me what you think! I am hinting at a psychological condition here so if you catch it, let me know and I'll know if I got the message through.

Survival Instinct
By: Victoria May

"What'd that mean?"

"I have no idea. But I think I've just been invited to come back one day and find out." Daniel looked across the cavern towards the dimly lit corridor the young Unas had just disappeared down. In the newly fallen silence and placidity of the cave, Daniel suddenly felt very alone. His eyes swept over the dark walls and shadowed crevices within the cavern, and then down, across the rock floor to the pool of now bloodied water. Green water. Daniel traced the outline of the dead Alpha male-no, former Alpha male. Death having torn that honor from its battered and bloody, lifeless body, still laying where it had fallen.

Daniel's attention was forced away from the dead Unas as pain flared through his wrists. In a quick motion, one he had gotten quite accustomed to during his journey to this cavern, Daniel wrenched his bound wrists up and covered his down cast face.

"Daniel. Hey, sorry. I was just trying to cut the rope to free your wrists. Did I hurt you?"

Daniel slowly raised his head and chanced a peek over his clenched hands. Standing very near with an alarmed and confused look on his face, was Jack.

"You okay buddy?"

Daniel blinked slowly, and felt a blush creep up his cheeks.

"Ah, yeah. Sorry. You caught me off guard for a second." Daniel's voice was soft and slow-deliberate. Straightening his back, Daniel raised his head and looked straight at Jack and held out his wrists to be freed. Clenching his teeth together, it was all he could do to stop himself from screaming out at the pain lancing through his wrists and up his arms. As Jack sawed at the heavy rope, Daniel could feel every pull at the course material as it dug itself deeper into his already raw skin.

"Hurry up Jack," he hissed through gritted teeth, as another slice of the knife reverberated throughout his wounds-an electrical bolt. Finally, the tension snapped and the rope fell from his wrists. Daniel stepped backwards as his wrists fell apart. Rather than let them drop to his sides, Daniel continued to hold his wrists in front of his body. The skin, what was left of it, was raw and pink. Adorning the damaged skin were deep ruts, red with blood and smudged with dirt and pieces of the frayed rope.

"Shit." Jack reached out and grabbed one of Daniel's arms, holding onto the elbow and the hand as he pulled it closer to him.

"It's not as bad as it looks Jack," Daniel murmured, uncomfortable under the intense scrutiny.

"Like hell it's not Daniel. Carter, give me your canteen and I'll see if I can wash these off a bit." Jack paused and looked at Daniel. "I can't do much here; we really need to get out of this cavern and off this planet a.s.a.p. I'll wrap them up best I can and we'll have the doc fix 'em up better than new when we get back to base."

Daniel jerked as the first drops of water fell onto his already burning wrists.

"Dammit Daniel, hold still for crying out loud so I can do this. I don't want to stick around here any longer than I have to."

Daniel set his jaw and prepared himself for the pain that he knew was coming. Sure enough, as soon as the water fell again onto his raw skin, the pain began to pulsate, heavier with each drop. Finally, the onslaught ended and Jack was rolling gauze over his wounds.

"Let's go campers; this party's over. Time to head out."

Daniel watched as Jack slung his weapon over his shoulder and then flicked on his flashlight, illuminating the tunnel they had come through to reach Daniel. Jack cast a quick look backwards towards Daniel and then stepped into the tunnel, leading the way towards freedom. Daniel began to follow, but as he took each step, he could feel something begin to build within his chest. As he walked, he turned his head, just a little, his eyes straining even further. Looking back, hoping to catch one last sight of the young Unas. The shadows stirred, but Daniel was unable to tell if it was the flickering fire light or something else. A watchful eye maybe.

Daniel could feel the warmth of another body near and brought his head to face front. Sam had moved next to him as he had walked and was almost clinging to his side without actually touching him. She didn't say anything, just moved with him, offering him comfort the only way she knew how. Assuring him that everything would be all right and that he was safe. With them.

A rock skittered across the floor behind them and Daniel jumped, startled by the sudden noise.

"Do not worry Daniel Jackson, it is only I following." Teal'c. Friend. Protector. Gallant knight silently following in the rear flanks, himself a shield against any surprise attacks.

Daniel's heart settled slightly in his chest and his mind began to drift again. Back to the cavern and the climatic turning point in a primal species development. When had the young Unas decided that he liked Daniel better alive than dead? At what point did the ancient coming of age ritualistic killing become a challenge for supremacy? A call for new ideals. A new way of doing things.

The thoughts tumbled through Daniel's head until he could no longer contain them. Almost giddy, he turned to Sam.

"Do you realize what just happened? We witnessed a major step in the development of their species. This was suppose to be a standard, coming of age ritual for an adolescent male member of the tribe. Track your prey, hunt it, kill it, and bring it back to the clan, hence marking the adolescent's entrance into adulthood."

Jack listened to the rushed words of his team mate as they drifted forwards. Shaking his head as if that small gesture would ease the confusion he felt about the situation, he called out over his shoulder,

"So what happened Daniel? You obviously weren't quite the main course when we arrived. I'm assuming that you were supposed to be dead by the time you reached the cavern."

"That's just it Jack," Daniel continued, prodded on by his own incredulity. "By all rights, I should be dead. But I'm not. For some reason, the Unas who grabbed me decided to keep me alive. He made the decision to go against what was probably the norm for generations. Why? Why. . .. That's a good question. Maybe it was because we, well, we communicated. He saw that I wasn't just some dumb animal. Or maybe it was simpler than that. Maybe it was because we found something to laugh about. Or because we shared something as simple as a candy bar." Daniel's voice dropped to almost a whisper. "Or maybe it was a life for a life."

Could it have known that he had been about to smash the Unas' head with the large rock, only at the last second lowering the rock back to the ground? Sparing the life of a creature who had already marked him for death? Was such a simple act of compassion enough to trigger this evolutionary step?

"Are you telling me that you had the chance to kill that thing and you let it live? What the hell were you thinking Daniel? It could have killed you. We could have been killed coming into that cavern after you. What if that alphabet male or whatever you called it, wasn't slowed down by our bullets? You'd be dead right now. Hell, we'd all probably be dead. Including your new little friend."

Daniel's eyes grew wide at the sudden hostility that garnished Jack's voice.

"But it didn't kill me Jack. That's the whole point. I couldn't kill it. Not if I thought there was a chance there was another way. You know that. It could have killed me any time, anywhere along the way. But it didn't. We should be asking, why did it keep me alive to make it to these caves? It could have let me be taken by a goa'uld. The water here is teeming with them. But it didn't. It protected me. I tried to get away but it saved my life by killing the goa'uld that attacked from the water. It could have killed me for that act of defiance. But it didn't. It let me live. It even gave me food. Or tried at least. Roasted goa'uld isn't exactly my idea of a delicacy."

Jack's anger was edged aside for a moment as the thought of eating a goa'uld entered his mind. "Why'd you turn it down Daniel? Who knows, maybe it would've tasted like chicken."

"I doubt it Jack. It's blood was blue. Bright blue. And it smelled . . .." Daniel fell silent as they neared the front of the cave where the young Unas had set up camp. They had been so close to the clan, yet it had stopped and rested. As they neared the spot where they had camped, Daniel could see the markings on the wall. The story of many young Unas' journey into adulthood.

Daniel walked over to the wall and turned his face upwards, taking in the stories one at a time. So many. Not only the rites of passage, but also a battle against the goa'uld that shared their planet. How these creatures had managed to resist becoming hosts to the goa'uld was amazing.

Raising his hand to his throat, Daniel stepped away from the wall and turned to his team. "This is incredible. Those necklaces the Unas were wearing were actually for protection. Against the goa'uld. It kept them from accessing their necks." Daniel's voice dropped into a mutter, almost to himself as he turned again to the wall. "How they managed to withstand goa'uld takeover when races as advanced as our own . . .."

Daniel's voice cut off as his eyes swept over the newest story on the wall. And the bloody streak that was meant to mark him for death. Daniel raised his hand in the twilight and unconsciously fingered the slash streaking across his cheek.

"Daniel? You okay?" Jack noticed the small gesture and took a step closer to Daniel. He followed Daniel's eyes to the wall and to the brightly colored, red, streak of blood.

"I think I'm going to be sick." Daniel lurched forward and threw out his hand against the wall. Doubling over, he could feel his stomach heaving and finally expelled what little it held. When his stomach was empty, Daniel continued to dry heave.

As he struggled to catch his breath, Daniel could feel a hand on his shoulder and tried to shrug it off.

"Daniel, it's okay. You're okay. You made it. You're alive." Jack's voice was soft, the military tone fading to allow the friend to come through.

Feeling his strength drain out of his legs, Daniel collapsed to his knees. Jack dropped with him and pulled his friend into his arms, hugging him tightly against his chest. Daniel slowly lifted his injured arms and gently wrapped them around Jack's neck. The sobs came quickly after that, and continued for a long while. Neither man attempting to curb the flow of emotion. Daniel finally calmed and the tears subsided, and he lifted his head from Jack's shoulder. Sam and Teal'c were standing nearby, close but not too close.

"Thank you." The words were simple but pure in meaning. Thank you for coming after me. Thank you for finding me. Thank you for saving my life. Thank you for allowing me this. Thank you for not forcing me to see what I was not ready to see.

Jack raised his hand and grasped the back of Daniel's neck. "You're alive Danny. That's all the thanks we need."