Title: forsaken (2/2)
Author:
Annerb
Rating: PG-13, minor language, violence
Summary: Jack wakes up in a nightmare and yearns for the dream he lost
Classifications: Angst, POV, S/J
Archive: Yes, SJD and Heliopolis
Disclaimer: 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.

Feedback: Yes, please.

forsaken

The young man, who I have named Bart, tries to hide his surprise when for the first time I comply with his requests. I still refuse to talk to Mustache Man, but when Bart comes in, I do everything he asks. For the first time I am disgusted with the limp, pale forms that are now my legs. I listen carefully as he explains how all my muscles have atrophied while I was in a coma. I had also fractured a vertebrae in my spine, but have been lucky enough to keep spinal function. I do not correct his use of the term 'lucky,' but rather nod my head and ask what my prognosis is. He smiles at me, but does not bullshit me. A lot of work and some luck and I may be able to walk again.

He begins to come twice a day at my request and I do the exercises alone on Sundays. Soon I am taking my first steps, leaning heavily against cold bars. The pain in my back is agonizing, but now I find strength in this pain, it keeps me moving ever forward. Time is something I am far too aware of. Everyday I choke down the food brought to me and work endlessly through the pain. Bart begins to watch me with concerned eyes, but I am not stupid, I cannot afford to push my body too far.

The day finally comes when I find myself free of the cloistered walls of the hospital. Not-Janet has come to see me off. She watches me with penetrating eyes and I think she is the only one who really knows what is going on with me. I wave at her as my taxi pulls away and in the distance, I can see her wave back.

My first day back, I have an appointment with the new General. He is everything I imagined he would be. He regards me with a strange mingling of awe and suspicion as he carefully avoids looking at my scar. I say all the right words and do all the predictable things for a week before I ask permission to visit Teal'c on Chulak. It is the least they can do for a 'hero' like me.

I pause once at the threshold of the Stargate to look back at the control room. I nod solemnly at Walter and Siler, the only familiar faces left. I think they somehow know that this is goodbye and they both stand and salute. I silently say farewell to my life that was, before readjusting my pack full of stolen information and 'borrowed' equipment and step through the gate.

I do not linger on Chulak. I don't even seek out Teal'c. I know he will follow me to the ends of the Universe, but I leave him without even saying goodbye. He deserves a chance to find his own peace. Pulling out my list of pilfered gate addresses and recent intelligence reports, I dial my true destination. It takes a week of laying low to find my quarry. Another two days pass before I manage to get him alone.

He is startled by my appearance. I hand him the crumpled paper I have carried with me for months and his face pales as he reads it. I let him mourn the loss of his daughter and lead him back to my camp in the woods. He is angry that he has never been told, the Tok'ra deeming his long-term undercover mission too important to be interrupted. Later, when we are sitting silently around a small fire, I confess to him about my dreams. "I'm probably crazy, wishing for what can never be, but I can't let go, Jacob, I can't let go, not while there is the smallest chance."

He nods solemnly at me and I can see that he can't let go either. He takes long moments to watch me, and I feel that he can see into every dark corner of my soul. He is not surprised that I have come to this, that I would go to such lengths on a mere whisper of hope. After a short internal conversation, he abandons his mission and leads me to his ship. I feel a perverse pleasure in stealing from the Tok'ra. It is almost enough to bring a smile to my face. My back still aches, but I refuse to let Jacob heal it. Somehow, I think he understands my need for the pain.

We travel from planet to planet, narrowly avoiding capture and destruction a couple of times. We find PY6-978 only to discover it is uninhibited. One day, we stand together on the earth that has drunk the blood of my team and taken so much from all of us. It is just like in my dreams except that it now stands empty and silent, footprints and blast marks washed away. We do not linger long, but simply pause in reverent stillness, not wishing to disturb any sleeping phantoms.

One of my stolen intelligence reports reveals that the SGC knew the location of the homeworld of the hostiles on PY6-978, but it was deemed too much of a risk to ever travel there. They had locked the address out and scrubbed out any mention of a rescue attempt. We stare at the sheet for long moments together, letting this information sink in. They had not only known where to look, but they seemed to think there might have been reason to try in the first place. Bile burns in my throat at this ultimate betrayal. For the first time, I wonder if Teal'c or Hammond had left willingly. I know I am teetering on the edge of conspiracy mania, but this far from everything that had once been my life, I no longer know what to think. My only comfort is knowing that Daniel escaped, that he left behind this life before he could be broken by it.

Sometimes I think I have always been heading this direction. Everything that I have ever done, everything that has happened to me…it all seems to lead to this place, this existence. I live in endless purgatory, chasing a phantom that won't let me rest. At times, I feel bad for dragging Jacob into this, but part of me knows that it is right. I think he is the only one who can really understand. I guess Selmak is the one I should feel sorry for, but she was willing to throw in with me the second I showed up. In her hundreds and hundreds of years, I imagine her darkness must almost eclipse ours. And so we continue to wander, the oddest three companions you have ever seen, betrayed by our people, broken by tragedy and tethered by the agony of just not knowing.

At night, I dream in shadows. I long for a flash of blue or gold, but they never come. We continue to search, paying for information anyway we can. I cheat and I steal, no longer caring. Jacob eventually makes the greatest sacrifice. He finds a Tok'ra agent who agrees to give us her last known location if Selmak promises to return to the Council. I can see in Jacob's face the moment Selmak breaks, knowing the Tok'ra had willingly kept this from us. We don't know what awaits them with the other Tok'ra, but we do not hesitate. Jacob leaves me his ship and as he moves to step through the wormhole home, he turns back to me. "Finish this, Jack," and he knows I will.

Time passes with no regard for me. I simply follow the trail in front of me, doing whatever it takes to obtain the next step. I listen with half an ear to tales of human slave trade, prisons and narrow escapes. I refuse to connect any of it to her. It is all a blur of distant cities and unfamiliar faces, until one day I stand on a clapboard sidewalk in a bustling town. I barely notice the absurdity of a horse trotting past me on this backwards little planet in the middle of nowhere. I am too entranced, staring at a thin figure emerging from a two-storied building across the street. I am unaware of my feet covering the distance between us.

We stare at each other for long moments. She reaches out one pale hand and gently traces the scar across my face. Even as she touches me, I have a hard time believing she is here. I am frozen until she whispers my name, "Jack." With that one word, everything breaks inside me and I pull her against my chest. "I know this little tropical planet…" I mumble into her ear. I feel her lips curve into a smile against my neck.

She only asks me once about Teal'c and Daniel and we never speak of Earth. I don't ask her about what she endured; we just absently trace the scars on each other's skin. We sit in the soft sand together, watching the rolling waves. She holds my hand and calls me Jack. I tell stupid jokes to make her laugh and she brushes the sand out of my hair. And so we live, only for each other. I have a hard time telling what is a dream anymore, but I can't bring myself to care. The only truth I know is that she is here with me, always. The way it is meant to be.