SPOILERS: just one for Singularity
SEASON: One (between Singularity and Cor-Ai)
DISCLAIMER: Stargate SG-1, its characters and situations, are copyright MGM, Greenburg/Anderson, Gekko, Top Secret, and Kawoosh! No infringement on, or challenge to, their status is intended. This piece of fiction was written strictly for the entertainment of other fans, and I am gaining no form of compensation for it.
ANOTHER DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or actual places and locations, is purely coincidental.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Many, many thanks to the amazing LadyGrey, the best beta-reader a girl could ask for. Thanks to Annie at AshtonPress for taking a chance on a first-time Stargate author and publishing this in Redemption 5.
"So, Carter, what are you doing for Christmas? Only four days left, ya know."
Captain Samantha Carter pulled herself out of her silent reverie and turned toward the man who had spoken. She tried, and failed, to hide her surprise at the casual tone of the question. "Sir?"
"Christmas? You know, chestnuts roasting, bells jingling, stockings hung with care and all that?"
"So what are you doing?" Colonel Jack O'Neill raised his eyebrows on the last word. He knew that Carter was expecting an explanation for the strange timing of the conversation, but the best he could give her was a short nod of his head toward the figure that huddled against the wall three feet to her right.
Sam followed Jack's directed gaze and her initial confusion was replaced by understanding. "Oh, not much. I'll probably just stay home, eat a TV dinner, and watch old movies all day. My father's busy, and my brother …" Sam paused, unsure of how to continue. "Well, he's just too far away."
"What about you, Teal'c? Any plans for Christmas?"
"I have no plans," the Jaffa answered, his eyes moving slowly between Jack and the still silent form against the wall. "I do not understand this Christmas."
"Well, Daniel could explain it better than I could." Jack turned a hopeful expression toward the opposite wall. "Daniel?"
Sam leaned back slightly, looking around her upraised arms to see the man to her right. Daniel Jackson slumped with his arms raised above his head, suspended there by two heavy manacles that circled each wrist and were secured to the stone wall by large bolts. His bonds were no surprise to Sam; she, Jack, and Teal'c were restrained in exactly the same manner. What worried her—what worried them all—about Daniel were his posture and bearing. His knees were drawn up to his chest, his back was pressed heavily against the wall behind him, and his head hung limply between his arms. The bruise that covered most of the left side of his face had darkened to a deep blackish purple, and a large bandage covered the day-old gash in his forehead. His injuries had been treated and had seemed to be healing well. Then things had gotten bad.
Seeing no sign of movement other than the steady rise and fall of his chest, Sam glanced across at Jack and Teal'c and shook her head slowly.
"Daniel?" Jack tried again. "Hey, Daniel, you awake over there?"
"Hm?" The groggy response was accompanied by a hesitant head being lifted and long hair falling across closed eyes. "Jack?"
"You're awake!" Jack responded, forcing his voice to express a cheerfulness that he did not feel.
"I wasn't," was the soft reply. "What'cha want?"
Jack exchanged worried glances with Carter and Teal'c before turning his attention back to Daniel. "Teal'c here doesn't understand Christmas. How about you open your eyes and explain it to him?"
Long eyelashes fluttered briefly, but stilled as a hiss of pain echoed through the small room. "How 'bout I don't?"
"Come on, Daniel," Jack urged. "Teal'c really wants you to."
"I do not," Teal'c argued.
"Yes, you do," Sam and Jack protested in unison.
"I do not," Teal'c repeated. "It was O'Neill who suggested …"
"Teal'c." Jack almost glared at the large man seated three feet to his right. "You do want Daniel to tell you." The tone of Jack's voice made it clear that disagreeing was not an option. "You do."
"I do," Teal'c conceded quickly, capitulating to Jack without understanding why and turning his eyes back to Daniel.
"He does," Jack repeated, leaning forward as far as his bound arms and awkward position would allow. He ducked his head and attempted to see Daniel's face, only to find it still hidden behind his tousled hair. "Daniel?"
"I'm tired, Jack." Daniel leaned his head against his right arm, wincing at the pain that even such a small movement caused him.
"How's your back, Daniel?" Sam's concern at Daniel's obvious distress continued to grow. "Does it still hurt?"
Daniel nodded slowly, hissing once again. His eyes stayed closed.
"What about your head?"
"Yes," Daniel whispered. His breath caught in his throat as he spoke. The flickering torchlight reflected from the tears of pain that rolled down his cheeks unchecked.
Jack, Sam, and Teal'c looked around at each other again. Sam's eyes threatened to release the tears that filled them, and Jack's lips were set in a tight, grim line. Teal'c closed his own eyes briefly before speaking again.
"I wish to hear of this Christmas, Daniel Jackson."
The only responses were the alternating sounds of breath being drawn and shallow gasps of pain.
"Tried that already," Daniel's strained and quiet voice finally offered.
Jack glanced at his companions in dismay. Daniel was obviously having trouble staying focused, and his words were making less and less sense as the day wore on. "Tried what, Daniel?"
"Christmas. Explaining it. To Sha're." Daniel's lips quivered slightly in what might have been a smile. "Didn't work."
"You tried to explain Christmas to Sha're?" Sam breathed a quiet sigh, relieved that Daniel did appear to be at least marginally still aware of what was going on around him. That he wasn't bothering to inform them of his full thought process was cause for concern, but at least his mind was still functioning.
The answer was another small nod and a soft moan.
"What happened?" Jack shifted his position slightly, trying to pull himself as close to Daniel as possible.
"Mastadge ham," Daniel whispered.
"Ewww." The sound of revulsion escaped Jack's lips before he could stop it.
"Yeah," Daniel agreed. He leaned his head back carefully until it was resting against the wall behind him. With his forehead still pressed against his arm, he squeezed his eyes shut against another wave of pain. "They put candles… in the palm trees. Skaara thought… make snowballs with sand. Kasuf… wasn't happy."
Jack fought the urge to laugh and lost the battle. The mental image of the Abydonian elder being pelted with handfuls of damp sand brought forth a soft chuckle.
"What about presents?" Sam asked, enjoying the story despite its stunted retelling.
"Yeah, Daniel, what did you get Sha're for Christmas last year?"
"Hair ribbons," Daniel answered, his soft voice almost wistful. "Red… red something. Looked kinda like silk."
"I imagine they looked wonderful on her," Sam mused.
Everyone in the room noted that Daniel's momentary happiness was quickly sliding into despair. Jack swallowed hard and forced himself to speak.
"What did she get you?"
Daniel didn't answer immediately. Small sounds escaped his lips, and his shoulders began to quiver slightly.
Jack mentally kicked himself for his thoughtlessness. He had only wanted Daniel to keep talking; he hadn't imagined the conversation reducing the man to tears. "Daniel?"
Daniel lifted his head again, and his friends were shocked to see that rather than crying, he was laughing. The sound was small, as were his movements, but it was definitely laughter. "My glasses," he finally managed. "She didn't quite… grasp the concept. She took my glasses… I was asleep… wrapped them in paper… from my journal …"
Jack and Sam laughed then, too, in spite of their worries. Teal'c simply watched, not understanding how anyone could find humor in their situation.
"It sounds like a wonderful memory," Sam remarked with a smile.
"The best Christmas… of my life …" Daniel's voice faded as the effort involved in speaking sapped his waning strength. His head lolled against his arm once more.
Jack's gentle laughter died and he watched, helpless, as Daniel lost his tenuous grasp on consciousness. "Daniel?" Although Jack hadn't expected a real answer, he was dismayed when he didn't receive even so much as a moan. "Daniel!"
"Damn it, Jack, what?" Daniel's eyes flew open, but he slammed them shut again immediately. "Why the hell… why can't you just… let me sleep?"
Jack swallowed and looked from Sam to Teal'c as his concern approached panic. "You still haven't explained Christmas to Teal'c."
"Presents and sand," Daniel whispered. "Palm trees and candles. Glasses, hair ribbons, mastadge and stuffing… it was snowing. No, wait, it doesn't… does it snow on Abydos?" Daniel scrunched his face up as he tried to concentrate.
"Come on, Daniel," Sam pleaded. "Stay with us, please!"
"Right here, Sam," was the hushed reply. "Can't go… can't stay… can't… can't see? Jack, I can't see!"
Sam squeezed her eyes shut and turned away in despair.
Jack's voice cut through the room, steady and strong. "You've got your eyes closed, Daniel. Why don't you open them and look at us?"
"I can't." Daniel's shoulders started shaking and a sob broke through his voice.
"Why can't you, Daniel?" Jack kept going, determined to keep Daniel with them as long as possible. He focused his attention solely on the man suffering so much three feet away from him. He was only marginally aware that Teal'c had risen to his feet and was using every ounce of strength that he possessed in an effort to break the chains that secured him to the wall of the small cave.
"Why can't you open your eyes?"
"It hurts!" The desperate cry bounced between the walls; the terrified voice burned its way into the ears of the three witnesses to its owner's pain. "God, Jack, it hurts… hurts so much …"
"I know, Danny," Jack whispered. "I know it does. Just hang on, okay?"
"You must continue to fight, Daniel Jackson." Teal'c's voice took Sam and Jack by surprise; they were shocked to see him suddenly free, pulling against the bolts that held Jack's shackles to the wall. "You will be free in only moments, and we will return with you to the SGC. Until then, you must fight to remain here with us."
Jack wrapped his hands around his chains and pulled himself to his feet. He turned his back to Daniel, braced his right leg against the wall and leaned back, adding his weight to Teal'c's as they pulled against the bonds.
"Did you hear that, Daniel?" Sam asked through anxious tears. "We're going home. You can't give up now."
"I just… want it… to stop." The words were broken by the sound of teeth chattering against each other. Sam was on her knees in a heartbeat, leaning forward against her shackles as far as she could. "Stop… stop hurting …" The tremors moved out from Daniel's shoulders until his whole body shook. His chains rattled noisily as a seizure gripped him in its claws and sent him thrashing.