TITLE: Suffer the Little Children
CATEGORY: H/C, Drama
SPOILERS: everything up through Need
SEASON: Two (between Need and Thor's Chariot)
WARNINGS: dark, adult themes, crimes against children (not an abuse fic)
DISCLAIMER: Stargate SG1, 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.
MORE DISCLAIMERS: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or actual places and locations, is purely coincidental.
EVEN MORE DISCLAIMERS: The MPAA had jack-shit to do with the rating on this story, and if you think they did then you're as stupid as they are.
Criticism and feedback of all kinds is welcome, but constructive criticism and common courtesy will get you farther than flames will.
SUMMARY: An horrific murder in Colorado Springs brings a veteran FBI agent into SG1's lives and dredges up memories that Daniel had thought were buried forever.
"O'Neill, I do not believe that Daniel Jackson is enjoying this."
Jack O'Neill looked up from where he lay sprawled on the ground and smiled. "I don't hear him complaining."
Teal'c cocked his right eyebrow. "Perhaps if you removed yourself from him and ceased to push his face into the wet dirt, he would be able to voice his displeasure."
Sam Carter, who was standing next to Teal'c, simply laughed.
"Pfft," Jack said, as he pushed himself to his feet. "I'm not pushing his face into the mud. I'm tackling him. There's a difference."
The three standing members of SG1 looked down at the fourth, who had not moved from his position on the ground. Daniel Jackson lay on his stomach, with his arms splayed out to his sides, face-down in the mud.
"Daniel?" Sam stepped forward slightly. "Are you all right?"
A soft moan rose from the man at their feet as he used his right arm to push himself up slowly. He flopped over on his back and draped a mud-covered arm across his eyes.
"I hate this."
The day had dawned gray and damp after a night of heavy rain storms. It was just another drab midwinter Saturday morning in Colorado Springs. The mist still hung in the air, the ground was still wet, and the park was empty except for the four friends.
Daniel had only rejoined the team in an official capacity two weeks earlier, after Janet had declared him fully recovered from his particularly nasty experience with the Goa'uld sarcophagus. Their first mission had been a return to P3R-636. Jack hadn't really wanted to go - in fact, he'd have preferred that they never go back again and let Shyla wither and rot after what she'd done - but Daniel had insisted. And as usual, Daniel had been right. They'd stayed long enough for Daniel to help Shyla through the worst of her withdrawal, and when they'd left it had been a sober and, Jack thought, much more pleasant Shyla who told them goodbye.
They did have a nice new treaty and a small but steady supply of naquadah to show for it, but they'd had to go through hell to get it.
Truth be told, the past two months had been rough all around, for all of them.
First, there was thinking that they'd lost Daniel on Apophis' mothership. That had eventually worked out all right and Daniel had turned up, without a scratch on him, in plenty of time to surprise the other three when they'd returned home, but that didn't erase the hours that he, Sam and Teal'c had spent believing he was dead. Jack didn't think he'd ever forget the look on Daniel's face when he'd realized he was dying or the way he himself had felt when he had realized the same. Nothing could ever take away the memories of how much it had hurt Jack, hurt them all, to walk away and leave Daniel behind to die alone.
Then there had been the possibility and, for a while, the certainty that they'd lost Sam to the Goa'uld. It had been one of Jack's biggest fears since they'd lost Charlie Kawalsky - to think that he could lose a member of his team that way. It had been so difficult for Jack, Daniel and Teal'c to deal with the thought that while Sam wasn't dead, she wasn't alive any more, either. That had also turned out to be not quite as bad as they'd thought. She hadn't been taken as a host by a Goa'uld but by something called a Tok'ra - if there was such a thing as a "good" Goa'uld, then apparently a Tok'ra was it. In the end, it had died to save Sam's life, but then she'd fallen into a depression that Jack had been close to giving up hope of ever lifting. Even Daniel hadn't been able to break through to her. 'Thank God for Cassie,' Jack thought when he remembered how the little girl had been able to pull Sam out of herself and back to her friends, where she belonged.
Next had been their time in the alien prison on Hadante. Jack had come back from that one with rope burns around his throat and Teal'c had been stabbed - both injuries the result of the fight that ensued when they'd tried to save Daniel from being choked to death by a smelly guy named Vishnor. There'd also been a too-close-for-comfort aborted attack on Sam, by the aforementioned "smelly guy," and another near-miss with Daniel that Jack didn't even want to think about. If it hadn't been for Teal'c, Jack wouldn't even have known about it, and apparently, if it hadn't been for Teal'c, it wouldn't have been a near-miss, either. But Teal'c had been there, and nothing had happened, so to Jack, it just wasn't worth thinking about.
After that, they'd been captured by an alien who was determined that their memories - at least Jack's and Daniel's - would be quality entertainment for his people. Jack had been pushed almost to his breaking point, having to watch as one of his best friends died in his arms over and over again. Daniel, according to Sam, had watched his parents die, and had of course been completely powerless to save them, no less than eight times in a row. The scars they'd come back from that one with hadn't been visible, but they'd been no less real.
And then, of course, had been their forced "vacation" on P3R-636 - a stint as slaves in a naquadah mine, another near-death experience for Daniel, and that lovely sarcophagus addiction courtesy of Her Royal "High"ness, Shyla.
After all of the craziness, both literal and figurative, after all of the physical and mental pain, after the constant emotional rollercoaster they'd all been riding together, Jack had decided that his team needed some down-time, some bonding, and some normal. And normal, to Jack, meant good, old-fashioned football in the park.
Which was why Daniel was lying on the wet ground, covered in mud, complaining that he hated it.
Jack smiled. "Suck it up, Daniel," he said teasingly. "It's good for you."
Daniel shifted his arm just far enough to glare up at Jack from under it.
"Oh, come on, Daniel. We're having fun."
"You're having fun," Daniel returned. "I'm not."
Jack glanced across his shoulder and Teal'c. "Well, it's not my fault that your defender isn't defending you."
Teal'c raised his eyebrow once more. "It is difficult to defend Daniel Jackson from you when I am endeavoring to contain Captain Carter without causing her injury," he explained. "I do not understand why I should be defending Daniel Jackson from you at all. Are you not his friend? Should you not refrain from attacking him on your own?"
Jack sighed and turned his head. "I've told you, Teal'c, I'm not attacking him. I'm tackling him. We're playing football; that's how the game is played."
"I do not see the point in playing a game which has as its sole purpose chasing your friends and repeatedly knocking them to the ground."
"Thank you, Teal'c!" Daniel called out.
"Come on, Carter," Jack implored. "Help me out here, will ya?"
Sam shrugged slightly. "I would, sir, but... football is a 'guy' thing. I don't really see the point of it either."
"Mutiny, I tell you," Jack muttered. "Nothing short of mutiny." He sighed and reached out his hand to Daniel. After glaring at him for a few more seconds, Daniel finally gave a slight smile and grasped Jack's offered hand.
As Jack helped him to his feet, Daniel said, "It wouldn't be so bad if I could maybe tackle you, at least just once."
Jack grinned and slapped Daniel on the back good-naturedly. "Okay, I'll tell you what. Me and Carter have possession now, right? So this next play, I'll let you tackle me."
Daniel rolled his eyes. "If you let me, then it doesn't mean anything."
The four of them made their ways back toward their line of scrimmage. Jack glanced around on the ground for the ball, which had flown free of Daniel's hand the last time he'd been tackled. He couldn't see it lying anywhere near.
"Does anyone know where the ball went?"
They all glanced around, and then Daniel looked up. "I think it ended up rolling over by those bushes. I'll go get it."
Jack turned toward Sam and Teal'c as Daniel jogged away. "I think he's starting to have fun," he said.
"Wait until I get to rub your face in the mud, Jack," Daniel called back to them as he slowed his pace and glanced around for the ball. "That's when I'll start having fun." He started pushing branches out of his way and peering between them. He saw the ball lying just a few feet away, on the other side of the bushes. "There you are," he whispered. He'd only taken a few steps when his foot snagged on something and he tripped. He fell forward face-first and put his hands out to stop himself.
"I'm sorry, sir, but I just don't think he's enjoying this very much," Sam was saying.
"I concur, O'Neill."
"No, guys, seriously, I think this is doing him some good," Jack said. "He's smiling, at least. When was the last time you saw him do that?"
It was a scream filled with horror and terror, and the voice was unmistakably Daniel's.
They spun around just in time to see Daniel scrambling backwards from the bushes, pushing himself along the ground frantically, blindly, not caring what was behind him but obviously wanting to get away from something. He didn't stop until he'd backed himself up against a nearby tree, but even then, his feet and hands kept moving.
Suddenly Daniel stopped flailing, grabbed his stomach with one arm and pushed himself to his knees with the other, leaned around the tree, and threw up.
"What the hell...?"
All three ran forward - Jack and Sam toward Daniel and Teal'c toward the bushes. Jack knelt quickly beside Daniel, who was straightening himself back up after having emptied his stomach. Sam stood behind Jack, only a foot away, ready to lend whatever aid he might need. Jack looked Daniel over quickly, checking for signs of injury. Daniel was pale, almost ghostly white, his eyes were wide and panicked and he was shaking all over, but other than that, Jack could see nothing wrong with him.
"Daniel?" he asked as he grabbed Daniel's forearms and shook him slightly. "Daniel! What is it? What's wrong?"
Daniel slowly raised his right arm to point a shaky finger at the bushes. Jack could see his lips moving, but he couldn't hear anything. He leaned forward until he could, and immediately wished he hadn't.
"A girl ... little girl ... she's dead ... Jenny's dead ..."
Daniel apparently going on about a dead little girl in the bushes was bad enough, but the thought that he actually knew her ...
"Daniel? Who's Jenny?"
"She's there," Daniel whispered. "Dead ... Jenny's dead ..."
"O'Neill!" Teal'c called out from the bushes. Jack glanced over and knew immediately that Teal'c had found what had upset Daniel so much.
"Stay here, Daniel," Jack said softly. "I'll be right back." He stood and walked to Sam, then looked back down at Daniel quickly. "Stay with him, Carter," he said.
"But, sir ..." Sam started to protest.
Jack cut her off with a wave of his hand. He knew how Carter was with children and there was a part of him that was still on constant alert for anything that might trigger a return of her depression. If there really was a dead child in that bush and if she saw her ...
"Stay with Daniel," he said again, slowly and clearly. "That's an order, Carter." Jack watched until Sam had settled on her knees next to Daniel and then turned and walked toward Teal'c.
Teal'c looked up as Jack approached. Jack kept his voice low as he asked the first of two questions that he already knew the answers to.
"Little girl, Teal'c?"
Teal'c nodded wordlessly.
Jack let out a heavy breath. "She's dead?"
Teal'c nodded again, solemnly. "It does appear so."
Jack steeled himself for what he knew he had to see and stepped forward. Teal'c pulled the branches aside and gestured toward her, but Jack didn't need any help. The pale skin and blonde hair were immediately obvious against the darkness of the wet ground. Jack looked at her until he felt moisture creeping into his eyes and his vision began to blur. He closed his eyes and turned his head away, whispering a curse to whomever had done this.
"Son of a bitch."