General Hammond's office was empty when Daniel entered, so he simply dropped the folder on his desk and left. On his way back to his office he ran into Teal'c. The hulking Jaffa's usually emotionless face was clearly pained, his eyes downcast. He didn't even notice Daniel until they were passing each other. Daniel would have preferred if he had been preoccupied enough not to notice him at all.
"Daniel Jackson," Teal'c acknowledged, his voice sombre. Daniel could have sworn he was fighting back tears. He didn't blame him. "The inquisitor from the NID has finished questioning Major Carter. He wishes to speak to you next."
"Thanks, Teal'c." Daniel had been terrified when told about the impending visit from one Richard Woolsey, an NID bureaucrat, called in – no doubt by Kinsey – to investigate the rescue mission to P3X-666 which had led to Janet's death. Daniel was about to just continue walking when Teal'c spoke again. "Are you well, Daniel Jackson?"
He paused for a moment before turning to face Teal'c. For whatever reaon, the Jaffa, like everybody else, seemed concerned about him. He hated that. A part of him wanted his friends to rage at him, to scream that it was his fault. Of course, nobody knew the whole story yet, so the anger probably wouldn't come until Wells woke up, or until word of the tape that would accompany his mission report became an object of rumour.
"No, Teal'c, I'm not well. Is anybody else?"
"You fire me, you throw me in jail, you do what you want." Storming out of the room, Daniel returned to his office and began working on his mission report. He wasn't at it for long when Bregman walked in. The fact that he'd expected him didn't have any effect on the desire to fold up the laptop and hit him in the face with it. At this point, Daniel wasn't in the mood to talk to anyone, and lately he was of the firm opinion that people like Emmett Bregman earned blunt force trauma with almost every word that came out of their mouths.
"Yeah," Daniel cut him off. "It's really not a good time now." He tried to ignore the journalist's presence, but Bregman wouldn't be ignored.
"I've just been hearing bits and pieces, I was just hoping you might be able to confirm some of it."
Exhaling disappointedly, Bregman was turning to leave, and Daniel was about to breathe a sigh of relief, when diminutive reporter paused, his eyes fixed on the bloodstained camcorder on Daniel's desk. Tentatively, he asked, "Did you…?"
The scene returning again to the forefront of his mind, Daniel's composure began quickly slipping, he rounded angrily on Bregman, his voice still quiet despite his boiling blood. "I said now's not a good time. What part about that did you not understand?"
Apparently not realising he was treading on dangerous ground, Bregman continued, half-stepping toward the camera. "You got something on tape, didn't you?"
Drawing himself up, moving towards the reporter with violence clearly in his mind, it took a lot of effort not to knock him out right there and then. Schooling his voice more carefully still, he simply said "Get out," repeating himself only slightly more loudly when Bregman didn't move quickly enough.
Bregman paled and backed away. "Okay, I'm going. Alright."
Shaking now, Daniel turned away and went back to his desk, but Bregman still wasn't done. He steeled himself before speaking.
"You know I, uh…I once did a piece on this war photographer. His name was Martin Krystovski." Daniel rolled his eyes, but didn't turn around or try to stop Bregman from speaking this time.
"For about six months, he was with a unit in Vietnam, and…the day before he was scheduled to leave, the day before. He's out with a unit, and it was just a routine patrol. Or so they thought."
"But suddenly, the lieutenant pulled him down…and Krystovski…he hadn't intended to take a picture at that moment, but his hands were on the camera, and he hit the ground so hard that it just went off. And the picture captured…the lieutenant getting shot in the head. And Krystovski said to me—he said: "That bullet would have hit me—should've hit me." And he never showed that picture to anyone. Not for twenty-five years. But twenty-five years later, he got up one morning, and he looked at that picture. And he saw something that wasn't horrific. And he decided to tell the story because he realized that he hadn't accidentally taken a picture of a man dying. It was of a man saving his life. The picture I'm making, that I'm trying to make, is about what you people do every single day."
Daniel turned, facing Bregman again, not having any idea what to make of him, wanting to hate him. Hate would be easier these days.
"Under extreme circumstances that no one can even imagine," the little man continued. "And I don't know what happened out there. I'm sorry about what happened, whatever it was. And if you did tape something of it, that's not gonna change what happened. What will change is how you feel about it."
Hoping the message had gotten through, Bregman nodded and finally left. Daniel sat down at his desk again, looking at the camera, fighting back the urge to vomit. He didn't bother to fight the tears.
Later he received another visitor. This time it was General Hammond. Clearly he was uncomfortable. It didn't take long for Daniel to realise why.
"I've been ordered to turn over the tape."
Daniel moved to the camera, wondering whether or not he should bother trying to ask.
"Look, I'm not happy about it either," the general told him. "I could fight it. The tape could get lost or accidentally erased, these things happen, but I'm not going to do that." He paused for a moment, shaking his head slightly. "You know, I had that little weasel of a man thrown out of here, but in light of the NID's latest investigation, I'm starting to think maybe there should be a record of what goes on here beyond the classified reports."
Looking at Hammond over his glasses, Daniel didn't bother to hide his skepticism. "And you trust Bregman to portray that?"
Hammond shook his shoulders, a defeated look on his face. "At this point, I have no choice."
Daniel picked up the camera, turning it over and over in his hands. "Have you had a chance to look at this yourself?"
"I'd rather not." The large Texan was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. "I'll wait for your report. I don't think I could stand to actually watch it."
"This shouldn't even exist!" Daniel could feel more tears coming now, but he didn't care anymore. "It was a war-zone over there, in every sense of the word. I shouldn't have been holding a camera, I should've been holding a gun."
"I can't really speak to that. I'm sorry, Daniel, but if you need vindication, I don't know if I'm the person to offer it. But I can do you one favour."
He dropped a folder on the desk. "I'll tell Bregman you'll deliver the tape soon. I have to go. I'm dealing with the funeral arrangements, and meeting with Cassandra later." The older man sighed heavily. "She's only been away at college for a month." He turned and left, his shoulders slumped, exhausted and broken up.
The folder was the same one Daniel had dropped into Hammonds empty office earlier that day. He swept it off the his desk and into the trashcan, and stood again for another long moment, playing with the camera in his hands.
Finally, he threw it against the wall with a wordless cry and all the force he could muster. It smashed into a scattered collection of shattered parts. Taking a minute to cool off, he then picked up the copied tape he had intended to accompany his mission report, and left the room.
In the trashcan, a single printed page had slipped out of the gray folder.
I hereby tender my resignation from Stargate Command.