Author:7 League Boots
Category:Missing scene, drama, angst, comfort
Related Episodes: Reckoning, 200, Counterstrike
Featured Characters:Samantha Carter, Teal'c, Daniel Jackson, Jack O'Neill
Summary:One too many battles, one too many deaths; the toll on SG-1 after Counterstrike
Author's Note: The loss of Dakara struck me deeply, and of course the episode couldn't show how this really affected the original team who started the fight against the Goa'uld. This is my take on the tragedy. (Rated T for a few strong words.) Author's edit: This was written before Company of Thieves, so the death of a significant character is not noted here. This also may not be published before the midseason cliffhanger, so I apologize if any inconsistencies are glaring. I am, however, using the episode 200 as an event en canon.
Lt. Col. Samantha Carter placed a comforting touch on Teal'c's shoulder once their report confirmed all was lost on Dakara. His face was grave, but he acknowledged her support with a brief bow. Sam turned and hurried out, leaving him with Dr. Daniel Jackson, Vala Mal Duran and Master Bra'tak in the briefing room.
She strode wearily down the corridors of earth's top secret facility, Stargate Command. It had been hours since they all met back at the base from their missions. Sam almost smiled as she recalled that this time Landry got to be debriefed regarding his trip to Dakara with Bra'tak. The smile was de-railed as she also recalled the miserable goings on and the horrific outcome of that meeting. At the door to her lab, Sam paused before trudging to her computer. Here goes nothing.
It was still hard to believe that the home world of the Free Jaffa was now rubble, as barren of life as Abydos. Sam tapped up data on the Ancient weapon again. It was the last place she and Jacob had worked side by side. It was a place of power that could have helped in the battle ahead. But now it lay destroyed by their newest enemy.
The Ori, with their mystical energy and malicious determination to be worshipped by humans or wipe humans out, were still coming. Nothing earth or earth's allies did seemed to stop them. Every day brought reports that their new interplanetary friends were forced to accept the Ori's terms in order to survive. And each acceptance made the Ori stronger and harder to defeat.
Rubbing her eyes, Sam stared at the screen, not seeing anything on it. Was it only a few days ago that they had enjoyed a respite from intergalactic bad-asses and just had a party? She smiled, recalling the hi-jinks of their former CO, Maj. General Jack O'Neill, as they gave newbie Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell the party he had hinted at for at least two weeks. No one looked at the skies or a computer or discussed any serious business. Just plenty of no alcohol beer (they were still on alert!), pizza, loud music, jokes and cheer.
The cheer that only survivors can wrest from their war-plagued memories.
She drifted helpless, useless as beams from the Ori ship split the ha'taks, shattering their hulls and spilling their insides out to fracture the blackness of space with bursts of fire. Then – they struck the Prometheus. Lost.
"Dakara is totally destroyed," the cargo ship pilot reported solemnly.
Sam jerked upright. The blue light from the LCD stared back at her. The memorial services that seemed interminable: so many names but so few bodies, so many secrets to be kept from loved ones; abroad and off world. Orlin's sacrifice wasn't enough. She suddenly got to her feet. Glancing at her watch, she noted it was 2130 hours.
Moments later the corridors of the SGC blurred as she raced through them, heedless of the looks passing staff threw her. Sam arrived at Teal'c's quarters minutes later and barely knocked before bursting in. As she suspected, he was preparing to meditate in his altered kelnorim pattern.
"Teal'c, I hope I'm not too late!" Sam said, panting from her run. Before the startled jaffa could reply, she rushed on. "I wanted to-to join you. I know you're in mourning; I didn't want you to be alone now."
Teal'c regarded his teammate in silence from his position on the floor. The room was lit with a modest grouping of candles, creating a partial darkness that matched his mood. He was deeply touched that she had come to be with him. But he sensed something else; Sam's eyes were wide, showing luminous blue irises. Her hair was mussed by her exertions, the fringe slicked to her forehead by a film of perspiration.
"I am honored, Col. Carter," Teal'c replied when he was sure her uncharacteristic babbling had ceased. She smiled with relief, he thought. Lifting a pillow from the chair, he offered it to her and invited her to sit.
Before he could go further, Sam spoke.
"There must have been so many casualties, Teal'c. The free Jaffa aboard the Ori ship and on the planet," Sam said. The words poured from her brain to her tongue without pausing. "So much loss..."
"Indeed," Teal'c replied softly, watching her.
"You shouldn't have to mourn them by yourself. I want to help," Sam continued. Her hands gripped themselves. "I didn't really know them, not like you. But they should have talked to us, trusted us, damn it!" Sam ground out. "We might have helped…"
Teal'c studied his frazzled teammate solemnly. Her face was pale even in the candlelight. Seated, she exhibited signs of exhaustion from their recent conflicts. Moments later, a tear finally crested the boundaries of her eyes. She swiped at it and began to speak again, almost too rapidly to understand.
"And I know it wasn't right what they did. God, I don't know if I could ever do what they were doing. But they were so desperate. The Ori just don't care, Teal'c. They're just-just steamrolling their way across our galaxy, coming right at us. And what do we do? What can we do? The Jaffa just wanted to fight back." She exhaled loudly. "God, I wished they'd told us."
Her eyes lifted to his, and he saw in the shadows of her face the look of looming despair. Teal'c understood. The catastrophe had deeply unsettled him; anger, frustration even hopelessness also assailed him. He prepared to do what he could to seek some level of peace again, and it seemed Col. Carter sought the same. He sighed; he hoped there was peace to be gained here.
"Their will to fight was commendable, but these actions have not aided our cause," Teal'c replied, a trace of exasperation in his voice. He gazed at her anxious face again. "Yes, we should mourn the innocents, and strive to avert further losses. We will prevail, Col. Carter," he added.
"And I had my hands in that ship -"
As Sam started to respond, a knock came at the door. Sam was up and opening the door in one quick motion. Daniel Jackson stared at her from the other side, shocked. Her strong hand reached out and pulled him in.
"Um, thought we were meeting in the…" Daniel sputtered as Sam cut him off.
"Daniel, I'm glad you came, too. Teal'c shouldn't be alone now," Sam responded. She returned to her cross-legged position on the floor and tugged him down, facing her. "He shouldn't mourn all those deaths alone. We're a team. We stick together and help each other. And won't let each other forget all the people that died on Dakara, or on the ships, on the planet…"
Daniel was speechless at first. He realized Sam's words and worry mirrored his own; this incident hit very deep.
"Right, we're here for each other, Sam," Daniel finally answered. He covertly glanced at Teal'c, then to Sam. "It's a good idea to help Teal'c mourn his lost friends, and our allies," he said in as calm a voice as his inner turmoil could manage.
"Yes! They deserve to be remembered by us. Just because we couldn't help them doesn't mean we should just forget or just walk away! I mean, we tried to save them," Sam replied vehemently. "We did before, but not this time." Her unconscious hand gestures grew less broad. Sam noted the attentive faces of her teammates but she couldn't stop the sounds that kept coming from her mouth.
"But we did save a lot of others, Sam," Daniel said into the brief pause in her rambling. He wanted to comfort her but the hard truth of their situation was undeniable. Dakara was a symbol of their victory over the Goa'uld and the Replicators. And now? A portent of defeat by the Ori. It struck him through the heart, the same hovering despondency. "We'll keep trying…"
"I know we will, Daniel. I just don't want them to think we didn't try hard enough to save them this time, you know?" Sam felt anger behind the remorse. "If only I could have made our weapon work better, the Jaffa council wouldn't have used the device to kill other innocents and then the Ori wouldn't have come to destroy Dakara. They would never have died, Teal'c…"
"You are not to blame, Col. Carter," Teal'c interrupted. His voice was firm. "We have done our best. No one will believe otherwise." Teal'c was sure now that she was referring to those who were dead. He ached for her, hoping she did not see them as well. "It is I who am ashamed that I did not see that my Jaffa brothers would do such a thing."
"Um, no one here is to blame," Daniel said. Sam turned from Teal'c to look at him. Her eyes were heavier. Sam shook her head, rousing herself.
"I won't let them down. I won't stop until we find a way to beat the Ori, I KNOW there's a way! I won't forget them. They'll get to rest in peace," Sam muttered. She rubbed her hands over her face as if to wipe away the heaviness in her eyelids. "I just want them to rest, in peace. At least I can do that…"
Teal'c eased closer to her as her body inched toward him. In only a few moments, she was leaning on him.
"Just…resting, a minute…" Sam felt herself contact the warm shoulder; nice, just for a minute.
Daniel watched as the strongest man he ever knew held Sam against him with infinite tenderness. And the strongest woman he knew looked so frail resting her bright hair against Teal'c's black tee shirt, and he wondered how he hadn't noticed. When had any of them really slept, but especially Sam? And in spite of her dedication and brilliance and their non-stop life-threatening forays against their foe, a solution or weapon hadn't been found. Daniel closed his eyes at the utter waste of lives, but the moisture escaped. He wiped it away and opened to see Teal'c watching him. His eyes were bleak. Their gazes held, questioning each other's state of mind.
"We have been together in many battles, Daniel Jackson. We have never given up. That is our strength." Teal'c looked down at his fellow soldier still leaning in an exhausted doze against his shoulder. "Col. Carter is correct. We cannot fail those who perished. We will persevere."
Daniel just nodded, silent as Teal'c carefully cradled Sam's long length. Sam curled into his side and lapsed into stillness.
"Taking too long. Toll. Too. High." Sam whispered. After a heavy sigh, she was quiet.
"Sam's right, Teal'c. And now with Dakara gone, the other Jaffa worlds will surrender. And if they're forced to join the Orici's armies…" Daniel said softly, his usual rapid speech now weary and uncertain. "Poor Sam; this is crushing her. And I think it's starting to get to me, too. How long can we hold out? What do we fight them with when they do get to earth? I'm just not sure anymore, Teal'c, even about Merlin's weapon. And if Sam's not sure..." Daniel blew out a breath loudly. Teal'c lowered his eyes and both mused in silence.
"Hey, guys; thought I'd find you in the commissary?" Maj. General Jack O'Neill stepped into the semi-lit space, letting the door close behind him. His serious expression deepened when he saw the worn faces of the two teammates. He did a double take at Teal'c, growing alarmed. "Carter?" He was there in one step. "What…Is she alright?"
"Col. Carter is merely resting, O'Neill. She came to join me in mourning the loss of Dakara," Teal'c explained in a soft voice. Jack's eyebrows went up, then down, and finally stayed in a frown.
"Jack, Sam had a bit of an overload. All-nighters, dodging rogue Jaffa, escaping the Orici..." Daniel added in a strained voice. Jack stared down at his former second in command, his concern unabated.
"The usual save the world exhaustion, I take it. Geez you guys never learn," Jack mumbled. "You gotta pace her, don't let her do that." He reached down and lightly smoothed her hair back. She stirred.
Daniel and Teal'c were as surprised as Jack.
And she's not even awake, Daniel thought. Tired as his brain was, Daniel considered what he'd just witnessed. He'd watched Sam and Jack over the years. Two soldiers and friends not unlike any military-folklore duo he'd read about, with their well synchronized combat senses and dissimilar personalities, each ready to die for the other or give their lives so others would live.
Somehow, through all the turmoil of their lives, the four of them were here now; had sought each other as if each felt the need to be here, together. That's not fanciful; it was real. Here he was, stalking legends to help save the galaxy and earth when he was right in the middle of a legend in the making! Wow, SG-1's exploits will read much like the mythology and Arthurian legends he was so versed in… If they survived. Daniel shook his head to clear it of such wayward thoughts; he must be beyond tired.
Teal'c had a trace of a smile on his face. The bond between the two, and all of them, no longer surprised him. Jack shrugged, slipping his usual mask of befuddlement in place.
Easing down on the floor, Jack took one of Sam's hands. It lightly curled around his larger one. He did it partly to buy a little time because he knew he had to speak on their situation, but mostly the contact was calming.
"So, this is where I say something inspiring," Jack said, seeing the haunted eyes of his two friends. He sucked at trying to inspire. "Not gonna say it'll be all right or anything. I know that's bull. But, we fight this like we've fought the snake heads and tin-plated bugs. With everything we've got."
"Which is what, exactly?" Daniel asked with exasperation. Suddenly, he wondered at Jack's belated presence, the belated 'concern.' Jack penned him with a sharp questioning look. The low lighting seemed to impart an un-Daniel like snarl on his face. "Got some anti-Ori thingy we don't know about?"
"Ok, with whatever Carter comes up with." Jack glanced down as she moved briefly, and then Teal'c related Sam's arrival in his quarters. Jack gaped at them. "You think Carter's giving up? This Carter, our Goa'uld butt-bustin', blew up a sun, dropped a warlord, saved the ASGARD Carter, for cryin' out loud?"
"The situation is grave, even to one as formidable as Col. Carter, O'Neill," Teal'c said. "Eventually one's capacity to absorb such misfortune can be overwhelmed."
"Hard, sir," she murmured. Jack watched as Teal'c adjusted his arm when she shifted and yawned.
"We've been there, Carter. Hard doesn't stop us," Jack replied softly. He heard a sharp intake from Daniel.
"WE? It's not like you're here anymore, Jack! The hell we've been through, that she's been through – what could YOU know about it? Are you sure you're getting all your memos?" Daniel hissed. His sharp voice made Sam stir again. "We're practically dead in the water and, hell, Sam was practically dead in space, and you – you didn't care enough to even phone home! After nine years with us, you show up for a slice of cake?"
"Why do you think I'm here now, Daniel? Think I missed the cheery atmosphere?" Jack's voice was barely civilized at this attack.
"I don't know, Jack. It's obvious you didn't miss us. Maybe you really did want cake, General." Daniel taunted. "So now you care what's become of us? Come to give us a rousing 'stiff upper lip' crap, now?"
"Sounds like you could use it, Daniel." Jack's voice was low and potent; he eyed Daniel with restrained indignation. He saw that Daniel knew how close his explosion was, yet went on.
"A little too late coming from you. Maybe if you'd bothered back when we were pouring over ancient documents that crumbled even as the air hit them, for days till our eyes glowed red, or –or after we lost a ship full of our bravest in space…And Sam; do you know the shit she's been put through from the idiots on your end, to pluck another miracle out of thin air as if each one didn't nearly cost her life? Do you?"
Jack glared at his long time friend, biting back words that would only escalate the tension he saw in him. Daniel was short wired, probably had as little sleep as Sam, he thought. Jack tried to keep his natural combat reaction in check; he concentrated on the hand in his, grounding him to some kind of sanity.
"Your enmity will not help, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said in his cool, reasonable voice. Both men were on edge; he hoped to stop them before irreparable schisms opened.
"Yes, it will, Teal'c. Sam said we were still a team. WE are, but he's not," Daniel said ominously.
Their words began to penetrate Sam's semi-nap. The world pried back into her awareness: first golden light, then warm fabric against her cheek and finally the large, warm hand cradling hers. She flexed her hand and felt the other respond lightly. Sam tried to let her drained body regroup a moment.
Then a tense silence took root. The warm hand gripped hers painfully. Sam winced at the heated exchange as well as the pressure. This wasn't right. Sam eased herself up.
"I am here, Col. Carter," his voice replied. Sam looked at him; Teal'c's dark eyes reflected the candles' light, regarding her with kindness and a little anxiety (or as much anxiety as he ever showed, she amended). Then she saw Daniel in a stare-off with Jack.
Sam gazed blankly at the hand she was holding before she finally looked up. Rich brown eyes gazed back at her guardedly. Her hand slid free of his. Sam got to her feet; turning to study the three men she had faced life and death with for a decade. They rose slowly, too, puzzled.
Suddenly she swung to Daniel and her face twisted with anger. She lost it.
"Don't attack him, Daniel!" Sam stormed at him. Somewhere in the fire of her thoughts she registered his shock and hurt, then his resentment but she embraced the conflagration.
"Don't defend him, Sam! He cut you off, too, like he did to the whole team! You backed him up, you followed his orders, you carried HIS ass just as much! "
"I'm a soldier, that's what we DO or hadn't you noticed? Oh, wait; you were saving the world with your scribbling!"
"Without my translations you wouldn't even know what to do with the Ancient's weapon!" Daniel shouted back.
A distant voice warned them that this was madness; that they were tossing guilt and blame about like a hot brick between them. But the voice of reason was no match for Daniel's and Sam's need for an outlet.
Teal'c and Jack looked between the two, as Sam and Daniel glared at each other with every sense of impending blows. Teal'c had never seen his friends spinning out of control, not with one another. No one else seemed to exist in the bubble of their conflict.
"Oh, please! I always had to find the on – off switch! You translate everything into soporific blather!"
"Oh, come on! You're the queen of narcotic techno-babble!"
"Carter, stand down!"
Sam had moved toward Daniel only to find herself held back by strong hands gripping her shoulders. She tugged against them, until her mind caught up; the Ori, the Ancient weapon, Dakara…Sam froze. Appalled, she gaped at Daniel's face, flushed even in the low light.
The room was still. The occupants glanced at each other as they breathed roughly. Daniel's posture slumped in Teal'c's grip; he was horrified. The candlelight flickered over Sam's pale face.
"Oh, god, Sam…I didn't mean… I never thought .."
"No, Daniel, you're right," Sam said, her voice was low and miserable. She leaned into the hands that now seemed to hold her up.
Jack stared at Sam's profile as he kept a tight hold on her. He stared at the mortified Daniel as Teal'c lightly restrained him. The shadows of the uneven lighting made their familiar faces hollow, haunted even.
"What, are you nuts? You think this mess with the Jaffa and Oreos is YOUR fault?" Jack asked incredulously. Sam hung her head. He turned her around to face him and shook her once until her head popped up. "Snap out of it! For cryin' out loud, you're both boring!"
Daniel's head swung toward him. Teal'c's eyebrow rose. Sam frowned. Jack swallowed.
"I mean – Daniel, Sam, you're indispensable to the war effort and don't forget it! What have we learned if not that we have to work together? This is SO not what we do," Jack growled. "T., those Jaffa were going back to their old ways. You remember, the arrogance, the bluster? They brought this on, not any of you."
Sam closed her eyes briefly. She didn't want him to make sense, to replace her growing despondency with the fierce drive the crisis needed. She simply wasn't sure she had anything left to muster up again. But good habits were hard to drop, so she listened to his voice, his words.
"And Daniel, for the record, I know every detail about your missions," Jack said to the somber civilian. There was a grave tone to his voice, so commanding in its soft spoken way that it captured their complete attention. His hands flexed on Sam's shoulders as he paused.
"I was booked on a flight to meet with our allies, if you want to call them that. Then I heard about Dakara. I didn't let anything stand in the way of being right here, right now. We fought along with Teal'c for eight years to bring the Goa'uld down, and Dakara was the place it all came together. I won't turn my back on my team. I couldn't be anywhere but here, for SG-1."
Daniel removed his glasses and swiped his face tiredly. His hands came away moist when he faced Jack again. Daniel's attention split the tiniest bit: Jack felt the need to reestablish their original connections, too. He shouldn't be surprised; they were SG-1, even their impromptu gathering made some bizarre cosmic sense.
"Thing is, I'm where you need me now. You've got a bad-ass team leader, and we KNOW who she is whether anybody else says so or not, or she denies it -" Jack glanced pointedly at Sam, "and Mitchell's a damn good soldier added to the mix. You're right, Daniel, 'those idiots on my end' can't see beyond their own asses. But no matter where you are or which bloodsucking slimy slithering snakehead over-the-top acne-faced – oh, yeah, well. We're still SG-1, and I've got your six, always." Jack finished, his eyes rested on Sam a moment before seeking Daniel and Teal'c again.
It was such a lengthy recital from a man of so few words that their heads could not help but lift at the emotion revealed by their former leader. At the moment he seemed far from "former."
"Jack, I'm sorry. I know you didn't really forget about us. With all that's going on, guess I missed you a little." Daniel said guiltily into the silence. "Ok, a lot."
"Pshaw, Daniel. Let's not dwell," Jack said smoothly. If his voice was a little gruff after his "stiff upper lip" thing, no one mentioned it. He wasn't going to dwell on the compromises he'd have to make because of his side trip to the SGC. He could feel that this was the right thing to do and the right place to be, come what politically will come. "Just know that you owe me for saving you from a painful don't-piss-off-Carter lesson."
"Indeed," Teal'c said with a brief smile and a bow. Daniel swallowed as that thought dawned. Sam playfully poked the general with her elbow before she lifted her eyes to her teammate.
Daniel finally met Sam's eyes. In a blink he was returning her fierce hug and trying not to cry again. He spared a quick glance at Jack. The man was trying to re-do his habitual indifferent mask. No way…He hugged Sam tighter, and whispered something to her. She nodded.
"I'm sorry, it was me," Sam murmured.
"No, it was me," Daniel said.
"It was me, Daniel."
"No, me, Sam."
"Aagh! Funny, you two!" Jack growled, taking Sam by her shoulders and pulling her back. He was rewarded with laughter from his favorite scientists, his best friends. He looked to Teal'c who had his trademark almost-smile. "Well, can we go eat now?"
"That would be welcome, O'Neill. I neglected to procure nourishment earlier as well," Teal'c answered. Teal'c turned to Sam. "I thank you for your presence here, Col. Carter. To mourn with one's friends increases the tribute to the deceased." Teal'c realized he could have sunk into deep despair if not for her timely intervention.
"Any time, Teal'c," Sam said softly. She smiled as he enveloped her in a gentle Teal'c hug.
"Hey, me, too?" Daniel pouted, and then they were all hugging and finally laughing.
"The commissary, before dawn? Got two other SG-1 members to kumbaya with," Jack prodded. His arm remained around Sam's shoulder while hers reached around Teal'c, with Daniel on the other side of the Jaffa. They barely fit through the door, not wanting to let go of each other.
"Fine by me, sir," Sam replied as they squeezed into the doorway and burst through, exclaiming at the brightness of the corridor. Returning to their easy locked arms positions, they carried on their joking banter on the way to the commissary. "So they teach you to talk like that in DC?"
"I believe General O'Neill has become an eloquent politician," Teal'c said, picking up her teasing tone.
"I'd definitely vote for him," Sam said.
"Me, too – Jack for Chief!" Daniel whooped. "Oh, Oh, your slogan: 'I've got your six!'"
"Ok, no more pep talks for you guys!" Jack sighed in mock indignation as they chuckled, but inwardly he grinned.
Sam felt the spark of hope returning to her stressed psyche. They were still here, while so many were not. Still around to keep slugging the evils of the universe back to their corners of space. The warmth of her teammates flowed into her, freeing her from her cold miasma.
So, Sam smiled freely into the teasing eyes of her former CO, into Daniel's and Teal'c's relaxed grins, and felt re-energized. Be it victory or mourning, they would keep doing whatever it took for the long haul.
Passing staffers marveled at the sight of four legends of the SGC as they ambled in an ungainly bunch down the late night corridors. A bona fide general (in civvies), the genius colonel/astrophysicist, the civilian multi-linguist and the impressive alien linked in arms and chattering or laughing as if the world wasn't still poised for another round of unearthly invasion.
As they reached the elevator, it slid open and Lt. Cameron Mitchell and Vala Mal Duran stepped out, then stopped short at sight of the team. The four linked members grinned at the two startled ones. Then they rushed at them.
"Whoa, hey!" Mitchell gulped before he was cut off. Vala grinned, however, as she saw their mood.
"KUMBAYA!" The four shouted, forcing the shocked new members backward.
"Man, after all they've been through, I don't know how they've held it together so long," an airman remarked to his companion as the noisy group passed. They watched as they tumbled into the elevator and the doors closed on a burst of whooping laughter. "I'd hide the keys to my padded room in my straight jacket."
"Well, I guess that's why they're SG-1. Nothing gets to them," his companion responded. They watched with a few other grinning soldiers before they, too, moved on.
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