Jonas' life at the SGC between his arrival on Earth and the three months before being assigned to SG-1.
My first impression of Earth was noise, both visual and aural. As soon as I cleared the event horizon I was certain that I was going to be sick. The spinning, twisting wormhole was enough to make anyone sick, but the sudden re-stabilization of the world at the end nearly made me fall. My balance was incredibly off, and it was impossible to tell if my feet were on the floor or the ceiling.
Fortunately, there were other things to distract me. There were red lights flashing, sirens blaring, and more than a dozen men standing at the bottom of the ramp with all weapons pointed at me. I froze, wondering if I was about to be shot.
"Stand down!" I heard someone say over an intercom. A moment later an older man with no hair entered the room, and he came right up to me.
"Um, I'm Jonas Quinn," I said quickly. "I came—the Council—I couldn't…" I seemed to have lost all abilities of coherence. "I couldn't let the Council blame Dr. Jackson for what happened, and they told me in no uncertain terms to shut up. So, I took what naquadria I could and I came here."
"I'm General Hammond," he said, giving me a curt nod. Was he angry with me over Dr. Jackson's condition, or was he usually this way? I had no way of knowing. "Sergeant, please deliver the naquadria to Major Carter and Mr. Quinn, your arrival necessitates a trip to the infirmary for you."
I nodded. "To see if I might be carrying anything. I understand."
"Also to see if there are any residual effects of naquadria radiation," he told me. "Lieutenant Williams here will escort you."
Escorted I was, and I was taken to a medical facility that was deathly quiet. Usually, I knew such places to be busy ones, so I asked why it was so quiet.
"Dr. Jackson," was all that Lieutenant Williams would supply for an answer.
I felt cold all over, and I shivered. "Has he…?"
He shook his head. "Not yet."
If anything, that answer made me feel worse. It should have been me dying from naquadria radiation, and not Dr. Jackson.
"I'm Dr. Frasier," a woman said as she came into the infirmary. "I've been told you're Jonas Quinn."
"Yes, ma'am," I said, falling back on all the old politeness engrained in me during my childhood.
"How are you feeling, Jonas?"
"Physically or mentally?"
That won a very slight smile. "Right now, let's just focus on the physical realm."
"Well, my stomach's in knots, I've got a headache the size of the university library, and I seem to have trouble taking a deep breath. Is this reaction normal for wormhole travel?"
"Or for a great deal of stress," she pointed out. "Okay, what I'm going to do now is a basic physical exam, and if you're all clear we'll be able to focus on other things, all right?"
The doctor herself examined me, and the whole process was very thorough. I hated to think what an in-depth exam was like if that was what she called "basic"! By the time it was over, I felt as if I'd just run through some sort of gauntlet. My throat and ears had been looked at, my heart listened to, my eyes checked, temperature and blood pressure taken, blood and skin and other samples taken, and I'd had an odd procedure done called an MRI. According to the doctor, it was a way of looking at my brain and spinal cord.
Dr. Frasier told me that I was clear for any diseases that might threaten Earth and I showed no effects of radiation poisoning, but she also told me that I was to receive a battery of shots that were called immunizations. They were meant to shield me from many diseases that I could catch from others on Earth. These shots were happening on General Hammond's orders. I endured quite a bit of time feeling like a pincushion, but at last I was freed from the infirmary's tender mercies and released to General Hammond.
I was taken to a room with a long table and quite comfortable chairs called the debriefing room, and there I was to tell General Hammond everything that had occurred. I was being recorded the whole time, and I was nervous. What if what had happened amounted to murder here on Earth and I was held responsible? What would go on then? I knew my problems were small in comparison to Dr. Jackson's, but I couldn't help worrying.
"All right, Mr. Quinn, we're finished," General Hammond said after what felt like several eternities of questions. "Thank you for what you've told us."
"Extremely," the general assured me as another man came in. "Now, I have other duties to attend to, but I would like to introduce you to Dr. Mackenzie."
"But I thought the infirmary said I was clear," I said, confused. "More tests?"
"Dr. Frasier said that your tests indicated that you were in reaction from a great deal of mental stress and fatigue," Dr. Mackenzie clarified. "I'm here to help you work through that and to make a psychological evaluation. Don't worry, none of it will hurt."
At the moment, I did not feel ready to talk about anything that had happened, but some part of me felt that their continued goodwill depended on my cooperation, so wearily, I agreed and went with Dr. Mackenzie to his office. There, I was asked to re-tell my experiences and to describe how they made me feel.
"I don't think there are any words for that," I said, trying very hard to keep calm. "Dr. Jackson has pretty much given his life for the people of Kelowna, and I just stood there and let him do it. I'm Kelownan, I should have tried to do something!"
"You're experiencing survivor's guilt," he told me after a moment of thinking about what I'd said. "Everyone experiences this after situations like what you've been through. Your feelings are normal, but let me tell you something: What you did was normal."
"What, behaving like a coward?"
"No, self-preservation is normal, but how often have you had to face the choice to give up your life for others?" When I didn't answer he continued. "You see, Dr. Jackson has taken such actions in the past to save others, and I suppose what's most remarkable is that he has lived as long as he has. For him, such actions are as natural as breathing. It is normal to feel that you should have done something to make some sort of difference, and it is more than normal to feel badly about Dr. Jackson's condition, but you cannot allow these feelings to consume you. Accept what happened, but don't allow it to define you."
"He's dying!" I snapped, rising from my chair and pacing. "How can I not feel badly about that? I just stood there and let him kill himself!"
Dr. Mackenzie looked at me very carefully before he spoke. "What would you have done if he'd been trying to shoot or stab himself?"
"I'd have stopped him."
"And what if he'd succeeded?"
"He would have died." Where was he going with this?
"And what if you'd stopped him from going into that laboratory? After all, his going in there has had the same result."
That was when I understood. "Not only him, but countless others would have died as well."
"Perhaps the reason you hesitated in stopping him was that some part of you understood that, and that you were still coming to that realization. Stopping him meant saving his life only for a few minutes, but allowing him to do what he did saved many, many others. Also, your hesitation may have been you coming to the decision to do the same, but Dr. Jackson simply acted more quickly than you did because he'd been in such situations before," Dr. Mackenzie said, handing me a handkerchief to wipe my face with.
How long had I been crying?
"What happened was awful, Jonas, but that does not mean you are an awful person," he said kindly. "The fact that you are upset about it only means that you are a caring and thoughtful individual."
It was as if his words were some sort of release, and I spent more than a few minutes working those feelings out, as Dr. Mackenzie said. What he never told anyone was that I spent close to an hour crying like a child. I was deeply grateful for that.
What happened after that is a blur. I remember hearing Dr. Mackenzie tell Lieutenant Williams that I was exhausted and needed rest, so I was shown to quarters somewhere in the complex. No matter how many light years I was from home, a bed was a bed anywhere, and I fell right into it. Lieutenant Williams told me later that I slept for a few hours before waking up and asking to see Dr. Jackson. I felt that I should see him, try to talk to him and tell him that I at least appreciated what he had done even if Kelowna did not. Lieutenant Williams went with me to the infirmary, and once there, I asked Dr. Frasier if I could see Dr. Jackson.
"I'll see if he feels up to it," she said, looking surprised. "How's your head?"
"It's…fine," I said, relieved to realize that it was no longer pounding. "Oh, good."
She smiled and left, returning only a few minutes later to tell me that Dr. Jackson was awake and would like to see me.
"He…would?" I asked surprised. "He really would?"
She smiled again, and I could tell that if she and I would be able to spend more time together, we'd become good friends. "He really would. In fact, I told him that you were here, and he asked right away to see you. So, yes, he really would like to see you."
She showed me into a room with a good deal of equipment and a bed. In that bed, surrounded by ice packs and hooked up to the equipment, was Dr. Jackson. He turned his head to look at me, and he smiled. "Good to see you again, Jonas. How are you?"
This from the man who was dying!
"I'm fine, as are countless Kelownans, thanks to you," I said, approaching him. "So, how are you? Stupid question," I apologized a moment later, realizing the depth of my stupidity. "Sorry."
He shook his head. "Not a stupid question. I'm comfortable for the moment, but I'm wishing they would put me in a room with a better color scheme. It's boring in here."
"Aren't all the rooms in this place the same?" I asked, confused.
"Just about. That's the problem." He laughed, waving me closer to the bed. "General Hammond told me that you went to the Council and told them what happened."
"For all the good it did," I muttered, feeling ready to kick the Council myself. "They're still pointing the finger at you."
"So Jack told me," Dr. Jackson said, cracking another grin. "He was most displeased."
"Colonel O'Neill's dangerous to cross when he's angry, isn't he?"
"Oh, yes," he said, shifting among his ice packs. "But don't worry. I could tell that he was impressed with what you did, telling them what happened and then stealing the naquadria and coming here. Just don't expect him to show it for a very long time, if ever. Jack isn't one to share his feelings and it takes him a while to warm up to anyone, but eventually, if he and you spend enough time together, it will happen. Any idea what you'll do now?"
I shook my head. "No, not really. I can't go home, and I doubt I'll be able to leave the base since I'm…an alien. I'll help in any way I can, though."
"That's good," he said, closing his eyes and resting.
"I'm sorry…that this happened to you. I shouldn't have let you do it. It should have been me that went into that lab."
He opened his eyes and looked at me. "In a way, I'm somewhat glad that it was me."
I stared at him, certain that his illness was making him talk that way. "Huh?"
"The Kelownans need a Kelownan to let them know that they are playing with fire," he said, smiling slightly. "All of the people of your planet must cease building bombs with naquadria and focus on uniting against the Ga'ould should they ever set their sights on your planet. With the naquadria, they run the risk of attracting their notice. Besides, I knew what destruction such a bomb can cause. That was why I was so quick to do what I did. You only have an abstract understanding of it, but this world knows. In the first half of the past century, two atomic bombs—weapons that had never been used before—were used in a war. It ensured that country's surrender, but they wreaked such destruction that the entire world was shocked. The trauma from those weapons continues to be felt today, and there are still people who are ill due to the radiation. Such weapons have never been used against another group of people again, and the fact that we have those weapons and that someone might use them is a constant worry not only for this country but also for the entire world. I would love for Kelowna and the rest of your world to avoid the same fate."
I didn't know what to say.
"Besides," he continued. "Death is only the beginning…" As I looked at him, I saw that he had fallen asleep, and I didn't want to bother him, so I left the room.
Lieutenant Williams took me back to Dr. Mackenzie, who wished to work with me some more. He wanted to make a full psychological evaluation and to administer some tests of his own. I agreed, if only to give my mind something to think about that was not Dr. Jackson and his imminent death.
I had no idea what those tests were, but they were interesting, and somewhat fascinating. I had to look at ink blots and describe what the patterns looked like to me, and I had to say the first word that came into my mind when I heard a cue-word. Then, I had to arrange pictures into a sequence that would tell a story and recreate a pattern using colored blocks. Also, I had to look at pictures and tell what was missing from them. In one it was a shadow, another was of a table missing a leg, and things like that. Then, I had to repeat sequences of numbers in order and in reverse order after Dr. Mackenzie had read them to me. Once that was done, he read words aloud to me and I had to tell him what they meant. That was easy. Then, I had to shade in parts of a marked paper with a pencil in certain patterns, work calculations, do more with number sequences, and answer several questions.
"Well, that's about all I'll need in that department," Dr. Mackenzie said, jotting a few things down that I couldn't read. What language was he writing in? I could already read English thanks to Dr. Jackson's loan of a book and an explanation of their alphabet, but obviously, this was something I couldn't read. "How are you feeling? Still shaky?"
"I talked to Dr. Jackson," I admitted. "I still wish that things could be different, but…"
"But you know you can't change that," he finished. "Good. Has General Hammond been to see you since your debriefing?"
I shook my head. "No. I think he's too busy thinking about other things to have time to worry about one scrawny off-worlder."
Dr. Mackenzie laughed at that. "Well, in the next few days he'll make time to see you. Count on that. In the meantime, what have you been doing?"
I confessed that I hadn't done much, but he told me that eventually that there would be something I could do. I didn't think there would be (after all, my planet was behind theirs technologically, how could I possibly help?) but I was going to keep my eyes open. Maybe there would be something.
Lieutenant Williams showed me back to my quarters, and I was there all of ten minutes before someone knocked on my door. I called for them to come in, and Major Carter opened the door. I got to my feet at once, surprised. "Major Carter."
"Hello, Jonas," she said kindly. "How are you?"
"I know, stupid question," she said, echoing my earlier conversation with Daniel Jackson. "Daniel practically ordered me to stop hovering around him and he reminded me that there was a confused off-worlder that everyone's practically forgetting in all the hubbub, so he asked me to come and show you around and see if you needed anything."
"Well, that's very…kind of him," I said, surprised. In fact, I was floored. How could he remember me when he was dying?
"Daniel's a kind person, as I'm sure you know. Are you hungry? They're serving supper about now."
All at once, I was starving, so I went with her to the commissary (with Lieutenant Williams in tow). Once we got there, she told Lieutenant Williams to take a break, she would be with me and there was no need for him to stick around. She would call him if he were needed. We got in line, and she handed me a tray and silverware and described the different types of food available. There was soup to start with (what in the name of Kelowna was chicken?) and an entrée called lasagna. Salad was salad anywhere, but some of the vegetables were very alien to me. Dessert was something called Jell-o (and I have to admit that I'd never seen food that shade of blue before), and for a drink she suggested that I have something called lemonade. Every taste of every food I had during that meal was incredible. I was eating alien food! Then, I remembered that I was the alien. Anyway, it was all new to me, and incredibly delicious. The lemonade was nothing short of perfection: sweet and tart at the same time, cool and refreshing. The soup was nice and homey with vegetables, broth, and noodles (those, at least, I recognized), and the lasagna was nice and tangy and full of flavors. The salad was an adventure. Apparently, I had spinach leaves, sliced cucumber, and chopped carrot in front of me, and all of those together were incredible.
"I don't think I've ever seen anyone enjoy salad that much," Major Carter said, digging into her Jell-o. "Let alone any meal that much."
"All of these foods are new to me," I pointed out. "And they taste incredible. You get food like this all the time?"
She nodded. "The commissary always has a full menu, and there's even a nutritionist who plans the meals to make sure they're healthy ones."
"So the nutritionist picks out the foods?" I asked just to make sure. At her nod I smiled. "I really like your nutritionist, then."
After we finished eating (and after I had second helpings of everything), she showed me around the base. She said it was highly likely that I would be staying there for some time, so she wanted me to know its layout and the facilities that were available. There was a lounge not too far from my quarters where I could sit and relax (and not too badly decorated, either), and there was a gym where I could exercise. She explained all of the equipment and then showed me where the men's locker room was. There I could shower and change and store my workout gear. She took me to the base exchange where I could requisition whatever I needed. On her recommendation I requisitioned workout gear, clothing, and toiletries. She helped me figure out what sizes I would need, and between the two of us we carted everything back to my quarters.
"Thanks," I said as she helped me put everything away. "I appreciate this, Major Carter."
"Call me Sam," she said, closing a dresser drawer. "Everyone does."
She seemed on the verge of saying something else, but Lieutenant Williams arrived and told her that she was needed in the infirmary, so she left me and told me that she would be back later.
I found out through rumors that her father had arrived then in an effort to help Dr. Jackson, but he had asked in the end to be allowed to…ascend? I didn't understand that until much later, but he was gone, and it seemed like the entire base was mourning. I kept out of everyone's way, certain that no one would want to be reminded of the coward who had cost them a good friend.