Damaged

I've felt like this before, I remind myself. It doesn't help. Teal'c's weapon feels smooth in my hands; no sand here to roughen the metal like on Abydos. The others are waiting, watching me, and I try to keep the panic to myself, try desperately to be reasonable. Inside, I'm anything but--I've just spent hours with someone who's been through what Sha're has, and she is herself again! This thing WORKS! This is a million times worse than being commanded to kill Jack and the others... and this time there can be no Deus Ex Machina, no Skaara to flash sunlight and victory in my eyes.

I want to argue, or at the very least hand this wretched thing to someone else, but instead I look over at Jack, wondering if he sees the parallels. For one brief second I can see the understanding in his eyes, the grief. He has lost someone, too--irrevocably, and beyond his control.

"C'mon," he whispers softly.

Before I can allow myself to change my mind, I fire. Through the dancing blue current that results, I can see the crumpled body of the Goa'uld and remember Teal'c's words, "There is too much damage." They echo in my head as I lower the staff weapon, my mind associating them to the entire situation. I think of what I just destroyed, of Jack and his son, and lastly, of Sha're. Was I too damaged to fight harder? Too broken to find a compromise? Teal'c walks through the disarmed gateway as I mentally berate myself, thoughts swirling almost towards madness--until his voice breaks through, grounding me.

"Thank you, Daniel Jackson."

I turn to him and, as I hand him back his weapon, I can see all that he hasn't said reflected in his eyes. I want to tell him that his friendship was worth it, but as strong as our new friendship is, I'm not sure either of us would believe it. Instead, I reach for the next best thing--optimism.