Disclaimer: I don't own Lord of the Rings, and I don't own Stargate SG-1, or any of the characters, settings, scenarios or stories associated therewith. This is done for love with no profit being made whatsoever.
A/N: Thanks very much again Rabidsamfan for the beta!
For Those That See, Chapter 18
Aragorn hurried along the forest path, the trees seeming to sense his urgency and make way for him rather than holding him back by snagging on clothes and hair. Although for the sake of privacy they had chosen to make their camp a way away from any of the main dwellings Lothlórien, he deeply regretted that now. Daniel needed help, and help of a kind that could not give. For the moment he had been stilled by the strange liquid that Samantha has administered to him, but they did not know how long it would last. Aragorn had never seen illness of this kind, and Aragornrelied on the elves to provide what they could, if indeed they could treat it.
"Aragorn!" a voice called from within the trees, and he slowed to a halt as a lithe figure dropped from the trees a little way away. It was Legolas. "What troubles you?" he asked. Aragorn explained swiftly about Daniel's condition. Legolas nodded to show he had understood. "I will go at once, and see if I may do anything to soothe him," he said. "You are not far now from the healers' dwelling, do you know the way?"
"Well enough," said Aragorn gratefully. "Go at once - I will fetch a healer and follow you."
When Legolas returned to the camp, he found Daniel surrounded by both Companies. He lay on the ground, trembling slightly and moaning occasionally. Jack and Samantha knelt by his head, and Teal'c stood protectively over him. The rest of the Fellowship stood around them, helpless and yet entranced. The air was heavy with tension. Legolas moved swiftly to Daniel's side, causing the humans to jump in surprise.
"Aragorn has gone for a healer," Legolas told them. "I am not practised in the art of healing, but I will do what I can in the meantime."
"It was singing," said Jack. "He wasn't ill while you were all singing your songs. I don't understand it, but can you help him?"
"I will try," replied Legolas. He reached out and took Daniel's hand, closing his eyes and reaching out with his senses, trying to remember all that he had been taught of healing, so many years ago. He felt Daniel's racing pulse and shallow breath, and a shadow that clouded his spirit and made him quake in fear and dread. "He is frightened," murmured Legolas. "There is a great pain in his spirit, as though it has been torn from him, more than once. I will do what I can." Gently, he began to murmur in song, a lullaby to soothe and calm Daniel. His fea was turbulent and twisted, and suddenly Legolas remembered the joking conversation in which they had learned how many times Daniel had almost died. Was it truly possible for a mortal to die and then to return, as had occasionally been granted to elven souls? He knew of only one such, and the cost of it had been the immortality of another. Daniel's soul had been rent and twisted, wrenched from him and thrown back to him so much that it was a wonder that he lived and breathed at all.
Keeping one hand covering Daniel's, Legolas reached out and rested his other hand on Daniel's forehead. His song changed, spinning itself, weaving in and out of the rhythm of Daniel's fea, meeting it and pulsing with it and gently bringing it into alignment with Legolas' own consciousness. Legolas moved on instinct, murmuring a song that continued to change and yet was ever the same, as natural as breath and as clear as mountain springs, as soft as the morning light in winter and as warm as the wind in late summer evenings. Time passed, the world turned beneath them. He heard movements around him as the Companies sat down, forming a quiet but protective shield around their friend.
A new rhythm entered the song, a beat that was fast and anxious, but stalwart and strong and powerful. Legolas realised that the members of SG-1 had drawn closer: Jack was resting his hand on Daniel's shoulder and Samantha was holding his hand. Their fear beat together like the pounding of a powerful drum, and Legolas began to twine that rhythm into his song, to bring Daniel back to the people he loved. Their spirits spoke of needing him, almost despairing at the idea of losing him. Legolas felt them calming as he sang and drew all their fear together. His own hand trembled: this was no easy task.
It came as a great relief when Aragorn returned to the clearing, bringing two healers with him. Seeing at once what Legolas was doing, they joined with him and worked to soothe Daniel's spirit. Line by line, cord by cord they untangled the damage that had been wrought by fear and pain and heartache over the years, all dragged at once to the surface by the very machine that had saved Daniel's life. Step by step they mended him as best they could, but they knew that they could not truly save Daniel with this act. Some of the damage to his fea was irrevocable; some would return in time and only he could resolve that damage in his own time. Yet still they worked, healing Daniel as well as they could and bringing his body and spirit back into alignment.
Finally the work was done. Legolas sat back, surprised at the warm afternoon sun that was beating down on him. He was tired and his mind and soul ached from the work he had done. Aragorn was thanking the healers and offering them space to rest before making their way home. Had it really been hours? It had seemed mere seconds. Legolas felt a tug on his shoulder.
"Legolas?" It was Pippin, looking confused and worried. "Strider is saying you should come and lie down, take some rest."
"In a moment, Pippin," promised Legolas. He turned back to Daniel and brushed a hand once more over his forehead.
"Daniel?" he prompted. Daniel's eyelids fluttered, and he breathed in deeply.
"Is there coffee?" he asked. Legolas arched his eyebrows in surprise, but Jack merely laughed and ruffled his friend's hair.
"Carter's on it," he said. "You'll get your fix soon enough."
"Thanks," murmured Daniel to the group at large, still somewhat confused over what had happened. Legolas went to rise, but Jack caught his arm before he could move.
"Me too," he said. "Thanks."
"You are very welcome," murmured Legolas, before Pippin led him away to their shelter to sit and take his own rest.
"So Daniel, tell me, how did it feel?"
Sam pressed a second mug of coffee into the archaeologist's hands and looked eagerly into his eyes. "Could you feel what was going on? What actually happened?"
"I... don't know," said Daniel warily. "Did you say they were singing?
"Yep," said Jack. "Like I said, they sang and sang for hours while we all just sat there and waited, and then you were better. What happened where you were?"
"I honestly don't know," said Daniel. "It was like being in the sarcophagus, almost, only without the evil and madness bit. It was like I was floating, and there was darkness and light mingling, and being separated, so that the light could come through... does that make any sense?"
"You're telling us you're a light?"
"No! I... why do I bother, Jack? Look, I'm fine, that's great, and if singing can achieve it, so much the better. Sam, why don't you ask Legolas about it once he's had a chance to rest?"
Sam nodded, looking only slightly disappointed that she wasn't going to get a more scientifically framed answer. "It sounds to me just like all that ascension stuff," she said. "Light and dark, and untangling the two so that only light remains - Daniel, when you ascended you were, well..."
"A glowing ball of light," Jack put in.
"Right. Now, we know that before the Ancients all ascended, there had to be some inbetween stages. What if this is one of them? What if the Elves really are heading for ascension, and this is one of the inbetween stages?"
"It certainly seems possible," agreed Daniel.
"I don't know," said Jack. "We haven't seen anyone throwing anything around with telekewhatsits and reading people's minds and stuff, like we saw with those advanced humans."
"I didn't see that," Daniel reminded him. "Jonas and I aren't just interchangeable, you know."
"Whatever. My point stands, and I think it's a good one."
"Maybe..." Sam frowned. "Gandalf was capable of some pretty impressive stuff, though. In some ways he reminded me of when we first saw Oma Desala."
"Okay, so maybe they are halfway ascended," said Jack. "Good for them! I hope they have a jolly good time with it. That doesn't get us much closer to going home, you know."
"I know, sir, but they did just help Daniel. I'm sure if they can help us, they will."
"Maybe they could ascend us, and then we could be de-ascended in the SGC?" suggested Jack.
"I don't think you'd want to do that, even if it could work," said Daniel.
"Why not? It's a quick, one-way ticket home, after all."
"Well, there is the whole no clothes thing..."
Aragorn stepped past the hobbits, who had borrowed Jack's ball and were playing toss-and-catch again, and slipped into the shelter where Legolas sat, looking weary as he had ever done. He glanced up at Aragorn with a smile when he heard him approach.
"How is Daniel?" he asked. Aragorn sat down beside him.
"He is very well," he said. "Thank you - that must have been hard on you."
"I admit my healing skills are somewhat rusty," said Legolas with a smile. Aragon nodded.
"Legolas, I must ask you something," he began.
"Yes. Frodo and Merry were concerned that his experiences... that is, they say he has not been well in the past, that he has acted out of character to the point of being considered evil. Did you see anything of evil in him? I must know, if he is a risk to the quest."
"You ask much of me," said Legolas warningly. "A man's soul is his own, Aragorn, not something to be shared with others."
"I know," said Aragorn. "Normally I would not dream of asking. But we cannot put Frodo at risk. You are not bound by oath to stay with us, but if you have aught to tell me that endangers the quest, by your honour you must do so."
Legolas smiled. "You speak well, my friend," he said at length. "I do not think you have anything to fear from Daniel Jackson. His soul has been rent by many griefs, but his heart is pure."
"His soul has been rent?"
"Aragorn," said Legolas warningly, "I can tell you no more. There is no evil in him, only the trials of time. His heart is a diamond forged by the fires, not a burnt and broken cinder. He is true."
"I am glad to hear it," said Aragorn. "I have grown fond of our travelling companions, and I would be sorry to have to challenge him over anything. I wonder what his trials have been, to have damaged his soul so?"
Legolas did not answer, but he thought again of the tales that SG-1 had told their travelling companions. They were stories not of comfort or joy, but of great trials, of loss and grief and sorrow, and Daniel seemed to have had the lion's share. He thought of the great lord Glorfindel, a soul returned to his earthly form once more, and of Daniel and his return to a human shape after a time with the gods. Where Glorfindel shone with light, this trial seemed to have damaged Daniel's mortal fea, and his light was dimmed at times with grief and care. Legolas wondered if this truly was the same thing, and how great a price Daniel had paid to return to the world. Glorfindel came back because the world needed him; could it be that the world of SG-1 could not do without Daniel Jackson, that he had come back? And yet, why if it needed him was he sent back in pieces that needed to be put back together? Legolas longed to discuss this with Aragorn, to reason out the questions pressing on his mind, but he respected the confidentiality of Daniel's soul and so pondered the questions only in the quiet of his own heart.