Epilogue (of a sorts)
So, here it is, my first ever attempt at a behind-the-scenes vignette for one of my fan fictions. It's a little daft and it's a lot of fun for me to post because more work goes into my fanfics than probably there should be put in, considering the zero £££ reward... But the reviews I've gotten from you guys have over the past few weeks really given me a boost and a relief from the avalanche of 'real' work I have to do. So, I don't know if this is so much a reward for you all as it is a chance just to see, if you're interested, how I indulge before I rethink, rewrite, and re-edit everything to make the final piece. Expect a lot more whumping, a lot more angst and a helluva a lot less sense...
Exerts of a Whumptastic Nature
(Note) So this all begun as a very different idea: In brief, Sam finds a way of going after Orlin not long after the concluding events of season five's episode Ascension. But instead of the plan falling exactly through as she'd hoped (something akin to building her own DIY Stargate was all I'd really considered) she ends up in this sort of nothing plane of existence/Ascendeds' half-way house-planet-place, thing... Something like the diner in Threads but, a whole planet... In the end it was too complicated for the little spare time I have to work on fan fictions, to contrive a convincing story worthy of the plot bunny itself, and all I wrote of it was the aftermath of Sam landing on the planet after a spectacularly wrong trip through her DIY 'gate.
I am an avid 'whump' writer, as the kids call it these days, and have been unwittingly since I was ten and wrote Pokemon stories. Back then it was Ash. Lately Carter has been my main victim, predeceasing T'Pol from Star Trek: Enterprise. That just gives you an idea of why what's written below is all I bothered to pen of the Orlin story idea. The piece has been directly translated from the original hand-written-on-paper piece I scribbled whilst visiting friends in Vancouver this summer, no editing, cutting or adding has been had at it, so it's a bit rough overall, and I apologise for that. Enjoy anyway!
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It's swollen, she thinks, that palms width of ribs just under and slightly behind her right breast. At least, it's bruised and maybe even bloodied. On her own it's hard to be sure, it's almost too soon to try and look under the fabric of her tee.
For just that moment it's good to be alone. She's always felt funny about people paying vigil to her unconsciousness. Not so much when sleep is a mutual task but when she's lying in a sickbay ward, wacked this-way-up and backwards on morphine, or knocked down on her ass in the field, the only one who didn't see the blast coming. There is a sense of embarrassment in coming-to with one's CO and whole team peering blurrily down at you, as if amused, that she had never quite managed to come to reasonable terms with.
But the moment of relief hardly lasts as no one could expect it to when the pain reels in and the reality of aloneness swamps all other perceptions.
Though not for long. It may have been sentimentality that spat her into this mess, but she was still military, practically born and raised, bred almost, and the military do not sit and weep whilst they lick their wounds.
Sam Carter (Major) gives her body time to throb, and her mind in turn a chance to realise where the wounds are, the trouble. Asides from a handful of her ribs on the upper right side it's her cheekbone on the same side; there are tears streaming from her eyes that at this moment have nothing to do with emotions. And a staved finger, the index on the left. Shooting might be tricky with a tremble in her aim but she'll have to do her best. She'll do no worse than what the colonel would expect from her.
She had little doubt that they were howling for her blood now, the politicians and worse, those in the military who had become men of politics; those yellow-toothed dogs who had grown weary of their patriotism and saw more pleasure, more gain, in playing with names and reputations that for some reason or another displeased them.
Though in fairness jumping through an illegal Stargate was bound to earn her a bounty she probably deserved.
Was she surprised she had landed in a forest? –No. But almost immediately she knew there was something far more to it than just its obvious alien-ness. The air was breathable, she could smell water, she could hear the fauna (the food) and she was for now alone and apparently not intruding on any dangerous indigenous specie's territories. She had everything from that to be thankful for, and yet she knew. This place could be her last. It felt likely of a destiny that might finally lead to her death.
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(Note) So if you were paying attention you might have noticed the injuries Carter sustained in that short passage are strikingly similar to the ones she suffers in Sucks To Be Us Sometimes. That's basically where Sucks (a really, really unfortunate title to abbreviate) began from. I couldn't be bothered with the epical of semi-ascension theories and where-did-Orlin-really-go-after-Ascension ideas. But, I did want Carter in an almost a-typical whumping short story, one that dealt with her in the way of Line in the Sand but more wild, more desperate, and more SG-1 old school. So then I wrote what is below... (Again it's rough so please be forgiving.)
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Someone was... running, across the grassy field, they were running fast as legs could go. Through the dirty dark of the night, the mud-sweetened air, through the tinder dry grass that was before the lake. She could only hear it, and it sounded no better than the disillusion of wishful thinking. Surely there was no one left, after the fire, after the abductions and now gone also those lucky enough to make it to the Stargate. This galloping of frenzied feet, it was just the cruel hoping of her mind, the conjuring of a wry imagination.
Her head she could not have lifted for love nor money, not even for the promise of these running feet to be real. Her neck was warm from the fresh blood of a deep scalp wound, her ribs miserably broken and bruised – every one of them it felt like. She could barely feel her fingers or toes. She was for death now, not any more special this time than the scores of charred and empty bodies around her.
It seemed more worth it now to succumb to the end, the painless void, than to keep up the struggle of life where hope had faded so completely as to feel like she had never had any.
But someone was running...
He managed to stop only by throwing himself to his knees, his momentum so great for it was powered by fear and desperation, and even a sliver of elation at finding her. He swung his gun to his side and with a gentleness that defied the sporadic madness in his gaze, in his wide eyes and the urgency of his trembling hands, he turned her off her side and onto her back.
She hissed, her lips drawn long and tight in a fierce grimace with her eyelids scrunched. But then just as quickly her face fell lax, her mouth casually agape, and every muscle going limp.
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(Note) Yeah I'm such a lazy ass. I literally stopped there just because I was having way too much damn fun in Vancouver at the time. The above was however meant to be an S/J piece. I'm anything but opposed to the shipping, in the show. I find it harder to write it myself though, I think I'd rather leave the speculating of that particular relationship to the professionals in the end. In fact, I've never been much of a shipper (writer). I'm avid on the friendships. It feels more real, my attempts to write the friendship rather than the speculative romance. In my personal opinion I failed miserably at it once in an Enterprise fic and ever since I've preferred the buddy moral.
So that's the tale of origins, if you like. By the time I went back to spending my spare time writing fan fics (about a couple of months ago) things for Sucks were starting to truly form...
The Original 'Chapter One'
Or a rant, if you will. That's how this story really started off becoming what it is now – as a sort of discontented stream of my own thoughts vented through Sam via some letters she'd written, which Jack consequentially finds and thus asks Daniel to 'translate', worried that his 2IC might be losing it, just a bit. Then lo-and-behold I was writing this whole circumstance around the letter, that Daniel (though it was originally meant to be Jack) and Sam were involved in, with whumping/comfort/angst/sardonic lols/vague back story all to boot... Where the exert below stops is where I decided to start again and turn it into something I might actually want to post online as a legitimate story.
It was also whilst writing this that a simpler idea for another other story on this account, I Hope You're Smiling, popped into my head so I actually scampered off to write that first. Then I came back and re-wrote this as then untitled first chapter...
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--that end? ... Do we accept the pain more easily if we all who have chosen to serve a law that belongs unto a greater force than ourselves as individuals choose to accept it as a contracted inevitable, even a worthy bestow for the greater universal good? That it is okay to bare brunt in the line of duty, to take shrapnel as we dive to bid full our commands, to lose integrity in that bit of our life we say is our personal part, because it is decoded on paper that there is a hierarchy which is, once sworn to by oath, undeniable.
Or is there a more desperate need that comes from a personal darkness, which forces us to resign to the catchphrase, 'that's life'. 'Take mines, my name and change it into rank so under you I cannot disagree. I am your hands, I am your machine, call me by my dub of duty and my blood is yours to spill.' This is life? Because without it, some of us would simply starve of loneliness? ...
He had read it three days ago as a private favour, to decode meaning behind a stolen confession. It had been wrong and important and though he had begrudged the tasked at the time, now he pondered it with severity, worried that his determination to realise it was of no real consequence was in vain.
It was a breed of translating that he was entirely unsure of, and he feared that his sentimentality to his friendship with the author was causing a problem of clarity in a way he had not experienced before. The words were there and he knew what they had to tell. But not what they honestly meant...
Sighing and looking away from the broken sky through the treetops, he laid an open palm to her cheek, pressing slightly so she might be able realise his touch, in case she had even the barest of wits left to feel anything by. She was hot and damp now, and he was cold. It was early morn' upon a frosty world, and as he stared vainly at a wan sunlight she was ever more paling under the grip of a ferocious fever.
Beneath a waxy grime of blood and bruises she looked so familiar to him it was harrowing. Because this was definitely Sam lying at his side, the most fiercely intelligent and adaptable soldier, the warmest and the keenest friend and often the most human amongst them at times when tragedy and doom threatened to snap their sanities. His friend, their right arm comrade, their companion, at times their commander, and always their most loyal follower. But now so still and bare, her voice lost to only a ragged breathing and just every so often small gasps of pain to communicate with on this estranged alien world.
Daniel had found her during the grey night time prior. Then she had been wild-eyed and white with pain, holding her fraught position with just a dive knife as a weapon behind a ruined stone shrine; suffering worst from a shattered knee and a splay of cracked ribs both under bloodied, torn skin. Also some deep, yellow grazing along one eye and her nose and burnt fingers where her guns had been forced out of her hand. Clumps of hair missing, a deep slice through her upper lip, no shoes: and blood and spit, and urine everywhere.
The shrine had been on the grassy fringe of an open field that carpeted into the thin woodland where they hid now. An erratic track of fire scorches and boot treads cutting through the off centre of the land suggested the mob had come from the North-west, and then straight across the open without fear, brazenly propelled by a mob-mentality. Had she come ahead of them also from the West? It was possible. Perhaps she had found a village that-away after they had been forced apart. Or perhaps she had been laying low in the woods and someone had flushed her out, like dogs on a fox.
She had been breathing hard and thinking fast when he'd rounded on her location. Her guns were gone but gripped in her left hand was the dive knife, held with all the desperate fierceness of one clinging determinedly to her last defence. When he'd come upon her, thinking she too was the enemy waiting to spring on him, he had been a hair's breadth from a stabbing in the shin. He was lucky and nothing more; the adrenaline had ebbed fast from her system since the attack had ended, and her strength was at best only enough to keep her awake and breathing at the same time.
She had lasted a half hour of bare consciousness and it had been long enough to learn that neither of them knew of O'Neill or Teal'c's whereabouts or of a good idea for getting back to the Stargate yet. So he had set them up a camp for the night and now morning was here hailed by a weak winter sunrise.
He lifted his hand from her flushed cheek and checked his radio, again. Dead, just white noise; it sounded almost worse than the implications of the letter...
Because without it, some of us would simply starve of loneliness? ...
It had been coy of Jack to send them off in yonder direction to 'check things out' alone, believing as he did that Daniel could conjure a conversation from her that might reveal in one glorious sweep her pool of innermost fears and beliefs, what the letter might really imply of her relationship to her job and her team. No one wanted to believe Sam was ready to quit on them, no one believed it period. But self doubt in her ability, in her worth to the program and to them – Jack wouldn't have it, and he was willing to pull it straight from her ass, if he was sure any of it meant anything for certain.
Of course, after the fact they always say the best laid plans...
Daniel had been particularly grated by the smell of urine in her hair and in the grass...
He had several theories behind the cause of the mob, but regardless of them at all, this was meant to have been a non-contact mission, a 'search n' sniff' as Jack sometimes woefully dubbed them. Check out the environment, scrape a little at the ruins, take notes on the vegetation and even do a little bird watching. No contact was expected. He and Sam had been sent and so wondered in a loosely Western line towards a river, Daniel hoping to find abandoned tools of primal human civilisation and Sam covering him.
It was part set up as much as it was just another routine recall mission. Jack and Daniel were the only ones privy to the letter, and Teal'c would only learn of it if he sussed O'Neill's true intentions, which he was not unknown to do on more than the off occasion. Jack had a tendency to overestimate the extent of Daniel's communicative abilities though. Or, perhaps it was that Daniel underestimated himself...
Regardless, they had never gotten round to the discussion Jack had been hoping for. Chaos had ensued, and it had taken a day for Daniel to recover his own bearings. It was by luck mostly that he had even found her...
"Oh Sam. Sam, Sam, Sa-am..." he murmured, as he doused the simpering embers of their weak fire and checked the splint he'd made for her knee. Probably not a job Frasier would be proud of, but all things considered etcetera. He took a little positivity in how she flinched when he straightened out her leg for her. She wasn't catatonic. Yet.
They would have to move soon. Daniel had sacrificed what he could to keep Sam warm during the night without giving himself hypothermia. She was draped in his windbreaker and he'd given her his boots and gloves as well. Eventually he'd resigned to cocooning himself around her, for both their sakes. It had been a sleepless night, listening to her ragged breathing underneath his chin, tensing whenever it stopped, wincing when she gasped in pain. There was nothing he could do for her ribs; it was going to be a hellish trek wherever they moved on to. For now though, he had to try and rouse her...
I Haz A Shooo!
(Note) This is actually a 'deleted scene' if you like from chapter three. I'll let it speak for itself. It's cute, but it was utterly useless in context so I scrubbed it.
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Daniel and Sam looked at each other through a close, low gaze, tight and straight between the eyes, noses almost touching and breath paused. Held it for a small world of time it seemed, clenching teeth and fists together, tightening every muscle around their jaws, squaring their shoulders whilst trying so-damn-hard-not-to-laugh...
But it was impossible, and Sam lost again by a snort of giggles that escaped through her nose this time. Because for ten minutes now they had been unable to suppress an irrational hysteria of entertainment caused by one of those inane moments that is funny just because it is.
Sam had needed a splint for her foot before they could start walking again. For whatever primitive logic, the villagers had stolen her boots so Daniel had sacrificed one of his own to be used as a sort of makeshift cast. He had tied the laces up for her on account of her broken finger and it had been then, sitting back on a small boulder to take stock, that they had shared a silent joke, or at least had found an unreasonable humour in the sight of that one boot on Sam's foot that was at least four sizes too big. It was lame and they both knew it but here they were anyway sitting on rocks laughing, scratching away tears from the corners of their eyes, catching their breath back from the moment. It was utterly ridiculous, and perfect.
As I said in my author's note in chapter one, the whole thing, asides from deriving from ideas of Orlin and semi-ascension, and random, indulgent whumping and an overall progression of notes and ideas, was inspired by a song – Foo Fighter's Razor. It's a beautiful song (and I don't say that lightly, I'm not a big fan of mush) that struck me with the image of (originally) Jack and Sam stranded in a forest together, cold and lost and full of tension and brimming confession, until I decided it was going to be Sam and Daniel and the whole idea of two friends bound to protect and help each other by just that, unconditional friendship. That's what I imagine Razor describes. Go listen to it. It's nice.
The more action packed stuff I choreographed (to better or worse effect, you decide) whilst listening to the song Sugar We're Going Down by Fall Out Boy. I will never again be able to listen to that epic song without imagining Sam and Daniel running like lunatics together into a fight. It makes me smile just typing about it.
Also Fight the Good Fight and Carry on my Wayward Son by Triumph and Kansas respectively are way up there on my favourite tunes at the moment (discovered on the Supernatural season one soundtrack.) Very SG-1-like lyrics. Love it.
And I think that's it for my slightly disjointed, very much fun to share vignette of Sucks to be Us Sometimes. The whole thing was a blast, it was great to get back into fanfic writing after so many years and even more fantastic to get a response from you guys the reviewers. Thank you as well everyone who put this story on their alerts and their favourites, and I really do hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did working on it.