Survivor's Guilt

Summary: Jonas struggles to come to terms with the events of the ep 'Shadow Play'.

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: I don't own them, I just enjoy getting inside of their heads from time to time.

Spoilers for "Shadow Play"

Feedback: Yes, please. Feed me, feed me!!! Oh, yeah, and this is my first Stargate fic, so please be kind, but also please let me know if I'm too out of character with Jonas and Sam. This is the first season I've seen.

Survivor's Guilt

Doctor Kieran had been transferred earlier in the day to a psychiatric facility where, Jonas had been assured repeatedly, he would be well taken care of. As if that was supposed to comfort him when he had just seen one of his planet's greatest minds cruelly and unexpected devastated like that.

Tired of pacing his quarters, but craving solitude, Jonas walked to the instillation's gym. He had been there occasionally with Teal'c, but never by himself. Surely it would be empty at this hour.

He almost turned around when he saw that there was someone else there, but that would have been pointless, not to mention strange. He was acutely conscious that many of those who worked at the SGC considered him strange, his own teammates included. He had no desire to compound that situation.

The woman was sitting on a bench working with free-weights. Her black hair was pulled back in a tight braid and fell past her waist and her eyes, which she now turned on him, were a pale gray.

"Hey," she said softly, nodding in acknowledgement before returning her attention to the weight she was curling.

"Uh, hi," Jonas said, nodding and walking across the gym.

He glanced at the punching bag thoughtfully for a moment. He had known people on his planet as well as on this one who used the bags to work through tension or anger, but he had never understood why that would help, or why they would rather deal with their problems alone instead of talking to their friends. Tonight, he at least understood the lack of desire to talk to his friends. He just did not want to see them, to see that look of pity on their faces. He hoped that hitting the bag would at least help him with the strain he was feeling, even as he doubted that it would do much good.

Shaking his head, he drove his fist into the bag, wincing as it connected, sending an unpleasant recoil up his arm and shoulder. Frowning, he tried again, with similar results. Either he was doing something wrong or the activity was not nearly as pleasant as people seemed to think.

"You don't do this much, do you?" a voice asked at his left elbow.

Jonas jumped, startled, and found himself staring into piercing gray eyes. "Hi." He smiled cautiously, wondering what she wanted.

"Captain Corazon Starke," she introduced herself.

"Jonas Quinn," he replied, extending his hand.

"The alien?" she asked, accepting his hand and giving it a gentle squeeze.

He nodded, surprised by how unaffected she seemed. Most people on base were a little uneasy around him once they realized that he was 'the alien'. He had often wondered if Teal'c had gone through the same thing when he had first joined SG-1. Until it had occurred to him that it had probably been worse for the Jaffa.

"Well, Mister Quinn, you're going about this all wrong," she informed him, nodding towards the bag. "You're going to hurt yourself if you keep this up."

"Oh." Jonas nodded, smiling a little shyly. Her tone of voice and the way she carried herself reminded him of a teacher he had once had, a woman who had not thought him at all strange for preferring books to the company of his peers. He found himself liking this woman by association. "Thanks."

"Not a problem. Would you like me to show you?"

Always eager to learn something new, and less than eager to hurt himself, Jonas smiled more widely and nodded. "That'd be great, Captain Starke. Thanks."

She shrugged. "Not a problem, Mister Quinn."

"Please, call me Jonas."

Her smile was almost ironic. "Only if you'll call me Corazon."

"That's a beautiful name. It means heart, right?"

"Very good, Jonas." She grinned and nodded at him. "You're right."  She turned her attention to the bag. "Okay, your problem is that you're holding yourself wrong."

"What do you mean? How?"

"You're just standing there like you're… waiting in line at the Commissary. Stand like this." She demonstrated, flexing her knees slightly and raising her arms until her loose fists hovered in front of her face and throat. "See?"

Jonas nodded and imitated the stance.

"Good." She winced as Jonas took another swing at the bag, catching his wrist before he could connect. "Not unless you want to break a few fingers."

Jonas frowned down at his hand reflectively. "Maybe I'll just do something else..."

She smiled and shrugged. "What's got you pissed?"

"I beg your pardon?" Jonas blinked in surprise. Strange question to ask a guy just because he happened to want to use the gym at eleven PM. Perhaps stranger still because she was right.

"You're obviously upset about something. You're in the gym at an hour I know you've never been to the gym before because this is my usual time. If you just wanted a cardio workout, you'd probably go for the 'mill since you've obviously never used the bag. And if you wanted to learn, you'd be here with someone who could show you the ropes. Besides..." She jerked her head towards the bag. "You'd be surprised how many people like to use it as a proxy for people who have them ticked. Displacement… Sublimation…"

"You a psychiatrist?" he asked.

She grinned and shrugged. "Possibly."  She shrugged again. "Want to talk about it?"

Jonas shook his head. "No."

"Want a sparring partner?"

"You mean it?" he asked, startled.

"Don't worry, Jonas. I promise not to hurt you too bad. Hell, I hear you once took down Teal'c. You might even win."

"Does it help?"

"Does what help what?"

"When you're upset. Hitting things."

"Not really, no." She shook her head.

"So... what's the point?"

"Exert yourself until you're too exhausted to think. Psychological band-aid."

"Huh."  Jonas sighed and sat down on one of the benches. "But I'm already tired..." he sighed. "And I still can't stop thinking about it."

"So get some sleep."

"Can't sleep."

"Get Fraiser to give you a sleeping pill."

He shook his head. "Doesn't matter. Doesn't solve the problem. It's... another band-aid."

She sat down next to him. "Not a problem that's going to go away, then?"

He shook his head. "I wish it were."

"Talking could help. I'd recommend it."

Jonas looked at her for a moment, then burst out, " It's not fair!"

"Is life ever?" she asked gently, touching his arm.

"He was one of the greatest minds on our planet, and now..." He blinked back the tears that threatened. "It's just... gone."

She frowned in understanding. She had read the reports, consulted with Fraiser on Doctor Kieran's case. "That... were you close?"

Jonas nodded weakly. "He was my friend, my mentor. He taught me everything there was to know and then we worked side by side for six years..." He shook his head, sighing and this time not bothering to fight his tears. "It's not fair!" he shouted, jumping to his feet and closing the distance to the punching bag. He pounded it as hard as he could as he spoke, half-shouting, causing himself a lot of pain, and not really caring about either. He wanted, needed to lash out at something. "It could have been me! It should have been me! He didn't deserve this!"

"No one deserves something like that, Jonas..." she told him softly, sliding her arms around him and steering him away from the bag. She held him tightly until his sobs began to ease.

"It's not fair!" he repeated, the phrase turning into a low groan.

"No, it's really not." Sam walked into the gym, a concerned frown on her face. "I'll take it from here, Corey."

"Okay, Sam." She nodded and gave Jonas a gentle pat on the shoulder. "You look me up if you need to talk," she told him gently.

He nodded, drying his eyes. "Thanks, Corazon."

"Not a problem." She patted his shoulder again and then left, nodding to Sam as she went.

"Major..." he began, struggling to compose himself.

"Walk with me, Jonas." The request was gentle, but still a half-order.

As they walked, Jonas spoke softly, with a little shame at his outburst. "Captain Starke must think--"

"That's you're very upset. It's allowed, Jonas. God, I can't imagine how I would be reacting in your shoes."

Jonas realized that she had steered him towards his quarters until they were outside his door. Shrugging internally, he opened the door. He was a little surprised when Sam followed him inside. She poured a glass of water, handing it to him.

"Thanks." After a brief pause, he asked, "Were you... looking for me just now?"

She nodded. "I was worried about you, Jonas. We all are." She sat down on the couch and patted the cushion next to her. "You weren't in your quarters or in your office, so I went looking."

"And heard me screaming?" he asked, embarrassed.

She nodded, but her expression reflected clearly that she was not passing judgment. She understood, at least on some level, what he was suffering through.

"Jonas... Losing someone you care about is hard. This... it must be even harder. Especially knowing that it could have been you."

"It should have been me," he corrected her quietly.

Sam had to repress a nod, not because she agreed with the quiet assertion, but because she suddenly understood. Survivor's guilt. Jonas had been one of the key researchers on the Naquadria project. The other three had all been stricken with schizophrenia due to exposure to the compound. Only Jonas had escaped, and then only because he had defected. That must only have intensified his guilt. Sam knew that it had been hard enough for him to face his own people again, to face their recriminations because of the defection that had saved him from the same fate as his fellow scientists.

"Jonas, that's not true and you know it."

He looked up at her. "It feels like the truth, Sam." His head sagged and he covered his face with his hands. "Such a loss..."

"I know," she whispered, draping an arm around his shoulder. "Talk to me, Jonas. Might help."

Without looking up, he said quietly, "I... I practically worshiped the ground Doctor Kieran walked on. He was... so smart. I was in awe of him, even before I started studying under him. He was a living legend, and I was so intimidated by him at first, but... he was a wonderful man, kind and gentle and understanding. I mean, he expected a lot out of me, more than any of his other students, and he pushed me really hard but..." He shook his head. "He... he became like a father to me, Sam. This... this legendary figure in our scientific community and he was... just another human being after all. Do you... you know what I mean?"

Sam nodded. "Yeah, Jonas, I do. You must have loved him a lot."

"I did. I do." Jonas sighed. "I spent three hours this afternoon watching him talk to a hallucination, Sam." He shook his head slowly. "He seemed so... serene. Is... is that from the drugs?"

"I don't know, Jonas. Maybe... maybe he's just letting go of some of that guilt."

Jonas nodded. "He views the coup as redemption, I think. Like it can help make up for the Naquadria bomb." He shook his head. "You think he's happy?" he asked quietly.

"I think that he must be happier than he would be if he didn't believe in this coup of his."

Jonas nodded. It made him feel a lot better. There would always be a lot of pain and regret over this, just like over the death of Doctor Jackson, but a little of that load had been relieved. Part of his mind thought that it might have been nice to have his own secure delusional system to hide behind, but realistically he knew better. The only relief he would ever find would be in redeeming himself through his actions, by doing a little bit of good in the universe. It was not much, but it was what he had.

"You going to be okay?" Sam asked gently after what might have been minutes or hours of silence.

"I think so." He smiled up at her, nodding.

"If you're sure." When he nodded again, she rose a little reluctantly. "I'm here for you, Jonas. We all are."

He smiled and nodded as he walked her to the door. "I know. And I appreciate it. Good night, Sam."

"Night, Jonas. You, um, call me if you need anything."

"I will. Thank you, Sam."

"We're all here if you need anything at all..." she repeated.

Jonas smiled at her as he closed the door. "I know," he repeated softly to the empty room. "But this one I think I need to deal with on my own."

Shaking his head, wondering how it was possibly to feel both lonely and loved at the same time, Jonas climbed into bed. When he said his prayers, they were that there would be no dreams tonight.

The End