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 Mirror, Mirror

 

Chapter 3

There was a military van sitting beside the old house. O'Neill paused. Knew that inside that dilapidated old farmhouse were the people his team had once been. The man he had once been.

"Let's go," Jackson growled. "We shoot them, then get the hell out of here. Leave a nice anonymous message at Peterson, and we're home free."

He glanced at the archaeologist. Had it really been so long ago that Daniel had walked into his office, demanding that he speak to General West, to get clearance for him to go on the mission to Abydos? Where had that starry-eyed, innocent, geeky scientist gone? The linguist who had always, even in the face of danger, lowered the weapon he carried as a sign of trust, of peace; often reaching over and pushing his down as well, demanding that a peaceful solution be sought...insisting that diplomacy was always the best answer. Where was the archaeologist who could make friends with the most stubborn of villagers...had befriended an Unas? When had this angry, cold-blooded...mercenary...taken his place? When Ba'al succeeded in taking Casey from him, his mind supplied. "Right."

"Is Harry here?" Carter asked, looking around. She recognized this place. It was quiet here. She liked the quiet. Her head didn't hurt when she could hear the birds singing.

"Yeah, he's here," O'Neill replied, giving the woman a smile. He put his hand on Jackson's shoulder. "No shooting until I give the order." A sharp nod was the only acknowledgement. It was all that was needed.

Jackson stepped out of the van. For one brief moment, considered what he was about to do. And then, like he had since that horrible day, he pushed his feelings aside. If someone had to die so that he could live, well, that was fair enough, wasn't it? After all, he'd risked his life repeatedly to save the planet. A little payback was in order.

The first step he took whisked him back in time, to a planet he couldn't even remember the designation for. Where the motto of 'leave no man behind' went by the wayside. He knew now what had happened. That Senator Kinsey...no...the bastard had already been made Vice President by that time...had shut down the program. Sealed the iris and the 'gate room. Left SG-1 stranded on a planet where a ha'tak was sitting...waiting...

 

"Okay, tell me why we didn't see this when we sent the UAV," Jack whispered, peering through his field glasses.

"It wasn't there when the UAV did a fly-by," Sam whispered in return. "Or it was shielded when the UAV did a fly-by."

"Radar...did you know that thing was there?"

She huffed a sigh. "Sure boss. I saw it there, and decided checking it out would make a nice day trip, but didn't feel it was worth mentioning."

Jack had almost grinned at the ire in her voice.

"Now what?" he asked, his eyes moving over the pyramid shaped craft.

"We get back to the 'gate and bug the hell out of here," was Jack's calm response.

"Jaffa approach," Teal'c said, his voice low. "The mark they bear is that of Ba'al."

"Danny, any particular facts we should know about this guy?"

"He's a Goa'uld." In his mind, that was the only fact that mattered. Ba'al was the enemy. Anything else was superfluous information. They hadn't met this particular Goa'uld. It wouldn't be many hours before all of them wished they had never heard of him...

Jack ducked his head and closed his eyes for a second...in thought or in prayer, he had no idea. "Back up," the colonel said quietly.

 

 

 

P90s ready, the five crept back into the bushes that offered precious little ground cover. Hopefully their camouflage uniforms would break up the pattern of five bodies enough to keep them from being spotted.

Holding their breath, fear pounding in their veins, SG-1 watched as the squad of Jaffa marched by. Heading directly for the Stargate.

She grabbed his arm. He turned to look at her, and saw the absolute terror that filled her eyes. "Case?"

"No escape," she whispered hoarsely.

Three heads swung in her direction. "Radar?" Jack looked as worried as he figured he did.

Tears stood in green eyes so wide that they seemed too large for her face. "No escape," she repeated.

Nervous glances were exchanged.

"Casey, in six years of working at the SGC, I haven't given up yet. I sure don't plan to do so today," Jack said firmly.

He smiled grimly. It was typical of Jack to look at the facts of the matter, decide he didn't like them, and declare that the whole situation would be changed to suit him. That attitude, however, had kept SG-1 alive when by all rights they should've died years earlier. "He's right, Angel. We'll get out of this. We just have to find that rabbit."

Scooting backwards, hoping that there weren't any other Jaffa nearby, the team made their way back to the path they had noticed on their way up the ridge. They had to beat those Jaffa to the 'gate. There were no other options.

Running had never been one of his favorite things to do. Running with a full pack was even lower on his list of 'things-I'll-do-when-I-want-to-have-fun'. How many times had they literally ran for their lives? Once again the idea of resigning from SG-1, if not the SGC, crossed his mind. His fingers wrapped around Casey's slender hand, making certain she was beside him, focused his attention on her. He adjusted his pace, so that she could keep up with him. Jack had glanced back twice, no doubt a bit pissy that they weren't running faster. Pacing themselves was the key. If they ran hard out now, they wouldn't have the stamina to make it all the way.

It seemed to take forever before the giant monument came into sight. When it did, he sent up a silent prayer of thanksgiving. Jack pointed to him, Casey and Teal'c. Then to the road that led to the Stargate. They would watch for the approaching Jaffa. Sam would dial the 'gate, and Jack would watch her back.

He could still hear the panic in Sam's voice when they had joined the two beside the DHD, the Jaffa just over the rise, and coming fast. Had watched with horror when the GDO continued to flash an error code. As if...as if the SGC was no longer there. Or, he thought bitterly, the damned place had been shut down.

 

 

 

"It's gonna get hairy," Jack whispered. Four heads nodded their understanding. Determination settled on the features of five individual faces. "Sam, you keep trying to dial out when you can."

"Yes, sir."

"Jacksons, take the left. Teal'c, you and I are on the right."

He was right beside her when she huddled close to ground on the left side of the DHD. There was no freaking cover anywhere. The best that they could hope for was to keep the Jaffa away long enough to get the 'gate open...and the IDC code confirmation. Just a couple of minutes, that's all they needed...

Just as Jack had ordered Sam to dial the Alpha site, a glider had flown overhead. Firing at them. Had hit the DHD in the first volley. Totally destroyed it...and their hope of escape through the 'gate.

As soon as his clips were empty, he'd known. SG-1 had come to the end of their good luck. Casey's P90 went silent just seconds after his. She'd reached for his hand, her fingers had trembled against his. Jack's weapon went silent. Then Sam's. Teal'c continued to fire his staff weapon, for all the good it did.

It was over. Their hour-long battle against superior numbers had a most unsatisfactory ending. There was no way to call for backup...Sam had already tried using the radio to get through, to find out if the iris was locked or not. There had been no reply.

Leave no man behind. Wasn't that a nice fucking lie. Because SG-1 had most certainly been left behind...

Surrounded by Jaffa, their gear had been stripped from them. Their hands had been bound, and they had been marched back to the ha'tak. It wasn't like the team had never been captured before. God only knew how many times they'd been in that exact situation. But they'd always known that within hours at least one SG team would be coming for them. This time...this time there would be no such rescue.

 

 

 

Tossed into a dirty cell as soon as they had crossed the threshold of the ship, the team was surprised to find that they were left together. Hope surged in five hearts.

"Okay, let's get the hell out of here," Jack said.

Casey was looking for ventilation shafts. "Damn it! No hidey holes!"

"Sir, what if one of us went through the shield? It would knock that person out, but it should be enough to bring the shield down," Sam suggested.

"I'll do it," Casey volunteered immediately. "I'm easier to carry."

Jack frowned, stared at the opening at the front of the cell, the hum of the shield barely audible. "Teal'c, what are the chances of getting away when they move us? Because they will move us...they're not going to let us stay together."

"There are none, O'Neill. If Ba'al is aware of our reputation, we will each be heavily guarded."

His heart had fallen to his feet. Just as quickly as hope had filled him, it deserted him. He settled against the wall. Put his arm against Casey when she sat down beside him. He had known, in that moment, that nothing would ever be the same...for any of them...

 

 

 

When the Jaffa approached the cell, they could see that Teal'c had assumed correctly. Two squads of the armored warriors stood ready. They were taken to the pel'tak, where Ba'al was waiting for them.

There was the usual demand of 'bow before your god'. To which Casey had immediately spouted off that as soon as there was a god present, she'd do so. Which had earned her a slap across the face. He'd been hit...twice...as he fought to place himself between her and the Jaffa who had hit her.

He would never forget the way that Goa'uld bastard sat, undressing Casey with his eyes. The rest of the team had warranted less than a perfunctory glance. But Casey...the damned snake had been panting over her as soon as he laid eyes on her.

Ba'al had signaled, and Casey had been taken closer to him. She'd fought every step of the way, continued to struggle when the Jaffa stopped in front of the throne. He could still remember her cry of pain when Ba'al had raised his hand, and the beam from the ribbon device had connected to her, burning the skin on her forehead. She had stopped fighting, and slumped between the Jaffa.

Then Ba'al had risen. Walked around them. Poking them. Demanding to know who they were. What they were doing on the planet.

His heart had started beating again when Casey had stood up, even though he could tell she was trembling, and knew from experience she had one hell of a headache.

Her screams of terror filled the air when she was taken away. Her declarations of love, her promise to return to him. His promises to free her...called back and forth as she was dragged from the room.

"I'll kill you, you bastard!" He'd been surprised at how calm his voice had sounded. And he'd spoken in Goa'uld as concisely as possible.

And that had been when he'd been hit by Ba'al himself for the first time. The blow had sent his glasses flying across the pel'tak. It had been the last time he'd seen clearly, until they'd returned to Earth, and he'd managed to sneak into his sealed apartment to get his spare pair.

Then, he and Sam, Jack, and Teal'c were taken back to that dirty cell...

 

 

 

And there they sat, trying to come up with a brilliant plan of escape. Or a mediocre plan of escape. A piss-poor, no-chance-in-hell plan would have sufficed as well. But nothing came to mind. Not one thing they tried had worked.

How long had it been before the guards had returned? Had to have been several long hours. Long enough for them to have exhausted every idea, every fragment of an idea to escape. They were SG-1. They tried to buoy themselves and one another. Telling jokes. Laughing about silly things. Trying to forget that they were facing the end. All the while, his heart breaking...his worry about Casey making him nearly insane with the need to do something...to get out of that damned cell and find her...save her.

The Jaffa had come again, fewer this time, and had taken Teal'c. At first, no matter how hard they tried, how close to the opening of the cell they stood, there was nothing to hear. Then...the first scream. Sam had jumped, tears filling her blue eyes. She had clung to Jack, buried her face against his shoulder. The second scream was even worse. Then the third...and the fourth. And then...silence.

Panic had filled him when the Jaffa had returned. They were going to be killed, one at a time...or so he thought. Instead, their hands were manacled behind them, and they were taken to one of the ship's cargo bays. It seemed that every slave had been brought in as well. And Jaffa...God he'd never realized how many Jaffa were on a ha'tak!

There was a throne sitting on a platform at the far end of the bay. Ba'al was sitting there, looking like the smug bastard that he was. Casey was standing beside the throne, and even from where he stood, without his glasses, he could see that she was terrified. Nor did he need to be closer to realize that she was wearing nothing beneath the emerald green silk gown that covered her slender body.

Her gaze had been moving over every face. He'd seen her smile when her green eyes met his own. He felt the messages of love she sent, returned that love as much as possible.

Casey's cry of protest echoed in the large space when Teal'c was dragged in, barely alive. Ba'al's hand closed around her arm when she would have raced to the Jaffa's side.

When Teal'c had been dropped at Ba'al's feet, the snake had stood, his eyes flashing with the freaky light that was symbolic of the Goa'uld. "Jaffa! Here me! Only those who remain true to their name, and honor their god, will find peace in Kheb. See now what happens to shol'va!"

A Jaffa, carrying a long sword...a broadsword his mind clarified inconsequentially...had stepped up beside Teal'c. And then...it had been over. Casey had screamed, and then launched herself at Ba'al, swinging her fists at anyone who came near enough.

His heart had stopped beating when Ba'al had zatted her. She'd gone down, weeping in pain, both physical and emotional. And then he, and the other slaves and prisoners, and Jack and Sam, had been taken back to their cells.

After that, his memories were a bit blurry. Days of being interrogated, asked the same questions over and over. Beaten every time he refused to respond, or gave an answer that his inquisitor deemed unacceptable.

His hands had been broken. One finger at a time. And then his arms. He'd told them everything when the last of his ribs had been fractured. Not that it did them any good. They couldn't get the GDO to work, either.

 

 

 

He would never forget the first time she'd come to see him. She'd managed to sneak to the detention level.

"Hey, handsome!"

He had smiled when he realized her voice was coming from above him. He looked up into her green eyes. "Hey, gorgeous."

She had slid down into the cell, ran her hands over his aching shoulders and arms Tears streamed down her cheeks when she'd realized how badly he had been beaten.

He remembered everything about that visit. The way the cream colored gown she wore clung to every curve. The smudges of black on the silk fabric from her climb through the air vents. How beautiful she looked. Her words of love. Her assurances that nothing had happened, that she had been able to, in her words, 'keep that damned snake at bay'. What she hadn't said, what she hadn't needed to say, was that it was only a matter of time before Ba'al raped her. Took from her what she would never willingly give.

She'd barely been able to slip back into the ventilation shaft, he'd not been able to help her much, he was in such bad shape, when the clanking of their armor warned of approaching guards. The vent snapped into place just before Jaffa guards had come in. After that, her visits had been sporadic. But he'd treasured every moment. He'd been moved into a cell that had been beside a maintenance shaft, one that she used each time she came to see him, disabling the shield in order to be with him. She'd tenderly hold his battered body, her tears mingling with the blood and the sweat on his skin. She never wanted to leave him, but they both knew that she risked death if Ba'al learned of her visits. Funny, escape had never occurred to either of them at that point in time, during those stolen moments together. He was in no condition to run...and they had no where to go if they had attempted to do so.

 

 

 

Then...the visits had stopped. And the taunting had begun.

"Tell me, Tau'ri," Ba'al said, smirking at him as he hung from the manacles, barely alive. "How often did those sweet lips wrap around your erect member, and suck you straight into paradise? My Beloved bequeaths her attention to me daily."

"Fuck you." It didn't matter what he said. Didn't matter if he spoke Goa'uld or English. His captors had become adept at interpreting his tone of voice. He'd been struck.

"Perhaps I'll bring her in here, so that you can see just how much enthusiasm she shows when she kneels before me."

It had been a battle to keep from screaming. The pain in his body, which had been agonizing, had been nothing compared to the pain in his heart.

"I buried myself in that sweet, tantalizing body just an hour ago. Feasted on those delightful breasts. I wonder if you were aware that enough attention to her nipples makes the areola's puff out just a bit. So beautiful. So sweet."

That was the moment. He realized that now. That was the moment when he'd started doubting her. Believing that she was at Ba'al's side because she had made the choice to remain there. Hell, for all he knew, that snake bastard had charmed her into falling in love with him. No matter that in lucid moments, he understood that what was happening to her was every bit as much torture as what he was going through. There were moments when he worried that the repeated rapes were affecting her mentally...that she might be slipping away from him, and he was helpless to stop it...unable to protect her.

 

 

 

Then, it was as if Ba'al had suddenly lost interest in him. He'd not seen the Goa'uld at all after that. He rarely saw Jack. Hadn't seen Sam after the execution. But somehow he knew they were there...alive. That they'd find a way out. They were SG-1, damn it!

Time had little meaning for him. There were cycles: being beaten...being left alone. He was fed, given water. Then ignored for days, so near death that he longed to just close his eyes and never wake up.

He could remember vividly the thrill that had filled him when Jack had been placed in the cell beside him. Whether it had been on purpose, or the Jaffa were convinced neither man was in any condition to try to escape, the fact was, they were together. Buoyed by one another's presence, they began to plan. Jack had been tossed into the sarcophagus several times...he was in better physical condition. So it was understood that he would be the one to escape his cell, and free Daniel.

The last beating he could remember was the worst. He'd actually wanted to die, just to stop the pain. When he'd finally come around, he didn't hurt nearly as much as he had feared he would. Perhaps, he'd thought then, as now, he'd built up tolerance to the pain.

Whatever the reason, that was the day Jack had decided that it was time. And they'd escaped. It had taken precious time to find Sam. She wasn't much better off than he or Jack. The astrophysicist was gone...in her place was a woman who could barely care for herself.

They'd found her in the harem, right where he feared she'd be. When they'd looked for Casey, sneaking into Ba'al's quarters, they had found the Goa'uld's lo'taur hiding in the shadows. She told him of Casey's death. At her own hand. He'd been heartbroken. He'd been furious. If she had only come to see him, like she had been, she would have known that he and Jack were working on an escape plan! She'd abandoned him...left him in the squalor of the prison cell of that ship to die! 

That stupid bitch had given up! How dare she? After all that he'd gone through, all that he'd survived...she'd given up!

 

He shook himself mentally. It was over. She was gone. And he'd exacted his revenge. In spite of his attempts to still his mind, to push back the memories, they continued to flow, tumbling from the places where he'd hidden them; unbidden...ripping at wounds still raw and bleeding...

He still wondered just why the damned ship had been sitting on that planet for so long. It was just lucky for them that it had been. Their escape would have meant nothing if they'd been confined to a ship in the middle of space.

 

It had taken the better part of three days to get to the Stargate. When they had, just as he had predicted, the DHD had been repaired. The first place they went was the Alpha site. The secondary Stargate site was as deserted as they finally realized the SGC was.

It had taken time...a few weeks...for them to be well enough to even attempt to go anywhere else. That there were clean uniforms and bottled water and MREs, and med kits, even weapons, was something they never discussed. The implications were there, most certainly. But neither man had wanted to admit to them. Didn't want to deal with the thought that someone, somewhere, was depending on SG-1...again. The team had been abandoned. Had been through hell. Had come out on the other side a broken team, barely alive. Not even a team any longer. Just three people who had nothing left to them...nothing but the anger of being abandoned.

He'd managed to find several 'gate addresses in the Alpha site computer, and they went from one place to another, seeking a way to get home. Finding the abandoned al'kesh had been a stroke of pure luck. Sam had been able to help them...in a manner of speaking. As long as they asked the right questions, in just the right way, she could give them the answers they needed. It had taken a couple of months to make all of the repairs needed...repairs that probably would have taken the old Sam a few days...stealing the parts needed from several trading outposts. But they'd managed to get the damned thing into space. And had made it all the way back to Earth. Barely. They'd landed in the desert in New Mexico. Jack had set the self destruct, and they'd run like hell. And made their way north...to the one place they needed to see...to find out just what the hell had happened.

God, what they found when they arrived wasn't any better than what they'd left, or so it seemed. The SGC was locked up tighter than a virgin's twat, as Harry had said. No way to get inside and find out what they wanted to know.

Everything was so screwed up...when he'd tried to access his bank account, alarms had gone off. The old guy who had been a lousy security guard to begin with had yelled at him, then ordered someone to call the authorities. He and Jack knew only one thing...they had to get away. So, pulling the Beretta's they had stolen from a local gun shop, they had run from the bank, down the street toward the building where his apartment...the apartment he'd shared with Casey, was locked and sealed behind security sheeting. They'd ripped through it...

He could still feel the pain of entering what had once been his home. Been their home. Everything was just the way it had been left on that long ago morning when they'd reported to the SGC, ready to go on the mission they'd been briefed on the day before. He'd found his spare glasses. Took a couple of changes of clothes. Held her robe and wept into it. And then he'd walked away. His books, the artifacts, the keepsakes from his parents, everything she'd held dear...he'd left it all behind. Those things belonged in the life that was no longer his.

 

 

 

Finding Harry hadn't been as difficult as they had thought. Jack had picked up a few magazines...they hadn't had any money, so they'd been forced to steal them. And some food. And they'd shot over the heads of the people who protested their actions. Knocked a few down as they made their escape...it seemed that was all they did now...escape from one bad situation after another.

Reading the ads, Jack had been able to piece together where "Hutch" was staying. It had been necessary to get a car. Those guys hadn't been so amused. By that time, though, he really didn't care. Those punks were alive because of him...and Jack...and Sam...and Teal'c. And Casey. SG-1 had saved their lives. Kept them from becoming Goa'uld slaves. If they wanted to fight over a damned Chevy Cavalier, well then, they got what they deserved, didn't they? Just who the fuck were they? Nothing...no one. He was a freaking hero! Casey had always thought he was special. She'd never lied to him. Not once...

 

 

 

The night they'd taken Kinsey, he'd been certain that the aching hole in his very soul would quit throbbing. That the pain he'd suffered...the physical beatings...the emotional and mental anguish that he'd endured...the loss of his Wife...would just go away. Leave him with at least part of his soul still intact.

But that hadn't happened. He still savored the look of absolute terror that had filled Kinsey's eyes when he'd walked into the kitchen of the Vice Presidential residence to see Jack standing there. Getting inside hadn't been as difficult as they had feared. There were the usual Secret Service agents guarding the house. But they were being very...methodical...about it. Established routines. Carefully timed patrols. It was almost...almost as if they wanted someone to break in, to kill the son-of-a-bitch who had turned the whole freaking world upside down.

"What are you doing here?" Kinsey gasped, the whites of his eyes nearly glowing in the dim light from above the kitchen sink.

"Thought we'd stop in and thank you personally," Jack replied. He pulled a length of rope from his pocket. "A little...payback...for leaving us out there to die."

He'd been standing in the shadows, and moved up behind the Senator...the Vice President. That Kinsey hadn't seen or heard him had only been because of fear that radiated off of the politician. He'd stuffed a wad of cotton into the man's mouth, then tied a strip of cloth around his head. Then he'd blindfolded the trembling politician.

Jack tied Kinsey's hands, and they'd marched the bastard right out the back door, down the alley, and into the waiting moving van they had stolen. The Senator had been bruised and sore by the time they'd arrived at the tiny little building near the docks in Richmond. It had been deserted for years, they'd learned. No one ventured that far over on the old side of the pier.

They had timed the capture of their arch enemy to coincide with an approaching hurricane. No matter how loud Kinsey screamed, there would be no one to hear him. No one to come to his aid. He was alone...just as SG-1 had been alone, at the mercy of Ba'al...

 

He was staring at the back door of the farmhouse. Funny, it hadn't seemed that far from the car...

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

O'Neill had been taking his own jaunt down memory lane. Not one step had been pleasant. Changed. He and Daniel had changed...were the categorical opposites of the men they'd been the day they'd left on that last mission. The one that had gone to hell in a way that no one working at the SGC could ever have envisioned. It had been a very boring mission, as he recalled. Four days spent mapping a planet that had nothing. No ruins, no trees. Not as much naquadah as they'd thought. Which was the reason SG-1 had been sent. Or more specifically, that Major Sam Carter had been sent...to find out about the naquadah...

 

"Carter, just how much longer?" He was bored out of his skull. He wanted to get back home. The Simpson's had a new episode coming out, and he'd like to catch it.  

Of course, finding the damned Goa'uld ship hadn't been what he'd had in mind for livening things up! Wasn't that just typical? He was an hour from getting home, and the freaking snakes had to screw it all up! "Okay, tell me why we didn't see this when we sent the UAV," he whispered, peering through his field glasses.

"It wasn't there when the UAV did a fly-by," Sam whispered in return. "Or it was shielded when the UAV did a fly-by."

"Radar...did you know that thing was there?" As soon as he'd asked the question, he had known he'd pissed her off. She never kept info from him. Well, almost never. Usually had a damned good reason if she did keep a detail or two to herself. And every time she did that, he could see how much it bothered her.

She huffed a sigh. "Sure boss. I saw it there, and decided checking it out would make a nice day trip, but didn't feel it was worth mentioning."

"Now what?" Daniel asked, his eyes moving over the pyramid shaped craft.

"We get the hell back to the 'gate and bug out of here." It was amazing that he could sound so calm, when he felt like screaming in anger and frustration and just a bit of old fashioned fear.

"Jaffa approach," Teal'c said, his voice low. "The mark they bear is that of Ba'al."

"Danny, any particular facts we should know about this guy?"

"He's a Goa'uld."

He didn't have to ask for more. In the archaeologist's mind, that was the only fact that mattered. Ba'al was the enemy. He ducked his head for a second. Grieved silently that his best friend had suffered so greatly at the hands of the Goa'uld...and that so much had been stolen from him. Not just his first wife. But his...innocence. His ability to see the good in everything. "Back up."

They had to get back to the 'gate. There weren't any other choices. Staying out of sight until then was their only hope of making that little five mile run.

He turned to look at her when he saw Casey grab Daniel's arm. Saw the absolute terror that filled her eyes.

"Case?" Daniel asked.

"No escape," she whispered hoarsely.

Oh, crap. That wasn't what he wanted to hear. Surely there had to be more...another explanation..."Radar?"

Tears stood in green eyes so wide that they seemed too large for her face. "No escape," she repeated.

Oh, hell no! The looks his kids exchanged were those of a team on the verge of panic. They'd been in worse positions. He just couldn't actually think of one right off the bat. Well, there was the time on that ship that Apophis was building, when those damned armed bands had fallen off, and Carter had been on the wrong freaking side of that force field...He'd never given up before. Not in Iraq. Not the dozen or so times they'd been held by various snakes. He wasn't about to start now. He wasn't about to let his team give up! "Casey, in six years of working at the SGC, I haven't given up yet. I sure don't plan to do so today."

Daniel smiled grimly. "He's right, Angel. We'll get out of this. We just have to find that rabbit."

Scooting backwards, hoping that there weren't any other Jaffa nearby, the team made their way back to the path they had noticed on their way up the ridge. They had to beat those Jaffa to the 'gate. There were no other options.

 

 

 

The nightmare had started for real when he'd glanced over Sam's shoulder. IDC code error. Flashing in big red letters on the GDO. That was never a good thing. It had happened a couple of times before...usually when they'd dialed in during a hot moment back at the SGC. Another team had probably stumbled through the 'gate just seconds before they'd managed to make the connection.

Before they'd been able to figure a way out of the problem, the Jaffa had been on top of them. He still battled the guilt he felt for waiting. He'd waited too goddamned long to give the order to dial the Alpha site. That freaking glider had shown up...and then the DHD was history. And they were in a bad place...a really, really bad place.

He had to give his kids credit. They fought like hellions. If will alone could have taken the day...as it was, the ground had been littered with dead Jaffa. And they hadn't even taken a hit. The only reason they'd been captured was sheer lack of ammo. Had they had more...

No. There'd been no escape, just as Radar had predicted. Oh, they hadn't known in that moment that they'd been abandoned. Didn't take long for them to figure it out, though.

First they'd been taken in front of Ba'al...and Casey had been hauled away, kicking and screaming every step. Daniel had damned near lost it in that moment. Then Teal'c had been taken. Then...God, he still couldn't think about what had happened without feeling as if he was as responsible for the his friend's death as the Jaffa who had killed him.

Days blurred one into another. Agony. Pain. Terror...so afraid that he alone had survived. His absolute joy at being tossed into the cell next to the one where a very beaten, battered Daniel lay against the wall.

They'd planned their escape. They'd succeeded. And then...then he'd watched the Daniel Jackson he'd known, the man he had come to call his best friend, die that day. When Ba'al's lo'taur told them that Casey had killed herself...

 

He still couldn't wrap his mind around that. Casey Jackson had been one of the strongest people he'd ever known. For her to just...give up...that just wasn't right! What had happened to break her so completely?

One glance over his shoulder had him shivering. If Sam, who had military training, could be broken, how easily could Ba'al have found the wounds that scarred Casey's tender heart?

Sometimes, in the wee hours of the morning, when he was on watch, sitting alone in whatever hellhole they were hiding in, he wished he could find a way to turn back time. Theoretically it was possible...after all, they'd skipped back to 1969. A very good year, in many ways. A very bad year as well. But not as bad as the past year he and his team had lived through.

His heart poked at him. Two of his team hadn't lived through it. That thought fueled the anger that was the only emotion he allowed himself to acknowledge. He had to find a way to get Danny and Sam somewhere safe. They all needed time. They needed to grieve. To come to terms with all that had happened. To figure out if there were enough pieces to pick up and start again.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Jack tensed. Given what they'd been told, he had a pretty good idea of just who would be walking through that door. It wouldn't be easy...to see what he could become, what Daniel could become, if everything possible went wrong. If pain and anger were all that were left to them. He glanced sideways at Casey. Wondered just how the seer would deal with seeing such a brutal side of her husband. Because like it or not, that dark side lurked in both of them. The result of seeing too much death. Of taking too many lives. Of making too many sacrifices. Of fighting a soulless enemy.

Casey tightened her grip on the P90 in her hands. She'd 'seen' this Jack, and this Daniel. She knew how angry...how cruel...they had become. And she'd be damned before she let them hurt her friends. Or her Husband.

Daniel took a deep breath. Casey's nightmare had been a shock...not because she'd had it, but because it had exposed one of his deepest fears. That one day he'd not be able to hold back the anger...the absolute rage...that he felt toward the Goa'uld. That he'd give in to all the darkness, and become nothing more than the same type of monster he despised. What would seeing this bitter, angry version of himself do to her...to their relationship? Would it make her as afraid of him as she had seemed to be of the version she had seen in her nightmare? Would she realize...seeing not a dream, but the breathing, walking man she'd called a murderer...what he had the potential to become? Would she ever be able to trust him again?

Sam couldn't help but wonder just how much the Sam Carter of this reality had endured to have broken her so completely; if what Harry said about her counterpart was true. If the alternate Casey had killed herself...she shuddered mentally. No one knew of the rape she'd endured at the hands of a Goa'uld named Bynarr, a minor leader in service to Sokar. That she'd worked through...alone. Because if they knew, there would be the 'looks'. Pity. Speculation. She wouldn't be the tough Air Force officer she'd struggled so long and so hard to become. No, it was more than just rape. Sam Carter could deal with that. Had dealt with that, if the realities were similar enough. She alone knew what her deepest fears were...knew what could affect her. Had that happened? She shivered. Decided in that moment that truth be told, she really didn't want to know.

Teal'c waited. He would do what he had always done. Protect those he cared for. It pained him to know that in this reality, the Goa'uld had succeeded in destroying two of the finest men he had ever known. Men he was certain his counterpart had been honored to call 'friend'. Wondered if his counterpart's death had been a contributing factor to that change. Marveled at the thought that he...or the Teal'c of this reality...meant so much to his...their...teammates.

Harry stepped backwards. He didn't want to be in the line of fire. No doubt his Jack and Daniel would hit that door shooting. He glanced at the slender blonde. Wondered if Jackson would keep her. Or if his grief would force him to kill her. Then wondered why in the hell he cared.


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