Content Warning: Depictions of torture.
Summary: Jack’s torture at the hands of Ba’al was up there on the list of moments he’d like to forget. The only thing that made it bearable was that none of his team knew the full story ... or did they? Episode Tag for Season 6 'Abyss'.
Spoilers: Season 6 episode ‘Abyss’ plus blink and you’ll miss it ones for Season 2 episode ‘Need’ and Season 7 episode ‘Fallen’.
Acknowledgements: Transcript for Abyss at stargate-sg1-solutions dot com
Disclaimer: The Stargate characters, storylines, etc aren’t mine. I am unfortunately not associated in any way with the creators, owners, or producers of Stargate or any of its media franchises. All publicly recognizable characters, settings, equipment, etc are the property of whoever owns them. Any original characters and plot and anything else I made up are the property of me, the author. No copyright infringement is intended.
Copyright (c) 2009 ShaViva
This is set a couple of weeks after the end of Fallen in season 7, when Daniel is still settling back into the SGC. The idea came to me after discussing with a friend whether Daniel and Jack would have had some kind of agreement about using a sarcophagus – after what they’d each gone through in Need and Abyss. I think they probably would have ... in considering it and then re-watching both episodes, other aspects seemed much more pressing to me as unresolved. Hence this episode tag. Hope you enjoy it!
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Jack looked up from his desk to see Daniel standing at his office door, brandishing what looked like a mission report.
“Tell you what?” Jack returned. He still hadn’t gotten used to this new Daniel ... the one who didn’t remember things Jack took for granted ... the one who, even after a couple of weeks, still felt different enough from the old Daniel that Jack couldn’t fully rejoice in the return of his friend.
“Ba’al’s outpost,” Daniel said insistently, stepping inside and closing the door behind him. “He tortured you ... killed you more than once!”
“I don’t usually start conversations with ‘Hi I’m Jack and I’ve died multiple times’ Daniel,” Jack retorted sarcastically, acknowledging the words but not believing Daniel could know what had really happened on that planet. “Guaranteed conversation killer right there.”
“You should have told me,” Daniel continued stubbornly.
“Why – you weren’t here,” Jack looked at Daniel quietly. He didn’t still resent that Daniel had chosen to ascend rather than have Jacob heal him ... did he? Jack had helped him ‘release his burdens’ for Christ’s sake! He'd believed it was the right course of action despite not wanting to let Daniel go.
No ... Jack didn’t resent it but it didn’t mean he’d learned to gloss over the grief he’d felt or the fact that he’d missed his friend. “I thought you’d have enough trouble remembering the missions you were there for without adding in the ones that happened while you were ... gone.”
“Don’t lie to me Jack!” Daniel was suddenly angry, the unexpectedness of that always a little shocking because he got angry so rarely. “I remember!”
“I don’t know what you think you remember Daniel,” Jack said dismissively, “but it’s not important now. It’s over with!”
“God, you always do this!” Daniel turned away, shaking his head in exasperation. Turning back he pinned Jack with a classic Daniel Jackson determined look. “I read the mission report Jack and it all came back to me ... ascended memories this time which is amazing in itself. You wanted me to stop Ba’al from reviving you ... you wanted to die! I was there Jack!”
“Yeah well ... heat of the moment, you know how it goes,” Jack waved a hand lightly, outwardly casual. Inside his thoughts were all about what he didn’t want to talk about and how he could head Daniel off. When he’d finally made it back to the SGC at the time, he’d crafted a story that explained only what was needed ... the signs of wounds apparent only in what he’d been wearing ... the fact that he knew he’d go through some form of sarcophagus withdrawal. Lucky Daniel had discovered that one on P3R-636 during their second year as a team or Jack's sketchy mission report would have been revealed for the fabrication it was.
“Ba'al is gonna kill me again. You can make it the last time.” “That’s what you said,” Daniel repeated in a low, serious tone.
“So I wanted to die to end a bad situation,” Jack ground out as he abruptly pushed his chair back and shot to his feet. “It’s not the first time … you know that!” The reminder of the time after Charlie’s death was unwelcome … as was the stream of images from other times when death had seemed like the only way out. Glaring at the other man for a moment, Jack turned away. “What do you want from me Daniel?”
“I don’t know,” Daniel admitted. “Since I’ve been back I’ve been trying to work out where I fit in … with everyone … with the team. Memories return and I get a little more of the picture. I understand Sam and I as friends – similar life experiences – losing a parent, not fitting in, the science that binds us together. And I get the understanding that exists between Teal’c and I … because of Sha’re, because of a shared belief in culture and history.” Daniel paused, pacing the confines of the small room as he looked at what few things Jack had on display there.
A photo of Charlie wearing his baseball glove and a huge smile.
A photo of SG-1 in the early days … four friends who would become a family of sorts.
A star chart with a couple of circled dots … the places they’d been you could see from Earth … and a subtle reminder that Jack O’Neill was a lot smarter than he made out.
“I don’t get you and I Jack,” Daniel admitted quietly, turning back to his team leader. “I know there’s a friendship there – I remember too many snippets of things for that not to be the case. I just don’t understand how.”
“You want to know what makes us friends?” Jack asked, frowning. “And you’re asking me?” Shaking his head, Jack almost laughed although it would have been on the bitter side. “Man, you really have forgotten everything haven’t you?”
“I know you don’t talk about things Jack,” Daniel said pointedly. Holding up the folder he was still clutching, he continued. “This report is a classic case in point ... you left everything out that you could get away with. Ba'al injured you repeatedly - put you in the sarcophagus to heal you - but no mention of the fact that he killed you who knows how many times. I don't know how you managed to fool Janet but you did ... you would have gotten away with it except I know what really happened.”
“So you know ... so what?” Jack bit back. “It doesn’t change the fact that it’s over and done with. I’m okay ... you’re back. We’re all good here.”
“If you really were okay we could talk about this Jack,” Daniel returned. “You want to know something?”
“No, but I’m sure you’ll tell me anyway,” Jack muttered sarcastically.
“It’s not the fact that you wanted to die to end it that even bothers me the most,” Daniel said, his eyes sad. “It’s that you didn’t think you were worthy of ascending.”
“Don’t start that again!” Jack turned away abruptly.
“You told me you’d kill Ba’al and everyone else there if you had been in my place,” Daniel continued relentlessly. “You're a better man than that. I can hear those words in my head ... that’s what I told you isn’t it? And what did you say in return Jack? What?”
“I don’t want to talk about this,” Jack shifted around his desk, intent on ending the conversation by leaving but suddenly Daniel was in front of the door. Blocking his path in a way that was more physically intimidating than Jack would have expected. Not that it should surprise him … Daniel wasn’t the untried scholar he’d been when Jack had met him. Most of the changes were Jack’s doing too, either by forcing the training on Daniel or by the situations he’d dragged the archaeologist through.
“Daniel,” Jack said warningly, his eyes dark and intent. He didn’t want to use force to end the conversation … but he would if Daniel pushed him hard enough.
“That's where you're wrong,” Daniel quoted persistently, ignoring the warning. “That’s what you said Jack. What does that really mean?”
“You know what it means Daniel,” Jack returned, crossing his arms over his chest. “You were there.”
“You don’t think your soul can be saved,” Daniel said quietly, taking a step closer. “No matter the good you’ve done. No matter the motivations. Is it because of what happened to Charlie, or everything else?”
“You have no idea of the things I’ve done in the name of duty Daniel,” Jack returned blandly, while inside emotions were clawing to get out … to find a voice. He stomped them down … he hadn’t given them any air time in all these years and damned if he was going to now.
“Because you won’t talk about them,” Daniel insisted. “Did you talk to me in the past Jack? Have I just forgotten all those times when you shared a little of what goes on in that stubborn head of yours … or is our friendship based purely on all the things I managed to deduce without you having to explain them?”
“You want the truth?” Jack shouted, anger and frustration the tools he would use to drive Daniel away. “Nobody knows me Daniel … not you, not Teal’c, and not Carter. If spilling my guts is a prerequisite for friendship then I guess we never were friends. Just another one of those illusions you’re so fond of creating … your way to put an idealistic spin on the things you don’t want to see.”
“You’re still angry with me over Ba’al,” Daniel whispered, ignoring everything Jack had said. “Because all I did was appear … I didn’t help you.”
“Do you know how he killed me Daniel?” Jack asked, his eyes boring into Daniel’s. “The first time it was knives, painful but not fatal … until I was almost gone from the blood loss. After that it was acid … eating away at my flesh, burning into my blood, in my head. That would have been the worst except he had this thing he did with the gravity. Most of the time he just used it to hold me in place but every now and then he turned it up a notch. Do you know what it’s like to slowly feel yourself being crushed to death? Every bone broken and still your heart’s beating even though every breath is a pain you wish you could scream out … only you can’t because your voice has been crushed out of existence like the rest of you. And the worst thing, the worst thing is waking up in that intense white light knowing you’re gonna have to go through the whole thing again and again.”
“I’m sorry,” Daniel said earnestly.
“Are you?!” Jack shot back. “Are you really? Because at the time you seemed quite all right with sending me back to Ba’al for another round! I lost track of how many times he killed me Daniel … but I am never gonna forget how they all felt. You could have done something about that but you didn’t.”
“I did do something Jack,” Daniel offered. “It was subtle … all I could risk without the others coming and reversing what I’d done – and punishing you in the process.” He watched Jack carefully, hoping he’d work it out for himself.
“Sam and the others,” Jack guessed. “That plan with Yu … you did that?”
“The seeds were there in all their minds … I just gave them a nudge,” Daniel admitted. “Gave them the certainty to push it up the line and convince General Hammond to trust them.”
“You’ll forgive me if I don’t exactly thank you for that Daniel,” Jack replied, his voice petulant. “Sure, their plan took out the power, gave me the chance to escape. But it would have been nice for once to not have to fight my way out of trouble … not when I had someone there who could have made it easy.” Realizing how childish he sounded, Jack sighed. “Look, at the time I appreciated you being there … it helped. Isn’t that enough?”
“At the time it was,” Daniel revealed. “Now that I’m remembering it all as a normal human being, no – it doesn’t seem like enough. I don't know why most of what happened while I was ascended is still a huge blank but this is a clear as day. There has to be a reason for that.”
“I did understand Daniel,” Jack said lightly. “Even then I understood you didn’t really have a choice. It’s just not something I want to dwell on, okay.”
“I’m sorry I wasn’t here to help you,” Daniel said sadly. “You were there for me … after what Shyla did to me. You helped me get through sarcophagus withdrawal … it was bad but you stuck by me. I should have done the same.”
“It wasn’t that bad,” Jack shrugged. “Janet thought it might be the difference between being put into one of those things when you’re healthy instead of when you actually need it. I had a bad spell, sure, but all the other stuff was a lot harder to deal with.”
“So you haven’t just buried it all in the infamous Jack O’Neill mental vault?” Daniel joked.
“Most of it,” Jack said without apology … it was his way of dealing and it worked, most of the time.
“And the rest?” Daniel asked curiously.
“He almost broke me Daniel,” Jack admitted. “If I’d had to return to that chamber just one more time I would have caved … revealed Shallan and killed us both.”
“No you wouldn’t have,” Daniel insisted. “I know you Jack … you’ll use whatever you have to in order to achieve an objective. You wanted the ascended me to give you the easy out and you thought that if saving you wouldn’t sway me then maybe saving an innocent would.”
“I’m not so sure,” Jack shook his head … that one aspect still troubling him.
Would he have revealed what little he knew of Kanan’s motives? Destroyed the life of a young woman who’d done nothing other than help the Tok’ra agent gather valuable intel? Daniel seemed confident he wouldn’t have but Jack wasn’t so sure … he’d never be sure and that fact still ate at him. It was a vulnerability he’d carry to the next time, God forbid, he found himself held hostage for information. One he hadn’t appreciated until later, and one that still angered him when he thought about how Daniel could have prevented it from getting that far.
“I am,” Daniel replied, his expression and tone so much like the old Daniel that Jack smiled, despite his mood.
"So ... I assume you're gonna let my mission report stand?" Jack asked, already knowing what the answer would be, even for this still uncertain version of Daniel.
"There's nothing excluded that anyone else needs to know," Daniel replied.
"No," Jack agreed. He paused for a moment before continuing. "You realise that our 'no sarcophagus' rule is a two way street now, right?"
"You said the withdrawal wasn't that bad," Daniel accused with a frown.
"It wasn't," Jack reiterated. "But that feeling of waking up in one ... the light, the disorientation. I don't think I can do that again Daniel. I don't want to do that again."
"Okay," Daniel agreed lightly. For different reasons they found themselves in the same place ... serious injury or death first ... denying themselves the chance for a quick solution because the risks, the associations were too traumatic to contemplate again. It was an agreement neither wanted to test any time in the future, not if it meant facing the end of the other.
The two fell into silence, each lost in their thoughts for a time. Jack returned to sit at his desk, rubbing tired hands over his face as he waited for Daniel to reach that resolution he needed to put this one away. Now that the storm had passed, Jack found himself willing to give him that space and time.
“Did we talk Jack?” Daniel asked eventually, returning to the beginning of their conversation. "In the past ... did we talk about the stuff that mattered?"
“Yes we did Daniel,” Jack replied evenly, patiently. “Not always in words, and you know, there were a lot of … metaphors. But we understood each other.”
“And that was enough?” Daniel persisted.
“I always thought so,” Jack smirked. “You never admitted it but it seemed to be enough for you as well.”
“How can I be sure?” Daniel asked. “The friendship was important to me Jack … to you too I think. It seems even more so now when I'm struggling to find my way again. I don’t understand now how we could have maintained that the way you’re describing it – the way I’m remembering it.”
“You're just gonna have to trust me,” Jack said, echoing the words Daniel had said to him when he’d promised that Jack would be all right. “Until it comes back to you.”
“I can do that,” Daniel replied with a smile.
I know what Daniel could or couldn't remember from his time being Ascended wasn't really revealed in any great detail. The fact that he did remember snippets here and there I think gives me license to have him remember what happened in Abyss. Makes this slightly AU but exploring the fall out if they both knew what happened there was too intriguing to pass up.
Awareness returned gradually ... Jack felt like he was surfacing from a sleep deeper than any he'd experienced before. He was aware ... of himself, of being Jack O'Neill, but still he slept on, unable to wake no matter how hard he tried. And he did try ... he didn't want to see what awaited him in the darkness.
Memories hovered, circled, and then struck with great force.
"Death will only offer a temporary escape. I can revive you again and again…a thousand times if need be." Ba'al's voice ... cultured and cruel, mocking.
Knives shooting towards him, slaves to the same gravity that held Jack in place. Pain stabbing through his chest ... his shoulder ... his heart.
In his mind, firm resolution. "Say nothing."
“The Tal'vak acid will take some time to burn through all the way. Though it cauterizes the flesh as it burns, a very small amount often finds its way into the blood and begins to spread." Ba’al again, almost academically amused as he explained his choice of torture device.
Acid, burning. Eating through flesh, through bone.
Eating away Jack's sanity.
And in his mind the constant chant. "Don't give him what he wants!"
“Gravity is a remarkable thing. Simple ... benign ... necessary. Until the force is increased and it becomes the malevolent fist crushing the life from your body.” Ba’al, this time as mad scientist delighting in tormenting the subject under his microscope.
Invisible weight, pressing down on every inch of Jack’s body.
Crushing ... bones, vessels ... every cell all at the same time.
Stealing his breath – stealing everything.
This time, in his mind there was only one word ... “Nooooooooooooo.”
The pain of a friend's return ... of discovering it was Daniel but at the same time so very not the friend he'd known for seven years.
Jack's emphatic plea. "Then help me!"
Daniel's stubborn reply. "Not that way!"
Disappointment ... despair.
"Don't beg," he urged himself. "You're a better man than that."
"That's where you're wrong!"
And through it all there was death. Pain and death and ever more pain ... over and over again.
Memory of thought and action merged until Jack was confused about what was real and what was only taking place in his head.
Knives ... impacting like bullets, hitting hard ...
“I believe the answers are there in your mind. I will find them. If I have to…dig…them out.”
Acid drops ... hitting his body like rain ...
“If you tell me what I wish to know, I will end this. One…last…time”
The unseen weight crushing from the inside out ...
“There isn't always a way out, Jack.”
Pain that led only to death.
Millions of needles stabbing everywhere – vicious and relentless. White light, blinding through eyelids that would not open.
The unbearable pain of life returning ...
Jack surged up in bed, heart pounding in his chest and loudly in his ears. Raising shaking hands, he rubbed them over his sweaty face, breathing hard.
The first time Ba’al had killed him there had only been what felt like a brief period when he wasn’t aware of himself. Just after the knife had struck his heart and stopped it cold.
“Damn it,” he muttered, thoughts still back at Ba’al’s outpost even though the nightmare had released him from its grip. Now he was at the mercy of his memories – worse than any nightmare ever could be.
In his mind he was back there ... where the memories had been created.
Jack wasn't sure what he thought would happen when he died ... he'd hoped that Charlie would be waiting for him 'on the other side' but deep down he hadn't really believed it. Truth be known all he'd really been expecting was a whole lot of nothing ... the sleep you never woke up from.
One thing he had expected was for it not to hurt ... SO not the case! In fact, his entire being was suffused with excruciating pain.
If this was death then Jack wanted to talk to the man in charge about a refund because frankly the whole experience was more than a little unsatisfying.
Maybe his detractors over the years had been right and he really had gone to hell.
Jack floated in that sea of pain and disappointment for a while before the truth began to rise to the surface. It was at about the same time that the pain shifted from the all over, nonspecific kind to a microscopic, stabbing through every cell in his body kind. He could actually feel it ... bones shifting, muscle and sinew rejoining, vessels reforming.
He wasn’t in heaven or hell ... he was in Ba’al’s sarcophagus ... making the trip from dead to alive and well.
And it hurt like a son of a bitch!
That’s when he'd learned that the Gou'ald didn't care whether their hosts suffered pain during the healing process. It was obvious to Jack the symbiote could shield itself so they'd designed the technology just to get the job done. A tool to fix another tool – each without feeling or thought.
On the Jack O'Neill pain scale, zero being 'I can't even feel that' and ten being 'fine, take me the infirmary', coming back from the dead was a fifty ... as in 'I'd rather stay dead - kill me now because it'd be a mercy'.
Once he’d worked out where he was, Jack felt the edges of panic skirting his mind. He wasn't claustrophobic as a general rule but this wasn't a dark cave or a tight space. This was blinding white light he knew was there but couldn't see because he couldn't open his eyes.
This was not being in control ... being in agony but not being able to do a damn thing to stop it.
This was being completely at the mercy of enemy technology he didn’t trust.
Jack tried to find something to distract him from the burning need to break free or just yell really, really loudly but there was nothing. It got so bad that he wasn't sure it wouldn't sent him mad.
“For crying out loud,” Jack jumped from his bed, pressing the heels of his hands to his eyes in an effort to shut out the memories. Sleeping now would be impossible.
Throwing on his clothes haphazardly, he quickly left his quarters and headed for the mess.
Raiding the refrigerator for cake, Jack took his spoils to a table in the semi-darkness and sat down wearily, fork in hand.
“Couldn’t sleep?” Daniel’s voice from the doorway drew Jack’s attention.
“It happens,” Jack said lightly, having no intention of telling the other man the why. “You?”
“Still getting used to the need,” Daniel alluded to his recent return from ascension with a slight smile.
“Well, pull up a chair,” Jack invited with a smirk. “Plenty of cake for both of us.”
“Thanks,” Daniel did as instructed, stopping only to grab a second fork.
They sat in silence for a while ... more companionable than it had been since Daniel’s return.
“Did we really get alien super powers ... Sam, you and I?” Daniel asked suddenly.
“Ah ... the armbands,” Jack grinned, thinking back. “That’s a good one.”
Settling back the two friends traded memories ... the kind Jack didn’t mind taking out and reflecting on.