NEW FIC: Under Friendly Fire - Chapter 9 Chapter 9
Sam was finally home. She relished in the feeling of security and relief that she felt as she closed the door, locking out the world at large. She couldn’t help but think of this place as her haven, a place where she could hide out and just be herself. No more pretending that she was the strong, hard-nosed soldier. She was home and she could be whoever she wanted to be here, and right now she just wanted to be Samantha Carter.
She threw her keys and the mail onto the small table set up for that purpose, then headed for her living room, pulling off her jacket as she went. The jacket landed in a chair, while Sam sat down heavily on the couch, wondering what she should do first. A bath was high on her list, but she also needed to get something to eat, not to mention the bills that were thrown on the table.
Screw the bills, she thought, angry with her self for even thinking of them at that moment. She got up and went into the kitchen to satisfy her hunger, only to stand there while staring into the refrigerator. She shivered when the cold air hit her, taking her mind back to the freezing cold of that cell. This thought brought on images of her teammates sneering at her, as well as memories of the pain and humiliation they brought on.
“God!” she said, finally snapping out of the spell she seemed to be under. She shut the refrigerator door, and moved over to the sink, hanging her head over it while she gripped the edge of it with her fingers. This was not going to destroy her, she determined, as she fought off the feelings of anger and sadness that were drifting through her. She was stronger than this. She had to be.
Finally getting a grip on her emotions, she pushed back from the sink, running her fingers through her hair to try to ease the tension that still had her in its grasp. Sighing loudly, she made an effort to get back to business as usual, and moved back over to the refrigerator. This time, she was able to ignore the cold when she reached in to grab a soda. Elation drifted through her, as she realized that she was going to win her emotional battle. It was just going to take a lot of perseverance.
Comfort food. That’s what she needed. At least that was what she wanted at the moment. She grinned slightly when she thought of the times her mother had told her that macaroni and cheese always made her feel better when she was down. Sam had to agree. Ever since her mother’s death, that dish always seemed to calm her, as it brought on the more pleasant memories Sam had held on to over the years.
“Forgive me, mom,” Sam said out loud, as she always did, when she pulled out a box that was preloaded with macaroni and powdered cheese. Her mother would be having a fit, saying that homemade was much better for her, but Sam rarely had the time to make it from scratch, and rarely ever wanted to. Cooking was not something she enjoyed, although she could make a mean pot of chili when she was of the mind to do so.
Filling a pot with water, then setting it on the stove, she decided to go put on something more comfortable while she waited for the water to boil. She was in the process of taking off her pants when she noticed the bruises that still marred the skin on her thighs. The cut she had on one leg was almost healed, while the yellowing bruises surrounding it spoke volumes. She had been brutalized.
“No,” she said, trying to shake off the memories that had plagued her ever since she got back from that planet. She had thought that she could get over it if she spent some time away from the men who had raped her, but her reactions now where telling her differently. She still had the physical reminders and she hated the fact that she was held prisoner by the memories those reminders brought up.
This was not going to destroy her. She was determined that no matter what, she was going to survive this. With that thought clanging in her mind, she grabbed some sweats and put them on angrily. She went back into the kitchen and added the macaroni to the boiling water, then grabbed the unopened soda from the counter, twisting off the cap and taking a long drink. Anger was still hanging around and Sam let it, hoping it would keep her grounded. She had been doing great on base, never letting on that she was slowly, but surely disintegrating into a sniveling, pitiful pile of the person she used to be. No one there knew that her insides were churning whenever she thought about the violence and the fear that had followed her all the way to the Stargate. Everyone thought she was handling things wonderfully.
Only her teammates knew the truth about what was going on inside of her. Daniel had gone out of his way throughout the day to make sure she was still okay, while Teal’c spent several hours with her in her lab, just sitting there and glaring at anyone who dared upset her with anything. Sam had to admit this had helped, as she couldn’t stop the giggle that escaped her when a young Lieutenant nearly dropped a tray of instruments he was holding after Teal’c growled at him to, “Cease your prattle and leave immediately.” The poor Lieutenant couldn’t leave fast enough.
The smile that memory brought on dimmed as she thought about the fourth member of her team. Colonel O’Neill had avoided her all day and this bothered Sam. She tried not to dwell on her commanding officer’s actions, as she stirred the macaroni. He was hiding from her, she knew this, but what she couldn’t understand was, why? He was the one who acted like things were normal. Why was he avoiding her now?
Maybe he was just too busy to find time to spend with her, she thought. It’s not like he didn’t have anything to do. She had seen the piles of paperwork that he had on his desk. General Hammond probably laid down the law regarding said paperwork when he and the Colonel were conferring in the General’s office that morning. She grimaced when she thought about her friend’s reactions when the General and Colonel O’Neill had come out of that meeting, telling them of the decision that had been made regarding their actions on that planet. Daniel had totally overreacted, although he did come to her and apologize afterward. Sam was still adamant about their innocence, though. She knew better than anyone what an alien influence could do to a person during and after the fact.
She continued to dwell on her fate as she finished making her dinner, then sat down to enjoy it. Her mother was right, Sam realized once again. Her thoughts had moved away from what was worrying her to dwell on a memory of the two of them making a cake for her father’s birthday. Sam smiled at the memory, as she ate her meal. Sometimes it’s the little things in life that keep her grounded.
A bubble bath was all Sam could think about, as she made herself some tea. Her plans for the rest of the evening included soaking in the tub, while sipping the hot tea, and Sam was definitely looking forward to it. She was on her way to her bathroom with the steaming cup when she was interrupted by a knock on her door. She stood in the middle of the hallway, debating whether she really wanted to open the door, then decided that whoever it was probably knew she was home, and it would be rude to ignore them.
Sam couldn’t help being surprised to see Daniel on her doorstep, smiling at her awkwardly. “Hey Sam,” he said, when she had opened the door.
“Mind if I come in?” he asked, a little warily.
“Um… sure,” she said, wishing she could think of something to send him away. Her bath was waiting for her.
“I won’t stay long,” Daniel promised, seeing her hesitation. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay. You know… one last time.” He was looking so lost, that Sam’s heart went right out to him. How was it that these guys were able to pull on her heartstrings like that?
“I’m fine, Daniel,” she insisted, for what seemed like the thousandth time that day. Daniel gave her a sheepish look and Sam grinned back at him. He was such a dope sometimes, she thought affectionately.
“Good. I just wanted to make sure.” He was anxious about something. Sam knew him too well to think otherwise. He had something to say, but was unsure how to approach it.
“I’m fine, Daniel,” she said again, hoping to get it through his thick skull. “Really, I am.”
“I believe you,” Daniel responded. “I just wanted to check on you.”
Sam waited, but Daniel just stood there watching her. “Come on, Daniel,” she said, just a little exasperated. “What’s really going on?”
Daniel smiled at her, a bright smile that had her taking a mental step back in surprise. “You know me too well,” he said, still not answering her questions. This guy was acting weird and she wasn’t sure she was comfortable with it.
She nodded at him, waiting him out, but Daniel was on the defensive. Finally, he just came out and asked, “How are you really doing, Sam? Beyond the word, “fine”, I mean.”
“I’m doing okay,” she responded, frustration making an appearance.
“Really,” he said, almost as a question. It was apparent he didn’t believe her, but Sam was not going to open up to him. “I just came from Jack’s house,” he added, watching her warily.
“Oh yeah?” she asked, glad for the sudden change of the subject. Daniel had been on the verge of freaking her out.
“He seems to be doing okay with all this,” Daniel told her. “You never can tell with that guy, though.”
“You’ve got that right,” Sam couldn’t help but say with a great deal of emphasis. Daniel grinned at her and Sam figured she should add, “He doesn’t like to let anyone in.”
Daniel nodded at her, then said, “I asked him about his stay in Iraq.”
Sam could only gape at her friend. “Daniel, you didn’t!” she exclaimed, astonished that he would cross that line. After the Colonel’s display of anger when she brought it up, Sam figured she was better off staying away from that subject from now on.
“What?” he asked innocently, which Sam knew was a sham. She knew Daniel too well to not see through the innocent look. “He didn’t say much, other than to tell me to mind my own business,” Daniel went on to say. “But I thought it was worth a try.” He gave her that innocent grin again, then said, “I was hoping he would slip up just once and tell me all about it.”
“Not likely,” Sam had to say.
Daniel nodded in agreement, then said, “I went to him to find out how he is able to handle things like this so easily.” He stared at Sam, while she waited for him to tell her what he had found out. “His methods weren’t very helpful to me.”
Sam wanted to hit her friend, but kept her cool instead. “What did he say?” she asked. It was hard, but she was able to keep her impatience with Daniel out of her voice, but if he didn’t tell her soon… well, she refused to take responsibility for what could happen. “He always seems to be so in control,” she added.
“He pushes it away,” Daniel responded quietly. He didn’t elaborate and Sam was at a loss as to what that meant.
“Pushes it away?” she asked, somewhat indignantly. She was dealing with a crap load of anger and pain and he doesn’t even take the time to deal with his own guilt?
Daniel nodded at her, then said, “It’s probably a defense mechanism to help him cope, but I have to admit that I don’t know how he does it.” He looked directly into her eyes, then added, “I can’t push the guilt away, Sam. I tried, but I just can’t.”
Sam stared back at her friend, realizing what his admission meant to both of them. He was hurting right along with her, albeit not half as badly. “You shouldn’t have to, Daniel,” she told him, determination to help him deal with this moving into her mind. “You didn’t want to hurt me. You tried to stop, I saw you.”
“That’s the whole point,” Daniel snapped angrily. “I couldn’t stop myself from hurting you. God! I feel like such a weakling… and before you say it, I know that Teal’c and Jack couldn’t fight it either.” He stopped speaking to look at her, pain and anger showing clearly through his eyes. “It’s just that I’ve never, ever wanted to hurt you. And the fact that I did scares the crap out of me.” Sam continued to stare at him, realizing that he needed to talk it out, so she stood there, waiting for him to wind down. “You said it yourself,” he snarled, “The evil part of us came out, and while it hurt you, it scared me half to death knowing that the man who raped you is a part of me!”
Sam could totally relate to his fear. She stood there in her hallway with a rapidly cooling mug of tea in her hands, watching as her friend ranted and raved at the injustice of that experience. She understood the fear and the anguish that Daniel tried to rationalize, as she had personally seen the evil, malevolent side of her teammates, and she frowned as she thought about her own feelings on that topic.
Daniel was on a roll though, cutting through her thoughts with his own feelings. “I remember thinking how beautiful you looked while you were fighting me off,” he continued. “You were determined to win, and I was proud of each and every time you kicked me. I was cheering you on, Sam. I kept begging you to fight me off, because I wasn’t strong enough to do it myself.” Tears came to Sam’s eyes at that admission, now realizing that she had been right. Her friends had been with her the whole time, they just didn’t have the strength to help her. “I couldn’t fight it, Sam, and although I hated myself for being such a weakling, I still hope that someday you will come to forgive me for not being there when you needed me the most.” He stopped speaking then, his anger and pain still showing clearly in his eyes, as he waited for her to acknowledge whether she understood or not.
“Oh Daniel,” she said with a sigh. “You still don’t get it, do you? You were there. I saw you try to fight off the effects of that drug.” She ignored Daniel’s grunt of disgust, and continued, “I am grateful that you did try to stop.”
“I was there, Sam,” Daniel agreed gravely. “I tried to stop, but there was that part of me that enjoyed what I did to you.” He sighed deeply, then said, “A couple of times there, I definitely couldn’t wait to finish what I had started.”
Sam knew what he was saying; she just didn’t have to like it. Anger built back up in her as she remembered begging him to stop while he pounded into her. She looked away from the guilt on his face, trying to deal with her own anger and was surprised when he put his hand on her arm.
“I’ve made you angry,” Daniel said. “What brought it on?”
“Forget it, Daniel,” she responded. He was worried about her, she knew this and she made another effort to be the strong soldier again.
“Not this time,” Daniel told her determinedly. “Was it something I said? Or maybe something I did. What happened to spark the anger?” She shook her head, but Daniel was insistent. “I enjoyed it,” he reiterated. “Come on Sam, talk to me.”
Her anger hit an all time high when his words sunk in. She couldn’t believe he’d said that! “You son of a bitch!” she snarled at him, anger making her face heat up. “You had no right to say that.” Daniel stared into her eyes, as he stood there and waited, but Sam was too incensed to even try to think straight. “Get out!” she demanded, as she pointed at the door behind him. “Now, Daniel.”
He nodded sadly at her, but didn’t move. “Jack and Teal’c both told me that I needed to forgive myself before you would even think of forgiving me.” Sam just stood there with clenched fists. Forgiveness was far from her mind, as she glared at Daniel. She was so pissed, all she wanted to do was punch him in the face. He turned to leave, but stopped and told her, “Right this minute, I can’t see that happening.”
Sam didn’t say anything. She was too busy trying to calm her raging heart. How could he have said that to her? She counted on him to help her and he just lays it all down on the line – all nice and neat. His honesty hurt, almost as bad as the bruises he had inflicted on her body and soul. How in the hell was she supposed to survive when Daniel made it his business to be honest with her?
“You had no right to say that to me,” she growled, not the least bit interested in forgiving him for anything. “Trust Daniel Jackson to tell me the truth so baldly,” she added sarcastically. His expression held a little confusion, probably trying to keep up with her. The confusion cleared and anger moved in – he had figured it out.
“I guess I was a little too descriptive in trying to make you understand,” he admitted, glaring at his own mistake. “Something else to feel guilty over,” he added. She stood her ground angrily, and Daniel apparently decided that now was a good time to leave.
“I’m sorry that you went through that, Sam,” he said, as he went over to the door and opened it. “I don’t know what else to say, but I’m sorry.”
“You had no right to say that,” Sam said again, her anger dissolving as she watched her friendship with Daniel walk out the door. Daniel nodded at her words, but kept on moving.
“Wait!” she said, unable to let it end like this. “Wait, Daniel. Just wait.” He turned to look at her warily, his face pale against the darkness that surrounded him. She took a deep breath, hoping to ease the knot that had developed in her throat. She was not going to cry, no matter what.
“I want this to be over between us,” she said. Daniel looked at her in alarm, but Sam kept talking. It was time for him to move on with his guilt so that she could. “I wish I could make you understand that there’s nothing to forgive. You were not at fault, Daniel. Daniel Jackson did not want to hurt me, not really.” Daniel grudgingly nodded his agreement, and Sam almost wept for joy. She was getting through to him. “The most important part of your mind cheered me on,” she said, with a small smile, “Just as I cheered you on when you were strangling that guy. I can’t tell you how glad I was to know that evil bastard was dead.”
He stared at her then, his eyes boring holes into hers, and Sam knew he was still running from his demons. “I wasn’t under the influence of that drug when I killed that guy,” he said, still reaching for something in her eyes. “Yet, I still wanted to kill him.”
“He deserved it,” she told him, with no remorse, whatsoever, in her tone. She was glad that son of a bitch was dead. “You did the right thing, Daniel. He deserved it.”
“Yeah,” he agreed, half-heartedly. “But I still did the honors, Sam. All that talk about the evil within me…” He stopped and gave her a sad smile. “Makes a man wonder.”
There it was. The root of his problems, shrouded as it was by his guilt. Sam now knew what was really destroying him, and she knew what he needed right then. She went over to him and put her arms around him, giving him a quick hug, hoping to show him that he wasn’t the monster he was afraid he was. She pulled back from the hug, but Daniel wrapped his arms around her and pulled her back in, holding her tightly. Sam didn’t know what to think when she realized that he was trembling.
“Think about the good things you’ve done in your life, Daniel,” she told him. He nodded, but didn’t respond. “You’ll see that they far outweigh any of the negative things you’ve done.”
Daniel gave her another quick squeeze, then let her go as he stepped back. “I’ve tried that,” he finally admitted. “It’s hard to justify the things I’ve done to survive when I think about the people who have died because of it.” He sighed, then said, “I don’t like the evil that’s lurking somewhere inside me.”
“You are a good man, Daniel Jackson,” Sam told him, truly believing those words with all her heart. “Don’t you ever think otherwise.”
He gave her another sad smile, then said, “Wouldn’t hurt a fly, unless it was spitting venom at me.” He smiled at her when she nodded in agreement, then said, “Jack’s words, not mine.”
Sam grinned at that. “Sounds like something he would say,” she said affectionately.
They stood there, staring at each other and Daniel’s smile dimmed as he told her, “I’m glad that I came here, Sam.”
Despite the anger and hurt he brought with him, Sam had to agree. “Me too,” she replied.
His smile returned when he realized something, and he gave her an exaggerated look of exasperation, “I came here to help you out and here you are helping me. Between you, Teal’c and Jack, Mackenzie is going to be out of a job.”
“Let’s hope not,” Sam said, a smile lighting up her face. “Who’s going to aggravate Colonel O’Neill if he did leave?”
“You do have a point,” Daniel agreed, with a laugh. His smile dimmed, as he said, “Thank you, Sam. I think that if you can forgive me for what I did and for my thoughtless words, I can forgive myself. It’s the least I can do.”
“Just promise that you will always be there cheering me on,” she said.
“I promise,” Daniel vowed with a great deal of conviction. “Always.”