Earth Chapter Six – Recovery
Colorado Springs, CO
Daniel had been home for two months and he was still reluctant to believe that all was truly well in his personal world. Oh, he was quite certain that he was with Jack again, and that he was on Earth, but he was having a hard time coming down from his long term combat high. And he knew it.
The shrinks on base were decent enough, he supposed, but they were way too easy to toy with. They just kept trying too damn hard and kept missing whole huge points involving his mental health. But then again, he really wasn’t telling them everything either. There was no way he was going to give them the keys to his psyche. All three of the shrinks on base were members of military as well and there were some topics that he would never discuss with them. DADT was for more than just the military.
Since he had to get the thoughts out of his head, Daniel took to writing in one of his journals. Not the work ones that he kept on base that he recorded his thoughts and suppositions on the various cultures they had encountered in. No, this was one of the therapy ones that was written in an obscure dialect of Ancient that he only learned after he had Deascended for the second time. If there was anyone on Earth who could read them (other than Jack), he would be surprised. And since it was his therapy, his release valve, he went all out and used a good steel tipped fountain pen to slowly, inch by inch fill the journal with his thoughts and fears during the time away from Jack.
When he reached the last page of the journal, Daniel felt calmer, more in control of his reactions to the years away. It had taken two months.
Jack was good with Daniel talking with the shrinks on base. He really was. After all, none of them were McKenzie so that was a definite plus in their favor. What he wasn’t okay with was how ineffectual they were turning out to be. If they were this bad with Daniel, someone who was actually trying to make some use of their services, what were they like for the rest of SG1? Or the rest of his kids on base?
So he was looking for some good trauma trained psychologists who could handle the deeply weird situations that his base either got into or generated. So far, he was coming up dry.
Meanwhile Daniel had retreated to his private journal and was writing away at it in some form of Ancient that Jack had professed to only vaguely understand. At least the archeologist was good about making sure that all of his work journals were in a readily readable language, as evidenced by Jonas being able to make use of them during his brief tenure on SG1. Every time Daniel surfaced from a session of writing, he looked better, more at peace with himself, so Jack wasn’t going to complain.
He was however, going to keep an eye on him and as soon as Daniel made even the smallest gesture at wanting to let him in, he was going to be ready. Jack had learned his lesson and was going to be ready to listen to the other man about everything that had happened. They both would need it.
But he was still going to have Daniel talk with an ‘expert’. Just in case.
Washington DC, USA
Late November 2012
Oval Office, The White House
“Mr. President, the Oceanus has been completed and we are making plans to launch her within the month. All necessary repairs to the Odyssey, Potemkin and Apollo have been completed and they have all been resupplied and assigned their patrol routes. The Halifax reports all is still quiet on the rim and the Enterprise has sent back her latest survey data.” O’Neill reported as he sat on the same sofa that he had sat on when he had taken control of both Homeworld and the SGC.
The older man was as calm and laid back as he had been every time he had reported to the Oval Office and Baqer was profoundly grateful for that. He had way too many people who spent their time with him trying to fear-monger him into deciding in their favor. It didn’t work, but they sure tried.
“Area 51 is going over that communiqué carefully since there has been Ori activity in that sector over the last six months. From all reports they have had a calm cruise, but the captain did mention that they still haven’t found any dilithium crystals yet, but they are still looking.” O’Neill didn’t miss a beat as the President of the US, his titular boss chuckled at that remark. “The Vindico, nicknamed the ‘Toilet Bowl’ by its crew is still being taken apart and examined. Carter’s work around, per the engineering guys is both elegant and easily repeated if we ever get our hands on another Ori battlecruiser.
“SG1 has been passed by the shrinks to light duty on the base and Teal’c has headed out to Dakarra to see what the Jaffa nation has been up to while he was gone. Dr. Jackson has reclaimed his office at the Mountain and the output from his departments has gone up 37%. Carter has the reins of the hard sciences again and the number of accidents, both potentially fatal and non, have dropped to nearly nothing. Mitchell is fitting in well as my 2IC at this point and Vala is working with Daniel’s anthropologists to fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge of the various cultures we are meeting.”
Baqer Omidifar, President of the US raised his hand to stop the report Jack was giving. He needed a point in that mass of words explained. “I thought Col. Carter was your 2IC, General. When did that change?”
“When SG1 got back, sir,” Jack said. There was no apology in his tone as he explained the change. “Carter has decided that she has had enough of going through the Gate and wants to concentrate on science for a while. Col. Mitchell still wants to lead SG1 and Vala Mal Doran is willing to go out with him. They are looking for a soft science type from Dr. Jackson’s department and I am lobbying for a Marine as their fourth. So far Mitchell isn’t thrilled with what the interview process is turning up.”
“You do interviews to place team members?” asked Joseph Morris, the Secretary of Defense.
“When it comes to the premier team that has been the first line of defense for the planet many, many times over the last sixteen years, yes, we do. It takes a unique personality to do our job and not everyone is suited for it. I would far rather have Mitchell and Mal Doran spend a few weeks doing interviews than try to fix what a bad personality mesh screwed up.” O’Neill’s eyes were still clear and without apology as he looked at Morris.
Omidifar cocked his head to the side as he thought over what he had been told were the duties of SG1 and by extension the other teams out of the SGC. If interviews were what worked, he wasn’t going to fuss that it wasn’t ‘normal’. He already knew the KISS principle.
O’Neill nodded and picked up his report again. “We have attempted to contact Atlantis again, but have had no success. We are looking into the feasibility of sending a ship out to Pegasus, but that would take one of them out of contact for at least six to eight weeks. If we authorize an extended tour, the ship will be out even longer. We know some of the conditions that Weir and her people would need for a new planet, so we will be looking over the reported planets that were explored before Atlantis broke contact for possible new worlds.
“Our alliance with the Jaffa has gotten markedly better once Lam started increasing the amount of synthetic tretonin her labs have been able to put out. We are basically supplying most of the Jaffa nation with what they need to survive at this time. We are also working on getting their scientists the necessary training and materials that they need to start up production in their own facility.
“We still have not heard from the Tok’ra, despite putting out feelers all over the galaxy. We know that they are still in existence due to circumstantial evidence, but we haven’t spoken to one of their operatives since we buried Jacob and Selmac. Given that, we have left message capsules on worlds where we knew they used as stops to break their trails when their people head back to base.
“The System Lords have been quiet and for the most part, staying out of galactic politics. They don’t have the power bases or Jaffa loyal to them anymore to be much more than a nuisance. A dangerous one, but at this point, they aren’t our major concern.
“The System Lord Ba’al has been sighted several times on Earth. We don’t know what he is up to, but the times that he has been seen lead us to believe it is either an imposter or that he has managed to clone himself several times. SG1 and I along with the long time staff at the SGC believe he has gone the cloning route, no matter what the weenies at Area 51 think. Whatever he is doing, it is costing him a pretty penny, because every time he has been seen, he’s wearing some very expensive clothes.
“The Ori have also, for the most part, been quiet as well. There are several worlds where the population had taken on Origin, and are now back to their original gods. When we went back to check on them, the populations were healthy and they stated that there have been no Priors around for several months.”
Morris held a hand up to interrupt O’Neill. “Why did they go back to their original gods? I thought once a planet converted, that was it?”
O’Neill wagged his head from side to side as he thought on how to answer, something that Baqer appreciated, but didn’t always get. “From what Dr. Jackson has said, the Ori galaxy has been under their control for several tens of thousands of years. The beings in control had plenty of time to get the whole process of controlling populations down to a science. In our galaxy, we had the Goa’uld trading planets and slaves back and forth like they were chess pieces. Due to that, the people here are used to serving a ‘God’ with all their hearts, for as long as the ‘God’ is in charge. Once they are gone, the people revert back to what was comfortable or their last god.”
“So even though the Ori came and conquered, they weren’t firmly established and once they were gone, things went back to business as usual?” Morris asked.
“Pretty much,” O’Neill agreed. “If the Ori had been able to hold onto some of those planets for a generation or two, we might have a different picture out there. But since they didn’t, events are moving back to what passes for normal on various planets. Origin might stay in the Milky Way, but it isn’t going to be… as overwhelming as it could have been.”
Baqer aimed a piercing glance at his General. “So do you think they will continue to proselytize around the galaxy in an effort to drum up worshippers?”
Nodding slightly, O’Neill agreed. “They might try, but the driving forces behind the push, the Ascended Ori and the Orici are both gone. Dead. When SG1 went to the Ori galaxy, they let loose the gift we got from Merlin and the Ori are no more. And yes, we do have confirmation of this from the Morrigan.”
“So we have a group of people in the galaxy who want to convert populations to their religion and aren’t too caring if it is by the sword or not? Why is this familiar?” Morris asked.
“Because we have been dealing with it here on Earth for the last ten thousand plus years? Religion makes some people really, really stupid, sir. See the Middle East, the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition for examples,” O’Neill said with a disgusted look.
“Agreed. Now is there anything else?” Baqer asked. His time with O’Neill was drawing to a close and he was going to need a few minutes to decompress from all the information dumped on him.
“The Lucien Alliance are my last topic to touch on. They are still dealing and making waves for us through our alliances and those we are just meeting. They have been around for a while now, and have some internal divisions that we are hoping to use to split them soon. We have started working to get HUMIT on them, but it will be a long time coming before we can get dependable information out of that. And I am done.” O’Neill closed his leather file folder with a snap.
“Thank you, General,” Baqer said sincerely. “Please pass on a ‘Best of luck’ to Col. Mitchell and Ms. Mal Doran in their search for the new team members. Also to Dr. Jackson, Col. Carter and Teal’c in their endeavors, plus the rest of your personnel as well.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you and I will pass it along,” O’Neill agreed as he stood. Good man. He could hear the implied dismissal. Saluting smartly, the General waited a beat to have it returned and then walked out. Just one of the many, many military men who came to report to their supreme boss.
Colorado Springs, CO
Late November 2012
“Honey, I’m home!” Jack called softly as he walked in his front door.
“Very funny. Coffee is perked and the Simpsons will be on in fifteen minutes if you wanna shower,” came Daniel’s voice from the den.
“Sweet. Be there in ten.”
Jack dropped his overnight bag in the hall on the way to the shower he had been dreaming of since he had gotten on his flight back to Colorado after his monthly briefing with President. He hated Washington and had since he had been in charge of Homeworld Security. The whole city made him feel slimy, like he had gotten coated in something foul. Stripping out of his uniform, he took the time to hang his jacket and trousers carefully. They needed to get dropped off at the drycleaners at the first opportunity.
The hot water was a divine thing and Jack reveled in the feeling for a moment before he started to scrub himself clean. Each pass of the soap and wash cloth left him feeling more and more like himself and less like some weird mishmash of Hammond and himself. He was so not a politician, but he could play one for however long it took for all of his kids to be safe.
Body and hair clean, Jack shut everything down and took the time to dry off enough that his sweats wouldn’t be uncomfortable. Thick sweats on, socks to keep his feet warm and his hair scrubbed mostly dry, Jack headed towards the den, coffee and Daniel. He was home now.
Daniel curled up further into the couch with his cup of coffee, a warm afghan and the therapy journal in his lap. The journal had been sitting on the coffee table while he had been waiting on Jack to get home. And he had been staring at it like it was a cobra that was going to bite him.
Which was ridiculous. The thing was leather, paper and ink. It wasn’t alive, it wasn’t going to bite him and the contents no longer had the power to hurt him. But it did have the power to hurt Jack. And that wasn’t his intention at all.
While the process of writing down of everything had been cathartic, it had not been easy or calm. The journal had been launched across the room several times in various fits of rage at events he was struggling to get down. When he had mentioned his fits of rage, his therapist had seemed to be okay with the launching thing and even called it healthy. If the man hadn’t been so damn sane, Daniel would have put him in for a chance at his own couch, just for that.
His shrink knew that he had been writing a therapy journal from the very beginning, and had even encouraged him in the endeavor, calling it useful. The new guy that Jack had found was… decent. And actually capable of putting the combat vet inside of him at ease, since the doctor’s last duty station had been Iraq. And when he had had flashbacks in his office, the doctor hadn’t reached for the drugs to medicate him into oblivion, but instead had talked him down.
Despite getting better on the mental health front, Daniel knew he wasn’t going to be able to go through the gate any time soon. Maybe never again. He hoped that Jack would be good with his decision to say at the SGC full time. The Gate, with its lure of pretty, pretty cultures, wonders and insanity was just too much right now. And Daniel was convinced that the situation wasn’t going to change any time soon. Every time he went down to Level 29, his hands shook slightly. Not exactly a good sign.
Daniel ran his hands over the battered front cover of the journal. He and Jack needed to go over everything that it contained. Dr. Garibay, his therapist, was good with the idea of the two of them talking about what was in the journal. While they had gone over some of what it contained in session, there were area’s Daniel had firmly blocked off from the psychologist and the other man had respected his boundaries, only commenting that even for him, there were things that he didn’t need to know.
The shower in the master bedroom cut off and Daniel dragged his mind off the mental side path it had taken while he had waited for Jack to get done. Taking sip of his coffee, he made a face at the cup. It was cold again. Uncurling his legs from the afghan, Daniel stood up and placed the journal in his spot before heading to the coffee pot.
He was grateful that Jack’s taste in coffee had improved over the years and he was now as much of a coffee snob as the archeologist. Neither of them apologized for getting the really good beans and both of them were apt to brew pot after pot to keep them going. Daniel poured his cup and then grabbed a mug for Jack, taking care to pour it with enough room for some additives. The bottle of JD had been a joke from Janet many years before, but its successor was going to be needed now. Tucking the sealed bottle under one arm, Daniel carried both cups back to his nest in the living room and after placing Jack’s cup on the coffee table with the liquor, curled up under the afghan again.
Digressing again. He could hear Jack padding down the stairs, “Jack? I have your cup out here.”
Tilting his head back, Daniel waited with his eyes closed. Warm lips that kissed his were a privilege that he would never stop being grateful for and he kissed them back with all the love that he had. Jack looked just like he expected when he opened his eyes after the kiss ended. A bit tired, but he had that open look in his eyes that showed that he was willing to talk.
“You might want to doctor that cup, this is going to be a bit rough.” Daniel said quietly.
Eyes alight with curiosity, Jack did as he was ordered. As soon as he had taken the first sip, Daniel leaned forward and started to tell him everything.