These Tears You Cry
summary: Under mental and physical torture, Jack must decide who and what he
can really trust.
disclaimer: not my characters, show, etc. and no copyright infringement is
These Tears You Cry
(*from "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" soundtrack
music by Howard Stone
lyrics by Fran Walsh)
Where once was light
Now darkness falls
Where once was love
Love is no more
Don't say--I didn't try--
These tears we cry
Are falling rain
For all the lies
You told us
The hurt! The blame!
And we will weep
To be so alone
We are lost!
We can never go home
So in the end
I will be--what I will be
No loyal friend
Was ever there for me
Now we say good-bye--
We say--you didn't try--
These tears you cry
Have come too late
Take back the lies
The hurt, the blame.
And you will weep
When you face the end alone
You are lost!
You can never go home.
I don't want to believe them; I NEVER wanted to believe them. They're the enemy, after all; THEY are the ones who did this to me, who left me rotting in this hole--slowly dying--for more days now than I can remember. I tell myself that I'm stronger than this, that my mind--my will--can outlast the damned, devious tricks they keep playing on me. I KNOW everything they've told me is just so much bullshit. But the thing is...well, the thing
is...I think I'm starting to wonder.
Yeah, me, Jack O'Neill, veteran of the best brainwashing/torture
scenarios ever devised, finally starting to wonder about certain things, starting to worry
that maybe what I thought I knew--what I THOUGHT was bedrock certainty in my life--might
really just be treacherous, shifting sand. Nothing but sand, waiting to crumble beneath me
and suck me down,
down, into a suffocating abyss, into death.
Your friends don't care, their voices whisper insidiously in my head as I lie here, hungry and thirsty and hurting--oh, God, hurting so bad...They're never coming, there's no reason left for you to hope, to believe...
My friends DO care, I retort stubbornly inside my own mind, dredging up a tired string of expletives to hurl at the absent captors who dumped me down here and then just vanished, who knows how many days or hours ago now? Hell, yes, my friends care; it may take them awhile, but I know they'll come for me, they'll find me, get me out of here...
No; no, they aren't coming. You know that, Colonel O'Neill. How many times did we put you on the table, how many times did you have to scream yourself hoarse in agony before it began to sink in that you'd been abandoned by the ones you once called friends? NO. THEY ARE NOT COMING BACK. Everyone's given you up for dead; everyone's forgotten you. Especially Daniel. You fought with him just before gating to this godforsaken rock; you said ugly, hurtful things you can never take back, put that look in his eyes that will haunt you down into your last, faint dregs of consciousness, of feeling.
Daniel always forgives me; he always understands. You're wrong about him--WRONG! I know him better than you do, better than anyone! He won't stop looking for me, just like he wouldn't stop looking for Shau'ri. He's...he's my friend. God, my friend. I know it, I believe it. I...believe...
You're in the dark, Colonel O'Neill; completely and irrevocably in the dark. You're going to die here, too, in this darkness--and you'll do it alone. Without Daniel. Without Carter or Teal'c or ANY of the friends you lay claim to. It's cold down here, isn't it, so cold and deep and lonely...you're the last living thing on this rock, the only one, no one's coming and no one cares...
SHUT UP!! Just shut the hell UP! I won't listen, I can't hear you, you're not really here...yes it's true that Daniel's not here, Carter and Teal'c aren't here...but neither are you. You LEFT me here--tossed me in here, bloody and broken, just dug your clawed hands into my flesh and threw me down like garbage, like nothing...
So DON'T tell me who cares or doesn't, who's coming for me or not coming; don't whisper your lies into my ears, don't feed me any more images from my own memory of Daniel turning away, of Carter and Teal'c shaking their heads at me over the callous words I spoke to Daniel's retreating back...I don't care how many times you hurt me, how much blood and flesh and tears you strip from me. He STILL wouldn't just leave me here, I know that. I know it, I do. I know...
My voice scares me, coming out so dry and rusty and thick with pain here in this vast, impenetrable darkness. And the word that dies away into the nothing around me scares me even more: Daniel. Why is he the one I call out for, why is his face the one I keep trying so weakly, so ineptly, to conjure up in this stygian gloom? It's not like he's the easiest person to get along with; it's not like he's ever had any patience with what he calls my 'overtly militaristic' outlook on life and the proper way to do things. To be brutally honest, the guy annoys the living hell out of me on a regular basis. And yet...
I hurt him; I really hurt him that day on the ramp, right as we were leaving for this doomed mission, and it's still haunting me as I lie here. Even with all the truly horrible things I've gone through while imprisoned in this place, it's Daniel's devastated face that I can't lock out of my mind now. HE is the principal origin of this particularly exquisite brand of self-induced torture that just keeps going on and on inside my head, ripping into my heart...
My captors' admittedly refined torture techniques are less than nothing when compared to the guilt I feel concerning my ongoing anger at Daniel for not coming back, for leaving me here...when I guess I should have expected no less, not after the way I treated him. Maybe the ones who hurt me for all those endless, unbearable hours were right; maybe there won't be a rescue, ever, all because I don't deserve one. I deserve to be here, to rot here, to die alone; I was never a friend to him, not really...
Now that's just complete nonsense, Jack, Daniel's voice sounds inside my head, and he sounds so REAL, so blessedly, ordinarily DANIEL, that a helpless sob shudders through me as I strain my useless, tear-dampened eyes in the pitch blackness all around me, half-believing that he's really here, that he's come for me...But no; it's all in my head, HE'S only in my head, but SO vivid, so clear...
I mutter his name again, helpless to stop myself, and the abject misery in my own, hopeless voice sends an uncontrollable wave of desolation through my battered body. Daniel, I'm so, so sorry...sorry for saying such mindlessly hateful things, sorry for trying so hard, so desperately hard, to push you and your friendship away. I know it makes no sense, I know I should just be so relieved, so happy, to have a friend as loyal and true and strong in his convictions and integrity as you are, Daniel. But I've come too close too many times, too damned close to losing you forever--to having that unique, irreplaceable bond between us severed forever in one abrupt, chilling stroke, leaving me destroyed, just...destroyed...
"I couldn't think about that, couldn't deal with the idea of...of witnessing, of experiencing your death...ever again. God, Daniel, how many times? How many times, way back before I really even knew you like I know you now, were you actually DEAD, killed right before my eyes? How many times did we THINK you were dead and go through the same agony, the same tumultuous throes of grief and guilt and rage before the miraculous occurred and brought you back to us? No, I can't deal with the awful possibility that someday you really WON'T make it, that you'll just be gone and never come back again. It just seemed...easier,somehow...to end this friendship thing NOW, to protect the both of us from the hurt waiting on down the road, from a hurt so goddamned huge and all-engulfing that nothing and no one would survive it...
But now YOU won't survive, their voices taunt me here in this
bottomless well of endless night. Did you really think that your one, foolish moment of
verbal cruelty back on that ramp will in any way mitigate the terrible grief and pain
Daniel will feel when you're really, finally dead? Do you think he cares so little for you
that he would be able to accept your loss with nothing more than a regretful but
philosophical shake of his head? No; you hurt him that day, and now you're going to hurt
him again, even worse than you did on the ramp.You're just going to lie here and die,
wallowing in your own self-pity, and you don't give a flying fuck how all of this will
affect Daniel. OR Teal'c and Sam. You arrogant, selfish
Hey, wait, hold up here, just a minute...I thought you said that my friends weren't coming back for me, anyway, that they didn't care anymore. I thought you said that there's no hope, that all I CAN do now is die quietly, without a fuss...DAMN YOU, quit messing with my head!! Quit whispering to me, ridiculing me, confusing me...
Daniel...Jesus, Daniel, who do I listen to, here? Who do I believe, what should I think? What do I really know about any of this, about anything? I'm not sure now what's true, what's solid; oh, God, I hurt so much, so damned much, and I just don't know if I remember anything correctly, if I know what's real. I DID say those things to you, those ugly, denigrating words against your dedication, your intelligence, your...your friendship. That's ALL I'm sure of. And now...
Now I think--no, I KNOW--that all I want is the chance to say I'm sorry. All I want is one last look into your eyes, into those blue, blue orbs that are so definitely the windows to your soul; if I could just see it there, see the unmistakable glow of forgiveness in your gaze, then all the rest of this wouldn't be so hard. I could take any amount of physical pain, could wait for them to come back and torture me again and again, could even wait here to die...if I only knew for sure that your last emotion towards me won't be one of anger and revulsion and hate.
I could never hate you, Jack; you're my friend. Actually, my BEST friend in a sense, if you come right down to it. Daniel's smiling at me in my head now, that grave, barely-there smile that somehow has more power and charisma behind it than the widest grin on any other human's face; and I feel myself breaking down again, feel my weakened body start to shake and shudder uncontrollably with the desperate need to reach out and touch him, to have him here in the flesh instead of just listening to his silent phantom inside my muddled mind. So easy to put words in his ghost's ethereal mouth, so easy to have this shadow-puppet Daniel mouth words of friendship and of caring as I lie here groaning the final hours of my life away.
What would the REAL Daniel say if he could see me now; what would the flesh-and-blood Daniel do if he could touch me, if he could lean in close and look me right in the eye? Oh, undoubtedly he would murmur some soothing nonsense words of comfort, assure me that everything was going to be okay, that I was going to make it...the standard line of b.s. to keep a fading, dying comrade-in-arms hanging on by the skin of his teeth till he could be rushed to medical care. But he wouldn't really mean anything by it now, would he, nothing truly personal, anyway. Not after the things you said to him. Daniel's a decent guy, so he would do the decent thing, regardless.
Alone, O'Neill; you're here all alone, abandoned. Maybe Daniel isn't the compassionate soul you thought he was, at least not THAT compassionate. Maybe he has a darker, colder side; maybe he just really doesn't like you very much. It might be a RELIEF to him if you did die down here, lost and forgotten; he could move on with his life, unfettered by your ridicule, by your endless bickering and nitpicking and your smothering mother-henning, treating him as if he were some daft five year old in need of medication...You've just held him back all these years; he and the rest of SG-1 could really have some solid accomplishments and achievements under their belts if you weren't always riding their asses, holding them back, kidding yourself that you were just being a conscientious commander...Maybe you're just jealous of all three of them, maybe they don't NEED you anymore...Why be loyal to someone like you, someone who would stand on that ramp and viciously cut his fellow team mate and supposed friend to ribbons in front of everyone in the control booth?
"I'm sorry, Daniel; sorry, Sam, Teal'c...I'm just...so sorry."
I don't know if the words are only in my head or if I've spoken them aloud, but I don't suppose it matters now. They're right, these voices; aren't they? Maybe they really are right; maybe this black, bottomless, forgotten hole is exactly where I belong...
Oubliette, Jack; this place you're in? It's called an oubliette, from the French word meaning 'to forget.' And yes, I suppose you might begin to think that you've been forgotten, lying here in pain for so long now. But don't worry, Jack; we haven't forgotten you. You know better than that; you KNOW it, Jack. We're coming for you, you have to believe it; never stop believing, never stop trusting in the bonds we've all forged between us. Believe in ME, Jack; God, please just...believe. Can you do that, Jack? Can you believe, can you trust? Can you stay alive, wait for me to come with the others, to get you out of there?
God, he seems so real, SOUNDS so real here inside my mind...sweet Jesus, Daniel, I WANT to believe; I WANT to feel you've already forgiven me, that you're still out there looking, searching...I want to go home, Daniel; I want to go...home. Daniel...Daniel? Oh, Jesus, Daniel, don't leave me now, don't you fucking leave me here...!
It's dark, Daniel, so dark; can you find me in the dark? Make it go away, make it all just go away...I'm sorry, Daniel. I'm really sorry. But you knew that. You knew it. You're my friend, Daniel, my friend. I'll die, but I don't have to die alone. You're all here, I feel you, all here with me, bringing me light, warmth...warm, I think I can...almost...feel warm again. So warm...tired now, Daniel. I'm tired...
I know, Jack; I know you are. Rest, now. Rest. Close your eyes, let it all go, your fears, your regret...You ARE forgiven. Just feel my fingers touching your face now, feel me near, watching over you...hold on, Jack, just hold on. You can do it, ONLY you can do it now...Jack...Jack!...
"What's his condition, Dr. Fraiser?"
General Hammond stood in the infirmary doorway, his tired, concerned blue eyes shifting from his CMO to the bed where Jack O'Neill lay sleeping deeply. Harsh lines of suffering had cut new grooves and furrows into the spare lines of the Colonel's lean face, and his body was a mass of savagely colorful contusions and lacerations beneath the complex tangle of tubes and monitor wires attached to seemingly every spare inch of his skin. The man had definitely been through hell and back, Janet Fraiser thought angrily to herself, and forced away the disturbing mental image of just HOW hellishly injured and near death Jack had been when Teal'c and Daniel had erupted from the wormhole three days ago with their commander's limp body dangling between them.
"Well, sir, his condition is still critical, but at least he's stable now." Fraiser belatedly remembered Hammond's quiet question and drew in a weary breath. "He'll probably remain unconscious for the next ten to twelve hours; he's really been through the wringer."
"I understand," Hammond nodded, his face tightening with a combination of anger and sorrow as he studied the brutal visual evidence of the torture and mistreatment SG-1's leader had endured on that godforsaken ball of rock. Days had passed from the initial time of Jack's capture before the rest of SG-1 was able to locate him and rescue him--more dead than alive--from that loathsome pit deep in the bowels of the Erelians' ancient fortress; and when Daniel Jackson had given his initial report of Jack's condition over his commlink, the archaeologist's voice had trembled with the depth of his rage and horror at Jack's condition. This one had been close--too close--for Colonel O'Neill; and as Hammond's gaze shifted from Jack's unnaturally still body in the hospital bed to the limp, exhausted form of Daniel Jackson slumped in a chair next to the bed, the General's features softened.
"Has he been here this whole time?" Hammond asked, gesturing toward Daniel, and Janet took in Daniel's uncomfortable figure with a fond but exasperated sigh.
"Pretty much; I keep running him out, but he just wanders around like a lost puppy and then comes trailing back in here when he thinks I'm not looking. I think Teal'c and Sam managed to get a bit of nourishment down him, and once Teal'c forcibly removed him to his own quarters and made Daniel take a three-hour nap. But other than that, he's stayed right by the Colonel's side. Sam thinks he's feeling somehow responsible, all because of that silly argument he and the Colonel had just before they left on this last mission."
"Those two are always sniping at each other about something," Hammond sighed, giving his head a resigned shake. "And usually both of them know it's all a bunch of hooey, just a way for them to let off steam and release tension before a mission. But then, when something bad happens like what happened to Jack, words that might otherwise have already been forgotten have a way of coming back to haunt the ones who hurled them about so carelessly."
"You're right, sir," Janet nodded, a look of regret
crossing her face. "And I don't think Daniel is truly going to rest until Jack is
awake and aware enough to look around and talk and give him that 'Oh, crap, what did I do
to land myself in here THIS time?' look. If you'll pardon the colorful language,
sir," she added with a small smile at Hammond's small snort of
"I think we'll ALL be relieved when the Colonel opens those brown eyes of his and shows us he's still with us," she continued. "But for Daniel it's a vital part of his own, post-traumatic stress recovery."
"Well, just keep me posted," Hammond ordered, and Janet nodded dutifully. Both stood watching quietly for another long moment as Daniel twitched and muttered and scowled once, furiously, in his fitful sleep; almost in tandem with his friend's restless movements, Jack O'Neill's silentform suddenly shivered once, almost imperceptibly, and the fingers of his right hand began to twitch and jerk, scratching weakly at the fitted sheet beneath him as a line of deep perturbation etched itself into his forehead.
Janet began to move forward, her heart rate increasing with a mix of worry and hope, but she was brought up short as Daniel's hand reached out unerringly in the midst of his own, troubled dreams--reached out, slipped through the metal bed rail, and covered Jack's anxious, feebly questing fingers with his own. Daniel's strong, slender digits closed over Jack's pale hand, covering with infinite gentleness the iv line taped to Jack's bruised skin; and as the archaeologist's fingers lightly stroked across Jack's once, twice...Jack's restless, agitated twitching ceased, and his own graceful fingers lay, becalmed and quiescent, beneath Daniel's comforting grasp.
"Jack will be okay; I think they'll BOTH be fine," Hammond murmured at Janet's shoulder, and all she could do was nod, swallowing down the hard lump that had suddenly risen to her throat.