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Stargate SG-1 fic: Man In the Box (4)

Man in the Box
by jennickels (aka Jen Connelly)
Stargate SG-1
Daniel (hints of Jack/Sam)
17,645 words
rating: R
WARNINGS: mentions of torture, rape, violence towards children and other adult themes (nothing graphic, just vivid imagery)
Daniel slowly goes mad while held captive by a crazy Goa’uld that wants something from him.  But nothing is how it seems.
don’t own… wish I did, but I don’t. No infringement intended.

[start from the beginning: Man in the Box]

Man in the Box: four

I wake up to Jack banging against the wall. I’m in fresh clothes, may hair and skin smooth and clean. My wrist doesn’t hurt at all. And there’s no noticeable wound on my head. I groan in frustration knowing that Jack will be pissed. He hasn’t bathed in over a week, hasn’t really rested. I feel for him. I wish I could give him a break. I wish I could change places with him. I get to work, too.

I forget how many days have passed since I last saw Sam. Jack doesn’t talk about it. He sleeps with her jacket and I’m pretty sure I heard him crying once. A couple days pass without incident. We don’t make quota either day. Jack’s too exhausted. I work until I can’t stand but it’s not enough. We watch two more people beaten to a bloody pulp. Jack stands resolutely, taking it all in. His honor is too great to look away. I notice the small flinches. I can’t watch. I guess my honor isn’t that great. I start to feel sick again. Jack’s getting angry. He’s sure Sam is dead and it’s eating away at him. He has very little to live for. He’s giving up. I don’t really blame him.

I’m taken back to the room in the morning. He keeps me the whole day.

“You can go back to work as soon as you tell me what I want to know.” He circles around me with a predator’s eye. “Your friend will not make his quota without your help. The weak don’t last long in the mines.”

Don’t I know that. I’m still wondering if his words were a statement or a warning when I realize he’s speaking again. He’s been saying the same thing over and over for hours to the point I’ve just tuned him out. But suddenly I’m surrounded by the young girls. I jump back as they try to strip my clothes. I don’t want a bath. I don’t want anything they offer me. But, with the help of the guards, they wrestle my shirt and pants from me. I’m scrubbed clean, my skin raw from the combination of scalding water and rough bristles. I pout as they redress me in soft, golden colored clothes. I feel a blinding fury build inside me. I look around for a release. I’m considering the merits of attacking the Goa’uld when his guards haul me unexpectedly to the box.

I wake with a start, confused and disoriented.

“Daniel!” Jack shouts at me. I can kind of see his mouth moving but the sound is distorted, like it’s being bounced off of the walls of a very long tunnel. “Daniel, get up and get back to work.”

“Huh?” I sound like a freaking moron but I somehow manage to get to my feet. Jack doesn’t offer to help me. That’s not right, a part of my brain tells me.

“You’ve been out of it all day. Get to work or we won’t make quota.”

He shoves the axe at me but I drop it. He glares but goes back to work, making disgusted groans the whole time. I fumble with the heavy tool for a moment then face the wall. I can see where someone had been working next to Jack. Was I working? I don’t remember. Jack said I was out of it. Man, he has no idea. Last thing I remember was that damned box. I channel all my frustration into my swings and manage to hit the wall three times out of four. Jack seems to approve. At least he doesn’t yell at me any more.

We miss quota by so much I want to scream. It’s not fair. How are two people supposed to dig as much as three. Never mind that half the time only one of us is digging. But I’m sure that’s the whole point. None of this is about mining for whatever it is they have us digging for. It’s about intimidation and power. It’s all so pointless—the human slaughter, the joy they take in it. It makes me ill. We go to sleep on opposite sides of the cell after watching yet another person die because of our failure. I don’t sleep for a long time even though I’m so tired. I can’t move, can’t even open my eyes but my brain is running at full speed going over and over the last couple of weeks. How could I have done things differently, I wonder. Maybe if I hadn’t been so damn eager to visit those ruins. Maybe if I had listened to Jack more often we wouldn’t be here. Eventually I drift off.

When I wake up in the morning I’m beyond exhausted. I must have missed the alarm. It seems late. I force my eyes open and I’m greeted with purple and red. Great, just what I need. I groan and get up. I’m alone with a large table of sweet smelling pastries. My stomach twists violently. I can’t remember the last time I ate. I’ve been missing meals left and right. Perhaps that was part of their plan. The food taunts me mercilessly. I give in to my basic instincts. I’ve devoured two muffin like breads before his snakey-ness arrives. God, I’m sounding like Jack in my head now. Maybe I miss hearing his usual snark.

“Good, you have eaten. I’ve been worried about you, Daniel. We could be such good friends if you would only give me a chance. We could learn so much from each other.”

I cough and almost choke on my last bite of muffin. It tastes kind of like banana. I don’t want to know what it is. He hands me a glass of water and I chug it down. Only then do I look at him. He is absolutely insane. It’s the only explanation. Either that or I’ve gone insane. Probably a little of both. We sit and watch each other for a long while. I can’t leave Jack along for another day. I sigh.

“Ah, are you ready to share, then?” he asks.

“What do you want to know?”

This time I return to the cell on my own feet. Jack barely looks over his shoulder at me. I don’t know how he’s even standing let alone swinging his axe. I try to get him to sit down but he shoves me away. He’s not talking to me again. It’s probably better that way. I hate this place. I hate what it’s done to us. Teal’c and Sam are both gone. Jack and I are as good as dead. We’ve already pretty much lost our minds. I’m not sure which is worse.

The night drags on, we get our dinner and return to work. We make quota with me doing most of the work. I’m fine with that. Jack could really use a break. I’m not sure he’s going to make it another day. That causes a dam of grief to break wide open. I sit in the corner with my arms wrapped tightly around my legs and bury my head in my knees. Sam’s gone. It’s been so long since I’ve seen her but even longer since we were really together. She had pushed me away just like Jack was still doing. It hurts so much. I have no one. Even stuck in this tiny space with Jack—I’m completely alone. He snorts at me. I’m a mess, blubbering like a baby. Not that I expect Jack O’Neill to comfort me but the fact that he’s laughing at me kills a little piece of me inside. The part that secretly hoped Jack would come around—be the friend that I know he is. I guess that friend is gone now. I’m stuck in this space with a stranger. One that harbors a deep-seeded antagonism for me.

When I wake up in the morning Jack is gone. I have no doubts it’s for good. I just lie there. I don’t care any more. They’ve taken everything I’ve ever cared about. I even gave them what they wanted. I talked… about everything. Well, mostly. I tried to think of old information, non-vital things that wouldn’t get Earth annihilated. I don’t know how convincing I was. I really don’t remember much. My time in that room is so hazy I’m not even sure it actually happened. For all I know it was all a dream. I skip breakfast, choosing to curl into the fetal position and hope it all goes away. If this is a bad dream maybe I just need to wake up. But it doesn’t end. I hear the other slaves shuffle back to their cells and the sounds of digging drift in through the forcefield.

I finally get up and start working. And I go on like that without a single break for hours. Jack comes back a little more bloody. He’s not happy. He’s screaming curses at the guards, even takes a swing at one of them. They just laugh and throw him in. I try to help him up but he shrugs me off. I don’t even think of trying again. We work in silence for only an hour before they come back for me. This is getting ridiculous.

That night, at dinner, I’m not even hungry. Jack knows it. He can hear that my stomach isn’t growling. Not that there’s much to growl about but Jack’s still going through the motions. I offer him my soup and I can see in his eyes he wants to toss it back in my face on principal alone but he’s starving. And not that imagined starving that well fed Americans complain about when they don’t get their three squares right on time. He’s wasting away before my eyes. I really haven’t lost that much weight. I don’t remember eating half the time but my clothes still fit and I feel okay… most of the time. Jack looks like death warmed over. He’s covered in cuts and bruises; his skin is nearly translucent in some places. It’s creepy to look at. He knows I’m watching and turns away. Another mistake. One Jack won’t live to regret. We’re both facing the same way so we don’t see the attack coming. I’m blindsided by something large and I watch in horror from the floor as an axe comes down on Jack’s head.

I scream out. I know I do. I don’t hear the sound, though. Everything has dropped to super slow motion. Every movement of every person in a ten foot radius becomes glaringly obvious and easily tracked. Problem is I’m moving just as slow. I try to get to Jack but they hold me back. Two men—I vaguely relate them to someone that died because of our recently missed quota—stand over Jack. He’s trying to move. Blood is pooling around him and they just stand. Everyone watches as he slowly dies in front of our eyes. This can’t be happening. Teal’c, Sam and now Jack. They’re all gone. I really am alone now. Jack’s blank eyes stare up at me and I feel the tears dripping off my cheeks and soaking my shirt. They turn on me and I’m welcoming the fatal blow but it doesn’t come. I get a jab to the jaw that knocks me silly for a few minutes. I come to in my cell. When the guards come to collect quota they laugh at my measly pile of rocks.

“It’s not fair,” I scream. I’m so tired and lost and confused. If they’d only tell me what they wanted, why my friends had to die. “How am I supposed to make our quota? I’m only one person.”

They don’t care. Another person dies because of me. The next day they come just before dinner. I’ve been working non-stop. At least, I think I am. But I keep falling over from exhaustion. When I regain consciousness I immediately go back to work but I have no way of knowing how much time has passed. I’m nowhere near making quota so I really don’t care when they drag me off. I’m too tired to walk or give a damn.

They bypass all the niceties this time and stuff me in the box. I enjoy the momentary lack of stimulus before the mental torture starts up. I don’t think my body and mind can take much more of this. But it goes on. The next day is more of the same. The next day after that I’m in the box from breakfast until dinner. I pass out several time but I’m always brought back to. They toss me back in my cell before final count. I laugh when they come to collect. I have nothing. This is so crazy. I watch without any feelings as a mother of three is zapped with the pain sticks. What difference does it make any more? At least they don’t kill her. I see her getting to her feet with the help of her children. She’s alone with them. They probably won’t make quota with her injured now. And it’s my fault—I guess. It doesn’t matter. I pass out as soon as I’m back in my cell.

* * *

I lose all track of time after that. Time is relative, Sam would tell me. Then probably go on a rant about Einstein that would go so far over my head… She was always so clueless that the people around her didn’t understand half of what came out of her mouth. Jack seemed to enjoy her rambling. I know there were many times he’d stop her three words into the first sentence to get her to cut to the chase—to dumb it down to the level of us mere mortals. But there were many more times I watched him goad her into a nonsensical rambling about something I knew he had no understanding of. He would just stare at her as she talked, this silly grin on his face. God, I miss him. I miss them both. I wonder when this will end… if it will end. They keep healing my physical injuries. They keep me fed. The only thing suffering is my sanity. My time in the box is becoming more frequent. I don’t know what they’re asking me, if they’re even asking me anything at all. I talk sometimes, just to hear my own voice. Just to drown out the internal soundtrack to the images I see whether my eyes are open or closed. I tell him all sorts of things. I’ve gone into detail about losing my parents and Sha’re. About living in foster care as a kid. About not getting that bike I wanted for Christmas when I was nine. I talk about living in Colorado and camping with Jack in the mountains when we had a week off last year. Like we don’t camp enough when we’re working. But it had been fun—just the two of us… and a full cooler of beer and snacks. No rations makes any camping trip better.

I’m sure I’ve given away all of Earth’s secrets. My lack of guilt scares me a little. I just don’t care. I want it to stop. Back in my cell one night I consider hanging myself. I even go so far as to tear the blankets into strips and tie them together. A lack of a good anchor on the ceiling halts my plans. Another night I think about throwing myself on my axe. Funny how suicide isn’t as easy as they make it look in the movies. Maybe if I had a gun. Pulling a trigger isn’t quite as hard as pushing a sharp blade into your chest. Another couple of days in the box and my brain is so fried I’m not even sure I’m awake any more. Awake, asleep—it’s all the same really. It’s all hell. I’m not allowed to rest. When I’m awake I’m being tortured or worked to agonizing exhaustion. When I’m asleep I relive the horrors and I’m constantly reminded of my failure—to Earth, to the SGC, to Jack and Sam. I have to get out of this place.

Escape had never crossed my mind after that first night. I considered being rescued the first few days but escape seemed out of reach. Now I had nothing to lose. Someone was going to die because of me every night anyway.

The next time I’m left alone in the room I waste no time examining the perimeter. My on the job military training kicks in surprisingly easy. I search for any means of escape or weapons. Or for information in general. Information is power. Even Jack had to admit to that. The more you know—and, god, that sounds like an after school special. My hunt is halted by the arrival of the girls. They don’t seem to know what I was up to and I let them do their thing. There’s no point in fighting. My mind is working on the problem now. It latches on to it like a drowning man to a life preserver. Anything to keep from thinking about the hell around me. I wish I could see. Without my glasses everything is blurry until I’m right on top of things. So I ask about them.

What’s-his-name smiles. He’s pleased I’ve made a reasonable demand. He’s ignored all my other inquiries from his name to what happened to my friends. He doesn’t get my glasses but he uses his devise on my eyes. After what seems like hours, and I’m pretty sure I fell asleep, he says he’s done. I open them cautiously and I’m amazed to see everything in crisp, clear technicolor. I give him some useless information about the Alpha Site. Well, the old Alpha Site. I’ve lost track of how many sites we’ve gone through. Actually, I’m not even sure I’m making any sense any more. But it distracts him. He leaves me alone again. Either he’s getting too trusting or too sloppy in his eagerness to verify my information. Doesn’t matter to me. I’m alone and I can see. I scour the room for possible escape. The box sits in the corner, rather unassuming in it’s design. It’s simply a large black box. I knock on it tentatively and it rings with the sound of some kind of metal. I find the controls but I’m not sure how to work it. I don’t think it will help me escape anyway so I move on.

I work my way around the room until I pass the door that the Goa’uld usually enters from. I’m tempted to try it but he’s in there somewhere. I have no way of knowing if the door leads to a corridor or just another chamber. It’s not worth the risk this time around. I hear voices from the other side and scurry across the room to sit on one of the poofy cushions. I’m tossed in the box as soon as him and his goons are through the door. I wake up in my cell. Damn. Two days of back breaking labor pass before they bring me back. He’s not too happy with me. I’m not sure why. I’ve been giving him crappy intel for over a week now. I’m not sure why the stuff about the Alpha site set him off. But he’s mad. Really mad. He doesn’t use his hand device, though. He gets a little old school with me. I’m stripped by the girls and left standing in the center of the room again. This time, though, the guards close in on my. I have no time to react before they are knocking me around. I pass out after awhile. I really hope it’s for the last time.

I wake up in the box with an image of Sam under one of the hulking guards. I gag and choke. That’s not my memory. I don’t want to see that. I can’t make it go away and the tears sting my eyes. Why won’t they stop already? They don’t ask me any questions. No doubt this is punishment. Later that night I’m carried back to my cell. It’s long past final count and everyone’s asleep. I’m thankful for that. I pull Sam and Jack’s jackets out from the corner and wrap myself up in them. I wish they were here. Maybe we could have figured a way out with the information I was gathering. We probably could have before they disappeared—if we had been talking. I still don’t understand why they pushed me away. I guess I never will. It’s hard being alone.

I’m surprised to be left alone in the large room the next morning. These guys must be pretty stupid. I skip right past the side door and examine the wall all the way to the main doors. There’s something in the back of my head trying to make itself known… a fact that wants to be recognized. I go back to the middle of the room and stare around. The tickle grows more insistent. I’m missing something. I know it. I turn slowly, trying to remember. Then I’m struck with a memory of my first time in the room. The Goa’uld seemed to appear out of nowhere from behind me. While I was staring away from the doors. I go back to them and walk slowly from wall to wall, running my hand along the stone surface. I almost miss it after my second pass but there, almost imperceptible, is a little lip that runs from the ground up to about seven feet. I scramble to find a trigger before I’m exposed. My heart races as my fingers connect with a small button. I give a silent prayer to whatever beings might be out there and press it.

I’m out. I’m running along a golden corridor, not unlike a mother ship. I don’t know where I’m going but as long as I get far, far away from that room and the mines I don’t care. I’ll just find a place to hide and hang tight until I can figure something out. I have no clue how long I’ve been here or if anyone is even looking for me. I’m so wrapped up in my inner thoughts I don’t pay attention to my movements and round the wrong corner. Jack would have disapproved. I feel the Zat blast before I register the Jaffa standing in front of me. Crap.

I wake up in total darkness. I’m so tired of this box. I scream at the top of my lungs but I know there’s no one there to hear me. They don’t let me out any more. They alternate between the torturous images and complete sensory deprivation. I’m sure this is what madness feels like. I’m hysterical most of the time, giggling at the most horrible memories of my life and crying like a baby when I’m alone. They don’t feed me or let me up to use the facilities. I sit in my own waste. It’s horrible. I want to die but I just can’t seem to. There’s a joke in there somewhere that Jack would probably find funny. But he’s not here any more. He’s not coming to save me. Slowly the world fades away, even the internal images and sounds. I’m relieved. I can finally rest.
five

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