Stargate SG-1 fic: Man In the Box (5)
by jennickels (aka Jen Connelly)
Daniel (hints of Jack/Sam)
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]
Somewhere in the distance I hear voices. Lots of them. They sound agitated. They’re calling for me to open my eyes. I ignore them. I was supposed to die, damn it. Why can’t they just let me die? I’ve told them everything I know already. What more could they possibly want? The voices are very persistent so I work my eyes open. Everything is blurry but I haven’t seen light in days. Faces swim in front of me. I can sort of see their mouths moving but I don’t understand their words. It’s like watching a movie with the sound off sync. I blink but I can’t seem to focus. Or maybe it’s because I’m missing my glasses. I reach up to touch my eyes but someone holds my arm down at my side. They’re gentle, though. It’s been a long time since anyone was gentle with me. It’s a little foreign. I’m vaguely aware of being carried but I start to drift off after that. Please let this be the end.
The next time I wake up it’s different. There’s strange noises, lots of beeping and whirring. I crack one eye open but slam it shut right away. It’s too bright. And white. I’m not used to that. I’m lying on something soft. A bed, I realize with warm, comfortable covers. And a pillow. I snuggle down into it. It smells fresh, like bleach and detergent. There’s a definite antiseptic smell to the room which is only a million times better than the hell I had been in the last few days. I start to fall back asleep but there’s a whisper in the back of my brain. This should all be familiar. I know that it should. Deep down I know. I force my eyes open and look around. The word infirmary comes to mind.
Oh, god, that sounds like Sam. It causes a stab of pain in my chest so deep I can’t breathe. Things start beeping around me and there are more voices.
“Just relax, Daniel. You’re having a panic attack. Take deep breaths.”
There are more gentle hands on me now. I recognize that voice.
She smiles down at me. “You’re going to be okay.”
I don’t know how. I turn my head and the blurry mess next to me looks an awful lot like Sam Carter. I reach out to the ghost in front of me only to connect with actual flesh and blood. She grips my hand tightly. I start to cry.
“Daniel, are you okay?”
I nod. Then shake my head. Then nod again. I don’t know. It’s all so confusing.
“Jack?” I ask, afraid to know the truth.
The room starts to spin. That was definitely his voice. Confusion overtakes my brain. I can’t make sense of anything any more. I watched him die. I could justify hearing Sam or Teal’c. I never actually saw them die, I only assumed it since they never came back. But Jack… I had seen the lifeless eyes, had seen all the blood. The room grows fuzzy then fades away.
I wake up again later to more voices. I listen to them discuss my medical and mental state.
“What’s wrong with him then?” Jack asks.
“I’m not sure, sir. He seems to be suffering from some kind of psychological break.”
“You mean he went crazy.”
“In a manner of speaking.”
“A manner? Doc…”
Janet sighs. Jack is a master at producing that sound from everyone around him.
“But why did he go crazy?” That’s Sam.
“Perhaps it has something to do with the large device we found him in.” Oh, god, it’s been forever since I last heard Teal’c’s deep voice. I start to stir and that gets everyone’s attention.
“Hey, Danny-boy, how ya feelin’?”
I squint up at him. Then someone is leaning over me, fiddling with my face. When they draw back I can clearly see it is Dr. Fraiser. She’s got a relieved smile on her face. She pats my arm then moves to check the monitors.
“In the flesh.”
“But… but… bu…” It’s almost too much for me to process.
“You’re dead,” I whisper.
He looks down at himself. “I look pretty alive.”
“I watched you die.”
That gets their attention. They all stare at me with looks of confusion and alarm. I’m obviously not well.
“You did not,” he accuses. I know this game but I’m not in the mood to play along.
“Daniel,” Sam interrupts, “what are you talking about?”
“In the mines. Jack was attacked one night with an axe. He… he died.”
“No, I didn’t!” he shouts as if outraged at the thought.
“What mines?” Sam asks.
My head hurts and the room is starting to spin again. I rub at my eyes. “The mines.” Why don’t they understand. We just spent the last… oh, three weeks there. How could they forget? I know I never will.
They exchange glances then Janet shoos them off. “He needs to rest,” she tells them. Like that’s going to make much difference. I wake several times in the night screaming and thrashing about. Eventually Janet has to sedate me.
“Wakey, wakey, Daniel.”
I bolt upright at the sound of Jack’s words—they’re so familiar. He seems surprised at my sudden movement.
“Woah, calm down, Daniel. It’s okay, you’re in the infirmary, remember?”
I look around, slightly dazed then it all starts falling back into place. I relax back into the pillow with a small nod.
“Doc wants to know if you feel up to eating anything yet.”
I really don’t. I turn away from him. He leaves after awhile. But then Sam comes.
“Daniel, what’s wrong? Talk to me,” she pleads. I ignore her, too. It’s only fair, I tell myself, they ignored me for weeks. Made me feel like I was to blame for all their problems. I’m tired. I sleep a lot.
When I wake up the next morning—at least, I guess it’s morning by the movements of people around the base—Teal’c is standing next to my bed.
“Daniel Jackson,” he says in greeting.
“Hey, Teal’c.” I pull myself into a sitting position so I can see him better. It’s disconcerting to talk to him while lying down… he’s so tall. I notice he doesn’t look happy.
“Why are you avoiding Major Carter and O’Neill?”
“They have both expressed concerns with your obvious avoidance.”
“Did they?” That didn’t sound right. And, yet, it did. It was completely right. I’m so confused. He only stares at me, waiting for an explanation. Things start to click into place. “Teal’c, how long have we been missing?”
He quirks an eyebrow at me. “We have not been missing. You, Daniel Jackson, were gone for two days.”
I shake my head in disbelief. “What? That’s not right.”
“It is correct. We arrived at P2R-776 as scheduled and proceeded to explore the ruins. You were most eager. O’Neill described you as a youth in a shop providing sweets for a small price.”
“Kid in a candy store,” I mutter.
He nods in agreement with my interpretation. “You wandered off against O’Neill’s orders and disappeared. We searched for many hours before returning to the SGC. It took us two days to locate you deep within the ruins.”
“We believe you stumbled upon a Goa’uld trap, long since forgotten by whatever System Lord once ruled the planet. You were transported into the center of a large facility. We found you inside a black box. We do not know it’s purpose.”
I am having trouble making sense of what he’s telling me.
“But you guys weren’t taken with me?”
“We were not.”
I shake my head in frustration “It wasn’t real?” He doesn’t have an answer to that because he has no clue what I’m talking about. “I’m tired,” I tell him after a moment and then immediately fall back asleep.
The next day I’m in BDUs and sitting on the edge of the bed. I just stare at my booted feet. I’m not sure it’s worth the effort to get off the bed. Jack seems to think it is. He’s been cajoling me since morning to get up and go to the commissary for lunch. Janet eventually gave me the go-ahead but I can’t make myself move. Every time I hear Jack’s voice I remember him screaming at me. When he reaches to touch my arm I flinch away remembering his fist connecting with my jaw. He doesn’t understand. Hell, I don’t understand. How can I have these two distinct memories of him? I keep telling myself one isn’t real but then I start to wonder which one is the false one. Maybe this is all a dream and I’m still stuck in that hell.
Jack’s frustrated. I can tell. I’ve disappointed him so much in the past. I can’t do it any more. So I get up and follow him to the commissary and take some food and I sit and listen to him and pretend to eat. Nothing escapes his eyes, though.
“Daniel, if you don’t eat something you’ll waste away to nothing.”
I wince at his words, fresh guilt flushing my face. It doesn’t matter that the guilt isn’t for this reality.
“I’m not hungry,” I tell him, putting my fork down and pushing the tray away.
“Fraiser said you had to eat.”
“She’s not here.”
“Then I’m telling you to eat and I’m your commanding officer.”
“I AM NOT! Quit saying that.”
Everyone in the room turns at Jack’s outburst. He hunches down in his chair until they turn away. Then he gets up and drags me back to my office.
“What the hell is going on with you?” He’s demanding now, wanting to understand. But I know him. This isn’t the kind of thing he’ll want to talk about. I don’t really have time to explain, though. We’re called up to Hammond’s office even as I open my mouth to give him some standard blow-off answer.
Jack doesn’t have to wait any longer for his explanation. Hammond asks for a full report and I’m tired of side-stepping questions and avoiding my friends. I tell them everything—every sordid, sickening detail. The looks of horror on their faces, even Teal’c’s, tells me everything I need to know. I feel ashamed and I didn’t even do anything wrong apparently.
Sam starts in on her own explanation. The box is some kind of information extractor. That much I could have told her. She surmises that it links to the subject’s brain and first gathers information and then feeds images back to illicit responses. It grows and learns as the subject reacts mentally with the created environment.
“So,” I ask slowly, “it was all…”
“Fake,” Jack says.
Sam frowns at him. “It was more like a virtual world.”
“It wasn’t real.” I need to hear her say the words.
“No, it wasn’t real. Not in the sense that we would have been able to see, touch and experience the same sensations. It was real to you, though.”
“Not real,” I repeat.
“And I’m not dead,” Jack adds.
For the first time I crack a smile. He’s not dead. None of them are. And none of them had to go through that hell. My smile grows and pretty soon it’s joined by tears of relief. None of those people died. It wasn’t real. My relaxed state pleases my friends. Jack starts cracking more jokes about being dead. Sam laughs along with him. Even Hammond chuckles a few times. Teal’c watches me carefully. He’s still worried about my mental health. So am I. The experiences might not be really real but I can’t shake the memories. I close my eyes and I see Jack bleeding out on the hard stone floor, those blank, lifeless eyes staring up at me. I shiver.
“I have a theory,” Sam says, interrupting my thoughts. I’m sure she saw me shake a second ago and figured I was having another flashback. She’s perceptive that way.
“No… you have a theory?” Jack kids.
She rolls her eyes. “I was thinking that maybe we could use the machine to reverse the effect.”
“Reverse?” I’m not sure what she means.
“Like erase those bad memories they gave him?”
She nods. I perk up at that. Could she really do that? What am I talking about. She’s Sam Carter—she can do anything.
* * *
Two days later we’re in an unused lab in the bowels of the SGC staring at the black box. I shiver and wrap my arms around myself. I know it wasn’t real. I tell myself that a thousand times a day but I still feel the grit on my skin and feel Jack’s boot connecting with my ribs. I glance over at him but he’s twiddling one of Sam’s diagnostic tools in his hands. She quickly takes it away and goes back to fiddling with the machine.
“Are you sure this will work?” I ask for the twentieth time.
She sighs. “No, but it’s the only thing I can think to do.”
I nod. I don’t have much choice. I can’t live with these false memories. After awhile Teal’c and Janet join us. The doctor has brought medical supplies and a monitor. She quietly hooks me up to the machine, watching me with a wary eye. I try to smile but it feels false even to me. She pats my arm and whispers that everything will be okay. For some reason I believe her.
When Hammond shows up a few minutes later it’s time to get the show on the road. I stand in front of the open door with more apprehension than I’d like. Sam gives me a reassuring smile and it’s because of the utter trust I have in her that I’m able to force myself inside. I only shake a little. The fact that they don’t strap me in helps. She situates the head connectors and steps out. I close my eyes and wait. Minutes pass and I’m about to ask what’s going on when I get a familiar tingle running over my skin. I groan. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe none of this is happening and I’m still in that damn mine and I’m about to find out how wrong I was. But the images that pop up are going in reverse. I blink but they don’t disappear. Not that I really thought they would. They’re going so fast, though, that I can’t discern one from another. That’s probably a good thing. But then their moving so fast I feel sick. A pressure builds in my head and grows so painful I can’t think of anything but the pain. The images are now just a blur of colors. This whole thing would be better with strong drugs. I scream out as the pain becomes unbearable and then it’s all gone.
I’m breathing hard and staring into the darkness when I begin to hear voices. It’s confusing at first. Then there’s light. I slam my eyes shut. It hurts.
“Daniel? Daniel are you okay?” That sounds like Janet.
There are hands on me, pulling me out of wherever I am.
“Oh, god.” That sounds like Sam. And she sounds upset.
“His stats are returning to normal. I think he’s okay.”
“Daniel,” Jack says with a stern voice, “are you all right?”
I finally convince my eyes that it’s okay to open again. I stare up at my friends as they surround me. I appear to be on the floor of a large room.
“What’s going on?”
“What do you remember, son?” General Hammond asks with obvious concern.
I rack my brains, trying to remember. Everything is fuzzy and disjointed. “Uh… we were on P2… something or other.” That gets a smile from Jack. I’m sure I hear him mutter something about how he’s not the only one that doesn’t remember those things.
“That was several days ago, Daniel Jackson.”
“And I’m not dead.”
I look up at Jack. I have no idea why he would say that. It’s obvious he’s not dead. Man, I’m confused.
“Did I miss something? How did I end up back at the SGC?”
They all exchange glances.
“You don’t remember?” Sam asks.
“No.” I think hard over the last day I could remember. “The last thing I know I was looking at some ornate carvings. I ran my hand over them to, you know, clear the etchings and then… I woke up here.”
“You don’t remember anything else?” asks Hammond.
“Like me dying.”
“What? No. What are you talking about?”
Jack seems satisfied and doesn’t ask about his supposed death again. I’m glad. It weirds me out.
“I want to check him out in the infirmary-”
“I’m fine,” I say quickly. I’m so sick of the infirmary. I wonder why I think that. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in there. I thought my track record for avoiding the place was getting better. They all give me identical looks of skepticism. “Really.”
“Nevertheless, I’d like you to have Dr. Fraiser check you out. Then we’ll debrief in one hour.”
I nod and let them escort me to the infirmary. I notice how Jack and Sam hover close, periodically glancing over at me. It’s unsettling and, at the same time, comforting. I’ve kind of given in to the confused feeling that is overwhelming me at the moment. Whatever it is it can’t be that bad because I’m with my friends and I know they’d never let anything bad happen to me.