Stargate SG-1: Man In the Box (2)
Man in the Box
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]
“Wakey, wakey, Danny-boy.”
Something is slapping at my face. It hurts. I try to turn away but it continues. There’s another voice in the background but I can’t understand. My head hurts. But my wrist feels better.
“Daniel, wake up.” That’s Jack ordering me around. I’d recognize that tone anywhere.
I finally pry my eyes open and he’s looming over me with a slight grin on his dirty face.
“Welcome back to the land of the living.”
“Where am I?” Everything is fuzzy.
His grin falters. “You’re still in hell. Sorry.” He reaches down and pulls me up to a sitting position and waits to see if I’m going to tip over. Or hurl on him. The world rights itself pretty quickly so I attempt to get to my feet. Sam is watching from the side.
“You don’t look any worse for wear.”
I glance down at my clean clothes and scrubbed skin in shame. I can’t bear to tell them about my full belly.
“What did you tell them?” Sam asks and I don’t like the suspicion in her voice.
“Nothing.” I push my glasses up my nose and glare at her. And then at Jack who’s hovering near my elbow. They both look at me with matching skepticism. “I don’t think,” I qualify, remembering how I readily gave up those first small facts.
Jack’s expression becomes unreadable. “You look like you had a nice day at the spa anyway.”
I flush bright red.
“You smell better at least. You were getting a little ripe.”
I wrinkle my noise and frown. Jack’s covered in a layer of grime, his shirt is torn and soaked in sweat and more than a little of his own blood. His hair, normally sticking up in every direction, is plastered to his head and caked in dirt. Streaks of grit drip down the sides of his face to leave black streaks over his bruises. Sam doesn’t look much better.
“Can we just get back to work,” I mutter as I grab my axe. We still have to make quota.
We don’t talk for a long time as we pound away at the stone. My wrist is better but my head is killing me. It pounds in time with the clinking of the metal axes against the wall. I close my eyes—I don’t need to see to hit some rocks.
Jack wants to know about my arm. He doesn’t ask but he has his suspicions and wants me to tell him what happened. My brain is still foggy. I’m not really sure what happened in that room. I know I don’t want to tell Jack about it. I work twice as hard to alleviate my guilt and to give my friends a break after digging all day without me. We’ll make quota if I have to break my back to do it.
My shoulders ache; my back protests every movement. The blisters on my right hand have melded into one giant sore that covers my palm. New ones have erupted on my repaired hand. They burn and hurt, causing waves of pain up my arms. I don’t stop. After awhile Jack orders Sam to rest. She resists and argues until he calls her “major” and raises his voice. She slams her jaw shut giving a clipped, “sir, yes, sir,” in reply. Jack mutters obscenities under his breath as we both continue to work.
The alarm sounds and I’m surprised to find it’s the final count bell. We stand back as the guard collects the last pile of rocks. He takes his time to tally and passes us. He seems disappointed. When he’s gone Sam slumps against the wall with a moan. Jack’s at her side in a flash. I just stand there like an idiot. I’m lost—a raft set adrift in an sea of confusion. Jack’s yelling at me and his words break through the fog. I help him lay Sam down.
She’s not well. We don’t know what’s wrong. She says she’ll be fine if she rests. Jack gives me a worried look. I wonder if him and Sam exchanged those same looks as I lain there earlier in my immaculate tunic and clean, perfumed skin.
The alarm sounds again. Someone didn’t make quota. Jack and I leave Sam reluctantly. This time they pull a family of men—father, son and grandson. The old man and young boy watch in horror as the third is tortured beyond submission. At the end he begs along with his family but there is no mercy. The guards do nothing when another group of men turn on the grandfather from the night before. He’s alone now and does nothing to defend himself. I listen to the murmur of gossip coming from the crowd around me. Apparently he smothered his granddaughter in her sleep.
Eventually we are herded back to our cells. The boy is pulled screaming from his dead father. The other old man lays in a bloody heap—suicide by mob riot. I feel sick again. Jack looks pale. I want to ask him if he’s okay but I already know the answer. He’s fine just like I’m fine. We’re still alive.
The next morning we wake slowly. Jack is squished up against Sam, his fingers twisted in her shirt. I’m alone. I see the wariness in their eyes. It doesn’t take a genius to see how things have changed since I got back. They’re suspicious. I don’t blame them. They were beaten and raped; I got a bath and a new set of clothes. I’d be pissed, too. It still hurts, though—being pushed away by the two people I love most in my life.
While they whisper to each other I work at getting my hand to open. The blister is scabbed over in places, the skin pulling tight. The muscles are stiff and unmoving. I gently stretch each finger. Sam’s watching me.
“Daniel, are you okay?”
I wasn’t really expecting concern. She catches me off guard. Jack doesn’t look happy when she leaves his embrace to check my wounds. She gasps at the severity. We make quick work of tearing my pant legs and Sam bandages both mine and Jack’s hands. Jack does hers, his fingers lingering on her palm a tad longer than militarily appropriate.
We work for what feels like hours after breakfast. Fatigue sets in. I can barely lift my arms, my swings become erratic. I miss more times than not. Jack looks pissed. I refocus, determined not to let him down. You would think we’d easily make quota with three able-bodied adults but it’s only mid-day and we’re falling behind. Jack’s mumbling cusses under his breath again. I’m sure most are directed at me. I don’t know what he wants from me.
The shield comes down in a crackle of energy, startling us. They grab Sam. Jack and I both lunge after her but are tossed back by a wave of electricity. I don’t know where it came from. My head is ringing and every nerve ending fires at once. It’s worse than a Zat blast. Jack shakes off the effects first and demands I get back to work. He’s worried, I know. And when he worries he gets angry. I’ll let him take his anger out on me if that’s what gets him through the day. It’s working for myself so far.
The day passes in a blur for me. Sam comes back—battered and bloody but she has her clothes on. I’m not sure it makes much difference at this point. She drags herself to her feet and we work in silence but I feel the tension rising. It’s unbearable. I want to cry but I don’t. I won’t give them the satisfaction—not our captors, not Jack. I work until I can’t feel my fingers. The axe slips from my grip to clatter to the ground. We all just stare.
Dinner is tense. I don’t feel too well but I get none of the sympathy that Sam did. I don’t finish my food. Jack splits it between his and Sam’s bowl without a word. I just keep watch and ignore the cramping pain in my gut. This place is surely hell in every sense of the word. Rumor has it the suicide guy’s cell has already been filled… by a family of four. Their only crime was letting their toddler peer upon the face of their “god”. They’ll die here. Just like the last family. Just like everyone. Just like us. I’ve lost hope I realize.
We manage to make quota despite my bumbling hands but for the third night in a row we file into the cavern. I start to worry that one of these times it will be one of us pulled out for punishment but the guards take pleasure preying on the small and weak. They choose three children, dragging them from their mothers’ grasps. Next to me Jack goes rigid. A rage in intensity I’ve never seen before flashes across his face. He’s going to do something.
The kids—two boys and a girl, none older than ten—are lined up. They quiver in fear and one wets himself. The guards laugh. The parents, all with other children, watch in agony. They can’t risk doing anything, can’t risk leaving their other children vulnerable. They bring out a pain stick. I can’t watch. I can’t take it any more. I lose what little dinner I consumed. Nobody pays any attention to me. A piercing scream fills the room. I dry heave until my throat closes up. The screaming goes on forever and I’m sure that noise will haunt my dreams until the day I die. Which, most likely, will be soon.
I’m crouched down with my hands over my ears when Jack makes his move. Sam yells for him to stop but it’s useless. He shoves his way through the crowd and knocks the remaining boy and girl out of the way. They are too terrified to flee back to their families. The guards aren’t happy. They are less happy when Jack taunts them.
“Why don’t you pick on someone your own size for a change.”
They grin maniacally but Jack catches the biggest one off guard. He launches at full speed, flattening him with a shoulder to the abdomen. They go down in a pile of flailing arms and legs. There is an uproar in the crowd. I’m carried in a wave of stinking humanity as they press closer. No human has ever dared speak back to a Jaffa, let alone attack one. I move to help Jack but Sam pulls me back. It’s soon apparent why no one tries to escape or fight back. Jack is quickly subdued.
They bind his hands behind his back and knock his knees out from under him. I wince in sympathy. Sam is tense beside me. I think I can see tears glistening in her eyes. Jack looks up defiantly at the Jaffa, a smug smirk on his face. It’s gone in an instant as the children are lined up again. Their faces are wet with tears and they’re shaking so bad they can barely stand.
“You will pay for your insolence, Tau’ri,” shouts the First Prime. He pulls something from under his tunic. I can’t see. Horror flashes across Jack’s face; Sam gasps, her hands coming up to her mouth. “Let this be a lesson to all. If you don’t make your quota someone will be punished. If you disobey, someone will be punished. If you attempt to escape-” the First Prime paces behind Jack during his speech, finally stopping directly behind him and brandishing the object—one of our sidearms, “-someone will be punished.
I’m pretty sure I yell out a, “no,” but it is lost in the roar of the crowd. It’s too late anyway. The gun fires two times. I watch in horror as two little bodies drop like sacks of potatoes. Jack is screaming. I don’t hear the words. They don’t matter. Two innocent children are dead because of his actions. There is another commotion in the crowd as three men are carted out, hands bound. They are strong, muscular and young. They pull more than their fare share from the stone walls to help their families.
They fall like the children—with a loud pop echoing off the walls and a small dot of red blooming between their eyes. The room spins crazily before me. Four more are selected. People are panicking now as the strongest are pulled from the crowd to fall to the Tau’ri weapon. Three more are escorted in front of Jack. They stand amongst the still warm corpses of their comrades. The first two drop. The last, a very pregnant woman, is saved as the clip empties. The woman collapses from fear. Angry their fun is over the Jaffa turn on Jack. I only see him get pistol-whipped to the temple before I’m forced back to my cell.
Sam’s pacing—a furious fast walk from one end of our cell to the other. At each wall she puts her hands up and pushes off. Faster and faster she moves. I’m afraid she’ll hurt herself but I don’t dare stop her.
My stomach is still twisting in on itself. I wrap my arms around my midsection. I miss the infirmary. I never thought I’d say that. Sam trips, landing hard on her knees. She cries out in pain and heart-wrenching anguish. I’m afraid to move. I want to comfort her but it is pretty obvious her and Jack don’t trust me any more. I’m more than a third wheel now. She slaps the floor in impotent fury, tears finally spilling down her face. My sense of honor wins over my own personal hurt. I wrap my arms around her and whisper into her ear. I don’t say anything important. She’s not listening anyway.
Just as she starts to calm the forcefield drops. The guards toss Jack in without a word or their usual evil glee. We manage to catch him and gently lower him to the blankets. I hand my tunic to her to press against Jack’s head wound. We work for about thirty minutes to stabilize him. Finally Sam is satisfied. She curls up next to him, her arms wrapped protectively around him. I have no one to hold me. I’m ignored once Jack is returned so I roll away from them again, the isolation like a blanket suffocating me.
I don’t wake until the alarm for breakfast sounds. I consider ignoring it but already my body has become accustomed to the schedule. It grumbles in displeasure at the idea of missing the morning meal. The words “Pavlov” and “dog” run through my head as I force myself up. They should probably mean something but I’m too tired to remember. Jack and Sam don’t wake and I leave them to rest. That is my first mistake. I don’t ever make it to the serving table.
The blow comes from behind, swift and brutal. Pain erupts in my head as I fall. The people in front of me scatter. The only loyalties here are to your own group… your family. They can’t risk getting involved. Last night proved that without a doubt. My ears are ringing and the room blurs and tilts violently pitching me forward as I try to get to my knees. My arms won’t hold my weight. The second attack is more my speed. Someone kicks me in the side. Twice. I’m gasping for air when the booted foot swings out for another blow. Instinct takes over. This isn’t my first fight. I roll away from my attacker and, at the same time, grab his foot and twist. He falls in a heap next to me but I don’t stop. I roll a few more paces away and catch my breath. People are screaming all around, egging us on. I’m only half up when someone else puts their knee to my face. I crash back, blood spurting from my broken nose. I know they’ll be coming fast now so I use the momentum to back roll and I’m on my knees again.
I ignore the blood and growing pain. I can’t let them think I’m weak. Jack taught me that, too. As the third (or second or fourth… I’ve lost track now) guy starts for me again I catch him off guard just as Jack did last night. He never sees it coming and we go down. I’m on top of him now and don’t wait to see his surprised expression before I slam my fist into his face—over and over.
Eventually someone hauls me off. My hand aches—I might have broken some fingers—and my ears are still ringing from the initial blow. The world around me is blurry. I’ve lost my glasses. Not about to go easily, I swing my elbow back connecting with a satisfying crunch and yelp of pain. I have no doubt what this attack is about. Jack interfered last night and ten people died. Jack didn’t come to breakfast. I did. I’ll pay for his indiscretion.
I don’t get any more good blows in. They’ve pinned me to the ground and I can barely breathe as they pummel me. As the blackness finally overcomes my senses I wonder if Jack and Sam will even notice I’m missing.