Depths of the Soul
An untold tale from Dr Jackson's Diaries
All publicly recognisable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret Productions. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognised characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
This story has major spoilers for Need. I know there is already some excellent post-Need fiction on the net, but as a dedicated Daniel fan I couldn't resist giving my slant on what may have happened. Also it gives me the chance to introduce another plot idea that has been batting about my manic brain for the past few weeks. Please enjoy and feel free to email me with any comments - especially regarding the psychology - of which I am an interested amateur only!
Rated PG for minor language
Extract from the diary of Dr Daniel Jackson
Dr Frasier says I've made an excellent recovery from the effects that the sarcophagus had over me. Physically I'm back to normal, but she dumped me with a coffee and alcohol ban. She says that although the sarcophagus was primarily a physical addiction, I could run the risk of swapping it for another. Great! Alcohol isn't a problem. Jack always laughs at how drunk I get on two beers. But coffee? That's another story. There's nothing like that first sip early in the morning. Hopefully, I can persuade her that I can be trusted not to OD on caffeine at my next check-up. Well, no more than usual anyway!
Anyway, Jack's been making me work out with him. He has this crazy idea of turning me into some sort of Kung Fu master, and insists on teaching me what he calls, "the best bits" of several martial arts. I seem to end up with a whole lot of bruises, but I guess I am learning some useful stuff. Then again maybe not. After letting the team down so badly I've been thinking of chucking it all in. The University of California is looking for a teaching professor in Ancient Cultures...
The sound of the infirmary door being kicked open startled Dr Frasier. Spinning round she was greeted by the sight of Colonel Jack O'Neill supporting Dr Daniel Jackson around the waist. Snapping instantly into professional mode, she indicated the empty examination bed. "Over here, gentlemen."
O'Neill helped Jackson to the bed. The anthropologist grimaced at the all too familiar sight, and perched himself uneasily on the edge. O'Neill hovered nervously by his side as Dr Frasier pulled a tray of instruments over. "We were sparring," O'Neill offered.
Frasier picked up a gauze pad and pressed it hard against the deep cut just above the anthropologist's right eye. "I need to stop the bleeding, Dr Jackson," she said quietly as he inhaled sharply at the pain.
Frasier's attention snapped back to O'Neill. "Sparring?" Her tone was accusatory.
"I was teaching him how to duck." O'Neill raised his fists into a typical boxing stance and did a little dance. "You know... duck." He finished rather lamely as he caught the full blast of Frasier's withering look.
"Clearly not very successfully." Frasier words were acidic as she exchanged the blood-soaked gauze for a fresh piece.
"It wasn't Jack's fault," Daniel interjected. "He threw a punch and I..."
"He sneezed!" Jack still couldn't believe that after all his coaching Daniel had failed to block the simplest of blows.
"Those new anti-histamines you gave me don't seem to be working." Daniel sounded apologetic.
Frasier shook her head, and then nodded towards Daniel's left arm which he was cradling. "Fall badly too?" Daniel tried to nod, wincing as Dr Frasier caught his chin firmly with her free hand and re-applied pressure to the wound. "Hold still!"
"I think it may be broken." Daniel was beginning to turn an unhealthy shade of white. Frasier pushed him gently down onto the bed. "Just lie back." She beckoned to a nurse. "Can you put some stitches in this wound, please." She took his left arm and carefully manipulated it. Daniel groaned. "I'll be right back with the portable X-ray."
Moving across the infirmary she indicated that O'Neill should follow her. Oh, boy, O'Neill thought, here comes the tongue lashing.
"Sparring?" Janet Frasier spat the word at O'Neill as soon as they were out of earshot. "Do you not think I see enough of Daniel in here without you nearly knocking his head off?"
"It was an accident."
"It always is, Colonel. Would you like me to list the injuries I've treated him for over the past six months? Staff burns, concussion, a bruised windpipe, broken ribs. And you, of all people, know how close we were calling it with that sarcophagus incident."
Jack raised his hands in surrender. "OK. OK. I'm sorry. I was just trying to help..."
"He's not military, Colonel. And he never will be. If you want him on your team, fit and in one piece, just get used to that idea." With that Frasier did an abrupt about turn and stormed off in search of the X-ray machine.
Jack watched her go, shaking his head in bewilderment. The whole point of training with Daniel had been to make sure that the guy stayed in one piece. It wasn't as though he wasn't fit - Jack knew that Daniel had put in the hours in the gym and on the treadmill to ensure he could keep up with the rest of SG1. It was just that... Jack shook his head again. The guy was so damned accident-prone; trouble just seemed to seek him out. He recalled the first time he'd stepped through the Stargate with Jackson. Within minutes the anthropologist had got himself snared up with some big ugly animal that dragged him for miles across the desert. Somehow, things had just gone on from there.
"Well, the good news is, it isn't broken." Frasier was bandaging Daniel's left wrist. He was sitting up again, the cut neatly stitched and a couple of painkillers administered. She gazed at her patient with concern. His blue eyes were fixed on some distant point, his brow furrowed in concentration. Frasier caught herself thinking how attractive he was. Jack O'Neill could make her toes curl when he walked into a room, but Janet had had one military marriage, and that was a mistake she promised herself she would never repeat. Daniel Jackson, however, was a different matter all together. Such a strange combination of opposites. Quiet, yet passionate. So logical and yet so impulsive. So innocent and yet so wise. She found herself gazing at the curve of his lips...
"Owww!" Jackson complained as Frasier accidentally jerked his wrist.
"Sorry," she said, dragging her imagination back into place. Janet, girl! Get a grip, she admonished herself. "I'm a bit out of practise with this routine stuff. Better with the alien viruses..." There was that look again. Distant. Disturbing "Something on your mind Daniel?"
The blue eyes focused on her, assessing her. She could tell he was weighing her up, working out whether she was trustworthy.
"Actually yes." Frasier remained silent, waiting for the young anthropologist to continue. He licked his lips and looked away before speaking again. "I'm thinking of resigning from the SGC."
Dr Frasier sat on the far side of General Hammond's desk, her clipboard neatly on her lap.
"He's depressed, General. I should've picked it up earlier."
"Well it isn't surprising. Not after all he's been through over the past few months. He's been in and out of the infirmary with various injuries. And emotionally, well few people have had as much thrown at them as Daniel. But above all, I think he still blames himself for what happened to SG1 on that mining planet."
Hammond raised an eyebrow. "I thought we'd dealt with all that. Nobody could've foreseen what that sarcophagus would do to him."
"He feels he should've handled Shyla's manipulations better."
"Well that's probably true. But we all learn from our mistakes," Hammond shrugged the idea off. "Dr Jackson may be a brilliant scholar but when it comes to women, he does seem to fall straight into the trap... With all due respect, Doctor." Hammond decided he had better not say anymore as he caught Dr Frasier expression. "So what do you suggest? Medication?"
"No. I think Daniel has probably had enough of chemicals for the time being. I have a far more practical suggestion. According to his records, he hasn't had a vacation since joining the SGC. I want you to order him to take a break..." Frasier took a deep breath. She'd wrestled with this idea all night, trying to convince herself that she only had Daniel's best interests at heart, "..with me and Cassie."
Hammond's eyebrows raised.
"If you just order him to take a vacation he'll probably clear off on some archaeological dig or spend the entire week in the library. I want him to get away from everything. I've been promising to take Cassie up to my grandfather's cabin for months. She'd love Daniel's company. And I think the break will do him good. Give him time to find his feet."
Hammond pondered the idea for a moment and then shrugged. "You're the doctor. I'll sign the order today."
Daniel accepted the news that SG1 was going off world without him with barely a trace of emotion. Hammond gazed at the young anthropologist with growing concern. The Daniel that had joined SG1 a few months back would have been on his feet protesting vehemently that he should be included. It seemed that Dr Frasier was right, he was really depressed. Hammond pressed on with his statement. "I know SG7 reported some significant rune work on the gate there, and no doubt you're itching to check it out..." Actually Daniel didn't look like he was itching to do anything except sleep for a month. "So I'll make sure that Captain Carter records everything in great detail."
Hammond waited for a response, but Daniel merely swirled the coffee around in his mug, watching it spin in a golden circle. At least Doctor Frasier had relented on that, he thought absently.
He glanced up at the General. "Whatever you say, Sir." It dawned on Daniel that the General was expecting something more from him. "So what am I meant to do while SG1 are gone?"
"I'm glad you asked," Hammond tried to mask his concern with a smile "I want you to take some time off. Dr Frasier is taking Cassie up to a mountain retreat for the week. I want you to go with them."
Jackson stared at the General as though his superior had gone crazy. "A mountain retreat.." He laughed but there was no humour.
Hammond decided it was time to come clear. "I know about the conversation you had with Dr Frasier, Daniel." Daniel raised his eyes to the ceiling in disgust. "She's the base physician, it's her job to tell me these things. She... I'm... Look, I don't want to lose you from SGC. A few days off will help you get things back in perspective."
"A few days off with the 'base physician'." Daniel couldn't keep the bitterness out of his voice. "You still think I'm a head case."
"No!" General Hammond responded quickly. "I think you need a break. You haven't had a day off in over nine months."
Daniel sighed, suddenly too weary to argue. "Whatever. A week in the mountains. Great." He rose to his feet, and then remembered who he was talking to. "Am I dismissed, Sir?"
Hammond nodded. "Dr Frasier is planning to leave first thing tomorrow. She'll pick you up at your apartment around seven." He watched the young scientist's back as Daniel moved away, noting the slouched shoulders. Damn, he thought to himself. The idea of losing Daniel in this way really stank, he just hoped Dr Frasier could manage some miracle that would put the spark back in him.
"Home sweet home," Janet said as she turned her pick-up truck off the forest track. In front of them was the most perfect log cabin, nestled in the trees and just a stone throw of the edge of a small lake. Cassie let out a squeal of delight and leapt from the truck almost before the wheels stopped turning.
"I'll take that as approval," Janet turned to Daniel, who smiled wryly.
"It's a great place, Doctor."
"Janet," she corrected him. "Honestly Daniel I'm not here to nursemaid you..."
"Right," Daniel's tone clearly said that he didn't believe that.
"It's true," Janet protested. "I was bringing Cassie here anyway. I just thought the change would do you good."
Daniel was all set to let loose with a smart reply, when he caught the genuine concern on her face. Boy, he thought, I've been spending too much time round Jack. He forced himself to smile. "I know," he said lamely. Then making a quick escape. "I'll get the bags."
Janet turned back to the front of the truck. What had she been thinking of? Daniel was going to hate every minute of this trip. All she was going to do was succeed in pushing him right out the SGC. She frowned. She wasn't one for letting her emotions get tangled up in her work, but she had a nagging feeling that this time, she'd let herself slip into something way beyond her control. Get a grip, Janet, she told herself. Plenty of fresh air and good food - it's good for any patient.
"So now what?" Cassie demanded after they'd unpacked and eaten the picnic lunch Janet had prepared.
"Now, young lady," Janet said with a wicked grin. "You and Daniel have to catch our supper."
"Wha... What?" Daniel watched wide-eyed as Janet moved to a small cupboard and pulled out two very old and very tangled fishing lines.
"The lake is that way," Janet pointed to the door, and couldn't help but laugh as Daniel was dragged from the cabin by a wildly enthusiastic Cassie.
"I have absolutely no idea how to do this," Daniel confessed as he followed the young girl. She gave him a broad grin.
"No problem. I'm an expert." Cassie led the way round the lake, her eyes scanning the water. Abruptly she stopped. "Here," she said.
Cassie nodded wisely. "Fish. I can sense them." She took the fishing lines from Daniel and in no time at all had them unknotted. The bright coloured flies attached to the end of the line glistened in the sunshine. "Now watch."
Stepping into the water, Cassie gave Daniel his first ever fishing lesson. Then she handed the equipment over. "Your turn."
"Me, no I'll just..."
"Try," Cassie ordered, her determined face suddenly looking way older than her young years.
Reluctantly Daniel stepped into the water. It felt cool and refreshing against his legs. Following Cassie's instructions he flicked the line backwards and forwards, surprised at just how relaxing the steady to and fro motion was.
It was nearly dark when they got back to the cabin with their catch. In no time at all Janet had the fish cleaned and cooked, ready to serve with a fresh salad. The meal passed with Cassie gently mocking Daniel's fishing technique.
"I caught one," he protested.
"Yes, that tiny one that fell through the barbecue grill," Cassie mocked.
Daniel laughed. "Just wait until tomorrow. I'm going to get that big one that I nearly hooked today."
"Yeh, right," Cassie laughed. "That big one that I didn't see!"
"So cruel," Daniel retorted in mock hurt. He held up his bandaged left wrist. "And when I'm handicapped too."
"Daniel, you don't use your left arm!" Cassie giggled and then tried to hide the fact that her giggles turned into a yawn. However, Janet was too sharp-eyed.
"Time for bed, young lady," Janet interjected.
"Awww!" Cassie protested, but rose from the table as she did so.
As she headed for the bathroom, Daniel and Janet began to clear away.
"You know, I did enjoy today," Daniel was clearly surprised at his own admission. "Cassie's so funny. Reminded me of the girls on Abydos - laughing at me trying to do some chore they all took for granted."
Janet remained silent as Daniel continued. "I'd forgotten what that was like. Doing something just for the fun of it, you know. Not because we might learn something useful to defend Earth against the goa'uld or because we're in a tight spot. Just..." Daniel paused and then smiled. "Just fun."
Janet returned his smile. "Grab a beer," she said. "I'll tuck Cassie in and I'll be right back."
She was barely gone ten minutes, but when she returned she found Daniel stretched out on the sofa, sound asleep, the unopened beer bottle on the table beside him. With the exception of the gash above his eye, his face looked so peaceful. Janet smiled to herself as she fetched a blanket from his bedroom and covered him over. Perhaps this trip was going to be OK after all.
Daniel was slightly drunk. On the fourth evening of their stay, Janet had produced a bottle of excellent red wine, and declared the alcohol ban to be well and truly over. Two glasses later, Daniel was relaxing in the armchair by the fire, enjoying both the warmth of the flames and the comforting glow of the wine. Days spent hiking along the trails had brought a healthy tan to his face, and he looked altogether different to the wary young man Janet had had ordered to accompany her.
The doctor came into the main room, having settled Cassie into bed. She divided the remains of the wine between her glass and Daniel's and settled comfortably in the other chair. Eyeing Daniel surreptitiously she decided this was as good a time as any to talk.
"So, still thinking of resigning?"
The question caught Daniel with his defences down, but he was quick to recover. He shot her the guarded smile that she had come to know so well and reached for his wine glass.
"Yes." He swallowed a mouthful of wine. "There's a job going in California. Teaching. Good money. Plenty of sunshine. Even the promise of tenure if I toe the line." He gazed into his glass refusing to meet her eyes.
"Sounds kind of boring compared to SGC," Janet remarked.
Daniel risked a glance at her, and then returned to studying his wine. "What's wrong with boring? Nobody ever died of boredom."
Janet took a deep breath. Here we go, she thought. "Daniel..."
But he cut her off. "I let them all down, Janet. Jack, Sam, Teal'c. After all we'd been through. All the times they'd been there for me. They nearly died..." There he'd said it. The dreaded thought that plagued his nightmares along with images of Jack coughing and wheezing on his knees in front of him. His best friend, for heaven's sake. And all he could think about was getting the sarcophagus back.
"You weren't yourself," Janet knew he'd heard this a hundred times. Knew that everyone on SG1 had told him it was O.K. Knew that Jack had held him on the floor of that storeroom and told him he was forgiven over and over.
The guarded smile again. What did that say? That he heard the words, but didn't accept them. No, suddenly Janet saw the truth. She was no psychologist but she knew enough to expect anger to lie under depression. Daniel was angry with himself and he didn't know how to handle that. She got to her feet, and moved towards him, her stance confrontational. Almost leaning over him, she looked him in the eye. "You know what Daniel, you were a complete shit."
He flinched at her words, and it was all she could do not to put out her hand to reassure him. But that's what they'd all been doing. Telling him it was O.K. Pouring out forgiveness. Not letting him own up to the fact he'd screwed up in a big way. In their concern for his well-being that forced him into a corner where the only way out was to run away. It was time to get tough.
"She tricked me," Daniel protested.
"Crap, Daniel." Frasier was playing the role for all she was worth now. "You let her seduce you."
"So what are you saying? That you were unable to stop her? That you couldn't say no?" Janet's voice became mocking "Daniel Jackson, the brilliant scholar, can think himself out of any situation except for a woman's bed."
Her words were like hot knives spearing into him. Daniel was on his feet. He grabbed Janet's wrist and pulled her close, but the face he could see was Shyla's, the brown hair, the brown eyes, that haughty chin. "I hated her," he spat. "I hated everything she was and everything she did. And yet..."
He could see it now, feel it now. All the emotions, the fascination of Shyla. Knowing who and what he was. The science geek who nobody ever really cared about unless he was solving some puzzle for them. Only he thought he'd moved past that. With SG1 he'd found real friendship - perhaps even family. A real meaning. And yet, when Shyla came to him with her sweet words - when she offered him the chance to be somebody different, he'd been willing to throw it all away. She had challenged the very core of his being, the parts he had buried deep and pretended no longer existed. The part of him that craved affection so much he'd risk anything and anyone for it. The part that didn't want to be the nice guy.
Daniel's grip on Janet's wrist became painful as he choked out the words. "Yes, I let her seduce me. Yes, part of me wanted her to. I wanted to prove... to prove I could have a woman without her being a gift. The sarcophagus just helped me to act on what I was already thinking. That first time, when I agreed to get into it to please her, I knew it was changing me. But I made the choice. I could have fought it. Could have fought her. But I wanted to see what I would become..."
He let her go so abruptly she nearly stumbled. His arms wrapped around himself in self-defence, and tears came to his eyes. He gazed into the fire, watching it crackle, the passion of the moment gone. "But then I hated what I became. When I got back to SGC, back to normal." He took a deep breath. "I hate what I know I'm capable of." He looked back at her. "You don't know what its like. To look into yourself and find this big aching hole that you'd do anything to fill. I thought Sha're would... It was so simple. I didn't have to try with her. For a while it was all so perfect, but then..."
He looked at Janet, but the doctor remained silent, willing now to let him talk his way through it all. "Shyla!" The bitterness was back. "She made me see myself for what I really was. And I hated it. It was so... pathetic! So desperate for affection I'd..." He stopped, his thoughts clearly racing ahead of his speech. Finally he spoke again without emotion. "Yes, I let her seduce me. Part of me wanted it. I knew it was wrong. But I wanted it. I wanted her. I liked the fact that she needed me. Wanted to spend her life with me. Even though Jack and Sam and Teal'c... I wanted what she was offering. I wanted to shed everything that I was and become this new person. It was easy then, easy to slip into the sarcophagus. Let it change me. Let it take the blame..."
It was 3 am. They'd talked for hours. For Daniel, it had been a long journey. Dragging out into the light, the darkest of his feelings. Janet couldn't help but admire him though. Now he'd opened the wound he was prepared to go the whole way. Dig out everything that festered there, and deal with it ruthlessly.
He yawned. Exhaustion stamped on his face. Janet just had one last question for him.
"Can you forgive yourself for what you did, Daniel?"
He looked at her, his eyes shadowed with tiredness. "Forgive myself?"
"That's what it comes down to. You've seen the truth about yourself. Seen that along with the good - and there is a lot of good in you Daniel - there is also weakness. You know, you're not alone in that. We're all a mixture of good and bad. And most of us, most of the time manage to keep the good up on the surface, the face we present to the world. In fact, we're pretty good at fooling ourselves that we're good. But we're all capable of wrongdoing - selfishness, cheating, lying, pride. Whatever. Why do you think Jack and Sam and Teal'c found it so easy to forgive you?"
Daniel shrugged. It was late and he wasn't sure he could think straight anymore.
"Because they're soldiers. They know themselves inside out. They've been in situations that have tested them to the limit. And there have been times when they've blown big time. They've made the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons. They know that they aren't perfect. And they know that you aren't too. The question is Daniel, having seen what you're capable of, can you forgive yourself?"
Daniel didn't reply. Janet rose, desperate for bed. "It's your choice," she said. "Forgive yourself and move on. Or... run away. Pretend it never happened. Resign from SGC. Take your safe, boring job in California."
Daniel's head hurt. Lack of sleep, the wine, the emotion. He couldn't think any more. He headed for his own room, threw himself fully dressed onto the bed, and plummeted into a deep, sleep in which he dreamed he was running. Running from Jack. Running from Sam. Running from himself. And then, in the middle of it all was Janet Frasier, standing motionless, waiting for him.
Daniel woke feeling light. Sunshine from the undrawn curtains in his room blazed onto the bed, warming his face. For a long time he lay motionless gazing up at the ceiling and sifting through his thoughts. For the first time, he realised he'd never had a proper adult relationship. With Sha're it had been one of teacher and pupil, and although he knew he loved her dearly, he also now recognised their marriage for what it was. A partnership based on what they got from each other instead of what they gave. For Sha're he had been status. Not that she didn't care for him, love him even. But she had enjoyed being the wife of the fair-haired teacher from the distant planet. And, now he could admit it, she had been the mother to him that he had longed for. Somebody who cared for him, watched over his well-being. He wondered if they could ever turn things around - make their marriage one of equals... If he ever found her again. Then there was Shyla - she had been driven by need as much as he had. Each trying to fill the aching void of loneliness. Daniel suddenly realised he felt sorry for her. All the hatred burned out of him by his talk with Janet.
He heard Janet's words again. "Forgive yourself, Daniel. Forgive and move on." He sighed. He had no trouble admitting he had let the team down; what was difficult was admitting why. To acknowledge that deep within him was a need to be loved and accepted. Yet Janet said everyone had that need. It was a part of being human. He'd just let that need become confused. He'd looked in the wrong place for satisfaction - turned to Shyla when in fact, SG1 already offered him all that he could ever want. He'd substituted romance for real love and friendship - and a false romance at that.
Daniel sighed again, but this time his anger at himself dissipated with his breath. Forgiveness? It was weird to think of it in those terms, but he thought he knew what Janet was driving at. It was a letting go. Learning from a mistake, owning up to weakness, admitting fault, and then letting go and moving on. He smiled at the idea. For the first time in weeks, he felt comfortable with himself, weaknesses and all.
They talked again that evening. This time there was no game playing on Janet's part. She told Daniel about her failed marriage. Her determination to be the best doctor she could be to make up for the fact she felt she'd blown it as a wife. The balance that Cassie had brought to her. The way she had learnt to live with her own demons. And Daniel described his relationship with Sha're, his new found insight into their relationship.
"I don't know where this leaves me," he said. "I mean, if I do ever find Sha're again. I'm different. She's bound to be different. I don't know if we could ever make it work."
Janet didn't answer for a long time, and when she did she knew that she wasn't speaking as Daniel's doctor. "Perhaps its time to move on from that too," she said. "Time to look for that adult-to-adult relationship."
Daniel gazed at her. For a long moment brown eyes met blue and two minds were joined in a glimpse of potentials. At last he spoke. "Do you think that's really possible?"
Janet felt her heart pound in her chest as she looked into that intense blue gaze. Part of her was desperate to speak out, and yet another part of her knew that it was too soon. She broke the eye contact, reached for her wine glass, and leaned back into her seat with a barely audible sigh. "Yes, Daniel. You just need to know where to look."
Extract from the diary of Dr Daniel Jackson
So much has changed in the past few days. I wonder now how I could ever have thought of leaving SGC. Tomorrow SG1 and I are off to a new world - one that promises to deliver more than just a few stale soil samples. Everything seems so fresh all of a sudden. I even enjoyed my sparring session with Jack although the wrist is still a bit sore.
Most of all though I've enjoyed spending time with Janet. To think how reluctant I was to go on that trip. I expected to spend time with my doctor, and instead discovered a new friend. It's strange, I don't think I've ever trusted anyone the way I trust her - not even Jack. Not even Sam, who has become as much a sister to me as a colleague. It's as though Janet knows everything there is to know about me - including the dark bits I barely dare look at myself, and yet she stills values me as a person. It's strange to be so open to someone. Strange and just a little bit scary - because if I've learnt one thing it's that friendships - relationships - never stay the same. There is always the promise of tomorrow....
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