Redeemed by DinkyJo

Threshold Screen Cap by JoleneB

Chapter Two

Jack came to screaming, sound and light both vaulted from his mouth and eyes as his body writhed against a tight web of restraints, his whole world a seething sun of pain.

Abruptly, he discovered that he could breathe, and he ceased his heaving to escape the unendurable. His nerves tingled and frozen muscles turned to warm Jell-O as he lay trembling and astonished at his survival.

The alien who he'd come to know as his brother and teammate loomed large and menacing over him as Jack found that he was strapped down to a table and wondered just when that had happened.

"Teal'c, whatcha doing?"

The question sounded inane even as he asked it. It was kinda obvious - Teal'c, pain stick, strapped down - even an idiot would know his goose was cooked. Not that in his wildest imagination would he imagine this. This was his friend, his buddy, his warrior brother of the heart. A man to whom he'd entrusted his life and those of his friends on more than one occasion.

Now, before - the before when Teal'c was First Prime, probably all capital letters and in flashing lights - he could imagine that, only not that it would be done to him - not ever in a million years. But the evidence was pretty overwhelming. But then again, this sort of thing was probably pretty routine back then - just another day at the office. Ho hum, 'another' torture.

It was easy to forget that the honorable, logical and gentle man whom he had befriended had ever been capable of such an act. Sure, it was either do it or have it done to you. But the man had to have been good at it. After all, he had climbed to the apex; he'd been king of the heap, a not-so-honest-to-god's FIRST PRIME, fully capable of killing on command without a second thought.

Yepper, he and Teal'c - two of a kind.

Jack swallowed hard with a mouth that was suddenly devoid of any liquid and tried to slow his pounding heart. He lay totally exposed and helpless before someone with twice his experience at carrying out damned distasteful things. And he was about to find out just how good his friend was at doing those things, up close and personal.

"You don't have to do this, Teal'c."

"You have offended the honor of my god and myself - and must pay for your blasphemy."

"So, I've got to pay?" He shook his head with frustration at Teal'c's oh-so-flawed logic. "For what? Protecting my planet? He came after us, remember?" He flexed his hands and wrists, trying to find some give in his restraints but found none. "Come on, you know. You were there!"

His voice had ratcheted up in volume but his eyes widened when he saw Teal'c's scowl deepen. The First Prime of Apophis - his friend - brought the pain stick close to Jack's side in an obscene parody of a caress, so close, his skin prickled in reaction to the perceived - and all too real - danger.

'This is so not working,' he thought as he swallowed hard and tried to bring his emotions back under control - tried to look amiable and harmless, anything to sidetrack and distract - to postpone the inevitable touch of the pain stick. 'Mouth, don't fail me now.

Like the calm before the storm, Jack's mind quieted and he was able to think again, to step back and take a good long look at his situation. With a lucidity of thought that was almost scary, he realized that nothing he could say at this point would stop Teal'c from doing whatever he'd already decided to do. That whatever happened was not up to him.

'But then again, if he's gonna stick it to me anyway, maybe I should just get my digs in while I can - and make it worthwhile.'

He bared his lips in a humorless smile. "Or should I just give you a buck-fifty and call it even?"

The pain stick touched his side lightly and he arched his back and screamed.


Teal'c stood stunned in the doorway of O'Neill's office, after only a moment of hesitation he moved forward to offer his hand to his fallen friend, only to be shocked and shamed when Jack cringed away from him.

'It would be unworthy of me to not heal the breach I have opened between us. My own weakness opened it; O'Neill must not bear the weight of its healing, and I refuse to believe that he will not allow it. This cannot - must not continue.'

His brother's eyes seemed to stare past him to another place as Teal'c instinctively pulled back, O'Neill shook his head in seeming confusion; sweat beaded his forehead. Only when his friend's eyes fastened onto him did he again offer his hand - slowly.


Jack smiled and took Teal'c's hand. "Sorry about that, big fella." Together they stood, each awkwardly keeping their distance. "You shouldn't sneak up on a man like that. I could've hurt you."

"On the contrary, it is I who have injured you."

"Me?" Jack slapped himself on his chest with both hands, his palms rasped against his olive drab shirt. "Nah, not me. I'm fine; fine as frog's hair as a matter of fact. Right as rain and never been better, especially now that we've got you back." He paused, an almost hesitation, and then slapped Teal'c on the back. "Not that I ever had any doubt that we would."

Teal'c raised an eyebrow in question. Typically, Jack ignored him, and bent to right his chair, both knowing the lie that had just been uttered.

The Jaffa waited through the transparent delaying tactic, finally Jack straightened and looked around the room, lighting briefly on his desk and computer monitor. Then he switched it off, yet another moment of falseness between them.

"I'm hungry," Jack patted his stomach and gestured to him. "Wanna join me?"

Teal'c hesitated a moment and then nodded. Concern for his friend made him accompany him to the commissary even though he wasn't hungry. It seemed clear that O'Neill was not doing well, despite his protestations to the contrary. For a moment, Jack had been caught by the past, and an ugly one - one that they alone had shared.

However, the Jaffa had learned that his friend was a very private man whose pain ran as deeply as that of his own. If not deeper. He knew all he could do, for now, was be there for him, to win back a trust that he had violated most grievously. And if O'Neill would allow him, he would accompany him on whatever inner journey that might be needed to heal the rift between them, even if it took them both to the edge of sanity itself.

"Yes, I too am in need of nourishment."


Jack tossed and turned in bed; his sheets twisted and tangled in and around his legs, further restricting movement. His legs churned as he twisted to avoid some unseen torment. His long frame seemed surprised that it could curl and uncurl at will and became more agitated by this freedom.

"No, don't," he murmured, his head shaking in negation. "You don't have to do this," his lips barely formed the words as they stretched in a plea. "Wild horses, Teal'c . . . wild horses."

His eyes continued to move rapidly underneath closed lids, a sure sign that he was dreaming. Once again he was back in the corridor of the doomed Mothership, the sound of gunfire competed with the chirrup and chitter of the Replicators, and the gun sight of his P-90 glowed green against the breast of his friend, Teal'c.

'Don't make me do this, Teal'c. Please.'

His friend's scowl was his answer as Teal'c twirled his staff weapon in his fingers and leveled it at Jack. His bullet twanged against the Jaffa armor and Teal'c collapsed unmoving onto the floor.

Abruptly, Jack sat bolt upright, his eyes wide and unseeing. "No!" His mouth opened in a soundless scream of denial.

As his racing heart pounded in his heaving chest, his eyes darted about the quarters he'd been assigned, searching for the danger that his mind and body insisted was there. The dim light of the bathroom lit the room, throwing shadows across the darkness. After a moment he realized he was alone, no one and nothing dangerous threatened him there in his bed. The danger came from within - deep in his memories. The same one's he'd hoped were safely locked away in that box where all his demons resided.

Apparently the lid on that box hadn't been shut tightly enough, for he'd just had the mother of all nightmares. He blinked to further ground himself in the reality of the quietness of his bedroom and then scrubbed his face one-handed, the other one propped him up in bed.

After a meal with Teal'c in the commissary - one that he'd only pretended to eat - they'd parted company. Their time together strained, with none of the underlying understanding that was typical of their camaraderie. Jack couldn't get away fast enough as Teal'c had headed for his own quarters for more kel-no-reem and he for his office.

When he'd reached it though, he'd taken one look at the computer resting on his desk and did an about-face. He wasn't ready to face those reports yet and his bed beckoned. He would have much rather slept in his own bed, but he'd slept on base so often lately, it had become his second home. And since Hammond had said no, it was the next best thing.

Come to think of it though, as tired as he felt, a long drive home probably wouldn't have been the safest thing to do anyhow. Once he'd closed the door to the bedroom assigned to him, he felt immediate relief, a slight decrease in the stress and tension he'd been living with for months.

Even though the door presented only a flimsy barrier between him and the activity at the SGC, it was a barrier nonetheless. And a welcome one, it presented him with a chance to recharge his batteries with restful sleep. A chance he was not going to pass up. The constant press of events he'd rather not deal with wearied him beyond tired.

And he'd thought he was home-free when he lay between the crisp sheets of his bed. Sleep had come, but it had been far from restful. He constantly jerked awake and flung himself from side to side seeking a position of comfort that did not exist. Jack peered into the darkness; it took too much effort to hold his eyes closed. He huffed in frustration and flung his arm over them.

His mind was acting like the old truck he used to drive down the frozen dirt road of his grandfather's Minnesota driveway; once in a rut, it trundled and bounced along refusing to follow any path except the well-worn but extremely bumpy one it had already traveled. And like that truck, his mind refused to shut down and instead reviewed and rehashed old events that were best forgotten.

"For crying out loud," he muttered. "Can't a guy get some sleep?" No one answered except the restless demons inside his head. "Crap, it's not as if I haven't earned it."

Knowing that sleep would not be in the cards for the rest of the night, he untangled the sweat-dampened sheets from his legs and padded barefoot into his bathroom. Standing at the sink, his boxer shorts plastered to his legs, he peered bleary-eyed into the mirror. His reflection showed an ashen face, reddened eyes underlined with dark circles.

"Crap," he muttered and averted his gaze from the haunted man that stared back from the mirror. Jack gripped the side of the sink, his only link to the here-and-now, his mind fell back into that unwanted memory - like he were still there, like it was happening for the first time.

"I seek to unleash that which I have kept hidden for so many years, Tau'ri dog. You will suffer for each moment I had to lie to myself and pretend to be what I was not."

This was so not what Jack had expected, his friend, his buddy, going postal on him with the kind of rage that he had reserved for that snake - that would be god, Apophis. It made him wonder if somehow Teal'c's deep-seated feelings for him and the snake he'd already named had been reversed. The thought gave him an inner shiver. This could be serious - real serious.

"You don't say?"

Washed over by that familiar pain, he knew the answer had come in the form of a touch of the pain stick.

"So . . ." Jack struggled for control of his breath. "Apophis okayed this?" He rasped.

From the slight expression that passed for panic with Teal'c's face, Jack knew he was in deep shit. "So this is on the QT."

Another wave of pain hit him as Teal'c's face hardened in his resolve. When reason again returned, Jack knew that the same force that had pushed this seasoned warrior to turn against all he knew to join an unknown human was in play, the same force that fueled 'The Jaffa Revenge Thing' - a force that once set in motion, could not be dissuaded from its chosen path by mere argument or reason.

Nonetheless, he felt he had no other option than to play along, hoping against hope that he could get through to his friend. "That would be a no?"

"That is of no concern of yours, human."

"Now, there you sound like Bra'tac." 'Yeah,' Jack thought with the desperation, 'remind him of who trained him and what he stood for. What can it hurt? Right?'

Teal'c paused at the name and only someone who really knew him could see the confusion in his eyes. With the hope that this might provide the opening he so needed, that this memory might trigger a return to the old Teal'c, the one he'd called his brother, Jack pressed on. "You remember Bra'tac, the Shol'va."

Teal'c must have upped the juice because Jack didn't believe he'd ever breathe again once the incandescent pain ceased and his friend's look of outright gleeful satisfaction cleared from the white haze that his vision had become.

'What can it hurt? Me, that's what it can hurt, me.' Jack gasped for breath. 'Can't let him know he's getting to me. Keep up the front, Jack. Whatever you do, keep it up.'

"What was that for?"

"To silence you."

"Me? You want to silence me?" His giggle teetered on the knife edge of hysteria that scared even him. With an effort, he bit it off in mid-giggle. "Come on, this is me we're talking about. There's not a snakehead alive, or dead that could shut me up." Jack's smirk felt forced, even to him. "You hear some truth..." More pain cut off his reply along with his breath.

"...pain. You will be silent, except for screams. I will not hear anymore of your lies," Teal'c's lips were right there, moving out of sequence with his words.

"And if I don't?"

Jack's voice grew softer and more strained with every touch of the pain stick. At the rate he was going, he'd lose his voice completely in a couple of minutes. But he knew that he couldn't stop talking, hoping that some word might be the magic one that would do the trick, snap Teal'c back to his senses.

"There is the woman," the tone of voice used to say the words scared him more than the look on Teal'c's face. "You value her for more than her abilities. Would you have her suffer?"

Jack's heart sank as he stilled, his brown eyes the only part of him that seemed alive. For a moment, they blazed with anger which was almost instantly hidden. "Who? You mean Carter? She's nothing more than..." Pain.

"Do not lie to me, Tau'ri. You foolishly told me all." Teal'c's scowl deepened as he studied the prong tips of the weapon he employed with such accuracy.

"You don't have to do this, Teal'c." Jack panted and vainly tried to dodge the touch of the pain stick he knew awaited him. "Wild horses, Teal'c, wild horses."

Pain enveloped Jack once more, this time when he opened his eyes only his own face reflected back at him from the mirror in the dim light of his on-base quarters. He shivered at the memory of what he had just relived and gulped at the feelings that threat had engendered in him.


Teal'c's eyes snapped open as his symbiote writhed inside his pouch. Lighted candles threw ominous shadows throughout the room he'd come to call his home ever since he'd forsaken all he was and knew to join with the Tau'ri in their fight against the domination of the Goa'uld.

'No,' Teal'c amended. 'You did not join with the Tau'ri. You joined your cause with that of O'Neill. It was to him that you pledged your allegiance. It was him that you named your warrior brother when you were both floating lost in the blackness of space, held captive inside a sabotaged Death Glider. And it was to him that you caused the most harm when Apophis caused you to rejoin his ranks of Jaffa as his First Prime.'

His symbiote thrashed once again in distress and Teal'c sighed. He knew now that any attempt at kel-no-reem would be riddled with the memories of what he had done to his friend. His symbiote would continue to show its displeasure at his inability to sink into that state of peace required for each to coexist.

From experience, Teal'c realized the only way he could regain a healing trance was if he somehow was able to bring a resolution of sorts to these memories. He would have to face O'Neill and ask for his forgiveness for the wrongs he had done him.

But would O'Neill allow him this? From what he knew of this man, he realized that this would not be an easy task. For O'Neill had survived what would have destroyed many a lesser man by burying previous hurts deep inside himself, never to see the light of day again.

As a Jaffa, though, Teal'c would die if he were unable to achieve true kel-no-reem, so he really had no choice. For to live knowing that his friend, his brother of the heart, feared him was not an option.

Unfolding his legs, Teal'c rose gracefully from his cross-legged position on the floor. It mattered not that the hour was late, O'Neill would be in his on-base quarters, and likely be lying awake as he wrestled with his own demons. Demons inspired by his own actions and words. Only by working together could either of them put these demons to rest.

As he opened the door to the hallway, he reflected that he would be placing his life in O'Neill's hands. But, despite all that had so recently transpired, he knew he could entrust it to no other. Just as he had known, deep down inside, when he watched O'Neill's gun sight appear on his breast, and had forced himself to do nothing to prevent the killing shot that would be his salvation, he knew he could not abandon his friend now.

"Undomesticated equines cannot stop me," Teal'c murmured as he walked toward his warrior brother's room.

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