Redeemed by DinkyJo

Chapter Three

All too soon Teal'c found himself before his warrior brother's door, and there his resolve failed him. To cause this man more pain railed against his heart, yet to prolong the moment at which he must prostrate himself and ask forgiveness could not come too soon else his own life would be forfeit.

But would it be too soon for O'Neill to bear? His Tau'ri brother had shown great strength to have carried such grievous hurts for so very long. The greatest being the loss of his only child, a burden he was certain that he himself could not bear. If Rya'c had died while under his protection, no matter the reason, could he have persevered and lived on? Teal'c doubted that he could survive such devastation as O'Neill had already survived.

Lifting his eyes to stare at the closed door, he brought up a hand to knock, as was the custom of the Tau'ri of Earth. However, now that he was there and faced with it, he discovered that he could not bring himself to do so.

Not often had he been startled, but when the door jerked open and there stood O'Neill, head lowered, his free hand tugging his shirt down in one of the few signs of stress he displayed; Teal'c could not help his reaction, he was taken by surprise.

Teal'c remonstrated with himself for being so self-involved in his own pain that he was not completely aware of all that transpired around him. Lapses such as this could prove hazardous to one's bodily integrity and of those entrusted to his care.

And as if in a mirror, his brother's head came up, eyes widened and the man flinched. That involuntary reaction was like a violent slap and just as he could not keep his emotions from his face, so could he also read them in O'Neill's.


O'Neill felt guilty for flinching. But that was not as it should be. For it was what he, the perpetrator of harm should feel, not the man who was his victim.


Jack gazed at his reflection and knew that it had to be done. He had danced around the issue earlier; he could tell that Teal'c wished to bring up the whole ugly mess. But he couldn't stomach that. Not then.

Therefore, he had sat and forced himself to eat, to converse and act as if nothing had happened, even as the dark and ugly scenes of what had transpired between them had wandered the edge of his conscious mind, just at the point of distraction.

Part of him, the part one could call a coward, crowed that it was night. That sane people slept in their beds; that discussing such things would not be appreciated at this hour. He argued back that Teal'c did not sleep, and was countered with the fact that his kel-no-reem needed peace. That its loss could kill faster than any human could die of lack of sleep.

He shook his head to rid himself of his delaying tactics, pushed away from the sink and the haggard man that stared out from his mirror. Snagging his BDU jacket from the chair near his tousled bed he began to throw it on and jerked open the door.

He had expected no barriers between him and the candle-lit chamber that was his destination, but there before his lowered eyes were boots. Like any man he paused, then raised his eyes and recognized his friend, a friend that had hurt him - badly. And he flinched.

The reaction happened before Jack could even begin to think of counteracting it, of how it would affect his audience of one. Nor how it would affect himself as an unwanted memory washed away conscious thought in that one second of lost control.

"Jack, what did they do?" asked a concerned Daniel.

O'Neill found it difficult to pull his eyes from Carter as she was led away by the same Jaffa that had returned him to the cargo bay that was their prison.

"Potty break," was his absent answer, his mind occupied with what Teal'c knew of he and Carter. And of what his friend could do if his promise of no harm was nothing more than another form of torture.


"Potty break, a very, very long walk past every Jaffa that's on this tub; and at the end I was offered the use of the facilities. Who woulda thunk it?"

Jack offered a smirk, too busy shoving away thoughts of all the places a pain stick could reach. After all, if he could imagine them, Teal'c could too, and he'd been doing it a whole lot longer than Jack had.

"It makes no sense." Daniel shook his head and eyed Jack with seeming doubt.

Aware of the scrutiny, Jack forced himself to stop rubbing his side; it still tingled with the caresses of the pain stick. He wished he could stop his thoughts as easily as scene after imagined scene played out in living Technicolor and Dolby surround sound - with Carter as leading lady.

He shrugged carefully and hid the wince. 'They must never suspect, never know what went on back there,' Jack vowed. Out loud, he tried for nonchalance. "To you perhaps, but it's great for their morale, not so good for ours though."

Just a small memory, it had played out as his body reacted to his unexpected visitor. If he could have prevented the reaction, he would have. Guilt flooded him at the idea that his body could so accuse a man he trusted with his very life. Jack knew as he felt this that his body had again betrayed him.


Muscles flinched as the tip of the stick finally met flesh. But in a far more panicky and disjointed manner than when he had removed the unconscious man's upper garments before strapping him down.

Sliding the pain stick slowly from chest, dropping low along the ribs and stopping atop a clothed hip bone was a sure path to pain, both of the physical and the mental. The victim's anticipation of the coming torture was excruciating enough to cause most subjects to entirely lose their wits if taken too quickly, or drawn out for too long.

He had, over the years, developed a finely tuned sense of timing which made him the most feared Jaffa of them all. And Apophis had rewarded him well for this distinction, elevating him to the post of First Prime and giving him a spacious house to live in.

Teal'c wanted this one to suffer. His practiced hand knew the way, he need not watch the instrument of torture move along the victim's body; he was free to watch the face of the one he wished to punish.

The eyes that fastened upon him held no hate, nor reproach. Only a grim endurance before the light of the energy forced though his helpless body obscured them. Mouth and eyes became luminous holes that erupted a brightness that was nearly impossible to look at.

Unease stirred in Teal'c as he watched, fascinated by the contorted face. For some reason, he could not remember ever having observed this before. Had he ever seen this before, or even bothered looking?

Seeing the guilt on O'Neill's face brought this moment slamming into his awareness so forcefully that it nearly staggered him as he sought to reassure his friend, to somehow begin the healing that he so deeply wanted to occur between them.

'How could I have done what I did? How could anyone forgive doing such a thing to the man you named your brother?' Teal'c thought as he was consumed with shame at his actions and words.




"What cha doing?"

And just like that Jack was back in that storage room.

It felt as if Sam had been gone for hours, and that he'd listened to every possible theory on every possible subject that Daniel could possibly imagine. That man could rattle on about nothing forever.

Oy! If only he had a cork!

He was never so thankful for Jaffa footwear, the clanging clomps announced their return. Breath resumed as Sam was led back in and exchanged for a blessedly silent Daniel.


"I'm fine, sir. Just a trophy walk," she grinned her reassurance. He could've kissed her; she knew what was going on, at least on the surface. And he would make sure she never knew more than that, he'd do what he must to shield his team, but Carter, Carter... was his Carter.

He found himself discussing the route she had taken versus his own, careful to not reveal that he had no idea what his route had been and that it was probably very different from her own.

He could gaze into her eyes for hours.

He blinked.

'Dammit, Jack, get a hold of yourself!'

Teal'c stared back at him, his poker face back in place. Again Jack's body had revealed his distress, betrayed his inner feelings to his friend. And added more stress to an already untenable situation.

But in the scheme of things, Jack knew that his own welfare - physical and mental - was of no concern. No, what really mattered was that his teammate was in trouble; and Jack's reaction toward him wasn't helping in the least.

He had to put all that aside though, stomp those demons back into their box and nail the danged lid shut, for Teal'c was the injured party here. And as his team leader - and friend - it was up to him to ensure that he wasn't hurt anymore. That he could heal enough so that he could once again regain his strength through kel-no-reem.

And if that meant putting his own petty problems on the back-burner, well it wouldn't be the first time. And chances were good that it wouldn't be the last, but to know that Teal'c was once again whole and healthy, that would make whatever hell he had to go through himself - later - almost worth it.

"I have come to speak to you."

"Ah, well, I was about to come find you." Jack grinned and nervously bounced on his boot-clad toes.

"Then I am here."

"Yepper, so you are." He paused; one hand stuck in his pocket, and then huffed out a breath. "Well, since you're here anyway, you wanna come in?" Jack stood aside and waved him in with his free hand. "Put up your feet, sit a spell?"

"Indeed." Teal'c inclined his head minutely and strode into the dimly lit room, shoulders back, and stiffly erect, as if he marched to battle.

Jack noticed, but couldn't help but wonder if he was, if they both were. And what kind of shape they'd be in when they were finished.


From the light that streamed from the open bathroom door, Teal'c deduced that O'Neill had not slept well. Sheets trailed off the unmade bed and bore the mark of a restless occupant. 'It is as I surmised, my friend requires my assistance else he will continue to suffer from what I did to him.'

"Have a seat, T," Jack snagged a chair and thrust it at him.

"Thank you, but no. I prefer to sit on the floor."

"Suit yourself," Jack shrugged and shoved the chair back underneath the desk.

Teal'c sank to the floor in one fluid movement, and managed to make it look easy. Jack's face revealed how he envied Teal'c's athletic prowess. Too late, Teal'c recalled that his friend would have difficulty emulating his movements due to past injuries. But to change his mind now would only accentuate his friend's physical failings, so he judged that the lesser evil was to remain as he was, sitting cross-legged on the floor.

Meanwhile, seemingly unable to stand still, O'Neill resorted to pacing a path to the bathroom door and back toward the far wall. As Teal'c watched, he noted that Jack's hands found his pockets empty; so instead his fingers traced and retraced the seams sewn into the lighter material with his long elegant fingers, even bunching it up instead from time to time. This man of action must always be in motion, especially when he sought to distract himself from dwelling upon misfortune.

When he noticed Teal'c following him with his eyes, he stopped. "I'd offer you something to eat, but I don't have a thing."

"I am not hungry."

"Yeah, there is that. And besides, we already ate, didn't we?"

"We did."

Jack turned away and resumed his interrupted pacing. Abruptly he stopped in front of Teal'c and rubbed his hands together, his mouth puckered as if he had tasted something distasteful. "This feels awkward, you sitting and me . . . well, I'm standing... or... whatever."

Teal'c said nothing but inclined his head. He realized his friend was desperately searching for anything to do, so that he could avoid the coming confrontation. As for him, he was content to wait, with the knowledge that when O'Neill was ready to talk, he would do so.

"The whole danged thing's been awkward, for that matter," Jack muttered under his breath. "Ever since the whole 'Jaffa Revenge Thing' got started," his fingers hooked quotes around the phrase.

Teal'c saw his opening and took it. "My pursuit of Tanith was ill-advised. I am at fault here."

Jack froze, as if stunned. For a moment, he said nothing. "You're at fault?" He shook his head slowly. "I wouldn't say that. No, that's not right at all. If I hadn't gotten you killed in the first place, none of this would have happened. I should have known they would ambush us at the rings."

Agitated, Jack's arms semaphored his distress as he paced back and forth in front of Teal'c. "And then when you were hit, talk about incompetence, I couldn't even hold onto your body. Instead, I was on the ground and let Tanith kidnap your ass... "

Teal'c stiffened as the staff blast seared his back, throwing him into O'Neill's arms. Then he fell into a blackness that could only mean death.

He blinked and shook his head minutely, now back in O'Neill's quarters.

"...when he ringed you up to the ship. And all I could do was lay there like a total ass. I let you down, T."

"Do you trust me?" Teal'c watched his friend, and knew the answer before it was uttered.

On his set path toward the bathroom door, Jack stopped, paused, and then slowly turned to face his friend. "Do I trust you?"

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