Redeemed by DinkyJo

Graphic by JoleneB

Chapter Four

Jack licked suddenly bone-dry lips. Anything to buy himself time before he had to study the question of trust. So anxious was he in fact, that he slid back into those memories that still ran amok and free of that damned box of his.

"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 ruthless accuracy.

"Look, this is between me and you - man-to-man." Pain drowned out Teal'c's reply and when Jack could see and hear again, he could barely make out the words.

"...not insult me, Tau'ri dog."

"What's with the Tau'ri dog bit?" Renewed pain erupted out his mouth and eyes.

When he could speak, he stubbornly continued with his previous thought, though a part of him was amazed that anything - a thought - or even precious brain tissue could survive repeated onslaughts of the pain stick. "What did a dog ever do to you?"

The frighteningly inhumane scowl that Teal'c had donned seemed to deepen as he all but spat his reply. "Do you think so little of your teammates that you would continue to defy me?"

"You don't have to do this." Jack whispered, his voice all but gone. "Wild horses, Teal'c, wild horses."

The pain seemed to go on and on, robbing him of his ability to think, to breathe... to live.


Jack blinked and shook his head slowly. "You know, sitting isn't such a bad idea after all." He sank shakily to the floor with less grace than a pole-less scarecrow. Once there, he sat cross-legged, his forehead cupped in his hands, staring at nothing in particular; too consumed by his thoughts to notice anything else.

After a moment, he rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hands and sighed. "Crap, I'm getting too old for this."

"As are we both."

"What do you want, Teal'c?"

No sooner than he had uttered the words, that he realized his mistake. Once again, he lay spread-eagled on his back, blinking the moisture out of his eyes. 'Sweat, it has to be sweat. I don't cry. Not for anybody. Not even for a friend that seems to have vanished as if he never existed. No, it couldn't be that.'

Meanwhile, gloating over him like a glutton at an-all-you-can-eat buffet was the man he thought he knew... Teal'c. But he did not know this Jaffa, this monster who seemed to take great delight in hurting him in every way conceivable.

Nor did he want to know him, except through a scope on the business end of a high-powered rifle. But that too would be intolerable, to squeeze the trigger that would kill his friend, even if he were lost beyond all hope of recovery. For it smacked too much of what had been done to him, and he'd sworn then on all that he held holy - and some that were not - that he would never do that - he would never leave anyone behind.

"Before I tire of this game and send you back to the others, I will cause great injury to you," Teal'c stated it in a soft voice that promised he would be true to his word, "Both of the body and soul. What you experience at my hands will be but a taste of what you will endure when you become my symbiote's new host."

Jack's eyes widened when Teal'c's statement echoed his initial thoughts so closely and couldn't help but wonder if the Jaffa had been able to follow his train of thought to where it had ended.

"What do you want?" Jack licked his lips and tasted salt from his sweat - and something else - fear, for this Jaffa knew him, inside and out. Knew his strengths and weaknesses as no other before him had. This knowledge had power - the power to break him.

"Your silence, now, and after." Teal'c's scowl seemed permanent, like it had never left his face, devoid of any hint of mercy.

His voice had been reduced to a mere whisper; he could scarcely hear his own words over the blood pulsing inside his head. "After?"

"When you are returned to your comrades."

Jack searched for the loophole he knew had to be there, but, thanks to getting up close and personal way too many times with the pain stick, the ability to think clearly had been sapped from him along with his strength and his voice.

"Let me get this straight. If I shut up now and don't say anything about this later when you take me back," he paused and struggled to swallow with a throat that seemed coated with the sands of Vorash. "You... you'll leave Carter and Daniel alone?" His eyes searched Teal'c's face for a hint of the man he had trusted with his life, and saw a stranger. "For keeps?"

Teal'c nodded. "You and I shall have many more visits such as this. Each one will be but a prelude to further agony. But, with your silence, your comrades will not be harmed."

"Why?" He croaked.

"Because, it is as you said - between us."

"Yes, it is between us, O'Neill," Teal'c sat in front of him, the scowl gone, as if it had never been there. Only his eyes seemed darker than before, as if his previous trials had marked him somehow.


"You were speaking and though a lamp burned in your abode, it appeared to be deserted."

"What?" Jack took the time to decipher Teal'c's comment. "Oh, you mean, my lights are on," Jack tapped the side of his head meaningfully, "But nobody's home."

"Is that not what I said?" Teal'c's lips curved upward with a hint of a smile.

"Yeah," Jack grinned and reached out to slap Teal'c on the leg playfully. "That's what you said."


Jack's casual touch took Teal'c by surprise and suddenly he was back in the room he'd converted to a torture chamber, an unwilling voyeur to a scene that made him feel faint with shame.

O'Neill's seeming acceptance of what was to come had allowed him to get within arm's reach of his friend. "Hi ya, T," Jack smiled and reached out to grasp his arm in a warrior's handshake.

Teal'c's reaction was immediate and unequivocal. "You dare touch me, Tau'ri dog?" He growled as he backhanded Jack in the face, sending him crashing against the far wall where he slumped, rubbing his shoulder with one hand.

"Why'd you do that?" Jack blinked as if to clear his head.

"Why do you persist in this line of thought? I am not your friend, nor have I ever been. All that went before was subterfuge, actions meant to mislead you and put you off your guard." Then he turned to the Jaffa. "Restrain him and take care that you do not neglect your duties again. For the price for such negligence will be a session in the Tau'ri's place."

Impassively, Teal'c watched as the Jaffa dragged the Tau'ri to the table and restrained him. The chastised Jaffa handled the human roughly; petty revenge for this threat he had caused to hang over them. Just as Teal'c had planned, just another level of torture, only he had not counted on his victim's reaction to it all. Being uncharacteristically passive through the manhandling of his person, he said and did nothing to resist them.

"You do not resist?"

Jack stared at the ceiling and said nothing. "Good, you may yet prove worthy of the symbiote I carry."

He smiled and hefted the pain stick in his hand, mindful of how his prisoner's muscles tensed in response to the implied threat.

"Know this, Tau'ri." The prongs traced the curve of O'Neill's rib cage without triggering its punishment and he rejoiced at the ripple of unease and his prisoner's quickened pulse that beat in his exposed neck. "Such as you are not worthy of lying a hand on the chosen warriors who serve my god, let this serve as a further lesson."

Without preamble, Teal'c pressed the prongs home in O'Neill's side and exulted in the scream it produced.

He blinked to clear his head and found himself staring at his seated friend. His crimes reflected back at him from those dark eyes that he would have so easily and casually obliterated if not for the ironic command of his true object of hatred.

'How could I have done such a thing? And how can my friend ever trust me again?'

"I caused you grievous harm, O'Neill. For that I have much regret."

Jack shrugged uncomfortably. "You weren't yourself. Teal'c. I know that. I'm just glad we got you back."

"As am I," Teal'c inclined his head gracefully. "But there will take much atonement on my part to erase the past."

"Look, that's nonsense and you know it. You don't have to 'atone' for anything." Jack hooked quotes around the words and then looked away but not before an expression of confusion suffused his face. "I really have no idea what we're doing here."


His words to Teal'c sounded so familiar. Where had he heard those words before? His thoughts chased down the warm trail of memory like quicksilver, only the answer wasn't quite what he expected. He was there again, back in that storage compartment that had become SG-1's jail cell, hearing those words spoken in earnest by the sexiest and smartest woman he knew. And as usual the darkness that was always with him receded just a little.

Carter's attention was on the crystals and circuit blocks of the control panel as she tried to find a way to unlock the door to their makeshift prison. "I really have no idea what I'm doing here."

Jack shrugged - the words made him uncomfortable - and tried to sound optimistic. It didn't really matter that he thought they had a snowball's chance in hell of opening the danged thing, what mattered was that she kept trying. He'd seen her pull off the impossible before and she just might do it again.

At the very least, it would keep her very agile and imaginative mind on things other than why when the local goon-squad of Jaffa took him for his trophy walk he was gone longer than she or Daniel. Not by much, but it was noticeable.

"Keep trying. You might get lucky."

She had the grace to look guilty, which was worrying. "Sir, I really hate to sound negative, but I think it's pretty safe to say that without more insight into how these things 'actually' work, I've got pretty much 'zero' chance of actually hitting the..."

Abruptly the door opened and Carter looked more than pleasantly surprised, she was very surprised. "Okay. Maybe not zero."

All was explained when Jacob walked in and motioned urgently. "Come on," he whispered.

However, Jack's relief at their rescue, and cancellation of his next one-on-one session with the pain stick was extremely short-lived when Teal'c and his Jaffa buddies met them at the door.

Teal'c motioned them back with his staff weapon, his scowl of disdain firmly in place. "Inside."

"Come on, Teal'c. A part of you 'has' to know the truth," Jack said tiredly. At this point, Jack didn't hold out much hope that his words would have any effect, but he had to try. He couldn't give up on his friend, not when that same man had always been there for him in the past. To do otherwise, was unthinkable.

Teal'c glared at all of them but directed his most frightening words at Jack. "The truth is you are a prisoner of Apophis. When the symbiote that I carry matures, you will become its host."

Jack sighed and tried to ignore the worried look that Daniel sent him. "Okay. I meant the other truth." One-handed, he pointed to his rear, as if that other truth stood there waiting to be assimilated by Teal'c. Predictably, the Jaffa ignored any truth except what Apophis had fed him.

Instead, Teal'c leveled his staff weapon at the control panel with the clear intent to fire, despite the close proximity of Carter. Her eyes widened as she realized the danger but with Jacob in front of him, Jack was too far away to do anything but shout a warning. "Look out!"

She launched herself into Jacob's arms just at the control panel exploded in a shower of sparks and ash.

Without a word, Teal'c turned and walked out of the room accompanied by his Jaffa and the door whooshed shut.

Jack heaved a sigh of relief that he was left with his teammates. That was short-lived though because about five minutes later, the door opened to reveal the not-so-friendly neighborhood Jaffa goon squad.

"We have come for O'Neill."

Jack shrugged and tried to act nonchalant and unworried. "Potty break," he announced in a voice that was remarkably steady. "I'll see you later."


Now on autopilot, Jack's mind surged forward in time; he skittishly avoided the actual torture session and fastened onto the memory of his return to his teammates and Jacob Carter.

The last session had been short but intense, leaving him stiff and sore, so he'd purposely steered clear of Daniel and Carter. He'd made the mistake of trying to grasp Teal'c, with the mistaken idea that his physical touch might do what his words had not - bring back the friend he'd known.

It hadn't though. If anything, it had made things worse. Teal'c reacted like a madman and took it out on him and the other Jaffa with him. They'd displayed unnecessary roughness while they'd hustled him over to the torture table and locked him down. He had the sore muscles and bruises to prove it. Luckily, the bruises were hidden by his clothing; and the pain stick itself was notorious for leaving the victim essentially unharmed - as in no tell-tale marks or lasting effects at all. It was the perfect instrument of torture.

Maybe if he avoided his team until he could stretch the kinks out of his muscles and regain his mental bearings, they wouldn't figure out what was really going on during his 'trophy walks.'

Jack eased himself to the floor beside Jacob and huffed out a breath, he hurt all over. And as much as he wanted to believe that he could somehow manage to by-pass the brainwashing job that Apophis had done on his friend, he was beginning to have his doubts that it was even possible. Teal'c had seemed like a madman in there, totally bent on destroying whatever belief Jack might harbor about his true allegiance.

Jacob studied him for a moment before he spoke. "Well, well, look what the cat dragged in."

"You'd think they'd put more than one head in this tub, and not put it clear out in fricking BFE to boot," Jack groused.

"Yeah, well the Goa'uld didn't exactly design their ships with the comfort of the Tau'ri in mind."

"Ya think?"

Jacob leaned in close and spoke in a voice barely above a whisper, gauged to reach only Jack's ears. "If you think you can persuade Teal'c to switch sides again, you're wasting your time."

"If our positions were reversed, wouldn't you still try?" Jack sighed with frustration. "I know he's in there somewhere, if I could just reach him."

Jacob looked at him for a moment before he answered. "Listen, Jack, you need to understand that Teal'c is not the same man that you knew. Apophis changed that. He belongs to that parasite now, mind, body and soul. What's more, if and when we get out of here, he's become a liability and will have to be left behind."

"No one gets left behind, Jacob." Jack half-turned, his face suffused with rage. In his struggle to contain his anger, his words were spat out as if they were rounds from his P-90. "Not you, not Carter, and not Teal'c. I'll shoot him if I have to and drag him home, but I will NOT leave without him."

His chest heaved and he smothered a wince as his muscles protested the abuse they'd been subjected to so recently. When he noticed that Daniel and Carter were watching him with worried expressions, he shrugged and strove to regain his composure. His lips were bared in a humorless grin of reassurance as he settled back against the wall.

After a moment, Jacob's head dipped and Selmak spoke. "I mean no disrespect to you or your beliefs. But you need to understand that Teal'c can no longer be trusted. If the chance presents itself, we will need everyone to work in unison to affect our escape."

Selmak's borrowed face covered in what was not-quite-Jacob's customary expression of regret lost that solid 'Yes, you can touch it' reality.

"You do that. And I'll look after my team. All of them." That said, Jack stood and stalked over to sit with Daniel. Sliding down the wall, he leaned against it.

"You all right, Jack?" Daniel pushed his glasses back up his nose and he pursed his lips in seeming confusion.

"Yep, just peachy. Why?"

"Oh, no reason." He paused as if in thought. "It's just that for a second there, I could have sworn that you and Jacob were about to get into a fight."

"Us?" Jack shrugged. "Nah."

The ship shuddered and everyone's vision blurred for a moment. It was Carter that supplied the answer to the sudden change in the ship's status.

"We just dropped out of hyperspeed."

Jack was just able to prevent himself from flinching as Teal'c's worried countenance assumed the current reality and he realized that, once again, he'd drifted back to events he'd sooner forget.


The man who spoke had all his instincts on full alert, as well-trained as any of Pavlov's dogs. But his heart and soul told him something different. Jack saw the worry turn to sadness and knew that his impassive facade was like glass to his warrior brother.

And Jack - being Jack - flailed his own soul for causing that look to pass over his friend's face. Teal'c had been nothing more than a victim of the tin gods who used all humans as if they were cattle. They both were.

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