Fandom: Stargate: SG-1
Featured Characters: Jack O'Neill, Sam Carter, Daniel Jackson, Teal'c
Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements and some disturbing images.
Warnings: Multiple (off-screen) deaths of major characters. Continuity glitches. (Sorry.)
Spoilers/Timeline: Sometime mid to late S2.
Notes: For unanon who requested "An offworld team brings a biological agent back through the gate that the SGC is unable to contain. It would be nice to have some attempt at evacuation and organized response before everything goes to heck. Feel free to kill off whomever you choose, either via apocalyptic infectious disease or subsequent panicked violence." in the apocalyptothon.
Summary: Not everyone dies.
Daniel wipes his forehead one more time and squints skyward while Sam slams their address into the DHD with more force than is really needed.
"Easy, Captain," Jack says. "We'll get there soon enough."
"Yes sir," Sam agrees, and then stage-whispers to Daniel, "The sooner we get away from him, the better."
"I heard that."
"Oops," Sam says, without apology.
Daniel waits for Teal'c to point out that it's hot, or that they're all tired, but Teal'c apparently feels (with Daniel) that any commentary on the weather would be superfluous; they're all used to deserts at this point but even Daniel could kill for an icy shower.
"We're good to go," Jack says, and Daniel's already imagined the next three hours, from medical debrief to that blessed shower to half an hour alone in his office with SG-11's reports, and then something to eat that isn't an MRE --
"Daniel? Ready to go, or do we need to spend another seventy-four hours with the indigenous peahens?"
"I'm coming," Daniel says, throwing his bag over his shoulder too abruptly and almost falling into Jack. "It's about time we got off this world."
"No kidding," Sam mutters, not bothering with the stage whisper this time. Not that Daniel can blame her -- Jack has been pissy all week for no apparent reason and Sam's borne most of it -- Jack doesn't dare pick at Teal'c, and Daniel is too liable to fight back.
"You too, Carter? Or are there more rocks that need your urgent attention?"
"Coming," Sam replies, and the rest of her reply is cut off by the too-familiar freezing of the wormhole.
Daniel stumbles into the gateroom, attempts a salute, and heads towards the infirmary, but before he's gone more than ten meters, Jack grabs his shoulder roughly. "Hey!"
Daniel blinks, takes in the familiar, too-clean feeling of the gateroom, undusty and unwelcoming, concrete and glass. "Oh."
"Yeah," Jack says, and with a sigh, Daniel falls back, and the four of them creep forward in suspicious formation, hoping to discern quietly why the gateroom is deserted in the middle of the day, iris open, bullet-proof glass intact, no welcoming committee to be seen.
Their caution and silence are needless; the whole building is as empty as the ground floor. Still, they're quiet, and no one's inclined to gossip, and so when Daniel stumbles over the first body, his gasp echoes fear through the four of them.
The rain is tremendous, almost symbolic, a whirlwind of water that signifies, certainly, that Jack forgot or never thought to bring an umbrella to the mountain last week, that might, in a certain light (grayed over now with cumulonimbus) signify something deeper, the slow erosion of the Colorado hillsides, the soft white paunches of flesh that are from time to time illuminated by lightning. Daniel excuses himself, finds a clump of glistening juniper, and vomits. When he returns his face is shining and wet, his chin set in a firm pout. "Let's go back to the planet. We can work there. There's got to be something --"
"We can't," Sam says, and Jack struggles against relief that she is, or seems, in charge, or at least in control, even if she is reminding them that whatever destroyed others could be hiding, invisible, temporarily resting, or already in their bodies. She is halfway to the infirmary, to Janet's methodical records, when Jack's hand stops her -- there is time enough for panic's jerky movements and doomed heroics; in this moment they can, the four of them, let the rain drip through their hair and down their cheeks, and they're all in one piece and can almost force smiles. Wait a moment, Carter. They share a glance Daniel couldn't comprehend, an unspoken acknowledgment that this is or could be the last glance, and then Jack nods his head and they retreat into the mountain, eerily quiet in the midafternoon, brilliantly lit and so silent they can almost hear the rain thirty floors above, blind, bright, tremendous, drowning corpses and cars without prejudice or animation.
There is first a flurry of movement, which Jack hates, and horror-movie inspired creeping, as if Janet herself might be around any corner. Daniel's face is frozen in a parody of fear that's so exaggerated it's almost ridiculous, except that Jack's cheek muscles seem determined to mimic the expression. Then Sam nicks his arm with a needle, and there's nothing left but waiting, results, microscopes and analysis, bad news and more bad news, the slow absorption of their fate and the flickering television set that shows static, high-pitched emergency broadcast recordings, then more static, then a cartoon that's scarier than all the rest because it means that, at least sometimes, this death comes unexpectedly.
"They sent SG-3 back offworld," Sam says, false cheer echoing off the walls, glowing. "Maybe before they were contaminated. They could be safe. And there were teams already planetside who got the warning and didn't come back." This falls short of its inspirational goal: they are the team who wasn't warned, who came back, who didn't hear in time.
"They'll keep looking for her," Daniel says in a low, needless mutter, and a phantom scent of Abydonian spice briefly overwhelms them.
In the frostbitten future, Sam's tears erupt like a tiny explosion some three weeks after they left the mountain. They walked, observed, carefully avoided the house the Fraisers shared, knowing what they'd find, unwilling to see.
"We should be doing something," Sam whispered to Teal'c. "You should go back to your people." And his response was elegant silence, an erect bearing that hid everything. November turned to December, the snows came, and now at the solstice, Sam sobs suddenly in the middle of a despairingly lovely snowstorm, as tender as that rainstorm was violent, the day they returned to Earth.
"How can we go on?" she asks, and Teal'c touches her too tenderly, too awkwardly, for comfort, till she pulls him closer and wets him with her tears. Rosy with cold and chilled with grief, she clings to him and he has no need to murmur soothing nothings, or to cry for her world, or to offer lies of comfort, so he says nothing, and Sam rests in his silence.
The world itself is silenced, profound and miraculous, and she would probably kill for even the mutter of Jolinar in her head, for any voice other than her own niggling guilt, the remedies she didn't try and her exasperation with Colonel O'Neill and the goodbyes that she was too stubborn to say because she couldn't bear to watch them die. "I hate her. I wish she'd never --"
Teal'c looks a question.
"Jolinar. Why me, why then, why was I chosen, why does her protection stay when she couldn't save them. She couldn't even save herself and I'm still alive because of her; I'm going to live an unbearably long life because of her..." And Teal'c is all understanding.
"We'll leave," he says. "We will leave through the Stargate."
"And go where?" She doesn't say, "And leave what?"
"Anywhere else," he says, and to Sam he feels profound, making proclamations in the snow, profound and purposeful, a stalwart against the capricious weather, the snowfall that stops gracefully, leaving the world blanketed in still white silence, even their footsteps muffled by snow as they turn to retrace their steps.