"I'm heading home, Elaine," I told the on-duty nurse.
She smiled at me. "Good night, Dr. Fraiser."
Stopping by my office, I placed my final report into a manila folder, ready to go to General Hammond first thing in the morning. Today, it was good news. Sergeant Siler had escaped with little more than a few minor scratches and burns after the DHD exploded, and Teal'c appeared to have been unharmed from having been stored in the Stargate's memory for so long. He had been successfully reassembled, and he'd passed his post-mission checkup with flying colors.
I'd dismissed him over an hour ago, and he'd left the infirmary surrounded by his team. I smiled, remembering Sam and Jack's tendency to touch him at every available opportunity as if to reassure themselves that he was really back...corporeal and truly alive and well. It occurred to me how lucky Teal'c was, how close he'd come to dying. If it hadn't been for the incredible teamwork of the rest of SG-1, his pattern would have been erased when the Stargate was reactivated, and we would have lost him forever.
General Hammond had postponed the briefing until the morning, knowing that Colonel O'Neill, Sam, and Daniel had been working round the clock to bring Teal'c back. They needed the rest. As I waited on the elevator, I wondered briefly if anyone had told Teal'c how close it had really been, how Rodney McKay, the President, and the Pentagon had written him off as dead. I wondered if anyone had mentioned to him that the Stargate had come within seconds of being reactivated not once, but twice. I thought probably not. Teal'c had been unusually cheerful during his post-mission exam, probably because he'd finally succeeded in exacting his revenge against Tanith.
Colonel O'Neill had called it a "Jaffa revenge thing." I shook my head, unable to comprehend the willful desire to kill. It went against everything I had ever been taught as a doctor, everything I held dear in my profession. I understood the necessity to kill as a soldier; I was in the Air Force, after all, but I really didn't understand the Jaffa code that demanded revenge. He'd killed Tanith, but almost at the cost of his own life. There were times when Teal'c seemed truly alien to me, and this was one of them. I wondered if he would think it had been worthwhile if he knew how close he'd come to dying because of it.
It was late, and I was tired, so I decided to stop by the commissary for a cup of coffee to jolt me awake for the drive home. The dining room was unusually empty when I entered, but one table caught my attention as I briefly scanned the room.
At a table in the corner sat Teal'c. He was sitting straight, his hands folded calmly in his lap, and if his eyes hadn't been open, I might have thought he was deep in meditation. But his gaze met mine, and he nodded once, silently acknowledging my presence. I felt the smile on my face despite my weariness.
Beside him, Colonel O'Neill was slouched in his chair, eyes closed, chin sagging against his chest, an empty pie-plate in front of him. Sam and Daniel were both resting their heads on the table, arms folded, almost touching each other. They were obviously dead to the world.
Teal'c was keeping guard over his sleeping companions.
I wondered who had passed out first, succumbing at last to the call of sleep now that their friend was out of danger. Probably Sam, I thought, noticing the half-eaten cup of blue Jello off to the side. She'd been working without pause since the night before their original mission...too many hours, too many days... It was no wonder she was exhausted.
As a doctor, I should have checked to make sure she'd gotten to bed safely, and I chastised myself for my negligence even though she'd left the infirmary with the rest of SG-1. Despite the opportunity for cat-naps on their respective plane flights, it was doubtful that either Jack or Daniel had gotten any quality sleep, either. And the Colonel was still recovering from his concussion.
"Good evening, Dr. Fraiser," one of the commissary staff said to me.
I started to answer but the man visibly withered in front of me, and I turned to see Teal'c glaring at him.
"Sorry," the man whispered, shoulders hunching.
I grinned. "S'okay." No wonder the commissary was empty. Teal'c had probably driven everyone out with a single stare.
I grabbed my cup of coffee and headed to Teal'c's table. Daniel was snoring slightly; Sam was drooling on the tablecloth. Colonel O'Neill mumbled in his sleep. I thought I heard, "Hell in a hand basket, Harry," before he fell silent again. Trust the Colonel to dream in alliterations. I wondered if this was what it was like for Teal'c off-world, too, with Daniel snoring, Sam drooling, and Jack O'Neill talking in his sleep while he kept watch over them all. Guarding them. Protecting them.
Of course it was, when they weren't returning the favor.
Teal'c would protect his team with his life, just as he would protect his adopted planet. He would not hesitate to empty the busy commissary with nothing but his presence in order to enable his friends to sleep. He didn't need to be told that they had worked themselves to exhaustion trying to save him. He knew. And he would do anything to repay the debt. This was the flip side to the "Jaffa revenge thing," this loyalty and devotion to SG-1.
This, I understood. This, we had in common.
His eyes met mine, calm, peaceful, with a depth of wisdom that came from great age. He would die for me, too, I realized with a shock. And he knew that I would do the same for him and SG-1. Doctor and warrior, human and Jaffa, we would both do anything in our power to protect each other and the three slumbering figures at the table.
I smiled, placing my hand on Teal'c's shoulder, enjoying a warm connection to him that I'd never felt before. "We should get them to bed," I said quietly.
He nodded, unquestioning. "Colonel O'Neill," he said loudly. "You have finished your cake, and it is time to rise."
The Colonel started awake, his eyes blinking rapidly. Daniel snorted once, then settled back into sleep. Sam muttered something about lemons.
"What's up, Doc?" the Colonel said, looking at me.
"Time to get you all to bed, sir," I smiled.
He looked at Daniel and Sam. "Oh, right," he said, fighting off a yawn. He reached over and shook Daniel's shoulder. "Wake up, Daniel."
The archeologist groaned softly, looking around blearily. He reached into his pocket for his glasses. "Where is everyone?"
"It's late," I said.
"Oh," he said. "Guess I passed out there, huh?"
Colonel O'Neill grinned and tapped Sam's arm. "Yo, Major."
She didn't wake. I wasn't surprised. Now that she'd finally given in to her exhaustion, nothing short of a Goa'uld attack was going to rouse her.
"I will take Major Carter to her quarters," Teal'c said, pushing back his chair. As Daniel stood up, stretching, Teal'c walked around the table and pulled Sam's chair away from the table. He scooped her into his arms before she was aware of what was happening. I watched in amusement as Sam's eyes cracked open, and she looked up at Teal'c, frowning.
"I can walk," she said, her voice heavy with sleep. I doubted she would remember any of this in the morning.
"There is no need," Teal'c said firmly as Daniel nodded his approval.
"Go back to sleep, Carter," Colonel O'Neill said. "That's an order."
"Yesssir… Thanks T…" Sam slurred, smiling slightly, her eyes closing. She rested her head against Teal'c's shoulder with what sounded suspiciously like a happy sigh, no doubt comforted by contact with her teammate even in her state of semi-consciousness.
Teal'c caught my eye as he walked past. "Drive carefully on your way home tonight, Dr. Fraiser," he said.
"Yeah, you look tired," Daniel agreed.
"Get somebody to drive you if you need to, doc," Colonel O'Neill said.
"I'll be fine," I assured them, holding up my cup of coffee. I was ridiculously gratified by their concern, pleased that Teal'c had noticed how tired I was, too... pleased to be included in their family.
"It's good to have you back, Teal'c," I said as SG-1 headed for the door together, a whole team once again.
Teal'c smiled. "It is good to be here."
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