By Leesa Perrie
Set during SG-1’s Season Three – there may be a few minor inconsistencies with canon SG-1, these can be put down to my lack of memory about how things are and what is known by that time in canon, and also down to the fact that, hey, it is an AU after all!
“No one knows what its
To be mistreated, to be defeated
Behind blue eyes
No one knows how to say
That they're sorry and don't worry
I'm not telling lies”
‘Behind Blue Eyes’ by Limp Bizkit
The MALP showed a world of forests, with no obvious signs of occupation, and so SG-1 decided that this would be a good mission to further train the two newest recruits to the Stargate Programme, a Lieutenant John Sheppard and a Major Kevin Harvey. General Hammond had insisted that SG-1 be a part of training new recruits, despite Colonel O’Neill’s protests.
They soon discovered a crashed alien spaceship, to the excitement of both Carter and Jackson. Not Goa’uld in design, or any race with space capabilities that they had met as yet, it was a chance to study the technology of and maybe make contact with another, hopefully friendly, race that could help them in the fight against the Goa’uld. Of course, it could turn out to be another hostile race, knowing their luck.
Although crashed, the ship had only broken apart in one place, cutting the ship into a third and two thirds, approximately. Other than that, it was in remarkably good shape, not flyable obviously, but the main parts of the ship seemed reasonably intact, with the main damage being confined to where it had split open.
Not knowing if there were any survivors nearby, or if they were hostile or friendly, they decided to investigate the ship and surrounding area, before bringing through a team of scientists to help study and salvage any technology from the ship. Lieutenant Sheppard, Major Harvey and Teal’c stood guard, watching the forests in case of attack, whilst Sam, Daniel and Jack checked out the inside of the ship.
Forty minutes or so of investigation resulted in a very happy and techno-babbling Carter, an extremely bored O’Neill and a very intrigued Jackson, who had discovered some writings etched onto square metal plates that he didn’t recognise. Then they located a sealed room that, once opened, was discovered to contain dead bodies of both human, or human-looking, and humanoid but alien, people. They made a rough estimate of twenty aliens and ten humans, and temporarily resealed the room.
They contacted Earth and told them what they had found, and asked for a medical team with full hazmat and quarantine procedures to come through and examine the dead bodies, and also to check out SG-1 and their two trainees to ensure that they were not contaminated by whatever had killed these people, if it turned out to be some form of contagious disease.
It wasn’t the best introduction to gate travel for the new guys, but at least it drove home the dangers that even a seemingly routine mission could cause.
He watched them from the tree line, keeping still and quiet so that they wouldn’t notice him, and hoped that they would leave before night fell, as it got very cold then and all of his blankets were in the ‘nest’ he had made deep inside the ship, using the ship to protect him from the worst of the cold. A part of him wanted to approach, but they had guns, and were clearly military, which made him very unsure of them or their reactions to him. He wasn’t even sure where they were from, though the weapons and uniforms suggested to him Earth military, but that didn’t mean they would be friendly. His father had been ex-military, and he’d beaten his mother so much that she had reacted and killed him, and then killed herself a short while later, leaving her son alone in the world.
No, he’d learned to be distrustful of people, even those who were supposed to protect others. Adults could be tricky and deceitful, even more so than any kid he’d met. In fact, he’d learned to be distrustful of everyone he didn’t know, and even those he did know he didn’t let too close, for fear of betrayal. If he didn’t care, then they couldn’t hurt him.
The fact he often found himself caring and getting hurt despite his mistrust was something he refused to acknowledge even to himself. No one seemed to be bothered about him, no one truly cared, so why should he?
So, hopefully they would go before it got dark, or else he was in for a very cold night. He would have to keep moving, to keep warm, and sleep in the daytime, which would make him vulnerable if they decided to search the woods. He also hoped that they left the food rations alone. The Jeddans had stockpiled a large supply of rations, and although they were bland in the extreme, they were nutritious and remained edible for many, many years, from what he had gathered. So long as they left them alone, he would have a supply to last him a very long time, though eventually he would have to leave this planet to look for food, or else learn to hunt the local wildlife.
Something he might have to do, if they took everything. But he’d survive, on his own, one way or another. He was better off alone, that way no one could turn against him, hurt him, or betray him.
The fact he was lonely was another thing he’d learned to ignore and deny. He was self-sufficient, he didn’t need anyone but himself. People only let you down.
He watched, and hoped, and was dismayed to see more people arrive in some sort of protective gear, and set up tents, and start examining the dead Jeddans and humans.
It looked like they were staying for some time, but he still hoped they would leave before night fell. And that they didn’t get ill and die. He really didn’t want to have to clear up dead bodies again, though he guessed the ones in the protective gear would do that instead.
He watched and waited, and hoped.
After being subjected to several tests, and had blood taken, Carter returned to the ship, along with Major Harvey, whilst Teal’c, O’Neill and Sheppard took guard duty. Daniel found a place not far from the medical tents to study the metal plates that he had taken from the ship to study, them turning out to be made of a very light weight metal, and numbering only a handful. He perched on a fallen tree trunk, working on translating the alien text, and lost himself completely in his task.
Several minutes passed, and he absentmindedly grabbed a Hershey’s bar from his tac vest to eat, but after a bite, he wrapped it back up and laid it on the tree trunk, as the language caught his attention again.
He wasn’t aware that he was being watched, or that the watcher was only fifteen yards away, hidden behind a tree on the edge of the woods.
The language was proving difficult, not that he had expected it to be otherwise. It wasn’t related to any Earth language as far as he could tell, nor was it related to Goa’uld. However, it had some similarities with the language of the gate builders, the Ancients; a language he was only just beginning to get a grasp on.
It really was fascinating, and he was determined to work out a translation. He reached out for the candy bar, to find it gone.
Well, that was weird.
He’d watched the man sit down and study the writing plates with much concentration, but had remained still. The guy was too close for his liking, but he was afraid that any movement from him would gain unwanted attention.
But as he watched, he realised the guy was well engrossed in the text, and probably wouldn’t hear a herd of elephants approaching. Not that there was a herd of elephants on this planet, or anything similar, and he’d read somewhere that elephants could actually be quite quiet in their movements at times.
Still, he could probably move position safely, and he was about to do so when the guy got a bar of chocolate out of his pocket, and took a bite, before re-wrapping it and placing it on the tree trunk.
Chocolate. Oh crap, how long had it been? He could feel his mouth starting to salivate at the thought of chocolate. And it was just sitting there. He stomach growled as well, and the thought of the bland food rations suddenly seemed unbearable when there was chocolate, just over there. Real chocolate. Damn. It wasn’t fair. He didn’t deserve to have to live like this, all alone and with no decent food. But…he couldn’t trust anyone. He had to stay alone, for his own good, his own safety.
Had to remain here, where no one could harm him.
But the chocolate called to him a siren song, a remembered pleasure, seldom indulged in due to tight fisted adults, but oh so wonderful.
He crept forward, slowly, carefully. Watching the guy like a hawk, hoping that he remained engrossed in his study.
Slowly, he edged closer, until he was close enough to take the candy bar. And then he retreated, as slowly as he had approached, and sighed a huge relief once back in hiding. He grinned, the guy really had been intent on his work, something he could relate to, having been there himself in the past.
Well, the guy’s loss was his gain, and oh wow, he’d forgotten just how delicious chocolate was.
The bar didn’t last long, and left him wanting more.
Seven hours after arriving on the planet, Sam, Daniel and Major Harvey all started with a slight fever, which had the doctors worried. They had identified a viral pathogen in both the alien and human bodies, and further tests now showed that the same pathogen was in the blood of all six of them. There was a good chance that the symbiote that Teal’c carried was healing him, hence the lack of symptoms from himself as yet, and as for Jack and Lieutenant Sheppard, perhaps it was just taking a little longer for the symptoms to show.
The doctors, headed by Janet Fraiser, were busy trying to find a cure for the illness. In the meantime, all but Teal’c were confined to the medical tents for observation and tests.
It did not look good for their survival, but no one was going to give up hope, and there was always the possibility that it would not kill them. If the other humans weren’t from Earth, as seemed most likely, then there was the slight possibility that Earth humans were able to fight the illness off more successfully. Different worlds with exposure to different bacteria and viruses could result in some humans being more immune than others, depending on where they were born.
It was a slim hope, and Janet and her team were determined to find a cure in case it was also a vain hope.
He’d seen three of the original ones to arrive being taken into the medical tents, and knew his fears of the illness were valid. Two others were also led into the tents a short while later, though they didn’t look flushed or ill. The other one, the one he recognised as being Jaffa, seemed unaffected.
The presence of a Jaffa had added to his uncertainty about approaching these people, but the Jeddans believed that not all Jaffa were slaved to the Goa’uld, and that some fought for freedom. The way the guy had been behaving suggested he was not a slave to anyone here, and from what he had learned, if one of these people had been Goa’uld, the Jaffa would defer to him/her, and the humans would be slaves that would defer to both the Goa’uld and the Jaffa. Everything here suggested that no one was a slave to anyone, and so this Jaffa was most likely one of the few free ones in this galaxy.
Though presumably he carried one of the young Goa’uld symbiotes inside him, which could protect him from the illness, possibly.
He had learned a lot from the Jeddans about this galaxy and the aliens that resided in it. The humans they had taken from various worlds, including Earth, were there to be studied and then to become slaves on the Jeddan home world, but they also took the time to educate their future slaves, at least about the potential dangers that lay out there. This was to keep any slaves from leaving; after all, they wouldn’t know what danger they could be walking into if they left, and being a slave for the Jeddans was better than being a slave to the Goa’uld, or even worse, a host.
It was one of the many reasons he hadn’t tried to dial another planet. He could dial until the Galaxy Portal engaged, but he had no way of knowing what lay on the other side. It could be a planet infested by the Goa’uld, or a planet that was unable to sustain life anymore, or a myriad of other potentially life threatening situations. He was better off staying in this planet, that was at least uninhabited.
Or was, until these people had arrived.
He knew that the Jeddans had believed that the cure for the illness lay within his own blood, as he appeared to be immune to it. But they had died before they could create the cure, and he had had to watch as the other humans died as well, none of them having the knowledge or skills to complete the work started.
These people looked like they might be able to work out a cure, but he didn’t know if they would be able to do it before they lost some of them to it.
If the answer really did lie within his own blood, then he should tell them. Should help them. Not doing so made him a murderer, if any of them died. Made him responsible for their deaths, anyway.
And despite what everyone said about him, he wasn’t a bad kid at heart. He never stole, he never physically hurt anyone, though he admitted his words were known to cut, and make younger kids cry. But he never meant to hurt anyone with his words, he just didn’t see the point in lying. White lies were still lies, and he preferred to be truthful, even if it meant he was blunt and hurtful.
He certainly wasn’t a murderer.
He was, however, afraid. Very, very afraid. They would judge him, like all the rest, and find him lacking in social skills. Find him obnoxious and rude. At best, he’d end up back in some orphanage, tolerated because he had no where else to go, and they couldn’t throw him out onto the streets. At worst…he didn’t know. If they were from Earth, as he suspected, then the government was clearly keeping this all a secret, and they might just lock him up in a secure government facility to ensure he didn’t tell anyone about the Portals or aliens or anything. They might even kill him, though that seemed less likely. Maybe he could trade on his genius level intellect. Surely they could use someone like him in their secret project, checking out cool alien technology and reverse engineering it, or something like that.
But it would mean being around people again. Putting his barriers back up, not trusting anyone, not letting anyone close, not letting anyone hurt him.
Maybe…maybe they would leave him here if he asked them to. Especially when they discovered what he was like and decided they didn’t like him, hated him even.
He was scared, but he couldn’t leave people to die if there was a chance he could save them.
Besides, night would be falling soon, and he wasn’t sure he could sneak back for his blankets. He was going to be getting very cold sometime soon, and there was always the chance of hypothermia. He was probably better off approaching them anyway.
He drew in a deep breath, and walked towards the first of the medical tents.
He hadn’t gotten very far when the Jaffa noticed him, and told him to halt, which he did, raising his hands in surrender, and desperately hoping that he wouldn’t be hurt.
Teal’c called to O’Neill, informing him of their ‘visitor’ as he approached the boy cautiously, weapon raised. The boy moved back slightly, but stilled himself, pushing the fear in his eyes away, replacing it with…defiance.
“Identify yourself,” he demanded.
The boy raised his chin slightly, managing to look haughty, despite the traces of fear remaining in his eyes.
“Who are you?” he snapped back at Teal’c, who was impressed with the boy’s courage, if not with his attitude.
The Colonel had joined them at this time, with Sheppard in tow.
“I’m Colonel Jack O’Neill, this is Lieutenant John Sheppard, and the man who asked you a question is Teal’c. Maybe you should answer him.”
The boy watched them, seemingly weighing them up.
“Rodney,” he said, narrowing his eyes at them. “From Earth, like you.”
“Okay,” Jack drawled, hiding his surprise easily. “So how do you come to be here?”
“The Jeddans took me. They took humans from lots of planets and I wasn’t the only one from Earth,” he scowled. “They were going to turn us into slaves, after studying us, but the ship crashed, and their emergency beacon wasn’t working, and they don’t have a Portal on their home world, or anywhere near enough to be found by other Jeddans. So they were stuck here until they could fix the beacon, only the illness killed them before they could do that. Killed everyone else as well.”
“But not you,” Jack stated suspiciously.
“I’m immune. They were trying to find out why, said something about the cure being in my blood or some such medical jargon.”
“If that’s true, sir, then we need to tell Dr Fraiser,” Sheppard said, whilst studying the teenager standing before them.
“That’s the only reason I approached you, ‘cos I don’t want to be responsible for any deaths if I could help stop them. I’m not going back to Earth, I’m staying here.”
“Why would you want to stay here, all alone?” Jack asked him.
“Because I’m safe here, and quite capable of looking after myself. No one can lie or betray or hurt me…” he stopped, the kid’s face showing that he had said too much for his liking, and the defiant look returning in full force. “It doesn’t matter why. I’m staying.”
“I see,” Jack sighed, deciding to agree, for now at least. But there was no way they would be leaving the kid here to survive on his own. “Fine. Now, let’s go tell Dr Fraiser about your immunity and see if she can find out why.”
“Hey, did you steal my chocolate earlier?” Daniel asked, when they brought Rodney in and explained what they knew about him.
“You were so engrossed in your work a herd of buffalo could have stampeded past and you wouldn’t have noticed. You certainly didn’t notice me creep over and take it,” the kid grinned unrepentantly.
“Daniel,” Jack said, raising an eyebrow. “Do we need to have another talk about taking notice of your surroundings whilst off world? I’d hate for you to be kidnapped when no one was looking. Maybe I’ll have to sic Teal’c onto you in future.”
“Ah, sorry, Jack. Won’t happen again,” Daniel said sincerely.
“Better not,” Jack replied, deciding to himself that he needed to keep better tabs on the scientist.
Janet Fraiser came in at that point, and Rodney allowed her to take blood samples, and his vital signs, but refused any further examination. He glared at all and sundry, and his attitude was defiant and rebellious; his comments caustic. But Jack found himself drawn to the kid somehow anyway, as did Sheppard, he noticed.
“So,” Sheppard said, after Janet had finished with Rodney. “Earth? Which country?”
“Oh, and here I thought Canadians were supposed to be nice, friendly people,” the Lieutenant said with a grin.
“Not all of us,” Rodney scowled at him.
“Obviously,” Jack said, butting in on the conversation. Sheppard looked to him, clearly asking permission to continue, and Jack nodded.
“So, you don’t want to go back. That’s a shame, but hey, more chocolate for the rest of us,” John said lightly.
The boy didn’t answer, merely glowered at them both, before turning his attention to the wall of the med tent.
“You really want to stay here, and miss out on…ice cream, burgers, fries, pizzas, chips, candy…not to mention TV, and movies…oh, and popcorn. How can you live without popcorn?”
“I’m fine here,” Rodney hissed at them angrily.
“But what about all the good things in life?”
“What about all the people who say they like you but don’t really, who just use you and then drop you, turn against you? What about all the people who are meant to look after you, but couldn’t care less about you, or even hurt you? What about people who lie and cheat and…” Rodney paused, taking deep breaths and trying to rein in his anger, but failing, his voice rising as he continued. “Nobody has ever wanted to be around me, has only put up with me because they had to, because the orphanage couldn’t throw me out onto the streets. No one ever adopted me, or even offered to foster me. All the kids that passed through, they got homes, but not me. The people at the orphanage didn’t even want me. But that’s okay, really, it is, because I don’t want or need anyone. People hate me, and I hate people. No one wants me, so if I’m going to end up on my own, outcast and unwanted, then it’s better to stay here. At least this way it’s my choice. My life, my choice. So just leave me the hell alone.”
Rodney stood, and pushed his way past them into the outer tent area, where he was stopped by Teal’c.
“Let me go,” he demanded, anger hiding the pain, though not entirely.
Jack and John had both left the inner tent area to try and catch up with the kid.
“Hey,” Jack said, approaching. “Look, I’m sure the lieutenant here didn’t mean to upset you.”
“Yeah, kid, I’m sorry.”
“Why don’t you just leave me alone? I’ve survived fine without anyone for a while now. I don’t need anyone.”
“Look, come back inside, just for a bit. Dr Fraiser might need more blood,” Jack said, hoping that reminding Rodney about why he had approached them would help. Rodney looked uncertain and annoyed, before nodding.
“Fine. For a while longer.”
They returned to the inner tent area, where a sick Carter was watching them, and a sicker Daniel wasn’t, having fallen asleep. Jack winced, thinking that Daniel must be very ill to have slept through the kid’s tantrum.
Rodney retreated to the cot he’d been sitting on.
“Lieutenant, maybe you should check the perimeter? Take Teal’c with you,” Jack ordered.
“Yes, sir,” Sheppard turned to leave, but paused briefly, grabbing a chocolate bar from his tac vest. “Hey, kid, take this.”
He handed it to Rodney, and then left.
Rodney stared at the bar, and then opened it, breaking off the first chunk and eating it. he then re-wrapped the bar, and slipped over to Daniel’s cot, leaving the bar next to him, and returning to his own seat. Both Sam and Jack exchanged a look at that.
(Need some talk between kid, S & J, then????)
The illness had passed, and Dr Fraiser had been able to engineer a vaccine as well as an antidote. The tents and medical supplies were being packed up, and would be put through a thorough decontamination process back at the SGC, the area in front of the gate there having been turned into a temporary decon unit. The people returning would also have to go through decon.
Rodney was watching them suspiciously, and with some sadness. He knew people would be back to look at the Jeddan ship for a while, but he didn’t know if Sheppard would be amongst them. Or Carter, Daniel or O’Neill.
Damn it, he hadn’t meant to let anyone past his barriers, but those four seemed to be slipping past all of his defences, and it just wasn’t fair. Sooner or later they would do something to hurt him, or reject him, and he’d set himself up for it to be painful when it happened. A part of him didn’t want them to go, another part of him was glad they were leaving, and yet another part of him was terrified they were going to drag him back to Earth against his wishes.
All in all, he was feeling pretty well confused and conflicted.
Most everyone had gone back through the gate…he’d gotten used to calling it a stargate instead of a portal quickly, preferring the Earth term. There was just O’Neill and Teal’c left.
They approached, presumably to say goodbye like Carter, Daniel and Sheppard had done a short while earlier.
Only that isn’t what happened.
“Hey, you still want to stay here?” Jack asked.
“I told you already that I was staying here,” he answered shortly, hoping to get this over with quickly.
“That’s a shame. I have orders to bring you back.”
“What?” he started to edge back. “Oh no, no way. I’m not going back…”
And then there was a haze followed by darkness, as Teal’c zatted the kid, catching him and gently lifting him over his shoulder.
“I wish we hadn’t had to do that,” Jack said sadly, before turning and walking back to the gate, with Teal’c following with Rodney. The kid was going to be livid when he woke up, and bang went any trust he might have built up with him. Hopefully Rodney would still have some trust for the others, seeing as they weren’t involved with this, and hadn’t been aware of O’Neill’s orders.
Rodney woke up in a bed in a grey box-like room, with a small table and two chairs along one wall, and a cupboard along another. He was wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt, neither of which were his own, and he had the mother of all headaches going on.
And he was pissed. Angry as all hell at the betrayal, and at his own stupidity. He should have known something like this would happen, should have run off so that they couldn’t find him, or at least made it hard for them to do so. But no, he’d stood and watched them approach him, and let them stun him without so much as a fight.
He groaned, turning on his side and pulling the sheets over his head to shut out the light. This wasn’t fun and it certainly wasn’t fair. He’d helped them, even though he’d been afraid of them. He didn’t deserve to be treated like this.
As usual, he forgot that people always turned on you. That no one really liked him, and that anyone who made out that they did were just waiting to use him or make fun of him or hurt him. Life wasn’t fair, and he should know that by now.
Time passed, and no one came down to see him. The headache started to fade, and after a while he got up and explored the room, finding a basic bathroom through one door, and a locked door that must lead outside. He found some more clothes as well as some toiletries and decided he may as well take these people for everything they offered until he could get away from them.
He showered and changed, taking his time having forgotten the wonders of hot running water cascading over your body, or the luxury of soap that foamed, and shampoo, that most wondrous thing of all. Oh, and towels, deodorant…toothpaste!
Once finished, he pulled on another pair of sweatpants and a clean t-shirt, as well as the top to the sweat suit, as it was colder outside the bed with its sheets and warm blanket.
Still no one had come, and he was annoyed at that. He wanted to let them know how mad he was about this. Wanted to rant and scream and…he was also bored. Back on the planet there had been the ship to explore, but here…not even a book to read. Nothing. And that truly sucked.
(Need scene with Sheppard – possibly use some of the Strange Child snippet in snippet folder???)
He screamed and fought against them fiercely, but futilely. He kicked and punched and yelled at them to let him go, but they were too strong for him. He swore at them, cursing them soundly, and wasn’t aware of the tears that streamed down his face. Tears of frustration and anger.
But it was all in vain. They were just too strong, and they weren’t letting go. He could hear them speaking to him, the sounds soft, reassuring, comforting, but he couldn’t work out their words, couldn’t understand the meaning, why they weren’t yelling at him, why they were holding him but not hurting him, even though he was landing painful blows to them.
All he knew was anger, pain and fear; an overriding need to run from them, from everyone.
They held on to him, not letting him run from them. And eventually he could feel his strength fading, his kicks slowing, his energy running out, until he hung there defeated, held between the arms of two strong men.
Time passed, he didn’t know how long, maybe seconds, maybe minutes, and then one of them let go and moved away. The second one pulled him to him in a hug, holding him gently.
He could work out the words now. Words of comfort. The man held him gently yet securely, one hand rubbing his back. The tears were still falling, but the anger was gone. All that was left was the pain. The deep, burning pain.
Janet was dead. Gone. He was all alone in the world again.
Sheppard held him, he recognised that now. Held him and tried to comfort him. And there were tears in his eyes as well, the loss of a good friend and the pain of another tearing him open for all to see.
Rodney collapsed, letting the older man comfort him.
In the end, exhaustion caught up with him, and he fell into a restless slumber. He wasn’t aware of Sheppard and O’Neill carefully lying him on the couch, getting pillows and blankets for him.
Wasn’t aware of John offering to take him in, look after him. Or that O’Neill agreed to talk to the relevant people and arrange it.
He slept through it all.