Summary: Daniel buries Sha're.
Word count: ~2900
Characters: Jack O'Neill, Daniel Jackson, Samantha Carter, Teal'c, Kasuf, George Hammond, Janet Fraiser
Era: Season Three
Categories: Gen, angst, hurt/comfort
Author's notes: Episode tag for Forever in a Day
Written for Off-world Alphabet Soup
Jack spoke carefully, “You've been through it once? You mean you attended a funeral while you lived on Abydos?”
“No, I mean I've buried Sha're before.”
Link to Archive of Our Own: M is for Mourning: A Second Sorrow
Daniel's instructions were quick and concise: “Kasuf will know how to prepare the body for burial. Tell him his good son bows to his judgment in this matter. He'll understand.”
Still stunned by the scene in front of him, Jack looked at Daniel still on the floor beside his wife. He looked at Teal'c still standing with his staff weapon in his hand. He looked at the body of a beautiful woman, Sha're, still reaching out to her husband. And he wondered how the hell it had all happened. “Teal'c?”
“Amaunet had him in the grip of a ribbon device. I had no choice but to fire.”
Daniel's finger caressed Sha're's cheek. Eventually, he pushed himself to his knees and then to his feet. He turned to face them, swaying and unsteady. “In three days we'll need to be on Abydos to carry out the rites. I'd like General Hammond and Janet to be there, and you and Sam , of course. And Teal'c.” Daniel choked on that one word only:Teal'c.
Jack's fingers itched to reach out to Daniel, in part because he was waiting for Daniel to fall flat on his pale face. It chilled Jack to listen to the orders for Sha're's funeral, given in a voice that detached and analytical. It didn't seem right for Daniel to be so... calm about it all. There was no anger, no grief, and no tears. Jack watched with increasing worry as Daniel elaborated the funeral customs of the Abydonians. He listened, heartsick, as Daniel continued.
“They'll need to wrap the body in muslin or linen. Let Kasuf know that we can help him with that. The arms are placed at the sides. The cloth is sprinkled with herbs before it's wrapped around the body. The herbs are for remembrance, but they were also used to cover the odor of... decay.” His voice caught and he swallowed before continuing: “The wrapping starts at the feet and moves up the body. Kasuf might want to bring someone back with him to help. It's usually the closest family members who prepare the body. So General Hammond will need to give them clearance to be on the base. Oh, and a necklace, an amulet, is placed around the neck to aid in the journey to the afterlife. Kasuf will bring that with him.” Except for the slight quaver in his voice, he could have been giving a lecture to a undergrad anthropology class or a hall of new recruits.
Jack led Daniel to a small stool and pushed him down onto it, listening carefully to all of the instructions as he did. He knew Carter and Teal'c were doing same so that Daniel's wishes would be honored. While the voice was calm, Jack saw the hands clench the sides of the stool holding Daniel upright.
Daniel stayed where Jack had placed him as the medics came to take Sha're's body away.
He continued to give quiet instructions as he watched them place the body on a stretcher to take back to the SGC. The medics were topnotch guys. They'd straightened the still warm, still pliant body. They'd lifted her gently onto the stretcher and folded her hands on her chest. They'd covered her with a sheet. And all the while Daniel talked, his voice low and steady. “Kasuf will say prayers for the dead, and I'll recite the funeral litany from the graveside. After the service we'll offer more prayers to speed the soul to the afterlife....”
Daniel refused medical attention for himself, saying it could wait until they got back to the base. He stood as they lifted the stretcher, silent at last, as was everyone else in the tent. Jack moved to stand by Daniel's side, unable to do anything else to show his support. The medics walked slowly past where Daniel and Jack stood. Jack expected Daniel to ask them to stop so that he could touch his wife's face. He expected Daniel to cry out, to take her hand, to walk beside her, but Daniel did none of those things. He merely watched.
Throughout the instructions and the removal of the body, Daniel had looked at no one and nothing except Sha're. Someone had killed his wife, a woman for whom they'd searched for years. And know she was gone. Dead. Killed. By a staff blast from Teal'c. From a friend. Other than his unwavering focus on his wife's face and the clenching fist there had been barely a sign that Daniel was moved by any of this. He stood staring out the opening of the tent for long minutes after the body's removal. His team mates stood silently by, honoring his loss in the only way they could, waiting for him to say or do something else.
From outside they could hear the sound of the Stargate activating, the noise of machinery being moved into place for its return home, the shouts of voices calling back and forth. Inside the tent, it was quiet.
“I'll need a couple of days after the funeral to get some things in order before I go through the Chapp'ai to search for the boy—I mean the Stargate. We'll set up a schedule of planets to visit, planets that Amaunet might have hidden him. I'll do it right after the funeral.” The voice broke on the word funeral. “Teal'c...Teal'c you'll need to help me look for a reference to a planet called Kheb.”
Jack broke in. “Whoa, Daniel! Let's talk about our next mission after we've had Doctor Fraiser check you out, okay?”
“We have to look for the boy. Amaunet hid him, and I promised Sha're I'd keep him safe.”
“Look, we'll head for home first, and then you and I will go talk to Kasuf. Whatever preparations you need to make, we're here to help. You know that, right? You just have to ask.”
“No, Kasuf will need to do the preparations. I'll be...I'll be...”
Daniel's legs buckled underneath him. Jack barely saw it coming. As he reached out to grab the limp body, he heard Carter yell for the medics. “You'll be in the infirmary,” Jack said, “which is where you should have been an hour ago.”
“I've been through it once,” Daniel muttered as Jack eased him to the ground, “buried her once. I know...I know how it's supposed to be d-done.”
Jack spoke carefully, “You've been through it once? You mean you attended a funeral while you lived on Abydos?”
“No, I mean I've buried Sha're before.”
To stop the argument, Fraiser held up her hand. “I understand your concern, sir, but I can't keep him from his wife's funeral.”
“He thinks he's already buried her,” Jack said. “Don't you think that's a little--?”
“Sir, he told me he needed to leave tomorrow with Sha're's body. Since I've had him on bed rest and IV fluids since you got him home, he should be well enough to travel by then as long as he doesn't overdo it. You'll be there to make sure he doesn't overdo it.”
“You didn't hear him on the planet. He told us he'd buried her already. How do you explain that?”
“According to what you've told me, he had a very vivid dream.”
“A dream that took a few seconds from woman who was trying to kill him and who told him to look for a baby on a planet we've never even heard of.”
“Daniel's under a lot of stress right now, colonel, as people are after a death. Sometimes the mind takes us where we need to go, and Daniel needs to have something of his wife.” She put her hand on Jack's arm. “At the moment our job is to be there for him.”
“Yeah.” Jack ran his fingers through his hair, shaking of Fraiser's reassurance at the same time.
Janet stepped back. “I'm more surprised that he's asked Teal'c to come to the funeral.”
“Yeah. Me too.” Jack turned and left.
The words were beautiful, Jack thought. And Daniel, always the linguist, translated each line so that everyone present could hear and understand. After the words, Daniel's Earth family took one side of the grave cloth and his Abydonian family the other. They pulled until the sand tumbled onto the body and covered her. Kasuf and Daniel watched. At the end of the ceremony, Daniel walked away. Jack saw him disappear behind the tent and then reappear half way up a sand dune. He made to follow but Kasuf stopped him.
“Let him go,” Kasuf said. Jack didn't argue.
Kasuf and the team—minus Daniel—walked Fraiser and General Hammond to the Stargate.
“Doctor Jackson can stay as long as you need him, Kasuf,” Hammond said as they waited for the 'gate to engage. “And his team, of course.”
Kasuf nodded. “It will not be easy for him.”
It was more than an hour before Daniel returned to join the mourners in the tent. It was cooler inside than outside, but still hot enough that Jack and Sam had both taken off their jackets. Teal'c remained in his gray robe, something brought from Chulak, Jack suspected. Jack's eyes followed Daniel around the room. He was pale and tired, but he moved from group to group, talking quietly with each. He talked to Kasuf last and longest.
When he finally came to join his team, all of whom had been seated in places of honor, he sank to the sand as though his knees could no longer hold him upright. Carter reached out a hand and placed it on his knee. No one said anything.
Finally, Daniel broke the silence. “Thank you for coming. It means a lot to Kasuf... and to me.”
“You know we wouldn't be anywhere else,” Sam said.
“We are honored,” Teal'c added.
Daniel didn't look at Teal'c. He hadn't really looked at any of them, except for the briefest of glances, since Sha're's death. By his side, his fist clenched again although only Jack was placed to see it. For the first time in days, Jack saw sorrow and anger on Daniel's face. The depth of both almost made Jack gasp out loud. In a way it was a relief to finally see the emotions Daniel had guarded so fiercely for so long. From his own experience, Jack knew about the stages of grief: denial, anger, depression. It was as though Daniel had skipped the first stages and gone right to acceptance—until now.
“We're here as long as you need us,” Jack said.
“I know.” Daniel paused, gathering himself. The sorrow and anger faded to be replaced by a devastating weariness. “I'd like to stay until tomorrow. Kasuf wants me to keep going 'among the gods' to find Sha're's son, and I promised her that I'd--” He stopped himself and looked down at the food spread before them on a small table. He reached for a goblet of water and drank.
Jack wanted to be silent, but couldn't. This delusion of Daniel's didn't help him. He couldn't substitute his search for his wife with a search for her son. It wasn't healthy. “Daniel how can you know--”
Daniel flared, the anger bubbling out. “I just can,” he hissed. “I know you don't believe me, but I was there. Sha're asked me to find the boy, and I am going to do that. He's a Harsesis and he's in danger.”
“Harsesis?” Jack asked. “What the hell is a Harsesis?”
“A Harsesis is the offspring of two goa'ulded hosts,” Teal'c said. “He contains all the knowledge of the Goa'uld.”
“All?” Jack put aside the “how”--a damn hard thing to do when it amounted to rape --and thought about the “what.” What would a child with all the knowledge of the Goa'uld do? He would be incredibly dangerous. “Why would Apothis... you know?” He cleared his throat and cursed himself for his own stupidity.
Daniel shut his eyes and dropped his head. Jack saw the fist open and close. “...father such a child,” Daniel finished for him.
“Undoubtedly, Apothis hoped to create a new host for himself.”
“That's frightening,”Sam said.
“If any other Goa'uld finds him, he'll be killed--slaughtered,” Daniel said. “If Apothis finds him, he'll be.... I can't let that happen. I promised her.”
If what Teal'c said was true and the child had all the knowledge of the Goa'uld, Jack thought, maybe it was better to let the Goa'uld get rid of their problem for them. Even if they found the boy, what could they do with him? What possible future was there for someone who held that much evil?
“But Daniel,” Sam said, “we don't know where the boy is. We don't even know where to start looking.”
“And you don't believe me anyway; none of you believe me.” Daniel stood. His back was ramrod straight and his eyes were steel. He didn't look at any of them. “I'm going to take a walk.”
This time when Jack looked to Kasuf, he saw only worry. “I'm going to--”
“No. I will go, O'Neill.” Teal'c stood, straightened his robes, and followed Daniel out of the tent.
“Is this a good idea, sir?” Carter asked.
“I have no idea.”
He and Carter sat back down. They ate a few pastries, they talked to a few people who came to their table, they stayed away from the local wine, and they waited. It was more than an hour later when Teal'c and Daniel came back in.
Daniel looked exhausted. The burn mark from the ribbon device stood out against his skin. His eyes were bright with unshed tears. But his shoulders had lost their tension, and his lips smiled. “I have to talk to Kasuf,” he said. “People will be reciting prayers for the dead all night tonight. The prayers are supposed to help the spirit move from one world to the next. As her closest family, Kasuf and I will be there.”
Jack said they'd help. Before he could even finish the sentence, Daniel put up a hand. “This isn't something any of you can do, but I appreciate the offer. Because you're not family, all you could do is watch.” He pulled his hand out from the sleeves of his robe and ran his fingers through his hair. His hands were shaking. “When you're ready, someone will take you to another tent with sleeping mats and water. I want to thank you again for coming. It means more than I can say. But go get some sleep. It's been a long few days.” For the first time since Sha're's death, he looked directly at them. He looked at Jack and then at Sam, and his eyes were clear.
He turned to Teal'c who had been standing like a shadow by his right shoulder. He reached out his hand and took Teal'c's arm. “Thank you, Teal'c.” Teal'c reached out, returning the gesture with a small nod. Daniel let the arm drop. Then he turned to find Kasuf and left the tent.
Jack wondered what the thank you was for. Thank you for coming? Thank you for saving me? Thank you for freeing my wife? What? “Teal'c?”
“The boy is on Kheb,” Teal'c said. Which wasn't an answer to Jack's question. He wanted to know what Daniel and Teal'c had said to one another after they left the tent. He wondered about the Jaffa handshake and the enigmatic “thank you.” Somehow, he didn't think he'd find out.
“We don't know where Kheb is,” Carter pointed out. “I think I've mentioned that before.”
“Then we will find it,” Teal'c said.
“How?” Jack didn't want to put a damper on whatever understanding Teal'c and Daniel had come to out on the Abydonian sands, but he dealt in realities.
“I do not know,” Teal'c answered honestly. “But I know that Daniel Jackson needs to find the child, and that we need Daniel Jackson. I have promised him that we will search together, as we did with Sha're.”
Jack thought back to his conversation with Janet Fraiser. The mind takes us where we need to go, she'd said. Daniel needed to believe that he could find the boy in the same way that he'd needed to find his wife. He sighed. “You're not the least bit bothered by Daniel having visions of his dead wife?”
“I am disturbed,” Teal'c admitted, “yet I believe Sha're spoke to him about the child—and about me.”
“About you?” Sam asked. “What did she say?”
“She told Daniel Jackson that we must find the boy together.” Teal'c paused. “She also talked to him of forgiveness.”
Forgiveness. For the man who killed her. And Daniel had done just that. Jack shook his head in disbelief.
“I know too that he will bear his sorrow, as we all must, alone. In his search for Kheb, we can keep him by us.”
Jack thought about another fruitless search. He wondered how Daniel would cope with another loss, and another sorrow because no matter how it ended—if they found the boy or if they didn't—Daniel would be hurt. Again. Teal'c had the right of it, though; they would be there for him. “Come on,” he said. “Let's go.”
“We're going to offer prayers for the dead.”