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06 April 2011 @ 04:51 pm
Stargate SG-1 fic: The Man in the Box  

This story is completely different than any I've written before.  Thanks to ufgator1977 for taking a look at this for me.

Man in the Box
by jennickels (aka Jen Connelly)
Stargate SG-1
Daniel (hints of Jack/Sam)
17,645 words
rating: R
WARNINGS: mentions of torture, rape, violence towards children and other adult themes (nothing graphic, just vivid imagery)

Daniel slowly goes mad while held captive by a crazy Goa'uld that wants something from him.  But nothing is how it seems.

don't own... wish I did, but I don't. No infringement intended.

(split into parts because it's long)

One
Two
Three
Four
Five

Man in the Box: one

They come back an hour later, depositing Jack at our feet. My wrist hurts. It's been hurting since I tried in vain to stop them from taking Jack. He had yelled and ordered me to stop but I couldn't stand there and watch them take him. Now my wrist hurts.

We don't budge until the guards are gone, locking us to our little corner of hell with an invisible forcefield. Sam moves first, dropping to Jack's side. She starts checking him for injuries. I'm more worried about him not breathing. Finally I see his chest rise and fall. He's alive. Barely by the looks of him.

I give my friend one last look then pick up the axe again. Why is it always mines? And the archaic tools? I know it has all to do with power and showmanship but right now I need something to grumble about—a direction to vent my anger and fear. We have a quota to fill. Doesn't matter that Jack is down and out for the count. We have a quota. Moments later Sam joins me as I pound away at the solid wall, each hit reverberating painfully through my body. My wrist hurts so much. I'm pretty sure it's broken. Sam used the bottoms of our t-shirts to make a bandage but it does little to help.

I keep swinging my axe and my wrist keeps hurting and I know my turn is next. I glance down at Jack's unconscious form. Seeing Jack knocked out scares me. More than I would ever admit to anyone, especially Jack. Jack's my rock. I'm not cut out for this crap—guns and firefights and being captured. Tortured. I do it because it has to be done. And Jack's always there watching my back. Except when he isn't. I wait to see his chest rise and fall again. Still alive. Barely. And I'm next.

We've been here three... four days. It's hard to keep track. Teal'c never made it into the mines. The slaves are all human. I guess digging in the dirt is below a Jaffa. Even traitors like Teal'c. I try not to think of what they did to him. Jack's sure he's still on the surface plotting some Jaffa revenge thing to come rescue us. Me and Sam exchange looks whenever he mentions it. I think she's on my side but we don't discuss it—it's too painful to dwell on.

The first night we didn't make quota. We were too busy scheming and plotting. That will never happen again. They don't punish you for missing quota here. No, you get to stand by and watch someone else beaten to a bloody pulp for your laziness. A mother with a baby still on the breast reduced to a quivering mass curled into a protective ball around her squalling infant. They didn't even have the decency to remove the baby before the attack. I don't think she survived.

I had only held my meager meal down until we were returned to our cell. I promptly hurled all over the floor with Sam calmly patting my back but looking just as pale and sick as me. Jack paced the small confines trying to dissipate his rage before he did something rash. He finally took it out on the mess I made. I was eternally grateful.

The next day they took Sam. I had wanted to get her back. Jack told me to get back to work. No one else would ever suffer because of our failure. One member short, we worked until our hands bled then carefully tore the sleeves from Jack's shirt to make bandages and worked some more.

They had tossed Sam back only half clothed, laughing the whole time. The bastards enjoyed this far too much. They sure couldn't be human in any sense of the word. I felt sick again but kept everything down. Jack went to her side and helped her get dressed. I ignored their hushed voices. I didn't want to know. This is what they were trained for, not me. I don't belong here and, not for the first time, wondered how I ever talked Hammond into letting me on a front-line team. When Jack joins me again he takes his fury out on the stone wall. We go over quota that night despite little help from Sam.

We sleep in the same cell as we work. The more we dig the more space we have. The first night we were practically on top of each other as we avoided the crackling air around the forcefield. Jack insisted we take turns at watch. I fell asleep during mine. I'll never tell him. The next day they had come for Jack.

I glance at him again. His chest is moving... slowly, but moving. I go back to work. Sam notices my new tic.

"He'll be all right, Daniel," she tells me softly.

I'm not sure I believe her. If he's not okay than who will save me? Who will come up with the half-assed crazy idea that gets us out of this mess? Panic grips me and I double over gasping for air.

"Daniel?"

I wave her off. She needs to keep digging. We have to make quota. A few deep breaths and I'm swinging the axe again. I'm sure my wrist is broken now. It probably won't matter after tomorrow. I look down at Jack. Still breathing.

Meals are a communal thing. The alarm sounds—loud in our cell. Jack doesn't even flinch. But he's still breathing. I drop my axe automatically, my hands so sore I can barely move them, and I line up behind Sam to wait. I'm worried about leaving Jack alone but there's nothing we can do. The line for food snakes along the corridors of the mine into a large cavern. We get a bowl of broth with bits of... something in it and chalky, stale bread. You get only as much as the guards want to give you. It's not the worst I've eaten. The fact that I can say that sends chills down my spine.

Sam and I take turns eating, one of us always eying the crowd for trouble. Hungry people are desperate people and those not paying attention are easy targets. Jack's taught us well. He'd be proud. The broth is better thickened with the bread and the bread is only marginally edible soaked in broth. We both dampen our bread before pocketing the slices for Jack. Then we slurp down the soup with matching grimaces.

That's dinner. Or breakfast. It's all the same. We head back to our cell. Jack is still out. Sam checks him and we go back to work. We have to make quota and we're one man short and I have a broken wrist. It's only been... three days and already I'm losing it. I don't see how we'll get out of this. I'm sure, though, that if Jack were awake I wouldn't be thinking this way. He would never let me. He'd fill us with hope and confidence even if you could tell he had his own doubts. And then he'd pull some crazy scheme from his ass and get us all through. Oh, he'd pawn all the glory on to someone else, usually Sam, but it's always Jack that gets us out of situations. I wish he'd wake up. I'm tired and hurting everywhere but I swing my axe anyway. Sam's hands are bleeding and we're running out of pieces of shirt. I use the tip of my axe to tear off the bottoms of my pants and somehow we tie them around her blistered palms. She sees the worry, the fear, in my eyes and gently squeezes my hand.

"We'll get out of here."

I nod. There's nothing else to say. I really don't believe her. I want to but I look down at the still form of my best friend and I just can't. I grip my axe in my less injured hand and get back to work. Quota has to be filled, one hand or two.

Jack doesn't stir the rest of the night. I ignore the soggy lump in my pocket that is Jack's dinner even though it's uncomfortable and my stomach rumbles in greedy displeasure. I use that to fuel more digging. We have to make quota, hunger be damned.

Jack doesn't stir when they come to collect and count our stones. We make it. Barely. He doesn't even stir when the guard kicks him out of the way to finish his count, a terrifying glee in his eyes. Sam grips my arm tightly lest I do something else stupid. I need at least one good hand to swing my axe.

Jack doesn't stir when the alarm goes off and they drag us all to the cavern. Someone didn't make quota. It wasn't us. They choose a boy, no older than fifteen. There's not much left when they're done. As we march back to our cell I know we'll be back again tomorrow. There's no way the boy survived and all that's left of his group is a younger sister and a grandfather to work. I feel sick but manage to stop the vomit in my mouth. The broth tastes twice as bad going down the second time.

Jack doesn't stir when we take turns relieving ourselves in the corner or when we roll out the thin blankets we are provided for sleeping. They do nothing to pad the hard ground or to warm us. Sam checks for pointy rocks then we transfer Jack to the pallet, covering him with his jacket while we bunch mine under his head. He looks deathly pale. It's the first time I've taken a good look at him. His lip are busted, both upper and lower, and his left eye is swelled almost shut. The bruises across his cheek are the only color to him. Sam can't feel any broken bones but that doesn't mean they aren't there. We take up positions on either side of him. Sam's more worried than she's letting on. I know she wants to be that soldier that isn't affected but she can't. It's not her. She's not Jack.

She reaches up and brushes dust from Jack's battered face. The touch is tender and I feel slightly dirty watching something so intimate pass between my two friends. I'm not blind. I see the way Jack looks at Sam. She's a beautiful, smart, funny, sexy woman and I can appreciate those aspects of her. I am a man after all. But it's completely platonic. I love her like a sister. But when Jack looks at her you can feel the heat radiating off of him. There's a whole lot of passion and hunger and longing. But if you watch long enough, if you know him like I do, you'll see the subtle shift.

There's a moment when the passion morphs into affection, the hunger changes over to admiration and the longing is obviously not all sexual. Jack thinks he can hide it but he's a lot more obvious than he realizes. Teal'c's seen it, too. And Janet. Hell, the whole base knows it. The only ones oblivious it seems are Jack and Sam.

She runs her fingers through his hair on the guise of cleaning out the dirt and debris. She doesn't fool me. She gets the same look in her eye that Jack does. Stupid military regulations. I shift, trying to get comfortable on the hard ground. My wrist hurts so bad it's gone numb. You'd think that would be a good thing. It's not. I groan as I accidentally clip my injured arm sending shockwaves of agony up to my shoulder and into my fingers. Squeezing my eyes shut only forces the tears out faster. I'm not cut out for this. In the distance babies scream and people yell out in pain and desperation. I roll away from Jack and Sam. I hate being their third wheel. Sleep only comes out of exhaustion.

I wake up to quiet voices. Jack's conscious. Sam's got him leaning against the wall.

"Jack?" I'm afraid to ask him how he is.

He watches me a few seconds before answering. "I'm okay, Daniel."

I let out a relieved sigh then cover my eyes with my good arm. I'm not sure I can move. The alarm sounds for breakfast and Sam helps Jack to unsteady feet. I some how manage to get up on my own.

I only nibble on my bread. I know they'll come for me today. First was Sam and then Jack. Now it's my turn. What's the point of eating if they are just going to beat the food out of me? Jack wants me to eat—there's no reason to assume they will take me. I think he must have left his brain back in the torture chamber. I force myself to suck down a few sips of broth but give the rest to Jack. He eats it as reluctantly as I with Sam hovering over him.

Back in our cell he sees me favoring my left hand as I grip my axe one-handed.

"How's the arm?"

I glance down at it cradled up against my stomach. "I'll never play the violin."

There's no time for him to question me more. We have to make quota. I do my best to help with the axe but it's becoming obvious I'm of little help. My hand is so blistered it's bleeding through the layers of cloth, the skin just peeling from my palm. Jack orders me to take a break. I start to refuse but our argument is cut short. It's my turn.

Jack and Sam stand back as the guards lower the shield and drag me out. I don't put up a fight but they're extra rough with me any way. Jack shouts out obscenities I don't really register through the pain as they grip my broken wrist. They ignore him anyway.

I'm not sure what I expected. I'm pretty sure it wasn't this. The guards stop at a set of magnificently carved wooden doors and knock. The doors seem to open on their own and I'm shoved inside. Definitely not that I expected. The room is huge. Heavy drapes hang from the tall ceiling and the floor is covered in plus carpeting. All around large, comfortable looking lounges and poofy pillows beckon to my weary body. I stand in awe and more than a little confusion.

"The great Doctor Daniel Jackson," a deep voice says from behind me. I jump in response and spin around. "Slayer of Ra and Apophis."

I don't mention that Apophis keeps showing up alive. I doubt Jack could have held his tongue.

"You seem to have me at a disadvantage."

The voice materializes from the shadows into a tall, muscular man with long, flowing black hair and piercing green eyes. He's not using a Goa'uld voice but that doesn't mean much.

"It's an honor, Dr. Jackson." He ignores my initial comment as he comes closer.

"Who are you?" Maybe he only understands blunt.

He smiles, perfect white teeth gleaming in the flickering light. "Please, sit, make yourself comfortable."

I don't move. Not even my eyes. They are locked onto his body. I watch his movements with the eye of a wary soldier—Jack's eyes.

This seems to amuse my captor. He chuckles. "I have no intention of harming you, Dr. Jackson. I only wish to talk."

Like he talked to Sam and Jack? I don't budge, my muscles going rigid. Fight or flight, I realize.

"Please," he attempts again, motioning with one hand towards the many chairs, "relax and rest. I'll have some food brought down and we can talk."

Finally I glance over at the chairs. They look so tempting but I know Jack and Sam are back in our cell pounding against the stone wall worrying about making quota. Worrying about what is happening to me, their weakest link. They are so tempting, though. And it's my job to get to know our captors. It always is—to play the diplomat. If I could find out what this guy wants maybe I can find a weakness, get us out of here. I relent and cautiously slide into a large, cushy armchair. I sit on the edge, back straight, though. No need to let my guard down.

This pleases my new friend. He pulls another chair over and plops into it, stretching his long legs out. "It's been a trying day," he tells me as if we're too old buddies discussing our mundane jobs. "I've been waiting to get you down here. I didn't think this day would ever come."

I frown. "Who are you?"

"Daniel—can I call you Daniel?—I've been wanting to meet you for so very long. Your adventures are legendary."

"They are?" I can't stop myself before the words leave my mouth. I'm confused and my wrist is throbbing.

"Of course. We all know of the great Daniel Jackson."

That doesn't sound right but I decide to play along. "Really?"

He's pleased with my responses apparently because his smile brightens. "Oh, yes. The way you defeated Ra was marvelous."

I blink several times hoping to clear the fog of pain from my head because this guy isn't making much sense. Ra? I'm pretty sure it was Jack that blew Ra to kingdom come.

"And Apophis-"

"Apophis isn't dead." Why can't I just keep my mouth shut?

"Oh?" He glances at me then must have assumed I was downplaying my role because he smiled again. "No matter. We'll discuss that later. I've been waiting so long to talk to you I'm sure I can wait a little longer." He eyes me again. I'm hugging my broken wrist to my stomach, my other arm wrapped protectively around it. I'm sure I'm covered head to toe in dirt and stone dust. I know it's in my lungs—it's getting progressively harder to breathe. And I know I smell worse than death. "Where are my manners?" His voice pierces the haze in my brain and I try to focus on it again. He claps his hands and magically a gaggle of young girls dressed in little more than shifts of sheer fabric appear from nowhere and everywhere. They surround me and, despite their vulnerable attire, I feel a momentary panic at their approach. They giggle at my nervousness then gently pull me to my feet. I have no choice but to follow along.

I'm summarily stripped of my ragged, smelly BDUs and guided towards a large, steaming bath I hadn't noticed before. I feel like I'm betraying my friends back in the mine as I carefully follow the steps into the scalding water. In seconds my aching body adjusts to the temperature and begins to relax. It's like heaven. My eyes drift shut as my head lolls back against the side of the bath. I can almost forget where I am if it weren't for the constant agony that is my wrist. The girls go about their business which, apparently, involves bathing me from head to foot. And when they are satisfied with their endeavor they reluctantly coerce me out of the water again.

I'm not sure how long I was in there. My fingers and toes are pruney. Other parts of my body now react as they should when the scantily clad girls move around me. They giggle at my flushing face and dress me in soft linen pants and a tunic, ever mindful of my injury.

"Much better," my captor says with another smile. I wish he'd tell me his name. I wish I knew why I was here. We sit back in the same chairs. I'm just as tense as before; he's just as relaxed. We stare at each other. I have no clue what he wants. He smiles. He's always smiling. I find that unnerving. "Why don't you start by telling me how you've been."

I gape at him. Is he serious? When he offers nothing else I finally sputter something out. "I've been digging... in the mines."

"Ah, yes." Did he forget? "That's unfortunate. If I had known earlier you had been sent to the mines I would have rescued you."

"What about my friends?"

He just stares blankly at me.

"My friends. The people I was captured with."

"They are of no concern to me."

I grind my teeth in frustration and pain. "Well, they're a concern to me. A big concern."

He shrugs and gets to his feet, his long robes flowing around his body as he paces before me. "Tell me of Earth."

"No."

He turns abruptly to face me. "Why not?"

This guy is surely on some kind of alien drug. "I'm not telling you anything."

The smile is back, bigger than ever. "I can fix your arm."

I look down at my useless appendage.

"It pains you, I can tell. I can fix it. It won't bother you any more."

I would love that. I would give anything to stop the constant agonizing pain. Almost anything. I won't give up Earth. That's what I've spent the last five years fighting for. "No," I tell him resolutely.

He's momentarily shocked by my refusal. "Tell me of Earth. I hear it's a beautiful planet with many people. Large oceans and magnificent mountains."

"Who are you?" I ask instead of answering his questions.

He sighs in frustration. "Is it far from here?"

I couldn't answer him if I wanted to. I don't even know where here is, let alone how far away Earth is. "Why am I here?"

"I told you, I've been waiting a long time to meet you, Daniel."

"Why? I'm nobody special." That was true. I'm just the guy that gets my team in trouble. Either by doing something monumentally dumb or because they're trying to protect me. You'd think I'd learn by now. I briefly wonder why Jack keeps me around.

His laugh brings me out of my revelry. "You underestimate yourself, Daniel."

His voice is grating on my frayed nerves. And he keeps calling me Daniel like we're good friends. I want to slam my fist into his smug face but instead I sit and try to understand why I'm here, why I'm not back down in the mine suffering with my friends. Guilt wells up in me as I stare at my clean hands and clothes. God, I hope Jack and Sam are okay. I realize belatedly that he's been talking to me for awhile. Well, talking at me because I haven't heard a thing he's said. He's realized that, too. He claps his hands two times and one of the young girls from before appears, head lowered in submission.

He whispers to her and she departs only to return shortly with a device. He places it on his arm, flexing his fingers. My heart races at the sight of it. Definitely Goa'uld. He moves towards me and I reflexively back away. I don't go far—I'm still sitting in the chair.

"Don't be alarmed. I said I wouldn't hurt you. This is merely to repair your broken arm. You'll be able to concentrate better after that."

I'm not given an option to refuse. From nowhere strong arms pin me to the cushions and someone yanks my injured arm from it's protective spot against my body. I yelp in pain, the room spinning. I'm about to lose my lunch... er, breakfast when the pain begins to lessen. The throbbing numbness that has been my constant companion for the last couple of days departs along with sudden nausea and roller coaster perception. My arm is released. I open my eyes and flex my wrist. No pain. Nothing. It feels great. The blisters are gone, too.

"Much better," he declares. "Now we can have a proper conversation."

I just stare at him. My confusion must have been showing because he looks slightly askew then snaps his fingers. Instead of the girls two strapping boys in gold loincloths carry over a table laden with overfilled bowls. The smell of roasted meat and baked fruit fill my nostrils. It's intoxicating and I feel a little lightheaded at the overload to my senses. I'm starving. I've eaten nothing but a few bowls of broth and some dried bread for the past few days. My stomach gurgles at the opportunity but I stay staunchly in my seat.

"Please," he tells me, gesturing to the table, "eat. Take your fill."

"What about my friends in the mine?"

"What about them?"

"They're hungry, too." I cross my arms, refusing to move. He just cocks an eyebrow. My stomach rumbles in defiance.

He switches tactics. "Starving yourself won't help your friends, you know. If you are fed you will be stronger and more able to help them."

I'm surprised at how quickly I cave to that logic as I reach for what looks like a purple colored apple. It tastes sweet but grainy. I don't care. I eat it all in twenty seconds flat. After that I'm more interested in water. My throat is so dry and my lips are cracked. My captor understands and a goblet of icy water is presented to me. I chug it down and it burns and twists my stomach into a knot. I don't care. That's all I plan to eat. I swear. I don't know what happened after that because he keeps coaxing me and I keep obliging and pretty soon my gut is so full I can barely breathe. I belch loudly bringing another broad grin to my captor's face.

"Excellent. Now we can begin. Tell me about Earth."

"It's nice this time of year." I'm surprised to hear my own voice answer. That's not what I wanted to say. I wanted to tell him to go to hell but that came out instead. He nods. "Well, it depends on where you are. But it's nice in Colorado this time of year. It's summer." No, I scream in my head, why am I telling him that?

"Col-uh-rah-do?" he prods. "Is that where you are from?"

"Yeah. Sort of. That's where I live now."

"With your friends?"

"Yeah, Jack and Sam. And Teal'c." I can't believe I almost forgot Teal'c.

"Is that where the Stargate is?"

I frown down at me bare feet. I can't tell him that. I can feel the answer on the tip of my tongue. He watches me expectantly. I can't tell him. I know that. It's important. "Yes," I answer anyway. I want to scream in frustration. I must have been drugged. It's the only explanation. I can't let him get anything else out of me.

"Tell me about your Stargate?"

I concentrate on my toes as I dig them into the carpet, eyes narrowed to thin slits. I won't answer that. I bite down on my tongue hard enough to draw blood. He leans forward in anticipation. He thinks he has me. I channel everything I know of Jack O'Neill, every little thing he's ever taught me over the years. "No," I say defiantly.

This was not the answer he was expecting. His eyes flash bright white. He jumps to his feet, knocking the table of empty dishes to the side. As his arm covered in the golden device levles on my face I close my eyes. I know what is coming. It's my turn. I don't remember anything after that.

Two