Title: Darker Side of the Moonlight
Spoilers: "Heroes, Part 2" "Foothold" "Smoke and Mirrors"
Summary: Things aren't always what they appear to be
Disclaimer: All publicly recognisable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret productions. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognised characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
The woman was infuriatingly silent. She sat in the chair in the middle of the room, staring defiantly back at the two men. Her face was bruised and there was blood trickling down from her lip, but she was ignoring it.
"How much longer can the bitch remain silent?" The taller of the two men muttered to his companion, who only shrugged in response. Conner sighed. The Boss hadn't been kidding when he said that this one would be a problem.
He stared at her, wondering how she could just sit there. Her eyes were expressionless, despite the injuries and the rope cutting into her ankles and wrists.
"Are we sure the boys didn't do any... you know." He indicated his head, wondering if there was some sort of brain damage to contend with.
Another shrug from the man. Conner wondered if he talked either.
He strode across to the middle of the room, and towered imposingly over the seated figure. Bending slightly, he grabbed a handful of hair and yanked her head back so she was forced to look up at him.
"Now then, you stubborn bitch," he snarled. "Are you going to tell us what we want to know now, or not?"
"General?" Sam poked her head around the door leading to General Hammond's office and he beckoned her in, pushing aside his paperwork.
"What can I do for you, Major?" he asked, indicating that she should take a seat. Sam gently eased herself down into the chair.
"I just received a phone call from Agent Barrett," she said. "Apparently, one of the rogue cells of the NID has abducted a member of the SGC and is interrogating them at an unknown location."
Hammond's eyes widened. "Is he sure, Major?" he asked. "We've had no personnel not turn up for duty."
Sam nodded. "He's still looking into the matter - he has no idea who it is, why they were chosen nor where they're being held," she replied. "They must have someone who's on leave at the moment, which is why we haven't noticed anyone missing." She shrugged, not really knowing what else to say. Agent Barrett's phone call had been out of the blue, and not very informative.
Hammond looked thoughtful, remembering their most recent involvement with the NID. "Do you think that this could have something to do with the mission to P3X-666?" he asked quietly. Sam didn't say anything for a minute, and Hammond could see the officer try and compose herself before answering. It had been barely a month since that rescue mission, which had resulted in the terrible loss of Doctor Janet Fraiser. All of SG-1 had taken her death hard, Sam and Daniel especially so.
"I don't know, sir," Sam eventually replied, her voice tight and in control. "It is possible. I believe Airman Wells is still on medical leave, although if he had disappeared, I think we would have heard about it by now."
Hammond nodded thoughtfully. "I'll have personnel compile a list of people currently on leave," he said, reaching for the phone. "In the meantime, Major, I suggest you wait and see if Agent Barrett can uncover anymore information which could help us."
Sam nodded and stood up to leave. "Yes, sir," she replied.
Hammond watched her go, before picking up the phone. He only hoped that the friendly NID agent would be able to find out more concerning this abduction, because at the moment they had nothing to go on.
Conner all but threw the woman back into her room. He watched in satisfaction as she stumbled to the hard ground, crashing down onto her palms and knees. He slammed and bolted the door behind him, and indicated one of the men hanging around at the top of the stairs.
"You ... guard the door," he ordered, and the man nodded silently. Conner groaned inwardly. Did anyone in the house actually speak, he wondered as he pushed past the others and headed down the stairs towards the front door.
"Hey, Mr Smith."
He turned back.
"Do we feed her, or what?"
Conner thought for a moment, then bared his teeth in what could be considered a smile. "Nah," he replied. "Let the bitch starve. We'll see if she's more co-operative when she's hungry."
"Personnel provided me with a list of those on leave approximately an hour ago," Hammond informed his junior officers. He had headed up to find both Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter in the latter's lab, two empty plates with what looked like cake crumbs on next to them on the bench. "I've also cross-checked with Colorado Springs Police Department. There have been no reports of any military personnel stationed here going missing."
"It could be one of the civilian scientists," Sam suggested. "Or someone could have been taken while they were out of town."
Hammond nodded. "If we don't hear back from Agent Barrett within the next..."
Sam's phone rang and she reached across the bench for it. "Carter," she said. "Agent Barrett!" Both Hammond and Jack moved closer to her. "Yes, I've told General Hammond and Colonel O'Neill. We've got a list of people... you have a name?" Her face drained of all its colour and Jack instinctively grabbed her arm and guided her to her stool. "No. I mean, that's not possible. How? I... oh God. Okay, thank you. Bye."
With wide eyes and a pale face, she put down the phone.
"Who is it?" Jack asked.
"They have Janet," Sam replied, before slumping into Jack's arms in a dead faint.
"No." Daniel's response was resounding as they broke the news to him and Teal'c an hour later. Sam sat quietly in the briefing room, her face still pale as Jack kept a watchful eye on her. "They can't have Janet. She's dead. I watched her die in front of me. God damn it, I even have her death on camera." He slammed his hand down on the briefing room table, making them jump in surprise.
"That wasn't really Janet, Daniel," Jack told his friend. "Whoever was killed on '666 wasn't the Doc."
Daniel sunk his head into his hands. "Well, whoever it was did a damn good job of pretending then," he said bitterly.
"Daniel, remember the mimic devices?" Sam asked quietly. He raised his head and looked at her. "Someone was wearing one and pretending to be Janet. I don't know how, but they must have found a way to keep the image projected even once the person's dead... or at least for a certain amount of time afterwards. A NID doctor by the name of Karen Langley died on that planet. Janet's alive on Earth somewhere, and it's up to us to find her and bring her home."
A choked sob escaped Daniel as he closed his eyes and leant back in his chair. "How long did we have Doctor Langley with us?" he asked.
"We're not too sure," Sam began. "But we believe that the switch was made when Janet went to that medical conference in Washington."
"When we freed Sarah?" Daniel confirmed. Sam nodded. "I thought she was just being distant from me because my ex was around," he revealed. "We had plans for dinner the night after she retuned, but she claimed she forgot about them and blew me off."
"Guess Doctor Langley didn't think it was wise to try and pull the wool over the boyfriend's eyes," Jack commented, trying to defuse the uncomfortable situation slightly.
Daniel blushed despite himself.
"So, what do we do now?" he asked. Sam hesitated.
"Agent Barrett's still trying to find out where she's being held," she said. "There's not much we can do until we know that."
"But we have to do something!" Daniel exclaimed. "We can't just sit around here and wait."
"I'm afraid that's all you can do at the moment, son," Hammond said gently. "But as soon as we have a location, you have a go. Bring our doctor home."
Curled up on the thin mattress in the corner of the room, she shivered violently. She ached all over, but had stopped trying to catalogue the full extent of her injuries. How long had she been there? Weeks... months? She wondered if they missed her, if they were still even looking for her.
She wondered what they were doing now. She didn't even know if it was day or night. Shivering some more, she tried to move her stiff body so she could curl up even tighter. She was hypothermic, dehydrated, malnourished. If she got out of there alive she knew that she would be spending a good while either in hospital or in her own infirmary. For now, she knew that she had to concentrate on staying alive, which was easier said than done. She didn't know how much longer she'd be able to last at the hands of her captors.
Coughing, she winced and placed a cautious hand on her chest. A couple of ribs were definitely bruised and they hurt like hell every time she breathed. The cough wasn't helping either.
Closing her eyes, she fell into a state of half sleep, half unconsciousness.
"Daniel?" Sam knocked cautiously on the door to her friend's office, and pushed it open slightly. The room was illuminated only by two small lamps, and it took her eyes a moment to adjust to the darkness.
"Yeah." The reply came from the darkest corner of the room, and Sam stepped in and moved towards the main light switch. "Don't turn it on." Her hand dropped and she moved further into the darkness.
"Are you okay?" she asked, almost hesitantly and reluctant to go much further in. There was a bitter laugh.
"Oh, I'm just fine," Daniel said. "Never mind the fact that the woman we've been mourning for the past month is still alive - as far as we know, although she could be dead by the time we find her, and then we'll have to go through this again. No one really dies around here, eh? And we get Janet back, so no training a new CMO for this place - bet the General's happy about that. It's good all round, although we better cancel that realtor quickly ... good job we only approached them in the last couple of days, eh?"
"Daniel, stop it." Sam's voice was quiet.
"What do you expect me to say, Sam?" he asked, moving towards the light which allowed her to see the red-rimmed eyes and the resigned look on his face. "I saw her die in front of me, and now I'm being told that it wasn't her - it was some impostor. I missed her everyday for the past month. There were even times that I'd forget that she was gone, and I'd wonder why she wasn't there. And now there's the chance that we might be able to get her back. But we might lose her - again, and I don't know if I can do that... if I can cope with having her die again."
He sighed, and Sam moved forwards and wrapped her arms around him. He buried his face in her neck, and she felt the tears fall as she rubbed his back comfortingly. "We'll get her back, Daniel," she said. "I promise."
"So, what's the plan once we get there?" Daniel asked as SG-1, along with SG-14, sat in the plane which was flying them to North Dakota. The jet had been on standby at Peterson, so as soon as they had been given the co-ordinates they had been ready to go. According to the intelligence Barrett had sent them, Janet was being held in an old farm house in North Dakota, approximately an hour away from Minot AF base. The air in the small jet was understandably thick with nerves and tension.
"We need to scout out the area first," Jack said. "Our primary objective is to get the Doc out - alive. If it means letting the creeps holding her get away, then so be it. We'll get their sorry asses another time, I'm sure."
"We'll travel in three unmarked vehicles, which should be waiting for us when we land," Sam continued. "Hopefully Janet will be able to be moved without having to wait for paramedics, although local authorities have been alerted and will be waiting for us if we need them."
"Why didn't we just bring a doctor with us?" Lieutenant Marchev, the newest member of SG-14 asked.
"Hammond didn't want to risk it," Jack explained. "Ironically, Fraiser's the only doc in the SGC with covert ops training. Carter and Daniel both have enough medical knowledge between them, I hope, to deal with what we might find."
"How long until we land?" Daniel asked, unfastening his seatbelt and starting to pace the length of the passenger area. Jack pulled him back down into his seat.
"About another half hour," he said. "Calm down - we'll get to her."
Conner looked grim as he put his phone back in his pocket. "We're gonna have company real soon, boys," he said to the four other men in the house. "Our location's been leaked and there's a rescue party on the way for that bitch."
"What are our orders?"
Conner sneered, not impressed with them. "Our orders," he spat. "Are to pull out and leave the bitch. Something about cutting our losses."
"How long have we got?"
"They've just landed at Minot, so reckon just under an hour," Conner said. "Get all the gear together, and be ready to leave in fifteen. I've got to say 'goodbye' to our 'guest' first." He laughed, and the others joined in. As they scattered to various other places in the house, Conner unbolted the door and stepped across the threshold. He noted with satisfaction as to how she cowered away from him; a pathetic sight in the corner, clothed only in dirty rags.
"I just came to say goodbye, darlin'," he drawled. "Seems your friends have finally clued in and are on their way to rescue you." He aimed a vicious kick at her midsection. "So, our little party's almost over."
Another kick and she whimpered. Conner just smirked.
"This is SG-one-niner," Jack reported into his radio. "First floor is clear. Proceeding up the stairs now."
"Copy that one-niner," Colonel Scott, the CO of SG-14 replied. "Perimeter is still secure, and there appears to be no sign of movement on the second floor."
"Understood," Jack said, waving on Teal'c to advance up the stairs while Carter and Daniel were to hang back.
Teal'c made it to the top of the stairs before the rest of the team followed. On the landing, Jack motioned that he and Daniel would check the rooms on the left-hand side while Carter and Teal'c would head to the right.
"This door's locked," Daniel reported when they reached the third door along. The previous two rooms had been like the ones downstairs - sparsely furnished and empty of any other signs of human inhabitation.
Jack motioned for the archaeologist to move back, and he carefully slid open the bolts and opened the door, leading the way in.
"Janet!" Daniel exclaimed as soon he saw her, and rushed over to the mattress in the corner. He knelt down beside her, and brushed the tangled mess of hair away from her face with one hand, while reaching for her hand with the other.
"Daniel?" she whispered harshly, barely believing her eyes.
"Yeah, it's me. It's okay, I'm here. We're gonna get you out of here, okay? You're gonna be fine," he reassured her. His eyes scanned over her, noticing the blue tinge to her lips and saw how she was having trouble breathing.
Tears glistened in her eyes. "Hurt," she managed.
"I know, we're going to get you to a hospital, and then we'll take you home," he said, turning to look where Sam had her pack on the floor and was pulling out a blanket and a canister of water. Jack was in the far corner, reporting that they had her and to alert the hospital that they were bringing her in, while Teal'c stood watch on the door, just in case.
Sam wrapped the blanket around Janet's petite frame, while Daniel helped her sit up carefully. She took a couple of sips of the water, choking and coughing slightly, causing her to moan in pain. Daniel felt his heart jolt when he had to wipe away specks of blood from her mouth.
"Can you walk?" Jack asked, coming over to them.
"Don't know," she replied, clearly having trouble speaking. Daniel raised a hand to her bruised jaw, and she shied away from his gentle touch. "Dislocated or fractured."
"Here." Daniel moved so that his arm was wrapped around her waist and they rose together. She sagged against him heavily, whimpering and, passing his weapon to Sam, he picked her up easily. She was far too light, even for her small size and Daniel dreaded to think just how she had been treated by her captors. Teal'c led the way downstairs and out to where they had left the cars. She was shivering in his arms, and he tried to pull her closer, but did not want to risk aggravating her injuries further. "Sam, can you get the blanket out of my pack?" he asked as they neared the cars.
"Sure," Sam replied, first helping him put Janet in the backseat. Jack was ordering Teal'c to stay with SG-14 to secure the area as she grabbed the second blanket, and tucked it around Janet. Daniel had gone around the other side of the car and manoeuvred himself so that he was sitting in the middle and allowed Janet to rest on him. She was barely conscious by this point, but he still murmured words of comfort and reassurance to her. Sam threw the packs in the trunk of the car before climbing into the front passenger seat, as Jack jumped into the driver's seat and started to on the drive to the hospital.
Daniel had picked up Janet from the Academy Hospital in Colorado Springs early in the evening. Her doctor had been waiting on the results from some tests before saying whether she could leave or not, and they hadn't come until late, much to her disgust. It was true, what they said about doctors being the worst patients, Daniel had decided. It got to the point where her chart wasn't kept in her room to stop her looking at it and declaring that she was fine and could leave. Privately, he thought that the hospital staff were glad to see her go, as she made it clear everyday that she didn't want to be there.
She had been unusually quiet when he picked her up however, and started the drive back to her house. He had tried to start a conversation, but when he was met with monosyllabic replies to anything he said, he soon gave up. The only thing that had got a response out of her had been when he'd mentioned that Cassandra was staying over with friends that night.
He pulled up outside her dark house, and turned to look at her. Her face was pale and she made no signs that she was going to move.
"Janet?" he asked, concern filling his voice. He reached across and touched her hand lightly. She jumped, and her eyes flickered towards him.
"I can't do this," she said, her voice wavering slightly.
Daniel's brow furrowed in confusion. "Do what?" he asked.
"I can't go in there. I just keep thinking back to..." she paused. "Daniel, take me to yours."
"Do you want me to go in, and get you anything?" he offered, moving to undo his seatbelt. Her hand covered his, stopping him.
"No, just drive," she said, looking straight in front of her. Daniel looked at her before pulling away from the curb and heading towards his own house. He continued to cast worried glances at her throughout the rest of the journey. She was staring out of the window, seemingly millions of miles away, but Daniel was willing to bet that her mind was really only back in North Dakota.
Parking on his drive, he quickly got out and moved to her side of the car to help her out. She was still slightly unstable on her feet, and he wrapped a strong arm around her waist and carefully escorted her into the living room.
"Are you hungry?" he asked once he had made sure that she was comfortable. "I don't really cook much, but I can see what I've got in the cupboards. Anything's got to be better than the junk that they serve up in hospitals, anyway!"
She smiled weakly up at him. "Have you got any soup?" she asked. "I'm not really that hungry."
"Tomato, vegetable or chicken?" he asked, grinning at the surprised look on her face. "It's the basic staple of my food cupboard - quick, easy and doesn't go out of date quickly."
"Vegetable, please," Janet replied, smiling up at him. He nodded and disappeared into the kitchen, leaving her alone. She looked around the room curiously. She'd only been to his house a couple of times before, and had never really taken the chance to look around properly. There were a number of artefacts from a variety of cultures - Janet only recognised a couple of pieces being Egyptian, and one she'd guess was Mesopotamian. Personal photographs were scattered around the room, of his parents, one of Sha're, a couple which looked like were from his university days, a few of SG-1... and of her. Even without moving from her seat she could see the picture in the middle of the mantelpiece was of her, and there was one of the two of them on the small table where the phone was.
Janet couldn't really describe her relationship with Daniel. Before her abduction, there had been a couple of dinners, a few more lunches, and on the evening before her trip to Washington, a soft, gentle kiss while saying goodbye on her doorstep. She knew that she cared about him more than just as a friend and thought... hoped that he felt the same way. She had been told what had happened in her absence; how she had been replaced by another person wearing a mimic device, and how everyone had thought that she had died off world. Janet acknowledged that the abuse she had been forced to endure was a small price in retrospect, as it had saved her life. None of her visitors had really wanted to talk about it. However, the colonel had dropped by for a surprise visit the previous afternoon and when pressed about it, he had told her that it had been tough on them all, especially Daniel, who had been there when the blast had hit. She wanted to try and talk to Daniel about that, hopefully taking her mind off her own experiences over the past couple of months.
"Here we go," Daniel announced, returning with a tray with the bowl of soup and a couple of pieces of lightly done toast. Janet could hardly believe that he remembered that conversation, which had occurred at breakfast soon after the Asgard had cloned Colonel O'Neill. She had complained how the commissary always overcooked their toast, and had told him that she liked it so it was barely more than warm bread. He placed it gently on her knees and sat down beside her.
"Is that okay?" he asked. "Do you need anything else?"
"No, this is great, thank you, Daniel," she said, turning to smile at him. Tearing off the crust of one of the pieces of toast she dipped it into the liquid and swirled it round before bringing it to her mouth. Having been near starved when she was captured, then forced to endure hospital food, this was ambrosia as far as she was concerned.
She didn't quite manage to finish it all, and had started to yawn widely about half way through her meal. Daniel had sat with her throughout, chatting about the same light-hearted things he had talked about when he'd visited her in hospital, always staying clear of her abduction and of her doppelganger. He took the tray from her when she'd announced that she'd had enough, and had returned from the kitchen with a glass of water and her evening drugs. There was something very surreal about the fact that he was looking after her, Janet contemplated, as she swallowed the pills with ease.
Even though it was still early, she was tired. She hadn't walked far, but it had been further than she had walked in a while, and she wasn't strong. When Daniel had suggested bed, she'd agreed and tried to stand up, without much success. She couldn't help but blush when he lifted her easily into his arms and tried not to think about certain fantasies she'd had in the past while he carried her into his bedroom and placed her gently down on the bed.
"Um, I'll find you something to sleep in," Daniel said, looking embarrassed as they remembered that she only had the clothes she was wearing with her. He rummaged around in his drawers, and pulled out a blue T-shirt and a pair of sports shorts. "Um, these are going to be way too big for you, and I figured that shorts would be better than jogging bottoms as they'll just look even bigger and..."
"Daniel, it's fine, thank you," Janet smiled reassuringly at him and he passed them over to her. "Can you... um, turn around please?"
"Yeah, sure," Daniel's face flushed red. "I'll leave the room if you want, or take you to the bathroom..."
"No, just turn around." Janet didn't want him to leave. She hated being alone in the hospital room, although the familiar sounds of the medical facility had reassured her slightly. She quickly changed, wincing as she moved too quickly. Although most of her injuries had healed, she was still very stiff and some would take more time to fully mend.
"You can turn back around now," she said and when he did, she noticed that his face was still slightly tinged pink.
Daniel was still trying to deal with the fact that she was in his bed. Even as he visited her everyday in the hospital, he would take her hand just to reassure himself that she was really there, and all this wasn't some dream. "Suits you," he said, happy that she was now out of the hospital white. When they had first got her to the hospital, the white had contrasted horribly with the bruises that had covered her body and had lasted far too long for Daniel's liking. As he had sat in the room in the beginning, watching as she slept, he had been hoping that one day he would get the chance to get revenge on those who had done that to her.
She smiled shyly at him, and he indicated that she should move up to the head of the bed and climb under the covers. She sat up in the bed, and patted the space next to her and he sat down too, his eyes fixated on her. He reached his hand to her face and brushed away invisible strands of hair.
"I still can't believe you're here," he said quietly as she leaned slightly into his touch. "I thought I'd lost you, but now you're here with me again."
"I can't believe I'm here either," Janet confessed in a low voice. "There were times when I just thought..." She trailed off, and Daniel moved his hand down from her face and took hers with it.
"What did they want with you?" he asked.
Janet bit her lip. "I don't know," she said. "I don't remember. They just kept asking me if I was going to tell them what they wanted to know, but I didn't remember what that was. I just kept silent and that made them mad."
Daniel knew what had happened to her when those men were mad; he had seen it for himself. "Do you remember anything much at all?"
She shook her head. "Not really. I remember them asking me that, and I remember hurting," she paused and looked down at the covers, then back up at him. "I remember you coming and telling me that it was going to be fine. And I remember you carrying me to the car, then I woke up in the hospital, with you by my side." She paused again and took a deep breath. "To be honest, I think I'd rather not remember."
Daniel reached forward and gently pulled her into his arms, taking care that he didn't hold onto her too tight. He needed the physical reassurance as much as she did, knowing that they could have quite easily lost her for a second time. If the journey between Minot and where she had been held had been much longer, chances were that they would have got their too late to do anything but watch her die again.
As he buried his head in her shoulder, he couldn't help the few stray tears that fell. They stayed there like that for a good few minutes, before she pulled away and smiled weakly at him. "Thank you," she whispered, her eyes glistening. "You only offered to take me home, and then you got stuck with me like this."
He smiled at her. "I don't mind," he said, raising his hand to her cheek and using his thumb to wipe away the few tears that had fallen. "I lo...like the fact that I know that you're here and safe. I'll do anything for you. You can stay here as long as you like if you don't want to go back home."
She took his hand in hers and squeezed it before dropping it. "Thank you," she said again. "I don't know if I can go back there. Not yet anyway." She sighed, and he looked at her curiously. "When they took me... I was at home," she began hesitantly. "I guess they must have been waiting for me, as I'd only just got back. And all I could think of was that Cassandra could have been there, and they could have hurt her. I don't think I'm going to feel safe there again."
"Oh, Janet," he whispered, wanting to pull her into his arms again and never let go. "I mean it. You can stay here as long as you need to. Cassie's fine with Sam, or if she wants to stay here then she can have the spare room and I'll sleep on the sofa. I'll get Sam and Cassie to go over and pack a bag for you. It'll be fine, okay?"
She nodded, and then started to yawn. "Time to sleep now, I think," he said, standing up so that she could lie down. He pulled the covers over her, before leaning down to kiss her gently on the forehead. "Goodnight Janet," he said, turning to leave.
She half sat up, leant across the edge of the bed and grabbed his wrist. He turned back to her. Her brown eyes were wide, and he realised just how fragile she looked, sitting there in his clothes, which were far too big for her. "Stay... please," she asked, not letting go of him. "I don't want to be alone." There was a pleading tone in her voice, and Daniel knew that there was no way he could say no to her.
"Sure," he replied, and she smiled up at him, relief evident in her eyes as she dropped her hand. He kicked off his shoes, pulled off his sweater, then after a moment's hesitation, removed his jeans so he was just clad in his T-shirt and boxer shorts. Janet lifted the covers up and he climbed into the bed next to her. She immediately moved in close, and he instinctively wrapped his arm around her waist as she rested her head on his chest.
"Thank you," she whispered. He settled down, trying not to disturb her as much as possible and reached out for the light, but her hand closed on his arm. "Can we leave it on? I just... it was always dark..." He felt the shudder run through her, and pulled her even closer, acutely aware that she was still physically healing as well.
"No problem," he said, and he could feel her relax in relief. He knew that she knew that she would have to work through these fears, and he knew that he'd be there for her every step of the way.
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