Zero

Leah Rosenthal

A 7th season AU ending to “Heroes”

WARNING!!! Major Character Death!

The white blur swirled and finally coalesced into the face of Janet Fraiser. Jack blinked once, twice, and then managed to smile at her through the pain. “Always a good sign,” he rasped out, “to see you when I wake up. Instead of St. Peter.”

Janet managed a smile, but there was an alarmingly forced air to it. “Glad to see you awake, Colonel.”

Uh oh, Jack reflected. “How bad is it?”

“You’ll be fine. The blast was mostly deflected by the new armor shielding in your vest. Put a massive dent in it—the only souvenir you’ll have from P3X-666, apart from some soreness in your chest for a few days…” her voice trailed off, a hoarse quality creeping in, as if under strain.

Jack knew that sound. His long years of combat and command experience kicked the alarm in the back of his mind a notch louder. “Tell me.”

For a moment, the doctor’s eyes darted about, as if she sought escape. She finally looked down, as if to check the clipboard in her hand. The professional cheer had faded from her features, and most of the color.

Alarm now screaming in his mind, Jack struggled to sit up. “Tell me,” he said again, this time a lot more loudly.

“Colonel—” she choked off. “Jack—”

Ohmigod. He swung his legs off the infirmary bed, beating down a wave of vertigo. “Tell me. Please.”

Wordlessly, Janet stared at him with a searching gaze for a moment and then, shoulders slumping a millimeter, she turned and walked toward the door leading into the next room.

Jack struggled to his feet to follow. His sore chest felt hollow with a terror greater than any he ever knew in the combat that had marked his life. The last time he’d had this feeling, he was chasing down the fading echoes of a single gunshot in his house, toward Charlie’s room…

He reached the doorway of the next room where Janet waited, and braced himself against the frame. She glanced at him once, her face once again devoid of emotion, as if making room for his. He turned and looked inside.

A still figure lay atop a gurney in the shadows of the room illuminated by one lonely bulb. It was covered from head to foot by a smooth green sheet.

Oh Christ, please, don’t do this to me, he thought with savage selfishness. Anything but this.

He stumbled toward the gurney, his whole body going numb with grief and terror. He didn’t have to see, to know. That unmoving figure under the sheet was too small to be the Jaffa, too large to be the female member of his team. His hand hesitated over the covering for a moment, but he knew he had to see.

Still. He looks so still. That doesn’t look like Daniel at all. Daniel never stops moving, talking, looking. This thing lying there, unmoving, this can’t be Daniel. The hollow ache in his chest had grown to gigantic proportions, driving rationale temporarily out of him.

“What happened?” he breathed.

“We were working on Welling,” Janet rasped, her voice barely able to contain the emotion. “Daniel was helping to keep him calm, to bear the pain—” she gathered herself. “He took the staff blast right through his heart. He never felt—he was dead before he hit the ground.” There was a long silence behind him. “It should have been me.”

Should have been you? I’m the one who shouldn’t have woken up in the next room with nothing worse than a sore chest. Me, the old war horse with most of my years spent. Not Daniel. Not Daniel Jackson. Jacks son. Jacks—

It was Teal’c who came and took him away, after a length of time he would never be able to recount. The strong arms of his brother-in-arms were hard-pressed to drag him away, to leave and begin the long process of grieving among the remnants of his companions and his memories, and going on. The process had already begun, the anger starting for the young man who had once again—again—left him, to go where he could not follow.

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