Author's Note: Written for apocalypse_kree. I'd chosen this particular prompt because it really hit a spot with me and then the story decided to change because part of the idea I had reminded me of another story I'd started earlier this year and stalled out near the beginning. So I took that premise and adapted it to the prompt because they worked so well together. Then it decided to grow and change a bit more, only something wasn't right with it until I saw something on tv and the way certain flashbacks were shown gave me an idea on how I could make this work. Now that I'm done saying all of that: Hats off to zats_clear for the research material because so much of it was a great help with the final draft. Thank you so much to ivorygates taking the time for beta'ing this, you're a Goddess. All other mistakes are my own.
Spoilers: Season 10
Prompt: In the Prose Edda, Ragnarok had two human survivors.
Characters: Daniel/Cam (now whether this is actually slash I'm leaving in the eye of the beholder because I'm special that way. ;))
Disclaimer: Sadly these characters belong to MGM and not me.
He can hear the sea down below. Down below the edge of the cliff and he isn't sure if he's happy or not that they've made it. Glancing back, he can barely make out Daniel crouching on his heels, resting. On the move for days, it always seemed as if they were out of breath in their attempt to keep one step ahead. Sometimes they almost seem to forget what they're running from.
Out on the horizon, just off to their left, they can see the faint beginnings of sunrise. Barely noticeable. Enough to know they're almost out of time. They had awoken to their world living in the dark, no way to discover the how or why but both have a good idea what the answer is.
”Wait. You gave us this knowledge to pass on your legacy. But there isn't going to be a legacy if you don't help us. Any second now those Ori ships are going to detect the Samantha Carter and all of this will have been for nothing.”
“I am never going to get used to the name of this ship and Sam is going to get a swelled head.”
“Yeah. Well, given the track record of the other two ships named after Jack and me the sure way to bet is that it won't be around long enough for her to have a chance.”
“Very well, Doctor Jackson, we will attempt to do all that we can in the time left. Though...”
They remove their packs and leave them on the ground. The less weight the better. The staircase built into the cliff face was old when their gran'dads were babes (He wonders idly if anyone ever thought about where it came from, if he trusted what their intel (and he did) said; it had always just been seen as a relic from the previous generation.) but they still made their way down each level, inch by inch in the dark holding on against steady winds. Months on the road, always on the move, always ready for the other shoe to drop made their feet sure with each step.
They don't say much, if anything, to each other anymore. No need. Their path has been clearly marked from the beginning, no other exits except for the one they're climbing down toward.
The sun is rising. New day with light banishing the darkness, saving the world from the secret fears that thrive in its shadows - in dreams. Hope is reborn when the horizon is broken, only to realize it is dying with each second that reaches hungrily for the night.
When he wakes, Cam doesn't notice that he lets out a harsh breath, as if he's been holding it the entire time he slept. He's more tired now that he's 'rested' than before he'd lain down on the broken down bed that announced his location with every shift of his tired frame.
It only takes him a moment to give his surroundings a quick once-over, proving to himself that whatever monsters that were in the room are now safely tucked away in their closets. He finds Daniel sitting up in a chair beside the window, one hand near the curtain, ready to move the cheap cloth back in case someone lingers near their door too long, his head leaning back in a position that will definitely return to haunt the man in the coming hours. Cameron silently gives his sympathy, feeling guilty even though he'd invited Daniel to swap places with him. He's volunteered each night, out of fear, out of responsibility - no matter how many times his friend has refused.
Three days so far and no word from Sam, not even a footnote on any of the news sources (local or national) and that's scared the hell out of him. If nothing else, the local boys with glowsticks would be trying to flag down extra eyes.
Before the end of the world they'd had more than a little bit of hope that they'd find a way to stop the Ori, pushing back against the rhetoric they found preached just on the other side of the event horizon, until one day they didn't have to push any more. There was no one else but the two of them to carry that weight. There was no bang, there was no whimper. The only thing they found was a land of the dead, the ones breathing just didn't know they needed only to lie down and let the dark take them along for the ride. The world was accorded a gentle blow, a sweet kiss goodnight as a billion people went to sleep and never woke within a day. Fury and fear ripped through everyone else when their governments remained in their beds. The rest was easy pickings.
Cam’s heel breaks through a stair slat and he stumbles in surprise, but he’s in no real danger. A firm hand grasps his forearm tightly. He looks up at Daniel, eyes dark behind his glasses, reflecting the cloudless sky behind him. When he tries to keep moving he can't. Daniel won't let him, fingers gripping even more firmly until he feels pain start to bite.
“It's okay - I'm okay, Jackson,” he yells over the wind slapping at their faces and the waves crashing against the rocks under their feet.
Daniel finally nods and releases him.
There's a sour taste in his mouth: blood and gun powder, with a nice helping of cheap whiskey on the side for good measure. He makes a face, but doesn't bother trying to get up out of bed. Off the old lawn chair and rags that serves as his bed.
He doesn't really think it'd do him any good if he made the attempt, though he's pretty sure his pants could get up and walk away on their own at this point. He's been wearing the same clothes for going on two weeks now. Too busy moving onto the next safety net, mostly rabbit holes that have long gone off the radar.
A quiet snap, the snick of wood moving against wood gives him urge to move and he reaches under the old coat he's resting on and grips his newest best friend. The door opens with not quite a screech until a hand grips the edge and lifts it off the ground.
“It's just me,” Daniel quietly announces, waving a second before poking his head around the door.
Letting out his breath slowly, he puts the gun back down and sits up straighter, crossing his legs and tries to ignore the tremors in his hand as he leans his weight on it. “You didn't signal.”
“I know, I know. I forgot...” Thankfully Daniel looks properly chastised because he’s too fucking sore to get up and beat the hell out of him.
“I could have shot you, Jackson.”
“Didn't think of it. Knew you wouldn't. Doesn't matter. I've got good news.”
He sighs and narrows his eyes at the other man as he digs through several plastic bags. “What's the bad news?”
Finding what he was searching for, Daniel raises the box of gauze and crosses to the bed where he's lying down. “Sit up, I need to change these bandages. And I didn't say bad news, I said good news.”
“No good news comes without the bad.”
“This time it does.
It's been four days and five hundred miles since Daniel has said a word. Not that either of them has been particularly chatty. They stopped the 'do-you-remember-when' game six months ago when they found that it hurt more to talk than it did to simply lie next to each other for warmth. At least they woke up at the tail end of the long winter because God only knows how long their journey would have been if they'd had to travel over hundreds of frozen miles.
Feet hitting the sand, he looks from left to right, trying to get his bearings and remember which way the directions said to go. Daniel is soon standing beside him and that's a comfort. They've been following each other's lead from the moment they found themselves facing several Origin spouting Jaffa ordering them to kneel and prepare themselves for a meeting with their Orici. He'd kept his mouth shut as Daniel did his best to sweet talk the Jaffa but they both saw the futility in that and Daniel fell silent just as a Prior entered the room and ordered them to prostrate. A moment later they both found themselves kneeling in front an Asgard and Daniel ignored him when he'd exclaimed that he had never been happier to see one of their naked gray asses.
A couple hundred years can change any landscape but somehow the stairs had remained and that gave him confidence as he pointed north, and said, “It's this way.” Glancing over to Daniel he starts walking after the man gives him a nod of approval.
”So the plan is to put us to sleep; letting the Ori frolic their little zealot asses off around the galaxy and attack the Ancients until your stasis chamber decides it’s the right moment and pops us out like a microwave dinner?”
“That is correct, Colonel Mitchell.”
Sighing, Cam looks over to where Daniel is looking more than a little shell-shocked as he tries to laugh but the sound is worn through. “So what happens after that?”
Daniel stops and stares at the shadows. That's all they ever see in the world. It's another three steps before he realizes it. He's been watching for a sign, a symbol, anything to let them know they'd found the entrance.
And now they have. Just in time, the sun's beginning to peek up from over the horizon, but there's a storm building just to the north of them. Too soon to tell if its going to be help or hindrance but they know that they have to press on. Daniel leads them this time, feeling around the chiseled lines with tips of his fingers and he lifts Daniel higher in order to reach the top edge. It's as if they feel more than hear the click and slide as the stone door moves down into the ground.
“Jack hated the trees.”
“Teal'c might have mentioned that a time or two.”
Clutching his coat more tightly closed, Daniel looks around at the mist and mountains surrounding them. While it may be only Cam's imagination, he's sure the night sky is tinged red. Impossible, but then the mind is a powerful thing that can conjure up the strangest things.
“He doesn't have to worry about them anymore.”
“No one does.”
Daniel passes him a canteen marked with a strip of electrical tape and Cam takes a swallow, hissing as the rum burns its way down his throat but it helps fight against the cold air so he takes another. Shit is pure rotgut but beggars can't be choosers and there wasn't a soul around for miles that would need it more than they would tonight.
“Think they're still looking for us?”
“Possibly. If not us, then they'll be using the others to turn in anyone not bowing.”
The steady winds have whipped around them ceaselessly since their arrival on the shore, their clothes are soaked through and the cool underground air makes them both shiver as they blindly feel their way along the narrow tunnel. He refuses to let himself think that they're burying themselves alive. Doing the Ori's job for them.
A flash of light ahead startles both of them and it takes every bit of his will power not to run - forwards or back - and stand his ground. Another flash. And another. Several seconds pass before they stop seeing spots in front of their eyes and they realize that someone is lighting the way for them.
“It's not far now,” Daniel whispers, taking his hand and pulling him along as if he might be reluctant to follow. He's not - not any more.
He's tired and he can't even fathom what Daniel's felt every second of every day since this all began. We can rest when we're dead. At least this time there won't be any layovers in the land of the Ascended. They've had their hands full for a long time, once Adria's feet were firmly planted and everyone paid for their indifference.
“Who, the Asgard? If they did, why offer all of that knowledge just to see it destroyed?”
“And they just happened to remember that it was on Earth all of these years?”
“It wasn't intended for...”
“Doesn't matter. They knew it was there and it could be set up to wipe us clean.”
It had always struck him how childlike the Ancients were in the belief that if they hid under the covers all of their troubles would go away and the Ori would simply go home once they were done with the lower planes. And now the battlefields are almost desolate and quiet but for the hum of fearful prayer. He prays too, going off by himself because he can't do it in front of Daniel, but the words aren't for guidance or forgiveness. They're his last connection to home and love and faith. Once they had helped him get back on his feet; now he uses their strength to continue standing.
The passageway widens and their trail of lighted breadcrumbs come to an end and they're in a small round cavern. There's just enough light streaming behind them that they can see that there's no writing anywhere at the end of the path. No instructions on what to do with the two inset circles across from them. They don't need any.
”There's nothing else?”
“No. You heard Thor. They were out of time when they passed on the technology. This - this is the last in a series of zero options.”
“Yeah, just making sure. Know how to work one of these things?”
“Pretty user friendly.”
“One last thing…”
“Mitchell, if you're going to get all sentimental on me and want a hug…”
They both chuckle at the idea.
“No, just wanted to say I'll see you on the other side.”
On the opposite side of the room from them are two circles set into the wall about three feet apart. They have pale white centers and he can tell that the edges are ringed by a different material.
The outer ring of the circles starts to glow from within. This change doesn't deter either of them as they continue without hesitation to the far side of the room.
Daniel stands in front of one circle and he moves over to the other. When the inner circle lights up, soft and warm, it doesn't hurt his eyes. Small gift he's grateful for after a travelling in the dark for so long.
He mimics Daniel by resting his right hand against the center of the circle after his friend places his left hand flat against the smooth surface..
The outer ring flashes softly; gradual pulses that steadily increases. Something, wide and thin, a slab almost, made of the same material their palms are touching within the inner circle, extends down out of the stone wall between them. Neither of them are surprised by it and Daniel places his wrist in the three-inch indentation near the end and fans out his hand. Cam copies him, the only difference is that he entwines his fingers in Daniel's. They close their fingers just as the pulsing light stops and remains steady. A metal strip comes out of the slab and closes around their wrists.
Something catches Cam's attention and he looks behind him and sees Sam, Teal'c and General O'Neill. He says Daniel's name. When his friend turns around he smiles and says “I see them too.” The room begins filling up with more people, some in uniform, but mostly in civilian clothing, transparent enough that it seems they could be blown out of existence with a gust of wind, but he knows that there is nothing that can remove them. “That was the last thing we needed.”
Cam senses more than sees when something slides up from beneath their wrists, swift enough that they don't even feel the cut as it slices their flesh. Neither of them can move their fingers to let go, not that they wanted want to. Their blood drips into the slab and the material within it begins to light.
Cam says, “Helluva ride,” surprised to find that the chill that had only just begun to creep up his arm is suddenly gone. In fact he's starting to feel as if he's on fire. Only without the pain.
Daniel's grin is wide as he answers, “You think it's over?”
He laughs just as the room brightens with a flash and everything goes black. He can feel Daniel standing beside him, feels as he slowly fades away. He is fading but it's not frightening. There's a subtle current that he can sense, just out of his reach in the dark, and it stretches his body but there is no body anymore. It's just him and Daniel, because he knows that Daniel is still with him even though he can no longer speak his friend's name aloud nor hear his answering voice. Something tickles him and he wants to turn in that direction and see what it is. But there is there's nothing. Only blackness. He wants more than to just know that Daniel is close. So close that it almost seems as if they are moving around and through one another. He misses the tangible, the warmth of his friends and family even though he is never cold.
He senses when his need brushes against the dark, against the current that he can never find. It creates a spark. Somehow he knows that a part of Daniel has surrounded him and they watch together as the spark grows and when it finally fades, the darkness is no longer complete. A world is left in its wake.
In the distance there is another spark, and another, and another, and another...