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Advent Calendar - Day 12 - Fic

Advent Calendar Day 12 for the advent calendar on sj_everyday

Title: Rejoice And Be Merry, Set Sorrows Aside

Author: Thothmes

Season: Three. I’m declaring that Christmas happened after Rules of Engagement and before Forever in a Day, because otherwise the team would be rallying around Daniel, not going their separate ways.

Spoilers: The Movie, Emancipation, Seth, Crystal Skull, Cold Lazarus. Small passing things.

Warnings: Like many, Jack suffers from depression, which can be harder to bear in festive seasons. It puts you all a-jangle and out of tune with the world.

Disclaimer:The toys mentioned are not actually for sale, or at least I pray they aren’t. Stop trying to look up the price of a Slime Castle on Amazon! The names given to the children are chosen by taking list of the most popular baby names for their putative birth years, going to number 6 on the list and using that, no taste or discernment required. I own no canon characters, and I’m just borrowing them, and they won’t be harmed. It profiteth me not. The King James Bible, Dickens, and The Night Before Christmas are out of copyright as is the carol in the title, and really, the quotations from How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Stargate (the Movie) , and Emancipation are tributes. Be flattered. Nothing to litigate here. Move along. These were not the copyright violations you were looking for.

Rejoice And Be Merry, Set Sorrows Aside


Jack O’Neill was on the run, pursued by some of the most merciless, insidious, ubiquitous forces that his enemy could throw at him. There was no escape: The spies were everywhere. From their base in the mall, they had spread out to cover the land. In the air, in otherwise quiet suburban neighbor hoods, in every restaurant and truck stop between Cheyenne Mountain and his goal, and on the main streets of every city and town along his way, even those places too small to boast a single stoplight. Even his beloved Simpsons had betrayed him. He was alone, he was unarmed – well, except for the knife in his boot and the loaded and safetied gun in his glove compartment, but he always had those – and he had miles and miles to go before he would reach the safe haven of his cabin, the only place he knew where the forces of Christmas could not reach him. His very own Grinch Fortress of Solitude. He wanted to be far, far away from anything that might remind him of stockings, or Santa, or little boys with hearts full of hope and anticipation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


For unto us a son is born, unto us a son is giv’n, unto us a son is born…

The Lord giveth, and he taketh away…

In the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection…


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


It wasn’t really Christmas that was true enemy. Christmas was the vanguard, the front, the initial skirmishers softening him up for the ultimate enemy that was coming, black, suffocating, and seductive, the greatest enemy he had ever faced – depression. It had him nearly overrun and surrendered once, and he did not ever want to be in that place again. He was weak, in all those broken places that he worked so very hard to hide. He knew he had not the strength to save himself. If Daniel had not blundered in with a lifeline and hauled him out, Jack would have given in. He would have broken. He would have died.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I don't wanna die. Your men don't want to die. And these people here don't want to die. It's a shame you're in such a hurry to.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


He’d clawed his way back from the brink. He’d picked up the broken pieces of his life, and put them all back together, but like his grandmother’s crazy quilt, it was never like it was before. All those scraps, joined together in a kaleidoscopic jumble, when once they had been ordered and whole. It was what he had. He might not be brave, he might not be strong – although he prided himself that he appeared to be – but he was stubborn, and he was determined to figure out a way to put it all back together someday, if the depression didn’t get him first.

He’d read a quote once, comparing depression to a black dog, walking always by your side, but that wasn’t the way Jack thought of it. Jack had been wounded in the line of duty many times, wounded badly. He’d been given opiates, and he’d gotten addicted. Sara had gotten him through that one, and surely she’d earned her crown in heaven in the doing. Just like opiates with their seductive siren song of peace, and warmth, and surrounding comfort, depression too sang to him, offering peace, and the freedom of anodyne blackness, and rest for his weary soul.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Come to the Dark Side we have… Nothing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


He was also clear that depression was not “his fault”, any more than the addiction to opiates had been. He hadn’t started himself down that path, but once on it, he was weak, and could not save himself. No, he did not blame himself for the actions of his foe, or for his fear, but only for his weakness.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


”Captain O’Neill, you and Lieutenant Kowalsky were the only survivors. You watched Colonel Michaels die; you watched the rest of his men die. Some degree of PTSD and survivor’s guilt are inevitable under circumstances such as these. Left untreated, those are often followed by depression…”

“Your latest x-rays and scans show that the skull fracture has healed, and that last little hematoma that we were watching has resolved. You say that your headaches are less frequent and respond well to over the counter analgesics. I’m going to clear you for active duty again, Major, but I want to reiterate that there is an emerging body of studies linking skull fracture with depression in the months and years following the injury, so I’d like you to take this pamphlet on the symptoms of depression and read it, and if you find you can answer yes to several of the questions in this questionnaire on page 6, then seek treatment. It could save your life…”

“Lieutenant Colonel O’Neill, I suggest you answer my questions. You were held in captivity in a foreign land, brutally tortured, and assaulted. You may think that you are helping yourself to put it all behind you by not talking about what was done to you, but I assure you that if you do not face what was done to you, you will be allowing the torture to continue. You will face a significantly higher chance of alcoholism, insomnia, PTSD, and depression…”

“Mr. and Mrs. O’Neill? I’m Doctor DeNatale. I’m very, very sorry. Every possible intervention was tried. We did everything we knew how to save your son, but in spite of our best efforts, he has died…”

“Relax, Colonel. It’s not an opiate. I know you don’t like those unless they are absolutely necessary. This is just a local so I can stitch up that eyebrow again. There. Now we’ll give it a couple of minutes to finish numbing you up, and then I can begin. I’m a little concerned, though, about the number of concussions you’ve racked up just this year. Repeated concussions are a strong risk for depression. I know you are trying to protect your team by drawing the attention of the Jaffa to yourself, but do you think you could encourage them to spend more time beating you about the back and knees, and less time hitting you over the head?...


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Teal’c was visiting Ry’ac and his wife in the Land of Light. Daniel was off on the East Coast with Roth..berger(?) for the American Institute of Archaeology’s Christmas week meetings, and Carter was off celebrate the holiday with her brother Mark and his family, now that he and Jacob and Sam had mended all their fences. He’d stopped for provisions at Kroger’s, stuck his head in at Carl’s Big Bait Shop (all 12’ x 12’ of it) and found out from Carl that the ice was good and thick this year, and he’d finally made it to the cabin. Christmas could not find him here.

He was going to flip the main breaker on, hook the propane back up, reconnect the water, start the hot water heater going, provided the goddess Thermae was kind and would deign to answer his prayers and allow the ancient relic of his grandparents’ time to work one more time. Then he was going to move his stuff in, put the groceries away, find the shovel in the shed, and he was going to start shoveling himself out an ice rink on the pond. He wasn’t going to bother with the ice fishing shack this year. No, the less time spent thinking, the better. Fresh air and exercise, that’s what he needed. Shoveling, skating, snowshoeing, splitting wood for the fire, stocking the woodbox, getting out his grandpa’s old cable-binding telemark skis and heading up Blueberry Hill to see if the slash was still clear enough that he could get in a few downhill runs for the hell of it, that ought to keep him from thinking.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I wonder what Carter’s doing.

D’oh!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Sam Carter was trying to analyze the situation to figure out what had gone so terribly wrong. Yes, she and her brother had been estranged for a while, but after the mission to find Seth, with its soul-destroying end, when she had taken up the Goa’uld hand device and killed in anger, she and Dad had made their peace with Mark. That visit had been lovely. Why was she getting the third degree now?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


So, Sis, tell me about what you do besides work.”

“Mark tells me you are very dedicated to your scientific work in deep space radio telemetry. Surely that isn’t all you do! Are you seeing anyone?”

“Would you like to play Barbies with me, Auntie Sam? Would you like to pretend she’s going to the mall to get her hair done, or would you rather do a wedding with Ken?”

“Dad says that when you went to the Academy they taught you to shoot guns. Did you bring your gun with you because if you did, when Mom and Dad go to Mr. and Mrs. Rivera’s party thing and you’re babysitting, can I shoot it? I promise I’ll be careful, and if I promise to let Emily play Magic Multiples on my computer, she won’t tell them about it…”

“Seriously? No boyfriends? Nobody you’re even interested in? A military base has to have some hot guys! C’mon! It’s just us girls here… at least until the DVD ends! Unless it’s a Don’t Ask – Never mind! Forget I said that! None of my business!”

“So, Sammie, you told me about your motorcycle, and your classic Volvo. What’s your work life like? I know you can’t tell me about what you do, so tell me about the people. What’s your C.O. like?”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


She looked out over the pleasant, sunny, suburban back yard, with its patio, the small in-ground pool, and the special drought tolerant grass, with the incongruous fake pine and silver garlands and the strings of chili pepper shaped lights on the fence and the white “icicle” lights on the eaves, and wished he were here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Preferably with a zat for himself, and one to share. But at least I’ve figured out what went wrong. A variable (Dad) has been removed from the equation, and now it no longer balances. I hope the Colonel is having more fun than I am.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


He should have known. He was a professional soldier. A professional soldier whose strength was in tactics and the application thereof, no less. He should have known that Plan A never works. He had split wood, he had shoveled. And shoveled. And shoveled. And shoveled. By the time he had himself a lovely big rink all cleared off, his back was reminding him that a) he was not 25, and never would be again, unless he were cloned or something, and b) he owed his back a little extra kindness and consideration after that parachute landing, and the blown disks, and the rods and all, and he hadn’t been kind or considerate at all!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! I get it. No bending over. No skating. No snowshoeing. No being comfortable whatever position I’m in. More hot packs. More pillows under the knees. More stretches. But did you have to do this to me just in time to have me stuck on the couch for Christm – Oh Crap!

It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags…

I am so screwed.

And lonel – No I’m not. Really.

Teal’c’s with his kid. That’s good. Daniel’s in archaeologeek heaven, and he made it clear that he and the new guy… RothWhatever… were going to be in meetings and lectures up the wazoo.

Maybe I could call Carter.

Nah. How uncomfortable would that be, getting a call from your C.O. intruding on family Christmas…

*sigh*


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


The stockings had been ravaged right down to the tangerines in the toes. The wrapping paper had been ripped or folded and saved, according to the inclination of the recipient, and the shreds and pieces had been bagged and discarded. Thank yous had been said, and Grandma and Grandpa MacAllister had been called so Brandon and Emily could thank them and tell them about what they’d received. A large, heavy, rich meal, made all the more wearing by the San Diego heat had been consumed, and in the high point of the day so far, Sam’s contribution, an Apricot Soufflé with Lemon Butter Sauce, had been well received – well, after the kids had been assured that there would be Bûche de Noël in the evening with the leftover roast beef sandwiches and tossed salad that would allow the cooks in the house some rest for the rest of the Holiday. The kids had settled into a recreational post-Christmas letdown squabble about who could touch what toys, bringing back some memories of Christmases of growing up that the forgiving and romanticizing haze of time and nostalgia had long ago buried. Mark was up in the den engrossed with the new video game that Anna had given him, and Anna, who had been up very late assembling a Barbie House of Pink, a Slime Castle, and two scooters that Sam had been itching to assemble herself because she was sure she could do it faster and with less resulting wobble, was taking a nap while she could. Clearly parenthood had some mysterious alchemy whereby one suddenly acquired the ability to sleep through World Whine III.

Sam had tried on her new, lovely, soft, pink sweater set, and looked over a wobbly half-glazed coil pot and a series of “Me and Aunty Sam” crayon drawings where the stick figures were secondary to the forest of rainbows and blizzard of hearts, and was now at loose ends. She’d read all the journals she’d brought with her, down to the Letters to the Editor sections, with their amusing scholarly sniping (mingled with the occasional cogent point). She’d fixed the motor on the stand mixer, and had installed the seven ground fault interrupters that the kitchen and both bathrooms had lacked. She was bored.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


And lonel – Holy Hannah, get a hold on yourself, Samantha! You’re fine!

“All things considered…Samantha…if we have to come back here…”

The way he said my name – my whole name – such velvet…

It wouldn’t be such a bad idea to call him, wish him a merry Christmas, would it?

I wouldn’t want him to be lon – to think I had forgotten him.

I’ll be very professional. Colleagues, exchanging Christmas greetings…


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


“O’Neill”

“Sir?”

“Carter! To what do I owe this pleasure?”

“Well it is Christmas, sir.”

“That it is. ‘It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags…’”

“Are you calling yourself a Grinch, sir?”

“Sweet-tempered, open-hearted, patient, little me, Carter, a Grinch?”

“Little, sir?”

“Well, not where it counts, I’m not!”

“Good to know, sir!”

“So... you think I might be a little Grinch-y, Carter?”

“I think you think you’d like us to think that you are… sir.”

“You think too much, Carter. It’s Christmas. Relax!”

“Actually, I’m not very good at that, sir.”

“Sure you are, Carter. I’ve noticed that in tents off – on missions, you fall asleep faster than any of us.”

“You noticed that?”

“Yeah, you squunch down into your bag until only a tuft of hair is showing, and you curl up your knees, and your breathing gets slow, and even. I notice.”

“I’m glad. That you notice.”

“I always notice, Carter.”

………..

“Sir?”

“Yes?”

“Have you been having a merry Christmas?”

“I am now.”

“Me too, sir.”

“This is nice.”

“Yes. Very nice.”

“Well, I probably shouldn’t keep –”

“I should probably go –”

“Will you be at Doc’s New Years Eve thing?”

“Wouldn’t miss it, Sir.”

“Good. Good. We can see the new year in.”

“I’d like that, sir.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
rdamel
Dec. 12th, 2012 02:40 pm (UTC)
I love all of this, including the "disclaimer", which is a work of art in itself!

Thanks so much. I wish I could share with friends, but I am having major email connection issues, so maybe once those are resolved, I can (my friends aren't on lj, but they always like the good story links I send them.)

Merry Christmas!
Melissa M.
thothmes
Dec. 12th, 2012 10:34 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed this. Disclaimers are a necessity, so I try to make them interesting, because then putting one up becomes a bit of fun to do, instead of an irritation that I have to get through!
rdamel
Dec. 13th, 2012 02:32 am (UTC)
Finally, I think my email is back to semi-normal, so just sent a link to friends.
thothmes
Dec. 13th, 2012 02:39 am (UTC)
Thank you for the signal boost!
draco_somnians
Dec. 12th, 2012 10:13 pm (UTC)
Warm fuzzies! I has them!

"Jack at Christmas" stories are always so sad and angsty so I'm happy that you've shown his angst but also that you have him actively fighting off the depression. It seems much more "Jack" to not want to wallow in the darkness.

I'm now going to go and look up the link between head injuries and depression. I'm intrigued...
thothmes
Dec. 12th, 2012 10:31 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty sure that Jack fights depression on a pretty constant basis, and that it's just harder for him to do it at both the dark of the year (although visits to sunny planets probably help!) and at Christmas when society expects him to be brimming over with seasonal joy. And I'm betting his two best weapons are staying physically active and humor. I think there's a reason why he loves the Simpsons, why he's always wisecracking, why he canonically reads Mad Magazine and Cracked. I don't think Jack was ever the type to obsess and dwell, but I think he's also learned some bitter lessons about the danger of that from his reaction to Charlie's death.

I don't know what things have been going on regarding pro football (your kind, not ours) in the UK and Europe, but there has been an increasing uproar in both the National Football League and the National Hockey League here, as well as at the high school level, about avoiding concussions, and yanking players with concussions until they are fully recovered, in part because of increasing knowledge about the long term effect of concussions because of research in the field of neuroscience, but also because of the suicides of a number of players who had racked up a number of concussions. Reportedly a single severe concussion can result in a lifelong battle with depression (although that's not a sure thing), but more than 3 concussions, even if they are not severe, puts that person at high risk for depression.

And we all know how television producers like to move the plot along by having their characters knocked unconscious by the bad guys! It's a miracle that all the SG teams are not sitting around in a funk all of the time!

I'm glad you got the warm fuzzies. That's what I was aiming for, and with the angst that came first, I wasn't sure I wouldn't just be killing everyone's holiday buzz, which was a definite DO NOT WANT!
wanderingsmith
Dec. 13th, 2012 01:35 am (UTC)
These were not the copyright violations you were looking for.
you forgot to disclaim the StarWars references! ;)

good description of depression :(

eh. definitely not best plan, jack. personally, mindless work is prime time for brain to get stuck in bad loops. exercise itself does help to wipe the mind if can get the necessary energy output.. but if the workout doesn't require concentration... the devils haze in.

ouchy to back. :( poor colonel.
sympathies to sam. family fun.

glad they managed to give themselves a few comments of good christmas to remember
thothmes
Dec. 13th, 2012 02:38 am (UTC)
Well, do keep in mind that I have two days in the Advent Calendar this year, and I figured that I'd put the more difficult Christmas in the earlier post. I kind of felt that this one would be unsuitable for December 23rd. They'll have a happier Christmas later.

I think that people's mileage varies on exercise. I personally find that I'm unhappy with any exercise where I cannot choose a thing to think about, and concentrate on that, where I have to - say - count laps. However, I do find that I can blank my mind very effectively by totally concentrating my mind on the physical sensations I'm experiencing, the cold air hitting my lungs, my feet hitting the ground, the swing of my arms, the switch, switch of my ponytail, the working of the muscles in my thighs. I was visualizing Jack losing himself in the physical, and locking the darker things away as he does that, in a way that he couldn't while he was driving. Most of the grimmer things he was thinking were before he got to the cabin.
nymaeria
Dec. 13th, 2012 05:07 am (UTC)
Ooh, I saw this come in in the morning, but I had to dash off to work. I looked forward to it all day long (and today was especially long)! And this is really lovely! You paint such a poignant picture of Sam and Jack each struggling with the holiday in their own way. And I love how you show that each can be lonely, even though one of them is surrounded by family (that's so true sometimes, isn't it?)

Poor Jack, with his plan to distract himself with exercise ending in back pain. But I love that Sam worked up the courage to actually call him.

And now I can't wait for new years! I want to hear what happens at that party, lol :)
thothmes
Dec. 13th, 2012 05:24 am (UTC)
Alas, much as they might hope something will happen at Janet's New Years Eve bash, nothing will happen because:

-Cassie will ask about the midnight kiss tradition, and Sam will start thinking too much, and Jack will cave to Cassie's puppy dog eyes and Sam's look of overthinking panic, and agree to Cassie's innocent request for a (fatherly) kiss at midnight.

-Janet, sharp eyed Janet, who has a professional duty to report this will be there. Jack's been in her infirmary long enough to know just how much of what goes on Janet doesn't miss.

-Daniel, and his impeccable talent for interrupting at the wrong time will be there as a Murphy's Law moment-breaker-upper. Then at midnight Sam will find herself helping Janet get Daniel wrestled onto the guest bed with an empty wastebasket placed within reach. They'll hear the countdown start as they are undoing the laces of Daniel's shoes, and curse the moment he decided that he'd have that second beer.

-Still, Teal'c will know because he is Teal'c and he always does. He will both comfort and mystify both by telling each of them separately "Do not worry, O'Neill/Major Carter. Your time will come."

Fortunately, Teal'c being the awesome guy he is, is never wrong about these things. Their time does come. Just not that year.
nymaeria
Dec. 13th, 2012 05:29 am (UTC)
lol! with so many things, it's a miracle they ever get together :) but really, its meant to be (because as you say, Teal'c is always right :)
openended
Dec. 15th, 2012 10:46 pm (UTC)
Oooh, I like this. Being someone who is very Grinchy herself up until the absolute last possible minute (and even then some), I totally relate to Jack in this.

And then they get their moment of still kinda Grinch, but also happy holiday cheer.

(I'd also like to add my voice to the "fantastic disclaimer" sentiment :) )
thothmes
Dec. 17th, 2012 07:30 am (UTC)
Thank you. Disclaimers are boring, so I do try to make them more interesting.

I think that for Jack Christmas is always going to be about kids, and I doubt he'll ever de-Grinch completely, although I bet that when/if Cassie has kids, it will ease the pressure on him somewhat.
not_a_zatarc
Dec. 24th, 2012 03:15 pm (UTC)
Very lovely little Christmas story. I enjoyed it very much. :) Nice to see that Jack and Sam's thoughts always seem to inevitably drift back to each other. ;)
thothmes
Dec. 25th, 2012 02:01 am (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it, and a very Merry Christmas to you!

I thought of you on your very recent birthday, but I've kind of let the birthdays lapse this year. I'm hoping to turn over a new leaf and do better in 2013!

Yeah, Jack and Sam might not be physically a couple, but they sure are mentally a couple (even if they don't quite admit it to themselves yet).
sharp2799
Dec. 26th, 2012 05:56 pm (UTC)
I liked it but one quote has me pulling out my hair because I can't place it:

Come to the Dark Side we have… Nothing.

Put me out of my misery please? (And not with a zat!)
thothmes
Dec. 26th, 2012 06:09 pm (UTC)
This may help: The italicized portions are Sam and Jack's thoughts, and because many of them are reminiscences, many of them are quotations. This one is a deliberate misquotation on Jack's part of the t-shirt you can see commonly out and about - Come to the Dark Side... We have cookies!.

Icon is because Jack's in another commonly available t-shirt, not as a commentary on either of us.
sharp2799
Dec. 26th, 2012 06:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you! This makes me feel I haven't completely lost my marble. *peers into corners*
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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A Few Words from the Wise

Speak to him, for there is none born wise.

-The Maxims of Ptahotep

~~~~~~~~~~


In mourning or rejoicing, be not far from me.

- an Ancient Egyptian Love Song

~~~~~~~~~~


But your embraces
alone give life to my heart
may Amun give me what I have found
for all eternity.


-Love Songs of the New Kingdom, Song #2

~~~~~~~~~~


To Know the Dark


To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is travelled by dark feet and dark wings.


-Wendell Berry

~~~~~~~~~~


Up in the morning's no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a' the hills are covered wi' snaw,
I'm sure it's winter fairly.

-Robert Burns

~~~~~~~~~~


Visit to the Hermit Ts'ui


Moss covered paths between scarlet peonies,
Pale jade mountains fill your rustic windows.
I envy you, drunk with flowers,
Butterflies swirling in your dreams.


-Ch'ien Ch'i

~~~~~~~~~~


Mistress of high achievement, O lady Truth,
do not let my understanding stumble
across some jagged falsehood.


-Pindar

~~~~~~~~~~


Every Gaudy colour
Is a bit of truth.


-Nathalia Crane

~~~~~~~~~~


I counted two-and-twenty stenches,
All well defined, and several stinks.


-Samuel Coleridge

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