Disclaimer: The Sentinel is a Pet Fly production, Stargate SG-1 belongs to Gekko and Double Secret.

Spoilers: Stargate SG-1's Shades of Gray




His nephew was going to die.

It was a long flight from Colorado Springs to Cascade, and Captain Daryl J. Johnson spent it bleakly pondering that fact. What was the point of fending off the Goa'uld menace if the human race was as much of a threat to itself?

His nephew and namesake, Daryl Banks, had been shot on the Rainier University campus where he was a student. He had been walking across the campus with one of the professors, a family friend, Doctor Blair Sandburg. A coked-up yahoo with a gun thought they were an interracial gay couple. He'd only gotten off one shot before the detective coming to pick them up took him down.

Unfortunately, one shot is enough.

It was luck that he wasn't offworld. Major Castleman was confined to the infirmary until his rash went away, allergic reaction to native flora, grounding SG-3 for the duration. General Hammond had granted him compassionate leave. He'd packed a bag, stripped of all insignia relating to Stargate Command, and headed home, hoping the kid would last long enough for him to say goodbye. Praying for a miracle.

He tried not to think about the steady stream of brightly crayoned pictures that livened up mail call, or searching through the PX, networking scavengers, horse traders, and double dealers for the Blue Techno Maniac action figure one Christmas. The phone calls that went from breathless chatter about school and friends to sullen teen silence to growing conversations with a young man beginning to take notice of the world around him. Tried not to think of his nephew in a hospital bed as a beeping monitor counted out the last seconds of his life.

Damn it. Marines weren't supposed to cry.

He managed to find his way from the airport to the hospital, and through the hospital to the right room on his own. The waiting room was crowded. He spotted Joanie right away. His little sister was sitting in the corner, almost dwarfed by a nearby potted plant. She looked very... strained. Like someone taking a beating, waiting for the next blow to fall.

It took him a minute to recognize the man sitting beside her as her ex, Simon Banks. Daryl's father, and captain of the Major Crimes Unit of the Cascade PD. He'd never met them, but he recognized the two white guys hanging around. The shorter one dressed like a grunge-band reject in plaid flannel and faded jeans, the one who had just brought Joan a cup of coffee, that was Blair Sandburg.

The professor of Anthropology Daryl had been talking to when he got shot. Funny, Johnson thought blankly, the Prof was dressed pretty much as he had been in the pictures of a fishing trip Daryl had sent him, Daryl, his dad, Sandburg, and the other man, Ellison, had gone up north and rented a cabin. For some dumb reason, Johnson had been thinking he'd look more like Jackson, though. Tweedier. Geekier.

Ellison. James Ellison, the detective who worked for Simon, he'd have known anywhere. Ice blue eyes in a square-jawed recruiting poster face tipped up to meet his, and Johnson just barely stopped himself from coming to attention. Ex-Ranger. Heroic ex-Ranger who'd gotten his pretty face plastered all over News Update a few years back after some bungle in the jungle. Major Crimes detective. Cop of the Year. Daryl'd had a serious case of hero worship when he was younger. Johnson had heard about the Sunrise Patriots and the Peruvian druglord more times than he could count.

Joan spotted him as he approached and burst up out of the chair and into his arms.

"DJ," she sobbed into his shoulder.

He held her tightly, as if his arms could shield her from the coming grief. He just hung onto her and let her get it out, looking over her shoulder at the other men, into his former brother-in-law's haunted eyes. Joanie finally pulled herself together, accepting a crumpled pack of tissues Sandburg had pulled out of his leather backpack, and formally introduced everyone.

Then they let him in to see Daryl.

He looked too damn young to be laying there, in that hospital bed. So still. So pale. So damn unfair. Johnson wiped at his eyes again, and cleared his throat a couple of times, swallowing, before he could speak.

"Hey Daryl. S'me. Uncle DJ." There was no response except the sounds of the machines keeping Daryl tethered to life. "You're strong, kid. You gotta fight this. There's still so much... so much I can't tell you yet. You got the best years coming up, Daryl. You want to go to college, follow in your old man's footsteps and be a cop... you got to fight. We love you, baby. Don't let go."

The next few days passed by in a blur. Somber nights restlessly sleeping in the guest room at Joan's. Trying to keep her out of Daryl's room, but sitting on his bed with her, telling "remember when" stories. Flinching every time the phone rang.

When it all got to be too much, he guiltily took a little time to himself. Drove around, to the beach, and the sports arena, through the old neighborhood. Past the house where he and Joan grew up, the old high school.

Mostly, he sat in the waiting room. They'd worked out a schedule, so someone would always be there... so Daryl wouldn't be alone when...

He talked to Sandburg. The college-boy was a bit like Daniel Jackson after all. Too willing to take the blame for what had happened. Johnson talked to him to ease his guilt, and found himself feeling better about spending so much of his nephew's life away. He was surprised to learn Daryl talked about his uncle the Marine as much as Johnson had heard about the anthropologist and the detective. Sandburg even knew that his middle name was Jeffrey, and Daryl's favorite 'war story' about the embassy and the chickens. He got the feeling the kids in Sandburg's classes were lucky to have him.

He avoided small talk with Ellison, afraid the ex-Ranger would wonder why a combat marine was posted at NORAD. Seemed to suit Ellison just fine. They exchanged a few grim words in passing.

Simon seemed to be avoiding him, or like Joanie, was too locked down in grief to notice.

So it became the vigil. Bad coffee and old magazines, and the buzz of fluorescent light. Uncomfortable chairs and the endless mutter of the TV bolted to the ceiling. Other people's drama orbiting your own but never touching, familiar faces at the coffee stand and the cafeteria and gift shop.

Waiting for an eighteen-year-old boy to die, and praying for a miracle.

It was against hospital regulations, but Johnson had learned a long time ago that walking with a purposeful step and acting like you had the right to be where you were going got you through a lot of doors. Before he left for the night, he had to see Daryl. Just to look at him, to watch his chest move up and down, breathing. To listen to the steady beeps and hum of the equipment keeping him alive.

He pulled the curtains aside, briskly, and froze, staring at his former C.O.

The colonel—Makepeace—was standing over Daryl, one hand held out, bathing Daryl in an eerie green glow. Johnson recognized the gold band across the man's knuckles, the coffee-cup-sized jewel flat against the palm, as a Goa'uld healing device. Something inside started to gibber, but he kept his voice steady as he asked, "Thought you had to have a snake on board to use those things?"

He hadn't seen the older man since his court martial for stealing alien technology for the NID. Anything could have happened. He tensed as his old friend reached into a pocket with his free hand, but instead of a weapon, he held out an ordinary if unlabeled pill bottle. The capsules inside rattled.

"Dietary supplement. Recommended daily allowance of naquada."

That made sense. Only a Goa'uld host or someone who'd been one could use their tech, because you needed traces of the mineral not found on Earth in your blood before anything built by the former masters of the human race would operate. Looked like the science geeks at Area 51 had found a way around that.

They still needed a supply of the mineral, though. Johnson squared his shoulders, expecting that would be next. He didn't know what he would say, if he was offered Daryl's life in return for working for the NID.

Makepeace finished his treatment. The assorted life support equipment and monitors had a moment of electronic panic before settling down to their new readings. He slipped the alien device off his hand, quickly tucking it into the map pocket of his brown leather jacket. "He'll be okay," a half-smile. "We're gonna crack the naquada problem one of these days. Paramedics with hand healers, a sarcophagus in every emergency room. One of these days."

"So what's this gonna cost me?" Johnson asked, wanting to get it over with.

A shadowed look passed over the former colonel's face. "Price I already paid. Marines take care of our own, Johnson."

He headed for the door, and Johnson let him pass.

They said it was a miracle. Daryl had no hope of recovery, and now he was going to be good as new. Joan thought it was a miracle, and Johnson figured that was as good an explanation as any.

~ End ~

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Page last updated 12/11/03.