Chapter Two: Finding Answers
It took two days before Aaron was going out of his mind. Between the boredom of having nothing to do but watch TV, not being able to leave the room, and having no company but his own sour thoughts he was losing it. He hadn’t even seen Harrison in the couple days he’d been in the Isolation Room. He just couldn’t seem to get past the fact that Daniel felt like Haley, and he didn’t know what to do about it. Out of desperation, he’d sent word through Guide Dr. Khan that he needed to talk to Guide Williams. He could only hope that someone who had been in his shoes could help him work through the midfield that was his anger.
He’d talked to Guide Williams between the younger man’s classes, and while he had been sympathetic and definitely understood his plight, Aaron wasn’t sure how helpful the man was.
“The thing that you have to really get is that Daniel isn’t your ex-wife. No matter what your head and your senses are telling you, he isn’t her. Just like I had to get over myself and come to the realization that I couldn’t blame Jack because Rachel was a bitch. By denying our bonding I wasn’t just hurting Jack, but I was hurting myself. There could be any number of reasons why he feels like her. I can tell you that it isn’t because he’s a cheating asshole. Other than when he was juiced up on Goa’uld feel good crap, he was faithful to his wife the entire time that they were separated. He genuinely fucking loved her despite the fact that they weren’t even a little bit compatible. Yet, when she was taken from him, he chased her all around the galaxy trying to get her back.”
Aaron watched as Danny moved to sit on one of the chairs near the bed that he was sitting on with his legs stretched out in front of him. “Danny is a good guy. That doesn’t mean that I’m saying you’re some kind of an asshole for being nervous or hesitant about this. Because you aren’t. You got a shit stick with your marriage and had zero closure to your relationship with how it ended. I can’t give you some magic words that are gonna poof and make things all the better in your head. Only you can do that for you. Step one is coming to terms with the fact that just because he reminds you of Haley in some mystical mumbo-jumbo way doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing. The problem is you’re highly and rightfully pissed off at her and can only remember the bad shit.”
“You keep saying there are other explanations for why I’m getting these feelings,” Aaron spat frustrated as he ran a hand through his shaggy hair. “Not once though have you given me any kind of example of what that could be though.”
“Well, the first two things that come to mind are that either she’s related to him in some way or that they have a common genetic makeup for the chromosome thingys that lead us toward our mates,” Danny explained waving his arms around, and Aaron could only shake his head as he listened. Not for the first time he wished Spencer was there because he was reasonably confident that the younger man would understand what was being said.
“Most people don’t know that there has been a proven genetic correlation to who we pick as mates. My nephew is studying this crap in college, and they had to read a paper on a new scientific study that proved Sentinel and Guides had similar gene sequences in some damned part of that DNA thingy. I made it through Biology II only because the teacher’s daughter wanted me to take her to Prom. So, don’t ask me to explain it in depth. I also know that there has also recently been some suggestion, which I actually believe, that there’s some kind of family connection, which I suppose would go back to the genetic shit. If Haley and Daniel share a grandmother or something somewhere in their ancestry, I guess that it would increase the odds that they’d have an increased chance of sharing this genetic sequence shit or whatever.
“My guess is that she was close genetically to Daniel in that whatever and that there’s some emotional thing that feels similar to you. Because you aren’t a Guide you haven’t been given the correct training to understand the emotions you’re reading because people assume Sentinels are all emotionally stunted and all us Guides are all super hippy, tree hugging, in touch with our inner mystical marsupial freaks. As someone whose Sentinel and Guide line can be traced back before the Williams peoples came to this great country back before the Revolutionary War, I can tell you that there is no black and white to what a Guide is and what a Sentinel is. Frankly, I find it offensive that the S&G Center scoffs at Sentinels who have more of an aptitude for their Emotional side, and acts like Guides who don’t are defective. I suggest you really think about what you read from Daniel. Not your first knee-jerk reaction, but really consider it, because that’s the only way you’re gonna know.”
At that point, Danny had gotten up and headed to the door to be let out. Before he stepped outside though, Aaron saw him turn and look back at him. “The reality is Sentinel Hotchner that at some point you’re gonna have to fucking put on your big boy panties, and just go talk to the man. I know I was the one who said you need to get right with yourself, but it’s becoming obvious that you aren’t doing that. Maybe the reason you aren’t or can’t is that the answers that you need are inside the isolation room next door.” With that, the blond-haired Guide had walked out and sealed the door back up leaving Aaron once more to his thoughts.
Now, several hours later, Aaron had eaten his dinner and was lying on his bed staring at the wall that separated him from Dr. Daniel Jackson with his head at the bottom of the mattress. The bed wasn’t really made for a man of Aaron’s height, and he was forced to prop his feet against the wall otherwise his head would be hanging off the end. It was annoying. It was more than annoying. It was irritating, and it was undoubtedly fueling his anger and frustration. Later, he’d try to recall what exactly had happened, and all he’d be able to offer the General was that the fucking bed was too short. All that he would really remember was being aggravated by the shortness of the mattress and the next thing he knew he was tearing the room apart and smashing furniture.
It wasn’t as if the room had a lot in it. There was the too short bed, and a desk with a lamp and a computer that he could sit at. There was a TV if he wanted to watch television that was attached to the wall. There were a couple chairs and a mini fridge that they kept stocked with things so that he didn’t starve or get dehydrated. There was an attached bathroom with a large shower that would fit two people comfortably. Other than that, though, there wasn’t a lot. The walls were made up of cement blocks as was most of the base, which made it even easier for Aaron to break things as he beat them against the walls while screaming as loudly as he could.
He didn’t know when someone noticed that he was causing mayhem, or when or why they decided to let Daniel in. He just knew one moment his chest was heaving, and his blood was boiling with the rage he’d been holding in, and the next he was curled up with his back against a wall bawling about what he wasn’t entirely sure.
When his Guide came in, he came as close as he could get without touching and knelt there on the floor in front of him. It was as if he understood that Aaron didn’t want to be touched but desperately needed Daniel nearby. As he cried, he felt his hands curling tightly into his hair. He was reasonably sure it was because if they didn’t, he’d break them beating them against the wall. As quick as it felt like the wave of anger that led him to single-handedly destroying the room went, it felt like the overwhelming sadness that was causing him to cry every tear he’d held in his whole life just wouldn’t end. It felt like he cried for hours there on the floor of that room with pieces of furniture and other debris scattered around him.
And then, it was just done.
As the anger and then the anguish left, it felt like the two emotions took every bit of energy that he had within him with them. Once they were gone, it felt like he was just empty. There was nothing inside of him besides the charred remains of the devastation Haley and George Foyet left behind them.
“Come on, Sentinel,” Daniel said softly as he stood and waved in some people from outside the room. “Let’s get you to bed. You can take mine. I have some translation work to finish anyway. When you wake up, maybe the two of us can finally talk, and figure this thing between us out, huh?”
Aaron remembered looking into the Guide’s eyes and feeling like they were as deep and as blue as the ocean. He remembered laying down in another bed, and the sound of Dr. Jackson’s voice if not the words he was speaking. Then, there was nothing but silence and peace as he fell into the first real rest he’d gotten in a year.
Daniel sat back in his chair and watched as the man who was his Sentinel fell into a deep sleep. Running his hands over his face, he looked toward the desk that was piled with translations that he needed to work on, but for once it held no pull. So, turning back around, he settled in to watch Sentinel Hotchner sleep and let his mind wander. He wasn’t really surprised when it went straight to Sha’re, but for once he forced himself to examine just why he was so in love with the woman.
Was it really her? Or was it the fact that as long as he was with her, then he believed he had more control over his future and his life. There were no known Goa’uld Sentinels or Guides, and from what they could gather a Sentinel or Guide would become dormant if they became host to a Goa’uld. They supposed that it was because the race’s philosophy was so counter to that of the protect the tribe mentality that the Community had then it would be the same as if a Sentinel or Guide turned to crime or some such thing.
Although, Daniel had his own doubts about the simplicity of the idea that just because they were the enemy of earth then whatever mystical component that controlled a Sentinel or Guide’s activation just shut off. Because, why would it be any different than back in the time when each warring faction had their own set of Sentinel warriors? History had proven that even as far back as Egypt and medieval Europe when enemies were much closer to home that each side had their own Sentinels and Guides. So, why would it be any different if their enemy was from another planet or solar system even?
The obvious answer was that it wouldn’t or at the very least shouldn’t, which meant there was another reason why. Especially considering the fact that like the Goa’uld the same was found to be true with the Tok’ra, whom they believed allies. When Jacob Carter awoke from blending with Selmak, his Sentinel abilities were gone. He didn’t even have a Spirit Guide any longer or morn its loss. So, the whole Goa’uld being their enemy thing didn’t track for him.
It was Daniel’s theory that the reason was simply because of the creature entering the body. It made sense to Daniel that a person’s Sentinel or Guide side would see that being as an invader and shut off. He believed that when the blending happened, the mystical side of the Guide or Sentinel didn’t shut off, but instead went into hiding so that it could not be used by what the body or spirit saw as an invading enemy.
Therefore, any online Sentinel or Guide who was invaded by a Goa’uld or blended with a Tok’ra went into a temporary state of dormancy until the invading parasite was gone. Since in most cases this couldn’t be done without killing the host then it just never came back online. It seemed to Daniel, though, that this must mean that there had to be a way to separate the human and the Goa’uld without the death part, but they just hadn’t found it yet.
Shaking his head, he realized that he’d gotten distracted from his train of thought and forced his attention back to his musings about Sha’re. There had been no known Sentinels or Guides amongst their people, and therefore by marrying her, he was keeping himself safe. Or, that was what his subconscious was doing at any rate. He was protecting himself from the dangers a Sentinel would present to his life. To his way of life that he’d not just chosen for himself but fought damned hard for. There were still days that he felt like he was having to fight for and justify his position within SGC. While he respected Jack as much as any man he’d ever know, Daniel was aware that there were still times when Jack’s military side clashed heavily with Daniel’s anthropological mindset. What he didn’t understand was how him bonding with the man who was to be the SGC’s new Sniper Team Leader was any different than bonding him to Jack.
The man killed people for a living. OK, so they were mostly bad people that he was saving other people from, and he was one of the best in the country at it. He was still a killer though. Even more so than Jack considering that was all he did. He just couldn’t see any way that he could be of use to someone who did nothing more than kill people for a living, which was why he’d fought so hard to save his wife. And, been so stubborn about ignoring their incompatibility.
When Teal’c killed her, it caused conflict within Daniel about his friend that he was still trying to get past. It also set off a wave of anger that he continued to try to push past. By killing Sha’re he’d not only killed Daniel’s wife but his chances at remaining his own man. So, while Teal’c had saved his life, it seemed like he’d all but killed his future and his happiness. The thing that he didn’t understand though, and the part that was making him go around in circles, was why, if he was so incompatible with Aaron Hotchner, that the man would be his Perfect Match. It didn’t make sense.
Daniel had many talks with Blair Sandburg about finding a Sentinel, and the Prime Pinnacle Guide had always sworn that there had never been a set of True Mates who were incompatible. Sure, at times one or both had to do some soul-searching at the beginning, but when everything was stripped away, the True Sentinel and the True Guide were always perfectly matched. He just didn’t understand how he could possibly be a True Guide for a pure killer.
Eventually, Daniel forced himself to go back to his translating, and as always got lost in the work that kept his mind so busy he lost track of not just time, but everything around him. Therefore, he became uneasy several hours later when he felt as if someone was watching him. Straightening, he looked around, and almost jumped out of his skin when he realized the Sentinel on his bed was awake and quietly watching him work. As his mind got caught up on the translation of text, he’d completely forgotten about the man’s presence in his isolation chamber.
“I didn’t mean to startle you,” Sentinel Hotchner offered, sounding as if he was muted almost. Letting out his Guide abilities slightly, Daniel could feel that the man’s emotional tone was, if it could be relayed in colors, nothing but varying shades of grey. “What are you working on?”
“I’m uhh translating some text that I am behind on,” Daniel explained as the other man sat up on the bed propping his back against the wall. The flair of affection that he felt in the Sentinel made him tilt his head out of curiosity.
“Sounds like something Reid would be doing,” Hotchner offered just as quietly as before, and Daniel found himself wondering at the pang of jealousy that hit him for a moment. He wondered who this man was that his Sentinel thought so affectionately of, and where he’d been in the last year while Aaron had been in isolation.
“Who’s Reid?” Daniel finally asked as his curiosity got the better of him.
“Guide Dr. Spencer Reid,” Aaron offered, and Daniel felt more affection. “He and his True Sentinel Anthony DiNozzo, Jr worked on my team when I was Unit Chief for the Behavioral Analysis Unit. He’s, well, I guess Reid is more of a little brother to me than my actual little brother. His Sentinel too, but you feel like Reid, and translating some obscure text would be something that Spencer would totally get a thrill out of. I’ve never met a mind sharper or more active than his. Of course, he’s also the smartest man that I’ve ever met, so I guess that makes sense. Thank you for coming to help me.”
“You’re welcome,” Daniel replied absently as he turned over the information that he’d just learned. “I don’t understand. You worked for the BAU? I thought you were a sniper?”
“That’s what I’ve been recruited for,” Aaron offered as Daniel saw the Sentinel continue to study him. He suddenly understood what the other races he’d encountered in his career felt like when Daniel was trying to learn everything that he could about them. “That isn’t who I am. I’ve done a lot of things in my career. I started out as a lawyer and ended up a Federal Prosecutor before I moved onto the FBI and led a SWAT team. I’ve been shooting since I was a child. It’s one of the few activities that my father enjoyed, and I didn’t completely hate. After that, I moved to Seattle, where I led the field office before getting recruited to the BAU by Sentinel Rossi and Guide Gideon. I worked there and eventually became Unit Chief until my ex-wife was killed a year ago while in witness protection. Being a sniper no more represents the totality of what I am any more than that page you’re translating represents the totality of whatever society that it belonged to.”
“It seems like an incredible misuse of resources to waste a mind like yours by letting you do nothing but kill people,” Daniel offered absently and was intrigued as a flash of annoyance was quickly replaced by amusement, which the Sentinel allowed to be easily read on his face.
“Is that what you think I do?” Aaron asked appearing to get more comfortable on the bed. “I just kill people? I point my rifle at a target and just blow their brains away, and that’s that? There’s no negotiation? There’s no judging the situation to check for innocents who could either post a threat or be an unintended victim? There’s only a gun, a bullet, and a dead person? Do you always make your mind up about someone before you’ve even spoken to them, Dr. Jackson? I would have expected an archaeologist and anthropologist to be more open-minded about the unknown.”
“I didn’t know you were an unknown though,” Daniel threw back defensively, and Aaron just tilted his head to one side calmly. “All I knew was that you were a…”
“Go ahead, Dr.” Aaron gave permission easily as Daniel blanched to speak his prior thought out loud now that he knew there was more to the man, and how thoroughly he’d misjudged what he did. “It isn’t as if you’re the first person to assume that I’m nothing more than a mindless killer.”
“I’m sorry,” Daniel offered after a while as he played with one of the pens on his desk. “I just, it’s been rough lately. My own wife was mu… was killed about six months ago, and I guess my head still isn’t in place.”
“It’s alright,” Aaron offered easily. “There seems to be a lot of jumping to conclusions going around. I’ll admit my negative reaction was caused mostly because you feel like my ex-wife.”
“That’s a bad thing?” Daniel asked confused thinking that if he could feel anything of Sha’re in this unknown Sentinel that he was to spend the rest of his life with then things might have gone smoother.
“When she died she had been in witness protection for three months,” Aaron explained, and Daniel didn’t understand why that would create a negative association. “When the coroner’s report came out they determined that she had been six weeks pregnant.”
“But if she,” Daniel started then stopped, and his eyes got wide as he grasped what the other man was alluding to. “Oh.”
“Oh, indeed,” Aaron repeated wryly. “She’d been a cheating whore our entire relationship, which started in High School. Haley Brooks was one of the prettiest girls in school, and there was just something about her that I couldn’t resist no matter how many times she made me look like an ass. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy when I felt something familiar in you. Of course, I jumped to the wrong conclusion, and it wasn’t until Guide Williams gave me a good talking to that I realized I’d just assumed the cheating was what felt familiar. For that, I apologize. It wasn’t right of me to make an assumption like that, and I have been trained to know better.”
“No one’s perfect,” Daniel offered easily, and after turning things over in his head stood and crossed to the bed Sentinel Hotchner was lounging on.
“My name is Guide Dr. Daniel Jackson,” he greeted as if it were the first time he’d met the man. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Sentinel Aaron Hotchner, former Unit Chief of the BAU out of Quantico Virginia,” Aaron replied sticking out his own hand with a smile. “It’s nice to meet you, and I look forward to getting to know you.”
“I feel the same,” Daniel admitted and was pleasantly surprised to find out that he genuinely meant it. Sitting on the end of the bed, he rested his feet on it as he wrapped his arms around his knees. “So, tell me about Aaron Hotchner.”
“I grew up near Manassas, Virginia where my mother was born,” Aaron started as he resituated himself to get comfortable again. “My father was a lawyer and an abusive asshole. He died when he was 47, he had lung cancer, but it was eventually a heart attack that did him in. I can honestly say I’ve not shed a single tear over his death in my life…”
Daniel found himself drawn in as the Sentinel relayed information about his life, and gradually relaxed in the man’s presence. Outside the door, Guide Williams turned and smirked at Sentinel O’Neill who rolled his eyes but was secretly proud that his mate had been right. Daniel unexpectedly finding his mate had been their first big event as a mated couple, and he felt better knowing that it was his Guide who had known just what to do, which meant that his people and even he would be safer under the younger man’s watch.