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Monday, November 28th, 2016 05:34 pm
A contribution to Kidfic Alphabet Soup. As usual, Daniel took control and went in unexpected directions. He's good at that. :) This came out as much meta-ish as fic-ish, I think.

Summary: Few people expect the former First Prime to be so good with children, but SG-1 knows that Teal'c has vast and unexpected depths. A Daniel retrospective on a friend. References various episodes throughout the series (mostly those with kids). 1,710 words. Rated PG.


T is for Teal'c

Daniel likes watching Teal'c interact with people.

Most people assume that Teal'c's most dominant persona is the warrior -- the fierce, uncompromising former First Prime who unerringly fires his staff weapon to kill his enemies, who once led large armies and can easily take command when the need arises. (Daniel will cheerfully concede how much he enjoys seeing Teal'c loom, sometimes. Watching Maybourne cower on more than one occasion was particularly satisfying.) Such generalizations are usually made by those who don't know Teal'c well, and never bother to look past those schooled features and raised eyebrow to see the subtle wash of emotion that his teammates can read so easily. Teal'c-watching, when he is interacting with strangers, is sometimes more of a lesson in others than in Teal'c himself, as Daniel observes their reactions and assumptions.

Those that know him a little better recognize the dichotomy of Teal'c being both idealist and realist. He dreams of freedom for his people. He places his faith first in Jack, then in his team and then the Tau'ri. He offers visions of emancipation to enemy Jaffa, even if he willingly fires to kill when they reject his goal of independence from Goa'uld domination. He will walk open-eyed into situations of great risk with the conviction that his own strength of will, coupled with the support of his team, will ensure victory. At the same time, however, Teal'c defines pragmatism: he keeps a wary eye on their supplies, even if his learning curve regarding human needs versus Jaffa ones is rather steep; offers logistical and practical counsel for the most far-fetched scenarios his teammates offer; and never hesitates to do what is necessary for survival. Daniel can still feel the frisson of unease that crawled down his spine when Teal'c so coolly shot his alternate self and stated calmly in explanation, "Our is the only reality of consequence."

(Later, when they learn that Teal'c was secretly convinced at the beginning that there was no path to victory against the Goa'uld, Daniel's awe for Teal'c's ability to combine both pragmatism and idealism to still keep going despite everything multiples exponentially.)

Most fascinating at all, however, is the side of Teal'c that very few outside of SG-1 are privileged to see: Drey'auc and Ry'ac, of course; General Hammond, Janet Frasier, and perhaps a handful of others on base. Daniel isn't even sure that Bra'tac, who himself understands and connects with Teal'c through both their shared culture and decades of deep rapport in a way that his Tau'ri friends know they can never truly comprehend, actually realizes how very, very good Teal'c is at dealing with children.

Daniel himself never gets the opportunity to see Teal'c interacting properly with his own son when Ry'ac is still a child; the first time they meet, the boy is sick and weak, and by the time the team sees Ry'ac again, he is brainwashed and not himself. But Daniel doesn't think that the wonder and sheer happiness he initially saw in Ry'ac's eyes when he talked with Teal'c was only hero-worship for a distant father. Jaffa childhood is flash-fast; aging marks the need for a symbiote, and the Goa'uld do not deign to grant the privilege of survival into adulthood to any child who does not conform in terms of strength and devotion. Yet the Jaffa cherish their young all the more for the brevity of their existence. It is surprising, Daniel muses, how easily Teal'c accepts that other peoples measure "childhood" so differently, and how he treats the various children he meets in precisely the most appropriate fashion.

Daniel's first opportunity to see Teal'c's behavior with children is on Hanka, when they stumble upon Cassandra, the sole survivor of an entire planet. Cassandra is a happy, confident adult now, matured and refined by her successions of loss and grief; but Daniel still remembers the very small child she had been, a little kid trembling in the bushes, too afraid of the human members of the team in their MOPP suits to risk coming out into the open. Jack, instructing Teal'c to try and coax her out, rather dubiously instructed him, "Try to look friendly."

But Jack's advice wasn't necessary. The first genuinely gentle smile the team ever saw graced Teal'c's face as he crouched down. "We will not hurt you," Teal'c promised the little girl, his deep, rich voice a soothing bass. "Please come out."

And Cassandra did, placing her tiny hand in Teal'c's huge one.

Daniel can still recall his fascination at Teal'c's suddenly-revealed ability. It's not as if Teal'c is someone who usually knows how to put people at ease; a similar attempt at reassuring Jamal, back when they grappled with Jonas Hansen and his delusions of grandeur, had been pretty much disastrous. But even if Teal'c struggles to discard enough of his Jaffa persona to convince an adult, he has no difficulty when it comes to comforting and supporting a child.

Daniel watches Teal'c dealing with kids of varying ages, over and over again. He never tires of the wonder of seeing his large, formidable friend suddenly making himself appear smaller, less threatening, a person that a child can trust. Jack, too, possesses this talent, and Daniel idly considers that this ability might somehow be inherent in those that make good fathers. It's an experience that he himself never had, but... (He closes that line of speculation when his heart aches for Sha're's loss and Shifu's absence.)

Even when staggering under the deadly weight of mutation into a nest of creatures that will consume his body, Teal'c manages to befriend Aylee and create a desperately-needed ally. It is a revelation to see Teal'c himself with a more carefree persona, gleefully weighing the water pistol in his hand before casually soaking Daniel and almost bouncing off to participate in a water fight.

Charlie, the child created by the Reetou, had little chance to interact with Teal'c; his terror of Teal'c as Jaffa, coupled with Teal'c's own painful reactions to the presence of "Mother," made that impossible. Tomin of Orban, on the other hand, immediately recognized Teal'c as a dangerous warrior, yet easily sat down to discuss Goa'uld tactics with him. Teal'c had no trouble shifting from "talking to children" mode to "talking to allies" mode, as this was clearly what Tomin wanted and expected. And yet, when Tomin's mind and self was lost to Averium and he reverted to even less than the child he truly was, Teal'c didn't hesitate to champion his cause: he was first to protest, first to urge that others shouldn't suffer as Tomin. Daniel's words, "In our cultures, we don't believe in doing anything that results in harming a child," rolled easily off his tongue. He knew that Teal'c agreed with him.

(He closes his mind to what Teal'c might have done and seen in the years as First Prime. Teal'c himself will be the first to agree that he caused Hanno great harm by killing his father, and Daniel is all too aware that the deaths of children likely played a large role in cowing and subduing rebellious people. There's also the vivid, anguished memory of the bodies sprawled around the Gateroom in the pyramid on Abydos, when Daniel himself was too focused on the loss of wife and brother to properly grieve until later. Maybe it's unhealthy to ignore what he knows happened, but the alternative is the inability to do anything at all. The Ancients taught him that one, if no one else.)

Loran, in particular, for all of Jack's natural abilities, seemed to place his trust more in Teal'c. Without the rapport that both Jack and Teal'c established, they never would've found a way to get safely home. He never does find out the full story behind it, but the sight of Teal'c carefully securing the toy gun Loran gave him as a birthday gift leaves Daniel with an ache in his heart.

(Loran is one of their success stories, as they traced the clues and prompted enough memories to find his home planet and reunite him with relatives. It's a sobering thought that their greatest successes with kids seem to involve children who have lost everything. But doesn't that circle back to the Goa'uld, as so many things do?)

So many children, over the years... Daniel doesn't know what happened while he was gone with Oma, but he watches as Teal'c deals with Nevin, with Nesa, with a vast array of children from different planets and cultures. He sees Teal'c playing catch with the local kids during his short-lived residency outside the base; he observes how the children of SGC personnel, blessedly innocent of their own parents' unspoken wariness, climb all over Teal'c at the annual SGC summer picnic. Through all of it, Teal'c manages to respond to each individually child on their own level, according to the expectations of their culture, and inspire confidence and trust.

(He was, Daniel admits to himself, in some ways very childlike when the team first discovered him on Vis Uban, and once again, it was Teal'c who knew how to talk to him, how to soothe his fears of the unknown and coax him to make the tremendous leap of faith and go back to Earth.)

Even now, with the grey streak in his hair that bears silent witness to five lost decades, Daniel suspects that Teal'c will outlive them all. There's an odd comfort in knowing that the man who once depended on a Goa'uld symbiote to survive, who faced the risk of casual death, on a daily basis is now the father of a happily-married son, with every expectation of grandchildren in the near future. Daniel doesn't expect that he or Sam or Jack or Jonas or Cam or Vala will ever have children of their own; some of them are too scarred, some too busy, and Sam, in particular, is perfectly happy with her life just the way it is. So it is Teal'c who will perpetuate SG-1's heritage, both with the memories he can offer the next generation and the next generation he can offer.

The legacy of SG-1, Daniel decides, couldn't possibly be in better hands.

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