They may seem alien to us, and us to them, but how much more alien are they to us than we are to ourselves?
He reached out a hand to touch his skin. Still warm. He could see the slight rise of his chest as he drew in oxygen, but for that there was little movement.
He found it odd. When the human was awake he never stopped moving. Or more precisely, he never stopped talking. But this was the first time he had seen him this still. A heart wrenching absence of movement so uncharacteristic as to illustrate the gravity of his situation.
He had tried to stem the flow of O'Neill's life giving fluids as they seeped through his clothing and on to the floor. Some of the wounds had stopped. Others still dribbled crimson.
Jack O'Neill's life was trickling away, and Thor didn't know what to do.
He had been in this dank, dark dungeon of a room for a long time now. He had seen no-one, spoken to no-one, and wasn't entirely sure how he had gotten here. He didn't even know who his captors were.
Though he had his suspicions.
The place smelled like rank anosweed from the swamps far to the south of his home. A reek that spoke of neglect and putrifying remains. No doubt if O'Neill was awake he'd have to listen to a monologue of complaints. If only he was awake.
It was odd, his reaction to the human. Himself, and his people, had long ago assessed his planet, classified it too primitive, and left it to its own devices. But far sooner than expected the humans had turned up on their doorstep, vying for attention in a universe which they hardly understood, much less could handle.
And at the forefront of these exuberant people, came O'Neill.
Thor hadn't been the first of his race to meet him, but he had seen the reports. A human thrown from the stargate on Othalla, mumbling incoherantly in the Ancient's tongue, his brain addled by their knowledge. They had reached into him and taken the knowledge before it shut his body down. It was remarkable, however, that even though his mind had been barely functioning, he had still found a way to save himself.
This ability had surprised the people of the Asgard. It had been unpredicted, and it had been a while since the unpredictable had happened.
With the minor exception of the Replicators.
Was that sarcasm? He would have to ask O'Neill when he woke.
When the Goa'uld threatened Earth, the Asgard had debated on the viability of using the Protected Planets Treaty to Earth's advantage. It was a risk, much could be lost, but on the words of those who had encountered O'Neill, the council was swayed. Thor had been sent to make preparations.
He had been interested to meet this O'Neill. His reputation throughout Goa'uld space was formidable and he wished to see if his character supported the legend. To see the leader of this impetuous infant race.
On a whim, he had transported O'Neill up without prior contact. To test his reaction to the unexpected.
His lack of reaction to the unexpected was unexpected.
It could have been an everyday occurrence for all the excitement he displayed. A casual look at his planet from several hundreds of his kilometres above it, a couple of questions, and that was it. Thor had been pleasantly surprised. He had been getting rather tired of all the cringing and cowering he got from those primitive humans he happened to encounter from time to time.
No, this one was different. So they had chosen him.
They knew he didn't have the authority to speak for his people. The Asqard knew of the political structure of the planet. But there was something about O'Neill, a sense of abilities yet untapped, that prompted their decision to choose him.
Besides, Thor tended to agree with O'Neill on the subject of politicians.
The body beside him shuddered.
Startled from his reverie, Thor moved closer, again reaching out a hand to touch the soft skin of his cheek.
A soft sigh was all the response he got.
Thor had never felt so helpless. For all his advanced technology, for all the fleet he commanded, he could not do the one thing he wished to do at this moment - save the life of O'Neill.
He had been doing his forty-third reconnaissance loop of the cell when the unconscious O'Neill had been literally thrown into the cell. The door had slammed shut, captor unseen.
O'Neill's prone body had hit the opposite wall and bounced to the floor in a crumpled heap.
Thor had not immediately realised who he was, but after repeated verbal attempts to awaken his new cellmate, he had ventured closer. The human was much bigger than himself, but the Asgard was able to move the arm covering the face peering awkwardly into the concrete. He had gasped aloud when he recognised O'Neill.
Beneath the swollen eye and split lip breathed the human he had come to call friend. What was he doing here?
The small puddle of deep red blood forming beneath him spoke of horrific injury and he was hardly breathing. Thor knew little of human medical needs, but he did know the purpose of blood and that loosing too much was not a good thing.
Thor located what wounds he could reach and, tearing the material O'Neill's uniform was made of, bandaged what he could. But he knew it was not enough. Oh, for the want of the 'Bellisner's medical bay.
But that was gone, too. At the bottom of Earth's ocean.
O'Neill had been there. Thor had offered him death in return for saving Earth from Thor's own inability to protect it himself. O'Neill, and his team, had, in return, offered him life, a second chance.
The third chance had come while he was in the hands of Anubis.
Half paralyzed, clamped to the table, Thor had awakened, not to the grisly visage of some loathsome goa'uld, but to the quiet urging of a holographic O'Neill.
He had seen the worry in those dark eyes, so much smaller than his own, and a small spark of hope sprang up where there had only been despair.
They were like children, these humans from Earth, and Jack O'Neill the biggest, bravest child of them all. And he liked him.
His friend, Frere, had complained at first. The audacity of these humans to think they could charge out into the galaxy disregarding the consequences. But their strength and determination up against the odds had swayed even the stodginess of his old friend. A grudging respect between the two races had formed.
And then came the days when the great and almighty Asgard had had to ask for help from these primitive people or cease to exist at all.
Jack O'Neill had called the shots and the war had been won.
Now that same Jack O'Neill lay beside him, dying, and he could do nothing to help him.
"Uh, Thor, is that you?"
O'Neill woke to a world of pain.
He was lying on something cold and wet, his face half flattened against it.
Someone was touching his face.
His mind instinctively flinched away, but his body lacked the energy to follow. He could feel the soft stroke of a small hand brush his cheek. Unknown, get away, move!
His eyes flickered open. Well, one eye, the other refused to co-operate. A grey blur sat beside him.
"Uh, Thor, is that you?"
"It is I. Do not move, you are injured."
"Ah, kinda figured that out already." God, that hurts. Somewhere in his midsection a butcher was carving him into steaks. "Whe...where are we?"
"I do not know."
"What are you doing here?" Didn't the Asgard usually save the day?
"I have been captured. Like you. I do not know how I got here."
"Any idea of who's got us?"
There was an empty silence before Thor answered. "I had hoped you would be able to enlighten me on that count."
"Oh." Another shudder shook his body. A cough stirred deep in his throat. Unable to stop it, he spat blood on the floor. The resulting wave of pain teetered him on the brink of blacking out.
"O'Neill!" Was that a hint of panic in the voice of the Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet?
"I'm fine...fine, just dandy." The simple lie was not helped by the whisper-loud, sandpaper rasp of his voice.
"O'Neill, tell me what to do to help you." The hand brushed against his cheek again.
'Beam me up' was the first thought that came to his mind, but he figured he would've done that already. "Sorry, Thor, I may be many things, but a doctor I'm not." Another rasping, pain-ridden cough took him into its clutches, and he clenched his body into a knot of misery.
The feeling of the small hand on the back of his neck became his anchor as black spots clouded his vision.
As his breathing settled down, and he was able to think again, he thought of Thor. Thor was the guy who came swooping in with his big ship to save the day. Thor was the alien version of Scotty who beamed you up without prior warning. Thor commanded technology that could skip across galaxies faster than he could sneeze. But Thor had none of his doohickies with him now. He was used to being in control - unlike a certain Colonel who flew by the seat of his pants more often than he cared to acknowledge - and he probably found his current situation a little alarming. O'Neill found that he himself was actually starting to get used to ending up in possibly fatal situations. A bit boring really, another near death experience.
O'Neill, now you know you are losing it.
"Thor." He hardly heard himself. He tried again. "Thor."
"O'Neill, you are seriously injured and I do not know how to help you."
"No sweat, Thor. Happens all the time. We got out of those situations. We'll get out of this one. Trust me." A little optimism never hurt.
"I fear you are dying."
He flicked his one eye in Thor's direction. Through the fuzziness he thought he could see the trepidation on the Asgard's face that was reflected in his voice. Clenching his teeth and holding his breath, O'Neill reached out his hand. "Thor, give me your hand." He felt the small pale palm, so soft to the touch, brush his fingers. He brought the fingers to his neck, to where his blood pulsed in his veins. "Do you feel that?"
"That, Thor buddy, is life. While that is there, while there is life, there is hope. And no rank, reeking, stinking prison is going to make me give up that hope." He paused, catching his breath. "And you will not give up either."
This time the cough wracked his body mercilessly, sending his head spinning. He lost his grip on consciousness and slipped into oblivion.
Thor continued to hold his hand to O'Neill's throat. Feeling the thump of his pulse as his life flowed through his body, unconscious though it was.
He knew that O'Neill's comments had been directed wholly at him. Thor wasn't new to this sort of situation either, and could see where O'Neill's obstinacy had stood him well in the past. But it was something about O'Neill that stirred dismay in his soul at the thought of his loss.
There were no second chances for O'Neill. No cloned body waiting in the wings. No, if he died, he would be lost.
Thump, thump, under his fingers.
And a bright, young star would be snuffed out.
He didn't want that to happen.
O'Neill sighed, his jaw clenched and unclenched. A thin trickle of blood ran from his nose, across his lip, to drip to the cold concrete.
You expected to see your children grow up.
An image of the child-like O'Neill, practically bouncing on his feet at the foot of the stargate, stepping out to explore new worlds.
O'Neill the warrior, weapon drawn and firing, protecting himself and his people.
Those sarcastic one-liners, usually aimed at the current goa'uld wannabe.
The determination in his holographic eyes, to save Thor from his fate.
The world disappeared in a wave of white light.