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Stargate: SG-1
Teal'c. Vague spoilers through something like late S9. The title is taken from the Yeats poem of the same name. Blame and heartfelt thanks to [livejournal.com profile] synecdochic.
"...as bright as Bra'tac's eyes would burn as he trained Teal'c and spoken of the falsity of all the Goa'uld and how the Jaffa might strike someday, they'd been a bare ember compared to those two Tau'ri."



Easter, 1916.


When Cameron asks, "What, exactly, was it that made you decide to save Colonel O'Neill and his team, way back on that first mission of theirs to Chulak?", after rereading all of the mission reports involving the Jaffa after his first experience with the Sodan, Teal'c doesn't say anything for a very long time.

"His eyes," Teal'c says, finally. "I saw in them a strong and fierce warrior with technology that might stand against the Goa'uld and not give way. But I also saw a freedom that burned bright, a freedom that could light the way for my people."

What he doesn't say is:

He'd been terrified by it. Not just of O'Neill's eyes but of Daniel Jackson's as well. They both burned so brightly with their freedom that he could not understand how Apophis did not see the flames around them.

Bra'tac had taught him of what might be, had taught him how to bide and ameliorate the excesses of their Gods; but as bright as Bra'tac's eyes would burn as he trained Teal'c and spoke of the falsity of all the Goa'uld and how the Jaffa might strike someday, they'd been a bare ember compared to those two Tau'ri.

They were beautiful and terrible, as terrible as his own God, and the only thing that had given him the strength to save them, to follow them, to follow that bright and burning light, was the even more terrible thought that he might never see that light again. More terrible still was the thought of being the wind that blew out the only freedom he had ever seen.

So he saved them.

What he doesn't say is:

He had not thought to join them, to bring his cause to them; had not thought beyond the Tau'ri's lives and the lives of the people he had spared. He had not thought of rebellion of the Jaffa, of Bra'tac's cause, of defeat of the Goa'uld.

And he had been lost once the immediate threat was gone. He had been lost when O'Neill asked him to follow; he followed almost blindly, hardly seeing anything.

For months, he'd doubted himself, doubted Bra'tac, doubted the falsity of the gods, doubted the worth of freedom that was so bright but burned to the touch. But as he had told O'Neill:

He had nowhere else to go.

What he doesn't say is:

To this day, he doubts. For now the Goa'uld are overthrown, and the Jaffa freed from their oppression; a great nation of Jaffa built and it and Jaffa society run not by false gods but by Jaffa themselves.

And still, they are not free.

In the Jaffa nation, Teal'c sees forming what once he saw in their Gods--cold cruelty and indifference, selfishness, and disregard and punishment for any who do not obey their demands.

Bra'tac still hopes to bring change from within--as he brought change from within as Apophis's First Prime; Teal'c respects and admires this but he cannot bring himself to attend the Jaffa High Council any longer. Their eyes are...

If he must be around eyes that burn, he would rather they burn with freedom than with hatred.
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