smg01: (sg1 old school)
[personal profile] smg01
Title: To Everything a Season
Author:: suzannemarie
Word Count: 15,832
Rating: G
Spoilers: Forever in a Day. Cannon death. A/U

Summary:: In an alternate universe very nearly identical to ours, the events of Forever in a Day happened in real time rather than in an instant..

Once upon a time, in the midst of a discussion thread for Forever in a Day, I lamented that I had to abandon as unworkable an elaborate theory that the events of that episode happened over the course of time rather than instantaneously. Someone suggested that it could be done as an alternate universe story. I thought that was a good idea and got started. A few years later I came across the unfinished story on my computer and decided it was time to give it an ending.

Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and all of it’s characters, etc. are owned by people who are not me. People like MGM, SciFi, etc., etc. This story is just for fun. An homage, if you will.

* * * * *

Energy flowed from Ammonet’s hand device to a kneeling, grimacing Daniel.

“No. Sha’re, fight it,” Daniel gasped.

“My host cannot help you.” Ammonet said calmly. She continued directing the hand device at Daniel.

Daniel buckled under the unceasing assault of the ribbon device. His gun fell unregarded from his hand. The pain intensified. Even as he remained caught in his position, unable to move or to escape the torture device, curiosity stirred. He had the distinct sense that something other than pain was traveling along the stream of energy that the Goa’uld aimed at his head. It was like hearing a hint of a familiar tune but not being able to identify it. Daniel tried desperately to dissociate himself from the pain, attempting to pin down the elusive images tickling at him.

Daniel sensed rather than saw or heard a presence at the entrance of the tent. He tried to turn his head. He tried to speak. Words and movement would not come. It was all he could do to remain upright. His strength continued to ebb.

A new flash of energy crossed Daniel’s line of vision. He felt a sudden, blessed relief from the unrelenting pain. A hint of a familiar, undefinable image lingered in his mind. He saw the look of stunned disbelief on the face of his wife. She crumbled to the floor. Her eyes glowed. He saw her lips move. Then her body was still. The wound to her midsection was awful and final.

Daniel collapsed. His limbs felt like water. “Sha’re,” he said softly, reaching for her.

With an effort, he lifted his head and turned toward the tent’s entrance. It took a few seconds for his eyes to focus. When they did, he saw Teal’c standing motionless, his staff weapon still half-raised. The cacophony of weapons fire continued outside the tent.

“Why?”

“There was no alternative.”

Too weak to do more than glare at Teal’c, Daniel succumbed to the effects of Ammonet’s attack. He lost consciousness.


* * * * * * * *


The gunfire ceased abruptly. A moment later Sam and Jack rushed into the tent and came to a stop beside Teal’c.

“What happened?” Jack asked.

Sam stepped forward and knelt beside Daniel. Her fingers searched for a pulse in his neck.

“Ammonet held Daniel Jackson within the grasp of a hand device. He would not have lasted a moment longer. I had no choice but to fire upon her.”

“You did the right the right thing,” Jack nodded. He looked with concern at Daniel and the body of Sha’re.

Sam looked up at Jack and Teal’c. “His pulse is weak. We should get him to the infirmary.”

Jack touched a button on his radio and tilted his head toward it. “Marquez, come in.”

“Sir?”

“Contact Stargate Central and tell them to send personnel to help with the dead and wounded,” Jack instructed.

“Already done, sir. They’re on the way now,” Marquez informed Jack.

“Good.”

Jack, Teal’c, and Sam looked at each other somberly.

“I should find Kasuf,” Jack finally said softly.

Jack exited the tent and trudged slowly toward the stargate. By the time he reached it, SGC personnel had come through and were dispersing across the battlefield. With the arrival of new teams from Earth, Abydos had been dialed. The Abydonians quietly returned home home in single file.

Jack acknowledged the inquiry of a medic with a vague wave toward the tent. “Daniel needs attention,” he said. His eyes continued to search for Kasuf among the Abydonians.

As the medic began to move away, Jack located Kasuf and threaded his way to him.

“Kasuf.” Jack laid a hand on the Abydonian’s shoulder.

“Colonel O’Neill.” Kasuf spoke warmly to Jack. “We are grateful to you. We would have lost many more without you. I’m sorry we were unable to keep the boy from being taken.”

“Kasuf.” Jack said again. He shook his head, searching for words.

Kasuf looked at Jack. “What is it?”

“Sha’re.”

“You have captured the demon that possesses her?”

Jack shook his head again. “Not exactly. The Goa’uld was killing Daniel,” he stalled. “We had to shoot Ammonet to save Daniel. But there was no way to kill her without also killing--”

“Sha’re,” Kasuf concluded.

“Yes,” Jack said grimly.

Kasuf staggered slightly. Jack gripped his arm.

“My daughter.”

“I’m sorry.” Jack said compassionately. “I’ll take you to her.”

The men walked to the tent in silence. They ducked inside as Daniel was being lifted on a stretcher. An IV had been inserted in his arm. He was covered with a blanket.

“What about the woman?” one of the medics asked.

“I will carry her.” Teal’c, who had been standing protectively near her, bent down and gently picked Sha’re up.

“It’s a long walk,” Jack said. “Why don’t we get a stretcher? We’ll all carry her.”

“No.” It was evident that it was important to Teal’c to transport her himself.

“Okay,” Jack relented.

Kasuf pushed past Jack and approached Teal’c. Only a small tremble in his hand as he reached for his daughter betrayed any emotion.

“Sha’re.” Kasuf touched her face.

“Let’s get moving,” Jack said softly.

No one spoke as the walked to the gate. If carrying Sha’re was a strain for Teal’c, he gave no indication. Several minutes later they reached the gate, joining a group who was also ready to return to Earth. Major Marquez was dialing the coordinates for home. Once the gate engaged, Jack approached Marquez who provided a rundown of the casualties. After acknowledging Marquez’s report and sending him through the portal with the others, Jack returned to SG-1.

“Come with us,” Jack invited Kasuf. “We’ll take you and Sha’re back to Abydos from there. Daniel will want to go with you once he’s up and around.”

Kasuf nodded his agreement. Additional medical personnel waited along with General Hammond at the bottom of the ramp. Medics quickly whisked the wounded away to the infirmary.

“Colonel?” Hammond looked at Jack.

“We won. But Harris, Collins, and Skinner didn’t make it. Jameson, Rice, Quinn, and Daniel were wounded. A handful of Abydonians were also killed and hurt.” He sighed. “Along Sha’re.” Jack cast a regretful glance at the woman Teal’c held in his arms.

“I see,” Hammond nodded. “I don’t believe I’ve met our guest.” There was mild reproof in his voice.

“This is Kasuf. I thought he and Sha’re should both be here for Daniel.”

“I understand. I would have preferred it if you had requested authorization first,” Hammond admonished.

“Sorry sir. I didn’t think it would be a problem.”

“Let’s just not turn this into a habit,” Hammond told him. He turned to control room. “Would someone call for a gurney to take Sha’re to the morgue.”

“I will take her.” Teal’c said firmly.

Hammond studied Teal’c for a few seconds. “Very well,” he said. He stood aside to give Teal’c room to pass.

Jack placed a hand on Kasuf’s shoulder. “Do you want to stay with Sha’re?”

Kasuf nodded. He was looking around the room with wonder.

“Stick with Teal’c,” Jack told him. “I’m going to check on Daniel. I won’t be far away if you need me. In the meantime, Teal’c will take care of you.”

They left the room as a group. In the company of two SFs, they silently took the elevator to level 21. Stepping off the elevator, Jack and Sam turned left toward the infirmary. Teal’c turned right.


* * * * * * * *


Teal’c walked sedately down the hall, with Kasuf at his side. Two SFs silently trailed behind them. Kasuf remained at Teal’c’s shoulder when he turned into a room. The SFs stayed at the doorway.

Major Fitzgerald turned to the newcomers. He waved Teal’c toward an unoccupied table. Teal’c laid Sha’re gently on the table that Fitzgerald had indicted. He arranged her limbs, straightening her legs and crossing her arms at her chest. He smoothed her clothing to make it as neat as the burn marks and fraying from the staff blast would allow.

Kasuf moved to the head of the table. Wordlessly, he stretched his hand to his daughter, placing it on her cheek. His face was impassive.

Major Fitzgerald looked curiously at the trio. “Who is this?” he asked with a gesture toward Sha’re.

“The wife of Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c said.

“Oh.” Fitzgerald absorbed the news. “Oh,” he repeated. “I see.”

“And this is Sha’re’s father, Kasuf,” Teal’c said.

“I see,” Fitzgerald said again. He turned to Kasuf. “I’m very sorry for your loss, sir,” he said kindly.

Kasuf looked at the major. He was tall and solidly built. His dark hair was trimmed neatly in a regulation haircut. His pleasant face showed compassion as he met Kasuf’s gaze.

“Thank you,” Kasuf said.

“We will be returning Sha’re to Abydos soon,” Teal’c explained to Fitgzerald.

“I understand,” Fitzgerald said. He turned to Kasuf. “Is there any custom that I should follow?” he asked. “I can’t repair the wound, but I can bind it up. Do you want me to remove the symbiote?”

“How would the demon be removed?” Kasuf asked.

“I can make an incision along her neck to extract the Goa’uld,” Fitzgerald explained.

Kasuf shook his head. “It is not proper to cut or alter her body in any way,” he said. “We will carry out the rites once she is home. There is no need for you to do anything.”

“As you wish,” Fitzgerald said. He unfolded the sheet that lay at the foot of the table and pulled it over Sha’re, up to her shoulders. Then he tactfully retreated to another part of the room.

With the ugly wound covered, Sha’re almost looked like she was sleeping. Teal’c and Kasuf continued to gaze at her.

“She was a headstrong and inquisitive child,” Kasuf said conversationally. “She defied the gods when most of us feared angering them.”

“Daniel Jackson told me once that she learned to read even though it was forbidden,” Teal’c said.

“She was the first. Always she questioned why we obeyed a god that did not care for us. Other village leaders would constantly ask me why I could not control my daughter. We feared that her defiance would bring punishment to us all. She made me so angry sometimes but I was always proud of her.”

Teal’c nodded, listening quietly to Kasuf’s reminiscences.

“When Daniel Jackson and Colonel O’Neill and his men came through the chappa’ai, Sha’re only grew bolder. She had eyes for Daniel from the start, so we arranged for him to have her.”

Teal’c smiled slightly. “I have heard the story of Daniel Jackson being married without his knowledge.”

Kasuf also smiled at the memory. “He thought we were ordering her to be with him. He did not understand that it was not against her will. She loved him from the moment she saw him. And he learned to love her. They were a good match.”

“Indeed. He loved her deeply,” Teal’c agreed.

“I always knew that she would return home. I did not believe that it would be like this,” Kasuf’s voice broke. He swallowed hard. “At least she is no longer at the mercy of the demon.”

Teal’c nodded.

Neither spoke for several minutes.

At last, Teal’c place a hand on Kasuf’s shoulder. “I am going to check on the status of Daniel Jackson. You may remain here if you wish.”

Kasuf nodded.

“I will be in the infirmary. I you wish to come there, you will need to go back the way we came. At the end of the hallway turn left. The infirmary will be midway down the hall. These men,” he gestured toward the SFs, “will show you the way.”

Kasuf nodded again. As Teal’c bowed and left the room, Major Fitzgerald quietly brought a chair to Kasuf.


* * * * * * * *


When Jack and Sam entered the infirmary Dr. Fraiser was starting an I.V. drip for Daniel.

“How is he Doc?” Jack asked.

“It was close,” Janet said. “Another minute under the hand device and I don’t think he would have survived. I don’t believe that there is any permanent damage. His temperature is coming down. We’re rehydrating him. I’ve included a mild pain reliever in the I.V. He’ll be sore for awhile.”

Sam pointed at the burn marks on Daniel’s forehead. “What about that?”

“Second degree burns. They should heal well.” She paused. “As nearly as I can tell, the hand device sucks moisture from the body while raising the temperature and irritating the internal systems. His joints and organs were highly inflamed. As his body temperature and hydration returns to normal, that will continue to ease.”

“How long will he be out?” Jack asked.

“It’s hard to say,” Janet told him. “We haven’t given him any sedatives, and he already seems to be recovering. I imagine he’ll be awake before too much longer. I heard that Sha’re was shot.”

“Yes. She didn’t survive,” Sam confirmed.

“What a shame.” Janet shook her head regretfully.

“Yeah,” Jack agreed.

The only sound for several moments was the scratching of Janet’s pen as she made notes on Daniel’s chart.

Hammond entered the room and asked for an update. As Janet reiterated what she had told Jack and Sam, Daniel began to move restlessly, muttering indistinctly. As suddenly as he started, he subsided again. Janet moved forward to check the I.V.

There was a rustle at the doorway as Teal’c appeared in the frame. At the same moment, Daniel slowly opened his eyes. Janet smiled reassuringly and examined his pupils’ reactions to her penlight.

“What happened?” Daniel asked.

“You don’t remember?” Jack asked.

“I’m not sure. It’s all confused in my head,” Daniel said.

“We were on P8X 873. We were freeing the Abydonians whom the Goa’uld had taken as slaves,” Sam said.

“Kasuf sent for us,” Jack added.

“Sha’re was there,” Daniel recalled.

“Yeah,” Sam said unhappily.

There was a brief silence. Daniel watched them without speaking.

“She’s dead Daniel. I’m sorry,” Jack broke the news.

“How?” Daniel sounded bewildered.

Teal’c stepped forward. “It is I who bear the responsibility. I was forced to fire upon Sha’re in order to save your life. I assure you that was the only reason I did so.”

“No,” Daniel said.

“What?” Sam asked.

“They have a sarcophagus. Her guards will put her in it. She’ll be out there, still alive.”

Silence followed Daniel’s confident statement.

“What?” Daniel asked.

“Can he leave the Infirmary?” Hammond asked Janet.

“Yes. I’ll call for a wheelchair. His I.V. will need to remain in place,” she told them.

“I’ll take him, sir,” Jack said.

“I, too, will go,” Teal’c said.

Five minutes later, Jack was wheeling Daniel through the corridor with Teal’c at his side. They met Kasuf who was being accompanied by an SF.

“Kasuf,” Daniel said with some surprise.

“My son. It is a sad day for us all.”

“No,” Daniel told him. “I know this is difficult to understand, but the demon within your daughter will help her to rise again.”

Kasuf looked to Jack with heartbreaking hope. “Is this true?” he asked.

“Not this time,” he said grimly. “I’m sorry.”

The group made their way to the morgue. Teal’c pointed to a table and Jack wheeled Daniel to it. Major Fitzgerald pulled back the sheet to reveal Sha’re’s face.

The crushing truth of the situation came home to Daniel. He stared at the lifeless body of his wife, trying to make sense of scene before him.

“Why didn’t you leave her there?” he asked. “They would have saved her.”

“There were no “they” left,” Jack said.

“We were victorious Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c elaborated. “No one remained to take her to a sarcophagus. We brought Kasuf to be with her and to take her home to prepare her for an Abydonian burial.”

“We did manage to save most of the Abydonians,” Jack added.

‘For that, we are eternally grateful,” Kasuf said.

Daniel gently touched Sha’re’s face. Anger overwhelmed grief as he looked at Teal’c.

“You should have waited,” Daniel said. “I would have gotten through to her.”

“She was trying to kill you, Daniel,” Jack interceded.

Ammonet was trying to kill me. Not Sha’re.”

“I have seen many humans killed by Goa’uld ribbon devices. I had mere seconds to act.” Teal’c said.

“Teal’c did the right thing,” Jack said firmly.

“I am sorry Sha’re is dead. However, you are my friend. If I had to do it again, I would do the same to save you,” Teal’c said forthrightly. He watched Daniel for a few seconds. Then, knowing that there was nothing more that he could say, or that Daniel would want to hear, he left.

Jack nodded at Major Fitzgerald, who replaced the sheet over Sha’re’s body.

With Kasuf at his side, Jack wheeled Daniel from the room and returned him to the infirmary. Alternately muttering invectives against Teal’c and words of sadness, Daniel clambered into bed. His face reflected his desolation.

“Grief is great good son,” Kasuf said. “I am comforted that Sha’re will go to the afterlife free of the demon Ammonet.”

Kasuf’s words provided little comfort for Daniel. I just lost my wife and you’re talking about the freedom of afterlives? he thought. He opened his mouth to voice his thought. He swallowed the words when he looked into Kasuf’s face and saw the grief of a father’s loss. He shifted fretfully in his bed. “I think I’d like to be alone,” he said dully.

“Sure,” Jack said quietly. He patted his shoulder awkwardly. “If you need anything, just let us know.”

Turning his head away, Daniel did not bother to respond. Jack and Kasuf watched him for a moment then left him alone.

Daniel followed their departure with his eyes. Emotions roiled within him. Too weak and tired to get up and too agitated to sleep, he tossed his head back on his pillow and stared blankly at the ceiling. Words, images, and memories passed through his mind: the first time he met Sha’re; dozens of small moments of joys and mundane disagreements in their year together; the shock of seeing her after being taken as a host; kneeling in front of her as Ammonet trained a hand device upon him. Through it all, something tugged at his mind. He found himself frequently turning his head involuntarily, struck by the impression that there was something just out of sight of the corner of his eye. He couldn’t escape the feeling that a voice was calling to him.

At last, Daniel flung his hands into the air in frustration. He pressed the call button and waited impatiently for a response. In less than a minute a nurse approached.

“Could I get a pen and a pad of paper?” Daniel asked.

“You should be resting,” she chided gently.

“I am. Writing out my thoughts will help me relax,” he argued.

“All right,” she relented. “I’ll be back.”

She returned a few minutes later and handed Daniel a legal pad and a pen. “Here you go,” she said.

“Thank you,” Daniel said. His attempt at a smile turned into a grimace.

She nodded and left him alone.

Daniel adjusted the incline of his bed. He stared at the legal pad in hands. He had always used his journal as an avenue for thinking through events and problems. After a few false starts, he began to write furiously. He filled page after page with stream of consciousness thoughts, memories, grief, and anger.


* * * * * * * *


Jack accompanied Kasuf to the VIP guest quarters. He showed him how to work the amenities, smiling a bit when Kasuf’s eyes widened at the sight of water flowing from a tap.

“Can I get you anything? Something to eat or drink?” Jack asked once he finished the tour of the quarters.

Kasuf shook his head. He took a seat. His body language indicated complete exhaustion.

Jack also took a seat. He remembered how meaningless the words of comfort that people tried to offer when Charlie died had seemed. He waited, taking his conversational cues from Kasuf.

Kasuf was silent for a long time. “It is hard to believe that she’s gone,” he finally said.

“I know,” Jack said.

“In a way, we regarded her as already dead when the demon possessed her. When she came home to give birth to the child, we had reason to hope that someday she would come home forever. I did not think that it would be like this. And my son remains lost.” Kasuf shook his head sadly.

“I’ll never give up on Skaara,” Jack promised. “If there’s a way that we can bring him home, we will. I’m sorry that we weren’t able to save Sha’re.”

“I know,” said Kasuf. “On Abydos, we accept death and loss. Death is merely a doorway through which we all pass. But it is hard to lose one’s children.”

Jack sighed. Memories of losing his own child returned, sharp and clear. “Yeah.” He cleared his throat and looked away.

Both men sat quietly for several minutes. Then Kasuf began to talk, reminiscing about the first arrival of the expedition from Earth, of the life that Sha’re and Daniel shared, of the joy of Sha’re’s brief return before she gave birth, and of her childhood. Jack let him talk, murmuring an occasional word or phrase of acknowledgment to show that he was listening.

“...even when she was very small, it was hard to keep up with her. Only a few days after she started walking, we found her in a mastadge pen, playing chase with the animals. How she was not trampled, we do not know. Then when her brother came along, she would lead him into all sorts of trouble too. Our life was not easy, but I miss those days” Kasuf concluded with a sad, wistful smile.

Jack nodded. “I know what you mean,” he said. He checked the clock on the wall. “I have duties that I need to attend to. Will you be all right on your own? I can send someone to keep you company if you like.”

“I will be fine,” Kasuf assured him.

“Okay. I’ll check on you later. If you need anything, just ask one of the guards in the hall,” Jack said. “When do you want to return home?”

“Tomorrow. We will need to prepare for her burial.”


* * * * * * * *


Teal’c methodically lit the candles that were spread throughout his quarters. He settled into position to begin kel’no’reem, but found that his mind was too troubled to reach the state. Instead, he replayed the day’s events in his head. He had been responsible for thousands of deaths during his service with Aphophis, deaths which weighed heavily on his conscience. This one was the worst. This one was personal. He had killed the wife of his good friend. He had not lied when he told Daniel that he would make the same choice again. He did not regret saving the life of his friend. He did regret the pain that he had caused Daniel. He regretted that Sha’re was an innocent victim first of the Goa’uld that had taken her and then of the staff blast that had killed her in order to stop that Goa’uld. He regretted most of all that he was the agent behind both acts.

Teal’c sighed and gave up his attempts at Kel’no’reem. He commenced an uncharacteristic, troubled pacing.


* * * * * * * *


After writing almost without pause for ninety minutes, Daniel stopped and flexed his cramping fingers. He turned to a fresh page. After a couple of false starts, he resumed writing:

General Hammond:

With this letter, I respectfully tender my resignation. With my wife’s death, I have no reason to continue in this position. Effective immediately, I am leaving the program.

Sincerely,
Daniel Jackson


He was staring thoughtfully at the pen in his hand when Sam walked into the room.

“Hi,” she said.

“Hi,” he answered, barely looking in her direction.

“I brought you some of the chocolate peanut butter cookies from your favorite bakery.”

“Thank you.” He ignored the small paper bag that she placed beside him on the bed. He continued to study the pen in his hand. “You ever really study these?”

“Pens?” Sam asked, puzzled. She sat down next to him on the bed.

“I spent my life studying the written word. Cultures have had all sorts of ways of recording things through the ages. Hammers and chisels. Quills and ink. I never recognized,” he waved the pen, “the ingenuity of this simple little device. The first time Sha’re saw me writing in my journal with a ballpoint pen, she thought it was magic.”

Daniel and Sam traded small, sad smiles.

“A little thing like this was a wonder to her. So many simple things were wonders to her. She made me see things in new ways.” Daniel’s voice broke and he looked back at the pen in his hand.

“It’s good to hold on to those memories, Daniel. It’s healthy,” Sam said.

“All those wonders at our hands and I couldn’t save her. I couldn’t bring her home safely.”

Sam placed a hand on his arm. Tears welled in her eyes.

Daniel turned his head way. “I’m going to get some sleep if you don’t mind.”

“Of course. Let me know if you need anything, ok?”

“Thank you.” Removing his glasses, Daniel turned away from her and closed his eyes.

Once he knew that Sam had left the room, he turned onto his back and stared blankly at the ceiling. He had told Sam that he wanted to sleep so he would be left alone. As he continued to stare sightlessly upward, fatigue caught up with him. His eyes grew heavier and heavier.

Daniel.

“What?” Daniel said.

Only normal, distant sounds of the infirmary followed his question. He slipped gradually into true sleep.

Hear me, Daniel.

He opened his eyes to see Ammonet using her ribbon device on him. He felt again the searing pain of the torture instrument. He closed his eyes and the pain stopped suddenly. He cautiously reopened his eyes to see the luminous smile of his wife.

“You’re awake,” Sha’re said. She turned to someone outside of Daniel’s immediate line of vision. “He’s awake,” she repeated.

“Hey, how are you feeling,” Janet asked with a smile.

“Uh, confused,” Daniel said.

“I’m sure. Can you tell me your name?” Janet asked.

“Daniel Jackson.” Daniel’s eyes remained fixed upon Sha’re.

“You’re birthday?” she asked next.

“July 8th,” he said absently. “Sha’re?”

“Yes, husband.”

“You’re alive,” he marveled.

“Yes,” she said.

Kasuf stepped into view. “Most of our people are alive, thanks be to you. Thanks to all of you.”

“What happened?” Daniel asked.

“I came upon you in the grip of Ammonet’s ribbon device. I was forced to fire upon her,” Teal’c said.

“After that, we took her straight to the Tok’ra. They had captured a sarcophagus which they were studying. They removed the Goa’uld and placed Sha’re in the sarcophagus,” Sam explained.

Daniel exhaled with happy relief. “I had such an awful dream,” he said.

“What?” Jack asked.

“Never mind,” Daniel said. His attention remained on Sha’re who leaned into him, her hands on his face.

Jack gestured toward the door. “Maybe we should...”

“We’re glad you’re okay, Daniel,” Sam laughed as they started to move away.

“He is okay, right?” Jack asked.

“I would say so, yes,” Janet smiled broadly.

Daniel stared at his wife, filled with delight. She was wearing green BDUs and she continued to smile lovingly at him. He had never seen anything more beautiful.

“There’s so much to talk about,” Daniel said breathlessly. “I don’t even know where to start.”

“Daniel.” Sha’re’s voice and expression grew serious. “I only came to tell you about the boy.”

Everyday noises of the Infirmary began to filter into Daniel’s consciousness. He frowned. “What about the boy?”

Sha’re gave a sharp inhale of breath. She reached to him with her hands. She faded as if something were pulling her away.

Daniel closed his eyes. He opened them to see Janet making a note in a chart. She looked up at the sound of his confused, frustrated sigh.

“You okay Daniel?” she asked.

“I’m not sure. Is Sha’re here?” Even without his glasses on, he could Janet’s posture change to one of dismay.

“No. Do you mean... Well we haven’t taken her body back to Abydos yet. Is that what you meant?”

Daniel couldn’t bear to answer. He closed his eyes and pretended to fall asleep.


* * * * * * * *


Daniel was putting on his shoes when Jack entered the Infirmary.

“Hey you,” Jack said. “Have you been sprung?”

“Yeah.” Daniel stood up and picked up the pad of paper he had been writing on the previous afternoon.

Daniel and Jack stood awkwardly, neither quite sure what to do or say.

Jack broke the silence. “Kasuf has taken Sha’re home to Abydos. We stopped by to see you on the way out. You were asleep and we didn’t want to disturb you. The funeral is set for the day after tomorrow. Kasuf wondered if you would perform the ritual of the weighing of the heart.” Jack’s voice lifted into a faint question.

“Okay.”

“You know what he’s talking about?”

“I’ll need to review the litany, but yes.”

“Kasuf also wondered if you and I would be bearers,” Jack said.

“Okay,” Daniel said dully.

“What is that?”

“It’s like pall bearers,” Daniel explained. “On Abydos, instead of using coffins they use papyrus boats. A bearer stands at each corner and carries it to the grave.”

“Ah. Okay.” Jack hesitated. “Um. Teal’c would really like to attend the funeral, but thinks that he would be unwelcome.”

“He’s right,” Daniel said coldly.

“Daniel--” Jack started.

“Forget it.” Daniel brooked no opposition. “I won’t have my wife’s killer standing at her burial as if he belonged.”

Jack watched Daniel for a minute.

“Okay,” Jack said quietly. He changed the subject. “Obviously you’re off duty until after the funeral. Let me know once you decide how much time you need. You can have as much as you need.”

“Mmm,” Daniel said vaguely.

Jack gave him a piercing look. “What?”

“Nothing.”

It wasn’t nothing, but Hammond would be the first to hear of his decision to resign. Besides, at the moment he did not feel up to dealing with the argument from Jack that he was sure his decision would bring.

“If you say so,” Jack said. “What are you up to? Anything I can do?”

“No. I’m just going to stop by my lab for a bit.”

“All right then. Talk to you later.” Jack gave Daniel a tap on the side of his shoulder and turned to go.

With a little sigh, Daniel followed him out of the Infirmary.


* * * * * * * *


Daniel knocked on General Hammond’s door.

“Come,” Hammond said. He looked up as Daniel walked into his office.

“General,” Daniel said.

“It’s good to see you up and around,” Hammond told him.

“Yes, Dr. Fraiser released me a little while ago.”

“Is there something I can do for you?” Hammond asked.

Daniel silently placed his handwritten notice on Hammnd’s desk.

“What’s this?” Hammond asked.

“My resignation.”

“I won’t accept it.”

“I don’t see how you can’t. I’m not military. I have the right to resign,” Daniel said.

“You do,” Hammond acknowledged. “But you’re also in an emotional state right now. Take some personal time first. You may feel differently later.”

“No sir. I don’t need time. I joined the program to find my wife. I’ve found her. There’s nothing left.” Daniel spoke with forced calmness.

Hammond sighed. “If that’s your final answer, I guess I have no choice.”

“It is.”

Hammond rose to his feet and extended his hand. “We’ll be very sorry to lose you, Dr. Jackson.”

Daniel shook his hand. “Thank you General. If you’ll excuse me, I have some things to wrap up.”

“Of course.”

Hammond took his seat again and watched Daniel leave his office. He picked up Daniel’s resignation letter and looked at it thoughtfully. After a moment, he tucked it into a desk drawer. There would be no harm, he decided, in taking his time before putting through the separation paperwork.


* * * * * * * *


Daniel spent the day organizing and packing up his office. He was so occupied with his project that he did not notice Jack standing in the doorway.

“Hey,” Jack finally said. “You should see the guy they put with us while you’re out.”

“Robert Rothman? He was my research assistant while I completed my dissertation. He had a good teacher.”

“Geek,” Jack said.

“You used to call me that,” Daniel said. He pulled a statuette out of Jack’s hands and set it aside.

“Who do you think I was talking about?” Jack asked. “How long do you think we’ll be stuck with this guy?”

“For as long as General Hammond decides? How would I know?”

“You don’t have a ballpark on when you’re coming back?”

“What do you mean? Didn’t General Hammond tell you?”

“That you quit?” Jack scoffed. “He told me. You and I both know that you won’t be able to stay away.”

“I know no such thing. I’m out of here.”

“You’ll miss me within a week.”

“The bad-tempered insults, the impatience, the arguments. Oh yeah...” Daniel spoke with weariness, but without rancor.

“Fine. You’ll miss Carter and Teal’c.”

Daniel stiffened. “I’ll miss Sam,” he said pointedly.

“And you’ll miss all the new cultures and living history. You love this stuff. You can’t walk away from it,” Jack coaxed.

Daniel picked up a couple of books and carefully arranged them in a box. “Jack,” he said quietly. “From the moment I joined this program, every time I stepped through the gate it was for my wife. Would I see her? Would this be the time that I would get to bring her home? Now...” he cleared his throat and looked away. “Now it’ll just be a reminder of what I’ve lost. I can’t do it anymore. I’m asking you to understand that. At least respect it.”

“You were the one who said that the Stargate Program is the most important endeavor for all of humanity. You’re a part of that,” Jack said.

“Not anymore,” Daniel said firmly.

Jack sighed. “If that’s how you really feel, then I guess I can’t do anything about that. But I think you should reconsider.”

“It’s how I really feel. I don’t need to think about it.” Daniel met Jack’s eyes for a few seconds. He turned away and resumed packing.

“Okay.” Jack got to his feet and moved to the door. “We’ll assign some people to help transfer your personal items home.”

Daniel looked at Jack long enough to nod in acknowledgment.


* * * * * * * *


Jack found Teal’c in the commissary where he and Sam where having a snack. They both looked up as Jack approached and took a seat.

“Is Daniel really leaving?” Sam asked

“He seems pretty determined,” Jack confirmed.

“He won’t do a leave of absence to think about it?” Sam asked.

“Won’t even consider it.”

“What if he changes his mind in a month?” Sam wondered.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Hammond sits on Daniel’s resignation letter for awhile just in case he does.”

Do you believe that he will change his mind, O’Neill?” Teal’c asked.

“He might,”Jack said. “He’s got a few weeks of accumulated vacation time. Hammond convinced him to take all of those days before making his resignation official. By then, he might change his mind.”

“It won’t be the same without him,” Sam said. “I wish there was something we could do for him.”

“I think it’s just going to take time,” Jack told her.

They sat in sad silence.

Finally, looking uncomfortable, Jack turned to Teal’c. “I talked to Daniel about the funeral.”

“Yes?” Teal’c said.

“I’m sorry T. He was adamant about not wanting you to be there.”

“I understand,” Teal’c said. He bowed his head.

“Maybe I can talk to him,” Sam suggested.

“No. I will abide by his decision,” Teal’c said.

“I’m sure it’s just because he’s so upset,” Sam said anxiously. “He’ll come around eventually. Won’t he?” Sam appealed to Jack.

“Sure.” Jack sounded far from sure.

“It is his right not to forgive me. Were it me, I am not certain that I would,” Teal’c said philosophically. He got up from the table. “If you will excuse me, I will return to my quarters.”

Jack and Sam exchanged pained looks. It was not a good feeling to be caught between two team members in such a way.


* * * * * * * *


Teal’c exited the elevator at the 18th level. He took up a position near the elevator and waited.


* * * * * * * *


Daniel put a lid on a box and glanced around the room. There were a few books and notebooks remaining to be boxed, but for all intents and purposes he was done. The remaining items could be packed up tomorrow. He was too tired to do more and his joints still ached. He picked up a book bag and walked out of the office.

He trudged down the hall coming to a stop a few feet in front of Teal’c, who was standing in front of the elevator.

“Please get out of my way, Teal’c,” Daniel said wearily.

“Will you hear me first?” Teal’c said.

Daniel looked at Teal’c. All he could see was the face of the man who had taken his wife away from him twice. He could feel bile rising in his throat. He walked around Teal’c and pressed the call button for the elevator.

“I have a pretty good idea what you want to say.” Daniel was surprised to hear how calm his voice sounded. He wanted to scream.

“Is there some ritual that I can perform that will allow me to earn your forgiveness?”

“No.”

The elevator doors opened and he stepped on board. Teal’c and Daniel faced each other across the threshold as the doors closed--Teal’c’s face faintly pleading; Daniel’s uncompromising.

Daniel. A familiar voice seemed to whisper in his ear. He turned his head almost expecting to see Sha’re beside him. He shook his head at the empty chamber. He decided that wishful thinking was making him hear things.


* * * * * * * *


The sun was beginning to set when Daniel walked into his apartment. He dropped his book bag near the front door and walked into the living room. He stood in the center of the room and looked vacantly at the surroundings.

It was silly, he thought. Sha’re had never set foot in his apartment, much less lived there. Yet, with the knowledge that she was dead, somehow the place seemed colder and lonelier. He wandered aimlessly through the place, turning on lights here and there. Eventually he wound up in the kitchen, looking without enthusiasm at the contents of his refrigerator.

Fifteen minutes later, having decided that he should eat something, he sat down at his table with a plate of scrambled eggs and cup of tea. He picked up a fork and took a bite. He gagged as he tried to swallow. He pushed the plate of food away and rushed to the kitchen sink, coughing and retching over the basin. So much for eating, he thought.

He scraped the eggs into the garbage can, then took a cautious drink of tea. To his relief it stayed down. He took another swallow. The warmth was soothing. He refilled his cup.

He commenced wandering through his apartment again. He picked up books and put them down again. He arranged and rearranged magazines and papers on his coffee table. He switched on his television, then switched it off again in disgust a few minutes later. At last, with nothing better to do, he collapsed onto his bed.

Daniel. The voice came again as he drifted into sleep. Hear me Daniel.

“What?” he mumbled.

The boy.

“What about him?”

You must find the boy.

“Okay.” Daniel drifted deeper into sleep. “What boy?” he asked suddenly.

If an answer came, he didn’t hear it. He had dropped into a deep and dreamless sleep.


* * * * * * * *


The boxes had all been packed and transported. Jack and Sam stood in Daniel’s living room with him. An airman walked in and looked questioningly at Daniel.

“Oh, just set it on the sofa,” Daniel said carelessly.

The airman complied. “That’s the last box, Dr.Jackson,” he said.

“Thank you,” Daniel told him.

“Sure. If you don’t need me for anything else?” the airman addressed the room at large.

Jack waved his hand. “Go ahead back to base,” Jack told him.

“Thank you sir. Meacham and I will be on our way, then.” He walked away, leaving Daniel, Jack, and Sam alone.

“So,” Sam said, attempting to be cheerful.

“So,” Daniel said flatly.

“Now what?” Jack asked.

“Now?” Daniel said. “Now I’m getting on with my life.”

“Doing what?”

“Somewhere that’s not here. A dig someplace. As remote a place as I can find.”

“Timbuktu?” Jack suggested.

“If that’s the best option.” Daniel offered a ghost of a smile.

“Are we going to see you again?” Sam asked.

“At the funeral. After that...” Daniel’s voice trailed away. “If you don’t mind, I’ve got a lot to do.”

All three stared at each other. Then Sam closed the distance to give Daniel a hug.

“Good luck, Daniel. If you ever need anything--” she whispered.

“I’ll know where to find you,” he finished.

Sam gave him a watery smile and walked away.

Daniel turned to Jack.

“So,” Jack said.

“So,” Daniel answered.

“Well. Dr. Jackson. It’s been an honor serving with you.” Jack also embraced Daniel.

“And you.”

Jack clapped Daniel on the shoulder. He and Sam walked out the door. Jack pulled the door gently shut behind him, leaving Daniel standing amid boxes.

Daniel looked at the boxes scattered through his living room with little enthusiasm. The energy and purpose that had driven him to pack up his belongings and bring them home abandoned him now that it was time to unpack. He listlessly lifted a couple of lids off of boxes and looked inside them. He halfheartedly took a couple of books out of one of the boxes and held them, frowning, as he looked around the room. He set the books haphazardly on the coffee table and migrated to the balcony, stopping in the kitchen for a mug of coffee.

Once outside, he sat down with a sigh. It was a beautiful day. The weather was cool, but not unpleasantly so. The sun was out, birds were singing, and there was a beginning hint of the changing colors of autumn. All of this went unnoticed by Daniel as he stared at the horizon. The physical scene before him was replaced in his mind’s eye by Sha’re’s final moments. Scenes played over and over in his head in continuous loops: the moments of being caught in the ribbon device wielded by the Goa’uld that wore his wife’s face; the shocked, disbelieving look as she fell backwards from the force of Teal’c’s staff blast; the sight of her lying lifeless on the table at Stargate Central.

With an effort he reminded himself that he had a ceremony to prepare for and dragged his mind away from the awful images playing in his mind. He walked back inside with a renewed sense of purpose. He made cursory searches of several boxes. “I knew I should have indexed the boxes,” Daniel muttered as pulled out books at random and then set them aside. After a few minutes he snapped his fingers and, rolling his eyes at himself, he moved to one of his bookcases. Trailing his fingers across the book spines, he paused at a reference book that included the Book of the Dead. He pulled it from the shelf and settled on the sofa to review the ceremony of the weighing of the heart.

He made mental notes as he refreshed his memory of the procedure, reminding himself of the traditions that he had seen the Abydonians follow in the time that he lived with them. He began to mutter the words of the litany, while miming the actions that would accompany the recitation. He spoke the words over and over again, wanting to assure that everything would be said in its proper order. As he rehearsed, it occurred to him that there would be representatives from the SGC at the funeral. It would be polite, he thought, to provide English translations as he performed the ritual. Working out the translations and how he would make the breaks between Abydonian and English would be a good way to occupy his mind for the evening. He retrieved a fresh pad of paper and began working through the phraseology and translations.

Later that evening, Daniel stretched, yawned, and checked his watch. He was surprised to see that it was already 8:00. He had not realized how much time had passed while was absorbed in his work. He was pleased with the work he had done. Every word was exactly as it should be.

He wandered into the kitchen and stood hesitantly in the center of the room. He did not feel hungry, but he supposed he should eat something. His eye fell on the sack of cookies that Sam had brought to him while he was in the infirmary. He had not been able to bring himself to eat them at the time, but tonight they were more enticing. He pulled a glass from a cabinet and a milk container from the refrigerator. He frowned as he saw that the expiration date had passed the day before. He sniffed the milk, and, deciding to chance it, filled the drinking glass. Picking up his cookies, he returned the living room.

Daniel dropped onto the sofa and bit into a cookie. He was surprised to find himself taking enjoyment from it. It had been a nice gesture, he thought, for Sam to bring him his favorite cookies. He closed his eyes and leaned back while he chewed, allowing his mind to drift.

Daniel.

“What?” he said. The sound of his own voice startled him. He sat up and looked around the entry room confusedly, shaking his head.

Deciding he must have been dreaming, Daniel picked up another cookie and the pages that held his completed script for the next day’s burial service. He spent the remainder of the evening rehearsing and memorizing the litany. He wanted every word to be perfect. Sha’re deserved nothing less.

When at last he fell into bed, he was satisfied that he was as well prepared for his role in the next day’s events as he could be. Within moments he was asleep.

Daniel shifted uncomfortably in his sleep. Behind the bright light that was shining into his eyes, he could see Ammonet directing her ribbon device at him.

Hear me Daniel.

He groaned as pain began to spread through his body. Suddenly he found himself blinking from the light of his bedside lamp.

“Are you ill, my husband?”

“I think so.” Daniel looked with befuddlement into the face of his wife.

“Go to sleep,” Sha’re said. “You should rest before you resume your travels through the Chapp’ai.”

“No. I’m done with those travels. Now that I’ve found you.” He reached a tentative hand to touch her cheek.

“You must. You need to find the boy.”

“Where?” Daniel asked.

“You must continue your travels and you must forgive Teal’c,” Sha’re continued. “He was right to do as he did.”

Daniel stiffened. “But he killed you.”

“Yes,” Sha’re said quietly.

“Now you’re here.” Daniel wrinkled his forehead. None of this made sense. Yet it all seemed reasonable.

“Yes. Sleep my husband.”

Daniel relaxed into the warmth of Sha’re’s smile and closed his eyes. He felt her kiss his forehead, her hair brushing against his chest.

A car horn sounded outside Daniel’s building, waking him with a start. Without thinking, he reached to his side. His hand met only emptiness at the other side of his bed. He knew he should not have been disappointed to be alone, but his heart sank all the same. Crestfallen, he lay back against the pillows. He squeezed his eyes shut against the sudden rush of tears. Surrendering to emotion, he curled into a ball and let his misery wash over him.


* * * * * * * *


Wearing robes that he had worn as a resident of Abydos, Daniel was at Cheyenne Mountain fifteen minutes before the designated departure time for Abydos. He had brought his key card with him out of habit. To his surprise the elevator accepted it. He shrugged and pressed the button for level 28.

He stepped off the elevator to see Sam and Jack waiting for him. They were dressed neatly in their Class A uniforms.

“Daniel.” Sam gave him a warm hug. “Are you ready for this?”

“Not really.” Daniel tried and failed to give her a smile.

Sam squeezed his arm. “No one over really is,” she said sympathetically.

Jack offered a nod of agreement. “Let’s head into the gate room,” he said.

As they crossed a junction of corridors, Teal’c came into view in the adjacent hallway. He started to step in their direction, then stopped. He watched silently as the trio also came to a stop. Daniel’s expression hardened.

“Why is he here?” Daniel made little effort to lower his voice.

“He works here, Daniel,” Jack reminded him.

“He’s not planning to come to the funeral?”

“No. You made your feelings on that subject perfectly clear.” Jack’s voice was neutral.

“Good.” Daniel turned his back and resumed his path to the gate room.

Teal’c remained silent. A slight slump of his shoulders and the twitch of a muscle in his jaw indicated the emotions that lurked beneath the surface. Sam and Jack both offered Teal’c commiserating looks before turning to catch up with Daniel.

“Daniel, Teal’c feels as badly as it’s possible to feel,” Sam said gently.

“Good,” Daniel repeated.

Sam was opening her mouth to speak again, when Daniel caught her eye. “I don’t want to hear it,” he said.

“Okay,” Sam said sadly.

They walked into the gate room to find General Hammond and Janet Fraiser waiting for them. They, too, were dressed in Class A uniforms.

“General. Are coming too?” Daniel asked.

“That was my intention.”

“Thank you.” Daniel’s words and glance encompassed both the General and Janet.

Hammond nodded. He looked up at the control room. “Lieutenant Simmons, dial the gate,” he instructed.

“Yes sir,” Simmons responded.

The gate chevrons began to engage. When the group emerged from the ring in the pyramid on Abydos, Kasuf was waiting for them. He looked first at Daniel.

“Good son. It is good to see you on this sad day,” Kasuf said.

“Good father. It is good to be here,” Daniel replied.

Kasuf turned his attention to the others. “You are most welcome here,” he told them.

“It is our privilege,” Hammond said.

Kasuf bowed. “Come,” he said. He led them from the coolness of the pyramid to heat and sand of the Abydonian landscape.

Ten minutes of walking brought them to a cluster of tents. They could see that a hole had been dug nearby. They followed Kasuf through the entrance to one of the tents. Once their eyes adjusted to being out of the glare of the sun, they could see that others were already within the tent, waiting patiently. There was a low table on one side. Upon it was the neatly wrapped body of Sha’re. She wore a scarab necklace and rested on a papyrus boat. The atmosphere within the tent was solemn.

“It is time,” Kasuf said. “Will the bearers come forth?”

Two young Abydonian men came forward and stood beside Kasuf. They and Daniel nodded to each other in greeting.

Jack looked at Daniel questioningly. Daniel nodded at him and stepped forward. Jack followed. Each of the four moved toward Sha’re. Each grasped a loop that was built into four spots of the boat. Ropes were attached to each loop. Following the example of the others, Jack held the coiled rope in the hand that was not carrying the boat.

Kasuf led the way out of the tent. The bearers followed, carrying Sha’re. The Abydonians and guests from the SGC followed behind the bearers in a silent procession.

The Abydonians gathered on one side of the grave with the SGC personnel on the other. Using the ropes, the bearers lowered the boat steadily and gently into the grave. Once Sha’re had been placed in her final resting spot, the bearers stepped back with the others.

Kasuf looked skyward and raised a prayer. The Abydonians followed Kasuf’s prayer with chanting. The chant seemed to be a lament, but it also seemed to hold an underlying hint of joy.

When the chanting finished, Daniel knelt at a set of scales at the graveside. He alternated languages, speaking first in Abydonian, then providing the English translation. His voice was firm and clear.

“I speak for Sha’re who can no longer speak for herself. I have spoken no lies, nor acted with deceit. I was once possessed by a demon who did these things against my will. The demon is gone and now I am without sin. Grant me a place in your blessed dwelling.”

Everyone watched attentively as Daniel placed a feather on one scale.

“If my heart weighs more than a feather my soul still contains sin. If not, my soul may join the god,” Daniel continued.

The scales did not shift.The Abydonians lifted their hands to the heavens. Daniel rose to his feet.

“By the trial of the Great Scales, they heart is light. Thy soul has been found true,” Daniel concluded.

A dirt-covered tarp extended from both lengthwise sides of the grave. At Kasuf’s nod, the funeral attendees lifted the tarp. The dirt dropped into the grave, refilling it.

The act of burial brought a final note of reality to Sha’re’s death. People began to drift away, speaking quietly amongst themselves. General Hammond and the other guests from the SGC drew near Kasuf.

“Please allow me to offer my condolences again on your loss,” Hammond said.

“Thank you General,” Kasuf said.

“It was a beautiful service,” Janet commented.

“It was,” Kasuf bowed his head. “We take comfort that she is with our gods now.”

No one replied to Kasuf’s words, but they looked at him with compassion and respect. Daniel stood aside from the group, his expression distant.

“We will have a feast of remembrance later today. Will you stay for it?” Kasuf asked.

“I’m afraid that most of us need to return home,” Hammond said. He glanced at Daniel. “However I’m sure that Dr. Jackson would like to be here for it.”

“I would too, sir,” Jack said. “I can bring Daniel home after. Did you want to stay Daniel?”

Daniel simply nodded.

“Very well,” Hammond said. “We’ll see you after it’s over.”

“How about if we stay the night?” Jack suggested.

“Approved. I’ll expect you by mid-morning,” Hammond told him.



* * * * * * * *


The remainder of the day passed uneventfully. Daniel spent most of it either sitting quietly at Sha’re’s grave or moodily wandering old, familiar paths. Every place he went evoked memories: the spot where he first met Sha’re; the cavern where they first started to really speak to each other; the spot where she had sacrificed herself to save him. Anger at what he had lost rose in him often. He was filled with bitter self-recriminations that he had unburied the stargate. He imagined what it would be like to have continued living in peace as an Abydonian, with no knowledge or interest in anything happening beyond his adopted home.

But he had uncovered the stargate. That, he realized, was what he would have to learn to live with. It was why he believed he needed to leave the stargate behind and build a new life. Every trip through a gate would be another reminder of the mistake he had made when he unburied the Abydos stargate. He needed the distance. He needed a fresh start.


* * * * * * * *


Dusk fell and the pyramid bustled with activity. Food and drink was brought in as more and more people gathered. Daniel made his way to the pyramid too, meeting up with Kasuf and Jack. Jack, Daniel noticed, was now clothed in Abydonian robes.

“Hey there,” Jack said. “You doing all right?”

Daniel shrugged.

“That well?” Jack commented.

Daniel shrugged again.

“I’m pleased that you have joined us,” Kasuf said.

Daniel forced a smile. “Me too.”

Daniel was drawn away by friends for conversation and reminiscence. Jack remained with Kasuf who watched the proceedings benevolently.

As food and moonshine was consumed, the volume level within the pyramid increased. What had started as a quiet, solemn affair became more and more animated. Laughter rang out frequently as the night progressed. Even Daniel began to smile and occasionally laugh as stories were shared.

Well after midnight, as the festivities wound down, Kasuf rose to his feet. “My friends,” he said raising a cup. “It has been good to be together on this sad day. I mourn the loss of my daughter. I rejoice that she has entered the halls of heaven. We have shared in our sorrow. We have taken comfort in our memories. I thank you all.” He took a drink from his cup. The others followed suit.

“Be at peace.” Kasuf was speaking to all, but looking at Daniel.

Yeah, right, Daniel thought to himself as he looked at his feet.

The gathering broke up as people began taking their leave. Most paused to exchange words with Jack and wish Daniel well on their way out.

“Do you want to get a few hours of sleep here, or go home now?” Jack asked Daniel. “It’s up to you.”

Daniel hesitated. “Let’s leave later,” he said.

“Good,” Jack nodded.

“You are welcome in my dwelling,” Kasuf offered.

“Thanks,” Jack said.

They picked up lanterns and made their way across the sand to Kasuf’s tents. Kasuf led Jack and Daniel toward one of the tents. Pulling the entrance aside, he allowed them room to walk inside. There was bedding for them to use. Jack’s uniform was folded neatly in one corner.

“Rest well,” Kasuf said.

“Good night,” Jack said.

Kasuf left them and they settled down for the night.

After a few moments Jack spoke into the darkness. “Daniel?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you wanting to live on Abydos?”

Daniel did not answer for a long time. “No,” he finally said. “I will always love Abydos. It will always be my second home. But there are too many reminders here. Too much has happened.”

“You’re still set on heading off to Timbuktu or wherever?” Jack asked.

“I’m not running away,” Daniel said defensively.

“I wasn’t trying to imply that you were,” Jack said mildly. “I understand why you want to go in a new direction. But, Daniel. I retired once too. Perspectives change.”

“Mine won’t.”

“Maybe not. But keep your options open anyway.”

Daniel sighed. “My decision is final.”

“Just don’t burn any bridges. That’s all I’m saying.”

Daniel sighed again. “Okay.”

“Okay.”

“Okay,” Daniel repeated.

“Good night Daniel.”

“Good night.”


* * * * * * * *

The sun was creeping over the horizon when Kasuf escorted Jack and Daniel to the gate the next morning. The desert was bathed in a golden glow, with the air still retaining some of the coolness of night.

“Good son, walk beside me,” Kasuf invited Daniel.

Daniel stepped beside Kasuf. Jack dropped a few paces behind them.

“What is it good father?” Daniel asked.

“Colonel O’Neill has told me that you are leaving his tribe. You will no longer be going through the Chapp’ai?”

“That is so.” Daniel cast an accusatory glance over his shoulder at Jack.

Jack shrugged at him. “The subject came up. I told him what your plans are.”

“I am greatly disturbed,” Kasuf said. “We take great security on Abydos knowing that you are among the gods, giving us protection.”

“I’m sorry good father. I joined Stargate Central to find and reunite with Sha’re. That is no longer possible. I cannot travel among the gods anymore. I hope you can understand.”

“Daniel. I do not believe that my daughter would wish you to stop your travels.”

“Perhaps not. But she’s no longer here to say.” Images flashed through Daniel’s mind of recent dreams about Sha’re. He deliberately put them aside. They were just dreams.

“You must do what you think is best,” Kasuf told him as they stepped inside the pyramid.

“Thank you,” Daniel said.

Jack began dialing the coordinates for home as Daniel and Kasuf faced each other.

“Will I see you again good son?” Kasuf asked.

“I’m not sure,” Daniel hedged.

The wormhole engaged.

Kasuf embraced Daniel. “Be well,” he said.

“You too.”

Jack reached out to shake Kasuf’s hand. “We’ll stay in contact. Skaara is still out there. If we can bring him home we will.”

“That will be a good day,” Kasuf said.

“Yes it will.” Jack smiled at Kasuf and turned toward the ring.

Daniel followed Jack. Both turned to give a final wave to Kasuf. He raised his hand to them, palm outward, and nodded in response. Jack and Daniel stepped into the event horizon and were gone. The wormhole disengaged. Kasuf dropped his hand, his expression melancholy. He sighed and began to walk home.


* * * * * * * *


The days passed slowly for Daniel. He unpacked the items he brought home from work. He rearranged the furniture in his living room twice. He halfheartedly began researching archaeological projects around the world. It was not until he was faced with the prospect of rejoining the archaeological community that he fully realized the challenge before him.

Daniel started a letter to his former mentor, Dr. Jordan, half a dozen times. Each time, he had stalled immediately after the salutation. How do I explain where I’ve been for the last four years? he wondered. He could live with people still thinking he was a kook for his theories of alien influence on ancient Earth culture, he decided. He was prepared to re-enter the field and never talk about aliens again. Still, he was finding it harder than he expected to figure out how to approach reintegrating into a fully Earth-based side of the profession. He refused to admit to himself that he was missing the day to day activity of life as a part of the SGC.

Daniel lived his days in mechanical fashion. He showered. He dressed. He ate. Occasionally he left the apartment for food or supplies. More and more he felt like he was waiting, though he could not say for what. Sha’re continued to visit his dreams at night. He was even beginning to hear her voice in his waking hours from time to time. She persistently delivered the message that he must forgive Teal’c and find the child. It was a message that he could not accept.


* * * * * * * *


Daniel could feel the heat of the Abydonian sun. He could smell the scents of the desert around him. He knelt beside Sha’re’s grave, reciting ceremonial words.

“By the trial of the Great Scales, thy heart is light. Thy soul has been found true,” he concluded.

Daniel began to walk away as the grave was being filled in. Kasuf approached him.

“Good son.”

“It was a beautiful ceremony, good father,” Daniel said.

“It was. My heart remains troubled.”

“Your daughter is with the god,” Daniel said.

“Yes she is. But you have still not heard her.”

“What do you mean?”

“What she has to say is important. For all of us. You must go to her,” Kasuf said urgently.

Daniel turned in the direction that Kasuf pointed.

“Daniel.”

Daniel turned again to see Sha’re. She looked as she had when he first knew her. She was dressed in Abydonian robes. He took in the sight of her without speaking.

“You must forgive Teal’c,” she said.

“You’ve said that before,” Daniel said.

“Together, you must find the boy.”

“Why?”

Kasuf suddenly materialized at Sha’re’s side. “He is Harsesis. He holds the secrets.”

“He is the son of two Goa’uld hosts. He contains all the secrets of the Goa’uld. You must find him,” Sha’re elaborated.

“How?” Daniel asked, puzzled.

The scene shifted abruptly. Daniel found himself kneeling before Ammonet as she wielded her ribbon device. Sha’re’s voice sounded in his ear again.

“Hear me Daniel.”

Daniel opened his eyes to sunlight flooding the room. He gave a little huff of frustration. After a moment’s thought, he picked up the phone and dialed.

“This is Dr. Daniel Jackson. I need to speak to Major Carter.”

“SG-1 is currently away,” the person at the other end of the line informed Daniel.

“Can you say when they’re due back?”

“Around mid-afternoon, I think.”

“Thank you,” Daniel said. He cradled the receiver.


* * * * * * * *


Daniel stood alongside General Hammond at the bottom of the ramp as SG-1 exited the gate.

“Daniel,” Sam greeted him with a surprised smile.

“What brings you by Dr. Jackson?” Jack wanted to know.

“I need to speak to Sam. Alone,” Daniel said.

Jack looked meaningfully at Rothman and then at Hammond. “General, I need to talk to you alone.”

The others watched Jack and Hammond walk away.

“How are they treating you?” Daniel asked Rothman.

“I think they’d rather have you. I know Colonel O’Neill would.”

“Oh, don’t let Jack get to you. He’s just intimidated by your intellect.”

“Okay.” Rothman said dubiously. He, too, walked away.

Daniel and Teal’c exchanged a long look.

You must forgive Teal’c. The words echoed in Daniel’s head.

“It is good to see you Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c said.

Daniel sighed as Teal’c began to walk away. “Teal’c,” he said.

Teal’c paused.

“You did the right thing,” Daniel said.

The words were spoken purely in response to Sha’re’s insistent voice. Even so, having said the words that he was not sure he meant, Daniel felt the ice in his heart begin to splinter.

Teal’c nodded, aware that Daniel’s words were not entirely heartfelt. He would take them for now. He departed, leaving Sam and Daniel alone.

“What’s up?” Sam asked Daniel.

“What can you tell me about how the Goa’uld hand device works?”

“As far as I can tell, it takes a version of the power source from staff weapons and channels it through amplification crystals--”

Daniel cut her off. “No, not that. It works by thought control?”

“Let’s go up to my lab,” Sam said. “Yeah, thought control and emotion,” Sam said as they walked out of the room.

“There’s a connection to the mind,” Daniel said.

“Yes,” Sam said.

Daniel didn’t speak as they made the trip to Sam’s lab. He chewed on the theories that had been forming in his head over the last few days.

“What’s on your mind, Daniel?” Sam asked as they entered her office. She gestured toward a chair as she took a seat.

Daniel sat down. “Do you think it’s possible to send a thought through the hand device? If you had someone caught in it like Sha’re had me?”

Sam wrinkled her forehead. “To my knowledge, the device is designed to kill.”

“But do you think it could do both?”

“I suppose,” Sam said doubtfully. “Why? Do you think you’ve been sent a message?”

“Possibly. Or possibly more.”

“More?” Sam asked.

“It’s going to sound like wishful thinking, but...” Daniel broke off his thought.

Sam waited.

“It’s almost like... Well, it’s like Sha’re sent a piece of herself to me through the hand device.” Daniel regretted the words as soon as he said them. Sam’s expression was a little too kind.

“Oh, I don’t know Daniel.”

“The device works by neural energy, right?”

“Yes,” Sam agreed.

“So maybe she used the interface to send some of her neural energy to me.”

“That seems pretty far-fetched,” Sam remained skeptical.

“No I realize that,” Daniel said. “But Machello was able to create a device that allowed psyches to jump bodies. So the idea isn’t unprecedented.”

“You think Sha’re is inhabiting your body?”

“Well... no. But it’s like she’s with me in some way.”

“How do you mean?” Sam asked.

“I hear her voice. I’ve never had such real dreams as the ones I’ve been having about her.”

“For a long time after my mom died, I’d forget that she was gone. When I went off to the Academy, half the time I expected to see her when I came home on breaks. Sometimes I’d think I had seen or heard her. I still have to stop myself sometimes from picking up the phone to call her,” Sam said.

“This is more than that. It’s like Sha’re is trying to tell me something.”

“What do you think that might be?”

Daniel hesitated.

“You don’t want to say?”

“Not yet.”

“Okay.” She paused. “So what’s next for you? Do you have a dig lined up?”

“Not yet.”

“Well, there’s no need to rush into anything.”

“I suppose not.”

“It was nice...” Sam trailed off uncertainly.

“What?” Daniel asked.

“It was nice to see you speaking to Teal’c. Are you feeling better about him?”

“Not really.”

“But you’re trying?”

Daniel sighed. “It’s something I keep dreaming about. Forgiving Teal’c.”

“A message from Sha’re?”

Daniel nodded. “Maybe I’m just losing my mind.”

Sam smiled in sympathy. “I doubt that.” She thought for a moment. “Look, I can’t say for sure what you’re experiencing. Maybe Sha’re sent a part of herself through the ribbon device. Maybe she sent a message. Maybe the dreams and voice you hear is your own subconscious speaking to you. I don’t know. But a voice telling you to forgive doesn’t seem like a bad thing.” She paused, then smiled slightly. “Mind you, if it starts telling you to get naked at the airport, you might want to reconsider.”

“Naked at the airport?” Daniel repeated quizzically.

“Just some advice from Mr. Carlson to Johnny Fever.”

“Who?” Daniel remained confused.

“Never mind. It’s from a tv show Mark and I used to watch when we were kids,” Sam explained.

“Ah. Okay. So, no getting naked at airports.” Daniel offered a small smile.

“I advise against it.” Sam smiled back at him.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Daniel’s smile faded. “I just don’t know how I can forgive Teal’c. Why should I? First he took Sha’re away from me on Abydos. Then he killed her right in front of me.” Daniel sounded tired and defensive.

Sam studied Daniel compassionately. “It’s really more about you than him,” she finally said.

“What do you mean?”

“When my mother died, I blamed my dad for a long time. If he’d been where he was supposed to be, she wouldn’t have died. I said so many terrible things to him and he just took it.” Sam shook her head. “It took me a long time to forgive him. What I learned when I finally did, was that I needed it as much as he did. Maybe more. I held on to that anger for so long and it poisoned so many things. When I finally let go of it, it was like having a huge weight lifted from me.”

Daniel looked at Sam with troubled eyes. “I don’t know how to feel forgiving about this.”

“I think it’s more of a decision than it is a feeling. But it’s something you’re going to have to work out for yourself.” Sam said.

“Yeah,” Daniel said thoughtfully. “Okay, well,” Daniel said getting to his feet, “I really should be pushing off. Thanks, Sam. You’ve helped give me some perspective.”

Sam stood up too. “Anytime.”

“I’d appreciate it if you’d keep this conversation just between us,” Daniel said.

“You have my word.” She gave Daniel a hug. “It’s good to see you Daniel. I miss you.”

“Me too.”

“Anything you need, all you have to do is call,” Sam told him.

“I know. Bye Sam.”

“Good night, Daniel.”


* * * * * * * *


Another month passed. Daniel showered. He dressed. He ate. He left his apartment with greater frequency. He began putting work and research into papers that had languished for months prior to his leaving the SGC. Jack had taken to leaving regular messages on his voicemail wanting to know if he was ready to come back to SG-1. Sha’re continued to visit his dreams.


* * * * * * * *


Daniel walked into his apartment with a sack of groceries. He came to a dead stop at the sight of Jack and Kasuf sitting in the living room.

“I guess that explains why my door was unlocked,” Daniel commented.

“Hey Daniel,” Jack said conversationally.

“Hi. How’d you get in?” It occurred to Daniel that he should be more surprised to see them.

“Kasuf wanted to see you so I brought him by,” Jack said.

“Okay. How did you get in?” Daniel asked again.

“We got tired of waiting in the hall and didn’t know how long you’d be so I let us in. FYI: You’ll need to get a new lock,” Jack said carelessly.

Daniel was drawing breath for an annoyed response when Kasuf spoke.

“Good son. I must speak with you.”

Daniel took a deep, calming breath. “Yes good father?”

“Colonel O’Neill says that you have held to your decision not to travel through the chapp’ai.”

“Yes.”

“I remain troubled by this,” Kasuf said.

“I’m sorry if it upsets you. I must go down a new path now.”

“But my daughter wishes you to travel among the gods,” Kasuf argued.

“Really?” Daniel said disbelievingly.

“Yes, to find the boy.”

“I don’t understand. How could you know such a thing?”

“Sha’re told me. Listen to her.”

Daniel looked at Kasuf questioningly. Kasuf pointed toward a door. Daniel walked to it. He looked hesitantly over his shoulder at Kasuf and Jack. Kasuf nodded at him and gestured for him to pass through the door. Daniel walked through the door and onto the planet P8X 873. He was wondering why the change of scenery seemed so natural when he caught sight of Sha’re standing in front of the tent. He followed her inside only to find himself once again caught by Ammonet’s ribbon device.

Listen Daniel.”

Daniel struggled to withstand the attack of the hand device. As he had on the day of the actual attack, he had the impression of a secondary kind of energy traveling along the beam that bored into his head. He was still trying to make sense of the situation when he awoke with a start.

Daniel sat up in bed, swinging his feet over the side. He looked around the room that was beginning to fill with early morning light, pulling together the threads of all of the dreams of the last several weeks. It was time, he decided, to address his issues directly.


* * * * * * * *


Daniel paused at the door. He dithered for a couple of minutes, raising his hand to knock, then lowering it. Finally he took a deep breath, counted to three, and rapped on the door.

“Enter,” came the call from inside.

Daniel opened the door to Teal’c’s quarters. Teal’c was sitting sitting in the middle of the room, surrounded by lit candles. He looked up inquiringly at Daniel.

“It is good to see you Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c said.

“Am I interrupting?” Daniel asked.

“You are welcome here,” Teal’c told him.

Daniel entered the room and closed the door. He took a seat on the floor, facing Teal’c, mimicking his cross-legged position.

“What happens if two Goa’uld hosts have a child?” Daniel wanted to know.

“It is a strict taboo. The punishment is death.”

“Why?” Daniel asked curiously.

“The child of two hosts would contain all of the knowledge of the Goa’uld.”

“The genetic memory that Goa’uld have in their DNA is passed to human offspring,” Daniel reiterated.

“Yes,” Teal’c confirmed. “These children are called Harsesis. They are targeted for destruction by the Goa’uld.”

Daniel began thinking out loud. “The Harsesis would contain all the knowledge of the Goa’uld. All the secrets. A Goa’uld who possesses a Harsesis would share the same agenda.”

“Yes.”

“Other Goa’uld would perceive a Harsesis as a threat, especially if he is also a host. He would be like a super-Goa’uld,” Daniel mused.

“Yes,” Teal’c agreed.

Daniel nodded and stood. He turned to leave.

“Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c said.

Daniel paused.

“I’m honored that you value my knowledge once again,” said Teal’c.

I’m so glad I could make you feel better, he thought to himself sarcastically. That thought was immediately followed by an echo in his mind from his last conversation with Sam. I said so many terrible things to him and he just took it. He looked at Teal’c with a fresh perspective. Once again, he felt the ice in his heart softening. He nodded and left the room.


* * * * * * * *


Daniel spent the weekend pondering his recurring dreams, his conversation with Sam, and his exchange with Teal’c regarding the implications of a Harsesis. Hidden somewhere in the universe was the boy that Sha’re had given birth to. A boy who was an enemy of the Goa’uld by birth and genetically predisposed to be hostile to humans. His knowledge could be of enormous benefit to humans. He could change the course of not only Earth’s history but of the galaxy. Beyond factors of strategy and security, the child represented a tie to Sha’re. That alone made him precious.

Daniel got out of bed Monday morning with a sense of purpose and drive that he had not felt since Sha’re’s death. He would find Sha’re’s son. He could not do that by sitting at home or joining a dig somewhere on Earth. He had the unshakable feeling that there was more that Sha’re was trying to tell him. He speculated that visiting the place of her death would provide clarity and closure. He needed access to the stargate if he was going to accomplish any of these things. He placed a phone call to Stargate Central and arranged to meet with General Hammond within the hour.


* * * * * * * *


Daniel heard Jack’s voice before he even reached General Hammond’s door.

“General, he’s got two left feet. He’s slowing down the unit.”

“This sounds familiar,” Daniel said as walked into Hammond’s office.

“Yeah?” Jack said.

“Yeah. You know,” Daniel added, “Robert went through college on a track and field scholarship.”

“Rothman,” Jack was obviously trying to decide whether Daniel was serious.

“Two left feet?” Hammond asked Jack pointedly.

“Trying to move Robert out of your unit?” Daniel asked.

“Yeah.” Jack looked a little sheepish.

“Is there any chance of transferring him?” Daniel asked Hammond.

“Only if you’re reconsidering your departure,” Hammond told him.

“Okay,” Daniel said simply.

“All right. Rothman’s gone,” Jack said. “Wait. What?” he asked Daniel.

“Okay. I’d like to come back.”

“Are you serious?” Jack asked.

“Yes. I’ve had a lot of time to think and I’d like to return.”

“You were pretty adamant about leaving. May I ask what’s changed?”

It’s the only way I’ll be able to get through the gate, Daniel thought to himself. Aloud he said “I think there’s something through the stargate that I’m meant to find.”

“I have no idea what that means, but it’s good enough for me. General?” Jack appealed to Hammond.

“I never put through his resignation papers. If he’s ready to come back, he can start today.”

“Good then. He’s in.” Jack smiled at Daniel. “Our next mission leaves in ninety minutes. See you in the gate room.” He gave Daniel an affectionate nudge with his elbow as walked out of the office.

“Welcome back Dr. Jackson,” Hammond said with a smile.

“Thank you General. I guess I better get geared up.” Daniel nodded at Hammond and left his office.


* * * * * * * *


Jack walked into the gate room where Sam, Teal’c, and Robert Rothman were waiting.

“You’ll be sitting this one out,” Jack told Rothman.

“Why?” Rothman looked confused.

“You’ve been reassigned to another unit.”

“Why?” Rothman repeated.

“You’re being replaced.”

“Why? By who?”

“Whom,” Jack corrected.

Daniel made his entrance at that moment.

“Daniel!” Sam said with a delighted smile.

“Oh.” Rothman handed Daniel the GDO with a resigned smile. “Welcome back, Daniel,” he said. He rolled his eyes at Jack and left the room.

“You are rejoining SG-1,” Teal’c said, sounding pleased.

“Thank you,” Jack mouthed at Daniel.

Daniel nodded, but did not speak. He was beginning to feel twinges of guilt that he was using SG-1 and the SGC to pursue his own agenda. Everyone--from the people who had seen him in the halls, to the officer who had checked his weapons and equipment out to him, to the other scientists from his department--had acted so pleased to see him back. His teammates were obviously happy to have him back. His original plan had been to inform Hammond that he wanted to relocate to Abydos. From there, he would be able to begin his search for the Harsesis. Instead, almost before he realized it was happening, he had found himself agreeing to rejoin the SGC.

The stargate engaged and SG-1 strode up the ramp. They exited the gate onto a sunny, pastoral world.

“Carter, go ahead and collect your samples. Teal’c, you’re with Carter. I’ll check out the tree line. Daniel, the UAV didn’t indicate any obvious signs of civilization, so--

“You want me to look for the itsy-bitsy artifacts that would indicate past habitation,” Daniel concluded.

“Nice to have you back.” Jack gave him a smile, a pat on the shoulder, and walked away.

Daniel watched his teammates for a moment with a wistful smile. “Good-bye,” he whispered. He turned to the DHD, dialed and address quickly and bolted through the gate as soon as it engaged.


* * * * * * * *


“What? Hey!” Jack shouted running toward the gate.

The wormhole disengaged before Jack reached it. He turned to Sam who was breathlessly approaching the DHD. “Where’d he go?” he asked.

Sam and Teal’c looked wordlessly back at Jack.

“Among other issues, doesn’t Daniel have the GDO?” Jack’s voice was dangerously calm.

“Yes he does,” Sam said. “Do we gate to the Alpha site or dial home and report our situation?”

“I’d prefer to find Daniel first if we can.” Jack’s expression was thunderous. “Too bad that the DHDs don’t have automatic redial.”

“I’ve wondered about that for a long time myself,” Sam said. “You’d think data like that would be in the crystals. There must be a way to access that kind of information. We should bring a working DHD to the SGC sometime for study.”

“How does that help us now?” Jack’s voice was still a little too calm.

“Uh, it doesn’t. Just thinking out loud,” Sam admitted.

“I have never heard of such a thing being achieved. That is perhaps fortunate. Otherwise an enemy might have followed us to the Alpha site by now,” Teal’c said.

Jack sighed. “You’re probably right. Anybody have any guesses where Daniel might be?”

“Perhaps he went to Abydos?” Teal’c suggested.

“If that’s what he wanted, why wouldn’t he arrange it at Stargate Central?” Jack asked.

They exchanged helpless and frustrated looks. They were still puzzling over possibilities when chevrons on the gate began to light up.

“Maybe that’s him,” Jack said.

They all watched the gate tensely. After a pause, an object flew out of the gate. Teal’c picked up the item as the wormhole disengaged.

“It is the GDO,” Teal’c announced.

“Well. How considerate of Daniel,” Jack said sarcastically. “Do we know where he is?”

“I saw the Chevrons,” Sam said. “P8X 873.”

“Isn’t that where Sha’re died?” Jack asked.

“Indeed,” Teal’c confirmed.

“Why go there after all this time?” Jack wondered.

Sam frowned thoughtfully. “I’ve heard of going back to the scene of a trauma as part of the recovery.”

“If that’s what he wanted, he might have said something to the rest of us,” Jack groused. “Let’s see if he’s still there.”

“Should we report this to Stargate Central before we go?” Sam asked.

“Probably,” Jack said. “But I’d like to get to Daniel first. Carter, dial the gate.

Sam nodded and stepped to the DHD.


* * * * * * * *


Daniel stepped out of the gate on P8X 873 and took a deep breath. Nearly a year had passed since the terrible events that had happened there. Even now, detritus remained from the battle of that day. He could see bits of Jaffa armor and skeletal remains still scattered on the field of battle. The framework and tatters of a tent still stood several hundred yards in front of him. As he took a step forward he trod on a spent bullet casing.

After a few steps, Daniel snapped his fingers and turned back toward the gate. He pulled the GDO from his pack. He had meant to leave the GDO behind, but in his haste to make his move he had forgotten. He might be leaving his team behind, but there was no reason to leave them stranded. He considered attaching a note of explanation to the GDO but decided against it. Better to make a clean, sharp break, he decided. He dialed the address for the planet he had just left and tossed the GDO into the event horizon.

The wormhole disengaged. Daniel looked thoughtfully at the stargate for a moment. With the feeling that he had passed the point of no return, Daniel turned and trudged toward tent in the distance. He hesitated at the sagging, forlorn-looking structure. From the corner of his eye he had a vague sense that the stargate had activated. A familiar, angry shout followed soon after. Daniel took a deep breath, hunched a shoulder and stepped through the tent’s doorway.


* * * * * * *


Three people emerged from the stargate at P8X 873 and began scanning the landscape.

“There he is,” Sam said, pointing at Daniel who was approaching a tent in the distance.

“Hey! Daniel!” Jack shouted. “No note? No good-bye? You were just going to leave us stranded?”

Daniel entered the tent as if Jack had not spoken.

“In fairness, sir, he did send the GDO to us,” Sam said.

“Could we not have gotten home by way of the Alpha Site even without the GDO?” Teal’c added.

“It’s the principle of the thing,” Jack grumbled. “Whose side are you on?”

“Whatever side brings Daniel back to the team,” Sam said.

Jack sighed. “Me too. Let’s get down there.”


* * * * * * *


Lost in thought and memories, Daniel surveyed the interior of the tent. He knelt. This is where I was while she used the hand device on me. He gently touched the ground in front of him. This is where Sha’re fell. In his mind’s eye, he again watched the staff blast tear through his wife. His head and shoulders drooped. “Sha’re,” he whispered.

“My Daniel.” He heard the words clearly in his mind. He had the feeling of a hand resting against his cheek. He lifted a hand to his face. To his disappointment, his fingers did not close on Sha’re’s hand.

“Shar’re,” he whispered again. “You’re here?”

“I am here,” the reply came. “For a little while longer.”

Daniel’s eyes filled with tears. “I’ve missed you so much.”

“I cannot stay long. Have you forgiven Teal’c?”

“Yes.” Daniel spoke without conviction.

“You must forgive him. If you cannot do it for yourself, do it for me,” Sha’re admonished.

“I’m trying,” Daniel said. “I really am. He took you away from me. I can’t forget that.”

“You do not need to forget. You need to forgive. You need your friends, and your friends need you,” Sha’re said gently.

Dimly, Daniel became aware of a disturbance and other voices nearby.


* * * * * * *



“What the hell, Daniel? If you wanted to leave, you could have left. Why pretend you were rejoining us?”

“Sir, why don’t we give him a few minutes?” Sam spoke in a neutral voice in an attempt to blunt Jack’s anger.

“He owes us an explanation!”

“Let’s give him a chance to work out whatever he’s trying to work out,” Sam suggested.

“How long?” Jack asked plaintively.

“As long as it takes,” Teal’c said firmly. He ushered Jack and Sam outside of the tent and assumed a protective posture at the entrance.

“I hate waiting,” Jack muttered as he allowed himself to be sent outside. With a put upon sigh, he took a seat on the ground and pulled a small rubber ball from his pack. He began tossing it absently from hand to hand.

Sam gave him a sympathetic smile and sat down too.


* * * * * * * *

Daniel sensed rather than saw Teal’c standing watchfully near by. He tuned out to the conversation happening around him and concentrated on Sha’re.

“Teal’c acted to save your life. He did what needed to be done,” Sha’re said.

The resentment that Daniel had tried to bury bubbled to the surface. “He could have waited. I could have helped you stop Ammonet.”

“There was no more time. I would have killed you. I could not have lived with that.”

Ammonet, not you,” Daniel corrected.

“It would have been my hands that brought your death. Time had run out. Teal’c made the right choice. He killed the demon. I am at peace.”

“But I love you.” The anger began to fade and was replaced by a growing, sad acceptance.

“As I love you my Daniel. I will always love you. But it is time to let me go.”

“I’m not sure I can.” Tears slid unheeded down his face.

“My love will remain with you always. Here.” Daniel felt a gentle touch at his chest. “And here.” There was another touch at his temple. “You still have much to do. My work is done. I belong now with my ancestors.”

“The Harsesis.” Daniel swept his sleeve across his eyes.

“Yes. Find the boy. And bring Skaara home. And many worlds remain to be freed from the Goa’uld. Will you do these things for me?”

Daniel sniffled and swallowed hard. The tears that he had shed had a cleansing effect. The ice that had seemed to encase his heart for so many months finally melted away completely. For the first time since Sha’re’s death his mind began to quiet. Suddenly, he was exhausted.

“I will. I promise,” Daniel pledged. “Sha’re?”

“Yes?”

“Are you really here or is this happening in my imagination?”

“Yes.”

“The part about my imagination or the part about you being here?”

“Yes,” Sha’re repeated placidly.

“It can’t be both,” Daniel protested.

“Can it not?”

“How can it?” Daniel persisted.

“It is real for you and real for me. That is enough.”

“Okay. You win,” Daniel said.

“My Daniel.” The love in her voice was so tangible that Daniel felt like he could reach out and touch it. “It is time for me to go.”

Daniel sighed. “I wanted to save you.”

“You did. I died free.”

A sense of warmth and comfort suffused Daniel’s body.

“Live, Daniel. Be at peace. My blessing goes with you always.”

Daniel felt as if a gentle breeze brushed through him. He closed his eyes. Once more, he saw a wounded Sha’re fall to the ground. This time he read her lips and heard the voice that he had previously been too distraught and in too much pain to understand.

“I love you, Daniel.”

His flash of understanding nearly took his breath away. Sha’re’s last words had been to him, liberated from the Goa’uld that had enslaved her. She had told him that she died free. He recognized now the truth of her words.

“I love you too, Sha’re,” Daniel whispered.

Teal’c watched the proceedings with compassion and curiosity. Suddenly he lifted an eyebrow in surprise. He was sure that he saw a small pulse of energy leave Daniel’s body.

Daniel looked up at Teal’c. Residue of tears remained, but his expression was calm. Acceptance replaced anger and bitterness.

“You did the right thing,” Daniel said quietly.

“I am sorry,” Teal’c told him gravely.

“I know. I understand.” Daniel canted his head almost imperceptibly toward Jack and Sam who continued to wait outside the tattered tent. Silent understanding passed between them. “Thank you,” Daniel said.

“You are most welcome, Daniel Jackson.” Teal’c took a few steps forward and bent down to help Daniel to his feet. Together they joined Jack and Sam.

“Everything okay Daniel?” Sam asked tentatively.

Daniel nodded.

“So, are you back on the team again?” Jack voice was an artful mixture of sarcasm, curiosity, and concern.

“I’m not sure. Am I?” Daniel looked at Jack quizzically.

“May I ask what brought about this newest change of heart?”

“Let’s just say that I had some things to work out.”

“And you’ve worked it all out?”

“I have now.”

“So you’re back for real,” Jack drawled. “How long before you take off on another side mission?”

“I won’t.”

“No solo vengeance quests?”

“No,” Daniel said patiently.

“No leaving us stranded on planets?”

“I sent the GDO back,” Daniel said defensively.

“Oh, well then,” Jack said derisively.

“So am I back?” Daniel asked.

“Sure. Assuming I can smooth this little incident over with Hammond, welcome back.”

“Okay,” Daniel said.

“Okay,” said Jack.

“Okay,” Daniel repeated.

“Okay,” Jack said again.

“Welcome back, Daniel.” Sam hugged Daniel.

“Thank you, Sam.”

“It is good to have you with us again,” Teal’c added.

“Let’s go home,” Jack said. He led the way toward the stargate. “Unless there’s a detour that you want to take first Daniel?”

“I’m going to be hearing about this for a while, aren’t I?” Daniel said.

“Yup.”

“For how long?” asked Daniel.

“We’ll just play it by ear,” Jack said breezily.

“Is that code for forever?”

“Yup.” Jack kept walking.

Sam and Teal’c exchanged knowing glances.

Daniel trotted to catch up with the colonel. “Jack.”

“Daniel.” Jack turned to him and raised an eyebrow.

“Jack,” Daniel said, resigned.

“It’s good to have you back, Daniel,” said Jack.

Daniel sighed again. Then he smiled. “It’s good to be back.”
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