Synopsis: Unable to sleep, Jack is stargazing and contemplating the past
Spoilers: Passing references to... Stargate - the movie, One False Step,
Spirits, Children of the Gods, Forever in a Day, Meridian, Shades of Grey,
Status: Complete short story.
Archive: Area 52, Alpha Gate - anyone else, please notify me. I'm not going to
throw my toys out of the pram if you don't, but it's nice to know where my
Author's Note: Thanks to T. M. Brown (STScI) et al., ESA, NASA for the
photograph of the Andromeda Deep Field taken from the Hubble Space Telescope.
It's 0300 - or thereabouts - and I'm up on my deck, lying back on my lounger
looking up at the stars. Not that I can see many stars right now because
there's a full moon coasting down the western sky towards the mountains. The
loss of stars is made up for by the scent of orange blossom wafting upwards on
a light breeze. It's beautiful, but sad.
Most people associate orange blossom with weddings. I don't. The big bush at
our home in Cranbrooke Lane was in bloom when Charlie died. When I first bought
this house, it had an orange blossom bush too - philadelphus, I think they call
it. I nearly dug it up when I moved in, but then I thought, why should it die
too, just because it reminds me of my unforgivable carelessness? Now, it just
reminds me of Charlie and, by association, others that I've loved and lost.
The old house had a deck, too. I spent a lot of time up there after Charlie
died. At first, Sara would come up to see how I was, but I couldn't tell her. I
guess she wanted me to go down now and again and ask her how she was too, but I
couldn't. I already knew, and there wasn't a goddamned thing I could do about
Then came that first mission to Abydos, the one I expected - intended - to
be my last. Until one, Dr. Daniel Jackson, changed my mind - convinced me that
life was always worth living. Ironic, that. It wasn't what he said - that just
made my suicidal impulse seem completely selfish - it was what he did... what
he was. He just never gave up, whatever life threw at him - just accepted it
and carried on.
Like when he admitted - on the wrong side of the wormhole - that he
couldn't actually get my men back home. They gave him a hard time over that.
Some folks would've got mad about all the hassle - others might have run away
and hid out some place. Not Dr. Jackson. He just collected his books and papers
from the desert sand, then did that thing he used to do. He set off on his own
personal exploratory expedition - a habit with which I became heart-stoppingly
See, the Daniel back then was a kind of untamed force of nature - one with a
boundless curiosity that made the average cat look positively apathetic.
Usually, like the Siamese cat next door which is presently making itself
comfortable on my lap - ouch! sharp claws there, Ozymandias! - he
managed to land on his feet, though never with the same feline grace. I grin as
an image of his little 'plant-boy' dance comes to mind. Gene Kelly he wasn't!
What really got me was the way he walked into trouble so blithely, so
obliviously. Hello - threat assessment? Sometimes it was funny, like when the
penny suddenly dropped that somehow, somewhere along the line, he'd gotten
himself a wife. That was all part and parcel of what I mean by acceptance. Some
guys would have repudiated the whole thing, but - perhaps because of what life
had already thrown at him - he couldn't bring himself to reject her.
And then there was that tenacious never-say-die attitude that he displayed
when his unexpected wife was shot and killed by a staff weapon blast. Daniel
carried her up to Ra's sarcophagus like it wasn't just a matter of minutes
before the bomb blasted us all off the surface of the planet. That
really made me think. Even in the face of death, he hadn't given up. Not
that time anyway... I sigh.
So, turning everything on its head, he ended up staying on Abydos,
and I came home. My report, like all my reports, was... minimalist. We'd
done the job we'd set out to do in eliminating any possible threat to Earth.
(Boy, did that one come back to bite me!) I wanted Daniel - and the Abydonians
- to enjoy, uninterrupted, the 'happy ever after' ending to the mission, so I
crossed my fingers and explained away his non-return by listing him as K.I.A.
And that was that. Case closed. I resigned my command and surrendered my gun.
After the dust had settled over the divorce, I bought this
place. I was working for a security agency then, doing contract work as and
when. I needed to keep busy - had to get down and do something in
between jobs, too, otherwise I knew I'd end up back in that dark place again,
so I set to and built this deck. Then I bought the telescope to pass the
sleepless nights that were still too many.
There was no way of telling which star Abydos was orbiting, but I picked one
and imagined that was it. When I felt really bad, I'd focus on that 'bright
particular star'. Remembering Daniel lifted my spirits and gave me the strength
I needed to carry on. I chuckle to myself. Yes, that shitty little geek had
become my sheet anchor in little more than a coupla weeks.
This deck is still my little haven when the 'slings and arrows of outrageous
fortune' threaten to overwhelm me, or when I just need a breathing space to
think. Maybe the ghosts of my loved ones are here with me, trying to bring me
peace. I like to think so, even if I don't really believe it.
And as if to give me the lie, a snowy owl glides silently overhead like
a ghost in the moonlight - spooking Ozzy. Dammit - more perforations in my
thighs! His pale fur looks ghostly too as he disappears under the orange
Why does he always come to me when I'm up here? I'm a dog person. Why
does he not get that? Or maybe he does...? Maybe he and the owl are spirits
like T'akaya and Xe'ls? Jeez, the night sure sends the mind to some funny
Where was I? Where had my wandering mind taken me...? Hm.
So then Daniel returned in sorrow and it was my turn to provide comfort.
Kinda like a couple of drunks leaning together for mutual support. I smile to
myself, remembering the effect that beer had on Daniel. I also remember the
remaining bottle of Bud. in the cool box - not that it's all that warm out here
now. Think I'll go back to bed soon.
As we worked together over the years, I grew to love that man. My feelings
of love were purely Platonic of course, or so I told myself. I was as straight
as the next man. Turned out the next man was Rock Hudson. That revelation came
after Sha're died and Daniel resigned. The realization that my love for Daniel
was in no way Platonic, and that my feelings were at the opposite end of the
galaxy from pure, hit me like a zat blast.
I tried to talk him out of leaving. It was so out of character. The guy who
never walked away from anything was walking away from the S.G.C. Far worse, the
guy who couldn't bring himself to reject Sha're was rejecting me. That hurt.
Then relief. He came back. And suddenly, I wished he hadn't. Now I was stuck
with working closely with someone I couldn't have - ever. I couldn't even tell
him - or anyone - how much I loved and desired him. To do so would be to lose
his respect and his friendship. Couldn't bear that. So I endured - and became
crabbier and crabbier. Subconsciously, I think I was trying to shut out what I
couldn't have - keeping temptation at bay. Well, this stupid sonovabitch
succeeded beyond his wildest dreams...
Even now, my mind does not want to go there. After Charlie's death,
it was the worst time of my life. There are no words to describe it. Initially
there was the usual feeling that the come-back kid might not make it this time,
but that was unthinkable. Initially. There had to be something we
could do - a marker we could call in, an abandoned sarc. somewhere, a miracle
cure some place. Then Daniel took the wind right out of my sails.
"Jack, we don't go running to our off-world allies every time an
individual's life's at stake. No good telling me that this is any different
because my life is no more valuable than anybody else's."
He was throwing in the towel... That statement patently wasn't true, so he
had to have given in. Furthermore, if it'd been the other way round, he'd've
moved heaven and earth to find a way. I shoulda done something more.
As it was, I let myself be distracted into the battle to clear his name. And
I achieved that end, but what good did it do? We got some stolen
naquadria after handing out death sentences to Harry Maybourne and
Makepeace, and a few other misguided patriots, for doing pretty much the same
thing - for their own country, too - and I got saddled with an
opportunist jerk who must've had Kinsey or someone pulling strings to get him
in my team. Oy!
Somewhere in the darkness, a small animal screamed its death agony. Guess
Ozzy - or the owl - had found himself something for supper. Maybe I
shouldn't've been so hard on Quinn. He wasn't actively evil - just looking out
for Number One - though that's so not a principle I value in a
I take another swig of beer to centre myself again. Watching the dearest
person in my life dying in such a terrible way just turned my soul inside out
and wrung it dry. I was operating in automaton mode most of the time -
outwardly so calm that a lot of people thought I didn't care. But I did.
Deeply. Just never good with words.
"I may have, might have grown to admire you a little, I think..."
What kind of crap is that to spout to a dying friend? But I was in too much
turmoil inside even to think straight. Like, I wanted to tell Daniel that I
loved him - really loved him - was in love with him, but I'd fallen back
on my military training by then, using the regs. as my prop. Don't ask, don't
tell. So I didn't.
If I thought at all, I thought I was protecting him at the bitter end. I'd
assumed he was straight because of his alacrity in remaining with his wife on
Abydos. It occurred to me, then, that he could've been applying the same
principle to me - that I was ramrod straight because I'd been married too. I
wondered if, maybe, my feelings could've been reciprocated. But if so, would he
have wanted to hear my declaration, knowing that we could've been together for
the past two and a half years? More likely, I would've just disgusted him. And
I couldn't've handled his reaction either way.
Just before he died, Jacob arrived and attempted to heal him, though Selmac
said the repair wouldn't be complete. It could've bought us more time though -
time to find a better solution. Then I saw Daniel in my mind's eye, standing on
the ramp in the 'Gate room. He was asking me to tell Jacob to stop, that he was
ready to move on. With Oma! Oh? And Jack O'Neill, action hero of planet Earth,
I wanted to beg him stay, to reconsider, to give us a chance to work things
out between us. To tell him that we'd find another sarc. someday soon - which
we did, too late - and then he'd be as good as new. On our first mission, he'd
died for me. Now, I wanted him to live for me. But I couldn't ask it.
I'd no right to lay that emotional blackmail on him - didn't deserve him
anyway. In that instant, I knew too, that if he chose me over Oma, he'd always
be wondering what would have happened if he'd followed his heart instead
of mine. And if things didn't work out between us, he would forever blame me
for pressuring him to stay - maybe wouldn't say so, but we'd both know.
I'd failed to trust his judgement in the 'Gate room once
before, when he was trying to befriend Robot Rosie with her replicators. Now, I
figured I owed it to him to accept his decision.
Numbly, I told Jacob to stop, that Daniel wished it. As the monitors
flatlined, I watched Daniel walk... float... whatever... out of my life,
apparently for good.
For weeks I came up here every night we were Earth-side. I'd wish upon that
star of mine that maybe, just once, a certain 'glowy squid' might pass by and
stop in for a chat. But the bastard never did. Just Ozzy and an occasional owl.
Anyway, that's all water under the bridge now. I finish off the Bud, and sigh
over all the time we could've had together. Time... Ah well, time I was going
inside I guess. It's definitely chilly now. The euphoria has subsided - a
little - and I'm feeling drowsy at last after my wishing star suddenly came
good for me against all the odds.
I climb the stairs to my bedroom and stand in the doorway for a moment,
regarding the items of clothing randomly scattered across the floor. I step
over them to my bed and watch the setting moon cast its silvery sheen across
the face of my lover, my Daniel, my bright particular star.