Jmas Fan Fiction

 

Title: And Bring Us Home Again…
Date: December 14, 2000
Status: Complete
Author: Jmas
Category: Drama, angst, smarm
Email: jmasg1@bellsouth.net

Disclaimer: Characters are property of MGM, etc.
Spoilers: Maternal Instinct, Crystal Skull, FiaD, New Ground, Cold Lazarus. A wee one for Ali’s story Prodigal Son, just had to do it <g>.
Summary: Winter chill, reflections the nature of family
Author's note: My response to the HC Christmas challenge. Quick, relatively painless, references to A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and You Can’t Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe.


 

And Bring Us Home Again…

By
Jmas


Snow glittered in the light of the street lamp, sparkling like miniscule stars drifting in and out of existence; alive but for a moment in time before joining the entropy of their companions in the wet slush melting into the ground. Daniel huddled deeper into his coat, just becoming aware of the northerly wind that would soon chill the earth and grant the snow a slower death.

Sighing long and deep, Daniel moved into the shadowed shelter of one of the massive pines some distance off the familiar footpath. The darkness there suited the mood that had come over him earlier in the day, driving him out from the confining walls of his apartment in search of a release for something he had yet, hours later, to define.

Slipping down to sit in the soft, dry needles at the base of the tree trunk, Daniel scrubbed a hand through his damp hair in frustration. What was wrong with him? He’d just spent hours moving from one undirected thought to another almost as quickly as his legs had carried him through the streets of Colorado Springs to the one place of solitude he had found in the city he had so reluctantly come to accept as his home on Earth. The ancient pines formed a bastion of aloneness for him, especially at night when the landscape seemed to sweep off to the edge of the park and meld seamlessly into the starlit sky. The dark landscape and the way the wind hummed in the pine boughs reminded him of endless nights spent on the dunes, enrapt under the spell of alien stars that had become so familiar.

Daniel sighed again and winced as he realized he would likely never spend another night on the sands of his adopted home; never watch the moons rise in all their glory, never know the warmth of Abydos or its people or his Sha’re again…

Sha’re.

Daniel surged to his feet with a choked gasp, moving across the snow-coated grass into the deeper darkness of the trees. His heart thundered in his chest, breath forcing its way through a throat gone tight. Was that what had driven him out here today? Digging his cold hands deeper into his pockets, Daniel shook his head sharply. No, he’d accepted that. He had. Sha’re had died months ago, and over time he had come to realize he had been preparing for the loss long before she had stared down at him as if he were a hated enemy and tried to kill him. He had held onto hope until the end, but each successive failure had widened the chasm ever further until the staff blast had brought them both crashing down into a stillness that continued to haunt his dreams. And still he dreamed. The good dreams of their lives together, the bad dreams of pain as he looked into the eyes of the stranger she had become, searching for a glimpse of the woman he had loved so deeply and finding none. But then there were those other dreams; dreams of giving up and walking away, detaching from his friends, dreams of a promise and finding forgiveness for the friend who put an end to those dreams while freeing Sha’re at long last. The price of that freedom had been higher than either Daniel or Teal’c could ever have imagined, but Daniel had come to accept that it had been at a necessary cost of hope. He would never know now if his hope had been as empty as it had felt in the dreams as he had packed them all away in boxes. He preferred to think it wasn’t. Jack had said not and Daniel wanted to believe him.

Turning onto one of the jogging paths, glowing white in the dimness from the combination of gravel and snow cover, Daniel sighed. It was getting colder and he knew he should turn around and go home.

“Home?” His own whispered voice sounded strange to him in the stillness. Earth was his home now, once again and in actuality in a way it had not been before he had gone to Abydos. He should go home now and…

Oh, damn.

He was supposed to have met the team at Jack’s two hours before to exchange gifts, share dinner, be together…

Daniel laughed sharply. Some company he would make at a holiday gathering. Better just to go home and go to bed. Tomorrow was Christmas, things had to look better then, right?

“Right…”

Daniel moved off the jogging path, angling back toward the sidewalks, realizing the snow was now several inches deep away from the sheltering trees. The ground shone now with its own subdued glow, looking all the more like the dunes he missed so badly, but there was an unfamiliar light coming from just beyond the trees now, too low to be a street light. Edging nearer, Daniel saw it was a crèche. Simple carved figures, subdued fluorescent bulbs strategically highlighting all the major players in one of humanity’s most important dramas. The figures were familiar in their simple beauty and plain desert robes, so much so Daniel had to swallow hard against a return of his earlier emotion. Mary, Joseph, the not-surprisingly incorrect Magi…all of them looked Middle Eastern…were all people he could have known, eaten with, laughed with.

All his past was embodied here in this quiet tableau in the middle of a park in Colorado Springs. Joseph was Kasuf, Mary could so easily be any of Sha’re’s friends, if not Sha’re herself, the child, the Wise Men. Balthasar looked just like Kasuf’s brother in law, the one with the breath like a mastadge pen and the sense of humor that could make all of them blush. He missed it. It wasn’t just Sha’re who had made Abydos home, it was the sights, sounds, smells, memories, laughter and tears they had all shared together there. Things the people represented before him had known just as familiarly…except, of course, for the mastadges.

And the child…

Serene blue eyes stared out from the manger; so hauntingly familiar it jerked him forward unthinkingly until he was standing, then kneeling, before it. The carver could have crafted this figure from the child he’d held not long ago, so intense was the likeness. Daniel smiled a little at the memory of the soft weight in his arms, the lilting laugh and infectious smile that had broken through his hatred of the Goa’uld to the reality that he could not keep the child safe. He had made the right decision, he knew that, but there was a lingering emptiness at the loss. The search for the child had eased the loss of the greater search that had kept him going so long, but now…

His promise was kept, the child was safe. What was left to hold him?

The missions, the fight against the Goa’uld, the need to learn more about the vast universe beyond the Stargate. Yes, there was all of that. But was it enough?

The past few years – hell, every minute of his life since he had unburied the Abydos gate - had been full of ups and downs that ranged from the greatest joys he had ever known to the deepest of emotional and physical pain. The man who had almost cluelessly stepped through the Stargate that first time was still inside him, but tempered now by time and trials his younger, more innocent self could never have imagined. Jack, Teal’c, Sam…they had helped him through it all. They had helped each other and forged the kinds of bonds Daniel had thought he had left behind him on Abydos.

But then Jack had been lost for nearly three months, months in which Daniel had seriously considered leaving the SGC once they had determined Jack’s fate. Then Jack had returned and morphed into a person Daniel recognized all too clearly, and understood no better than he had in the beginning of that first mission…perhaps hated more because he had come to believe in the man that bastard had become. Then Rygar’s face, haunting his dreams with endless questions, questions punctuated by pain when the answers failed to satisfy. Later, there had been Nick, in and out of Daniel’s life just as quickly and painfully as he had always been in the past, though this time with the words Daniel had waited most of his life to hear. Better…but just as gone.

Daniel snorted and wiped the self-indulgent moisture from his eyes as he sank down to sit on the cold ground. God, he was a mess. He looked up into the eyes of the angel hovering over the manger. Oma Desala, ‘Mother Earth,’ he had translated, but the sheer beauty of the creature known as Oma Desala put this poor reproduction to shame. Close, so close. The same regal protectiveness, the serene air of power taken for granted, the flowing light-like wings stretching into infinity…

Infinity sounded pretty good about now…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jack watched as Daniel slipped down to sit cross-legged before the stable, apparently unaware he was sitting in several inches of snow. Hands slid around to interlock behind Daniel’s bowed head, a posture of pain and grief that sounded loud and clear to Jack even across the distance. Jack had been following Daniel since he had heard the younger man’s voice break in the darkness of the trees, before Daniel had come out of the shadows as if being chased by a demon…or a few personal ghosts. Jack recognized the sound, had felt his own gut clench with the familiarity of it. Grief, loss, crisis of identity…the head shrinks would have a field day dressing it all up with fancy labels but Jack knew on a gut level that needed no name – Daniel was hurting.

Jack had seen Daniel’s eyes growing restless after the Earth Mother chick had taken off into the night with Sha’re’s son. Daniel had said he was okay, but they had all wondered just what level of ‘okay’ Daniel meant. Sha’re was dead, they’d faced Apophis again, found out later the snake was not part of the dust cloud that used to be Naetu, got tortured by a religious zealot, found the kid, lost the kid, lost Daniel, found Nick Ballard, got Daniel back, but lost Nick again.

Crap.

He should have seen this coming.

They had all been ready to sit down to dinner a couple of hours ago, but the empty chair had been as eloquent as the man who was supposed to be occupying it. It had only taken one, “Maybe we should…” from Carter to send them all into the night in search of Daniel. Once Teal’c had reported Daniel’s apartment empty and his car parked in front of the building, Jack had known where to go.

He and Daniel had been here before, early on when Daniel had first come back to Earth. Jack had quickly clued in that his houseguest tended toward working himself into insomnia when it came to avoiding the bad dreams Jack had overheard a lot more often than he let on. One night in particular, after a slim lead on Sha’re and Skaara had bottomed out and Daniel had finally jumped at one shadow too many, Jack had thrown a coat at the younger man and hauled him out here. The clear mountain sky, the quiet company, and the whispering pines had slowly given Daniel what he needed. Peace.

There had been no question in Jack’s mind that Daniel had taken to haunting this place when things got really rough. More than once Jack had watched from the shadows, there to defeat his own bad dreams or just to keep a watchful eye out on Daniel’s. Sometimes Jack would make his presence known and flop down on the grass, getting lost in the stars. Sometimes Daniel would speak quietly, letting words lead them both to other places and times. But most of the time the silence spoke more clearly, and was more than enough.

Watching Daniel now, Jack did not think even the magic of the pines would do the trick tonight. Moving forward slowly, Jack thought he heard Daniel muttering to himself, but the words were lost in the wind and the light crunch of snow under his shoes. When he got within a few feet, Daniel asked, “Where do I go, Jack?”

Jack stepped closer, kneeling stiffly beside his friend. “Home might be a good start….”

Daniel made a sound Jack was pretty sure was meant to be a laugh. “Yeah.”

Cold-reddened hands scrubbed the snow out of Daniel’s hair, and hollow eyes looked up for the first time. Jack was taken back in time to the first night back from Abydos.

‘They don’t know what to do with me, and I don’t know what to do with myself…’

The SGC had figured out damn quick what to do with Daniel – and all that Daniel could do - but it looked like maybe Daniel was back to square one on the what to do with himself angle.

Jack looked out over the crèche, noticing the strong faces, the baby, the angel. It had been a few years since he had taken the time to really look at one of these. It had taken a long time for him to really take note of Christmas at all without feeling the kind of desperate emptiness that it seemed Daniel was feeling now. Jack had leaned on the Stargate program, his new family with SG1, made a kind of peace with the past by way of the gift from the crystal entity. But then Jack had many years of practice when it came to leaning on family and Kate O’Neill had made sure her son knew it. Well, maybe Daniel just needed the O’Neill refresher course.

Jack raised a hand to Daniel’s shoulder, feeling the slight tremors of cold he knew Daniel had yet to notice. “Yeah. Home. My place. Dinner, bad movies, good company, too much hard cider and a standing invitation to my guest room.”

Daniel’s mouth quirked at one corner. “You cooked?”

“If I say ‘yes’ will it scare you off?”

The shoulder under Jack’s hand shrugged minutely. “It’s a pretty scary thought…”

Jack raised his hand to cuff Daniel’s head lightly, sending snow fluttering into his face.

Daniel’s head ducked on a soft laugh. “I’m not really good company tonight, Jack…”

“Who said you had to be?” Jack asked gruffly, his voice softening as he continued. “We’re family. The important thing is being there.”

Blue eyes looked up, bright in the soft glow of the crèche, meeting Jack’s levelly in an obvious search for truth. Slowly, he nodded.

Jack stood up, extending a hand. “Then get your ass out of the snow. Didn’t anyone ever tell you what that’ll do to you?”

A cold hand grasped Jack’s own, shivers transferring themselves along Jack’s arm as he helped Daniel to his feet. Daniel’s eyes roamed back over the figures in the stable and Jack could see there was more in the fixed expression than just an admiration for a pretty decent, if incorrect - even Jack knew the wise men were supposed to be African, Oriental, and European - piece of craftsmanship. But, hey the old guy looked a lot like Kasuf.

Light dawned.

Double crap.

Jack shook the hand in his own causing Daniel’s head to turn quickly, emotion lay raw on a face paled by the cold and the ghosts of the past, present and future that seemed to be haunting the night. Jack snaked an arm around Daniel’s shoulders, pulling the younger man to him in a tight embrace of shared pain. Daniel shuddered a moment, body tensing as if he would pull away before finally sinking into the embrace. Jack just held on. Daniel was bleeding all over the pristine snow just as surely as if someone had cut him open. Small snuffs of something that might have turned into tears puffed into Jack’s chest. Jack held on tighter, knowing from experience that words were useless, and even this small comfort was like putting a Band-Aid on a severed limb, pretty damn useless but with any luck at all it might stem the flow. Silence reigned and the stable watched as the ghosts gradually receded into the night, slipping back into their appointed places and granting a painfully slow release.

Daniel’s head started shaking against Jack’s chest and muffled words penetrated the silence.

“What?”

Daniel raised his head a bit, surprisingly not pulling away. “I said, ‘let’s go home…’ ”

Jack smiled and slid an arm around Daniel’s shoulders, steering them toward the place where he had parked his car. “Home as in…?”

“Your place. Dinner, bad movies. Good company, I hear?”

Jack grinned. “The best. Hard cider, it’ll warm you right up. Got extra blankets for the spare room, too.”

Daniel nodded, looking back one last time at the stable, before turning to look askance at Jack. “So…Did you?”

“Did I what?”

“Cook.”

Jack smiled again. Daniel was okay. At least for now. His own private version of Charles Dickens by way of Thomas Wolfe had receded back into the shadows of dreams, and if healing had not exactly taken place, then at least the wounds were clean and bandaged. The rest would take time. Maybe a lot of it. But they would be there to help, just like always. They were family after all; the important thing was being there.

Jack laughed at the side-long glance he was getting, equal parts tremulous smile and exaggerated fear.

“Well, sort of.”

“Jack…”

Jack shrugged, tucking the younger man closer under his shoulder. “I put it in the oven after the guy delivered it.”

“Probably cold by now.”

“Nah, Carter will keep it warm. I sent them back to my house once I found you.”

Daniel nodded. “Good plan.”

“That’s why they pay me the big bucks.”

“My bucks are bigger…”

“We aren’t really going to do the size thing, are we?”

“Jack…”

They walked on in silence a few moments longer, the pines sighing a peaceful goodnight.

“How much bigger?”

*Fin*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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