“Time is too slow for those who wait;
too swift for those who fear;
too long for those who grieve,
too short for those who rejoice.
But for those who live, time is eternity;
hours fly, flowers die,
new days, new ways pass by:
~ Henry Van Dyke ~
As he wandered into Jack’s kitchen late one Saturday morning, Daniel caught a glimpse of the calendar and stopped.
He’d been back on Earth for a month.
Which meant it had been thirty days since Daniel last saw her.
One whole month.
On Abydos they measured things by the moons, having no sense of time as the people on Earth divided things up. Seasons were irrelevant on a desert planet where it was hot and sunny all year round, so time was measured in the cycles of the moons and the movement of the planets in the sky.
Still, it was strange how easily the old habits returned. The glance at the watch or the calendar instead of glancing up at the open sky to see the placement of the two moons. On Abydos, the days blended into each other in a cadence of life that went on and on as it had before Daniel had arrived there – indeed before he was born.
Time, Daniel decided as he poured the coffee into ‘his’ cup, was an artificial thing as the humans of Earth defined it. A made-up thing of little bits and pieces by which life was regulated and broken down into manageable bites.
He missed the fluidity and flexibility of time as he had found it on Abydos.
Daniel settled back against the bench, sipping the beverage and rolling the taste over his tongue. It was a cheap blend (Daniel complained Jack had no taste when it came to coffee, and Jack complained Daniel had no taste when it came to beer), but it was coffee nevertheless. Yet another habit which had returned all too easily, undoubtedly fuelled by his long days and late nights as he searched for more clues about the nature of the Goa’uld.
While he had missed coffee on Abydos, there had been other things to taste and smell and try among the people who’d adopted him into their extended family. Daniel’s time on Abydos had been full of delight and excitement, experiencing a culture which had been dead on Earth for over a thousand years. Living a way of life which had passed into time and vanished, leaving behind only fragments of pottery, paintings on stone, and crumbling parchment pieces.
Abydos had been an archaeologist’s dream, but that wasn’t why he missed it.
He missed it because Sha’ure had made it his home.
He’d lived twenty-nine years before he’d ever known her, and in the space of twenty-nine small moons she had taken his heart in her hands and wrapped herself around his soul.
And now she was gone.
Somewhere out in the galaxy, Sha’ure was trapped inside her body while something else controlled it. Daniel put the mug down and shivered. He hadn’t known Kawalsky all that well – certainly not much better than he’d known Jack at the time – but he remembered the man’s horror at what the Goa’uld had done while Kawalsky was unconscious.
Did Sha’ure have to live with that same horror? The helplessness and the torment of inflicting hurts on other people? The nightmare of having things inflicted on her body which she wasn’t a party to? Thinking of the look in Apophis’ eyes as he looked proudly at Daniel’s wife, Daniel shuddered. Another man kissing Sha’ure, touching her…loving her?
I swear I’ll find you, Shau’re. Just hold on. Whatever they’re doing to you, making you do – just hold on.
They hadn’t had any recent leads to where Apophis might now be, and now it was just a waiting game for Sam’s program to bring up more co-ordinates. The single mission which had possessed a significant lead – the one to P3X-797 - hadn’t shown them any recent signs of the Goa’uld. It had brought back a highly infectious virus which reverted the whole base to primitives, but Dr. Fraiser had fixed all that up and Jack had been very apologetic about the punch-in-the-face thing – and even more embarrassed that his abuse of Daniel had been ‘over’ Sam.
And speaking of his host…Daniel picked up his cup and took another swallow. Jack was one of those people who was usually up-with-the-birds no matter what time he went to bed: where was he?
Wandering down to the main room, he raised his eyebrows at the mess of newspapers on the breakfast table and the man who leaned among them. “What’s this?”
Jack didn’t looked up from the newspapers. “We’re going to find you an apartment. I’m tired of tripping over your stuff every time I turn around.” He looked pointedly at the nest of books and papers gathered squarely in the rug on the living room floor, unaware of the internal struggle into which his house-guest had been thrown by his words.
Move to an apartment? The idea revolted Daniel. It implied that he was going to pick up the pieces of his life and move on. Start acquiring ‘stuff’ again, re-building his existance on Earth as if the last year had been a dream. A life without Sha’ure…
And it had only been thirty days.
“Rest not! Life is sweeping by; go and dare before you die.
Something mighty and sublime, leave behind to conquer time.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ~
On Abydos now, it would be reaching the rare conjunction of the dark of both moons. Couples would sneak out of their tent to make love in the sand-dunes, and children conceived during that time were considered blessed by the gods. Sha’ure had gone a little red as she told him of the practise one night while he mended his shirt and she spun the thin hairs of the desert goats into thread for weaving. Daniel tried to hide his smile from her as she blushed prettily, before he’d put down his shirt, taken the distaff from her hands and led her gently over to their bed.
Children had been something they’d discussed after they’d made love, although Sha’ure had found it strange that her husband had wished to talk about such a thing with her. From her point of view, children were to be expected in a marriage, and there had been no question in her mind about having them – nor any question that Daniel would want them. Men wished for children to carry on their name and their honour, and women were required to bear the children. That was the way it was. That her husband should ask if she wanted children was…unheard of.
Looking up from his reverie, Daniel found his host and team-mate staring at him. He managed a half-smile of reassurance. It felt like his face was cracking around the mouth. “I…I was just thinking…about Sha’ure.”
“Oh.” Jack stared back at the newspaper consideringly.
Doubtless he was thinking of how to deal with the grief of his team-mate’s loss of wife – probably by changing the topic. While they’d had the ‘talk’ that first night after Daniel’s return from Abydos, it had hardly been forthcoming. Daniel learned a little about Jack – a very little, he thought dryly: the man was as deep as the Marina Trench and just as uncharted – and Jack had seen a bit of what had changed Daniel in the last year since they’d parted company; but they were still very disparate men, with widely differing views of the world and the people in it. And Jack was definitely not ‘emotional Central Station’.
“It doesn’t have to be about moving on, you know, Daniel,” Jack said at last. The older man looked up at his guest. “I’m not asking you to forget all about her. Just…to put your life back together for a bit until we find her.”
“Are we going to find her, Jack?” The possibility had occurred to Daniel more than once in the last month – that he could be years searching. The initial prospect had seemed simple – find Apophis, kill him, and get Sha’ure back. Now, thirty days later, things seemed bleak.
“We’ll find her, Daniel.” Jack replied, his tone of voice encouraging and leaving no doubt that they would find their friends. “We’ll find them.”
Them. Sha’ure and Ska’ara.
“We’ll find them…after we find you somewhere to live.” Jack returned his attention to the newspaper, and Daniel snorted in spite of himself.
Sitting down, Daniel pulled over a sheet of paper and studied the apartments the other man had circled. He could do this. He would do this. It wouldn’t be the kind of life he’d imagined himself leading after he went to Abydos and found Sha’ure, but…it would do for now.
On Abydos, time had been nothing more than a river in which Daniel and Sha’ure swam, with the passing of days blending into moons and the moons blending into conjunctions… Life was a circle on Abydos – an endlessly turning wheel where people were born and lived and died, and their children were born and lived and died. Your life might end, but life continued in your children and your descendants until the desert took all and swept it beneath the glittering sands of time…
Here on Earth, time was a thief, stealing from you. Every moment, every second drained visibly away with a tiny movement of a clock’s hand, or the blink of an LCD. It took your life, your dreams, your hopes, and slipped away with them before you realised they were gone.
Daniel was not about to surrender his wife or his life to the slow drain of time. He would find Sha’ure, and he would take her home.
In the meantime, he would find somewhere to live, to make his life ‘ordinary’ on Earth as it had been ‘extraordinary’ on Abydos.
And someday, someday he’d be back there in the desert, in the dark of the moons with Sha’ure at his side.
“Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current;
no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place,
and this too will be swept away.”
~- Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ~