Daniel sat in the meager shade provided by the outcropping of rock staring out over the sandy expanse. From his vantage point he could see
Ra's camp. He could see the activity in and out of the gate and watch troop movements. Occasionally, the gliders would set forth and sweep out across the sand in search of the rebel camps they knew were hidden there. In the beginning, SG-1 had used the vantage point to help them
plan their attack. In the beginning when there had still been hope… Now he just sat and watched as he'd been watching for five years.
Expecting…. not really expecting anything. Expectations implied hope. And hope was impossible when you didn't know what to hope for.
Actually, Daniel knew what he wanted to hope for, but it was unfair to hope that someway, somehow, some other SG-1 from the future would find the gate in Giza, translate the writing that told about the gate, find the time ship and know that they needed a Jack O'Neill to fly it. And
that if all that happened, somehow they would find their way back in time 5,000 years. It was a chain of events that Daniel had no idea how
Maybe the best he could hope for was to help the people of this time in their fight against the Goa'uld Ra. He was trying, doing his best, but
he knew that he wasn't a military genius. All he knew he had learned from Jack and the SGC over the last eight years. He was afraid that his
knowledge was woefully lacking. He wished desperately that he could see Jack O'Neill, show him how much he'd accomplished in the five years he'd been alone. He longed for the opportunity to discuss the plans for the rebellion with Jack and Teal'c. There was still so much that could go wrong.
As if the worst thing that could possibly go wrong hadn't already happened. Absently, Daniel pressed his cheek into the relative coolness
of the rock. It was only just mid-day and already the heat was rising off the sand in waves. If he took off his glasses and squinted his eyes
just so, he could imagine there was someone walking towards him across the sand. He blinked against the glaring brightness and the mirage
shifted, becoming someone else. Someone with blue eyes like his, so unusual for this region, and hair bleached nearly white by the sun…
God, he didn't want to think about Sam.
Even now, five years later, the bitterness rose in the back of his throat. A thick bile that threatened to choke him. It was Sam's insistence that they not liberate the time ship that had stranded them in the past. Her inability to think outside her own box that had doomed SG-1 to death. So, now they were dead and he was alive, and his guilt over that was almost as strong as his anger at Sam for dying. He should have died with them instead of living, on waiting for... He didn't know what he was waiting for. Some sign, some hint that was he was doing was
the right thing.
Daniel drew out his drinking skin and took the barest swallow of water. He let the moisture roll around in his mouth, wetting the parched
tissue. Finally, he swallowed, letting the tepid water slide down his throat. It didn't relieve the thirst that plagued him always, but it
lessened it somewhat. He had relearned over the past five years the lessons of the desert. Never waste water. It was the most precious
resource they had. It was a lesson that Sam had never really learned She'd hated being dirty with sand in her hair and in her clothes. She
had paid the price as much as any of them for their exile in the past. She had paid the price with her life.
After five years, Daniel wished he could forgive Sam. He really did. But every time he tried, he remembered their final battle against the
Goa'uld. It was ironic that in their original timeline they had beaten the Goa'uld. SG-1 had to come the past in order to die at the hands of
the System Lords. Betrayed by a spy in their midst still loyal to the Goa'uld, Ra's forces had swept through their camp. The battle was brief
but fierce and completely one-sided. SG-1 and the slaves weren't ready to face Ra. Everyone fought bravely, but Ra's forces were too much, they soon overpowered all resistance. SG-1 was brought to Ra alive, his orders regarding them clear. He had heard of the strange warriors who
had stirred the slaves against him. He wanted them alive, that he might inflict their punishment himself.
Never had Daniel felt so helpless as he lay in the shadows, watching his friends die. Daniel had been wounded in the battle. "It looks worse
than it is," he muttered to Jack. But Jack knew better, he pulled Daniel away to safety before rejoining the fight himself. Daniel had lain in safety as the Jaffa forced his friends to their knees in front of Ra. He pounded the sand impotently as he watched, unable to do anything to help as he saw Jack spit at the Goa'uld's feet, defiant to the end. Jack had been the first to die, he was followed swiftly by Teal'c and Sam. Their smoking bodies had been left piled in the sand for the vultures and the vermin to pick clean, a message to any and all who would dare defy their god.
In spite of knowing it was wasteful, Daniel felt a tear trickle down his cheek. Jack knew where Daniel had lain hidden. Daniel had seen Jack look
in his direction as that last shot was fired. He'd seen the fierce command in Jack's eyes as the shot hit him and he went down. "Keep up
the fight, Daniel. Don't let them beat us. Now or in the future."
Empty of all emotion, Daniel had lain, bleeding in the sand. He'd expected to die that day, too. He had longed for it. He didn't want to
be alone in the past without his friends. No matter what final orders Jack had left him with. He wanted to die. He closed his eyes, expecting
it. It didn't happen. Instead he'd been found by the survivors of their little band. They had taken him away and cared for him. Daniel knew he
owed them his life. And, in the ways of the desert folk, he tried to repay that debt by giving them himself. He devoted his existence to
helping the people free themselves from slavery to Ra.
Little by little, he returned to health. As he returned to health, he remembered that last look from Jack. Continuing the fight against Ra was
all he had left. He couldn't do anything else in the past to affect the future. He couldn't make any great leaps forward in knowledge. He
couldn't go through the gate, take the slaves to a better life on another planet. Whatever happened to Daniel Jackson, there was going to
be no one in the future who knew of the legacy he and SG-1 had left for them.
Jack would be proud of him, he thought, or he hoped so anyway. After five years his memories of his friends were dimming, trickling away like
the sand between his fingers. He didn't dare write anything down for fear that it would be found in future years by the wrong people. What
would future archaeologists think if they found modern English of the 20th century in a BC era tomb? Maybe some future version of himself
would find it and be confounded.
Unknown. Everything they touched and did in the past must remain unknown. The greatest irony of all, the saviors of the whole human race
would be unknown in this time line. Or so he imagined late at night when the doubts and fears ate at him and spoke to him in Sam's voice,
reminding him over and over that he couldn't do anything to change the past that might affect the future.
Sometimes he wanted to scream at her to shut up, to stop haunting him, and just leave him the hell alone. If she was so damned worried about the past and the integrity of the time line she shouldn't have died and left him alone, shouldn't have allowed the rest of SG-1 to die along with her, leaving him in charge of everything.
Tucking his knees up, Daniel hugged them close. Soon it would be time to go back to the camp. To take up the position he'd made for himself over the past five years. The people looked to him to free them from Ra. Jack expected him to free these people from Ra, to correct the timeline that they'd screwed up. He just wanted to sit in the shade of the rock and remember his friends before their memories disappeared forever.
Activity in the camp below caught his eye.
Leaning forward, Daniel shoved his glasses back on. He pulled the binoculars from his bag. So many things from his own time he'd destroyed
to keep them from contaminating the future. But these he had kept. He focused them, studying the camp, trying to decide what had the Jaffa so excited. Then he saw it, the Stargate opened and something exited. Daniel sucked in a surprised breath.
It was impossible, but there it was. Flying over Ra's camp was the exact same ship that he himself had arrived in five years before. It was a
little worse for wear than theirs had been, but it was the time ship.
Trying not to hope, Daniel lowered the glasses. Even without them he could see the little ship as it circled Ra's camp and then headed out
over the sand.
Leaping to his feet, Daniel took off across the sand to the camp.
Expectations were a funny thing. Daniel had thought he didn't have any, and then suddenly they were there, giving him hope again. Hope that
maybe there was a future to go back to. Hope that maybe there was another SG-1 that against all odds had found him. Hope that maybe things
would turn out alright after all. Daniel pulled his hood up to cover his head as he headed out across the open sand.