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Astronomy Lesson

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Thank you to Lyn for the beta read!

As always, I don't own any of these characters, they belong to MGM Worldwide Television Productions Inc., Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Film Corp.

Author's comment: This is my first Stargate SG-1 fic, so please let me know if you see anything off in characterization.

The astronomy should be relatively accurate for Colorado in late August, which is the month the episode originally aired.

Comments are always welcome, though be warned flames will be laughed at hysterically.

The embarkation room was dim and quiet, a stark contrast to the bright bustle of the day shift, just what he needed after everything that had happened. Daniel sat against the far wall, opposite the 'gate, his glasses perched on top of his head, and his back pressed against the wall with his knees drawn up to his chest. No one casually glancing down into at the 'gate would even see him.

He wasn't actively trying to hide, only go unnoticed for a time. He had wandered the base for hours, unable to find solace in his office. He hugged his knees tighter to his chest as he stared at the 'gate, his gaze flicking from one symbol to another.

He had only reported the facts of the trip back to Abydos and was relieved Teal'c had kept his own report only to the essentials. After hearing from Jack and Sam about the abortive trip to Washington, they didn't need his grief added to their own.

Taurus …

My Dan-yel!

Serpens Caput …

Good Father, I ask your forgiveness, I have returned without your daughter.

Capricorn …

How long has she been here?
More than a season.

Monoceros …

You hate me.
No, no, I love you.

Daniel looked away from the 'gate as the memories flashed in his mind. A season or more! She had been there for months, and he hadn't known. The pain of the lost time they could have had only compounded the pain of losing her again after the child was born.

Taurus …

The demon sleeps because I am with child.

Serpens Caput …

The knowledge she possesses could one day save your world.
I don't CARE!

Capricorn …

You all right?
No, no I'm not …

The door to the gateroom hissed open. Daniel turned his head and watched an airman glance through the room on patrol, then leave.

He had nowhere to go, Daniel thought with a sigh and turned back to the 'gate. Even if he wanted to leave, he had no way to get there without a car. Carpooling with Jack may be good for the environment, but made a fast get-away impossible.

He wasn't sure he really wanted to go home anyway, there as little comfort there. He knew he didn't want to be on the base, though. He just wanted to be … away. He needed to settle what had happened in his mind before his well-meaning friends, especially Jack, decided to intervene and help.

He also wanted to talk to Carter about her father. Finding out a parent had cancer was never easy to hear. Finding out after you have shattered the man's dream for you, was even worse, he thought.

But before he could help her, he needed to be sure he had his own pain safely tucked away first.

Taurus …

I'm not leaving her, Teal'c.

Serpens Caput …

But I will lose you, Dan-yel!

Capricorn …

I will always love you.

The door to the gate room opened again, and Daniel knew who would be standing there. The airman on duty must have passed the word along to Jack that he was sitting in the gateroom, in the dark, alone. He kept his eyes fixed on the 'gate, refusing to watch as the body in the doorway moved into the room and slid down the wall to sit next to him.

"Anyone ever tell you what happens if you spend too much time sitting on cold concrete?"

"Hi, Jack," Daniel replied, his tone flat as he focused on the 'gate.

"'Hi, Jack'? I've been looking all over for you, and all I get is 'Hi, Jack'?" Jack elbowed Daniel's side and continued, "Come on, Daniel. Ya wanna tell me what's going on in that head of yours?"

Daniel only sighed and let his eyes roam over the 'gate glyphs again.

Taurus …

I'm sorry, Good Father …

Serpens Caput …

How long has she been here?
More than a season.

Capricorn …

Apo'phis is the father?

Monoceros …

I will always love you.

~*~*~*~ SG1 ~*~*~*~

Jack watched as Daniel's eyes moved back and forth around the 'gate. Leaning forward to get a look at Daniel's face, he knew what the scientist was doing. He watched as Daniel quietly mouthed each of the symbols he was looking for, seeing the grief and pain etched in the kid's face as he found each symbol for the address.

It's time we both got out of here for a while, Jack thought to himself.

They couldn't really go too far, it was now 0330, and they had a meeting scheduled at 0900. He had spent the better part of the night checking Daniel's regular haunts on base in an effort to get them both the hell away from the Air Force for a few hours. Not finding him in any of the usual places, Jack had been surprised when an airman had informed him Daniel was sitting in the gateroom staring, it seemed, off into space.

Well, even if they couldn't go too far, they could definitely get out of here. Glancing at the 'gate, Jack knew just where to go. Where they could both deal with the pain and betrayal they felt.

Standing, Jack bent over and held out his hand. "Come on, Daniel. This isn't helping either of us. I think I need some air. Wanna join me?"

He watched as Daniel turned away from the 'gate and looked at the hand in front of him. Then, with another small sigh, Daniel took the offered help, and Jack hauled him to his feet. Keeping a hand on Daniel's back, Jack led him to the elevators and pushed the button for the surface.

Daniel looked at him, the question of where they were going clear in his eyes.

"Trust me, Danny."

Daniel leant against the back of the elevator and sighed again. Jack could see he was tired, both physically and emotionally. Hell, he was tired both physically and emotionally.

Remind me never to accept another award, Daniel, he thought to himself.

The elevator stopped at the surface, and waiting the bare minimum for the doors to open, Jack had a hand on Daniel's elbow propelling him out and down the corridor to sign out of the base.

~*~*~*~ SG1 ~*~*~*~

Daniel was surprised Jack turned left as he exited the mountain complex instead of right leading to the parking lot. Thankfully, the August night air was pleasant and warm. The usual clouds and rain of the Colorado summer monsoon weather had dissipated hours ago, leaving the skies dotted with millions of stars.

The setting moon gave just enough light to see where they were going but left the night sky intact. Cheyenne Mountain was far enough outside the city limits of Colorado Springs to allow for a glorious view of the night sky. Unfortunately, Daniel didn't remember the last time he had come out to enjoy the show. Astronomy was much more Jack's science than his own.

Daniel followed Jack along a path around to the backside of the mountain and up to a natural shelf. Sitting down next to his friend, Daniel once again brought his legs up to his chest, wrapped his arms around his legs and rested his chin on his knees.

"Daniel, you've spent so much time studying the stargate, do you remember what those symbols are based on?" Jack asked quietly after a few minutes.

Daniel nodded and gazed up at the night sky. He could find Ursa Major and a few others, but he didn't want to look too hard. Too bad Jack didn't have the same idea.

"Now see, there are Taurus and Orion. They both come up late this time of year," Jack said, pointing out the constellations. "You'll get a much better view of them in a few more months," he added, and Daniel saw the quick glance in his direction.

Taurus …

More sorry for yourself it appears, than for Sha'uri.

"Serpens Caput, figures it would be part of a snake, is over there." Jack pointed at another quadrant of the sky.

Serpens Caput …

You forgive me?
God, there's nothing to forgive.

"Monoceros can't be seen this time of year," Jack continued, "but Capricorn and Sagittarius are close together." Jack showed him where the two constellations were, the archer right below the goat.

Daniel had realized about halfway through where Jack was going with the astronomy lesson. How did he know? he wondered.

Feeling Jack's gaze upon him, Daniel turned his head to look back. Even though Jack was a bit blurry, he didn't reach up for his glasses.

"Jack, she had been there for at least three months," he said quietly. "Three months! If only I had known." The pain and anger came out all at once, and Daniel was practically yelling. "Maybe we could have done something so she could stay. God, do you realize I could have had three months with her, or more?"

Daniel raked his hands through his hair in agitation, knocking his glasses off the top of his head in the process. He barely noticed as Jack picked them up and pocketed them.

"Why didn't I stay in touch with them?" he berated himself. "We've had negotiations with so many other planets, why didn't I at least check-in? God, I am so stupid."

"Daniel …" Jack tried to interrupt, but Daniel ignored him.

"Do you know what I thought the first instant I saw her in that tent?" He stared intently at Jack. "I thought it was all a dream. That somehow, the past year had never happened, and she was still with me."

"Daniel …" Jack said again, a little louder this time.

"Then Teal'c was there pointing that … gun … at her and I realized …"



"Don't do this to yourself. You couldn't have known. You told them to bury the 'gate, remember. I heard you. How could you have known?"

Daniel shook his head and turned away. A part of him knew Jack was right, but right now all he could think about was what could have been.

"Woulda, coulda, shoulda, Danny," Jack said softly as if reading his mind. "Some of the worst things you can say to yourself."

Daniel wrapped his arms around his legs again and was quiet. Jack sat silently beside him as they watched the night sky shift. The moon was almost set now, and the sun would be coming up soon. Daniel took a deep breath and uncurled from the tight ball he'd sat in. He looked up again at the night sky, his eyes flicking from one constellation to the next.

Taurus …

You forgive me?

Serpens Caput …

There's nothing to forgive.

Capricorn …

Forgive me, Good Father.

Monoceros …

You hate me.

Sagittarius …

No, no, I love you.

Orion …

I will always love you.

"Thanks, Jack," he whispered and ducked his head.

"You're welcome," Jack replied just as quietly.

Both men sat enjoying the momentary peace of the late-night sky.

Daniel, his head now resting on his knees, asked, "Do you think Kasuf will be safe with the child? Maybe I should have brought him back with me."

"No, Daniel. The baby is safer where he is. You had to let Ammau'net think Heru'Ur stole the child. You couldn't have done that with the crowd in the gate room when Sam and I came through. You did the right thing."

"But …"

"No 'but's', Daniel. It was the right decision."

"She looked right at us – me – before she left," Daniel said rocking back and forth on the shelf. "That's good, right? I mean some part of Sha'uri is still there." Something of the host must remain, he silently begged Jack to tell him.

"Yeah, Daniel, I'd say that's a good sign."

Both men were silent. The stars slowly faded from the night sky as the first signs of dawn began to peek out from the east.

"We will find her again, won't we?" Daniel asked the question with a longing sadness in his voice.

"I'm sure of it, Daniel."



"How did you know what constellations to point out?"

"Ah, Danny-boy," Jack said in his best Irish brogue, "That's why I get to wear the eagles on my shoulders."

Dropping the accent, Jack continued. "Besides, I have the address to Aybdos memorized, too. I was pretty sure when Airman Jeffries told me where you were, I knew what you were doing. Those were some of the first constellations I looked for when I got back after … well, after the first time."

Daniel felt his eyes start to slip to half-mast. The emotions from the last twenty-four hours had ebbed and left him high and dry. "Jack, I think I need sleep."

"Ya think?"

"Or at least three or four cups of coffee."

"Sleep sounds like a better idea to me."

Jack got up and again offered a hand to the archaeologist. "I'll tell you what," he said, pulling Daniel to his feet. "It's nearly 0530, that's 5:30 am to you. You go crash for a couple of hours, and I promise to come get you, with coffee, in time for our meeting with General Hammond about P3X-674."

Daniel had started back around the mountain but stopped and suddenly turned to Jack. "Oh, wait, I need to find Sam. Let her know I'm sorry to hear about her father."

"Daniel, it will keep until later this morning. Sam probably isn't even on base yet. Get some sleep, and some caffeine in your system, then go talk to her."

"Okay," Daniel said, turning to walk back around the mountain again. The rest of the walk back to the base gate was made in companionable silence.

Reaching the security gate, Daniel automatically reached up for his glasses to sign in. Not finding them, he suddenly remembered his fit of temper and sweeping the frames off his head. "Damn, I'll be right …"

He stopped speaking as Jack tapped him on the shoulder, opened the breast pocket of his fatigues, and pulled out the glasses he had rescued. "Here, I thought you might want these kept somewhere besides the side of a mountain."

"Ya think?" Daniel parroted Jack's favorite phrase. "Thanks, Jack." Daniel took the glasses and signed in for a new day.

We will find her again, won't we?

I'm sure of it, Daniel.

I will always love you, Sha'uri.