Sha're: A Tale of Lost Beauty

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - December 19, 2013
Spoilers:  Stargate: the Movie, Children of the Gods, Forever in a Day (minor)
Size:  60kb
Written:  November 13-14, 2011, January 1, 2012, May 31, June 1-2, 2017
Summary:  Jennifer learns the true story of Sha're and realizes just how complicated life is when it comes to family and friends.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s):  “A Trip Back in Time”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Mama Bear, Ali!

Sha're: A Tale of Lost Beauty
by Orrymain

“Daddy, will you tell me about Sha're sometime?  I mean, the truth, and not just what you tell people?”

The question came from Jennifer Jackson-O'Neill, the oldest child of Jack and Daniel Jackson-O'Neill.  Now an adult at eighteen, the young woman was a college student while also continuing her work at Stargate Command.  Five years ago, after having made her first trip through the Stargate, she pitched an idea to her grandfather, General George S. Hammond, for a program that became known as the Teen Gate Exchange Program.  The Teen Gaters made frequent trips to other worlds, inviting children from those worlds to visit Earth as well.

Earlier in the week, for the first time ever, an SG team led by Jennifer was made up solely of Teen Gaters.  Their visit to Parquesha, designated PRN-024, was considered highly successful by Hammond.

However, Jennifer's parents weren't as thrilled when they learned that their daughter used an unknown piece of technology while there.  The lolung allowed the user to see into the past via a headset.  It was a learning tool.  Not quite realizing what she was about to see, Jennifer ended up catching a glimpse of various moments from her parents' pasts, including the planet Abydos and Sha're. That night, she asked Daniel for the truth about his late wife.

Daniel agreed and, after talking with Jack about it, was going ahead with his plan to take Jennifer out to lunch and answer her questions truthfully.

In the master bedroom, Daniel twisted his watch as he stared at his image in the mirror.  He was confident in his decision to be open with Jennifer.  After all, she'd experienced the Goa'uld on the family's first trip to Egypt and was somewhat aware of Earth's fight with the snake-like parasites.

Still, the maturing female did not know the details of Sha're's time as a Goa'uld host, nor was she fully aware of Teal'c's role in the situation, except for what she'd glimpsed in the memories while using the lolung.

“Maybe this is a mistake,” Daniel sighed.

“Maybe,” Jack agreed from his position on the bed.  He was leaning against the headboard, one leg crooked around the other as he spoke.  “She's going through the Stargate a lot, Danny.”

“Are you saying she might find out from someone?”

“Odds are against it, but it's a huge, honkin' galaxy.”

Turning around and crossing his arms in front of his chest, the archaeologist queried, “Do you think we're doing the right thing?  I mean, uh, Teal'c ...”

“Daniel, our kids love the big guy.”

“But will she understand?” Daniel sought out, anxiously wanting an affirmation to his inner belief that Jennifer would be able to comprehend the complexity of all that happened in the late nineties.  He saw his husband's shrug and slight cocking of his head and realized Jack didn't have the answer, either.  “She's always been a little fascinated by Sha're.”

“It's the picture, Love.”

“Yeah, I know,” Daniel acknowledged.

The portrait of Sha're that Daniel had long possessed was on the mantle in the living room, sitting right alongside those of the children, the zoo, and family members, including Hammond, the Wilsons, the Luca clan, and Kayla Armentrout, the birth mother of the triplets and the twins.  The beauty of the Abydonian woman captivated Jennifer from the very first time she'd seen it.

“You could back out.”

“I suppose so.”

Jack's face grew a small smile, after which Daniel let out a small chuckle.

“No, I can't.”

“That's what I said,” Jack responded wryly.  “Maybe we should do this together.”

“Probably, but ...”

“I know.”

“I know you know,” Daniel affirmed with a light smile as his hands dropped down and gripped the edge of the dresser.  He leaned back a bit, biting his lip just a tad as he continued to contemplate the upcoming lunch.  “Jack, she's our daughter, and she's already been through a lot.  Are we sure she's ready for this?”

“You mean will she understand about T?”

“If we tell her everything ...”

“She can handle it,” Jack offered assuredly.

“I hope so.”

Getting up, Jack approached his lover and took him into his arms.  They kissed solidly, Jack giving his strength and Daniel soaking it in.

“It'll be okay, Love.  Trust yourself,” Jack told the younger man before kissing him again and continuing their embrace.  “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

====

“Lunch was terrific, Daddy,” Jennifer stated as she walked alongside her father.

“Steak was great,” Daniel agreed, though his mind wasn't really thinking about the meal.

“If you'd rather not talk about her ...”

“No, Jen, it's okay.  There's just a ... a lot to remember,” Daniel said softly.

After lunch at O'Malley's Bar and Grill, Daniel drove his daughter to a park.  With his daughter's hand in his, he slowly led the way to a bench located at its center.

Looking around, Jennifer remarked, “I don't think I've been here before.”

“I haven't been here in a long time,” Daniel reflected.  “Actually, uh, this is where we brought Cassie after finding her on Hanka.”  He laughed, “Dad gave her the dog here.”

“Jack?” Jennifer echoed.  “He had a lot of character,” she opined about Cassandra's dog that was named after the then Air Force colonel.

“Janet said it was the red hair thing.”

Jennifer chuckled as her father let go of her hand and sat down on the bench.  She followed suit, her body turned in somewhat as she faced Daniel.

“You already know that Sha're was a gift to me from her father, Kasuf,” the cultural expert began.

“You didn't have a choice,” Jennifer acknowledged about Daniel's acceptance of Sha're.

“She would have been shamed in front of her people if I declined the gift.  I ... I didn't really know what I was going to do at first, but after everything that happened, it felt like staying was the right thing to do.”

Jennifer smiled sweetly.  She was aware to an extent of how alone Daniel felt once upon a time.  Though that was his past, she sensed some sadness even now.

“She was so beautiful, and she ... she, uh ...”

“She wanted you.”

“You know, Sweetie, I know you're ready for this, but I'm not sure I am,” Daniel confided from the simple honesty of what was just spoken.

“Sorry, Daddy,” the young woman replied unabashedly.  “Daddy, why did you really stay on Abydos?  Was it because of Sha're?”

“I had a reason to stay there and not much of anything to come back to.  You know that my research was laughed at, even though I'd finally proven I was right.  The problem was that I couldn't tell anyone in Academia that.  I ... didn't mind all that much, but there was no one to go home to, in the sense that people go anywhere for other people, and the Abydonians needed me, Jen.  I mean, they really wanted me to stay and teach them ... things.”

“Did Sha're want you to teach her things?” Jennifer asked cheekily, blushing slightly at her query.

“Jennifer!”

“Come on, Daddy.  You said you'd tell me everything.”

“Everything,” the archaeologist sighed.  “I did, didn't I?”

“So, answer my question.”

“She probably taught me more than I taught her.  I ... wasn't that experienced.”  Daniel looked away and shook his head.  “Gawd, I can't believe we're talking about this.”

“It's okay, Daddy,” Jennifer comforted via a pat on her father's hand.  “She wanted you to stay.”

“Yes, she did; so I did.”

“Were you in love with her already?”

“No, not yet.  I was ... fascinated by her, entranced even.  There was something about her right from the start.”

“What was it?  How'd you meet her?”  Was there a spark from the beginning?”

“Jen.”

“Sorry, Daddy, I really want to know everything.  Please tell me about Sha're and you.  What was she like?”

With a nod and a very deep breath, Daniel began his tale.

“We were on Abydos, of course, and we, the team, including Dad, saw a group of a people.  You see, this was in the desert.  It was hot, and no one really know what to expect, but there they were, people.  Uh, anyway, after the first initial moments of shock, for them and us, we were offered water.  Sha're brought me mine.  She bowed her head, but then she looked right at me.  I thought she was beautiful and I sensed something good about her.  That's what I felt, in that first moment, but I had to focus on her father, Kasauf.  He was their leader.  We ... made friends over a 5th Avenue chocolate bar.”

Jennifer laughed as she hung on Daniel's every word.

“She had deep black eyes.  Uh, I couldn't tell much more than that because of her dress and head covering, but her eyes were expressive.  She came up to here,” Daniel stated as he moved his hand to demonstrate Sha're's height, which was about five-feet, seven-inches.  “There was just a moment, one moment, a bit after that.  See, we came across the Abydonians at a mining camp.  It was quite a ways to their city, Nagada, and ... uh ...”

“What, Daddy?”

“I sneezed.  Jen, before Aunt Janet came to the rescue, my allergies were really bad and difficult to control.”

“I know that sometimes you still have a hard time with them, and Jenny's always had allergies, too.”

“Yes, she does.  So, I sneezed, really bad and really loudly.  One of the Abydonians took my handkerchief, which really doesn't matter, but after I got it back, I turned and saw Sha're looking at me.  She was carrying a water bucket.  Our eyes made contact for maybe a nanosecond, and I guess that was the start, but I'm not really sure what it was the start of, exactly.”

“But you noticed her, really noticed her.”

“Yeah.  She did what girls do apparently.”

“What's that?”

“I'd caught her looking, so she turned her head away really fast, but it was too late.  I saw her, looking.”

Jennifer smiled, knowing that game very well.

“There was a big sandstorm and in a way it gave us a chance to get to know the people.  We realized there was a connection to Ra, who ...”

“Daddy, I don't care about Ra.”

“I was afraid you'd say that.”

“Daddy, you're blushing,” Jennifer mused.  “Why are you blushing?”

“Because of what happened next.”  Shyly, Daniel began, “I'd just shown Kasuf the amulet that Catherine gave me.  You've seen it.”

“Yes, I remember it.  It's the necklace with the Eye of Ra on it,” Jennifer affirmed, her response also indicating she'd been paying attention in the past when Ra's name was mentioned, which wasn't very often.

“Well, I was trying to communicate with Kasuf and finally realized that writing was forbidden.  The next thing I knew I was surrounded by women and they were trying to get me to go with them.

//Flashback//
Quite a few Abydonian females hurried to Daniel and wrapped a blanket around him.  They completely encircled him and bade him to go with them.  The archaeologist was extremely confused, but the women were chatting away with excitement.  It didn't feel like there was a chance of any harm coming his way.

“What? What?  Uh-heh.  Uh.”  Unsure what to do, Daniel looked over at Jack and the team and nervously called out, “They want me to go with them.  Should I stay?  I'll go with them.  I'll go.  I'll be fine.”

As he walked, the archaeologist passed by Sha're, her black hair now flowing down, unencumbered by head wrappings.

Daniel was taken to a tent and motioned to sit down.  His shoes and socks were removed, after which a woman bathed and scrubbed his feet.  Others combed his hair and otherwise tried to make him clean.

“Okay.  That's good.  All right.  What is that smell?  Oh, it's ... okay.  That's good. Okay.  That's good.  I think that's good.  My hands are pretty clean.  Thank you. Thank you very, very much.”

The stammering scientist was very uncomfortable and was glad when the women finally left him alone.  He was able to sit up, but then his sense of smell overtook him as he realized he smelled like a yak, in part from a run-in he'd had recently with an alien beast of burden called a mastadge.

Suddenly, a woman entered and it took Daniel a moment before he realized it was Sha're.  She wore an enticing red dress with a veil that she removed almost immediately upon entering.  Then she pulled her top down, showing off her bare breasts.

“No!  No, no, no, no, no.  You don't have to do that.  Please?”  Daniel stood and reached out, pulling up Sha're's top as fast as he could.  “Maybe you should go. Okay?”  He could see the woman's disappointment and tried to assure her there was nothing wrong.  “It's okay.  Maybe you should go.  No, no.  It's okay; it's okay,” he contended as he walked her to the exit.  “It's all right.  We're ... here, let me grab this,” he said as pulled the tent flap back.

When Daniel looked out, he saw Kasuf and others.  He was instantly aware of a look of dismay on the leader's face, after which Kasuf spoke in what sounded like a desperate plea.  He'd even dropped to his knees as he stared, wide-eyed at the earthling.

~Oh, gawd.  I get it,~ Daniel thought.  “No, no, no, no, no.  It's me.  I wanted ... to ... thank you.”  Daniel bowed his head briefly.  “I wanted to ... I'm happy.  I'm very happy.”  He smiled and put his arm around Sha're.  ~What am I going to do now?~

Daniel closed the tent flap and tried to think of the best way to handle the situation, while Sha're walked over and sat down.  He approached and kneeled down, wanting to communicate with the woman.

“Uh ... Daniel,” the scientist introduced as he pointed at himself.
//End of Flashback//

“When she said her name, it was like music.  I could hear the notes, each syllable its own harmony.  I remember saying it back to her.  It sounded soft and exotic. For a second, I was lost in her name, but she was more than her name.  She was smart, Jen.  I started telling her about the pyramid and how we came from it.  It was like playing charades or maybe Pictionary, but she caught on fast.  Um, you don't want to know about that, though.”

“I want to know what you want to tell me,” Jennifer replied sweetly.

“She drew the symbol for Earth.  That was, uh,” Daniel grinned brightly and proudly, “quite the moment.  I asked her to show me where she'd seen it and reached out with my hand.  She took it.  I guess that was a moment, too.”

“You liked touching her hand?”

For a moment, Daniel reflected, his mind going back to that instant when Sha're put her hand in his.

“Considering how hard the women worked in that society, her hand was smooth and soft.  I was so excited.”  Daniel noticed his daughter's sudden smile and widened eyes.  “Not like that, I mean, I ... she knew the symbol for Earth.  I was excited about that.”

“Anything you say,” Jennifer spoke with acceptance.  ~In a pig's eye, Daddy.~  Curious, she asked, “Did you really stammer as much as you said?”

“Gawd, yes.  I was scared to death.  I couldn't speak a full coherent sentence for the life of me.  Everything I said came out in a rush.  I didn't know what she was going to do next and I just ... I wanted to get back to the team.”

“So Dad could protect you?”

Daniel looked at his daughter for a few seconds and then responded, “So he could prevent a mistake from happening.  Sha're was a gift, and I wasn't sure exactly how far they wanted that to go.”

“You knew, Daddy, as soon as she lowered her top.  I'd say that was a good tip off.”

“I'm not sure I'd ever been that nervous.”

“Where'd she take you?”

“She took me to an amazing place, Jen.  It was a cave full of Egyptian hieroglyphs, writing that told a great story, much of which I could only guess at.  The walls were full of symbols, and Sha're began to teach me the words to match the symbols.  I was fascinated.  It was just a piece, though, of what was on Abydos.  You know, after the team left, I searched around and found this Cartouche.  It was this great ... big ... map of coordinates for all the Stargates in the network, or at least those charted by the Goa'uld.  I thought I could stay in there for years and be happy.”  Daniel looked down and then back at Jennifer as he admitted, “And I did, actually.  I spent ... a lot of time there, learning.  There was so much to learn.”

“Daddy, Sha're.”

“Oh, yeah, um, there was another one of those moments in those first minutes when she knew we could really communicate, that I understood and could speak her words.  She laughed, a big, vibrant, lovely laugh, and I did, too.  Anyway, we really began to understand each other.  I remember we sat down and were so engaged in what we were saying that I didn't hear Jack come in later.”

“What?  Dad found you huddling with Sha're?”

“I wasn't huddling.  We were sitting, talking.”

“Right,” Jennifer mused.

“Jennifer.”

“Go on, Daddy.  How did Dad react?”

“Actually, he wasn't very happy, but he wasn't happy much about anything back then anyway.”

“I remember seeing him by that bomb,” Jennifer responded as she thought back to one of three of her parents' memories she'd witnessed while using the lolung.

“Jen, that's for Dad to talk about, if he wants to, okay?”

“Okay, Daddy.”

“I have to admit I was startled, though, when he walked in.”  Daniel let out a haunting and brief laugh.  “It was like being caught with my hand in the cookie jar, but I don't know why it felt that way.  Sha're and I really were just talking, but I was ...  enchanted by what I'd learned.

//Flashback//
“ Thought you couldn't speak their language,” Jack snapped from the other end of the long passageway, opposite the corner where Daniel and Sha're sat on the ground.

Nervous and uncertain for unknown reasons, Daniel quickly stood up and replied, “Huh?  You scared me.”

As Sha're stood up as well, Jack and those with him walked towards Daniel and the Abydonian woman.

Pointing at the wall, Daniel explained, “It's an ancient Egyptian dialect.  I mean, it's like the rest of their culture.  It's evolved completely independently, but, uh, once you know the vowels ...”

“Just answer the question,” Jack demanded.

“Well, uh, I ... I, mean, I just had to learn how to pronounce it.  I mean, it hasn't been a living, spoken language in more than one-thousand years.  I mean, look at this,” the linguist instructed as he pointed to an alien creature that had the Eye of Ra over its chest.  “It says, uh, a traveler from distant stars escaped from a dying world looking for a way to extend his own life, his body, decaying and weak, he couldn't prevent his own demise.

“Apparently, his whole species was becoming extinct, so he traveled, or searched, the galaxies looking for a way to cheat death and, uh ... look here,” Daniel urged as he pointed to another pictograph that showed a pyramid with the sun above it. “He came to a world, rich with life, where he encountered a primitive race, humans, a species which, with all his powers and knowledge, he could maintain indefinitely.  He realized within a human body, he had a chance for a new life.  Now, he apparently found a young boy.  It says as the frightened villagers ran, night became day.  Curious, and without fear, he walked towards the light.

“Ra took him and possessed his body, like some kind of a ... parasite looking for a host, and inhabiting this human form, he appointed himself ruler.  He used the Stargate to bring thousands of people here to this planet, as workers for the mines, just like the one we saw.”

Moving to yet another set of writings that showed workers bringing the mineral as offerings to Ra, Daniel noted, “This mineral is clearly the building block of all his technology.  With this, he can sustain eternal life.  Now, something happened,” Daniel spoke.  “Where is it?” he asked himself as he walked back along the wall, looking for the picture he sought.  “Back on Earth, a rebellion or uprising, and the Stargate was buried there.  Fearful of a rebellion here, Ra outlawed reading and writing.  He didn't want the people to remember the truth.”

Daniel's oration as he explained to Jack what all the symbols on the wall meant was interrupted by Charles Kawalsky, who entered and called out, “Jackson?  I think you'd better take a look at this.”
//End of Flashback//

“Uh, then it was just more ... Stargate related things.”

“Charles Kawalsky?” Jennifer repeated thoughtfully.  “Should I know that name?”

“He was a friend of Dad's.  They served together for a very long time and he became part of the SGC.  He ... was the leader of SG-2.”

“That's Uncle Lou's team,” Jennifer noted about Lou Ferretti.  “How come I don't know him then?”

“He was killed, Jen.”

“Oh, I'm sorry.”  Jennifer cocked her head and asked, “But why do I feel like I've heard his name?”

With a smile, Daniel answered, “We talk about him sometimes, so you may have heard us.”

“I think I remember Uncle Lou mentioning him once, but I don't recall what he said.”  Jennifer squinted as she tried to remember something stirring with her.  “Daddy, was Uncle Lou part of the team that went to Abydos?”

“Yes, he was there, on both missions.  Uh, I don't think you should ask him any questions about it, though.”

Jennifer reasoned, “He won't know what you've already said.”

“No, it's not that.”

“Aunt Carolyn doesn't know about the Stargate at all, or Abydos, does she?”

“That's right.  She's the wife of a highly trained officer who goes on secret missions for his country.  That's what she knows, that and that he often worked with Jack.”

“Okay, I understand.”

“One more thing about Charles Kawalsky,” Daniel spoke.  “Charlie was named after him.”

“Oh, wow, so he and Dad must have really been close; I mean, more than Air Force buddies, so to speak.”

“They were.”

Jennifer let what she'd learned thus far sink in for a couple of minutes as she sat next to her daddy in peaceful contemplation.

“What did Mister Kawalsky want you to see?”

“Oh, it was a stone that had the Gate address on it, except it was missing the seventh symbol.”

“I'm confused.”

“Um, it's another big story, Jen, but basically I didn't know the complete address that was needed to get us home.  I needed the seventh symbol so we could return to Earth, and when I saw what Kawalsky found, I thought that was it, but the symbol had rubbed off and it just wasn't there.”

“Which meant you couldn't dial the Stargate to get home.”

“Correct.”  Daniel sighed, “Dad wasn't happy with me, of course.  He was ready to leave the city after that, so we went.”

“You left Sha're?”

“Yes, we left Nagada.  I remember walking, following the team, but I kept looking back at her.  She ... looked sad.  She had on a purple shawl.  With her dark black hair, it accentuated her face perfectly.  I had to go.  I had to leave her.”

“That must have been heartbreaking.”

“Well, I cared about her, but we weren't in a relationship or anything, but I guess there was something,” Daniel conceded with a hesitant laugh.

“What happened next?  When did you see Sha're again?”

“Next?  Oh, Jen, it became very complicated.  I, uh, oh crap.”

“What is it?”

In considering the story he would be telling his daughter, Daniel didn't allow for the possibility that he would divulge as much as he was about the events that happened on Abydos.  Thus, he felt conflicted now about how much further to delve into his experience.

“Jen, things happened there that, that are ... hard to discuss, not because you couldn't understand, but because they're so involved.”

“Try simplifying it.”

Daniel chuckled nervously and in fast-paced speech said, “I was killed by a staff blast and placed in a sarcophagus for the first time.  I woke up and I was alive.  My clothes were still torn, but I didn't even have a scar.  Uh, it seems after I died, Ra showed up and saw the amulet and decided to revive me.  Anyway, I ended up having a face-to-face with Ra.”

//Flashback//
“I was dead?” Daniel asked Ra.

“That is why I chose your race, your bodies: so easy to repair.  You have advanced much, harnessed the power of the atom.”

Daniel walked closer to the false god and noticed the presence of the bomb brought through the Stargate from Earth that was intended to destroy the planet. Some of his books were there as well, opened and strewn about.

“What are you going to do?”

“You should not have reopened the Gate.  Soon, I will send your weapon back to your world with a shipment of our mineral which will increase your weapon's destructive power a hundred fold.”

“Why would you do that?”

“I created your civilization.  Now, I will destroy it.”

Standing, Ra walked to the archaeologist and chillingly spoke, “But before my workers question my authority, you will prove that I am their one god by killing your companions.”

“If I refuse?”

“Then I will destroy you, and all who have seen you.”  Ra grabbed the amulet and yanked it from around Daniel's neck as his eyes glowed with anger.  “There can be only one Ra!”
//End of Flashback//

“Daddy,” Jennifer gasped.

“Yeah, it was a hard place to be.”

“Well, you're here, and so is Dad, but how did you escape?”

“Luck.  I don't know, Jen.  Ra put on this big show for the Abydonians.  Jack, and the others, were standing at the end of the ramp.  I didn't know what I was going to do, but Skaara, uh, he was Sha're's brother, got my attention.  He had one of our guns under his cloak.  My heart was beating so fast, I thought I might have a heart attack.  Jack was right in front me, looking at me, uncertain what I was going to do, and our eyes locked, just looking like there was nothing else to see, and I just remember staring at him, this man I barely knew, but who was somehow now a part of my life.”  The father sighed and continued, “Jen, I did the only thing I could.  I primed the staff weapon, turned, and fired at Ra.  Unfortunately, I wasn't that good with a staff weapon.”

“You missed?”

“Yeah, but the Abydonians fought for their freedom, or our freedom, and we got away with their help.”

“What about Sha're?”

“She and the others kicked some butt, as Dad would say.  You know, Jen, the only reason we're alive is because while Ra was holding all of us prisoner, she convinced Skaara and one of his friends that her people couldn't continue like they'd been.  She told them what I'd told her.  Sha're and Skaara organized that rebellion that saved our lives.”

“You were grateful.”

“Very.”

“We met up later and still had problems.  We had to get the bomb back or do something to stop Ra from using it, and we still needed to get home, and, um,” Daniel paused and released a puff of air, as if whistling, and said nothing more, looking away from his daughter and staring out into space.

“Daddy?”

“I was getting some water and a lot of the boys started laughing.  I didn't know why.”

“Maybe it was woman's work,” Jennifer teased, her smile fading as she watched her father's expression.

“Something like that,” Daniel spoke quietly.  “Skaara's friend, Nabeh, he said, I'll never forget it, he said, 'Husbands don't do this work'.

“Ut oh,” Jennifer interjected lightly with a tiny smile.

“Yeah.  Apparently, by Abydonian standards, Sha're and I were married.  They assumed we, uh, we ...”

Sensing her father's extreme hesitation, Jennifer came out and directly surmised, “Had sex?”  She saw Daniel's stunned face and responded, “Daddy, it makes sense.  That's why they wanted you all clean and sexy for Sha're.  I don't imagine women went around taking off their clothes to just anyone.”

“They could have asked me first,” Daniel responded with a bit of a nervous laugh.  “Sha're was very anxious when she realized I knew the truth.  She hadn't told her father that we didn't ... you know.”  There was a brief pause before he continued.  “There was something in the way she said that she didn't tell them the truth because she thought I didn't ... want her.  Who wouldn't want her?  She was so shy in that moment and so vulnerable.  She looked down and I, I didn't want her to feel bad.  I remember reaching out and tilting her chin up to look in her eyes.  I got stuck there.  I kissed her.”

“And?”

“And the rest, as my husband and your dad would say, is none of your business.”

“Well, you were married, so it's okay,” Jennifer mused lightly.

“Anyway, one thing led to another, and I found the seventh symbol.  There was another big fight with the Goa'uld.  Sha're died.”

“What?”

“I put her in the sarcophagus and revived her.  She fought alongside us like ... Aunt Sam.  She had a gun and was as much a warrior as anyone.  That was Sha're, Jen, beautiful, smart, and a fighter.  She could survive anything, except being taken as a host.”

“Daddy, I understand the concept and some of what you've said about that, but how did you get from finding the seventh symbol to Sha're becoming a host to the Goa'uld?”

“I guess I skipped a lot.  Jen, suffice it to say that we, or rather, the Abydonians defeated the bad guys.  Ra was killed and the team was able to go home.”

“But not you.”

“No.  Sha're was amazing.  I cared about her very much.”

“But you still weren't in love with her.”

“No, not yet.  I fell in love with her from watching her strength every day over many, many days.  I think, uh, it was when she was making some yaphetta flour one morning that it just hit me, that I loved her.”  Daniel smiled as he envisioned Sha're looking at him with such hope for a blessed future together.  “We were happy.  I wasn't the best husband, to be honest.  I spent a lot of time in the Cartouche, studying and trying to learn everything I could.  That place was like a magnet to me.  I couldn't spend enough time there.  Then one day, Jack was back and the Goa'uld came, and Sha're became an unwilling host to Apophis' mate.”  With sadness, he bemoaned, “I ... wasn't there to protect her.”

Jennifer heard the hesitation in Daniel's voice and prodded gently, “Daddy?”

“Many of the Abydonians were taken to Chulak.  Uncle Lou saw the address where they were going, so we went to Chulak, and they were there.”

All over her body, Jennifer's hairs were standing up.  She felt her heart stop for a second and she grew numb.  She tried to speak, but she couldn't.  Her father's emotional distress was jumping right into her skin.

Finally, Daniel got out the words and explained, “The System Lord Apophis was the one responsible for the Goa'uld returning to Abydos.  Along with using the  acquisition of slaves for one miserable thing or another, he was trying to find a new host for his mate, Amanuet.  The Jaffa were guarding the Abydonians and then it fell upon the First Prime to pick a potential host.”

“The First Prime,” Jennifer echoed.  “Teal'c.  He was the First Prime to Apophis.”  Jennifer gasped, “Oh, Daddy.  Teal'c chose Sha're to be a host?”

“That's correct.”

“I don't understand how he could have chosen Sha're to suffer like that.”

“Jen, listen to me.  The Jaffa were bred to be the slaves of the Goa'uld.  Like any society, there are levels of achievement.  Here, we have CEOs and mailroom workers.  For the Jaffa, to be the best, meant becoming a First Prime to a System Lord.  Teal'c worked very hard to get that spot.”

“But he chose people to become slaves, when he was a slave himself.  I don't understand that.”

“I know, Sweetie.  Sometimes I don't, either.  When Teal'c helped us escape, I was very conflicted.  Jack, he bonded with Teal'c almost immediately.  It's the warrior thing.  They've always had this respect, this ... brotherhood because of the military view of life.  I was angry.  I'd lost my wife to a horrible existence, and Teal'c was responsible for that except, Jen, it's not that simple.  Teal'c had reasons.  Now, it's still hard for me, but in time, I was able to forgive him and now, of course, we're family.  I don't want that to change.”

“You know something, Daddy?  When I was on Parquesha, I saw that fight you and Dad had about Teal'c, remember?”

“Yes, you told us.”

“It's so funny because it's like I'd already wiped it from my mind.  In the few days since my visit to Parquesha, I've thought about the argument, I mean you and Dad, and your relationship: that's been my focus of thought.  I don't think I really realized the words I heard: Sha're being a host, Teal'c having picked her.  I heard the words, but I didn't process them, not really, and now, I hear your words, Daddy, and I'm still so confused about it.  I don't know how I'm supposed to feel.”

“Back then, Teal'c was a different man.  Look, I've spoken with Teal'c, and he's willing to talk to you about what it was like for him and about Sha're.  There's a lot you still don't know, Jen, and I'm not even sure you should know, but if you ask him, he'll tell you the straight story.  Dad and I told him it would be okay with us.  He won't make light of anything.  He *will* tell you the truth and he won't leave anything out.”

Jennifer nodded, her eyes looking downward as she struggled to come to some kind of peace about what she now knew.  Her stomach flip-flopped and churned as she considered the ramifications of Teal'c's actions all those years ago.

Daniel wanted to help his daughter to have a balanced focus and awareness about the Jaffa, so he suggested, “Jen, when you think about Teal'c, think about the man who has always been around whenever we've needed him.  Think about the teacher who taught all of you how to protect yourself from potential danger.  Think about the man who Aunt Janet fell in love with and married when she believed she'd never get married again.  Think about the beau who made Chenoa so happy while growing up.  That's who Teal'c is now, the warrior who sipped pretend tea with our little dove.”

Jennifer gave an affirmative nod and felt a bit better.  Even so, as curious as she was, she suddenly wasn't sure if she ever wanted to know what the Jaffa might tell her.

Daniel reached over and took his daughter's hand as he spoke, “You wanted to know about Sha're, so here's what matters.  She was a kind and caring woman with intelligence who feared nothing.  She was resilient.  In her world, she was a Gloria Steinem.  In her world, she was a leader when woman ... poured water for their husbands and not much more.  Sha're was ... spirited and a very brave woman.  She was my wife and she died because of that.  Sha're ...” Daniel smiled brightly, “... was a beauty, sometimes shy, often funny, and always invigorating.”

“I wish I could have known her.  I feel like, I don't know, like she's really a part of our family, too.”

“I'm glad you feel that way.”

“You haven't told me how she died.  She is dead, isn't she?  I mean, she's not still a host.”

“No, she's dead.  Eventually, uh, you know, Jen, she saved me a couple of times after that.”

“You saw her, when she was a host?”

“More than once.”

“Couldn't you ...”  Jennifer stopped, deciding not to ask her query.  ~He would have brought her home, if he could have.~

Still holding Jennifer's hands, Daniel drew from within and told her, “The last time I saw her, Amaunet tried to kill me with an object called a ribbon device.  It's not ... fun.”  After a pause to retain his focus, he expounded, “Sha're tried to stop her. I could feel her trying, but Amaunet was too strong.”  Suddenly, his hands gave way, until they were braced up by the strength of his oldest child, though she was a child no more.  Daniel looked away and licked his lips as he struggled to finish saying what had to be said.  It seemed like hours, days, years to the archaeologist before he felt composed enough to speak.  “Jen, in another few seconds, I would have died.”

“What happened?”

“Teal'c walked in and he killed her with his staff weapon to save me.”

“Oh, Daddy,” Jennifer gasped, immediately releasing his hands and throwing her arms around his neck.  Tears fell as she cried, “I'm so sorry, Daddy.  I shouldn't have asked you to tell me these things.”

“No, it's okay, Jen,” Daniel responded as he held her close.  Father and daughter hugged for a couple of minutes until they felt safe to back away.  “It was a long time ago now, Sweetie, and it's really okay.  Sha're is free now and she died free.”

“Died free?”

“She survived the symbiote inside her.  Amaunet died first.  She, uh, Sha're spoke to me before she passed, so I know she was free.  That meant something.”

“What did she say?”

“She said, she loved me.”

Once again, Jennifer hugged her father, her compassion so strong for all he'd been through, and she was certain she only knew half of it, if that.

“Teal'c must feel horrible, just horrible,” Jennifer opined when she pulled away.

“Yes, he does, Jen.  He apologized right afterward, but I told him he didn't have a choice, and he didn't.  I wasn't going to last much longer.”  Daniel took a breath and suggested, “How about we go home now?”

“Okay.”  The two stood and ambled slowly away from the bench where they'd been sitting.  “Thank you for telling me about Sha're today.  I know it wasn't easy.”

“I made it more difficult than it needed to be.”

“No, you didn't, and you've trusted me with information I know you didn't want to share.  Don't worry, Daddy.  This is just between us.”

“Speaking of which, if you do talk to Teal'c, Dad and I would appreciate it if you wouldn't say anything to your brothers and sisters.  Most of them are way too young for what you might hear and ...”

“And Teal'c is family.  I promise, Daddy.  If I talk to him, whatever is said, won't go any further.”

“Thank you.”

Daniel and Jennifer were in no hurry as they traversed the grass and  held hands as a father and daughter do, regardless of age.

“Daddy?”

“Hmm?”

“Can I tell you what I think?”

“Sure.”

“I don't mean to be disrespectful and I don't want to take anything away from Sha're.  I mean, to live through all that with the Goa'uld, to fight right next to you and convince her people to stand up against an incredible foe, all of that blows my mind.”

“But?” Daniel asked.  “I'm sensing there is a 'but' here.”

Jennifer stopped walking, prompting Daniel to do the same.  She turned to look straight into her daddy's eyes.  She took a big breath to summon her courage.

“Daddy, I think you loved Sha're.  I think maybe you *wanted* to be *in* love with her.  I think you were grateful to her and saw her beauty, inside and out.  I think you thought you could be happy on a faraway planet where no one laughed at you and where the people adored you, like they should.  I think Sha're was wonderful.”

“But?” the father prodded yet again.

“I think you were in love with Dad from the beginning.  Think about it.  You described awesome moments with Sha're, but I studied her face as you've told this unimaginable tale.  Those moments when you talked about Dad and when you were in that cave, or Cartouche room ...”

“Sha're showed me the caves.  I actually found the Cartouche later,” Daniel clarified for his daughter.

“Well, wherever you were, you were trying to get home, to learn for when you did come home.  It was a connection to Earth, to Dad.  You talked about Sha're's beauty, but you also talked about Dad and his eyes.  You were in love with Dad on Abydos, that first time.  That's what I think.  Are you mad at me?”

“No, of course not.  It's complicated, Princess.  I'll tell you that Dad and I have talked a lot, a whole lot, about that.  We don't know the answer to that question of when we fell in love.  We know when our hearts and minds and souls called out for each other, but when exactly it was born, I don't know and neither does he.”

“But?” Jennifer asked with a probing smile.

“But I never felt about Sha're the way I do your dad and the sad thing is that she knew it.  I know she knew, so maybe, maybe it was just a process that had to happen for all of us to get where we are today.”

“It doesn't change who she was or how she helped you.”

“No, it doesn't.”

Daniel and Jennifer resumed walking towards the silver vehicle.

“Was it hard to say goodbye to Dad?”

“Yeah, it was.  He was worried about me staying, but he understood.  He knew Sha're was there.”

“And he was still married to Aunt Sara.”

With a nod, Daniel affirmed, “Yes, and anything you want to know about that ...”

“I know, from Dad, but Aunt Sara has told me a little.”

Daniel gave his daughter a 'nothing I can do about that' shrug.  Jennifer and Sara were very close and in ways, Sara was a mentor to the young woman.  It was easy for the archaeologist to believe the two had discussed Sara's relationship with Jack.

“What if Dad hadn't gone back to Abydos?”

“Wow, that's a great big 'if', Jennifer, and I couldn't even guess.”

“There are so many Goa'uld.  Ra wasn't the only System Lord.”

“Oh, no, there were plenty of them back then.”

“Do you think they would have gone back to Abydos, to seek revenge for Ra, or something?”

“I don't know,” Daniel responded thoughtfully.  “They came through the Stargate, that time.”  He grew solemn and stopped walking.  His eyes darted back and forth several times as he honed in on a shocking awareness.  “I always blamed myself.  If I hadn't kept the Gate open; if I hadn't responded to the Kleenex box: it was my fault.”

“What do you mean?”

“I should have buried the Stargate after Jack left.  There was no reason to keep it open.”

“Yes, there was,” Jennifer stated strongly.

Daniel looked over at the young woman, his eyes full of questioning.

“You kept it open for Dad because you knew someday he'd come back.  You had to know he'd be back.”

Daniel looked away as he tried to piece together a very old puzzle in his mind.

“Didn't Ra have a spaceship?  If the Asgard have ships, the Goa'uld must have them, too.”  Again, the archaeologist's head jutted to face Jennifer.  “Who said the Goa'uld could only return to Abydos through the Stargate?  Okay, maybe they used it.  You haven't told me what happened exactly, but if they had ships, isn't it possible they would have returned anyway?”

Daniel let out a tiny snort as his mind worked anxiously to process the possibility that all the guilt he'd carried around for decades might not have been necessary.  He began walking again.  If he were home, he would have begun pacing.  He did some of his best thinking when walking short distances back and forth.

“Daddy, did you even know there were other Goa'uld?”

“Not at first.  We thought Ra was it, and he was dead.  It was over, but when the team came back and the Goa'uld showed up, it was obvious.  We talked about that in the briefing, our first briefing.”

Daniel thought back to the key moment in the conference room, when he had put forth, “The legend goes Ra's race was dying; he survived by taking over the body of his human host, an Egyptian boy, but who's to say more of his kind couldn't do the same thing?  I mean, this could have happened anytime, anywhere there's a Gate.  I mean, this could be happening right now.”

“And when they came back, they used the Stargate?” Jennifer responded.

“Yes.”

The two reached the space where the Silver Fox, Daniel's car, was parked.  The father leaned back against the passenger door as he faced Jennifer, who stood just a foot or so away.

“But, Daddy, couldn't they have used ships?  If Ra had a ship, doesn't it make sense that the other false gods would have ships, too?  For that matter, wouldn't some of them know about Ra and figure out he was missing?  And, um, the Goa'uld being the Goa'uld, I'm guessing someone would want to take over for him, like a power grab in business.  I know you feel guilty about Sha're and I understand that.  I'm just wondering, though, if the same thing might have happened anyway, and, um ...”

“What, Jen?”

“What if you had buried the Gate and never unearthed it again?  What if the Goa'uld showed up in a ship and attacked Abydos?  What would have happened?”

“We'd probably be dead or taken as hosts or we'd be slaves in other ways,” Daniel answered.

“Therefore, the Stargate being open and Dad being there with his team, was a good thing.  People still died and, yes, Sha're was taken, but the threat of the Goa'uld was ... understood?  Or known more about than before, right?  You came back and SG-1 was formed to fight the Goa'uld and let people live without fear and on their own terms.”

With a huge smile and a short laugh of amazement and awe, Jennifer continued, “And you won, Daddy.  You defeated the Goa'uld.  How many people throughout the universe are alive because the Stargate on Abydos was open?  It doesn't make Sha're's loss acceptable or easier to take, but the Goa'uld would still be out there terrorizing the universe if Stargate Command didn't exist and become allies with the Asgard and others, and that only happened because Dad went back to Abydos.”

Clearly no longer a child and well beyond the sometimes 'me, me, me' attitude of a teenager, Jennifer postulated, “Isn't it possible that if the Abydos Gate was buried and inaccessible, that all of Earth, Dad included, might be slaves, hosts, or even ... dead?  If the Goa'uld could use a Stargate to get to Abydos, couldn't they use the Stargate at Cheyenne Mountain to come here?  You would never even have known, whether or not Abydos was attacked or not.

“Am I wrong, Daddy?  I mean, I know I don't really know that much.  I'm just piecing together all the little tidbits I've heard from the moment you and Dad adopted us and what you've said today.  I could be all wrong.  Am I wrong?”

Daniel stared at the adult standing in front of him, replaying her words in his mind and wondering if this miracle of a Mouseketeer may have made the argument that could take away years of pain and guilt about all that happened at the precipice of a years-long war between Earth and the System Lords.

~Could they have come back anyway?  We didn't even know there were more of them, not really, not until they showed up on Abydos after Jack came back.  How could we have known?  Should we have known?  We were so innocent and naive about the universe and its predators back then.~

“Are you okay?”

Nodding his head, Daniel replied, “Yes, Sweetie, I'm fine.  Maybe the Goa'uld would have come back; maybe it was a question of time before the System Lords checked up on Ra.  It's hard to say.  I guess all I know is that I didn't bury the Gate on Abydos because I wanted your dad to come back, and he did.  You know, 'if' is a horrible word sometimes, but maybe today, you've given me an 'if' that takes away some of the guilt I've felt for years.  Maybe they would have come back in ships.  Maybe.”

After another minute passed, a minute of silence, reflection, and even wonder, Jennifer asked, “Daddy, would you do me a favor?”

“If I can.”

“Dance with me.”

“Are we having a party?”

“Yes, right here, right now.”

“Jen, we're in a park.”

“Are you embarrassed to dance with your daughter in public?”

“Low blow, Jennifer Renee.”

Jennifer reached out and took both of Daniel's hands.  She walked backwards a few steps, tugging on his hands to move him forward and towards her, which he did.  She put her arms around her younger father and was happy when he began to lead her gaily across the grass.  She placed her head on his shoulder and smiled.

“I love you, Daddy.  I'm so proud of you for being who you are and passing that on to the brood, and I feel so lucky to be your daughter.”

“I love you, too, Jen.  You've brightened up my world in ways I could never tell you, and I'm proud of you, too.  You've grown up to be an incredibly enlightened, bright, and caring woman.”

“Thank you, Daddy.”

When their dance was finished, Daniel and Jennifer returned home to join the rest of their family.

====

That evening, with the kids occupied in various places throughout the house, Jack noticed Daniel wasn't anywhere in sight.  He knew Jennifer was happy at learning more about Sha're and he'd seen her before dinner looking at the photo of the Abydonian woman on the mantle, a gentle smile on her face.  He hadn't yet had a chance to get his husband's take on the conversation.

~No time like the present,~ Jack opined.  He checked the first place he believed Daniel might be, the lawn in the backyard.  So often when Daniel needed time to sort through his thoughts, he would do so, sitting in the middle of the large backyard, whether or not the grass was dry or wet, but Daniel wasn't outside.  ~Roof deck.~

Jack went upstairs and into the master bedroom.  He nodded when he saw the door that led outside to the deck was ajar which meant his lover was doing his pondering beneath the stars.

~Great place for thinking.  I'm not a thinker, but when I think, that's the place.~

As he walked onto the wood deck, Jack smiled as he saw Daniel leaning forward against the front railing.  The younger man was looking out at the expanse of stars in the sky.  Drawing nearer, Jack could see a bottle of beer dangling loosely from his Love's right hand.

“If I knew we were drinking, I'd brought a beer up for me,” Jack stated, causing Daniel to startle slightly.  “Sorry, Love.”

“It's okay.”

“Where were you?”

“Abydos,” Daniel answered.  “Jack, there are some things you need to know about our daughter.”

“I take it we're talking about Jennifer.”

“We are,” Daniel affirmed.  “She's not a little girl anymore.  I know we know that, but we need to really accept that.  She's an amazing young woman now.”

“Tell me something I don't know,” Jack returned with a smile as he leaned gently against the railing, though he was at a profile, his body completely facing Daniel, who was still looking straight ahead.

“You need to be prepared if she asks you about the bomb.  I didn't tell her anything about that, except there was a bomb, but she saw that when she had that lolung device on her head, as you know.  She might ask you more questions about it, Jack.  I told her it was your story to tell, but if you tell her, you need to tell the truth, the whole truth.”

“You didn't just talk about Sha're,” Jack surmised.

“Jack, how do you tell her about Sha're without telling her about the mission?  So much of who Sha're was I learned because of the mission.  Her intelligence, her strength: I don't think I would have discovered any of that had we been just saying hello to strangers in a new world.  The mission was vital to the story.  I wasn't intending on telling Jen anything about it, but after I started trying to explain Sha're's character and what attracted me to her, I didn't know how to go forward without talking about the mission, at least in part.”

“I get it, Danny.”

“Jack.”

“Right here,” Jack said as he reached out and caressed Daniel on the upper arm for a few seconds.

“After we killed Ra, I really never thought about there being other Goa'uld out there.  Did you?”

“Danny, I didn't know squat about the Egyptians, mythology, well, not in the aspect of power hungry snakes, or any of it.  I figured Ra was a one shot deal and we got him.  End of story.”

“We didn't know they were out there.”

“Nope, and if we did think that, on the original mission, I couldn't have let you stay,” Jack told his husband.  He saw Daniel turn his head to look at him.  “Daniel, you were the only one who could read and understand the language.  All that writing on the wall: you made a story out of it.  You went from picture to picture and linked it together.  You were speaking Abydonian within hours of our meeting the people.  I don't know how that would have played out elsewhere.  We didn't have a dang clue what was out there or where we could go.  Daniel, *you* made Stargate travel possible.  *You* knew how to link the pieces together.  Carter knew the science, you knew the language, technically and on a broader scale.  How could have I have let you stay on Abydos if I knew Earth could be at risk?  I wouldn't have had a choice.”

“No, I guess you wouldn't have.”

“I didn't the second time.  When the Goa'uld came through our Stargate, the threat was real.  We didn't know what it was, but it was there, and the order was given: bring you home because even then, the government knew you were our only hope of understanding the Stargate and what it would mean for us in the future.”

Daniel took in a big breath of air and then slowly released it, almost as if preparing to meditate.

“Jack, about the Goa'uld showing up here, I didn't tell Jen it happened.”

“Why would you?”

“Because our daughter is a very wise woman who knows more than we might think, not because she's doing anything wrong ...”

“Snooping?  Eavesdropping?  Reading reports she's not supposed to?”

“Yeah, she's not doing any of that, but she's paid attention to everything we've ever said about the Stargate ... and us.  She knows about the guilt I've carried around for years.  Jack, I think some of that is finally gone, really gone, and I owe that to Jen.”

“More words, Danny,” Jack requested, curious what Jennifer said to so affect his soulmate.

For the next couple of minutes, Daniel replayed the last part of his conversation with Jennifer at the park and the questions she raised about Goa'uld ships and the potential greed of the System Lords that might cause them to want to claim Ra's territory.  He told Jack about all those nasty 'if' questions and he ended with Jennifer's proposition that it was possible the Goa'uld might have attacked Earth and won, that they could have come through the Earth Stargate at any time.

“Jack, she's right, isn't she?  We knew so little back then.  We didn't know the extent of the Goa'uld.  We thought it was confined to Ra and one planet, Abydos.  We didn't stop to think he could be one of many, or that Abydos was just one of thousands of enslaved worlds.  We didn't take a moment to wonder if Earth might still be in jeopardy.”  With watery eyes, Daniel said, “I didn't realize that no matter what I did, I could still lose Sha're, or you.”  He paused for a second and felt the joy of Jack's hand caressing his cheek.  He leaned into his soulmate's palm and closed his eyes for just a second.  “It didn't matter if the Abydos Gate was buried or not.  They could have come by ship whenever they wanted, to Abydos or Earth.  It wasn't the choice I made that determined Sha're's fate.”

“No, Angel, it wasn't,” Jack returned as he maneuvered his hand to the back of Daniel's neck and slowly pulled him close and into an embrace.  “It was never your fault and Sha're would never have wanted to carry this guilt for so long.  She knew the truth, Danny.  She knew.”

Daniel's body released his tension and years of sorrow, lamentation, and heartache that comprised his guilt over Sha're's abduction and implantation of a symbiote.  He'd believed that his failure to bury the Stargate was the cause of all that followed, a belief that was complicated by his overwhelming need to see Jack again, to keep the Gate open for that just-in-case time when the event horizon would form and Jack would walk through.  That day came and Daniel felt alive in a way he couldn't understand at the time.  Later, he understood.  Later, he knew he was in love with the tough-as-nails colonel who almost committed suicide-by-bomb on an alien world.  He became a very happy man, but at what cost?  To him, the cost was Sha're, a cost enacted because of his selfish desire to reconnect with Jack.  All of his regret poured out one last time as he stood there, crying, in the arms of his true strength, his soulmate, his everything, his Jack.

The beer bottle fell to the deck, the liquid spilling out, freeing itself from the constriction of its prison-like container, a symbolic representation of Daniel's tears that was releasing the turmoil from his body, thus freeing the man from its poison.

====

The clock was approaching midnight when Jack slipped out of bed to get a snack.  He was hungry, a condition that was he happy to deal with, perhaps with a peanut butter sandwich or maybe a bowl of ravioli.  He wasn't sure yet, but his mind was going over the possibilities as he walked down the stairs and took more steps towards the kitchen.  He stopped short of his destination, though, when he felt eyes on him.  He turned and looked around the dark room.  No one else was there, but then he looked over at the mantle and saw only one photo.  The others were still there, but only one enthralled him and caused him to shift direction and walk to the mantle.

“Ah, Sha're,” Jack sighed.  “It took a while, but Danny's going to be okay now, finally, and it took our daughter to make that happen.  Why was that?  She connected with you years ago.  Yeah, well, if you had anything to do with this, thanks. I am sorry we couldn't rescue you.  I did try to keep my promise to Danny about that.”  He glanced away and then back. “I'm not sure what would have happened if we'd found you.  Danny says it wouldn't have made a difference.  He says you knew the truth about us.  Geez, I hope so.  Oy!  What am I doing, standing here talking to a picture on the mantle?”

Shaking it off, Jack headed away and turned to go into the kitchen.  He stopped again and looked back.

“Thanks.”

Jack maintained his gaze for another moment and then he realized he wasn't really hungry anymore.  What he wanted now was to go back upstairs and snuggle next to his husband, the man he loved more than anything or anyone.  Smiling, he turned again and headed for the stairs.  He took one step up and twisted around for one more look at the picture.

“You were a beauty, Sha're; the guys sure thought Daniel was one lucky man, and he was.  Goodnight.”

Jack held a thought that he was acting a bit loony over the last few minutes, and yet, they'd experienced the unusual repeatedly over the years.  Very little would ever truly surprise him, not even Sha're somehow influencing Jennifer with wisdom that had the power to free Daniel from years of buried torment that had been resolved to various extents over time, but yet was never truly gone.  Today's conversation with Jennifer was the impetus to a liberation for the linguist and a freeing of his soul.

On this night, in Colorado Springs, Jennifer was sound asleep, feeling content and having an increased admiration for the woman her daddy was once married to at a time when he needed Sha're and the Abydonians to afford him the respect, need, and love he so desired and hadn't yet found on Earth.  Jack was entering the bedroom, gazing with eternal love for his husband as he paused to watch him sleep and feeling ever so grateful that Daniel chose to spend eternity with him.  Daniel was in bed, waking from sleep with a feeling of peace he didn't think he'd ever feel.  As he gained awareness, he could sense his lover's presence.

“Jack, come to bed.”

“I'm right here, Angel,” Jack responded as he slid under the bedding and did exactly what his heart was telling him to do when he was downstairs.  He snuggled in close and put his arms protectively across Daniel's body as both lie on their sides, Jack's front to Daniel's back.  “I love you, Danny, so friggin' much.”

A smile formed instantly on Daniel's yawning face, even as the archaeologist reached for Jack's hand and brought it to close to him, his hand now atop Jack's.

“Love you, too, Jack; couldn't live without you, just you, only you.”

Jack kissed Daniel's bare back and closed his eyes.  His dreams were full, his Daniel was in his arms right where he belonged.

And somewhere, in the time and space of another place or level of life, Sha're smiled, her soul free and happy.

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~

Feedback Welcome - click here to email the author


AmazingCounters.com