October 2002

a kind of divinity


There was nothing like staring up at a sky full of foreign constellations to remind a man he was a million light years from home.

It was a warmish night, and the lantern was dialed low. The scratch of Daniel's pen was a little mesmerizing, and with his head on the soft end of his pack and the night tuned to mildness, Jack thought that maybe these were the sounds and sights of contentment.

Daniel looked up, notebook balanced on crossed legs. It was a new notebook, Jack saw--blue binder, crisp white pages. "I'm not going to have sex with you, Jack."

"Funny, I don't remember asking."

Daniel gave him a look. Okay, maybe he'd been thinking it, but a man was entitled to the privacy of his own thoughts.

He cracked his neck and looked up at the stars again, feeling again the displacement in his gut, like rushing down the incline of a rollercoaster. He didn't mind. A lot of recruits washed out for that reason: the weird stars, the weird span of days and nights that messed with a guy's rhythm. A good twenty percent cracked up after only a few days on a new planet. Hell, a lot of veterans, too. He wondered if it would be his turn some day, and if he'd even notice. What with everything else.

Daniel resumed his scribbling. The night rolled on.

"It's an idea," Jack offered.

Daniel didn't respond. When Jack sneaked a look over, Daniel had stopped writing and his head was cocked as if thinking, and Jack stared at the owl eyes of his glasses and encouraged him along those lines.

"Sam and Teal'c will be back soon," Daniel said with finality, as if resolving the situation.

"They left an hour ago. Half-hour to the gate, infirmary, briefing," Jack ticked off the hours mentally, "time for Carter to recover that---" He paused. "What did she go back for?"

Daniel blinked. "The...yeah. To test the mineral content?" he asked himself wonderingly.

"Yeah, that. Where're they going to find one of those at such short notice?"

"Don't we have them in, uh, storage or something?"

Jack shrugged. Hell if he knew. He liked that Daniel wasn't sure, either. "My point is---"

"Yes, Jack, please do get to the point," Daniel said drily.

Fine, then. Jack raised his eyebrows to communicate that Daniel had just lost his chance, and Daniel looked back as if to say, so.

Jack lowered his eyes to half-mast and Daniel resumed writing. He listened to the scratch of his pen and the caress of crisp paper, and it wasn't a half-bad way to pass the time. The stars were all wrong for his world, but he didn't mind. He liked being outside his skin and not completely himself, because at the end of the day, the drift from new world to the next led home.

"Let me finish this first."

Good boy, Daniel, he thought, and felt entirely right.