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SG1 Fic: The Stars Up Above You Feel Wrong

The Stars Up Above You Feel Wrong
SG1, rated G, 1400 words.
I guess this is gen. Holy shit. Weird.
AN: Source for the title and quote. Set before "Forever in a Day." Because I have never written apocalypse before, despite loving it more than anything.

The nights and the shadows grow long.
The stars up above you feel wrong.
This is not your sky...
Crucified to a strange constellation

Daniel exited the building and came up beside him. Jack didn't move from where he sat on the ground, head tipped back to the sky. He could smell the faint not-quite-right of crushed alien grass beneath Daniel's boots. Could hear him breathe, low and steady under reedy not-quite-crickets.

Finally, Daniel sat.

A tiny flare of light beside him signaled Daniel checking his watch. He said, "Forty minutes."

In forty minutes they would attempt to dial Earth, and Ferretti's team would attempt to dial the alpha site. Try for five minutes, then leave the gate clear for Ferretti to report. Everything was timed and coordinated down to the minute to try to avoid busy signals, prevent unexpected activations from upsetting the SGC's carefully choreographed evacuation efforts.

In forty minutes they would know if Earth still existed.

Jesus, but it had been a long five hours already. Jack seized a twig from the ground beside him and started methodically stripping it of bark. This wasn't the way he normally thought. He had to pull out of this dive; falling down this mental rabbit hole was the worst possible coping strategy right now.

He used to be better at waiting.

"SG-3 will manage. You like Colonel Reynolds. You trust his team." Daniel spoke with the monotone awkwardness of someone reciting facts not believed.

"Of course I do." There was one especially problematic knot on this twig, rough beneath his fingertips.

"Jack." That flicker of movement in his peripheral vision would be Daniel glancing sideways at him, then away quickly, as though guilty. "It doesn't always have to be you."

"Of course it doesn't." Daniel needed to stop talking about it now.

"I know you're bad at just sitting and waiting--"

Jack had to head this off. "Believe it or not, I didn't start out as a colonel. I have plenty of practice sitting and waiting. Doing it better than you." He flicked the bare twig at Daniel's leg.

"Oh," Daniel said. "In that case, any pointers?"

"Yeah. Rule number one: Stop thinking about it."

"How the hell am I not supposed to think about the fact that, right this very minute, Earth is probably-- Tell me, Jack, what should I be thinking about?"

Jack stayed very still for a long moment. He kept his eyes fixed ahead and up at the sky, but every sense was keyed in to Daniel beside him; the rustling of his clothes as he shifted in frustration, the prickling of proximity along his skin as Daniel leaned closer, the shape of his tense, hunched shoulders out of the corner of his eye.

Jack pointed up and left, his arm a black shadow against the only slightly less black sky. "See that star there, bluish, bottom of that little triangle?"

He felt more than saw Daniel's nod.

"And that one, ten o'clock from the moon, and that one" -- Jack twisted nearly completely around -- "right above the point of that tree?"

"Yes. And?"

"Orion's belt," Jack said, and let his arm drop back down to the grass.

"Huh," Daniel said, lifting his head. "Spread out like that?"

"Trick of perspective in three dimensions. Constellations aren't groups."

Again that shadowy peripheral-vision nod. "So how did you figure that out?"

Jack jerked his thumb over his shoulder at the dark building behind him. "Our buddies are very keen to know where their new allies live. Carter was helping them correlate their star charts to ours. Lots of complicated software."

"Which you watched avidly while pretending not to understand any of it."

Daniel had had his number for a long time. It was worth letting the pretense slip here, to distract them both.

Daniel sounded almost like his normal self as he said, "At least we got stranded someplace with computers. Hot and cold running water. Flush toilets."

"I would rather have been stranded someplace with lavatories and abacuses and real big spaceships." Jack paused for dramatic effect. "Abacuses? Abacii?"


"Missed your cue, there, Daniel."

Daniel moved suddenly, like he was jolting himself out of reverie. "Abacus, abaci, masculine, Latin second declension. But the root abax is Semitic, so some people say the plural in English..."

His heart obviously wasn't in it. After another long pause, Daniel asked with a false lightness, "So anything else I know of? Big dipper, North Star?"

Jack wondered who was distracting who, here. And if it mattered.

"That greenish one there, and that one to the left of the spire? Planets." His arm cut a line through the darkness, then pointed up and behind them. "That's the plane of their ecliptic. And one of that cluster up there is our North Star."

Daniel thought about as loudly as anyone Jack had ever met. The wheels were turning audibly now, as Daniel shifted and made low noises and tried to piece together the spatial model in his head to draw the necessary inferences.

"So the plane of this system is different from ours."

"Nope. Nearly exactly the same, in fact."

He didn't give Daniel any hints, just left the puzzle lying out there on the table. Possibly a little cruel of him, but effective. At last Daniel said, "Different axial tilt," and Jack nodded, knowing that Daniel was attuned enough to him in the darkness to see it.

"So where is--"

Jack pointed about two degrees below the horizon, and thought, Please don't ask when it rises, please don't ask... He knew the time to the minute. It wouldn't do them any good; this planet wouldn't see that star go dark until hundreds of years later.

Somehow in all the twisting and turning, Daniel had ended up close enough that their legs pressed together from knee to ankle. The warmth was shocking. It almost felt like a betrayal, to be warm right now. Daniel didn't pull away, and his jagged breathing calmed just enough.

Colonel Reynolds was a good soldier with a good team. There was nothing that Jack would be doing right now that Reynolds wasn't probably already doing.

It doesn't always have to be you.

But it would be nice not to be so damn far away.

Golden light spilled out of the doorway behind them, sending his and Daniel's shadows stretching as one down the lawn. Carter said, "It's almost time, sir," behind him. He waved a hand in acknowledgment, and soon her booted footsteps retreated.

For one single, horrifying split second, getting up to face it was completely unendurable. Jack stayed on the grass, legs like lead. He should send Daniel ahead, have this breakdown where none of his team could see. But somehow, being seen by Daniel didn't seem like the worst fate.

"I like that planet," he said, hearing the hoarseness in his voice and knowing that he was hiding nothing.

"So do I."

Except he didn't. Not Daniel, who had picked up and left Earth without even packing a bag. Who would leave it again the moment he saved Sha're. Not Daniel, who could spend the rest of his life learning and studying and observing a hundred different cultures and would never feel the complete destruction of the one he was born into.

"Jack. Do you really think it won't be my homeworld as long as I live?" Daniel's voice was laced with pain, and Jack felt the guilt of thinking that way, of letting those thoughts show so clearly on his face. He closed his eyes and took a long, slow breath. Let that feeling ground him and bring him back: time to take care of his team.

Jack pushed to his feet and preceded Daniel into the courtyard with the gate. Sam and Teal'c were waiting. Sam checked her watch and said, "Twenty seconds, sir."

Jack watched the foreign stars through the empty ring. After a long slow count he said, "Okay Daniel. Phone home."


( 35 whispers — whisper )
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Sep. 21st, 2008 12:24 pm (UTC)
Dunno about the gen label. It's gen like Tallulah Rasa is gen. ;)

But it's awesome regardless of label.
Sep. 21st, 2008 12:36 pm (UTC)
D'oh. Are my OTP tendencies showing that obviously? I say gen only because I think the label "pre-slash" is an abomination.

But I am so glad you liked!
with love - wyomingnot - Sep. 21st, 2008 01:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 21st, 2008 04:50 pm (UTC)
Of course, this is the one I was talking about on your journal when you asked that boundaries of a story question. I seem to have learned how to write a slice of a larger story to my satisfaction- now if only I could actually write the larger stories! *chuckles* always more to learn.

And I'm so glad you read despite the gen label. That's kind of me issue with calling stories "pre-slash"- it seems like it's born of a writer going "aack! None of my slasher friends will read this if I call it gen!" which is totally where I was. So all in all- thank you so much!
(Deleted comment)
with love - dragojustine - Sep. 22nd, 2008 12:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 21st, 2008 04:33 pm (UTC)
I love that all your writing has a real sense of purpose.

Oh God. *flails* You have NO IDEA how good that is to hear, since I write completely from purpose and not from, you know, plot. Thank you so much!
Sep. 21st, 2008 02:41 pm (UTC)
Yum. Absolutely, achingly gorgeous. Quiet and real. *flaily hands*
Sep. 21st, 2008 04:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Sep. 21st, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
That's good. Love the character notes, love the astronomy.
Sep. 22nd, 2008 12:24 am (UTC)
I am so glad!
Sep. 22nd, 2008 03:07 am (UTC)
That's such a lovely portrait of the two of them and such an intense experience of Jack's headspace. The Daniel part of this weaves through the Jack part of it so perfectly, climaxing at the moment of that question about Earth, about what 'home' is or means, right there on the heels of Jack's moment of near-paralysis ... love how it all comes together, and then of course the just-right last line.
Sep. 22nd, 2008 04:45 am (UTC)
such an intense experience of Jack's headspace

Oh, thank you so much. That means an incredible amount, coming from you.
Sep. 23rd, 2008 10:24 pm (UTC)
I got so wrapped up reading all the various discussions about pre-slash and nearly forgot to leave fb!

Potentially incoherent fb, because I'm loopy on cold meds. ;-)

My favorite bit was Jack thinking about how Daniel just up and moved to Abydos with nothing more than (presumably) a toothbrush. I think Jack was perfectly correct, that Daniel would have an easier time adjusting if the unthinkable had really come to pass, no matter what Daniel says.

On the pre-slash front, there's no indication here of anything beyond a marvellous, mutually beneficial friendship. As a lover of J/D I can see the potential for a relationship, but that doesn't make it pre-slash. It would take one of the characters seeing the potential for a relationship....
Sep. 24th, 2008 05:00 am (UTC)
Well, I am glad you remembered. And yeah- of all the Stargate characters (Both all four of SG1 and all four SGA1) Jack is the only one who ever really seemed bound to Earth to me, you know? Jack is OF Earth, while Daniel and Sam and John and Rodney just sort of lived there. I have a hard time imagining Jack truly happy if he never came back to earth, but no problem with the others. And I can see that being a conflict between him and Daniel.

Anyway, thank you!
Sep. 25th, 2008 06:56 am (UTC)
Oh, *killer*.

You made Jack wait, you terrible writer-person. Awesome.
Sep. 25th, 2008 04:39 pm (UTC)
you terrible writer-person.

*cracks up*

Yeah, the stuff we writers do to them is AWFUL, eh? Glad you liked.
Sep. 25th, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
This is so lovely, weirdly calm and tranquil, despite how the characters must be churning inside.

Someone else mentioned the astronomy details, which I adore, and can picture: staring up into the sky on a clear dark night, imagining what else might be out there.

Thank you.

P.S. Did planet go boom?
Sep. 25th, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad the emotional note worked!

Did planet go boom?

Don't know. But I sure hope not. Besides, Reynolds is a good soldier. I'm sure he managed :)
Oct. 3rd, 2008 05:08 am (UTC)
Beautiful evocative story! I must admit, that in my mind, Earth will answer... No! Don't tell me if they don't! *plugs ears and sings The Battle Hymn of the Republic loudly*
Just a note about the labeling. I only read Gen, and there was nothing here that made me wince even a teeny tiny wince. ; )
Oct. 18th, 2008 01:27 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked! And glad you didn't wince. I do try to label and warn, even when it gives me fits *g*
Oct. 16th, 2008 05:56 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow, yay!
I *love* anything that acknowledges that Jack seems to know how to use his telescope and I love the secret smart and the conversation and the stranded feel and. Just. Yes.

"Jack. Do you really think it won't be my homeworld as long as I live?" Daniel's voice was laced with pain, and Jack felt the guilt of thinking that way, of letting those thoughts show so clearly on his face.

And yet...as much as Daniel now might say that, I think Jack is right. Daniel gives it up too easily early on and later on, as the years (on Earth, vaguely) go by Daniel becomes less and less one of them, less and less belonging to that planet. Though this Daniel? Wouldn't admit that. Wouldn't believe it.

Yay apocafic!
Oct. 18th, 2008 01:29 pm (UTC)
Yes- that is a point where they're both so sincere and just fail to understand each other. Because it IS Daniel's home planet, and he would feel its destruction very keenly in his own way, so Daniel is hurt that Jack thinks he wouldn't- but he doesn't understand that what Jack would feel if Earth was destroyed is a whole order of magnitude worse. Jack doesn't see the connection that Daniel *does* have, and Daniel doesn't see how very unconnected to Earth he is by the standards of someone like Jack. I love little things like that, differences between characters that are so fundamental.

I'm glad you liked!
Oct. 16th, 2008 06:32 pm (UTC)
Came via minxy's rec. Wow.

It's so sad, but so full of hope too. They're stuck in comfort doing the waiting, knowing what will happen but hoping maybe somehow they've beaten the odds again. And I like how the constellations are so similar, but just that much different to totally skew their perspective on everything--like home, so familiar, and yet, so not.

And the rhythm of the dialogue here, each of them trying to comfort/distract the other in his own way. What's unspoken screaming out as much as what is. Very nice.

(and I think it's gen...or at least "Bob". You can have deep meaningful relationships in gen couched friendshipwise).

Edited at 2008-10-16 06:33 pm (UTC)
Oct. 18th, 2008 01:30 pm (UTC)
and I think it's gen...or at least "Bob".

*cracks up* I have no idea what you mean by that, or if it's a particular reference from somewhere, but I think it conveys what you think of labels very well :)

with love - aurora_novarum - Oct. 18th, 2008 02:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
WOW - (Anonymous) - Apr. 3rd, 2009 03:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 29th, 2011 04:21 am (UTC)
Here via a rec--very good, though painful, story. And I'm glad you labeled it gen. I rarely read slash in SG1, preferring gen, team, or Jack/Sam (or Sara).

Thanks especially for smart!Jack, always my preference.

Melissa M.
May. 29th, 2011 01:53 pm (UTC)
I just had the pleasure of http://stargateficrec.livejournal.com/1713680.html>reccing this. Gorgeously them!
May. 29th, 2011 02:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much! I'm so proud of this one, yaay.
with love - sailorsueuk - May. 30th, 2011 09:57 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 30th, 2011 02:13 am (UTC)
I loved how well you showed the deep connection between Jack and Daniel - very beautifully done. And I always appreciate when Jack's intelligence is explored. I do have one minor nitpick: as the story is set before Forever in a Day (and therefore Shades of Gray), Makepeace should be in charge of SG-3. Other than that, excellent fic. I'm glad I followed fig's rec!
May. 30th, 2011 02:57 am (UTC)
Oh, nice catch! I totally missed that. Ah well...

And thank you!
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( 35 whispers — whisper )


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