From: Revelation II
Rated: PG13 for mild language
A very long time ago, when the human race was even younger than it is now (although such a thing hardly seems possible), tribes and clans and little nomadic herds crossed the plains, scaled the mountains and spread out across the untouched Earth. They were looking for food, they were looking for nice weather, they were looking for a place they could call home. They were wanderers; they had a purpose, they just didn't know it yet.
Jack's aunt - a withered, radically pious woman, bitter and untrusting despite a lifetime devoted to her church and her faith - refused to accept this natural explanation. She told Jack that people long ago had wandered the continents, crossed straits and even oceans, not for comfort or even survival but because they were trying to find their way back to Eden. Subconsciously, she said in a raw and raspy voice, humanity had been searching for paradise ever since Adam and Eve had been expelled from it; the longing was in their bones, in their blood. They didn't want just any place -- they wanted that place, the garden of eternal peace in the sight of God. Once mankind had swarmed over the entire globe they simply redirected their search heavenward, reaching for the stars, peering closely at planets, not because of scientific curiosity or an insatiable desire to know, but because they were still looking for Eden. But because of the sin of their forbears, they would never find it, never find it, doomed to wander forever.
Jack opens his eyes and remembers that his aunt is dead. It's something of a relief.
Then he remembers that Eden is gone.
She would have expected that over a thousand people would make a lot of noise. Not now. Not these people. They're tired; chins rested on chests, some sleeping in the dirt. The sun is lowering itself behind the mountains. Insects drone. Sam hopes they don't bite.
Daniel is on the ground, using his backpack as a pillow. His head tilted skyward, he might have been searching for early stars, but his open eyes are strangely glassy. "How many more times?" he asks. There is no breeze, the air is still; his voice barely carries.
She leans back against the stone outcrop, pressing her spine and shoulder blades against it. It hurts, but she needs the pain. "If we're not safe here, we're not safe anywhere."
They have nothing. Nothing. Just the clothes and packs on their packs. Not much food. Even less water. No shelter. And she doesn't care. She's too tired to care.
She's kept them alive, all of them. They had scowled and cursed at her. Her throat is sore and her muscles ache. Why can't her job be over now?
Spine and shoulders against the rock. She needs the pain.
There are two men talking behind Jack. He keeps his eyes closed so they won't know he's awake. Teal'c is resting against a tree trunk, his eyes also closed. He's either asleep or pretending to be.
"Why're we stopping here?" asks one man, his voice pitched low and full of scorn. "There's gotta be better places than this. There's nothing here. Christ."
"Hell if I know," says the second man.
"Not that I'm complaining about the break," says the first man in a voice that seems full of complaint. "I lost track of how many planets we skipped around on."
"Lost 'em, didn't we?"
He snorts. "Looks that way now, but who the hell knows? And we're good as dead anyway, even if those sons of bitches never find us. Look at this place. Christ, there's nothing here."
"There's trees," says the second man.
"There's always trees, Bran."
"Well, trees gotta' mean water, right?"
"Christ. What, all of a sudden you're a survivalist?"
"No, I'm a computer geek who'll probably never see another computer again. I'm just trying to be optimistic, Jess."
"Optimistic? Please. Maybe if O'Neill hadn't lost his nut, but not with her in charge. She doesn't care anymore. You can see it. She just brought us here so we can die easier."
A heavy pause. Then: "He's right there..."
Jess laughs quietly, coldly. "His body's there, Bran, but his mind's not. He's not with us anymore."
She stayed away during the night. She didn't want to wake up next to a corpse. But then someone nudges her - Teal'c - and when she opens her eyes she realizes she's wet, covered with dew. The sun is still hidden, but the sky is brightening.
"He made it through the night?" She can only ask this question now, when her brain is still half-muddled by sleep and half-dead with loss. It's not a question a fully-awake person can ask.
"He is awake," says Teal'c softly, mindful of the silent sleepers around them. "He is asking for you."
Black bird pin-wheeling in the sky. Pushed up by air, down by gravity. His aunt says it's looking for Eden.
The Kelownans had been unhelpful. They had a good memory for some things and a bad one for others. Funny how they only remembered being pushed around and "mistreated".
What little they had gotten - and it wasn't really little, it only seemed that way because there were so many of them - was because of Jonas. The First Minister liked him, or maybe she was afraid of him. Either way she gave in.
He escorted the shipment himself, thinner and more tanned than Sam remembered. He furrowed his brow and kept a hand on her shoulder or back most of the time, like he thought she might fall over at any time. "I wish there was something we could have done."
Daniel laughed softly. "If we couldn't save ourselves, Jonas... well, there's nothing Kelowna could have done."
Or would have done, thinks Sam, but she keeps that to herself.
No one ever brings up the concept of relocating the survivors to Kelowna. Nobody really wants that. Besides, Ba'al and Anubis know about Langera. It's not safe there.
Is it safe here? She's not completely sure. Time is their enemy and their friend. She's not really sure about anything anymore. But he made it through the night, and many more nights since, so she knows she has to try. He's always watching her. She doesn't know if he's seeing, but he's watching, so she has to try.
Now that the construction has begun, she delegates more. Teal'c is happy to help. Daniel runs around a lot but Jack can't tell if he's actually doing anything. Almost every day, Jonas sends something - food, seeds, tools - through the Stargate.
They take walks by the river. They named it after George because it's the only reason they're still alive. It's clean. There are animals that look like fish. It's shady and cool, even on the hottest days.
She holds his hand and guides him across the mossy bank. She hands him a makeshift fishing pole and helps him cast the line. She leans her thin body against his and sighs.
He remembers wanting to do this. He can remember everything else. Why can't he remember how to talk to her?
His aunt tells him that he shouldn't be sitting here, wasting his time. He should be looking for Eden. He'll never find it, but he should look for it anyway. It is his birthright. It is his curse.
He catches one of the things that look a little like fish. Sam is ecstatic, but his aunt isn't impressed.
Crying is supposed to be therapeutic, but it just made her feel achy and weak, so she stopped doing it.
It seems like every day there's a little more in his face. More, but not all. The wound has healed, but she can still see it in his eyes. Some of him is back home; it's still missing. It's a little piece, but it's important and she wants it back.
They don't have beds yet, but they have mats and blankets. From Jonas, again. She loves him but she hates the charity. Still, it's nice, not sleeping on the hard ground. One night she woke up and felt Jack sprawled out next to her on the mat. It was cramped, but she didn't mind at all.
Black bird, pin-wheeling. Dark river water lapping softly at green moss. You would expect Eden to have changed.