They’re so young, you can’t help but think.
Sitting underneath a tree, watching the three of them work at the samples, you wonder if they ever think about impending age.
You think about it. You think about it all the time; you think about the pain in your back, the ACL in your knee, and the silver that seems intent on taking over your hair.
Do they ever think about what will happen when they hit your age? What they’ll look like, see how well their injuries have caught up with them, if they’ve changed at all?
Will their minds be the same? Will they lose their memories? Or, will they improve instead? What new discoveries will they make? What new advances?
Will you be here to see them all?
The thought catches you by surprise, makes you feel cold inside, and you don’t want to think about it, but it catches hold of your mind and you force yourself to.
Well, will you be here? Will you be there when Daniel gets to snub those idiots that dare call themselves scientists? Will you see Carter’s children? What will you do when Teal’c finally gets in with Ishta?
You might not see any of those things.
Most likely, Death already has you marked; chances are, you could be caught with a staff blast any minute. You could die at anytime, what with the dangerous lives you all lead.
You can’t cheat Death forever. You might have had luck with it for the past forty or so years, but there’s no telling when Fate decides she doesn’t like you anymore, and drops you.
So many years, you’ve run about like a jack-rabbit, trying to get everything finished and every knot tied before you die. So that there won’t be anything to hold you back.
The house will go to Daniel. Carter gets all the astronomy crap you’ve compiled over the years. Teal’c gets every fantasy book you own.
But, that’s the point of life, you realize suddenly. It’s about sharing it with people, loving them, hurting them, and being hurt by them. It’s about anger, and fear, and hatred, and happiness, and every single emotion, named and unnamed. It’s about knowing there are so many things left that you have to do, and feeling sorrow at not being able to finish them.
Because the knowledge that you have so many things that you must finish and complete, that is what spurs a person on, that is what makes you want to live, that is what makes life worth living at all.
Life is about knowing, about having dreams, even the small, secret ones that you keep deep in your heart, the ones you possessed as a child and never truly let go of, and never told anyone. Life is about death, and sex, and killing, and giving birth, and what makes it worth living is a single person -- or two, or three, or four, or five. Life is for other worlds, and your own; for loving one of your team members more than you’re supposed too, for loving all of them more than you’re supposed to, and for the wind and trees, and the way the earth smells after it rains.
Life is about you, and them. Life is about growing up, and never stopping, no matter how old you become.
The Asgard call you all children; you understand why now. At least, you understand a little. Because none if you know yourselves. Not really. Because, if you managed to complete it all, if you managed to take care all of your business, then life would be so dull, and so...grey. Undefined. People live to help each other; but your race doesn’t understand that, not even you understand it – not completely. And until that happens, no matter how advanced you become, you will still be children.
And children don’t know who they are. You’ve all went through the stage of adolescence, where you were all confused, and powerful, and weak, and brimming with potential, and through it all, seeking an identity.
That stage never ends. You simply settle into who you made yourself to be, and if you were successful with it, then you are comfortable with it. But you still never know.
So, that night, when all the collecting is done for the day and you’ve all set up your tents, you ask them: “Who are you?”
Carter opens her mouth to answer, but then suddenly looks confused. “Wha...what do you mean, sir?”
And that, you think sadly, is why you could never love her. Because when someone asks her, “Who are you,” she automatically thinks that they have seen past the fašade, that she has been undone, that the act has been seen through. That act that keeps you both on the right sides of the regs, and keeps her safe. Because if she loved you -- really loved you -- then she either would have already gone away, or she would have gotten you involved in a torrid love affair. But she hasn’t; she doesn’t love you. If she did, then she wouldn’t hide the ugly parts of herself, the ones she doesn’t want you to touch.
If she let you see those parts of her -- let you see all of her -- then maybe you could have loved her.
Once more. For the team.
“Who are you?”
Teal’c raises an eyebrow as Carter looks at you helplessly. Yes, he understands what you are doing, what the answer to your question is.
Daniel is hunched over his journal, pen scritch-scratching on the surface, and you pick up a pebble and throw it at him. Your aim is perfect, and it lands on his knee. He looks up, annoyed.
“Hey,” you say. “Who are you?”
He laughs. “I’m me. Who else would I be?” He wants to go back to his journal, but knows that you would not have let him until he answered the question; so for once, he does not offer something more complicated.
You smile. You can’t help it; you can feel your mouth stretching into that wide grin, the one that has no traps and sarcasm in it, the one that only Daniel can get out of you.
Carter wilts. “That’s the right answer?” She asks weakly, as Teal’c nods approvingly. There, in her eyes, you can see the ugly parts of herself. The parts that she won’t let you touch.
You wonder if she would be bothered by the fact that you would probably be more interested in her if she would just let you touch them.
Daniel gives you grief and anger and love. All she offers is a hollow smile and false sweetness. If you did love her, than the lack of emotional sustenance would kill you both.
Perhaps that is why you love Daniel more than you would ever love her.
Daniel looks up from his journal of his own free-will and grins at you. “And who are you?”
“I’m me,” you reply simply. And you know that he understands what you realized under the tree, and that he has always understood it; perhaps, he has understood since the beginning of forever.
You are no longer a child. From the look in his eyes, and in the smile on his face, he knows it too.
|Genres:||Character Study, Drabble, Friendship, Pre-Slash|
|Summary:||Jack has a question for his teammates.|