Jack scowled at the darkening sky, as if that would do any good. It wasn't going to change the fact that SG-1 was stuck here on lovely M3J-111 until the Stargate was repaired back at the SGC. At least this time, SG-1 couldn't be blamed for the problem. That was one good thing. On the bad thing side was the fact that it was Christmas and more importantly Daniel's first Christmas since he'd come back to them from his glowy friends. Speaking of which, said Daniel approached Jack with his head bent against the wind and his shoulders hunched against the cold.
"Jerris and his people said we can stay with them. They'll be allowed into Meshan in two days time for the annual census. He apologizes for their presence. He believes the elders of Meshan would have opened the gates for us had they not been here."
Jack gave a curt nod, then turned to Carter who stood by the DHD.
She held out her hands. "There's absolutely nothing I can do on this end, sir." She sighed. "I should be back on base." She bounced a little on her toes as if it would help relieve her anxiety.
"You are not, Major Carter. There is no use weeping over the by-product of a ruminant."
Daniel snorted at Teal'c's remark and Jack was relieved to see Carter break into a smile, a tiny one, but a smile nonetheless. He even felt his own lips quirk up in amusement. He was sure Teal'c knew the correct expression. It was probably as close to a joke as Teal'c would ever get.
"Let's go set up our tents with Jerris then," Jack told them. Daniel nodded and headed back towards Jerris, the clan leader, to let them know SG-1's intentions. The people they'd met on what was supposed to be a brief mission were kind and hospitable although very poor. Jack was sure Daniel would be able to tell him for certain, but he was convinced that they were considered the lowest class, the outcasts of this society. And yet they were the ones who had welcomed SG-1 while the people of the nearest town had refused to open their gates. SG-1 would be safer with Jerris and the others than staying here with the approaching bad weather. Daniel trusted these people, and Daniel's trust was rarely misguided.
There was a clanging of bells from the animals these people herded--animals that appeared to be a cross between a llama and camel---as they were herded closer to the tents. Night was falling fast.
* * * *
Luke 1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
* * * *
The largest tent was crowded but warm. Sam was glad for that. Outside the wind howled, and although she hadn't stuck her head out in the last half hour or so, she could still hear the ping-ping of sleet bouncing off animal hides. She moved a little closer to Teal'c--she'd never asked Janet, but she suspected that Teal'c's regular body temperature ran just a little higher than humans. Or maybe it was just his sheer size compared to her. Whatever it was, she was grateful because he was protecting her from the drafts that sometimes snuck in through the flaps of the tent.
"We thank you, SG-1, for partaking in our meager hospitality," Jerris announced above the chatter of the crowd.
Sam smiled. Although they'd all tried to share their MREs with the others, Jerris and his people had offered the best of their own meals to the stranded visitors.
"Thank you for your kindness," Colonel O'Neill replied. He raised his cup of tea when Daniel nudged him. There was laughter from the gathered crowd and then everyone took sips of their tea from the tiny cups.
"Jerris," Daniel spoke up, "I understand that among your people it is common to share stories with those you meet."
Jerris grinned at Daniel. "It is."
"Then if you would permit, I would like to offer a story to your people in gratitude for your kindness and warm welcome."
"Oh yes," one of the children called out, which set everyone to laughing once more.
Sam leaned forward and caught Colonel O'Neill's gaze. He smiled back at her before he shrugged his shoulders. It seemed as though this was a surprise for him, too.
"On our world, on this night," Daniel said, "it is the holy day of a certain group of people called Christians. Tonight they celebrate the birth of their king. Other people celebrate this holy day too, even some who do not worship him. It is a time of merriment and sharing, a time of love, peace, and hope."
Sam saw the people around her nod in understanding.
"Their king was different than other kings, and I would share with you the story of his birth."
Sam frowned. She'd never spoken of religion with Daniel, not other than what she needed to know about the planets they visited. She didn't know what Daniel believed or didn't believe, but she was taken aback by what could be seen as proselytizing.
Teal'c seemed to sense her discomfort. "This is a story of people like them," he murmured. "They will understand why he chose this."
Sam looked up at him and then gave a small nod before she leaned against him. He put his arm over her shoulders as Daniel began to tell of a messenger who came to a teenage girl.
The familiar story washed over her and she took time to look around the tent. There was a young woman, barely more than a child it seemed, who sat in the darkest corner. Her hands rested over her swollen belly and every so often she rubbed it. A young man sat next to her and covered her hands with his.
"That is Zhera," the woman next to Sam whispered when she noticed Sam's curiosity. "She is not right in the head. Not since she wandered away from us in the summer lands." The woman made a tsk-ing noise. "The child is not her husband's. She came back with her womb filled. Zhera tells us she does not know how the child was conceived. But Jerris found signs a Kellerain hunter was in the area." She tsk-ed again. "She will not admit it, but she lay with our enemy, and Keuwin accepted her back anyway. He says the child is his even though all of us know it is not."
Sam didn't know what to say but her heart went out to the young woman and her husband, outcasts among the outcasts. She turned her attention back to Daniel and let his voice wash over her.
* * * *
Luke 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
* * * *
Major Carter leaned against his side, a comfortable weight. Teal'c looked around the tent as Daniel Jackson continued with the Christmas story he'd shared with Teal'c his first year on Earth.
"This was the beginning of Christmas," Daniel Jackson had told him.
Each year, Teal'c reread the account again. He did not adhere to the beliefs of the rest of the story, but the chronicle of a god who chose to come to his people not as a mighty warrior, not as a rich king, but as a child of humble birth was compelling--a child and then a man who offered such promise if only the people who called themselves his followers would live by his teachings.
His teammates had taught him the meaning of the story--self-sacrifice, a way of peace, respect for others no matter their station, finding one's true path, friendship, and love.
He frowned at the gossiping woman who sat next to Major Carter. Perhaps she needed to listen more closely to the story. The young man stared across the tent at them, his arm protective over his wife's shoulders, and Teal'c inclined his head as a show of respect and honor.
* * * *
Luke 2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
* * * *
He remembered how tiny Charlie was the first time he held him. That was the first thing hearing Daniel's words brought back to Jack. He'd held that squalling child in his arms, looked down at Sara, who was smiling up at him, and knew that everything he thought he knew about love was nothing compared to this. He'd placed Charlie in Sara's arms, held out his little finger, and Charlie's impossibly small, perfect fingers closed around Jack's and gripped far more tightly that he would have thought possible. He'd made a vow then and there that he would protect his child with every fiber of his being, make the world a safer, better place for his son. He hadn't known that ten years later he would fail miserably at it.
Jack looked at Daniel who was gesturing with his hands as he continued, his eyes bright and his voice clear and strong. Oh how he'd missed Daniel last year, and this year, well, he had his own Christmas miracle in living, breathing flesh. He could only hope that he never took Daniel's presence or that of Carter and Teal'c in his life for granted ever again.
Jerris' people were all focused on Daniel, the children sitting with their parents, the parents holding them close. A young couple sat apart from the others, leaning forward eagerly as if to hear Daniel better. Jack watched the way the young man sheltered the woman, scowled at anyone who dared to frown at her. He thought of Sara and Charlie and the love he still had for them, the part of his heart that would always hold them dear and close. Even with the heartache, he wouldn't have changed the all too brief time he'd had with them. It wasn't nearly enough, but he was a better man for having had them both in his life.
* * * *
Luke 2:18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
* * * *
Most of the people had left the tent and headed back to their own smaller family ones. Daniel accepted thanks from many of them for his entertainment. He took a deep breath as he and Jack left the tent and walked out into the cold night air. The storm had ended sometime during his story-telling and he looked up into a sky filled with stars. Daniel shivered once, his body somewhat overheated from the crowd in the tent. Jack made a quiet sound that could have been a sigh and put an arm over Daniel's shoulders, offering him a small warmth in the cold.
He paused and looked up at the stars. Daniel remembered the stars on Abydos where there was no light pollution. There were nights he thought he could lose himself in them and then Sha're would come and put her arms around his waist and he lost himself in her instead. Jack seemed in no hurry, but then Daniel felt Jack's body tense.
"Sir?" the young man spoke quietly.
Daniel smiled at the young man and the woman with him. She stood behind him with her head bowed and her hands fluttering nervously over her obviously pregnant belly. "Yes?"
"Your story--the woman? What happens to her?"
"She raised her child with Joseph," Daniel said. He couldn't bring himself to tell the couple that Mary watched her son die.
The man bent his head to his wife and whispered something. She clutched at his arm, only relaxing when he patted it.
"My wife would like me to tell you this." At his declaration he put his hand on her swollen belly. "When she went to gather flowers for me in the summer land, a hunter of the Kellerain came to her. She was overwhelmed, unable to fight him. He violated her, put his seed in her, and then he raised his knife to slit her throat."
Jack gripped his hand around Daniel's wrist so tightly it hurt. Daniel shook his head in confusion, unable to understand what this story had to do with him.
"She cried out for help, but no one was there to hear. She thought she would die, but a wind came in answer to her cries. It blew sand and dirt in the hunter's eyes and he cried in pain when a glowing light from within burned his hand. He ran from her, afraid of the wind. She lay on the ground a long time after, but now the wind was a gentle breeze, drying her tears. She did not wish to return to me, but every time she turned to go further into the summer land, the wind would blow in her eyes until she was forced to turn back. She told me, although no one else would believe it, that there was a voice in the wind, one that told her she was still my beloved, that it would not matter to me."
Daniel didn't know what to say. Could he have been here during his ascension? He had no memory of it, but then again, he had no memory of a lot of things. "That's...um..."
Before he could even begin to form a coherent response, the couple had withdrawn further into the darkness.
"Jack?" Daniel wanted an answer even though he knew he wouldn't get one.
"I don't know, Danny." Jack squeezed his arm in sympathy. "Let's get back to the tent."
Daniel swallowed and did his best to tell himself the stinging in his eyes was only because of the cold.
"Daniel," Jack prompted and it was enough to get him moving again. He walked to their tent with Jack at his side, a comfort he never knew he needed unless it wasn't there.
For one of the first times since he'd started going through the Gate, he wanted nothing more than to get back home. He wished them well, the couple in the darkness.
* * * *
Luke 2:19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
* * * *
The midwife grumbled as she made her way down the dirty alley. Not that it was surprising that a Resstara herder would choose to have a baby in these sorts of conditions instead of a nice birthing house like the people of the city did. There was a reason the Resstara weren't welcome here more than once a year. Smelly as the animals they herded, the midwife thought. Still, they always paid the bill if she was called to deliver a child.
She sighed when she caught sight of the woman in the side passageway. She was holding her husband's hand tightly, but she didn't make a sound even though the midwife could see her face contorted with pain. Woman, the midwife scoffed inwardly, she looked barely more than a child. But that was the Resstara she reminded herself.
The young man looked at her, his green eyes nearly glowing in the twilight. He too remained silent through the woman's contractions.
The midwife spread her cloth, shaking her head at the necessity of delivering a child here. She placed her hand on the woman's belly, slipped another hand under the woman's skirt. She could feel the child's head. They'd nearly waited too long for her assistance. She wondered where the woman's female relatives were. She had never attended a Resstaran birth where the woman had only her husband by her side. No matter--this child was anxious to enter the world.
The birth was not long, but it was hard, and still the woman made no sound. The child was not Resstaran. The midwife knew it as soon as she caught sight of the dark red hair. Maybe that explained the absence of other females. The midwife wrapped the child in a new birthing cloth, one the Resstaran man would give her a silver coin for, and then she opened the small traveling desk she carried so that she could record the birth.
"Names of parents?" she asked and dipped her pen into the ink.
"Keuwin," the man patted his chest and then pointed to the woman. "Zhera."
The midwife wrote their names and then looked at them again, the child already suckling on his mother's breast.
"Name of child?" She waited.
"Dahnee," the woman said in a voice so quiet the midwife had to ask her to repeat the name once more.
"Dahnee," the woman repeated, and this time her voice was strong and she smiled.
That was a strange name, the midwife thought as she wrote it down.
"And what does that mean?" she asked, more out of curiosity than an official need.
The woman looked down at her child, touched her dark red hair with her fingertip. When she looked up again, her eyes had filled with tears. "It is the name of Hope."
|Genres:||Friendship, Holiday, Team|
|Summary:||The team remembers what Christmas means to them.|
There are religious overtones in this fic. Take from them what you will.