Title: Campfire Stories (Danya's Tale) Series: consider this part of the backstory to the "Immortal Underground" arc, but it's not necessary to have read that first. Author: akire Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Status: Complete/Unbetaed Category: Crossover: Highlander/Stargate SG-1 Spoilers: umm, got a basic grasp of the Highlander universe? Fine. Oh yeah, we're a Clan Denial fanfic. Stargate, a passing familiarity with the series up to season 4 will suffice. Disclaimers: D/P and Gecko really DO own them. If you don't recognize it, it's probably mine. If it's silly or crazy, definitely is mine. But if anyone sends the lawyers after me, I'm sending out the boys with swords and staff weapons. ;) Oh yeah, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If you recognize a specific fanfic creation, it belongs to its author (when this series is finished, I may tally them up). Rating: PG, prob. Hey, I'm not offended by much, if it should be rated higher, tell me! Content Warning: purists beware. Language may offend some readers. Summary: A quiet mission, a campfire and a melancholy Danya conspire to give SG-1 an insight into their ancient friend. A short interlude. Dedication: the Danielites crew. Its about time I dedicated something to you lot!
That's long enough. On with the show! ~~##~~ The campfire on P4X 656 burnt a warm orange, spilling light and heat out towards the four members of SG-1. Sam poked the fire with a stick, stirring the ashes for a moment before sitting back to bask in the light. Beside her, half in the shadows, Teal'c sat with his staff weapon in easy reach, keeping an eye on the darkness outside the ring of light. This planet had been quiet, with no hint as to any hidden perils. He doubted they were in any danger, but kept watch over his friend's safety anyway. On Sam's left, Jack O'Neill wrapped his fingers around a steaming enamel mug as he too contemplated the fire he had built. Normally not a taciturn person, his attention was focussed on their fourth teammate. Daniel had been unusually quiet and introspective all day. True, there were none of his rocks to keep his attention, but still Daniel managed to infuse every mission with a sense of child-like wonder that belied his four-figure age. That enthusiasm had been absent today as the Immortal scientist kept his own counsel. The day was quite, the fire was cozy and Jack wasn't feeling the slightest bit tired. Time to get the good doctor talking, "Daniel?" "Yes, Jack?" Tired, distracted. "What's up?" "Jack?" "You've been a thousand miles away since before we Gated in today." "More like a thousand years, Jack" he murmured quietly. Looking up beyond the dancing flames, he saw three sets of eyes on him. Those eyes conveyed concern, warmth and friendship. Before his normal internal censors could clamp down, he found himself speaking. "Do you know how many times I've died in my life? I don't know how many, but more than a few, and in a lot of different ways." He studied his fingernails for a moment. "Do you know what it feels like to be beaten to death? It's almost a relief to die, for it to just be over. Death by suffocation is terror followed by a kind of floating acceptance. Stonings, well, you really don't feel anything other than disbelief that its actually happening to you – the mob, the animal fear in their eyes, it just blows your mind." He snorted, his eyes focussed on sights from a different time and place. "Being shot is like having sticks of fire shoved through your skin, and it's so damn impersonal. Lonely. Fire itself is bad. You can smell..." He shuddered slightly. "It's one of the worst ways to die." He stared into the fire for a long while. "There are other ways to go, of course. Dehydration, starvation, the neglect of the body's most basic needs. But they're not too bad, in comparison. Humans are capable of such incredible violence, even against people they claim as their own." A hand reached over to rest on his knee. "Daniel. You okay?" He flashed a bright and phoney smile at his best friend. "Did I ever tell you how I died the first time, Jack? I was lynched." He continued on, the dam opened now and not likely to stop until it had run itself out. "I was found in Egypt, like so many of our kind from that era. A dark haired, blue-eyed child in Egypt, who had no parents, who had just come into being. You can imagine what it was like. I was used to accusations of being demon-spawn, used to all their petty superstitions. In the end, I took to wandering with the hunters. I could always navigate across the sands easily, and for this my presence was tolerated. But then the well that serviced our village ran dry, and the accusations became louder, harder to ignore. Water is life in a desert, without it you are dead, or as good as. The well, it just ran out, like someone had pulled a plug. The...you'd call him a shaman, he said we had displeased the gods." Even in the dark they could hear the cruelly sarcastic twist to his words. None of them had believed in gods for a long time. "I tried to run, but there were more of them, they were faster. They tied my hands behind my back, tightly, with ropes of hemp. They tied me to the well cap, left me there for days. It was just a few days before midsummer's, so hot, and the sand was like shards of glass when the wind blew it across your burnt skin. At night, the sky was so clear and cold, you could see The Chariot pass straight over you like it didn't care. When they finally came back for me, the well was still dry. The shaman, he picked up this rock, and just held it over my head. I can still see his eyes, he was getting off on this power trip, or maybe he thought he was doing some great and holy deed, I don't know." Daniel knew he was almost rambling, didn't really care. He had never told this story before, but it obviously needed to be told. "Anyway...he dropped the stone." Daniel squeezed his eyes closed. His mouth was as dry as it had been in that desert nearly four thousand years ago. "To cut a long story short, I woke up buried under sand in a rough linen shroud. A shallow sand grave, easy for me to dig myself out of." He laughed without humour, his voice rough. "I must have wandered across every foot of sand between Memphis and the Mediterranean before I finally got on board a boat outbound for Greece. Must have died of thirst or hunger a hundred times over before that, though. Fell off a cliff once. I thought that perhaps I really was a devil, or perhaps a djinn, a spirit cursed to haunt the desert forever. I think I was more than a little mad by that stage. Perhaps I thought it would end if I left the desert. Anyway, I met up with this guy, must have been as crazy as I was. Told me that ‘there could be only one.' But for some reason he didn't kill me. I think he took pity on me." Danya sighed. "I haven't thought of those times in centuries. I don't know why it came back to me today." He looked into his empty mug, then flipped it over to drain the muck from the bottom. "I'm gonna get some rest. Goodnight." Before the others could respond, he had pushed himself to his feet and was ducking into his tent. Jack exhaled a breath he hadn't even realised he was holding. "Woah," he whispered. "Where did that come from?" Beside him, Sam flopped backwards to stare up at the stars. Her arms spread wide, she breathed deeply a dozen times, calming her racing mind, before pushing herself upright. "Well, now we know why he was so quite all day," she nearly whispered, well-aware how thin tent walls were and how lightly Daniel slept. Thinking, she added, "and why he's almost paranoid about his sanity. Remember Machello's device? He was so scared he was going crazy. It must have brought back all those memories." Sam trailed off and fell silent. "Wonder if Janet has a cure all for a melancholy Immortal?" Jack wondered idly. Teal'c voiced an opinion. "Perhaps if we removed the reason why he is recalling these memories?" "But you heard him, Teal'c. Even he doesn't know why he was remembering it. Hell, who knows why we remember what we do. The simplest thing can trigger the biggest memory." Jack put his mug down and ran his fingers through his hair. He was speaking from painful experience. "The Chariot...midsummer..." Sam murmured, brow creased. Suddenly, her face cleared and she leapt up to rummage through her pack, returning with the laptop. "Major?" "Just a minute sir, I've got a weird idea." The two men watched in silence as she tapped, read, then tapped the keys some more. Her smile was almost seductive in the firelight. "Gotcha." "Got what, Carter?" She turned the screen around so they could read the display. "Do you know what tomorrow is, sir?" She whispered. "Because I bet Daniel doesn't." ~~##~~ "Welcome home, SG1. Report to the Infirmary, debriefing in one hour." Hammond's voice over the PA drowned out the sucking noise of the wormhole collapsing behind them. The three mortal members of SG1 swapped secret looks as they led the still brooding Daniel down the corridors towards the gear room and the Infirmary. It was short work to get Daniel checked out first and sent packing to the showers alone. So down was his mood he didn't even notice that his teammates had given him the slip. Debriefing was short and to the point. "We came, we saw, we wished we brought a deck of cards, sir." The hardest part of the day was pulling Daniel out of his office before he took root. "Jack, I don't feel hungry. Besides, it's nearly Tuesday midnight topside, no pizza place would be open now." "We're not going for pizza, Danny-boy." Jack's grasp was gentle but firm as he steered Daniel through the seemingly endless corridor. Daniel sighed. He wished Jack would stop calling him that. It had been a very long time since he was a boy. And he really wished that they would just leave him alone. It wasn't as if he was great company at the moment anyway. Passing a signpost, he realised they were in fact heading away from both the surface lift and the refectory. "Uh, Jack? Where we going?" "Down a corridor, Daniel. Don't tell me you're going senile." "Never tease a person who carries a sword, Jack," he almost snarled. His patience was rapidly coming to an end. "A very big, very sharp sword." "Very nice, Daniel. If I didn't know that you were just a big pussycat, I might even be scared," was the nonchalant reply. "Now be a good boy and come here." They were at Sam's lab. Sighing to himself, he composed a particularly virulent curse for Jack in Chinese and followed him into the lab. Two steps in, he stopped dead. The door hissed close behind him, but he didn't notice, too busy was he reading the hastily constructed banner on the far wall again. "Happy First Death Day?" He asked out loud. Sam and Janet blew little plastic party whistles they had gotten from who knew where and tried not to giggle. Teal'c just bowed regally. Jack clapped him on the shoulder. "Sure is. Here, have some cake." In fact, it was a cupcake from the refectory with a candle shoved into it. Daniel took the cake without thinking. "Umm, guys? Care to explain?" Sam flicked on a monitor and showed him her late-night handiwork. "That story you told us. Well, I calculated what year it was by the estimated position of the constellation The Chariot. After that, it was easy to calculate the date, in the modern calendar, of your first death. And surprise! Its today. That's probably why you're remembering it suddenly. We've all been talking about the solstice at the end of the week down here, in relation to that crazy theory Miller has. Combined with what your body was telling you about the season was enough to trigger the memory." She threw her hands up to indicate the hastily arranged decorations. "And we thought, well..." "You thought you'd use my being bludgeoned to death with a great big rock as an excuse for a party?" "Replacing bad memories with good ones." Jack shrugged, completely unrepentant. "At least, that's the theory." Daniel stared at Jack a long time, not sure what to think. Finally, he smiled and took a bite of the cupcake. "What, couldn't you guys at least spring for catering?" ~~##~~