by Maureen Thayer
Categories: Angst, Friendship
Content Warning: None
Spoilers: Brief Candle, Torment of Tantalus
"Hey, whatcha doin'?" Colonel Jack O'Neill asked, peeking over the shoulder of Doctor Daniel Jackson to stare at the computer monitor. The screen was filled with a bunch of symbols and lines. It looked like a Web page on the Internet.
The archeologist closed down his browser and sighed. "Nothing."
"Nothing? Daniel, you don't ever do nothing. I think that's physically and mentally impossible for you. Even when you appear to be doing nothing, which isn't often, you're doing something with that brain of yours." Jack sat down, looking more closely at the younger man. "Is there something wrong?"
"No . . . yes. Well, sort of."
"Okay, spill it."
Daniel looked at him intently. "Do you have any idea of the significance of what we found out on Argos?"
"You mean those nano bug things?"
"No. I mean, yes, that was an amazing discovery, but I'm talking about what I found out about Linear A."
"The language that was carved in the base of Pelops' statue. The first examples of Linear A were found by Sir Arthur Evans in 1900 A.D. In all the years since then, no one, not one single person on Earth, has been able to decipher it because its underlying language is unknown, and it appears to have no relation to any other surviving language. It was believed that Linear A dated back no later than 1800 B.C. Now, I just found out that it's actually the language of a race of aliens who were on Earth as far back as ten thousand years ago . . . and it is within my power to translate it! Do you have any idea how important that is? I have the key to solving one of the greatest linguistic mysteries on Earth, to do something that linguists look upon as one of the 'holy grails' of ancient scripts." His passionate speech ended, and he slumped dejectedly back into his chair.
Jack suddenly realized what the problem was. "But you can't tell anyone."
"No. Yet again, I've discovered something of enormous historical significance, and I can't tell a soul, except for a handful of politicians and military people who don't even care."
Jack studied Daniel's expression. "This really bugs you."
"Yes, it does. Jack, all my life I've sought knowledge, to learn all that I could about our ancient history, cultures and languages. But a part of that is teaching others what I've learned. In just the short time that I've been in the Stargate Program, I have learned so many astounding things that affect our knowledge of history and our place in the universe, but what good is it? It's of no use because the people of Earth will never be told any of it! I sometimes wonder why the president wants us to assess the cultural value of each mission when what we learn isn't going to be used to further the knowledge and understanding of the human race."
"Daniel, you know why you can't tell anyone."
"Yes, Jack, I know. I know all about the program being classified, about the secrecy, the issues of national security, all that stuff. I had to sign a nondisclosure statement that basically said that, if I breathed a word to anyone on Earth about anything I know regarding the program or the stuff I've learned on other worlds, I'd get tossed in jail. That doesn't make it any easier."
Jack really didn't know what to say to make Daniel feel better, so he said the only thing he could think of at the moment. "Well, maybe, someday, that'll change."
Daniel gave another sigh. "Yeah, maybe," he mumbled.
Jack clapped a hand on the archeologist's shoulder. "Hey, come on. I feel like going out and celebrating my return to youth and vitality, so what do ya say? Pizza and beer at my place? Maybe we can drag Carter and Teal'c over there, get the captain away from those mini electronic bugs."
Daniel nodded and gave him a half-smile. It wasn't much, but Jack figured that, with enough pizza, beer and casual conversation, the young man would be feeling better by the time he went to bed. It might take a little while, but Daniel would learn to accept and appreciate the secrecy that was so vital to the Stargate Program.
As Catherine Langford and Ernest Littlefield walked away, off to try and rediscover the life together that they'd lost over fifty years ago, Jack turned to Daniel. The expression on the young man's face made his heart sink. It was the same expression Daniel had worn when they failed to establish a wormhole to P3X-972, the world Ernest Littlefield had named Heliopolis. Before Jack could say anything, the archeologist turned and left.
"He's really upset about losing that place," Sam said with a note of understanding in her voice.
"Yeah, I'm afraid so. He wanted to stay there, Carter."
Sam stared at him in shock. "What? But he could have been killed. And, even if he'd survived, he must have known that there was a good chance he'd have been stranded there for the rest of his life."
"I know. Daniel knows that, too. He told me he was willing to take the chance."
Sam shook her head. "I knew he was obsessed with that place, but I didn't realize it was that bad."
"He'll get over it. I'm pretty sure he's figured out that being alive and safe at home is a lot more important."
Sam nodded. "Maybe I should talk to him."
"Nah, that's my job, Carter. You go and get back to work on that computer model you're making from Ernest's journal. If you manage to get it to work, that'll cheer Daniel up."
Jack headed to Daniel's office, knowing that's where the archeologist would have gone. When he got there, he found Daniel slumped in his chair, staring at the screensaver on his monitor.
Daniel jumped slightly, his head whipping about. He quickly sat up straighter and wiped the dejected expression off his face. "Oh. Hi, Jack."
The colonel came in the rest of the way and sat on the corner of the desk. "Sorry about losing that place, Daniel."
Daniel turned away. "Yeah."
"Wanna talk about it?"
"No. You wouldn't understand."
Daniel sighed softly. "You know what Ernest said to me when he tried to get me to leave that room? He said that no prize was worth attaining if you could never share it. There would be no point."
"He didn't know, Jack."
"That virtually all the knowledge I've gained in my travels through the Stargate hasn't been shared, can never be shared, not in any way that really matters."
Jack remembered them having another conversation like this a few weeks ago, after Argos. He had thought that Daniel had gotten over this. Apparently, he hadn't.
Daniel got to his feet. "I'm sorry. I know you don't care about this stuff. I'm just feeling sorry for myself. I'm, uh . . . just going to go home, okay?" He brushed by Jack, but was stopped by the colonel's hand on his arm.
"Daniel, I may not be all that interested in that meaning of life stuff, but that doesn't mean I don't care when you're upset about something. If you want to talk, I'm here."
Daniel nodded and continued out of the room.
Jack sighed and rose to his feet as well. He went to Sam's lab, where he found her at her computer.
"Hello, sir. Did you talk to Daniel?"
"Yeah, for all the good it did. He's having some real problems with the fact that he can't share with the world any of the things he's learned on the planets we've gone to."
Sam nodded. "That doesn't surprise me. Daniel isn't used to the whole secrecy thing. He grew up in an environment where knowledge was shared with others. You knew that he taught classes in college for a while, didn't you?"
"Uh, yeah. I think I remember reading something about that in his file."
"He was teaching courses to students who were only a little younger than him. Out of curiosity, I did some checking, and I found out that Daniel's classes were always full. I guess he was a pretty popular teacher."
"It doesn't surprise me, sir. Daniel is so full of zeal when it comes to archeology and his other fields of expertise. I can imagine that, when he's talking to people who share his interests, he'd get pretty passionate. He does so even when he's talking about it to people who don't share his interests."
'Yeah, like me,' Jack thought.
"He was also pretty prolific when it came to publishing papers. I've read every one of them, and I have to say that they're pretty good. I've never been all that interested in those subjects, but he had me hooked. A lot of the things he suggested in those papers are things we now know are true. For example, Daniel hypothesized that Linear A has no connection to any previous language, that it was the language of a culture we know nothing about, one that no longer exists in any form on Earth. What we found on Argos proves that Daniel was right."
Jack remembered what Daniel had said about Linear A and wondered why he didn't mention what he had believed about the language. Everything Sam had told him made Jack understand more why Daniel was so upset about not being able to share any of the knowledge he'd gained through his work in the Stargate Program. The guy was clearly a natural-born teacher.
"Is Daniel still here, Colonel?" Sam asked.
"No, he said he was going home."
"If you don't mind, sir, I'd like to try speaking to him. I can understand what he's feeling since I'm sort of in the same boat."
"Sure, Carter. Maybe you'll have some luck with him."
Sam saved her work and headed over to Daniel's place. When the linguist answered the door, there was an expression of surprise on his face.
"Sam? What are you doing here?"
"I thought maybe we could talk for a while."
The archeologist frowned. "Did Jack put you up to this?"
"No, it was my idea. So . . . can I come in?"
"Oh! Um, yeah, sure." Daniel stepped aside and allowed her to enter.
"Sam, I really don't need to talk about it," he assured her as she took a seat in the living room. "I'll be fine. I'm just indulging in a little self-pity."
"I don't think this has anything to do with self-pity, Daniel. You're not feeling sorry for yourself; you're sorry for all the knowledge that can't be shared with the world. I bet you'd be almost as happy if someone else could give that knowledge to the world than if you could do it yourself. Isn't that so?"
"Well, yeah. I mean, I'd like to be the one, but that's of far less importance. All that really matters is that the knowledge is passed on."
Sam nodded. She'd known that Daniel would feel that way. He didn't care one bit about prestige, about making a name for himself. If he did, he would never have gone public with a theory that he must have known would not be readily accepted and could make him a laughingstock. Daniel sought knowledge for knowledge's sake and for the betterment of mankind.
"I do understand how much it hurt to lose what was there on Heliopolis, Daniel," Sam said gently. "I wish that things could have gone differently."
Daniel sank onto the couch, his eyes on the floor. "I wanted that knowledge from that book on Heliopolis so badly, Sam, so much that I was willing to stay behind and take the chance that I'd be stuck there for the rest of my life. I can't believe that I was so stupid. What Ernest said was right. No prize, no knowledge, is worth attaining if you can never share it with others." His eyes met Sam's. "The thing that makes me almost as sad as losing it is that, even if I could have gone back to Heliopolis and retrieved everything from that book, it probably wouldn't have mattered. All that 'meaning of life' stuff would have been recorded in some report that a tiny handful of people would have read, then filed away somewhere to collect dust. Probably about the only thing that would actually have been used at all is if we'd gained some kind of scientific knowledge out of it, something with practical or military applications."
"I know where you're coming from, Daniel. There is a massive amount of stuff that I've learned in my fields that I also can't share, things that change our knowledge of the universe and life itself. It gets very frustrating sometimes."
"Yeah, but at least if and when we do find some advanced technology, anything you learn about it will be used for some purpose, something that will help. What I find out there, the archeological, anthropological and linguistic knowledge and discoveries, will remain unused and unshared, except for the stuff that will help us fight the Goa'uld." Daniel gave her a sad little smile. "Do you know that, in the past six months, I've written four papers on the things I've learned? Really silly, huh. I know that I can never publish any of them. What's even sillier is that, during my year on Abydos, I wrote over a dozen papers even though I believed that I'd never be returning to Earth. Talk about an exercise in futility."
Sam laid her hand over his. "Daniel, I don't know when it will happen, but I'm almost certain that there will come a day when the Stargate Program will be made public. When that happens, you'll be able to tell the world all the wonderful things you've learned."
"If I'm still alive by then. At the rate I'm going, I'm not so sure of that. I've died twice in the past year and a half."
"Don't think like that, Daniel," Sam said, upset by his words. "The colonel, Teal'c and I are going to do all we can to see that you live to the ripe old age of ninety-five."
Daniel smiled faintly. Suddenly, the smile grew wider.
"What? What are you thinking?" Sam asked, also smiling.
"Oh, I got this image in my mind of me and Jack hobbling around some nursing home, Jack yelling at me, saying, 'Daniel! Come back here! What have I told you about wandering off? You could get lost or abducted by some evil Go— uh, nurse!'"
Sam started laughing, the image now popping into her mind, helped along by the fact that Daniel had done a darn good job of impersonating the colonel when he was prematurely aged on Argos.
Daniel joined in on the laughter, feeling a little bit of his sorrow lift from his heart. Somehow, Sam always seemed to make him feel better, even when she wasn't trying to do so.
The laughter finally faded.
"Thanks, Sam," Daniel said sincerely. "I'm feeling better. I guess I just need to be patient and hope that you're right about being able to share what I've learned someday."
"I'm glad that I could make you feel better, Daniel."
"Would you like to stay for dinner or maybe go get something to eat?"
"Oh, I'd love to, but I've already got plans for tonight. Rain check?"
"Sure. Sounds good."
As Sam headed home, she got to thinking about one of the things Daniel had said, and an idea took shape in her mind. Could they do it? She needed to talk to Colonel O'Neill and General Hammond about this. Perhaps Daniel could share some of his knowledge after all.
Daniel was in the midst of a tricky translation when he looked up to see Sam and Jack walking into his office, their faces bearing a striking resemblance to a cat that ate someone's canary.
"Um, hi, guys. What's up?" he asked uncertainly.
"We've got a question for you, Daniel," Jack said. "Would it be possible for you to write a paper about something you've learned since getting involved with the Stargate Program that wouldn't reveal any alien stuff and wouldn't raise any questions about how you gained the knowledge?"
Daniel's brow furrowed. "Uhhh . . . yeah, I guess. Why?"
"Because the General and a few other higher ups have agreed that you can publish a paper as long as it doesn't threaten the secrecy of the program."
Daniel's jaw dropped, his eyes widening in shock. "T-t-they have?" he stammered.
"They sure have," Sam confirmed, a smile growing on her face. "You're going to get your wish, Daniel. You'll be allowed to share some of your knowledge. Not a lot, but at least it's something."
A brilliant smile lit Daniel's face. "Wow. This is great. Thank you."
"Don't mention it, Daniel. It's the least we could do for the guy who made all this possible."
Fifteen minutes later, a pile of books and several of his journals on his desk, Daniel sat down before his computer. Eyes filled with excitement, he began to type, the joy of knowledge shared within each word.
"The true power of knowledge is not in the learning, but in the giving, for knowledge unshared is as a treasure never found – its value matters not."