Stargate Horizons


General Hammond somberly looked at the three people before him.  In his hand was an envelope.

"When I came in this morning, I found this on my desk," he said.  "It is Doctor Jackson's letter of resignation."

"Oh, no," Sam murmured, closing her eyes for a moment.

"I think that all of us know why this has happened, and, looking back on it now, I wish to God that we didn't carry out that mission.  But what's done is done, and we can't go back and change it.  All we can do now is try to convince Daniel to stay, because his loss from the program is too high a price to pay for the victory we achieved."

The three teammates headed straight to Daniel's office, hoping that they'd catch him still in the process of packing up his belongings.  When they got there, they saw that he was already gone.  A couple of empty boxes sat on the floor, and everything in the room had been tidied up.  Daniel's base keycard lay on the desk, proof that the archeologist did not intend to return.  It appeared that he'd taken very little from the room, just some of the books and his personal items.  Most disturbing of all was that he'd left so many of the books behind.

Sam touched one of them.  "He left the books.  He loves his books.  Why did he leave them?"

"Because, if he hadn't, he'd still be here," Jack guessed, "and he wanted to be out of here before we arrived."

"It may be that there is another reason as well, O'Neill," Teal'c stated.  "When a man wishes to truly break ties with his old life, he may choose to leave behind all things that were a part of that life."

Jack didn't like the sound of that.  "I'm going to go talk to him."

"Do you want us to come, too?" Sam asked, feeling like she needed to do something to stop this from happening.

Jack shook his head.  "It'll be best if it's just me, Carter."

Jack changed into his civilian clothes and headed over to Daniel's.  There was no answer to his first knock, so he knocked again a little louder.  After several seconds, the door opened.  Daniel didn't look happy to see him.

"I figured you'd be showing up," the archeologist said in resignation.  "Nothing you say is going to change my mind, Jack."

Jack pushed by him and entered the apartment.  "How about me reminding you of what it is that we're doing there?  We're fighting the Goa'uld, the ones who are really responsible for what happened to Sarah, not to mention Sha're.  You're just going to walk away from that?"

"Me not being there isn't going to make a difference with that.  The fight will keep right on going without me.  The SGC doesn't need me for it, and neither does SG-1."

Jack frowned deeply upon hearing the last part of the final sentence.  "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

Daniel didn't answer.  He walked past Jack and went into the kitchen.  "Just go back to the base, Jack.  I've made my decision."

The colonel's voice hardened.  "Not until you've answered my question."

Daniel whirled around.  "Fine.  Then here's a question for you.  What's my role on the team?"

Caught by surprise, Jack didn't answer right away.

Daniel continued without waiting.  "You're the team leader, Sam is the genius with technology and physics, and Teal'c is the expert in the Goa'uld and Jaffa.  So, what about me?  I'm an archeologist.  Haven't really been using that skill set very much lately, now have I.  The same goes for my knowledge in anthropology and history.  As for my linguistic skills, I've used them all of three times this year.  You know what I have been doing a lot?  Shooting things and helping to blow things up."  His tone became tinged with pain and guilt.  "And look where that got me."

Jack was dismayed by the younger man's words.  He had thought that Daniel was okay with the fighting, that his friend was all right with the way things were changing.

"Daniel, I know that, lately, the fighting on missions has gotten pretty intense, but the other things you do still matter."

"Even if that is true, there are plenty of other people who can do them.  I'm not irreplaceable.  I'm not even all that important.  I would have left after Sha're died, if she hadn't pleaded with me to find her son.  After we found him, I kept telling myself that I was staying for Sha're, that all the things I was doing were for her."  Daniel's voice shook slightly.  "But I just can't do it anymore, Jack.  I don't have it in me."  He turned away.  "So, just go.  Please."

Jack stood there, staring at Daniel's stiff back.  He realized that nothing he said was going to change his friend's mind.

Feeling a sense of loss and defeat, the colonel turned away and walked to the door.  With his hand on the knob, he decided to say one more thing.

"For the record, Daniel, you are dead wrong.  You are important to the program.  You always have been.  I may not have told you that before, but I'm saying it now.  And if you think that, next week, we'll have someone new on SG-1 who will slip right into your shoes, well . . . you're dead wrong about that, too."

That having been said, Jack opened the door and left.

Daniel wasn't really surprised when he answered the door again later that day and found Sam on the other side.

"Hey," the major greeted, looking a little nervous.

Saying nothing, Daniel stepped back for her to enter.  He then followed her into the living room.


"Sam," he interrupted.  "Before you say anything, I have to tell you that I've made up my mind.  That's what I told Jack."

"I know he talked to you, Daniel, but I can't just stand back and let you leave without saying anything."  Sam's eyes filled with sorrow and compassion.  "I know how much you must be hurting, Daniel, and I am so sorry.  But what happened wasn't your fault, and I know that Sarah wouldn't blame you."

Sam's statement made Daniel's pain grow even sharper, and he turned away.

"Please don't leave, Daniel.  Without you there, nothing will be the same."

Daniel closed his eyes.  "I'm sorry.  I just can't stay."  His voice dropped lower, filled with anguish.  "I've lost my wife, I've lost two people who meant a lot to me, I've . . . I've lost myself.  I wanted to help people, to make a difference, but what kind of difference have I made?  How have I really helped?  By killing people?  Shifu tried to tell me that the path I was on wasn't the right one, but I didn't truly listen to him, not even after he gave me that dream."  Sorrow and guilt filled his eyes.  "I should have listened.  I just can't keep doing it, Sam.  There's just no point to it anymore.  I have nothing left to give."  His voice fell even lower.  "I don't belong there.  I never did."

Distressed by Daniel's statements, Sam whispered, "Oh, Daniel," tears filling her eyes.

"Please, Sam," Daniel pleaded.  "I really need to be alone right now."

"No.  I can't do that, Daniel.  You're my friend, and I care about you.  I can't see you feeling like this and just walk away."

A single tear fell in a slow trail down Daniel's cheek.  The sight of that lone tear broke Sam's heart.  She stepped forward and gathered him into a tight embrace.  Daniel held on, clamping his eyes tightly shut against the other tears that were threatening to fall.

By the time the hug ended, Sam's face was wet with tears of her own.  She wiped away the wetness and tried to look into Daniel's eyes, but he refused to meet her gaze.

"Please don't leave the program, Daniel," she pleaded.  "If leaving SG-1 is what you need to do to feel better about yourself, then I understand.  The colonel will, too.  But please stay with the program.  We need you there."

Daniel shook his head.  "I can't, Sam.  I'm sorry."

More tears came to Sam's eyes, but she held them back.  "We're going to miss you," she told him in an unsteady voice, knowing that she needed to accept his decision.

"I'll miss you, too, Sam," Daniel murmured.  At last, he lifted his head and met her eyes.  "Don't worry about me.  I'll be okay."

Sam searched the blue depths.  "Will you?"

"Yeah.  I just need time to sort things out and get my life back on track."

Sam wanted to believe what he was saying, that, with time to heal, he'd be fine.  She decided to think positively.  Daniel was the strongest person she'd ever met.  He would get through this.

"Okay," she said.  She gave his arm a little rub.  "We'll talk later.  All right?"

Daniel nodded, giving her a ghost of a smile.  He held the smile as she went to the door, said goodbye, and left.  As the door shut, the smile died.

The three members of SG-1 approached the door to Daniel's apartment.  It had been eleven days since his resignation, and none of them had talked to him in that time.  They had all agreed that they needed to give him some space and let him do a bit of healing first.  But, today, Jack decided that they'd given him enough time alone, and they should go see how he was doing.  The colonel was also secretly hoping that he could somehow talk the archeologist into coming back to the SGC and SG-1.

Putting it lightly, things were not going well with finding a replacement for Daniel.  Jack kept putting it off, making one excuse after another until General Hammond finally put his foot down and told Jack to get it done or the general would do it for him.  That was three days ago, and, after going through a mound of personnel files, Jack still hadn't found someone that he considered to be good enough.  It's not that the candidates weren't all good military men and women.  Most had excellent records.  No, the problem was that they weren't Daniel.

When the threesome arrived at Daniel's apartment building, they saw that the linguist's car was gone.  Sam had wanted them to come back later, but Jack insisted that they wait for Daniel's return inside his apartment.

"I don't feel right about this, sir," Sam said as they came to a stop before the door.  "We should just call him and ask when we can come over."

"And have him tell us that now isn't a good time?  It's time that we pull him out of this funk he's in.  He's probably been sitting around the apartment most of this time, and we're going to get him out of there even if Teal'c has to toss him over his shoulder and carry him out."

Teal'c's eyebrow rose.  "I do not intend to forcibly remove Daniel Jackson from his apartment, O'Neill."

"Okay, so we wouldn't actually do that, but I don't intend to let him keep wallowing."

Turning back to the door, Jack unlocked it and swung it open.

"Oh my God," Sam gasped, staring in utter shock at what lay beyond the open doorway.  The apartment was completely empty, everything having been cleared out.

The three people stepped into the vacant apartment, hardly able to believe their eyes.  Daniel had left, moved away without telling any of them that he was going.  Why would he do that?

As Sam gazed about at the empty rooms, all the things Daniel had said returned to her mind, and she came to the horrible realization that she'd misread the seriousness of what he was feeling.  Not only that, but she had failed to see that those feelings had been building for a long time now.  Why hadn't any of them seen this?  They were supposed to be his friends.  How did they miss it?

That's when Sam realized the brutal truth.  She hadn't seen it because she hadn't really been looking.  The signs of Daniel's downward slide had been there for her to see, if she had just opened her eyes.  She remembered how he used to be back in the early days, his passion to learn and see what was out there, the excitement and almost childlike wonder that often lit his eyes.  How long had it been since she'd seen that?  How long had it been since she'd seen a real smile on his face?

Guilt and shame hit Sam full force.  They'd all been so focused on their own lives and troubles that they'd failed to see what was happening to Daniel even though it was right before their eyes.  He'd been dying a slow death on the inside, and none of them had been paying any attention.

"This is our fault," she said, almost in tears.

"We didn't make him leave, Carter," Jack countered bitterly, angry that the man he'd considered to be his best friend had left without even saying goodbye.

"But we didn't look at him, Colonel, and see what was happening to him.  You know what he told me when I came to talk to him?  He said that there was no point to it anymore," tears welled in Sam's eyes, "that he had nothing left to give.  I really think he believes that nothing he has done has mattered."

Sam's revelation made words come to Jack's mind, the memory of a voice speaking with utter despair.

"None of it means anything.  I try.  It just goes away."

Jack had believed that the things Daniel said on the day he almost committed suicide were just the result of his brain getting messed up by the addiction to the device in the Goa'uld pleasure palace, but what if it had been more than that?  What if the addiction had merely unearthed feelings that were already inside Daniel?

Jack thought back to later words, ones spoken the day before Daniel resigned.

"I've failed with everything."

"Crap," Jack muttered, finally understanding what it was that his friend had been saying that day he nearly killed himself.

"We should have seen what was going on and done something," Sam said.  "If I hadn't been so focused on myself and my job, I'd have seen that we were losing him."

The weight of regret settled upon Teal'c's shoulders.  "My failure is even greater than yours, Major Carter.  I saw the changes in Daniel Jackson's demeanor, yet I chose not to question them.  I believed that he was merely adapting to his role as a warrior in our fight against the Goa'uld."

Jack was really beginning to see how much he'd failed his friend, how much he had blinded himself to all this time.

Sam's eyes met his.  "We have to find him, sir."

"Yeah, we do.  Let's get back to the base."

Upon returning to the base, Jack tried to call Daniel's cell phone.  The message that the number was no longer in service gave them all a sinking feeling.  He then got on the phone to the postal service.

"He didn't leave a forwarding address," he announced as he hung up a few minutes later.  "His mail was put on hold."

"The post office won't hold mail indefinitely," Sam said.  "I think the maximum is thirty days, unless you make special arrangements for it to be longer."

"The point is that we're not going to find out that way where he's gone.  The hold started four days ago, so he hasn't been gone for long."

Sam turned to her computer.  "I'll check the flights out of Colorado Springs and Denver."

The check revealed that Daniel had not flown out of either airport, which meant that he was probably traveling by car.  Though she felt like it was an invasion of Daniel's privacy, Sam then checked something else.  What she learned worried all of them even more.  Though Daniel's bank accounts had not been closed, several thousand dollars had been withdrawn.  Why he'd choose to carry around that much money instead of using his ATM card could mean that he didn't want anyone to trace his whereabouts.  And if Daniel didn't want to be found, he was definitely smart enough to know how to cover his tracks.

Sam and Jack continued the search.  They learned that Daniel had told his landlord about the move two days after his resignation and had given the man enough money to pay the final electric, phone and Internet bills.  The archeologist didn't tell the landlord where he was going.

On a hunch, they checked with Salvation Army and Goodwill and learned that the two organizations had picked up large donations of furniture, household items, and other things from Daniel's address.  It was that final thing that really drove home the truth.

"He gave everything away," Sam said with a sick feel in her stomach.  "He's never coming back, is he."

Jack didn't reply.  They should have gone to see Daniel sooner.  If they had, they'd have caught him before he left.  Now, Daniel was out there somewhere, and they had no idea where.

"Is there not a way to find Daniel Jackson's vehicle?" Teal'c asked.  "On television, I have heard of things called APB and BOLO."

"APB means All Points Bulletin and BOLO stands for Be On The Lookout," Sam explained.  "But either one of those things would have to be done through the police."

Jack got to his feet.  "We need to tell General Hammond what's going on."

The general was dismayed by what he was told, but regretfully said that they could not involve the police in this matter unless there was evidence that Daniel's life was at risk.

"Then what about the military?" Jack asked.  "I've got some contacts I can call.  They might be able to dig up things we can't."

"Jack," the general said gently.  "Daniel made the decision to do this, and we have to respect that.  He chose to leave, and, for whatever reason, does not want us to find him.  But there's something you need to keep in mind, and that's the kind of man he is.  He knows that we will be worried about him, so, when he is ready, I feel certain that he will contact us.  You said that he took just a few thousand dollars from his bank account.  That alone is evidence that he doesn't plan on disappearing forever.  We just have to be patient and wait for him to reach out to us."

The three members of SG-1 silently returned to Sam's lab.

"I don't know what to do," the major confessed.

"General Hammond is correct," Teal'c responded.  "Daniel Jackson is a man of honor.  He would not leave and never let us know what has become of him.  I feel confident that he will contact us in time."

"And, in the meantime, he's out there somewhere, in anything but a good frame of mind," Jack said.

"Something could happen to him, and we might never know," Sam added, getting even more upset.

Cursing the day that Bra'tac came and told them about the Goa'uld meeting, Jack silently said, 'Daniel, you had better contact us soon or I swear that I'm going to hunt you down and beat you senseless, no matter what I have to do to find you.'

Daniel looked out the airplane window at the city they were approaching, memories of the last time he'd seen it coming to his mind.

"Well, there it is," the man sitting across from him said.  "So, how does it feel to be back here after all these years?"

"It feels good," Daniel replied, choosing, out of necessity, not to tell his traveling companion that he had actually been here only a little over a year ago.  Unlike that time, this time should be much more pleasant.

Cairo.  Just the name of the city brought a flood of memories.  Too big, crowded and noisy, it had never been one of Daniel's favorite cities in Egypt, but he still had some fond memories of the place.  He used to have friends who lived there.  He wondered if any of them were still around.

As the private plane prepared to land, Daniel thought about what had led up to this moment.  After resigning from the Stargate Program, he'd had no idea what he was going to do with the rest of his life.  There was one thing, however, that he did know, and that's that, whatever it was going to do, it would not be in Colorado Springs.  He needed to go someplace where he could start fresh.  He'd come to that conclusion during the first long, sleepless night after his resignation.

In the vision that Sha're sent to him, he had planned on going off and finding a dig somewhere far away, but, in the real world, Daniel had known that might not be possible.  Would there be digs out there that would accept a crackpot archeologist who posited the theory that the pyramids were landing platforms for alien spacecraft?  There would be no way to know unless he tried.

He decided to send off an email to a colleague he'd known at UCLA, the very man who was sitting across from him now.  He and Simon Farmer had talked from time to time over the past few years, though not very often.  Simon had a lot of connections in the archeological community, so Daniel had known that, if there was any dig out there that would accept his participation, Simon would know about it.

It turned out that Simon did know about a dig being led by an old friend of Daniel's.  Simon contacted her right away, and she welcomed Daniel to join them.  It also turned out that Simon would be flying out to Cairo in a few days with a friend who had his own plane.  He invited Daniel to tag along and save himself the airfare.  That, however, meant that Daniel had to make some quick decisions.  He would be remaining on the dig until it the spring, and there would be no point in keeping his apartment for all that time since he was planning on moving anyway.  The problem was that he wouldn't have much time to pack up and move out all his stuff and make the drive to Los Angeles.

As Daniel looked around at his things, he had realized that, with the exception of his books, a few personal mementos, and the artifacts, none of them meant anything to him.  So why keep them?  He could always get more furniture and household stuff once he found a place to live next summer.

Making a sudden decision, Daniel called his landlord and told the man that he was moving out, glad that he was not tied into a lease.  By the following afternoon, all the things that he'd decided to keep had been packed up in boxes.  He got on the phone to some of the places that accepted donations of furniture, clothing and other things and arranged for them to come pick up what was left.

During this whole process, Daniel had been wondering what to do about his ex-teammates.  His conscience was telling him that he needed to go see them, but he wasn't sure if he was up to dealing with what that would lead to: the sorrow on Sam's face as she pleaded with him to stay, Jack not understanding and accusing him of running away.

In the end, Daniel decided to send them a letter explaining everything and letting them know where he'd be and how they could contact him.  He mailed the letter the day he left for L.A., and they should have gotten it the next day.  He'd chosen to send it to the SGC instead of to either Jack or Sam's house since the letter was for all of them.  Daniel would almost be willing to bet a million bucks that, as soon as they got that letter, Jack tried to call his cell phone.  If he hadn't canceled his service, he would probably have gotten an earful   He did feel a little guilty about having told them in a letter instead of face to face, and he hoped that, when he returned to the States in the spring, they could all talk.

The thing was that if he'd made this decision two years ago, after Sha're's death, he probably would have told them in person, but he felt so much more isolated now.  A big part of that was the deterioration of his relationship with Jack, the greater contention, the feeling that Jack looked at him as more of a pain in the ass than anything else.

His relationship with Sam had changed as well.  Mostly gone were the times when they got together on a project or to simply chat about things.  They really only got together now when it was with the rest of the team or occasionally in the commissary when they happened to be eating at the same time.

Of course, it took two to make a friendship, so Daniel knew that he was equally to blame for the state of his relationship with Jack and Sam.  They'd drifted apart, and he'd made no effort to stop it from happening.

As for Teal'c, it's not like he and the Jaffa were ever the kind of friends who'd get together after work for pizza and beer, even if Teal'c did drink alcohol.  Jack's relationship with Teal'c had always been closer, the two of them bonded by their identities as fellow warriors.  Yet, even so, Daniel felt like his relationship with the Jaffa was stronger now than it was in the early days, perhaps because Teal'c was less the fierce, stoical warrior and Daniel was less the geeky academic.  Out of all his former teammates, Teal'c was the one whom Daniel knew would most understand and accept his decision to leave.

The plane came into a landing and taxied over to where Daniel would disembark.  He and Simon rose to their feet.

"You said that someone from the dig was meeting you here," Simon said.

"Yeah, out front."

"You want us to hang around until they show, just in case?  Jeff and I will be taking the plane over to the hangers before we go do our things."

"No, that's not necessary.  If something came up and there was a delay, I'll figure something out."

Simon held out his hand.  "Well, Daniel, it was nice to see you again.  Don't worry about your stuff or your car, they will be safe in my possession."

Daniel shook the proffered hand.  "Thanks for keeping them for me.  I appreciate it."

"No sweat.  So, see you next spring.  Have fun at the dig."

"Thanks.  I will."

Daniel exited the plane into the warm Egyptian sunshine.  After making his way through the airport, he went to the passenger loading and unloading area and looked around for his ride.  Not seeing anyone who looked like they might be searching for him, he walked over to wait against one of the walls.  He'd been there for only a couple of minutes when he heard a female voice call his name.  He turned, and there she was.

After seven years, Helen Danson hadn't really changed all that much.  There were a few more lines in the narrow, weathered face, and the short white hair was perhaps a little thinner, but she appeared to still be as energetic as ever as she strode purposefully toward him.

Helen Danson was one of the grande dames of archeology.  Now in her mid-sixties, he had no doubt that she was as passionate about it as ever and probably would be until the day she died.  She commanded a lot of respect in the archeological community, and, with her fiery temper and nearly encyclopedic knowledge of Egyptian history and mythology, few people dared to cross her or tell her she was wrong.  Ironically, it was Daniel doing that very thing that attracted her attention to him.

He was a sophomore at UCLA when Helen lectured as a guest speaker there.  During the lecture, she said something with which Daniel disagreed.  Many probably would have remained silent, but not Daniel.  So, there he was, a seventeen-year-old kid, daring to challenge the words of a woman who was already a legend in the archeological community and had decades of research that backed up her words.  Of course she demanded that he support his statements with some kind of proof or logic, which he did to the best of his ability.  All she said in response was that it was an interesting theory, then moved on with the rest of her lecture.  Afterwards, however, she called for him to stay.  Thinking that he'd gotten himself into trouble, he remained in his seat as the rest of the auditorium emptied, several students shooting him sympathetic glances.

Once the last student was gone, the woman called Daniel down to the podium.  He could still remember every word of the conversation that followed.

"So, what's your name?" Helen asked.

"Daniel Jackson, ma'am."

"How old are you?"




"I see.  So, Mister Jackson.  What makes you think that you, a college sophomore, know more than people who have been studying archeology longer than you've been alive?"

Daniel felt his cheeks heat up.  "I don't know more, ma'am."

"Oh, you don't?  And yet you challenged a point I was presenting in my lecture."

"I-I just. . . ."

One of Helen's eyebrows rose.  "Yes?  Speak up, Mister Jackson."

Seeing the challenge in her eyes, Daniel straightened his spine.  "I just think that it's wrong.  My parents taught me to question things, not to accept something just because it was what everyone else believed.  They published some pretty controversial theories that were later proved to be correct, and so have a lot of other people in the field."

Helen frowned.  "Who are your parents?"

Daniel hesitated before replying.  "Were.  Melburn and Claire Jackson."

Helen's gaze softened a bit.  "I never met them, but I knew of them.  What happened to them was a terrible tragedy."

Daniel's gaze dropped to the floor, the pain of that loss still burning inside him after nine years.

"Well, Mister Jackson.  I've given what you said some thought, and . . . I believe that you may very well be right."

Daniel's head shot up.  "Y-y-you do?"

"You made a valid argument and some very interesting and insightful points.  I would like you to write a paper on this that includes your research and what made you start to believe that we have it wrong."

Daniel blinked a couple of times, his eyes wide.  "Y-you would?"

And that's when Helen smiled, a smile that brightened her grey-blue eyes and made her thin, stern features soften.

"So, how long do you think that will take you?" she asked.

"I-I'm not sure.  I could get started on it tonight."

"I'll be in town for the rest of the week.  Do you think you can get it done by Friday?"

Daniel nodded.  "Yes, ma'am, I think so."

"Good.  I'll look forward to reading it."

And that was the beginning.  Helen was very impressed with the paper Daniel presented and took it upon herself to take him under her wing, though it was necessary to do so mostly long distance.  When, after getting his doctorate in anthropology from UCLA, he chose to pursue doctorates in archeology and philology at the University of Chicago, it was she who told Doctor Jordan about him, the man who ultimately took over her duties as Daniel's mentor.

As the years passed, he and Helen stayed in touch as well as they could – that is until Daniel made the decision to go public with his radical theories and began breaking ties with close friends and colleagues so that he wouldn't drag them down in the mud with him if the archeological community completely rejected him.

And then came the job offer from Catherine Langford and the mission to Abydos.  After Daniel returned to Earth, he thought about contacting Helen, but decided that perhaps it would be best if he didn't.  The woman would have too many questions about what he'd been doing and what he was doing now, and, unlike people like Simon, she wouldn't be satisfied with vague answers.

Daniel still didn't know if it was a good idea to go on a dig where she'd be right there, asking him pointed questions about what he'd been up to the past six plus years.  Whether or not it was, it was great to see her again, and it was going to be even better to work with her on a dig.

The white-haired woman came to a stop before him.  "Daniel Jackson.  My God.  Look at you.  Where did that silly mop of hair go?  I barely recognize you."

Daniel smiled lightly.  "Helen.  It's good to see you.  It's been too long."

"Yes, and whose fault is that?  You disappear off the face of the Earth and never bother even to send me a letter in all this time."

"I'm sorry.  My life sort of . . . went through some radical changes."

"Yes.  Simon told me that you've been working for the government.  I can't say that I was too pleased to hear that.  But we can talk about that later.  Come give me a hug."

The two shared a hug, then walked to her Land Rover.

"So, how was the flight?" Helen asked once they were on the road.

"A lot more pleasant than a commercial flight.  I managed to get some sleep."

"Good, good.  So . . . the government, eh?"

Ah, here it came.  "Yes."

"Doing what exactly?"

"Linguist and cultural expert mostly.  It paid well."

"Did you do things for the military, too?"

Daniel paused before replying.  "Yes."  He knew that the woman had a very low opinion of the military, not just that of the U.S., but of all countries.

Helen chose not to air her opinion about that.  "And you've been doing that all this time?"

"No.  I did one job for them that lasted a couple of weeks, then I was out of the country for over a year.  When I got back, I was given a permanent job."

"But you've resigned now."

There was an even longer pause.  "Yes, I've resigned."

Something in Daniel's tone made Helen glance at his profile.  "I never pegged you as someone who would work for the government and the military."

"Well, at the time that I was offered the job, I . . . didn't really have any other prospects."

"Yes, I heard about you losing your grant and about the other things.  I'm sorry about that.  I can't say that I agree with your theories, but I also don't agree with the community giving you the cold shoulder like they did.  That's the problem with so many archeologists.  They get stuck in their beliefs about how things are and don't react well when someone challenges those beliefs."

"Well, what I was suggesting was pretty radical."

Helen gave a very unladylike snort.  "Radical?  That's one word for it, dear boy.  But you have as much right to your theories and beliefs as anybody else, so I'm certainly not going to throw stones."

"Thanks.  I appreciate that.  So, how have you been doing?"

"Oh, can't complain, although this old body isn't as spry as it used to be.  People keep telling me that I should retire.  I tell them that I'll retire when I'm put in the ground."

Daniel smiled slightly, thinking that Helen really hadn't changed a bit.

Once they got to the dig site, Daniel was introduced to everyone.  Based upon their reactions, a couple of the people clearly knew exactly who he was, but one look at Helen convinced them that it would be unwise to make any remarks.

Eager to jump right into work, Daniel asked Helen what she'd like him to do.  She decided to have him work with her on one of the grids they'd just started excavating.  She was more than a little curious about the work Daniel had been doing for the government and military and hoped to pry some details out of him.

It turned out that the prying wasn't very successful.  All his answers to her questions were vague generalities, and every time Helen pushed him for more details, he said that he couldn't tell her more because it was classified.  She did learn a few things, though.  Among other things, Daniel apparently did a lot of traveling to different places in his job, and he'd been in dangerous situations more than once.  He'd also acted as an unofficial diplomat on occasion, sometimes during those dangerous situations.  She knew that there was more to it, a lot more.  In fact, there was no doubt in Helen's mind that what he'd told her so far was just the tip of the iceberg of what he had been doing all these years.  Would she be able to get more out of him in the months to come.  That she didn't know, but she was sure going to try.

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