Stargate Horizons


At eight o'clock the next morning, SG-1, General Hammond, Egeria and Jacob were all gathered in the briefing room along with three visitors.  The visitors were General Howard Irwin from the Pentagon, Senator Lewis Smith and Doctor Timothy Pastrell, one of the leading scientists in Research and Development at Area 51.

"I must say that it is quite an honor to meet you, Egeria," Doctor Pastrell said.  "I have read the file on you and was quite impressed."

"Thank you, Doctor."

"All right, let's get down to business," said General Irwin.  "From what I understand, as a Goa'uld queen—"

"Former Goa'uld queen," Daniel corrected.

"Of course.  My apologies.  As a symbiote queen, you possess the genetic knowledge of your entire species.  Is that right?"

"No, that is not true," Egeria replied.  "No Goa'uld possesses all of the knowledge.  Each queen is born only with the knowledge of her lineage, which she passes on to her children.  Because of this, each line has some knowledge that others do not."

"So, exactly what knowledge do you have?"  The question had come from Senator Smith.

"I know many things.  I understand that you are interested in Goa'uld technology.  I can give you detailed plans for quite a number of devices that you might find useful, although I cannot guarantee that you will be able to reproduce all of them with the tools and materials that you would have available to you.  I can also tell you secrets about the Goa'uld that no human has ever known.  I have knowledge of many civilizations, both human and nonhuman.  There may be formulas for medicines that I can share with you."

"And you're just going to give all that to us out of the goodness of your heart?" asked Senator Smith with a distinct tone of doubt and sarcasm.

Daniel focused a glare upon the man, seeing shades of Kinsey in the senator.  Before he could say anything, however, Egeria replied, her own eyes spearing into the man, her chin lifting with a remnant of the haughtiness that Daniel had seen on several occasions.

"Exactly what is it that you are implying, Senator?  Do you believe that I have some ulterior motive, that I would demand some sort of payment in return?  I have been seeking the downfall of the Goa'uld for over two thousand years, from a time when your ancestors very likely worshiped one or more of them.  I sacrificed all that I had to help free this world from the Goa'uld and spent two millennia trapped in a stasis jar as a consequence.  Do not insult me by implying that, after all that, I would now seek personal gain.  It is quite ludicrous to even consider such a thing."

Jack was almost grinning by the time she finished dressing down the senator.  Oh, yeah.  She was definitely starting to grow on him.

There was a noticeable flush on the senator's face.

"I would like to apologize if the senator insulted you," General Irwin said.  "We are simply not accustomed to individuals with knowledge of advanced technology being willing to give it to us freely and with no strings attached.  Most of the time, they are unwilling to give it to us at all."

Egeria nodded once.  "Yes, that is what I was told.  The truth is that the Tok'ra have great concerns as well.  They are concerned that you will use the technology against your fellow humans."

"Yes, that's one of the main reasons why some of the other advanced civilizations we've met refused to give us anything," Sam said.

"They were afraid we'd blow each other to bits with it," Jack added.

"I assure you that will not happen," Irwin declared.  "We understand the dangers."

Daniel couldn't help but think about what happened in the vision that Shifu gave him, how Earth came close to a nuclear war because of the Goa'uld technology that he gave to the United States.  They would all have to make sure that the same mistakes weren't made in reality.

Doctor Pastrell spoke up.  "I understand that, if the Asgard can clone your symbiote body, your consciousness will be transferred into it, and you will then return to live with the Tok'ra so that you can produce more of them.  How much information would you be able to give us before then?"

Egeria glanced at Daniel, seeing that he was now staring at the tabletop, a slight frown on his face.

"I could manage to tell you only a fraction of what I know before then," she said.  "However, my return to the Tok'ra would not prevent me from continuing to give you information.  I would see to it that you were contacted periodically and more information transmitted to you.  In truth, it will take quite some time for me to give you all the knowledge that I feel would be of benefit to you.  But I assure you that you will receive it."

"For which we are grateful," General Irwin responded.  He looked at the senator and the scientist.  "Unless there are some other questions, I believe that is all we need to know for now.  I have given General Hammond a wish list, so to speak, certain items that we are especially interested in.  He can go over the list with you."  He got up from the table, as did the other two men.  "I believe I speak for all of us when I say that I hope this will be the start of an even closer and more mutually beneficial relationship between Earth and the Tok'ra."

Egeria nodded her head once.  "I have every intention of seeing that it is, General.  That I assure you."

The moment the three men had left, Jack turned to Hammond.  "So, what's on the wish list?"

The general smiled slightly.  "Something told me that you would be very interested to know that, so I made copies for everyone."  He passed out a copy of the list to each person at the table.

"Well, I can tell you right now that some of these things won't be possible," Jacob said.  "The personal shields are a recent invention, so Egeria wouldn't have any knowledge of them, and the cloaking technology didn't exist on any Goa'uld ship until a couple of decades ago, yet another thing stolen from an advanced species.  Her knowledge of the hyperdrive would be out of date.  The hyperdrive engines that the Goa'uld now have are many times faster and more powerful than what they were when Egeria was captured by Ra."

"Why on Earth do they want the plans for the ribbon device and healing device?" Daniel asked.  "Don't they realize that you can't operate those unless you have Naquadah in your blood?  Nobody would be able use them except Sam."

Startled, Egeria looked at him, then at the major.  "How is it that you have Naquadah in your blood?"

Daniel was the one who answered.  "Oh, that's another one of those long stories.  We can tell you about it later."  He returned his attention to the list and began to frown.  "They want the plans for the sarcophagus."

"Yes, I noticed that," said Jack.  "I'm not so sure that's such a good idea.  I have images of some general or government type who wants to live forever using it and turning into a heartless, megalomaniacal monster with the power to shoot missiles at countries and people he really shouldn't."

"God, don't say that, Jack," Daniel said.  "I just thought of Kinsey using it."

"He's already a heartless, megalomaniacal monster, Daniel, so it probably wouldn't affect him much."

"Well, I wouldn't exactly call him a monster."

Before Jack could form a retort, General Hammond told him to leave it be.

"What other things are on the list?" Egeria asked, wondering who this Kinsey was.

Daniel looked at her, and it suddenly dawned on him that she wouldn't be able to read it.

"I'm going to have to teach you English," he said.  "In the meantime, I can translate it into Goa'uld for you."

"My apologies, Egeria," Hammond said.  "It did not occur to me that you would be unable to read this."

"That is all right, General Hammond."

Daniel read aloud the entire contents of the list, Egeria stopping him for clarification each time he got to something about which she had no knowledge.  In the end, it turned out that she had useful knowledge for a little over half of the things.

"Well, that's not as many as I'm sure they were hoping for," Sam said, "but some of these things will be a big help."

"Yes, like the weapons," Jack responded.

"Now, how did I know that you were going to zero right in on those, Jack?" Daniel murmured, not really phrasing it as a question.

Sam tapped her finger on one item in particular.  "Out of all these things, a safe method for converting Naquadah to a liquid is one of the most important.  Many Goa'uld devices, like the staff weapons and zat guns, are powered by liquid Naquadah.  So far, we've been taking the liquid Naquadah from staff weapons we acquire, but our supply is very limited."

"I am quite familiar with the procedure," Egeria told her.  "I am confident that we will be able to succeed in giving you a way to produce it in large quantities.  However, I would advise, for the sake of safely, that the production facility be located on an uninhabited planet."

"You mean just in case somebody screws up and the entire area goes boom?" Jack asked.

The Tok'ra queen nodded.  "It has happened on occasion, and many lives were lost because the Goa'uld saw no need to take precautions against killing innocent people and built the facilities on inhabited worlds."

"Gee, what a surprise."

Realizing that Egeria was going to need a place to work, she was set up in one of the labs.  Unfortunately, because she was unable to read English nor any other modern Earth language, the number of things she could do on a computer was limited.  Sam instructed her on the use of the laptop and software as well as she could with the help of Daniel, who wrote a list of translations for all the menu items on the programs she would be using, plus some other important words.

Shortly after lunch, SG-1 and Jacob gathered in Sam's lab.

"I supposed that the Tok'ra wouldn't be willing to loan us a computer," Daniel said when the topic came up.

"I doubt it since most of the High Council are against the whole idea of Egeria giving you that knowledge," Jacob replied.  "In fact, she almost got into an argument with them about it.  She is very firmly in your corner.  She tried to impress upon them that you've done a pretty good job so far of handling advanced technology and that, since you are our allies, giving you the ability to fight the Goa'uld more effectively will help the Tok'ra, too."

"But they didn't budge?" Sam asked.

"I'm afraid not."

"You know," said Jack, "I just got this image of Mommy Egeria telling all her two-thousand-year-old kids to play nice and share their toys with us."

Sam, who was now a little ticked off, responded, "And they're whining, 'But, Mom, we don't wanna share 'cause they'll break them.'"

Jack let out a snort.  "We'll break them?  If there's anyone who shouldn't be sharing their toys, it's us.  Look what happened when we let them play with our mothership.  They had it one day, and they got it all shot up and then crashed it into a planet!  I knew it was a bad idea to share it with them.  I distinctly remember saying to Teal'c at the time that the Tok'ra don't share with us, so why should we share with them?  But noooo.  We played nice and shared our toys, and look what it got us."

"I would like to point out at this time that I happen to be the Tok'ra who did all that, and you were right there with me," Jacob said.

Jack paused for a moment.  "Yeah, well, the point is that we're not the ones who break other people's toys . . . unless they belong to the Goa'uld."

"Or the Russians," Daniel added.

"Oh, yeah.  I forgot about that unfortunate little incident with their DHD."

After the others left, Daniel went to see how Egeria was doing.  He found that she was presently working on some schematics for one of the devices on the wish list.  As they chatted, the conversation eventually drifted into a discussion about the people Daniel befriended during his months on Estrania.  He asked how they fared in the years after his departure.

"Decimus, of course, remained in his beloved library," Egeria replied.  "He devoted himself to teaching Titus all he knew.  He talked about you often throughout the years."

"He knew where I came from."

The announcement surprised Egeria.  "He did?"

"Yeah.  I told him just before I left.  I wanted him to know.  I made him promise that he would never tell a soul."

"He kept that promise, Daniel, right to the day he died.  He had a wonderfully long life for a human, and his mind never weakened.  It remained sharp and clear to the end.  He died peacefully in his sleep.  I had a tomb constructed for him, one worthy of the great man that he was."

Daniel was happy to hear that she'd done that.  "Thank you for doing that, Egeria."

"He was my friend as well, Daniel, although I did not truly appreciate him as a friend until you came and made me see what had been missing from my life."

They were both silent for a moment, thinking about the man who had touched both of their lives.  Egeria then told Daniel about Titus, how he came to care for the library and its contents as much as Decimus did.  She talked about the woman he married and their children.

"Did he take the books and scrolls with him when the population was moved?"

"Yes.  I did not want them to be lost, so I gave them all to him."

Egeria talked next about Aulus, who continued as the master builder until he became too old to handle the work.  Egeria then moved him into the palace so that he could live his remaining years being well cared for.  Like Decimus, he died in his sleep.

The Tok'ra queen's eyes met Daniel.  "I must tell you about Arria."

Daniel's gaze dropped to the desktop.  He'd been afraid to ask about her.  Egeria had continued to use the sarcophagus periodically right up to the point that the human population was moved, which meant that Arria aged very little during that time.  After that, she would have aged at the same rate that all Tok'ra hosts did.  Therefore, she would still have been fairly young when Egeria was captured by Ra.  Daniel hadn't wanted to think about what must have been done to her as Ra wreaked his revenge on Egeria.

Seeing the look on Daniel's face, Egeria rested her hand on his arm.  "Do not fear, Daniel.  I was not within Arria when I was captured."

"You weren't?  Did you switch to another host?"

"No.  When I realized that there was no escape, that I could not get away from Ra, I told Arria that I would not let her suffer and die with me.  I left her body, and she was hidden by the Jaffa that I had charged with the duty of protecting her.  I knew that, by the time Ra found me, I would either be dead or close to it, and I believed that he would be more concerned with getting me to a sarcophagus and a tank than in finding my former host.  I was right.  Ra wasted no time trying to find Arria.  He was content with having just me.  I can only hope that she found a place to live the rest of her life in peace."

Daniel was greatly relieved that Arria had not been tortured and killed by Ra, and he was glad that she might have had a good life for the remainder of her years.

Daniel's thoughts were interrupted by Jack, who came waltzing into the office.

"Howdy, campers," the colonel greeted cordially.  "Anyone up for some dessert?  They have chocolate cream pie in the commissary."  He looked at Egeria.  "From what I understand, you love chocolate as much as this guy does."

She smiled.  "Yes, I do.  I would love to have some of this chocolate cream pie."

"Well, then let's go."

As they were heading out the door, Daniel's phone rang.  Upon learning that it was a member of his staff, he told Jack and Egeria to go on ahead to the commissary, and he'd meet them there.

On the way, the colonel and the Tok'ra queen got into a casual conversation.  They were approaching the commissary when Jack suddenly recalled something he'd been wanting to ask Egeria.

"So, Egeria.  What's the whole story behind those statues that were made of Daniel and that garden they were in?"

"Jack!" shouted a voice, sounding like the report of a rifle.  The colonel and Egeria saw Daniel striding up to them.

The archeologist turned to the former queen.  "Don't you tell him a word about that.  The only reason he wants to know is so that he can torment me with it for the rest of my life."

Egeria's eyebrows lifted as she looked back and forth between the two men, Daniel staring daggers at the grey-haired man, who returned the stare defiantly.

"Then I shall die before breathing a word of it to him, my Daniel," she finally swore.

That sent Jack's eyebrows skyward.  "My Daniel?"

"Not another word, Jack," Daniel warned.

Egeria watched the two men with great amusement.  Even though, on the surface, their words appeared to contain hostility, she could sense a bond between them, one quite unlike anything she had ever seen.

They completed the journey to the commissary, where both Daniel and Jack had fun watching Egeria consume her piece of chocolate cream pie like it was ambrosia from heaven.

"Wow.  And I thought that you liked chocolate," Jack murmured to Daniel.

Egeria smiled.  "I will never forget the day that Daniel presented the chocolates he made especially for me.  They were the most wonderful things I had ever tasted.  He—"

Jack interrupted her.  "Whoa!  Whoa!  Hold on there.  Are you saying that Daniel made chocolate on Estrania?"  He turned to the archeologist.  "Another little item that you left out of your report, Danny Boy?"

'Oh, God.  I really am in hell, aren't I,' Daniel groaned inwardly.  Deciding that he was not about to give Jack more ammunition against him, he calmly replied, "I didn't have it in there because it was no big deal.  I'd given Egeria a taste of one of my power bars, and she really liked it.  I was in the marketplace one day and happened to find something that sounded like it might have similar properties to cacao beans.  I did some experimenting and managed to come up with something similar to chocolate.  I did it mainly as a gift for her."

Jack stared at Daniel closely.  He had a suspicion that there was a lot more to this than that, but the bland expression on the archeologist's face told him that Daniel wasn't going to let Jack bait him on this topic.

Once the archeologist and Tok'ra queen were back in his office, he told her never to breathe a word to anyone about his chocolate recipe spreading to virtually every household in Estrania.

"Jack has been making my life hell teasing me about those statues, my DNA being used for some of the Tok'ra, that book about me, and anything else he could use to torment me about my trip back in time," he said.  "I count myself lucky that nobody on Egerania said anything about the 'legendary' Daniel being the one to introduce chocolate to their people."

Egeria smiled.  "I will tell no one, Daniel.  But you must tell me something.  How is it that you and Jack are friends if he torments you so?"

"Well, it's usually not this bad, and it's not like I've never gotten back at him.  As for us being friends, my relationship with Jack is rather . . . complicated.  Sometimes, I feel like strangling him, whereas, other times, there's no one I feel closer to.  We've been through a whole lot together.  All of us have, really.  Jack, Sam and Teal'c are the closest thing I have to a family, and I care about all of them a lot – even if we seldom talk about it."

The next morning, Sam dropped in to say hi to Egeria.  When the major saw what the Tok'ra queen was working on, she started asking questions.  That led to Sam spending most of the morning there, asking dozens of questions about the things Egeria was giving them.  As the hours passed, Sam's liking for her grew, the two women eventually straying into "girl talk."

It was probably no great surprise that the most popular topic of discussion was Daniel.  It didn't take Sam long to see that the archeologist had a great admirer in Egeria.  She sang his praises quite loudly.  In fact, it seemed like, in Egeria's eyes, he could do no wrong.  She wanted Sam to tell her about all the things that Daniel had accomplished, his contributions to the SGC and how his knowledge and actions had helped in their fight against the Goa'uld.

Eventually, the accident on Kelowna came up.  As Sam recalled those horrible three days that Daniel lay dying, she couldn't help but get a little upset.

"You care about him a great deal," Egeria remarked quietly.

Sam smiled tenderly.  "Yeah.  He's one of the best friends I've ever had, and I love him a lot.  We've always had a great relationship, right from the start.  During the year that he was gone, it felt like there was this big empty place in my heart."

"There was a great emptiness in my heart as well after he left."  There was a touch of lingering sorrow in Egeria's voice.

Sam studied her face.  "You really love him, don't you."

"Yes.  I believe that I began falling in love with him the day I first laid eyes upon him, though it was only my desire for him that I was aware of in the beginning.  My love for him is like nothing else I have ever felt.  It fills my heart so full.  All the centuries that passed after we said goodbye could not erase it."

Sam wondered what it would be like to love someone so deeply that even being apart for two thousand years didn't cause it to fade.

The astrophysicist recalled the thoughts she'd had when she learned how Egeria got Daniel's DNA.  She was tempted to mention it, but she didn't want to be too forward.

"Is there something wrong?" Egeria asked, having seen an expression of uncertainty pass over Sam's face.

"Um . . . no.  I just have a question, but I didn't know if I should ask it.  It's pretty personal."

"Please ask.  If I do not want to answer, I will tell you."

"Uh, okay.  I know about how you got Daniel's DNA, the . . . accident with your pheromone drug."  Sam watched Egeria's eyes fill with pain and guilt.  "I'm sorry.  Forget I even mentioned it."

Egeria sighed.  "No, it is all right.  Hurting him as I did was one of the greatest regrets of my life.  Even to this day, I have not forgiven myself for it."

"But it was an accident.  You didn't do it deliberately."

"No, I did not, but it was still my fault.  As I held him, I could feel my love and desire for him escaping my control.  I could have backed away, put some distance between us, but I deliberately ignored the danger signs.  That foolishness and moment of weakness resulted in me hurting him deeply and in destroying a portion of the trust that had been forged between us.  It was only because of Daniel's great heart that it did not destroy our relationship completely."

"None of us are perfect, Egeria.  We all make mistakes."

"Yes, we do, and I have made many others, but, out of all of them, that was the most bitter.  I know that he has forgiven me, but I cannot forgive myself."

The next day was the team's day off, and Sam was in the mood to go shopping.  What she really wanted to do was take Egeria shopping, thinking that the woman deserved to take a break and have some fun.

She found the Tok'ra queen with Daniel in his office.

"Come on, Egeria," she said with a big smile.  "We are going shopping!"

"Shopping?" the other two said at the same time.

"Yep.  I asked General Hammond, and he said that it would be okay as long as I stayed with you at all times.  He even gave me some money to get you some things."

"Umm . . . I don't want to ruin your plans, Sam," Daniel said, "but there is a problem.  If Egeria talks, everyone around you is going to hear the language she's actually speaking.  They're going to wonder why it is that she's speaking one language and you're speaking another, yet you understand each other."

Sam bit her lip in consternation.  "Oh.  Yeah, I didn't think about that."  The translator inside the Stargate did not work outside the mountain.  Having actually traveled through the Stargate, Egeria and Sam would still be able to understand each other, but no one else in Colorado Springs would be able to understand the Tok'ra queen.

"Then perhaps Daniel can go with us," Egeria suggested.  "He can pretend to be our translator."

"Sure, that would work."

"We'd have to speak Abydonian," Daniel said.  "Latin is too recognizable, and Goa'uld is too alien."

Egeria nodded.  "Then Abydonian it will be."

The Tok'ra queen found everything about the trip into town interesting.  She asked about how the car worked and watched Daniel carefully as he drove.  Once they got to Colorado Springs, her eyes went everywhere, taking it all in.  And then they reached the mall.  As they went inside, Egeria couldn't help but stare, utterly fascinated.  She gazed through the windows and doors of every shop they passed, asking dozens of questions.

When they got to one particular store, she stopped dead, her eyes brightening with delight.

"Books!" she cried.  "Oh, may we go in?"

"You won't be able to read any of them," he told her.

"That is all right.  I simply wish to look."

They went into the shop, Egeria's eyes passing over the many books on the shelves, admiring their colorfully illustrated covers.  Daniel took her over to the small selection of travel books.  Searching the titles, he found one on Italy.

Egeria was delighted with the photos of the ancient Roman ruins.

"Oh, how I would love to go there and see them," she said.

"I'd love to take you."

She looked at Daniel hopefully.  "Then we could go?"

"Um, no, I'm afraid not," he answered regretfully.  "Even if they would allow it, by the time we got there, we'd just about have to turn around and come right back."

Wishing that he could have given her a different answer, Daniel asked if she would like to have the book.  She said yes, so he bought it for her.

The next shop they went inside was a shoe store.  Egeria was astounded by how many different colors and varieties there were.  She recalled what Daniel had said about the fascination most women on his planet had with shoes, and she could see that he was obviously right.

Perusing the selection of footwear, they received several stares from people as Daniel translated from English to Abydonian and back again, but they mostly ignored the looks.  They left the shop a while later with two new pairs of shoes for Egeria, though the woman had insisted that it was not necessary to get her any.

"I know," Sam replied.  "I just thought that you might like to have something else to wear the rest of the time you're here besides BDUs and clothes borrowed from other people."

"Uh, I assume this means that the next stop is a clothing store," Daniel said.

The major grinned.  "Yep."

At the clothing store, Sam had fun making suggestions on what she thought would look good on Egeria.  Being more accustomed to full-length dresses, the Tok'ra queen gravitated toward the skirts and dresses that hung below the knee, especially the ones with full skirts.  Sam, however, was determined to get her into at least one outfit that was a little sexier.

At one point, when Daniel was turned away, Sam snatched a dress she'd been eyeing off the rack and hid it under the others she was carrying.

"Well, I think we have enough to try on," she said.

Daniel walked with them to the door of the ladies dressing room, taking a seat just outside.  The two women went into one of the booths.

The first dress Egeria tried on was one with a floral print, a snug bodice and a full skirt.

"Would you like to model it for Daniel?" Sam asked.

"Model it?"

"Show him what it looks like on you."

Egeria smiled.  "Yes."  She exited the booth and went to the doorway.  "Daniel?"

The archeologist's turned, standing upon seeing her.

"Does it please you?" she asked.

Daniel nodded.  "It's beautiful.  It looks great on you."

Pleased, Egeria smiled.  "Thank you."

That dress was just the first thing she modeled for him.  She wanted his opinion on everything she tried on, asking him to be honest about what he said.

At last, there was nothing left to try on except for the dress Sam had selected.  Egeria stared at it.

"Is that for you?" she asked.

"Nope.  I picked it for you."

"It is quite different from the others."

"Uh huh.  Come on.  I want to see what it looks like on you.  And I can guarantee that Daniel will love it."

A smile coming to her lips, Egeria gave a nod.

Daniel glanced at his watch, wondering how much longer the women would be.  This wasn't exactly the way he'd planned on spending his day off.  Actually, he'd been hoping to take a long walk with Egeria and perhaps have a picnic.  Instead, he was sitting here as she tried on what seemed like a dozen outfits.


The archeologist stood and turned, prepared to give his opinion on yet another item of clothing.  And then he saw what Egeria was wearing.

As dresses go, it was far from being the sexiest one that Daniel had ever seen, yet he was finding it quite impossible not to stare, and his lungs seemed to be having a hard time functioning properly.  Ending just above her knees, the dress hugged her figure in all the right places, the halter top showing just the tiniest hint of cleavage.  The green color perfectly matched her eyes and, combined with her long black hair, gave her an exotic appearance.

Quite forcefully, Daniel was hit with the desire to pull her into his arms and kiss her.  Jerking himself back from those thoughts, he managed to say, "That's . . . that's beautiful, Egeria."

"You like it, then?" she asked.

'God, yes,' he replied silently.  Aloud, he said, "Very much."

Giving him a little smile, Egeria turned around and went back into the dressing room.

Feeling the overpowering need to escape, Daniel left the shop and walked over to the nearest seats.  He sat down rather heavily.  This was not good.  Actually, this was really, really bad.  He couldn't have feelings like this.  He couldn't think about her in that way.  In only a matter of days, she would be in her new symbiote body and be starting her life with the Tok'ra.  He could not be a part of that life, except for an occasional visit.  He could not have a relationship with Egeria except as a friend.

Why was this happening?  Why couldn't his feelings have remained what they were when he knew her before, just those of a close friend?  He couldn't let this happen.  He could not fall in love with her!

Daniel was still sitting on the bench, staring at the floor, when Sam and Egeria came out of the shop.

"Daniel?" Sam inquired with a hint of concern.

Schooling his face into a pleasant expression, the archeologist lifted his head.  He gave them a smile.  "All finished?"

"Yes.  Egeria and I are getting kind of hungry, so I thought we could go over to the food court."


Throughout the meal, Sam kept glancing at Daniel.  Something was wrong.  Oh, he was putting up a good front, but she'd known him too long not to see past it.  The smiles he gave didn't reach his eyes, and he was being too quiet.

Now that she thought about it, Egeria was being quieter, too.  Not knowing her as well, Sam couldn't read her mood, but she wasn't smiling as often as she had been.  So, what was wrong?

Sam's mind went back to the green dress.  She'd been peaking out of the booth and saw Daniel's reaction to it.  No woman on this planet or any other would have failed to recognize the look in his eyes.  When Egeria returned to the booth, she'd appeared to be quite pleased by Daniel's reaction.

They were both surprised when they left the booth a couple of minutes later and found that Daniel was gone.  They went to the front of the shop and spotting him sitting on a nearby bench, elbows on knees, head bowed.  Sam had been able to tell right away that something was wrong.

For some reason, Egeria chose not to get the green dress, and, as she put it back on the rack, Sam had noticed that the little smile was gone.

As the major thought about the whole thing, the answer suddenly came to her.  No, actually, it hit her like a ton of bricks, making her feel like a complete and utter idiot.  Oh, God.  She should have thought of this before and never had Egeria try on that dress.

Feeling terribly guilty, Sam looked again at Daniel.  She recalled his confession to her, that, if he'd met Egeria at a later time in his life, he might have fallen in love with her.  Well, this was that later time in his life, and Egeria had returned.  The problem was that she wasn't going to stay.  Her future lay with the Tok'ra as the mother of their future generations.  She and Daniel could never be together.

Feeling quite depressed now, Sam abruptly lost her appetite.  Seeing as neither of the other two people were all that hungry either, they all decided to head on back to the base.

Once they arrived, Egeria went to her quarters with her new clothing.  She set the shoes on the floor, then began hanging up her new clothes.  She ran her fingers over them, recalling the comments Daniel had made about each one.

All at once, she began to cry.  Silent tears sliding down her face, she finished putting the clothes away, then went to the bed and sat down.  When she saw the look in Daniel's eyes as he gazed at her in that green dress, it filled her with excitement and pleasure.  It was a look she had wanted to see in those eyes for so long.

It wasn't until several minutes later, when she saw Daniel sitting on that bench in the mall's concourse, that it suddenly hit her that, even if he did come to feel the same things for her that she felt for him, it would make no difference.  They still could not be together.

For the first time in her life, Egeria cursed what she was.  If she was just an ordinary human being, she could stay here and be with Daniel.  They could have a life together.  But, though, presently, her consciousness was inside the body of a human, that was only temporary.  As much as she might want otherwise, it could be no other way.  She had a duty to fulfill.  Her children were counting on her.  She had to set aside her desires and look to the future of her people – even if it broke her heart.

Feeling the need to be alone, Daniel decided to go home.  It having been a week since he was there, there was a lot to do.  Fortunately, he'd had the good sense not to buy any perishables the last time he went grocery shopping, so he didn't have to throw away any food.

As he went through his mail, email and phone messages, then straightened up the house, he knew that what he was really doing was trying to keep his mind off Egeria.  The problem was that it wasn't working.  The image of her face kept coming into his mind, the memory of her body in that green dress plaguing his thoughts.

No.  That wasn't Egeria, not really.  It was Ria's body and face he was looking at, a body that was only on loan to Egeria.  He had to keep that in mind.

The thing was that, even keeping that in mind, it only took care of the physical desire.  It helped not one iota with the other feelings, the ones that were growing inside his heart despite all his best efforts to keep them out.  It was those feelings that made him want to hold Egeria in his arms and never let go.  They were the ones that made him imagine what it would be like to spend the rest of his life with her.

'Dammit!  Stop thinking about that!  You know you can't have that, so why do you keep torturing yourself?'

Daniel didn't understand how his feelings could be changing so quickly.  It had been only six days since he'd gotten Egeria back, yet, in that short time, his feelings had gone from mere friendship to something so much deeper.  Then again, maybe that wasn't really true.

Daniel recalled the thoughts he'd had and the feelings he'd experienced ever since he regained the memory of talking to her while he was ascended, the revelation he'd made when he was looking at the printout of her image.  Could it be that, deep down inside his heart, where even he couldn't see it, some part of him had always felt this way?  Could he have started feeling more than friendship for her during those months on Estrania, but was blind to it because of his love for Sha're?

But then, it didn't really matter, did it.  It made not one damn bit of difference when he actually started feeling this way.  The point was that he needed to put more effort into not feeling this way.  He needed to concentrate on just the friendship stuff.  If he could do that, then it wouldn't tear a hole in his heart when they had to say goodbye.

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