Author's Note: We come to it at last. I hope you all have enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Though there is always the chance of a sequel, I bid you all a very fond farewell!
Teal'c stood at the top of the trail, looking about at the dry landscape with a benign smile. Jo and Sam were chatting a few feet away while Colonel O'Neill and Daniel argued over the best way to build a fire if they somehow got stuck in the Rockies. Luckily, they weren't stuck, but rather were out on a hike with Jonas and Jo. Christmas was only days away and Jo was flying out later in the day to spend the holiday with her family. As such, she had suggested that they all spend some time together to soak in the spirit of the season while they could. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't cooperating. There wasn't a single snowflake in the air.
Jonas had wandered off into the clearing that Jo showed him before, and he paused to study a chickadee as it flitted about on the branches before him. The bird swiveled its small black head and let out a chortle before taking off through the trees. Jonas followed it to the edge of the clearing, where he heard the trickling of a stream. Pushing through the branches, he found the brook Jo had mentioned, and he couldn't help but smile at the scene before him.
Snow was beginning to fall, drifting down among the pines and settling on the dried blades of grass, like faerie down. The small stream gurgled past, and the chickadee landed on a rock protruding from the water. The little bird let out a gush of song as it hopped about, its small black eyes studying the human in the puffy coat. Jonas didn't dare move, afraid he'd frighten the small creature. There was a gust of wind and he closed his eyes, breathing in the deep, tangy scent of the pines in the chilled air, and the freshness of the wet earth beside the stream. Pricks of cold touched his face as snowflakes began to descend and melted against his skin. The chickadee sang again, and Jonas felt so alive that he was tempted to strip off his coat and shirt just to absorb the fullness of being in the world. The pleasure of the cold.
"My heart aches," came a voice from behind him, and he opened his eyes and pivoted to see Jo slip out of the trees towards him. She smiled, her loose hair falling around her shoulders, speckled with white. "And a drowsy numbness pains /My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk, /Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains /One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:/ 'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,/But being too happy in thine happiness, /That thou, light-wingèd Dryad of the trees, /In some melodious plot /Of beechen green, and shadows numberless, /Singest of summer in full-throated ease."
Jonas' smile was full of wonder. "John Keats."
Jo nodded. "Forlorn! the very word is like a bell /To toll me back from thee to my sole self! /Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well /As she is famed to do, deceiving elf. /Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades/Past the near meadows, over the still stream,/Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep /In the next valley-glades: /Was it a vision, or a waking dream? /Fled is that music:—do I wake or sleep?" She laughed softly. "Am I a nerd or what?"
He held out his hand for hers. "'Beauty is truth, truth beauty, – that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'"
Jo grinned. "You read it?"
"Cover to cover. He's an amazing poet."
She sighed, resting her cheek on his shoulder as she watched the falling snow. They could hear the voices of the rest of SG-1 as the team meandered after them. Jack paused a few feet away and sighed, frightening the chickadee into flight. "Will ya look at that view? Gorgeous."
"It reminds me a little of home," Jonas said.
"Really?" Sam asked as she and Daniel and Teal'c caught up.
Jonas nodded. "Except our land was a lot flatter. Covered in wheat. But we were right next to the foothills, like this."
"I never saw anywhere on Kelowna that was rugged," Jack said.
"Yeah, you have to get out of the cities... just like anywhere, really. But we lived close to the border."
"Sounds scary," Jack said, still surveying the land around them.
"Yeah," Jonas said with a sigh. "It was a day kinda like today when Raiders from our rival nation attacked."
Jo squeezed his hand and Jack looked to Jonas. "What happened?"
Jonas shrugged, not looking at any of them, his eyes on the drifting snow that was growing denser. "They killed my family and burnt down our house."
Daniel looked to the ground, having heard this before when Jonas told Janet, but he knew that his optimistic teammate's painful past would come as a surprise to the others. Still, he was impressed that Jonas was sharing it. It meant that Jonas trusted them.
Jack's gaze was steely as he studied Jonas, masking any surprise. "How'd you survive?"
"My father had given me a shotgun. My sister and I were hidden away and when the Raiders found us, I pulled the trigger then ran. We made it halfway across the field when my sister was shot. The first snow of the season started that day."
"God..." Sam breathed, a puff of white escaping her lips as she did so. A tense silence fell around the team for a while as each tried to take in Jonas' story.
"Out of everyone in your government, I'd think that you'd be the one cheering for the naquadria bomb to wipe out those murdering suckers. But you never did."
Jonas finally looked at Jack. "You can't blame an entire nation for the actions of a group of soldiers."
Jack continued to study him. "You know, Jonas, sometimes you're not half as naive as you seem."
Jonas smiled a little. "Is that a compliment, Colonel?"
"No... more of an... acknowledgement that you're way smarter than me."
Jo laughed a little but tried to stop when Jack narrowed his eyes at her. Sam noticed the exchange and smirked, lightly hitting Jo's back when Jack wasn't paying attention.
Daniel smiled, looking out at the snowscape. "It's a beautiful day."
"Yes, Danny Boy," Jack sighed. "That it is."
Jonas and Teal'c shared a small smile before Jonas returned his attention to Jo and kissed the top of her head. She squeezed his hand in hers as a meadowlark began to sing in the distance.
SG-1 stood in peaceful silence, absorbing the tranquility around them. Jonas gazed at the overcast sky. He would never forget his family, and he would always love them, but a new family now warmed his heart. He stood by them now, amidst the falling snow.
And keep your eyes peeled for my new Jonas story, coming soon! :)