Mysterious Distance


I wasn't satisfied with the ending of this story. So after marinating on it for a while I've finally come up with an epilogue. Hope you like it.

This had to be one of the oddest graduation parties ever seen on Earth. Even in the years after the Stargate had become public knowledge. Milling together on the back lawn of the O'Neill household were Asgard, Jaffa, Tok'ra, Tauri, various humans from planets around the galaxy, and even several Ascended beings, though they hadn't made themselves known. Daniel had never thought in all his years of fighting a seemingly unending war that all these different people could come together for something as trivial (on an cosmic scale that is) as a party on a beautiful spring afternoon. Seeing such frivolity made him yearn for his former descended state.

"If you had stayed, we would not be here now."

Daniel turned to the woman standing next to him and smiled not for the first time since arriving. The great and powerful Oma Desala had apparently decided that a bright flowered sundress and wide straw hat was appropriate garb for a back yard barbeque, ascended being or not. "I know."

His gaze wandered over the crowd and his eye caught by a white head higher than most of the crowd. Jack O'Neill, whether through his Ancient gene, repeated exposure to sarcophagi, or some other unknown cause seemed not to have aged much past fifty even though he was staring seventy in the face. Sure his hair was white now, but he still had as thick and as unruly as ever. The dark sunglasses covering his eyes were now prescription, but he was still as fit and active as he had been when Daniel had ascended 15 years ago. Daniel was glad Jack O'Neill was one of things never seemed to change.

"O'Neill has changed, Daniel," Skaara said from his other side. Daniel glanced at him. Skaara as opposed to Oma ha decided his Abydosian robes were fine for a party he wasn't going to be seen at anyway.

Daniel turned his attention back to his old friend. Skaara was right.. Jack had changed. Jack was happy. His smile and laughter came readily, something almost unheard of in all the years Daniel had considered Jack his best friend. Perhaps that's why Jack seemed not to age. These part 15 years of happiness had taken years off of him. Jack's face lit up even brighter at the sight of the woman bringing him another beer. Jack took the beer and gave her a quick kiss of gratitude, sliding an arm around her waist before turning his attention back to Jacob and Thor.

Sam was older, but still beautiful. She smiled brilliantly at her husband, that smile no one ever seemed to receive except Jack. Daniel had expected to feel a stab of jealousy or pain at seeing his former wife and his best friend so happy together, but he didn't. This is the way it should have always been. They hadn't had an easy time in the beginning, but they had managed to move past all the pain and hurt that had festered over the years. Daniel was glad that they had overcome it and for the most part lived happily ever after. He still felt ashamed of his part in keeping them separated.

Jack's smile grew even bigger as he caught sight of a tall young woman in Air Force blues and shiny new Second Lieutenant's bars on her shoulders. Lieutenant Grace O'Neill slid under the father's other arm and swiped his beer. Daniel supposed he should have been hurt that Grace hadn't retained 'Jackson' as her surname, but there was no denying she was an O'Neill through and through with a good dose of Carter thrown in. A dangerous combination.

For a moment Jack's gaze, seemed to be fixed on Daniel, but he knew here was no way Jack could have seen him. Jack whispered something in Sam and Gracie's ears before releasing them and making his excuses to Thor and Jacob. Jack wandered across the yard to the deck of his house. His two Irish setters caught sight of him and broke way from their game of chase with Cassie's three kids to follow their master. Jack with Marge and Homer at his heels made his way up the deck stairs and into the house without casting a glance in the Ascended beings direction. Daniel walked through the wall of the house and found Jack in his kitchen with another beer in his hand and feeding treats to his dogs.

Daniel didn't make himself known and finally Jack spoke, "You can quit hiding, Daniel."

Daniel appeared and the dogs started growling at him. Jack gave them each a pat and they stopped. "Hey, Jack."

"Daniel." His expression was closed off, guarded just the way Daniel was used to.

"How did you know I was here?"

Jack just shrugged. "What brings you to our lowly plane?"

"What do you think?"

"Guess the glowy people aren't known for their parties, huh?"

"I just wanted to see Gracie graduate. I hope you don't mind."

"No," Jack's expression softened and he smiled at his old friend. "I'm glad you're here. We've missed you Daniel."

The back door opened and a voice called out, "Daddy?"

"In the kitchen, Gracie. We've got a visitor."

Gracie appeared in the doorway and smiled. "Uncle Daniel, you came."

"You know, I wouldn't miss this for anything," Daniel smiled back. "Oma and Skaara are here too. I'm proud of you, Gracie. We're all proud of you. Though I gotta say some of the Other's are a little nervous at the thought of another O'Neill being unleashed on the universe. An O'Neill with Carter brains."

Gracie shared a mischievous grin with her father.

"Well, somebody's got to keep things from getting too boring out there," Jack told him.

"That's what they're afraid of."

"So… You guys should join the party," Jack said. "It's not like their aren't stranger folks wandering around out there."

"I don't think-"

"Thank you, General O'Neill. We will." Oma and Skaara materialized next to Daniel. "We should celebrate Grace's accomplishments."

"O'Neill, it is good to see you," Skaara said.

"You too, Skaara. I don't suppose I could interest you in a beer?"

"Unfortunately not, O'Neill."

"Guess there are some drawbacks to the whole higher plane thing, huh?" Jack smiled, "Back to the party?"

Grace slid her hand into her father's and they lead the three Ascended beings and Marge and Homer back outside.

The End.