God it was cold. Too cold for any sane person to be out. But then sanity wasn't really an issue for him. How could anyone who'd spent nine years of their life having their molecules deconstructed and re-plastered together time after time be considered sane in the first place. And he wasn't even going to touch the whole alien data-base thing. Nope. Sanity was something he'd checked at the door a long time ago.
Still. There had to have a least been a measure of self-preservation that should have kept him indoors. He'd already done the frozen to death thing more times than he cared to remember and he'd have thought it wasn't worth adding one more time to his resume. Yet here he was. Breath like fog. Exposed earlobes burning in the still, icy air. Booted feet buried beneath the latest drifts of snow he hadn't cared to shovel off the deck. Across the small expanse of yard, leading down to the dock, now frozen like an ore boat in Lake Superior, the glint of frost reflected off the crystals in the moonlight, reminding him that there was no warm blanket of clouds to keep in what little heat the Minnesota sun had offered up that afternoon.
But that was okay. He didn't need the clouds. He needed the crystal clear sky with the stars twinkling overhead like lights on the Christmas tree he hadn't bothered to put up this year. Because really, what was the point when one spent Christmas by themselves anyway. And New Years. And Valentines Day.
Right. Let's not dwell.
Rubbing his hands to try to restore the circulation to them, he adjusted the telescope slightly so that the great white disk was perfectly centered. and checked his watch. 1943 hours. Exactly. Bending down again, careful not to let his breath fog the eyepiece, he waited.
His patience was soon rewarded. A slight rim of shadow edged its way across the lip of the moon. Nice. And still not a cloud in the sky. It was damned near perfect. Except that he was watching it alone.
A chair would have been a good idea. The back didn't take the bending over like it used to. He thought about going inside to get one, but decided not to. He'd never last the full four hours anyway. Besides. He'd seen eclipses before. Beautiful as it was, it was nothing new. And not really what he was out here to see anyway.
Pulling a penlight out of his pocket, he shone it briefly on a star chart, trying not to let the light diminish the darkness surrounding him. Yeah. He had the coordinates right. Like he hadn't committed them to memory when she'd given them to him.
Stuffing the paper and flashlight back into his pocket he readjusted the telescope one more time and waited. High in the trees the wind rubbed bare branches together, but aside from that there wasn't a sound. Any creature with an ounce of sense was inside some nest or burrow or den, curled up with its mate, warm and asleep.
Which is what he would have preferred to be doing too. If only….
He checked his watch again. It was time. The moon was a quarter dark. Just enough to see past it, if one knew where to look. And what they were looking for.
He lowered himself to the eyepiece one more time and held his breath. It took a few moments for his eye to make it out. If he hadn't known better, it might have been a figment of his imagination, a bit of fog on the lens, a reflection from the moon.
Except it wasn't.
It was Pegasus. One of those galaxies that was far, far away. Sometimes too damn far. Like at Christmas. And New Years. And Valentines Day. And hell, maybe just every day.
Everyday except today.
He straightened up and stretched his back before bending down to look one more time.
And even though he knew the Pegasus he was seeing was the one that had existed probably long before the stargates were even a glimmer in the Ancients' eyes, at the moment he was willing to overlook that little bit of astrophysics. It only mattered that he could stand here, in this wickedly chill night, a few dozen feet from where their life had truly begun again, and know that she was standing on a balcony in Atlantis, searching the star-filled sky for him too.
It wasn't the same as curling up next to her beneath the down comforter in the cabin. But for the time being it was the best he could hope for.
He studied the distant galaxy one more time and smiled.
It was almost like bringing her home.