Chasing the Stars

Abydos. It was out there somewhere. Jack O'Neill sat on the observation deck on his roof, staring out at the stars through his telescope, and wondered, not for the first time, what was happening on that planet.

He focused the telescope on the current celestial event, while remembering the events of his one and only trip through the Stargate. He had gone through the Gate with a determination of a tortured soul who was ready for death, only to find that there was more to life when a ragtag group of kids embraced a rebellion and faced their own death in order to save Jack's life. It had been a humbling experience, one that was repeated when Daniel Jackson put himself in harm's way to do the same thing. Jack took his life seriously after that, and with the same determination he had when he went on a suicide mission, he would do whatever necessary to defend those that protected him.

They were safe now. At least Jack hoped they were. Daniel was supposed to bury the Gate on Abydos, an act that would guarantee their survival from anyone ever finding their haven. Yet Jack couldn't help but look for the star every time he had a clear view of the night sky and wonder how "his kids" were doing now that they had found their freedom from Ra's oppression.

A car pulled up in his driveway, interrupting Jack's thoughts. Great, he thought grumpily. He didn't want to be bothered with company. He wanted to find the ever elusive star, even as he stared up at the mass in the heavens. He sighed heavily when he heard a voice call out that he had found the stairs. It seemed that he was going to have company anyway.

"Colonel O'Neill?"

"Retired," Jack replied. It was best to let the man know up front that he was barking up the wrong tree. He wasn't about to be dragged away from his sanctuary. He had things to do, memories to dwell on. But after a brief banter of dialogue, it turned out that Samuels knew the magic word to get Jack's attention.

"It's about the Stargate," Samuels said.

The Stargate. Jack nearly fell off his chair when Samuels dropped that little nugget. He had just been thinking of that piece of technology, even voicing his own regrets about not transferring to NASA when he passed on a great piece of advice to the Major. But it was the wishful thinking as he thought about going through the Stargate again to see Skaa'ra that had him sitting up and taking notice. Surely the Major wasn't suggesting… No, that was too good to be true. Still, Jack got up and followed Samuels down to the car. It wouldn't hurt to see what they wanted, he told himself, even as a tiny niggling of hope teased at him with growing intensity. God, what he wouldn't do to go back.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

There were more planets and more stars to chase after, Jack learned, as he and his team met up with Daniel Jackson on Abydos. Entire new worlds were out there to explore, and Jack was ready to be the one to do it. Unfortunately, the very next one they went to was inhabited by a lot of the unsavory types that plagued his first trip to Abydos. He and his team, along with a recently converted ally, had to fight their way back home.

The battle raged on as Jack, Teal'c, Kawalsky and his men fought off the oncoming Jaffa. He looked over to the Stargate and saw that Daniel was practically pushing people through it. Jack wasn't surprised to see that. Daniel had showed a courageous streak the last time they were fighting an alien enemy, it stood to reason he would risk his life this time around too. Jack put another Jaffa out of his misery, then ran to help Kawalsky with the wounded soldier. As much as he liked dancing on the stars, he was more than happy to leave this one behind.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Jack always loved the night sky. He wouldn't admit it to anybody, especially to Captain "Know-it-all" Carter, but he actually loved Astronomy. There were multitude of sightings out there – constellations, nebulae, galaxies and the rare comet that streaked across the sky – all fuel for his thirst for knowledge.

But now there was something more for him whenever he found the time to sit with his telescope. There were entire civilizations living on planets out there. Living, breathing stars for him to hunt down with his telescope and to remember. And even though he knew he probably wouldn't ever be able to figure out which one was which, he still stared up at the night sky looking for a star where life continued to wage on. Hunting for the stars as they moved across the galaxies brought a whole new meaning to his studies. He had been there and he had survived.

He popped the top of a beer as he sat back in his chair, the telescope at his side. He remembered that visit from Major Samuels not so long ago and Jack found himself smiling as he remembered his earlier regrets. Now that he thought about it, NASA wasn't so appealing after all.