It had been a long night. Jadzia, Riker, and Lee were preparing to go down to Earth. There was a lot of talk about the Prime Directive, mostly from Picard. Benjamin stayed silent whenever it came up. Jadzia wondered if everyone else was as self-centered as she had been a few days ago. What a strange collection of loners these ships had, she wondered. She had no family worth talking about back home. Neither did Riker. Picard famously and only had his ship. Julian wasn't close to his family…
O'Brien had, in true war-veteran form, set his jaw and put his nose to the grindstone. Everyone was very careful not to say anything that rhymed with Molly or Keiko. Nog, without the years of experience Miles could hide behind, had hurried to dash away a tear hanging off his nose this morning before he thought Jadzia could see it.
Surely they had to see that.
But their ideals were important to them. Of course, it was what made the Federation the Federation. But, even if for just a moment, Jadzia almost understood. To hell with the Prime Directive. To hell with the consequences. To hell with anything that would get in their way of getting home.
Anything and everyone that could help them to that end were fair game. Be it the Goa'uld or the Humans and their Stargates. This future was their future, and the more she thought about it, the closer to the verge of apathy Jadzia got.
She knew she couldn't afford to think like that.
The people of Earth—Stargate Command—had kept their endeavors in space a secret from the rest of their planet. To that end, they'd asked—in a way it was clear it wasn't a request—the Federation crew members to stay far away from Earth and not visit anywhere but assigned coordinates at assigned times.
Picard had instantly agreed on behalf of all the other captains.
But in the interest of getting along with their new friends, Riker, Jadzia, and Lee had been chosen as the delegation to go to the SGC to discuss their situation with the leaders there. Jadzia was interested to see what a military complex on Earth would look like. Precious few remained today. Or rather, in the future. Somewhere else.
She didn't know anymore.
"They will try to persuade us to help them in their war."
Jadzia was jarred back into the present by Riker's briefing before the beam-down.
"We can't answer any of their questions." And they can't answer any of ours. "We'll keep it to the facts." Such as we know. "And we'll tell them we can continue any discussion at a later date."
There was a reason none of the captains were going. It delayed any touchy situations, deferred hard questions, hid the decision-makers. Ultimately, Riker, Jadzia, and Lee were lackeys and Jadzia couldn't imagine any in the room today wouldn't know that.
It would be a similar situation on Earth. They would meet some generals of the US military and the team that led the way in Stargate travel, but no one else.
They beamed down to the coordinates provided.
The sight was foreign, primitive. The walls were made of concrete and the computers—if those were computers—looked like they'd been snatched out of the museum of the original Enterprise. Out of the corner of her eye over her shoulder, she noted an impressive piece of technology in the shape of a ring. Alien runes decorated the inner ring, with red arrows at certain intervals.
The Stargate, perhaps? She would have liked to get a closer look at it…
The people in the room were mostly all Human, dressed in green and holding black objects that Jadzia assumed were weapons. Others were dressed in dark blue and had medals on their jackets. They must have been more important. The only people she recognized were Jack, Sam, and Teal'c, but she had the feeling she was about to give and get far more introductions than she wanted.
"Welcome to Earth," a bald gentleman with a genial voice said with a smile. "I'm General Hammond, and you've already met my team. Jack O'Neill, Sam Carter, and Teal'c."
"Yes, we've been acquainted." Jadzia was very familiar with Riker's professional greeting smile. He was wearing it now as he introduced himself, Jadzia, and Lee to the others in the room.
Jadzia glossed over the other names, too interested in looking around the area to bother with remembering names that she would probably never see the faces of again. They were all here of necessity. The Federation ships were among the most powerful they'd probably ever seen. They'd make a quick exit once they were convinced the Federation ships were uninterested in helping them.
The Humans wouldn't win their war. They would never get home.
Maybe three bowls of Jello were a little much. Jonas considered each of the three flavors and tried to figure out which one he wanted to put back. Of course, it was less about the flavor and more about the elation of a sugar-high. Back to being the fly in the closet. At least he had Daniel's books to keep him company.
He glanced around the room for an empty table. There were plenty. A lot of people had been called in for the tour for the people from those ships. Jonas hadn't been invited. Probably with good reason—after all, what was Jonas? He could tell them everything they wanted to know about the weather channel or naquadria bombs, the history of Langara or how it had almost destroyed itself.
He paused next to a table, seeing the spots. He wondered what she was doing here, staring at the table. There were plenty of other sights to see.
He bent a little to see her face. "Hey." He paused. She didn't look very well. Like she was sick or something. "You okay?"
She nodded and smiled, her eyes immediately brightening. "Yeah, I'm alright."
Yeah, right, he thought, but didn't press it. Of course, she wasn't alright. She was in another universe, all things considered. She couldn't go home.
That sounded familiar.
He grinned in spite of himself. "That's me. And you're Jadzia."
"You've got it." She laughed a little, and looked away.
Jonas glanced there to see if there was something interesting, but there wasn't. He looked down, for the moment embarrassed that he couldn't keep a conversation alive for more than a few sentences. Then he saw it. "Do you want some Jello?" he asked. He tilted the bowls so she could see. "It's—well, I don't know what it is, but it's pretty good."
She shrugged and looked back at him. "Why not?"
He handed her the yellow Jello and sat across from her. He watched as she put one of the squares into her mouth, her eyebrows pretty well conveying her thoughts on the food even if she was too polite to talk with her mouth full.
He laughed and offered, "It's different."
She swallowed. "Very. But it's not the worst thing I've ever had." Suddenly she laughed outright, a very genuinely happy sound. Jonas couldn't help but smile. "I'm probably one of the worst people to have an opinion on food. After all, I have Klingon food on a regular basis."
Jadzia paused to consider a second bite of Jello. "The food eaten by a specific race where I'm from—and almost no one else. Though I have gotten a few of my friends to try it. A large portion of what they eat is raw." She laughed again. "And alive."
Jonas grimaced at the thought of eating something alive. "Well, I've never been opposed to trying anything new. But you might have gotten me there."
They ate their Jello in relative silence, then. Jonas cast a few glances around to see if any of her fellow crewmates were with her, but all he saw were various SGC personnel. "So where… I mean, why…" He decided this was a good time to keep his mouth shut.
"Why am I here eating—Jello?—instead of on the tour with Lee and Riker?" She shrugged. "Not that I'm not interested in see the SGC. I'm very interested. I just…" She sighed and took a breath. "Don't feel up to it, I guess."
Jonas nodded as she looked back down at her bowl of Jello. She was suddenly very interested in it, looking nowhere but in her wobbly reflection in yellow. He looked at his own blue Jello, half gone, and then back at Jadzia. "I know what it's like, you know. A little," he said. Probably out of turn. But he didn't care.
"What?" She looked up.
"Being… somewhere you don't belong." He pointed around the room with his spoon. "I don't belong here." And probably the first time he'd admitted that to himself, much less anyone else. "And you can't go back home."
"You can't go back to your planet?" Jadzia looked genuinely sad, suddenly empty of that happy spark he'd seen. An emptiness he'd never understood until recently. An emptiness that couldn't be filled with all the books in the world, all the studying he could care to do—something that once gave him a sense of accomplishment and contentment. "Why not?"
Jonas shrugged. "It's a long story, but…" He tried to figure out how to put it in a way that she would understand. Maybe Jonas didn't understand. It was his project—he was looking after it. He'd comforted his conscience by telling himself that no one would be hurt. And when someone was… "I wouldn't let my government lie about an… an accident that happened under my watch." A lie, even if it prevents a war, is still wrong, isn't it?
An accident. Right, that's what it was. An accident Jonas felt perfectly justified in blaming himself for. After all, everyone else did.
"That accident got people killed and the project would have killed hundreds of thousands more—if not even more. I stole some dangerous material from them and defected. Here." A decision he'd almost immediately regretted. "And, if you hadn't noticed, I'm not exactly welcome here."
"I did notice you weren't in the meeting today, even though Jack, Sam, and Teal'c were."
"I'm not one of them," Jonas said. "But don't misunderstand me—I'm not mad at them or anything. They're right—I practically caused them a lot of trouble and… pain." So it's only right they give it back.
They sat in silence for a moment, Jadzia slowly picking over her Jello. "Well," she said finally. She smiled. "I think I'm up for a small tour now. Would you mind showing me around a little?"
A/N: Thank you to everyone who has read and left reviews!