Right after the events of the episode "The Torment of Tantalus," Daniel Jackson and Ernest Littlefield discuss what they have each lost, what they have found again, and yet that which they still have.
SUMMARY: Right after the events of the episode "The Torment of Tantalus," Daniel Jackson and Ernest Littlefield discuss what they have each lost, what they have found again, and yet that which they still have.
SPOILER WARNING: Obviously, it would be best to watch that episode first before watching this.
NOTE: As I said in the Author's Notes of my Stargate: Atlantis fic "The Chair," my first SG-1 fanfic was intended to be one where Jack reconciles with his ex-wife Sara after the episode "Cold Lazarus," where that alien from the sandy planet with the blue crystals poses as O'Neill with the well-meaning intention of bringing back Jack's dead son Charlie. (However, after watching some more of Season 1, I don't think it would have worked; I'll explain at the Author's Notes after the end of the fic.) So, in the meantime, here's this.
Dedicated to BiteMeTechie and MyDirtyLittleSecret for beta-reading this fic.
Catherine Langford and Ernest Littlefield were sitting next to each other at the large wooden table in the briefing room, just glad to be with each other again after so long.
Teal'c had returned to his room to meditate, while General George Hammond, Colonel Jack O'Neill and Captain Samantha Carter were trying to think up some cover store to explain how a scientist who was killed in an accidental explosion back in 1945 could still be quite well alive.
In the meantime, Doctor Daniel Jackson was sitting at the other end of the table from the reunited elderly couple, reading Ernest's journal and trying not to be intrusive with his presence.
However, Catherine noticed how Daniel was trying not to be a bother, which she considered to be unnecessary. Speaking up, she said, "Daniel, please, you're not interrupting anything."
Daniel looked up from the journal. "Oh, I'm sorry..."
Ernest beckoned him forward. "Please, young man, feel free to join us."
"Sure," Daniel said, returning the journal with what looked like some reluctance.
Ernest laughed. "The journal will still be there, you know. It's not going to fall apart or into an ocean or something."
"Yeah..." Daniel said slowly, still thinking about the world they had rescued Ernest from and then fled.
"You're not still mourning the loss of that place, are you?" Catherine asked him.
"Well..." Daniel said slowly. "I wish I could have gotten everything. I wish there was a way we could go back there, now that the Stargate probably got destroyed or buried or something..."
"Daniel, take my word for it," Ernest said. "Knowledge becomes meaningless if it can't be shared or taught. In more ways than one, people matter more than knowledge."
"I know, and don't get me wrong, I'm not some Faustus who would sacrifice everything for the sake of knowledge," Daniel responded. "There are people who matter to me... everyone here at the SGC, Catherine for helping to change my life... my wife, whom I'm still looking for..."
"Besides, Daniel," Catherine added, "For all you know there are other such repositories of knowledge out there. Who's to say that that was the only one? At first we all thought that the only two Stargates in existence were the ones my father found years ago and the one on Abydos, and as you yourself figured out, even that belief proved to be incorrect."
"Well, the same thought occurred to me too," Daniel admitted. "It's just that I wanted to get that knowledge /so badly/..." Here, he made a gesture with one of his hands as though indicating just how close he was to getting it.
"It just tantalized you, didn't it, Daniel?" Ernest said. "Like the fruit in the myth of Tantalus..."
Of course Daniel was familiar with that myth. Tantalus, the king of Thebes, was favored by his father, the mighty god Zeus. On one occasion, he was invited up to Olympus and ate with the gods. After returning home, he promised them the opportunity to dine in his own kingdom in the future to return the favor. However, out of all the treasure he owned, he felt he had truly nothing to offer to the gods as his best. He felt his most valuable treasure was his son Pelops, and so, wanting to give the gods his best, had his son sacrificed and made as a meal to the gods.
However, one of several things with the Olympian gods loathed was human sacrifices. After bringing Pelops back to life, Zeus threw Tantalus into Tartarus, that hellish section of the Underworld which was reserved for the evil and wicked who had to be punished.
Tantalus was made to stand in a pool of water with the branch of a fruit tree hanging overhead. Whenever he tried to bend down to drink the water, it would recede, and whenever he tried to reach for the fruit hanging over him on the branch, the branch would move out of the way, beyond his reach.
Hence, the word "tantalize" was derived from his name.
"Yeah, in a way, I guess it did," Daniel finally admitted.
"Daniel, trust me on this, as someone who's been by himself for more than fifty years with that same amount of time to think about it," Ernest said in an almost fatherly way. "Like I said, knowledge is meaningless if it cannot be shared or taught. However, for that entire time, I felt like Tantalus, with the way back home to Earth being beyond my reach. Oh sure, the Stargate itself was there, but the dialing device was broken and I had absolutely no idea what to do. Trust me, Daniel, the loss of that knowledge, or at least for now, is almost painless compared to my stay there all these years."
"I'll take your word for it," Daniel said in an understanding way.
"Perhaps one day, we'll be able to return, using a spaceship or something," Catherine said seriously and hopefully.
"Yeah, that did occur to me too," Daniel said with a small smile.
"Well, we think we've come up with a good cover story," Jack announced as he and the others walked in. "Of course, since it happened so long ago concerning a top secret government project, not all that many people remember what it was that happened."
"I'm pretty sure most of them have passed on by now," Ernest said somberly, recalling everyone he had worked with.
"So, what will you do now?" Carter asked the elderly couple.
"Well," Catherine said, exchanging looks with Ernest, "We were thinking about just going somewhere and having some time to ourselves... after all, we have quite a bit of catching up to do."
"Are you considering of visiting any destination in particular?" Teal'c inquired.
"Maybe Greece," Catherine told the SG-1 team. "Strangely, I've found myself uninterested in visiting Egypt again. Maybe it's just hard for me to look the same way at the pyramids again, knowing what they were actually used for and the ramifications it has for us here on Earth."
"Yeah, I know the feeling," Daniel said.
"Actually, Ms. Langford," Hammond spoke up, "I felt that as the woman who essentially helped the Stargate program come to be, you should be allowed to enjoy the fruits of your labor, so to speak."
"In other words, you want to let me go on vacation somewhere."
"I guess you could say that."
"I hear Argos is nice this time of year," Jack piped up. "Descended from Greek culture. Does that count?"
"In a way, I guess it does," Daniel said, merely voicing his opinion from his scholarly standpoint. "After all, Pelops did experiment with the people of that planet."
"Pelops?" Ernest repeated incredulously. "I thought he was Tantalus' son who was sacrificed to the gods, which Tantalus was punished for."
The rest of the SG-1 team, who was not as well-versed in Greek mythology, looked at each other with some confusion while Daniel sighed and said, "Here we go back to the myth again..."
A/N: So, how was this? I realized just what I could do with this idea, especially with all the different meanings I could draw between the ancient Greek myth of Tantalus and the situations which Daniel and Ernest were in.
As for why I called off that Jack/Sara reconciliation fic... I noticed something when I watched the episodes "Brief Candle" (where Jack is caused to age rapidly) and "Solitudes" (where Jack and Sam are stuck together in that icy place). As Jack is rapidly aging in "Brief Candle," he has a note in his hands which starts off with the words "Dear Sara" but doesn't say any more after that, since Jack doesn't seem to know what to write after that. In "Solitudes," Jack says something about not having talked to Sara since or something like that. Since my fic was intended to have Jack and Sara reconcile right after the incident in "Cold Lazarus" and how those two things imply that they never talked since, therefore I don't think it would have worked.
Note about the myth of Tantalus as told here: That's just how I am familiar with it. As you can imagine, details on myths can differ, depending on your source.
Note about the mention of Pelops: YES, that's the same name as the Gao'uld who experimented on the people of Argos as mentioned in the episode "Brief Candle."
Anyway, thanks again for reading this, and be on the lookout for whatever else I write! -Quillian