Title: Star Light, Star Bright
Fandom: Stargate SG-1
Characters: Catherine Langford, Cassandra Fraiser, Sarah Gardner, Loran, Jennifer Hailey, Jonas Quinn
Word Count: 1199
Categories: drama, angst, character study
Spoilers/Warnings: Mild, for the series.
Summary: Their destinies were written in the stars.
Her life would be very different if not for other people's choices.
Had her father not gone to Giza, had he not allowed her to play at the dig site. Had there not been a war on and a president in office willing to make financial concessions for anything that might give his country an advantage over the enemy. Had Ernest not volunteered to go through the gate. Had not a strange young couple visited her near the end of a decade. Had Dr. Daniel Jackson chosen a life of academic accolades instead of an unending quest for the truth.
Other people's lives would be very different if not for her choices. Her tenacity and desire have shaped history. Now there are people – her people – hop-scotching through the galaxy, bringing home wonderful and terrible things. She envies them a little. She prays they'll be safe.
There are so many small moments that created the path her life has taken. Some of them were missteps or stumbles, but they were all heading in the same direction: toward the stars.
Her people had stories about the sky, legends about the stars and the movement of the heavens.
The stories about the coming darkness had proven true, and all of her people had died. She understands that the sky is not the magical force she had once believed it to be, that the darkening of the sun had not been what killed everyone she knew. But the one who was responsible came from the stars. So were the ones who saved her, who took her to a new home somewhere far across the sky.
They tell stories of the stars here, too. But she prefers these stories to the ones from Hanka. On Earth, the stars are named for the legends, to make sense of the heavens or to hold memories of times past. Here, the stars hold stories instead of creating them. She gives her own to them for safekeeping.
Her new mother is different from the one she was born to, but the love she is given is familiar and comforting. She dreams of Hanka, of what she knew and who she loved. She acts like the person she is slowly becoming. Cassie, they call her. She likes it.
The universe is vast. She has known this – abstractly, at least – for most of her life. But a career spent bent over books or a lab or the ground could sometimes make one forget just how far the sky extended.
She has seen the vastness of the universe with her own eyes. She has stood on other planets, walked impassively among ruins she would at one time have given her right arm to explore, watched people living the stories she once strove to recreate from artifact and word. She has traveled through space and watched suns burn for dead worlds.
But she did so in chains, bound by an evil far greater than any on Earth. Like a marionette, she had performed according to her captor's whims, reshaping the universe in ways beyond her control or understanding. All the while, she huddled in a dark corner of her mind, her own voice echoing inside her head like a stranger's.
The universe is vast. It is also lonely. She bends herself to the ground again and tries to forget the emptiness between the stars.
His parents had believed their son should experience as much life as possible, so they took him everywhere they went. He had grown up living in tents, beside ruins, and under the sky.
Earth feels as much like home as any place he has ever lived. But there is a part of him that never made it to Earth. There is a part of him that feels suppressed, tucked away – a part that can only stretch its legs under starlight, with the sky spread above him and home somewhere out of sight.
He eventually takes every girl he dates to a field just outside the city. They toss a blanket on the ground and lie on their backs and watch the stars. Some of the girls believe he has other plans in mind; they go home disappointed. So does he. Others huff in boredom, or feel the need to fill the empty space with noise. He is content to lie there under the sky with the Earth at his back and the universe pressing down on him.
The first girl who can do the same is the one for him. Rachel releases a contented sigh as they lie shoulder to shoulder, hands clasped, on the blanket his adopted mother knitted for him. He smiles, and feels a small piece of his star-ward self fall solidly back into place.
It had been like sleepwalking. She had gone through the motions of life on autopilot, wishing for something that would make it all worthwhile. There had been something missing, and nothing the Academy offered or promised could fill that void.
Then Major Carter – that hero and rival and specter over all of her Academy days – had looked at her, head tilted in a knowing way, and walked her to the other side of the galaxy with a few steps. Suddenly the universe had unfolded before her like an equation, vast and marvelous, and she should have been terrified but all she could feel was a weight lifting from her shoulders.
She feels like she can breathe again. There will be trials still to come, she knows: Major Carter's legacy to live up to, the burden of what will be expected of her, a prestigious job with a very steep learning curve. She will have to fight for every mission, every promotion, every ounce of respect. But within these concrete walls, she doesn't think it will be so hard a battle. She looks forward to the challenge.
And right now, that small tether of tomorrow is the only thing holding her to the ground.
The universe had beckoned to him from the day he was born. Of course, the universe had started out much smaller in scope than he discovered it to be. Kelowna is not alone; the stars are teeming with life, with stories, with knowledge. He didn’t make his decision to go to Earth based on that fact, but the possibility of it is a steady whisper in the back of his mind.
Earth is not home. It never will be. He knows this by instinct as he knows many things by memory. No matter how comfortable he becomes here, it will never be home. He doesn't know if he will ever make it back to Kelowna, but that doesn't matter in the end. That isn't home anymore, either.
Kelowna is like a school he left years ago. The halls are familiar, the faces vague shadows in his memory, but he no longer belongs there. Time and experience have opened a void between them, and there will never be a way back across the divide.
He can never go home again. He has traveled too far in every way a man can travel. Now he belongs to the stars.