- In road transport: an intersection is a place where two roads meet.
- In mathematics (in particular, set theory): the set of elements common to some collection of sets.
- In aviation: a virtual navigational fix.
The fourth act of Ripples in the Space Between. Each chapter is a self-contained story about characters from that series, dealing with various facets of interaction with Earth.
When James Parrish decided that he wanted to spend his grad school time working in the field of Ancient History, his parents had frowned. When he said he wanted to study at the British School at Athens because it had better opportunities for field work, the frowns had gotten stronger. Both of his parents had been SGC veterans before they became 'Lantean; his patra had been military, and his dad a scientist. Neither was particularly fond of archeology or the associated fields; they felt he should go into something with more practical applications. After all, most of the 'archeology' in Atlantis was done by the hard science teams. Never mind that he'd be halfway around the world from the nearest Stargate should anything come up. They hadn't said 'no' (James hadn't lost an argument since he was three, at least not one of any importance), but they had spent two weeks vetting the school and living arrangements before saying yes.
Once he had gained parental approval, James had no problems getting into the school. One of the newer 'Lanteans had written him a letter of recommendation, expounding on his skill with language and interest in the field. In addition, there had been the donation to St. John's College at Oxford in the name of Peter Grodin, who had died in the first year of the expedition. The condition for the fellowship and endowment was that the school would make whatever arrangements were necessary for him to matriculate in absentia so long as he completed all relevant coursework.
The coursework was not a concern from anyone's perspective. James had been acting as interpreter and de facto storyteller for the 'Lanteans since he was fourteen. He was used to writing up post-mission reports on a regular basis. He loved exchanging stories and legends with the village elder of the week, sorting through the stories for hints about Ancient technology. He'd always enjoyed being social, his patra still teased him about being a babbler as a child. That was an unexpected rub he encountered after beginning at the school. Because while village elders were cool? The other students at the British School...Not so much. There were a number of reasons for that. Age was something that James couldn't ignore; he was at least three years younger than anyone else attending the school, even the undergraduates. Then there was his topic of study; studying the origins of the myth of Atlantis branded him a crackpot within the first two days. He learned not to mention the specifics after the first few incidents, but the damage was done.
As an unexpected advantage to his early designation of 'class crackpot', James found himself left alone in the library for almost three weeks before someone asked to share his table. When James looked up to ask if the man really wanted to sit with a nutcase (The jokes were getting really old), he realized that his was the only table with any free space. Apparently the rain had driven the school's population into the libraries. James waved expansively at the remaining space.
"If you don't mind sitting with someone who mutters, you're more than welcome to it." That had been another thing that gained him strange looks; muttering to himself in Czech as he translated because it avoided strange looks over subject matter. It was a no-win situation.
The stranger laughed. "Not at all, I do a fair bit myself." He extended his hand. "I'm Professor Jackson."
James shook the offered hand and cocked his head in thought. "I'm sorry, I don't place the name."
Dr. Jackson settled across from James, spreading out his own stack of books. "Oh, I'm not technically on faculty here. I'm on sabbatical from St. Andrews, doing some research. What are you studying?"
James nodded. "Fair enough. I'm, uh, studying myth propagation."
Dr. Jackson's eyebrows shot up. "Really? Which myths? I'm tracing a few at the moment in addition to my other work. Mostly Egyptian, but I dabble across the board."
James slid his tablet away and focused more closely on the professor. "I'm more of a more Hellenistic persuasion myself, but I'd be very interested in what you have to say about..."
- - -
Three hours later James glanced at his watch and winced. "Professor, I'm sorry to leave, but the mess closes in twenty minutes and I skipped lunch."
Dr. Jackson grinned and made shooing motions. "Not at all. It was a pleasure meeting you."
James nodded to him and packed up his tablet and books before heading out the door.
- - -
Two days later, his Greek Culture Through the Filter professor asked him to stay after class. James carefully restrained the curiosity this inspired. It was the first time Professor Davidson had shown an interest in him, although the disinterest was possibly a side-effect of being the class pariah. Back home, when you got singled out it meant you were suspected as the culprit for something (They were usually right, too. General Sheppard had an uncanny ability to correctly assign blame). He had the feeling it meant the same thing here. James packed up and approached the professor cautiously. "Yes, Sir?"
"James, it was mentioned to me that you've been talking with Professor Jackson."
James blinked; news traveled almost as fast here as it did at home. "Uh, yes. Sir."
Professor Davidson waved his hand. "Don't sir me, boy. Makes me feel old. However, I feel I should warn you that he's not the sort of resource you're going to need for your thesis."
James narrowed his eyes. "I'm sorry?"
The professor sighed. "Professor Jackson has a bit of a reputation for having some...unusual ideas. I only say this because what you do now can affect things in the future."
James nodded slowly. "Thank you, Professor. I'll keep that in mind." He tossed his pack over his shoulder and headed for the library, needing to think the recommendation through.
As he walked, James thought about what Professor Davidson had said; he finally concluded that he had too little information to judge accurately. Having too little information meant ending up in pain more often than not, so this needed to be rectified before a final decision was reached. After all, James knew from personal experience that sometimes the strangest theories were the right ones.
- - -
James ran into Professor Jackson in the library again that evening, and decided to simply take the Wraith by the hair. He settled his books and tablet on the table, then dropped his bag on the floor. "Good evening, Professor Jackson. I had a rather interesting conversation with Professor Davidson this afternoon. I thought I'd ask for your side of it."
Professor Jackson took off his glasses and wiped at the lenses with a handkerchief. "My side of what, exactly?"
James shifted uncomfortably under the professor's gaze. Finally, he elected to take a seat before continuing. "Professor Davidson said that you're known for being unreliable, following strange theories. Is that true?"
Professor Jackson sighed and set down his glasses. "Yes and no. You're what, eighteen?" James nodded. "You're even younger than I was, then." The professor stared off into space for a moment. "I was sixteen when I went into college; the orphan of two archeologists. The academic world was my life, my connection to them. I worked hard, got my doctorate, then got another. I started seeing things that didn't make sense in some of the research I was doing. I made the mistake of thinking my peers cared. I put forth a theory that the pyramids were older than commonly accepted. I was promptly laughed out of academia. I didn't come back for ten years."
James frowned. "I thought the pyramids were ten thousand years old; how old did you think they were?"
Professor Jackson's face underwent a strange sequence of emotions, too quick for James to follow. "Where did you hear that?"
James shrugged, wary. "Maybe I got it wrong. We didn't study much Egyptian history where I grew up."
The professor shook his head. "No, no... It's just that my original theories indicated that the pyramids were closer to ten thousand years old than five. It got me labeled a crackpot. I wasn't aware that anyone else had put it forth."
James bit back a flinch. "Like I said, Professor. I probably just mis-remember my class or something. I'm sorry I got your hopes up."
Professor Jackson studied James for a moment before shaking his head. "No, I'm sorry for jumping to conclusions." He brought a hand up and massaged his temples. "I've been told it's a failing. If you're willing to brave the school gossip to join me, then I think you can call me Daniel."
- - -
From there, things followed their natural inclination. The two campus crackpots began spending more time together, discussing everything from Egyptology to General Linguistic Theory. James was thrilled to have someone who took him seriously; Daniel was simply delighted to have someone who didn't judge him on the basis of a thirty-year-old journal article (even if it had been correct). The two would meet several evenings a week in the main library, sometimes going out for dinner at a small cafe or the cafeteria. Every time James called it the 'mess', Daniel found himself looking, subconsciously expecting Jack or Sam to appear in the crowd or come walking around the corner. Even twenty years later, old habits were hard to break.
Daniel found himself reminded of the past a lot around James; not that it was James' fault, not exactly. James just had certain habits that reminded Daniel all too clearly of his days working with the military. He asked the boy about his family, wondering if it was a side effect of a growing up with a parent in the service, but James had been very quiet on the subject. All that Daniel had managed to gather in four months of slowly growing friendship was that James had a younger brother and his father was a botanist. It wasn't much to go on. It also didn't explain the boy's odd habits. Taken individually they could easily be explained; it was as a group that they made Daniel jumpy. He'd spent too many years at SGC to ignore things that set him off, but he didn't know what this meant. He'd been out of it too long for NID or Trust to have any interest in him.
All of this left Daniel with quite a number of conflicting and concerning thoughts which kept resurfacing at odd times. It was only exacerbated by their shift to the fieldwork portion of the program. Through coincidence, Daniel had ended up supervising the dig that James was assigned to; a colleague had come down sick and begged Daniel to take it over at the last minute. Daniel had agreed; it wasn't like his own project was going anywhere fast.
Out in the field, Daniel saw a lot more of James. The more he saw, the more Daniel became convinced that James had some sort of military background. It was the little things; James ran religiously, used military time (Not only in his written work, which could have been a side-effect of British schooling, but in his speech as well), and Daniel had encountered him on several different occasions running the standard quarter-staff drills that everyone learned in basic training at the SGC (even the scientists). When Daniel had enquired, James had brushed him off with a comment about studying martial arts as a child.
Then there were the things that didn't fit with any explanation Daniel could rationalize. James was highly skilled in languages, not unlike Daniel himself. It was the languages themselves that were unusual. When James cursed, for example, he cursed in Czech. Well, he had until Daniel corrected his grammar; at that point the poor boy turned bright red and changed his language of choice to first Mandarin, and later something Daniel couldn't place. It was a Romance derivative; oddly familiar but something Daniel was pretty sure he'd never spoken before. Recognition teased at the edges of Daniel's mind, but it refused to settle. After a few weeks he just gave up for the time being; the few fragments he'd overheard was just too little to make sense of, and he had too much on his schedule to worry about it. There was also the strange writing system James took his notes in; when Daniel had asked James had responded that it was a writing system they'd created in the nursery. It seemed rather complex for a bunch of four year olds, but then James was rather unusual in his abilities so it wasn't beyond the realm of possibility.
Meanwhile, the dig progressed smoothly. Their first truly significant find occurred a month in; they had managed to excavate a nearly complete foundation for a substantial farmhouse dating to roughly 500 B.C.E. and were uncovering the first contemporary artifacts. Daniel had just settled in to start excavating a remarkably intact piece of pottery when an argument arose. Daniel looked over and saw James and one of the local workers arguing over something small and white in heated and rather profane Greek. Daniel gave a last, longing look at the black vase he had been uncovering, and walked over to see what the problem was.
James was holding the object of contention and glaring at the workman. "It's obvious it's not related to the site. There is no reason why it needs to stay here. May the Ancestors curse your spirit, that it never leaves this plain if you defy me."
Daniel choked at the curse, the synonym for 'ascension' triggering memories of research he hadn't even thought about in years. It was Ancient, or some derivative, there was no mistaking it. He'd spent a year ascended, one tended to pick up the various ways of referring to it. He struggled to recall the language that had once come as naturally as breathing, lost these many years. "What did you say?"
James paled alarmingly, but recovered almost as fast. He responded in Greek. "I'm sorry?"
Daniel tried again. "What did you just say to him?"
James looked seriously confused, and again replied in Greek. "I'm sorry, I don't understand you. It was just a minor disagreement, nothing important."
Daniel gave up, filing it under reasons to start sleeping more regularly on digs. He extended a hand towards James expectantly. "May I see it?"
For a moment, he thought James would refuse, but then the item in question was grudgingly relinquished. Daniel almost dropped it in surprise, because it was definitely Ancient technology.
"Professor? It's obviously not contemporary with the rest of the site. I don't see why it would be a problem for me to retain possession of it; something to play with in my spare time, you might say."
Daniel had a flashback to a very kind, very reluctant Scottish doctor who had almost killed him by sitting in a chair in Antarctica twenty years earlier. "No, no. First off, this means I'm going to need to do a check of the entire site for modern contamination. Second, you do not remove items from a dig. Full stop. Now, I am going to put this in the cataloging pile. And then I am going to begin the six hours of work you just added into my day. I would appreciate it if you would not mention this to the rest of the students until I've checked everything out, and bring me any similar artifacts you might find."
James pouted, and for a moment looked his eighteen years; then with a sigh he straightened his back and seemed to age ten years in the process. He set off across the site with a purposeful stride, and that was the end of it.
- - -
As the dig came to a close more Ancient artifacts were discovered. Daniel never again brought up the contamination issue; James seemed to have an uncanny knack for finding the devices, and he didn't question their legitimacy again either. They also left the site with a detailed layout of the farmhouse and surrounding associated buildings. Through force of personality Daniel had managed to ensure that no one questioned the Ancient artifacts at all, keeping them out of sight and out of mind.
After they had arrived in the city, Daniel put in a call to Jack. He needed someone he trusted to turn on the new devices, and he wanted to see if he could dig up some background on James Parrish. There was just something about the boy that didn't make sense. Jack had sounded interested and promised to get back to Daniel once he had a chance to talk to his friends who were still active in the service.
Daniel had been expecting a phone call; what he got was Jack O'Neill sprawled behind the desk in his commandeered office at the British School three days later. They were still sorting out the items and records for post-processing of the site, and James had been helping Daniel haul boxes of paper and non-fragile artifacts to his office and the labs, respectively. After one glance at the look on Jack's face Daniel dismissed James for the day; James left without question despite his obvious curiosity. Daniel started unloading the box of papers. "So, Jack. I was expecting a phone call. Why the special treatment?"
Jack grinned, to all outward appearances completely relaxed. Daniel wasn't fooled. "What, I can't stop in and visit an old buddy on a social call?"
Daniel sighed and set down his papers, taking one of the two unoccupied chairs. "Jack, with you it's never just a social call. I thought you were going to give me time to process the results from the site first."
Jack shifted in his chair and played with the top file on the desk. "Let's just say that I thought it prudent to visit sooner rather than later."
Daniel's brow furrowed. "Is this about the kid I asked you to check out?"
Jack inclined his head. "Now, whatever gave you that idea?"
Daniel shot Jack an exasperated look. "Right. Of course. Listen, let me finish getting this stuff up here from the store-room and we can get some take-away and talk about nothing in my apartment. Does that sound better?"
Jack grinned and stood up. "You read my mind. I haven't eaten in something like twelve hours. They have good steak out here?"
Daniel tried very hard not to roll his eyes. "Carry first, then we'll see about feeding you."
Jack affected an abused air, but dutifully followed Daniel down the stairs.
- - -
Four hours later the two older men were settled in the living room of Daniel's small flat, looking over every official record that Jack had been able to find on one James Parrish. Daniel was frowning at the file in his hands.
"Jack, is this everything?"
Jack nodded. "Yup. What you see is what you get. I haven't seen a file this clean since Cassie's. You understand why I was worried?"
Daniel read aloud. "Date of birth. Place of birth." Daniel looked up. "Jack, is there a Springfield, Wyoming?"
Jack shook his head. "Nope. Looked it up, just to check. Does not exist according to the good old United States Postal Service."
Daniel nodded slowly and returned to reading. "Home-schooled through high school, a BA from UMass completed by correspondence at age 17, and enough test scores to choke a horse. At least those aren't faked."
At Jack's inquisitive look Daniel explained. "The kid's incredible with languages. I've heard him muttering in Czech and Mandarin, and I've heard him curse in over a dozen. Huh."
Jack had given up on the files and picked up one of the Ancient devices Daniel had brought home. He began poking at it in earnest once it lit up. "What does 'huh' mean?"
"His Letter of Recommendation was written by Dr. Adrian Smith-Jones-"
"And?" Jack was now focusing intently on the device in his hands.
"I know that name." Daniel bit his lip in thought. "I'm sure I know that name. He was... I think he might have been on my list of 'maybes' for the next time I got the budget to hire at SGC. Smart kid, good thinker. He vanished off the face of the Earth about six months after SGC shut down."
Daniel glared at him and went back to the file, hoping to force it to reveal something by sheer will. After several minutes of the beeping that accompanied Jack's button pushing, Daniel finally put down the file and glared at the source of the noise. "Jack, doesn't that thing have a mute?"
The beeping abruptly ceased.
"Thank you." Daniel resumed reading.
Jack looked up. "Actually, that wasn't me. I, uh, I think I lost."
Daniel set the file back down with a sigh. "Would you care to explain that statement?"
In response Jack tossed Daniel the device; Daniel shifted to get a better look and frowned at the display. "Um, Jack?"
"Is this Tetris?"
"Yeah, that's my best guess. Why?" Jack sat up a bit at his end of the couch.
"I bring you out here to turn on incredible, priceless, potentially powerful Ancient artifacts, and you find Tetris??" Jack shrugged in response. Daniel peered at the device again. "You know, unless my Ancient is a lot worse than I think it is, this just started scrolling a list of high scores and... Huh."
"Huh? What does that mean this time?"
"Give me a sec." Daniel tapped at the device for a minute. "Jack? I think we need to have a talk with James." Jack gestured for him to go on. "The name entered for the three highest scores on here? Is JamesLP. The Ancients didn't use names like James; it's a derivation from the Hebrew for Jacob. They worked in the Romance sets."
"Daniel, need to know. I didn't. So your little protegé has been playing Ancient Tetris. That is actually more concerning than you'd think." Jack sat up a bit straighter so he could get a good look at Daniel while he talked. "I didn't mention it earlier because I didn't want to spoil the evening, but rumor has it there's a group that's started up recently that's big on Ancient Tech. There have been a few thefts, two people have been killed. I wanted to warn you in person when you said that you'd found a new site."
"I appreciate that, Jack. Really I do. But you already know I'm not going to stop the project."
"I know. I wouldn't ask you to, it's been too long since you were really interested in something. But you having a new kid on the block with the ATA and a blank file is just a little too convenient."
Daniel nodded and rose to get a fresh cup of coffee. "Actually, I'm pretty sure he's had combat training. We got mugged-"
Jack straightened up, making a vain attempt at intimidation from his position on the couch. "You got what? Why didn't you say anything?"
Daniel shrugged. "Nothing happened. They only had a knife. Nothing I couldn't handle. No one got seriously hurt."
Jack glared. "I don't call getting mugged at knife-point nothing."
"As I was saying, we got mugged and he doesn't even blink. Instead he makes the universal holster movement." Daniel demonstrated reaching for a sidearm. "He seemed really surprised nothing was there. Things ended up with a fist fight. Kid fights well, but not standard basic training. Did you pull his father's file? I'd been figuring he was raised on a military base or something."
Jack shook his head. "His dad was a botanist. Dr. David Parrish. Worked for Area 51 for a while, nothing after that. Nothing in the files on his mom."
Daniel shrugged and set down his coffee before taking off his glasses and rubbing at his eyes. This was followed by a rather impressive yawn and a round of blinking. "Wow. Right, since I'm on my feet, I'm going to wander that way and fall into bed." He waved vaguely to Jack. "We'll continue this in the morning. I don't have anything on my schedule until lunch with James. We can do the interrogation thing then," he yawned again, "after we sleep." Daniel made his way down the hall and vanished from sight.
Jack settled in again with 'Tetris'. If a grad student could beat the High Score, it was totally something a retired general could do.
The next morning they walked down the street to a café for coffee and pastries. Upon returning to the flat there was a message on Daniel's machine. It was James, calling to cancel lunch because something had come up at the last minute.
The message surprised Daniel. "He's never broken plans before, I wonder what came up?"
"Awful convenient timing, isn't it?"
"I can't believe it has anything to do with the dig, Jack. He's probably got the flu or something."
Jack draped an arm over the back of the couch. "What do you say we find out? Swing by his place before you show me around."
"Show you around?"
"Well yeah. You drag me out here to play with your toys, you're not going to entertain me?"
Daniel sighed. "Fine. Whatever. I'll play tour-guide. But tomorrow you're spending the day turning things on."
Jack leered at Daniel. "Yeah, sure. You betcha. Let's go stop by the kid's dorm room and get on with our day. This stuff can wait until tomorrow."
"The students live in the hostel, actually..." Daniel led the way to the hostel, grumbling all the way. James wasn't in, but his roommate told them James had said something about his brother coming into town.
Daniel had blinked, and allowed Jack to take over interrogating the student for details. They established that James had taken his brother out for lunch at one of the cafés off Palencia. With thanks and a smile Daniel led Jack in the indicated direction. "His father was listed as a botanist, so I guess it makes sense that they'd check out the gardens. If you want more proof that he hasn't skipped town I'm sure we can swing by there on our own tour."
Jack nodded. "Danny boy, I think you just read my mind."
Daniel glared at him. "Jack, I'm sixty. 'Danny boy' fits worse now than it did twenty years ago, and that's saying something."
"It's all a matter of perspective, Danny. All a matter of perspective."
- - -
On their wanderings that afternoon, Jack and Daniel did indeed see James at the café on Palencia. He was, as they had been advised, in the company of a young man who shared more than a passing familial resemblance. Satisfied that all was in order, the two headed for the more famous landmarks and left the boys to their day.
- - -
The next afternoon found Jack sprawled in one of the guest chairs in Daniel's temporary office, muttering under his breath about slave labor and holding each of the Ancient devices in turn and thinking "On" at them. Only half of them worked at all, and those that did apparently weren't terribly exciting. Nothing to compare to the 'Tetris' device that Jack was eyeing with longing (because really, he was dying here). He was interrupted from his thoughts of entertainment by a knock at the door. Daniel got up and answered. His face took on a pleasantly surprised look as he took in the two boys on the other side. "James! What are you doing here today? I thought you were off showing your brother the sights."
James looked sheepish. "I'm sorry about yesterday, Professor Jackson. Michael only called me the night before to let me know he was coming down to visit, or I would have canceled earlier. I promised to introduce him to my favorite teacher, so here we are."
Daniel shot a glare at Jack, knowing exactly which smirk would be in place upon the man's face before he had even turned. Daniel turned back to the boys and extended his hand to the younger one. "Michael? I'm very pleased to meet you. Are you interested in mythology as well?"
Michael made a face. "Nah. Dead stuff is boring. Even when it's not really dead, it's only useful once someone else turns it on, so what's the point? People like you guys are better at that stuff. Me? I want to go into the military." The boy glanced around the office and settled his gaze on a model on one of the bookshelves. Shifting focus completely he crossed the room and stared the tiny plane. "James! Look, this is one of the ones Patra used to fly, right?"
Daniel choked on the coffee he'd been trying to take a sip of and James, who had been crossing the room to see the object of Michael's fascination anyway, smacked his brother on the side of the head. "You speak English with strangers; I know Mary taught you manners."
The boy looked confused and ready to argue, but backed down. Daniel was vainly attempting to deal with his coffee and stare at the boys at the same time. "James, why don't you sit down. We need to talk." Daniel glanced at Michael, who looked concerned. "In private."
James looked very pale, but nodded. He turned and spoke to Michael quietly for a minute. The boy nodded and walked up to Daniel. "It was good to meet you, Professor." He bowed formally, then walked out the door.
James took the last remaining chair and slid down into it in a good imitation of Jack's pose. There was something wary lurking in his eyes, but he looked otherwise relaxed.
Daniel moved to lean against his desk. "Jack here is an old friend of mine; he came down at my request after we found those unusual artifacts at the dig site. He has shared some rather disturbing information with me. We need some answers, James. Let's start with the truth about where you came from and how old you are, since your official records aren't worth the paper they're printed on. But then you knew that already, didn't you?."
James winced, but didn't change his relaxed posture. "It's not what you're thinking. At least I don't think it is. Listen, there are things I'm not supposed to tell you. To tell anyone. If I'm going to tell you anything, I need to know you won't repeat it. It could cause a lot of trouble. Not to mention my dad is going to kill me when he finds out."
Jack shifted to a more formal seated posture. "Listen, kid. We have bigger things to deal with than getting you grounded. Why don't you tell us what you know, and we can go from there. Daniel and I have plenty of experience keeping secrets." He glanced meaningfully at his friend. "Why don't you let us decide what needs to be passed on."
James looked skeptical but nodded, reassured by the man's approach. "Listen, do you know Babylon 5?" James was met with two blank stares. He sighed. "Right. Of course not. Only people who grew up in the science labs know Babylon 5. Stupid question." He took a deep breath, marshaling his thoughts. "Let's try this again, but I want it understood we're talking about hypotheticals here." He waited until the two men nodded. "There are a number of reasons my files might look like that. One possibility is that I grew up in a research lab. Not a nice, normal research lab, one run by the military. If I spent most of my life in a place that doesn't exist, then I would have to have been home-schooled, right? And building from that, it would make sense that I might attend college through the military's exchange program with UMass. But if this were the case, then anyone raised there would receive training before going to grad school. Have you ever worked with the military, professor?"
Daniel nodded cautiously. "I consulted a bit."
James nodded thoughtfully. "Then you might have an idea of how strongly the phrase "Tell No One" would be emphasized for children returning from a hypothetical military research base somewhere like the South Pacific?"
Jack and Daniel exchanged a glance that contained an entire conversation. Jack was the one to speak. "Don't you just love those hypotheticals. Wonderful things. So your Dad's some kind of classified research botanist. That explains more than you'd think. However, we still have some other questions for you. You see, Daniel here tells me that you were told not to disturb the 'unusual' artifacts that you discovered. Yet we know that you did. Tell us why."
James chewed his lip for a moment before answering. "This is going to sound really strange, but I don't know any other way to describe it. It, uh, called to me. The first one I found lit up when I picked it up, but then it turned off. I wanted to see if I could make it light up again, so I 'borrowed' it from the storage tent." He looked defensive and put on his best 'I swear I didn't overload that console, General Sheppard' face. "I didn't do any damage to it, and I put it back!"
Jack took a deep breath and counted to ten. Daniel saved him the effort of sticking his foot in his mouth. "No, you didn't damage it. We're not angry about that. Well, I'm not pleased you removed something from the site without permission, but that's not our concern at the moment. Thank you for being honest. Do you know how you turned it on?"
James prayed that he looked clueless and not ridiculous. "Um, no? It just sort of worked when I picked it up. It looked like Tetris, so I tried a few games."
Daniel smiled reassuringly. "That's all right, it was a shot in the dark. Would you mind looking at a few other similar artifacts for me?"
James nodded. "Sure, I'd love to. Listen, I have to go and get Michael before he burns down the building. Can we talk more about this next Tuesday night? 1900?"
Jack blinked at the usage of military time, but Daniel was already nodding and gesturing to the door. James was gone before Jack had a chance to say anything. "Huh. Strange kid. Get the feeling that wasn't the whole truth?"
Daniel made a face. "Is it ever the whole truth with teenagers? He seemed honest enough about the Ancient tech, at least."
Jack shrugged. "Something familiar about him, though. I'll put in a call to Sam, see if she can at least confirm whether he grew up in a classified location. I've been out of it long enough it's possible we've got something in the South Pacific I don't know about. If he's legit, I'll leave you to watch your own back."
- - -
The call to Sam confirmed the boy's story, so Daniel let things drop. Two months later news came down the grapevine from Jack that an 'eccentric collector' had been arrested for illegally procuring archeological treasures. The US military had beaten Interpol to the man's house, so the artifacts in question were "missing, presumed lost". Daniel had let out a sigh of relief; he was getting far too old to be playing Indiana Jones any more.
James spent his last month and a half at the school buried so deeply amongst the bookshelves that Daniel wondered if the boy was even leaving the library to sleep. The work paid off, at least. A week before he was scheduled to defend his thesis, James appeared in Daniel's doorway with a stack of paper in hand.
"Professor? I was wondering if you'd like to look this over. It's my finished thesis, I defend on Monday and then I'm gone. It's done, but I wanted an outside opinion and I thought you might like to read it. I know we never really discussed my topic, so I'll understand if it's too far outside your area of expertise or you don't have time, but..."
Daniel cut him off by taking the paper out of his hands. "Nonsense. I'll be glad to look it over." Daniel glanced at the title page 'Atlantis, Origins of a Myth' and shot James a curious look.
James blushed. "I told you they thought I was a crackpot. I traced the myth back as far as was possible with current resources. It went back further than I thought."
Daniel coughed at that, knowing exactly how far back the myth actually went. "I'll look it over tonight. You're defending on Monday? I'll make sure to be there."
James smiled shyly. "I appreciate it. My parents are getting in the day after the defense due to some work-related scheduling problems. I'd... I'd like them to meet you, if you don't mind."
"Of course, of course. Feel free to stop by my office with them whenever is convenient, I'll try to make myself available."
"That sounds brilliant, Professor. Please, let me know what you think of the thesis. I have to run; I have my last official advising session with Dr. Sherratt."
Daniel made shooing motions. "Go on, wouldn't want you late on account of me."
James went tearing off and Daniel sighed, wondering if he'd ever been that young.
- - -
Everything seemed to come together far too quickly for Daniel's liking. He had enjoyed the boy's company immensely, relishing the chance to talk to someone who didn't take everything he said with a giant helping of skepticism; he would miss James. His own project was almost finished as well, marking the end of his time at the British School. He would only be remaining a week past the end of term before heading back to St. Andrews. It would be back to lecture preparations and "Introduction to Hellenistic Culture." James would be heading home for some time with his family, since the boy had managed to convince St. John's College to confer a degree without on-campus attendance. Apparently his 'hypothetical South Pacific Research Base' took good care of their children, if the endowment from PegCorp, LLC was any indication of what they were willing to do to smooth the way. James said it was for a dead colleague; Daniel made a mental note to look into it when he got back to St. Andrews and see if he recognized the name.
It had been nice to have someone who treated him as something other than a pariah, even if James was charting a similar course for his own future if he stayed in the field of ancient mythology. It had been a brilliantly written thesis, but it was too fringe for a successful academic career. Daniel acknowledged to himself that even he would have dissuaded the boy from the topic had he been aware; he could understand why Professor Davidson had warned the boy off all those months ago. The archeolinguistic community had a perfect memory when it came to unacceptable theories; James was running a serious risk with his topic.
All of those concerns were in addition to the eerie accuracy of the paper. The SGC was going to take one look at the document and raise some high ranking eyebrows. James had managed, through an ungodly amount of research, to make a valid attempt at unearthing the true origins of the myth. He'd gotten as close as anyone unaware of the Ancients could come. Which brought another thought to mind; on more than one occasion Daniel could swear that he'd heard James speaking in Ancient. There were no modern derivatives of Latin that sounded at all similar.
When Daniel had asked about the language, James had brushed him off. Even when Daniel had pushed, all he got as a reluctant answer was that it was a language from childhood, made up from bits and pieces of Latin. Daniel didn't believe it for a moment, but also couldn't figure out how it related to growing up on an isolated military base.
Jack had flown out for the local end of the year festivities; he'd liked what he'd seen of James and was thinking about recommending him to Sam for the next batch of squishy scientists. It also gave him an excuse to take a week off in the sun, so he'd needed little encouragement. He'd attended James' defense with Daniel under duress, leaving afterwards with a raised eyebrow and some serious confirmation that the kid would fit right in at SGC. He was definitely crazy enough. They'd taken the boy out that evening for a celebratory dinner, and Jack was struck by how familiar he looked. In the evening as they escorted the boy back to the hostel the low light levels made his hair and eyes look darker, and it niggled at the back of Jack's mind. The kid looked like someone. Jack still hadn't figured out who by the time they had the kid home, so he let it go; it was probably someone he'd known in black ops.
- - -
Daniel heard James long before the knock on his door. The boy was explaining something about the dig they'd been on, and his exuberance preceded him down the hallway. Jack, who had settled in with the reclaimed 'Tetris' device, glanced over at Daniel and smirked. James rounded the door and entered the office with a cursory knock on the doorframe.
"Professor Jackson? These are my parents. Dr. David Parrish and-"
"Nick Lorne!" Jack had jumped out of his seat, ignoring his protesting knees in the shock of the moment. Daniel and James both looked confused. Meanwhile, Nick had snapped to attention so fast it looked painful.
"General O'Neill. Sir."
James looked between the two men in confusion, finally settling on his father. "Patra? What's going on?"
Jack waived off the salute and Lorne took a deep breath. "James, do you remember the stories about General O'Neill the marines used to tell?"
James nodded and his eyes widened as he put two and two together. "You're... " He shot a look at his 'patra' and turned to the General. "You're a legend. I mean, you're supposed to have The Gene as strong as General Sheppard. You met the Asgard. Wow."
Daniel frowned at Jack. "OK, Jack. Your turn. No offense, Mr. Lorne, Dr. Parrish, but who are you. Aside from obviously involved with the SGC."
Jack reached over and shut the door behind Michael, who was staring around with impossibly wide eyes. "Daniel, this is Major Nick Lorne, USAF. He was listed MIA, presumed KIA, almost twenty years ago. Along with his entire base."
Daniel nodded slowly. "And that would be?"
Dr. Parrish spoke up at this point, and Daniel noticed that the doctor kept a physical grip on Lorne while he spoke. Intelligence and wariness lurked in his bright eyes. "Atlantis, Dr. Jackson. Atlantis."
~ Finis ~
Cover Art for this story available here, courtesy of Wychwood.
Author's Note: This would not be nearly the story it is without the help of Wychwood, who is not only a stellar beta but also a student of archeology herself.
Summary: A series of Vignettes, set in the Ripples Universe between 2012 and 2035 looking at various aspects of the relationship between Earth and Atlantis.