Nothing Gold

by Rebecca Ratliff

EMAIL: rmratliff

DATE: May 2003

ARCHIVE: If I haven't submitted to your archive, please ask. (I'll say yes, I just like to know where it is.)



SPOILERS: Without having read at least Sirikat and Shadows on the Moon, there will be many references in this story that will be unfamiliar.

SEASON/SEQUEL INFO: Between season 6 and 7. Series sequence: Abyss Novelization, Sirikat, Fields of Gold, A Nice Quiet Week in the Country, Brothers in Arms, Shadows on the Moon, Parada, Light Duty, Snowbound, Planet of the Damned, Nothing Gold. Email the author for locations of stories in this series.

SUMMARY: Sirikat goes home to Daltregon.

DISCLAIMER: All Stargate SG-1 characters are the property of Stargate SG-1 Productions (II) Inc., MGM Worldwide Television Productions Inc., Double Secret Productions, Gekko Film Corp and Showtime Networks Inc. Robert Frost's poetry belongs to the ages, but certainly not to me. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. Anybody that you don't recognize is probably mine, so if you borrow them please send me an email to let me know where they are and have them home by midnight. :)

FEEDBACK: Much appreciated.

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

-Robert Frost

Sirikat unpacked the clothes she had brought with her from Daltregon and laid them out on the bed. She already knew her boots were too small. She had new ones, good sturdy ones that wouldn't give her blisters in the field. Her leggings were floods. She hadn't realized it in the jeans and BDUs that she normally lived in, but she'd grown an inch and a half in the few short months that she'd been here. She couldn't help smiling. The top of her head still barely reached Jack's shoulder! She would never be as tall as Sam.

Her old boots were too worn to give away, but the leggings were good soft leather and almost new. Rialla's sister might want them. She skinned back into her jeans and folded the leggings to take with her. Both of the embroidered tunic tops that she had brought with her still fit. Shaneska had made them big, and Sirikat was only now growing into them.

She took her sword, bow and quiver down from the wall. Except for her daily practice, the weapons had stayed there virtually all the time she'd lived here. People didn't normally carry swords or bows around Colorado Springs. But she had never let her skills fade. Given personal shields that could stop modern weaponry, things had gone full circle and these were practical weapons once again.

She looked through her other clothes. She kept the gray Air Force tee shirt that Jack had given her, and quickly sorted through the rest, choosing what she was taking with her and what she was leaving for the Goodwill bin.

She took the batteries out of her CD player and put it and her collection of CDs in the now-empty drawer in her dresser.

Jack knocked on the door as she was making up the bed. "Come in!"

"Getting packed?"

"I'm just about finished." She gave the bedspread one last tug and turned to her window; looking out over the back yard, remembering raking leaves and throwing snowballs and watching the spring flowers come up.

"So hard to leave here. I can't wait to go home-but this home too."

"Always," he promised. "You know where the extra key is. You never even have to ask."

"Come to me anytime, or call me and I will be with you anywhere," Sirikat vowed, eyes glittering with unshed tears.

"Got something for you." He took a small flat box out of his pocket. It was a knotted cord bracelet similar to the one he always wore, that Cassie Fraiser had given him.

She could feel the energy in it. "Jack, this charged. You knotted this. When did you learn to do this?"

"Cassie showed me." He found it hard to believe that what she did was really magic, or that he could do anything of the sort, but she believed and he respected that. He held up his hand. "Ah! If you tell me it's magic, I'll take your word for it. Cassie says so too. I don't know. I only know I've seen too much in this life to think anything's really impossible."

"Red for courage and strength, white for wisdom and purity, blue for honor and gold for eternity?" She named off her tradition's magical meanings of the patriotic colors.

She held out her wrist for him to tie the last knot. "The magic of this...Cassie taught you to make a good charm. But the power in it, that is the strength of your love for me. This will never leave my wrist, I swear it."

He held her tight. "Punkin, this place is going to be too quiet without you." He breathed in the scents of her candles and incense. At first he'd teased her about hippies hiding the smell of smoking pot in here. Now he hoped it would take the aroma a long time to fade.

As if reading his thoughts, Sirikat opened the wooden chest that had served her as an altar and storage for her religious things. Most of that was packed away to go with her, but she had left a few handmade candles and the small knife she always used to put them out. "I know you aren't religious, but if you light one of these sometimes and ask the All to look after me, it won't go too far astray."

"I can do that."

Sirikat took one last look around her room. "I guess I'm ready."

O'Neill put their bags in the back of the truck and opened the doors. She climbed up into the cab and cranked the window down and waved at the neighbor lady who fed stray cats. They went around the cul-de-sac and down the tree-lined street for one last look at the house, right at the light in front of the school, past the Seven-Eleven and the park and up the on-ramp. She held out her hand to catch the wind and to make O'Neill nag her to keep her hand inside the truck. There was a Ford dealership and the turn-off to the shopping mall. She remembered movies and giant cinnamon rolls and the video arcade. Then they were past the city limits and on their way to Cheyenne Mountain. Up the access road and past the gate guards whose names she had known for a long while now. She paused for one last look at the mountains and the bright blue sky, and with her heart in her throat and tears in her eyes, silently asked the spirits of this place to keep watch over all that she was leaving behind. Then she shouldered her bag and followed O'Neill inside.

The infirmary was crowded. It was rare that a unit as large as the US Army Rangers who would be serving as advisors deployed through the gate at once. Dr. Fraiser had called in all of her staff to help with the pre-gate physicals.

Sirikat rolled her sleeve down over the bandaid where the nurse had drawn blood.

Fraiser smiled over her charts. "You're fit as a fiddle, Sirikat. Keep it that way!"

"Yes, ma'am. I'll miss you. You and Cassie have been very kind. I won't forget your hospitality."

Fraiser gave her a quick hug. "Hurry back."

The SGC was a beehive as the military advisors prepared to deploy. Sirikat said her goodbyes in the control room. Sam and Jonas hugged her. Teal'c bowed deeply and said, "I hope soon to fight at your side, my lady."

She inclined her head. "You would do me great honor, Master Teal'c."

Hammond started to shake hands, then embraced her as if she were one of his own grandchildren. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a quartz crystal the size of a golf ball. "I found this the week before I shipped out for Viet Nam and it brought me luck through three tours of duty over there. I want you to have it now."

Sirikat said, "For this, and for everything else that you have done-I do not know how to begin to thank you. I will never forget."

"Neither will we." He let her go.

Siler nodded to her and she smiled a farewell, thinking of his patience with explaining how things worked to an alien girl who had never seen a television set before and didn't know how to make a telephone call.

At the last, she turned to Jack and stepped into his embrace. "How do I say goodbye to you?"

"You don't, Punkin. We never say goodbye. Do me proud and come back here in one piece, got that?"

She smiled through her unshed tears. "Yes, sir."

Somewhere on the trip down the stairs, Sirikat blinked away her tears, and a proud queen of Daltregon stepped out into the gateroom. The gate backwashed to life and the wormhole stabilized.

Major Griff reported through the MALP, "The gate is secure, sir."

Hammond spoke into the loudspeaker, "Rangers, you have a go."

The commanding officer of the Rangers unit snapped off a sharp salute then led his men up the ramp. Sirikat paused at the top of the ramp for a last formal bow, then she stepped into the rippling blue event horizon and she was gone.

Jack knew too well, he wouldn't see the child in her again. The next time they met, she would be someone different, a woman grown. Other parents did this, sent their sons and daughters off to boot camp as kids and welcomed them home as adults. He was the last to turn away from the window. He asked in a gruff voice, "Tell me somethin', T, does this stuff ever get any easier?"

Ry'ac was never far from Teal'c's thoughts. "It does not, O'Neill."

"Yeah, that's kinda what I thought you were gonna say." He straightened and said, "What are we standin' around here for? We've got a mission briefing at 1100h."

"Indeed." Teal'c stepped back to let him pass and followed him to SG-1's ready room.