Stained Glass



Daniel led them inside the cathedral, blinking as the noise of the street outside was reduced to a murmur, absorbed by the thick, cool stillness inside. He could imagine that stillness rolling out when the huge doors were opened, silencing the clamour and the rush of the world, pouring out, spilling out, inexorable and weighty.

"Are you unwell, Daniel Jackson?"

Teal'c's voice fit the cathedral perfectly, resonant, deep, carrying within it that same quality of ancient hushed strength.

"I'm fine. Just… these places always intimidate me."

Teal'c tilted his head back and began a slow, steady, sweeping appraisal of the interior, dark eyes searching dark places, his hands folded behind his back.

They'd be approached soon, very soon, by someone who wanted to show them around, urge them gently toward a collection box to repair the spire, refurbish the pews. Daniel wondered if a large enough donation would give them privacy. He wanted to have this all to himself.

Wanted to see Teal'c's face when he stood in front of the glorious riot of light, sensual and remote, as the setting sun shone through the stained glass window Daniel had once tried to sketch and failed.

Teal'c should have looked small here in this vast space, lofty arched ceiling stretching up to implore and beseech a god's attention. A god Teal'c didn't know and would not have trusted had he known.

An alien god.

Odd to think of capital-G God that way. Daniel let himself shape the outer limits of that thought and tucked it away to colour in the middle later. He wanted to concentrate on Teal'c.

"This cathedral was built in --" he began.

Teal'c was walking away from him, long legs taking him down the severe slash of the aisle toward the altar. Daniel hesitated, his hand almost rising to cross himself, then falling. He followed Teal'c slowly, wondering, watching.

Teal'c reached the altar rail and kept on going, prompting a visceral, panicked sound from Daniel.

Not allowed.

Forbidden.

Damn. He should have told Teal'c, should have spent some of the journey filling him in on the customary behaviour instead of digressing into techniques of masonry and the architecture of arches.

He quickened his pace but Teal'c had already reached the altar itself, resting his hands on the ornate cloth, his head bowed.

"Teal'c --" Daniel said, the word an anguished whisper, the carpet deadening the rapid fall of his footsteps. "You have to --"

Teal'c turned, slowly, carefully, and stared at Daniel across the space that divided them.

"You will take me home now, Daniel Jackson."

And Daniel, wincing, abject, nodded.

It had been cruel to bring Teal'c here, to a place saturated with belief, with faith, with spilled blood.

Teal'c already had an empty place in his life where a god had once lived.

He didn't need reminding that some were real in the only way that counted on Earth as well.



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