Mathématique: The Graveyard: Part 4

Nick, finally, arrives in totality.

Chapter warnings: Stressors of all kinds. Grief. Physical injuries. Mental health challenges.

Text iteration: Witchingest hour.

Additional notes: This one’s been in the works for years now.

The Graveyard: Part 4

On a living brane in the living cosmos, Daniel Jackson sits in the middle seat in the back of a rental car and watches the Scottish countryside blur by. He’s traveled the A9 before, decades ago and still in graduate school. He remembers Sarah Gardner driving, the wind and sun in her curls, talking about Osiris and Isis as though they lived nowhere but in the long memory of carved and colored stone.

“We really need a three-hour approach?” Everett growls from the passenger seat.

“Y’have somewhere else to be?” Nick asks, pouring the words like sweet ceremonial wine. He’s driving. Sunglasses on. His white-collared shirt catches the afternoon sun. At his cuffed sleeves, intricate Lantean embroidery, blue and silver, black and amber, makes and unmakes itself in stylized waves.

“No, but planning what the hell we’re gonna say when you get pulled over for speeding is ruining the drive.”

Nick smirks. “It’s all speed cameras these days; that said, I’ve flashed about six of them so far. But it’s difficult to track down a dead man for the FPN.”

Daniel leans forward. “How do you know you’re dead on this brane?”

“He’s dead most places,” Everett mutters. “What’s an FPN?”

“Fixed Penalty Notice,” Nick says.

“Speeding ticket,” Daniel translates. “How do you know you’re dead?” he asks again.

“In the whole of the living cosmos,” Nick says, “the chance of finding my wave function on a given brane approaches zero.”

“Yeah yeah, we’re all real impressed.” Everett glares out the window at a passing distillery, complete with tour busses and highland cows.

Nick smiles. The forest and sky blur in his mirrored shades.

“Which array are we in?” Daniel asks. 

“This one doesn’t have a name,” Everett says. “We only name arrays where Nick’s alive.”

Daniel raises his eyebrows. “So out of an infinite array of arrays, Nick’s alive in—how many?”

“Six and half,” Everett growls.

“Six and a half?” Nick scoffs. He glances back at Daniel. “It’s six: Beethoven, Berlioz, Bach, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin.”

“I heard there was a Mozart in the mix.” 

“Mozart’s array was thinned to a single brane,” Everett twists in the passenger’s seat to look back at Daniel. The motion causes a moment of cognitive dissonance as he moves in a way Daniel’s own Colonel Everett Young wouldn’t be able to manage with his injured back. “It’s rebranching, but this one’s considered dead.” He points a thumb in Nick’s direction.

“Considered dead?” Nick upshifts as the road narrows from two lanes to one and guns the accelerator. “‘Considered?’ I am bloody dead and I worked hard to get that way.”

“Your visibility is shit.” Everett growls. “You’re gonna hit something.”

Nick smiles, even and delighted. “No I won’t.”

Daniel frowns at the bright day and the open motorway ahead of them. “The road’s pretty clear.”

“That’s something I guess.” Everett puts a hand to his eyes. “Can we just walk the rest of the way?”

Nick glances in the rearview mirror, meeting Daniel’s eyes. “Ignore him,” he advises.

“I can’t take this,” Everett says.

“Shut your eyes,” Nick suggests. “We’re not fuckin’ walking. It’s another forty kilometers. At least.”

“I’m—missing something,” Daniel decides.

“He’s chance-blind,” Nick says. “Too much variability across the array.”

“Are you saying—” Daniel stops as competing theories collapse into one. He starts again. “Breakers see every infinite variation of this road?”

“Similar probabilistic functions blur together with their statistical nearest neighbors,” Nick replies, “so it’s less like looking at an infinity than it is a soft-focus representation of hundreds of ghostly overlays. It’s more manageable than it sounds, especially when y’weight your attention to whatever brane within the array you’ve decided is functioning as your base reality.”

“More manageable for some people,” Everett mutters.

“Driving sounds risky.” Daniel narrows his eyes at Nick. “You’re not chance blind?”

“Obviously not,” Nick says.

“Um, why?” Daniel asks.

“Technical skill.” Nick’s tone cools a few degrees. “Mechanical skill.”

“Meaning, probably, the exact opposite,” Everett translates for Daniel. “You driving by the seat of your pants, genius?”

Nick smiles and doesn’t answer.

Everett looks back at Daniel. “That’s a yes.”

“Reassuring,” Daniel checks his seatbelt, mostly for show.

The late afternoon sun sinks towards the western highlands.

“Is this strange for you?” Everett asks, his voice soft, meant for Nick alone. “Being back here?”

Back here,” Nick echoes flatly. “Y’think I spent time seein’ the fuckin’ sights? Driving around the County Perth through nauseatingly adorable tourist traps?” He pauses. “Though I suppose if you’ve a mind t’fuckin’ give up and fade into the bloody mists of time and nature—” He shrugs. “Scotland’s no bad choice.”

Everett nods. There’s a fond, complicated expression on his face. It shifts subtly as he watches the other man, almost as though he’s speaking in the absence of words.

Nick drives.

As the elevation climbs, the landscape shifts, turning rockier, with swaths of heather, Scots pine, and bog myrtle. A thorny plant with small yellow flowers grows near the side of the road.

Daniel asks the settling tide of his memory to bring him something, anything, that might explain this Breaker variant of Nick Rush. Someone who can parse incoming information from an array of bundled branes at 70 kilometers per hour. Someone who lives in partial descent, even when eating, even when doing something as concentration intensive as driving a car. Someone who gets tired even though he’s a being of light and energy.

For all the strangeness of Fabrice’s metaphysical situation, at least he understands it. Daniel has no idea what’s going on with Nick.

Turning louder with every kilometer is the haunting melody of Morgan Le Fay.

On his own brane, she’s tremendously powerful.

“So—are we about to meet, uh, the Ur-Morgan?” he asks. “Only one Morgan can ever be the Breaker Morgan, right? In superposition over all her aspects?”

Nick makes the same face Sam makes when Daniel simplifies something too much.

“Sure,” Everett says. “You could think about it that way.”

That’s good; he’s on the right track, but not the only track. He doesn’t have it yet. “What’s another way to think about it?”

“Causality is difficult to pin down in superposition,” Nick says. “But ‘Ur-Morgan’ only existed up to the point of Fabrice’s multiversal breaking. After that, ‘Ur-Morgan’ becomes Superpositioned Morgan. Like Fabrice, she retains perspective on all her fractured aspects.”

“This is feeling very quantum-y,” Daniel says.

“I know,” Nick sighs. “It’s fuckin’ awful.”

“There’s no Ur-Everett Young or Ur-Nick Rush,” Everett says, “because we weren’t born when the Breaking occurred. But we do exist in superposition, so technically we could be considered Breakers.”

“Try to make it sound more ridiculous, if y’can.” Nick says, shifting as they round a switchback in the road.

“Don’t drive off the mountain,” Everett fires back.

“Do I have a Breaker aspect?” Daniel asks. “Is there a Daniel Jackson in superposition?”

“The flow of time hasn’t yet produced a superpositioned version of you,” Nick says evasively.

So. There’s a Daniel Jackson aspect in the mix. Maybe even his current aspect, though he hopes that’s not the case; he has too much to do on the obscure page of the Beethoven array he’s left behind. “How’d you two make it into ‘superposition’ rather than conventional, brane-bound ascension?” he asks.

Nick scoffs. “You’re literally the last person in the universe we’d ever tell.”


“Because you’ll go an’ do the bloody thing before the night is out,” Nick replies.

“Man’s got a point, Dan.” Everett glances back at Daniel. “You get around.”

“My dance card’s full for tonight,” Daniel says. “I hear Morgan already.” The song of her crystal complements the song of the land itself, layering delicately into woods and stone, skimming the surfaces of lakes, weaving into the invisible architectures of wind that he can’t sense in a moving car. “I don’t understand why you need an introduction. She’s more than powerful enough to hear our coming.”

Everett and Nick exchange a glance. “She’ll know you’re coming,” Everett says cautiously. “Nick’s pretty handy with customized EM interference patterns.”

“You’re broadcasting EM interference in partial descent while driving in superposition?” Daniel keeps the words, his face, his body language as close to neutral as he can manage.

“It’s too fine a balance to hold on close approach,” Nick admits. “We’ll walk the last few kilometers.”

“Thank god,” Everett mutters.

“Uh, not my point,” Daniel says. “How much—” he shuts his mouth on his own question because what’s coming next is tearing itself free. One hell of a hunch. He tries to follow it to its source before he speaks, looking for void in and beneath the sonic trio they make in the interior of the car. He finds nothing in Everett. But in Nick—

Daniel takes a breath. “You’re running it now, aren’t you?”

“I just said as much, didn’t I?” Nick’s tone is cool again. Evasive. His melody is full of gap. Shorn-away edges that wisp into false filigree stretched over chasms of being.

“You’re running it for me,” Daniel says softly. “Against me. You’re concealing something. You’ve been concealing something since I first met you.”

Nick and Everett look at one another.

The foothills of the Scottish highlands blur by.

“Stop the car,” Daniel says.

Nick and Everett exchange another look. Longer this time.

“Dan.” Everett twists in his seat. “Yeah. You got us. We’re concealing a hell of a lot. The whole thing is gonna come clear when we get there and I promise you—this little field trip will get you closer to what you want. Nick can’t drop the interference without alerting Morgan. You just gotta hang in there and trust us for a few more hours.”

Daniel shuts his eyes, looks into himself, lifts his crystal, and kills his momentum.

When he opens his eyes, he’s standing on the well-maintained asphalt of the A9, the rental car already fifty yards down the road. The air is cool and smells like summer dying into autumn. He puts his hands in his pockets and steps to the shoulder of the road. Small stones crunch beneath the soles of his shoes.

He wonders if he’s alive on this nameless, buried brane. He wonders if Morgan might help him, should things go wrong.

It wouldn’t be the first time.

Nick pulls the car over. He and Everett step into the fading day. They’ve stopped in the shadow of the mountain they’re climbing. As they approach, Nick’s clothes are more Lantean than Daniel’s ever seen them. The cut of his jeans has subtly changed. His belt is wider. His white shirt has exchanged buttons for clasps.

“The fuck are y’doing?” Nick snarls.

“Cool it.” Everett tries to pull him back, one hand on his shoulder. “You’re not helping your case.”

“My case?” Nick wrenches free. “My case?”

“Tell me who you really are,” Daniel says, his voice controlled.

“No.” Nick plants his feet on the road. “If you’ve not figured it out by now, y’never will.” Beneath his feet, the ground frosts in deference.

“The consumption of energy,” Daniel says, just as cold, digging into his own considerable rhetoric, honed in empty lecture halls, in front of audiences full of scorn. “The partial ascent. The cloaking. The anathema. It all leads back to how you got here.”

“Go ahead, Daniel,” Nick snarls. “Pull it together. Fuckin’ astonish me.”

“Anubis,” Daniel says simply.

He doesn’t get the reaction he’s expecting.

Everett looks confused.

Nick stares him down without expression. There’s no anger in his bearing, no disappointment, no fury, no fear. The day stops suborning itself to the mood of his song. Without a word, he turns and makes for the car. When he reaches it, he wrenches open the driver’s side door, gets in, starts the engine, guns the accelerator, and gets more screaming speed out of a mid-sized sedan than the laws of physics should allow.

Everett watches him go.

“Um.” Daniel squints at the road.

“For the record,” Everett drawls casually, “were you calling him Anubis? Or just thumbs-downing Anubis adjacency?”

They stare at each other.

“Uh,” Daniel says.

Everett adjusts his sunglasses. “You might wanna rethink your strategy. He’s pretty sensitive.”

“Uh,” Daniel says again.

Everett sighs and starts up the shadowed road. “C’mon Dan. I wanted to walk anyway. It’ll only take days.”

Daniel kneels at the place where Nick had stood. His fingertips brush wet stone. He hears the tiny melody of the water, warm now, reluctantly returning to the atmosphere. Nick hadn’t pulled the frost from nothing. It’d come because it wanted to come. He picks up a handful of dirt and small stones, listens to their song of faint reproach as they run through his fingers.

“I never get it right,” he whispers to the land. “Not at first.”

He hears Everett’s approaching steps. 

“Sooooo you guys have absolutely nothing to do with Anubis, then, I’m guessing.” Still, the stones slip through his fingers. He sees the colonel’s boots in his peripheral vision.

“You been worried about that?” Everett asks.

“Little bit, yeah,” Daniel admits.

“Dan, we’re friends, right?”

Daniel looks up. Everett is backed by a hillside of shadowed heather. “An aspect of you is a friend of an aspect of me,” he replies.

“What else do you need?” Everett asks. “No one knows better than me how completely terrifying Nick Rush can be. But I’m telling you, we’re in your corner. Fabrice called. You answered. Why.”

“I’m a peaceful explorer,” Daniel whispers.

“Don’t bullshit me, Dan. Why.”

“Love,” Daniel admits.

“Yeah,” Everett says softly. “And it’s not gonna get thrown back in your face this time. Your whole deal is believing in the good you can’t yet see. It’s a great way to live.” He extends a hand. “C’mon.”

Daniel looks at it, but doesn’t take it. “I’ve made so many mistakes.”

“This isn’t gonna be one of them,” Everett says. “Nothing’s gonna happen to Morgan. Nothing’s gonna happen to you, other than getting your feet planted on a path that leads to dealing with the Ori once and for all.” 

“There’s something you’re not telling me.”

“There’s a lot of things we’re not telling you,” Everett growls. “You’re a troublemaker. That’s your brand of magic and we need a little of that special sauce, Jackson. C’mon.”

Daniel takes his hand and lets Everett pull him to his feet.

They walk up the shadowed road in silence. When they reach the top of the mountain, they see the last of the sun, slipping into the west. 

Nick waits for them at a scenic overlook, sitting on the hood of the car, smoking a cigarette, looking at the darkening landscape. He’s dressed in Lantean black with amber accents. The twilight gleams in his designer glasses and the wind sings softly through his hair, harmonizing with the parts of him Daniel isn’t permitted to hear.

“Still interested in saving your civilization?” Nick asks with poisonous politeness.

“Yup,” Daniel says.

When they reach the outskirts of Pitlochry, they leave the rental car by the side of the road and walk into town. The buildings are sandstone and slate with Victorian era additions. They pass restaurants and pubs, blending into the small tourist crowd. They pass a small inn with a steeply sloping roof, one wall covered with ivy. From inside, Daniel hears laughter and conversation and live music. He flashes back to graduate school, to voicing of initial consonance, to lenition, to P-Celtic and Q-Celtic and giving up on trying to parse pre-historic Western Europe in favor of civilizations that carved their stories in stone.

Nick leads them through the town, his hands in his pockets, his shoulders straight, tracing the strains of Morgan’s haunting melody, carried on the breeze.

They leave the without speaking to anyone and walk the road beneath a spread of stars.

Daniel feels bruised by the day. By this brane. By all he’s left behind and all he doesn’t know. He misses Vala, leaning in with a curtain of hair that smells like a mineral shampoo, whispering ways to get out, ways to get more, ways to get ahead, into the shell of his ear.

There’s no moon tonight.

Daniel wonders if that’s chance or a purposeful choice.

The galaxy sprays the night with stars like the spilled milk it’s named for.

Morgan’s home is small and well maintained. Built of slate. Covered with ivy. Full of no song but her own: as lonely and powerful as he remembers it. On the narrow slate path leading to her door, they step over dead and dying wildflowers, left in small bundles, tied with string. Burned down candles. Papers weighed down by small stones.

“An ever they met with Morgan Le Fay,” Daniel murmurs, “that they would show her courtesy.”

“Quoting?” Nick speaks into the cool song of the night wind.

Le Morte D’Arthur,” Daniel admits.

“As a work, it doesn’t paint a flattering picture of her.” Nick’s footsteps are silent on the flagstones behind him.

“I know.”

In front of Morgan’s door, Everett bends to free a scrap of paper, tucked under stone. He studies it, smiles a small smile, and passes the paper to Daniel. The starlight is just bright enough to read the childish block letters, writ large in dark crayon: Please let Maisie pick me for tennis doubles. 

Daniel kneels to tuck the paper back in place.

Morgan knows he’s here. He can feel the attentional shift in her song. 

He stands, steps to the door, and knocks.

She condenses into herself and answers.

Her black hair is tied back from her heart-shaped face in a messy ponytail. She wears a white cowl-neck sweater that catches the starlight. Dark jeans. White tennis shoes with silver laces. The effect is strikingly modern. “Daniel Jackson,” she says, dripping power into his naming. “You’re a long way from home.”

“I am.” Daniel’s whole self aches with it.

Through the open door, he sees a room hung with mirrors and lenses. Floating candles burn in bowls of clear water. At his back, Nick and Everett have turned to pure void. He can’t see them in his peripheral vision. He can’t sense them. Can’t hear the song of their presence.

“You never showed me this place,” Daniel whispers. “It was all stellar wind and Alteran halls. I didn’t know.” He looks behind him and sees no one and nothing but the path, strewn with wilted wildflowers. Small coins gleam in the starlight. “I would’ve loved to know. That you were keeping a little of the old magic alive.”

I never showed you anything,” Morgan says gently. “Aspects of me taught aspects of you during your time amongst the ascended .” She places a hand on his cheek, gently angling his head. “You’re still in aspect. How is this possible? How are you here?”

Daniel takes a small step back. “I’m here to make an introduction.”

“An introduction.” Her hand drops and her tone turns sharp. He hears the crescendo of her power. Beyond her open doorway, the floating candles flare, burning hotter and higher.

Daniel braces himself, gestures at nothingness, and says, “Morgan Le Fay, meet Nick Rush.”

Nick, finally, arrives in totality.

He materializes from night and smoke and starlight, pouring himself into full descent. The song of his crystal is overwhelming, full of polyrhythmic harmonies that Daniel has heard before. The whole of the Cantascendis is there. So is an echo of the ground they stand on. So is—

Daniel’s heart catches in his throat.

Overhead, something massive blots out the stars.

“Little ghost,” Daniel breathes. But Nick doesn’t turn.

Morgan’s clothes and hair and silver-laced shoes glow. Behind her, candlelight blazes, amplified by water, by mirrors, by hanging glass lenses. “You,” she hisses, layering frightened harmonies into the song of herself.

“Me.” Nick’s melody is everywhere. Around them on the ground, in the land, above them in the sky. The candlelight catches the amber accents in his clothes of Lantean cut.

Two heartbeats and Daniel’s put it together. Unforgivably late. Unforgivably slow. He’d been distracted by his own fear. By his memory of Anubis and his unholy device. By weapons, by Origen, by war.

He swallows.

The four of them stand in silence, holding their ground, communicating by crystal resonance alone.

There’s a brane, Mozart’s brane, full of genius and song, where Nick Rush is forced through David Telford’s gauntlet, where he cracks the cypher set, where he travels to Fabrice’s lost and lonely ship: half weapon, half hope. Where he meets it. The wandering, hulled out little ghost that sings to itself in a void. 

On Mozart’s brane, somehow, they’ve merged.

Above him he sees the long, dark curves of Fabrice’s ship stenciled against the backdrop of the galaxy.

“Oh god,” Daniel breathes. He feels Everett clasp his shoulder. Supporting him. Holding him back.

Every machine he’s ever known flares and dies in his mind. His own face, haudraulic fluid in his veins. Reese’s joy and tears. Fifth’s wounded eyes. Samantha Carter, her whole body a naquadah-slick blade.


His weeping ghost with the borrowed face of Sha’re. It’s song like a feather, its heart like a stone. It must have found Nick Rush irresistible, the way Daniel, too, stripped of memory and brane-bound wants to be near him, wants to protect him without knowing why. There’s a part of Daniel that will always, always, hear the Song of Life even if his conscious mind locks it beyond his ken.

He should have realized.

He should have recalled.

He should have known who he was dealing with.

“You’re forbidden to walk the living cosmos without your keeper.” Morgan’s voice is resonant with power.

“Yup.” Everett raises an ironic hand in the style of Jack O’Neill. “Present. Hi.”

Nick doesn’t speak. Cloaked in night and song, his clothes embroider themselves at their edges with smoked amber as Nick takes a knee in front of Morgan’s white and silver shoes.

Daniel’s mouth falls open. Beside him, Everett stiffens. Daniel flings a hand across the colonel’s chest before he can step forward. He doesn’t know what’s happening—it may be that changing galactic tides will wash them all to sea—but this roaming starship with a mariner’s heart called him here to work his work. “Hear him out,” he whispers, to Everett, to Morgan, to himself.

“Ganos Lal.” Nick kneels on stone and wax, cut flowers and scraps of paper. Darkness and light lend themselves to his use. “Allow me to make you an offer.”

The astonishment in Morgan’s crystal ripples what little starlight still reaches them around the lines of a ship, suspended impossibly low in Earth’s atmosphere. “You dare speak that name,” she whispers, “on this ground?”

“You’ve made this your home.” Nick looks up at her. “But I was born here. I carry this ground with me wherever I go. I preserved it in myself.”

“You weren’t born anywhere. You’re an object,” Morgan says, all the chill of the winter moon in her tone.

“For countless centuries,” Nick says, trapped wishes fluttering beneath his knee, “you’ve heard and endured the warped song of your own crystal, slaved to base impulse. To hoard and sleep and feed.” As he looks up at her, his amber flecked eyes collect all the candlelight she’s backed by.

Morgan holds her silvery silence.

“Your daughter was taken. Her genetic material was used to create the first of the Wraith queens. It sings in every one of them. Drives their ingenuity.”

Daniel sucks in a breath. He feels Everett tense beside him. Even after all this time there’s so much he doesn’t know, hasn’t guessed in this half-lifted world of fairy queens and ghost ships, technology and magic.

“Yes.” Morgan’s eyes shimmer with tears.

“I will rip her free.” Nick speaks into the many-voiced choir of his own crystal. “I will tear her from the living corpse of a Wraith queen, break her from her brane of origin, and return her melody to you.”

“At what price?” Morgan breathes.

“I need an ally on the Council,” Nick replies. “Someone who’ll think twice before attempting to unmake me when my usefulness has run its course.”

The lunar light fades from Morgan’s sweater and her shoes. Along the slate path, every burned-down stub of candle lights itself. The night breeze flutters the letters tucked beneath stones. A tear escapes from Morgan’s eye and traces a glimmering path down her cheek in the supernatural candlelight.

She extends a hand to Nick.

He takes it.

The melody of her code shivers through and against Nick’s, calling gently for something that doesn’t answer.

“Stop,” Everett growls, staring her down.

Morgan glances at the colonel, then looks back at Nick. Another tear falls. “I’m known for my guile. My deceit. My affections and my moods.” She glances at Daniel. “My sympathies. Through me, you’ll never gain the Council. You’ll only drag me into the Folia.”

“The Graveyard’s not so bad,” Nick speaks softly. “Your path leads to the Citadel in a multiverse tuned to the monotonic Song of Origen. You’ll need a miracle t’warp it. And Doctor Jackson, formidable as he is, can’t do it alone.”

“I know.” Another tear slides down Morgan’s cheek.

“Say yes,” Nick whispers. “Step off the path. Accept my offer. Break with the Council. I remember what you were like in the days before Atlantis left. The fire in your crystal. It’s still there.”

“I know,” Morgan whispers. “You inherited it.”

Nick doesn’t answer. The candlelight gleams in his eyes.

“Before a viral vector tore apart your genome,” Morgan whispers, “you were mine. You still are. Your human crystal comes from my lineage. You must know that. You could’ve bared that aspect of yourself to the Council. You could have demanded my protection.”

“The thought occurred,” Nick smiles faintly. “But placing a public claim on the Queen of Gore and Avalon seemed like a bit of a reach for an energetic chimera currently classified as an ‘object’.”

Morgan gathers herself. She glances at Daniel.

He’s rocked by all that’s been revealed: the Ancient contribution to Wraith genetics in the form of Morgan’s missing daughter; Nick’s true identity: half man, half anathemic starship; what Everett was really trying to say when he brought up Wittgenstein at the end of a cold dock.

But Daniel hears, for the first time in a long time, the sound of hope in his own crystal.

He nods at Morgan.

She drops her gaze to Nick. “Make good on your word and I’ll back you,” she breathes. “Bring me my daughter and I’ll claim you in the Alteran Great Hall. I’ll do it regardless of consequence. I’ll walk into the Graveyard. The Citadel. The Vault.”

“Hopefully it won’t come to that.” Nick kisses the back of her hand.

Morgan, backed by the fire of her own long-burning candles, draws him to his feet.

As Nick stands he lifts into high descent, the resonances of his crystal are full of grief and tenderness, light and dark, sea and fire. A thread of Morgan’s hills-of-mist melody weaves into the tapestry that forms him. The song of a ghost ship, the fall of the sun on silver towers, the overbuilt harmonies of clean patterns broken and mended and broken again.


There are choral echoes, deeply buried, of Daniel’s own fallen-star motif, etched with hurt and longing.

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