by Layton Colt
A companion piece to Finding Abydos, though it stands alone. Things have come full circle...
Daniel let the water crash down around him, oblivious. He closed his eyes, shutting out the light. He couldn't bear it.
Abydos was gone.
He had been told long before now, of course--he had been told before he could understand what it meant. Abydos is gone, Daniel, Jack had said. I'm sorry. Daniel had wondered why Jack was sorry, he had even wondered what Abydos was.
The memories had come back to him slowly, and in such fragmented pieces that even once he had remembered Abydos, he didn't quite make the necessary connection and grasp that it was gone. Things had been too hectic, and until now he hadn't stopped long enough for realization to hit.
He had been handed a gun he wasn't sure what to do with, and sent off to rescue the universe--even plagued as he was by memories, he'd had no choice but to push everything to the back of his mind. No choice but to force himself not to think too hard about any of it.
Now, he could think of nothing else.
He had loved those people. Every single one--they were so much a part of him that now they were gone, he felt he'd been hollowed out. The last remnants of Sha'uri had finally been stolen away as well, the last pieces of the only home he'd ever know had been entirely destroyed. And he could think of nothing he had left.
He fell back against the shower wall as he lost his balance--dizzy with grief. This was so wrong. He didn't understand how they could all be gone.
Ascended. That was what Jack had said had happened to them, that they had ascended. Apparently, this was something he should have some familiarity with, but he couldn't recall any of it.
Daniel slid down the cold tiled wall, and buried his head in his hands. He could hear Jack pacing outside the door now--probably wondering just how much of his water he planned to use. Daniel reached up and turned the water off quickly. The pacing stopped at the same time, but Daniel knew Jack was still right outside the door.
Skarra. Kasuf. Countless other faces flashed in through his head, and took over everything else--consuming him. He choked back a sob, sure it would bring Jack running, and wanting nothing less than Jack to barge in and find him shivering in the far corner of his shower.
The thought of Jack served only to increase his anxiety. Jack seemed to believe that what happened to Abydos was his fault, though he had never said it straight out, and when he'd asked Sam she'd been quick to assure him he'd done everything he could.
But he didn't remember doing any of it. He didn't remember telling Jack to give Anubis the eye of Ra, and he couldn't imagine what he had been thinking. It must have been his fault. And that thought made the despair and grief he might otherwise have managed spiral out of control.
He'd done it. He had killed them. And he didn't even have the decency to remember doing it.
Maybe he'd even been working with Anubis. That could be why the ancients had really kicked him out. Daniel couldn't catch his breath as the horrible idea stuck in his mind. Terrified, he sprung to his feet. He was working himself into a full blown panic attack, and he had to calm down before he lost all semblance of control.
He took a moment to bring his emotions under control, and the attempt lasted just long enough for him to dress in the sweats Jack had given him, before he slid again to the floor.
The voice was soft, but it still caused Daniel to jump. He had forgotten Jack was there.
The voice was insistent, not responsive at all to Daniel wishing it away.
"I'm fine," it took everything he had to say those two little words, and anyone would have recognized them for the lie they were.
"Open the door, please," the voice was calm, but there was an edge behind it that implied it wasn't a request.
Daniel ignored him. Hadn't Jack told him he was no good at following orders? He might as well live up to expectations.
Daniel shut his eyes, and wondered why Jack had even brought him here. Jack knew he'd destroyed Abydos, didn't he? Why would he care about him? Jack had had friends there too.
"Daniel, we can do this the easy way or the hard way--but I warn you, I'm losing patience."
The way Jack said his name was what finally caught his attention. All of the hundreds of times Jack had said his name that way flashed through his mind. Damn it, Daniel.
He reached up and unlocked the door, almost without thought, but didn't move from the floor.
Jack sighed when the door swung open to reveal the state Daniel was in, and he lowered himself to his knees. "Hey," he said softly. "How are you doing?"
The question was so ridiculous, that for a moment Daniel was unable to respond.
"Fine," he said again, when he found the strength to speak at all.
Jack nodded, obviously incredulous. "You ready to come out now?"
"Don't patronize me, Jack," Daniel snapped--almost as a reflex.
Jack held out his hands in mock surrender. "I was just going to tell you I have a guest room set up for you. It's the one you always use--" Jack watched Daniel carefully, for any sign he remembered.
"I know where it is," he snapped irritably. He didn't know why he couldn't stand having Jack near him. If his memories were anything to go by, he was supposed to like having him around.
But now, any time Jack got close, Daniel got anxious. Felt suddenly helpless, powerless--and there was no feeling he hated more.
"Talk to me, Daniel," Jack whispered.
"Just go away, Jack."
Jack chose to ignore this. "Tell me what's wrong. As in now."
Daniel wouldn't meet his eyes. "You gave away my apartment."
"You hated the place anyway."
Daniel glared at him. "No, I didn't. You did."
Jack grinned sheepishly. "Remembered that, did you? Good to see everything's all coming back. And that apartment was in an awful area of town. We'll get you a better place. We need to get you a house, you have to think about the future now you've got one among us mortals again. But that's not what's bothering you--so spill."
Daniel looked over at Jack--a part of him wanting nothing more than to tell him. Ask him if he really had been responsible for the destruction of Abydos. Because he knew that if he never remembered himself, Jack was the only one he could trust to tell him the whole truth. But for that same reason, the other part of him was terrified to find out what Jack knew.
"You're thinking about Abydos," Jack said with sudden insight.
Shocked at how easily he had been read, Daniel could only nod.
"Daniel," Jack sighed. "Christ, why do you always do this to yourself?"
Daniel just stared at him blankly.
"It wasn't your fault," Jack said simply. "It wasn't."
"How do you know?" Daniel demanded. "Can you be sure? What if I was...I don't know, what if I was--working for Anubis or something?"
Jack let out a startled laugh, stopping abruptly at the glare Daniel sent his way. He regained his composure. "Well," he said, trying to sound serious, "I guess that would make you the worst double agent in history."
Daniel frowned. "What are you talking about?"
"Daniel, Teal'c and I aren't exactly Anubis's best buddies--he would have wanted us dead."
"What are you talking about?" Daniel repeated, sounding frustrated.
Jack seemed surprised. "Didn't anyone tell you?"
When Daniel shook his head, Jack cursed. "God, we really have made a mess of things... I'm sorry, Daniel. We've kind of been ignoring you, haven't we? I guess we all got caught up in things."
Daniel grinned slightly. "Understandable under the circumstances. But I still don't know what you're trying to tell me."
"Look--while you were ascended, you saved my life. You told me it wasn't you, but I know better," he said with a grin. "And when Teal'c was dying, you were the only thing that kept him and Bra'tac alive."
Daniel frowned. "But I thought the ascended were not supposed to interfere."
"Yes, well, I think I mentioned you weren't so good with rules. When you tried to stop Anubis it was your third strike. You're out," he said gently. "You certainly weren't kicked out for trying to help Anubis take over the universe."
Daniel grinned sheepishly--realizing how ridiculous it sounded.
Jack smiled back, and got to his feet, pulling Daniel with him. "Come with me," he said, before leading the way to his backyard.
Daniel followed him curiously outside, and up the ladder leading to the roof. He didn't remember where the ladder led until he reached the top and caught sight of the telescope. "What are we doing, Jack?" he asked.
"I want to show you something," he said cryptically, turning the telescope away from the neighbor's window and up towards the stars. "I've spent so much time out here," Jack said quietly. "Looking at the stars, and more often than not, looking for you."
Daniel frowned. "For me?"
"Yeah," he whispered. "You keep leaving, you know. And so I usually come out here, wondering where out there you are. It's stupid, I know. Finding Abydos always gave me comfort, though--and when we first returned after it was destroyed, not knowing where you were or what had happened, and the Abydos star gone forever..."
Daniel blinked back tears and turned his gaze upwards, taking in the stars above him--wondering why Jack had dragged him out here only to remind him Abydos was gone.
"But then..." Jack trailed off, a grin in his voice as he apparently found what he was looking for.
"What?" Daniel asked, returning his gaze to Jack.
Jack stood up without a word, and sat Daniel in front of the telescope. "Look," he said quietly.
Daniel gave Jack a dubious glance, then looked into the telescope. He gasped at what he saw. "What--how--"
"It appears sometimes," Jack said quietly. "Abydos isn't entirely gone, Daniel. They didn't die, not really. I know it's hard to believe, because it felt real enough to me when you left, but they're still out there. And Abydos still appears for us to find when it's needed."
Daniel was speechless. It was still out there. They were still out there. They were like he was, though he could not remember what being that way was like. Abydos wasn't really gone, he thought with a grin. Jack was right. He looked into the telescope again, to that bright shining star so far in the distance.
Abydos wouldn't ever really fade, it would still be there, in whatever form, long after everything else was gone.