Stargate SG1 is somebody else's, probably MGM/Gekko Corp/Sci-Fi, and I freely admit that whoever's it is, I'm borrowing their show and they retain all rights, etc.
4th December 2011: Where does the time go? Here's the TAG for Zero Hour: A Question of Leadership. Hope you enjoy!
This is the fourth volume of Aftershocks and will contain TAGs for Season Seven and Season Eight. The TAGs focus on how the characters reacted to their various missions, what impact it had on them and their relationships. As I briefly recap the episode that precedes it at the head of the story and sometimes foreshadow to future episodes, there are spoilers for all the Stargate SG1 (and potentially Stargate Atlantis) episodes included. Each chapter is a TAG; each is complete/stand alone although like the show itself there are continuing themes from story to story.
Please note pairings are in line with those implied or established within the series, (e.g. Jack/Sam, Daniel/Sha're, Teal'c/Drey'auc). There is an author's note preceding each story with any specific dynamics highlighted.
You will find Aftershocks vol 1 (TAGs covering Seasons One and Two), Aftershocks vol 2 (TAGs covering Seasons Three and Four) and Aftershocks vol 3 (TAGs covering Seasons Five and Six) under my profile. It is not necessary to read the previous volumes to read this.
You can now also find "Aftershocks in Atlantis" under my profile (TAGs covering Stargate Atlantis episodes).
Author's Note: Daniel/Team friendship. Daniel/Janet friendship. Jonas/Team friendship. Daniel/Sha're. Minor Sam/Jack UST. Just as I took a moment to mention how I intended to handle Daniel's absence in Season Six, I want to take a moment here to explain how I'll deal with Jonas leaving. Jonas will continue to show up occasionally especially through most of this season (given the episode Fallout). However, he will not appear in every TAG.
Fallen/Homecoming Recap: A nomadic tribe come across a naked Daniel Jackson in a field. Meanwhile, back at the SGC, Jonas figures out the Ancient tablet and races to tell Hammond who is discussing Anubis's super-weapon with Sam. Jonas suggests that the Lost City is in fact the last city address input into the computer by Jack when he had the Ancient knowledge. They head to the planet. It's the same planet that Daniel landed in and they very quickly discover him. However, Daniel doesn't recognise them; he has been called Arrom (naked one) and has amnesia. Jack goes to talk to Daniel in his tent but has no luck convincing him that he is Daniel. Sam tries next and after talking with her, Daniel decides to go home.
They arrive back at the SGC where Daniel undergoes a medical check by Janet. He's left in temporary quarters with some of his belongings that Jack had kept including a picture of Sha're. Daniel remembers who she is after sleeping; he goes to tell Teal'c and realises that she is dead. At the briefing the next day, Daniel joins the rest of SG1 and notes Jonas translated the tablet incorrectly. Later, Jonas tells Daniel that he's given him an idea to bait Anubis into targeting the planet.
Teal'c heads to Yu to convince the System Lords to fight against Anubis while the rest of the team come up with a solution to destroy Anubis's super-weapon; namely, Daniel and Jonas will sneak onto Anubis's spaceship and find the schematics of the weapon which have been encrypted in Ancient, they'll transmit the data to Jack and Sam in a glider who will fire missiles into the right vent blowing up the weapon's energy source. The System Lords will arrive to take out Anubis.
The plan goes ahead but things go wrong; a failing Yu orders his fleet somewhere else other than the battle and Teal'c is locked up; Daniel escapes from the computer room but Jonas is captured and Anubis uses his mind device to take his knowledge. Only Jack and Sam make it back to Earth having successfully destroyed the energy source for the super-weapon.
Just as they are wondering what happened to Anubis, Earth receives a call from Kelowna: Anubis has arrived there. Jack and Sam are greeted by Ambassador Dreylock and Commander Hale who inform them that the Kelownans did use the naquadria bomb and it has brought the other two nations to the negotiation table. Jack radios Daniel who is hiding aboard Anubis's ship, waiting to rescue Jonas. As Jack and Sam deal with the Kelownans, Teal'c and Yu's First Prime discuss the situation with Yu and realise command of the System Lord fleet must be handed to another Goa'uld; they choose Ba'al.
Luckily, Anubis's lackey fails to stabilise the naquadria, and the ship is rocked by an explosion which disturbs Jonas's cell enough for him to get out and join Daniel. As Teal'c arrives and informs them of the plan with Ba'al, Sam realises that the Goa'uld are looking for a crystal from the original experiments on the naquadria. She, Teal'c and Dreylock head to a warehouse and find the crystal. They are suddenly surrounded by Jaffa but luckily, Jonas and Daniel ring down and save them. Unfortunately when they head back to the Stargate, they find Hale has betrayed them all to Anubis. Herak kills Hale and announces they are all to be executed but just in time Ba'al arrives and begins firing on Anubis. The building is rocked and SG1 uses the opportunity to attack. Herak loses the crystal and escapes through the Stargate as Jonas saves Daniel from being hit by a staff weapon blast.
Back on Earth, Jonas says goodbye to SG1. He is headed back to Kelowna as the other nations would not agree to a combined government without him. As he steps up to Jack, Jack tells him 'he earned it.' Jonas leaves the SGC. Daniel stares up at the Stargate. Jack checks he's OK and reminds him not to be late for dinner. Daniel asks if they get paid. Jack smiles and welcomes him back.
'Would you care to drive, Daniel Jackson?'
Teal'c's softly worded question startled Daniel out of half-formed memories of other times he had left the base before his death and Ascension. He frowned at the realisation that they had walked across half the car park and found their way to their assigned vehicle from the motor-pool without him noticing. He tried to regroup swiftly. 'You can drive?'
'Indeed.' Teal'c replied. He didn't seem upset that Daniel had forgotten; obtusely he seemed smug with a ghost of a smile skirting over his impassive features. 'You instructed me during our time in 1969.'
Daniel had a flash of sitting in a van, the Jaffa beside him; both of them dressed in civilian garb of the late Sixties, and the road zipping along in front of them. A kaleidoscope of memories about the mission cascaded through his head and he blinked as though to clear his vision. He smiled ruefully. Perhaps it was better that he wasn't driving if he was going to be remembering something at every turn. He waved at Teal'c in a silent signal for the Jaffa to take the wheel.
Teal'c inclined his head and unlocked the car. Daniel followed him into the car grateful to get out of the cold wind despite the parka that Teal'c insisted he wear. His thick sweater and jeans didn't seem to help either. The scratchy feel of wool and the weight of denim seemed strange against his skin. He'd found the clothes in a suitcase left on his bed the day after his arrival with a single sheet of paper on top of it proclaiming 'These are yours' scrawled in Jack O'Neill's handwriting. Daniel thought it was crazy that he could remember Jack's handwriting but there were still great chunks of his memory missing about his actual life.
The suitcase had brought back some chunks; arriving back from Abydos the first time, staying with Jack after being declared dead after the whole Nem thing...Daniel shivered violently and he wrapped his arms around his torso. He couldn't help but notice that a similar invitation to stay hadn't been issued since his return from the Ascended plane. But then he didn't really blame Jack for that.
Things were complicated between them.
Daniel had read the reports of his death and Jack's explanation of Daniel's request for Jack to stop the others from healing him - to effectively let him die. It boggled his mind. Daniel wasn't certain what to say to that. Thank you seemed inappropriate. It was a hell of a thing to request of a friend and yet Daniel had done it, and Jack had honoured it. As Daniel had known he would.
And then, there was the matter of the mysterious incidents between them during his Ascension. The one at Abydos had been in the reports but there was a hint that there had been another time and Daniel couldn't remember it. His memories of his life before his Ascension were tumbling back into place but those of his actual Ascension remained elusive. Had he done something or not done something that had made Jack mad at him? He remembered all too well the half-joking threat Jack had issued over the briefing room table to injure him in the wake of his revelation about the Lost City. He wasn't sure how he raised the issue with Jack; wasn't sure if he even should. It was all too...complicated.
Daniel let out a small sigh. He let his gaze drift through the windshield to the passing scenery. He recognised the shape of the road; the line of trees on the right; other familiar landmarks as they turned onto the main road. He recognised when they passed the crossroads where a right turn would take them to Samantha Carter's home.
He could remember the hurt in her blue eyes when he - or rather Arrom as he had been then - had pushed her hand away from him on the planet after he had been discovered by SG3 and taken to see them. Daniel could remember the hope that lined her delicate features when she'd asked him to come back home with them to discover who he was. And he'd sensed something - a connection with her that had made Arrom reconsider his decision not to have anything to do with the strangers. Daniel flushed at remembering his question to her about whether there was something between them...
It had been a natural question to ask, Daniel assured himself. Sam was an attractive woman and that was definitely part of what he had felt in the tent; attraction. He hadn't known at the time that he'd once been married to Sha're; that, if he was being honest with himself, he was only just beginning to come to terms with her death. He had dreamed about saying goodbye to Sha're on Abydos and he didn't know if it was a dream or reality. And it wasn't as though Sam was holding his suggestion that they might have been lovers against him; she was just eager to pick up the wonderfully close platonic friendship they had shared.
He could remember that friendship but it was like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle where he could see the pieces clearly but the whole picture was fuzzy and out of focus. He had remembered the intellectual spark and zing of their debates late at night in the bowels of the SGC as they tackled some discovery; the development of familial kinship - he considered her the sister he had never had. He had remembered their team bond; that instinctive knowledge of the each other's reactions and thoughts; the connection he had misconstrued on meeting with her in the tent. But he had also remembered that they had drifted apart; a sense that there were secrets on both sides of their friendship. And how all the different and confusing emotions and memories fitted together remained a mystery. His relationship with Sam seemed as complicated as his relationship with Jack.
In fact, the complexity of his relationships with the two Air Force officers was one of the reasons why he wasn't looking forward to the dinner at Jack's. He hadn't actively avoided them since his return but because of the plan against Anubis he hadn't exactly spent a great deal of time with them either. Sam and Jack had been busy overseeing the glider refit and liaising with the Tok'ra. He and Jonas had worked together to help communicate with the nomadic tribe and oversee their departure from the planet; to prepare for the mission aboard the ship.
He felt a pang of guilt about Jonas. He knew on the face of it he hadn't taken anything away from the young Kelownan; that events on Kelowna had effectively trumped any half-formed or spoken about plans. Daniel sighed and let the guilt dissipate. If Anubis hadn't gone to Kelowna, if Jonas had stayed...Daniel knew he would have gladly shared the office; gladly shared his place on SG1 with Jonas. There was a part of him, the Arrom part, that wasn't entirely convinced that he wanted it all back anyway. But the mission to Anubis had given him confidence that he had the skills and experience to return to the SGC and his place on the team. And there was another part of him that felt the familiarity; remembered the bonds and the vague sense of belonging.
Belonging was good.
It was just that he didn't know if he had chosen to return or if he had been returned as a punishment for attempting to help Abydos. It was an uncertainty that nagged away at him like a toothache. If he knew for certain then...then what? Daniel frowned. Whatever had happened in his Ascension, the hard truth was that he was back on Earth; back to being a mortal with limited abilities. Short of dying again and hoping Oma came to his rescue again, there was no going back. He had to make the best of what he had.
And he knew in rejoining SG1, if they were going to be a team again, they all needed to properly reconnect. They all knew it. The team had changed in his absence. It wasn't only that they had found a new dynamic and rhythm with Jonas; Daniel wasn't blind to the deeper connection that had formed between his original team-mates. He guessed that wasn't too surprising; they had been through his death - Ascension - together, and that would have bonded them even closer he imagined. But with his return, the four of them needed to work out how to be SG1 again. He figured it was the reason for Jack's impromptu dinner invitation.
Daniel's eyes slid to the Jaffa next to him. If his relationships with Jack and Sam seemed complicated, his relationship to Teal'c seemed extraordinarily simple in comparison. Which was weird given their history, Daniel mused. He'd remembered Teal'c's part in Sha're's death; her possession by Ammonet and it didn't matter. It was soothing to be around the Jaffa. Teal'c didn't press him for anything other than what Daniel wanted to share; he didn't try and force his company on him. Well, OK. For the better part of the past few weeks, Teal'c had been with Yu's fleet but still... Teal'c just accepted Daniel, his patchy memory and his return in a way that allowed Daniel to just be. More, he felt like he needed to be near Teal'c as though there was an important reason that he couldn't remember.
The road changed and Daniel recognised it. They weren't too far from Jack's. He shifted in his seat. It was just dinner with old friends, Daniel reassured himself, trying to ignore the rumbling nerves in his belly. How hard could it be?
Jack watched as Carter darted from one side of his kitchen to another as she put the final touches on the salad that would accompany the steaks marinating in the refrigerator and the baked potatoes in the oven. She spun from one counter to another; an endless whir of motion fussing over a salad that had effectively been finished ten minutes before. He sighed and shifted to intercept her, taking the salad and herding her into the den.
'Sit.' Jack insisted as he pushed her towards the sofa.
'Ah!' He held up a beer. 'That's an order, Carter.'
For a moment, it looked like she might argue but she subsided against the cushions and crossed her arms over her tight blue cardigan sweater. The one that matched her eyes. He turned away, shoved the salad bowl on the coffee table and handed the beer to her. He went back to retrieve his own from the kitchen before he returned.
'Will you relax already?' Jack couldn't quite keep the snap of his own nerves out of his voice as he moved to the hearth, picked up a poker and stabbed at the burning log.
Carter threw him a look that told him she had heard them anyway. She twisted the cap off the bottle she held in a smooth economic motion and threw it into the waste basket on the other side of the room. It was a great shot. Just another reason why he...he cut that thought off and drowned it with beer.
Jack poked at the fire again before he sat down beside her with a huff. His thumb worried at the label on the bottle. 'You talk with Cassie?' The teenager had called earlier wanting to come and say hello to Daniel; Jack had passed her off to Carter knowing if he talked to her he was more than likely to cave to the demand.
'Yeah.' Sam nodded. 'I told her it wasn't the right time. She said she understood.'
'So,' Jack said dryly, 'pissed.'
Sam blew out a breath that spoke of exactly how pissed Cassie had been. 'Janet backed us up.'
Doctor Janet Fraiser was a formidable Mom to Cassie and Jack knew the Doc's decision was in part to protect Cassie from any hurt caused by Daniel's lingering amnesia. Jack glanced at Carter. She was staring out of the door into his garden. He wondered what she saw. Probably that the turf needed mowing; the flowerbeds needed weeding. He'd been meaning to hack down the bushes at the back fence. It had been a busy month what with stopping Anubis and his super-weapon; finding Daniel. He swallowed another gulp of beer.
'Jonas called her.' Sam said suddenly. 'You know, to say goodbye.'
Jack nodded. Jonas had struck up a good friendship with Cassie. Both of them had effectively been aliens stuck on Earth. It had given them common ground; a shared understanding.
'She's going to miss him.' Sam commented.
Cassie wasn't the only one, Jack considered, taking in Carter's wistful expression. He knew Sam was pleased to get Daniel back but she was going to miss Jonas. Hell, even Jack regretted that the Kelownan had been effectively forced into returning to his native planet. The kid had proven himself a worthy member of SG1, enough that Jack had been gearing up to argue SG1 needed five members with Hammond. He had half-planned it in his head; Carter could have taken command of some of the milk-run missions with the other three and left him free to spend more time doing...well, doing something that Hammond would have come up with. It could have worked well as a transition phase with Carter taking on more and more, while he quietly exited stage left. He could feel that his time in the field was coming to an end; there were too many aches and pains despite keeping himself in shape. But he couldn't deny that Jonas's departure made things easier given Daniel's return.
'I told her she needed to give Daniel some space.' Sam sipped her beer.
'Good advice.' Jack said mildly. He hoped Carter had worked out she needed to do the same. Not that Carter had exactly been hovering around Daniel - neither of them had. The mission hadn't allowed for them to spend time with Daniel beyond the usual briefings and the occasional meal. But he knew they were at the danger point. If they hovered over Daniel too much now...there was a feeling in Jack's gut that told him they might lose him again anyway.
Sam's eyes flickered to his and he caught the glint of rueful amusement. 'I know, I...'
Jack raised his eyebrows questioningly.
She sighed deeply and stared at her bottle. 'I wish we knew whether he wanted to be here.'
'Does it matter?' Jack asked brusquely. Daniel was back with them; that was the most important thing to Jack's mind.
'I think it does, sir.' Sam's tone was terse. 'I can't help thinking how unhappy he must have been before he...' she waved her hand.
'Went glowy?' Jack supplied bluntly.
Sam flinched and looked away. Jack's conscience stirred and poked at him. No doubt Sam had analysed and reanalysed what part she had played in Daniel's unhappiness; in his decision to leave. Jack knew because he knew her. Hell, he'd even been tempted to do the same.
SG1 had drifted the year before Daniel's death and Jack knew his decision to step back from dangerous feelings so he could remain objective, so he could protect them all had played a major part in that. They'd been fewer team nights, and they'd rarely hung-out together outside of the base as they had done in the first few years of the programme. In the field, they had still been SG1 but back on Earth...
Jack sighed. He had just begun to recognise that Daniel had been struggling with some issues when the team had gone off-world to Kelowna. Even so, Jack figured Daniel's decision to go glowy wasn't as simple as just unhappiness with life as it was complicated by Daniel's need to make a difference. But then Jack had also had the benefit of being able to say goodbye to Daniel, to talk over his decision with him in a way that Carter had not.
'Carter,' he began.
The sound of a car pulling into the driveway cut off his words. Sam breathed in sharply beside him.
Jack knew the opportunity to say something had passed and got to his feet. He made his way to the door to greet their team-mates. It was only dinner. Carter could handle it. They could handle it.
Dinner hadn't been so bad, Daniel mused.
They'd started out awkwardly but somewhere between the grilling of the steaks and sitting down to eat they'd fallen into talking about the memories he'd regained - enough of his childhood to remember his parents' death, Nick's abandonment of him, the teasing and ritual humiliation of being a geeky child; academia including the latter years and his wacky ideas about the pyramids; the first mission to Abydos and his year there; most of the years since. They'd prompted his memory of the latter as they'd bantered back and forth about past missions. He'd even joined in some of the teasing.
They'd talked about Catherine Langford over Key Lime pie; Jack had called her to let her know and Daniel was to call her when he was ready. When they'd talked about Nick over dessert and how the giant aliens had informed the SGC of his passing, Daniel had acknowledged that somehow he had already known about his grandfather's death.
No: dinner had been fine. It was after dinner that was proving to be much more problematic.
They were watching a movie.
Only they weren't.
Teal'c was watching the movie - Star Wars was apparently a favourite of his. Daniel was trying to watch the movie - he kind of remembered something to do with gold bikinis which he was certain had something to do with Star Wars - but he was too aware that Sam was not watching the movie but watching him as though she couldn't quite believe he was there.
And Jack was watching Sam.
He could see the interplay out of the corner of his eye but if he looked at them, both would be looking at the screen. He was beginning to think he was being paranoid, and beginning to get pissed at being made to think he was being paranoid.
Daniel got up abruptly and pointed back towards the bathroom to signal where he was going. The break gave him enough privacy and space for him to regain his equilibrium. He made his way out and stopped in front of what he knew was the spare room; the door was partially ajar. He pushed the wood with a single finger until the door was fully open and went inside.
The memories of his stay as Jack's house-mate flooded into his head. He smiled as he wandered over to the shelf and picked up a book on Ancient Mayan civilisation. He'd left it behind and had always neglected to take it back on subsequent visits. He recognised a few other things he'd left over the years; a battered copy of Homer's Odyssey, a souvenir mug from the Statue of Liberty, an old figurine of a fertility god that Daniel had purchased in some bazaar in the Middle East on a student dig.
He picked up the statue and turned it over in his hand. The dresser and the wardrobe had been filled with clothes left behind for the nights he stayed over at Jack's. Those times had been few and far between in the year before he'd left, and Daniel figured Jack must have raided them to fill the suitcase he'd given Daniel.
Daniel glanced over his shoulder; Jack stood in the doorway. 'Jack.' He gestured at him with the statue. 'Sorry, I was just...'
'Being you?' There was no heat to the words just acceptance.
Daniel didn't know how to respond. He was still trying to work out what 'being him' meant. He turned away to place the statue back on the shelf.
Jack moved inside the room. He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his jeans. 'You know, now you have most of your memory back, Hammond and the Doc cleared you to leave the base so if you want somewhere to stay...'
Daniel tried to hide his surprise and realised from the fleeting startled look that passed across Jack's face that he hadn't been successful. Daniel folded his arms around his torso and his eyes darted away from Jack and back to the souvenir mug. It hadn't occurred to him that he didn't have clearance to leave but in hindsight a just-returned-from-the-Ascended amnesiac would be considered a security risk.
He wouldn't have been allowed to leave before even if Jack had wanted to offer him somewhere to stay, Daniel deduced with some chagrin. He should have realised, he berated himself. Of course he did have the excuse of not remembering that he would have been considered a security risk. Unfortunately, he knew that Jack now knew what he'd been thinking.
Daniel cleared his throat. 'I'm sorry. I thought...'
'I know.' Jack cut him off.
'I didn't remember...' Daniel tried again awkwardly.
'I know.' Jack shrugged and took a step towards the door as though he intended to leave.
'I thought you were mad at me.' Daniel managed to get the words out in a rush; all mangled together so fast he wondered if Jack could make sense of them.
Jack paused by the door. He looked back at Daniel blankly. 'What?'
'You're mad at me about something.' Daniel said, uncomfortably aware of his accelerating heart and the flush across his skin.
Jack glanced at the open doorway and back at Daniel. 'I'm not mad at you.'
'Yes, you are.' Daniel shot back.
'No, I'm not.' Jack returned shortly.
'Yes.' Daniel insisted. 'You are.'
'No.' Jack retorted. 'I'm not.'
'Jack,' Daniel argued.
'Daniel!' Jack held up a finger to prevent Daniel from interrupting. 'I'm not mad at you. Why do you think I'm mad at you?'
'Because you are.' Daniel said stubbornly.
Jack raised his eyebrows. 'OK. Why would I be mad at you?'
'I don't know, Jack,' Daniel said slowly as though explaining something to a small child which he knew Jack wasn't, 'I don't remember.'
There was a beat of silence as they looked at each other.
'Look, I know we met when I was Ascended, Jack, but I don't remember what happened and I feel like...' he threw up a hand, gesticulating wildly, 'something important happened, only you know what it is and I don't.'
Jack threw another look towards the door and reached over to close it gently, providing them with some privacy. He turned back to Daniel with a guarded expression. 'I'm not mad at you,' he held up a hand, 'about that.'
'What is that?' Daniel asked bluntly.
Jack pressed his lips together. 'I was captured by Ba'al. You helped me.' He held up a hand. 'And that's all I want to say about it.'
Daniel frowned. He'd read the report of Jack's capture by Ba'al. There had been short terse sentences describing days of repeated torture and death; the use of the sarcophagus to revive him time after time for more. Daniel stared at the other man. He had been there with Jack through that? And if he had, why hadn't he rescued Jack immediately? Why had he waited for the SGC to perform some miracle?
'You say I helped you but I didn't really, did I?' He spoke the thought out loud.
Jack closed his eyes briefly before he opened them again, spearing Daniel with an accusing look. 'I knew you'd do this.'
'This!' Jack thrust out a hand towards Daniel. 'I don't want to talk about this! Look, I got out and you helped, that's all you need to know.'
Daniel felt his anger surge up; all he needed to know? Damn it, it was a part of his life too! He opened his mouth and paused at the look on Jack's face; the mix of defiance and...desperation not to talk about it. Jack had been tortured for days; of course he didn't want to talk about it or think about it. It had to be something of a nightmare for Jack to even acknowledge it had happened at all. Daniel's anger disintegrated as fast as it had escalated.
He took a deep breath. 'Are you mad at me about Abydos? About Anubis destroying it?'
'No!' Jack denied. He suddenly looked at Daniel sharply. 'Are you mad at you because of Abydos?'
The question hit him with the force of a sucker-punch.
Daniel sank down to sit on the foot of the bed. Was he mad at himself about Abydos? Had he just been projecting all of that onto Jack? 'Yeah,' he admitted with a shaky laugh, 'I think maybe I am.'
Jack sighed heavily. He hesitated for a moment before he moved, closing the gap between them to sit beside Daniel on the bed. He rubbed his left thumb over his right palm.
'I don't remember what happened.' Daniel shook his head. 'I don't know if I tried to save them or if I...'
'You tried.' Jack cut him off.
Daniel looked at him.
'You broke the rules for them, Daniel.' Jack said quietly. 'You tried to stop Anubis. You shouldn't doubt that.'
'You really believe that.' Daniel realised.
Jack shrugged. 'You're here, aren't you?'
Daniel couldn't really argue with the logic. He had broken the rules. It was all too likely that his return was a punishment. He glanced at Jack. 'So.'
Jack looked back at him quizzically.
'Not mad at me.' Daniel clarified.
'Not even about the Jim thing?' Daniel asked, trying to lighten the moment.
Jack got to his feet. 'Teal'c thinks you were channelling Star Trek.'
'With you as Kirk?' Daniel's eyebrows rose up his brow. 'Really?'
'You have a different theory?' Jack pushed his hands in his pockets again.
'I don't know.' Daniel admitted. 'I just...I just think it was important to me.' And Jack was important to him so he'd put the two together - not that he was telling Jack that. He shrugged helplessly.
'So, about you staying...' Jack said lightly.
'That's OK.' The words came out sharper and quicker than Daniel had intended. He winced and tried an apologetic smile. 'It's not that...I mean, I'm OK at the base.'
Jack lifted a shoulder in a half-shrug and let it drop. If he was disappointed, it didn't show on his face. He pointed at the door. 'We should head back before Carter sends a search party.'
On some level, Daniel was aware Jack was joking but he couldn't stop the wince that distorted his features for a moment.
Jack's eyes snapped back to him. For a moment, Daniel thought Jack was going to let it go.
Jack ran a hand through his short hair. 'Look, about Carter...' he floundered and made almost an orchestral gesture with his hand before letting it fall. 'You should talk to her.'
Daniel's brow creased with thought. Sam had said that there was nothing between them but that sounded like there was. 'Did something happen between Sam and me? Something I don't remember?'
Jack's look of complete shock sent a sudden barrage of memories through Daniel about za'tarcs, regulations and Something That Was Never Discussed, and he was suddenly aware of the stupidity of what he had asked.
'She said we were just good friends.' Daniel hurried out. 'But when you said...' he tried a smile, 'I don't remember us being anything but good friends so...I just wondered but obviously that's not it.' Not when he'd just remembered that Sam had been in love with Jack and Jack had been in love with her. He cringed inwardly.
'I wouldn't know, Daniel.' Jack said brusquely as he headed towards the door. It was his parting shot before he was out of the room, leaving the door wide open.
Daniel followed after him and wondered if Sam and Jack had finally been able to move on from their feelings. They had tried the year before he had Ascended, he remembered. Maybe the two Air Force officers had moved past it; they seemed better friends than before. Daniel felt a twinge of jealousy and wondered at it.
Teal'c was alone in front of the television; he had made fresh popcorn and the smell of it made Daniel's mouth water; filled his head with a dozen memories of movie theatres; nights spent watching movies with friends; kissing lovers with the taste of popcorn and butter on his lips as old films played out on screen.
'Where's Carter?' Jack asked as he sat down on the sofa with a thump.
Daniel took the seat he had vacated earlier.
Teal'c barely glanced in their direction. 'Major Carter left shortly after you went in search of Daniel Jackson.'
Daniel ignored the faintly accusing look Jack shot him. It wasn't his fault that he and Jack had gotten into an argument - discussion - and Sam had left. And there had been no reason for her to leave, he thought, annoyance creeping in again. But as he settled against the cushions, he couldn't help think there was something he was missing; something that he wasn't remembering...
Janet hit the enter button on her keyboard, saving the last of her updated reports from her evening rounds. She blinked, aware of the gritty feel of her eyes from staring at the computer monitor for too long. She stretched, easing out the kinks in her muscles. She glanced at the clock. One am. She should head to the on-call room and get some sleep.
Although she occasionally ended up at the SGC over-night in an emergency, Janet had always made it a point to take the night shift for a week every couple of months. It allowed her to assess the efficiency of the usual night staff; to witness how the infirmary ran during the supposed 'down' time. It kept her staff on their toes and she made no apology for that.
She picked up the mouse and with a few clicks, logged off the computer. She got to her feet slowly. Her eyes glanced off the stack of financial information she'd brought with her from home. Cassie was in her final year of high school; she'd be attending college in the fall. She shook her head, wondering at just how fast the sweet young girl she had adopted had turned into a young woman. Cassie's grades were good but scholarships in her chosen field of history and sociology were rare. Janet had wanted to review the college fund she'd set up and assess what the gap was going to be and brainstorm some ideas.
The easiest option, Janet mused as she picked up the bundle of paperwork was to ask SG1 if they would help. Sam had been hinting for months and the Colonel had come right out and offered just a few weeks before. But as much as she knew they would, she didn't want to impose on them. Cassie was her daughter and Janet was determined that she would be able to pay. Maybe Daniel would be able to suggest something once his memory fully returned; he'd been in academia for a long time so maybe he knew of funds they could apply for.
She shook her head. It seemed so fantastical that he had returned from the dead. She was a doctor. She was used to death. Patients died. It was the one lesson every medical student had to learn and had to learn how to cope with damn fast if they wanted to go the distance. Yet there was Daniel; defying medical certainty - and not for the first time. She sighed and smiled wryly. At least this time she was used to the paperwork.
Janet made for the door.
If she was able to handle Daniel's resurrection with equanimity as a doctor, she was struggling as his friend. She had grieved for him, cried for him. She had spent hours remembering their friendship; mourning the loss of that friendship in her life; even mourning the loss of the vague potential of something more given she had at the time considered herself a step away from falling in love with him. Having him suddenly back was unexpected and jarring. It wasn't that she didn't rejoice in Daniel's return - she did. It was great to have him back. But she couldn't quite get her head around what that meant.
Was she supposed to pick up their friendship where they left off? Ignore the fact that Daniel had been gone a year? That he had chosen to leave and apparently never given their friendship another thought? Was she supposed to welcome a second opportunity to go for something more than friendship when she had in fact, moved on and dated other men?
Janet shook her head. She was struggling and she wasn't the only one. She knew Sam felt the same. They had talked in the locker room as she had arrived and before Sam had headed out to the team night the Colonel had organised...
'I'm happy he's back, Janet,' Sam leaned back on the row of lockers and pushed her hands into the pockets of her leather jacket.
'But?' prompted Janet, shrugging into her white doctor's coat.
'But I don't know if Daniel is happy to be back and...' Sam sighed. 'I feel guilty because I'm happy and then I get pissed...'
'Samantha Carter,' Janet said in her best Mom voice, 'language!' The laughter in her tone undermined her reprimand.
'...that I feel guilty because damn it: it wasn't my fault he left!' Sam concluded ignoring Janet's comment.
Janet sobered. 'No, it wasn't.'
Sam looked at her miserably. 'Then why does it feel like it was?' She sighed. 'And then I have all these questions about his Ascension that he can't answer - like why he never visited me and why only the guys - and I know I really shouldn't be bothered by that now he's back but...' she covered her face with her hands. 'Ugh!'
Janet reached up and tugged Sam's hands away from her face, squeezed and released them. 'It's OK to have issues with him, Sam.'
Sam's cheeks were tinged with a faint pink flush. 'I know.'
'Isn't this exactly why the Colonel organised dinner for you all?' Janet pointed out, logically.
Sam sighed again and turned to pick up her bag. She closed her locker and took a deep breath. 'Wish me luck.'
'Good luck!' Janet had watched her leave with all the enthusiasm of a convicted felon headed for the execution chamber.
Janet wondered how the dinner had gone. Sam hadn't called her to report any major disaster so maybe it had gone OK. She gave a sympathetic grimace. Sam would need to work past her difficulties with Daniel sooner rather than later given they would be on the same team. Janet had the luxury of not really seeing Daniel all that often and when she did it was easy to fall back on her doctor persona to help her through the interaction.
A noise in one of the isolation rooms caught her attention and she stopped walking. The door was open. She frowned. The room wasn't in use and it was protocol to keep the door closed. She walked over cautiously and peeked inside.
For a moment, it was all a dark, blurry mess beyond the minimal light spilling in from the corridor but gradually forms took shape: the neatly made bed, the silent machines, the row of cupboards...a lump moved by the floor: someone was there.
Janet took a step toward them. 'Hello?'
For a second, she thought whoever it was wasn't going to reply before she heard a small sigh.
'It's me.' Daniel said quietly. He sounded terrible.
Janet closed the door swiftly and switched on a side lamp, illuminating the room in a soft amber glow. She took a cursory look at him.
He sat on the floor by the far cupboard, feet flat on the floor, his knees bent. His hands were clasped tightly in his lap. His eyes were closed and his glasses missing. He was dressed in pyjama bottoms but his torso was bare revealing the defined muscles and washboard stomach his Ascension had left him with. He was pale under the tan he sported and smudged dark circles under his eyes spoke of disturbed sleep but otherwise he seemed OK.
She dumped her stack of paper and walked over to him. She lowered herself carefully to the floor, smoothed her medical coat and skirt flat, before primly crossing her legs at the ankle. She folded her hands on top of her uppermost thigh and waited.
'I was dying.' Daniel said eventually.
He didn't look at her and she kept her own eyes forward.
'Yes.' Janet agreed softly. 'You were.'
'In this room.'
Ah. Well, that explained why he had chosen the isolation room.
'I remembered it.'
Janet had to strain to hear him and almost blanched when she realised what he had said. She licked her lips. 'You remembered dying?'
'I dreamed about it.'
She heard a small thud as his head fell back against the cupboard.
'Only it wasn't a dream, was it?' Daniel gave a short humourless laugh. 'I actually died.'
Janet wondered how she could help him; if she could help him. The radiation poisoning had been excruciatingly painful. All she had been able to do as his doctor was to make his suffering as painless as she could.
'Sorry.' Daniel said suddenly. 'I know I shouldn't be in here but...'
'It's OK, Daniel.' Janet soothed him quickly.
'I guess it freaked me out.'
'I can understand that.' Janet remarked. 'I think remembering my death would freak me out too.'
Daniel stretched out his legs, following her example and crossing them at the ankle.
'Why now?' Janet asked impulsively, turning to look at him. 'Did something happen at the dinner this evening?'
Daniel grimaced. He rubbed at the stubble on his chin. 'No. I don't know.' He scratched his left arm absently. 'Not really.'
'Well,' Janet said dryly, 'that's cleared that up.'
Daniel laughed. 'Maybe it was because of tonight. I...I'm not sure.'
'Do you want to talk about it?' Janet asked gently.
He shook his head. 'But I guess this where you tell me I should talk?' He waggled his eyebrows at her.
'Only if you want to.' Janet replied calmly.
There was a long silence.
Daniel shifted beside her and the small puff of breath he released gave Janet the signal that he had decided to confide in her. 'Jack and I talked. Well, as much as Jack ever talks.' He said. 'So I don't think it was that but...'
'But...' Janet prompted.
'I asked him if there was something between Sam and I before I remembered...' Daniel broke off abruptly.
'About Sha're?' Janet suggested. Daniel had been so in love with his wife, even after she had died. It had been one of the reasons why Janet had never hinted to him about her own burgeoning feelings along with the more prosaic reality that she was his doctor.
'Sam told me that we were just very good friends but I wasn't sure.' Daniel admitted. 'Not that that's it. I mean, I know I'm still in love with Sha're and Sam...she doesn't see me that way I know but...' His brow creased. 'I remembered...' he took a deep breath. 'I remembered she tried to heal me but it didn't work.' He glanced at Janet. 'Is that why she's being weird with me?'
Janet sighed at the blunt question. She knew the whole healing thing was probably part of why Sam felt so mixed up about Daniel's return. 'I'm not getting in the middle, Daniel. You two need to work it out between yourselves.'
'So Jack said.' Daniel admitted.
'Well, he's right.' Janet said. She wasn't surprised that Jack O'Neill was aware that there was a problem nor that he believed Daniel and Sam needed to work it out for themselves. He was an astute leader. She held up a hand when Daniel went to question her again. 'Not getting in the middle.' She repeated. 'Sam's my friend, Daniel.'
'Aren't we friends too?' Daniel asked lightly.
Are we? The words hovered on her lips and the temptation to say them was almost overwhelming. Almost. And therein was the exact same issue Sam had with Daniel if only he knew it.
Janet pressed her lips together and gestured at him. 'I'll say one thing,' she allowed, 'she missed you.'
Daniel blinked at her, frowning as he tried to understand what she was saying to him.
'Daniel, just...talk with her.' Janet encouraged. 'You two were good friends; are good friends. You'll work this out. You just need to talk.'
'Yeah.' Daniel rubbed the back of his head.
'And you need to sleep.' Janet patted his knee. 'Come on: back to bed.'
'Yes, Mom.' Daniel teased.
They helped each other up from the floor.
Daniel held onto her when Janet went to pull away. 'Thanks.' He smiled at her shyly.
'Any time.' Janet said briskly. She pulled her hand away from his. She motioned him out of the door ahead of her as she snapped off the light and picked up her discarded folders.
He gave a wave as she closed the door on the isolation room and walked off towards the elevators. Janet watched until he disappeared and let out a slow breath. She shook her head. Sam and Daniel would work it out; she knew that. She just hoped for the sake of SG1 that they did it sooner rather than later.
Jonas woke at the first brush of sunlight across his face. Apart from their off-world missions, he had spent the better part of a year waking up to the darkness of his quarters in the SGC. He stretched under the rough cover of the blanket and winced as he felt the sting of the injury he had sustained. He pushed the blanket away and clambered out of the bed. He looked around the opulent room with stunned wonder.
He couldn't believe he was back on Kelowna; that he was there at the request of all three of his world's nations to help them build a new alliance in the wake of Anubis's attack. His unique experience with SG1 and his known fallout with his own government had made him the only person all three would agree to help form a settlement. Still, Jonas had been half-surprised that he had been given accommodation in the relatively untouched First Minister's residence and that he hadn't been escorted straight to a cell despite the assurances of Ambassador Dreylock. He scratched his head absently as he padded into the adjoining bathroom.
The bath revived him and he dressed in the spare clothing he had brought with him from Earth. He frowned. He was going to have to request access to his old belongings - wherever they had ended up after his flight to Earth and betrayal. He struggled into the sling he'd been given and adjusted it until it was comfortable.
A quick glance out of the window confirmed that people were beginning to stir. There was movement in the courtyard below; people passing on the streets outside the guarded gate. The militia were patrolling: Kelowna was currently under military rule. They were keeping curfew and ensuring order while the civilian population came to grips with the revelation they were not alone in the universe, that they had been attacked and that their government and much of the property in the capital city had been all but destroyed by Anubis. He let the curtain drop back into place. He made his way to the door and opened it. He wasn't surprised to the waiting guard there. The young man nodded at him briskly and escorted him down to the dining room.
Jonas breakfasted alone in the massive room apart from the presence of the guard. The liva reminded him of his mother's; warm and fresh from baking. The cooked meat of a boarus, a large animal similar to a pig adorned the top. He smothered it in woody syrup from a native tree. He washed it all done with cups of kallo. The lemonade he'd discovered on Earth had always reminded him of the tangy citrus flavour of the drink.
Jonas looked around the beautifully decorated room. It was high society by Kelownan standards; dark panelling ran around the room with heavy portraits of past First Ministers framed in gold breaking up the space. The carpet was thick under his feet and a deep russet. The dark wooden table had been polished to a high gleam. The crockery was delicate; the cutlery polished metal that shone.
He sighed as his isolation worried at him.
He missed his usual routine of grabbing breakfast with Teal'c, Nyan and - during his final weeks - the newly returned Daniel Jackson. He missed Sam joining them and teasing him over some detail of human etiquette or culture that he hadn't quite understood. He missed the Colonel dragging them all away for their briefing and to work.
Jonas took another sip of kallo. He had reconciled himself to never returning to Kelowna. He had betrayed his government twice. Once, during the original events that had led to Daniel Jackson's Ascension and once when he had returned to try and talk them out of using the naquadria bomb. He had thought his life was going to be spent at the SGC, going through the Stargate, exploring the universe. Perhaps he'd started to accept that it was likely he would be reassigned from SG1 given Daniel's return but he had never imagined not being there at all.
If he had spoken out, asked to remain on Earth, Jonas was certain that his request would have been granted. Sam and Teal'c would have spoken in his favour; maybe even the Colonel. But he had known as soon as Ambassador Dreylock had shown up at the SGC with the request for him to return that he couldn't stay on Earth. He had said as much to Teal'c and Sam.
'The other Ambassadors have insisted that I be a part of the new Joint Ruling Council - in fact Ambassador Dreylock said their involvement hinges on my involvement.' Jonas hoped he didn't sound as miserable as he felt.
Sam's smiled sympathetically at him. 'What are you going to do?'
'What can I do?' Jonas countered with a frustrated sigh. 'It's my fault Anubis found out about my planet. If they really want me, I have a duty to help them.'
'Then I believe you have your answer, Jonas Quinn.' Teal'c intoned. He held Jonas's gaze. 'You will be missed, my friend.'
He really missed his team-mates, Jonas mused. He checked the clock and glanced toward the guard.
It seemed surreal that he was back.
For a moment, he wondered what his late mentor Doctor Kieran would make of it. Perhaps he would have been proud of Jonas's decision; of the way he was needed. Jonas rubbed his forehead. He wished the old professor was alive and with him, hale and hearty. They could have sat together and rejoiced over the familiar food and drink they had missed in their time away; compared it to Earth and the variety of produce there.
Ambassador Dreylock bustled in and broke the uncomfortable silence. She wore a neat green suit and her red-brown hair was pinned back into its usual chignon. She looked around the empty room and gestured at him.
'There you are, Jonas.' She gestured at him and he stood up hurriedly, half-jogging down the room to catch up with her as she turned around and walked out. She led the way through the corridors to a suite of offices. She opened the door to one and waved him through.
A slim, moustached man in military uniform stood by the tall, thin window. He glanced at Jonas and smiled. 'Mister Quinn.'
'Ah...you have the advantage.' Jonas said. He glanced at Dreylock. Was he going to end up in a jail after all?
'This is Commander Garrett.' Dreylock said. 'He's in charge at present until we can restore the Kelownan government.'
The military commander who had taken over from the ill-fated Hale, Jonas surmised.
'Have a seat, Mister Quinn.'
Jonas didn't see the point of debating it. He sat and waited.
Dreylock took the seat on the other side of the desk and Jonas realised belatedly it was her office. She pointed at the tray on a side-table. 'More kallo?'
'No, thank you.' Jonas looked towards Garrett and back at Dreylock. 'So, I assume there's a purpose to this meeting?'
'We're going to be working together, Mister Quinn.' Garrett said grimly, clasping his hands behind his back. 'I wanted to meet you before the Joint Ruling Council convenes later this morning.'
'I see.' Jonas wet his lips. 'Because you don't trust me.' He took a deep breath. 'I can understand why.'
'Oh, you can, can you?' Garrett shot back.
'I betrayed Kelowna by taking the naquadria to Earth and informing them of the truth about Daniel Jackson's actions.' Jonas said evenly. 'I was outspoken on my return about the immorality of using the naquadria bomb.' He paused briefly. 'And I'm only here because the enemies of Kelowna have demanded my presence on the Council.'
Garrett smiled thinly. 'Your file said you were the best of your generation.' He motioned at him. 'You forgot giving away the location of our world to an alien race who attacked us.'
Jonas stilled. The memory of the device clawing into him; his desperate attempt to keep from thinking anything and knowing he was failing rocketed through him. 'Anubis took that information from me by force; I did not give it willingly.'
'So you say.' Garrett said.
Jonas resisted the urge to rise to the bait. He lifted his chin.
'Gentlemen,' Dreylock said soothingly, 'we need to work together if Kelowna is going to get through this crisis.'
'I agree.' Jonas concurred.
Garrett harrumphed. 'I agree under protest.' He walked over and sat down next to Jonas.
Jonas let out a huff of relief. 'What now?'
'We agree terms.' Dreylock said smoothly. 'Jonas, I believe that we need your help and support but given the history...Kelowna requires certain assurances.'
'Go on,' Jonas encouraged her, wondering what they had come up.
Dreylock shifted position in her seat and reached for a folder on top of her desk. She opened it. 'Firstly, that you will sit on the Council in an advisory capacity only. You will not have voting rights and should the other nations request that you do, you must support our position.'
Jonas nodded slowly. He didn't see any issue complying with that. He didn't want voting rights.
'You will be made aware of the Kelownan position ahead of Council meetings.' Dreylock continued. 'If you disagree with the position, you will refrain from commenting during the meetings.'
Jonas shook his head. 'I'm sorry, but isn't the point of my being on the Council to bring my expertise to the table? How can I best advise you and the Council if I'm not allowed to openly disagree with you?'
Dreylock shot Garrett a look that Jonas translated to mean 'I told you so.' She lowered the paper she held. 'Perhaps a compromise? You are able to disagree with our position in the Council forum but you must inform us that you intend to do so and why.'
Giving the Kelownans an advantage to marshal further arguments in support of their own position, Jonas determined. But it was a good compromise. He sighed and nodded.
'Lastly,' Dreylock set aside the folder altogether and clasped her hands on the desktop, 'while your own possessions were confiscated by the state upon your flight to Earth, you were Doctor Kieran's only heir. The property and monies that he left to you will be turned over immediately. Further, we would like to invite you to assume a position as the head of our scientific research division.'
Enabling them to keep a close eye on him and ensure his loyalty to Kelowna, Jonas realised. 'Do I get a choice?' He asked caustically.
'Jonas, regardless of what this may look like,' Dreylock replied before Garrett could, 'the fact is that Kelowna has lost a great many of its best scientists over the past year. We could do with someone of your calibre working on our unfinished projects. Garrett is right; you are considered to be the best of your generation.' She paused. 'We would of course listen to any modifications to any of our outstanding projects you wished to make on moral grounds.'
Jonas considered her argument. The position was a chain around his ankle but she was giving him the power to change things for the remaining projects that he had been denied with the naquadria bomb. He nodded jerkily. 'Fine.'
Garrett leaned forward. 'I have two further conditions.'
Dreylock looked at him unhappily but gestured for him to continue.
'I'm assigning a bodyguard to you.' Garrett held up his hand. 'You're not popular, Mister Quinn, and someone might take it into their heads to shoot you.' His gray eyes stared at Jonas mercilessly. 'Senior Officer Terra will be in charge of your security. I expect you to listen to her and follow her commands. Is that understood?'
Jonas gave a sharp nod.
'And lastly...' Garrett continued, 'if it was up to me you would be in a jail cell facing execution for your crimes against Kelowna.'
The blunt words slammed into Jonas with all the force of one of Teal'c's punches.
'Ambassador Dreylock tells me I can't do that; that we need you and that you were guaranteed safe return.' Garrett's eyes slid to the Ambassador who looked back at him without giving an inch. Garrett's gaze returned to him. 'If I find that you have contravened one item of your agreement here today, I will arrest you. Do you understand?'
'Oh, I understand.' Jonas said quietly.
Garrett got to his feet. 'We'll meet again later this morning to discuss the agenda for the Council.' He left without saying another word.
Dreylock sighed in the wake of his departure. 'I'm sorry about that, Jonas.'
He waved away her apology. 'Honestly, Ambassador, I'm continually surprised I'm not under arrest.' Jonas tried to joke.
'Call me Marina, please, Jonas.' She smiled at him. 'And despite appearances, Garrett isn't another Hale.' She waited a beat. 'For which we can all be deeply thankful.' She added dryly.
Jonas laughed. 'I'll do my best to work with him.'
Dreylock's smile widened. 'I never expected anything else from you, Jonas.' She pushed back from her desk and motioned at him to follow her again. 'I thought you might like to make an immediate start on the science projects so I asked for a briefing team to be sent over. They should be here by now.'
They traversed back through the corridors to another room and Dreylock ushered him inside. Silence fell immediately on the five scientists gathered in the conference room. There were large piles of paper everywhere, and Jonas absently realised each represented a different project.
Dreylock glanced at the table. 'Well,' she said brightly, 'I'll leave you to it.' She exited rapidly, closing the door behind her.
Jonas was left in a painfully awkward silence with the five scientists. He tried a smile and a small wave with his good arm. 'Hi. I'm Jonas Quinn.'
'Errold Var,' a young man with blond curly hair stepped forward and grinned at him, 'I'm looking forward to working with you, Professor.'
'Jonas, please.' Jonas insisted.
'Kianna Seer.' A pretty blonde woman stepped up beside Errold. 'And these are Jarrod Mope, Harrod Gestu and Bridget Tenny.'
Jonas looked around the scientists with a smile. 'Well, I don't know what you've heard about me...'
'That you tried to stop the government making the naquadria bomb and when they wouldn't listen to you, you left through the Stargate.' Errold's voice was filled with wonder. 'They say you travelled the stars as part of a team and saved many worlds including ours.'
'Errold!' scolded Harrod.
'No, that's OK.' Jonas said. 'Some of that's true,' he confirmed, 'but I want to reassure you that I'm here now and I'm committed to rebuilding our world.' His voice rang with his inner conviction.
They gave pleased smiles in response and Jonas let some of the tension from his discussion with Garrett slip away; some of the loneliness he'd felt without his team-mates beside him eased in the company of the other scientists. He looked at the mass of paper with a sudden rush of enthusiasm.
'OK,' Jonas grinned, 'let's get to work.'
The planet was not unlike many of the others Teal'c had visited over the years he had served with the Tau'ri. It had a temperate climate; trees with verdant foliage; wildlife scurrying into the undergrowth and Ancient ruins.
It was the Ancient ruins that were ostensibly the reason why SG1 had been assigned the mission to study them. Teal'c suspected a second purpose behind their assignment given the planet's location in a neutral part of the galaxy and the lack of inhabitation on the planet itself. The mission was what O'Neill called a "milk-run" - something easy and trouble-free that would not require SG1 to operate at maximum efficiency given it was their first mission in their reformed team.
Teal'c spared a thought for Jonas Quinn. He missed the young Kelownan but he appreciated the sense of honour and duty that had prompted Jonas Quinn's return to his home-world. Teal'c knew he would face such a decision himself one day when it would be no longer feasible to divide his time between the Jaffa and the Tau'ri.
He scanned the woodland again but saw nothing to make him suspicious or concerned. His dark eyes strayed back to the team members ahead of him.
O'Neill had taken the lead position. The military man seemed focused on the mission at hand. He had been subdued since the loss of Abydos and their strange encounter with the Ascended form of their friend, Skaara.
Teal'c felt a pang of guilt. His pride smarted at the memory of Abydos. He remembered again the incoming glider, the run back to the pyramid. He should have been faster, stronger, better. His brow lowered. If he'd had a symbiote he would have been. Instead he had been kek. Weak. He still was. No matter how long and hard he trained, he could not recapture with tretonin that which his symbiote had given him naturally.
He was ashamed that he missed the symbiote's benefits so desperately that the urge to replace the one he had lost was strong. His lips firmed. He was free of the Goa'uld. He must remember that was the benefit of tretonin that trumped all else. Yet a small voice whispered inside his head and asked whether his freedom was worth such a heavy price to his physical prowess.
Without his Goa'uld symbiote, he could also no longer sense the naquadah borne by Samantha Carter as a former host to the Tok'ra Jolinar. The Major held the position behind O'Neill. Daniel Jackson was placed behind her and in front of Teal'c.
The Jaffa was pleased that the archaeologist had returned from his Ascension and had decided to rejoin the team. He owed the other man a debt of gratitude for staying by his side during the events of Kresh'tar. They had not spoken about it and Teal'c suspected that Daniel Jackson no longer remembered what had occurred. Teal'c was patient. He knew they would speak of it in the future at an appropriate time when Daniel Jackson was ready.
He suspected that his friend had already spoken with O'Neill about the times they had met during the past year when they had disappeared during the movie after the dinner O'Neill had held. He had sympathised with Samantha Carter's decision to leave in the anticipation the two men would be some time despite her own evident need to discuss matters of importance with Daniel Jackson.
Teal'c suspected that O'Neill had hoped that placing Samantha Carter and Daniel Jackson in the middle of the group that the two might have spoken with each other. They had often fallen to talking in previous missions when the group had been so arranged. He had watched Major Carter make two attempts to begin a discussion and watched Daniel Jackson rebuff them in a kind but firm way. Since the last, neither seemed inclined to break the silence that had fallen upon them.
The forest began to thin and the path gave way to a vast clearing and the remnants of a temple of some sort. A tower rose from the centre of a compact building. The far right wall was in shambles; the left bowed out. The windows were all gone leaving nothing but holes in the stone walls. The main door had also long disappeared and there was an open archway into the building from a front veranda decorated with pillars adorned with writing.
Daniel hurried forward. He shrugged off his pack, nudged his glasses up his nose and looked up at the first pillar.
'Daniel?' Jack asked briefly, swiping his cap from his head and rubbing his hand through his short grey hair before replacing the headwear.
'It's definitely Ancient.' Daniel waved at the writing. 'It's an early dialect but I can read it.'
Teal'c watched as the Major drew O'Neill's attention.
'I think we should make a structural analysis of the building before we do any research inside.' Sam pointed to the bowed wall. She took off her pack and began to sort through the contents for what she needed.
Jack turned back to Daniel.
'Oh, I'm good here.' Daniel said brightly, motioning at the pillar.
'Of course you are.' Jack gestured at the building. 'Carter, go do your analysis thing.' He glanced over at Teal'c and they exchanged a meaningful look. One that communicated their shared understanding that all was not well between their team-mates and one that silently agreed to the division of labour.
Teal'c inclined his head. He would remain go with Major Carter and guard her during her work. He set off beside her as she walked around to the bowed wall and began her tests. She performed her work with her usual efficiency but he had known her a long time and he could see the signs that she was upset in her abrupt actions.
'Do you wish to talk about it, Major Carter?' Teal'c offered, adjusting his stance.
Sam looked up at him sharply. She gave a huff of annoyance and Teal'c knew it was directed at herself for allowing her emotions to become apparent to him. 'I'm fine, Teal'c.'
He waited patiently.
She completed another test and moved on to the far wall before speaking again. 'Teal'c, may I ask you something?'
'You may.' Teal'c acquiesced.
'Has Daniel talked to you since he came back?' Sam turned to face him and he caught the anxiety in her blue eyes that she was trying to hide.
'We have had several discussions.' Teal'c allowed.
Sam's lips thinned. 'So...it's just me then.'
'It is just you what, Major Carter?' Teal'c asked gently.
'Who he doesn't want to talk to.' Sam stated bluntly. She rubbed her nose and turned away from him. 'It's fine.'
And yet clearly it was not.
'I mean,' Sam continued, 'I agreed with the Colonel that we should give him some space because I know Daniel's getting used to being back after all the issues with his memory.'
'Indeed,' murmured Teal'c.
'And it's not as though he's being horrible to me and we're fine when we're in a group so...' Sam glanced over at Teal'c and gestured with the device she held, 'I just miss him, you know.'
Teal'c wondered what he could say to reassure her. There had been times during her grief at the loss of Daniel Jackson when his words had failed to offer her the comfort she had needed and he was concerned that he would fail again. But he also knew he had to try. 'I am certain that you will rediscover your friendship in due time, Major Carter.'
She smiled suddenly and Teal'c was pleased to see her shoulders drop slightly as she let go of some of the tension within her. She reached over and patted his arm. 'Thanks, Teal'c.'
He watched as she continued her work, apparently refocused on the task after their discussion. He debated whether to say anything to Daniel Jackson. It was clear that O'Neill had taken the view that the two needed to work it out themselves, and it was not a view with which Teal'c disagreed. Yet he could not repress the memories of Samantha Carter's devastation in the wake of Daniel Jackson's death, of her hurt in the realisation that O'Neill and he had seen their Ascended team-mate but had not informed her, of her unrestrained delight when Daniel Jackson had chosen to return to Earth with them, of her most recent confidence that she missed Daniel Jackson's friendship; it all prompted Teal'c to try and resolve the situation promptly.
Perhaps, Teal'c determined, there would be an opportunity for him to speak with Daniel Jackson regarding Major Carter. He had no doubt that the sooner the two talked, the sooner both would be happy.
The wind ruffled his hair and Daniel hunched over, moving an inch closer to the campfire. They had set up camp to the side of the ruins, closer to the tree-line. Two small tents had been erected under the shelter of the trees. The campfire was almost mid-distance between the tents and the ruins to ensure sparks didn't set the forest alight. Teal'c and Jack had placed two large logs either side of the fire-pit. Jack and Sam sat on one; Daniel and Teal'c on the other.
Daniel grimaced. If there was one thing he was sure he hadn't missed during his Ascension it was the MREs.
'Let me guess: tastes like chicken?' teased Sam, catching his expression.
'Well, it is chicken.' Daniel replied bemused by the teasing.
Sam seemed about to explain but she paused and shrugged dismissively as though indicating it wasn't important. She stood up and threw what remained of the coffee in her mug on the ground. She gestured around the team. 'Well as I have the last watch, I think I'm going to turn in.'
'Goodnight, Major Carter.' Teal'c offered solemnly.
Daniel had a mouth full of food so he settled for waving at her with his MRE packet.
Jack blew on his coffee and took a sip, watching as Sam stepped away from the campfire and across the clearing to the tents.
Daniel finished the MRE and threw the wrapper on the fire. It flared brightly for a long moment. He reached for his coffee and took a welcome sip.
'You're done with the pillars, right?' Jack asked, breaking the silence eventually.
'Yes.' Daniel warmed his hands on the side of his mug. The fire crackled and popped in a comforting familiar way in front of him. 'They're fascinating, really. I think they're telling the story of...'
'So, you'll want inside the building tomorrow?' Jack said.
The brusque almost desperate interruption brought back enough memories of all the other times Jack had cut him off that Daniel smiled, disconcerting the other man if the wary look on Jack's face was anything to go by.
'I'll need to see the inside of the building tomorrow.' Daniel agreed cheerfully.
Jack nodded. 'Carter's concerned that the structure isn't good.' He waved his mug at the ruins beside them. 'Especially in the tower.'
Daniel frowned. He had been studying the pillars when Sam had reported her findings to Jack. 'So...' He wondered if the military man was going to ban any inside study and started to prepare his arguments.
'So,' Jack continued, 'in and out; no more than two of us at any one time.'
It seemed an acceptable position. 'I can video the inside and do the analysis back at the SGC.' Daniel agreed.
'Good.' Jack said. 'You and Carter can start first thing after breakfast. Teal'c and I will take care of the camp.'
Daniel looked down at his mug. The personnel assignments made sense: Sam had a better understanding of the structural capabilities of the building and weighed less than either Jack or Teal'c. Perhaps, Daniel acknowledged, it was a good opportunity for him and Sam to talk. He was aware that he couldn't continue to prevaricate without damaging their friendship and working relationship. And he figured Sam had been trying to give him the space he needed; she had quickly desisted from her attempts to talk to him on the walk from the Stargate and had kept her distance all day.
Jack got to his feet and tossed the remaining liquid in his mug on the ground. 'I'm going to get some shut-eye.' He looked at him carefully. 'You OK for the first watch?'
Daniel nodded an acknowledgement. Jack had the watch before Sam; Teal'c the one before that and he had first watch. He tried to remember if it was their usual watch pattern but gave up when the information remained tantalisingly elusive.
Jack entered the second of the tents and the sound of the zipper being closed filled the air for a moment before the soft breeze and the fire replaced it.
Daniel breathed in deeply. The scent of wood-smoke and earth filled his nostrils. There was a hint of perfume from the patches of purple flowers that were dotted about the clearing. The bitter aroma of his coffee drifted up from his mug. Daniel took another appreciative sip.
Teal'c shifted beside him. 'You are avoiding, Major Carter.'
Daniel's head jerked towards him and his blue eyes blinked behind his glasses. 'Uh, Teal'c...'
Teal'c simply stared back at him.
The archaeologist returned his attention to his mug for a long moment before he emitted a long sigh of resignation. Apparently the tension between him and Sam hadn't gone unnoticed. He figured it had probably been the reason Jack had placed them together on the walk; another reason why he was assigning them to the building the next day.
'I'm not avoiding Sam,' Daniel said quietly, ignoring the small voice in his head that contradicted him, 'it's just...I haven't been ready to talk to her.' He tried a smile. 'You know Sam; she's bound to have a hundred questions and...'
'You are not certain you have answers for her.' Teal'c concluded.
Daniel nodded enthusiastically. 'Exactly.'
'I believe Major Carter understands your need for space while you recover your memory.' Teal'c said.
'Then why does she keep looking at me as though she's scared that I'm about to disappear?' Daniel blurted out.
Teal'c raised an eyebrow. 'Perhaps because you did disappear when you chose to Ascend, Daniel Jackson.'
Daniel felt breathless at the bluntness of the statement. He didn't know what to say. Teal'c regarded him solemnly and Daniel tried not to squirm under the intense gaze.
'Major Carter mourned your loss greatly, Daniel Jackson.' Teal'c stated. The Jaffa turned his attention to the flames. 'For many days neither O'Neill nor I could find the words to comfort her sufficiently.'
What could he say, Daniel thought tiredly; knowing in the abstract that they had grieved for him and truly understanding the extent of the pain and loss they had experienced because he Ascended were two different things. He sighed and drank down the rest of his coffee.
'I've already decided that I'll talk with Sam tomorrow.' Daniel said. He tried a smile. 'After all, we are going to be stuck in a building together.'
The joke fell flat as Teal'c turned to glance at him. Daniel was reminded of a stare he had once received from the brother of a former girlfriend; one that had warned him not to hurt her.
'I'm not going to hurt her, Teal'c.' Daniel said sharply, stunned that the Jaffa would think he would and feeling another twinge of jealousy as he registered that Teal'c's protectiveness was another sign of the closeness that had developed between his team-mates in his absence.
'I did not believe that you would intend to do so, Daniel Jackson.' Teal'c rose from the log to stand. He bowed his head slightly before he made his way to the tent he was sharing with Sam.
Daniel helped himself to more coffee and tried to shake off the defensiveness he felt from his discussion with Teal'c. Maybe he was making too much of the fact that Jack, Janet and Teal'c had separately encouraged him to talk with Sam as though they were on her side. It wasn't even about sides; Daniel knew that. And it was highly probable that his team-mates had encouraged Sam to talk with him or rather to give him space while he remembered.
He sighed heavily. He felt guilty. He had chosen to leave. Although Daniel had read it in Jack's report of what had happened, experiencing the memory of his dying and his blurry conversations with the Ascended being, Oma Desala, had made it crystal clear to him. He could have been saved by Jacob Carter - or specifically the Tok'ra symbiote he carried in Selmak. Maybe that wouldn't have been a complete success but he could have lived. But he had chosen instead to let go: to Ascend.
Fundamentally, he hadn't been happy, Daniel mused. He had been questioning his life at the SGC; questioning whether he was making a difference. He had felt tired; worn out with so many defeats and losses. It would be easy for him to blame it all on his grief for Sha're but he knew some of it had been building even before her death with each trip through the Stargate where he failed to save her.
And he had drifted apart from SG1 that final year - partially because of the fallout from Jack and Sam putting their duty first despite their feelings; partially because Teal'c had been trying to cope with his brainwashing experience before acquiring a Jaffa army which took him away to the Alpha site more and more; but also because Daniel had been trying to hide how he felt from the others. His Ascension had been the ultimate way of putting distance between himself and his team-mates.
Ironically, his Ascension had brought the others together. He could see it in their interactions. The cracks had mended between them. Jack and Sam had found a different space, more of a friendship underneath the layer of professionalism rather than the mix of forbidden love and attraction that had been there before. Teal'c seemed comfortable with his respective responsibilities to the Jaffa and the Tau'ri.
Daniel took a large sip of coffee. He was back and he knew he needed to mend the distance between him and the others. He and Teal'c were OK; he and Jack were surprisingly fine after their discussion; but he had to stop putting distance between himself and Sam. Tomorrow, he determined. Tomorrow, they'd talk.
Sam felt the floor underneath her tremble as Daniel took another step into the centre and looked down hurriedly to check that it wasn't about to collapse. She let out a slow breath as the floor steadied.
This was a bad idea, Sam thought. Every moment they spent inside the rickety building, she questioned her previous risk assessment about its stability. Not that she and Daniel had been inside for very long. They had entered five minutes before with the strict instruction from the Colonel not to linger.
Daniel pointed his camera towards some more ornate writing and began silently mouthing the words in Ancient.
Sam opened her mouth to ask him what he had found and snapped it shut. She turned away and checked the far wall again.
Space, Sam reminded herself, she was giving Daniel space. And trying not to feel resentful that he needed space or that everyone - especially the Colonel and Janet - kept reiterating that Daniel needed space as though she didn't know. Sam rolled her eyes. She couldn't really blame them. She had been the one to tell Cassie the same thing. Maybe it was just that she wanted Daniel to tell her he needed space; some reassurance that their friendship was important to him and he'd get round to talking with her in the same way that he'd apparently already talked with the Colonel and Teal'c - and she was so trying to be OK at being left till last.
She closed her eyes briefly before reopening them and studying the crack that ran the length of the ceiling.
It was stupid to feel hurt that Daniel hadn't visited her during Ascension, Sam told herself briskly. Janet had suggested that perhaps he'd visited them in dreams as Cassie believed and there was no real evidence to prove he had or he hadn't. It was unlikely that she was ever going to get an answer given the issues with his memory.
Funnily enough, Sam mused, she had thought things between them had improved that morning. She had returned from a perimeter check to find Daniel the first one up and about. They had worked together in seamless coordination to get coffee brewing and breakfast cooking. It had felt like the old days; comfortable and friendly. Not that they had talked but then everyone on the team knew that Daniel didn't speak until after his first mug of coffee.
But by the time the coffee had brewed, Teal'c had been awake and soon after that the Colonel had crawled out of his tent. She had gone for a bathroom break and returned to find the guys in the midst of some discussion about Yu and Ba'al. Understandably, the Colonel hadn't been happy at Teal'c helping Ba'al climb to the top of the slippery Goa'uld pole but as Teal'c had stated there were few candidates who could match Ba'al for territory and the size of his army.
Sam sighed heavily and winced as she realised she had sighed very audibly.
Daniel cleared his throat. 'I'm done with this room.'
They headed to the next one.
Sam immediately crossed to the far wall again and carefully examined it. There was a larger crack that ran vertically down the intersecting bowed wall on the left of the building. She frowned. She could almost put her entire hand in it.
'Tastes like chicken.' Daniel said suddenly.
Sam spun back to look at him with a frown.
'I get it.' Daniel explained sheepishly. 'Uh, from last night?'
Sam's mouth formed a small O. She smiled at him. 'You remembered?'
'Eating macaroni cheese and it tasting it like chicken on one of our early missions?' Daniel smiled. 'Oh, yeah. Although I'm thinking it really wasn't a memory I wanted to have back.'
Sam gave a brief laugh. 'Sorry.'
He pointed the camera at another wall. 'Just when I think I have most of my memory back...' he shrugged.
'It must be annoying.' Sam sympathised; unable to stop the hope rising inside that Daniel seemed happy to talk with her. Don't push it, Sam warned herself; let him steer the conversation.
'A bit.' Daniel's smile softened the bluntness of his words.
'Well,' Sam began and stopped as a crack shot suddenly across the floor between her and Daniel.
'Uh-oh.' Daniel said as he lowered the camera. 'That's not good, is it?'
Sam gestured at him; her eyes on the walls either side of them. Despite her calculations, their weight had been too much for the building; it was going to collapse. 'Get out of the building, Daniel.'
He looked over at her. 'What about you?'
'I'll be fine.' Sam said, hoping she sounded confident. 'I'll step over the crack as soon as you're out of the room.'
'Sam...' Daniel protested.
'Go!' She ordered briskly.
Daniel took a hesitant step towards the door. The wall behind him trembled.
Sam's eyes widened with horror as a section broke away and began to tumble down towards Daniel's head...
She moved, throwing herself over the crack and pushing Daniel forcibly through the doorway into the small atrium of the building.
There was a rumble and Sam felt something fall on her, knocking her to the ground. She yelled at Daniel to go as she saw him turn back for her. Something grazed her head and for a second she saw stars.
A moment after, she felt Daniel covering her.
The building heaved a huge groan and descended around them.
For what seemed like hours but what she knew could only be a few minutes there was nothing but the sound of stone falling, and Daniel's rapid breathing; all she could see was dark and dust.
Finally, everything went silent.
'Daniel?' Sam croaked. She pushed at him weakly. She could barely breathe for the dust and he was lying over her. She began to panic that she would suffocate.
Daniel moved backwards and a second later he turned on a flashlight.
Their radios crackled.
'Carter!' Jack's voice sounded anxiously through the radio. 'Carter! Report!'
Sam made to reply and started to cough. The movement sent a shaft of pain through her head.
Daniel raised a hand and pressed down on the radio. 'It's me, Jack. Sam got hit by some rubble and is injured. I'm OK but, uh, there doesn't seem to be a way out.'
There was a beat of silence.
'Roger that.' Jack said. 'Keep Carter conscious and talking. We're going to need help getting you out without making it worse. Teal'c and I are going to the Stargate to request engineers. We'll back as soon as we can.'
'OK.' Daniel replied.
'Hang in there.' Jack signed off and silence descended.
Sam licked her lips. 'We should make an assessment of what we have.'
'Right.' Daniel said. 'I have one video camera, uh, smashed. I have a couple of protein bars in my vest. The flashlight and...aha! My water canteen.'
'That's good. I have some chocolate and my water canteen too.' Sam said weakly. She blinked. Was that black dots in front of her eyes?
Daniel eased back over to her. 'I should check your injuries.'
'I'm fine.' Sam said automatically.
'How many fingers?' Daniel held up his hand.
He gave a nod and Sam sighed as he probed the back of her head; the blow to her back which had sent her to the ground had been deflected by her vest. He resettled her into a more comfortable position; taking off his jacket so she would have a pillow. They each took a gulp of water to wash the dust from their mouths before agreeing to save it as much as possible.
Daniel sat beside her. 'I think there's air getting in from somewhere. I feel a draught.'
'That's good.' Sam said muzzily. Her head ached. 'We won't suffocate.'
'Always a bonus,' quipped Daniel. 'Although I'm thinking it's a better way to go than radiation poisoning.'
Sam tried to make sense of the words. 'You remember...that?'
'Dying?' Daniel nodded. 'I dreamed about it.'
Sam struggled to know what to say.
'I guess you've been through something similar.' Daniel commented.
She looked at him questioningly.
'The thing with Nirrti?' Daniel prompted. 'You suggested in your report that you thought the machine worked by mutating genes within individual cells with high levels of radiation.'
'It was just a theory.' Sam murmured. She winced and reached up to finger the bump at the back of her head gingerly.
'I think it was a good one.' Daniel said enthusiastically. 'I wish I could have seen the machine.'
'I wish you could have too.' Sam said. 'I wish we could have studied it but given the danger...I understood why they destroyed it.'
'Maybe there's another one out there somewhere.' Daniel suggested. He paused. 'I don't know whether to hope there is or be horrified at the possibility.'
Sam coughed again and groaned at the pain it caused.
'I'm fine.' Sam answered automatically.
There was a moment of silence.
'Daniel?' Sam prompted.
'Sorry, I was just thinking about the year I missed.' Daniel admitted. He nudged her arm with his hand as he gestured. 'When I first got back it felt like everyone knew me but...me. Even now, you'll say something or Jack will say something and I...I don't know what it means. And then I think maybe I don't know what it means because maybe it's something about this last year and I wasn't here, or I was here in some way but I don't remember it. I feel like I'm constantly at a disadvantage.'
Sam absorbed the frustration in his words; she could see his hands sweeping back and forth before he hugged his torso in all too familiar gesture. 'I didn't realise.' She said softly.
'I know you have questions and want to talk.' Daniel said. 'I just don't know if I have any answers so...'
'So that's why you haven't wanted to talk to me.' Sam concluded.
'That, and, uh,' Daniel said, lightly, 'I might have thought you were mad at me.'
She remained silent trying to gather her thoughts.
'Uh, Sam?' Daniel gave a nervous laugh. 'Isn't this where you tell me you're not mad at me?'
Her nose itched and she rubbed it absently. 'I was mad at you.'
'You left, Daniel.' Sam pointed out. 'One moment you were dying and that was hard enough, but then you were just gone and you chose to go.' Her anger pent up for so long tumbled out sharply. 'So, yes I was mad at you.'
'And then I was mad at the Colonel for letting you go and not wanting to acknowledge you were gone,' Sam continued in a rush, 'and Teal'c for being so damn accepting of it...'
'Sam.' Daniel tried to interrupt.
'And then I got mad at me.'
There was a stunned silence.
'You were mad at you?' Daniel checked.
'I wasn't a good friend to you, Daniel.' Sam confessed with relief. 'You were unhappy; I knew that especially after the whole thing with Reese. But...I don't know when but we'd stopped talking and after we came back from the mission with Grieves and Kershaw you seemed, I don't know; better? But I...I should have talked to you.'
Daniel reached out and slid his hand around hers. She gripped his tightly.
'I didn't want to talk about it with anyone; I didn't know how to talk about it.' Daniel paused. 'And I still don't want to talk about it really.'
Sam squeezed his hand in understanding and let go.
Daniel sighed heavily. 'And I knew you were just as unhappy and I didn't know how to make it better because I knew you couldn't talk about the thing you couldn't talk about it.'
Sam stiffened at the allusion to her feelings for the Colonel; his for her. She tried hard not to just deny there had been a problem although the words crowded in her throat. She swallowed hard and searched for something else; something that could reassure him. 'That's not a problem anymore.' She said quietly.
Daniel was silent and she wondered with a flicker of fear if he suspected that she wasn't exactly being honest; that she still loved Jack.
'What about you?' Sam asked hurriedly.
'I don't know.' His words held a bite that had her wincing. 'I left to make a difference but I'm not sure I achieved anything.' He grimaced at his own bitterness. 'I don't know if I'll ever remember the last year and in some ways I think I'm kind of glad that I don't remember it.'
'Why?' Sam asked, curious.
'You remember what I said to you when I was Arrom?'
'That you weren't sure you wanted to know who you were because you might not like you?' Sam answered.
'That.' Daniel gave a humourless laugh. 'That's kind of the way I feel about the last year. I'm not sure I want to remember because I'm not sure I'd like Ascended me.'
Sam was quiet; unsure what to say.
Daniel nudged her. 'And isn't this where you say if you were me you'd want to get to know Ascended you-me?'
'Daniel, the only time I saw you when you were Ascended was at Abydos.' Sam replied.
Sam shivered. 'You didn't visit me like you visited the guys.' She tried and failed to keep the accusation out of her voice.
'Look,' she said hurriedly, 'it doesn't matter not really.' She ignored the voice in her head whispering that it did. 'Cassie thinks you visited her in a dream to reassure her about Nirrti; Janet thinks it's possible you could have visited others the same way, in a dream, but we just don't remember it. So really, I don't know if you visited me or not.'
And they would never know if Daniel didn't remember his Ascension.
'I don't know what's worse,' Daniel muttered tiredly, 'thinking I visited you but didn't really help you like with Jack or that I didn't visit you at all.'
He sounded so disgusted with himself that Sam tried to reach out. She found his arm and patted it.
'It's OK, Daniel.' Sam reassured him. 'You're here now.' And suddenly, it was OK. It didn't matter whether he had visited her or not. She was just happy he was back and she was determined to be a better friend to him whether he had decided to return to his mortal form or whether he had been punished for trying to help them at Abydos.
It was evidently the right thing to say because Daniel moved, slipping his hand over hers again.
A comfortable silence descended and Sam felt no urge to break it. Her headache had receded a little and her vision was better. With any luck it was just a mild concussion, she mused.
'Sam,' Daniel began.
'I just want you to know...it wasn't your fault I left.' Daniel said slowly. 'And I may not know for certain whether I visited you or not and why, but I do know one thing...'
She bit her lip as she waited for him to complete his statement.
'What you said back on the planet...you're the reason Arrom decided to get to know Daniel Jackson.'
Sam let her fingers tighten around his briefly.
'So, we're going to be here for a while, right?' Daniel asked.
Sam calculated the distance back to the Stargate, how long it would take to pull together an engineering team and for them to return and rescue them. 'A while.'
'How about you tell me about everything I missed?' Daniel suggested. 'And you know; anything embarrassing I can use with Jack?' He waggled his eyebrows at her and looked hopeful.
Sam laughed: it really was good to have Daniel back.
'Hey, Daniel, do you...holy crap!'
Daniel tore his gaze away from the book he was reading on Ancient Babylonian culture and glanced over his shoulder.
Jack waved a hand around Daniel's office and Daniel followed it.
There were stacks of books everywhere; a pile of artefacts on the floor and the shelves were completely empty.
'What's going on?' Jack shoved his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket. He had changed out of his BDU which signalled his intent to head home.
Daniel shrugged, not wanting to admit that reorganising his office was probably some deep-seated primal need to mark his territory after Jonas's occupation. 'I couldn't remember what I had.'
'Right.' Jack looked back at him with his best CO 'you're not fooling me' expression.
'Are you heading home?' Daniel asked, gesturing with the book he held.
'Yes.' Jack allowed. 'Home.' He rocked back on his heels. 'So...'
'So?' prompted Daniel, nudging his glasses up his nose.
'Just wanted to check you're OK staying in quarters.' Jack said finally.
Daniel felt his lips twitch. 'I'm good.'
'OK.' Jack said. 'Just, you know, thought I'd check.'
'Thanks.' Daniel said sincerely.
Jack turned towards the door. 'Oh, hey. I looked in on Carter. Can you sneak her some jello later?'
Daniel nodded. 'Sure.' Janet had confined Sam to the infirmary for observation given her knock on the head.
'You know she likes the red, right?' Jack said innocently.
'Yeah,' Daniel drawled, 'not falling for that.'
Jack tapped the door, offered a smirk and disappeared, loping away with an easy grace that spoke of his ability as a fighter.
Daniel turned his attention back to his books. It had seemed like a good idea when he'd started but he was beginning to wonder if he shouldn't just put them back where he'd had them in the first place; Jonas hadn't actually moved anything as far as Daniel could tell.
His eyes settled on one stack of mission journals. He picked up the top one and opened it.
'This is my first mission as a member of SG1. Perhaps I shouldn't be writing this journal. Some might argue that it's disrespectful of Doctor Jackson but I believe continuing his practice is a way of honouring his work and honouring the man I only knew for a short time. He saved my people. I only hope that I can make the same kind of difference one day as he did, and while I know I can never replace Doctor Jackson on SG1, I hope to one day find my own place...'
Daniel set the journal back down. He should probably check whether Jonas wanted the journals shipped to Kelowna. They were his property. Daniel frowned as he wrestled with the urge to keep reading.
Daniel smiled at Teal'c, grateful for the interruption. 'Hey.'
'Would you care to join me for our evening meal?' Teal'c asked. The Jaffa didn't say anything about the office being in complete disarray and Daniel might have been fooled into thinking he hadn't noticed at all if not for the way Teal'c's eyes carefully stayed on him.
'Sure.' Daniel sighed. He could come back and sort everything later. He walked over to join Teal'c in the corridor and closed the door behind him.
They walked in comfortable silence to the mess, grabbed their food and headed to the usual table to eat.
Daniel sprinkled salt over his non-descript stew and took a bite. He grimaced.
'Does it taste of chicken, Daniel Jackson?'
Daniel's eyes snapped up to meet the Jaffa's. 'Funny.'
Teal'c inclined his head but there was a smile drifting over his lips.
'Actually, I'm not certain,' Daniel poked his fork at the meat, 'but I think this might be chicken stew.'
Teal'c raised his eyebrow. 'Nyan and I are meeting to watch a film later if you would like to join us.'
Daniel shook his head. 'I told Jack that I'd check in on Sam.'
Teal'c's dark eyes gleamed with approval but he didn't say anything and Daniel was pleased at the lack of a 'I told you so.' It was weird, Daniel mused, but since he and Sam had talked it out in the rubble, he couldn't really remember why he'd been so reluctant to talk to her.
Daniel wondered briefly at Sam's conviction that he had visited Teal'c during his Ascension and whether to say anything to Teal'c. He shrugged the thought away; if Teal'c had needed to discuss it with him, he would have said something.
'I was thinking about seeing Cassie at the weekend.' Daniel murmured.
'She will be pleased.' Teal'c said warmly.
'I'll talk to Janet and get it organised.' Daniel said, scooping up more of his stew. 'You want to come with me?'
'I would enjoy the opportunity to visit with Cassandra Fraiser.' Teal'c replied.
'Good, because I was hoping you would drive.' Daniel smiled as Teal'c's eyebrow lifted again.
They finished their meal discussing the merits of the film Teal'c was planning to watch and it wasn't too long before Daniel found himself walking out of the elevator and towards the infirmary with a bowl of blue jello.
'Daniel!' Janet's call had him halting mid-corridor and turning around.
Her heels clicked sharply on the concrete as she made her way to him, holding a clipboard tightly to her chest. 'I was hoping you would stop by,' Janet began.
'If this is about visiting Cassie I was just coming to see you.' Daniel remarked lightly.
Janet smiled. 'It is and you were?'
Daniel nodded. 'I thought Saturday?'
'Sounds good.' Janet said. 'You want to stay for dinner?'
'That would be great.' Daniel said with feeling, remembering the dismal meal he'd just had.
'Then it's a date.' Janet beamed at him briefly before her wording registered in her own mind and she blushed. 'I mean, not a date but...'
'It's OK,' Daniel hurried to assure her, 'I understood what you meant.'
Janet smiled back at him sheepishly.
Daniel held up the bowl. 'Uh, I'd better...'
'She's in ward four, round the corner; second door on the right.' Janet said, taking a step away from him to head in the opposite direction. She gestured with her clipboard at him. 'Don't stay too long; she needs rest.'
It was a short walk to the ward and Daniel slowed as he heard voices. His brow creased as he recognised the male voice drifting through the open door. He took a step inside the room and hovered uncertainly.
'Daniel!' Sam spotted him and grinned as she motioned at the visitor sitting on her bed. 'Look, who stopped by!'
Jonas raised the hand that wasn't constrained by his sling. 'Hi.'
Daniel closed the distance to the bed and raised the bowl he held. 'Jello?'
Sam took it from him eagerly. 'Great. You would not believe the stew I had for dinner.'
'Oh, I could probably guess.' Daniel said mildly. He folded his arms around his chest and looked over at Jonas. 'Back already?'
Jonas gave a shrug. 'The Joint Ruling Council agreed that we should request an informal and ongoing alliance with Earth to share information about the Goa'uld.' He smiled again. 'I was nominated to make the trip and present our request to General Hammond.' He pointed at Sam. 'He told me what happened so I thought I'd come and see how Sam was doing.'
Daniel felt vaguely guilty that he'd made Jonas explain. 'It's good to see you.' He remembered the journals and cleared his throat. 'Actually there was something I wanted to talk to you about?'
'Sure. I should probably be headed back for the gate room anyway; my bodyguard is probably getting restless.' Jonas slid off the infirmary bed.
'Bodyguard?' Sam teased.
'Tell me about it.' Jonas caught hold of her free hand and gave it a squeeze. 'Take care.'
'You too.' Sam said firmly. 'Don't be a stranger.'
Daniel touched her leg gently. 'I'll come by in the morning and grab you for breakfast?'
Sam smiled at him. 'Thanks.'
Daniel led the way out the infirmary. They were clear of the ward before he spoke. 'She really means it you know.'
Jonas looked at him inquiringly as they got to the elevator and Daniel pressed the button to call it.
'The 'don't be a stranger.'' Daniel clarified as they got into the compartment. 'She really means it. I know she misses you, and so does Teal'c.' He pushed his hands into his pockets. 'He told me earlier, and I quote 'your taste in movies is distinctly lacking compared with Jonas Quinn, Daniel Jackson.''
Jonas laughed and leaned back against the far wall.
'And I know Jack will probably never say it but...' Daniel shrugged.
The Kelownan crossed his arms over his t-shirt. 'I'm sure I'll be by with the alliance negotiations if the President approves the request.'
'He'll approve it.' Daniel said confidently.
'Because of our naquadria.' Jonas said knowingly.
'So,' Daniel said brightly, 'how goes it on Kelowna?'
'It's OK.' Jonas said with a touch of defensiveness. 'I mean, it's not like the welcome back you received. Not everyone's happy to have me back.' He gave a sad smile of resignation. 'And it's not like I had a choice really.'
The doors opened and they exited the elevator.
'Apart from the Council, they've put me in charge of the science projects again though which is pretty exciting.' Jonas said with enough enthusiasm that Daniel could tell it was genuine. He glanced at Daniel. 'I'm hoping to do better this time.'
Daniel followed him into the gate room and Jonas looked up at the control room and gave a thumbs-up signal to Walter Harriman who nodded in acknowledgement.
The gate began to spin. It was dialling Kelowna, Daniel realised.
A slim redheaded woman marched across the room dressed in Kelownan military uniform. 'Professor Quinn.' She barely glanced at Daniel. 'Are we returning to Kelowna now?'
'We are.' Jonas motioned at her and back at Daniel. 'Senior Officer Terra, Daniel Jackson. Daniel Jackson, Senior Officer Terra.'
Daniel exchanged a small nod of hello with the woman as the wormhole erupted. To her credit, she barely reacted.
Terra looked up the ramp and back at them. 'I'll leave you to say your goodbyes.' She said diplomatically. She walked swiftly away and disappeared into the blue puddle.
'The thing that I wanted to talk to you about,' Daniel said quickly, 'I found your journals.'
'Ah.' Jonas looked at him quizzically.
'I wondered if you wanted them back,' Daniel expanded, 'I mean, they're really your story of what happened during your time here and...'
Jonas cut him off shaking his head. 'They belong here.' And Jonas didn't anymore.
The silent addendum hung between until Daniel broke their eye contact. 'OK, then.'
'Say hi to Teal'c and Jack for me.' Jonas said. He turned towards the wormhole. He was half-way up the ramp when Daniel called out to him. Jonas looked over his shoulder with a questioning look.
'Don't be a stranger.' Daniel repeated.
Jonas gave a quick smile and started walking again. The wormhole swallowed him up and a moment later evaporated leaving an empty space in the centre of the Stargate.
Daniel made his way out slowly. He hovered in the elevator unsure which button to press, whether to return to his office and sort through the mess there. He finally headed for his quarters. The room hadn't changed much in the days since Jack had first shown him into it. The furniture was still uncluttered with personal affects; the walls were bare of anything that had personal meaning to him.
Daniel crossed to sit on the edge of the bed and picked up the picture of Sha're. He thought again of Jonas; of the other man's admission that not everyone had welcomed him home, of how he would have preferred to stay if he'd had a choice. Daniel wondered if there had been a choice in how he had returned from Ascension. Had he chosen to come back or had he been forced to return like Jonas? One thing was for certain; he'd been welcomed.
He touched Sha're's image almost reverently. 'I still feel like there's something important I should be remembering,' he said aloud, 'only I can't. But I know one thing;' he sighed and placed the picture down on the bedside table, 'I'm home.'
In the dark corner of Daniel Jackson's quarters, an invisible Oma Desala felt the air stir beside her and tucked her robes closer. She didn't need to turn her head to know it was her sister, Morgan Le Fey.
'You did the right thing helping him to return to his mortal form.' Morgan said comfortingly.
'He thinks he can fight Anubis this way.' Oma sighed unwilling to be comforted. 'I may have simply returned him to a certain death.' She glanced over at Morgan when she remained silent. 'No lecture this time, sister?'
Morgan tilted her head; her dark tresses remaining confined in their chignon. 'Perhaps, Oma,' she smiled as she looked down at Daniel Jackson's sleeping form, 'perhaps, he may just surprise you.'