Jack looked up from his paperwork, his eyebrows arched.
"Sorry to bother you, sir," Sergeant Harriman said, "but I thought you might like to know."
"Ye-es," Jack said expectantly.
Walter glanced behind him then stepped towards the colonel's desk.
"It's about Doctor Jackson, sir," he whispered.
Jack frowned. "What about Dr. Jackson?"
"He's asleep in the commissary … again," Walter replied. "I don't think he's sleeping well, sir."
"I see," Jack said, nodding thoughtfully. "Thank you, Walter."
"You, uh, won't tell him I told you, will you, Colonel?"
"Scout's honour," Jack promised.
"Thank you, sir. I'll be going now," Walter said, slowly backing away.
"Goodbye, Walter," Jack said, waving his fingers.
"Goodbye, Colonel," Walter replied, saluting quickly and leaving the office.
"Daniel, Daniel, Daniel," Jack murmured, pushing away from his desk.
Jack's eyes scanned the half-empty room and spotted his quarry: Daniel with his head nestled in his arms on the table, his glasses askew. Jack sighed, walked over to the sleeping man and stood over him. Daniel didn't stir. Jack leaned over and blew gently in Daniel's exposed ear. Nothing. He tried again, and this time his action elicited a small twitch. His third attempt resulted in a feeble hand swat. Jack smiled then stuck his finger in Daniel's ear.
Daniel jerked awake then clasped his neck in pain.
"Ow," he groaned.
"I hear sleeping's generally done while stretched out on a bed," Jack said dryly.
Daniel turned his head with difficulty and glared at his teammate.
"It's also generally done during the night," Jack continued, undaunted.
"It's overrated," Daniel muttered, massaging his neck.
Jack pulled out the chair opposite Daniel and sat down. He looked at his recently de-ascended friend closely.
"You look like crap," he said bluntly.
"Thank you," Daniel muttered.
"I want you to see Fraiser."
"I'm fine, Jack," Daniel insisted. "I just … haven't been sleeping all that well."
"Which in my book translates into 'not fine'," Jack declared. "I don't want you going through the Stargate if you're not 100 per cent."
Daniel sighed, reached for his cup of coffee and looked disdainfully at its contents. "It's cold," he groused.
"Stop your belly-aching. I'll get you a fresh cup. Just try to stay awake while I'm gone," Jack said.
Daniel watched Jack leave then lowered his head and tried to work the kinks out of his neck. He felt like crap before, but now Jack was on his case and things could only get worse. At least he'd get some hot coffee. He looked up expectantly when Jack returned.
"What's that," he frowned.
"It's called V-8 juice, Daniel. No coffee until I know you've put something reasonably healthy in your stomach. Drink up," Jack ordered, keeping the hot coffee from Daniel's reach.
Daniel rolled his eyes, but dutifully drank the juice. He pushed the empty glass towards Jack who reciprocated with the cup of coffee.
"Thank you," Daniel muttered, taking several sips before putting the coffee down.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Jack asked.
"It's black, it's hot, and it's bitter. Happy now?" Daniel replied.
Jack stared at Daniel in silence then shook his head. "No, but I guess I'll get used to it," he said, pushing away from the table and standing up. "Don't forget the briefing at 1100 hours."
Daniel knew he should say something as he had the distinct, and disquieting, feeling he'd just disappointed the older man. "I just need to get some sleep," he sighed.
"Teal'c, have you seen Jack?"
"Not since the briefing, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c replied.
"Does he have any hiding places?" Daniel asked.
Teal'c eyebrow rose. "You believe O'Neill is in hiding from you, Daniel Jackson?"
"I don't know, but I have a feeling he's upset with me," Daniel admitted.
"For what reason?" Teal'c inquired.
"Being an ass, I think," Daniel frowned.
"Generally, when it comes to you and O'Neill, it is the other way around."
"It is?" Daniel said curiously, mulling over this snippet of information.
"Does Jack like to discuss personal matters?" Daniel asked.
"The phrase, 'I would rather burn in hell', comes to mind," Teal'c replied.
Daniel smiled then cocked his head. "We did that, didn't we?"
"You are remembering many things, Daniel Jackson."
"Yeah, including how to piss off Jack," Daniel murmured.
"Trust your instincts, Daniel Jackson. They will not fail you."
Daniel smiled and lightly patted Teal'c's chest. "Thank you, Teal'c."
Daniel rounded the corner and spotted Jack stepping into the elevator.
"Jack, wait up!"
Jack performed some fancy footwork to hold the elevator door open before Daniel ran headlong into it.
"Jesus, Daniel, where the hell's the fire?"
"What? Oh, no fire. I just wanted to, um, talk to you," Daniel explained hurriedly.
"Talk?" Jack queried.
"Yeah, um, can I buy you a coffee?"
"It's your dime," Jack shrugged, pressing the button for the appropriate floor.
"Coffee's only a dime?" Daniel asked, wide-eyed.
"It's just an expression," Jack said.
"Oh," Daniel replied crestfallen. "I thought maybe I forgot something good."
"Trust me, you can afford it," Jack said dryly.
Jack filled his mug then followed Daniel to the same table they'd sat at earlier in the day. Daniel had been half-asleep then, but now he was radiating suppressed energy making Jack curious as well as cautious.
"So, what's on your mind?" Jack asked, adding sugar to his coffee. "Ah, let me rephrase that. How about, what can I do for you?"
"You said something this morning. Something, well, something which bothered me," Daniel replied, holding his mug tightly in his hands.
"Sorry," Jack said.
"No, no, no, that's not what I meant," Daniel said quickly. "It wasn't so much what you said, but why you said it."
"What did I say?" Jack asked carefully.
"Well, when I asked you if you were 'happy now', you said, 'No, but I guess I'll get used to it.' What did you mean by that?"
"It was nothing," Jack said, waving his hand dismissively, "just an expression. Forget it."
"No, no, it meant something," Daniel insisted.
Jack looked into the earnest blue eyes and sighed. He picked up his coffee and swirled its contents.
"You don't like this kind of stuff, do you?" Daniel asked quietly.
"I'd rather burn in hell," Jack muttered into his coffee, missing the glint of humour in Daniel's eye, "but since you asked," he said, looking up, "it's just that there used to be a time, before you went all glowy, when you'd tell me when things were bothering you."
"I would?" Daniel asked in surprise.
"Well, you tried," Jack clarified, "and it took you awhile before you trusted me. I wasn't always that good at listening," he admitted, flashing a sad smile.
Daniel sipped his coffee slowly then placed it carefully on the table. "Do you think things can change?" he asked softly, looking up.
"Yeah, I do," Jack replied just as softly, "and I think they already have."
Daniel glanced away from Jack's intense dark eyes. He was not used to sharing his thoughts, never mind his fears. The people on Vis Uban had let him be. If he wanted to talk, they would listen, but he had chosen to speak little. When you had no memory, it wasn't hard to do. But things were different now. He wasn't Arrom any more; he was Daniel Jackson. Maybe he was used to sharing with Jack, but he just couldn't remember. He looked back at Jack's unwavering gaze.
"I've been having … dreams."
"Dreams as in nightmares?" Jack queried.
"Memories, I think," Daniel replied. "From up there," he added, pointing upwards.
"I take it these memories aren't exactly of the warm and fuzzy variety?" Jack asked.
Daniel smiled mirthlessly and shook his head.
"Look, Daniel, I know there's a lot you don't remember, but you're a good man and nothing you've done, or you're afraid you've done, will ever change that. Trust me on this," Jack said seriously.
"You sound so sure," Daniel said, wanting to believe Jack's words.
"It's a no-brainer," Jack shrugged. "Now, tell me about these dreams."
"They're … vague," Daniel said apologetically.
"I do vague," Jack smiled.
Three months later
Colonel Jack O'Neill did a quick visual check of his surroundings, confident his team was doing likewise.
"Just like the MALP showed," he murmured, squinting into the bright blue sky. "Okay, let's make this quick, kids. Carter, Teal'c, check over there," he said, pointing to his left. "Daniel, you're with me."
"Yes, sir," Sam replied and headed off with Teal'c.
"Daniel?" Jack frowned.
Daniel was staring into the distance, oblivious to Jack and to anyone else.
"Daniel?" Jack repeated, placing a firm hand on his friend's shoulder.
Daniel stiffened under the touch then slowly turned.
Jack's stomach did an uneasy flip-flop at the despair in the usually vibrant, blue eyes.
"Daniel?" he murmured, his voice infinitely gentle.
"I know this place," Daniel whispered, turning his tortured gaze away from Jack. "I've been here."
"Daniel, we've never been here," Jack said carefully. "No SG team–"
"I remember this," Daniel said, gesturing to the landscape strewn with rubble
Jack watched his friend closely then nodded in understanding. "You came here when you were ascended."
Jack took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. He thought the visions and nightmares were behind them, but that was too good to be true. "Was this one of your … nightmares?"
Daniel shook his head. "Didn't remember this at all …until now."
"Let me guess. Something bad happened here," Jack sighed.
"And I let it happen," Daniel said dully.
"I'm not buying that, Daniel," Jack said. "We talked about this before. Whatever bad things happened while you were ascended had nothing to do with you."
"I watched it happen," Daniel said, his voice full of self-loathing
"Okay, so what do you remember?" Jack asked, adopting a different tact.
"It's … vague," Daniel said, shaking his head.
"You don't remember anything, do you? You just have a 'feeling'," Jack said.
"I was here," Daniel said, turning to look at Jack with determined blue eyes.
"And I believe you, but what I don't believe is that you played a part in whatever tragedy unfolded here," Jack said, his dark eyes just as determined.
"I was an observer," Daniel said, spitting the word out like a bitter pill. "I didn't do anything."
"Because you weren't allowed," Jack sighed.
"Yes, damn it!" Daniel replied angrily.
"And yet you still managed to save Teal'c and Bra'tac when they only had one symbiote between them, and I distinctly remember you helping me in Ba'al's damn prison cell, or are those vague memories as well?"
"They're not all that clear," Daniel mumbled, moving away from Jack.
"I can refresh your memory about Ba'al if you like because it's very clear in my mind," Jack said.
Daniel stiffened and Jack knew at once that Daniel remembered more than he let on. He also knew Daniel would remember things differently.
"Where are you going?" Jack asked when Daniel abruptly walked away in the direction of Sam and Teal'c.
"It's over here," Daniel replied.
"What is?" Jack frowned.
"Colonel!" Sam's voice crackled over the radio.
"What have you got, Carter?" Jack asked, his eyes on Daniel's retreating back.
"There's something you should see," Sam replied, her voice solemn.
"Crap," Jack hissed, hurrying to catch up with Daniel.
Jack gazed down into the small valley, his emotions hidden behind dark glasses. He had seen more than his share of cemeteries over the years and each one evoked painful memories. By military standards, this one was small, but no less poignant. Worse, it looked recent. Fifty plus markers, Jack guesstimated. Fifty plus lives now on the conscience of the man standing next to him.
Jack watched as Daniel walked down the gentle slope and began to walk amongst the graves, pausing at each one. Damn it, Daniel. You are not responsible for every bit of shit in the universe.
"Sir?" Sam murmured, concerned by Daniel's behaviour.
"Catharsis, Major," Jack replied.
"Daniel Jackson has been here before," Teal'c thrummed quietly.
"Yeah,' Jack said, not taking his gaze from Daniel.
"Colonel, how could he?" Sam asked. "We've never…oh," she said, comprehension dawning on her face.
Memories flooded Daniel's mind as he performed his act of contrition. A minor Goa'uld had killed these gentle people because they would not kneel before him. Helpless to interfere, Daniel had watched them die. He stiffened then relaxed as a warm hand settled on his shoulder.
"What happened here?" Jack asked gently.
"It was a Goa'uld," Daniel murmured.
"No surprises there," Jack muttered.
"They were slaughtered," Daniel said hollowly.
"Look, Daniel, I don't deny something tragic happened here, but I think you're missing something."
Daniel looked at Jack, his eyes moist and glistening.
"How many people do you think live on this planet?" Jack asked.
Daniel shrugged. "I don't know. This is only one settlement."
"So, how many right here?" Jack asked. "Thousands?"
"Maybe," Daniel shrugged.
Jack nodded and gestured to the graves. "Fifty or so?"
Daniel followed Jack's gaze. Fifty dead was fifty too many, but for the Goa'uld, not a great number. "You're saying they fought back."
"Someone gave them a decent burial," Jack said, "and it sure as hell wasn't any Goa'uld. Are you sure you don't remember anything else?"
"I remember the screaming, the explosions, and the smell of burning flesh."
"All the fun stuff," Jack grimaced.
Daniel looked at Jack then continued his walk amongst the markers.
"Know what I think?" Jack asked, trailing Daniel.
"No, but I bet you're going to tell me," Daniel replied, dry humour in his voice.
Jack smiled and said, "I think you saved these people."
"Saved?" Daniel said, turning around to stare at Jack incredulously. "How can you—"
"Just hear me out," Jack interrupted. "You know as well as I do, the Goa'uld are cowards. They hate resistance. Things get a little too hot and they hightail it to another planet where the pickings are easy. I'll bet you dollars to donuts someone convinced these folks to stand and fight."
Daniel looked at Jack then back to the graves.
"Daniel, are you hearing what I'm saying?"
Gentle pressure on Daniel's shoulder brought his gaze back to Jack.
"You think I'm that someone," Daniel whispered.
The desperate hope in the sad, blue eyes almost broke Jack's heart.
"Daniel, I know you're that someone," Jack replied firmly. "It's what you do. It's who you are and, eventually, you'll remember that for yourself. I know you've been reading old mission reports. They have to be making some impression."
"It's like reading about someone else's life," Daniel said. "Some of it I do remember. Some of it I wish I didn't." he add ruefully.
"Join the club. We all have memories like that, but that's who we are," Jack said. "You have to take the bad with the good. Crap, I've got years I'd like to forget and before you ask, they're all before I met you."
Daniel smiled in spite of his melancholy.
"Colonel, do you copy?" Sam's voice relayed.
"Yeah, Carter, what have you got?"
"We're in the small building that looks like a temple, sir. You need to see this," she said hurriedly.
Jack and Daniel both turned and looked back up the hill where the stone structures sat.
"On our way," Jack said, ending the transmission. "Any idea what they found?" he asked, looking at Daniel.
"Come on, let's go," Jack said, clapping Daniel on the back.
Sam and Teal's were waiting for them, just inside the entrance to the building.
"In here, colonel," Sam said, turning.
Jack glanced at Teal'c, but the Jaffa was giving nothing away, although Jack got the distinct feeling his friend was feeling rather pleased.
Jack looked at Daniel and shrugged. "After you."
Daniel ducked his head as he stooped to enter the low doorway and emerged into an airy, dimly lit room filled with cool, but fragrant air.
"Whoa, this takes me back," Jack murmured, getting a good whiff of the air.
"You are referring to the sixties, are you not, O'Neill?" Teal'c inquired.
"Indeed I am, T," Jack said, closing his eyes and inhaling deeply.
"I thought you hated the sixties, sir," Sam said,
"Who, me? I loved that little jaunt back in time we did. Gave me a chance to really appreciate it."
"Of course, sir," Sam smiled.
"It's still burning," Daniel said, lightly fingering the ornate stone bowl in which the incense smouldered. "This must be a sanctuary," he murmured, more to himself than his teammates. "A place of meditation."
Even as he spoke, Daniel felt a sense of peace surround him. He breathed in deeply, attempting to physically cleanse the heaviness from his soul.
"This is indeed a place of meditation, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said quietly, gazing at the numerous tiles in the walls and floor from which a dim light emanated.
Jack held his hand over one of the lighted tiles. "It's warm, too. Nice."
"Daniel Jackson, there is something you must see," Teal'c beckoned.
Daniel looked at Teal'c in surprise then glanced at Jack.
Jack shrugged and waved Daniel ahead. "I'm right behind you. Carter, watch our six."
Daniel and Jack followed Teal'c to the far side of the room.
"What is it, Teal'c?" Daniel asked.
In response, Teal'c shone his flashlight onto the wall, illuminating a large amount of script.
"Holy shit," Jack whispered.
The words were meaningless to Jack except for two words which jumped out in perfect clarity: Daniel Jackson.
Daniel stood stock still, his mouth open in disbelief.
"Can you read it, Daniel?" Jack asked softly.
Daniel didn't respond, but his eyes darted back and forth over the script.
"Daniel?" Jack repeated, touching his friend's arm gently.
Daniel shivered and gave himself a mental shake.
"It's, uh, it's an elegy of sorts," Daniel said.
"Your name is on it," Jack said, stating the obvious.
"Yes, yes it is," Daniel murmured.
Jack glanced at Teal'c and rolled his eyes.
"What?" Daniel said distractedly.
"For crying out loud, what does it say? More specifically, why is your name there?" Jack asked.
"Well," Daniel said, clearing his throat, "it's a testament … of sorts."
"A testament to what, Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c inquired, earning a grateful nod from Jack.
"Loss, courage, and salvation," Daniel said softly.
Jack smiled and squeezed Daniel's shoulder. "I was right, wasn't I? You helped these people, and in a big way if it warrants recording."
"I don't remember," Daniel whispered.
"What is important, Daniel Jackson, is the people of this planet will never forget," Teal'c said.
"Teal'c's right. You made a difference here, Daniel, whether you remember it or not," Jack said quietly.
"Colonel, we've got company," Sam called from the doorway.
"Jack, we're armed and in a sanctuary. This isn't good," Daniel said quickly.
"Which is why we're getting out of here," Jack replied. "Come on."
SG-1 watched discreetly from the doorway as two women approached. The women were young, laughing and chatting easily between themselves, each carrying a wooden bucket, water slopping over the sides.
"I think they're coming to clean up, sir, and we're going to scare the hell out of them," Sam whispered.
"Daniel, you're on. Go do your thing and we'll, uh, hide here."
Daniel looked sceptical, but he stepped out into the sunlight and walked casually down the hill, bringing the two women to a sudden halt.
"It's okay," Daniel smiled, holding out his empty hands. "I won't hurt you. My name is Daniel. Daniel Jackson. I'm here … with my friends," he said, his voice trailing off as the women dropped their buckets and scampered down the hill.
"Daniel?" Jack said curiously from behind, "what the hell did you say to them?"
"Nothing. I just said I won't hurt you and my name is Daniel Jackson. Oh," he said, realizing what he'd done.
"Yeah, coming face-to-face with a saviour can have that effect on people," Jack drawled.
"I'm not a saviour," Daniel muttered.
"Either way, things could get interesting," Jack murmured.
"Indeed," Teal'c agreed.
"They might think he's an impostor, Colonel," Sam suggested.
"Sam's right. I was ascended. No one saw me," Daniel said.
"I saw you," Jack said.
"As did I, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c assented.
"Me, too … eventually," Sam added.
"The Others would never have allowed me to appear to strangers," Daniel insisted.
"Daniel, your name is on that wall in there. If someone didn't see you, they sure as hell heard you," Jack reasoned.
"Maybe we should just leave, Colonel," Sam suggested.
Jack had already considered Sam's suggestion, but he knew it was important they stay, for Daniel's sake, if nothing else.
"No, we stay. We'll wait by the Stargate."
Jack looked at Teal'c who motioned in the direction the women had gone. Soon, the rest of SG-1 heard what Teal'c had heard; the sound of rapid footfall.
"That was fast," Jack muttered. "Keep your heads up, kids."
Fifteen armed villagers soon came into view.
"Their weapons are primitive, O'Neill," Teal'c observed.
"Still deadly," Jack added.
"They're just being cautions," Daniel added, removing his weapon and vest.
"Daniel, what are you doing?" Jack asked with a note of disapproval.
"Wait here," Daniel replied, brushing past Jack.
"Daniel!" Jack said sharply, grabbing his friend's arm.
"It's okay, Jack. I know what to do," Daniel said, looking at Jack calmly. "I remember something," he said, smiling.
Jack studied his teammate closely. There was a calmness about him that Jack had seen before: an aura of confidence that could not be ignored nor denied. He nodded and released his arm.
"What do you want us to do?" Jack asked.
"Lower your weapons and try to look non-threatening."
"You know I hate this," Jack muttered.
"I know, but trust me, Jack," Daniel said.
"Why stop now?" Jack murmured, laying down his weapon and gesturing to Sam and Teal'c to do the same.
Thanking Jack with his eyes, Daniel turned and went out to meet the villagers.
One year ago
"You can stop this."
The old man started at the voice near his shoulder. His sightless eyes turned as his fingers grasped at empty air.
"Who are you to mock an old, blind man?" he whispered.
"I would never mock you. I only wish to help you save your village," the voice replied. "The Goa'uld are not gods. They will enslave your people, Koren, and, trust me, that is a horror you do not want."
"You know my name. I know not yours, nor can I see or touch you," the old man replied, clearly not pleased at his disadvantage.
"Forgive me. It has been some time since I have conversed with anyone. My name is Daniel. Daniel Jackson. But my name is not important."
"Are you a spirit, Daniel Jackson?" Koren inquired.
"I am a friend," Daniel replied.
Daniel walked towards the armed men and stopped several feet in front of them. He bowed his head and lowered himself to his knees, an act of submission, but also a request for an audience with their chief, or so he hoped. His head still bowed, murmurs and whispers quickly spread amongst the men. Daniel smiled faintly; he had remembered correctly.
Jack's muscles tensed as he watched Daniel go down on his knees. He trusted Daniel implicitly, but the aliens were an unknown factor. He still held his P-90 at rest, but his fingers tightened around the metal, ready if necessary. He smiled at the scene before him. Not necessary. His fingers slackened as the stunned villagers lowered their weapons.
"When in Rome," Jack murmured, and following his friend's example, he went down on his knees, Sam and Teal'c immediately following.
Daniel heard the sharp intake of a collective breath, and he knew what had just happened behind him. Infused with gratitude, he sent out a silent message to his friend: Thank you, Jack.
"Who asks to meet with our chief?" a loud, strong voice demanded.
Gasps rippled through the throng at Daniel's proclamation.
"Please, tell Koren, I and my friends would be honoured to meet with him."
Jack lifted his head slightly to observe the effect of Daniel's words. Excited didn't begin to describe their reaction. The people were electrified. He lowered his head, but kept his gaze up as the man who asked for identification stepped forward.
Daniel kept his head lowered as a figure approached.
Daniel stood up and in one slow, fluid motion, his eyes focused on the feet of the man in front of him.
"I am Matis. On behalf of our teacher and our chief, I welcome you to our home."
Daniel looked up and smiled.
"Thank you for your kindness, Matis," he said, bowing slightly.
"Your friends show respect, but I sense they do not like you so far away from them," Matis said.
Daniel glanced back to see his teammates slowly standing up, weapons still lowered, but wary.
"It's a long story," Daniel smiled, turning back to his host.
"You have a Jaffa with you," Matis observed.
"His name is Teal'c, and yes, he once served the Goa'uld, but he now fights them to free his people from slavery and to save mine from slavery. To that end, he has given up his symbiote. He is a free man."
Matis nodded thoughtfully, but he seemed troubled.
"Teal'c will not hurt you," Daniel insisted.
"I do not fear the Jaffa," Matis said simply.
"Something is troubling you," Daniel stated.
"The Daniel Jackson I have heard of was not a mortal man," Matis said warily.
"Ah, that's another long story," Daniel smiled.
Matis regarded Daniel for a long moment then nodded.
"Perhaps our chief will recognize you when he sees you."
"Koren never set eyes on me," Daniel smiled, "and if he had, blind eyes cannot see, but my voice he will recognize."
Matis smiled and bowed his head. "Forgive me, but I had to be sure. As you must understand, there are those who doubt your identity. You were seen in the vicinity of our sanctuary where your name is there for all to see. You could be anyone."
"I am Daniel Jackson," Daniel said quietly.
"I believe you," Matis replied. "There is an aura about you," he added thoughtfully. "Please, get your friends and come with me. Your weapons are not necessary, but I believe they feel safer with them."
"Thank you," Daniel said, relieved he wouldn't have to convince Jack to leave his weapon behind.
"You're sure this Koren guy will recognize your voice?" Jack asked.
"I have no idea," Daniel said honestly. "I don't know how long I was here, but as you said, I must have done something to make an impression. I wish I remembered what it was I did."
"Nothing's coming back?"
"No," Daniel frowned. "At least, nothing concrete," he amended.
"The 'vague images 'deal?" Jack queried.
"Good images?" Jack asked hopefully.
Daniel glanced sideways at Jack and shook his head.
"Just remember everything turned out well in the end," Jack advised.
"Not for everyone," Daniel murmured.
"To die in honour, is to die in victory," Matis said quietly, stopping beside Daniel and Jack. "You taught us that."
"I'm sorry so many died," Daniel said.
"Our whole village would have been a graveyard, or worse, had you not come," Matis replied. "Those who submitted to the Goa'uld would have gone through the stone circle to a horror I would not wish on anyone."
"But you didn't know that," Daniel said. "You had only my word."
"Koren believed you and we believed Koren. Was he wrong?"
"Of course he wasn't wrong," Jack interjected. "Daniel just has this little problem with accepting gratitude."
Matis smiled. "Like a true saviour."
"Exactly!" Jack said, interrupting Daniel's denial. "Now, I don't want to be rude or anything, but I'm hungry."
"Jack!" Daniel chastised.
"There will be food, Colonel O'Neill," Matis laughed.
"Great, pick up the pace, Daniel," Jack said, clapping his friend on the back.
Daniel sighed, but he felt himself relax, grateful for Jack's steadfast support and friendship.
"Please, wait here," Matis said to SG-1 as he disappeared into a small dwelling.
"Koren, I bring you a friend," Matis announced, entering a dimly-lit, but well-appointed room.
The lone occupant of the room stood up quickly and straightened his robes.
"Matis, is it true? Daniel Jackson has returned?"
"This is what you must tell us, and I pray he is who he claims to be because I like this man very much," Matis replied, lighting a few lamps.
"Man? He is a man, like us?" Koren inquired.
"Yes. He said it is a long story. Shall I bring him in?"
"Yes, yes, I must know," Koren replied eagerly.
"He will see you now," Matis said.
"Okay," Daniel said eagerly. "Um, Jack, you, Sam and Teal'c should wait here. He's blind and I don't want to overwhelm him with—"
"Yeah, yeah, we get it," Jack said, waving his hand.
"Okay, uh, thanks," Daniel said.
"Go, shoo!" Jack said.
"Shooing," Daniel grinned, as he turned and entered the house.
Daniel's eyes barely settled on Koren before he stiffened as an onslaught of images flashed in his mind: Jaffa yelling, people screaming, explosions, staff weapons firing, and the stench of smoke and burning flesh. Daniel squeezed his eyes shut, willing the images, sounds, and smells to abate.
"Why do you not speak?" the old man asked.
"I'm sorry. Please, forgive me," Daniel whispered.
The old man's blind eyes seemed to brighten at the sound of Daniel's voice. "It is you. You have returned. Please, come closer."
Daniel stepped forwards and stopped inches from Koren. "I never thought I'd see you again, Koren," he said softly.
"They say you are a man. I can feel your heat. I can smell you," he said in awe.
"I did bathe before I came," Daniel smiled.
The old man laughed and reached out unerringly to touch Daniel's face.
"You are trembling. Are you ill?" he asked, troubled.
"I'm fine, but being here has brought back memories which were taken away from me," Daniel explained.
"Taken? You were captured and tortured?"
"No, I chose another path," Daniel said.
"Ah, you no longer walk among the stars," Koren said sadly. "That is why I can feel you."
"It was my choice," Daniel replied.
"You said there were many rules," Koren said, remembering the disembodied voice like it was yesterday.
"Too many, and my friends needed me, and I needed them," Daniel said simply. "I don't think the decision was a hard one."
"But all you saw? All you experienced?" Koren pressed.
"Gone. Erased. Whether by choice, I don't know," Daniel said.
"Not your choice," Koren said firmly. "You are a teacher, like me. We want to learn and remember everything."
"Yes," Daniel laughed.
"You say your memories are gone, yet you remember me and what happened here."
"Fragments," Daniel said. "Some vivid, others ….vague. To be honest, I didn't remember this place, or you, until we came through the Stargate."
"Then why did you come here?" Koren asked, puzzled.
"It's what we do," Daniel said. "We travel through the Stargate to seek knowledge. To make new friends, and to find allies to help us in our fight with the Goa'uld."
"Then you do still walk among the stars," Koren beamed.
"I guess I do," Daniel smiled, "but I'm much slower now, and I can only go where I'm told."
"So many rules," the old man murmured.
"But I'm with my friends, and that makes it all worthwhile," Daniel admitted.
"Your friends! Forgive me. Please, bring them in."
"I admit, these folks know how to eat," Jack sighed, his appetite sated.
"I think we have Daniel to thank for all this, sir," Sam said, gesturing to the various dishes of hot and cold treats. "I doubt they eat like this on a regular basis."
"Even so, they have good taste," Jack said, barely suppressing a belch. "Teal'c, sure you've had enough?"
"I am certain, O'Neill."
"Too bad you don't have Junior anymore. Bet you could pack twice as much away," Jack grinned.
"For what purpose, O'Neill?" Teal'c inquired.
"For what purpose? Didn't you ever pig out on Chulak?"
"Pig out?" Teal'c intoned, cocking an eyebrow.
"Yeah, you know. Eat till you feel like you're going to bust," Jack explained.
"I think you should quit while you're, well, not so far behind," Sam smiled.
Jack looked at Sam and Teal'c and frowned.
"Where the hell is Daniel?" he groused, looking for an escape. "We have to report back to Hammond."
"I'm right here."
"Damn it, don't do that," Jack grumbled, glaring behind him at his smiling teammate and a bemused Matis.
"You over-ate again, didn't you?" Daniel admonished.
"What's that got to do with anything?" Jack frowned.
"You get irritable when you overeat," Daniel replied.
"I do not."
"Oh, yes, you do. That I remember very well," Daniel said.
"Figures," Jack muttered. "You forget saving a planet, but you remember me eating too much."
"They saved themselves," Daniel corrected. "I just advised them."
"Right," Jack sighed. "Let's take a walk," he said, snagging Daniel's elbow and dragging him towards the door.
"Um, I'll be right back!" Daniel called over his shoulder to Matis. "He does this all the time. Nothing to be concerned about."
"Where are we going?" Daniel frowned, shaking off Jack's hand.
"Thought you might like some quiet time," Jack said.
"Oh, uh, thanks. I could use some fresh air."
"They're all over you in there," Jack stated.
"I think a lot of them are disappointed I'm so normal," Daniel mused.
:"Normal? You? Ha! Shows what little they know," Jack scoffed.
"What does that mean?" Daniel asked defensively.
"Figure it out yourself. I'm irritable, remember?"
"And pig-headed," Daniel muttered.
"I heard that."
"You were supposed to. So, really, where are we going?"
Jack and Daniel stood side by side in the cool, scented room, enjoying the quiet and the company.
"It must have been some advice to get your name immortalized in stone," Jack said brushing his fingers over the smooth stone. "What did you tell them, by the way? The old guy must have told you"
"I told them to fight back," Daniel said, frowning slightly.
"Really?" Jack queried, raising an eyebrow. "That doesn't sound like you."
"I threatened the Goa'uld, too" Daniel added.
"Now, that sounds like you," Jack grinned.
"I also contacted Thor," Daniel confessed. "This planet is under Asgard protection."
"Well, that explains why Matis wasn't fazed by Teal'c or the thought of Jaffa," Jack mused. "You didn't pull any punches, did you?" he smiled, resisting the urge to ruffle Daniel's hair.
"I seem to have gotten away with rather a lot," Daniel said thoughtfully.
"Now Oma knows what I've had to put up with. Bet you anything she's dyeing her hair now," Jack teased.
"I owe her a great deal," Daniel said seriously, "and you," he added softly.
"No, we owe her and you a great deal," Jack corrected.
Daniel felt his heart constrict at the emotion in Jack's voice. "Thanks," he murmured.
They stood in silence for a few minutes then Jack cleared his throat.
"Daniel, this is–"
"Where I want to be," Daniel finished. "It was my decision to come back. I may not remember it, but I do know it."
"Good," Jack said softly, and clasped Daniel's shoulder. "And you do know I hate it when—"
"I know that, too," Daniel smiled.
"Right," Jack sighed, "and I guess you're not–"
"Going to stop? Not a chance," Daniel smiled, "but I do feel it's only fair to warn you, if I have any more bad dreams or visions, I won't keep them to myself. Okay?"
Jack smiled, and this time he did ruffle Daniel's hair.
|Genres:||Angst, Friendship, Hurt/Comfort|
|Summary:||Daniel has trouble adjusting to post-ascension.|
Author's Chapter Notes:
This story first appeared in Ancient Gate XVI: Against the Wind