Settled Down 2
Summary: Sheesh. Jack has to remember everything from the start of the programme. It's not pretty. Yeah, I know I haven't covered everything and I know I haven't spent much time on the various episodes, but I wanted to finish it some time this century. Besides, my fingers hurt from all the typing.
Oh boy, this is going to be a long haul, I can tell. We've been here for sixteen hours and Jack has spent the entire time either screaming the place down, crying out to me or sleeping. I want to get some food into him but I doubt I'll get the chance. Currently he's reliving that dreadful time with the crystalline life-form which became Charlie. This is not one of the more fun things to do.
I've virtually banned everyone from coming in unless he's asleep. I open the door and stick my head out when he does. The whole gang are there, on chairs outside the VIP suite that we've taken over. Even Paul and Josh are waiting for news - any news.
Omorocca and Jacob have been working on Sam and Teal'c to try to remove whatever mental block is there. The usual symbiote/naquada explanation has been given for them not losing their memories.
We had some terrible news. Bronowski died. Whatever they hit him with just fried his brain. Jacob did his best but Janet said he'd been virtually brain-dead since he got back. Best guess is that they attacked him, maybe panicked about it and tried to wipe the memories from the others to prevent revenge attacks.
Jack's crying his eyes out. He's calling out to Sara. I guess I can be her for him if I have to.
"It's okay, Jack, I'm here. Let it out. Come on, I've got you."
I've pulled him into my arms, he's reaching up to me, turning his head to kiss me. I don't know if letting him do this is such a good thing. I discussed it in a quiet moment with Janet and Mom. Current thinking is to play out our relationship as it has gone on over the years. So now, he and I are close friends.
"Sh Jack, it's me, Daniel. I've got you. Not gonna let you go."
"Daniel," he croaks. "It was Charlie."
"I know Jack. It looked like him but it wasn't him. It's time to let Charlie go now. I know it won't be easy for you, but he's gone. Go back to sleep Jack. I'll be right here for you."
"I know. You always are," he whispers as he goes back to sleep.
He's sleeping between each episode. I've been making notes about which events have been affecting him. So far, they all seem to be ones where he either lost or thought he'd lost someone. He's very emotionally charged. He called out to Charlie Kawalsky as he died in his mind again, and he was very distressed when he thought he'd lost me to the Touched. I was a bit amused by the fact that when he attacked me in his memory he was talking, telling me in effect what was going on in his mind. Whoo boy. He was never jealous about me going to see Sam because he wanted her. He wanted me. He was just a punch away from carrying me off to his cave before he was stopped.
Damn, I wish they'd never stopped him now. He actually pinned me down to the bed and kissed me hard before I was able to stop him. I liked that a little bit too much, I think. I wonder if I can get him to be NeanderJack again at home soon? He hasn't carried me off to bed for a while. He was mortified when I stopped him and he snapped out of it. He's been having lucid moments in-between memories and sleep. I of course assured him that I was fine and in no way put out that he'd mistaken me for Sam. That was very kind of me I think.
I open the door, the gang are still there.
"Any news, Dr. Jackson?" the General asks.
"Just got past the crystal alien. Look, this is probably going to go on for days. Go. Get some sleep. Eat. I'll call you if I need you."
"What about you, Daniel?" Mom's asking.
"I'm not going to leave him, Mom. Back at the time that his mind is remembering, he and I were close friends. I would be the one that would be with him. Could you ask someone to send us some food, please? Make it sandwiches or something because I don't know when he's going to wake up next. Oh, a flask of coffee would be good too."
"Daniel, you need to sleep," she warns.
"I will, I promise," I tell her.
I'd love to, but there's only one bed and I don't think that Jack would appreciate me sharing it at the moment.
No no no no no! Daniel, Carter, Teal'c! All gone. Me too, I'm dead, I know it. What's going on? Who are these people? Look like fairies or wood nymphs.
"Danny? How are you alive? You keep doing this to me, don't you? Well you shouldn't. Stop dying on me, for cryin' out loud."
"Could say the same to you, Jack," he says smiling at me.
"Where am I?"
"In reality you're at the SGC. Where are you in your mind, Jack?" I can feel his arms around me. It's comforting. He's a damn fine friend.
"Small people, fairies, we were dead."
"The Nox. Lovely people, very gentle. They're good friends Jack. This should have happy memories for you."
"Apophis! He killed us," I have to get up and go, he's here, I know he is. We have to protect these people.
"Jack, it's only a memory, it happened a long time ago. You're safe, we're all safe. Come on, I know you don't like people to know it, but it's okay to huddle up with me. You're in a VIP room, no one is going to come in, the cameras are off. If you want a hug, I'm happy to hold you."
Yeah, think that would be good for now. Need to feel him, to know he's really here.
"Daniel, what's going on?"
"This is going to be hard for you, Jack, but you must trust me, okay? Do you trust me?"
"Sure, you're my best friend, why wouldn't I?"
"Um, yes, of course, we are close. Look Jack, this isn't then, time has passed we are nearly seven years down the line from the time you are remembering."
"Are you kidding?" He's got to be, seven years? Nah!
"Look at me Jack, really look."
I look up at him, he's different. He's my Daniel but he isn't. I reach out, touch his hair. So short, so harsh. His face, there are lines there that I don't remember. His eyes are still as blue. His glasses are different. I run my hand down his shoulders. Damn! He's strong. He was never this strong. I can feel his muscles through his shirt.
"It's me Jack, honestly. Look in a mirror."
I get up, stumble across to the dressing table. Grey? I've gone grey? Daniel's appeared behind me. He looks tired.
"Time's gone on, Jack. I'm thirty-eight, you're forty-seven. You had a run in with an alien and you lost your memory. Things are starting to come back to you now though. I'll be here with you while you remember them. You have to trust me with your memories, Jack. When it all comes back, you'll understand why. But I can't tell you anything, not yet."
"Because we all feel it would be for the best. We don't want to influence you and your future memories or feelings. Do you understand? What you have gone through makes you who you are today. To dilute the experience would lessen Jack O'Neill. We're not prepared to do that."
"I understand," I tell him. I'm not entirely sure why, but I'm trusting Daniel to make my decisions for me now. I have to trust someone and he's always been there for me. He's died for me, helped me find my reason to live. I'm going to trust him.
There's a knock at the door, an airman is standing there with a tray. Good. I'm hungry. Daniel's taken the tray and set it down, we're tucking in as if we haven't eaten for a week.
"Daniel, do you think I'm going to remember this conversation?"
He stops chewing for a moment, does a Daniel thing - thinking. You can see when he's thinking, his whole face is given over to the process. Ah, he's swallowed. That means he's just worked out what he's going to say and remembered that he's got food in his mouth.
"Do you remember the Touched virus?"
"What? When we lost you in the Land of Light? Sure."
"Good. Then you're probably going to remember this. Jack, you're reliving what's happened, in order of the most emotionally traumatising events. The last one before the Nox, the crystal alien, that really cut you up. What movie do you last remember seeing?"
I have to think for a moment. "It was a really bad B Movie on the TV. You and I were on the sofa, hurling insults at it. It was the day before we went to the planet with the crystals."
"Great. This means you are remembering the events in-between these nastier ones. This isn't going to be pleasant Jack. There will be some good memories, but there will be some things you'd rather never remember. I don't know if you will remember this when you are reliving the events but try. I'm going to be here for you. I won't leave you. And no matter how dire things seem to get, I'm alive. No matter what you feel the need to do or say, no matter how you act towards me, I'm not going to leave you. Everything will work out in the end. You have to trust me on that one, Jack, you must."
I don't like the sound of that. Not one, little, tiny, insignificant bit.
I'm tired, but I don't want to sleep while Jack's awake. He's watching me, giving me his knowing look.
"Daniel, get some sleep."
"Not without you, Jack."
He does a double take so I explain.
"Jack, I need to be awake for when you have your next recall event. If you sleep, I'll sleep. If you're awake or remembering, I'll be awake. No choice so don't argue."
"Daniel, I know you and I are close, but..." his voice trails off as he waves a hand at the double bed.
"Jack, how many times have we shared a tent? Even in your limited memory of how long we've been together."
"Ok-ay," he drawls. "I have no objection to sharing a bed with you, Daniel, I'm a grown up. But there are rules, ya know?"
"Jack. The cameras are off, you and I are both fully dressed, and I've instructed that no one comes in unless I say they can. I promise you, there will be no censure for you. Now will you please come to bed because you're right, I'm tired. I've been up for over twenty-four hours and I've spent that time worried sick about you."
I notice how he swallows when I say 'come to bed'. Oh dear. He does, however, get on the bed next to me.
"Um, Danny, you know we're best friends and all," he says questioningly.
"Yes, Jack." Okay, okay, I know I sound sleepy.
"Well, um, oh God, it's been a while."
I turn around and look at him.
"Jack. It's been a while since you've shared a bed. You may possibly give me evidence of that when we wake up. So might I. You're a guy, Jack, I had noticed. So am I. Believe me, you know that too. This is me, okay? No red faces, no explanations, no embarrassment. I snuggle at night, so you may find yourself waking up with a six foot archaeologist stuck to you. If you don't mind that, then there's nothing you could do that would make me uncomfortable."
He's smiling, relaxing a bit.
"You like to snuggle?" he asks, amusement in his voice.
"Yeahsureyoubetcha," I murmur. I really want to sleep.
"C'mere, Daniel, let's snuggle," he whispers. Oh God, he sounds like my Jack.
I wriggle back to him and find him spooned up against me. That's nice.
"Night, love." Oh fucking hell. What did I just say? I hope he didn't hear that. The chuckles from behind me suggest he did.
"Oh God. Sorry, Jack, so sorry, I used to call Shau're that." The words tumble out of me. He can't know about us, not yet.
"Shh, Daniel, it's okay. You're very tired. Go to sleep. Remember, no embarrassment between us?"
Phew. Think I got away with that.
This feels good. As he said, six foot of archaeologist is now draped over me and both of us have reacted to the contact. He must miss Shau're so much, poor thing. He called me 'love'. That's so sweet. If I call him sweet though he'll kill me. I can't get over how different he is from my Daniel. Still the same caring guy, still the same best friend who'll put himself through anything to make your life that little bit better, but changed beyond recognition in many ways. So strong. Mentally - well that hasn't changed. He was as mentally tough as you could get when we first met. Physically. Wow. He's buffed himself up. He's built now, oy, he's built.
I wish I could tell him about me. He wouldn't judge me, he wouldn't run, he wouldn't laugh or scream or report me to the authorities. He'd probably want to discuss it. Why do I prefer men? What is it about them that turns me on more than women? Why, then, if I thought I was gay did I marry Sara? I can see it all now, all interested in his anthropologist way. Not a hint of disapprobation or anger or anything like that. If I told him how I felt and he wasn't with Shau're he'd probably even give it the old college try. And that is why I can't tell him. Maybe one day I will. In the meantime, I'll be there for him. He's a damn good friend. The best fucking friend I have ever had. Even in these short months that we've been together I know that. I wish I could tell him how much he means to me.
He says not to worry, that no matter what I say or do he'll be there for me. This does worry me. What am I going to do to him? I can't believe that I won't be his friend. No, I couldn't be nasty to Daniel. Sure he gets me mad, I drive him mad, we balance each other out. He's my conscience. He makes me think before I act. I hold him back when he's going off bang about some new theory or other and try to stop him getting himself killed. I can't even begin to imagine life without him.
He's my friend. My best friend. And I love him.
OhmyGod what the fuck was that? A flash of light in my head. OW! That hurts.
"Jack? What's going on? Where are you?"
"I'm old, really old. Who's she?"
"Ah. That must be Kynthia, Jack." Why does Daniel sound so annoyed?
"Jack! Jack! Where are you now?"
"It's a cave, dirty, cold. You're not there Daniel."
"Teal'c, is Teal'c with you?"
"Yeah, can't see very well. Oh God, you've got to do it, Daniel, or we won't get Teal'c home."
"I know, I know. Don't worry Jack, I didn't let you down."
"Come on Daniel, we have got to go... don't argue, what's the point of having all the knowledge in the universe if you can't share it. Please Daniel, I can't go on without you. Come with me, please."
Whoo boy. Jack is obviously on Heliopolis. He seems to be rattling through the episodes now. I don't know about him, but I could do with something to eat. We've been here twenty-four hours and counting. I'm worn out. At this rate we're going to be here for the next week or so.
More mumblings - this time about Rya'c and Teal'c. Oh, I remember. Not one of my more glory-filled events but I still don't regret killing those larvae.
He's asleep again. These episodes are exhausting him. I don't think I've ever seen him look more tired than he does now. Me too. I think I'll join him.
What's that? Knocking. Oh, it's the door. Okay, okay, I'm coming. Jack's still out cold thank God.
"Daniel Jackson, Thor is here."
It's Teal'c. He's looking fine now, not so worried. This could be good news.
"Thor? Can he help?"
"He has managed to remove the mental block from my memory. He is currently working on Major Carter."
"Good, good. What do you remember, Teal'c?"
"There was one thing. When the Lieutenant was attacked and we tried to fight back, O'Neill said, 'I wish I'd never heard of gate travel'. I do believe that the aliens took him at his word."
That could explain a lot.
"Does Thor know of these aliens?"
"He does. He suggested that he goes and brings one here as soon as he has helped Major Carter."
"That would be good, Teal'c. I'm going to get some more rest. Could you ask someone to put some more coffee and sandwiches outside the door, please? I think I'm going to need something soon."
"Of course I will Daniel." Teal'c's voice is very paternal at times. "If there is anything else I can do..."
"Teal'c, you just submitted yourself to an alien poking around in your head just so that you could help us. You don't need to do any more than that, that is more than I could have asked of you. But," I say as I look at his forbidding face, "you'll be the first one I turn to if I think of anything. I promise."
He inclines his head and goes to do as I have asked.
Jack's restless again.
Oh God, what is that? Fire? Eruptions? The sulphur is choking, I can't breathe. Fire- more fire shooting up from the ground.
"Jack, I'm here, I'm alive. Tell me Jack, what are you seeing?" I can hear his voice, but I saw him burn.
"Danny? You're dead. I saw you - you burned to death. Dammit Daniel, what's happening? OhGodohGod, memorial service - you're dead. No, can't be, can't go on without you. No, no, no, NO! Won't happen. Not going to do it anymore. Can't. Need him. God I need him. Where is he? Daniel? Please, don't be dead Daniel. Love you, need you. Please Daniel."
"Shh Jack, I'm not dead, I'm here, with you now. Come here Jack. Feel me, see, I'm alive. You only thought I was dead. Not going to leave you Jack, never."
"Wwwe left you, left you behind. You were dead."
I open my eyes and he's there, right next to me. This must be a dream, he's gone, never going to see him again. Oh God why? Need him, want him. If this is a dream I can kiss him, tell him goodbye.
Oh no, Jack's crying, kissing me. I can't stop him this time. Don't want to stop him. Poor thing, he thinks I'm dead again. He must be reliving Oannes. What am I going to do? I have to help him snap out of this. The memory is there now.
"Jack. Wake up! Snap out of it Jack. I'm here, I'm alive. You know this now. You came back for me - you broke through the block and came back for me. You and Sam and Teal'c, you all came back to me. Come on Jack, please. Dammit Jack, I love you too. I need you, please wake up for me."
He's focussing on me now. His eyes are open wide. Sheer terror in them. I pull him close into a full body hug.
"See Jack, I'm here. Not going to leave you, never going to leave you. It takes more than that to kill me, you should know that by now. Are you with me now?"
"DdddDaniel? It's really you?"
He looks so confused yet happy. He's laughing, stroking my face, tears running down his face. He wasn't this happy when the event really happened.
"It's really me, Jack, really me. Hush now. Time to sleep. You need to rest."
"Daniel? You said you loved me."
Aw fuck, I didn't did I?
"Of course I do, Jack. You're my best friend."
"I, I um, I kissed you." He's pulled back from me, studying my face. Okay Jackson, time to lie like a rug.
"Hey, you were pleased to see me. Told you, didn't I? Nothing you can do or say is going to stop me being your friend Jack. I've been kissed before, you know. I'm not a kissing virgin - or any other sort of virgin either before you start on me. I'm not offended, put out or otherwise annoyed. In fact, I'm flattered that you'd want to. Come here." I pull him into my arms before he can argue. "You're going through hell, Jack. I'm glad you're letting me share your journey. It means a lot to me that you trust me this much. I'm not going to let you down, I promise."
I think he's glad for the out that I've given him.
"Daniel, you've never let me down. I doubt you ever could. I'm sorry, by the way, I wasn't thinking straight."
I can't help it, I laugh.
"Obviously not, or you'd have asked for Sam."
He thumps me gently on the shoulder and then buries his head in it. We're okay.
God, I wish people wouldn't keep waking me up. I disentangle myself - again - from Jack and head over to the door. Thor is on the other side, as are Teal'c, Sam, Mom, Janet and the General. Oh. And that tall alien that did this to Jack. It is taking every ounce of self-restraint that I have not to kill the bastard.
"YOU! Why did you do this to him?"
The alien stares at me, says nothing. I can hear him in my head.
"He wished never to have heard of gate travel. We granted his request."
"Dammit, that was a flippant remark. He didn't mean it. You've taken everything away from him. Hell, you've taken him away from me. I want him back, as he was. Now, dammit!"
Hell, how I got through that without swearing I don't know. Give the linguist a medal. Oh, he's already got one. What's up with me? I must be punch drunk through lack of food and cat naps in lieu of sleep.
"I cannot return him immediately. The process he is going through must be completed."
"Can I join him? I need to be in there, in his mind. That way I can guide him through what he's going through."
Janet complains, "Daniel, if you were to do that how would we monitor you? You need to eat, to sleep. We'd need to virtually put you on life-support."
Sam yells. "That's it! The Keeper!"
"Of course, great idea Sam. Do you think it would work?"
"I don't see why not. Those machines kept those people alive for hundreds of years."
"Hang on a minute," Mom says. "What machines?"
Sam explains what happened on the Keeper's planet. I can see the others have reservations but I think that the idea is sound.
"Thor. If Sam gives you the co-ordinates, could you go and fetch him and three machines? We'd need to fix them up here."
"Of course, I shall go immediately."
Sam's off like a hare chased by dogs, running to get the co-ordinates.
"Daniel? Why three machines?" Janet's asking.
"If I go in with Jack, as you say it would be a good idea to have some way to check on us. A third person could enter and leave at will. We know it can be done. If that person has some sort of 'red flag' we'll know that they are real and not part of the dreaming process. I don't know... something from the here and now. Here, take this."
I slip off my ring, the one Jack bought for me as a copy of the one I bought for him.
"Whoever comes in should wear this or carry it. Show it to me, not Jack, and I'll know. In the meantime, I'm starving. Do you think I could go in and eat for a while?"
They think it's a good idea so I pick up the tray that Teal'c had brought earlier and take it in the room.
"Daniel? What's going on? Who were you talking to?"
"Come over here and eat, Jack, and I'll explain what I can."
He's still sleepy, but he comes over to me and sits next to me quietly.
"I can't go into too many details, but we're going to try and borrow some technology that we have used in the past. You haven't met it yet so I'm not going to tell you. In fact, it would be best if you don't even see it when we use it. The less you know at the moment, the better. The alien that did this to you is here. You should be proud of me, I didn't hit him once. I wanted to..." I wave my hand and make him laugh.
"You? Come on Daniel, you're the diplomat on the team. You don't go around hitting aliens."
"Not as a rule, unless they're snakes of course, but he's fucked with my best friend's head and I don't like that one bit. Anyhow, he said that what you're going through is the only way to get through this. The alien that triggered your recall did the right thing without even knowing it. When we get into the machines, our life-support functions will be taken over. It's perfectly safe, by the way, so don't worry. But what it will do is enable us to go through your memories together. I'll be there with you Jack, holding your hand so to speak. I know I've said this before but you have to keep it in mind. You and I, we'll go through some god-awful times. There will be times when you may not want me in there with you. I shouldn't tell you this but you've probably worked it out for yourself already, we've gotten over it. We're as close now, closer in fact than we are at the stage you are at now. So don't feel bad or guilty. We've done the sackcloth and ashes bit. It's over. Of course, if our request is turned down then all of this explaining is going to be pointless, but we have an ally working on it right now. He's technologically advanced enough to help us out, and willing to help too. You've heard of him, but you haven't met him yet according to your memories. You will though. Come on, eat up, drink your coffee. If you want a shower, take it soon. You're not going to get another chance for about a week at a guess."
We hurry with our food and drink. I stick my head out of the door to get an update. Thor's gone already so hopefully he won't be that long, given how fast his ship goes. I tell Teal'c that we're going to have a shower and get changed. And then I ask him to do something for me when the time comes to go into the machine. An incline of the head tells me that he will do as I ask.
To tell the truth I'm nervous of going in the shower. I don't want to have one of those flashbacks while I'm in there.
"Jack? Are you all right? Are you worried about taking a shower just in case?"
Damn, he knows me too well.
"Yes, to be frank."
"Okay, if you don't mind I'll come in with you. That way I can make sure that you don't drown."
He's teasing me as he says it, but he means what he says. Well, it won't be the first time we've showered together. Sometimes, when we're too damn tired to go on, we help each other out. There's nothing untoward about it. I've seen him and Carter shower together. He's washed her hair for her when she's been out on her feet. It's just taking care of each other.
We've quickly shucked our clothes. What on earth is that?"
"Daniel? Tattoos? I've never wanted a tattoo. And since when are you a marine?"
He pushes me into the shower and hands me the shampoo.
"Ah. I can't go into details yet, but suffice it to say that the one on my arm, which matches yours, was the result of a three day party on another planet, and the marine one - sheesh, I got very, very drunk. A forty-eight-hour bender. You'll know a lot more about them both when the time comes."
He's looking at the floor as he talks, unable to meet my eye. There's obviously a lot more to this story than meets the eye.
Back out, getting dressed in some clean clothes that Teal'c has brought in for us. He's standing and doing his rock impression as we get changed.
"Daniel Jackson. Our friend has returned. The equipment is being set up. The owner of the equipment has insisted on accompanying it. He will instruct you on how to use it as soon as it is ready."
"Thanks Teal'c," Daniel says grinning at him. "How long?"
"It should be ready soon. Each machine, while connected to the others, is a self-contained unit. It only needs to be attached to an appropriate power supply. Ma... er Samantha Carter is seeing to it now."
Ma? Major maybe? Well, after seven years I suppose it is likely. Good on you, Captain. Um, Major.
"So, T, how're ya doin'?" I ask him. Haven't seen much of him recently. Can't remember much of the recent past anyway. A few feelings but nothing else.
"I am well O'Neill. I have recovered completely from the alien attack."
"Good, glad to hear it." Damn, he's not going to tell me any more either, I can tell.
There's a knock on the door. Daniel opens it. It's Carter.
"Carter!" I call.
"Colonel. How are you feeling?"
Why is she only putting her head around the door? What's she hiding?
"I'm good. What about you?"
"Much better now, thank you, Sir. Um Daniel, it's time. See you later Sir."
Why am I getting a sense of foreboding? And why is Daniel looming? Daniel doesn't loom, he never looms. That's Teal'c's job. Oh, Teal'c's looming too. Aw fuck.
"Jack is going to kill me, Teal'c," I say with a sigh.
"It was not you who shot him with a zat, Daniel Jackson, it was I."
"Semantics. He'll know it was my idea, trust me. He hates being shot by those things."
"They are not pleasant," Teal'c replies with his trademarked eyebrow twitch.
We grab him and carry him to where they've set up the machines. The Keeper is there, doing his usual fussy dance with his feet and waving his hands around agitatedly. I grab hold of him as the others get Jack into the machine.
"How do I control this? How do I access my own memories if I need to? Can I guide Jack towards his own memories? How do we get out?"
"One thing at a time," he complains.
No, all of it now, we don't have time. He explains it all reluctantly and I start to get in. Sam has possession of my ring. She'll be the first one in most likely if they think we need the company. The Keeper promises that no one can see what's going on and that our bodies will not move. Good. I don't want the others to know what's going to happen. There are things that we want to keep to ourselves.
I take a deep breath and step into the machine.
It's dark, there's nothing here. This is a bit nerve-wracking. Of course, Jack is still unconscious. He should wake soon. All I have to do is wait for him.
Come on Jack, wake up.
"Daniel? Are you here?"
"Sure Jack, told you I won't leave you, didn't I?"
"That was a pretty shitty thing to do ya know. What was that ray gun thing you hit me with?"
"Um, yes, sorry, can't tell you about that. It was the best way to get you into the machine without you seeing anything you shouldn't. Of course, you saw the, um, ray gun. Never mind. We didn't want to anaesthetise you. Heaven only knows what effect that would have had. Forgive me?"
"Yeah, I guess so. I so owe you one though."
"Actually, you don't, there was a time that I was shot with it on your behalf. You'll find out about that one later. Jack, what's the latest thing you remember?"
"A party, celebrating you coming home from the fish tank."
"Ah, Oannes. Yes. I don't remember much about that party."
"Neither do I Daniel, it was a good one."
"Try to move on, Jack. What's the next major event that's in your mind?"
Silence, the darkness starts to lift. I was afraid of this. Hathor.
"Daniel? Why can I see two of you?"
"Jack, you are remembering this. You are going to act out what happened, reacting to the events surrounding you. I'm here as an observer. I'm not part of this, I can't interact. You can talk to me, but because I wasn't here in your memory, the people that you see can't see me. Does that make sense?"
"Sorta. Who's the chick?
"Hathor. Not one of our more friendly guests."
"She looks pretty friendly to me."
"Whoo boy, she certainly did."
I step back and watch with horror as Jack remembers being turned into a Jaffa. Even through the nishta he's in pain, physical and mental.
"Jack, it's okay. I know you're scared but you got through this. You'll see."
I watch as the girls take him to the sarcophagus, I can't go in there with him. I just can't.
He's okay as he comes out, bewildered but okay.
"Great Jack, see told you you'd be fine, didn't I? Moving right along..." I try to guide him past this memory now. I think we've dwelt here long enough.
Shit. We've moved to the stage where the bath has gone up in flames and I admit to *ugh* 'fathering' those god-forsaken creatures.
"Daniel? You slept with her?" Jack comes over to me and looks a tad incredulous.
"I didn't sleep, Jack. She, er, she," I can't bring myself to say it.
"Drugged you and raped you?" he suggests quietly, putting his arms out to me and pulling me into a body hug. I rest my head on his shoulder, allowing myself the luxury of contact for a moment.
"I'm fine now Jack, you helped me get over it."
"I did? Damn, I'm good. Oprah's got nothing on Jack O'Neill."
"Apart from about fifty pounds on a bad day," I snipe.
"Ooh, Daniel Jackson, I never knew you were such a bitch," he teases.
"You ain't seen nothing yet, flyboy."
I give him a squeeze and we're ready to move on.
I think I'm gonna get a headache if I don't freeze my balls off first. We've rattled through other stuff and now Jack's dwelling on that time in Antarctica. That's the trouble with this VR stuff - it's virtually killing me with the cold.
"Jack, please, get through this and move on, I'm freezing to death here," I whine.
He can't hear me, he's not well at all. I watch as Sam climbs up to the surface on her quest to get help. Poor things, they really suffered then. I go to Jack and lay next to him.
"I'm cold Jack, do you mind?"
"Not in the slightest, I'm fucking freezing myself. I can't remember why you weren't with me. This cold must be addling my brain."
"We were separated en route, Jack, Teal'c and I made it home. Remember? I realised a second gate would..."
"Trigger a seismic response. I remember now. You did real good then Dr. J. Did I ever thank you for that?"
"Oh yes. Come on, try to remember what happened when we got back and you were released from the infirmary."
Thank God for that, he remembers it. A huge party at his place. He had the heating on full even though the temperature was warm outside. He'd had difficulty in shaking the feeling of cold in his body, although weeks had passed. It was probably the shock of it all still in his system.
After the others had gone, I stayed and we sat together on the couch.
"Daniel, thank you. I heard you didn't eat or sleep till you found us."
"Didn't want to lose you Jack, you or Sam. Lost too many people I have."
It's funny, I'm observing a very drunk version of myself.
"You still cold, Jack?"
"Yeah, can't shift it," I can see that Jack is shaking. The memory of me holding him in my arms is obviously very strong. I just wish I'd known why he was shaking then, I'd have done something about it. I remember that night, even though I was drunk. We fell asleep like that, holding on tightly to each other. There was a moment of embarrassment when we woke up the next morning but we soon shrugged it off and put it down to too much alcohol. It wasn't though.
I remember this now. I so wished that Daniel's closeness could have been more. I wanted to kiss him but of course, I couldn't. He's a married man, isn't he? I wonder if he ever got Shau're back? Can't ask him, I have to remember for myself.
This is really tiring. I want to sleep.
"Daniel? Do you think we could take a break?"
"I'm not sure Jack. The people we encountered using these were in them for - oh God I can't tell you this. Um, I know that the machine takes over our bodily functions, but at a guess we can sleep if we want to. I'm a bit tired too. How about you just try to think of nothing for a bit?"
Okay - I think I can do that. Or not think. Or whatever.
How the fuck did we end up like this? I've just regained consciousness. I'm naked. In my bed. And I have a large linguist, also naked, plastered to me.
"Um, Daniel? Wakey, wakey, rise and shine. Time for archaeologists to get up and at 'em."
"Fuck off Jack, sleepy."
"DANIEL! WAKE UP AND EXPLAIN THIS!"
"W.WHAT? SHIT! OH GOD SORRY!" He's panting with the shock. Oh fuck, does he know how many times I've dreamed of having him panting in my bed?
He's a bit more composed now. "Jack, um, this is your mind, not mine."
It is? Oh. It is. Oh dear.
"Daniel, it may be my mind and my bed and all, but how did you know it was me trying to wake you up?"
"'Cause only you say stupid stuff like that when I'm sleeping. God, I need a coffee. Do you think you can remember how I like it? I'll take virtual coffee if I have to."
I think we're going to 'not mention' what just happened. That could be for the best, he looked distressed at the position he found himself in. Yep, definitely straight. Damn.
I imagine us, dressed, in my kitchen. We've had enough moments like this for it to be an easy thing for me. A couple of cups of coffee and we're ready to face whatever comes next. We're positively, absolutely, unequivocally not going to mention what happened. Ho hum.
Moving on, we're at the SGC. Or rather I am, Daniel's watching me. I'm going nuts.
"Sir, we have to go back and search. It's a locked room. He couldn't have gone anywhere. You know what he's like, once he sees something he loses himself. What if he's found some invisibility machine or something?"
"Invisibility machine, Colonel?" Hammond looks really sceptical.
"Or something," I mutter. "It was an alien lab, Sir."
Hammond's pacing around the room, thinking about his options. I don't care, I'll go and get him on my own if I have to. I'm not leaving him behind again.
"General, I've left Daniel behind once too often. Well, twice actually. I'm not doing it again if I can help it. If you don't want to send a team, let me go back on my own. I'll resign if I have to. I'll find him and take him to the Land of Light. We can look for Shau're from there. I am not going to leave him this time. No way!"
Hell, I nearly gave the game away then, didn't I? Do I sound like a dumb mutt in love or what?
"Very well Colonel. You have twenty-four hours to find him. If after that time he has not been found he will be declared MIA. Do I make myself clear?"
"Sir, yes Sir. Begging your pardon, Sir, I'll just write out my resignation letter. If after twenty-four hours we haven't found him, please use it. I won't be coming back."
I salute the General and head off to my office.
"Jack?" Oh shit, it's Daniel.
"Yeah, it happened like that Daniel. I couldn't leave you behind again, not after what happened on Oannes."
"Oh Jack," his voice is soft, there are tears in his eyes. He's hugging the shit out of me. He doesn't seem a bit put out, just happy.
The next thing I remember is seeing him in that room, with that staff weapon burn. How the fuck did he get that?
Back on Earth again. He's trying to explain things to me and getting very frustrated that I don't seem to believe him.
"Daniel, it's not I don't believe you, I just don't understand. I'm not stupid but I'm not a physics major."
"Neither am I Jack!" he's yelling at me. It's all coming back to me now. This turned into one of the legendary Jackson/O'Neill screaming matches.
"No, Daniel, but you're a fucking genius. You can accept things like alternate universes because your mind is different from ours. Even Carter would have difficulty figuring that one out."
"Actually, she understood my theory straight away," he says. He must mean the Dr. Carter he told us about, 'cause Captain Carter was as confused as I was for a while.
"Daniel. You just said it was your theory. Don't you get it? You're not a physics major but you could work out and accept the possibility long before someone who's trained to think that way could. You don't just think out of the box, I don't think you even know there is one. I'm not having a go, Daniel, I sometimes think you haven't got a clue how fucking brilliant you actually are. Just slow down and give us mere mortals a chance, will ya?"
"Jack! Can't you even accept the possibility? Tell me this, Jack. How did I get a staff weapon blast if there were no Jaffa there?"
"Dammit Daniel, how many times have we got to go through this? I don't know. Okay?"
We go on in this vein for a while longer. I watch Daniel as he makes an enemy in that jerk Kinsey. He's gonna have trouble with him in the future. Real Daniel is laughing his ass off as he watches himself call Kinsey a donkey.
"I think I was most restrained," he says. "In the future I wasn't, um won't be, aw hell, you know what I mean."
"You have a go at Kinsey?" I ask amazed. I know Daniel's no pushover, but to actually go for it?
"You have no idea, Jack. Let's just say he catches me on a bad day."
"This I have got to see!" I tell him. Oh yeah, I'd give anything to see him do that.
That slimeball Samuels is hanging around. I think he's got a thing for Daniel. I've been watching him closely. He's been staring at Daniel in the briefing room, being a bit of a sycophant when he doesn't think that anyone else is looking. He can keep his fucking hands off him.
He's heading to Daniel's office.
"Samuels? Where are you going?" I call out.
"Colonel. I have a few things I'd like to discuss with Dr. Jackson."
"Dr. Jackson is currently recovering from his trip to the other Earth. May I suggest you leave him alone?"
"Lieutenant Colonel. Do I have to make it an order?"
Uh oh, real Daniel's seen this.
"Jack? What was all that about? Spill, don't sugar-coat it."
"I thought that Samuels might try something on. I've seen the look in his eye in other men, Daniel, I didn't want you getting hurt." He's gonna get mad at me.
He doesn't. He kisses my cheek? What the fuck is going on here?
"Um Daniel? Why did you do that?"
"You're a good friend, Jack O'Neill. The best. A little misguided, but the best of friends. Thank you."
"I knew what Samuels wanted from me. Jack, I grew up very quickly as a teenager. I can deal with sharks without getting hurt. I know what they look like too. He was just a creep of the highest order. I could've dealt with him."
Best of friends, eh? Sweet. Ya know, I think Daniel loves me.
I know what's coming next. It has to be. Yep, that's what I love about Jack, he's predictable and reliable. Forget all the hassle and doubt about breaking regs and disobeying an order, the next bit is where he shoots Skaara. I think that this was the point when I started to wonder if Jack had more than just friendly feelings for me. Jack loved Skaara. He shot him and was prepared to kill him to save my life.
"Shh, Jack, it will be okay. You have to trust me on this one. Look at me Jack," he looks up. "Put yourself in my hands please. Trust me that things will work out."
He swallows hard and nods. The next flash takes us to where I'm dying and I send him away. I had to do it, though I wanted him with me.
He's got tears in his eyes as he turns to me.
"Daniel? Why did you send me away?" His voice is breaking, choking on his words. I can see he hated himself for doing what he had to do.
"You needed to complete the mission, Jack. Six billion lives depended on it. It was too much to ask that you stay with me, even for a few minutes. Come on, let's move on. I want to be with you when you do the next bit, I didn't see that."
He's not really with it but he's forcing himself to go through this. I watch as he throws the grenades down the shaft. It makes me laugh. That is one of the things I love about Jack. He always plays the dumb soldier, but he's always thinking, figuring stuff out, working out his best options. And he does it with such style.
Jack turns and looks at me, grinning from ear to ear. I smile in return. He knows I'm impressed.
"Daniel, I remember the next bit. Come on, you'll love this."
I'm in a death glider, we're making our escape from the mother ships. I watch as they go up and I realise that the others thought that I was still on Klorel's ship.
"It hurt to watch that, Daniel. More than you can imagine," Jack says quietly. I'm sitting in the driving seat. I just hope that I know what to do when the time comes.
They say their goodbyes to each other, they all think they're going to die. I'm choking up here. I know how it all turns out, but to actually be here...
Then the shuttle turns up and we go home. I'm thankful Jack skips to the next bit - the infamous Spacemonkey scene. I fall into his hug; well, the other me does. I'm a bit jealous. I wish I'd seen how much he loved me then - from this angle it's written all over his face. I thought he might, but I was still searching for Shau're. Ah well, hindsight and all that.
"Jack, why did you call me that?" I ask as we head out of the gate room.
"I've never told you?"
"You've hinted that it has something to do with me climbing trees, but you've never explained, no. So, are you going to now?"
"No. It's my secret, Daniel. And yes, it has something to do with trees, but that's between me and my older memories, okay?"
I squeeze his shoulder and let him have that one.
Well, we've just woken up wrapped up in each other - again! What is it with us? I know we're close, but this is positively possessive. I love this guy, I know he loves me as a friend, but he's straight. So why are we permanently attached at night? At least we had clothes on this time.
"Time to move on, Jack," he groans. I think he's enjoying this about as much as I am.
I let my mind wander and we end up on a planet under fire.
"Daniel! Where the fuck are we?"
"Um, Nasya I think, Jack."
Nasya? That rings a bell. Carter, it has something to do with Carter. Come on O'Neill, you can do this. Remember.
Whoa! Carter's a Goa'uld? She's in a cell, pleading with me to listen to her. It could be a Goa'uld trick, I can't let her influence me. I lost Kawalsky to those bastards. I'm NOT losing her. What can I do?
'Ashrak' she's saying. An assassin? Here? Hell, better look for him. How will we find him? OH GOD! I HATE this, I hate not being able to do things.
"Jack," Daniel's voice is calling to me. "It will be okay, Jack. Trust me."
Okay, I can do that. I can trust him.
I talk to the snake, try to figure this out. It wants me to let it go, says it's not a Goa'uld. Fucking sounds like one. Tok'ra? Teal'c tells me he has heard of this Jolinar creature. It's an enemy of the Goa'uld? How come? They're the same things. Ah fuck, my head hurts.
I force myself to remember. That scene in the gate room is not something I would want to go through again.
We move on, deal with being taken prisoner and escape. That woman - she gives me the creeps.
This is more like it, a lovely planet. Sweet. I can deal with this. Hang on, what's that? Hey! Get off me!
"Jack! Jack!" It's Daniel.
"Daniel? What's going on?"
"We're in the same machines that we're in in reality. This wasn't a pleasant time for either you or me. See if you can remember it quickly so we can move on."
I rack my brains. An assassination attempt. John gets killed. Teal'c's here in place of someone else. No, we're not playing this game, I want to move on. Where am I now? Why are Daniel and Carter dressed like that. Who are those people? OHMYGOD! DANIEL! He saw his parents being killed! OhGodohGodohGod, poor Daniel. No kid should see that.
I go to real Daniel, pull him into a hug. He's doing his self-hugging thing. He's distressed. I'm putting him through all this again.
"Daniel, I'm so sorry. Help me, tell me what came next, let me move on so I can get us out of here. I'm sorry you had to come here again."
"It's all right Jack," he says with a sigh, he's not letting me go though.
"Come on Daniel, give me a hint, please," I'm pleading with him. "I'll get on my knees and beg if I have to."
He's laughing at that, a sad laugh. Somehow I know the next bit is going to be as painful for him.
"P3R-636," he says coldly.
We're in a mine. It's time to escape. Come on Daniel, let's go. Oh no, he's chained, he can't go. HELP US!
He's dead, I know he's dead. They took him away from us. I'm never going to see him again. Hang on, that's not true, if it was he wouldn't be here. Damn, this future-Daniel thing is confusing the hell out of me. I can't cope with this.
He's back, dressed like some sort of prince. He says he's handling it. He's angry with me, shouting, telling me I don't respect him. I do, Daniel, I respect you more than I've ever respected anyone. Dammit, I love you. I wish I could tell you that.
"Time to go home," Daniel says and he touches my arm.
Yes, time to go home. We're at the SGC, he's in the infirmary, he's sick. Withdrawal the doc says. Hell, I've done that; not something I ever want to do again.
He's gone, where is he? I know, his hideout. The storeroom. He hates to be watched all the time. He's pointing the gun at me. Come on Daniel, I've been here, done this, I can help. Let me help you, please. He's sobbing into my arms now, I'm holding him close. I tell him stuff so that he'll know that I understand.
"Listen to me Daniel. This is between you and me, okay? Promise me this?"
"Promise Jack." He's shaking, we're still on the floor of the storeroom. It's cold. I pull him closer, we hold each other tightly.
"You know I was in Iraq?"
"Yeah, you told me a bit."
"Well, when I was there they got me hooked on heroin. I was a real addict, Daniel. I'd do anything for a fix, absolutely anything. God help me, I let the guards do things to me, ya know?"
"'Sokay Jack, you don't have to tell me."
"I do Daniel. Maybe you'll realise that I do understand you better than you know. I let them fuck me, Daniel, I let them. I fucking begged them to just so that I could get some more drugs. I didn't care what drugs, just as long as I was high. I'll bet you're thinking I wanted them to do that now, aren't you?"
"WHAT? NO! No, Jack, I know, I know. You're a good man Jack, the best. My friend. Don't think anything, okay? Still friends, aren't we? Please say we're still friends! You still want me, don't you?"
"Of course I do, Daniel. Still friends."
Fucking hell, Daniel's kissing me. Hard. Oh shit, he's good at this. I want this but I can't have this. He's desperate for the contact.
"Jack," he's whispering, sliding his hand inside my shirt. "Take me back there please. I'll let you do anything, please I want you to do whatever you want. I won't go back to her. I just need the sarcophagus. We can take it, take it anywhere you want to go. I'll give you whatever you want. You want me, don't you?"
Crap. What the fuck am I going to do? I turn and look at real Daniel. He's crying his eyes out. I get up and go to him.
"I'm sorry Jack," he whispers. "I'm so sorry. God, how pathetic was I?"
I hug him. "Daniel, you were only reacting to what I told you I'd done for the same reason. You weren't responsible for your actions."
He stares me in the eyes. "No, you're right. I was no more responsible than you were."
I think I've just been told off. I know I carry the self-loathing for what I did. Have I carried it into my future? It would seem so. And I think that Daniel has just told me to let go or else. I know from bitter experience that a pissed off Daniel is not a good thing.
"You're right. How about we both move on from this?"
A watery smile. Sweet.
Seeing myself like that was not pleasant. However, I think that Jack's going to be able to let go now.
Jack whizzes through more memories, we're walking through them together, helping each other through some of the more painful ones. That time with Teal'c and the big bug was scary. Both of us panicked a bit through that one. If only the others at the SGC knew that this was the start of the one collective fear that SG-1 has. Bugs. In any shape or form. After the flying ones and then the Replicators later - just 'no' - keep them away from us. Even Teal'c has been known to scream like a girlie at the sight of a bug if it catches him off guard. We're fine if we know we're going to face one, but to have one turn up... Yuck.
It would seem that meeting the Tok'ra wasn't particularly stressful for Jack. He got upset that Sam was being held when her dad was dying, but apart from that he manages to shrug off the images. The next really traumatising thing is going to be... ah yes. I thought it might be.
"Daniel? What's happening to me?"
"You have the knowledge of the Ancients downloaded into your mind Jack. This was scary."
"For you too. You never left me, did you?"
"Told you, Jack, I'd never leave you."
"You helped me a lot. No one else would have. You believed in me, didn't you? Bringing me the tape of Carter proved it. You believed I could help, didn't you?"
"Yes." What else can I say? It's true.
"Dammit. How many times have I not listened to you, not believed in you until you've proved to me what you think. I'm a crap friend."
"Jack. No matter what, you've always believed in me. You haven't always taken me at my word but you've always given me the chance to prove what I think. You're a great friend. I understand that the way I think isn't the same as the way others do. I can't expect you to take what I say at face value all the time."
"That's true, Daniel, but I should trust you more. I'm going to, I promise."
Yeah, well, you will, it will just take you a bit longer than you think.
Wow. Seeing the Asgard in their own territory is quite something. I'm glad I'm here with him for this. Jack handled it really well, coping magnificently with the diplomacy. He should be proud of himself.
Moving on. I don't recognise this. What's going on? Henry Boyd. That name rings a bell. Oh yes, the black hole incident. This could be interesting.
Poor Teal'c he's in a bad way. I'm glad he gets over it. It's fascinating to watch Sam at work. This is her at her best; thinking, or rather outthinking all the best brains at the Pentagon. You go girl. Hammond's faith in her is helping here.
Ah, so this is Frank Cromwell. He and Jack used to be close. It's not nice watching him yelling at him. That time in Iraq really screwed with Jack's head. I'm still helping him to pick up the pieces. Not so many left now, but there are still nightmares.
"Jack? Are you okay?"
"Um yeah, I guess so, Daniel. You aren't here, where are you?"
"I was on a dig, Jack, stuck off-world for a couple of weeks. I know it doesn't seem that long to you but it was. Time dilation and stuff," I say as if I have the foggiest idea what I'm talking about.
My heart is in my mouth as I watch him deploying the bomb. I know he got through it but it's still frightening to watch.
That's all over now, he's remembering when I took him home. I stayed with him until he was better. We spent many hours talking about his incarceration. He's recalling one of those sessions now. We're on the couch, 'our' drink in our hands. He had to get a bit drunk before he opened up to me.
"Talk Jack. I'm here for you, remember. Talk. Tell me about it."
"It was terrible, Daniel. I hope to God you never go through what I did. They only gave me enough food and water to keep me alive. I was a bag of bones when I got back. I only had the barest treatment for my injuries. I had unset broken bones, infection set in - I was really sick. They'd pour water on the floor in front of me, I'd be so desperate I'd lick it up. Then they started on the heroin. It was fantastic - taking me away from my pain. But they'd leave it till I was screaming for more before they'd come and give me another fix."
He's crying, I'm holding him. I so wanted to kiss him, to take away his pain at the time, but I thought he was straight. And of course, his career stopped me. Mom and the others have often asked me why I never told him about me. I couldn't. I loved him, I was so in love with him. I knew he cared, I even had an idea that he might possibly love me back, but I couldn't screw up his career. I think I knew that if I took the initiative he wouldn't turn me down. That was why my hands were tied. I had to wait until he was ready to tell me on his own. I knew that when he did it would mean he wanted me over the Air Force. I had to wait.
This is strange. I'm seeing myself, but I don't sound like myself. I look like Teal'c? What the fuck is going on?
"Daniel! Help me! Tell me what's happening please!"
"Shh, Jack, it's okay. We swapped bodies, try to concentrate on your memory of this. I was swapped with Ma'chello and you and Teal'c swapped bodies. Sam figured out how to get us back."
Ok-ay, I can deal. It's not so bad being in Teal'c's body, after all he's strong. So why do I feel sick? Teal'c's telling me I have to WHAT? Meditate? I can't do that. I must or he will die. This is confusing. He's telling me how to do this. I can do this. My buddy needs me to so I can do it.
I open my eyes again, Daniel's asleep on Teal'c's cot. He must be exhausted. I have to wake him though, it's time to end this episode, I've had enough of being a Jaffa. I can feel Junior squirming around and I don't like it one bit.
Carter tells me that they lost Daniel but managed to get him back. How many times does he have to die? I can't cope with this, it scares the shit out of me. I don't want to lose him. I can't lose him.
"Daniel, when are you going to stop dying on me?" I go to him and put my hands on his shoulders.
"Not just yet, Jack, but hey - I'm still with you aren't I? You can't get rid of me that easily. Come on, you can remember all of this now, let's move on."
Right - let's do it. Loads of small images rush through my mind but the next thing that brings it to a screeching halt is a kid. He looks sick. Does he have to call himself Charlie? Why? The Rhitou. Don't like the sound of them. They're making Teal'c upset. The Tok'ra are here. Can't take to them. Selmac's okay, but I don't trust the rest of them. Cool guns. Let's shoot some monsters.
NO! I won't accept it. Not another Charlie dying. Jacob says that they may be able to help him. I don't want to turn him into a snake but what choice do I have? Okay, okay, do it. Just save him, will ya?
Cold. I'm so cold again. I fucking hate being cold. Who are you? Where is everybody? The future? You're shitting me, have we used some sort of time machine? Where's Carter, Teal'c, Daniel? What happened?
"Jack, I'm here. Just let this happen, Jack, don't fight it. Go with your memories."
It's that bitch again. Hathor. Oh no, she's showing that snake to Daniel. I've never seen him look more frightened in his life. To others watching he just looks unconcerned but I know Daniel and I know that look. His arms are folded across his chest - trying to seem casual. He's hugging himself, something he only does when he's very distressed. His jaw is set, his voice is neutral - things he only does when he's got something to hide. Well, he's not the only one. I've been getting far too touchy feely with him over the last few years, days, whatever. I can't show him what I feel. I think it's time to cut him loose.
Don't you dare stick that in him, you fucking whore, I'll kill you with my bare hands if you so much as touch one hair on his head. And you can leave Carter alone as well. Hang on, who said you could stick it in me?
What the fuck was that? A zat blast? Who's the chick in the white coat really? Is she on our side? Okay, more questions it's pointless asking Daniel. Talking of whom, where is he? Ah, hiding out. He is so not enjoying this.
I fast forward my brain a little, I'm getting the hang of this. Now I know why he's so upset. She's really going to stick that fucking thing in my head.
Woo hoo, the babe in the coat came through for us, the Tok'ra have done something worthwhile at last. I wonder if I can replay bits that are really good. Oh look I can. Still want to be Daniel's friend, I guess.
"Here Daniel, look, instant replay of a Goa'uld flavoured popsicle!"
"Yeah, um, Jack, you have to go back in there too, to kill off the snake."
Aw hell, back in the cold? I do not want to go in there again. Trouble is I can't seem to move on. I seem to get runs where things come easy but then I get something horrible where I have to go through it to carry on.
Okay, okay, it's Jack-in-the-box time again.
I wish that he could move on so that we can get out of here. I'm not here in his mind, just here in virtual reality. Oh good, the case thing is raising. He's getting out, it's dead. Thank God. I go to him to comfort him and he turns his back and turns to Sam for comfort. I'm stunned, but I shouldn't be. This was the beginning of the trouble between us I think, where he started to turn to her instead of me. It wasn't really bad till Shau're's death, but the rot had started. I'll never know what it was I did to him to make him turn from me. Perhaps it was because I didn't say anything, didn't fight hard enough to stop the implantation. I just don't know. He told me later it was because he had to hide the fact that he loved me, but I'm not completely convinced.
I don't think I was ever so glad to hear his voice as I was that day when he appeared badly misquoting Python. It wasn't the last time that he made me want to laugh, but for a long time after there were fewer occasions when it happened.
He's moving on, quickly getting past the next few months and arriving at a time that I never want to see again as long as I live.
"Jack. I know I said that I'd be here for you no matter what, but if you have to rerun this time in your mind, I can't be here for you. I'll go, send someone else in."
Well thank you Colonel. So nice to know that I've been appreciated. Don't you even want to know why? I guess not. I find the exit and the machine lets me out.
"Sam, I think he wants you in there," I say. She hands me back the ring so that she'll know it's me if I can face going in there.
"When is he at, Daniel?" she asks quietly.
"The time with the Linvris," I reply. I'm outta here.
I stay to watch Sam going into the machine and then I run to my office. I don't want to talk to anyone, don't want to see anyone. I want to be left alone for a while.
Of course, I'd forgotten the other O'Neill.
"Hi Mom, how's it going?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing, sweetheart. What's upsetting you so much that you can't face being in there with Jack?"
I know it's pointless arguing with her, I'll lose, so I tell her about it. She knows about my incarceration, but she doesn't know how it affected me.
"He walked, Mom, just walked away from me."
"What else could he do, Daniel? Didn't he come back for you?"
"Yes, he did, but it took Teal'c dying and for him to be clutching at straws before he could come back and get me. He would have left me there, Mom. I'd have been stuck in there, drugged, sedated, even though there was nothing wrong with me. They didn't believe me from the start. Flaky Daniel, it was only a matter of time before he went off the deep end. No one was surprised. If Sam or Teal'c or Jack had started seeing things they wouldn't have locked them away. Dammit, I wouldn't have let them. I'd have investigated everything for them. They just didn't care enough. Why that surprised me I don't know, but it was true. Jack had already started to put some distance between us, already started to go after Sam. Mom, do you think he came to me because he couldn't have her?"
"Do I really have to answer that, Daniel?"
"It's true, isn't it? He realised that she wasn't going to go to him, so he turned back to me. He must have known how I felt about him and he didn't want to be alone anymore."
"Daniel, you're tired and emotional. You've had to relive some awful times in your life. No wonder you think like this. I can promise you, Jack loves you with all his heart. Do you really think he'd have given up his life for you otherwise? He gave up his chance to fly again, didn't he? He risked his relationship with his brother, didn't he? He's told the world that he's in love with you. Do you honestly think he'd do that for a rebound relationship? I have to point this out to you that you were not the easy option for him. Sam was. She could have left SG-1. Jack would have resigned for her if he'd loved her like that. He didn't. He did, however, do it for you. Doesn't that tell you something?"
"I guess so. You're right. I'm tired and emotional. Doesn't change the fact that he doesn't want me there at the moment." She really is right. I'm not being much help to Jack now, but it hurts so much.
"Give me your ring, Daniel. Don't worry, I'm not going in there myself. I do, however, have an idea. Will you let me try?"
I hand her the ring.
"Sure, if you think so. I, on the other hand, am going to get some proper shut-eye. I'm shattered."
"You do that, Daniel. I'll come back and check on you later."
I lay down on the cot in my office and shut my eyes. I only hope that sleep will come soon.
I hate this. Seeing Daniel like that. No wonder real Daniel was distressed. I wouldn't want to be reminded of this if I were him. It's not much fun being me either at this time. I've overcome the virus, we're getting better. Real Sam's here but she's keeping her distance. I think she's cross with me.
"Carter? What's up?"
"Daniel's upset," she says. "You've hurt his feelings, I think."
"What did I do? He said he didn't want to be here and I said fine. I didn't stop him doing what he wanted."
"Colonel, what he wanted and what he said were two different things. Never mind. He's gone for a break. You should move on. We should get through this as quickly as possible."
Hell, I have a pissed off second here and I don't know what I've done to deserve it.
And now I have a Jaffa looming. He's showing something to Carter, keeping it from me.
"It is I, O'Neill. I have come to assist you on your journey."
"Um, thanks Teal'c, but I thought that that was what Carter was doing."
"It would be better if I were here as well."
"Daniel seemed to manage to help me fine on his own," I say. Sheesh, what is it with these two? Do they need to hold each other's hands or something?
"That's because he's Daniel, Sir," Carter says. I have no idea what that means.
We get through a few memories, T and Carter doing the stoic double act, and then the next scary moment is when I think that Teal'c has been blown up in the cargo vessel of Aris Boch. The fact that he's right next to me proves he wasn't. And those escape pods that have just crash landed may well explain why. Cool.
I'm tired. I tell the guys I need to sleep. They've been really cool towards me, not comforting me like Daniel did. They've been helping, doing their jobs, but they're not Daniel. They leave me, say they'll come back in a while to check on me. Fine, whatever. I just need to rest.
Okay, I've had a nap, I'd better go and check on Jack. I have to pull myself together, this won't help him if I'm being so fucking self-absorbed.
"Teal'c, Sam, whose with Jack?"
"He's sleeping, we came out," Sam replies.
"Okay, what was the last thing he remembered?"
"It was our encounter with the bounty hunter Aris Boch," Teal'c replies.
Oh fuck. I know what's coming next.
"Right, I'll go back in there then," I say.
I'm dreading this. I walk in and see that he's already awake. We're on the planet, he's under fire and watching me go into the tent. He sends Teal'c after me.
Next thing I know we're at the entrance of the tent. I can see myself on the floor, a smoking hole in Shau're's chest. Jack looks devastated. So was I, Jack. So was I.
"Daniel, I'm so sorry," he says, his eyes softening for a while. Perhaps he still cared a bit.
"You're glad it wasn't you that had to do it Jack. Don't forget I know you. I know you better than you think. You were grateful that it was Teal'c that took the responsibility from you. You also know that you'd have either shot her straight away or hesitated just a bit longer. Either action would have been wrong, Jack. I forgave Teal'c because he did what needed to be done."
"And me? Did you forgive me?" There's real pain in his eyes. He's feeling more than I do at the moment.
"Eventually." That's all I'm prepared to say for now.
I turn my back and walk out of the tent.
"Daniel, I'm sorry you had to see this again. How long ago was it for you?"
I have to stop and think.
"Nearly four years ago, Jack. I never stopped loving her, you know, not for one second. I've moved on though, I have a new life." Oops, that was more than I should have said.
"Who's the lucky girl?" he asks.
I just shake my head. "I, I can't tell you what I meant by that, not yet."
"I hope you're happy," he says, not very convincingly. Okay. I know he says it was now that he couldn't cope being around me because he loved me too much, but this is still hurting like fuck. I just nod.
"Can we go now please?" I beg. I don't want to stay here anymore.
Oh fucking great. He would remember this, wouldn't he. Typical.
Ke'ra, Linnea, whoever the hell she was. I don't care what he says, he was jealous as hell. Do we really have to fight over her again? Come on, come on, let's get this over and done with shall we? Thank God for that. Our next sterling moment is? Ooh, Netu. Couldn't wait to get back there.
At least now his memories seem to be only dealing with the short periods of time that were particularly traumatising.
He's being tortured. I can actually see what Apophis was using against him. Charlie. That fucking bastard. I'm so glad that he's finally gone.
"Shh Jack, it's okay. It wasn't real. Come on Jack, snap out of it." He's shaking. We're back in the cell, I'm holding him tight. I'm not going to let him go no matter what he wants me to do.
"Jack, do you want to see what he used against me?"
His eyes open wide and he looks at me intently. He nods. I use the technique the Keeper told me about and take him to my interrogation. Jack sees that it was he that Apophis used to get to me. He's quiet, not saying a damned word about it.
I let him see me take the fall and collect the communicator. Perhaps that will show him I'm not so helpless after all.
Now we're on the Tollen homeworld. I haven't been here for some time. Good news at last, he's taken us to the point where Skaara is freed.
"See Jack, some good things have happened," I say. He's actually smiling at me. I don't believe it.
Daniel and I just had a few laughs together. I remembered that time with Urgo. Hell, I'll admit it, I actually grew fond of the infuriating git. I was so afraid that he would pick up on my feelings for Daniel though, that was why I was such a grouch with him.
And my next moment of glory is - not knowing whether the team made it back through the gate or not before it was destroyed. Laira is telling me to give it one hundred days. I'm still digging to get to the gate, not knowing if they found it or not.
Daniel sees me give up, sees me going off with her. He's disappeared, not wanting to see me make love to her. Can't blame him myself. I wish I hadn't done that.
The joy when Teal'c breaks through is tangible. I was so happy to see him. And then there is the time when the others come through. What made me shrug them off? Carter was devastated. Real Daniel takes me to one side.
"Look Jack, look what you did. Sam spent all that time making that particle accelerator on her own. Something that hadn't been done before, not like that."
"And you?" I ask him. I look at his counterpart properly. He looks tired, thin, withdrawn. What had been going on?
"I was glad to get you back. All the time you were away I felt so fucking helpless, Jack. I couldn't do anything. All I could do was wait."
I look at him and reach out to touch his arm. He shrugs back as if he's been burnt. "Daniel, sometimes waiting is the only thing you can do. It's also the hardest thing to do. I'm sorry I was such a thoughtless bastard."
A weak smile comes back.
"Don't worry about it Jack, like I said, we got over it."
Again, the turned back and the cold shoulder. I must have been treating him really badly.
We're in my living room. I'm kicking him in the guts again, telling him that our friendship had no foundation.
Real Daniel is mad as hell. This wasn't one of my better moments.
"Daniel, you must know what happened next and why. You must know I wouldn't have said something like that if I didn't have to."
"Jack," he all but hisses at me. "Do you remember the entire episode?"
I nod, I do, right up to the 'drawing straws' moment.
"That was your side of events. Do you want to see mine? You see, I'd already worked everything out. I'm not as dumb as you think, nor am I na´ve. I know you. You were and are not a thief. It didn't make sense. I put two and two together, I had to say things and do things to prove that I wasn't on your side. That hurt! I had to put up with a load of crap too. Come with me," he says roughly.
I should have known he'd have figured it out. In a way, I wanted him to. I just didn't want him to get physically hurt. Aw shit, I was wrong on that count as well. We're in the locker room, it's him and Makepeace.
"You put out for O'Neill, Jackson, so you'll do the same for me, understand? Or I'll make you wish you'd never been born."
"Drop dead Makepeace. I've never given anything to Jack and I sure as hell am not going to do a damned thing for you. I'll do my job and you'll leave me the hell alone. Do you understand?"
I watch as Daniel gets punched in the stomach, hard, it winds him. He stands up, stares Makepeace in the eye and spits in his face. Makepeace grabs him, pushes him face forward against the locker.
"I'll have your ass, Jackson, and you will give it willingly."
"Fuck off Makepeace. You touch me and I will kill you."
"You will give it up or your friends will find that life isn't going to be so pleasant around here, you understand?"
Daniel spins himself around, knees Makepeace in the balls and when he drops, steps on his face.
"Let me put this in words that you can understand. You lay one finger on either my team or me and I will blow your fucking head off. Don't compare yourself to Jack. You are nothing, get me? Nothing."
Daniel turns around and looks at me. "Seen enough, Jack?"
"Did he do anything else, Daniel, because if he did I'm going down to that prison and I'm going to kill him."
"He didn't touch Sam or Teal'c, you have nothing to worry about."
"Dammit Daniel, I'm worried about you! Did he touch you?"
"I dealt with it Jack. He didn't fuck me, if that's what you're worried about. I didn't do anything for him. I never gave into his demands. He eventually got the message when I started carrying a gun around full-time. I couldn't let him touch the others. I think he realised that I was upset enough to do it. He also knew that Hammond would have protected me. It's over now. Can we move on, please? I'm getting tired again."
I say nothing, just nod. I don't touch him though, even though he's more highly-strung than a concert harp. I don't think I'd be able to stop at a hug.
"You handled him well, Daniel. You should be proud of yourself."
I think I heard him mutter something about me being proud of him. You have no idea how proud Daniel, none at all.
More traumatic events. Seeing Daniel being tortured by those religious fanatics on Bedrosia wasn't funny. Watching him give up that kid wasn't either. Neither was seeing him collapse with pain as his appendix exploded. He was amused to see me pacing up and down outside the OR.
"Didn't think you cared, Jack," he says dismissively.
"What makes you say that?" I'm stunned. Of course I care.
"Wrong shade of blonde," he says with a wry grin.
That is so not true.
"Daniel, listen to me, I was scared shitless that I'd lost you again. You have to believe me. I didn't want you to die."
He looks at me hard, studying my face and nods tightly.
"Pity you didn't tell me that at the time, Jack."
Fuck it. I've screwed things up with him big time. I want to make it up to him.
Unfortunately, my next episode takes me to Thor's ship. We're trying to make good our escape. We made it, onto another planet. Sweet, only have to survive till they get the beta gate up and running.
Crap. I forgot that Daniel's with me. He came up to me and Carter as we were doing some harmless flirting. Teal'c keeps interrupting too. What is it with the big guy? Can't he see we're having a bit of fun? What's up with Daniel? He seems to be jealous of the time I was spending with Carter. It's not as if he was there with us.
I see the memory of Daniel as we come back through the gate. He looks ill, like he hasn't let himself heal while we were away. He looks like shit in fact. Damn, he cared, he really worried didn't he? This remembering is helping me to put a few things into perspective.
And now? Oh yes, the submarine. I've just yelled at Daniel to press the button and blow the sub.
I look up at him, he's standing to the side, watching the Replicator bugs crawl over me. He's saying nothing, not a single word, just hugging himself again. Why must I keep putting him through this?
Woo hoo! Thor to the rescue. He deposits us back on Earth as soon as I start telling him about fishing. Ingrate.
I look around for both Daniels. They're both doing the same thing. Hanging in the background, keeping out of the celebration. I want to go and talk to them but my memory tells me that I should stay away. Not-real-Daniel is talking to Major Davis. Nice guy. They seem to be getting on well. I'm glad that Daniel had a friend when I was being so awful. Real Daniel tells me we're really close again, so I'm hoping I grew up and improved as a friend. Damn, he and Davis seem to be getting on very well. They weren't, were they? Nah. Davis is military through and through. Even if he was gay there would be no way in hell he'd take a chance on screwing up his career. Besides, last time I checked Daniel was only interested in the ladies. And not very interested in them either. For a guy that looks as hot as he does, he has not a fucking clue what sort of effect he has on people.
I don't know if I'm more upset about Jack remembering this or him not really remembering that time with Nick and the skull. He just wrote that episode off. I knew he didn't care about me then, and that just proved it.
Oh fucking great. The lowest point in our friendship.
"Shut up Daniel! Too subtle for ya?"
This got me mad, mad as hell. I was just doing my job - and I WAS RIGHT! He never listened to me. Oh yeah, he seems to remember the fight we had when we got back.
"He fucking had it coming, Daniel!"
"You knew, you fucking knew he was coming through, didn't you? Since when are you the judge, jury and executioner? What gave you the right?"
"How could we have tried him on Earth, Daniel? Tell me that!"
"What about a military court, or getting one of our allies, eh? You didn't even stop to think about that did you?"
"I had to make a decision, and I made it! I will live with that decision, you don't have to."
"You're right, Jack, I don't. I don't know how you can even sleep at night."
"So says the moral conscience of Earth! You make me sick, Jackson. You're holier-than-thou attitude stinks. And it has no place in a war."
"It has more place in a fucking war than anywhere else, Colonel. And for your information I was doing my fucking job."
That fight went on and on. A bunch of marines turned the corner of the corridor and slunk into the background as they saw us. Nobody ever tried to get between us when we fought. We seemed to do that so much back then. I remember the next few months - they were bittersweet. I would do my job, fight with Jack and then sneak off to liaisons with Paul. Sometimes I'd go to Washington, sometimes he'd come to my place, but more often than not we'd meet up in other towns and cities. Denver, New Orleans, New York; anywhere, just as long as I didn't have to be around Jack. And of course, we had to hide all the time.
Oh joy - the armbands. At least Jack and I didn't fight over this. Neither of us was thinking straight. Damn, I was hoping he'd remember the fight in O'Malley's. Pity. I had such fun that night. He remembers the scene at the force field. Whoop de do.
Of course, Jack would remember this too. Teal'c threatening to leave us. That would upset him. Not half as much as it upset me. Sam and I weren't as close as we had been, Jack and I were barely speaking, I turned to Teal'c. He became my rock. I've done my best to remain that close to him since, but it hasn't been easy.
Jack's really put out at the thought of Teal'c going. I wonder if he would have been bothered if I'd gone instead. I've not been saying much, just watching Jack as he works his way through his various memories.
Oh great, the zaytarc thing. I watch him as Anise makes a pass at him. He didn't make as much of a fuss about it as he made out. I came to see him, hoping that maybe we could be friends again. The atmosphere was cooler than I wanted, but there was a little warmth there.
And now I get to see his moment of shame. He cared for her more than he should. Dammit. If it had been me I'd have said the whole truth. I love Sam, love her with all my heart. I could no more have left her than I could have left Jack. I couldn't do it. If Teal'c had been on the other side of the force field I would have stayed.
"Would you have stayed for me, Jack?" I ask him. He doesn't look at me. He wouldn't would he?
He's turning around, tears in his eyes.
"Yes, I would have. I couldn't have left you, Daniel."
"You left me on the floor, unconscious. You were glad to get rid of me."
"I wanted you out of there, somewhere safe. You two, you didn't leave, did you?"
"No, we didn't. We were a team, Jack. That was still important to Teal'c and me. At the time it wasn't important to you or Sam."
"It was, Daniel, you have no idea." His voice trails off.
"I'm tired, Daniel, can we move on?" There's more to that than at first appears. He wants to get past the fighting too.
"We will, Jack, we will. What do you remember next?"
A couple of goes in his time loop, that learning of the Latin really bugged him. Tough titties. Ah, the trip to Siberia. At least he didn't want me to jump out of that plane again.
What's going on? I'm not around. Oh, I must have been on a dig. Hang on, I think I can remember. Trying to put my own memories in order is not easy. The gate's opening. It's Robert. Oh dear. I definitely know where this is going.
He doesn't seem to be too put out at my disappearance, going into full colonel mode for the search and rescue. Oh, thanks, take a break why don't you? For all he knew I was being invited to dinner - as the main course. He doesn't seem to be worried.
Damn, did I have to see that? Watching Jack killing my friend. Not something I wanted to see.
We've moved on? Great, fucking great. I take it that finding me wasn't such a relief for him. Well thank you Colonel.
Oh joy. I get to watch him try to blow me up.
"What did you make me do that for, Daniel?" he's yelling at me. "I had to fucking kill you! Have you any idea how that made me feel?"
"Relieved?" I ask and walk off. I've had enough of this.
"Don't you turn your back on me, you little shit! How dare you say that?"
"Come on, Jack. You're not telling me you actually gave a damn about me then, are you? You never showed it, you only ever wanted to wrap yourself in Sam, or prove to everyone that you were this big-time testosterone-filled macho prick. You suddenly decided that the geek wasn't fucking man enough for you. You make me sick, Colonel."
I remember this time, the whole thing. Daniel kept disappearing. I phoned him time and time again, never leaving messages on his answerphone though. I have no idea where he kept going. He'd go away for the weekends when we weren't off-world. And when we were at the SGC he'd hide out in his office. I hope to God things improved.
A couple more minor things happen, things we can shrug off.
I want to sleep. I'm tired.
"Do you want me to go, Jack?" he asks. I guess he's unsure as to how we'll arrange it this time. If I say yes he's going to see this as another rejection, more shutting out. But, if I say no - dammit, what do I do?
His shoulders drop, I guess he's expecting the rejection again. Well stuff it. This stops now.
"Stay, Daniel. Please."
A shy smile, thank God.
"Um, where do you want to sleep, Jack? It's your memory."
"Come on. I know that you and I are going through a rough patch but we're still grown men, still friends, right?"
"Right," he says, a little brighter.
I remember my bed, we kick off our virtual shoes and get on it. He's out cold before his head hits the pillow.
Okay, I'm fucking freezing again. Not what I wanted. I'm also in one of those glider thingies too. And that looks suspiciously like Saturn to me.
"Um Daniel? What's going on?"
He's in the other seat. He shouldn't be here.
"Um, I'm taking Teal'c's place by the look of it. You and he were stuck in a death glider that we had retrofitted. It had a homing device that Apophis attached so..."
"So any other traitors would get what was coming to them. I remember now. Where were you and Carter?"
"Panicking. We headed off to the Tok'ra, I got into a fight with Anise and she let us know where Jacob was."
"You fought? Woo hoo! I'd have loved to have seen that."
"She didn't want to help. Anyway, we found Jacob. In fact, we should be arriving anytime soon. Can you fast forward your brain at all?"
I try, but all I can think of doing is sleeping again.
"Come on Jack, snap out of it. There's not much air in here. You and Teal'c were suffocating. When we got here we didn't know if we'd been too late."
"Shh Daniel," he's fretting, his voice is higher, harder, more agitated than normal. "You found us in time, didn't you? Hey look, there's the ship."
I've managed to cobble together bits of memory. I was unconscious when they came. Their voices woke us. I had to trust Carter and pop the hatch. It was scary. And there I was, in the cargo hold with Teal'c. Daniel comes over to me - not-Daniel that is, and he's unsure of his welcome, almost afraid of touching me. I reach out to him, he smiles. We crack a few jokes. Yeah, things are getting better.
Where am I now? In the infirmary? Daniel's here - what a surprise. Recovering from something or other.
"A ribbon device will do this to him, Colonel. To be frank I'm surprised he wasn't killed. How he managed to stab Osiris with the dart while she was doing this to him I don't know. You should be proud of him." The Doc is bustling around, taking his readings.
Real Daniel has withdrawn to a corner again.
"Daniel? I can't remember much. Tell me, remind me of what happened."
"Osiris took over my ex, killed my professor, and the event turned another ex, um, friend into a nasty piece of work. This happened in Egypt."
"Where was I?"
"Yeah, the pond with no fish. Teal'c's nickname for it. You took him fishing."
"Why didn't you call me for help?"
"I did. You threw the battery for the cellphone away."
Oh yes, it's all coming back to me now. I needed a break. I was tired. But I should never have done that, cutting Daniel off from his support was wrong. I'd be surprised if he's ever forgiven me for that.
"I'm sorry, Daniel, I'm really sorry. I just remember being so tired. I'm a lot older than you, I don't have your energy."
He giggles. He giggles? Daniel giggles?
"Daniel? What's with the giggling?"
"Wait and see, Jack, wait and see. And it was okay, the girls backed me up, helped me out. We can manage without you."
"Obviously." Damn. He doesn't need me.
I'm exhausted. Since my last sleep I've been frozen and frozen out, watched as I thought Teal'c had died - again; had to fight to get Hammond reinstated, and worried myself sick over an unconscious Daniel and one of those floaty aliens.
I think Daniel's as tired as I am. He says he's not looking forward to the next memory. Neither am I if it's bothering him that much.
Who's that? Carter? What's she doing here? I watch as Daniel goes to her, she shows him something and he hugs her.
"Just checking up on you, Sir. How're you doing?"
"We're going to get some sleep now, Carter, thanks for asking."
"Oh, okay then. Goodnight, Sir."
A few more words with Daniel, they exchange kissed cheeks and she disappears.
"What was she showing you, Daniel? And what's with the hugs and kisses?"
"It's a red flag, Jack, something to tell me that the visitor is from the present and not part of your dreams. And Sam's one of my closest friends, why wouldn't we kiss?"
There's more to it than that, I'm sure, but he's not easy to extract information from.
I've woken up - I'm standing on Daniel's balcony. So is Daniel, except he's on the wrong side of the railings.
I alert him to my presence quietly. I don't want to scare him into jumping. But hang on, if he jumped he wouldn't be with me now, would he? Unless he's not really with me, he's just my imagination too? Is that possible? Oh crap, I have to go with my memories.
"None of it means anything," he says. What? What does he mean?
"Daniel, wwwwhy don't you come inside here?" Whether this is real or not, I'm shit scared. I am not going to lose him, not no way, not no how.
"I tried, it just... goes away." I don't think I've ever been this close to such utter despair. What drove him out here? Me? Surely not.
I try to tell him, we'll get it back. Then I have to admit that I haven't got a fucking clue as to what he's talking about.
All of a sudden, it's like he realises that I'm there, with him. He lets me pull him over the rail, we hold on tightly to each other for a moment, my body reacting to his nearness. Dammit, I can't let him get this close.
The shock of seeing him on the edge has flooded my mind with other images. Of how I carried him through the gate. He was DEAD again for chrissake. Dammit, seeing him like that should never get old. And what did I do when he woke up? Left him. I fucking left him. What the hell was wrong with me?
I turn, see real Daniel. I grab him, pull him to look at me.
"Dammit Daniel, tell me I changed! Please, I'm begging ya! Tell me I stopped being like this!" I'm crying here, can't take any more of this, not the way I treated him. He's trying to keep control, not gonna give in to me. Not gonna give me the satisfaction of seeing him cry, seeing him weakened. I don't care, I can't lose him again, I fucking won't lose him again.
He slides his arms around me and hugs me hard, resting his head on my shoulder, mine is on his. We lose it, we both lose it.
"It gets better," he murmurs. "I promise Jack, it gets better."
Well, this is interesting. Jack's insisting he's getting huge chunks of memory back in one go. He says it's like seeing a film in fast forward. When the normal playback button is pressed then he has to go through and relive the next scene or two, but in-between times it's flooding back and going too fast for either of us to interact.
"Our Daniel's dead," the voice of Jack's duplicate comes from the MALP. I look at our Jack. He's as white as a sheet.
"I wanted to rush to the dig site where you were," he says. "I needed to know that you were okay. I couldn't. I had to go there and help. God help me, Daniel, I was so relieved when I saw the other Daniel's head, the wires sticking out and all. It was as if I needed to prove that it wasn't you. If they'd had red fluid in place of blood I think I'd have freaked."
I put my hand on his shoulder and pull him into a hug. I'm not saying a word.
Whoo boy, nearly losing us, nearly losing Teal'c, Sam appearing mad, other stuff, it all whizzes by fast enough to make me feel sick.
Nearly losing Cassie was a bad one. I think that Jack was a little jealous of the time I spent with Janet. Tough. She needed me.
More weird stuff, panic over Sam and not being able to find her, nearly losing Teal'c - again! Dammit, I know I'm the resurrection king but Teal'c runs a pretty close second to me.
We've actually ground to a halt on the Tok'ra home world.
"Jack? Why are we here?"
"You weren't here, Daniel, you were in danger."
"Not as much as you were, obviously. Don't you trust me to look after myself yet?"
He snaps his head up and stares me in the eye.
"I do, Daniel, you must believe me. It's just that I don't want you to have to. I want to look out for you, don't you get it?"
I look into his eyes. It's time to end this now. He's obviously gotten to the point in his life when he couldn't go on without me and he was almost prepared to tell me too.
"Better than you, Jack. Better than you. Come on, it's time to bring this home now. I think there's one memory that will trigger everything else. Trust me?"
Damn. He does. Wow.
I put my hand out to him and picture the moment when the Jaffa's head explodes over me. I look up at the real and not real Jacks. Both of them have the same look on their faces. Fear. Not fear from the battle, but fear of losing me. I can see it clearly now. I don't know why I ever doubted him.
"Do you remember now, Jack?" I say. I walk towards him, the battle still raging around us. He's numb, can't react, even though he wants to. His eyes are piercing into mine. I take him to his lounge, the drinks in our hands, and to the point where he took his life in his hands and risked everything. He risked his career, his standing and reputation, his pension. The greatest risk in his eyes was our friendship. We'd worked on getting that back on track, worked damned hard. He risked that. I don't know if I've ever respected anyone more than I did him that night.
"Do you remember now?" I ask again.
"Daniel? You and me, we're okay aren't we? We're together."
I step closer to him, put my hands out to him. He holds them in his and then pulls me to sit. I wouldn't mind but he's on a chair and I'm now on his lap. Okay, just this once.
"I can remember everything Daniel. A couple of days from now, we're under fire, dying. You saved us. There's more stuff, telling the folks, hell - we're married?" He's laughing his head off, me too. It's all there for him now. The more recent stuff wasn't buried as deeply, obviously.
More tears from both of us, but they're tears of relief and joy. He's rattling through the events of the last two years, just telling me them rather than us reliving them. And that's it, it's time to go home for good now.
We take time to kiss, just lightly, briefly.
"Daniel, just in case I don't tell you this often enough, I love you. I'm crazy about you and I'm so damned proud of you."
I can't answer, I just hug him hard.
"Come on Jack, let's go home."
We've finally been allowed home. Doc Frasier's poked and prodded bits of me that have nothing whatsoever to do with my memory - no matter what she says. They forced us to eat at the commissary. What had we done to offend them? I'm just sayin'.
We flop through the front door. I remember everything now, even the bit where I lost my memory.
"Daniel, thanks for helping me out. I couldn't have done it without you."
"You could have," he shrugs.
"Maybe, but I doubt it would have been as easy. I'm so sorry for putting you through that. I'm a twenty-four carat gold bastard. I have no idea why you had the grace to forgive me for what I did to you, but I'm grateful. Don't ever let me do that again."
He smiles. It's a tired smile. This has been exhausting for us. I've had a grand total of nine days out of the loop. If Daniel hadn't realised that we could skip a fair bit towards the end I think we'd have been there a lot longer.
"Bath," he says. "I need one and trust me, you need one. Wanna share?"
"Race ya!" He can run faster but I'm more motivated! Woo hoo, we need this. We're both tired, stinky but tired. But we need the contact while we're conscious. I set the water running, throw some bubbles in for a bit of luxury and shuck my clothes quicker than ever.
"Look at you," I say to him as he walks naked into the bathroom. Adonis doesn't come close. Mr. Happy's certainly rising to the occasion. Daniel's laughing at me.
"Look at you," he counters. A glance, he catches my eye and then he's across the room in a stride, holding me in his arms, kissing my face all over as if he can't believe I'm really here.
"Shh babe, it's me, honest. I remember everything, Daniel, everything. God I love you. I fucking LOVE you. I can't live without you."
"Hmm, shh, kissing here," he murmurs.
Okay, I can live with that.
"Bath," I gasp as his lips do things to my neck that make me go weak at the knees.
He lets go and we get in, assuming our favourite position, me first, him sitting in front of me, my arms wrapped around him and holding on for dear life.
I wash his hair for him, watching him tip his head back as I pour a jug of clean water to rinse it. The sight of the water pouring down his neck turns me on immensely.
"Swap places," he orders, it's my turn to get clean. He washes my back, carefully and gently rubbing the cloth over every inch of skin. Then he returns the favour and washes my hair too. We need this, it's a ritual, washing away all the hurts of the last few days. We can never settle till we do this.
"Bed," I say to him. I'm as hard as nails now, I need to make love. I look at him, he's in the same state.
We get out of the bath, towel each other down, get the worst out of our hair and then he takes me by the hand and leads me to bed.
I love this, lying on the cover, the heater turned on to keep us warm, kissing and touching, just exploring each other as if it is the first time. Every shudder that courses through his body acts as a prompt for me, the need to bring this to a conclusion getting harder and more insistent every time.
"Please Jack, I want you inside me. Will you?"
"Lie back, Daniel," I whisper, and I retrieve the lube from the drawer.
I remember that blow job he did for me, I'm going to do the same for him, taking my time, driving him insane by pulling back and going on, never letting him get the relief he wants. He's craving release now, crying out, begging me to finish him so I take pity and take him whole.
The feel of him inside my mouth is incredible, he's so hot and hard. I can feel the veins pulsing, his dick twitching, he won't be long. I lube my fingers and push one then another inside him in quick succession.
"More Jack, please," he begs.
A third finger pushes him over the edge and I take what he gives me with pleasure.
"Now Jack, just do it," he pants.
I cave in to his demands, wrapping his legs around my chest and entering him as quickly as I can without hurting him. I know he wants to hurt a bit, to feel, to know that I'm really here. I don't take it slowly, I give him everything I've got. He's crying out, yelling at me to go harder. I can't, I physically can't go any faster or harder. I angle him, aiming for his prostate with every stroke. He's already starting to get hard again so I take him in my hand, stroking him in counterpoint to my thrusts. He's screaming in God knows how many languages, I know he's swearing at me, cursing me for not making him hurt. The noise takes me to my climax, I work him harder and faster and take him with me.
We lie together, I clean us up quickly with some tissues from the bedside table and urge him to crawl under the covers.
"I love you, Daniel, do you finally get it?"
He nuzzles into me, we're both wet from sweat and tears, he moans that he loves me too as he kisses away the moisture from my face.
"Tomorrow we'll start on those memories, Daniel. We'll go back and make some more, and this time," he turns his face and looks me in the eye. "This time I'll never forget them. I promise."
"You didn't forget, Jack. You remembered me."
Two years we've been together. Only two years. It feels like a lifetime.