The moment they stepped through the gate onto what the MALP had shown them was a peaceful, serene planet; Jack knew they were in trouble. His feet had barely touched the dais planet-side before the unmistakable arcing fire of staff weapons rained down on them from all sides. "Take cover!" he yelled at his team, even as he rolled sideways, landing heavily and painfully on one knee on the hard ground next to the platform.
Looking up cautiously from his meager cover, he saw Carter on the opposite side, her
weapon already up and firing into the trees that ringed the clearing they'd landed in.
Teal'c stood at her side, his own staff weapon returning the barrage they'd been greeted with.
"Daniel!" Jack turned at Sam's shout to see Daniel hit the ramp hard, blood streaming from a wound at his temple, his eyes closed.
Reaching out one hand, Jack managed to grasp the sleeve of Daniel's jacket and hauled him to the side, tumbling him over the side of the dais to land in a crumpled heap at Jack's feet.
The constant barrage from the Jaffa's weapons suddenly stopped and Jack looked up to see Carter heading for the DHD at a run, Teal'c at her back, watching her six.
"Dial it up!" Jack yelled.
He stood up then bent forward, hauling Daniel into a sitting position, then got him over his shoulder in a fireman's carry.
The gate opened with a whoosh and Jack called to Sam to go through. Teal'c turned back to him but Jack waved him on as well. "I've got him," he called. "Back Carter up!"
Teal'c obeyed but waited outside the vortex once she was through, his staff weapon still up and aimed at the trees.
Jack ran heavily up the ramp, almost thrown off balance by Daniel's weight. Teal'c
grabbed his arm to help him the last couple of steps then Jack went through, knowing
Teal'c would be right behind him.
He landed on his knees on the other side, one hand going down to cup Daniel's head as he felt him slip from his shoulders. Teal'c grabbed for him as well, laying him flat on the ramp as Jack sat back on his heels, panting.
Daniel was still unconscious, blood continuing to trickle from the wound on his head.
Within minutes Jack was ushered aside by medics who surrounded Daniel then lifted him onto a gurney that had been wheeled up onto the ramp.
"Colonel? What happened?"
Jack turned from watching Daniel being wheeled away to find General Hammond
standing at his side, concern in his eyes. "Ambush," Jack said shortly.
"Are you okay?" Hammond asked, indicating Jack's bloodstained hands and shirt.
"It's not my blood," Jack replied. "Could I go-" He waved in the direction of the exit doors.
"Go." Hammond nodded. "Debrief in one hour unless Doctor Fraiser feels you need to
stay in the infirmary for any reason."
"Yes, sir." Jack took off down the ramp at a run, heart pounding in his chest. Daniel had looked bad, his skin leached of any color except the crimson blood streaming from the wound.
By the time he made it to the infirmary, Daniel was nowhere in sight. Figuring the only curtained-off cubicle nearest the nurse's station had to be where he'd been taken, Jack moved towards it only to find a very determined Dr. Fraiser in his way. "You know the routine, Colonel. First you get checked out and then once we've got Dr. Jackson stabilized, I'll let you in to sit with him."
He nodded. He did know the routine after all and he also knew that Colonel or not, there was no getting around Janet Fraiser's regs in her own infirmary. "Just tell me he's gonna be okay," he said as he allowed her to steer him into one of the empty cubicles.
She patted his arm and waved over one of the nurses. "From what I've seen so far, he's got a heavy duty concussion. That's all I can tell you for now. I'm heading in to examine him now." She held up a hand before he could speak again. "Yes, I will let you know the minute you can see him, okay?"
"Okay." Jack gave himself over to the nurse's examination and tried not to snap her head off when he thought she was taking too long. He couldn't go to Daniel till Fraiser said he could anyway.
She still hadn't done that by the time Jack had been cleared medically and he resigned himself to not finding out how Daniel was till after the debriefing was over. Duty sometimes sucked rocks, he thought sourly as he cast one last look at the cubicle Daniel was in then headed out the infirmary doors to the elevator.
"How's Daniel?" Carter asked the minute he entered the briefing room and he shrugged.
"Doc says he has a concussion," he replied. "You two okay?" he asked, including Teal'c in his inquiry.
"We are uninjured," Teal'c replied. "As are you it appears."
"Yeah, once again Danny Danger was in the firing line," Jack said with a small smile. He snapped to attention as General Hammond entered then sank into a seat at the table at Hammond's nod.
It was a quick debriefing as debriefings go and twenty minutes later P2X101 had been
locked out of the dialing computer and Jack was on his way back to the infirmary with
Teal'c and Carter dogging his heels.
Fraiser met them just inside the door. "He woke up briefly when we were suturing his head wound but he wasn't very coherent and he had quite a headache. I gave him an analgesic and he's asleep again." She smiled at Jack as an impatient sigh seeped past his set lips. "You can go sit with him, Colonel. Teal'c, Sam, you can see him when he's a bit more compos, okay?"
Teal'c inclined his head in agreement and Sam nodded reluctantly. "Tell him we'll be in to see him first thing tomorrow," she said to Jack who nodded back in agreement even as he was backing towards the cubicle where Daniel lay.
He moved the curtain aside, wincing as the metal rings rattled and Daniel stirred. Not
that he wouldn't have preferred Daniel be awake but the doc had given him a painkiller for a reason and the last thing Jack was going to do was put his need to see Daniel awake above Daniel's need to rest. He sat down in the chair someone had thoughtfully provided for him and edged it as close to the bedside as he could.
Daniel looked pale, the sutures on his temple black against the white of his skin. Jack
sneaked a hand out and brushed a strand of hair back from the wound, forcing his fingers not to linger there. "Hey, Daniel," he whispered, "it's me, Jack. I'm trying not to wake you up but I just wanted... needed to say that I'm glad you're okay. Stop scaring me like this, okay? I'm getting too old for Daniel-induced heart attacks."
Daniel didn't move or open his eyes so Jack sat back in the chair and just watched him
Who'd have ever thought, he wondered, that he, Jack O'Neill, toughest of toughest
assholes out there would have fallen so hard, so completely for a geeky archeologist? Not that Daniel was that geek anymore, Jack thought ruefully. Now he was as combat-hardened as the most experienced Marine on the base, handy with a sidearm and a zat, and not half-bad at hand to hand fighting either. There were times when Jack missed the naïveté the early Daniel had worn so brightly when they'd first met, the way he'd been so eager to believe the best of everyone despite the personal losses he'd experienced.
Jack had never thought he'd ever fall in love again after Sara had left him, and certainly not with another man, though he prided himself on not being homophobic, an unusual stance for a man as steeped in the military as Jack was. When Daniel had confided his bisexuality to him one drunken night after Sha’re had died, Jack had told him it didn't color his opinion of Daniel as his friend in the least, and he'd meant it. He'd never seen Daniel with another guy though, and as his friend fell in and out of love with a succession of beautiful women, Jack had begun to wonder if perhaps Daniel's sexual perception of himself might be a little skewed.
There'd been times when their friendship had almost shattered over the next few years, times when neither seemed to trust the other the way they had when they’d first become friends. Jack felt the onus of the blame for that was mostly on his shoulders. At the time he'd found it hard to care. Daniel had begun to irritate him, constantly arguing against Jack's command decisions and even going so far as to outright disobey them on more than one occasion.
Then Daniel had died... ascended, Jack reminded himself mentally... and a long barren, difficult year for Jack began. He'd almost accepted that Daniel was gone for good when Daniel had appeared to him when Jack had been captured by Ba’al. They'd argued again, Jack remembered ruefully, just like the old days, but when he was finally rescued and Daniel came to say goodbye to him again as he lay in the infirmary, Jack realized that for that whole year, it had been as if a piece of him was missing. Even when he'd been in Ba'al's clutches, being tortured, and killed over and over, just the knowledge that Daniel was there for him had kept him going, had given him a small, tattered shred of hope to cling to.
When Daniel had been returned to them, Jack realized his feelings towards him had
changed. He still cared for Daniel as a friend but it went deeper than that, deeper than
Jack dared to look for a long time. It was only when he'd been offered the job in
Washington and he'd instantly refused it without even giving it a second thought that he realized that what he felt for Daniel was far more than friendship. He'd gone to Daniel's house that night, told him about the job offer and been inwardly gratified at the panicked look in Daniel's eyes when he'd thought Jack was going to take it. When Jack had told him he'd turned it down and Daniel had asked why, Jack had answered him simply and in no uncertain terms – he'd kissed him. Daniel kissed him back and they'd been together ever since, under the wire, still in the closet, in deference to Jack's military career, but together in all but a marriage license and a name.
Daniel groaned and Jack leaned forward, reaching a hand out to the buzzer hanging over the end of the bed. "Take it easy, Daniel," he said quietly as he pressed the button, only too aware from personal experience just how much of a headache Daniel had to be experiencing.
"What happened?" Daniel asked just as Doctor Fraiser pushed open the curtain and
walked up to stand beside the bed.
"You got knocked out... again," Jack said.
Daniel opened eyes that looked a little unfocused and blinked several times. "Again?" he asked, sounding confused.
"You've got a severe concussion, Daniel," Fraiser added, "but you're going to be just fine."
"Daniel?" Jack prompted when he didn’t respond.
"Daniel, I need you to answer a few questions for me, okay?" Fraiser said.
She sounded worried and that bothered Jack more than a little. He stood up from the chair and moved closer to the bed.
"Okay," Daniel said.
"What's your name?" Fraiser asked.
Daniel closed his eyes for a moment then opened them and looked at Jack. "You both
called me Daniel so I'm guessing that's my name."
"Guessing?" Jack's stomach plummeted to around the area of his knees. "Doc?"
Fraiser held up a hand to ask him to wait and Jack complied impatiently, all his nerve
"What's your last name?" Fraiser asked.
"I have no idea," Daniel said.
"Is this a joke-" Jack subsided as Fraiser held up her hand again.
"You don't remember your name. Okay, can you tell me if you know where you are?"
Fraiser pulled aside the curtain so the rest of the infirmary was exposed to view.
Daniel took a long look. "A hospital of some sort?" he guessed. "Look, I feel really tired, my head's killing me but apart from that I have no memories that I can recall. Everything's blank." He looked up at Jack again, his eyes showing his fear this time. "You know me, right?"
"Yeah," Jack replied, unsure of how much else he should say. He looked at Fraiser and she nodded so he went on. "You're Dr. Daniel Jackson, an archeologist and linguist on my team. I'm Colonel Jack O'Neill, and you were injured on a mission we undertook. You're in the infirmary of the SGC."
"I'm military?" Daniel waved a hand up and down at Jack's BDUs.
"Not exactly. I'm Air Force and you're a civilian member of my team: SG1."
Jack waited for more questions but Daniel just rubbed a hand over his forehead, wincing as it connected with the sutured wound. "Can I get something for this headache?" he asked.
Fraiser patted his shoulder. "Sure. Try to keep your eyes closed and I'll be right back with some pain relief. Colonel, let's give Daniel a chance to rest a little more."
Jack swallowed hard at that. More than anything he wanted to just plant his butt back in the chair and stay with Daniel till his memory came back... if it came back…. Ruthlessly Jack quashed that pessimistic line of thinking, gave Daniel a farewell pat on the arm and followed Fraiser from the cubicle.
"Amnesia?" he snapped out the minute he was sure they were out of earshot.
"It happens," she said. "In all likelihood it'll be short-lived. I'll give him some pain relief; let him sleep a little more before we run any more tests. If he still has no memory when he wakes up, we'll do a CAT scan and another skull series."
"How likely is it that he'll remember everything when he wakes up again?" Jack asked, hoping for the best but feeling pessimism coursing through his veins, causing his heart to feel like lead in his chest.
Fraiser shrugged. "Your guess is as good as mine," she replied sympathetically. "Memory's a very grey area, even for us doctors. We're still not entirely sure what makes it work or why it sometimes doesn't." She gave his arm a reassuring pat. "Let's just wait and see."
"I've never been very good at that," Jack told her honestly.
She gave him a rueful grin. "Believe me, I know that, Colonel. Go get something to eat. Fill Sam and Teal'c in on how Daniel's doing. They're worried about him too."
"Yeah. Okay." Jack cast a last look back at the curtained cubicle then headed out into the corridor to the elevator.
Forty eight hours later
"Are you sure he's okay to be released?" Jack said in a quiet aside to Fraiser as he watched Daniel getting dressed.
"Colonel, physically, he's fine. As I've told you, we really don't know why the amnesia is persisting. It's obviously not just retrograde amnesia but all his tests have come up fine." Fraiser sighed then patted Jack on the arm. "Try letting him walk around the base, take him to his office, his house. Anywhere there are familiar things and people. His memory could conceivably return any time or never but it wouldn't hurt to give it a little jog."
Jack nodded, swallowing down his disappointment. He'd thought he was such an
important part of Daniel's life that there was no way Daniel would ever forget him, forget them, what they were to each other. He pasted a smile on his face as Daniel finished dressing and looked over at them. "Want to take a look around?" he asked, making it sound studiedly casual.
"Sure. I have to admit I'm curious," Daniel replied. He walked over to Jack and waited. "Um, probably best if you lead the way," he said, smiling nervously. "I'm likely to walk us into a broom closet or something."
'Wouldn't be the first closet we've been in,' Jack thought. "Right." Jack nodded at Fraiser then led the way out into the hallway and down to the elevator.
* * *
They started with Daniel's office. Jack lounged against the doorframe and watched as
Daniel picked up items one after another from the desk and shelves, holding each for a few minutes as if hoping they'd magically bring his memory back.
"Who's this?" Daniel asked, holding out a photo frame.
Jack swallowed down the instant tension that threatened to choke him. "Her name's
Sha'ré." He waited for a heartbeat to see if that brought any recognition but Daniel just looked at him inquiringly. "She was your wife. She died. I’m sorry."
"Oh." Daniel turned the photo back towards himself and looked at it for a long moment. "Must have been a pretty lousy husband if I can't even remember her. She's beautiful."
"Yes, she was. Um, you and she were apart for a long time before she died," jack replied. "You loved each other but there were... circumstances beyond both your control..." He straightened up. "Hungry?"
"Actually I am."
Daniel followed him out to the elevator. "So, you know me pretty well," Daniel said as they stepped into the car.
"You're not going to give me any clues, are you?"
"Nope." Jack stared at the floor then stepped out as soon as the car stopped. "This way."
He saw Carter waving them over as soon as they walked into the mess hall and he
shepherded Daniel over to the table where Teal'c sat waiting as well.
"Daniel, it's good to see you," Carter greeted him, a bright smile pasted on her face.
"It is indeed," Teal'c added.
"You'll forgive me if I don't say the same about you," Daniel said, taking a seat. He stared at the emblem on Teal'c's forehead then tapped his own forehead. "Nice... um... tattoo."
"It is a symbol of my previous enslavement, nothing more," Teal'c replied gravely.
"So," Jack interrupted, "Daniel, food? What do you want to eat?"
Daniel shrugged. "Anything." He smiled, a familiar smile that tugged at Jack's heart. "I have no idea what I like. You choose. I mean, you knew me before so you probably know what I like."
"Sure." Jack turned away before his emotions could rise to the surface and walked across to the servery, picking up a tray and piling it with all Daniel's former favorite foods as well as a large cup of coffee. Then he made his way back to the table.
"You know, I don't really know anyone in town anymore," Daniel was saying to Carter, "so if you wanted to get together, have dinner, show me around, I'd be glad to do that."
Carter's cheeks flamed bright red as she saw Jack watching them. "Um, sure, maybe... I work weird hours though so—"
"That's not a problem," Daniel replied. "It's not like I have anything else to do."
"I too would be happy to show you around," Teal'c interjected.
"Sure. Um, it's just that you don't look like you're from around here." Daniel's finger made a circle on his forehead, mirroring the shape of the emblem on Teal'c's own.
"He's not," Jack said easily, dropping into the seat next to Daniel and handing over a plate of food, "but he's been here long enough to get to know the place."
"We could make it a team night," Sam said over-brightly.
"Yeah, I guess." Daniel sounded less interested in that idea and Jack quashed the burning jealousy that was threatening to erupt.
"Have to make sure the doc thinks it's okay for you to leave the base first," Jack said,
pushing his food around on his plate. "She did say I could take you to your place to look around, see if it jogs anything loose. Why don't we start out there, have dinner after, then we can hit a movie or just do some night sight-seeing."
"Fine." Daniel shrugged then forked up a piece of chicken and ate it. "Not bad," he said, digging into the rest of his meal with obvious pleasure.
"No accounting for taste," Jack said, pushing his own plate to the side.
"I guess I don't have anything to compare it to," Daniel mumbled around a mouthful. He stopped, swallowed then put his fork down and looked at Jack.
Daniel shrugged. "Not sure. I have a vague memory of being here before and eating lots of food, pie mostly. It's like déjà vu, you know? Did that happen?"
"It did," Teal'c replied.
"Not going to fill me in anymore than that, huh?"
"It'll come back, Daniel." Sam patted his arm reassuringly then stood. "I've got some stuff to do in my lab if we're going to have dinner tonight so..."
Jack sketched a goodbye at her. "Six o'clock, Daniel's place. Thai okay with everyone?"
"Sounds good, sir. Daniel, I'll see you then."
Daniel turned to watch her leave. "She's pretty. Is she seeing anyone?"
"Yes," Teal'c replied quickly.
"Oh. You?" Daniel asked, looking at Jack.
"Nope. Against the regs," Jack said. "She's engaged to a cop. Nice guy. Let's get out of here. We'll call by Hammond's office; let him know we're heading offbase. T? See you tonight. Catch a ride with Carter, all right?"
"Very well." Teal'c nodded his customary dignified farewell as they left.
* * *
Jack pulled his truck to a stop in the driveway of Daniel's house then climbed out and
waited for Daniel to follow suit. They walked slowly up the driveway, Daniel turning his head to look at the neat yard. "Guess I spend some time here," he said, "or do I have someone to do the lawns and stuff?"
"We - you do it," Jack said, almost biting his tongue as he corrected himself. "You like gardening."
"Um." Daniel patted his pockets as he reached the front door. "I don't have keys."
Jack fished in his pocket for his own set and unlocked the door. "You gave me a copy," he said easily as he ushered Daniel inside. "You know, just in case."
"We really are friends then?"
"Yeah, we are." Jack put the keys in his pocket again then headed for the kitchen. "Take a look around. I'll make coffee."
"Okay," Daniel replied hesitantly. He walked into the living room and over to the shelves, picking up books and knickknacks as he circled around. "Hey, this is me," he called out, holding up a photo.
Jack finished putting the coffee and filter in and turned on the coffeemaker then walked across to take the photo from Daniel's hand. "Yeah, that was taken at Cassie's 16th birthday party." He grinned at the image of Daniel wearing a party hat and a big smile.
"Doc Fraisier’s daughter." Jack sighed and replaced the photo. "Look, Daniel, maybe it's better if I don't tell you stuff. Just let you get your bearings and see if anything seems familiar then we'll talk over coffee, all right?"
"All right." Daniel turned away and wandered around the room again, picking up more photos, looking at them intently then putting them back.
Jack found himself holding his breath as Daniel walked over to the bedroom and stuck his head around the door. Not for the first time since he'd decided to bring Daniel here, he found himself wondering if he was doing the right thing, pushing too hard; whether what Daniel discovered here might be the cause of losing him anyway. But Jack had always taken considered risks and this was one. If given a choice between a Daniel who never knew what they'd shared and a Daniel who found out and rejected him, he'd take the latter. His life with Daniel had come to mean too much to him.
Jack followed Daniel into the bedroom and found him standing in front of the walk in
closet, one of Jack's dress blue jackets in his hand.
"These aren't mine," Daniel said softly.
"No." Jack moved up and took the jacket from him and re-hung it on the rail. "They're
mine," he replied equally quietly. "For times when we're running late and I don't have
time to go home and get dressed."
"We're?" Daniel echoed, walking away to sit down heavily on the bed. He massaged a
frown away with the tips of his fingers. "You and me? We're together? As in?"
"Together," Jack finished for him, turning to face him.
Daniel snorted a laugh and Jack felt as if a fist had clenched at his heart.
"Think it's funny?" he asked, trying not to let the hurt seep into his voice but knowing he'd failed miserably when the smile left Daniel's face and he looked at him sharply.
"No," Daniel said. "Well, yes, actually."
"What, you didn't think Air Force colonels could be gay? Or archeologists?"
"No, that's not it at all," Daniel replied. "In fact I was pretty sure I was gay or bi."
"How? You don't have any memory of who you are," Jack said flatly.
"I still have an innate sense of myself, Jack. I may not remember what I like to eat but I knew the minute I laid eyes on you that you were someone I wanted to get to know
"That why you chatted up Carter?" Jealousy dripped from Jack's voice but he made no
attempt to hide it this time.
"Sorry about that. I wasn't sure. She blushed and looked right at you when I asked her so I thought she and you..."
Jack sat next to him then leaned across and opened the top drawer of the dresser and
pulled out a small photo album. He straightened and handed it to Daniel. "This is us," he said quietly. "We keep it in there because we can't have those pictures out there." He waved a hand toward the living room.
"But Teal'c and Sam know?"
"Yeah. You and I decided a while back that as soon as I retire, we'll move away from here to my cabin in Minnesota and live openly." Jack stood up. "I'll go pour the coffee."
"Would you mind if I stayed here for a while and looked through this?"
"Knock yourself out." Jack winced. "Sorry, bad choice of words." He headed for the door, slowing as Daniel whispered, "Jack, I'm sorry I forgot you."
"Yeah, me too," he replied as he shut the door behind him.
The coffee in the mugs was almost cold again by the time Daniel came out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. Jack leaned a hip against the counter and waited for him to speak.
"You know how I had those little flashes of déjà vu in the mess hall?" Daniel said, walking across to stand in front of Jack. "That's what it was like looking through those photos just now," he added when Jack nodded. "It is coming back but it's piecemeal and I think it's going to take a little while longer before I remember everything, if I ever do."
"I know," Jack said noncommittally, nerves twisting his gut. He clenched his hands tightly on the counter, fighting back the urge to just hold Daniel one last time.
"I don't remember everything about us, Jack, but when I looked at the photos, I did
remember the feelings."
"What does that mean?" Jack asked softly.
"It means I want you to help me remember," Daniel said, pulling Jack forward into his
arms and kissing his mouth gently.
Jack wrapped his arms around Daniel's waist and buried his face in his neck, breathing in the scent of him. "I will," he said hoarsely, "no matter how long it takes, I will."