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Fanfiction: Returning Home - Part I

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S7 Fallen/Homecoming
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Daniel/Team friendship. Jonas/Team friendship.  Daniel/Janet friendship.  Daniel/Sha're.  Minor Sam/Jack UST. 
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Returning Home


'Would you care to drive, Daniel Jackson?'

Teal'c's softly worded question startled Daniel out of half-formed memories of other times he had left the base before his death and Ascension. He frowned at the realisation that they had walked across half the car park and found their way to their assigned vehicle from the motor-pool without him noticing. He tried to regroup swiftly. 'You can drive?'

'Indeed.' Teal'c replied. He didn't seem upset that Daniel had forgotten; obtusely he seemed smug with a ghost of a smile skirting over his impassive features. 'You instructed me during our time in 1969.'

Daniel had a flash of sitting in a van, the Jaffa beside him; both of them dressed in civilian garb of the late Sixties, and the road zipping along in front of them. A kaleidoscope of memories about the mission cascaded through his head and he blinked as though to clear his vision. He smiled ruefully. Perhaps it was better that he wasn't driving if he was going to be remembering something at every turn. He waved at Teal'c in a silent signal for the Jaffa to take the wheel.

Teal'c inclined his head and unlocked the car. Daniel followed him into the car grateful to get out of the cold wind despite the parka that Teal'c insisted he wear. His thick sweater and jeans didn't seem to help either. The scratchy feel of wool and the weight of denim seemed strange against his skin. He'd found the clothes in a suitcase left on his bed the day after his arrival with a single sheet of paper on top of it proclaiming 'These are yours' scrawled in Jack O'Neill's handwriting. Daniel thought it was crazy that he could remember Jack's handwriting but there were still great chunks of his memory missing about his actual life.

The suitcase had brought back some chunks; arriving back from Abydos the first time, staying with Jack after being declared dead after the whole Nem thing...Daniel shivered violently and he wrapped his arms around his torso. He couldn't help but notice that a similar invitation to stay hadn't been issued since his return from the Ascended plane. But then he didn't really blame Jack for that.

Things were complicated between them.

Daniel had read the reports of his death and Jack's explanation of Daniel's request for Jack to stop the others from healing him - to effectively let him die. It boggled his mind. Daniel wasn't certain what to say to that. Thank you seemed inappropriate. It was a hell of a thing to request of a friend and yet Daniel had done it, and Jack had honoured it. As Daniel had known he would.

And then, there was the matter of the mysterious incidents between them during his Ascension. The one at Abydos had been in the reports but there was a hint that there had been another time and Daniel couldn't remember it. His memories of his life before his Ascension were tumbling back into place but those of his actual Ascension remained elusive. Had he done something or not done something that had made Jack mad at him? He remembered all too well the half-joking threat Jack had issued over the briefing room table to injure him in the wake of his revelation about the Lost City. He wasn't sure how he raised the issue with Jack; wasn't sure if he even should. It was all too...complicated.

Daniel let out a small sigh. He let his gaze drift through the windshield to the passing scenery. He recognised the shape of the road; the line of trees on the right; other familiar landmarks as they turned onto the main road. He recognised when they passed the crossroads where a right turn would take them to Samantha Carter's home.

Sam.

He could remember the hurt in her blue eyes when he - or rather Arrom as he had been then - had pushed her hand away from him on the planet after he had been discovered by SG3 and taken to see them. Daniel could remember the hope that lined her delicate features when she'd asked him to come back home with them to discover who he was. And he'd sensed something - a connection with her that had made Arrom reconsider his decision not to have anything to do with the strangers. Daniel flushed at remembering his question to her about whether there was something between them...

It had been a natural question to ask, Daniel assured himself. Sam was an attractive woman and that was definitely part of what he had felt in the tent; attraction. He hadn't known at the time that he'd once been married to Sha're; that, if he was being honest with himself, he was only just beginning to come to terms with her death. He had dreamed about saying goodbye to Sha're on Abydos and he didn't know if it was a dream or reality. And it wasn't as though Sam was holding his suggestion that they might have been lovers against him; she was just eager to pick up the wonderfully close platonic friendship they had shared.

Incredibly eager.

Daniel grimaced.

He could remember that friendship but it was like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle where he could see the pieces clearly but the whole picture was fuzzy and out of focus. He had remembered the intellectual spark and zing of their debates late at night in the bowels of the SGC as they tackled some discovery; the development of familial kinship - he considered her the sister he had never had. He had remembered their team bond; that instinctive knowledge of the each other's reactions and thoughts; the connection he had misconstrued on meeting with her in the tent. But he had also remembered that they had drifted apart; a sense that there were secrets on both sides of their friendship. And how all the different and confusing emotions and memories fitted together remained a mystery. His relationship with Sam seemed as complicated as his relationship with Jack.

In fact, the complexity of his relationships with the two Air Force officers was one of the reasons why he wasn't looking forward to the dinner at Jack's. He hadn't actively avoided them since his return but because of the plan against Anubis he hadn't exactly spent a great deal of time with them either. Sam and Jack had been busy overseeing the glider refit and liaising with the Tok'ra. He and Jonas had worked together to help communicate with the nomadic tribe and oversee their departure from the planet; to prepare for the mission aboard the ship.

He felt a pang of guilt about Jonas. He knew on the face of it he hadn't taken anything away from the young Kelownan; that events on Kelowna had effectively trumped any half-formed or spoken about plans. Daniel sighed and let the guilt dissipate. If Anubis hadn't gone to Kelowna, if Jonas had stayed...Daniel knew he would have gladly shared the office; gladly shared his place on SG1 with Jonas. There was a part of him, the Arrom part, that wasn't entirely convinced that he wanted it all back anyway. But the mission to Anubis had given him confidence that he had the skills and experience to return to the SGC and his place on the team. And there was another part of him that felt the familiarity; remembered the bonds and the vague sense of belonging.

Belonging was good.

It was just that he didn't know if he had chosen to return or if he had been returned as a punishment for attempting to help Abydos. It was an uncertainty that nagged away at him like a toothache. If he knew for certain then...then what? Daniel frowned. Whatever had happened in his Ascension, the hard truth was that he was back on Earth; back to being a mortal with limited abilities. Short of dying again and hoping Oma came to his rescue again, there was no going back. He had to make the best of what he had.

And he knew in rejoining SG1, if they were going to be a team again, they all needed to properly reconnect. They all knew it. The team had changed in his absence. It wasn't only that they had found a new dynamic and rhythm with Jonas; Daniel wasn't blind to the deeper connection that had formed between his original team-mates. He guessed that wasn't too surprising; they had been through his death - Ascension - together, and that would have bonded them even closer he imagined. But with his return, the four of them needed to work out how to be SG1 again. He figured it was the reason for Jack's impromptu dinner invitation.

Daniel's eyes slid to the Jaffa next to him. If his relationships with Jack and Sam seemed complicated, his relationship to Teal'c seemed extraordinarily simple in comparison. Which was weird given their history, Daniel mused. He'd remembered Teal'c's part in Sha're's death; her possession by Ammonet and it didn't matter. It was soothing to be around the Jaffa. Teal'c didn't press him for anything other than what Daniel wanted to share; he didn't try and force his company on him. Well, OK. For the better part of the past few weeks, Teal'c had been with Yu's fleet but still... Teal'c just accepted Daniel, his patchy memory and his return in a way that allowed Daniel to just be. More, he felt like he needed to be near Teal'c as though there was an important reason that he couldn't remember.

The road changed and Daniel recognised it. They weren't too far from Jack's. He shifted in his seat. It was just dinner with old friends, Daniel reassured himself, trying to ignore the rumbling nerves in his belly. How hard could it be?

o-O-o

Jack watched as Carter darted from one side of his kitchen to another as she put the final touches on the salad that would accompany the steaks marinating in the refrigerator and the baked potatoes in the oven. She spun from one counter to another; an endless whir of motion fussing over a salad that had effectively been finished ten minutes before. He sighed and shifted to intercept her, taking the salad and herding her into the den.

'Sit.' Jack insisted as he pushed her towards the sofa.

'Sir...'

'Ah!' He held up a beer. 'That's an order, Carter.'

For a moment, it looked like she might argue but she subsided against the cushions and crossed her arms over her tight blue cardigan sweater. The one that matched her eyes. He turned away, shoved the salad bowl on the coffee table and handed the beer to her. He went back to retrieve his own from the kitchen before he returned.

'Will you relax already?' Jack couldn't quite keep the snap of his own nerves out of his voice as he moved to the hearth, picked up a poker and stabbed at the burning log.

Carter threw him a look that told him she had heard them anyway. She twisted the cap off the bottle she held in a smooth economic motion and threw it into the waste basket on the other side of the room. It was a great shot. Just another reason why he...he cut that thought off and drowned it with beer.

Jack poked at the fire again before he sat down beside her with a huff. His thumb worried at the label on the bottle. 'You talk with Cassie?' The teenager had called earlier wanting to come and say hello to Daniel; Jack had passed her off to Carter knowing if he talked to her he was more than likely to cave to the demand.

'Yeah.' Sam nodded. 'I told her it wasn't the right time. She said she understood.'

'So,' Jack said dryly, 'pissed.'

Sam blew out a breath that spoke of exactly how pissed Cassie had been. 'Janet backed us up.'

Doctor Janet Fraiser was a formidable Mom to Cassie and Jack knew the Doc's decision was in part to protect Cassie from any hurt caused by Daniel's lingering amnesia. Jack glanced at Carter. She was staring out of the door into his garden. He wondered what she saw. Probably that the turf needed mowing; the flowerbeds needed weeding. He'd been meaning to hack down the bushes at the back fence. It had been a busy month what with stopping Anubis and his super-weapon; finding Daniel. He swallowed another gulp of beer.

'Jonas called her.' Sam said suddenly. 'You know, to say goodbye.'

Jack nodded. Jonas had struck up a good friendship with Cassie. Both of them had effectively been aliens stuck on Earth. It had given them common ground; a shared understanding.

'She's going to miss him.' Sam commented.

Cassie wasn't the only one, Jack considered, taking in Carter's wistful expression. He knew Sam was pleased to get Daniel back but she was going to miss Jonas. Hell, even Jack regretted that the Kelownan had been effectively forced into returning to his native planet. The kid had proven himself a worthy member of SG1, enough that Jack had been gearing up to argue SG1 needed five members with Hammond. He had half-planned it in his head; Carter could have taken command of some of the milk-run missions with the other three and left him free to spend more time doing...well, doing something that Hammond would have come up with. It could have worked well as a transition phase with Carter taking on more and more, while he quietly exited stage left. He could feel that his time in the field was coming to an end; there were too many aches and pains despite keeping himself in shape. But he couldn't deny that Jonas's departure made things easier given Daniel's return.

'I told her she needed to give Daniel some space.' Sam sipped her beer.

'Good advice.' Jack said mildly. He hoped Carter had worked out she needed to do the same. Not that Carter had exactly been hovering around Daniel - neither of them had. The mission hadn't allowed for them to spend time with Daniel beyond the usual briefings and the occasional meal. But he knew they were at the danger point. If they hovered over Daniel too much now...there was a feeling in Jack's gut that told him they might lose him again anyway.

Sam's eyes flickered to his and he caught the glint of rueful amusement. 'I know, I...'

Jack raised his eyebrows questioningly.

She sighed deeply and stared at her bottle. 'I wish we knew whether he wanted to be here.'

'Does it matter?' Jack asked brusquely. Daniel was back with them; that was the most important thing to Jack's mind.

'I think it does, sir.' Sam's tone was terse. 'I can't help thinking how unhappy he must have been before he...' she waved her hand.

'Went glowy?' Jack supplied bluntly.

Sam flinched and looked away. Jack's conscience stirred and poked at him. No doubt Sam had analysed and reanalysed what part she had played in Daniel's unhappiness; in his decision to leave. Jack knew because he knew her. Hell, he'd even been tempted to do the same.

SG1 had drifted the year before Daniel's death and Jack knew his decision to step back from dangerous feelings so he could remain objective, so he could protect them all had played a major part in that. They'd been fewer team nights, and they'd rarely hung-out together outside of the base as they had done in the first few years of the programme. In the field, they had still been SG1 but back on Earth...

Jack sighed. He had just begun to recognise that Daniel had been struggling with some issues when the team had gone off-world to Kelowna. Even so, Jack figured Daniel's decision to go glowy wasn't as simple as just unhappiness with life as it was complicated by Daniel's need to make a difference. But then Jack had also had the benefit of being able to say goodbye to Daniel, to talk over his decision with him in a way that Carter had not.

'Carter,' he began.

The sound of a car pulling into the driveway cut off his words. Sam breathed in sharply beside him.

Jack knew the opportunity to say something had passed and got to his feet. He made his way to the door to greet their team-mates. It was only dinner. Carter could handle it. They could handle it.

o-O-o

Dinner hadn't been so bad, Daniel mused.

They'd started out awkwardly but somewhere between the grilling of the steaks and sitting down to eat they'd fallen into talking about the memories he'd regained - enough of his childhood to remember his parents' death, Nick's abandonment of him, the teasing and ritual humiliation of being a geeky child; academia including the latter years and his wacky ideas about the pyramids; the first mission to Abydos and his year there; most of the years since. They'd prompted his memory of the latter as they'd bantered back and forth about past missions. He'd even joined in some of the teasing.

They'd talked about Catherine Langford over Key Lime pie; Jack had called her to let her know and Daniel was to call her when he was ready. When they'd talked about Nick over dessert and how the giant aliens had informed the SGC of his passing, Daniel had acknowledged that somehow he had already known about his grandfather's death.

No: dinner had been fine. It was after dinner that was proving to be much more problematic.

They were watching a movie.

Only they weren't.

Teal'c was watching the movie - Star Wars was apparently a favourite of his. Daniel was trying to watch the movie - he kind of remembered something to do with gold bikinis which he was certain had something to do with Star Wars - but he was too aware that Sam was not watching the movie but watching him as though she couldn't quite believe he was there.

And Jack was watching Sam.

He could see the interplay out of the corner of his eye but if he looked at them, both would be looking at the screen. He was beginning to think he was being paranoid, and beginning to get pissed at being made to think he was being paranoid.

Daniel got up abruptly and pointed back towards the bathroom to signal where he was going. The break gave him enough privacy and space for him to regain his equilibrium. He made his way out and stopped in front of what he knew was the spare room; the door was partially ajar. He pushed the wood with a single finger until the door was fully open and went inside.

The memories of his stay as Jack's house-mate flooded into his head. He smiled as he wandered over to the shelf and picked up a book on Ancient Mayan civilisation. He'd left it behind and had always neglected to take it back on subsequent visits. He recognised a few other things he'd left over the years; a battered copy of Homer's Odyssey, a souvenir mug from the Statue of Liberty, an old figurine of a fertility god that Daniel had purchased in some bazaar in the Middle East on a student dig.

He picked up the statue and turned it over in his hand. The dresser and the wardrobe had been filled with clothes left behind for the nights he stayed over at Jack's. Those times had been few and far between in the year before he'd left, and Daniel figured Jack must have raided them to fill the suitcase he'd given Daniel.

'Daniel.'

Daniel glanced over his shoulder; Jack stood in the doorway. 'Jack.' He gestured at him with the statue. 'Sorry, I was just...'

'Being you?' There was no heat to the words just acceptance.

Daniel didn't know how to respond. He was still trying to work out what 'being him' meant. He turned away to place the statue back on the shelf.

Jack moved inside the room. He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his jeans. 'You know, now you have most of your memory back, Hammond and the Doc cleared you to leave the base so if you want somewhere to stay...'

Daniel tried to hide his surprise and realised from the fleeting startled look that passed across Jack's face that he hadn't been successful. Daniel folded his arms around his torso and his eyes darted away from Jack and back to the souvenir mug. It hadn't occurred to him that he didn't have clearance to leave but in hindsight a just-returned-from-the-Ascended amnesiac would be considered a security risk.

He wouldn't have been allowed to leave before even if Jack had wanted to offer him somewhere to stay, Daniel deduced with some chagrin. He should have realised, he berated himself. Of course he did have the excuse of not remembering that he would have been considered a security risk. Unfortunately, he knew that Jack now knew what he'd been thinking.

Daniel cleared his throat. 'I'm sorry. I thought...'

'I know.' Jack cut him off.

'I didn't remember...' Daniel tried again awkwardly.

'I know.' Jack shrugged and took a step towards the door as though he intended to leave.

'I thought you were mad at me.' Daniel managed to get the words out in a rush; all mangled together so fast he wondered if Jack could make sense of them.

Jack paused by the door. He looked back at Daniel blankly. 'What?'

'You're mad at me about something.' Daniel said, uncomfortably aware of his accelerating heart and the flush across his skin.

Jack glanced at the open doorway and back at Daniel. 'I'm not mad at you.'

'Yes, you are.' Daniel shot back.

'No, I'm not.' Jack returned shortly.

'Yes.' Daniel insisted. 'You are.'

'No.' Jack retorted. 'I'm not.'

'Jack,' Daniel argued.

'Daniel!' Jack held up a finger to prevent Daniel from interrupting. 'I'm not mad at you. Why do you think I'm mad at you?'

'Because you are.' Daniel said stubbornly.

Jack raised his eyebrows. 'OK. Why would I be mad at you?'

'I don't know, Jack,' Daniel said slowly as though explaining something to a small child which he knew Jack wasn't, 'I don't remember.'

There was a beat of silence as they looked at each other.

'Look, I know we met when I was Ascended, Jack, but I don't remember what happened and I feel like...' he threw up a hand, gesticulating wildly, 'something important happened, only you know what it is and I don't.'

Jack threw another look towards the door and reached over to close it gently, providing them with some privacy. He turned back to Daniel with a guarded expression. 'I'm not mad at you,' he held up a hand, 'about that.'

'What is that?' Daniel asked bluntly.

Jack pressed his lips together. 'I was captured by Ba'al. You helped me.' He held up a hand. 'And that's all I want to say about it.'

Daniel frowned. He'd read the report of Jack's capture by Ba'al. There had been short terse sentences describing days of repeated torture and death; the use of the sarcophagus to revive him time after time for more. Daniel stared at the other man. He had been there with Jack through that? And if he had, why hadn't he rescued Jack immediately? Why had he waited for the SGC to perform some miracle?

'You say I helped you but I didn't really, did I?' He spoke the thought out loud.

Jack closed his eyes briefly before he opened them again, spearing Daniel with an accusing look. 'I knew you'd do this.'

'What?'

'This!' Jack thrust out a hand towards Daniel. 'I don't want to talk about this! Look, I got out and you helped, that's all you need to know.'

Daniel felt his anger surge up; all he needed to know? Damn it, it was a part of his life too! He opened his mouth and paused at the look on Jack's face; the mix of defiance and...desperation not to talk about it. Jack had been tortured for days; of course he didn't want to talk about it or think about it. It had to be something of a nightmare for Jack to even acknowledge it had happened at all. Daniel's anger disintegrated as fast as it had escalated.

He took a deep breath. 'Are you mad at me about Abydos? About Anubis destroying it?'

'No!' Jack denied. He suddenly looked at Daniel sharply. 'Are you mad at you because of Abydos?'

The question hit him with the force of a sucker-punch.

Daniel sank down to sit on the foot of the bed. Was he mad at himself about Abydos? Had he just been projecting all of that onto Jack? 'Yeah,' he admitted with a shaky laugh, 'I think maybe I am.'

Jack sighed heavily. He hesitated for a moment before he moved, closing the gap between them to sit beside Daniel on the bed. He rubbed his left thumb over his right palm.

'I don't remember what happened.' Daniel shook his head. 'I don't know if I tried to save them or if I...'

'You tried.' Jack cut him off.

Daniel looked at him.

'You broke the rules for them, Daniel.' Jack said quietly. 'You tried to stop Anubis. You shouldn't doubt that.'

'You really believe that.' Daniel realised.

Jack shrugged. 'You're here, aren't you?'

Daniel couldn't really argue with the logic. He had broken the rules. It was all too likely that his return was a punishment. He glanced at Jack. 'So.'

Jack looked back at him quizzically.

'Not mad at me.' Daniel clarified.

'Nope.'

'Not even about the Jim thing?' Daniel asked, trying to lighten the moment.

Jack got to his feet. 'Teal'c thinks you were channelling Star Trek.'

'With you as Kirk?' Daniel's eyebrows rose up his brow. 'Really?'

'You have a different theory?' Jack pushed his hands in his pockets again.

'I don't know.' Daniel admitted. 'I just...I just think it was important to me.' And Jack was important to him so he'd put the two together - not that he was telling Jack that. He shrugged helplessly.

'So, about you staying...' Jack said lightly.

'That's OK.' The words came out sharper and quicker than Daniel had intended. He winced and tried an apologetic smile. 'It's not that...I mean, I'm OK at the base.'

Jack lifted a shoulder in a half-shrug and let it drop. If he was disappointed, it didn't show on his face. He pointed at the door. 'We should head back before Carter sends a search party.'

On some level, Daniel was aware Jack was joking but he couldn't stop the wince that distorted his features for a moment.

Jack's eyes snapped back to him. For a moment, Daniel thought Jack was going to let it go.

Jack ran a hand through his short hair. 'Look, about Carter...' he floundered and made almost an orchestral gesture with his hand before letting it fall. 'You should talk to her.'

Daniel's brow creased with thought. Sam had said that there was nothing between them but that sounded like there was. 'Did something happen between Sam and me? Something I don't remember?'

'What?'

Jack's look of complete shock sent a sudden barrage of memories through Daniel about za'tarcs, regulations and Something That Was Never Discussed, and he was suddenly aware of the stupidity of what he had asked.

'She said we were just good friends.' Daniel hurried out. 'But when you said...' he tried a smile, 'I don't remember us being anything but good friends so...I just wondered but obviously that's not it.' Not when he'd just remembered that Sam had been in love with Jack and Jack had been in love with her. He cringed inwardly.

'I wouldn't know, Daniel.' Jack said brusquely as he headed towards the door. It was his parting shot before he was out of the room, leaving the door wide open.

Daniel followed after him and wondered if Sam and Jack had finally been able to move on from their feelings. They had tried the year before he had Ascended, he remembered. Maybe the two Air Force officers had moved past it; they seemed better friends than before. Daniel felt a twinge of jealousy and wondered at it.

Teal'c was alone in front of the television; he had made fresh popcorn and the smell of it made Daniel's mouth water; filled his head with a dozen memories of movie theatres; nights spent watching movies with friends; kissing lovers with the taste of popcorn and butter on his lips as old films played out on screen.

'Where's Carter?' Jack asked as he sat down on the sofa with a thump.

Daniel took the seat he had vacated earlier.

Teal'c barely glanced in their direction. 'Major Carter left shortly after you went in search of Daniel Jackson.'

Daniel ignored the faintly accusing look Jack shot him. It wasn't his fault that he and Jack had gotten into an argument - discussion - and Sam had left. And there had been no reason for her to leave, he thought, annoyance creeping in again. But as he settled against the cushions, he couldn't help think there was something he was missing; something that he wasn't remembering...

Continued in Part II.

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