“Arrom,” called Shamda. The alighted one looked up from his perch above the valley of the stone tables.
“Shamda,” answered Arrom.
Shamda didn’t say another word until he reached the new one’s position. He studied the man’s face and by the time he reached the man, Shamda was troubled. Arrom looked troubled. “You appear to be troubled. Is this not so?”
“It is so,” Arrom said in answer.
“What is it that troubles you?” Shamda asked.
“Dreams,” Arrom stated.
“What sort of dreams?” Shamda asked.
“The ones I have spoken about before,” Arrom answered.
Shamda stopped in his tracks. “You have discovered the source?”
“Do you know who you come from?” Arrom asked.
“No,” Arrom stated. “But they have become more focused.”
“Then it is almost time,” Shamda stated. “Perhaps.”
“Then perhaps it is time,” Shamba said.
“Shamda, it is time to understand.”
“Shamda, I have. Sort of. Perhaps it is time?”
“Then perhaps it is.”
Arrom saw the four people standing there. Recognition swamped him but he felt he was in danger. He didn’t know why. They were looking at him with love. Three of them were. One didn’t. And he looked more distant, whatever that mean. And the tall pale one . . . he felt something close. When he tried to remember using the technique that Shamda helped him to focus . . . all he could remember was that his name was . . . Dan . . . something. Dan. Stupid name. And the tall, pale man . . .
All he could remember was pain and . . . violence. Despite a very familiar feeling, Danny . . . that was it. Danny. That name sounded . . . odd. A picture surfaced. This man was . . . hitting him. He was angry.
Arrom didn’t want to remember. The unknown scared him.
Sitting in his tent, Arrom felt violated. These new people didn’t give a damn that he didn’t want to see them. This pale man was lying to him. Despite the man saying they were friends, it wasn’t what Arrom was getting. This Jack was clearly uncomfortable. If he was a friend, should he be happier to see him? That’s how the people of Vis Uban acted, and Arrom based his knowledge of people on their behavior. These people in uniform . . . were all of them like that? Stand-offish and liars? They were friends, but they aimed their weapons at him. They were lying to him.
But if Arrom wanted to find his memory, he needed to be around them. He’d learned how to be . . . a person . . . after a single day with the nomads of Vis Uban. IF he wanted more, he had to leave through the chappa’ai. Going through that thing scared Arrom. He felt a pull in his gut whenever he’d looked at it. Was this why? Because he had to go through it to this place called Earth?
After the woman, Sam left, Arrom was more certain that he had to go with them. Would they let him come back to Vis Uban if he didn’t want to be with them? He’d asked Sam, “What if I didn’t like who I was? What if I don’t want to be that person? What if I don’t have it in me to make up for something I’ve done wrong?”
He’d asked because when he looked at these people and felt shame. There was something he’d done very wrong. Why would he want to remember that?
When she got up to leave, he got a strong impression that she loved him far more than she was admitting. Far more than a friend. But when she said they hadn’t been involved, he was all the more confused. He did like her, far more than he liked Jim. Jack. Whatever. And he was going home because of her, not him.
Jim was friendlier to him now that he was home. So maybe it had been Vis Uban that had altered his behavior?
On the other hand . . . “To be honest, we tossed out a bunch of junk. A lot of which seemed very valuable.”
Insinuating that Jack didn’t have a lot of respect for him.
So, not a friend, despite what he kept saying.
Teal’c liked him. Liked him enough to tell him the truth about who he was and what had killed him.
Sam did too. She took him to lunch. When she’d asked the tall pale man . . . Jim? . . . to accompany them, he’d been uncomfortable. Why?
No, this Jack didn’t like him. He’d been friendly. He’d given him a room filled with mementos. But after that meeting he was compelled to be a part of, this Jack didn’t like him. He was uneasy around him, angry with him. Was it because Arrom didn’t remember him and it unsettled him? Daniel could feel that. What had they been to each other that caused this sort of reaction?
But whenever Daniel saw his name on things or looked at the items in his room, he felt acutely sad. While he felt he needed to be there, that he belonged there, there was a distinct feeling he didn’t belong. He didn’t like the incongruity.
Also, on the other hand, Jonas was willing to work with him, so there had to be something he could contribute.
Daniel found his old private journal, read through it, and found something unbelievable.
He and Jack had been lovers.
Being with a man hadn’t been the unbelievable part. He’d found himself attracted to a lot of men on the base, but that had been easy to dismiss. That part he’d found reassuring. Apparently, he had a decent amount of willpower and didn’t cave to the simplest of lusts.
What was unbelievable was how or why he’d be attracted to the man. The visible package was obvious. It was the personality that shocked him. There must be something beyond the judgmental ass that Jack projected to everyone, including him.
Plus, when he spoke with him, the lovers part had been over with by the time he’d died. So why did Jack act as if they had a chance at what this world called a do-over? Something wasn’t happening. Pieces were missing. There was clearly something remaining between them.
Because he had been an integral part of their lives, their purpose, their actions, he was included in briefings and plans. It only made sense if he looked at Jack, at the others, as professionals, not friends. Friendly acquaintances surely, but not friends.
It was odd when they’d returned to Vis Uban and found a set of Goa’uld rings. It was odd for two reasons. Daniel knew they were there but he didn’t know how (maybe as an Ascended human being?) Perhaps if he began journaling again, memories would happen to fill in the blank spots? The other reason was that he’d never thought he would return. Vis Uban had become a memory of the past if that made sense.
Two weeks later
He was included in their plan to invade Anubis’ mothership. It didn’t make much sense. His memories weren’t back. There were big gaps. He still didn’t remember his relationship with Jack. But he felt an obligation to try, and he’d play an integral part with Jonas.
As a language reader and backup.
And because, despite all their words that he was welcomed back, from a strategic point of view, Daniel was easily . . . expendable. He didn’t regain all of his memories by the time the plan of attack came, which made him useful but expendable.
For some reason, it didn’t bother him. That they could so easily get rid of him. Perhaps not Sam and Teal’c. Janet was really glad to see him. But Hammond was practical and pragmatic, as were his contemporaries and superiors. Most of his superiors treated him with barely-disguised if mild, intolerance. It told Daniel that he’d been a thorn in their side. People like him—civilian contractors—were seen as useful idiots.
Jack was an enigma. He held his emotional cards to the chest. Except for the negative ones. How such a man was useful to the military brass, he had no idea. Perhaps the operation would reveal that.
In the locker room, something clarified and yet muddled, his relationship with Jack: a conversation. He looked over at Jack’s locker and taped on the inside of the door was the picture of a boy. Charlie, his mind supplied. His son.
Then other facts about him fit into place.
“That’s your son.”
“Charlie, right? He’s why I know you. You took that first mission to Abydos because you
thought it’d be . . . suicide.” Daniel colored a bit.
“Things change,” Jack said and sat on one of the benches in front of the lockers.
“Yeah, sorry,” Daniel said slowly, clearly uncomfortable. He’d erred in bringing that up. He needed to filter himself more.
“You sure you’re ready for this?” Jack asked, clearly concerned that he was in on the mission.
So why hadn’t he objected to Daniel being included?
“Yeah, well, despite what you say, I don’t think you’d be doing this if it wasn’t worth
Jack gave him a ‘tired of you’ grin. “Well, you obviously don’t remember everything. You never used to follow my lead.”
Daniel blinked, surprised. “I didn’t?” The grin turned rueful and Daniel felt the intense need to reassure the man. “Hey, um, I may not remember everything, but . . . I remember enough.”
Jack gave him a non-committal grin. “Good.”
He left the locker room and it took Daniel a moment to realize that Jack was just humoring him. He didn’t know how he knew that but the instinct was strong. He felt the need to reassure him growing stronger. Closing his locker, he hurried after Jack. “Hey, listen. You don’t think I should be here, so why didn’t you tell General Hammond that?”
“Who told you that I didn’t want you here? Or on this mission?” Jack asked as they headed for the elevator at the end of the corridor.
“No one. I just . . . get this feeling. Were we always like this?”
“You hide your feelings and make me guess what they are.”
“No,” Jack said as he swiped his key card through the elevator’s port. “Actually, it was the opposite.”
“It was?” Daniel asked, even more surprised. “I find that hard to believe.”
“Now that isn’t surprising. As I said, you never used to follow my lead.”
“Wait,” Daniel said as the elevator came. “There’s a difference between believing in you as a person and believing a plan is viable or not.” They entered the elevator and the door closed.
“There is?” Jack asked.
Daniel frowned at him. “What’s going on? At first, you seemed glad to see me. Now I get a strong impression that you’re not.”
Jack didn’t say anything and other people got onto the elevator. After they exited the elevator, Jack paused in the corridor, clearing his throat as he stepped aside to let Airmen walk around them. “You, uh, don’t remember me. It’s . . . disconcerting.” He’d adjusted his tone and words because they weren’t alone. The tone and words said, “Other people could hear.”
Unfortunately, Daniel didn’t know what that meant. “If you mean that I don’t remember the lovers thing, no, I don’t.”
Jack colored and quickly opened a door, ushered Daniel inside, and closed the door. It was dark and Jack fumbled for the light and turned it on. They were in a large closet.
Daniel’s eyes went wide. “Oh,” he said, drawing out the word. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to . . . that no one was supposed to know, that people didn’t know.”
“Again, how do you know if you don’t remember?”
“Um . . .” Daniel began. “Feelings,” he said slowly. “Images. I remember a kiss. But I don’t remember context or . . . memories. In other words, there are no memories yet of those events.”
“Right,” Jack said, and opened the door. “What’s your point in telling me all that?”
And he didn’t wait for an answer. He walked out, leaving Daniel staring at an empty space, so it was clear that what he’d asked was rhetorical. “What the hell is going on with him?” he said aloud to no one. The only answer was clear: he meant more to Jack than simply getting together for sex. The relationship had been a relationship. “Wow.”
He caught up with Jack in the Control Room. Sam hadn’t arrived yet and Jonas wasn’t there either. Teal’c had already gone to Yu’s homeworld. Technicians were at work at the console and in the back by the stairs that led to the briefing room and Hammond’s office.
“Listen,” Daniel said in a hushed voice. “I don’t—”
“Not now,” Jack said.
“Okay,” Daniel said and blew out a breath. “Look, I don’t know what’s gonna happen after all this is finished.” Jack eyed him. “The mission. What’s gonna happen with Jonas and me. With SG-1. I hope you don’t think I’m asking to replace him.”
Jack eyed him more considerately. “We have a few openings. Jonas’ll fit well into any of them.”
“But not SG-1?”
“You’re back. He’s gotta go somewhere.”
“Until my memory comes back, I don’t think I’ll be a good fit for any team, never mind SG-1.” Jack frowned. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to put someone who’s compromised in a team. Right?”
Jack’s frown turned thoughtful. “Maybe. It won’t stay that way. You’ll get your memories back.”
“For the sake of argument,” Daniel said, “let’s assume I don’t get my memories back.”
“Jonas is a good man,” Jack said, not committing to any other statement.
“Yes,” Daniel agreed. “So until or if, he should stay where he is. On SG-1.”
“And your office?”
“Oh please. Who cares about that?”
Jack offered up a grin. “For a second there, you sounded like your old self.”
Jack grinned, then further conversation was aborted when Sam and Jonas arrived with Hammond. “Here we go,” Jack said. “Time for you and Jonas to get to Vis Uban.”