“So . . .” Jack said when Daniel joined him at the elevator after they’d said goodbye to Jonas Quinn.
“So . . .” Daniel replied, crossing his arms again. All he could think about was what to do with Jonas’ fish. He wasn’t about to look after them. Did he even like fish? Maybe he’d hold off on getting rid of them until he remembered.
“You said you remembered everything?” Jack asked.
Daniel grimaced. “Uh, no. I just told him that to make him feel better.”
Jack’s brows rose. “You lied?”
Daniel grimaced again. “Yeah. I . . . did.”
Jack narrowed his eyes. “Just so you know? I don’t react well to people I care about lying to me.”
“I wasn’t planning on lying to you,” Daniel said, his brows forming a scowl. “Why on Earth would I do that?”
“Well, ‘til you get your memory back, I’ll allow some leeway because you won’t be able to lie. But for our futures’ sake, please keep me updated on your memory loss. Or rather, when you regain it.”
The elevator opened and they got in. No one else was joining them. When the doors closed, Jack punched the 15 button. Daniel stared at the panel.
“’Til I get my memory back, I’m gonna have to relearn where everything is. Is there a layout list somewhere?”
Jack smirked. “Up in Admin. I think.” He grinned when Daniel frowned. “I’ll have Carter write one down.”
“You could do it, couldn’t you?” Daniel asked, smirking back. “I mean, you know where everything is, right? Since you’re basically the base executive officer.”
“Unofficially, yes. And maybe I could,” he said. “I just have to remember what the main levels from 5 to 10 are, and the sublevels from 2 to 14. And sublevels 22 and 23.” He frowned, staring at the panel, and ran his tongue over his teeth. “Yeah, um. Carter will draw up a list. She remembers everything.”
“As XO, don’t you think you should know?”
“Unofficial XO. Hammond has Walter.” Jack’s eyes widened. “Actually, ask Walter. He knows more than Carter about how this base is run.”
“Will do,” Daniel said, stuffing his hands in his pockets.
Jack grinned crookedly. “You’re remembering your lingo. That’s a good sign.”
“Oh,” Daniel said, frowning. He’d just automatically said without thinking about it. “Right.”
Jack’s grin turned into a broad smile for two seconds. “You didn’t even notice, did ya?”
“Not really, no.”
The elevator opened and they got out. The corridor formed a left-facing L. The Mess Hall’s doors were the first door on their right, straight ahead. Jack led him there. When Daniel had last been in the mess hall, they had just finished the weapon’s check and gear in the base armory right before heading to the gateroom.
Daniel hadn’t known what he’d liked to eat for the last . . . four months. He’d spent three of them on Vis Uban. He knew their food better than Earth food.
But. It was breakfast time. He identified the smell of butter and maple syrup. He liked waffles. This was a morning for recollection “firsts.” Getting in line behind Jack, he grabbed a white ceramic mug that said coffee to him. Next came the knowledge that needed a tray. They were green or blue and very used. Sliding it down the steel platform placed for just such a purpose, he came to slotted containers holding silverware . . . or as some called it, flatware.
He automatically grabbed a fork, knife, and spoon, then came the coffee machine. He filled his mug and smelled it. Fresh. It was breakfast time after all. He passed the juice and milk machines and waited behind Jack as the line slowed while people selected items from whole or sliced fruit, dry cereal, waxed cartons of milk to go with them. Then came the hot food with various selections. Daniel took a banana, then scrambled eggs and bacon. He wasn’t in the mood for something sweet.
He followed Jack to one of the empty tables and sat down across from him. Pretty soon, Sam and Teal’c came in. When Sam sat down, he saw she’d chosen Cheerios and a bowl of strawberries with a carton of 2% milk. Teal’c . . . had just about every fruit available plus pancakes and waffles, which he ate with the fruit, no syrup. So apparently people could choose more than one thing in the selections. Daniel got up and went back for an apple.
At first, they ate in silence. Daniel wondered if it was because he was eating with them. He decided to test it out.
“What do you guys usually talk about during breakfast?”
“Nothing,” Jack said.
“Anything,” Sam said.
“I eat,” Teal’c said.
Daniel grinned. “Okay.”
They ate in silence for about five more minutes before Sam spoke. “What’re you gonna be doing, Daniel? This morning, I mean.”
“Uh, Walter already told me that I need to see him for the letters I have to take to Administration.” That reminded him. “Jack said I need to see him anyway so I can re-familiarize myself with the base’s levels. Where Administration is, for example.”
Sam stared at Jack, a frown forming on her face. “Sir. You know where everything is. Why are you telling him? Or showing him?”
“It’s all right, Sam,” Daniel said. “I can look stuff up by myself. I mean, with Walter.”
“Except he knows, too,” Sam said, pointing her spoon at Jack.
“I agree with Major Carter,” Teal’c said.
Jack paused, spoon halfway to his mouth. He was eating Lucky Charms. He stared at Daniel, then Sam and Teal’c. For some reason, Daniel thought he should’ve been eating colored Cheerios.
“Fine,” Jack said, sounding very put upon. “I’ll take him up to Admin.”
“You don’t have to,” Daniel said, narrowing his eyes. He spoke in exaggerated tones filled with heavy sarcasm. “I’m sure I can manage. After all, I know how to ride an elevator. I can read. Presumably, I can sign my own name.”
Jack gave him a sarcastic smile. “Thank you. I agree. You can do all those things without me.”
“Because . . .” Daniel began, grinning ear to ear, “I heard some people saying that they’d relocated to ‘new digs’ I think they called it. So I’m pretty sure you no longer know where it is. It would be better if I went by myself.”
“Fine,” Jack said. “If you get lost, don’t come cryin’ to me.”
“I have a perfectly functional sense of direction. I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine.”
“Fine,” Jack said. “I’ll go to the gym.”
“Ohhh,” Daniel said. “I need to know where that is.”
“I shall take you, Daniel Jackson.”
Daniel smiled. “Thanks, Teal’c.”
“It is my pleasure. I am holding classes there this morning.”
“Oh? What’re you teaching?”
“One is for defense. Tak’shell’noh,” Teal’c said. “It is the Chulakian form of what your world calls Martial Arts. The second is how to Kel’no’reem. While I may not be able to perform it as I used to with a symbiote, it is still considered a valuable form of meditation.”
“Oh, I’d like to do that,” Daniel said.
Teal’c smiled. “You used to attend both classes when we were not in the field.”
“I did? Well, good. After I get done with Admin, I’ll come down. I’m sure I’ll find it again.”
“It is on sublevel twenty-two. There are signs on the walls directing you.”
“There, see?” Sam said. “Easy, peasy. You now have a direction to follow.”
“Carter, don’t make me dump what’s left of my cereal on your head.”
“Go ahead, sir,” she smiled. “Just try it.”
“Are you threatening a superior officer, Major?”
“No, sir. I will be filing a report.”
Jack growled to himself.
Throughout that exchange, both were giving each other mock-scowls. Daniel didn’t know how he could tell, but he could.
“What time’s the first class start, Teal’c?” he asked.
“8:35, Daniel Jackson. I will be pleased to see you back in class.”
“Thanks,” Daniel said with a smile. He then changed tack. “Why do you call me Daniel Jackson and not Jackson or Doctor Jackson? You call Jack ‘O’Neill’ and Sam ‘Major Carter’.”
“There are many doctors here,” Teal’c said. “I chose the name that would suit you most and serve respect at the same time.”
“Oh. Okay.” Daniel then rose, not quite done with his food. He wasn’t hungry any longer. He’d eat the apple later. “I’ll drop these off at my office, then go up to Admin. I’ll see you guys later.” He paused. “Do we have any meetings this afternoon?”
“You don’t,” Jack said, feeling completely left out. “I assume that’s because Hammond is letting you get reacquainted with your office.”
“Right. Well. See you guys later.”
As soon as Daniel left, Jack turned to Carter. “Have any of you spilled the beans about this afternoon? He looked a bit cagey to me.”
“Not a word,” Teal’c said.
“Ditto,” Sam said.
“Good,” Jack said, mischief in his eyes.
After both of Teal’c’s classes, personnel kept welcoming Daniel back to the SGC, how they were glad to see him, good luck finding a new apartment . . .
Which told Daniel that he needed to spend time finding ‘new digs.’ He put that aside for the moment. There were other things to worry about.
Such as why people weren’t exactly talking to him. They were talking at him, keeping conversations short. And all of them seemed somewhat mischievous and smug. Daniel didn’t know how he could tell. He just could.
Daniel was trying to figure out how much of the stuff in his VIP room belonged in his office when his room’s phone rang.
“Daniel Jackson,” Daniel answered, and briefly recalled Teal’c’s answer about his name. It made him smile. But he lost the smile quickly.
“Doctor Jackson,” said General Hammond. “I need to see you in my office right away.”
“Is something wrong, sir?”
“We’ll see, Doctor. Right away.”
Then Hammond hung up before he did.
Daniel grew worried for about ten seconds. He then squinted and chewed at his lip. He may not remember much quite yet, but he’d had inklings all morning about people. That included the General. He was experiencing the feeling that General Hammond was acting. Largely because Daniel knew he hadn’t done anything wrong.
The only reason Hammond would have for sounding harsh or negative would be because of . . . the NID, the Pentagon, or a politician. He didn’t know why those people occurred to him; it just sounded right.
Was it plausible that any of them would be giving Hammond grief?
Was it plausible that he was the reason?
Possible right now?
Which meant . . . they were hiding something. But out of this group, it couldn’t be anything nefarious. So . . . Daniel didn’t have a clue.
Daniel walked down the corridor toward General Hammond’s office and slowed his moderate pace when he caught sight of one of the SFs seeing him, then talking into his mic instead of simply acknowledging his presence with a nod.
He knocked on the General’s door.
“Come,” came Hammond’s voice.
Daniel entered and found that Hammond’s office blinds were closed against the briefing room. So this was bad enough that it required privacy? The General was reading something from a stack of paper in front of him.
“Sir?” he greeted.
“Have a seat, Doctor Jackson.”
“If you don’t mind, I’ll stand,” Daniel said.
“As you wish,” Hammond said easily, as if the room wasn’t cut off from everyone. He put his paper face-down on the desk. “How’re you operating with the changes?”
“I’ve gotten my new ID and filled out paperwork. My next task is to find someplace to live so I’m not taking up space at the SGC.”
Hammond nodded, then gestured at the briefing room. “If you’ll follow me.”
Daniel frowned and nodded, following Hammond through the door that led there.
And upon entering, he was met with a crowded room and a shout of “Surprise!”
A banner had been taped to the far wall, and on the left side under the observation window that overlooked the gateroom sat a few tables that held a military-issue dispenser, stacks of plastic cups, plastic flatware, and plates. On the conference table, flanked by Jack, Sam, Teal’c, Janet, and a bunch of people he didn’t remember the names of, was an enormous single layer white cake with one lit candle in the center of a reproduction of the stargate.
The people wore genuine smiles on their faces. Daniel’s intuition told him the smiles were more about surprising him than welcoming him home, but he appreciated the sentiment anyway.
“Look at that,” Jack said to the room. “Daniel Jackson. Speechless.”
The room quivered with laughter.
“You’re hilarious,” Daniel said, smiling back at everyone. “And . . . yeah. Speechless.”
“Well, don’t just stand there,” Jack said, gesturing with both hands at the cake. “Blow this sucker out so we can have some cake.”
“Oh, is that what you’re all here for?”
Daniel walked over and blew out the candle. It was followed by hand clapping that he wasn’t sure warranted the action but he went with it anyway. He was never good at parties.
And apparently, this would be no exception. He was expected to tell everyone about how he landed, haha, on the planet Vis Uban utterly Naked & Afraid, which included a double entendre he did not know about . . . but at least they were all enjoying themselves.
Daniel obliged everyone’s perverse thrill in the retelling of his humiliation while he cut the cake into two dozen squares. He smiled as he took a piece of the stargate cake, ate a small bite, and generally acted as he felt he was supposed to act. Specifically, happy or elated. On the inside, he was overwhelmed and dumbstruck. He understood the little ritual that was greatly needed by people on the base—it was too bad it couldn’t be shared with everyone (they didn’t have enough cake).
Around an hour later, people began to congratulate him again (why coming back to the land of the living was worth that, he didn’t know) and filter out, returning to their jobs. All except his teammates. Even Hammond went back into his office and closed the door.
“So now what?” Jack asked.
“I have the unenviable task of apartment hunting.”
Sam and Jack groaned in sympathy while Teal’c looked intrigued. Daniel wondered if it would make the Jaffa happy if he helped in this venture.
“Teal’c, you’re welcome to tag along when I’m cleared to leave the base.”
“I am thankful for the invitation but I will respectfully decline. But you are welcome to join me when my time comes to search for an apartment.”
“That’ll be fun,” Daniel said, though he wasn’t sure he meant it. “Still not using contractions?” he suddenly asked.
“It is enough to learn your language without adding the colloquialisms that are involved.”
That made Jack and Sam laugh. Daniel smiled and nodded. “I can see your point.” He looked at the mess on the tables (discarded forks, cups, and plates) and asked, “Am I supposed to clean this mess up?”
“No,” Sam said with a teasing tone. “We have some people who’re assigned to clean up.”
“Hardly seems fair,” Daniel said as he reflexively began to put things into a trashcan.
“Stop doing that. It’s for people who’re paid to clean up, Daniel,” Jack said pulling him away from the table.
The touch of his hand on his biceps sent a thrill of recognition and desire through Daniel that surprised him. He wasn’t quite sure how to bring up that part of their past but he thought it was important. He looked around him, making sure others weren’t around, then remembered the security cameras. He sighed. “When are we going to get to go out for dinner?” he asked all three of them—though the answer would come from Jack or Sam or both. Teal’c had no say, sadly.
“You wanna go out to dinner?” Jack asked.
“Well, duh, sir,” Sam said. “Of course he does. You would too if you were stuck here twenty-four-seven.”
“Yeah,” Daniel drawled. “And I can’t exactly talk about private stuff here, can I?” he asked, looking at both Sam and Jack, but more pointedly at Jack.
Jack raised his brows. “About?”
“Not here,” Daniel reminded him. Was Jack being clueless on purpose?
“Right,” Jack said. He looked at Teal’c and Sam. “You guys feel like dinner later?”
“Yeah, sure,” Sam said, smiling. Teal’c bowed his head in acceptance.
“Excellent,” Jack said. “I’ll make arrangements for dinner at 7?” They nodded, Daniel included. “Well then . . .” He pulled out his cell phone and called a place named O’Malley’s. Daniel wished he could remember it but he put on a smile as if he remembered.
Which was busted by Sam as she studied his eyes. “You have no idea what O’Malley’s is, do you?”
Daniel gave her a wan smile. “Not a clue. I’m getting happy vibes about it, but no memories.” That put a lid on the happy feelings from his teammates. They lost their smiles.
“You don’t remember?” Sam asked.
“There’s some stuff I do, but most of my past is still a mystery. I get good or bad vibes from stuff but that’s . . .” They were definitely confused and disappointed.
“So telling Jonas that you remembered was a lie?” Jack asked.
“Not . . . completely,” Daniel hedged. “I get only impressions. Good, bad, that kind of thing, but the memories aren’t there. I’ve been waiting for them to show up and they sort of have for some stuff. But like I saw when I was on the ship, not a damn clue about the stuff I’m doing. I mean, it’s all just out of reach.”
“Damn,” Sam said. “That must suck.”
“It does,” Daniel nodded.
“Then what was that business about talking about private stuff?” Jack asked.
When I get told something, the associated memories come with it. Maybe it’s how Oma got away with not wiping my memories, I don’t know. It’s like I told Teal’c. I need to know this stuff.”
“On that note,” Hammond said, and gave Daniel a slip of paper. “Go back to Admin and give them this. It’ll give you a temporary driver’s license and you can use any of the base sedans or jeeps. Just sign them out with the duty sergeant on Level 11.”
“Thank you, sir,” Daniel said, truly smiling. “Do we have permission to go off base for dinner? Jack just made reservations.”
“Absolutely. It’s already been cleared since you have your base I.D.”
“Nice,” Jack said. “So, come home with me. I’m sure I have some clothes of yours that’ll fit.”
“Sir, c’mon,” Sam said. “We should take him shopping. There’s plenty of time.” The clock on the wall said it was 4:16 p.m.
“Grrr,” Jack said. “I hate shopping.”
“Janet and I will take him,” Sam said. She looked at Teal’c. “You’re welcome to join us.”
“I will pass,” Teal’c said.
Daniel found it amusing. Why wouldn’t they like to go shopping? He then mentally answered himself: because they aren’t buying anything for themselves.
“I’d love to go,” Daniel said, giving Jack a look of apology. “I’d like new stuff. New life, new clothes. Makes sense, doesn’t it?”
“Sure,” Jack said.
Daniel suddenly sensed he’d missed out on an opportunity to question Jack. It was just that doing it alone felt . . . scary. And the only answer was a vague sense of unease. “The last time I was at your house,” Daniel began. “Did we have a fight?”
“Kinda, yeah,” Jack said, sighing.
“Ah. I think that’s why I’m not keen on going there just yet.”
Jack shrugged. “Makes sense I guess.”
But he was evidently disappointed. “Have fun shopping. I gotta go . . . do something else.” He grinned at them and said, “T? Wanna hit the gym? Build up an appetite?”
“I do not need to, but I will join you nonetheless.”
Jack left, Teal’c following.
Daniel looked at Sam. “What just happened?”
Sam sighed. “I’ll fill you in. Let’s go pick up Janet. We’re using her car.”
“Okay.” Daniel looked over his shoulder. Hammond’s office blinds were now open. He waved at the General, who waved back. He was on the phone. “Let’s go.”