Life All Over Again

It’s the loud banging, more so than the loud voice, that throws me out of my dream and lands me with both feet firmly within the froes of reality - a reality, I might add, that has yet to find a place for me. The dream I was having, flimsy as it was, drifts away before I can keep anything of worth for my conscious mind. A sense of there being something more is all I’m left with. Taking a moment to gather my senses I lay still on the bed.

I feel bereft this morning, the same way I start almost every morning in this concrete hell. Staring at the ceiling with glazed eyes, I come to the conclusion that my world of mottled green and beige may well be all there is to this life. My moment to collect my thoughts is fleeting, and it doesn't take long before the knocking eventually stops and gives way to artificial yellow lighting flooding the room.

"What time is it?" I ask my intruder sullenly, because I swear I only fell asleep an hour ago.

“Time to get up”

Jim? “Jack?” My throat hurts, the name barely passes my lips, but I am ecstatic that I remembered it right.

“Hey, good morning,” Jack says much more softly.

I sit up slowly and find Jack standing just inside the doorway. Looking down at myself to ensure I'm decent I notice the bed’s mightily crumpled and I slept in my clothes again. Third night in a row - must stop doing it. There’s a prolonged silence while I busy myself with the arduous task of waking up and Jack, pensive look firmly in place, watches me carefully, like I’m a time bomb he’s positive will explode should he venture too close.

Blinking, I ask “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” he denies. Then very casually walks fully into my room, giving the hallway a quick check - probably nodding to my guard - before shutting the door behind him. “Figured I’d come and get you, we’re taking you out.”

“Out?”

“Yes out. As in outside, I know your memory’s fuzzy but you remember sky, trees, sunshine?” The forced smile not reaching his eyes tells me this was not his idea.

“Umm yeah…am I allowed out?” I’m just asking. Anytime I bring it up with someone that maybe, possibly - should the mood strike that I’d like to see past the beige interior so far referred to as home - they tend to change the subject.

“Just cleared it with the General, now all we need is you to visit with the Doc and we’re off.” Jack swishes his hand through the air, making a swift cutting motion. As if anything could possibly be that simple.

“Off where?”

He shrugs, doesn’t give me anymore of an answer. I let it go, too much and too early, it’s over my head in any case. Every morning like clockwork this person has been waking me up before I’m ready and usually it’s for nought. Why should I believe today to be any different?

“At the risk of sounding a little dense…” I hedge, not quite sure how to get my meaning across without seeming like an ungrateful snit.

“Just a little?”

“Why?”

He huffs and sits down next to me on the bed, “Because Dan-iel, I think it might help your current predicament if we can refresh your memory a little with some none Stargate related stuff.” His tone is on the patronising side, but I think that’s just how he talks to me. And no, I don’t know how I know that.

Without even looking I know I’m doing that glazed eye thing again, where my mind takes a tour into the depths of my memories - such as they are - while I stare off into space. It happens sometimes. I’d love to know where my mind thinks it’s going when it does that - be even better if it could bring something worth while back with it, but I guess something’s are just a little too much to ask for. Refocusing on Jack, I try and listen.

“- Contrary to popular opinion you did actually have some sort of life outside of this place.”

“I did.”

“Yes.”

“Okay.” Okay, so going out sounds good. I could learn a lot, might remember something. That’s good.

I’m scared shitless.

“Good, get dressed.” Jack smiles again, he seems happier. This gives me more resolve to keep up the calm act. If he thinks I’m the Daniel he remembers then he’ll want me to stay.

Hopefully my fear of the unknown doesn’t translate too well onto my face, wouldn’t want anyone thinking I can’t get with the programme. It’s important I not appear too over whelmed, scared or distressed while I’m here, lest they think I’m not up to par and toss me out. Yeah it seems unlikely, especially since most seem very happy to see me, but that doesn’t change the facts; I’ve lost my memory, what if I don’t want to go back to being who I was before, what if I can’t? I’ve seen the people here; all of them know what they’re doing, how to answer questions - know who they are. I mean I don’t need it spelled out that I don’t really fit in here, not like this at least. On Vis-u-Ban I couldn’t stop my nerves getting the better of me, my worries, my fear of the unknown was plain to see, but then no one claimed to know me, I was literary a blank slate. As soon as I stepped through that Stargate something clicked. I didn’t remember anything, yet at the same time I knew something. By the end of the day I knew I wanted to stay and I also knew I couldn’t do anything to screw it up.

Calm, cool and collect I shuffle out of bed while Jack heads for the door. I’m actually starting to feel excited, it’s hard to comprehend, the frill of knowing something I didn’t yesterday intermingled with the fear of finding out something I’ll wish I hadn’t…

“In what?” I blurt, once I open the dresser draw and discover only the green and blue overalls that I knew to be in there.

“Okay, proving your dense theory now.” Jack walks back over to me.

“The only clothes I’ve got are the ones Dr Fraiser gave me in the infirmary.” I explain, my voice getting higher in pitch. I’m shaking and my palms are sweaty. I try hard to get a grip, but then I guess telling yourself not to panic is a sure fire way of inducing panic, so I should probably shut myself up right now.

“Hey,” Jack’s brow furrows, no doubt trying to work out why I’m getting flustered over something as simple as clothes. “I brought some old stuff out of my closet, actually the same you borrowed last time you decided to come home.” Off my look he adds “- don’t ask.”

Last time I came home? I find a smile from somewhere, his use of the word home making me feel more like I belong, even if I don’t feel it myself.

Jack pulls open the bottom draw and presents me with said clothes. "By the way Doc’s name is Janet, you used to call her Janet.”

Before I can push it aside I grimace.

“What’s wrong?” Jack stands by the door, hands on hips, like I’m an immense strain on his mental well being.

“I don’t know.” I wish I did. “It’s just weird knowing that everybody knows me and I don’t know them. It feels weird to call someone by their familiar name when you’re not familiar with them.”

I immediately duck my head, hoping that made sense to him, since it didn't to me, and I really hope that it doesn’t make him uncomfortable around me again.

“You call me Jack.” He states, his tone almost daring me to tell him it means nothing.

I look up, “I guess that’s because I couldn’t imagine calling you anything else.” Oh my god, what did I just say? He’s wearing a strained thin-lipped expression, and doesn’t know where to look. “Weird huh?” I chuckle, trying to brush it aside.

It takes him a minute, but eventually the uncomfortable expression drops away and he smiles politely again. “Actually no, it makes perfect sense.”

“It does?”

“Trust me.”

…Okay.

*

Stepping out of my room I find Jack leaning against the opposite wall. Hope I haven’t kept him waiting.

“So, you ready for this?” He asks as we walk. Jack’s gone from pensive, to uncomfortable, to happy and back to overly polite while around me this morning.

“I don’t know.” I decide to be honest.

“That’s okay.” He smiles. A friendly, comforting, it really is okay smile. I must have done something right.

“Jack?”

“Yeah?”

“Do I have any family?” I wasn’t going to pester them, my original plan was to go with the flow and take in what I could, but obviously not being a bother isn’t in my nature.

“How’d you mean?” Jack frowns at my question.

“Well I know Teal’c said I was married, and I remember her - a little - but I don’t remember anyone else.”

Jack sighs, looks around for ease droppers then stops us in the middle of the hallway. “You don’t have any blood relatives - close by at any rate.”

Holding one hand on my elbow he gets me walking again. “What about parents?” I ask, can’t stop apparently.

“You remember them?”

“Not really, but I must have parents - right?” I must have somebody.

Jack turns away from me and says very quietly, “They died when you were little.”

“Oh.” Oh. “So I’m…?”

Jack stops again, this time looking me dead in the eye. “Look, I hate to break it to you Danny, but we are your family.”

“You?” Somewhere in the back of my shell shocked mind it registers the man just called me Danny.

“And Carter, Teal’c and General Hammond, even the Doc.”

I feel traitorous tears filling my eyes and desperately blink them back.

“Look Daniel, I know this is going to be hard, but believe me you’ve been through worse.”

“That’s not very comforting.” I laugh nervously, doing a lousy job of keeping my emotions at bay. I’m over whelmed.

“I know, but I’ll be here.” Jack wraps his arm around my back as we walk towards the elevators and all of a sudden I’m flooded with feeling and an even greater need to cry, but manage to hold everything back with superb effort. It’s as if this is the first close contact I’ve had in… well for as long as I remember actually, which admittedly isn’t very far.

“Thanks.” I say quickly, wiping my nose on the sleeve of the cream sweater he provided me.

“You’re welcome.”

I start to walk forward as soon as the doors open, but come to a sudden and unexpected halt. Jack slams into my back making a very vocal ‘ow’ and causing the people crowded in the elevator to give us some peculiar looks. He pushes me in without qualm and slaps his hand against the panel, covering it completely so I don’t see which buttons he presses. Paranoia runs rife amongst these halls, I don’t see the big deal, every corridor looks like another, and it’s not like I’m suddenly going to make a run for it is it? I’ve got nowhere to go. The bald guy, Jack calls him General Hammond, gave me a very heart warming speech about the ‘classified nature of the Stargate project’. It was… bizarre. I think they’re giving me more credit than is due, I understood the basics I think. It’s a big secret - tell no one. Done and done I said, and repeated my briefing room joke about not remembering anyone to tell. That hit the floor like a ton of bricks. At the time I thought they just had no sense of humour, but now I’m thinking maybe it’s me who they don’t expect jokes from…huh.

The elevator stops and, thankfully, a few people get off. I stand ridged in the corner hoping and praying no one will speak to me, I’d rather they not look either, but that’s probably asking too much. I guess if what Jack told me back on Vis-u-Ban is true, then it’s not every day they see someone return from the dead. Or maybe it is who knows? I can’t get my head around it to be frank and decided two days ago I’ve got enough to have a panic attack over without adding resurrection into the mix. So in a perfectly rational way I’ve chosen to avoid the subject entirely and live in denial for the time being.

“What are you thinking about?”

Jack’s question, disturbing the overall quite of our carriage, throws me into a frantic grasp for words. My understanding that if I’m to keep up the rouse of everything’s fine then I have to answer him, and quickly. “What?”

He leans close and whispers in my ear. “You seem a little tense.”

I flounder for a further minute. The remaining strangers exit at our next stop, leaving just the two of us. I don’t intend to, but I visibly melt against the wall. I can handle being alone with Jack, it feels a lot less demanding than when I’m out numbered by people who claim to know me and want to be my friend.

“Look Daniel, if you’re not ready-”

“I’m ready!”

“You’re eager, there’s not doubt.” He’s says condescendingly. I get the feeling that’s just the way it is between us.

“It’s a lot of people.” Is my attempt at an explanation - a very lame one. I don’t know how else to tell him that I’m terrified without actually using the words.

“What is? In the elevator?” Jack looks around at our empty car. “There’s even more people to contend with outside Daniel.” His lips thin and the lines over his forehead increase ten fold, he’s going to change his mind.

“Yes, but I’m sure most of those don’t know me.” I snap, wanting to yell ‘isn’t it obvious?’ at the top of my voice. “It’s nothing, honestly, I’ll be fine. I’m looking forward to it.” I’m desperate to get out of here.

He’s not convinced. Or rather he’s convinced this is a bad idea and cursing whoever convinced him.

“This is us.” Jack says grimly and walks out without waiting for me.

Right, Daniel, got to keep it together, otherwise you’re never going to be allowed out and Jack won’t take you again if you screw up.

We stroll through the corridors of what looks to be some other part of the mountain. It looks far less military up here. The walls are painted instead of plain concrete, there are floor titles under my feet and everything smells fresher. I’m trying with all my might to conjure up an image of the outside. A picture of what the place I call home looks like. I know it’s called Colorado Springs, sounds pleasant enough.

We pass through a door and walk into a parking garage. For some silly reason I’m surprised. Jack takes the lead, confidently strolling through rows upon rows of military vehicles. I wonder if I know how to drive? I bet asking Jack to let me drive his truck to find out would be crossing the line a - wait a minute…

“You drive a truck!” I announce with delight, and my knowledge doesn’t stop there… “It’s black with a Forget the Jones'; I keep up with the Simpson’s bumper sticker.”

Jack stops in the middle of the road and stares at me like I’ve lost not only my memory, but also my mind to-boot, he’s not smiling, but he’s not looking angry either. It’s the sad look.

I deflate completely, my triumph not feeling so great all of a sudden. Jack clearly wants Daniel back, and even though all of them are convinced I’m him, I’m not living up to their expectations - I’m not the same Daniel they remember.

“S-sorry,” I stutter, I never stuttered on Vis-u-ban, but I’ve been doing it a lot around here, I’m a lot more nervous here. “It… it just came to me.”

Maybe Jack’s right. I’m not ready yet, I should go back to my room where I’m safe - it’s safe, I mean it’s safe, because … Hell I can’t even face it myself can I? Oh god I don’t know how to do this!

“It’s alright okay, calm down.” I feel Jack’s hands covering mine, pulling them away from my face. “No one said this would be easy.”

I’m looking at him with not an inch between us, I don’t remember stopping and covering my eyes, but I’m sure it must look a right sight on the security cameras.

“Let’s not give the security guys anymore of a show and get to my truck.” Jack says really slowly, like one wrong word would set me off again. “It is black by the way.” He adds, practically pulling me along side him.

Jesus Christ, I remember he drives a truck and have a nervous breakdown, how the hell am I going to cope with the rest?

“You’ll be fine, Daniel.” Jack answers my question, though I’m puzzled how, since I never really asked it. I must just look a wreck.

We finally reach his truck, and the two people hovering next to it. “Hey guys, been waiting long?”

He’s brought back up. Makes sense, this way they can all talk around me and avoid any tense silences my amnesic brain causes. Peachy.

“Indeed we have O’Neill.”

“Sorry T, had to wait for Danny boy here to pick his outfit.”

That’s the second time Jack’s called me Danny in the space of an hour.

“Daniel Jackson, it is agreeable to see you again.” Teal’c nods at me and I instinctually greet him in the same way.

Sam’s up next, out of all three of my supposed friends’ she is the most pensive. Again, like with Jack, I feel a strong connection to this woman. I’ve already asked what we had between us. She said we were really good friends’, but I have this awful feeling I’ve done something to upset her and like I said to her before, I’m scared I don’t have it in me to make up for it.

My daydreaming ends with Sam shyly in front of me, her arms open wide. I, in what I’m coming realise is my usual stance, am just standing frozen with indecision. Luckily for me she’s the take-charge kind of girl and wraps me up in a hug. The mere feel of her hands is enough to make me relax. My cheek brushes hers and suddenly I know there is definitely nothing sexual between us, as if offering conformation her hand runs the length of my back in consistent strokes. I feel comforted, and more importantly I know I’m safe. Maybe this trip won’t be so scary after all.

“C’mon kids, Daniel’s on Curfew so let’s get going.” I hear someone, likely Jack open the truck, and get in, shutting one of the doors.

Sam lets me go with a smile, she looks a hell of lot happier than she did upon our arrival, one hug truly does speak a thousand words - wait a minute…

“What curfew?” Damn it Daniel, stop with the questions, you’re going to drive them nuts!

I climb into the back seat behind Jack and patiently wait for my answer.

“Jack,” I say after no one speaks up. I don’t know why I won’t listen to myself. My mind keeps telling me to shut the hell up, but my mouth has other plans.

Apparently Jack seems to agree with my mind and completely ignores my question. “So guys, Pikes Peak sound okay?”

“What’s that?” Sounds interesting, and I’m pleased to note the pinch of dread that was left in my stomach has sunk down far enough to allow me the small pleasure of enjoying myself. I’ve forgotten what it was I was just thinking about. “What’s there?”

“Well, lots of things, I guess we thought if you looked around something might seem familiar.” Sam said, sitting next to me.

“Where is it?”

“Daniel?” Jack barks all of a sudden, silencing me most efficiently. “Why don’t we wait till we get there, huh?”

He’s patronising me again, I feel my lip curl downward and work frantically to stop it, but Jack has eyes in the back of his head evidently because I can tell he’s laughing at me.

The truck pulls forward and I feel the butterflies swimming around inside me as we exit the parking garage into the bright outdoors, so I sit back to gaze silently out of the window. The sky is a perfect blue, white clouds mingling together, from the looks of the landscape it’s very similar to Vis-u-ban, where the not quite desert atmosphere presents hills for miles. Everyone remains quiet and Teal’c turns up the radio. That’s the funny thing about amnesia that I’ve come to notice. I know what a radio is as much as I’m pretty sure if I sat behind a wheel of a car I’d know how to drive it. I’m not going to gaze in wonderment at the street lighting either. What I’ve lost is not practical knowledge, its personal stuff, like what I’ve done, who I’ve been with - it’s my identity.

Teal’c asks Jack a question about the song playing, Jack doesn’t appear to care, but Sam pipes up with the answer. Soon enough there’s a whole conversation going on around me. To sum things up, so far I think I’m doing okay. My fear of the unknown has retreated far enough that I can no longer understand where it came from in the first place. My relationships with these guys outwardly seem to be improving. Teal’c is probably the most foreign to me, though I suspect there has always been a formality between us. He strikes me as that type of guy. Sam I’m now confident, is my confidant, I feel like, even now, I could tell her anything. I’m considering on letting her know just how not fine I really am. Then, of course, there’s Jack. He’s obtuse, condescending, and sarcastic… and caring, it may only be three words out of every conversation, but it’s there. In the corridor on our way out, he slipped into our conversation ‘I’ll be here’, three words that make the difference between indifference and concern. I’m still working on it with Jack, but I’ll take anything over the pained carefulness he’s been showing towards me since I walked into this life three days ago. Despite my occasional misgivings, the fact that I know next to nothing about these people, and my random panic attacks, I really like it here.

**

“Welcome to the Springs Danny my lad.” I told myself quite sternly that I wouldn’t get my hopes up on this trip.

Daniel bolts to attention in the back seat, staring out the window with a look of amazement twinned with clueless fascination. I don’t know what’s worse, Daniel in a panic because he remembered I drove a truck or Daniel staring at the back streets of Colorado Springs like it’s the Valley of the Kings.

In some ways I feel like I’ve got a different Danny back - not Daniel. My Daniel was the guy who knew what I was thinking before I even thought it. Daniel took pains to laugh at my jokes, even when he found them tiresome and was the perfect ying to my yang in social situations, always on hand with a witty remark to quell my annoyance with the most irritating of folk. Daniel never hid anything from me and was a lot of fun. This Daniel incarnation isn’t quite right. I don’t know how to deal with him when he’s all calm and taking all this in his stride when I know my Daniel would have been a visible wreck, relying on me to sort all this out with him. I guess that sound’s a little self righteous, I’m basically saying I’m angry because at probably one of the most scary moments of his life Daniel is doing alright and doesn’t appear to need me.

Well damn right I’m mad, I’m mad because over the past year I’ve gone to hell and back worrying over him, missing him and here he is in front of me, supposedly not giving a damn. Just like the snot nosed kid that wandered into Cheyenne Mountain all those years ago, on a tenuous invitation to solve an unsolvable mystery. He was obnoxious, single-minded and so unbelievably naive I remember wondering how the hell he made that far in life.

Now here he is, handling it all by his self, and doesn’t need my help. It’s like he’s never even met me. Says it all doesn’t it.

“O’Neill, if I may ask, what you are thinking?”

Teal’c’s an intuitive guy, only wish I could accept things as easily as he seems to. The guy is so laid back he’s practically horizontal half the time. I work to give that impression, but inside I’m so tensed up I can’t even bend to tie my shoelaces.

“I’m thinking that we need to stop for donuts.”

 

 

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Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This is a parody for entertainment purposes only. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted anywhere without the consent of the author.