Another untold tale from the diaries of Dr Daniel Jackson
All publicly recognisable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret Productions. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognised characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
This story contains major spoilers for Fire and Water.
Rated: PG - for language
My thanks to Ellen Caldera for her wonderful beta reading - to Dee Tervo for providing excellent help and information on the neuroscience - to Rowan for invaluable help regarding seizures and diving. Also huge thanks to everyone on the h/c list who encouraged me during the writing stage and to Val - I believe it was you correct me if I'm wrong - for posting the episode tag challenge for which this was written.
But enough waffling from me - on with the story...
Extract from Daniel's Diary
Our new destination is P3X886. Quite why we're going there I don't know. The place looks like a volcanic wilderness. However, as Jack likes to remind me, we're a field unit, we go where we're sent.
I'm trying to console myself with the thought that although there may not be anything of archaeological interest on the planet at least we can't get into a whole lot of trouble...
They had him back! Jack drew in a long breath and unsuccessfully attempted to stifle the loopy grin he knew he wore. Realising it was impossible he gave in to the urge to let his teeth see the world for once. So he was wearing his emotions plastered all over his face like some raw recruit. So what? Why not just admit it? He had been ecstatic to see Daniel Jackson stumble out of that alien sea looking like an extra from a low budget adventure movie. There weren't many things worth smiling about at the SGC, but getting Daniel back was definitely one of them.
Of course, it wasn't the first time Jack had thought the archaeologist was dead. A little over a year ago Ra had murdered Daniel right in front of his eyes, but in all the madness on Abydos, Daniel had been alive and kicking again before Jack had really had a chance to accept he was gone. Or even to acknowledge he gave a damn one way or the other. This time though, thanks to Nem's little mind tricks, he'd had plenty of time to get used to the idea - or rather not get used to. Hell, he'd even participated in a full military honours memorial service - said some mighty fine words too. Although at least that memory was real. Not like the one of Daniel's agonised screaming as he burned to death - that particular engram was definitely rated high on the list of things Jack didn't want to ever see again.
He pushed the thoughts aside, concentrating once more on the fact Daniel Jackson - the real, living, breathing, pain in the ass, dead-one-minute, alive-the-next Daniel Jackson - was safe and sound in the infirmary. Well, definitely safe - the sound bit hadn't yet been proved conclusively. Jack watched as Janet Frasier rigged up yet another machine beside Daniel, who protested once again all he needed was a decent night's sleep.
Janet's retort widened the smile on Jack's face. "Daniel, you're *always* in need of sleep." She placed a firm hand on Daniel's bare chest, preventing him from escaping the exam bed. "Just one more test. Then you can go."
"Promise?" Daniel demanded, his tone suspicious.
"Promise." As Frasier picked up a contact pad and moved to place it on Daniel's temple, the archaeologist flinched. "Something wrong?" she asked casually.
"No!" The response was too quick. Daniel gave Janet a fleeting smile. "Sorry. It's just... Your hands are cold."
Jack winced as Janet let the comment pass while expertly taping the pad into place. If Daniel thought he was going to get away with that...
Sure enough, although Janet's tone was light and conversational her next question cut straight to the issue. "So... when you said Nem's mind device was 'unpleasant', I take it you meant painfully unpleasant."
Daniel had the grace to look abashed, but his answer was guarded. "How many extra tests will it cost me to say yes to that?"
Janet fixed him with a stern look. "I have enough trouble from hard-assed marines pretending they're OK and then turning up three days later with fever from some infection. I thought you'd have more sense, Dr Jackson."
This time Daniel's expression was one of sincere apology. "Sorry."
"So..." Janet looked at him from under her fringe of dark hair, her brown eyes penetrating. "It was painful."
"How painful? Say, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being you passed out."
Daniel considered for a moment, grimacing as he replied. "'Bout a nine." He waited until Janet had turned to adjust the machine by his side before adding quietly, "...and three-quarters."
In response, Janet barked a barrage of orders at the nurses who were hovering on various poor excuses at the far end of the infirmary. Daniel groaned and slumped dejectedly back on to the bed as they scurried off, their eager anticipation at running more tests on him obvious.
With a wry smile, Jack moved close enough to pat his shoulder sympathetically. "Guess I'll check back on you in about three hours."
Without turning from her task, Janet interjected. "Make that four, Colonel. I've just taken delivery of a brand new PET scanner. I intend to put it to good use." Still without looking she raised her hand in Daniel's direction. "And don't pull that face, Dr Jackson."
Glaring at her white-coated back, Daniel failed to wipe the scowl off his face. Jack barely managed to contain his amusement, aware the petty bickering between the two doctors was warming the icy chill that had pervaded his own body over the past few days. He mouthed the word 'later' to Daniel and headed towards the infirmary door. As he stepped into the corridor he heard Daniel's voice peevishly call after him. "I just need some sleep!"
"Rise and shine, Danny-boy!" Jack placed a steaming mug of freshly brewed coffee on the bedside table of his spare room before turning to the window and pulling the blinds open with a deliberate flourish. He smiled wickedly as the dazzling brightness of the early afternoon sun streamed into the room and had the desired effect of eliciting a muffled groan from the figure curled beneath the quilt on the bed.
"Come on, Daniel!" Jack berated cheerfully. "You've slept most of the day away. And I promised Frasier I'd get you back to her before the end of her shift."
The quilt moved far enough from the pillow to reveal a pair of sleep-heavy blue eyes beneath a tangled mop of light brown hair.
"You must be hungry," Jack commented conversationally, assuming Daniel's silence was a by-product of his brain still being in never-never land. "You barely touched your dinner last night. Why don't you hit the shower while I fix some lunch?" He glanced at his watch. "I guess we can still call it lunch."
He moved towards the door. "By the way, I can lend you a hat and a jacket to go with the Indiana Jones stubble if you like or you can make use of my razor..." The words died on his lips as he registered the fearful expression on Daniel's face. "Daniel? What's wrong?"
Sitting upright now, Daniel glanced nervously around the room before looking back at him. "Where am I?"
Jack raised an eyebrow, before replying slowly, "My spare room. You came back with me last night. Remember? We'd closed up your apartment."
He shoved the uneasy feeling tickling between his shoulder blades away. A little disorientation was to be expected. Daniel had been through a tough few days.
The information didn't seem to register with Daniel, however. He blinked at Jack, and twisted his fingers anxiously into the edge of the quilt, the tips turning white as the blood flow was cut off. He did another sweep of the room, his gaze ending back on Jack's face, the fear only too palpable now. "And who the hell are you?"
The tickle turned into a full-blown chill down the spine as Jack tried to convince himself Daniel was yanking his chain. Trying to make his tone light, he forced himself to smile. "That's a joke, right?"
The frightened blue eyes didn't so much as blink. Damn it. Daniel wasn't that good an actor. OK. It wasn't a joke. Don't panic. Just gently jog his memory. Jack caught Daniel's gaze as the scientist gave him a once over. He could almost see the list forming in Daniel's mind as his gaze swept downward. Black sweatshirt. Fatigue pants. Combat boots - much too shiny to be somebody simply dressing cos they like the style.
"You're in the army right?"
From Daniel's tone Jack got the distinct impression that piece of knowledge wasn't particularly welcome. He ran a hand through his hair. "Air force actually. Don't you remember anything?"
Daniel pressed himself into the headrest of the bed as though trying to put as much distance between himself and Jack as possible. "W...What do you want with me?"
"What do I... want?" Jack shook his head. This was too bizarre. Janet had told him Daniel was fine - exhausted yes, in need of a decent meal, maybe, but otherwise fine. Hastily trying to gather his thoughts and settle on a plan of action, he waved towards the table. "Coffee's going cold."
The gaze didn't budge from Jack's face.
"I tell you what," Jack began slowly - you tell me what you remember. Then I'll tell you what I remember. Kinda like comparing notes. Maybe then we can fill in the blanks." Trying to put Daniel at ease, he pointed at the armchair behind the door. "Mind if I sit down?"
"OK." Daniel's reply was uncertain, and he watched like a hawk as Jack settled into the seat.
"So," Jack breathed the word out slowly. "What do you remember doing last?"
Daniel scrunched up his face as he concentrated. "I was... I was in the library."
"Uh-huh," Jack said, trying to sound encouraging. "At the SGC, right?"
"No." Daniel frowned. "At the campus."
"The UCLA campus. Where I'm studying."
"Where you're studying." Jack grimaced wondering if he sounded as much like a parrot as he felt he did.
Daniel however choose this moment to display his characteristic impatience with Jack. "Yes, where I'm studying. That is what university students do."
"Whoa!" Jack held up a finger, silencing Daniel. Well at least that still worked. But surely Daniel didn't think... Oh my God! He took a deep breath and tried to sound casual. "Daniel, what year is it?"
Daniel looked at him as though he'd gone crazy before calmly replying, "1985."
"1985!" Jack choked back a snort of disbelief at the reply.
With a calculating look, Daniel threw the question back at him. "What year do you think it is?"
Jack hesitated for a moment, before deciding to tell the truth. A short sharp shock was probably all Daniel needed to jerk back him into the present. "1998. It's August 20, 1998. I can prove it." He was out of his seat in an instant. "If it's 1985, you'd be... what? Twenty years old?"
"Nineteen actually," Daniel replied. He flinched as Jack stepped closer.
"It's OK. I just want the mirror." Jack scooped up the small shaving mirror from the dresser, and held it out to Daniel. "Take a look. Tell me that's how you looked at nineteen."
Taking the mirror Daniel glanced at his reflection. A look of horror transformed his features. "Oh my God! What've you done to me?" He threw the mirror to the floor. "What the hell's going on?" he demanded. "Did you kidnap me or something? I've heard about these weird government programmes..."
"No!" Jack protested, suddenly realising the mirror had been a really bad idea. "We work together. Look something happened to you on the last planet we visited. There was this big fish guy who stuck you with a mind probe."
"What!" Clad in a pair of boxers, Daniel scrambled from the bed and backed towards the adjoining bathroom. "What do you mean the last planet we visited?"
"Oh God!" Jack drew in a deep breath. "I must sound like I'm nuts."
"You are nuts!" Daniel yelled. Spotting his pants on the floor he lunged for them, one hand held up to ward Jack off as though fearing the older man would make a grab for him.
Jack held his hands up in surrender. "Daniel. I'm not the enemy here. I'm your friend."
"Friend? You just said we worked together."
"We can be friends and work together can't we? The fact is, I'm your boss."
"Right!" Daniel spat the word as he struggled into his clothes. "I'm in the military too I suppose."
"Yes! Well kind of. Look if I can just get you back to Doctor Fraiser..."
Daniel backed away again. "What - so she can carry on doing whatever it is you're doing to me?"
Jack stepped forward as Daniel reached behind himself and grasped the bathroom door handle.
Too late. In one swift movement Daniel was on the other side of the door, the sound of the bolt slamming home vibrating through the wood.
Damn! Jack stood outside the door and cursed himself. Nicely handled, O'Neill. Scare the guy half-to-death and convince him you're totally nuts. He tapped politely on the wood. "Daniel. Let me explain. I'm telling you the truth. You and I do work together." He grimaced as he tried to pick his words carefully. "On our last... job, things went a bit wrong. This... errr... guy messed with your head. That has to be why you're confused. Why you can't remember. Daniel? Are you listening to me?"
Oh shit! Suddenly Jack recalled the bathroom had a large outside window.
"Daniel! Daniel answer me!"
No response. Without a second thought Jack charged the door, almost knocking it off its hinges with the force of his rush. Stumbling into the small room his skin registered the fresh air from the open window before he even saw it.
Daniel was gone.
"Yes General. Thank you, Sir." Jack clicked off his mobile phone and turned to face the occupants of his living room. Or rather what had been his living room an hour earlier. With the arrival of Carter, Teal'c and Janet Frasier, the room had quickly been transformed from the pristine sanctuary of a divorced air force officer into the command centre of a search and rescue mission.
"Sir?" Sam Carter looked towards her commanding office with a hopeful expression.
"The local authorities and the Colorado State Police have been given Daniel's description. Hammond has also mobilised four SGC units."
"Good!" Sam's enthusiastic tone earned her a raised eyebrow from Jack. She returned his gaze unabashed. "Well, Sir. Just how far can he get?" She nodded towards Daniel's jacket which was still draped over the arm of the chair where he'd tossed it the previous evening. "Without his wallet - he has no credit cards, no money, no ID. That rules out airplanes, trains, buses..."
Janet moved towards Sam, nodding in agreement. "And you said when he left here he was only wearing pants. A six-foot-tall, half-naked archaeologist should be fairly easy to spot."
"It's a warm day," Jack retorted. "A lot of people are shirtless."
Teal'c cocked his head to one side. "Not many humans go barefoot, O'Neill. However, Daniel Jackson is resourceful. I am sure he will soon find suitable attire, with or without money."
Jack crossed to his coffee table, which was now strewn with maps, his sarcastic reply covering his concern for the missing archaeologist. "Thank you for the helpful reminder, Teal'c. The question is can we find Daniel before the cops. The sooner we get to him, the sooner we can sort this mess."
Janet Frasier peered at the nearest map, a frown creased between her eyebrows. "Colonel, you said Daniel was confused about the date?"
Jack nodded. "He thinks he's a nineteen-year-old student. Now why do I not find that a comforting thought?"
"Student," Sam repeated thoughtfully. "Then chances are he'll head straight for UCLA. With no family to go to, and no friends here..."
"Of course!" Jack agreed, snatching up the map of the USA and hurriedly spread it out. "Students hitchhike, right?" He glanced up at Sam who nodded. "So he'll most likely head for the interstate. Right here!" He stabbed at the map, then in two strides crossed the room and picked up his car keys. "Let's go kids."
"Wait!" Sam called. "I'll take my car too. Daniel may have seen your jeep in the drive."
"And?" Jack asked impatiently.
"So you aren't exactly his favourite person at the moment, Colonel. And you're in uniform. I'm not. If he's as jumpy as you say..."
Jack pulled a face at the memory of Daniel's frightened expression right before he vanished behind the bathroom door. "Good point. Teal'c, you're with me."
"And I'm with Sam," Janet finished for him.
"Right." Jack's gaze strayed to the medical bag Janet had picked up.
"He's going to be fine, Colonel," Janet said determinedly.
With a tight-lipped nod, Jack turned and headed out the door, biting back the urge to remind Janet she'd told him that the previous evening.
John Eastwood swore to himself as his CB radio crackled uselessly in the cab of his truck. It was going to be a long journey west without anyone to talk to. He had just turned onto the interstate when he spotted a shabbily dressed man attempting to thumb a lift some way off in the distance.
For a good 200 yards or so he wrestled with the idea, then abruptly he pulled his truck to a halt. As the man raced towards him, John leaned towards the window, preparing to scrutinise his potential passenger. He was choosy about who he picked up, CB radio or not.
To his left a state police car slowed down as it passed by, the uniformed officer in the passenger seat giving the truck his full attention before his partner hit the gas. Eastwood gave the car a sharp look before turning an equally appraising gaze on the man on the shoulder.
"You ain't high or drunk are you?" he demanded, taking in the clear blue eyes beneath the untidy mess of hair.
"No, Sir!" The reply was crisp, the voice intelligent.
"Where you heading?"
"California, Sir. Got to get back to my college."
John blinked with surprise, but accepted the explanation. Must be one of those mature students he figured. "Get on in, then. I can take you as far as Salt Lake."
He waited as the stranger clambered up beside him, then slammed the truck into gear and pulled back into the traffic. "So you got a name?"
The man hesitated for a moment before replying. "Daniel. Daniel Jackson."
"Nice to meet you, Daniel Jackson. I'm John." He settled himself into his seat, preparing for a long conversation. "So... you get them clothes out of a Goodwill bin or what?"
Daniel gave an embarrassed smile. "How did you guess?"
Four hours later, Daniel was wishing he'd snatched some Tylenol from the bathroom before leaping through the window. His temples were throbbing in harmony with the heavy diesel engine and waves of dizziness kept catching at him whenever he turned his head. He'd quickly realised the price for the ride was to entertain John, but his skills as a storyteller were being hard-pressed by the confusion engulfing him. Everything around him seemed so familiar and yet, so alien. Models of cars he'd never seen before whizzed past. Adverts for products he'd never heard of leapt garishly out at him from billboards. It was almost as though he'd been transported...
No! Don't go there! This wasn't happening to him. Somehow, he managed to keep the conversation with John ticking along, while his mind churned over and over the events of the morning. Waking in an unfamiliar room with a stranger looking down at him. God! If he'd been drunk the night before and the stranger a female it just might have made sense. Totally out of character, but at least within the bounds of possibility. But this...
Think Daniel! There had to be another reason for why he was half way across the country. Perhaps he'd been attending a short course at the University of Colorado. A weekend seminar maybe. He could've been mugged. Banged his head. Or been hit. No. That didn't explain the man in the air force uniform telling him it was 1998. What had he said? Something about seeing a doctor. A cold chill shuddered through Daniel, unwelcome memories of his grandfather assailing him. What if he was losing his mind? What if it really was 1998 and he...
Daniel's head jerked up as John began to pull off the road into the parking lot of a shabby-looking diner. He didn't want to stop. He wanted to get to UCLA as fast as possible. Everything would be OK once he was there. He didn't know why, but he was absolutely sure of it.
Rolling the truck into a vacant parking space, John killed the engine. "Lunch!" he said, the anticipation of food clearly welcome. He jumped from the truck and walked round to Daniel's door. "You coming?"
Not knowing what else to do, Daniel opened the door and climbed out. As his feet touched solid ground, a wave of dizziness crashed over him. With a barely disguised groan of distress, he lurched for the support of the truck door.
"Woah there!" John's muscular right arm was under Daniel's elbow, steadying him. The trucker gave him a penetrating look. "When did you last eat?"
"I..." Daniel swallowed hard as the parking lot swam in and out of focus. "I... don't remember," he replied truthfully.
"Too damn long ago by the looks of it," John retorted with rough compassion. "And I suppose you're broke."
Daniel gave a weak laugh. "Found a dime on the sidewalk just before I reached the interstate."
"Heaven save me from waifs and strays," John said, shrugging good-naturedly up at the sky. "Come on then. I guess lunch is on me."
Daniel hesitated for a moment as John strode towards the diner. Taking a deep breath, he forced his shaky legs to propel him in the wake of the trucker, the lure of food winning over his urge to flee west as fast as possible.
Carter pulled her car into the space next to Jack's jeep and studied the array of trucks parked outside the diner. Sure enough, the one the state police had told them about was parked off to the right.
Turning off the engine, she and Janet quickly joined O'Neill and Teal'c who were both standing in the lot scrutinising the building up ahead.
"Now what, Sir?" she asked.
Jack grimaced thoughtfully for a moment. "Now Captain, you go inside, persuade Daniel to leave with you, and then - if we have to - we grab him."
Sam's glanced towards O'Neill in surprise. "Me? How?"
"You because, as you already pointed out, you're the only one of us not in uniform." Jack said slowly. "As for how? He's hitchhiking isn't he? Offer him a ride. If you can get him into your car..."
"He has a ride," Sam pointed out, waving her hand towards the truck.
Jack glanced across the parking lot, and then back at Sam, looking her up and down appraisingly. "Then offer him a different kind of ride."
"What!" Sam took a step backwards.
"He thinks he's nineteen, Carter!" Jack retorted totally unabashed. "Offer him sex and he'll follow you anywhere."
For an instant Sam was lost for words. She looked away, feeling the heat rise in her face as she briefly imagined the scene. Oh boy! Drawing in a deep breath, she turned back to O'Neill. "Is that an order, Sir? Only this is Daniel we're talking about!"
"True! Maybe you could suggest he take a look at your hieroglyphic etchings!" O'Neill glanced at Teal'c who merely raised his eyebrows. "Oh come on! I was nineteen once. I know what it's..." As Sam fixed him with an uncomfortable look, Jack waved his hands in exasperation. "If you've got a better idea I'm listening!"
"Janet?" Sam asked desperately.
"The colonel has a point," Janet conceded. "I don't think Daniel's going to come with us willingly. From what Colonel O'Neill described earlier, he's showing signs of paranoia. An appeal to his base instincts..."
"Teal'c?" Sam cut across Janet.
"I concur with O'Neill, Captain Carter. The teenagers of your world do appear to be obsessed with sexual experience. And I have observed Daniel Jackson studying the legs of..."
"Thank you, Teal'c!" Jack interrupted. "I think you've made your point. Captain?"
Sam held her hands to her face for a moment, clearly trying to compose another argument. "Sir, if Daniel really thinks he's nineteen, he's hardly likely to be attracted to someone of my age."
"Actually Carter, that's where you're wrong. I happen to know Daniel used to have this idea older women were able to..."
Teal'c's voice cut across Jack's. "Colonel O'Neill. I think you've already made your point."
Jack opened his mouth to continue, but thought better of it. "Carter. All we're asking is that you go in there and persuade Daniel to come outside. You can do that, can't you?"
Sam considered for a moment. "Yes. But let me just talk to him. No charades or games. Daniel's always had an instinct for honesty. I'm sure I can get through to him."
Jack looked doubtful. "He wasn't all that interested in listening to me."
"You'd just shoved a mirror in his face!"
"OK! OK! Try it your way." Jack said. "Janet, go in after her and see if you can distract the trucker. Just - try and keep out of Daniel's line of sight in that uniform." As Janet raised her eyebrows, Jack sighed. Leaning into his Jeep he picked up a map and handed it to her. "Use this. Tell him you're lost or something."
Sam opened the diner door, gave the occupants a quick once over, and then moved to the counter to order coffee. Moments later, Janet Frasier came through the doorway, her untucked blouse open to a point that went beyond decent and her navy blue skirt carefully folded over at the waist so it now stopped at a distinctly non-regulation length. Sam glanced up and barely managed to stop herself smiling. With her hair mussed and a coat of bright red lipstick, Janet had done a good job of disguising her military clothing.
As Janet positioned herself at a table close to the restrooms, both women turned their attention to their prey. Daniel Jackson and the trucker were seated at a window table, apparently engrossed in eating. For several long minutes, Sam thought she wasn't going to get a chance to act as the two men ate in companionable silence. Finally though, the trucker pushed his plate to one side, tossed his napkin down and headed to the restroom. Instantly Sam got up and headed towards Daniel.
"Hi," she said, drawing level with his table and fixing him with her warmest smile. "Could I talk to you for a couple of moments."
Daniel eyed her suspiciously, swallowing his mouthful of food. "I guess. Do I know you?"
Sam pursed her lips in a wry smile. "That's what I want to talk about. May I?" She indicated the seat opposite Daniel, sliding into it before he could object. "I'm Sam." She held out her hand to him.
Both surprised and embarrassed, Daniel hastily wiped his greasy fingers on his napkin and shook her hand. "Daniel," he responded with automatic politeness.
"Yes I know," Sam said, trying to sound casual.
"You do?" The suspicion was back in Daniel's tone.
Sam nodded. "Don't you recognise me at all? Not even a little. We know each other really well."
He studied her face closely, then shook his head, wincing as he did so.
Sam picked up on the action immediately. "Headache?" He didn't deny it, merely giving her a look that said 'Ya think?' as loudly as if O'Neill had been in the room. The expression encouraged Sam - if Jack's influence was that clear, the real Daniel - the 1998 Daniel - had to still be in there somewhere.
She ploughed on. "Look," I know things have been a bit weird for you, and you're probably feeling scared and confused but you have to trust me. Something happened to you a couple of days that messed with your memory. That's probably why you've got a headache."
"Are you saying I'm suffering from amnesia?" Daniel asked.
"Yes." Over Daniel's shoulder Sam spotted Janet intercept the trucker as he left the washroom.
"I don't know," Daniel said slowly, closing his eyes and subconsciously massaging his right temple. "Everything's so... I... I'm just... I just want to get home." He opened his eyes again. "Do you really know me?"
The confusion and pain on his face tore into Sam. "Think, Daniel," she said gently. "Follow the logic through. If what you remember doesn't tie with what you're seeing..." She hesitated as the colour drained from Daniel face. Damn. He looked like he was about the throw up.
Sure enough Daniel rose abruptly to his feet. "I think I need the bathroom."
Sam was too slow. As Daniel turned he spotted Janet talking to the trucker. Anxiety raced across his face, chasing away the nausea. "What's she doing?"
"Who?" Sam asked innocently.
"That woman. The one in blue." Daniel's eyes narrowed. Sam could almost see the working of his mind as his gaze rested on the distinctive colour of Janet's clothes; there was little doubt he was making unpleasant connections to his earlier conversation with O'Neill. He turned back to Sam. "What's going on?"
"Daniel, I just want to help you."
The moment of trust was gone. "I don't want your help!"
Without thinking, Sam rose and leaned towards him, her hand reaching for his arm. It was a mistake, and she knew it immediately. The familiar gesture of support Daniel would've normally accepted, even welcomed from her, caused open fear to flash into his eyes.
He tried to back away, only to be hampered by his chair. "Don't!" he yelled. As every eye in the diner turned towards him, the fear tipped into full-blown panic. He snatched up his plate from the table, and hurled it at Sam, spattering her with the remains of ketchup and baked beans.
She didn't flinch, merely holding out her hands placatingly. "Daniel, please."
"Leave me alone!" He grabbed his dinner knife, holding the blunt steel up with a trembling hand.
Sam shook her head at the pathetic attempt at machoism, realising she'd lost him. "Guess it's too late to ask you to sleep with me," she muttered quietly.
Oblivious to the comment, Daniel was finally free of the table and chair. Backing towards the door, he glanced desperately towards John, the anguished appeal in his eyes tearing into Sam. Then with the look of a hunted animal he threw the knife at Sam's feet and made a break for it.
Damn it! I told her it wouldn't work, Jack thought as he spotted Daniel leaving the diner like he had the hounds of hell on his tail.
Spinning round, he called to Teal'c, who had positioned himself near the truck. "Teal'c! Stop him!"
Instantly Teal'c was moving, his muscular legs quickly closing ground on Daniel.
Heading after the pair, Jack watched Daniel try to zig-zag out of Teal'c's path, but he was no match for an ex-first prime. With a leap that must've covered fifteen feet, Teal'c wrapped himself around Daniel's ankles, bringing the smaller man crashing to the ground. By the time Jack reached them, Daniel was on his feet again, his arms pinned firmly behind his back by Teal'c powerful hands. A torrent of foul language escaped Daniel's mouth as he struggled futilely for his freedom.
"Daniel! Daniel!" Jack reprimanded. "Not been cutting your Anglo-Saxon classes I see."
"What the hell do you want?" Daniel demanded, his bravado barely managing to mask his fear.
"We're trying to help you," Jack replied wearily, acknowledging the arrival of Sam and Janet with a nod of the head. "So if you'll just quit struggling and come back to the SGC with us..."
Daniel shot Sam a filthy look. "No!" He jerked again, trying to kick Teal'c's shins.
"Sir!" Sam nodded towards the diner where a group of truckers were gathering in the doorway, clearly uneasy about what they were witnessing.
Seeing where Sam's gaze went, Daniel immediately opened his mouth. "John!" he screamed at the top of his lungs. "Help! They're..."
A large black hand clamped over Daniel's mouth. "Daniel Jackson. You will allow us to help you."
Aware of the potential danger of the gathering crowd, Jack stepped close to the squirming archaeologist, his voice serious. "Listen to me Daniel. Either you come willing or Janet here will stick you with one of her honking big needles. Understand?"
For a moment, blue eyes glared at brown. "Mmmph!" Daniel tried to speak.
"Teal'c." Jack's order needed no explanation.
As Teal'c removed his hand from Daniel's mouth, the archaeologist drew back his head and spat into Jack's face. "Go to hell!"
For an instant Jack's hands balled into fists, then with controlled effort, he turned to one side, wiping the spit from his cheek. "Janet!"
Wordlessly Janet pulled a hypodermic from her pocket. Removing the cap, she flicked at the barrel and moved towards Daniel.
Using Teal'c's grip on him as leverage, Daniel kicked out at her, only to discover the hypodermic had embedded firmly in his upper thigh. "Bitch!" he screamed, as Janet pressed the plunger home.
"Forgetting not to mess with me is a big mistake, Doctor Jackson," Janet said coolly, as she withdrew the needle.
Daniel managed five more expletives before his eyelids fluttered. "No!" he moaned, and then abruptly went limp.
"Let's get out of here," Jack said, turning towards the diner. "Carter, your car's nearest. Take Daniel and Teal'c. Janet, you're..."
"No!" Janet's alarmed cry, made him spin back.
"What the hell!" He was just in time to see a very conscious Daniel headbutt Teal'c. As the Jaffa loosened his grip in response to the pain, Daniel twisted to the right, and sprinted away.
"Damn it!" Jack swore, as both all four of them set off in pursuit. "Why the hell is he able to run?"
"I don't know, Colonel!" Janet shot back.
This time it was Jack's tackle that brought Daniel down. As they hit the ground, Jack quickly wrapped himself around the flailing body, flipping Daniel over onto his back, and pinning him to the ground with his knees on his upper arms.
"Bastard! You're hurting me!" Daniel screamed.
"Sir! We really have to get out of here!" Carter said, arriving at Jack's side.
Jack glanced up, his gaze following Carter's straight to the crowd of truckers. He could see in an instant her assessment was right. A few more minutes and they were going to have belligerent company.
Jack turned his attention back to Daniel. From the swearing and struggling, it was clear there was going to be no co-operation from that source. "Get your car, Carter. Now!"
With a sick feeling, Jack drew back his fist. "Sorry, Daniel," he whispered, and punched the scientist into oblivion.
Following Janet's telephone call that Daniel was finally awake and allowed visitors, Jack hurried from his office to the infirmary. Knowing Daniel was conscious was a relief, but the rest of Janet's news was less encouraging. On waking, Daniel had promptly vomited up the greasy diner meal. In Jack's opinion that was no surprise considering the quality of the food. Janet however had thrown a list of possible causes at him, including several life threatening ones. With the added complication of headaches and dizziness, Daniel was no doubt in for a long batch of tests.
Jack had known Janet for long enough to know that beneath the professional drive to ensure that nothing slipped by her, there was also a personal concern for Daniel. As he peered through the infirmary doorway, he could see she had good reason. Even from this distance, Daniel looked unwell - his skin too pale, cheeks too hollow, facial muscles tightened in a way that signalled nagging pain.
He pushed open the door, fixing what he hoped was a friendly expression on his face, and headed towards his troubled team-mate.
"Hi!" he greeted, picking up Daniel's chart from the end of the bed and peering at it as though Janet's scrawl made perfect sense. He set them back in place and met the archaeologist's sour look with a smile. "So.. how you doing?"
Daniel tilted his head upwards revealing the multi-coloured bruise on his jawline. "I believe I have you to thank for this."
"Ahhh!" Jack shifted his weight uncomfortably. "Sorry. But you didn't give me a whole lot of choice." As Daniel gave him an unforgiving glare, Jack spotted Fraiser. "Janet!" he called, the relief all too apparent in his voice. "How's he doing?"
"Presumably you mean apart from the total lack of co-operation..." Janet began coolly.
"Co-operation!" Daniel spat the word from the bed, clearly not too ill to be angry. "You people kidnap me, knock me out, tie me up and then expect co-operation." He rattled the handcuff securing his right wrist to the bed.
Jack's eyes widened. "Is that really necessary, Janet?"
The doctor gave him a cold look, and then transferred her gaze to Daniel. "He's lucky I haven't got him in four-point restraints and gagged for good measure. It appears Dr Jackson has been able to swear in several languages from quite a young age."
Jack shook his head, and then suddenly brightened. "Listen, I've got an idea. Something that just might persuade our bad-tempered teenager here to behave. Is he well enough to leave the infirmary?"
Janet considered for a moment, her face doubtful. "Well I suppose as long as he's carefully monitored. The tests haven't shown anything serious so far. What've you got in mind?"
"Oh," Jack said. "I figured I might give Danny-boy here the grand tour."
"Excellent idea. The peace and quiet would be most welcome." Janet moved to her desk and retrieved a small metal key. Walking back to Daniel, she unlocked the bracelet that was attached to the bed rail, and with one swift movement clicked it securely around his left wrist.
The protest came in stereo, but Janet merely fixed both men with a look that silenced any argument about her action. Slipping the key into the pocket of her white coat, she picked up Daniel's chart and scribbled on his notes. "You can have him for one hour, Colonel. Then I want him back here - preferably with a civil tongue in his head."
"Only if you stop sticking needles in me," Daniel muttered sullenly.
"After you, Daniel," Jack said with mock politeness, indicating the infirmary door.
As Daniel climbed out of the bed, Jack moved around Janet, accidentally brushing against her as he did so. "Sorry!" he said quickly.
He matched his stride to Daniel, catching the scientist by the elbow as though he needed steering to the door. His gaze on Daniel's cuffed wrists, he couldn't resist asking "Exactly what did you do to tick her off so bad?"
Daniel merely blinked at him, his face a picture of innocence. "I've no idea," he said. "If you ask me the woman's totally nuts." He followed Jack down the corridor, before adding quietly. "Great butt though."
Jack almost stopped in mid-stride at the comment. Raising his eyebrows he reminded himself that he was dealing with a nineteen-year-old. However he couldn't resist glancing over his shoulder at Janet. A very observant nineteen-year-old, he decided with a smirk.
"And this is your own private sanctuary," Jack said, pausing outside a plain wooden door bearing a plastic plaque inscribed 'Dr Daniel Jackson'.
Daniel peered at the sign. "I really work here?"
"Well if you call staring at rocks all day work," Jack retorted.
"My own office! Cool!"
"Don't get too excited," Jack said. "It's not exactly the Oval Office." He pushed the door open and stood aside to let Daniel enter.
"Wow!" Daniel's eyes widened as he saw the artefact-stuffed room. Without asking for permission, he headed straight to the desk and picked up a small statuette, peering at it intently. He swivelled round to face Jack. "This is so cool! Do you know what this is?"
"Nope!" Jack said. "Ahhh! Ahhh!" He raised a finger before Daniel could let loose the torrent of words that were clearly on the verge of exploding. "And I don't want to know."
"Oh! Right." Daniel put the figure down, and moved to the wall cabinet. "This is incredible. And all this stuff... This is what I do all day? I study this stuff."
"Yeah, kind of." Jack said.
"And you pay me?"
"Well not me personally," Jack said with a smile.
"How much what?"
"Do you pay me?"
Jack shrugged. "Check in that drawer on the left there. I think that's where you throw your payslips."
Daniel pulled open the drawer, rummaged for a moment and then pulled out a piece of very thin white paper. He peered at it for a moment, his jaw open. "Oh my god!" he said slowly, clearly impressed by what he was reading. "You pay me this much! To do this!"
"Yeah! It amazes me too," Jack said. Stuffing the paper back in the drawer, Daniel's attention was caught by a particularly large horn-shaped artefact. Picking it up awkwardly he tried to turn it over, the cuffs hampering his movements.
Watching him struggle, Jack beckoned him over
Still clutching the artefact Daniel warily moved towards Jack. As the colonel produced a key from his pocket and released the handcuffs, a smile cut Daniel's face.
"Thanks!" he said, the gratitude genuine.
"You're welcome," Jack said, wondering just how Janet would make him pay for picking her pocket. He tipped a large pile of manila folders off a spare chair, and sat back and watched as Daniel scooted from one thing to another, tripping over his words in his excitement. Clearly the idea of being a 35-year-old double PhD was beginning to appeal, especially since the job came with a 'cool' office. For a linguist, Daniel seemed to have a very limited set of adjectives at his disposal.
Picking up yet another artefact, Daniel turned to Jack. "So am I like..." he hesitated, "some kind of Indiana Jones character? I mean it would take a dozen lifetimes to collect all this from digs. There's so many cultures here."
Jack leaned back in his chair. "Ah. Well that's the million dollar question."
Daniel set down the artefact, folded his arms over his chest and looked quizzical.
"You know when you asked about studying this stuff all the time, and I said kind of," Jack said. Daniel nodded. "Well, when you're not in here pulling all nighters and driving Janet nuts by living on caffeine and chocolate, you travel through the Stargate."
"The Stargate." Daniel repeated.
"Big round circle. Goes woosh. Transports you to a different planet."
"Right!" Daniel laughed. He studied Jack's serious face and added less certainly. "You're kidding right?"
Jack stood up. "Time for tour stop number 2."
"Dr Jackson. Your Stargate!" Jack said with a flourish as he opened the blast doors and ushered Daniel into the Gateroom. He smiled as the younger man's jaw fell open. "Not even a 'cool'?" he teased gently.
Daniel glanced at him, his eyes sparkling with excitement behind the frames of his glasses. The moment of speechless was over. "This is..." he turned back towards the gate. "...incredible!" He breathed the word with almost religious reverence. "This really goes to other planets? Wow! Look at those glyphs! What are they? No, no, don't tell me. Let me figure it out. If it's capable of interstellar transport, it's going to need..."
He was half-way up the ramp, mouth still in gear, before Jack could stop him. Jack sighed, feeling suddenly old. Keeping up with Daniel on a normal day could be tiring, touring the SGC with the teenage version was... exhausting! "Ahh! Carter!" The blond-haired captain had entered the Gateroom seconds behind them.
"Janet said I might find the two of you here," she said. She nodded towards Daniel. "How's he doing?"
Jack smiled as he watched Daniel reach out and caress the gate. "Right now? I think he's in love." He turned to Carter, catching the empathic grin on her face. "You know, he's going to have about 800 questions, none of which I even want to start thinking up answers too. Reckon you could take over for a few minutes."
"Sure!" She took a step towards the ramp. "Hey Daniel! So what do you think of our Stargate?"
Jack turned away as Carter was swept up into Daniel's enthusiasm. What he needed was coffee, and that meant the conference room. "Carter!" He got her attention, pointed to where he was going and then left her to it.
As he headed for the door, the voices of the two scientists followed him, Daniel's excited babble triggering memories of other times when his team-mates had run off with some oh-so-fascinating-to-them topic of conversation leaving him to rein them back in with a demand for a simple explanation. A simple explanation. That was what he wanted to hear now. A few nice easy words to explain why Daniel couldn't remember a huge chunk of his life, closely followed by an even simpler solution to the problem.
He jogged up the stairs and into the deserted conference room, heading straight for the coffee. The question that had been nagging at him ever since Daniel had dived out of his bathroom window was back, drilling its ugly little hole in his mind. What if Daniel didn't get his memory back? What if the problem was permanent. And if it was, what the hell were they going to do with him? Integrating an adult Daniel into SG1 had been difficult enough at times. Daniel's younger persona was likely to be downright impossible to handle. Not to mention the fact that part of what made Daniel so valuable was his knowledge and his ability to use it. Clearly at nineteen he was no numbskull, but sixteen years of cramming his head with facts couldn't be recaptured overnight.
Moving to the observation window, Jack looked down on the gateroom. It was obvious even from up here that Daniel was giving Carter a run for her money. Right now he was pointing to one of the glyphs, his mouth moving at speed, hands gesticulating. In response, Carter smiled and shook her head although from where Jack stood he couldn't tell if she was disagreeing with Daniel or laughing. Not that it mattered, she was clearly enjoying her role of teacher.
Jack smiled, remembering the first time the two scientists had met on Abydos and the tennis match conversation they'd had in the cartouche room as they'd batted theories between them; Carter finally ending it by announcing she'd known all along she'd like Daniel. Even as the thought formed, Jack watched as Daniel suddenly snatched up Carter's hand and pulled her to the far side of the gate, pointing out yet another glyph, a wide smile on his face. For the briefest of moments they stood there, hand in hand, hip to hip. Damn! An unpleasant thought struck Jack. Somebody was going to have to tell Daniel he was married. And then somebody was going to have to explain about the goa'uld.
Jack shook his head knowing full well he would be the someone. Oh by the way, Daniel. You have a wife, but she has a snake in her head and thinks she's a goddess! Great! Wonder how the pay check would live up to that particular piece of information?
He swallowed the last of his coffee, noting as he did so that Daniel now appeared to be gazing into space. Almost at once Carter moved forward, her face concerned, one hand reaching for Daniel's arm. Oh-oh! Jack felt his stomach lurch as he realised something was wrong. Slamming down his mug he raced from the room, reaching the bottom step of the stairway as Carter shouted for him.
"I'm here!" He burst into the Gateroom just in time to see her lurch forward to stop Daniel taking a nose dive to the cold steel beneath his feet. As she struggled to ease the unconscious scientist to the floor, she shot Jack an anxious look.
"Colonel! He just passed... Oh shit!" Daniel's body jerked in her arms. "He's having a seizure. We need medical help. Now!"
God! His head hurt. He lay motionless for a while, trying to summon up the courage to open his eyes, suspecting that even more pain lay in wait for when he did so. He couldn't lie here with his eyes shut forever though. Then again - maybe he could? Perhaps he could just lie here until the pain took him to wherever the hell it was pain took you. Shit! What a morbid thought. Open your eyes, Jackson.
Argghhh! Damn it! That *really* hurt. He screwed his eyes shut again, hoping the agony would recede back to its previous level. Nope! Now his head hurt and he felt sick. Might as well open his eyes again. At least he'd see where to throw up.
Deep breath. Eyes open - now! Woah! Where did she come from? Daniel found himself the object of a sympathetic gaze. Another deep breath and the nausea edged back a fraction. Thank goodness - whoever she was he didn't want to throw up on her.
"Hey!" The voice was soft and affectionate, tantalisingly familiar. A smile lit up the clear blue of her eyes, wrinkling the skin at their corners. "How are you feeling?"
He thought for a moment. Considered saying something pathetic like 'much better for seeing you' but settled for the equally truthful, "Like shit."
An amused exclamation sounded to his right, but it was too much effort to turn and see who it was. Besides, despite his physical discomfort he was enjoying the view on this side. The blue eyes were set in a face framed by short blonde hair. Cute nose. The warmest of smiles. The voice to his right cut through his thoughts, commenting rudely. "If it's any consolation you look like shit too."
His watcher threw a sharp look over the bed at whoever... Wait. He was remembering now. This was Sam. Sam Carter. The airforce captain with the sharp brain, the infectious laugh and the huge Stargate. How come he'd not noticed how beautiful she was? Beautiful, mature, intelligent...
"Daniel! How are you feeling?" Same question, but this time the voice was brisk, professional even. As Sam stepped back, another face took her place. Petite, brown eyes, brown hair. Oh yes, the doctor with the cute...
Owww! He jerked his head away as a penlight flashed in his eyes. Shit! Big mistake, doctor. Now he was really going to be sick! A wave of agony engulfed him as he rolled to his right and retched, bringing up a pale yellow mucus that splattered onto a pair of military boots. He heard someone swear, then felt a hand rubbing his back and other voices, soothing voices, telling him he'd be okay. He retched again. Oh God! Everything hurt!
Finally, exhausted, he collapsed back against his pillow, eyes squeezed tight, closing in his misery. Something cool and damp wiped the clammy skin of his face. Tired. So tired. He just wanted to sleep, to escape the pain, perhaps to dream of blue eyes and a cute nose.
Jack pulled a face at the sight of the charts fixed to the wall of Janet's office. "Why do I get the feeling I'm not going to like this?"
Beside him Sam was wearing a worried expression, and even Teal'c was looking more dour than usual. It was clear that while their minds and bodies were attending to Janet, the hearts of SG-1 were in the infirmary with their sick team-mate. Half turning, Jack could see Daniel through the doorway. The scientist had woken twice since the seizure, but on neither occasion had he been particularly lucid, and on the first... Jack cut the thought off. He'd only just gotten through with cleaning his boots too.
He turned his attention back to Janet, his heart sinking as he saw her expression was unreadable. That was not a good sign as far as he knew. When Janet pulled out her 100% professional demeanour it almost inevitably meant one of his team was up to their neck in trouble.
She shot him a quick look as she opened her mouth to speak, "I'll keep it as simple as I can..."
"Good!" Jack muttered. "Cos right now I don't need a lot of big words. I just need to know what it'll take to get Daniel well."
"OK. When Daniel came back from P3X866 I ran a whole host of tests on him, including a PET scan."
"A PET scan? I don't suppose that has anything to do with dogs," Jack said testily. So much for simple! He really wasn't in the mood for a medical lecture.
"No, Colonel." Janet turned towards him. "A PET scan lets us look at the neurological pathways of the brain. OK. Let me back up here. The brain is made up of billions of special cells called neurons."
Jack nodded, earning him a surprised look from Carter. He returned it with one of his own. "I knew that."
Janet continued, "The connections between these neurons - the neural pathways - are created by what we experience, by what we learn. There's a lot we still don't know about the brain, but somehow these neurons store our memories. And the pathways between them let us access the information we need to do everything from breathing through to... in Daniel's case, knowing about Babylon. Now these charts here..." she pointed to her right, "...are PET scans from the day Daniel returned from P3X886. These here," she waved to a different set, "are from today - before he had the seizure."
"Woah!" Sam peered closely at the two sets. "They're completely different. I know the brain is constantly re-wiring itself as we experience stuff, right? But to go from that to that in such a short space of time?"
Janet shook her head. "Well actually it could just be that we're seeing the difference between Daniel's emotional state. In the first he was tired and cranky but at least willing to be a test subject. In the second, well he was being downright unco-operative." Janet pulled a wry face at the memory, and then continued. "But the fact Daniel thinks he's nineteen just keeps nagging at me and it got me thinking about this whole mind probe thing. He said Nem kept asking about his mate and eventually he remembered her name from a text he'd read several years earlier. What if it was when he was nineteen? And what if Nem's machine somehow re-wired Daniel's neural pathways back to the way they were then?"
Jack pulled a face. "What if we just stick with the tired and cranky theory - that sounds a whole lot more curable to me."
"I'd like to Colonel, but unfortunately tired and cranky doesn't explain Daniel's physical symptoms." Janet continued. "His brain chemistry is all over the place - not significantly so, but enough to be causing the headaches, dizziness, nausea, probably even the fact that he seems incapable of keeping a civil tongue in his head for more than five minutes at a time."
"Of course," Sam commented. "Behaviour can be strongly influenced by chemical reactions in the brain. The Daniel we're seeing now isn't necessarily the way Daniel really was at nineteen."
Jack snorted. "Runs off at the mouth. Has no respect for authority. Seems a pretty accurate description of Daniel to me."
Ignoring him, Janet went on. "What I'm hoping is that the chemical changes are a response to the re-wiring. Kind of like when you eat too much chocolate and the body reacts by producing more insulin. In which case, they should sort themselves.."
"Just a minute," Jack interrupted. He peered at the charts. "If Nem's mind probe is to blame - which much as I'd like to believe otherwise, I don't doubt - how come Daniel was 'Daniel' when we found him."
"I'm not sure," Janet replied. "It could be the re-wiring didn't really take a hold at first. Nem's machine may have reset the pathways, but it could be it took 12 or more hours before the neurotransmitters - the chemicals in his brain - really started to flow and establish them." She shook her head. "Like I said, there's a lot we don't know."
Jack absorbed her explanation and then turned to the most important point as far as he was concerned. "So cutting through all this theoretical crap and guesswork. Is he going to get better or not?"
Janet glanced through her office door to the infirmary, and the unconscious subject of the conversation. "As I said, if Daniel's brain has been re-wired, then the chemical imbalance could be a by-product that'll sort itself out over the next couple of days. In the meantime I can alleviate his symptoms - the nausea, the dizziness - with medication."
"And his memory?" Jack demanded.
Janet's expression darkened. "Whatever happened to Daniel was initiated by Nem's mind probe. If we're lucky things'll may eventually go back to normal..."
"Janet, we're talking Daniel here. The original Mr Unlucky Guy! If things don't *go back to normal*, you can fix it right?" Jack asked, knowing even as he did so what her answer would be.
Emotional pain flickered in Janet's eyes, but her voice was as professional as ever. "There have been huge technological advances in neuroscience over the past few years, but we're talking about millions of pathways..."
Jack's voice was cold as he cut her off. "A simple no will suffice."
Janet looked back at him unflinching. "No. I can't fix his memory. We can only hope..."
"Shit!" Jack banged his fist on the desk. "First that bugged eye fish made us think Daniel was dead, then..."
"Colonel O'Neill!" Teal'c voice, always calm, cut through Jack's frustrated tirade. "If Daniel Jackson cannot be helped here we must seek the help of the creature called Nem. Perhaps he can undo the damage wrought by his machine."
"Yes," Sam's face brightened a fraction. "He put memories *into* our brains. He should be able to do the same for Daniel."
Jack however refused to be placated. "Do I need to remind you they were 'false' memories, Captain?"
"I know that, Sir. But it still proves it's possible to do."
Janet cut across any potential debate. "Let's just wait and see, shall we? Besides taking Daniel back through the Stargate isn't an option right now." The attention of SG-1 turned back to her. "He's in no fit state to travel anywhere. My biggest concern is the chemical imbalance. Daniel isn't going anywhere until I'm sure that has sorted itself out."
"And if doesn't?" Jack asked warily.
Janet frowned. "Then he's in serious trouble."
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