Hope

by The Grrrl

Title: Hope

Author: The Grrrl

Author's email: thegrrrl2002@gmail.com

Author's URL: http://thegrrrl2002.slashcity.org

Archive: Ask first.

Fandom: Stargate SG-1

Rating: PG

Pairing: Jack/Daniel

Spoilers: 6.22 "Full Circle."

Series: This has a sequel, "Faith."

Synopsis: Jack meets up with a de-ascended Daniel who can't remember much of anything. My version of how the reunion should play out.

Notes: Thank you to my trusty beta, Kim, and to babs, who said kind and helpful things about this and encouraged me to post it. This is my first time in this fandom, yipes. That makes me nervous.

He said, "I know you."

He frowned a little, as if this surprised him.

"Oh, really?" I answered stupidly, through a throat that suddenly was two sizes too small.

I couldn't stop staring at the man before me inside the small tent. He looked so much like our Daniel. The same twitch of the eyebrows, same slow blink, same pursed lips. But—no way—it wasn't him, couldn't be. Or maybe it was. Or maybe I just needed it to be him.

He raised a hand, then dropped it, nodding. "I do. I really do. I feel—I feel like I know you."

He stepped to one side, as if he wanted to approach me but was too skittish to take the chance. His eyes flicked down to my P-90, then back to my face. "I'm sorry," he said, "but I don't remember your name. Or mine." He gave a desperate little wave of his hands. "I don't remember much of anything, actually."

Which was pretty much what the natives told us when they brought us to him. So I went to him, extending my hand. Like Daniel himself had done a thousand times. "Colonel Jack O'Neill. US Air force."

He stared at my hand.

"You're Daniel Jackson," I explained. Maybe.

"Oh—oh—you know who I am?" He grabbed my hand with his, wide eyes betraying his excitement. His handshake was firm, his skin, warm and dry. Definitely not a projection from some astral plane but real live flesh and blood.

"Daniel Jackson," he said to himself. "Daniel." He nodded, apparently finding the name agreeable. "Colonel, tell me—"

With a small laugh I cut him off, saying, "Wait—you've called me a hell of a lot of things in the past, but Colonel was never one of them."

"Never?"

"Never. Ever."

"Oh." He looked at my hand, still holding onto his. But he didn't pull away.

"Jack," I explained. "That's one of the better names." I reluctantly let his hand drop.

"Jack," he repeated.

We stared at each other, and then he pushed his glasses up on his nose and said, "Hi, Jack." As if he were testing out the words.

"Hello, Daniel."

Only the real Daniel and I could have such an idiotic conversation, I thought.

It all started less than two days ago. I was half-watching the live UAV transmission from yet another desert planet—thinking same old, same old, it's always either trees or sand, big fucking deal—when a figure approached the camera and peered into it. At first we couldn't make out any details, but then the image came into focus and it felt as though someone had punched me in gut. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. I was vaguely aware of the control room falling silent. We all just stared at the face before us, not knowing what to think. Then Carter whispered, "Oh my God."

And now here I was, in this small tent in the middle of some desert, still stunned by the presence of a real live human being who looked and acted remarkably like Daniel. My Daniel.

"Jack," Daniel said again. "Will you help me? I don't know—" he shrugged. "I don't know what the hell is going on. I don't know who I am. It's like I just woke up one day, here on this planet—and I don't know—"

I asked, "Hold it—is there anything you do know?"

"A lot of stuff—historical—I'm an archeologist or something."

He paused, and I nodded, encouraging him.

"And I speak quite a few different languages." He spoke faster now. "I know about the Stargate and I think I've used it to go to different planets but that's about it—I don't know why I'm here on this planet and I don't know who the hell I am. Jack, can you please tell me what's going on? What happened to me?"

He was agitated now, pacing the length of the tent. And I didn't know what the hell to tell the guy. How do you explain to someone that he kind of died, well, not really died but ascended, became something more than human, which I didn't really understand a heck of a lot about anyway?

"Daniel," I caught his arm, curling my fingers around his bicep. He was so reassuringly solid. "You've been," I searched for the appropriate word,"—uh—gone for a while."

"Gone? What do you mean, gone?" His voice went high pitched like it always did when he was excited or upset.

"Missing."

"Missing? How did I get lost?" he demanded.

I lost you, I thought. "Listen, what happened to you is classified. I can't tell you everything just yet. Especially if there's some question as to whether you are actually, you know, you."

He looked confused. "Who else would I be? Because I know, somehow, that I know you. That you're very important to me."

His words sent a little thrill through my body. I wanted to be important to him.

I told him, "I'll bet there's a good chance your memory will come back on it's own. Just try not to think too hard about it."

There was a familiar look in his eyes, the look that told me I had just said something pretty damn stupid. "So you're not going to tell me anything?"

"Not—not just yet."

His eyes narrowed as he folded his arms against his chest. "Fine. Don't. I'll figure it out on my own."

"Listen, Daniel, I'm sure this is upsetting, but trust me—"

"Trust you?"

"Trust me," I repeated, trying to sound as reassuring as I could.

He scowled, looking me over, his eyes boring into me as if he could see through to my soul. Finally he sighed, and nodded. "I don't know why, but I do. I trust you."

A thought occurred to me. "You know, my—our Daniel has this scar…"

"Yeeeeah," he said slowly, "what about it?" His right hand instinctively moved to his hip.

I closed the gap between us, and he didn't back off. "Let me see it," I asked.

"No," he said, in the same sort of flirty yet indignant way he had refused me the first time.

I bit back a grin. "How do you feel about fishing?" I asked.

"I don't think," he said cautiously, as if it were test question he wasn't sure of getting right, "I don't think I really enjoy fishing."

"Beer?"

He frowned, wrinkling his nose. "Not all that much."

Now I did smile, and reached for his shoulder, giving it a squeeze.

I was pretty much convinced this was our Daniel, and I ignored the little voice in my head telling me that maybe I just really needed it to be him. Which was ironic, considering I spent the last two days warning the rest of the team not to get their hopes up. After less than five minutes with him I was ready to declare him Daniel and take him back home.

I could hear voices and rustling outside the tent, and knew Carter and Teal'c were getting restless.

"C'mon, Daniel, there's some folks who are waiting to meet you."

He nodded.

Outside the tent, I hung back, keeping an eye on the crowd as Carter, Jonas and Teal'c introduced themselves. Daniel seemed nervous and a little bewildered, more so than when he was with me, I noted with some satisfaction. Carter seemed to be awestruck, looking Daniel up and down, touching his robes once he relaxed a little. Teal'c looked smug. Jonas was obviously fascinated.

The natives of this desert planet watched us with open curiosity. We were told was that Daniel had been found unconscious in the grass near a water hole, and the tribe had taken him in as one of their own. He spent the following two months wandering the desert with them. They called him something that Jonas translated as "the scholar". It figures.

I saw that Daniel was looking over at me. "Jack said he couldn't tell me," I heard him say.

"That's right," I said, approaching the group. "Right now we're just going to let Daniel remember things for himself, okay?"

Carter was upset. "But sir—"

"But nothing, Major."

"Sir," she continued, undeterred as usual, "I'm not detecting any Goau'ld presence or—"

"Carter, you know as well as I do that this could easily be some sort of trick." I shouldn't have had to explain this to her.

Teal'c joined in now. "I understand your concern, O'Neill, but I feel this man is indeed Daniel Jackson."

"And considering, sir, what happened back on—" Jonas gestured with his hands, "you know, that planet." Carter nodded in agreement.

"Hold it," I said. At least the kid was bright enough not to mention Abydos right in front of Daniel. "This is not open for debate."

I could see Daniel watching us as we talked, his eyes darting back and forth, taking it all in, squinting a little in the glaring sun. "Come on, it's time we headed back." I knew the general was waiting to hear from me. I put on my sunglasses as I walked over to Daniel. "Why don't you go get your things."

Carter and Jonas grinned, and Teal'c, well, Teal'c's face twitched in a way that meant he would grin if he could.

"You mean—I'm going with you?" Daniel asked, and I could see he was excited and pleased. "Through the gate?"

"Yeah, well, getting you back to the base is the only way we're going to be able to figure out if you're really our Daniel," I told him.

"I believe that is wise, Colonel O'Neill," Teal'c agreed.

I smiled warily at the native folk who were moving closer, surrounding us. "Uh, Daniel, will these guys have any problem with your leaving with us?" Not that we couldn't take them on.

He turned to an older man who wore a sash over his robes. They spoke quickly, in whatever the native language here was. He grasped Daniel's shoulder and nodded. My eyes narrowed as Daniel gave him a brief hug.

"Maksum knows I don't belong here. He wishes me luck, and says you all must, uh," a quick smile flashed across his face, "take good care of me."

I touched my cap to Maksum. "Can do."

Maksum looked at me curiously, not understanding the gesture, but finally he nodded.

That settled, I turned to Daniel. "Well, get your things. We're outta here."

Carter touched his back. "C'mon Daniel, let's go home."

***

He kept looking at me as we walked, throwing these little sideways glances my way. He didn't look away when I caught him doing it, either. Just got this slightly embarrassed little smile on his face.

"Don't worry," I told him, patting his back. "It'll all come back. I'll be hearing those magical words 'Jack, don't be an ass,' coming out of you anytime now."

I was touching him too much, but I couldn't help myself. The thought that this could really be him, that the ancients kicked him out of the club and made him human again—it blew my mind. Then again he had interfered with us mere mortals, which was against their rules, according to what he told me in the elevator that time. Because that was Daniel. He couldn't not do it. He had done exactly what he was told not to do, like that was some sort of big friggin' surprise. And to top it all off he hadn't been able to save them, hadn't been able to save Abydos from Anubis. Maybe it was just as well his memory was gone.

We walked together in silence for a few more minutes. He still kept stealing glances at me. "We were friends?" he finally asked.

"Yes, we were, Daniel."

"Good friends?"

I nodded. "Good friends."

He seemed to like that. "Good."

Good friends. That didn't really cover it, but I didn't know how to put it any better, how to describe the strange relationship between us. How could I explain that we spent most our time together arguing and butting heads? Two grown men, dancing around each other for years, too scared to do anything else. We had nothing at all in common, except the Stargate program, and the program was our lives, so maybe we had a lot in common after all. But our missions bled us dry, took up all that we were. Took away everything that Daniel cared about. Made me too worn out and scared to do anything other than be a sarcastic bastard. So I kept him at arm's length, ignoring the strange thing between us. Connecting us. Because, in the end, it was safer that way. And sometimes I think Daniel knew it, too. And I was okay with it, what we had was enough for me—the friendship, those brief touches—because at least he was by my side.

And through those years, Daniel was there, right by my side. Until he wasn't anymore. Until he died and was gone—and still, each time I came out of the damn wormhole I would turn and look for him, expecting him to be there.

"Jack." He was touching my wrist, his fingertips on my skin. "Are you okay?"

I blinked hard. My eyes were wet. "I'm fine. Got sand in my eye," I lied. "Shouldn't have taken my sunglasses off—"

"Wait, I have some water." He pulled me to a halt. "Careful, you can damage your eye—" His hand touched my face and through a watery blur I saw that he was standing way too close to me, his wide blue eyes peering at me, filled with concern.

I took hold of his arm, meaning to push him away but somehow by mistake pulled him in close and hugged him. He was so damn warm and solid and real in my arms. He felt like Daniel, smelled like Daniel. His strong arms encircled me, as he hugged me right back, holding me steady. Because he knew me, even if he didn't know how or why.

"I missed you," I said into his hair. My voice was ragged.

Daniel patted my back, reassuring me. He was always too generous to me. "Well, I'm back now, um, sorta."

I rested my head on his broad shoulder, intent on ignoring Carter's grin and Teal'c stern gaze, and soaking in as much Daniel as I could.

Eventually I disengaged myself from his arms. "Come on, let's keep moving," I said gruffly. But I flashed a smile at Daniel, and he smiled sweetly in return. Carter was still smiling, and Teal'c lips twitched. Jonas just looked astonished. I glared at all of them. "What are we waiting for? The gate's still a day and a half away."

***

The sun was low in the sky when we made camp, and the air was cooling off rapidly. Dinner was quiet and just a little awkward. Daniel turned up his nose at our field rations, although he smiled when Carter insisted it tasted like chicken. All in all it felt natural to have him there with us, and it was hard to remember that he might not be who we thought. We carefully told Daniel a little more about his life, where he was born, where he grew up, stuff like that. He asked a thousand questions and we answered as best we could.

Eventually we fell silent. I watched Daniel from across the fire as he stared into his coffee cup, his robes wrapped around him. Suddenly his brows twitched and his head jerked up. "Hammond," he said.

We all looked at each other. My heart raced. We hadn't mentioned the general or his name.

"What about him," Carter asked, her voice casual.

"Hammond," Daniel said again. "I remember someone named Hammond—bald guy—kind of round—he's in charge of something—" he gestured with his cup as he spoke, spilling his coffee.

"You are correct, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c told him. Carter patted his knee.

"Cool," I said. "You're remembering."

"That's how it works, you know," Jonas said excitedly. "The more familiar people and places you see, the more you'll remember—just a little each time, and then—"

"Then it will all come back," Carter finished.

"Exactly," Jonas said.

They had all obviously forgotten my lecture on Not Getting Your Hopes Up. I turned to see Daniel gazing at me. He looked hopeful, too.

***

I took the first watch, sending everyone else off to sleep, not that I thought they would. I decided to walk the perimeter first. As I set off, Daniel came up to me.

"Okay if I," he gestured with his hand, "come along?"

"Sure, you bet," I answered, a little too quickly.

We headed out, and I chose a wide perimeter around the camp, telling myself that it was because I really needed to check around those boulders over yonder. It had nothing to do with wanting Daniel to all to myself, nothing at all.

We strolled through the sand and clumps of grass together. He walked right next to me, his shoulder brushing mine, like he had done thousands of times before. Like I never thought he would again. I got in his way, jostling him a little, just so I could feel his body against mine once more.

We circled the scattering of rocks, Daniel touching them lightly with his fingers as we went past, looking them over carefully in the bright moonlight. Both two moons were full, and their light reflected off of Daniel's skin, giving him an odd, unearthly glow. How appropriate, I thought. I settled in on a conveniently flat rock, tired and achy from all the walking in the soft sand, and watched him.

"You should go get some sleep," I said, my voice startlingly loud in the quiet night. "Tomorrow's going to be a long day." Tomorrow we'd be back on base, and everyone would want to have a go at Daniel. He was going to be poked and prodded and examined endlessly. The NID was going to want him, that was for damn sure. As if the general would let them. I sighed, picturing it all. The base was going to be a god damned zoo.

But right now we were alone on PX-whatever and Daniel was all mine. He joined me on the rock, bumping me as he sat down, his leg brushing up against mine as he leaned back on his elbows and stared up at the night sky.

After a while he quietly asked me, "Jack, what kind of person am I?"

"Whaddya mean, what kind?" I hedged.

"You know." He sat up and took a sharp breath. "This sounds dumb, I know, but am I—am I good person?"

"The best." He laughed a little at that. But I wasn't exaggerating. I've never met anyone else quite like Daniel. "You always did the right thing. And what's worse, you always insisted I do the right thing, too."

"Huh."

"Yeah. You're a real pain in the ass that way." I stared out at the horizon, then looked down at my boots, scuffing them into the sand.

"You and I—we were close, weren't we." It was a statement, rather than a question.

I put my arm around him, resting it on his shoulders and he leaned against me. "Yeah," I nodded. "We were close. We've been through a hell of a lot together." I turned to see his face, and saw that he was studying me.

"I thought so. There's this weird connection between us—I feel like there's something here—something—" He stopped, looking to me for the answer, his face just inches from mine.

"Something?" I whispered. I could feel his breath on my face, the warmth of his big, solid body next to mine. "Like what?"

He leaned in closer. "Something like—"

And he kissed me. Just a swift press of his lips against mine, but it was enough for me to find out that Daniel's lips were as warm and soft and sweet as I had imagined. I wanted him to kiss me again. Which would be so wrong, but I wanted it.

"Whoa, Daniel," I said quickly. "Listen, we're close, but not—not like that."

"Oh." He thought for a moment, then licked his lips, and said, "Well, we should be."

I had nothing to say to that. My arm was still wrapped around his shoulders, and I was incapable of removing it. So, I kissed him. Which was probably one of the stupidest things I had ever done. But he was my Daniel, he had been gone but now he was back, and his lips were right there in front of me, and I knew how sweet they were.

This time it wasn't brief. This time when our mouths met Daniel took my head in his hands and moved his lips along mine, little nibbling kisses at first, like he was tasting me. Then he licked my mouth open and slipped his tongue in and we got serious about it, kissing and licking each other's mouth, whiskers scratching at each other's faces. Someone whimpered and my hand found it's way from his shoulder into his hair while his hand slid down onto my thigh and it was all just so perfect, so right to be sitting on some damn rock in the moonlight kissing and touching Daniel.

At last he broke off the kiss, sighing as he rubbed his nose against mine. "Jack," he breathed.

I pressed my lips to his one last time then pulled back, stroking his cheek before I righted his glasses. He looked a little dazed. And more beautiful than ever. "You are so going to hate me when you remember who I am," I told him.

Daniel just gave me a sly smile. "No I won't." He rubbed his palm against my thigh.

I could have taken him into my arms and made love to him right there and then. But instead I grabbed his hand, stilling it. "I think it's really time for you to go back and get some sleep," I said. "Please."

He must have caught the desperation in my voice because he just nodded, and answered, "Right. I think I'll go and get some sleep now." He touched my cheek, and kissed me again.

"Yeah, you do that." We stood, and I still had his hand in mine. "I guess you'll need that back," I said.

"I suppose."

My hand felt empty after I released his.

We walked toward the tents together. I was already feeling guilty about the kiss. Because this Daniel wasn't really my Daniel. It was Daniel without his past, without the emotional baggage that we all carry around. And if that Daniel had ever really wanted to take a chance like that and kiss me, he would have done it already. But a tiny thread of hope was already taking hold of me, and I thought that maybe, just maybe—

"I'm not going to hate you," he said suddenly.

"Will too." Or maybe he wouldn't.

"Why would I?" he asked.

I grabbed his robes and pulled him to a halt. "Because I kissed you when you couldn't remember that I'm a nasty old son-of-a-bitch Colonel who's done nothing but give you shit for the past seven years."

I expected him to be startled, but he wasn't. He just put his hand on my arm and calmly asked, "Did I give you shit right back?"

"Well, yeah," I answered. When he grinned I added, "Sometimes with interest. You'd never cut me any friggin' slack."

He gave me that familiar 'well, there you have it' move with his hands.

"Yeah, right," I told him. But I was smiling as I turned him around and pushed him toward the tents. "Go to sleep, Daniel."

I kept smiling as he disappeared under the flap, and throughout the rest of my watch I had that damn silly grin on my face. Because even though he might not ever get his memory back, even though he might remember everything and then give me all sorts of shit for letting him kiss me, he was my Daniel.

And tomorrow, when I stepped out of that wormhole, Daniel was going to be right there next to me.

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