TITLE: When You're Least Expecting It
CATEGORY: Little drama, little angst, lots of surprises
CONTENT WARNINGS: None
SUMMARY: Jack, Sam and Teal'c find Daniel on the last place they would have looked --literally.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate SG-1. Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only. No money has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This story may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I wondered what the team was thinking when they found Daniel on Vis Uban. This story was originally published in the zine Redemption 4 from Ashtonpress. Big thanks to Seanchaidh for betaing this story.
"Sir, we found something you might want to see."
Okay, when we're off world, that's one of the last things I EVER want to hear. That "we found something" usually comes right before the yelling and the shooting and the running for our lives. When one of my guys, especially a good soldier like Pierce, says that and his team just saunters in behind him, I know we wouldn't be doing any running, but that doesn't mean I like hearing that they found something.
I’ve never been so happy to be so wrong.
Daniel’s walking in with the other team. He’s looking at us, but…
My feet are moving on their own and Carter and Teal’c’s are doing the same thing. The last person I’d ever expect to see is right here and he’s all right! If he was here, really here, I don’t know if I’d hug him or slug him for scaring the hell out of me on Abydos. Speaking of which, why is he letting everyone see him? I thought the ascended people liked the invisible routine, and he’s letting everyone see him? This ought to be good.
"Arrom,” the little cliché fellow says behind me.
I tear my eyes from Daniel to look at him. “Arrom?” That’s not his name. It’s Daniel. What’s going on?
“It’s what we call him,” the greeter tells us.
“It means naked one,” Cliché guy says.
Naked? I know my neck must have made some popping sounds as fast as I jerk it back toward Daniel. One thing I know about Daniel, he’s not the type to go streaking around anywhere. Besides, he likes to wear that sweater. Why would he show up here…
Never mind. That’s not important.
I know I have to be looking at him like I’ve just seen him streaking around, but he’s looking at us like we were some kind of new lab experiment. That is so not a Daniel look.
“That’s how we found him in the forest two moons ago,” the village greeter tells us.
“Seems he doesn’t remember who he is,” Pierce tells us.
Doesn’t remember us? How? I mean, it’s us! Did Anubis do something to his memory? Did Oma? This isn’t the first time I don’t know what to do, but… I don’t know what to do!
Carter walks up to him, tries to act like everything’s fine, and reaches out to touch him – not a good idea, Carter. I tossed my shoe right through -- whoa! Daniel’s not letting her touch him! He stops her hand just short of his arm. He’s solid! Flesh and bone solid. Can he do that?
Wait a minute… he didn’t let her touch him? That is another not-Daniel move.
Great. I don’t even know what to say. How many times has that ever happened?
Teal’c doesn’t have my problem. “Do you not recognize us, Daniel Jackson?”
Obviously, that look says he doesn’t. I haven’t seen that look in a long time. It’s that fear-anger-distrust-but-gonna-hide-it look that doesn’t quite work on Daniel, but…
“No, I’m sorry,” he says as he brushes by Carter and now me. I think I just had a sense of déjà vu – I walked right past him in that Abydonian gate room years ago, didn’t say hello, nothing…
“Not even me?” I finally manage to utter as he’s walking away from us. The cliché guy is following him.
What the hell is going on? That’s my best friend, and he doesn’t know any of us! How can he not remember? This is Daniel, for crying out loud! This is a guy that doesn’t forget anything! Not events or times or dates. Hell, this guy remembers birthdays. He’s saved my butt a time or two by reminding me of things like that.
I’ve got to at least act like I know what I’m doing. The village greeter is standing right beside me now. Maybe he can answer a few questions. “Uh, you said you found him?” I ask him. “What do you mean you found him?”
“Shambda the storyteller, my brother and I had gone for water. As we reached the field outside the forest, there was a bright light in the center of the ruins. He was lying naked on the ground once the light went away. I asked him who he was, but he did not know.”
Carter spins around and focuses her attention on the greeter. “He didn’t know who he was?”
I think we just covered that, Carter, but I don’t believe it either.
“No. Nor have any of his memories returned. Shambda has given him sanctuary here, and we have welcomed him as one of our own tribe. There is nothing more we can do for him. If you are his friends as you say you are, you may be able to help him in ways we cannot. It has been difficult for him.”
“I’ll bet,” I say. Lame comment, O’Neill. Really lame.
Reality check: Daniel is alive and well and solid and living the life of an amnesiac on an primitive world with a simple quiet culture that reminds me of … Abydos. Only without the sand. And heat.
Shambda is coming back, but he doesn’t look happy.
“Please excuse Arrom. He has had concerns about who he was before and why he was sent to us. Your coming here has made his fears more real. He did not know how to react to you if you truly knew him before.”
“Daniel Jackson is an honorable man,” Teal’c tells him.
“I know this. I have watched Arrom. I believe his heart to be good. You should tell him this.”
Shambda’s looking straight at me. Oh, yeah. Me, talk to a guy who has a talent for talking our way out of trouble. How do I do his job?
“He’s right, sir,” Carter says. “You’d have the best chance of getting through to him. You’re his best friend.”
“Yeah, a best friend he doesn’t remember.” This is NOT going to be fun. Well, it’s up to me, so I may as well get to it. I know I don’t have to tell my team what to do – we’re on a mission, they know their jobs – but I still don’t know what I’m gonna say or how. “It was always like talking to a brick wall before…”
Here we go.
I head off in the direction that Daniel – Arrom, I might have to use that name – went off in. There’s this big tent towards the back of the ruins. I can see Daniel’s silhouette sitting on the other side of the tent – pretty far from the entrance. I know that shadow. I’ve seen it too many times by the campfires on missions for years. That position he’s sitting in, I know it. It’s the one I’d see when he couldn’t sleep during those years we were searching for Sha’uri, when all those bad thoughts burbled to the top and he couldn’t NOT think about them. It’s not a happy looking pose.
“Please, leave me alone.” That’s not Daniel’s happy voice either.
No way, Daniel We’ve got a chance to get you back, and I’m gonna take it.
I take a deep breath and walk right into the tent. “I’m Jack O’Neill, and barring some freakish similarity, you are Doctor Daniel Jackson.” I sit down on the crate across from him. Now what?
“This tent is all I know,” he says. “And these people, they’re all I know. Before I woke up in the forest, I don’t remember anything. I’ve tried, I have tried to remember who I was before. Sometimes I think it’s right there floating in front of me and all I have to do is reach out and grab it. I try, and it’s gone.”
I’ve never heard that in his voice before. It almost sounds as if he’s giving up, and there’s no way Daniel would ever give up! I don’t care if he’s Arrom or whoever. It’s not how he works. Okay, let’s see if I can remind him of who he is.
“You were a member of my team, SG1. You’re a friend of mine. Last year you died.”
Bad thing to tell him right off the bat. “Obviously not. You just sort of died.” He’s got that confused look in his eyes. Not good. “Actually, you ascended to a higher plane of existence. Last time I saw you, you were helping us fight Anubis.”
Too much information?
Or not told right? “Yeah,
kind of an over-the-top cliché bad guy, black cloak, oily skin, kind of
spooky.” He doesn’t believe
me. Can’t blame him.
”Anyway, obviously since then, you’ve retaken human form somehow.” Again, he’s giving me that disbelieving look like I’m not speaking English. “Actually, I can see how this might sound a bit unusual.”
“A bit? Why am I here?”
Ah, the ultimate question “Hey, why are any of us here?” Great. He’s not smiling. “Honestly, I don’t know, but you’ve got to trust me, you are Daniel Jackson. Think of it this way. Out of all the planets in the galaxy, why this one if not for us to find you?”
That gets his attention. “Are you saying that a higher power had a hand in putting me here?”
Great. Ask me ’that’ question. “I don’t know. That was generally your department.”
He’s looking confused again. “We were friends?” he asks me.
“Yeah. You and I have known each other for years. You’ve saved my life more times that I want to count.”
“This SG-1… what is it?”
How do I answer that in a two sentences or less? “Eight years ago, you figured out how the Stargate – the chappa’ai – worked. You did it in two weeks. The really smart people had over 70 years and they couldn’t do that. Then we started going on our adventures through the gate, and you, me, Carter and Teal’c were the first team. SG-1. We’re the premiere team for Earth. We’ve found allies and made friends and learned all kinds of new things every time we go through the gate.”
“But I died last year?”
“That’s a little more complicated,” I tell him. Yeah, really complicated. “Look, I know this is a lot to take in all at once, but somewhere in that incredible brain of yours, you know us even if you don’t remember us. I don’t know what I can say to convince you of that, just that that’s the truth.”
He’s looking confused, but I think he’s starting to believe me or least not disbelieve me as much. Maybe I can’t say anymore now? Would it do any good?
“Look, I know I’ve given you a lot to think about, so I’m gonna go check on the rest of the team. We’re not going anywhere if –“
“Thanks. I’m sorry I don’t remember you.”
Yeah. Me too.
I get up and leave the tent, and I don’t think I got anywhere.
* * * * * * * * *
Okay, I don’t know what else I can do with Daniel, so maybe the rest of the team has had better luck with their assignments?
Carter’s got that look, the one that just screams she’s getting impatient about something. She was talking to some of the villagers. I wonder if she learned anything new about Arrom. “Jonas and Teal’c are helping SG 3 and 5 begin a preliminary sweep…”
Yeah, yeah, yeah… who cares? We’ve got Daniel problems. “Remember when I said it was like talking to a wall?”
I don’t get any sympathy from her. “Sir, we know someone who’s ascended can choose to retake human form.”
Oh, yeah. Orlin did that, didn’t he? Betcha he didn’t descend naked. I wonder if Daniel had any say-so in how he was dressed? “Do you think he also chose to forget everything?”
“Maybe the part about his memory isn’t voluntary. Who knows? Maybe the whole thing is punishment for trying to help us. He did say he was breaking some pretty big rules.”
“So?” I forgot about that. I did kind of push him into breaking those rules, didn’t I? “What?”
“It’s going to take some time to search the entire extent of the ruins. There could be a weapons or a power source hidden just about anywhere. In the meantime, we try to help Daniel remember. If that’s even possible.”
To be honest with myself, the word possible hadn’t even jogged through my head. This is Daniel, for crying out loud. He does the impossible all the time! Maybe Carter could get through to him. I didn’t. “Tag You’re it.”
* * * * * * * * * *
I wonder if Carter is having any more luck reaching Daniel than I did. She’s been in there a few minutes. Maybe that’s a good thing?
“You spoke with him?”
I know that voice. I turn around, and yeah, it’s the cliché guy. He sits down right next to me. “Yeah. He doesn’t remember any of us.”
“You believe he will.”
This guy is absolutely spooky. Can he read minds? “I don’t know. I hope he does. We need him.”
“He has been gone a long time.”
The little guy isn’t asking. I think he knows more than I think he does. Maybe he’s a good guesser? “Too long. Over a year.”
“He is concerned about who he was before. Can you make him believe that he was a good man?”
“That won’t be hard. He is a good man. Best man I’ve ever known.”
“Then you are a good man as well.”
Now he’s getting cryptic. “What makes you say that?”
“Would a good man be friends with someone who did not have a good heart?”
“All the time where we come from. Besides, what makes you think I have a good heart?”
I know I have to be looking at this guy like he’s a complete nut, but he just smiles at me. “I am Shambda, the storyteller.”
I put out my hand, and he seems to know the custom of shaking hands. “Jack O’Neill, the colonel. I like stories.”
Now he’s smiling at me. “Do you know the story of the dog and the dancing monkeys?”
* * * * * * * * *
Carter’s coming out of the tent. She doesn’t look happy either. I’m guessing she didn’t get through to “Daniel” any more than I did. Oh, well…
“Carter,” I say as I walk over toward her, “Shambda here was just telling me a story about a dog and some dancing monkeys.”
“The moral of which appearances can be deceptive,” he explains. I like this guy. He’s blunt in a way. Kind of reminds me of Kasuf. Damn, I miss those Abydonians. Oh, hell! Daniel! He doesn’t remember the Abydonians either. How do I tell him his family’s … not here anymore?
I kind of grin and turn back to Shambda. “I got that. Very good story. Wonderful. Full of nuances. I like that.” I do. The guy’s a good storyteller. Kasuf would have liked him.
I can hear more of the teams’ voices as they come toward us. Jonas and Teal’c… I wonder how their luck’s been?
“We, uh, sent up a UAV,” Jonas tells me. I suddenly realize that I’ve always wondered why he tells me these things. Daniel should… but Daniel hasn’t been here for the last year. He kind of died thanks to… nope. Not going there right now. I haven’t let myself think that way for the last year… not going to now… not with Daniel a few dozen yards from us.
”The ruins are quite extensive,” Teal’c tells me. Yeah, big guy, I know that. We already kind of covered that it was a big place when we first got here.
“Yeah, it’s gonna take us weeks to scour this place properly,” Jonas adds in. Maybe that would work. Maybe if we stay here for a while, Daniel can get to know us again and his memory will come back.
“What of Daniel Jackson?” Teal’c asks me. What do I say?
“He’s going home,” that familiar and very much missed voice sounds behind me. We all turn, and Daniel is standing there with his pack thrown over his shoulder. He means it. He’s coming home!
Shambda walks over to him, places a hand on his shoulder and says something too low for us to hear. Yeah, there’s something very Kasufish about him. I like Shambda. I can see why Daniel would trust him. Daniel nods his head, clasps Shambda on the shoulder and he’s heading in our direction.
We’re going home, all of us.
* * * * * * * * *
The walk to the gate’s been kind of quiet. Teal’c’s tried to get Daniel to talk, but he’s getting nowhere fast. Daniel’s answering in those brief sentences – very un-Daniellike.. Carter got a few more words out of him, but I think he’s worried. I don’t think he’s scared of us or scared of going through the gate… I think he’s still worried about who he used to be.
Jonas, thankfully, has kept his mouth shut. Memories about the radiation poisoning and the ensuing pain is not the first bunch I want Daniel to remember.
We’re getting near the gate, and Daniel’s slowing down a little bit. I motion the others to go ahead while I lag behind with Daniel.
“You okay?” Right. Brilliant question to ask.
“Will I be welcome where you’re from?”
I have to smile at that. “You’re from there too, and yes, everybody will be tickled to death that you’re coming home. You’ve been missed.”
Oh, that is so typically Daniel! Maybe he is in there somewhere. “You’ve got a lot of friends back home. A lot of things changed when you kind of died, and if we can get you your memory working again, maybe we can get some of that changed back.”
He’s got that grin, the one that means he doesn’t quite believe what you said but isn’t going to say anything. “One person isn’t that important.”
“One person can make all the difference, Daniel.” He looks at me sideways, like I just said something inappropriate. “Uh, do you mind if we call you Daniel? If you don’t like it, we’ll call you Arrom if you want us to.”
His forehead scrunches up. He’s thinking about it. That’s normal too. Maybe Daniel is closer to the surface than I hoped? “No, Daniel’s fine. I mean, that’s my name, right?”
“Yeah. That’s your name.”
We’ve almost reached the DHD. Daniel doesn’t look like he recognizes any of it, at least, not like he’d know what to do with a DHD. I know he’s probably seen the Stargate lots of times in the last two moons but didn’t remember how to use it. He’s watching as Carter dials up earth and then the Stargate as the chevrons light up. He’s fascinated, I can tell. He’s got that same look on his face he had the first time we got the gate working back at the base eight years ago. Then that look goes away.
What’s he thinking now?
“Look, I don’t know how you feel about all this, but it’s gotta be a little strange.”
“Yeah, but there’s nothing to worry about. You’re going home.” And trust me, Daniel, you know more than that tent and these people. We’ll find you somewhere in that brain of yours.
Carter hits the red button in the center of the DHD and the wormhole flushes out at us. Daniel’s absolutely fascinated – he honestly doesn’t remember ever seeing the wormhole before. I can’t even imagine how he’s going to react when he sees his office. Jonas had better remember where Daniel had everything when he… left. I’ll make sure Hammond has Jonas moved out. I never wanted Jonas in Daniel’s office in the first place but if he was going to try to finish his work… as if Jonas ever could.
Enough thoughts like that. It’s time to go. I nudge Daniel toward the gate, and he and I step through with the others close behind.
It’s a beginning.
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