's painstaking beta readings, it's ready for McSwain! at long last! Ideally, some of the rest of you kids will like it, too.
SG-1, spoilers for Season 7.
Meanwhile, the tree beings were waving something that looked for all the world like a bar of Ivory soap over Daniel's head.
by Paresi. ragtime
"I want to leave you something-- something better than words." Daniel's voice had a dry, papery hiss behind it that Jack would have blamed on the audiotape, except that there was no cassette in the deck. "But maybe there isn't anything better."
He almost left the room; instead he scouted the featureless block of white material for an off button, or even a suggestion of speakers, but it just sat there, like a chocolate bar or a deck of cards. Alien technology, your friend and mine.
Jack was debating knocking it off the desk and stomping on it a while when Sam came in behind him and the device paused, as if Daniel was holding his breath.
Looking over his shoulder, he tried to work up a glare, but her lashes were damp and kind of clumped together and he just nodded at her instead.
She sniffled a bit before she spoke.
"The device has some sort of proximity sensor, sir. I think that Daniel coded it to recognize us somehow-- as near as I can tell, after the initial contact, the message won't play if there's anyone in the room with you. I mean, I haven't had the opportunity to measure its range, but--"
"Carter," Jack said softly.
"Yeah. Sorry. I can't seem to stop doing that."
Her hair was crisp and a little sticky under his hand due to an overabundance of some styling product; he guessed grief messed with one's grooming habits. He himself hadn't shaved in two days and as he tucked her head under his chin, he hoped his stubble wouldn't bug her too much.
Sam bunched her hands in his jacket and hid her hot face against Jack's neck. As she shook, Jack thought about things that sucked, and among those things, the weird rule that dictated Carter wasn't within his rights to touch unless she was crying.
Carter finally ground to a halt, and when her hitching breath evened out, he let her go and gravely inspected her tear-streaked face. Then he gave her arms a squeeze and offered her a crumpled Kleenex he'd stashed in his pocket.
"It's clean," he promised, and she gave a miserable little laugh and blew her nose. "Why don't you go get some Jell-O or something. Drink some water. Maybe bring me some pie." She nodded. "Not cherry."
"Got it," she said. Blinking around the room that had been Daniel's office, she looked disoriented, but she took a deep breath and gave him a fragile smile. "Thank you, sir."
"Don't mention it."
When she left, he locked the door behind her.
The alien beings had reminded Jack of trees, with many long waving stalks topped with soft looking mossy clumps, but the way they moved, undulating the bright teal trunks that touched the planet's swampy surface, brought slugs to mind. The settlement they'd come to was criss-crossed with the smooth tracks of the tree-guys, and smelled vaguely of sulfur. The settlement itself consisted of many small, white rounded huts that Jack mentally labeled 'igloos', way too small to be living areas, seeing as the tree-guys were upwards of eighteen feet tall, and five open-air structures that were basically arched roofs attached to very long poles. They reminded Jack of plane hangars. Or really big carports. Every few hundred feet there was a large free-formed body of water surrounded by low, curving white walls.
Daniel was fascinated, natch. And even Jack had had to admit that the aliens were kind of cool. Sam had been chirping something about the amazing advances they'd made as a people, despite the fact that they seemed to lack an opposable thumb, and Teal'c was being reassuringly Teal'c-like.
Daniel was giving them his spiel, and patiently letting the tree-guys tug on his clothing and mess up his hair. Jack had stood there, gritting his teeth behind his "I'm a peaceful explorer" smile, wary but not getting any unduly bad vibes. Maybe feeling slightly put out that he himself couldn't tug on Daniel's clothing and mess up his hair. At least get him shirtless.
Until Daniel had some kind of fit and slumped over.
"Okay, that's not good--" Jack muttered, as he and Carter sprinted toward Daniel.
The tree-guys had kept Daniel from hitting the ground, and had spirited him over to a low platform. It was too early to tell whether Daniel had had some kind of extreme allergic response to something or if the aliens had slipped him a mickey, and that ambiguity was the only thing keeping Jack from mowing the trees down with his P-90.
"Carter. What's going on?"
Sam looked wide-eyed and stymied. "They don't have a spoken language, sir. At least, we don't think they do. Daniel thought that they might communicate on a different frequency, the way the plants did on PJ2-445."
Jack motioned for Teal'c to hold his position and tried to come up with a plan of action.
Meanwhile, the tree beings were waving something that looked for all the world like a bar of Ivory soap over Daniel's head. It wasn't actually touching him, or emitting any weird rays, but it made Jack suspicious just the same.
"Okay then. We'll just use the international language." He shouldered his gun and elbowed past the herd of tree guys. When he got to Daniel, Jack checked his pulse, relieved to find it steady and strong. Then he sat Daniel up and crouched down to drape him over his shoulder.
"Teal'c. A little help here?" Daniel felt like two
guys, and Jack didn't want his knee to give out. "Carter, dial us out."
Carter obeyed and Teal'c appeared at Jack's shoulder to take Daniel. Teal'c carried Daniel cradled in his arms like a child, and while Jack was disturbed by the slack body, Daniel's color was good, and his skin had been warm, but not feverish. That was something, anyway.
After three hours in the quarantine infirmary, Daniel was still unconscious and inert.
Behind the dull plastic of her HazMat faceplate, Fraiser's lips looked thinner than usual, and Jack took that as a bad sign.
"As far as I can tell, there's nothing wrong with him, and yet his scans show drastically reduced brain activity. It's as though he has enough brainpower to keep his autonomic functions going, but nothing else. I can't see any brain damage per se, but this total shutdown... We'll keep an eye on him, Colonel. And it wouldn't be the strangest thing in the world for him to just... wake up. Maybe the aliens gave him a drug we can't test for, and it'll wear off. For now, all we can do is wait and see."
Jack found Carter in her lab, grimly reviewing MALP transmissions.
"I'm using various sound filters to see if I can get any patterns. Something we could use to base some sort of interspecies communications on. I get the feeling that if we could just ask
them what happened to Daniel, that they could fix it."
"Nothing so far. I started with low frequencies, like the ones used on PJ2-445, but now I'm scanning the other side of the scale. My concern is that the MALP isn't sensitive enough to record sounds in that range, and that I'll miss something."
"We can rig something up and send another MALP through," Jack soothed. "You'll get it." He looked up at Teal'c, who looked back impassively. Jack was satisfied. Teal'c would keep an eye on Carter and serve as a sounding board while Jack sat with Daniel. After all, somebody had to be there when he woke up.
Two days later, Carter had had no luck with any of the sound filters, and Daniel was still asleep.
Jack was beginning to dread Fraiser, because she no longer offered any prognosis on Daniel beyond a small shake of the head.
Which brought Jack through Hammond's door and into his office.
"General, request permission to go back to FX8-091."
Hammond looked up from his reports, gave a heavy sigh and shook his head.
"There's too high a probability that there will be a repeat of the incident that occurred during your first meeting with the beings of that planet. I won't risk SG-1."
"Just let me go, then. You'll still have Teal'c and Carter. They're both smarter than me anyway."
"Just let me go and... talk
to them. I'll wear a HazMat suit. It'll be fun."
Hammond gave him a shrewd look, and then nodded curtly.
"You can go alone, provided you follow quarantine procedures. The beings didn't seem overtly hostile, although there's really no way to tell if we violated any of their cultural taboos."
Jack felt a smile settle on his face for the first time in days. "You've been spending too much time with Daniel."
Hammond made a rueful sound. "With any luck, we'll both have the opportunity to spend 'too much' time with him again."
"Oh yeah, you betcha. Sir."
The MALP had shown the settlement exactly as they'd left it. Before he followed the MALP through, he could feel Sam's anxious eyes on his back, and Teal'c's strong wish to accompany him.
The wavy tree guys seemed to have been expecting him, although this time they didn't crowd close or try to touch him. They stood around in a loose half circle, and even though they didn't have eyes (eyes he could see anyway), he could tell they were checking him out.
One came forward and backed away again. Where it had been standing was a white bar like the one they'd used on Daniel. Then the herd of them waved at him in a slow way that reminded him of underwater photography. They clearly wanted him to take it. Or maybe just leave again.
"Thanks. I guess."
He picked up the device and almost dropped it when it started talking to him. In Daniel's voice.
"Jack. This is weird. This is like... I guess it's like being dead. Anyway, the Fijar have used this device to catch my thoughts in the last moments before my death. So. If you're hearing this, I must be dead. Which is odd, for me. Although not as odd as it might have been for someone who hasn't already been dead several times."
Get to the point, Daniel, Jack thought, and the device seemed to hear him, and Daniel checked his rambling.
"Anyway. Even though I may be seconds from corporeal death, my consciousness seems to have as much time as it needs, so that's... nice. Um. Tell Sam and Fraiser that the Fijar have a sort of hive mind, and that they communicate with touch and gesture and very largely though pheromones. Apparently humans don't react well to large quantities of Fijaren pheromones, as I almost immediately went into cardiac arrest after they touched me." There was a small pause, and Jack could tell that Daniel himself wasn't sure if he was being sarcastic or not. "You should know that they're a peaceful people, and that my death was entirely accidental. So. There's that."
You're not dead, you know, Jack thought at the bar, but this time Daniel just kept talking.
"As often as I've died, I don't think we've ever really discussed what I'd like to do with my personal effects, but there's a letter in my locker for you that should help with that. Everything classified should be returned to the Mountain, I guess. Except for anything that you or Sam or Teal'c would like to keep. I think Sam might like the Ektari animal carvings." There was a sound that couldn't be anything but Daniel clearing his throat, which was weird, as Daniel hadn't actually recorded
"I don't know how I know this, I guess the Fijar must have passed the information to me chemically: but this device appears to record your consciousness as electrical impulses. But I've got to tell you, I don't think even Sam could reverse engineer this. In fact, anything I can tell you about the Fijar is pretty largely extrapolated, as they don't really have a language I could explain to you, seeing as they don't have any words, really, or anything like a written alphabet. In fact, this bar is the closest thing they have to 'historical' record, and if they hadn't recorded my consciousness on it, we'd probably never have been able to decipher it.
"I don't know if they have any abilities to alter time, and if they do I can't think it has anything to do with gravitational singularities, or if it's just a false impression generated by-- You know what, I'm going to stop talking now. About this, I mean. Jack."
There was something about the way Daniel's voice framed his name that made Jack's chest tighten.
"Time to go, Daniel," he said aloud, and stowed the device in the HazMat sack he'd brought with him.
"He's not sick," Jack said, taking off his HazMat helmet and walking down the gateroom gangplank toward a waiting Carter and Fraiser. "He was poisoned. Oh, and he had a heart attack."
Fraiser looked surprised.
"But he's in perfect physical health," she asserted.
maybe. The tree guys must have been able to fix him with this." He held out the white bar and waited for Daniel to explain.
Everyone looked at the bar and then at Jack.
"What is it?" Carter asked.
"It's... Daniel." Their eyes widened. "Sort of," Jack clarified. He shook the device slightly. "Go on, Daniel. Tell 'em."
The bar was silent, and Jack became a thousand times more sympathetic to the man in that cartoon about the singing frog. "Look, he just talked to me. It's like his brain is in there. You know, like Thor was in the mother ship?"
Sam's eyes shone, but Fraiser still looked skeptical.
"Even if he is
in there," Fraiser said, brown eyes snapping, "How do we get him back in his body?"
"We can ask him." Jack considered. "Probably. The Fijar communicate with chemicals and they apparently explained a whole lot before they stuffed Daniel's brain into this handy convenience pack."
He handed the bar to Sam, "Here. See what you can do with it."
"Sam," the bar said.
"Daniel," Sam said slowly, looking up at Jack with amazement.
Jack smiled at her.
But hours later, Sam hadn't really been able to communicate with the device; it knew when she was in the room, but was apparently unable to answer her questions. For all intents and purposes, it was a recording, and not a living consciousness that could respond as a sentient mind. Calls in to the Asgard and the Tok'ra left them no closer to figuring out the technology, which for once, was apparently truly alien, even to their allies.
"I've scanned it with every sensor we've got. It seems to be solid. No machinery of any kind, no power source. Frankly, sir, I'm way out of my league. I can't even tell you what it's made of."
"Yeah. Well. You... keep at it. I'm sure something'll come to you."
Sam shocked him by bursting into tears.
"That's just it, sir, I don't think it will. I have no idea how to download this consciousness into Daniel's body, or even any idea if that would work. There are no input or output modules, and there's no way for me to even try to hook it up
. At least when he ascended, he had his soul
... now he's just... just... lying
Jack found himself rhythmically massaging her left shoulder and unable to meet her eyes.
"It's just... It's so hard, because I can hear him when I'm alone in the lab, and he seems so close, like I could just turn around and see him--"
"Indeed." Teal'c set his hand on Sam's free shoulder. "When I held the device in my hand, it spoke to me, and said many things that I believe to be the thoughts of Daniel Jackson's heart and mind. That he is alive and yet without consciousness--"
"Yeah, well it's a tough old world," Jack snapped, and the words were bitter. "Where is that thing, anyway?"
"It's in Daniel's office. I figured, maybe, if it... it was just a silly idea." She blotted at her face with the back of her sleeve.
"Maybe he'll tell me something that you guys haven't heard yet. He always seems especially prone to rambling when I'm around."
The look of ragged hope in Carter's eyes was encouragement enough.
Daniel apparently had a lot to say, and a lot more on his chest than divvying up his knick-knacks in the event of his death. Stuff Jack had suspected, stuff that had surprised the hell out of him, all of it tough to deal with-- even the things Jack was glad to hear, as he was pretty sure he wasn't ready to hear them. Especially if Daniel never woke up.
An hour after Carter had left him for pie, Daniel was still going strong and Jack was primed for rash action.
And still, the bar only stopped yammering at him when he unlocked the door and ran into an airman in the hall.
It was late, he thought. He could shoo the nurses out and maybe nobody would ever have any reason to review the security tape. And if they did, maybe Carter would have the good sense to quietly sabotage it.
When he got to the infirmary, Daniel was asleep. Just like he'd been for days now. They'd washed his hair, and it was still in little toweled-up spikes on his head. He smelled, weirdly, of baby shampoo.
"Hey. Daniel." Jack made a half-hearted attempt to wake him by shaking Daniel's foot through the hospital blanket. "Daniel? Come on, buddy. Wakey-wakey now."
Jack sighed. Even unconscious, Daniel looked good. He let himself take in the line of Daniel's jaw, the slow rise and fall of his chest, the long fingers relaxed in sleep. Damn it, Daniel.
"Fine. Be that way." Jack stood up and rubbed his hands together before exhaling deeply and leaning over Daniel's bed. "Here goes nothing."
Daniel's mouth was warm, soft and sour. Jack guessed it was hard to get a coma patient to rinse and spit. For a second, Jack just closed his eyes and tried not to feel like an idiot.
And then Daniel moved.
Jack sprang back, already grinning in anticipation.
Daniel blinked, then squinted Jack's way.
"Son of a bitch
!" Daniel said.
Jack felt the grin go a little wonky.
"Tell me, tell
me I am not a freakin' robot
," Daniel continued.
"Uh." Jack did some squinting of his own. "You're not a robot."
Daniel was slapping at his own face and tugging at his hospital gown as if making sure it was real.
"Okay. That's good for starters. Now tell me something else: why the hell
am I in two places at once?" Daniel illustrated his ire with a violent hand flap indicating himself and Jack.
"Yeah. This is not good," Jack muttered. He spun on his heel and shouted. "Airman!"
An airman, a spindly little guy, Umesh, Jack thought, came jogging in, gun at his shoulder.
"Find Carter. Get her here yesterday
Daniel sat back and cocked his head. "Hey. Bright eyes. You wanna explain this to me?" Daniel pointed at himself.
"Well. You're Daniel." Daniel hadn't appeared to hear him, so Jack added, "Jackson."
"Oh for Christ's sake
," Daniel hissed, and flopped back on his hospital cot to glower. After a minute of heavy breathing, he said, "If I'm supposed to be Daniel, who are you?"
"Jack O'Neill. Colonel. Yada yada yada."
"Funny, because from where I'm sitting I'd swear I
was Jack O'Neill."
Oh, this just kept getting better and better.
"Yeah. Well. The mirror says different." And Jack brought him one of the shaving mirrors Fraiser kept around for quarantines and what not.
Daniel stared at himself in the mirror for a very long time. And then he prodded at his own lower lip in apparent fascination. Finally, he looked up at Jack.
"You're not kidding, are you?"
"Nope. Not kidding."
"But... Then why do I think I'm me? I mean, you. I mean 'Jack'?" He illustrated the last word with air quotes.
"Haven't the faintest," Jack rejoined.
"We're not one hundred percent sure about that, actually. We think he's in this little alien doodad from our last mission."
"Of course you do." Daniel slumped a bit on his cot.
Jack gave him an apologetic shrug.
"Sir? Daniel!" Carter bounced into the room and almost
hugged Daniel... right before she gave in to impulse and hugged him after all. "You're awake!" she enthused.
"I'm not so sure about that," Daniel said, glaring at Jack over Sam's jaunty shoulder.
Sam pulled back to give Daniel a look of heartfelt concern.
"We've got problems," Jack and Daniel said together.
Carter was conferring with Fraiser and Hammond, and two more nurses had shown up to look at clipboards and keep Daniel hydrated. Stretched out on the next hospital bed, Jack was watching Daniel study himself in the mirror again, combing his fingers through Daniel's hair and setting his teeth in his own lower lip and making rabbit faces.
"Will you cut that out?"
Daniel gave him a look that was almost amused. Teal'c came in and broke into a dazzling smile.
"It is good to see that you are well, Daniel Jackson."
"Yeah, about that," Jack began.
"Hey, T." Daniel mustered a wry grin. "I guess this beats a coma. But not by much."
At Teal'c's inquiring eyebrow, Jack volunteered, "He thinks he's me."
"Would if I could."
"I bet you anything it was Daniel's fault," Daniel said darkly.
"Don't forget. Daniel is you
"The jury's still out on that," Daniel answered.
"I don't think so. You know you're supposed to be Daniel. In fact, any minute now you're gonna be asking for your glasses and something to read in alien."
Daniel smacked his forehead.
That's why everything's so blurry."
Teal'c studied Daniel for a long moment and then handed him a pair of eyeglasses from the tall metal stand near Daniel's bed.
"Is there anything you require, Daniel Jackson?"
Daniel stopped blinking at himself in the mirror behind his glasses and said, "Some pants would be nice."
Teal'c inclined his head and left, presumably for the lockers.
"Look, why don't I let you get some shut-eye. You must be tired after all that... sleeping."
"Uh. I don't think you should go anywhere," Daniel intoned.
"Why the heck not?"
"Because I look a hell of a lot like Daniel
," he said, sweeping a hand out to indicate his own body. Jack gave him a speculative once over. Broad shoulders, check. Molded arms, new but still standard Daniel issue, check. Hot ass-- Oh.
"But you're you
!" Jack insisted, a little desperately.
"Actually, at the moment, I'm you
"Whatever. Who cares? Grope away. Go crazy! I'm pretty sure you won't kiss and tell."
"And if Daniel wakes up and remembers that I-- that you-- that we
-- Damn it! What if he remembers
Jack tried to focus: the version of Jack that was currently inhabiting Daniel's body didn't know what Daniel had said on that recording. Probably. And even if he did, admissions made under threats of death didn't necessarily mean that Daniel was... would...
Daniel gave him a warning perk of the eyebrows and Jack dropped his hands.
"Fine. I'll stay. But when Teal'c gets back, I'm putting him on guard duty. You can crash here for a while until we get this whole thing figured out."
"You'd better make it quick," Daniel said. "It's only a matter of time before I go cruising for chicks in this thing."
Jack prodded at his fruit cup with a fork while Sam frowned at him in her I'm-A-Scientist way. He dropped his fork and toyed with the idea of throwing a grape at her.
"It's just a theory."
"Okay." She leaned forward, her elbow skating his tray to one side. "I think it's because you touched him first, after he passed out on FX8-091."
"Are you saying I gave him my cooties?"
Her eyes crinkled slightly.
"No, sir. I think that when Daniel had his heart attack, the Fijar tried to fix him, and that they decided to... well, 'back him up', for want of a better term, in case they couldn't heal him."
"What does that have to do with me?"
"Daniel told us the Fijar have a hive mind, right? Because they have a shared consciousness, they didn't know that, for humans, one mind isn't as good as 'any'
mind in a particular body."
"Okay. But if that's true, why keep Daniel on ice in that bar of soap thingy?"
Sam did that thoughtful little head cant and mouth thing she did when she was trying to get all the pieces to fit.
"Probably to learn about us. I mean, Daniel said they communicated with him, so they must have learned enough about us to know you'd go back to see them. After all, they did give you the device as soon as you got to the settlement."
"So how come he was asleep all that time?"
"I'm not sure, but I have a hunch. After we got back, did you touch Daniel again? Was there any skin-to-skin contact before last night?"
Willing himself not to flush while thinking about his whole Sleeping Beauty schtick, Jack shook his head.
"But tons of people must have. The nurses, Fraiser."
"Yes, but the Fijar communicate through touch and pheromones, so maybe they keyed Daniel to recognize you
, and when you touched him again, his body recognized you and he woke up thinking he was supposed to be
Jack just stared at her.
"Kind of like when goslings imprint on the first moving object they see when they hatch," she offered helpfully.
"And this makes sense
to you?" Jack squinted at her, not entirely sure she wasn't yanking his chain.
She shrugged one shoulder.
"I admit it's based largely on speculation, but it's a start."
"Do me a favor, huh?"
She opened her eyes wide, the picture of attentive obedience.
"Tell Daniel I gave him my cooties."
The gym was busy at this hour, with many airmen coming off shift and changing into workout gear to spar and practice holds and throws on the mats. Daniel counted fifty on his fifth set of push-ups and then rolled over to stretch out on the gym floor, letting his arms fall to his sides. Teal'c was looking down at him with tolerant approval.
"Daniel can do a lot
of these," Daniel said, sitting up. Daniel was a little impressed despite himself. It certainly explained the new muscles. Still, when the hell had Daniel started doing push-ups? On his knuckles?
Flexing his hands, Daniel glanced at Teal'c.
"Indeed. Together we have increased our overall physical endurance with targeted exercises and improved nutrition."
"Upon your return, you expressed an interest in developing your combat skills, as well as your physical strength. And since I now no longer possess the enhanced strength and immunity provided by a symbiote, I have begun to study the ways of the Tau'ri regarding these matters. It is my belief that we have made satisfactory progress. Dr. Fraiser has congratulated you many times on your trigliceride levels."
Teal'c offered him a hand up, and taking it, Daniel bounced to his feet and headed for the locker room with Teal'c trailing after him.
"If you say so. Where'd you learn all this stuff, anyway? Jack LaLane?"
"I am unsure of who you are referring to. To my knowledge there has never been anyone by that name on the personnel roster. However, to better my physical performance, I have conducted research on the Internet and subscribed to a Tau'ri periodical on this subject." Teal'c pointed at a stack of magazines arranged on a shelf near the heavy bag.
"You have read many articles on how to gain the most benefit with the least effort."
"Leave it to Daniel to read this for the articles
," Daniel muttered. "Hey, let me ask you something--
Did Daniel ever talk to you about girls? You know, anybody he was interested in? On base, maybe?"
Teal'c took his time answering, and the pause alone was enough to flag Daniel's interest.
"You have mentioned several times that you find Nurse Polosek very interesting," Teal'c said finally.
"As in interesting
interesting, or just interesting
?" Daniel made a wavy hand gesture to illustrate the particular brand of interesting that he was going for.
After a moment of consideration, Teal'c said, "I believe your interest includes rather lengthy gazes at her legs as she walks away."
Daniel felt a flicker of disappointment before the name clicked the right picture into his mind's eye, offering him some pleasant consolation.
. Now I remember her. Not bad." Not bad at all. Her legs went all the way to the floor, and then some. Still. Daniel figured it couldn't hurt to ask. "Anyone else?"
"To my knowledge, there are no other women," Teal'c answered, and raised one eyebrow slightly. He'd plainly twigged to Daniel's line of questioning, and Daniel figured he'd gotten all the intel he was gonna get.
Daniel broke eye contact in order to select a magazine. Time to change tactics, muddy the water a bit. At the very least, change the subject.
"So, Teal'c, old buddy, old pal, what can you tell me about 'tips for top performance in the bedroom'?"
Daniel had been assigned to the VIP room's bland environs, and as it had a private bath, Jack was on hand to see that any showers remained brisk and economical.
"That means cold and short, Daniel," he heard Jack call through the closed bathroom door.
Daniel wrapped a towel around his waist and stalked out of the bathroom, glaring.
"Give it a rest, will ya? I'm not gonna get fresh. Besides, do I have to remind you that coffee goes right through him? Kindergartners
have to pee less than he does. I've seen his dick more in the last two days then in the entire eight years I've known the guy. And we are talkin' a lot
of communal showers, here."
Jack gave him a blank, cheery smile, resolutely ignoring him, and placed a tin of playing cards and game pieces in the center of the table.
"What'll it be? Poker? Chess? A little canasta?"
"We could probably tear up a few levels of Halo 2," Daniel offered, tugging a clean set of boxers up under his towel. "We can borrow Hanson's X-Box and play online."
"Nah, I'm tired," Jack said, rubbing at his eyes. "If I play it now, I'll just get seasick."
"Yeah." Daniel pulled a T-shirt over his head and rubbed at his hair with his damp towel.
"Wanna watch a movie?"
"I'm not in the mood."
"Well what are
you in the mood for?" Jack sniped.
Daniel gave him a long look, wondering what his expression looked like on Daniel's face. Apparently it looked about right, as Jack flushed and dropped his eyes.
"Daniel. We are not gonna do this."
"Why not? We're sober, consenting adults."
"On a secret military base, under weird alien
influences, in a job where our lives depend on each other and you're under my command!"
"Daniel doesn't care about any of that, and you know it."
"How the hell would you
know? You're not him! And even if Daniel doesn't care, he should. You
should. There should be a lot of caring!"
He gave Daniel the stink eye until Daniel picked up a Bicycle deck and dealt out a hand of poker. After another warning look, Jack picked up his cards.
"He wouldn't care," Daniel said again under his breath, feeling sullen.
Jack got to his feet and threw his cards down.
"If I were you, and I am
-- oh, for Pete's sake--" Jack clapped a hand over his eyes and took a deep breath.
"I need a drink," he and Jack said together.
"You know what?" Jack asked. "I'm outta here. You just do whatever it is you're gonna do. I'm gonna get some sleep."
Sure you are, Daniel thought.
"Sleep!" Jack insisted, as if Daniel had spoken aloud, and he banged out of the room, leaving Daniel alone with his thoughts.
Well, alone with Jack's thoughts, anyway.
The next morning, Carter found him in Daniel's office, hungover and trying to make sense of one of Daniel's books. She came bearing coffee and for that, he loved her just a little bit more than he usually did.
"So it would seem," he said, taking a grateful slurp from his mug. "But you know what? I can't read this." He stamped a forefinger against the page and Carter canted her head and with a rueful look, turned the book upside down.
"That doesn't help," Daniel reported, after a cursory glance. "You
can read Goa'uld?"
"Not really. I can recognize a few of the symbols. Daniel-- that is, you, were helping me pick out a few major phrases."
"Look, you and Daniel have this whole Xan and Jayna thing going on--" At Carter's uncertain blink, Daniel revised, "You're close. Wholesome brother/sister dynamic. With the superpowers." She didn't look convinced. "Anyway. You know I'm not really him, right?"
"You will be," Carter promised, after a searching pause.
"Shyeah." Daniel stared glumly at his own folded hands.
"Well. Daniel. As long as you're... Jack. Ish. Can I ask you a question?"
"Do you like Pete?"
"What's not to like?" Daniel said.
"No, really. I want to know."
"From what I've seen of him, he seems like a good guy. He's lucky to have you."
"And? I think he's the real thing. No offense, Carter, but the guys you've hung around with in the past were kind of... wispy."
"Wispy?" She was plainly offended, and Daniel figured he might as well go all the way.
"Not really there. Guys from other planets... or other planes? Sound familiar? Pete likes you, and he lives, you know, on the same continent. So. He could be the real deal."
She gave him a little nod, and then leaned forward to kiss his temple.
"Thank you, sir." She blushed. "I mean, Daniel."
Daniel wondered, as Carter tripped away, if Daniel had always been the Dear Abbey of the Mountain, or if it was just a new thing, like... wearing Daniel's underwear.
Jack had appropriated Hanson's X-Box and was busy shooting aliens in the gameroom behind the airhockey table when Carter appeared at his elbow.
"Sir? I think we need to go back to FX8-091."
"Of course we do," Jack sighed, dropping his controller. Keeping an eye on this new Daniel had been a fresh and unexpected hell, and he was way past ready for Daniel to be magically restored so that he could get a few days sleep in his own bed. Maybe clean his gutters, just for kicks.
"I'm pretty sure that if we bring Daniel back to the planet, the Fijar may be able to learn enough from the device to... well, to reboot him." Carter looked optimistic about it, and that was good enough for Jack.
"I'll get a go from General Hammond. You tell the kids to pack their lunches."
"There's just... one thing. Colonel, do you think-- I mean--"
"Out with it," Jack ordered.
"If we get Daniel back, the consciousness that's currently inhabiting Daniel's body will be overwritten. And since he's... sort of you
, sir, do you think--"
There was no doubt in his mind... that there'd be no doubt in his mind.
"I'd want him back, Carter. You just make it happen."
She touched his hand briefly and gave him a solemn, big-eyed nod.
Jack had his team, the alien doohickey, and a crowd of wavy tree-guys dead ahead.
"Now what?" he and Daniel said together. He and Daniel then immediately gave each other the hairy eyeball through their HazMat faceplates. Yeah, that was definitely getting old.
Carter gave Jack a befuddled little shrug that was hard to see under all that yellow plastic before turning her eyes to Daniel.
"Perhaps if Daniel Jackson approaches the Fijar with the device," Teal'c suggested.
Daniel now took the opportunity to give Teal'c a dirty look before holding up the white bar and approaching the nearest Fijar.
"Hey there. Thanks for the whole external hard-drive and all, but I was wondering if you could, you know... put all this back in Daniel's head? Where it belongs?"
It seemed to Jack that the Fijar huddled up a bit, and he warily tightened his hands on his P-90.
He could see Carter chewing thoughtfully on her lower lip out of the corner of his eye. After a moment, she said, "Sir? I think we'll need to take our suits off to talk with them."
"Carter, as I understand it, their pheromones cause heart attacks. That doesn't sound like a lot of fun to me."
"As long as we avoid direct contact, sir, I think we'll be all right. It's just that, because of the way they communicate, they might not be able to read us without picking up on our own pheromones. They may be able to see us, but not 'hear' us. So to speak."
"If you say so. Daniel? Carter says you'll need to take your helmet off."
Daniel hesitated a moment before obligingly tucking his helmet under his arm and squaring his shoulders. Then he held up the white bar again. Almost instantly, the Fijar in front of Daniel reached out an appendage and tapped Daniel on the forehead. He dropped his helmet and crumpled backwards; Jack scrambled to catch him before he hit the ground.
that!" Jack gave the tree-people an accusing glare before leaning over Daniel's slack form to check for a pulse. He could hear Teal'c and Carter hurry over as he dragged Daniel into a sitting position.
"You can let go of me now."
Daniel was back.
"So... what just happened?" Jack asked.
"Oh. Basically, they just reminded me that I wasn't...uh. You."
"Peachy. On your feet, Daniel. We're blowing this pop stand."
"Well," said Daniel, taking Teal'c's offered hand and standing up to make an attempt at scraping some of the mud off his jumpsuit. "I... don't think I'm 100% yet."
"You know you're not me, and you're not in a coma. I'd say we're in the clear."
Daniel was squinting at him as if he wasn't at all sure he'd ever seen Jack before, and it was beginning to bug the hell out of Jack.
"I'm a bit fuzzy on the details, but the Fijar told me that I need the bar to get my full memory back."
"Did they tell you how to use it?" Carter asked eagerly.
Jack felt only slightly less annoyed when Daniel gave Sam the same 'Do I know you?' look.
"It's an organic material. I'm supposed to dissolve it in water and drink it. Well, actually they say I should dissolve it in water and soak
in it, but then, they don't have mouths, so..." Daniel waved his hand a little and trailed off.
Teal'c nodded and bent to retrieve the bar, which was lying about four feet away from Daniel's fallen helmet.
A shadow of anxiety passed over Carter's face.
"It's already wet. Daniel. It may be breaking down your memory even now. We need to get back to the lab as soon as possible, sir."
"Take us home, Carter."
Daniel, who looked vaguely confused by the sudden rush of the establishing wormhole, turned toward the Fijar and raised a hand in farewell before Jack prodded him through the event horizon.
Once in the infirmary, Fraiser immediately rigged up an I.V. drip. The white bar, complete with its scrim of mud, dissolved almost instantly in the water. Jack could tell Fraiser wanted to cluck about possible microbial infection, thanks to the alien mud, but she let it go.
"While drinking it is certainly an option," she said, sliding the needle into Daniel's arm, "I think it's a better idea to bypass two liters of HCL and get this solution directly into your bloodstream."
"HCL is stomach acid," Carter explained, companionably bumping Jack's shoulder with her own.
"I knew that," Jack replied blithely.
Then they all milled around waiting to see if the brainjuice kicked in. Even General Hammond.
"It'll take about an hour to empty that I.V. bag," Fraiser said. "So why don't you all go get some lunch?" Jack knew it wasn't a suggestion, so he slung an arm around General Hammond's shoulders.
"Let's go celebrate. Rice pudding for everyone, on me. Daniel, should we bring you anything back?"
Daniel, who had been squinting thoughtfully at a nurse that Jack recognized as Nurse Polosek, turned his head and waved them away. "No, that's okay. I've already remembered that I don't like rice pudding."
An hour later, SG-1 convened again in the infirmary, as Fraiser was unhooking Daniel from the drip.
"Well? How do you feel?" Carter asked.
"Good. The same. My old self. I think." He paused. "Do you think I lost anything? Left anything I might need in there?" Daniel asked, eyeing the I.V.
Jack clapped Daniel's shoulder and said, "Nah. Maybe one of the languages you don't use too much. Flemish. Nothing you'll miss."
"So, Daniel, what's the last thing you remember?" Carter asked. Her sincere interest seemed to confuse Daniel, as his face creased in a frown. Then he caught sight of Jack and his eyes went wide.
"Uh. The Fijar," Daniel answered slowly. Carter kept up the questions like the world's sunniest inquisition and Jack could tell by the way Daniel's eyes kept skating towards him that he was gonna have some explaining to do.
As Daniel was on stand-down for a few days, Hammond gave them all some time off. Sam and Teal'c surprised Jack with requests to vacation off-world. Jacob was apparently home from his last mission, and Jack suspected that Sam wanted to tell him about his potential new son-in-law in person as well as confer with the Tok'ra on their own technology turf. On paper, Teal'c wanted to consult with the Hak'tyl, but Jack figured that was just Jaffa code for canoodling with Ishta. Jack tapped the slim manila folder against his desk, wondering idly how many other guys in the triple digits had hot Amazonian babes on call... until Daniel walked in to his office and set both hands on Jack's desk.
"So." Jack tried. "How's things?"
"While I thought I was you, I watched Weekend At Bernie's
," Daniel started.
"And Weekend At Bernie's II
." Daniel paused, apparently to let the full horror of this admission sink in.
"Ah." Jack tamped down a flicker of guilt and tried to look appropriately sympathetic.
"Want to know what else I did?"
"During your little Andrew McCarthy double feature?" Jack did his best Carson impression: "You drank a bottle of Cuervo Gold and ate two bags of Cheetos."
"No, I-- well, yes, actually, but-- How did you know that?"
"Carter told me you hurled on her boots right after you woke her up to demand her copy of Mannequin
. And I happened to notice that my secret stash was missing. Is it safe to assume that I'm gonna need a new locker combination?"
Daniel's ears went red.
"Sorry," he said.
"Yeah, well, you were sort of me at the time, so." Jack leaned back expansively and steepled his fingers. "Anything else?"
"Jack. Was there anything you wanted to... tell me?"
"Why? Is there anything you want to tell me
?" The best defense was a good offense, Jack told himself coolly. Anything Daniel could remember of his time spent thinking he was Jack was already too much. But, hey, Jack reasoned, Daniel had gone on record first. Of course, he'd thought he was dead at the time... But it so
Daniel's ears got redder.
"No. That was pretty much it. I just stopped by to tell you to try a few Bergman films. Kurosawa, maybe. And to say that I really wish you hadn't made me watch that Pink Panther marathon. And to ask-- just what did I say in the recording I left you?"
"What do you think
"Maybe I'll just come back later," Daniel said stiffly, and walked out.
*First Impressions, Part II