Daniel growls again, a soft sound from the kitchen that's slowly becoming morning white noise. Jack hesitates at the threshold, debating whether he has the stamina to field this one. He's showered and dressed, but he feels brittle from a restless night. Nightmares—his—and he had to solider through them alone even though Daniel was alive, flesh and blood, and at least temporarily living at Jack's house and everyone knew it. It was the kind of situation they would have mutually killed for a year and a half ago, but Daniel still didn't remember a year and a half ago. He still didn't entirely remember Jack.
"Son of a bitch."
The soft curse helps Jack make up his mind, and he turns the corner, trying to look like he hadn't stopped and silently debated about coming into his own kitchen.
"Hey, Jack." The response is distracted, automatic, as Daniel rifles through the corner cabinet, the Tupperware forming Lilliput around the space exploring Gulliver. Daniel is still in his pajamas: blue-striped bottoms and an SGC t-shirt he probably meant to change out of last night. His glasses are propped on his head, and damn if he doesn't look adorable.
"Can I help you with something?"
Daniel sighs, that put-upon frustrated sigh he's been making every time his memory fails him. A lot of things have come back to him, languages, random missions flashing before his mind in full, bits of his marriage, his parents' deaths, and his favorite sweatshirt when he was fifteen. But every time he knows something but can't quite grasp it, that sigh comes out, warning Jack of the impending attitude or rant that he'll be the one to bear full force.
"French press," Jack repeats slowly. An old memory flashes fresh, Daniel indulging them on a Sunday morning, a French press in the middle of the breakfast table.
"I remember there being one in the corner cabinet. It was just to the left of all the—" He gestures to the Tupperware, but Jack isn't sure if that's because he lost the word or he's just flustered. "Did you move it?"
Daniel turns, looking up at Jack. His eyes are frustrated but also very tired, tired of being wrong, of feeling like he doesn't belong in his own life. When he was Ascended, he was physically out of phase with the world, but the mental disconnect is obviously more frustrating.
Jack takes a knee, stacking the plastic containers in a tower. He speaks softly, hating to once again correct Daniel's memory. "I never had a French press."
"You never—? But corner cabinet!" He's sure of it, so sure, but Jack can see the uncertainty cross his face followed by the frustration that once again the wires are crossed and Daniel Jackson came back wrong.
"I think you're remembering your last apartment. The kitchens were very similar." From a certain angle, he tells himself, though Jack's kitchen is larger and Daniel's didn't have the pass-through to the dining room.
Daniel growls again and shoves his palms against his eyes.
"Hey, hey," Jack says softly, taking Daniel's wrists in his hands and pulling them down. "Hey."
"Jack." He draws out the name and leans into Jack's shoulder. Jack's arms encircle him reflexively. He's hugged Daniel since he descended, mostly to make sure he was solid, but this is the gentle hold Jack reserved for a different Daniel.
This Daniel, he corrects himself, just his Daniel. And Daniel doesn't remember that part. Yet.
Jack leans back, planning to put some emotional distance between them, but Daniel grabs his arms, holding Jack close, his head turning, nose burrowing into the hollow of Jack's throat. His mind swims with other times Daniel repeated the same maneuver: naked nights, after sex, cleaning up in the shower, once off-world when Jack had taken a nasty fall down a loosely packed slope, and again, before a sleepy confession of feelings, three weeks before Kelowna. Daniel inhales deeply, his whole body straining and poised to remember.
He inhales again, and Jack stays stock still, not sure what to expect, afraid to hope that this might be the time when Daniel finally comes home.
"I'm sorry," Daniel says, finally pulling away. His eyes are red and his cheeks tear streaked. Sniffling, sobbing, not inhaling.
Something inside Jack breaks a little, but he holds it together because Daniel needs him.
"Don't apologize." He wipes Daniel's tears with his thumb, leaves his hand on Daniel's face when Daniel leans into his palm. Lips brush his skin, but it's not a kiss. It's okay, Jack reminds himself, you just have to wait.
"It's frustrating. Not remembering."
Jack senses the growl coming, so he brings Daniel in for another hug. Daniel turns into Jack's throat again, another inhale, but this time his body relaxes, and even if Daniel doesn't remember, this is better than yesterday, better than last week. Jack still wants that knowing squeeze or flash of realization, or Daniel's lips finally pressed against Jack's. But still being able to take care of Daniel? Daniel finding some kind of peace in Jack's arms? This is enough. For now.