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One Bag

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One Bag
By sg1mouse

It was raining.  It always rained at funerals.  Young Daniel Jackson stood under an umbrella holding his stuffed camel.  His deep blue eyes held an even deeper sadness as his mother and father were lowered into the ground.  He glanced up at his grandfather, only to see a face of stone.

What was going to happen to him now?  Where would he go?  Would anyone ever love him as his parents did?

He pulled at his tie as he fidgeted, first to one foot, than the other.  He didn’t know anyone that was standing around the muddy grave, not that there were many there.

When the caskets came to rest at the bottom of the six-foot hole, his grandfather nudged him forward with a grunt.  Daniel looked up and the old man gave him a stern look, bowing his head at the two roses that the boy held.  With a heavy sigh, that was closer to a sob, he stepped towards the grave and gently dropped the flowers into it.

As the rain-saturated dirt began to fill in the hole, he felt his heart beat with every load.  That was it.  The end of his beloved parents.  Covered in the same earth that they had taken such immense joy in digging up to find the secrets of the past.

***

Daniel sat on the front stoop with his grandfather.  A plastic bag beside his feet held all his worldly possessions.  He wiped at a tear that was trying to reach his chin.  He knew the old man loved him, but he didn’t understand why his mother’s father didn’t want him.

An old car pulled up to the building and stopped.  A woman with fly-away graying hair stepped out of the passenger side and walked up to them.  With a patronizing expression, she held out her hand to Daniel.

The boy turned tear-filled eyes to his grandfather in a last-ditch effort to plead with him.  Again, he saw only a face made of stone.  Gathering his camel and the black garbage bag, he went to the car and got in.  It smelled of smoke, bad perfume, something sickly sweet, disinfectant, a faint odor of puke, and broken dreams.

How many other children had sat in this back seat?  How many others held a single bag that was their life?  Did they cry like he was doing?

Before the door closed, Daniel’s grandfather handed him a book.  It was his mother’s journal.  As the car pulled into the traffic, taking him, god knows where, he held the leather-bound book to his face to chase the bad smells away.

***

For the fifth time in as many years, Daniel waited for a car to come and pick him up.  This time, at least, he had a real duffel bag.  Three pairs of jeans, five t-shirts, underwear, socks, and one light-weight jacket.  The only thing he cared about inside this bag was his mother’s journal and a few other books.  Even though he was now thirteen years old, he still held his camel close to him.

The same gray-haired woman, stepped up to him with a stern look on her face.  Again, he got in the back seat.  Again, the car smelled bad.  Again, he was taken someplace he did not know, to be with people that really did not want him.

Was this going to be the sum of his life?  Shuttled from place to place with only one bag to his name?  Why did his parents do this to him?  Didn’t they think about his future if something happened to them?

Yes!  His mother would’ve thought that her father would step up and take care of him.  Daniel knew his folks couldn’t have predicted that he wouldn’t.  They loved him.

New school, new foster parents, new horrors for him to wade through.  Still… he had one bag that he could call his own.  Daniel hugged his bag close and closed his eyes, waiting for the car to come to a stop at his new life.

***

Sitting at the bus stop, Daniel clutched his ticket in one hand and his one bag in the other.  He was excited and scared at the same time.  Sixteen years old and for the first time in his life, he was on his own.  The sound of the judge’s gavel slamming down still echoed in his ears, but the words ‘Emancipation Granted’ were even stronger.

He was on his way to University.  On his way to a new life.  New challenges.  New faces.  Yet… the same old one bag.  Granted, it was filled a little more.  More clothes, more books, more memories.  His last foster home was good.  They cared for him and he stayed there longer than any of the others.

Daniel’s foster dad was a high school history teacher and would sit with the youngster well into the night, talking about past civilizations.  The man was instrumental in getting Daniel into the University of Chicago.  He even took Daniel to see the campus and meet with his academic advisor. 

His foster mom had helped him pack his one bag with all new clothes and even slipped him $200.00 ‘Mad Money’ for if he ever needed to come back.  She also made sure his stuffed camel was clean and mended from years of hugging.

Daniel smiled as he opened the top of his bag to rest his hand on the camel.  Other than his mother’s journal, that was the only thing he had of his parents.  He always made sure the stuffed animal was packed, no matter how old he was.  It was the one thing that could chase the questions and the demons away.

Would University be better than high school?  Would he be made fun of because of his age?  His size? His intelligence?  Would college life be somewhere he could finally fit in?

As the bus pulled into the station, Daniel felt for the first time in his young life, that things were going to get better and … just maybe… he would have more than one bag.

***

Standing at the entrance of a hotel that he couldn’t even afford to eat in, a 28-year-old Daniel stared at the rain.  His lecture, his career, his life… was again whittled down to just one bag. 

That wasn’t entirely true.  He had one bag with his belongings, and a case for his unconventional books that no one wanted.  Time to start over yet again.  But this time, he wasn’t sure he had it in him to try.  There was nowhere for him to go.  Nowhere for him to call home.

Pulling up his hood and making sure his bag was closed tightly, he stepped out into the harsh rain.  Rain… just like when his parents were laid to rest.  Cold and lonely.  Daniel was at the end of his hope.  The end of his faith in himself to gather the frayed pieces of his life.  He didn’t think even his beloved camel, safely packed in his one bag, would comfort him this time.

Suddenly, two men approached Daniel.  Military men.  What did he do now?  They asked him to get into the backseat of a waiting car.  Just as if he was eight years old again… going to his first foster home.

“Are we going somewhere?” Daniel asked as one of the men opened the door.

“Your gonna be fine,” the other soldier said as he reached for Daniel’s one bag and the case, “we’ll take care of these.”

As the door closed, the first thing he noticed was the smell.  Warm, fresh, with a hint of perfume that reminded him of Egypt.  Lowering his hood, he was taken aback by the presentation of a photo, shown to him by an elderly woman.

A short while later, he was in the rain again.  Standing beside his one bag, travel itinerary in his hands.

What the hell just happened?  Who were these people?  What was this job that the old woman, Catherine Langford, offered him? 

A chance to prove his theories.  A chance to make his parents proud of their son.  He would go.  He really had no other options left to him.  Still… if this would pan out, Daniel would have a life again.

***

Two weeks deep inside a mountain, Daniel was now standing in a room with heavily armed soldiers watching the huge gray ring spin.  It was surreal to the extreme!  He had done it.  He went from ‘never getting paid’ to cracking the code of the coverstone in two weeks, whereas the others had been working on it for years.  Daniel could now prove his theories were right… if they would let him of course.

First, however, they were going to go through this ‘Stargate’ to see what was on the other side.  Daniel could barely wrap his head around the fact he was about to step onto a completely different planet.

He barely noticed when an airman stepped up to him to take his one bag and the case full of books.  After he handed the last thing he owned in this world to the man, he tracked where it was placed on the wheeled cart they called a ‘F.R.E.D’.  Without the one bag in his hands, he felt a little lost, so he fingered the necklace that Catherine had given him for luck instead.

He startled a bit as the blue ‘kawoosh’ sprang from the circle.  First towards them, then back the other way, before settling, brilliant and beautiful before them.  The orders were given, the troops proceeded up the ramp and disappeared into the fluctuating puddle.  Then the F.R.E.D and the rest of the men.  Daniel approached the dazzling blue event horizon with pure amazement on his face.

Where would this take him?  Was he truly sure he had the courage to do this?  For that matter, was he sure he would be able to get them home again?

Too late to turn back now!  He had to follow his one bag.  He had to prove to not only the world that he was right, but himself too.  Daniel touched the shimmer and smiled.  Never… not ever! did he believe his life would take him to a whole different world.  Closing his eyes, taking a deep breath, and holding it, he stepped through.

***

After a rocky start and a tragic middle, Daniel stood at the DHD to watch as O’Neill and the others prepared to step into the ring and go back to earth.  The colonel turned to Daniel and asked if he was sure that he wanted to stay.

“Yes, I’m sure,” Daniel answered with a half-smile.

“Ya, gonna be alright?”

Daniel looked to the beautiful woman that waited for him, then turned back and said, “I’m gonna be alright.  How ‘bout you?”

“Yeah…” O’Neill said with a chuckle, “yeah, I think so.”

Just as the colonel tuned to leave, Daniel grabbed his arm and placed something in his hand.  “Tell Catherine this brought me luck.”

Jack looked at the Eye of Ra symbol on the necklace Daniel had worn, and nodded, “I will.”  Just before he entered the shining puddle, he turned back one last time, “I’ll be seein’ ya’ around… Dr. Jackson.”

Right before he turned back to the stargate, Daniel saw a flicker of regret flash through the colonel’s eyes.  A sad little smile played about his lips and a slight slumping of the man’s shoulders.  Two seconds later, he was gone.

Was Daniel doing the right thing?  Was he where he needed to be?  Was that regret written on Jack’s face?  Did the other man have the same feeling of a loss that hadn’t completely taken shape yet?

Sha’re snuggled into his arms as they turned to leave the pyramid and return to the village.  Daniel made sure his one bag was safely tucked under an arm as they stepped into the blinding light.  Yet another new home for him.  New people to learn, but this time… also to teach.

~ ~ ~

As Sha’re lifted the flap of the tent they would now share as husband and wife, Daniel moved past her inside.  He set his one bag down and sat next to it.  Sha’re settled beside him to watch as he opened the bag and pulled out his mother’s leather-bound journal.  Over the years, Daniel had added a few personal entries on the blank pages in the back.  As he pulled his pen out to write, he noticed the dark-eyed woman extract his stuffed camel with a curious smile.

Daniel spent the next hour explaining what it was, where it was from, and why it was important to him.  And the hour after that, had him enlightening her as to what a pen was and how it worked.  Yes, he decided, this was where he, and his one bag, was supposed to be.

***

As Daniel was studying the writings on the chamber wall, a young man came running in with a small box.  With eyebrows high, the bespectacled man took the box from Bolaa with a smile.  The stargate was open to earth again.  After a year on Abydos, Daniel decided that it was time to unburied the gate, just in case, someone from his home planet might need him.

That and the slight longing to see a certain colonel again.  Sha’re took the box of Kleenex from him and asked what they were.  After explaining the concept of disposable ‘nose-rags’ to her, he opened the box and pulled them all out.  Daniel pushed them into his one bag, and took out his marker to write: THANKS, SEND MORE.  He took the now empty box back to the stargate and dialed Earth, tossing the box through as soon as the event horizon settled into place.

When the ‘gate shut down, he turned to go back to his tent and gather his belongings.  Taking Sha’re by the hand, he told her that it was time for them to visit his home planet and that she should also pack a bag.  She trotted after her husband, trying to keep up, and riddled him with questions.  Questions, he was not inclined to answer.  Mostly because he wasn’t entirely sure what the answers were.

Did he want to go back to Earth to prove something to the academic world?  Was he going because he actually missed his home?  Could it be the feeling that Abydos was just another foster home for him? Or secretly, was it because of Colonel Jack O’Neill?

Daniel began cramming his scattered clothes and personal items into his one bag.  Making sure to have his mother’s journal.  He became frantic when he couldn’t find his long-suffering stuffed camel.  After throwing blankets and pillows and rugs all over the tent, Sha’re gently placed a hand on his shoulder, handing him the camel.

With love in his eyes, he pulled Sha’re into a tight hug.  And he did love her.  She was everything to him… on this planet.  He really hoped that would stay true when they got back to Earth.  The idea that they wouldn’t allow her to stay never even crossed his mind.

***

On his way back to where the stargate stood, Daniel could feel the ground beneath his feet tremble.  He had forgotten to tell those that stood guard at the gate that people were going to be coming through.  He picked up his pace, not wanting a fire-fight to breakout.

When he reached the chamber, there was a stand-off between his boys and the soldiers from Earth.

“Cha'hali! Cha'hali,” Daniel shouted as he ran into the room, hands up.  “Lower your guns.”

When the tension in the room abated, Daniel saw who he was hoping to see.  A strange flutter stirred in his gut.  Colonel Jack O’Neill tuned and locked eyes for only a very brief second.

“Hello, Jack.  Welcome back.”

Jack barely acknowledged Daniel as he moved past the younger man and went right to Skaara.  Daniel now had a sinking feeling that this wasn’t the greatest idea.  Still, he had his one bag ready to go, if indeed he was going anywhere.

After the hellos were made, Sha’re made her presence known.  She shyly sidled up to her husband, securing herself to his side.  Daniel knew that in the back of her mind, she was thinking she would lose him.

Was that true?  Did he genuinely want to be with someone that thought of him as merely a geek?  Would he go back to Earth if Sha’re didn’t want too?

Much later that night, the mood was festive and Daniel’s fears quietly slinked away.  Sha’re wouldn’t let him venture very far from her side, though.  He could tell she was still very unsettled.  Daniel tried to reassure her with gentle squeezes and holding her hand like they always did.  He hadn’t even thought to ask her if she wanted to go to Earth, but she followed him everywhere, so he wasn’t too worried about it.  Besides, what could go wrong?

When the sandstorm ended, Daniel wanted to show Jack and the others what he had discovered.  Just before they left, Sha’re grabbed him and kissed him like there was no tomorrow, making sure that O’Neill was watching.  Totally stunned, Daniel grabbed his one bag and led the others out of the pyramid in a daze.

***

Daniel sat in the overstuffed armchair, one leg draped over the arm, cold beer in his hand.  He had lost everything yet again.  Just because he was curious, he had unburied the stargate.  Just because he was pining for someone he barely knew, he opened his adopted people up to the horrors of the Goa’uld again.  Just because he couldn’t settle down and live the life of a good husband… Sha’re and Skaara were taken.  And others still were killed.

What was he going to do to get his wife back?  Where had they taken them?  Why was his life reduced to just one bag?

One bag was all he had yet again.  No place to call his home.  He wasn’t even wearing his own clothes.  Jack O’Neill had brought him home to his birth planet and even opened his own home to Daniel.  Jack assured him they would find Sha’re and Skaara, but he knew the universe was big, and they really didn’t know where to start.  He promised his Good Father that he would never stop looking for them.  Told the people of Abydos to bury the ‘gate for an entire year, not letting him get back, but keeping the others from getting there also.  At least not by the ‘gate.

Daniel thought long and hard that night, in a room that was not his own.  On a planet, he wasn’t sure could ever be his.  With a heart that was torn in two.  His life… the life that had been thrust upon him the moment he took his first breath, seemed to always be reduced to just one bag.  He was relegated to the contents that could be stuffed into something he could carry with one hand.

He thought of his parents.  They were transient, nomadic, but they always seemed to have more than enough for their little family to call a home.  Daniel felt that he was more indigent than transient.  Never having much money, never owning anything but his one bag.  He reached down beside the bed he was allowed to use and pulled his camel out of his bag.  Hugging it close, Daniel wept bitter tears.  Not just for himself, no!  As far as he was concerned, he was the last thing he cried for.  His tears were for his mom and dad, his grandfather and his face of stone.  His Sha’re and Skaara.  For all the loss, his young life had been a part of. 

Maybe it was him.  Maybe, he was bad.

After a good long pity-party, Daniel stuffed his camel back into it’s safe place, and resolved to rescue his family and go back to Abydos.  Back to the only real home he ever had.  Even though, deep in his heart, there was a certain Air Force Colonel… it would just have to stay buried.  Just like his parents.

***

Five years.  It has been five years and Daniel Jackson was still with Stargate Command.  It’s the longest time he had ever been in one place.  He had an apartment, money, a job… even friends.  His life had expanded from his one bag.

Even though Daniel had lost his wife, he was able to rescue his brother-in-law and free him from the control of the Goa’uld. He was beginning to believe in not only himself but in the possibilities of his future.  Things were really started looking up for him.

The only thing that wasn’t quite up to his hopes was Jack.  And it was taking a toll on their friendship.  Daniel felt relegated to ‘just the linguist’ or ‘just the civilian’.  He was no longer a valued member of the team.  Even though he had trained hard with Teal’c and got stronger than he had ever been.  Despite working with Ferretti and Carter at the range and could field-strip any number of weapons in the dark and with precision.

This day had been no different.  Jack was riding him about everything.  Daniel wasn’t sure what he had done wrong, but there he was, in the dark of his apartment with a beer slowly warming in his hand.  His mind was spinning as he sat and stared at his mother’s journal, the stuffed and battered camel, and his one bag. 

Jack didn’t believe in him anymore.  The whole situation that morning with Reese made it perfectly clear to Daniel.  O’Neill just didn’t trust him enough to stop Reese and her ‘toys’.  Didn’t trust him enough to have Jack’s and the team’s back in a fire fight.  Hell, the colonel wasn’t even doing team-nights any longer.  At least, not with Daniel in attendance.

Why should he stay here?  Where would he go?  With his knowledge of other inhabited planets and that he was right about the pyramids, would the government let him become a teacher?  Or would he have to reduce himself to being a mute shovel-bum?

With one last pull on the beer in his hand, Daniel decided to make sure he had his one bag packed and ready to go.  The overwhelming feeling of a major change in his life was too much to ignore.  Perhaps he could find a pleasant world to ‘disappear’.  Give his life a new chapter to write about in his mother’s journal.

***

They called him Arrom.  He knew in the back of his mind that wasn’t his name, but it fit… for now.  He knew nothing… had nothing.  The robes on his back given sheepishly by the tribesmen.  A very elderly woman handed him a bag to keep things he would gather in.  He wasn’t one of them.  They knew nothing of him.  His soul was in mourning.

Shamda cared for Arrom.  Made sure he ate and had a place to sleep, but the younger man was lost.  Lost in his mind, in his spirit, and in his surroundings.  No amount of stories the old man told him made anything better.

Arrom would wander for hours outside the small, nomadic village.  There were old writings and pictures that drew him to them.  He didn’t know why.  He was sure if he could just stare at them long enough, something would click and he would be able to understand them.  He couldn’t read, wasn’t even sure he could write.  Some of the others could write, but nothing they showed him was understandable.

At night, in his tent, he would draw in the sand with a stick.  Images of a beast he had never seen.  A beast with a long face, spindly legs and two humps on it back.  Shamda asked him what it was, but Arrom didn’t have a clue.  He just knew the beast was important to him in some way.

In his one bag, he kept a few pieces of charcoal and parchment to draw with.  He would sketch faces of people he did not know.  A dark-eyed beauty with curly long hair and robes much like his own.  A tall, regal man, dark and powerful with a symbol on his forehead.  Then there was a different woman, with hair like the sun, short and wavy.  Arrom could never get her eyes just right.  The black charcoal just didn’t do them justice.

Then there was the other man.  His face would come to Arrom in his dreams.  Sometimes the man was pleased, but mostly he just seemed annoyed.  Arrom drew him only once, then burned the image right after.

Who was this man?  Why did the stranger make him feel both happy and disappointed at the same time?  Were these people that he had known?  Or people he would meet?

As the flames began to lick around the drawn image, Arrom’s heart ached.  He quickly reached in the fire and snatched the parchment out, burning his hand quite nicely.  He patted the smoldering edges and carefully placed the image with the others, inside his one bag.

Very early one morning after two full moon rises, Arrom went to his ‘thinking spot’ beside the ruins he loved so much.  He was sitting staring at the symbols on the wall, when he felt the ground tremor slightly.  He knew that meant the giant stone ring was moving.  The tribe often traded with others through the ring, but today wasn’t one they usually did so.

If there were people coming, Arrom knew it would be better to head back to camp.  Soon, he came across some people he had never seen before.  Their clothing was very different than those that usually come through the chappa'ai.  But what happened next, made Arrom’s stomach lurch.  At first, it was as if they had seen a ghost!  But then, they seemed to know who he was.  Called him by a different name.  And, they were happy to see him.

These strangers insisted that Arrom come with them back to the camp.  They even escorted him as if he were royalty.  Arrom was wary to the extreme.  As the group entered the camp, the leader announced that they had found something the others of their kind would want to see.

Arrom recognized the tall dark man from his sketches first, but that just couldn’t be true.  There were others as well that resembled his drawings.  Now he was downright scared.  This just couldn’t be real.

When the fair-haired woman reached out to him, called him ‘Daniel’, he just gave her dubious look.  She looked crest-fallen as she said, “It's okay. It's me, Sa-” he brushed her hand away.

The tall, regal black man stepped forward and asked, “Do you not recognize us, Daniel Jackson?”

Arrom shook his head, “I’m sorry.”  With one last skeptical look, Arrom passed the strangers and went to his tent.

The last thing he heard was the gray-haired man shout, “Not even me?”

In the safety of his tent, Arrom played with a taper, the fire on its tip mesmerizing him.  He kept his one bag close, in case he would have to flee.  He wasn’t sure he liked that others knew him when he could not.  Maybe there was a reason he was placed with the tribe.  Maybe those people had put him here… got rid of him, or as a punishment for some unknown wrong doing.  Why should he trust them?

After a few minutes, the gray-haired man entered his tent.  Arrom heaved a sigh.  He didn’t want to talk to these people.

“Please leave me alone,” he said quietly.

The other man moved closer to sit opposite him.  It was apparent that he wasn’t going anywhere.

“I'm Jack O'Neill. And, barring some freakish similarity, you are Dr. Daniel Jackson,” he said gently.

Arrom looked at the man.  He was confused and felt so lost.  “This tent is all I know. These people, they're all I know. Before I woke up in the forest, I don't remember anything. I've tried. I've 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.”  His eyes stung with emotions.

O’Neill leaned forward, with a soft voice, he answered, “You were a member of my team, SG-1. You're a friend of mine. Last year, you died.”

“I’m dead…” Arrom said skeptically.  However, that might explain a few things.

With a slightly blank look, Jack answered, “Obviously not. You just sort of died. Actually, you… ascended to a higher plane of existence. Last time I saw you, you were helping us fight Anubis.”

“Anubis?” Arrom asked.  He had never heard of anyone named Anubis.

“Yeah. Kind of an over-the-top, cliché bad guy. Black cloak, oily skin, kind of spooky. Anyway, obviously since then, you've retaken human form, somehow. I—” Jack paused, realizing how utterly ridiculous this must sound to the poor man.  “Actually, I can see how this might sound a bit unusual…”

“A bit?” Arrom was trying hard to understand, but this was just too much.  “Why am I here?”

After a bit more talking, Arrom felt as if his head was going to explode.  When ‘Jim’ left his tent, he really tried to remember anything that the man had told him, but his mind was as blank as it was before these people showed up.

He lit a candle to chase away some of the gloom he knew had nothing to do with the light in the tent.  Pulling his one bag close to his side, he wondered about his very short life.  Maybe he was this Daniel person.  A noise from the entrance pulled his attention.   

“Can I come in?” the fair-haired woman asked politely.

Arrom blew the candle out again, and sat back.  Great, someone else to tell him who he was.

“Sure.”

She entered and slowly sat down, not too close to him.  “So…”

“What did you say your name was again?” Arrom asked, giving her a fleeting look.

“Samantha Carter. You used to call me Sam,” she answered with a small grin.

He didn’t really want to get into this again.  Even though she was very pretty.  “Yeah, well, like I already told Jim—”

“Uh, Jack,” Sam corrected.

“Jack? Yeah, I told him…”

Sam interrupted him, clearly impatient with his unwillingness to be as happy that they were.  “I guess what I don't understand is why you aren't dying to know all about who you are.”

“I am. And I'm not,” he answered quickly.  Didn’t she understand that he was scared?

“See, it's the not part…”

“What if I don't like who I was? What if I don't want to be that person?” Arrom said with conviction, “What if I don't have it in me to make up for something I've done wrong?”

That took the woman aback some.  “I have to admit, that never occurred to me,” she said in all sincerity.  After a long pause, she continued, “Look, we all thought we'd lost you at one point.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever been through. You were—you are—brilliant. One of the most caring, passionate… You're the type of person who would give his own life for someone he doesn't even know.”

Arrom did like what she was telling him, but it was still hard to think that she was talking about him.  “Well, that doesn't sound so bad.”

With an endearing grin, Sam continued telling Arrom who he was, “If you had one fault, it was that you wanted to save people so badly, y—you wanted to help people so much, that it tore you apart when you couldn't make a difference.”

Now the fear began to grow inside of him again.  Wow! This guy sounded too good to be true!  “That actually sounds kind of hard to live up to.”

“All I know is that if I were you, I would definitely want to get to know me—you,” Sam stammered a bit at the end.

“I get it,” Arrom said with a smirk.

Sensing an opening, Sam dived in while it was there, “Come back with us. Let us show you who you are instead of just telling you.”

Arrom nodded, “I'll think about it.”

Sam nodded, taking it for what it was.  “Ok,” she said and then stood up to leave him to think. 

Before she left the tent, she heard him ask, “Samantha Carter?  Was there ever anything between us?”

That really took her by surprise.  Sam had known that Daniel was pining for O’Neill.  She never once spoke of it to him… at least not while sober, but still, she knew.  “Us, uh… No, no, not in that way. We—we were really, really good friends.”

“Okay,” Arrom answered. 

When she left, he turned back to his one bag and pulled the charred and flaking drawing of the gray-haired man out to look at it.  Running a finger down the jawline of the man, he whispered softly, “Jim.”

***

Arrom sat in his tent thinking for a few hours.  As he listened to the racket outside, the new people roaming around, and gauged how much time he had before he would have to make a final decision.  He knew he didn’t belong here.  Knew the tribesmen would keep him if he didn’t go.  But he also knew he would never find himself if he stayed put.

He was just too curious.  Shamda had told him that on countless occasions.  Arrom had to know things.  Know why the writings on the broken-down walls were important to him.  Why he dreamed of vast miles of sand with the creatures he drew plodding along on the fine, blowing grains.  Who the people were that tickled his semi-conscience mind in the morning before he awoke.

Sam had said that he was passionate and that he wanted to save people.  She told him he was brilliant and when they lost him, it was almost unbearable.  Maybe he would like that person.  He knew that he would never find the answers here.  Besides… Shamda’s stories were starting to get old.  It was time to write some new ones.

With the last of the daylight beginning to fade, Arrom packed his one bag with his few belongings, ready to go with the strange, yet familiar, people.  It was Samantha that really convinced him, but it was the older man he needed to find out about.  It was O’Neill that tugged at his heart.

Why did his stomach do flip-flops when he looked at the gray-haired man?  Why did his heart both clench and soar when he heard his voice issuing orders?  Why had he kept the sketch of that face, going as far as burning himself to retrieve it from the flames?

Arrom stood just inside the entrance of his tent and listened.  They were packing up to leave.  It was now or never.  Hitching up his one bag, he prepared himself for the next challenge. 

When he heard the deep timbre of the regal man’s voice, “What of Daniel Jackson?”

He knew it was time.  With a deep, calming breath, Arrom… no, Daniel stepped out and answered, “He’s going home.”

***

Earth was very different than Vis Uban.  Dark and stifling.  Daniel didn’t quite understand the concept that he was ‘inside a mountain’.  He was subjected to being poked and prodded by a myriad of people in white clothes.  Looked at from every angle, inside and out.  Stripped and x-rayed.  Perhaps this wasn’t the right thing to do.

After what seemed hours and hours, Daniel sat on a bed in clothes more like those around him and declared: in perfect health, except for one thing.  The tiny woman handed him some small wire frames.  As soon as his hands closed around them, he knew what to do them.  The difference was astounding.  He could see everything much more clearly now.  Maybe he really did belong here.

Was it just hopeful thinking?  Did he really have anything in common with these people?  Had he expected to step through the chappa'ai and have everything become crystal clear for him?

He had been escorted to a room and left on his own.  That pleased him very much, as he was tired and overwhelmed.  The gray-haired man told him the stuff in the room were things they had kept for him, even though they thought him dead.  It didn’t make any sense to him, but he was pleased to have a few things that might help him remember.

Daniel picked up a photo of a dark-haired woman he had yet to see in-person.  ‘Jim’ wouldn’t tell him who she was, but he knew he must know her well if they had made sure to have her picture out for him to see.  The photo resembled the drawing he had done on Vis Uban.  He wondered if it could really be the same woman.

Overcome with exhaustion, Daniel laid down across the bed.  It was nice and soft and off the ground.  Maybe tomorrow things would be clearer for him.  He was soon asleep, dreaming of strange animals walking across the sand.  The dark-eyed woman smiling shyly at him.  The fear of death pumping through his veins as he and the others ran away for bursts of fire being thrown at them out of strange weapons.  An image of him kneeling in front of the beautiful woman, in pain as she held something in the palm of her hand.  He didn’t know what it was, but it was causing him utter agony.   Suddenly, there was a bright flash, the smell of burning flesh, the blank stare of brown-eyes.

Sha’re.

Her name was Sha’re.  With a start, he woke up and grabbed the photo.  Daniel was so happy that he remembered her name, he had to tell someone.  He left his room and went to the only other person he knew that was living one this base.

Teal’c opened the door and Daniel could see candles burning in the dim room.

“Oh, sorry. Am I interrupting?” he asked the big man.

Teal’c gave him a small smile and replied, “You are not. I am unable to kel-no-reem as I once did since I began using tretonin.”

Daniel had no idea what he was talking about.  “Well… that sounds… complicated.”

“Indeed. Enter,” Teal’c bowed his head as he held the door open for his friend.

Daniel walked in and sat in a chair while Teal'c made himself comfortable on his bed.  Daniel held up the photo of Sha're and showed it to him.

“Her name is Sha're.”

“Yes.”

“No one told me that,” Daniel said with a big smile, very pleased with himself.  “I remembered that by myself. I dreamed about her and when I woke up, I knew her name.”

“That is good news, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c said.

“Yeah, it's the first time I've believed I might have a chance. You know? If I can remember a name, then there's a chance it's all in there somewhere, right?” Daniel asked hopefully.

“Indeed,” the stately man replied and also smiled, but Daniel could tell that there was a great sadness behind it.

“So… so, where is she?” Daniel had a growing unease in his stomach.  The look that Teal’c was giving him said more than words.  “She's dead,” he realized and Teal’c bowed his head once.  Daniel stared at the photo again and said softly, “And I loved her very much.”

Teal’c remand silent, but Daniel knew his love was real.  He also knew the love he had for her had for some reason, not been as strong as his love for someone else.  Someone he couldn’t quite get into focus yet.  But right now, he had other questions for Teal’c.  He would ponder his heart later on.

***

After two days of staying underground, and some of his memories returning, the general released Daniel to go with Jack.  O’Neill offered to take him back to his place and feed him some ‘real’ food.  Getting outside was wonderful for Daniel.  Breathing in the fresh, cool air, heavy with the scent of pine.  He could hardly move his head fast enough to take everything in.  The colors of the sunset, the distant snow on the peaks… it was magical for him.

When the evening air became too cold for him to keep the window open, Daniel turned his attention to inside the truck cab.  The smell of Jack seemed so familiar and reassuring.  His gentle voice droning on about this and that, Daniel wasn’t even really paying attention.  He just loved to listen to the man.

About an hour after leaving the base, they pulled into Jack’s driveway.  Jack smiled at his passenger.

“Well, here it is,” he murmured.  “Let’s grab your stuff and head inside… it’s getting kinda nippy out here.”

“I only have one bag,” Daniel grinned, “not exactly heavy ordnance.”

When they entered the house, Jack led Daniel to the room he always stayed in when he was there.  It was smaller than his tent, but it had a well-known scent… his scent.  There were more boxes of stuff in the corner.  Daniel couldn’t believe he had kept this stuff when Jack had thought he was dead.

“Here are more of your things.  The more personal stuff I just couldn’t let go.  It’s late… if you need anything, I’m just down the hall.  We have the weekend to relax and maybe get to know each other again,” the older man said quietly.  “Get some sleep.  At least here you won’t be rudely awakened by klaxons going off.”

Daniel grinned at him and said good night.  When he was alone, he opened one of the boxes.  With wide eyes, he pulled out a duffel bag.  Inside the bag was a leather-bound book.  Beneath that was a stuffed animal.  He sat on the edge of the bed and looked at the toy.  It was exactly like what he would draw in the sand on Vis Uban.  Slowly, as if the clouds parted for the sun’s light, things began to become clearer.

This was a camel.  His camel.  His parents had given him this for his first birthday.  At least that’s what seemed correct.  Placing the animal on his lap, he opened the book.  For the first time, the etchings on the pages clicked into place and he could read every word.  Every word that his mother had written.

Should he read this?  Would the words in this book make his life more real, or less?  Would the answers he sought be held on the warn and browning pages?

It didn’t matter, he was going to read it no matter what.  He had to know.  Beginning on the first page, Daniel delved into his mother’s words.  Later in the book, the words became his own.  His life, played out before him from the writings of a sad and quiet eight-year-old to the angry and hurt teenager.  His words… from all the loss, to his one great love.

Almost three hours later, Daniel was sprawled across the bed, the journal opened on his chest and his camel tucked safely under one arm.  He vaguely became aware of eyes on him.  Slowly, he awoke and straightened his glasses as he sat up.  Jack was sitting across the room, just watching the younger man sleep.  Rubbing at his eyes, he cocked his head to the side.

“Creepy, much?” he asked with a yawn.

Jack gave him a sweet smile and shook his head.  “Just making sure you’re really here.  Really alive and back with us.”

Daniel stretched out his arms and turned at the waist, first to the left, then the right.  “I’m really here.  Really alive.”

Jack stood slowly and walked over to sit next to the parodical archeologist.  He bumped his shoulder to Daniel’s with a soft sigh.  “I missed you, Daniel.”

“I wish I could say the same, Jim.”

With a startled look, Jack chuckled when he saw the mischievous grin on Daniel’s face.

“You know, Danny,” Jack said quietly, nervously, “I know things between us weren’t that great before you… ya’know…” he made a wavy gesture with his fingers, “before you went all glowy.”

Daniel moved to say something, but Jack took his hand in his, lacing their fingers together, “No, let me get this out.”

Nodding and holding his camel in the other hand, he waited as Jack gathered his thoughts.

“For a long time now, I’ve had feelings… at first, I thought it was just, ya’know, with our crazy job and all, that maybe I was just having a mid-life crisis.  But when you left us… when you, died… there was a hole in my soul so deep… it was something I hadn’t felt since Charlie died.”

When Daniel made a questioning noise, Jack clarified, “My son.”  After receiving a nod, he continued, “I know you won’t remember this, but you came to me when I needed you most.  When one of the bad guys held me prisoner, you visited me, talked to me.  And I know you had a hand in rescuing me.  It was then that I realized, it wasn’t a mid-life crisis… it was real love.  This is very hard for me, but I can’t let it wait any longer.”

Turning sideways to look directly into Daniel’s eyes, Jack said, “I love you, Danny.  I love you with every fiber of my being.  And even though I know you don’t know me from… Jim, I need you to know that you are my heart and soul.”

With tear bright eyes, Jack placed a warm hand on Daniel’s cheek, then cupped it around the back of his neck, pulling him gently forward.  Jack kissed Daniel softly on the lips.  Just a chaste kiss, but one he had to give.  When he pulled back, the younger man was staring at him, slightly dazed.

After a few very thick moments, Daniel gave him a small smile.  He reached over and pulled his mother’s journal over and opened it to pages in the back.

“I’ve been reading this.  It was my mother’s, but the pages back here, are the ones that I used.  I’ve lived my entire life out of one bag.  This book and the stuffed camel all I have of my childhood.  It’s a sad tale of foster care and bullying.  Filling the role of outcaste and ‘geek’, until a certain Air Force Colonel stepped into my life.”

Daniel opened to one page where he had sketched Jack’s likeness, with the words:

One love, one day,
Until then, there is only,
One journal, one camel, and
One bag.

“I think… no, I know, the only reason I came back here was you.  I had no idea if you’d ever returned that love or if I was going to live my life alone.  I hope that my memories will return soon, because I’m tired of living out of just one bag.”  Daniel looked away for a moment, he wasn’t sure what he should do.  “Look, Jack, I don’t know who I am.  I don’t know what ‘our job’ is.  I can’t even recall the moments inside this book, even though I know it’s my handwriting.”

Jack knitted his eyebrows together and Daniel gave a soft laugh, “I copied some of the lines and compared them.  There’re mine.  What I do know, is that I’m willing… if you are, to give this a try.”  His hand moved in the air between the two of them, indicating his meaning.

With a slight awkwardness, both men stared at the floor for a while, not sure what to do, how to proceed.  Finally, Jack softly laid his hand on Daniel’s leg and said, “You wanna come and sleep in my room?  Just so I can be certain that you’re really here… warm and alive… and with me?”

Daniel gave him his most brilliant smile and nodded, “I’d like that, Jack.”

They stood and started for the other bedroom, when Daniel turned quickly back to retrieve his stuffed camel.  Jack chuckled at him, but nodded.  Before he turned to leave the room, the older man grabbed the old and worn duffel bag and dumped it into the trash can on the way out.  When Daniel looked questioningly at him, the other man smiled.

“You won’t need that one bag any longer, Daniel” he said with all sincerity, “you’re home now.”

~Fin~