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The Vagaries of Memory

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Daniel forgot seeing his parents die when he was eight. Forgot seeing them crushed under columns of stone in the exhibition they were constructing for the Manhattan Museum of Art. That hurt like hell when it came back in a confused flood of horror and grief, inextricably mixed with the bitter loneliness of his grandfather's abandonment.



He forgot coffee. There was nothing like it on Vis Uban, but as soon as he smelled it when the people who'd found him brought him back to Cheyenne Mountain, it hit his senses like a hammer blow and unleashed a slew of other memories. Suddenly the military team who'd tried to tell him they knew him didn't seem so strange, seen through the steam from a mug of ambrosia.



He forgot Hurrian, the ancient language of the Hittites. It didn't come back easily, not like most of his other memories, but only a tiny handful of people could read it and he felt he owed it to the long-dead Hittites not to diminish that number, so he laboriously re-learned it. Besides, he needed to refute Bomhard and Fournet's claims that Hurrian was linked to the Indo-European language group, which was a ludicrous falsehood.



He forgot he was banned from O'Malley's. He was hungry and the smell of steaks and fries made his mouth water when he passed the bar and grill. He was startled to be frog-marched right back out the door before he'd even found a table. It took a while before the reason he was banned returned, making him wince. He considered going back again to apologise, but Jack said he'd better just leave it be. It was too bad, those had been really good steaks.  



He forgot he and Jack were more than friends. Sometimes he caught Jack looking at him with an odd expression, a mix of speculation and sadness. He only ever caught that for a second, then the mask would slide back over Jack's face and he was the general, the ex-teammate, nobody here but us chickens.

After a few months, when most of the other memories had come back, Jack cornered Daniel one evening in his office where he was working late, and dragged him into town for dinner. Daniel had been hip-deep in Hurrian verb formations so he blinked a little dazedly, then said "There'd better be coffee," and, "not O'Malley's!"

Jack snorted. "It's not the only sports bar in the Springs, Daniel."

"Does it have to be a sports bar?" Daniel protested, watching the lights of town appear - houses, then traffic lights, then strip malls and neon signs.

"What, you want a rose on the table and mood lighting?" Jack asked, sardonic.

"I don't know, do I?" Daniel said peevishly. He didn't think he was into that kind of thing, but he was a little annoyed. He'd almost gotten those verb suffixes nailed before he'd been interrupted.

Jack made a pained noise and Daniel shot him a glance, but Jack was staring grimly forward, gripping the steering wheel with his hands at ten and two, as approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"Wait," Daniel said, alarmed, feeling himself judder against an iceberg of memory, 90% lurking unseen under the water. "Is this a... a date?"

"Jeez, Danny," Jack said through his teeth.

"Because if it is," Daniel said, determined to sort this mess out, although he had no idea where the suddenly overwhelming feeling it was a mess had come from. "I don't want to go to some diner or a bar with baseball blaring."

He could almost hear Jack roll his eyes. "Where d'you wanna go then?"

"My place. We can get Thai or pizza delivered." Daniel had no real idea what in hell he was doing. He was running on instinct – he'd done that a lot while his memories were coming back, never knowing when a half-formed gut feeling was a chunk of his past about to unveil itself. In fact, he was pretty sure that for all his academic credentials, instinct had always been important in his breakthroughs. He felt on the edge of a breakthrough now, teetering, uncertain, the almost-grasped knowledge a pressure under his ribs.

Jack pulled in and parked in front of his apartment. He turned off the ignition and in the sudden quiet, turned to look at Daniel. "You sure about this?" he said quietly. His eyes were shadowed, unreadable.

Daniel made a frustrated gesture. "There's... something. I can't figure it out."

"Yeah. I've been wondering about that," Jack said, sighing and turning to look out the windshield.

"Were we...?" Daniel bit his lip, staring at Jack's silhouette. The streetlamp caught his profile and silvered his hair. He looked weary.

"You know I'm not supposed to tell," Jack said, frowning.

"Oh, don't hide behind the regulations," Daniel said angrily.

Jack's fists tightened on the steering wheel. "Like you're hiding behind this amnesia crap?"

Daniel grimaced. "Low blow. I'm trying. Why won't it come back? The Ancients wouldn't leave me with all the bad stuff – my parents dying, being mindfucked by Hathor, Sha're's eyes flashing gold – and wipe the memory of something good!"

"Don't be too sure about that," Jack muttered. "Some of the shit they've pulled..."

Daniel unclipped his seat-belt and got out, then leaned back in. "Well? Come on."

Jack said nothing but he got out, locked the car and followed Daniel into the apartment.

Daniel turned in the hallway, taking in the now-familiar furnishings and artefacts. It was warm inside, and a little stuffy. He hadn't been home for a few days; he'd slept in an SGC guest room after working late.

Jack was just inside the closed front door, a wary and resigned expression on his face. He raised his eyebrows.

Daniel walked back, grabbing Jack's shoulders and pushing him against the door. "You have to make me remember!" he said urgently, then leaned in and kissed him.

Against him, Jack tensed, then slowly relaxed. Daniel slid a hand up to the back of his head and deepened the kiss, drinking in Jack's familiar taste and smell, more real than his apartment, more essential than coffee. Jack's mouth opened under his and it was like a switch being thrown.

Daniel was flooded with want, gasping with it. "Oh," he breathed into Jack's mouth. "This... Us..."

"Took you long enough, goddammit, Danny," Jack rasped, getting his leg between Daniel's thighs and his hands on Daniel's ass. "Missed you..."

"So much," Daniel whispered, as Jack pulled him in, hard against his thigh. "Missed you so much."

Jack laughed, a short, harsh bark. "You didn't even know me." He used his teeth on Daniel's neck.

Daniel arched his throat. "Felt... guilty. Stopped me remembering."

Jack pulled back and eyed him. "Guilty about what? You couldn't help what happened on Kelowna."

Daniel shook his head. "No, not that. While I was ascended. I don't remember swanning around all incorporeal, but I read the reports from that time." He looked down. "About Ba'al, torturing you." He swallowed and raised his chin, meeting Jack's eyes. "I should've been there."

"You were there, Danny." Jack smiled wryly. "You were the only thing kept me sane through all that. You don't remember that part?"

Daniel shook his head. "They didn't let me keep any memories from when I was ascended."

"Well, you were there in that pit with me, some of the time. Enough." Jack took Daniel's face in his hands. "So knock it off with the guilt crap, okay?"

"But you don't agree with ascension, you don't approve–"

Jack shook his head sharply. "You were dying from radiation poisoning for Christ's sake. You think I wanted you to go through that? It was the right call."

"You don't blame me for leaving you?" Daniel asked, watching Jack's face carefully.

"You'd have left me for good if you hadn't ascended, Danny." He sighed. "You know, you offered it to me, when Ba'al had me. Offered to help me ascend."

Daniel smiled faintly. "Let me guess: you said no."

"Hey," Jack shrugged and spread his hands, then brought them back to Daniel's ass. "I'm a physical kinda guy."

"Uh huh," Daniel said, lifting an eyebrow. "Well, as a scientist, I can't take your word for that. I'll need some proof. Evidence."

Jack gripped his ass and hauled him in, making him gasp. "Just demonstrating some hard evidence, Daniel."

"Yes, that's... an interesting... premise... you've got there. But I'm going to have to do more testing. Examine the... the evidence more directly."

With a growl, Jack wrenched himself away and hauled Daniel off to the bedroom where he got them both naked in short order. Daniel could only admire the military efficiency of the operation.

In bed, he got his hand on Jack's dick, thick and hot and silky-smooth, and began to stroke it. "Oh yeah, hard data... exactly what I needed," he murmured in Jack's ear.

"God, that's good," Jack groaned, pushing helplessly into his hand. "Glad you haven't... forgotten... this part."

"Procedural memory," Daniel whispered hoarsely, biting Jack's neck as he jerked him, feeling Jack fall apart under his hands. "Stays intact."

Jack shuddered, stiffened, and came all over Daniel's hand. "Jeez, Danny," he said weakly after a moment, sucking in deep, shaky breaths.

"Blowjobs, on the other hand," Daniel said, "Are complex. I'll probably need a practical demonstration."

"Yeah, yeah," Jack muttered, still breathless, slitting one eye open and glaring at him. "Gimme me a goddamn minute."

"Take your time," Daniel said in a strained voice, pretending he was fine even though he was painfully hard and half crazy with Jack's heat and smell and, yeah, his physicality. "I'm not going anywhere." He was tempted to just rub off frantically on Jack's belly – his hips kept making little desperate thrusts.

"Yeah, see, you say that," Jack muttered, rolling his eyes, but he was sliding down and taking Daniel's cock into his mouth.

Daniel clenched his fists in the bed covers, squeezing his eyes shut and crying out, trying hard not to thrust. But it was too intense, and Jack was humming, the bastard, and it was all too much with the heat and suction and the goddamned delicious humming.

As he arched up and started to come, Daniel was horrified to realise Jack was humming Let's Get Physical.