Word count: 1,369
A is for Abandoned
“To be alone is to be different, to be different is to be alone.”
Suzanne Gordon “Lonely In America” 1976.
Intellectually Daniel knew his team hadn't meant to leave him behind on Oannes. Instinctively though he'd felt abandoned. Still did. Especially when he’d come back to find his apartment and his office packed up, most of his belongings squared away in cardboard boxes with labels reading "Property of Dr. Daniel Jackson, deceased" slapped haphazardly on the sides. He was making some little headway on restoring his office back to normality when Sam poked her head around the corner of the door. "Need a hand?" she asked. "We're on stand down for the rest of the week so I thought I'd drop by and see what I could do to help."
"No," he said, knowing it sounded short and pissy and unable to really care even when Sam's face dropped. "Sorry, it's just that I know where everything used to be and it's easier if I do it myself."
"Sure," she said fake-brightly, "I understand."
Daniel was sure she didn't understand at all but he just nodded a goodbye at her as she left and went on with what he'd been doing.
He avoided talking to anyone at lunch by not going to the mess hall and instead nibbling on a powerbar he found in his top desk drawer when he was sorting papers. He’d drained his coffeepot by 3 o’clock and gave thought to making another but decided against it when he realized that going out to get more water from the fountain in the hallway increased the chances of him running into Sam again, or Teal’c, or God forbid, Jack. Somehow it was seeing Jack that bothered him the most though he couldn’t really put his finger on why and at this juncture wasn’t inclined to analyze it. Instead he put the coffee pot back and hurried out of his office, down the corridor to the elevator, which he rode up to the parking level then signed himself out at the security desk there and almost ran out to his car. By the time he got home the headache he’d had ever since he’d got back from Oannes, and that Dr. Fraiser said was a result of the memory device Nem had used on him, had soared to new heights and he let himself in his front door and closed it behind him with a sigh of relief.
He went searching for Tylenol and cursed as he looked around and remembered that everything here was boxed up as well. They’d only returned from Oannes the day before and Dr. Fraiser had insisted Daniel stay on base overnight, even though he’d assured her he had no ill effects from his time as Nem’s prisoner other than a pretty nasty headache. But Janet Fraiser overruled everyone on the base when it came to medical matters so on the base Daniel stayed. Jack assured him he’d organized for all Daniel’s furniture and belongings to be taken back to his apartment but of course the men who’d returned everything hadn’t unpacked the boxes. That remained for Daniel to do and he had no idea which one might possibly hold his stash of Tylenol.
He swore again as he went into the kitchen and realized he couldn’t even make coffee, let alone cook himself a meal. His headache went up a notch as the doorbell rang and he stomped over and yanked the door open with bad-tempered force. “Jack,” he said sourly as he saw who was there, “look, I’m not in the mood for visitors. I’ve got to get all my stuff unpacked and I have a headache as it is. I just want to find the boxes that have my Tylenol and my coffeemaker and coffee beans and then have an early night.”
Jack unslouched himself from the doorframe and pushed his way inside past Daniel’s stiff unwelcoming form. He shoved a small foil strip into Daniel’s hand as he walked past. “Tylenol double strength from Janet. She said you refused to take anything in the infirmary and she remembered your stuff was probably still packed so…” Jack stopped just short of the kitchen then turned and reached into his jacket pocket. “Here.” He tossed Daniel a bottle of water. “Figured your drinking glasses were probably still packed too.”
“Thanks.” Daniel uncapped the bottle and swallowed two of the pills. He waited for a moment then stood back and indicated the door. “Good deed’s done, Jack. You can leave now.”
“That’s not very friendly,” Jack replied, walking away to sit down in one of the chairs the airmen had brought back. “Sam said you were in a grouchy mood. Who pissed in your Froot Loops this morning?”
Daniel rubbed a hand across his aching forehead. “Nem, you, Sam, Teal’c, take your pick,” he snapped back.
“Ah.” Jack ignored Daniel’s pointed and not very subtle hint to leave. “I’ll listen if you want to talk.”
Daniel sighed. “I don’t think you’d understand,” he said.
Daniel sat down on one of the other chairs and thought about it. Despite his impressive linguistic gifts he wasn’t sure he could articulate how he’d felt when he’d realized his team had left him behind. That once again he’d been abandoned. First by his parents, then his grandfather, Nick, then Sha’re, and now his team. He knew his parents hadn’t wanted to die and leave him alone, he knew Nick had thought putting him in a foster home was for the best, he knew Sha’re would have given anything to stay with him. And he knew his team had been given no choice but to leave him on Oannes. They’d been given false memories of his death after all but still… “I agreed to Nem using that machine on me because I thought it was my only way to get home. I thought you wouldn’t come back for me anyway,” he said finally.
“I broke the General’s car window,” Jack said. “You know, at the wake after the memorial. I was so pissed off at you for being dead and yet some part of me knew that you weren’t but there was no way I could do anything about it. So I got a hockey stick and I started hitting and next thing I knew I was smashing the shit out of Hammond’s car window.”
“Ouch,” Daniel replied, secretly impressed and rather touched at the strength of Jack’s feelings. “He going to make you pay for it?”
“Yep, and now that you’re back on the pay roll I think it’s only fair that you pay half,” Jack said with a grin. “Look, what I’m trying to say here is that when we thought you were dead all I could think was that I’d lost someone close to me again. First Charlie then Sara then Kawalsky—“
“Oh God, Jack, I didn’t even think about Charlie. I mean you lost your son…”
“Grief’s grief,” Jack said flatly. “No one has a monopoly on it. What I’m trying to say here is that while you were feeling abandoned on Oannes, we were feeling pretty cut up here on Earth. Hell, Carter even agreed to be hypnotized.”
“Yeah, Janet told me that’s how you worked out what had happened,” Daniel replied, feeling really guilty now about how he’d treated Sam that morning. “I should call Sam, apologize—“
“Hold that thought,” Jack said, just as the doorbell rang again.
“You’re kidding me?” Daniel said but he was smiling now, striding quickly over to open the door.
“Hey,” Sam said as she walked in with a couple of pizza boxes in her arms and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“It is team night,” Teal’c said with that smile he chose only to bestow on his closest friends. In his arms he held a six pack of beer and some cans of soda. “I am glad you are here to share it with us, DanielJackson.”
“Hey hey, the gang’s all here,” Jack said. He got up and walked across to Daniel. “I get it, Daniel, I get it. So no more dying on us, real or pretend, okay?”
“I’ll do my best,” Daniel said, looking around at the three people who represented family in his world and feeling as if he really belonged for the first time in his life. “I really will.”