"Hi, you've reached the high security Santa tracking facility, my name's Daniel."
"Hi there, Christy. Do you want to know where Santa is?"
"Hold on, let me check our sensors here. Oh yeah, there he is. He's right above Vermont."
"Well, let me double check. Yup, says it right there on the screen."
"That's where I live!"
"Really? Well, you better get to bed then if you want him to come."
Daniel punched the button, and shot a smile at Jack who was busy handling a call from a child somewhere in Dallas. Having a map which lit up the location of each caller was Sam's idea, giving the personnel handling the calls an idea of where the children were calling from, allowing them to tailor their responses.
He sipped his coffee, and waited for his line to light up again. This holiday season had been such a change from the last two years. Normally prone to spending Christmas Eve, and sometimes even Christmas Day, catching up on work, it had been a bit of a shock when he had arrived at Cheyenne Mountain to find his office locked, barred and chained. Apparently only Jack knew where the key was, and none of the staff was prepared to lend him a set of chain cutters on pain of reprisal from General Hammond.
He had wandered around at loose ends, not sure what to be doing, when Jack had swooped in from the cold, bearing two duffle bags and a set of extra scarfs and mittens. An hour later, Daniel had found himself tentatively skating down the solidly frozen pond on the outskirts of town. Jack had skated circles, figure eights, and whirly cues around him, figuratively and metaphorically, and gradually his ankles had begun to protest the cruel and unusual treatment.
So Jack had taken mercy on him, whisked him away to his house, and plied him with spiked eggnog and a delicious treat of cherries wrapped in a coconut batter. They played a companionable game of scrabble, with Jack quite proud of his 'quasar' on the triple word and Daniel mildly cursing his rack of pure vowels.
Then, after a pleasant dinner, Jack had announced that they were going to be volunteering that night at the Mountain, answering phones for the STH, or Santa Tracking Hotline, as Jack had explained. Entranced by the idea, Daniel agreed -- not that Jack would have accepted 'no' as an answer -- and now they sat, drinking strong, hot cooffee, and munching on shortbread cookies that Cassie had given Janet to bring in.
Almost as good as chocolate, he mused, letting the buttery cookie melt on his tongue. He closed his eyes to savour the burst of flavour, and when he opened his eyes, Jack was grinning unabashedly at his expression. Daniel could feel his cheeks flush, but the temptation was too great and he reached for another one of the delicate biscuits.
The light on the console before him flashed, and after taking a quick swig of coffee to wash down the crumbs, he pulled the microphone attached to his earpiece back down by his mouth.
"Hi, you've reached the high security Santa tracking facility, my name's Daniel. What's your name?" They weren't supposed to ask for names, but it slipped out before he could stop it.
"D..Davey," The voice on the other side of the phone quavered.
"Hi Davey, would you like to know where Santa is?"
He glanced up the map.
"Well Davey, you're in luck! He's right over Colorado Springs."
The only response was silence.
"Davey? Davey, you there?"
Davey's voice was so quiet: he had to strain to hear it. "Do...do you think he'll bring someone to help my mommy?"
Daniel's eyebrows furrowed. "What do you mean, Davey?" Out of the corner of his eye he could see Jack cocking his head ever so slightly.
"Well, she was really sick and she tol' me that if she was lucky Santa would bring her medication but then she fell asleep and the baby started crying but she hasn't woken up and the baby won't stop crying and I wanted Santa to come bring her medication." Davey's voice wavered as the little boy ran out of breath and he gave a little hiccough.
"Can you bring the phone to your mommy and let me speak to her?" Daniel asked.
Jack had abandoned his line, leaving Teal'c to cover for him. He made his way over to Daniel's desk and rested his hip against the top. Daniel spared him a quick glance, keeping his attention on the sounds coming from the headphone.
"...mommy?...wake up...." There was a loud *thunk* as the phone hit what appeared to be a wooden floor. Daniel winced as the receiver scraped along the floor until Davey grabbed it again.
"She won't wake up."
Daniel could hear the tears about to come. He put a hand over the microphone, and looked up at Jack.
"I've got a kid, his mom is sick and won't wake up, he's really scared."
"Shit," Jack grabbed up the phone sitting behind him. "Get his address, find out if his dad is around."
"Davey? Can you hear me?"
"Is your dad in the house?"
"N-n-no. He went up to heaven." Daniel closed his eyes.
"Where do you live, Davey? Do you know your address?"
"It's a green house." The sniffles were coming faster. "I want my mommy."
"I know. I know. Davey, are there any numbers on your house?" He once again covered the microphone. "Jack, can we get a trace?"
"I'm on it already."
"Can you help my mommy?" Davey's voice was small, alone, lost and afraid. And Daniel knew exactly how he felt. Suddenly, he could hear the cry of the infant in the background.
"We're going to try, Davey." Daniel felt another presence at his shoulder and looked up to see Paul Davis, still dressed in his perfectly pressed shirt.
"General Hammond sent me down to see if I could help. What can I do?" he whispered. Daniel held up a finger and turned back to the frightened young boy at the other end of the line.
"Davey? Davey, I'm going to give the phone to a very nice man. His name is Paul, and I want you to keep talking to him, okay? Don't hang up the phone. Okay? Promise me?"
He pulled off the head set and handed it over to Davis. "Keep him on the line."
With a curt nod, Davis nestled the headphone against his ear and spoke softly into the microphone. "Hi Davey..."
Daniel turned to Jack. "We know he's in Colorado Springs. I say we get onto the road. They can let us know the exact address when they have the trace."
Jack was already beckoning to Teal'c and Sam, who handed over their stations to other volunteers to cover. "Come on, folks. We've got a kid in trouble."
It wasn't until they were on the road, snow pelting against the windshield of the jeep, that it occurred to Daniel that they could have simply called 911 and relayed the call.
Jack was making the turn off the highway at the Colorado Springs exit when Daniel's cell phone beeped.
"Dr. Jackson, it's General Hammond. We have the trace."
"198 Pine crest Avenue."
Daniel relayed the address to Jack, whose brow wrinkled, then cleared.
"I know that street," he said. He took an abrupt left turn sending his team flailing for handholds as the back of the jeep fish-tailed on the slippery street.
"We've contacted emergency crews, but because of the storm they're heavily bogged down. They don't know when they can dispatch someone to the house. I've got Dr. Fraiser standing by, so when you get the house, call back immediately."
"Will do. Thanks, General."
"God speed, son."
As Jack took another turn, Daniel gnawed at his lower lip and tucked his arms across his chest, hands under his arm pits. The weather had turned viciously cold and the jeep's heater barely threw out any noticeable heat.
"Oh hey, that's the one!" Daniel said abruptly as his eyes lit on a small green house nestled behind a slightly uneven hedge. "198 and it's green. Just like he said."
The light on the porch was out, but yellow warmth seeped from between the drawn curtains. Jack tried the door.
Daniel pushed past him, shouldering open the door. "Davey? It's Daniel. Are you here?"
Daniel could hear the baby crying: its wails were desperate and piercing. The patter of small feet heralded the arrival of the small boy, cordless phone clutched in one fist. He paused in the doorway, holding the phone to his ear, nodding at whatever Davis was saying on the other line.
"It's for you." The boy -- no more than eight -- held out the phone. Daniel fought a lump in his throat as he reached for the receiver. He didn't take his eyes of Davey, though, and when he held out his free arm, crouching down slightly, Davey only hesitated a moment before running in to cling to his leg.
"It's Daniel. We made it. I'm handing you over to Jack. We haven't found the mother yet." He held out his hand, trusting Jack to take it, before gently cupping Davey's tear streaked face.
"Where's your mommy?" Davey pointed down the hall. "What's her name?"
Daniel grinned. "Okay, let's go see her. Jack, Sam, see if you can find the baby "
The master bedroom was dimly lit, the only light source an open door from the adjoining bathroom. Davey's mother was on the bed, still wearing a skirt and blouse. Daniel perched on the mattress and cautiously felt for a pulse. She was pale, sweating and didn't respond to his voice.
"Her name is Melinda Ferguson, DanielJackson," Teal'c intoned. He had trailed behind Daniel on the way to the bedroom and now stood beside the dresser, peering at the contents of the woman's purse.
The baby's squall cut abruptly off, allowing the silence of the house to creep back from the corners. Daniel pulled out his cell phone and dialled the base.
"General, is the doctor there?"
"She's right here. I'll pass you over."
"Daniel, what can you tell me?" The deep comforting tone of Hammond's voice was replaced by the brisk professional snap of Dr. Fraiser.
"Uh...well, her skin is really dry, and she's really breathing hard. Hold on..." Daniel flipped back the edge of the sheet. "She's wearing a medical alert bracelet. Just a second." He managed to twist it around so he could read the tiny inscription. "It says she's a diabetic."
"She could be in insulin shock, or in a diabetic coma. Is there any sign that she injected herself with insulin? Any needles or vials lying about?"
Daniel padded to the bathroom and wrinkled his nose at the smell of stale vomit. But there were no discarded needles or bottles of insulin. "No. No sign of anything like that." He opened the cabinet doors. "There's no sign of any insulin at all, used or otherwise."
"You have to get her to a hospital, Daniel. It sounds like she's in a diabetic coma. She needs insulin."
"All right. I'll be in touch." He flipped the phone closed. "Teal'c, see if you can get her covered in a blanket and ready to go. Jack!"
Teal'c began to move but was stopped by a gentle tug on his pant leg.
"A-a-are you Santa?" Davey asked. Teal'c looked at Daniel with an uncertain expression on his face.
"No. I am not Santa." Davey's face fell.
"Yeah, he's just the head elf," Jack cracked as he came into the room. "We're Santa's representatives, kid. But don't tell anyone, we're in disguise." With an exaggerated wink, he turned to Daniel. "Carter's with the baby. I had to order her to change the diaper. I think she'll manage. What's the good of a PhD in astrophysics if it won't help you change a diaper, anyway?"
Daniel shook his head slightly. "Uh...right. Jack, we have to get this woman to a hospital. Janet says she might be in a diabetic coma."
"Shit." That elicited a small giggle from Davey. "Okay, Teal'c, you get her out the jeep. I'll tell Carter she's on baby duty. Daniel, you stick with Davey, here," Jack delegated without a blink of an eye. "I'll go with Teal'c to the hospital and call when we get the word. You see if you can't find some relatives, family, friends...someone."
So after bundling the comatose woman into the jeep, Jack and Teal'c were gone, leaving Daniel and Sam to babysit.
Sam was sitting on the couch, the baby resting on her lap with a bottle wedged quite firmly between its lips, sucking gustily. Daniel smiled without thinking and Sam glared as she caught him.
"I'm going to kill the Colonel for this."
"Relax Sam, it's only a baby, it won't bite."
"No, it just peed on me." Her eyes were smiling though. Daniel looked down at his own lapful. Davey had snuggled immediately into his arms, and promptly fell asleep, clearly exhausted by all of the commotion. Daniel wormed one of his arms free and opened his cell phone again.
"We should find out if she has any relatives." He explained as Sam raised an eyebrow. He hit the auto-dial button.
"Hi, Sir. It's Daniel again. We have the name of the woman and were wondering if it's possible to run her name through the computer and see if she has any relatives who are around. Her name is Melinda Ferguson. F-E-R-G-U-S-O-N."
"Will do. How is she doing?"
"We haven't heard anything from Jack yet. I should probably get off this line. Why don't you call me at..." He paused to crane his neck in order to read off the numbers from the phone stand to his left and then rattled them off.
"All right. I'll be in touch as soon as we have something. How are the kids?"
Daniel smiled involuntarily. "They'll be fine. The baby was really hungry, but Sam's maternal instincts have clicked in."
Hammond was still laughing as he hung up. Daniel smiled a shy apology.
"You've been spending too much time around the Colonel," she said as she rolled her eyes. Daniel tried not to jiggle the sleeping boy in his arms as he chuckled. They sat in silence. The baby gradually getting full and slowing its suckling, Davey sighing in his sleep. The lights flickered once then steadied as the storm outside increased, the wind occasionally rattling the window panes.
When the cell phone rang, it startled them both, and only quick fingers allowed Daniel to open the plastic casing before the ringer awoke the somnolent children.
"Hey, Danny. You kids okay?" Jack's voice was light, cheery, and Daniel sighed internally.
"We're fine. How's Melinda?"
"She's fine. A bit incoherent still, but the docs here knew what was wrong and injected her with something, and presto, she was okay. They want to keep her overnight, but say she can go home tomorrow morning. I called the general and told him we'd watch over the kids until them, and he's given us permission to stock up the bathroom with enough insulin to last a while."
Daniel felt a warmth in his stomach that moved out to all his limbs, infusing him with a heady, comforting feeling. "Thanks, Jack."
"Hey, it's the least we could do. Besides, it's Christmas. Now hand me over to Carter."
After tossing the phone to Carter so Jack could poke some more fun at her mothering skills, Daniel sat back in the couch. She would be okay. Davey wouldn't have to find out what losing two parents was like. Loss warred with joy, and joy triumphed. He allowed himself to enjoy the softly blinking lights of the Christmas tree that was set up in the corner of the room, the presents beneath waiting to be opened. He could read Davey's name on the largest box and smiled.
Sam crooned softly to the baby, trying to get it to burp on the blanket, not on her shirt.
Sometimes saving the world from imminent danger was almost enough to make one prone to forget about all the small, seemingly insignificant dramas that played out in the lives of those whose world they were protecting. But those dramas, while intimate, were just as life altering, challenging, and unknown, as stepping through the shimmering event horizon of the Stargate. Tonight, Daniel wanted to forget about the larger drama that played out among the stars. He'd sit on the couch, and watch over the small boy in his lap while Sam cradled the baby, albeit just a tad uncomfortably. Tonight they would stand guard over the small lives in their charge.
They'd save the world tomorrow.