Two Little Boys
Disclaimer: Borrowing only, not mine.
This is a story about Daniel and Cameron. In this story, they are only five years old, and their guardian is Jack.
His face partially obscured by a mountain of folders, O'Neill fell through his door after he had toed it open, and then dropped the files on his desk with a soft curse and a satisfying thud. Hand drifting across his face, he scratched at the smooth skin as he eyed the spilt papers resignedly.
Arching his eyebrow, he caressed the prong of the latest pot plant muttering, "Now that, my fine green friend, could well be the most exciting thing I've done all week. Hell, given my schedule, it's the highlight of my month." Sniffing at the freshly perked coffee, he smiled and picked up one of the custard crèmes left to tempt him. Calling out his thanks to Captain 'biscuit fairy' and silently laughing at her cheerful response, he murmured, "Ah, nothing wrong in buttering up a General I guess."
Lowering himself into his chair, he called out to his assistant, asking her to come in and bring the Dictaphone. He looked up and smiled when she appeared, asking her how her morning had gone. Waving for her to take a seat, he grabbed a thick file, reading it carefully, now all business.
O'Neill spent his morning absorbed in the paperwork, occasionally calling for the pretty, red-haired captain to bring him coffee or help him locate a missing file. Gazing around his office, he rolled the kinks from his shoulders and carelessly lobbed a paper missile at his bin. Picking up and fiddling with the framed photo of his cabin in Minnesota, blew a quiet sigh, and felt his mind wander. A gentle smile crossed his face as he pictured the pretty, fish-less lake.
Giving his head a quick shake, he scratched at a speck on the glass, and looking hard at the faded pier, decided it probably needed oiling. Shutting his eyes, he imagined the gentle breeze blowing in his face, and fancied he heard the whip-poor-will, mournfully crying in its tree. Tracing his finger around the wooden frame, he placed it carefully down and opened another file.
Just after lunch, Captain Leonard knocked quietly and entered the room, her face unusually grave. Giving her commanding officer a worried look, she said, "Excuse me, sir, you have a phone call from Cheyenne Mountain. It's Colonel Carter. Shall I put her through?
Normally an astute man, he didn't pick up the note of hesitancy in the captain's voice, just thrilled with the thought of such a welcomed distraction. Finishing annotating a file with a flourish, he nodded. "Certainly, Captain, I think it's acceptable if I drag myself away from," and waving a hand vaguely in the air, "whatever the hell this is."
The captain nodded quickly and opened her mouth as if to add something. Seeing the general's crooked smile and questioning look, she said, "Of course, sir, patching her through."
Hastily pushing the pile of papers to the side, he grabbed the flashing phone, a smile lighting his face. Jack rolled his chair back, and rocking gently, waited for his old friend to start her chatting, filling him in with the SGC gossip. Patting his cluttered desktop, searching for the Santa cup Daniel bought him last Christmas; he gulped a mouthful, and wrinkled his brow in disgust. Coughing, he delicately spat out the bitter, cold, coffee. Clicking his fingers, alerting the attention of his adjacent, he pointed to his cup, and shrugged boyishly.
Mouthing "cold," he handed her the cup, rehearsing in his mind his conversation. "Make another pot, Captain," he whispered," this could take a while." Slightly embarrassed by his eagerness, Jack wondered if his old team missed him as much as he missed them.
His time in Washington had started to feel like a life sentence, and looking around his spacious office, he pictured their faces and smiled. The verbal sparring with Daniel had been the highlight of his day, and annoying Carter the icing on the cake. A solitary man by nature, Jack found it hard to fathom just how much he needed that contact, and as the months ticked by, he found himself wishing for retirement. He found his promotion and the desk job soul-destroying. O'Neill was born to be a warrior, and he knew with a sinking heart, he would never make the consummate politician. The political animals feared him, and he despised them back. Jack studied their bland faces at the interminably long meetings and suspected the desk warriors considered him a relic from the past. Strolling out of a meeting the day before and sizing up a small, rat-faced major, Jack reminded himself to lay bait under the almond tree.
The young captain bit back her smile, and nodding, neatly turned on her heel hurrying out. With a spring in her step, Captain Leonard hummed softly. She had never worked for a man remotely like General O'Neill. She loved the prestige and pomp of working for the Pentagon, and found the new general to be an irreverent, cranky, and amusing man.
Watching the young officer scurry out, uncomfortably aware of her adoration, he gave his head a slight shake and grinned. Thinking back to another young officer he had effortlessly charmed and constantly teased, he said." So, Carter, tell me, what's up? Can I offer more sterling advice on the art of successful coloneling? Happy to oblige." Barreling on, happy to be included in his old team's life, he asked," How's Daniel, is he still driving Mitchell crazy? Mind you, Carter, that's a mighty short trip."
Grinning, chuckling at his wit, he nodded as the captain handed him fresh coffee. Waving her out and blowing on the scalding liquid, he waited impatiently for Carter to answer him. As the seconds dragged on, and ice began to churn in his stomach, Jack knew something had happened to his team. Something he wouldn't like. Moreover, he knew it concerned Daniel.
Carter ran her hand through her hair, and swallowing a sob, struggled to speak clearly. Sniffing softly, her nose stuffy and eyes red, she angrily swiped at the tears running down her face. Her voice cracking with emotion, she whispered, "Sir, it's about Daniel and Colonel Mitchell. Something terrible has happened."
Looking over her shoulder, she winced as the two small boys watched her every move with careful eyes. When she had begun to cry, the children had instantly stopped playing, and edging closer to her, grabbed at her fingers. Sensing something had upset her, but not understanding what, they stared at her anxiously. Bumping their sturdy little bodies against her leg, they blinked up at her, and squeezed her hand tighter.
The boys looked to be about four or five years old, and were so close in coloring, they could easily pass for brothers. Dressed in jeans, and sporting brightly colored t-shirts, they looked American as apple pie. Tangled and mussed, their hair badly needed cutting, and both were missing the odd, tiny tooth. Extremely active and playful, the little boy's had run the SGC personnel ragged, and General Landry had suggested the colonel contact O'Neill.
"Call the general" he breathed heavily, his face bright red from the exertions of playing 'tag you're it" with the small children. He huffed, puffed, and wheezed, waving his hand in the air, unable to catch his breath. "It must be his turn to sit these bloody kids by now." Hearing the high-pitched giggles start up again and smiling weakly, the general threw his hands in the air, imitating the universal I surrender sign. Holding Carter's glance, he mouthed, "now.'
Dragged in, and ordered to baby-sit, Siler slapped the palm of his hand against his face in shock. Looking at the boys with an experienced fatherly eye, he figured this assignment was a bust. He kept them for as short a time as possible before knocking on the general's door, ushering the kids in, and hinting there may be a sun he needed to blow up.
"I probably need to check the explosives, sir. I can't risk taking the boys into the armory, can I?"
Narrowing his eyes at the innocent look plastered on the sergeant's face, General Landry nodded and said, "Uh-huh, I'll take that under advisement." Scanning his personnel, his eyes sought and found Harriman, and clapping his hands together, waved him across.
The little sergeant contacted the general by phone within the hour, having locked the hyperactive little boys in the VIP suite's bathroom. His breathing ragged, desperation tingeing his voice, he explained that it was his considered opinion that the communication system needed a complete overhaul. "Sir, what if our allies try to contact us and they get a busy signal? "Worse, think we haven't paid the bill?" Throwing a nervous glance over his shoulder, he shuddered, and added." The boy's are locked in the bathroom for the moment, sir. Colonel Mitchell has probably figured a way out, though, and he's a resourceful little... basket."
Teal'c had been stalwart in his efforts to amuse the boys, and had eventually sniffed, and demanding the general relieve him of the onerous duty, explained he was a warrior, not a nursemaid. "These children are in need of an experienced child minder, which I am not." Placing his hands behind his back, tilting his head in a regal pose, he strolled out of the general's office and didn't look back. He had survived the wrath of the Goa'uld; he would survive the wrath of a general.
Sam was exasperated with the obvious ass-covering tactics of certain SGC personnel and took the boys into her care. As the days wore on and the full implications set in, she felt overcome with grief and admitted to Doctor Lam that she felt she couldn't cope anymore. Slumping, exhaustedly into a chair, she covered her face with her hands and said, "Carolyn, these are my dearest friends! How can you ask me to wipe their noses and tie their sneakers?" Looking up into the kind brown eyes of the doctor, she pleaded, "The general is more attuned to children; maybe he will know what to do."
General Landry agreed to help out, and played with the children when needed. As much as he found the little boys' antics amusing, he was keen to shift the awesome responsibility elsewhere. The SGC mantle was demanding, and he wanted a solution to Doctor Jackson and Colonel Mitchell's dilemma found yesterday. He knew O'Neill well--better than most-and-- he figured he would take the boys until Felger figured out what he had activated on the Fountain of Youth device. Carefully bamboozling and fending off awkward enquiries from Washington, he knew he played a dangerous game.
When Felger had slunk in to his office, eyes downcast and stammering like an idiot, Hank had felt an overwhelming urge to shoot him. Eventually, at the frantic urging of Carter, he had given him one month to fix his monumental balls-up. After the month was up and he still played chasey with his flagship team, he swore he would take the engineer and shoot him himself. Jay gulped, and assuring himself the general only teased him, had nodded his head with renewed hope. Blundering towards the door and patting the little blonde head of Colonel Cameron Mitchell, he scurried out, throwing a ridiculous salute at the grim faced general.
Seeing her display of grief had un-nerved the boys, Carter placed her hand over the phone, and forced herself to answer brightly, "Daniel, Cameron, come and sit down. Be good boys and play quietly, I won't much longer. I'm speaking to General O'Neill. He'll know what to do, won't he?"
The little shaggy haired version of Daniel Jackson wrinkled his brow in concentration, the name O'Neill sounding comfortingly familiar. The memory settled in his brain, and feeling a stab of recognition, he nodded his head vigorously. Smiling with delight and nudging Mitchell with his hip, chattered excitedly, "Cam, you 'member Jack, doncha? He's cool. He'll play chasey all night long. General Landry is just too fat, and he gets pooped."
Happily agreeing with his little friend's assessment of the suspect fitness of the kindly general, Cameron looked up at Sam, and patting her leg kindly, added, "Oh yeah! I 'member him, too." The name tweaked his memory, but as soon as the picture formed, it disappeared, leaving only an odd, comforting feeling. Deciding with the predilection of the very young that if his best friend loved Jack then he would too, jumped around demanding to know when he would come. The SGC was boring and Cam wanted to leave as soon as possible." When is he coming to get us? Cos, I'll need to pack up my stuff. Do you think he likes hamburgulars, Sam? Cos we sure do, don't we, Daniel? Oh, and Sam, we like shakes, but only if they're chocolate. Ask him Sam, ask Jed when he's gonna come and take us home."
On the other end of the phone, sitting in his plush chair behind his expensive desk in Washington, General Jack O'Neill looked like a deer in a spotlight. Shifting his butt, he wondered if he was dreaming. The conversation he heard was bizarre; it couldn't be real, could it? Jed? Who was Jed? Who did that the kid mean? Me? Take us home? Take who home? Why was the most secure facility in the world acting like a childcare?