By the time they made it to the Mountain, Caiden was once again decked out in properly fitting clothes and Daniel's wallet was substantially lighter than it had been before he'd become a father.
He handed Caiden out to Jack and followed behind as they walked across to the checkpoint to sign in, tension keeping him from speaking any more. He felt as if he was treading a tightrope; one wrong step, and he, Jack and Caiden would all topple into an unforeseeable void.
Jack sketched a salute at the airman manning the checkpoint. Tucking Caiden onto his hip, he signed his name and flashed his ID then waited while Daniel followed suit.
"Um, sir, I'm not sure that you're allowed to bring babies into the SGC," the airman said nervously.
"Who, him?" Jack held Caiden up and waggled the baby's hand in the man's face. "Caiden, say hello to Airman Drake. Airman Drake, this is Caiden. Caiden's a new recruit. We filched him from the Russians. He's absolutely brilliant but he doesn't speak or write a word of English yet and he hasn't got his ID, but I'll vouch for him."
"Right, sir. Um, I guess it'll be okay seeing it's you, sir," Drake replied. He reached out hesitantly and patted Caiden's soft, downy hair. "Nice to meet you, Caiden."
Caiden grinned delightedly and kicked his legs.
"He likes you," Jack said, adding a smile of his own. "He doesn't smile for just anyone. Very unsmiling usually, these Russians."
The airman grinned back weakly and let them through.
They were almost at the infirmary doors when a familiar voice brought them to a grinding halt.
"Colonel? Daniel? I thought you were on medical leave."
Jack darted a quick glance at Daniel then pivoted. "Hey, Carter," he said as his 2-I-C walked towards them.
"Um, that's a baby," Sam said, reaching out a finger to stroke Caiden's arm.
"Yep," Jack agreed.
Daniel contented himself with wrapping his arms around his torso and looking everywhere but into Sam's curious eyes.
"Oh, so whose is it?" Carter asked.
"A friend gave him um, loaned him We're babysitting him," Jack stuttered out. "But he's got a fever, might be contagious, so we thought we'd bring him down to have Doc Fraiser check him out."
"Oh, he's adorable," Sam said. "What's his name?"
"Caiden," Jack and Daniel parroted together.
"Hey, Caiden." Sam tickled the baby under his chin. "So whose baby is he?" she asked again. She grinned. "No offence, but I'm surprised someone would ask you two to babysit. They must have been short on babysitters, huh?"
"Hey," Jack said, offended. "I can babysit. Daniel too. Anyway, it was an emergency. A neighbor-" He nudged Daniel with his shoulder. "Let's go see if Fraiser's here."
"Husband got kidnapped by urban guerillas in LA," Daniel murmured, opening the infirmary doors for Jack to pass through.
"You're kidding me?" Sam replied.
Daniel shrugged. "LA's a dangerous place," he said, following Jack through.
Sam was hot on their heels. "Come on, Daniel, what's really going on?"
"Oh, Doctor Fraiser," Jack called, spotting the doctor just about to enter her office. "We have a patient for you." He turned to Sam, an apologetic smile on his face. "Sorry, Carter, the kid insists on strict doctor-patient confidentiality."
"Fine," Sam said with a look directed at Daniel that said he was going to tell her what the hell was going on sooner rather than later. "Bye, Caiden," she said sweetly. "Hope you get better soon."
Jack watched with narrowed eyes as she left the infirmary and sat down on a chair in the waiting area just outside the door. "Oy," he muttered. "Daniel, I think we've got some 'splaining to do."
Janet joined them in one of the cubicles. Jack sat Caiden on the bed and anchored him there with one hand on a chubby leg.
"Colonel, Daniel," Janet said. She looked down at her putative patient. "That's a baby," she said, arching an eyebrow.
"Yeah, we know," Daniel replied flatly. "Sam just told us that."
Janet flashed him an almost-glare. "Okay," she said, "why do I have a baby in my infirmary?"
"Long story," Daniel replied. "Can we get to that part after you've checked him out?"
Janet placed a hand on Caiden's forehead. "He doesn't feel feverish. What's the problem?"
"How old would you say he is?" Jack asked, deciding to get to the crux of the problem immediately.
"Well, I'm not a pediatrician but I'd say around six months. Why? How old is he?"
"Would you believe it if I told you that yesterday he was a newborn?" Jack asked.
"He's pretty big for a newborn," Janet said, obviously not getting it.
"That's the problem," Daniel interjected. "Yesterday he was a newborn in size and everything else. This morning he's six months old-"
"Well, that's just not possible " Janet picked Caiden up and patted his back gently. "You're going to have to tell me more before I examine him. I need a full history. Where are his parents?"
"Oh boy," Daniel whispered. He looked at Jack who shrugged and nodded back at him. "We're his parents, me and Jack. Well, strictly speaking, mostly me because he's my clone but-"
"He's ours," Jack cut in firmly. "Mine and Daniel's. He was a gift from Thor."
If he hadn't been so worried, Jack would have laughed at the stunned expression on the doctor's face. He reached out and closed her mouth with a finger under her chin. "I know," he said. "Freaked me out at first too."
"Loki?" Janet asked. "If he was cloned by Loki then there's a chance he could have the same problem your clone did, Colonel." She rocked the baby gently in her arms.
"Thor said he was perfectly healthy and would develop normally," Daniel said.
"Well, going from newborn to six months overnight isn't normal," Janet replied ascerbically. She handed Caiden over to Daniel, smiling as the baby snuggled against his shoulder. Caiden's thumb found its way unerringly to his mouth and he began to suck, his eyes drooping closed. "I'll need to take some blood and run some other tests. Colonel, I think we need to inform General Hammond of what's going on."
Jack nodded. "I know. I just wanted to get you to look Caiden over quickly first." He stopped and looked at her, unable to help the worried frown creasing his forehead. "I mean, right now he seems okay to you, doesn't he?"
Janet patted his shoulder reassuringly. "He looks like a normal, healthy baby," she said. "By the way, congratulations on becoming parents."
"Thanks," Jack said. "Sorry we didn't get time to do the baby shower. Look, Doc, I need to try to contact Thor. Plus we need to get General Hammond up to speed and there's a very curious Major out there who's not going to give up till she finds out what's going on. I'm going to go down to get the Asgard communication device while Daniel stays here with Caiden. Can you call the General and let him know there's a situation that we need his input on?"
"What about Sam?" Daniel asked quietly.
Jack sighed and rubbed his hand through his hair. "Tell her to meet us in the briefing room in thirty minutes. Tell her to bring Teal'c." He smiled at Daniel's anxious expression. "I think we're about to be found out, Danny boy. It might just as well be our friends to be the first to know."
"Mind if I sit in?" Janet asked.
"You're one of those friends, Doc," Jack replied. "We wouldn't have it any other way."
Jack watched as General Hammond stopped at the door of the briefing room, his mouth dropping open comically as he saw the baby on Daniel's lap.
"What the heck is going on?" Hammond asked, entering the room and taking his customary seat. "That's a baby, Doctor Jackson."
"Why is that the first thing everyone says?" Jack asked. "It's obvious it's a baby. It's not like we started out carrying something else and it morphed into a kid without us noticing."
"Us?" Hammond asked, raising an eyebrow. He sighed. "I think you'd better fill us in, Colonel."
"Well, it seems Thor was really grateful for the help we've given the Asgard recently and he wanted to give us a gift," Jack began.
"Why the Sam Hill would he give us a child?" Hammond asked.
"Not us - you, sir," Jack replied. "Us - we, as in Daniel and me - we, sir." He grimaced at the awkward phrasing and shrugged at Daniel. "Maybe Daniel should explain. He's a linguist. He's bound to be better with words than I am."
"You and Daniel?" Carter said suddenly. "Oh my God! I can't believe I didn't see it before." She bowed her head and covered her face with her hands.
"Carter? Look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean you to think that you and I I mean, I do care about you more than I'm supposed to but just not exactly like that-"
Jack winced as Daniel's foot connected with his shin. He swallowed hard as he saw Carter's shoulder's begin to shake. "Ah crap, Carter Sam, listen. Okay, I did feel like that back then but we decided to keep it to ourselves and then every time I turned around you were involved with someone Okay, okay, I know most of those guys didn't make it but-"
Sam lifted her face from her hands, tears streaming down her face. "Oh, stop, please, it hurts," she said, grasping at her ribs with her hands. A broad grin creased her face.
"You're laughing," Jack said accusingly. "Daniel, she's laughing."
"Sam, do you know how often we worried about you finding out about us?" Daniel said, reaching out with a free hand to pat her back.
"I'm sorry. I'm not laughing at you, I swear. I'm laughing at me. I've wondered so many times how to tell you, sir," she looked at Jack, "that I'm pretty much over my crush on you. I was worried I'd hurt your feelings. I mean, you haven't been involved with anyone that I knew of and I thought " She sobered and wiped the tears from her face. "Sorry," she said. "We can discuss this later. We need to talk about Caiden. What's going on, sir?"
Jack looked at Teal'c, who sat silently up till now. "Anything you want to say, big guy?" he asked. "Any recriminations, tears " he shot a mock-frown at Carter, " laughter to share?"
Teal'c simply shook his head and said, "As MajorCarter has already said what is of prime importance here is the welfare of the child."
Jack turned finally to look at Hammond, his heart in his throat. His and Daniel's relationship was grounds for court martial, he knew that, and yet all he could think of right now was that if the Air Force wanted to court martial him for loving Daniel, they could go right ahead, but not until he'd had a chance to get his hands on the communication device and contact Thor. "Sir?"
Hammond shook his head. "I wish you'd come to me, either of you." He stood up and walked around to Daniel's chair where he placed a hand on Caiden's head.
Caiden looked up and grinned at him and Hammond smiled back. "Hey there, little fella," he said. He looked back at Jack. "What do we need to do for him?" he asked.
"I need to contact Thor," Jack said immediately. "Sir, I know this is a huge problem for you, and I'm sorry-"
"This isn't the first time I've had to keep a secret, Jack," Hammond said. "Go. Get the device, get in touch with Thor, if you can." He looked at Daniel. "May I?" he asked, holding out his arms and smiling as Daniel lifted Caiden into his arms. He rocked the baby gently to and fro. "No matter where he came from, he's here now," he said. "And I'll do whatever it takes to keep him here with you."
"Thank you, sir." Jack was on his feet, sketching a hasty salute. "I'll meet you in the infirmary," he told Daniel. "Let the doc run some tests while we're waiting, make sure he's okay for now."
Daniel nodded and held his arms out for the baby, planting a brief kiss on the downy head as Caiden was passed back into his care.
Janet stood as well. "Let's get moving," she said, leading the way from the room.