"Come with me and get changed, O'Neill. If you return here before I do, do not touch anything." Teal'c kept a steadying hand on Jack's shoulder, pinning him in place.
"Can I just-"
"You may not."
"Well, what if I just-"
"No!" Teal'c crouched in front of him, hand still in place. "O'Neill, I simply wish to go and change into gym apparel. I would suggest you do the same." He nodded at the pack of t-shirts and shorts in Jack's arms. "When you have done so, return here and we will exercise."
"Yeah, okay." Jack sighed and trailed after Teal'c to the change room.
It took him longer than it should have to get changed. For some reason, his fingers that had zipped and unzipped, buttoned and unbuttoned with ease for so many years seemed to have all turned into thumbs. He yelped as an important part of his anatomy got caught in the zipper of his pants and spent a good few minutes extricating himself without bloodshed. By the time he went back into the gym, Teal'c was already waiting for him.
"What would you like to do first, O'Neill?"
"Show me that move you showed Rya'c," Jack begged. "Please, you said it's a move a smaller person can use on someone bigger."
Teal'c shook his head. "Rya'c was much older than this incarnation of you when I taught it to him. I do not believe you are ready for such maneuvers just yet." The Jaffa appeared to think for a moment then turned and pointed at the treadmill. "First we will jog. It will warm up your muscles and make you less susceptible to cramps when we exercise."
"Ah, T, I hate jogging Well, except for when we had those cool bracelets Anise gave us. I think I was running over a hundred miles per hour then "
"A slight exaggeration, perhaps," Teal'c observed, leading him over to the machines.
"Uh uh," Jack replied earnestly, shaking his head. "100 mph easy."
"Let us start out with a slightly slower speed for now and build up to it," Teal'c said, smiling at him. He bent and switched the treadmills on then helped Jack up onto his, setting the machine for a fast walking pace.
It was kinda cool for a while, Jack thought, looking sideways at Teal'c's huge muscular legs striding along on his own treadmill, while Jack tried to match the Jaffa's pace. After a while though, when he realized he couldn't do it, that his short legs could never keep up, it just became boring, marching along the same piece of rubber roadway with no view apart from the gym in sight.
He watched as Lieutenant McGill walked into the gym, flipping him a quick wave and a grin. He waved back, a little discomfited at the blush he could feel heating his cheeks. There'd been a time, after all, not too long ago when he'd still been big, that he would have called something out to her, something to make *her* blush. Now, he was more worried that she'd come over to talk to him, feeling somewhat the way he had when he'd rushed home from school the first time he was seven, screaming to his mother that Linda Hepburn had kissed him when they were playing kiss-chasey and given him girl-germs.
He sighed and looked down at his feet, stopping every now and then to let the treadmill take over, causing him to trip a little each time the belt pulled his feet to the end of the machine. Boring! he wanted to shout but he was too aware of Teal'c pacing steadily next to him so instead he reached up to the button that controlled the pace of the treadmill and gave it a daring push.
There was a sudden lurch as the treadmill moved faster and then he was running, flat-out, feet slamming down as he tried to keep up with the cursed belt that was streaming beneath his feet faster than his new seven year old legs could go. He tripped, his feet tangling together, and then fell to his knees, watching as the end of the treadmill headed towards his face. He opened his mouth to scream and then suddenly, before he could utter a sound, the machine died and he slid forward on hands and knees to within an inch of the end of the belt.
A hand lifted him to his feet, then up and over the handrail to stand, feeling slightly shaky, on the other side.
"Are you all right?" Teal'c asked and Jack nodded though his knees felt weak and his palms burned where they'd skidded along the belt.
"I'm sick of this," he muttered sullenly, looking over at where Lieutenant McGill was eyeing them curiously.
"Everyone knows, don't they?" he asked, looking up at Teal'c who shrugged. "Perhaps," Teal'c replied, "it does not matter. You are still you here." He placed one hand on Jack's head and the other over his heart.
"No, I'm not," Jack said, mortified to feel hot tears overflow his eyes and trail scaldingly down his overheated cheeks. "I'm not," he said again, and he recoiled as Teal'c's hand reached out towards him, as if to pull him closer. "I'm not!" he shrieked, knowing he was spiraling out of control, tumbling head-first into a fine seven year old tantrum and unable to stop. "I'm not!" he yelled again and again, his fists striking out at Teal'c's belly, his feet kicking into the solid Jaffa legs. "Hit me!" he yelled at Teal'c. "Hit me back!"
Suddenly his hands were grasped in fists much bigger than his own and he was pulled up against a warm, hard body, a big hand cupping the back of his head gently as he fought to escape. "I cannot hit you," Teal'c murmured, holding him in place. "You are physically a child. It would be like hitting my son." He knelt in front of Jack, holding him away a little and lifting his face with one hand cupped beneath his chin.
"Then tell me it's going to be okay," Jack whispered brokenly, hating the after-echo of sobs in his voice but unable to quell them just yet. "Tell me I'm going to go back to the way I was."
"I cannot do that either," Teal'c said, "though I hope with all my heart that will happen soon." He smiled, a full-faced Teal'c grin. "I do not think any of us wish you to remain a child any longer than is strictly necessary."
Jack couldn't help the answering smile that crossed his own face. "You should have known me the first time I was seven, " he said, wiping his nose with the back of his hand. "This is nothing."
"Perhaps we have had enough exercise for now," Teal'c said, rising to his feet and ushering Jack along with him by a hand on his shoulder. "I am in need of Kelno'reem. You will join me."
Jack wriggled a little on the pillow Teal'c had placed on the floor for him to sit on. Teal'c didn't use a pillow, Jack noticed. Apparently, that tough Jaffa ass could handle the cold floor of the SGC just fine.
He could see a small trickle of dried blood on his right knee and pulled his leg up to get a better look. Crap, he thought, it's always the knees. Mind you, he moved his leg back and forth experimentally, if there was anything good about being in a kid's body, it was having knees that could take a licking and keep on ticking.
"Do you need to relieve yourself, O'Neill?" Teal'c asked, not opening his eyes.
"What?" Jack abruptly sat up straight and felt himself blush bright, hot red.
"You are squirming about most distractingly," Teal'c observed, his eyes open now and staring somewhat accusingly at Jack. "I thought that perhaps you needed to use the bathroom."
Jack shook his head then crossed his legs Indian-style in the forlorn hope that would keep his restless body still. It was weird, he thought, how as an adult, he'd grab any opportunity to take a load off in the middle of a busy day, yet now, in this small boy incarnation, sitting still for more than five minutes at a time was a chore.
He leaned back on his hands and looked around Teal'c's room. There were few decorations apart from a profusion of lit candles. Jack was surprised the sprinkler system hadn't come on with that much candle-power in the room. Maybe Teal'c had dismantled them. He craned his head back, looking up at the ceiling but he couldn't really see much apart from the small holes where the sprinklers squirted water out. He gave thought to sneaking up onto a chair with a candle in his hand and holding it close to the ceiling to see if the sprinklers came on
"You will not do so," Teal'c said warningly.
"What?" Jack tried to sound affronted. "I'm just sitting here like you told me to."
"The purpose of Kelno'reem is to *not* think," Teal'c said. He narrowed his eyes as he looked at Jack. "I believe you were thinking of doing something mischievous."
"Me? Mischievous? Oh come on Yeah, okay," Jack capitulated. "It's not that I really *want* to, you know. It's kinda like this itch " He sighed as Teal'c closed his eyes again, shutting him out. "Hey, T, why do you have so many candles?"
"To help me focus."
"Oh. How do they help you focus?"
"I imagine myself inside the flame and see myself getting smaller and smaller till nothing exists but the flame."
Jack nodded. Made sense in a weird, totally Jaffa kind of way. "Well, but, why don't you guys just go to sleep? Wouldn't that be easier? I mean, I don't need to sit in a room full of candles to get a decent night's sleep-"
Teal'c stood and smiled from the teeth out. "I believe it is time for you to visit with MajorCarter in her lab."
"Oh no, I don't want to. It'll be boring. I promise I'll be quiet and I'll kelno'reem all you want."
"I do not believe you." Teal'c took him by the shoulder and walked him from the room. "Besides, MajorCarter will be offended if you choose not to spend time with her."
"Teal'c, please, hang on a minute." Jack stopped and tugged Teal'c's arm till the Jaffa was crouched in front of him. "Look, it's just kinda strange with Sam, you know. It's like she wants to act like my mom or something and all I can think of is that if she touches me I'm gonna get cooties."
"What are cooties and why would MajorCarter give them to you if she has them?"
"Oh for she doesn't have cooties, which are girl-germs, by the way. It's just the way young boys tend to feel about girls at the age I am right now."
"I see. I remember feeling much the same as a child when Drey'auc and her friends would insist on chasing my friends and I-"
"And if they caught you, they'd plant a big, sloppy kiss on you and you'd run away screaming, "Girl-germs!", right?" Jack said.
"No. If they caught us, they would slap our faces and challenge us to a fight. Then we would yell, "Mak-tah!" Teal'c said.
"Of course they would. Anyway, same diff. So, please don't make me go stay with Sam."
"I am afraid it is too late," Teal'c murmured.
"Aw no, don't tell me-"
"Hi Colonel I mean, Jack! Hi, Teal'c. Jack, you are going to love what I've got to show you. I got Siler to bring my motor bike up from the garage so I can show you what we're doing to it." Sam grabbed his hand and hauled him up the corridor to her office.
Jack gave serious thought to simply digging in his heels, throwing himself to the ground and giving in to a good old-fashioned seven year old tantrum again but one look up at her lovely, enthusiastically smiling face and he just couldn't do it. "Oy," he muttered as he let himself be carried along. "Bye T."
"Goodbye, O'Neill," Teal'c called, sounding unaccountably cheerful. "I will see you when my Kelno'reem is over."
"Traitor," Jack whispered.
end of part five
To Part Six