CHANGES part six
"Isn't she a beauty?" Sam said, pointing to the gleaming motorcycle sitting in the middle of her lab.
Jack eyed the black machine and shrugged. "Yeah, sure, it's okay," he said flatly. Actually, he thought, it was pretty cool but there was no way he was going to let Sam see that he liked it too much. He flicked a glance up at her face and saw her expression go from enthusiasm to something that looked like disappointment and maybe hurt in the space of a second. He felt like a heel. He walked across and ran a hand over the handlebars. "It is pretty nice," he said. "Did you do all the work on restoring it yourself?"
He was relieved to see the smile back in place when he looked at her. "Siler's been helping me with the mechanical stuff but yeah, it's pretty much my own work."
"I thought you'd find the mechanical stuff a cinch," Jack said, letting his fingers trace the leather saddle.
Sam grinned. "I'm an astrophysicist. What I know about engines could fit on the head of a pin." She frowned as he bent and poked a small finger experimentally into one of the holes he could see in the frame. "Look with your eyes, not your fingers," she said over-brightly. "Don't want you to get your little fingers stuck-" Sudden realization seemed to blossom in her eyes and if Jack hadn't felt so horrified by the blush he felt heating his cheeks, he might almost have enjoyed her mortification. "Oh God, sir Jack, I'm sorry," she said and his own embarrassment dwindled to be replaced by sympathy for her own.
"It's okay," he replied quickly. "I mean, it's kinda hard to keep it all straight when I look like this, right?"
The look of pure gratitude she flashed at him made him feel, for the first time since he'd been downsized, at least ten feet tall and he gave her the broadest grin he could conjure up.
Seeking a way out of the awkwardness he wandered over to a lab table and looked through one of the microscopes she had set up. "What's this?" he asked, seeing something moving quickly under the lens.
"One of the nanocytes we extracted from you," Sam said, coming over to stand next to him.
Jack winced. That was a somewhat painful and embarrassing memory. He'd cried like a baby when Janet had stuck him with the needle and Daniel had pulled him onto his lap when it was done and hugged him and patted his back as if Jack really was seven years old.
"Have you found out anything more about it?" he asked, trying to remain in this adult-type place he inhabited right now, even within his child-sized body.
Sam moved up to stand close beside him and he almost side-stepped away from her as he hand came out and brushed over his head. He felt really glad he hadn't when he saw she was simply adjusting the lens height for him so he could see into it without having to get up on his toes. "Not really, she said apologetically. "They're similar to the ones you were infected with on Kynthia's planet-"
"Yeah?" he broke in excitedly. "Well, you reversed those. Couldn't you do the same thing with these?"
"Maybe," Sam began hesitantly. "Look." She bent down so her face was level with his and he fought not to squirm away. wondering in the few moments it took her to decide what to say, why it was that he felt so awkward around her, when he didn't feel that way at all with Teal'c or Daniel. He knew somewhat instinctively that it had something to do with how he'd felt towards her when he was an adult but those feelings were so foreign to this seven year old body that the memory of them simply caused him untold confusion, not to mention embarrassment. "Okay," she said finally. "We did think about trying that but Janet and I are concerned that it may backfire. That you may age too quickly and we wouldn't be able to stop it in time. Then we'd have to try to reverse it again with the same risk. That could put a dangerous strain on your internal organs." Her hand came out and grasped his shoulder gently and for once he didn't feel like wriggling out from under it. She looked so concerned, so caring, a good friend just like she'd always been. "Do you understand what I'm saying?"
Jack nodded, biting his lip to stop the burning in his eyes becoming actual tears. God, had he cried this much when he was really seven? he wondered briefly. "I get it," he whispered. He moved away from her then, idly picking up a piece of paper on her desk and absent-mindedly folding it. He smiled as he saw he'd formed it into a perfect paper airplane. "Hey, look, Sam," he said, brightening suddenly in that oddly lightening-quick way that accompanied his moods these days, "it looks just like an X-102."
"Um, Jack, that's my report for-" Sam ducked as the plane soared over her head and landed with a plop nose-down in her half-full coffee mug. She fished it out with a rueful look and unfolded it, trying to flatten the creases and brush away the coffee. "It *was* my report on the nanocytes for General Hammond," she said, turning and fixing him with a stern look.
He stood and took it, knowing he deserved whatever punishment she meted out until her frown began to melt into a smile, and the smile to a grin, and in the next moment they were both laughing uproariously.
Sam picked up another report and folded it, then aimed it at his head. "Better run," she said, "my Mach-10 fighter's got your X-102 beat hands down."
"As if," Jack shrieked excitedly, ducking behind her desk then reaching up to pull down a sheaf of papers and beginning to fold them furiously. As he finished each one, he peered out from his position then sent his craft sailing towards her Sam returned each volley with one of her own. In fifteen minutes, they were both lying exhausted on the paper-plane-littered floor.
Jack turned his head to look at Sam who leaned up and across and gave him a high-five. "Okay, you win," she said. "What's next?"
Jack yawned. "I'm tired," he mumbled, closing his eyes. "I'm gonna take a nap."
" and he did, just like that."
There were voices murmuring softly somewhere nearby; familiar voices that made him feel safe and warm and cared for so Jack snuggled deeper under the covers and let the conversation go on without him.
"You are deserving of congratulations," Teal'c said. "I even tried Kel'noreem to no avail." He sounded somewhat incredulous at his lack of success and Jack couldn't help smothering a grin into his pillow.
"Yeah, nice one, Sam." That was Daniel. "God, I can't remember ever feeling so exhausted. He's like the Energizer Bunny. He just keeps going." Jack stifled a giggle. Poor Daniel. He'd have to try to make it up to him when he was grown up again.
"Hey, Jack, I know you're awake." Jack grunted as he felt a finger tickle his ribs, squirming away from his tormenter. He opened one eye and glared balefully up at Daniel. "I'm trying to sleep here," he said. He was still on the floor of Sam's lab, he realized, but now he was covered with a blanket.
"You've been asleep for an hour," Daniel replied, sitting cross-legged on the floor at Jack's side. "I haven't seen you that still since you got " His voice trailed off and he gave Jack an apologetic look.
"It's okay." Jack sat up, rubbing at his eyes. "You can say it, Daniel. Since I got down-sized." He shrugged. "It's kinda funny how easy I can sleep now. I just feel tired and close my eyes and -" He clicked his fingers clumsily, frowning when the expected sound didn't emerge. "- just like that I go to sleep." He tipped his head back, looking at Teal'c and Sam. "Listen, thanks for keeping me company today, guys. I know I've been a little difficult at times-"
"A little?" Daniel muttered and then smiled as Jack nudged him with his foot.
"Anyway," Jack went on. "I was kinda thinking about everything while I was asleep, or maybe I was dreaming but anyway I think I know what we should do."
"And what's that?" Daniel asked.
"We should go back to the planet and find the guy who did this to me. We can ask him why he did it and if he can turn me back," Jack said surely.
"I doubt the General's going to agree to letting you go off world at the moment," Sam said doubtfully.
"Why not? You guys will be with me," Jack protested, standing up and facing them all down, hands on small hips. legs akimbo.
"That's not the point," Daniel said. "Look, maybe I can get him to agree to let Teal'c and I go back, see if we can find the guy, talk to him-"
Jack was already shaking his head. "He'll just hide," he pointed out. "He was scared of us the first time, remember?"
Daniel shook his head. "I don't know if it'll fly, Jack," he said, "but I'll speak to the General, okay?"
"Okay," Jack agreed, "but I want to be there when you do."
Daniel shook his head then sighed, giving in. "You've always gotta push things just that one step further, don't you?"
"Hey, this is about me," Jack said forcefully, "the outcome involves me and the rest of my life."
"He is correct, DanielJackson," Teal'c said quietly. "If the General does not allow him to go back to the planet, O'Neill at least deserves to hear it from his own lips, as well as the reasons why."
"Yeah, I know. All right." Daniel stood up, held Jack in place with a hand on his shoulder, then bent so his face was level with Jack's. "You let me do the talking, all right?"
"What else is new?" Jack muttered but he smiled broadly as he led the way out of the room to the elevator.
Tbc only one part to go!!