Experience of Ages
By Annie and Lyn
"No use sending me the laser death stare," Jack said as he dried the last of the breakfast dishes and hung the dishtowel on the rack. "Until someone's got this downsizing thing sorted, you're not allowed off world."
"I'm still me in here," Daniel replied, tapping his head. "How I look now shouldn't matter."
Jack turned and rested both hands on the dining room table, staring into Daniel's eyes, forcing his own resolve not to waver, because damn it, they could have used Daniel on this mission their Daniel at least, except this wasn't their Daniel. Not totally.
The features were much the same, only younger by a good fifteen years, a faint growth of soft stubble on his chin accentuating his now physical sixteen years of age. But the gaze that held Jack's was as mature, as intelligent, as familiar as it always had been. "It matters," Jack said firmly. "Whether you or I like it or not. Regulations, Daniel -"
"Since when have you cared about regulations?" Daniel shot back, with a decidedly teenage toss of his head.
"When it means the safety and wellbeing of my team, I care!" Jack retorted.
"You think because my body's been downsized to a teenager, I'll screw up!" Daniel pushed his chair back and stood, hands on hips. "What's different, Jack? You thought I screwed up all the time when I was an adult."
"Sometimes." Jack raised a finger. "Sometimes, you screwed up and sometimes I did. So did Carter and Teal'c." He shook his raised finger at Daniel when he opened his mouth in obvious protest. "But this has nothing to do with me worrying about you screwing up."
"Then why?" Daniel asked after a long pause. "Why won't you talk to General Hammond and convince him to let me come with you?"
"Because I don't want to risk losing you, Daniel!" Jack walked around the table and placed his hands on Daniel's thin shoulders, squeezing gently. "Because you've lost enough already, and I don't want to risk you getting killed on some god awful backwater planet before Frasier and her team have a chance to restore you to your usual grownup, annoying, pain in the butt self. Because I'd never forgive myself if you lost that chance of becoming who you once were."
Daniel stared at him for a long moment then shrugged. "Can I at least come to the base with you? I'd like to look over the data we got back from the MALP while you're away."
Jack smiled. "No one else I'd rather have check it out."
Daniel gave him a curt nod and turned away, and in an impulsive move, Jack grabbed his hand and pulled him into a hug. "We're gonna fix this, Daniel. Okay?"
Daniel nodded against his shoulder. "I know."
Daniel skidded to a halt on his way through the checkpoint and turned back to the desk. "Airman?"
"If I could just see your ID again?" The airman, Matthews, was grinning broadly as he held his hand out for Daniel's card. He peered closely at it as Daniel looked despairingly up the corridor to see Jack had already reached the elevator and was now looking back towards them, an impatient frown on his face.
"Is there a problem?" Daniel asked. He could hear footsteps approaching and knew Jack was on his way back. 'Way to go, Jackson. Screw up something else, why don't you?' It seemed that ever since the incident on 'X33' that had caused him to be downsized to a teenager, Daniel had been continually messing up. He just couldn't seem to get the balance between his physiological self and his adult brain right, causing untold spats between Jack and himself. Not that they hadn't had those before, but that was when Daniel had felt able to hold his own in an argument with Jack. Now, more often than not, their disagreements ended with Daniel feeling more and more that Jack was beginning to regard him as the teen he resembled on the outside.
"What's the problem?" Jack snapped out as he joined them. He glanced impatiently at his watch and then held his hand out for Daniel's ID.
Matthews grinned sheepishly as he handed it over, his cheeks reddening a little. "Sorry, sir. The ID just didn't quite match," he said quietly.
"Did you or did you not get the memo about Dr. Jackson?" Jack asked.
"Yes, sir, I did."
"So you know as well as I do that this is Dr. Jackson, no matter whether his ID photo matches or not, don't you, Airman Matthews?" Jack's voice was cold now and Daniel kept his eyes focused on the suddenly interesting tiles at his feet.
"Yes, sir, Colonel. I'm sorry, sir. It was just a joke." Matthews had the grace to look abashed as Daniel glanced up at him from under his eyelashes. "Sorry, Dr. Jackson."
"It's fine," Daniel said. "I should have got my photo changed before we left the base." 'Can we just let it go?' he pleaded wordlessly to Jack who seemed to sense his embarrassment and simply shook his head, shoved the ID into Daniel's hand then headed back towards the elevator. "Let's go, Daniel," he called over his shoulder.
General Hammond looked up as Daniel followed Jack into the observation room. He raised his eyebrows and gave them both a grim smile. "Colonel? A word, if you don't mind."
"Hey, Daniel." Sam Carter wrapped her arms around Daniel's waist and pulled him in for a hug.
Daniel blushed fiercely. "Hi, Sam," he muttered, wanting to push her away but not wanting to hurt her feelings. Sam had never hugged him on the job before
"Sorry," she murmured into his ear. "I keep forgetting you're not really a kid. You just look so darn huggable like this." She let him go and he smiled apologetically at her.
"It's fine, Sam," he reassured her. "I'm glad to see you too."
"You look well, Daniel Jackson. It is good to have you back on SG1," Teal'c said from behind him and Daniel turned and smiled at his Jaffa friend. Teal'c grasped his forearm in the Jaffa handshake. "You are accompanying us on the mission," he said and Daniel shrugged non-committally.
"Um, that would be a no," Jack interrupted.
"Oh come on, Jack!" Daniel said in exasperation. "You know you're going to need me. The MALP showed some really interesting stuff and this is a first contact situation." He poked a finger at his chest. "That's what I do, remember?"
"SG1, why don't you go and get geared up," General Hammond said, interrupting the stand off, walking across to stand next to Jack.
"Yes, sir." Jack placed a hand on Daniel's neck and kneaded the nape of his neck. "We already discussed this, remember?" he said quietly. He slapped Daniel's shoulder. "We'll be back before you know it," he said jovially then he led Teal'c and Carter back down the stairs.
"General." Daniel turned to Hammond. "Sir-"
"I'm sorry, son. It's for your own safety."
"I'm not your son," Daniel spat out hotly, regretting the words the moment they left his treacherous teenage tongue. "Sorry, sir. You've always called me that even before ." He pointed down at his downsized body. "It's just that's my team, General. What happened to me doesn't change that."
"I'm afraid it does, Dr. Jackson, much as I wish it were otherwise." Hammond's voice was sincere. "Don't you think I'd rather our premier first contact expert was with them?" He nodded down at the Gateroom and Daniel looked and saw Jack, Sam and Teal'c entering, geared up.
"Could I at least look over the MALP telemetry one more time?" Daniel pleaded, wishing his voice was deeper, more adult right now when there was this gnawing feeling of something being terribly wrong niggling in his gut.
To his immense relief, the General smiled and nodded. "No one I'd trust more to do it, son," he said. He cleared his throat. "Doctor Jackson."
Daniel scarcely heard him as he ran to the monitor and sat down, calling up the feed he needed. He scanned it minutely, seeing nothing other than a planet like many others they'd explored before nothing untoward.
"Sir? What's the hold up?" Jack's voice echoed over the intercom and Daniel sighed. Jack was going to be pissed if he made them wait any longer. Turning to General Hammond, he shrugged and smiled apologetically. "Sorry," he said, "Guess I was worried about nothing."
"You have a go, Colonel," Hammond said into the speaker and Daniel watched as Jack raised a hand and waved at him then started up the ramp, Sam and Teal'c flanking him.
Daniel turned back to the monitor, hoping its reflection would mask the blush he could feel heating his face at Jack waving at him like he really was a kid waving goodbye to his dad. A shadow at the edge of the camera's field caught his attention and he leaned forward, focusing on it intently. It took a moment before he recognized the symbol but the minute he did, he shot to his feet. "Stop them! It's a Goa'uld trap!"
"What?" Hammond gave him a quick look then to Daniel's relief thumbed on the mic. "Abort the mission, Colonel. Dr. Jackson's found something of concern."
"Oh, for crying out loud!"
Daniel slunk back in his seat as Jack entered the observation room at a run, Teal'c and Sam behind him.
"Daniel?" Jack said, moving to stand in front of him.
"It was a Goa'uld trap, Jack," Daniel said. He turned around and pointed at the monitor. "See this symbol etched into the rock here?"
Teal'c leaned in past Jack's shoulder. "This is a welcoming sign for the God, Dis Pater," he said. "He who takes the souls of his slaves to the Underworld."
"You're kidding," Sam replied. She swallowed as she looked at Teal'c's implacable expression. "You're not kidding. Crap! Sorry, sir," she added, glancing at General Hammond.
"You mean these people actually welcome this guy coming to their world and carting them off to Hades?" Jack asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow at Daniel.
"Well, they don't know they're going to Hell, Jack," Daniel said, standing up, knowing he'd made the right call and hoping Jack knew that now too. "They think they're going to a place of everlasting peace."
"Guess they're in for a wake up call then," Jack replied. He shot a broad smile at Daniel and reached out and ruffled his hair and this time Daniel didn't tell him to knock it off. "Good call, Dr. Jackson," Jack added.
"Major Carter, let's take this planet off the dialing computer effective immediately," Hammond ordered.
"So," Jack said. "One scrubbed mission. Does that mean we get some unexpected downtime?"
"Plenty more planets in that dialing program," Hammond rejoined. He gave Daniel a smile. "Dr. Jackson, you're back on the team. You might want to get geared up."