The Lady's Blessing
Jack knew he wasn't going to make it in time. He ran pell-mell through the village, crazily dodging people and animals. Strangely, his footsteps kept time with the sound of ringing gongs originating from the temple where'd he'd left Daniel barely 20 minutes ago. The words 'please don't be in the temple' kept running through his mind, like a mantra. As he neared the white gravel path that wound through a lush garden leading to the temple, he heard the sound of the gongs stop and his stomach suddenly started to churn as he slowed down to a jog. 'I'm too late,' he thought to himself.
As soon as the Townmaster had told him that he was pleased that his 'young friend' wished to see if he was worthy of The Lady's Blessing, Jack knew that Daniel was in trouble. He'd tried to radio Daniel but he hadn't answered. From what Jack understood from a forced explanation by the Townmaster, pilgrimages were made to the Lady's Temple on certain festival days to gain The Lady's Blessing, and today just happened to be one of those days. Of all the luck.
Jack had left Daniel happily exploring the Lady's Temple only a short while ago. Jack's last glimpse of the Temple had shown Daniel kneeling by a pillar and mumbling to himself, his nose barely an inch from the etchings. There had been a few other persons in the temple, Jack assumed the folk dressed in long white robes were the supplicants, their families milling around with them. Attendants were there to answer their questions. The people had simply wandered around the Temple and its garden, some leaning against the pillars or sitting on benches. On retrospect, Jack thought that they looked like they were waiting for something.
Jack had gone on to the Townmaster's office to discuss trade negotiations between Earth and the people of planet P4X 499, and that was when the gongs had started to ring and the Townmaster told Jack that Daniel was about to be Blessed. Which led to Jack's breathless run through the village to the temple.
A radioed message to Teal'c and Carter told them to haul their asses up to the temple doublequick. Jack knew that they'd be a few minutes getting here, they were off exploring the fields outside of the village. Damn.
As Jack quickly walked up the winding path leading to the temple entrance while trying to catch his breath, he quickly scanned the area, hoping to spot Daniel. There was movement at the temple's door, and a middle-aged couple came out with a young redheaded girl who looked to be about three, carried in the arms of the woman. The child was dressed in a white robe, which was much too big for her. As the three passed him, he saw that the little girl was quietly sniffling in the woman's arms. Hadn't Jack noticed a pretty redheaded woman in the temple watching Daniel when he'd been there earlier? The child turned and watched Jack curiously as the threesome walked by.
Another child came out wearing a similar robe, this time it was a twelve-year-old. The boy was talking a mile a minute, walking beside another man who looked to be the boy's grandfather. The boy was trying to hold up the hem of the gown so that he wouldn't trip over it. As Jack entered the temple, he crossed another couple coming out carrying what looked to be a 7 or 8 year old in their arms, also wearing that too-big white robe. He could hear a toddler crying inside, and turning towards the sound, saw an elderly couple in the center of the Temple trying to soothe the child. The baby was swaddled in what appeared to be another white robe.
Looking around quickly, Jack was relieved to see that the interior of the temple was empty. Daniel wasn't here. Daniel was safe. Daniel was going to be in so much trouble when Jack found him. The elderly couple had picked up the crying child and were now approaching Jack. He moved aside to make room to allow them access to the doorway. He took a final look around and as he turned to follow the departing couple, Jack heard a slight noise. Turning back, he saw what appeared to be an eight year old boy partially hidden in the shadows of a pillar, his blond head resting on his bent knees. As Jack approached with trepidation, he saw the glint of light reflecting off a pair of glasses lying discarded in the sand near the boy's foot. A backpack, notebook and videocamera lay off on the right side of the boy.
- - - - - -
Danny could hear bells ringing off in the distance, maybe recess was over and it was time now to go back to class. Something was hanging on his face so he batted the offending item away, and he heard something fall to the ground. Curious as to what had fallen, he opened his eyes and saw a pair of glasses lying on the ground. His head hurt and his stomach felt funny. Ignoring his discomfort, he looked around and realized that he wasn't in school. The walls had pictures etched into them, it looked like some of the Egyptian tombs his parents had spent so much of their time exploring, but he could see that the script wasn't Egyptian.
Maybe he was on a school trip to a museum? There were other kids with him, so that made sense. Which meant he must have wandered off and gotten lost, and Mr. Harris was going to be mad at him. Then he noticed that some of the kids were crying, and they were all wearing a long white dress, even the boys. Danny felt like crying, too, but that might mean Mr. Harris getting mad at him again. He wished that he was back at the orphanage, he didn't want to go back to Mr. and Mrs. Harris' foster care.
Danny didn't remember how he came to be in this place. He remembered not finishing his breakfast this morning because Mr. Harris had gotten up in a bad mood again, and he had decided to leave early and wait for the school bus outside. The next thing he remembered was a bright light, and then the sounds of bells, and his head and stomach hurting.
He saw a couple come in through the entrance, and they quickly moved towards a crying redheaded little girl. They picked her up, quietly whispered in her ear, and headed back towards the exit. Two men and a woman came in, one man went to an older-looking boy and the other man and woman went to a boy who was about the same age as Danny. As he looked on, another couple came in and went to the crying toddler. As he watched the couple trying to extract the toddler from the weird white dress it was wearing, Danny realized that he wasn't wearing the same type of clothes as the other kids. He looked like he'd tried to dress up in his dad's clothes, but he'd never seen his dad wear the weird mottled green pants and jacket that were hanging off of him.
He realized suddenly as the couple with the toddler started moving towards the doorway, that he was the only child left. His head started to hurt even more, but he was NOT going to cry. Noise at the entrance suddenly brought hope to Danny, maybe this next person was coming for him. He saw an old man come inside the room and quickly look around, but Danny realized that the man didn't want him when he turned around and started to follow the last couple outside. Danny stifled a sob and slid down the pillar to sit on the ground. He rested his head on his knees and tried to ignore the throbbing in his head, tears dripped down his cheeks no matter how hard he tried to hold them back.
Footsteps came towards him and he felt someone brush by beside him. A hand touched his shoulder, someone softly called his name. He raised his head slowly, and saw the old man kneeling beside him, looking at him intently. The man brought a hand up and with his thumb, gently wiped the tears from his face.
- - - - - -
As Jack knelt beside the boy, he knew he'd have recognized Daniel even if it hadn't been for the over-sized fatigues hanging off his young body. He had seen the same despair and anguish in those blue eyes over the years that he had known his best friend. Jack reached over and wiped the tears flowing down the boy's face. Before he could say anything else, he heard footsteps running up the gravel path and Teal'c and Carter rushed into the temple. They stopped short at the sight of the Colonel kneeling beside the young boy.
Carter slowly approached and knelt on Daniel's other side. "Daniel?" she asked the Colonel, but looking at the boy. When he didn't answer she glanced at him and saw the hard set of his mouth as he looked at her. She looked back at Daniel and saw that his head was on his knees. She put her hand on his head and said softly, "Daniel." He didn't move. Then the Colonel looked back at Daniel and he said curtly, "Let's get him out of here. Carter, gather up his stuff and meet me at the gate. Teal'c, we're going to pay the Townmaster a visit."
Jack reached over to Daniel and said softly, "C'mon, let's blow this joint." He picked the boy up and noted that the now over-sized boots had slid off the child's feet. "Carter", Jack said, and pointed at the boots with his chin. She nodded and picked up the boots and stuffed them into Daniel's discarded backpack along with the rest of the items lying on the ground.
The boy seemed stunned, his eyes weren't really tracking and as they exited the temple and walked into the sunshine, he scrunched his eyes closed. Jack put his hand behind the boy's neck and realized that the boy's skin felt too hot. Quickly feeling Daniel's forehead, he realized that the boy probably had a fever. Jack quickly walked up the path and retraced his steps to the Townmaster's office.
Not bothering to knock, Jack entered the office, obviously interrupting a discussion between the Townmaster and another villager. The Townmaster looked at the Colonel's set face and then down to the boy held in his arms, and quickly dismissed the villager. Jack walked over to the nearest chair and sat Daniel down on it. Daniel quickly pulled his feet up and wrapped his arms around his knees, lying his head again on his bent knees. Teal'c had approached the chair and stood guard over Daniel.
- - - - - -
The bright sunlight had made Danny's stomach feel worse, and he thought he was going to throw up. His head was pounding, and he shut his eyes to try and keep his stomach under control. He felt the old man reach up and feel his forehead, something he remembered his mom or dad doing when they thought he didn't feel well. They traveled for a few minutes, and then Danny knew they had entered a building when he couldn't feel the sun on him anymore and the air felt cooler. It felt like the tombs back in Egypt, dry and cooler than the hot desert air, but it couldn't be a tomb because it didn't smell old and musty. This room smelled more of spices and sweat. Danny felt the old man bend down slightly and himself being placed on a chair. He opened his eyes quickly and saw the old man turn and face a fat man who was sitting behind a desk.
Movement caught his eye, and Danny saw a huge black man seeming to tower over him. He must have been the biggest man he had ever seen. He quickly shut his eyes and pulled his feet up onto the chair. He didn't want that man to be mad at him. Ever. But maybe he'd like to see this man get mad at Mr. Harris. But then he felt bad at thinking that thought. He really didn't want anybody to be mad. His head hurt worse than ever, and he just wanted to lie down.
Oh, the old man was yelling now, and Danny heard his name mentioned so he was sure that he was in trouble. Maybe this time Mr. Harris would only send him to bed without his supper, he didn't mind that punishment right now because he didn't think he could eat anyway. He thought that he wouldn't be so lucky, though. He'd probably end up being locked in the closet again. Like the time he missed the school bus and came home late. It hadn't been his fault, the school bullies had hidden his textbook and he'd wasted time looking for it and thus had missed his bus.
Danny put his hands over his ears, he didn't want to hear the old man yelling anymore. He heard the big man beside him say curtly, "O'Neill" and the old man suddenly became quiet. Gentle hands grasped his hands and forced them down from his ears. A voice said quietly beside him, "I'm sorry, I wasn't yelling at you, Daniel." A hand cupped his nape and gently massaged his neck. Danny opened his eyes quickly and peeked a look through his eyelashes. Gentle brown eyes were staring at him, the old man didn't look quite so scary when he wasn't yelling. And he didn't look that old from up close, except for his silver hair.
The man (was his name O'Neill?) picked Danny up again and said, "let's go home." Danny suddenly tensed. Home? Home where? Back to Mr. and Mrs. Harris foster home? Noooooo. Maybe home to the orphanage? As O'Neill carried him back into the sunshine, he put his head down and tried to nestle his face into O'Neill's jacket, hiding his eyes from the sun. His arms came up and wound around O'Neill's neck, and his legs clasped his waist. Suddenly Danny felt safe, being held in this man's arms.
- - - - - -
Damn, his yelling had scared the kid. He'd lost his temper, yelling at the Townmaster. Seems that there's nothing to be done, the Townmaster kept talking about Festival days and the Lady's Blessing. He'd have Hammond send another team back here to get more details, in the meantime, he'd best get Daniel home and into Doc Fraiser's care. Hopefully Carter had gotten the gate open by now and had informed the General of the recent happenings.
He felt Daniel's arms and legs come up and grasp his neck and waist. Good, that meant that he was starting to relax a little. He had felt Daniel tense up when he mentioned going home. The poor kid must be confused as hell. He probably had no idea of where home was. He was obviously also feeling poorly, he could feel Daniel shivering in his arms. "Won't be long now, kiddo," he murmured in his ear. He felt Daniel's arms tighten is response.
Good, the Stargate's activated. Hopefully the journey through the 'gate won't scare the kid more than he already is. Carter was waiting by the open wormhole, worry etched on her face. He saw her glance at Daniel and look away. She nodded as he went by, telling him without words that Hammond had been apprised of the latest events.
The trip through the 'gate didn't seem to affect Daniel, but Jack thought that probably the kid was feeling so ill right now, the disorientation and nausea that comes from the first couple of 'gate travels didn't register. He spotted Fraiser waiting by an empty gurney, and walked over to put Daniel down onto it. But as soon as Danny realized that Jack was trying to put him down, he whimpered and tightened his hold on Jack. A helpless look at Fraiser earned Jack the rights to carry Daniel down to the infirmary.
- - - - - -
Danny felt O'Neill trying to put him down and clamped tightly with him arms and legs. He didn't want to let go, he didn't want to be alone again. This man was kind and seemed to like him a little. The man stopped trying to put him down and he felt himself being carried away again. The sounds were different now, it was like being inside a cave. He opened his eyes quickly and peeked and saw that he was right, the walls were all rock. But he quickly closed his eyes again because the movement was making his stomach feel even worse.
After a little while they stopped moving, and he felt O'Neill sit down and himself being nestled onto the man's lap. He heard him say, "He's not feeling too well, Doc." Danny heard a woman's voice near his left ear asking him to look at her. He didn't want to, he just wanted to stay in O'Neill's arms and be held. "Danny," he heard O'Neill say softly. "Do what the Doc asks." Danny opened his eyes and turned his head slightly, and saw the face of a kind-looking dark haired lady dressed in a white coat. She didn't look like a doctor. She was too pretty.
- - - - - -
Jack watched as Doc Fraiser attempted to examine Daniel, who was sitting quietly on Jack's lap. The stranglehold around his neck hadn't loosened any. If Daniel, as a child, was any bit as stubborn as he was as an adult, Jack he knew that the Doc was gonna have trouble getting Daniel to cooperate with this examination. He'd looked up at the Doc when Jack had asked him to, but as soon as he'd done so, he burrowed his face in Jack's chest once again.
Daniel's trust in Jack was touching him in ways he thought he'd never feel again after his son Charlie had died. He thought he'd closed himself off from loving other children, but first Cassandra wrangled her way into his heart, and now this young version of his best friend was quickly making its way in leaps and bounds.
A quick exam by Janet showed that Daniel had a fever of 101, probably caused by the shock to his system due to the transformation. Jack had pulled off the too-large pants and underwear from the boy, he now sat in Jack's lap in an over-large black T-shirt which came down past his thighs, and too-long socks hanging from his feet.
"Daniel," Janet asked. "Does your head hurt?" In reply, he once again tried to burrow further into Jack's jacket.
"Danny," Jack said quietly "Answer the Doc. Does your head hurt?" Jack felt him nod quickly. "Good boy," Jack said, squeezing his shoulders slightly.
"Does your stomach hurt?" asked Janet. Another quick nod. "Do you hurt anywhere else?" A pause, then a quick shake of the head. "Okay, we can fix your head and stomach. I'll be right back." Janet glanced quickly at Jack and turned to fill a syringe with the appropriate medication.
Jack felt Danny suddenly start to squirm and realized by the greenish tinge to his face that he was going to be sick. Before he could grab a container to put under the boy, Danny twisted in his grasp and fell to the floor, vomiting. Jack quickly knelt beside him and went to help support the boy, but as he spied Jack nearing him, Danny flinched and backed up quickly, just out of reach. He sat there panting slightly, looking up at Jack in fear.
"Hey, it's okay. Not your fault you got sick." His eyes were wide as saucers, staring up at Jack's face. "Lemme get you back up here and clean you up." Jack stepped over the mess on the floor and reached over to him. Danny's arms came up in an unspoken plea. Jack picked him up and walked over to the next bed, so Danny wouldn't have to see the mess.
Danny sat nestled on Jack's lap, still panting slightly and shivering uncontrollably. "Do you think you're gonna be sick again?" A quick nod. Janet grabbed a container and handed it to Jack. The panting increased and Danny heaved again. When he finished, he sat back exhausted against Jack. A nurse came by with a scrub top and helped Jack remove the now soiled T-shirt from Danny and replace it with the new top.
"Okay Daniel, I'm going to give you an injection. This will make you feel better soon." At the panicked look, Janet silently appealed to Jack. She didn't want to scare him more than he already was.
"Danny, I know you probably don't like needles, I don't like 'em either. But it's for your own good. You know that, don'tcha? " A reluctant nod. "So, you gonna let Doc Janet give you that needle?" He quickly glanced up at O'Neill, and sighed. He nodded again. "Good boy." A quick nod from Jack and Janet quickly swabbed Danny's arm and administered the needle. A flinch was Danny's only reaction. Janet handed Jack a blanket and helped wrap it around the shivering body.
- - - - - -
Danny felt a little better now that his stomach had emptied. He'd thought O'Neill was going to hit him for having made a mess on himself and the floor, like Mr. Harris had done once when he had had the flu. But once Danny had seen the worry and care in O'Neill's eyes, he knew that he wouldn't be punished. This time.
Doc Janet wanted to give him a needle. Maybe that was his punishment for having been sick. But no, that wasn't right, she said it would make him feel better. He remembered a doctor in Cairo giving him a needle when he'd been ill once, so maybe it really was true. He just wanted to not feel so sick anymore.
He held tightly onto O'Neill when Doc Janet pinched him with the needle. It hurt, but not as much as he thought it would. O'Neill was rubbing his back. It felt good, so Danny lay his head on O'Neill's shoulder and relaxed slightly. A blanket was wrapped around him and he didn't feel quite as chilly. He felt safe again. He hadn't felt safe in such a long time.
Doc Janet was talking to him again. He moved his head slightly to pay more attention. His name? She wanted to know his name? Didn't she know who he was, she already had called him Daniel. He burrowed his face into O'Neill's shoulder.
"Danny, answer the Doc," he heard O'Neill murmur against the top of his head. He shook his head. He didn't want to. "Hey, look at me." Danny pulled back slightly to look up into the man's face. Smiling brown eyes were staring back at him.
"My name's Jack. What's your name?" he asked. 'Jack'. The man's name must be Jack O'Neill. He wants me to call him Jack?
"Daniel Jackson," Danny whispered into Jack's chest. A tightening of Jack's arms told him he'd done good.
"How old are you, Daniel?" the Doctor asked. "Eight", he whispered again. He heard Jack tell the doctor, "he said eight."
"Where are you staying. Do you remember the address?" Nooooo, they were going to send him back to foster with the Harris'. He didn't want to say. He tried to hold back a sob, but failed. He felt Jack pull him away from his chest and force his face up again to look at him.
"Danny, we're not going to send you back there, understand? We just want to check your memory. You're not in any trouble, you did nothing wrong, but something happened to you and we're trying to find out exactly what it is. That's why you're probably feeling kind of weird and sick. Understand? So tell Doc Janet here where you last stayed."
Danny nodded, and lay his face against Jack's shoulder. "With Mr. and Mrs. Harris," he whispered again.
"And before that, where did you stay?" "St. James Orphanage."
"Danny, can you tell me today's date?" "November 24, 1973."
"Okay Daniel, that's it, no more questions. Colonel, can I speak to you for a moment?"
Jack squeezed Danny's shoulder slightly and said "Danny, I need to go talk to the Doc." Danny hugged Jack hard, he didn't want Jack to leave. "Look, I'm just going to be over there," and Danny felt Jack's hand turn his face to the right. "See that door over there, that's the Doc's office. I'm just going to stand there and talk with her. You'll be able to see me all the time, okay?"
Danny still didn't want Jack to go but he knew adults rarely did what kids wanted them to do. He just sighed and released his hold from around Jack's neck. Jack lifted Danny and laid him down on the bed, and Danny felt the blanket tucked around him. He didn't feel so safe anymore.
He closed his eyes a moment. His head wasn't pounding as much as before. He felt Jack's hand on top of his head for a moment, and then it was gone. He heard his footsteps recede and looked up to see Jack approaching the Doc's door. He stopped to talk to the blond lady who had accompanied them earlier, and she left the room after a moment. Danny saw Jack continue on and then stop at Doc Janet's door and then look back at him. Jack pointed at himself, then at the floor. Danny understood, Jack was going to stay right where he was. Danny smiled slightly to himself. He watched Jack.
- - - - - -
Jack O'Neill waited while Janet searched for something in her computer. He knew that there must have been a reason why she asked those questions of Daniel, something to do with his foster care, probably. Ahhh, she must have found what she was looking for because she didn't look too happy. A quick glance towards Danny showed the boy watching him.
Janet had obviously accessed Daniel's files on the computer. "Daniel's parents died in an accident in a museum within a few weeks of their coming to America just before his eighth birthday. Daniel had spent most of his life in Egypt with them. After they died, he was placed under the care of an orphanage."
"Yeah, I know that. Daniel never talked about it much."
Janet continued reading from the file. "Daniel stayed in the orphanage for three months before his first fostering. While at the orphanage he didn't speak for over two months, resulting from the shock of seeing his parents die. Then he was physically abused by his first foster father, Edward Harris, who was an alcoholic. When he returned to the orphanage three months later, he was uncommunicative once again and it was several months before he was fostered out again. From the date Daniel gave just us, I figure that to him, his parents died about five months ago. The abuse he suffered from his foster father is probably also what's making him so skittish right now."
"So that's why he thought I was going to hit him when he was sick. How could someone scare a child that way?" He felt like he wanted to hit something, preferably Edward Harris. Another glance towards Danny showed that his eyes were closed, but they opened after a moment.
Janet looked up at Jack. "Combined with the memory of losing his parents, moving to a new country, the abuse, and now waking up in a strange place amongst strangers, he's got to be terribly confused and scared."
"Damn." Another glance at Danny, he was still looking at Jack. As Jack watched, his eyes closed.
"His records also show that Daniel often suffered from nightmares and would wake up inconsolable, often wetting his bed, until the age of 12. It seems that nobody really wanted to spend the time or energy to help a young child cope with the tragedy he went through. You know, we're lucky that Daniel turned out to be the kind of man that he is."
Still watching Danny, Jack nodded in agreement. Jack could see that the boy was fighting sleep with a vengeance. "Nobody should have to go through what he did, Doc. Is there anything else?"
"Not really. I suspect that nanocytes were used in the transformation, like what caused you to age so quickly on that planet a few years ago. I have to take a blood sample from him anyway, so I'll test for them at the same time. You better get back to him, he seems to trust you."
"Ya think?" Jack answered, smiling. He walked over to Danny and pulled up a chair beside the bed. "Go to sleep," he whispered in his ear. "I'll be right here when you wake up." Huge blue eyes looked up at him, unbelieving. He guessed Danny had been told that before, and left to wake in fear. "I'll be right here," he repeated. "Go to sleep." He laid a hand on top of Danny's head and gently stroked the soft hair. He saw the boy's eyes close after a moment, his breathing slowing into sleep.
Jack leaned back in his chair and closed his own eyes.
- - - - - -
Screams startled Jack out of a doze. Danny was kicking the blanket and screaming at the top of his voice. Jack lunged to grab him before he fell out of the bed and realized that the boy still had his eyes closed. He was caught in a nightmare. Quickly cradling the boy on his lap and holding the struggling body against him, he tried to wake the boy. Jack was aware of Janet and one of her nurses hovering close by. After a few moments, the screaming stopped, to be replaced by gasping sobs. As Jack whispered nonsense in Daniel's ear, he felt something warm and wet on his lap, running down his legs. Ahhh crap.
After several minutes the sobbing started to subside, to be replaced by occasional gasps and hiccups. From his experiences with his son Charlie, Jack knew that the worst was over. He tipped Danny's face up so he'd look up at Jack. Puffy red eyes stared back.
"Hey, I told you I'd be here while you slept. I just thought you'd sleep a little longer," he said with a smile.
"I wet again," Danny whispered, embarrassed, ducking his head down.
"Yeah, that you did. Let's get you and me cleaned up, okay?" A quick nod and a sniffle. Jack lifted Danny up and sat him on the bed, pulling the too big top over Danny's head. A nurse handed him a dry top and Jack helped him put it on. Then he pushed Danny gently so that he was lying down, grabbing the discarded blanket and pulling it over the shivering boy.
Jack spotted Teal'c standing nearby watching concernedly. He waved him over. Teal'c stood by O'Neill's side and said quietly, "MajorCarter and I have spoken to the General. He says he will send SG5 through and they will attempt to find out what has been done to DanielJackson and try to discover how to reverse the process."
Jack nodded his understanding at Teal'c, but his attention was focused on Janet, who was holding a syringe and Jack realized that she wanted to take a blood sample. "Danny, Doc here has to give you another needle. This one won't hurt as much as the other one did, I promise."
Huge eyes gazed at Jack. "I promise," he repeated. "Doc's just going to take a bit of blood so she can look at it and see that there aren't any germs in you."
"Germs?" Danny asked.
"Uh huh. So if there are germs in your blood that are making you sick, then she can give you medicine that'll make you feel better. Understand?" A quick nod.
"Colonel," Janet said. "Since you haven't had your post-mission exams yet, maybe you'd like to go first." She waved the needle at Jack. Danny's eyes grew wide. Jack was going to have to have a needle too?
"Oh crap…okay okay, I'll go first. Just don't hurt me, willya." Danny realized that Jack was joking, but he watched carefully as the doctor tied a piece of rubber around Jack's arm "to make his veins bigger", Jack said. Danny smiled at that. Then he saw the needle pierce Jack's skin and he quickly looked up at Jack's face, and saw Jack staring intently at Danny. "It doesn't hurt, I promise." Danny quickly looked back down and saw the blood gushing into the vial. Another glance at Jack and he knew Jack wasn't fibbing. Danny then helped Doc Janet hold a piece of cotton over the little pinprick to stop the bleeding and helped place a bandaid over the wound.
When Doc Janet looked inquiringly at him, Danny quickly stuck his arm out. Trusting Jack, he turned his eyes to Jack and to his credit, didn't even flinch when the needle pierced his skin. It was over in no time and Jack helped Doc Janet to put a bandaid over Danny's wound too. "Matching holes," Jack joked, putting his elbow with the bandaid beside Danny's. Danny giggled.
"Colonel, I need to finish your exam after you've cleaned up." Jack sighed and nodded.
"Danny, I have to go and change my clothes. I won't be gone long." Jack saw Danny's eyes grow overbright with unshed tears. "Look, Teal'c here is going to stand guard over you. He won't let any of the nurses come by and give you any needles while I'm gone, okay?" He grinned as he said this to show that he was joking. "Really, Teal'c will be here to watch over you. I won't be long, okay?" He glanced up at Teal'c and saw a gentle look on the big warrior's face.
Teal'c pulled up a chair and sat next to Danny. His eyes were huge as he looked at the Jaffa. "I wish to be your friend, DanielJackson. It will be my pleasure to keep you company while O'Neill goes to freshen up."
Jack stood up and Danny's eyes focused on Jack. "Okay?" he asked, seeking permission to go. A quick nod said it was okay, a worried frown showed Danny was still scared. "Teal'c won't hurt you, Danny. I swear." Another quick nod. Jack left quickly, the sooner gone, the sooner returned.
- - - - - -
Danny was embarrassed for having peed himself on Jack. He couldn't believe that Jack hadn't yelled at him for doing that. First he was sick on the floor, then he wet himself. They would all think that he was a baby. To distract himself, Danny looked at the big man (Teal'c) sitting beside him. He was sitting where Jack had sat earlier. Funny, he didn't look so big and mean now. He was looking at Danny with a strange look on his face.
Danny raised a hand and reached towards Teal'c. Teal'c moved closer to Danny, knowing that he was intrigued by his tattoo. But the boy's words surprised him. "Does it hurt?" he whispered.
"It is not a physical pain that I feel, DanielJackson. To me, this symbol represents slavery, and that injustice is what pains me." The boy nodded solemnly, as if his words held great meaning. "Will you not try and sleep some more? Colonel O'Neill will return soon."
"Colonel?" the boy questioned. Teal'c nodded. "Are you a Colonel too?" "I am not. I am Jaffa," answered Teal'c.
"Am I in a hospital?" Danny asked. Teal'c answered "You are in the infirmary of a military establishment in Colorado."
"Military? Did Mr. Harris do something wrong? Did I do something wrong?" Danny was starting to worry that he was going to go to jail.
"I do not know this Mr. Harris that you speak of, and no, you did nothing wrong. There is nothing to fear from us."
Danny sighed and closed his eyes. Things were so confusing. He could hear the sounds of the infirmary, the nurses moving around, people talking in the distance and slowly, as he tried to listen for Jack's returning footsteps, he drifted off to sleep.
- - - - - -
When Jack returned from a quick shower and clean dry clothes, he saw that Danny was sleeping again. He nodded at Teal'c and quickly told him that he was going to see the Doc. Teal'c nodded and returned his gaze to the slumbering boy.
Janet met him as he neared her office. She pointed to an empty bed. Jack lay down on it and as he was being poked and prodded, he asked Janet ,"what'll happen to him?"
"I want to keep him here a while longer for observations and I have some more tests that I want to run once he's woken up, but if his blood work comes out fine and his fever stays down, I don't see why I can't release him."
A grin spread over Jack's face. "I think I'll go see the General and see if I can't have Danny released into my custody."
- - - - - -
Jack's visit with the General came sooner than he expected. As he was returning from his mandatory post-mission MRI, he saw the General and Carter standing beside Danny's bed. Jack joined them and they stared at the boy, who was sleeping soundly, lying on his side. Jack thought that at the moment, Danny looked like a little angel.
Jack glanced at Teal'c who stated, "he has been sleeping peacefully, O'Neill." Jack nodded his thanks. After discussing Danny's release with the General, who agreed to Jack taking him home once he'd been 'okayed' by the Doc, Jack sat down in Teal'c's vacated chair. Carter sat on the bed, and taking hold of his hand, gently stroked the small fingers.
"How could this have happened, Sir?"
"Do you mean how could a grown man be turned into a child within seconds? Or do you mean how could it have happened to Daniel. Seems like it's always happening to Daniel, doesn't it."
"He looks so small lying here."
"Yeah, who'd have thought he'd be such a runt as a kid."
"Sir!" She chastised. But she agreed, he did seem kind of frail. "Did Janet check for Nanite technology?"
"She took a blood sample, she's looking into that."
"I wonder if the people of P4X 499 might have a slightly different physiology than we do. If this transformation from an adult into a child is done on a regular basis, it can't be a permanent thing, can it? And the children that I saw being escorted from the Temple seemed to be feeling fine, not sick like Daniel was. They looked a little bewildered maybe, but they definitely weren't sickly. Maybe there's something that's not quite agreeing with our genetic makeup. It might be a good idea for SG5 to take some blood samples from the inhabitants of P4X 499, preferably from one of the transformed children."
"Oh great, let's traumatize the kids some more."
"Sorry. Okay okay! Go tell Hammond to have SG5 play vampire."
- - - - - -
Danny woke up and realized that he didn't know where he was. He sat up suddenly and then spotted Jack sleeping in the chair beside him. A slight smile spread quickly on his face as he lay back down, Jack hadn't left him after all, he had stayed with him! A nurse noticed that Danny was awake and came quickly to take his vitals. Danny lay still, allowing her ministrations, he was feeling better than he had in a long time. Jack hadn't fibbed to him, he said he would stay, and he had.
Once the nurse had finished writing down things in a chart, Danny saw her go to Jack and shake his shoulder. Jack snorted and sat up quickly, a frown on his face. He noticed the nurse's smiling face and saw her glance at Danny. "He's doing much better," she said. Seeing that Danny was awake, Jack's grin was quickly reflected in the boy's face. The nurse informed Jack that she'd get Doctor Fraiser.
"Feeling better?" he asked. Another quick grin and nod was his answer.
Doc Janet appeared beside Jack and said, "Daniel, we need to do a few more tests. Do you feel up to them? They won't hurt this time. Promise." Danny looked at Jack and nodded. "Colonel, would you bring him, we'll start with the MRI."
Jack stood up and lifted Danny, blanket and all, into his arms. Danny wrapped his arms around Jack's neck, but this time he decided to look around curiously at where he was. From his vantage point, he could see many beds in the room, most of them empty, with lots of machinery surrounding them. As Jack carried him out into another room, Danny craned his head, trying to see as much as he could. He could hear Jack chuckling.
- - - - - -
Danny lay quietly on the table, trying not to move. Jack had explained that the machine was taking pictures of him, and that if he moved it would ruin the picture. But it was taking such a long time and his nose was itchy. He felt the pressure of Jack's hand on his foot, having moved down from his shoulder and arm and then to his leg as the machine slowly swallowed Danny up. Maybe that meant it was nearly finished as most of his body was inside the machine by now. Suddenly he felt Jack remove his hand from his foot and he felt scared for a moment, but realized that Jack couldn't reach inside the machine. A few minutes later, and he felt the table being pulled back and he was quickly swept up into Jack's arms. Jack told Danny that he was proud of him.
More tests…little pieces attached to wires being stuck to parts of his body. Doc Janet was looking at squiggly lines appearing on some of the machines. Danny craned his head to look at them too but she told him to lie still. He was getting bored. He looked at Jack and he thought that Jack looked bored too. At least Jack could play with some of the things that lay on the table. Uh no, maybe not. Doc Janet took that sharp looking knife away from Jack really quick.
- - - - - -
Glaring at Janet, Jack looked for something else to occupy his attention. Danny seemed to be recovering pretty quickly, he looked as bored and antsy as Jack was feeling at the moment. Janet had hinted that if these tests came out clear, then he could take Danny home. At Jack's request earlier, Carter had taken Jack's credit card and had gone out to buy a few pieces of clothing that would fit Danny. He'd glanced through the parcels she'd come back with – toothbrush, pajamas, underwear, socks, sweats. No shoes, though, she hadn't been sure what size to get. She'd also gone and gotten him groceries, which was a blessing because all he had in the house was week-old pizza and beer. Not exactly the type of food he should be feeding an eight-year-old. Guess he'd have to get back into the habit of cooking now.
If they got out of the mountain before the stores closed, Jack could stop at the mall and get some footwear and toys for Danny. He'd forgotten to mention toys to Carter, but seeing how restless Danny was at the moment, and remembering how the adult Daniel always seemed to have to have something to occupy his hands and mind, Jack figured he needed something in the house before the young Daniel drove him crazy. He tried to remember what Charlie liked to play with at Danny's age and couldn't think of a single thing.
Carter had picked up a book for Danny, that Harry Potter book that all the kids were supposedly wild about, with a promise to get the other books if Danny liked this one. He didn't think it was Danny's thing, though. He probably liked mysteries and magic, stuff like that. Harry Potter, he snorted to himself. Like kids would really read those books.
Maybe a couple of computer games, kids liked those, didn't they? Coloring books, maybe. A train set! Jack had always wanted a train set, here was the perfect excuse to get one. He could hardly wait to go shopping now.
Ahhhh, Doc's finally finished. As she removed the contacts from Danny's skin, she glanced up and saw two pairs of hopeful eyes. She smiled and told them that Daniel was to eat now, and if two hours later nothing came back up and if his fever was still down, he could leave.
- - - - - -
Danny wanted to cry. Doc Janet said he could leave. He guessed that meant going back to the orphanage. Maybe not back to Mr. Harris because he wasn't in New York anymore. Teal'c had said that they were in Colorado. That was pretty far away from New York.
A nurse brought a tray of food and placed it on the table beside Danny's bed. He had been hungry earlier but now his appetite had fled. He didn't want to eat. He was going to have to leave Jack.
"Danny, aren't you hungry?" Jack had noticed the frown on Danny's face when Janet had mentioned them leaving. Danny wouldn't look at Jack, he stared at his hands, and quickly shook his head no. "Don't you want to go home with me?"
Danny looked up at Jack, searching his face. Did he really mean it, did Jack really want to take him home with him? Jack was staring back just as intently, and Danny saw that Jack was worried that Danny didn't want to go with him. Danny nearly threw himself off the bed and into Jack's arms.
"Do you really want me to go with you?" Danny whispered. A tight squeeze and hug was answer enough.
"Eat your lunch. The sooner you eat, the sooner we get out of this place." Danny quickly grabbed half of his sandwich and started chewing.
As Danny started to eat the blue jello that was dessert, Jack took his hand to stop him and asked, "wouldn't you rather have some of this?" and held up a chocolate bar. Danny's eyes went wide. Chocolate was his absolute favorite, he hadn't ever tasted it before coming to America a few months ago and even then, it was still a rare treat.
Jack opened the chocolate bar up and offered a piece to Danny. He smiled as he watched Danny reverently put the bite of chocolate in his mouth and close his eyes, savoring the taste. He'd seen the adult Danny do the exact same thing on many occasions. Definitely had to buy more chocolate before going home.
- - - - - -
Jack had left Danny in Carter's care while he went to tie up some loose ends before leaving the base. On his return, he found them sitting side by side on the bed with Carter's laptop on Danny's knees. Oh crap, guess she had thought of computer games first. As he sidled up to them, he realized rather that Carter was giving Danny a crash course on computers. Of course, this young Daniel would never had seen a computer, let alone know how to use one. Looked like the kid had picked up the basics pretty fast because he was typing away like a madman. Okay, the kid was using the hunt and peck method, but give him time and he'd probably be typing away faster than Jack could. Actually, most people on base typed faster than Jack. Watching him, he thought sadly that Danny already had him beat. Jack sighed loudly.
"Sir, ready to go? Janet already gave Daniel the okay for him to leave. She just wants a word with you before you go." She noted the grin on Danny's face. She had already gotten him dressed in his sweats, and had placed the remaining clothing in a plastic bag.
"Ready as we'll ever be. Carter, you doin' anything tonight? Thought maybe you could come back to the store with us and help us get a few more things. I'll spring for supper."
"Sure, I'd love to." She grinned at Danny and he grinned back.
"Kay, be right back. I'll just go see the Doc, and then we'll vamoose." Carter started showing Danny how to shut down a computer.
Jack found Janet in her office. She looked up and smiled tiredly. "Ready to go, Colonel?" At his nod, she got up and handed Jack a small bottle of pills. At his questioning look she said, "sedatives. In case he has a nightmare and you can't get him to calm down. One is enough." He nodded and pocketed the pills.
"Three things." At his surprised glance, she said, "bear with me. One, would you and Daniel like to join the rest of SG1 at my place tomorrow for a BBQ? It would give Danny a chance to meet Cassie, he might enjoy having a friend. And it would let him get used to the rest of us."
"Great, we'll be there."
"Good, around 2ish?"
"Should I bring anything?"
"No, just Daniel." She smiled. "Okay, number two. I'd like you to make sure Daniel doesn't exert himself. That means no running and no jumping around. There's nothing wrong with his test results, but I'd be happier if he just stays quiet." At Jack's nod, she continued, "His system has been through quite an ordeal, I just don't want any more stress placed on him until we're sure that he's adapting to the change. The fever he had when you brought him home has cleared up, but all his major organs showed signs of severe stress. Oh and by the way, there's no sign of nanocytes in his blood. We can kiss that theory goodbye. I think that Sam's suggestion that our physiology might be different than the folk on that planet may be relevant. I'm still waiting for blood samples from the natives of P4X 499 though."
"So there's nothing seriously wrong with Daniel."
"Not that I can tell, but I'd just like to be cautious."
"I can do cautious."
"Number three", she continued. "I'd like you to bring Daniel back in 48 hours for a follow-up. Hopefully by then SG5 will have some answers and I'll have a better idea as to what happened to Daniel over there, and we'll be able to take steps to reverse the procedure. Of course, if he develops a fever, or starts feeling ill, make sure you get him here ASAP." Jack nodded. "And that's it, Colonel. Take care of him, and I'll see you both tomorrow afternoon."
"See ya, Doc," Jack replied as he left and went to collect his ward.
- - - - - -
Sneakers were quickly bought and placed on Danny's feet. T-shirts, pants, sweater and jacket were just as quickly purchased. Once in the toy department, they let him wander around, and watched to see what his reaction might be. A coloring book caught his attention, so Jack picked it up and told Danny to grab a pack of crayons. As he came back with a package of 8 Crayola crayons, Jack quickly grabbed them out of his hands and walked back to the shelf. At Danny's downcast face, Jack realized he'd been a little abrupt and shoved a package of 64 colors into his hands. "Hey, if we're gonna color, we gotta have all of the shades, right?" The look of surprise and the resulting grin nearly broke Jack's heart.
"Anything else here catch your fancy." A shy shake of the head was his reply. "Well, keep looking, then," nodding at the toys with his chin.
Carter came up to Jack as he was checking out the train sets and whispered, "I don't think he even knows what most of these toys are. Maybe a little help, Sir?"
Jack realized Carter was right and quickly helped Danny choose two computer games, a couple of Disney movies, a Rubic's cube, and a few more books. On their way to the cash Jack grabbed the train set he had chosen and placed it on the countertop. Danny's eyes were huge as saucers, he couldn't stop staring at the box. "Yup, this is gonna be fun," thought Jack.
- - - - - -
A discreet stop at a bedding store while Carter kept Danny occupied at a pet shop got Jack a plastic sheet to place on top of Danny's bed to protect the mattress from bedwetting. A quick stop at a candy store for some more chocolate bars, and then home for supper.
Supper was a quiet affair, Danny didn't talk much, and he was content just listening to Sam and Jack talk. He was anxious to open the big box containing the train set, but he wasn't sure if it was actually for him to play with, or for Jack to play with and Danny only being permitted to watch. He remembered some kids talking about toys that adults would own, not permitting the children to play with them. Toy trains and racecars seemed to be popular with adults and off-limit to kids. It didn't matter, it would be fun just to watch.
To his wonder, Jack did allow Danny to play with the train set. Jack had brought it down to the basement, and at first Danny was afraid he'd break something, but seeing how roughly Jack sometimes handled the pieces, Danny figured that if he was careful, Jack wouldn't take the set away from him. They didn't finish setting it up because soon it was time for bed, but Jack promised they'd finish it tomorrow.
As Carter was assisting a sleepy Danny with his bath, Jack took the opportunity to make the spare bed, placing the plastic sheet between the mattress and the bottom sheet. He also made sure he had spare bedding stored nearby.
As a freshly scrubbed and damp Danny walked into the bedroom as Jack was finishing up making the bed, Jack noticed the book clutched in Danny's hand. Oh no, NOT Harry Potter. He looked up in horror as he heard a snort from Carter, who was leaning on the doorjamb. He looked down at the hopeful face and said, "You don't expect me to read that to you, do you?"
Danny looked down at his feet and mumbled softly, "Sam said maybe, if I asked, you, you'd, um, maybe you'd…"
"Danny, do you even know what that book is about! There are bad guys, and um well, um, lots of bad guys." Danny continued staring at his feet. "Lots and lots of bad guys." Jack glanced at the book's cover. "And there are magic trains." Danny's face lit up. Oops, wrong tact. "And it's about England!" Jack howled. Danny looked back down at his feet.
Sighing, Jack put his hand out for the book "Carter, you are so gonna pay."
"I know, Sir, and my nephews are still thanking me for introducing them to Harry Potter," she replied. "I'll see myself out, Sir. Goodnight, Danny." She went over and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. Danny turned and gave Sam a hug and whispered, "Night, Sam."
"Yeah, whatever," replied Jack, still looking at the offending book in his hand. He thought to himself that if the book was that boring, it'd at least put Danny to sleep right away. If he were lucky, it would put him to sleep too. With a sigh, he looked at Danny, who was still standing in the middle of the bedroom, looking at his feet.
"Into bed with you, Master Jackson," Jack said. With a hopeful glance at Jack's face, Danny quickly made his way into bed and Jack sat down beside him. As Danny made himself comfortable, Jack opened the book and reluctantly began reading aloud.
Quickly enraptured by the world of muggles and wizards, Jack stopped for a moment to glance at Danny, who was sleeping peacefully. Marking his spot in the book, Jack leaned over and kissed Danny on the forehead. Turning out the light, he walked out, leaving the door ajar.
Closing up the house, Jack decided to make an early night of it. He hadn't slept much since returning from their latest mission and figured it wouldn't take him long to fall asleep. He was right.
- - - - - -
Loud screams woke Jack up from a deep sleep and it took a few seconds to figure out what was happening. Quickly turning on the bedroom light, he ran out into the hallway and into Danny's room. Danny was sitting up in bed, arms wrapped around his pillow, screaming. This time Jack could make out some words interspersed with what seemed to be Arabic…'Daddy, it's falling, no!' Jack's heart nearly broke when he realized that Danny was dreaming about seeing his parents dying in front of him, when the enormous coverstone fell and crushed them underneath.
He quickly picked Danny up and sitting on the bed, placed him on his lap. As he sat on the bed, Jack realized that the sheet was already soaked. So were Danny's pajama bottoms. Trying to wake Danny up gently, he rocked him in his arms, and soon the screams turned to sobs. As the sobs started to subside, Jack stood up and carried him to the bathroom, and quickly ran a warm bath. Sitting the still hiccuping boy in the bath, he quickly washed him down and wrapped him in a large bath towel.
Entering Danny's bedroom again, he grabbed a new pair of pajamas, and then carried Danny over to his own bed. Glancing over at the clock which read 3:21 am, Jack figured that Danny wouldn't probably have another nightmare that night, so after putting the pajamas on the boy, Jack placed Danny under the covers, quickly sliding in beside him. Danny quickly cuddled up to Jack, still hiccuping occasionally. Jack pulled Danny close and held him tightly. Soon Danny's breathing evened out and he quickly fell asleep.
The last time Jack looked at the clock, it read 6:30. He couldn't help feeling for this child who had gone through hell. His own thoughts were on his son Charlie. He knew Danny couldn't replace Charlie, but Jack felt comforted in the fact that another little boy could care for a crusty old Colonel. The sun had long risen by the time Jack fell asleep again.
- - - - - -
Danny woke up in Jack's bed, but he knew that he hadn't gone to sleep there. He slowly climbed out of bed, careful not to wake Jack, and tiptoed to the adjoining bathroom to relieve himself. There he saw his soiled pajamas lying on the floor. He sighed. He walked into his own bedroom and reluctantly touched the sheet. It was damp. Tears welled in his eyes as he started pulling the sheets off the bed as Mrs. Harris had told him he had better do every time he wet the bed. He was surprised to see a plastic sheet lying over the mattress. Had Jack put that there? He touched the plastic and it was wet, but he thought that it could be washed. He bundled the soiled sheets together but didn't know where to put them so he placed them in the bathroom beside his pajamas.
Danny was hungry but he didn't want to make any noise and chance waking Jack. Mr. Harris always got up in a bad mood and should Danny have woken him up, he'd gotten yelled at. He walked through the living room, examining things he hadn't had a chance to the night before. He was intrigued by the pictures of a little boy.
A noise woke Jack. He realized that Danny wasn't with him in bed and that he must have gone downstairs. The kid must be hungry by now. Jack got up and went downstairs, and saw Danny kneeling on the floor, picking up chess pieces that he had obviously knocked over. That must have been the noise he'd heard. As he walked up to Danny and knelt to help him pick up the pieces, Danny stopped and stared at the knight that he held in his hand. "I'm sorry," he whispered.
"Sorry? For what?" Jack asked, confused.
"For making a mess. Waking you up," Danny said softly.
"You didn't wake me up."
"Not." That finally got a giggle out of Danny.
"Awe crap. Guess you did. Hey want me to teach you how to play chess later?" Danny looked up at Jack and saw that Jack's eyes were smiling, he wasn't angry. "Pick up the rest of the pieces and I'll start breakfast."
- - - - - -
Later Jack was surprised to see that the sheets had been pulled off Danny's bed and placed in the bathroom. He called Danny to come upstairs for a minute. He came in, shuffling his feet, head down. "I didn't know where to put them," Danny whispered.
"Awe Danny, you didn't have to do this, y'know." He looked at Jack. Pointing to the sheets, Jack said, "I'll take care of these when you have an accident, you don't need to do this. But you can help me wash down the plastic and remake the bed." Nodding solemnly, Danny trailed Jack into his bedroom.
- - - - - -
After spending the morning tinkering with the train set, Jack and Danny enjoyed an early lunch while watching one of Danny's new Disney movies. Jack spent most of the movie watching Danny's reaction to it. The boy's face held a wonder of expressions.
Later, as Jack drove over to Janet's, Jack tried explaining the finer points of hockey to Danny. As Danny tried to stifle a yawn, Jack suspected that hockey was just as uninteresting to the young Danny as it was to the adult Daniel. He sighed.
"Jack, who's the little boy in the pictures?" Danny tried to change the subject.
"You mean Charlie? He's my son."
"Is he going to come live with us too?" The thought of a brother was intriguing.
Jack didn't answer, and Danny realized that Jack was upset. "I'm sorry," he whispered.
"No Danny, it's okay. Charlie died a few years ago."
Danny was curious now, and he was starting to feel comfortable with Jack. His normal curiosity had been curbed after his parents' death, but he didn't think twice about blurting out, "Jack, how did Charlie die?"
Danny realized he shouldn't have asked that question when he saw Jack start to frown. Why oh why didn't he keep quiet. He should know better, nobody wants a nosy and curious kid. He dropped his head and fiddled with his seat belt.
After a moment Jack turned to look at Danny and realized the boy was upset. He swallowed and then said in a quiet voice, "Charlie's death was my fault. He picked up my gun and accidentally shot himself."
Huge eyes turned to look at Jack. Jack felt Danny looking at him but he concentrated on the road. "I wouldn't play with guns, Jack", Danny whispered. He tucked his head down again and fiddled with the seat belt some more.
Jack's hands were shaking, and he pulled the jeep over. Turning to face Danny, he grabbed him gently by the shoulders and said, "No, I don't expect you to ever touch a gun. Ever! Promise me Daniel." Shaking him slightly, he repeated "Promise me. I don't want to lose you too."
Danny looked up into Jack's face and saw the unshed tears in his eyes. "I promise, Jack." His bottom lip was quivering, and he repeated, "I promise. Please don't send me away. I'm sorry, I'm sorry." He started to cry quietly.
"Awe Danny. C'mere." Jack grabbed Danny in a hug and both held onto one another as they cried silently.
- - - - - -
Sam and Teal'c had already arrived and were sitting comfortably in the back yard, and upon seeing Danny, Sam pounced on him, tickling him all over. Hearing Danny's peals of laughter, everyone broke into smiles. Janet brought Cassandra over and introduced them, the teenager already having been warned about what had happened to "Uncle Danny." Danny walked up to where Teal'c was sitting to say hello, and was surprised when Teal'c lifted him up onto his lap. Relaxed, he leaned back against Teal'c and yawned, and was content to watch his new friends.
Handing Danny a lemonade and bringing a beer over to Jack, Janet smiled to herself to see Danny at ease with SG1. Cassie had agreed to try and entertain Danny, making sure he didn't over-exert himself. At the moment, she was sharing a lawnchair with Sam, both were giggling and looking at a teen magazine.
Glancing at Danny, Janet noted that his eyes were closed and he seemed to be dozing in Teal'c's arms. Teal'c had rescued the half-empty glass of lemonade before it had fallen out of Danny's limp hands. Jack went to get up and take Danny, but Teal'c just shook his head, happy to have him sleeping in his lap. Jack nodded and sat back.
Janet glanced at Jack and he said to her in a low voice, "he had another humdinger of a nightmare again last night. I think it was about his parents' death. He also had another accident. I think his foster parents punished him for those, he'd removed the linen from the bed while I was still sleeping this morning. I think he was afraid I'd punish him for wetting the bed."
Carter looked up from the magazine and said, "I can't understand how they can have people who are so unfeeling be permitted to foster children."
Janet answered, "Most foster families today are carefully screened, but a few may fall between the cracks. Unfortunately, 30 years ago, just about anybody could sign up to be a foster parent. They just did so for the money."
"Doc, is there anything we can do about the nightmares?"
"No, Colonel, it's something that'll have to be worked out by Daniel himself. Probably when he starts to feel safe somewhere, the nightmares will start to fade."
"Maybe, but the adult Daniel still has those particular nightmares. I've heard him yelling the same thing in his sleep when we've been offworld. Those dreams still haunt him."
"I guess he hasn't found a safe place yet, Sir."
"Guess you're right, Carter. But I'm working on it."
- - - - - -
Danny woke slowly, feeling securely held in someone's arms. He felt comfortable and safe. He could hear Jack talking softly, Sam was giggling, and something was smelling good. He opened his eyes reluctantly and saw Teal'c's amused gaze. Yawning, he sat up and apologized softly to Teal'c. "Do not apologize, Daniel, you were tired, and I was happy to oblige you." Nodding, he stood up and made his way to Jack. "Have a good nap, kiddo?" Danny hung his head and then looked up quickly at Jack. Jack was teasing. Danny never knew anymore when someone was serious or teasing. He grinned at Jack, and then whispered "I have to use the bathroom."
"Cassie, can you show Daniel where the toilet is," Jack yelled. Danny blushed. Jack ruffled Danny's hair and he followed Cassie indoors.
"Wanna play ball after?" Cassie asked. Danny nodded. He knew he wasn't supposed to run but he could maybe throw a ball to Cassie. After finishing up in the bathroom he followed Cassie out front where they tossed the ball to one another. At one point, nearly missing the ball, Danny lunged to the side and ran a few steps to grab the ball and suddenly he found he couldn't breathe. He fell to his hands and knees, and struggled to get air into his lungs.
He heard Cassie yelling from far away, but he couldn't understand what she was saying. Suddenly arms were holding him up and he was sitting up against Jack's chest. Janet kneeled beside Jack and even though Danny could see her mouth move, he couldn't seem to hear what she was saying. There was a loud noise in his ears. He coughed, and suddenly he seemed to be able to breathe a little easier, and he could hear again. He saw Cassie run up to her mom, handing her a black bag, and Janet quickly opened the bag and took out a stethoscope. As she listened to his lungs and heart, his breathing became normal and he began to feel better. He laid his head back against Jack. Jack cradled the back of Danny's head with his hand, his fingers comfortingly stroking his hair.
"I didn't run," he told Jack, and broke into a cough.
"But I didn't run," he insisted.
"I know, Cassie told us. It's okay, just relax."
"I'm not sure what just happened, but it seems to be over now. Danny, does your head hurt?" At his nod, Janet asked Cassie to go to the medicine cabinet and get the bottle of Children's Tylenol. "Does it hurt to breathe." At Danny's hesitation, Jack squeezed him gently and said, "it's okay, Janet just wants to know so that she can try and make it better." Danny nodded. "Does it hurt a lot or just a bit." "Just a bit." "Does it hurt anywhere else?" Danny shook his head no.
Janet motioned Jack to pick up Danny and bring him 'round to the back. Jack settled himself in a lawnchair with Danny lying beside him, cradled against his chest. Cassie came back with the pills and Janet shook out two and had Danny swallow them. Telling him to rest, and telling Jack to keep an eye on him, Janet went off to take over the cooking from Sam, who had rescued the food from being burnt.
Danny just lay there beside Jack, coughing occasionally, and listening to Jack's heart beating under his shirt. His head was still hurting a bit, but it seemed to be a bit better now. Jack was rubbing his hand along Danny's arm, and he thought it felt nearly as good as a hug. Thinking of hugs, he suddenly brought his arms around Jack and squeezed.
"What was that for?" Jack asked. "Because," whispered Danny. Jack kissed the top of Danny's head.
"You scared us there, kiddo. Has that ever happened before?" Danny shook his head no. "Well, let's try to make sure it doesn't happen again." Danny nodded.
"Hungry?" Jack asked. Danny thought about it and thought that maybe he was a bit hungry now. He nodded. "Good, because I think that the eats are ready. Want a hot dog?"
"Hot dog?" Danny asked, perplexed.
"You've never had a dog before? Hey Carter, Danny's never tasted a hot dog! Can you make him one with the works? And put a hamburger on the side."
Laughing, she replied, "Coming right up." Soon two plates arrived, heaped with potato salad, corn on the cob and a hot dog and a hamburger. Danny and Jack sat up and took their plates from Sam. Janet followed suit with another lemonade for Danny and a beer for Jack. Taking a careful bite of the hot dog, he chewed thoughtfully. Then taking a bite of the hamburger, Danny decided that he liked the hamburger better. He took the hot dog and placed it on Jack's plate.
"Hey, Cassie likes hot dogs. So does Teal'c."
Danny heard Teal'c reply. "I do not, O'Neill." Danny snorted.
"You do too." Jack turned and looked at Teal'c. "You ate some at my place the other day."
"That was because it was the only sustenance available." Janet and Sam giggled.
"Well, you still ate the dogs," grumbled Jack.
By the time Danny had eaten most of what was on his plate, Janet came out with ice cream sundaes for dessert. He was feeling so stuffed by then that he didn't think he'd be able to fit into the jeep. His head and chest weren't hurting anymore and he was feeling sleepy again. He sat back against Jack and listened to the conversation. Before he knew it, his eyelids had closed. Jack shook him gently and told him to wake up. He sighed but sat up.
Jack decided it was time to get Danny home, even though it was still early. As Danny got up to go hug Sam, Jack went to Janet and asked if it was normal for Danny to be sleeping so much. Janet answered that after the shock to his system, it was to be expected, and to let him sleep as much as he wanted. And that she'd like Jack to bring Danny in tomorrow morning for another exam. She thought that Danny's collapse earlier that afternoon was a sign of stress his body couldn't handle. Jack agreed.
Jack watched Danny hug Teal'c and then Janet. He shyly said goodbye to Cassie, and then walked up to Jack and took his hand. As they walked to the jeep, Jack couldn't help thinking about what a great kid he was.
- - - - - -
Once Danny had been bathed and had changed into his pajamas, he seemed to be wide awake so Jack sent him down to play with the train set while he took the plastic sheet from the spare bed and switched it to his own bed. He figured that after today, if Danny was going to have a nightmare, Jack would be right there for Danny. Grabbing the book from the night table, Jack went down to join Danny, and asked if he was ready to listen to more Harry Potter. Danny quickly put the train's controls down and stood up. Jack didn't know who was more eager to read the story, himself or the kid.
Seeing the mussed-up bed in his bedroom, Danny looked at Jack confusedly. Jack simply said "thought you'd rather sleep with me tonight." Danny grinned and quickly climbed into Jack's bed. Jack settled himself next to him and opened the book.
After tenderly arranging the blankets around Danny's sleeping form, Jack mentally told himself that he'd have to go buy the other Harry Potter books soon. He couldn't wait till tomorrow night to continue on in the story. He was gonna kill Carter.
- - - - - -
An hour later, Jack, lounging on the couch watching a ball game on TV, heard a noise on the stairs and saw a disheveled Danny looking at him. "What, couldn't sleep?" A quick nod. "Okay, c'mere." Danny quickly clambered onto the couch where Jack was lounging. He snuggled up to Jack and closed his eyes. Within minutes he was sleeping. Jack sighed. He thought Danny felt a little hot. Thinking that the Doc might not be in bed yet, he extracted himself from the slumbering boy and phoned Janet. Telling her about Danny's slight fever, she warned him to keep an eye on it and if it got worse, to get Danny back to the infirmary. Rousing Danny, he gave him something for the fever and settled himself and Danny back on the couch to finish watching the ballgame.
An hour later, he reached for the remote and clicked off the TV. Once again, gently extracting himself from the sleeping boy, Jack made the rounds, closing off the house for the night. Picking Danny up in his arms, he carried him back to bed. Taking a quick shower, he slid into bed beside Danny and waited for the nightmares.
They never came.
Jack woke up to gentle snoring in his ear. Turning his head, he saw that Danny had curled up beside him, sharing his pillow. Discreetly moving his hand down the sheets, he realized that they were dry. No nightmares, no accidents and even better, no fever.
Getting up and going to the bathroom, he came back into the bedroom to see two sleepy blue eyes looking at him. "Good morning," he greeted. "Morning," came the soft reply. "Hungry?" A quick nod. "Okay, go wash up and meet me in the kitchen. Chop Chop." A giggle.
- - - - - -
Janet's battery of tests that morning included another blood sample, and a trusting Danny once again obligingly offered up his arm. Once Janet had finished with Danny, and admonishing Jack to return in two days' time for further tests, Jack sent Danny up to spend time with Carter while he attended a quick meeting with General Hammond.
After walking twice around the room, examining everything carefully but cautious not to touch anything, Danny eyed Sam's computer longingly. While working on her latest project, Sam had surreptitiously kept an eye on Danny and when he apparently became bored, she quickly offered him her computer, and introduced him to the internet.
After a short while, Danny's bladder insistently reminded him that it needed emptying. Not wanting to leave her experiment at the moment, Sam asked if Danny could find the bathroom himself. It was just down the hallway to his left. He quickly found it and once relieved, found himself in the hallway, not remembering whether he should turn left or right. He decided to try going left, and started walking.
Having gone beyond the point where he knew Sam's lab should be, he realized he'd gone the wrong way and turned around. A name posted on a door caught his attention. Daniel Jackson. Why would someone have an office with the same name as him? Curious, he walked to the door and knocked softly. No answer. Slowly opening the door, he peered inside. The room was dark, and Danny looked for a light switch. Finding one, he switched it on and shadows suddenly became wonders.
Statues, bowls with hieroglyphs, pottery, and other wonders, all reminded him of treasures from his parents' digs in Egypt. Many of the artifacts were clearly Egyptian, but many more he didn't recognize. He slowly wandered around the room, not touching, just absorbing the wonders and the memories. As he reached the desk, that was when he saw the photographs. One was of a dark-haired smiling lady, one of a familiar-looking young man sitting on the back of a camel before a pyramid, and the last was a picture of Danny's parents, taken in Cairo just weeks before they had left for New York. With shaking hands, he reached for the picture frame.
A noise behind him startled him and as his hand jerked he knocked over a clay bowl that was beside the photo. Turning quickly, he saw Sam looking at him with dismay. He bent down and carefully started picking up the broken shards, tears running down his face. He'd done it again. Mr. Harris was right, he was a clumsy child. Why did he keep breaking things?
Sam knelt beside him and took the sharp pieces from his hands. As she picked up the broken clay pieces, she noticed the tears. "Daniel, it's okay. It was an accident." "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he whispered, staring at his hands. Putting the pieces aside she quickly gathered him in her arms. "It was an accident. There's nothing to be sorry about. Come on, I'll clean this up later. Let's get back to my lab." As she carried him out of the room, Danny tried to crane his neck for a last look at the photo of his parents.
"So what happened, you get lost?" A quick nod confirmed her suspicions. "I'm sorry," he repeated softly. "Sorry for what, getting lost?" Another quick nod. "Hey, this place is so big I sometimes get lost myself." She saw him smile at that. Settling him in front of the computer, she wondered what he had seen in his office. She'd have to talk to the Colonel and see about him telling Daniel what had happened on P4X 499.
- - - - - -
Jack joined them after a while, having brought sandwiches, and coffee for Carter and himself, and juice for Danny. He noticed that Danny was a little withdrawn, and glanced at Carter. She shrugged and signed that they needed to talk. He nodded. "Carter, you and Teal'c interested in joining us boys for supper tonight?" He saw Danny's head pop up in interest. "It'll be beer and pizza, and that's juice and pizza for you, young man." A giggle.
"Sounds good, Sir. I'll check with Teal'c and let you know later if he'll be joining us. How about we bring a video?"
"Good idea, how about Indiana Jones? I'm sure Danny'll love that one." The adult Daniel surely did.
"It's a date, Sir."
"Hey Danny, how about some dessert?" He looked up and saw Jack unwrapping a chocolate bar. Jack and Sam grinned at the size of Danny's smile.
- - - - - -
When they'd gotten home, Jack had left Danny watching the other Disney video while he went to his office to do some paperwork. After a while he saw a pale-looking Danny standing in the doorway of Jack's office, rubbing his chest. "What's up?" Jack asked. Danny coughed slightly.
Danny didn't answer, he just stood in the doorway and hung his head. Jack got up, worried. Kneeling beside Danny, he checked him for fever and was dismayed to find the boy hot to his touch again. "Not feeling good?" he asked. A quick nod. A cough.
"Your head hurt?" Another nod.
"You gonna be sick?" A shake of the head. "You sure?" A nod.
"Your chest hurt?" A nod. "How bad?"
"Just a bit," was the whispered answer.
Picking him up, Jack headed for the medicine cabinet and stuck a thermometer in Danny's mouth. While waiting for the thermometer to register, he called Janet.
"His fever is only 100.5, should I bring him in?" Jack asked worriedly.
"Give him some Tylenol and keep an eye on the fever and the cough. If his fever rises over 101, or if he has trouble breathing, bring him in, otherwise just let him rest. Call me, Jack, day or night, if you have to", she insisted.
"Okay, thanks Doc." Jack hung up and gave Danny the prescribed dosage of medication. Turning off the TV and VCR, Jack laid down on the couch with Danny, nestling the boy on his chest. He covered them both with an afghan, and waited for the medicine to take effect, his hand massaging Danny's chest. The boy coughed slightly a few times, and within a short while Danny had fallen asleep. Jack got up and tucked the afghan around Danny.
He returned to his office and tried to finish his work, but couldn't concentrate. An hour later, he heard stirrings from the living room and worried, got up and checked on Danny. He was sitting on the couch watching the video which he had abandoned when he'd felt ill. Jack stuck the thermometer again in Danny's mouth, ignoring the scowl on the young face. That in itself told him that Danny was feeling better. Thankfully Danny's temperature read normal. Jack abandoned work for the remainder of the day and settled back to watch the video with Danny.
- - - - - -
Danny happily greeted both Sam and Teal'c with enthusiastic hugs when they arrived, and excitedly dragged Teal'c by the hand down to the playroom to show him the new train set. Jack was happy to see him so animated, he hadn't seen him so excited before, and he was actually talking whole sentences rather than a few words here and there. He was beginning to sound like the Daniel Jackson he knew. Jack glanced at Sam and she nodded her head towards the kitchen, where she knew that she and Jack could talk without Danny overhearing them.
"Colonel, this morning at the SGC, Daniel got lost on his way to the bathroom, and he somehow ended up in his own office."
"What!" spluttered Jack. "I thought you were supposed to be keeping an eye on him."
"I was! He got turned around and went the wrong way," she countered. "I don't know what else he may have seen, but I'm pretty sure he saw his parents' photograph, the one that Daniel keeps on his desk." As she said this, Carter pulled the very picture out of her purse and handed it to Jack. "Then he knocked over a bowl or something and was upset when it broke. I think seeing that picture was part of the reason he was so down when you turned up with lunch today. Sir, I think you need to tell him what happened, of who he used to be."
"Shit, doesn't he have enough to deal with right now?"
"Yes, he's been through hell, but respectfully, Sir, you have to remember that the Daniel we knew was a genius, and just because he's eight years old now doesn't make him stupid. He's already fluent in English, Arabic, German and French. He can write in English and Arabic, and he can read ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. And he can speak a smattering of Russian, Italian, Greek and Spanish. Do you wonder why he became a linguist?" she grinned.
Jack looked at her incredulously. "He's only eight, for Crissakes! How can he know all those languages? When did he have time to learn? He never attended school until he came to America. How would he have learned them? And how do you know all of this?"
"I asked him. And he must have picked up the languages from a variety of people working at his parents' digs, obviously. And he was home taught by his parents. I remember him telling me that."
Jack fiddled with the picture frame that he held in his hands. "Carter, how do I tell an eight year old child who hasn't yet recovered from seeing his parents die in front of him, hey, and by the way, you were my best friend just a few days ago, and you're really 37 years old."
Jack opened a drawer and put the picture in it. "This sucks."
"Sir, I'm sure that Daniel suspects something already. He's just so cautious right now that he doesn't want to tip the boat and be sent away to an orphanage. He doesn't want to do anything that might alienate you from him."
"Carter, what happens if SG5 can't figure out how to reverse the procedure? Do you think that the General would let me adopt Danny?"
"Well if Janet could take in Cassie, why can't I take Daniel? I was thinking yesterday, maybe Sara would be willing to take him when we're offworld."
"You're serious about this?" Carter looked incredulously at Jack.
"I think you might think twice about having a kid around who'll be smarter than you in just a few more years," she teased.
"I'm thinking he's not that far from it right now," he countered.
"Well, Sir, I think you should tell Daniel what you just told me. That is, about adopting him. At least he'd have permanence in his life. I think right now Daniel's also worried about what's going to happen to him when he thinks you'll tire of him. He probably thinks you're only interested in fostering him for a short while."
"Well, most foster parents take in kids for short periods of times. I know for a fact that Daniel was shipped to quite a few families as he grew up."
"I didn't know. But I'll think about what you said." Jack looked down at his feet. "Um Carter, do you think, ahhh, that you could find me the er other volumes of, errr, ummmm, you know, the ahhh…"
"Dammit Carter! Harry Potter! Could you get me the other books?" His face flushing in embarrassment, he said, "Danny likes 'em."
"Yes Sir, I'm sure he does," she said with a wicked grin.
- - - - - -
"So Teal'c, did you like Danny's train set?"
"Indeed, O'Neill, I can envisage many hours of entertainment with you and the tiny train."
"Oh for cryin' out loud, it's Danny's train set!"
- - - - - -
After polishing off pizza and settling down on the sofa between Jack and Sam, Danny became mesmerized by the adventures of Indiana Jones. He could just picture himself running around the world, wielding a whip, and finding treasures that nobody else could find. He managed to stay awake for the whole movie, although he'd had to fight off sleep for the last 30 minutes.
As Jack picked Danny up and carried him upstairs to get ready for bed, he smiled to himself. The kid had sure enjoyed the movie. He'd have to go over to Daniel's apartment and pick up Daniel's other Indiana Jones videos. Then suddenly the thought of going to Daniel's apartment when Danny was here with him, bringing the young Daniel things that the adult Daniel had bought for himself, was just preposterous. He just didn't know what to do, what to tell Danny.
Danny was too sleepy to be read to tonight, and Jack was just as glad because he really wasn't in the mood. Danny fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow, so Jack went down to join Sam and Teal'c, who helped clean his kitchen and then left soon after.
Jack sat on the couch for a couple of hours, with the TV quietly tuned to a sports station, but he really wasn't listening. What Sam had said to him about telling Danny the truth was haunting him. He decided he'd needed something stronger than beer, and poured himself a finger of whisky. He sat on the couch with the drink on the coffee table before him, and as he raised the glass to his mouth, he heard a gasp behind him.
Danny stood there with his eyes wide. Jack was drinking, Jack would be just like Mr. Harris! Jack would start yelling at him. Hurt him.
"Danny, damnit! Why aren't you in bed?" Jack snapped.
At Jack's words, Danny quickly turned tail and ran up the stairs. He didn't run into Jack's bedroom, he'd be found right away. He ran into the spare bedroom, and quickly hid himself in the space beside the bureau and the bed. His breath came in pants and tears poured down his face. His hands came up behind his head and he pulled his head onto his knees. "no no no no no no," he kept repeating to himself.
Ah crap. He hadn't meant to snap at Danny. As Danny turned and rushed up the stairs, Jack could have smacked himself. He sighed, got up and slowly walked up the stairs and entered his bedroom. Danny wasn't in sight. He checked the adjoining bathroom, no Danny. Walking into the hallway, he could hear Danny's short pants, and his repeated mumblings. He walked slowly into the spare bedroom and saw Danny cowering between the furniture. He approached Danny slowly, calling his name. Danny didn't respond.
He gently put his hand on Danny's leg, and he felt him tense up. He could hear Danny's breathing starting to hitch slightly, and knew he was getting a little hysterical. Danny was mumbling something to himself, and as Jack listened, he could hear him repeating the word "no" under his breath. He reached up to take Danny by the shoulders, and suddenly Danny became wild, lashing out with his arms and legs. Jack managed to grab him by the middle and he suddenly became limp in Jack's arms, crying hysterically, and trying to say 'no' at the same time.
Carrying Danny to his bedroom, he put the crying boy on the bed and tried to comfort him in his arms. He could feel Danny trying to pull away from him. After 15 minutes Jack knew he'd not be able to comfort Danny as he had when he had had nightmares. He put the boy down and reached over into the night table where he'd put the bottle of sedatives Janet had give him. Shaking one out, he went to the bathroom for a glass of water. Sitting Danny up, he managed to put the pill in Danny's mouth and tipped some water in, trying to get him to swallow the pill. Sputtering slightly, Danny swallowed. Jack gave him more water, and saw him swallow that too. He pulled Danny's sobbing and resisting form to him and waited for the pill to take effect.
About 20 minutes later, he felt Danny start to relax slightly in his arms. The sobbing started to lessen, and soon Danny lay limp in Jack's arms. As Jack looked down at him, he noted that his eyes were open, he wasn't sleeping. "Danny?" he asked gently. His eyes tracked slowly to Jack's face. "What happened down there?" Danny blinked. "Danny, what upset you? Was it me?" Jack couldn't understand what had triggered this episode. He didn't think it was because he'd snapped at him. Danny had heard him snap at others, he'd even joked once about it.
"Danny, talk to me. What happened to scare you so badly?" He gave Danny a gentle shake, and Danny turned his head over to look at the wall. Then Jack heard the soft words, "you drank."
"Danny, this is because you saw me pour myself a drink?" At the short nod, Jack tightened his arms around Danny. "Danny, did Mr. Harris drink?" Another nod. "Did Mr. Harris hit you when he drank?" A short pause, a nod. "Danny, not everyone hurts other people when they drink. I just took a drink because I have a decision to make, I'm worried about it and I wanted to relax. D'ya understand?" Danny's head turned and he looked at Jack again. "I won't hurt you, I promise. Look, I'll go pour that drink down the sink, and I'll come up to bed in a minute, okay?" A nod. "Good, now lie down, I'll be right back."
Jack helped Danny lie down and he quickly went downstairs, poured the drink down the sink, closed the house for the night and came up to bed. Danny lay there, staring blankly at the wall. Jack quickly prepared for bed and slipped under the covers beside Danny. Taking the limp form in his arms, he tucked Danny's head onto his shoulder. Danny's eyes closed, and soon he was asleep. Jack lay there with tears in his eyes.
- - - - - -
Jack woke the next morning with Danny still sleeping, tucked up against him. Sighing slightly, Jack ran his arm down the sheets. Dry. Two for two! 'Go Danny!', he thought. He got up and went to the bathroom and took a shower. When he'd finished, Danny was still sleeping. Going downstairs, he made himself some coffee and made his decision. He'd try and explain to Danny about the transformation on P4X 499.
A short while later a sleepy face appeared in the kitchen. Jack opened his arms up and Danny eagerly walked into the hug. Picking him up and sitting him on his lap, Jack asked if Danny was still mad at Jack. Wide-eyed, Danny shook his head no. Giving him a kiss on the top of his head, Jack offered to make Danny pancakes. Jack suspected that the grin on Danny's face was only due to the offer of maple syrup with the pancakes.
- - - - - -
After breakfast, as Danny was playing with his coloring book, Jack approached Danny and told him that they had to talk. Danny put his crayon down and looked up at Jack.
"Danny, we haven't talked about this yet. What do you remember about when I found you?"
"I remember a bright light, and then I didn't feel so good. Was it an orphanage? I remember there were other kids there."
"No, not really. See, what happened is that, um, you were, um, somehow, we went, er,."
"Was it a time machine?"
"Did I go through a time machine?"
"What makes you think you went through a time machine?"
"The calendars are all weird?"
"What? How are the calendars weird?"
"Well, I remember it being the year 1973, but the calendars here all read 2002. I must have gone forward in time. All the toys are different, the cars, even people don't look the same."
"You're kinda smart, aren't you? But it's not a time machine. It's similar but not quite. You see, ummm, well er what happened is..." Jack was looking everywhere but at Danny. "Shit, this is hard."
Jack went to the drawer where he'd hidden the picture of Daniel's parents. He took it out and handed it to Danny. Danny took it in his small hands and looked at the picture longingly. Then he looked up at Jack.
"Those are your parents, aren't they?"
A small nod. A tear ran down the side of Danny's face.
"Awe Danny." Jack reached out and wiped the tear with his thumb.
"That picture was taken about 29 years ago. You kept it all these years. Carter took it from your office yesterday."
"My office? You mean that the office with my name on it was really mine? Those pictures…that picture of the guy on the camel, that was me! That's why he looked familiar, he looked like dad but also like mom."
"Gee, you really ARE smart, for a kid." A giggle.
"So what happened to me. I was a grown up before?"
Jack nodded. "You're my best friend. That is, you were."
"What's gonna happen to me now?" he said in a small voice, staring at the picture.
"Well, that all depends on what we find out about the procedure that turned you into a child. We have a team looking into it. If they can reverse the procedure, then I get my best friend back. If they can't, then I'll gain a son." Jack looked at Danny. "That is, if you want me for a father."
Danny looked up at Jack, his eyes wide, and shining with unshed tears. As the tears started to overflow, Jack said, "does that mean that you don't want me?" And Danny threw himself into Jack's arms.
- - - - - -
Jack felt like he'd gone through the wringer. If he felt that way, he couldn't imagine what Danny felt like. Danny had gone back to coloring in his book, with the picture frame of his parents sitting on the table beside him. Jack could see him stop coloring every so often and look at the picture. He thought maybe it was time to go visit Daniel's apartment. At the least, he needed to feed Daniel's fish.
- - - - - -
Danny was enticed by the aquarium. Thankfully none had decided to go belly up while he'd been away. Jack hated having to try and get the dead fish out of the aquarium. They always seemed to float into crevices that were hard to reach.
Jack picked up Daniel's mail, pocketed whatever bills needed to be paid, and went through Daniel's selection of videos, choosing a few that might entertain the younger Daniel. He thought maybe he'd also enjoy watching The Mummy, having probably seen real mummies in Egypt. He also riffled through Daniel's personal photo albums and quickly found what he wanted. Handing the album to the Danny, he saw that he was thrilled to find more family pictures.
- - - - - -
When they got home, they settled in front of the TV with dinner trays and ate their lunch while watching the second Indiana Jones movie. Hearing the peals of laughter coming from the child sitting comfortably beside him reminded Jack of happy times with Charlie. He couldn't believe that he might be a father again.
After the movie, Danny went down to play with the train set, and Jack phoned Carter to tell her that he'd taken her advice and spoken to Danny. Carter had good news herself. SG5 had discovered that the process was usually reversed once a certain event occurred in the transformed child's life. The details were still quite vague, but there was to be a festival in less than two days' time. The General had given SG1 the okay to attend this festival and hopefully reverse Daniel's transformation.
Jack felt a lump in his throat. He missed his adult Daniel, but if the transformation was successful, he'd also certainly miss this young Daniel. He felt torn.
He wasn't hearing any sounds from downstairs so he quietly descended the stairs, to find Danny curled up beside the train set, fast asleep. Gently picking him up in his arms, he brought him upstairs and laid him on the couch. Pulling the afghan from a nearby chair, he covered the sleeping boy.
He sat in the chair opposite Danny and just watched him sleep.
The doorbell startled him from his musings. As he answered the door, he was surprised to see Janet. Asking her to come in, he quickly glanced at Danny, relieved to see he was still asleep.
Janet walked over to Danny and quickly looked him over. With a smile, she walked back to the kitchen to join the Colonel, who offered her a cup of coffee.
"Colonel, the last tests I took are showing that Daniel's body isn't readily adapting to the change it's gone through. There's stress on all major organs, that's possibly one of the reasons he's so tired and sleeps so much. It's probably going to get worse, and there's nothing I can do about it. I'm sorry, but Daniel's only hope is the reversal process."
Jack closed his eyes in pain.
"I checked out the blood samples SG5 took from the natives of P4X 499. There is a slight difference in physiology, which probably accounts for why Daniel's body is having such a hard time with the change. The blood taken from the transformed child doesn't show any of the problems that Daniel is experiencing."
"I told him that I wanted to adopt him. That he was going to be able to stay with me if the reversal process didn't work."
"Sam said that you were going to tell him about what happened on P4X 499?"
Jack nodded. "He suspected something. Actually, he thought he'd gone through a time machine."
Janet laughed. "At least he's happy here. The General has contacted the Tok'ra and the Asgard to see if there's anything they can do to help if the reversal process doesn't work. Any idea what this 'certain event' is supposed to be that would trigger the process?"
"Haven't a clue. That's what SG5 is looking for right now." Jack paused. "Janet, by the way, I had to give Danny one of those sedatives last night. He got hysterical, not from a nightmare but something dredged up from one of his experiences with his foster father. He's okay now, isn't he?"
"He appears to be sleeping soundly. His pulse is strong and his color is good. There's no fever. He's fine, for the moment."
She touched his arm. "I should be going. Thanks for the coffee. By the way, make sure you stop at the infirmary before you leave for P4X 499. I'd like to check Danny out first. Oh, and I'll probably be coming along with SG1."
Jack nodded. "Thanks for dropping by, Doc. I'll see you then."
- - - - - -
Jack and Danny finished the Harry Potter book that night, and Jack realized that he probably wouldn't get the chance to read the other Potter books to Danny. He tucked the sleepy boy in and came up to join him in bed soon after.
- - - - - -
Jack woke up early that morning, and couldn’t figure out what had woken him. Lying quietly in bed, he soon realized that the small form lying beside him was shivering violently. Quickly turning to Danny he realized that he was running a high fever. Quickly dressing, Jack wrapped him up in a blanket and rushed up to the mountain. Janet wasn't on duty yet, but the Doctor on call quickly administered an IV and appropriate medications.
Danny lay there on his side, his eyes closed. Jack thought Danny was asleep, but as he shifted, Danny's eyes opened and he looked at Jack.
"Hey!" A smile.
"Feeling better." The smile faded.
"Guess not, huh." A blink.
Doc Janet's on her way, she'll be here to see you soon. And Sam too. Teal'c came by but you were sleeping." Another blink.
Jack reached over and caressed the too hot cheek. Danny's eyes closed and he moved his face into the caress. Jack left his hand there until he was sure Danny was sleeping.
- - - - - -
Danny's fever finally broke late that afternoon. Jack hadn't left Danny's side, Carter and Teal'c bringing him food which he didn't touch, except for the coffee. Jack had realized that he wouldn't be bringing Danny home that night so he asked Carter to go to his house and get Danny's picture of his parents for him. She had done so, and it was now sitting on the table beside Danny, where he'd be able to see it whenever he opened his eyes.
By that evening Danny's temperature was nearly normal and he'd eaten his supper, so Janet permitted Jack to take Danny out of the infirmary and spend the night with him in one of the VIP rooms. Once he had carried Danny there and had carefully tucked him in the bed, Jack spotted a small package sitting by the bed. Opening the bag, he found three Harry Potter books. "Bless you Carter," he thought. Jack grabbed the next book in the series and started reading to Danny.
- - - - - -
He spent a restless night, constantly waking and worryingly checking Danny for fever. Danny slept quietly throughout the night, with no sign of fever, or nightmares.
They were scheduled to leave for P4X 499 late that afternoon. Not long after waking, Danny's fever returned with a vengeance. Refusing even water, he lay listlessly in Jack's arms in the infirmary. Jack tried reading some more to Danny, but his heart wasn't in it anymore. Time seemed to have slowed to a standstill. Jack was worried about what would happen at the Temple, would Danny come back as the adult Daniel? If he did, would he have been harmed by the procedure? If the reversal didn't work, what was going to happen to Danny? He was so sick. So far none of the Tok'ra or Asgard allies had responded to their request for help.
Finally it was time to go. With a heavy heart, he wrapped Danny up in a blanket and carried him to the embarkation room. Danny stared wide-eyed at the Stargate. As SG1 and Doctor Fraiser walked up the ramp, they heard General Hammond announce, "Bring him back safely, SG1."
- - - - - -
SG5 were waiting to greet SG1 on the other side of the wormhole. They accompanied them to the temple, where the Townmaster was anxiously awaiting them. Jack ignored the man and entered the temple. He set Danny down on a bench halfway inside, and started removing Danny's clothes. One of the Temple's attendants had followed SG1 inside and silently handed Jack a mauve-colored gown. Jack slid the too-large gown over Danny's head, then wrapped him again in the blanket. He sat down on the bench, cradling Danny in his lap, waiting till it was time for them to leave. Danny lay listlessly in Jack's arms, his eyes closed, shivering slightly. His breathing sounded harsh in the quiet of the room. Sam sat on one side of Jack and Danny, Janet on the other, keeping track of Danny's vital signs. Teal'c stood at attention behind the four.
Fifteen minutes later, the attendant returned, saying it was nearly time. Jack stirred and pulled Danny away from him and sat him on the bench, his hand cupping Danny's cheek. Kneeling before him, Jack said "Remember. One way or the other. My best friend, or my son. I love both." Tears ran down Danny's eyes, and he hugged Jack as hard as he was able. "I love you too, Jack," he whispered.
Jack swallowed, rose to his feet and walked shakily to the exit. He turned back, looking at the too small form sitting huddled and shivering alone on a bench in the center of the temple. Taking a deep breath, he left the Temple and walked blindly away, trying to compose himself. Carter and Teal'c remained near the entrance, watching him with concern.
After a minute, the sounds of gongs started up, reminding him of his wild run to the Temple just several days ago. Lost in his thoughts, Jack heard a noise and turned around. The attendant had reached the entrance to the Temple and was looking at Jack expectantly. The gongs had stopped.
"What, already?" he barked. The attendant drew her arm sideways, inviting Jack to enter. He quickly walked to the entrance, with the rest of SG1 and Janet coming in behind him. As he entered the Temple, he looked towards the bench where he'd left Danny, but he couldn't see the boy. He quickly walked the circuit and saw Daniel lying on his side on the ground.
An adult Daniel, unconscious, but breathing. They quickly rushed to his side. Janet took his pulse and flashed a penlight in his eyes, noting his pupils' reaction. She placed a hand on Daniel's forehead, and frowned. She turned to Teal'c. "Help me get him back to earth. His temperature is still high and I need to get him to the infirmary." Teal'c quickly bent down and picked Daniel up in his arms. Jack took the blanket and wrapped it around his friend. They followed Teal'c out of the Temple and quickly walked towards the Stargate.
The Townmaster came lumbering towards them. "All is well, then? Your friend has been blessed by the Lady?"
Jack huffed violently and turned towards the Townmaster. "Blessed? You mean the hell that poor boy has just gone through is a blessing?"
"But yes, you have eased his pain, have you not? Otherwise the Lady would not have bestowed her blessing upon him. He returns to himself with much easier memories."
"He had been hurting inside to start with, else the Lady would not have permitted the change. This is what the pilgrimage is about, supplicants come to try and ease their hurts. The Lady permits this and returns the supplicant to their original form once the hurt has been eased." Jack stared at the Townmaster, then turned sharply and started walking.
"Remember, one way or the other. My best friend, or my son. I love both." Could those words have been what eased Danny's pain enough for The Lady to have returned Daniel to them? The words tumbled through his brain as he quickly caught up to the rest of his team, who were being escorted back by SG5.
- - - - - -
Back at the infirmary, Jack sat and watched his best friend's face. He could see the child in the adult, as he'd seen the adult in the child. He wondered if Daniel would remember what had happened. He knew that somehow a pain had eased inside himself, that part of the pain he'd felt with Charlie's death had lessened, knowing that he'd been so willing to love another son.
Janet quietly approached Jack. She said quietly, "his fever is still very high. The shock of going through that transformation twice has been extremely hard on him, but I think that his body is starting to recover. His vitals are improving already." She paused. "Do you think he's going to remember any of this?"
"That's exactly what I was thinking of a few minutes ago" Jack answered quietly. Janet placed her hand on Jack's shoulder for a moment, and then went to check on another patient.
- - - - - -
Dozing on and off for the past couple of hours, Jack opened his eyes when he thought he heard his name. Jack saw Daniel's clear blue eyes staring back at him.
"Hey," he replied.
Daniel's face was sweating and his hair was soaked. Placing his hand on Daniel's face, he noted that his temperature seemed to be nearly normal. He waved towards the nurse, who quickly came and after a quick glance at her patient, promptly took his temperature. The smile on her face encouraged Jack.
"Feeling better?" he asked. A nod.
"Want some water?" Another nod. Jack reached over and helped Daniel drink through the straw.
"Need anything?" A smile. A nod.
"Finish reading Harry Potter to me" was the soft reply.
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DISCLAIMER: The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.