It's About Time
Jack stood in the entrance of Daniel's office and surreptitiously watched his friend. His desk was strewn with books and pictures taken from some mission, there were three coffee cups scattered about the desk along with two notepads filled with scribbling, a video recorder and a small tape recorder, and his computer was open to a site which had a close up of a piece of rock with writings on it that matched the picture sitting directly before Daniel.
But what Jack finally focused on was the opened bottle of Tylenol in his hand, from which Daniel had just taken three and had downed them with the remains of what was in one of the three coffee cups.
And now Daniel was simply sitting there, the Tylenol bottle still gripped in his hand as if he were contemplating taking more, his other hand sliding beneath his glasses to massage the bridge of his nose. All signs of a headache; and a pretty bad one at that.
Still, Fraiser had given Daniel the all clear � it hadn't been his body that had died even though Daniel's soul had been in the ancient scientist's until the last few moments. But the memories of being inside a body on the verge of death; that had to be something kinda hard to get over. Even now, Jack's memories of Junior living inside his belly caused a frisson to run down his spine. He placed a hand on his abdomen, glad to feel skin and muscle and not the flexible entrance of Teal'c's womb.
It was late. He had a pretty good idea why Daniel was still working. He himself needed the distraction from delving too deeply into the realization they had nearly lost Daniel instead of Machello. But work wasn't going to cut it. Not this time. Time for some heavy-duty team night.
"Hey," he said softly, not wanting to startle Daniel.
Daniel adjusted his glasses and slowly turned to look at Jack. "Hi."
"Headache?" Jack pushed off the door jamb and entered the room.
"Why do you ask?"
Jack simply nodded at the bottle of Tylenol still clutched in Daniel's hand and Daniel blinked at it in confusion as he put it down hurriedly. "Well, it's been kind of a long day."
"For what it's worth, Teal'c and Carter and I are going out to O'Malley's. Wanna come with?"
Daniel opened his mouth to answer and stopped, glanced away from Jack only to stare at the bottle of Tylenol. "You know, I'm kind of tired. I think I'm just going to bunk down here and try to get some sleep."
"Are you okay? You want me to call Fraiser?"
Daniel smiled and shook his head. "No, really, I'm just tired. And I've got a headache. I think I need to get some better reading lights in here � that print is gonna kill my eyes one of these days." Daniel swivelled in his chair and powered down his computer.
"Can't argue with you there."
"Tell the guys I'm sorry I didn't make it."
"You sure you don't want me calling Fraiser? Like you said, the lighting isn't the greatest in here but you do look a little pale."
"No. Really, it's just a headache. I... I was thinking about Machello... how the Goa'uld ended up killing his wife also. I guess I started thinking about Shau'ri and..." Daniel half-smiled, half-grimaced. "I'm really not the best company tonight."
"Well, make sure you get some sleep. If Carter and Siler can get the UAV up and working tomorrow, we're scheduled for PJ2 445." As they walked into the brightly lit hallway, Jack was a little worried at Daniel's unfocused gaze. He'd make sure to check in on Daniel early the next morning when he came in.
- - - - - -
Jack followed Daniel up the circular stairs, into the briefing room. Carter and Teal'c were already seated, along with Doctor Fraiser and General Hammond. All eyes followed them as he and Daniel circumvented the table and took empty seats.
"What's going on?" Jack glanced around but from the shrug Carter gave him and Teal'c's impassive expression, Jack figured neither of them knew what the summons was about. It certainly couldn't be about the mission � that was postponed until tomorrow as the UAV had decided not to cooperate with them yet again.
Jack had barely touched his ass to the seat when Hammond spoke up. "There's a transport waiting at Peterson to take you to Edwards Air Force base. Area 51 has found something you may all find very interesting."
"Really?" Jack leaned back against his chair. He hated these last minute flights; they never had time to take any personal effects or toiletries and he bet they would end up staying there overnight. Or heaven help him � longer.
Hammond placed his hands flat on an envelope lying on the table before him. "It seems your presence there, especially Doctor Jackson's, may shed some light on a small matter of a trespasser discovered on their grounds. Doctor Fraiser?"
Fraiser sat there with her hands clasped in her lap. She raised her eyes and gazed at Daniel a moment before speaking. Daniel looked back at her, a confused expression on his face. He still seemed dazed this morning, but not as bad as he'd seemed last night.
"Area 51 has sent me DNA samples for confirmation. Test results have just corroborated that they're Daniel's."
Even as Hammond began pulling out photos from the envelope, Daniel exclaimed, "What? Why would Area 51 have my DNA?" He thrust a hand through his too-long hair, pushing back his bangs which had fallen over his glasses.
"Maybe this will help explain everything." Hammond pushed the photos down the table, towards SG-1. Fraiser didn't bother looking at the pictures; it was obvious she'd already seen them. Carter grabbed them and pulled them closer to the four of them.
All three were of a young child about eight or nine years of age. A shaggy mop of blond hair hid his features in the first picture, which showed him lying huddled on his side, wearing a beige windbreaker, dark blue pants and a green shirt. The background was rocks and sand, the glare of the sun reflected into the camera. Apparently this was where the kid had been found trespassing. Jack looked for signs of injury: he hoped to God none of Area 51's guards had actually shot him.
The next photo was a close up of the boy. He lay bare-chested except for heart monitor leads. An oxygen mask covered a good portion of his face. His eyes were half-opened, staring at the camera with a sort of foggy indifference. Even through the photograph, Jack could see the boy was ill and exhausted.
The last shot showed a series of footprints, heading towards the camera. They started midpoint in the shot, as if someone had been beamed � la Star Trek to that point. The area where the footprints began showed where the child had circled around a bit, probably searching for a vantage point.
Hammond picked up and pointed a remote control at the starmap reflected on the window to his office. A video screen came down, hiding the window and starmap. He clicked another button, and an aerial map of Area 51 appeared. "The boy was found here yesterday." A dot began to blink on the far right, showing an area several miles east of the main airstrips. "Motion sensors picked up his movements but the doctors estimate he'd been out in the desert for most of the day. As you can see from the photographs, his trail comes out of nowhere."
"Do you believe someone flew the child to that location? For what purpose? And what has he to do with DanielJackson?"
"We don't know how he was brought there. Area 51 had been flying tests most of the morning and any unidentified craft would have been spotted."
Fraiser unclasped her hands and reached for the picture of the boy in the hospital. "As to who he is?" She looked at Daniel again. "All tests indicate, without a doubt, that he's Daniel Jackson."
"What does the kid have to say about it?" Jack asked as Daniel's mouth opened in shock.
"He hasn't spoken yet, Colonel. He's suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, some form of shock and he's somewhat unresponsive."
"Which is why Doctor Fraiser will accompany you to Area 51. The President wants you to find out where the boy came from and if there's a security threat."
"Janet, there's no doubt that this is really Daniel?"
"There's no doubt, Sam."
"What about cloning? If our own scientists are able to clone a sheep," Jack said, pointing skyward, "I'm sure some of the aliens out there�"
"I'm not a sheep." Daniel had picked up the photograph of the boy lying in the desert and was examining it carefully.
"Nor are you a clone. But if he is�"
"What about the quantum mirror? Maybe he came through that and got out somehow�"
"That would not explain his sudden materialization in the desert."
"If he came through the mirror, we'll find out soon enough in another day or so." Jack shrugged apologetically when Daniel glared at him.
"Could he Daniel's son?" Carter glanced down at the picture again.
Fraiser shook her head. "He's not an offspring. He's definitely Daniel, and there's no indication he's a clone. If he is from another reality�"
"I remember that jacket."
Everyone stopped talking and turned to look at Daniel. His index finger was tapping against the picture.
"What?" Carter said. "Daniel, do you think this is really�"
"I remember the jacket because the right pocket was ripped and I kept losing stuff before I realized it. It had a cigarette burn near the zipper, on the left. Probably from its previous owner." He looked around the table. "Hand me downs. I had a growth spurt just before we came to New York and my mom had promised to take me shopping there for new clothes but she was so busy at the museum that we never got around to it. I got the hand me downs at the orphanage.
"I couldn't remember those details before just now." He glanced around the table, his brow furrowed in confusion. "I mean, I have vague memories of going through boxes of clothes to see if anything fit but I never remembered one particular pair of pants or jacket or shoes..." He studied the picture and his index finger moved towards the boy's feet. "Those sneakers had a hole in the sole and I hated to tell anyone about them because I knew they'd get me new ones, but I'd just broken these in and they were comfortable and..."
Daniel stopped mid-sentence. He seemed to realize he was rambling and he put the picture down, gave it a gentle pat, slid it towards the center of the table and dropped his head to his chest.
Jack squeezed his eyes shut and rubbed his forehead with his fingers. "We'll be able to verify all of that when we get there. In the meantime..." Teal'c and Hammond were staring sympathetically at Daniel and Carter was looking away from the table, her mouth pressed together. "... We all have a plane to catch." He smacked his palms on the table. The loud rapport caused everyone to jump and look at him.
"Keep me informed," Hammond said as he stood.
Everyone quickly got to their feet, except for Daniel, who got up slowly, head still bowed.
Jack nodded at Hammond as the general took his eyes off Daniel and glanced his way.
Carter gathered the photographs and Hammond handed her the report that had been written up on the boy. Reading material for the flight, Jack thought.
- - - - -
Everyone had caught on to Daniel's preoccupation and took seats apart from him. Jack also gave him his own space, knowing that if and when Daniel needed someone to talk to, he'd make the first move. So he sat close enough to keep an eye on his friend but not close enough to intrude.
The moment the plane took off, Daniel settled back against the seat and closed his eyes. Jack was pretty sure Daniel wasn't sleeping, not by the tense way he held his shoulders. Jack played the game and did the same, opening his eyes occasionally during the flight to make sure Daniel was okay.
Once they landed, Jack manoeuvred so that when Daniel slid into the first of two jeeps that had come to pick them up, he was sitting beside him. Despite the air brushing past in the open vehicle, the late afternoon desert heat was hard to take. He couldn't imagine what the poor kid had gone through, lost out there for hours. Still, it obviously hadn't been a coincidence that the child had been left somewhere that he was sure to be discovered fairly fast.
Daniel smiled, that quick little flash of teeth that he did so rarely. "No, not really."
"Don't worry, we'll get to the bottom of this."
"Jack, there's a little version of me lying in a bed in the middle of one of these buildings and he's been... well, you saw those pictures."
"We still don't know if that's really you."
"Janet's pretty sure."
"Look, our enemies, and our allies, have both used children to try to get to us. The kid's probably some kind of Goa'uld clone that tests just can't identify yet and he's more than likely a danger to Earth. Remember what they did to Cassie? We'll need to treat him as a threat and stay detached. Can you do that, Daniel?"
Daniel blinked and looked at Jack, his gaze unfocused for a moment.
"Daniel, can you do that?" Jack repeated, his voice hardening slightly to catch Daniel's attention.
"Yeah. I heard you. He's dangerous. Do not pet, do not feed, do not let him follow you home. Got it, Jack." Daniel's voice changed from sarcastic, to cold. "Now you tell me how you're going to scare an already terrified eight year old that's so exhausted he can't see straight."
"That's all part of the Goa'uld charm. Kids are supposed to be cute and we're supposed to be taken in by their vulnerability. It won't work this time."
"Vulnerability?" Daniel's short laugh was a loud exhalation. "The worst that he could imagine has already happened to him. His whole life, destroyed in a blink of an eye. His parents are dead and he's alone in this world. What could you possibly say to him that would terrorize him more than he's already been?"
Daniel's words stopped Jack's retort. Daniel was right � if the Goa'uld were behind this, the kid would be pushing all the right buttons by sending a kid who had been traumatized into their midst. Those snakes never did anything the easy way.
The jeeps pulled in before a large building, one Jack hadn't yet had the pleasure of visiting on his infrequent trips to Area 51. He slid out of the vehicle and without waiting for his team, stepped inside, out of the hot, desert heat.
A waft of air conditioning hit him and he breathed deeply in relief. The airman who'd met them at the plane led them down several corridors, and Jack realized they'd entered the medical facilities.
"Colonel O'Neill?" A woman in a lab coat was walking towards them, hand extended. "I'm Doctor Dobson. Eileen Dobson."
"Doctor." Jack shook her hand as she glanced around at the rest of his team.
She nodded at Fraiser. "I'm glad you've come, Doctor Fraiser. Colonel Maybourne is expecting you. I'll take you to the boy now."
"Um, how is he doing?" Daniel's body was thrumming with tension as he walked stiffly beside Jack.
"He still hasn't spoken, although his vital signs are much improved since we've rehydrated him. He's still running a slight fever and he's refused to eat or sleep."
"What tests have you run?" Carter winced apologetically towards Daniel as she took a couple of quick steps to walk next to the doctors. Jack let the list of medical procedures flow past him.
As they stepped into the infirmary, Jack could hear someone moaning loudly in one of the beds. Occasionally the soldier would curse, then go back to moaning again. Doctor Dobson walked past the curtained off area where the noises were coming from and stopped two beds down. She pulled back the privacy curtain, exposing the bed and the little boy lying in it.
The child gasped, startled, at the same time Daniel did. Jack turned to look at his friend, who paled. Daniel swayed a moment but got control of himself. He shook his head at Jack when he caught his gaze on him.
Turning back to the bed, Jack could see the dark shadows beneath the red-rimmed and glassy eyes. The boy's chest was pale compared to his sunburned neck and face. His glance bounced off everyone who'd surrounded his bed, his growing panic causing his breathing to quicken.
When the injured soldier cried out again, the boy jumped, his fingers grasping at the thin sheet covering his legs and tried to pull it up. Jack could see goose bumps rising on the boy's arms. Daniel's earlier words reverberated through his skull. The kid had lost everything and he was already so immersed in his fear that terrorizing him would certainly do no good at this stage.
"Hey," Jack said softly as he sat on a corner of the mattress, ignoring all the warning lights going off in his brain as he did so. He told himself that he was pretending to care for the kid's welfare as he glanced at Fraiser, who was frowning as she flipped through the chart hooked onto the foot of the bed. "Looks like you're a little cold. Can someone find a blanket?"
"Here." Carter handed him a woollen blanket and Jack unfolded it and spread it over the small form. He wished they'd had something a little less coarse against his bare skin but for the moment this would have to do.
"So... you got a name?"
Familiar blue eyes stared up at him in what Jack could only describe as fear. The kid jumped when a familiar voice loudly called Jack's name.
"Jack. So nice of you to drop by."
Jack turned and watched Harry Maybourne stride down the infirmary towards them. "Harry," Jack said in a falsely cordial voice.
"Quite a little conundrum we got here, huh?" Maybourne pushed past Doctor Dobson and stood close to the bed in a possessive manner.
Teal'c took one step forward and towered over Maybourne, effectively cancelling Maybourne's show of ownership.
"I really don't know why you wasted your time coming out here, Jack. I can't imagine what you and your team think you're going to be able to discover that my people haven't done so yet."
Taking a step away from Teal'c, Harry placed a hand on the boy's leg. The kid jerked and moved his leg away, rolling close to the edge of the mattress and pressing against the metal rails. The movement dislodged the blanket and sheet covering him, revealing that the kid was wearing nothing but his underwear.
"Oh, I dunno, Harry. Considering who the conundrum actually is, I think we have a pretty good chance of figuring something out."
"Look, for all we know that kid's a walking time bomb. He showed up at my facility and it's my duty to try and find out how he got here, and why."
"Fine, you figure it out. We'll take care of the kid in the meantime."
Bringing himself to his full height, Maybourne glared at Jack. "Colonel, he's still under my jurisdiction�"
"The President gave the order�" Carter spat out.
"He's just a kid. You can't just do what you�" Jack raised his voice in anger.
"You have no authority to keep him here." Daniel's voice was soft, barely reaching over everyone else's. But he took a menacing step towards Maybourne, and that action managed to quiet everyone's outbursts. "You've all proven without a doubt who he is. In that case, I have the final say for his wellbeing."
"He's a minor�"
"He's a minor me. He's me, I know what I want, and I want him under Doctor Fraiser's care and Colonel O'Neill's protection." He turned to Dobson, hand waving nervously at her. "No offence, Doctor Dobson, but I think D... Danny would be better off with us than under Colonel Maybourne's directives at this point."
Hating the look of fear and disorientation in the almost-familiar face, Jack crouched down so that he was at eye level with the kid. He knew that what he was going to do was partly to get back at Maybourne, who had treated the kid like the enemy he thought he was. But another part of him acknowledged the pain and vulnerability of the boy, reminding him, surprisingly, not of his own son, but of his best friend.
"Hi. My name's Jack. These guys are my friends." The boy glanced around the people crowding around his bed, frowning slightly as his gaze lit upon Maybourne. Jack leaned closer and whispered loudly. "Not him. You don't have to like him if you don't want to."
He placed a hand on the metal rail and used his index finger to point towards his team. "That's Carter, but I guess you'd rather call her Sam. This is Janet, she's going to be your doctor. And this is Teal'c�" When the boy's eyes widened slightly at Teal'c's name, Jack smiled. "Yeah, I know. He's not from around here. And this other guy over there is Daniel." Jack waited to see if he'd get a reaction when he mentioned Daniel's name but the kid simply glanced at him and then looked back at Jack. The look of fear seemed to have eased, but the boy was clearly nervous and jumpy. Reaching through the bars, Jack pulled the blanket up to cover the boy's bare legs as he shivered.
"Harry, have quarters been set up us?" Jack asked without looking up. He kept a hand on the shivering form on the bed.
"Not that I wouldn't want to give you the best of accommodations, but we're short on space at the moment. We've set up two rooms for you in this building, so you can be close to the kid."
"Sweet. Could someone take us there, please?" Thankful that the boy was no longer connected to any medical paraphernalia, Jack leaned down and picked him up, blanket and all. "I think Danny here might be a little more comfortable where it's not quite so loud and scary." He felt arms and legs encircle his waist and shoulders, the familiar feeling nearly overpowering for a moment when they invoked memories of his own son. He turned to Fraiser, silently begging her to back him up on this.
"Jack, I can't allow you to�"
"Harry, you can't in all honesty tell me you expect a little kid to be able to sleep with that kind of noise." Jack turned to glare at the colonel when the injured soldier cried out once more.
"Captain Timmons was badly injured in an explosion when�"
"Doctor Dobson, at the moment this child has been relegated to my care and I'm afraid I have to agree with the colonel." Fraiser put a proprietary hand on the kid's leg. "In twenty-four hours, he's gone through more tests than I've performed on any of the people here with me in a year. Every time someone walks into this room he probably thinks they're going to take him out for another examination. I think putting him in an environment that's not medical for the time being is probably the best thing for him. So, if you don't mind... our quarters?"
Maybourne nodded his permission and the doctor turned abruptly walked out of the infirmary. Jack went to follow, but noted Daniel staring off into space. He caught Teal'c's eye and motioned towards his friend. Teal'c nodded and touched Daniel's shoulder to get his attention. Jack then hurried off after the doctor, satisfied that someone was watching out for Daniel. He'd deal with his friend once he got the kid settled.
Little Danny lowered his head and rested it against Jack's shoulder. Jack could feel his warm breath against his neck. Jack turned his head and spoke softly into Danny's ear.
"You doing okay?" Jack gently patted the blanket-covered back.
After a pause, Danny nodded.
"Good. We'll get you settled in a bed in just a few minutes."
They stopped a moment near the front desk where they waited as Doctor Dobson spoke to an airman.
"You hungry? You got any favourite foods? Pizza? Chinese? Chicken? Burgers? Frogs' legs?" Jack asked as they waited for the airman to consult a chart that contained their assigned room numbers.
There was a quick puff of air that could have been a giggle at the mention of frogs' legs.
"Fig jam. Pita and hot tea."
"That's what he's craving," Daniel said in a low, strained voice as he came to stand behind Jack. "That's what I craved for the longest time after my parents died. Fig jam and hot, sweet tea. And the spiced lamb my morabeya used to make on special occasions. My nanny," he corrected when Jack frowned at him.
Before Jack could answer, Doctor Dobson had their room numbers and began walking up a flight of stairs. Jack followed and hoped they didn't have much farther to go. Danny was beginning to get heavy in his arms.
"It's funny," Daniel said, continuing to speak as they climbed the stairs. "I'd forgotten about how much I craved that jam. I could go for some right about now. And the tea..."
Daniel fell silent as they walked down a hallway with doors on either side. The doctor finally stopped at the end of a hallway and opened the last door and stepped inside. There were two bunk beds, two small bureaus and a tiny table.
"Doctor Fraiser and Captain Carter have the room opposite yours," Dobson said curtly.
"Thank you." Jack entered the room and sat on the nearest bunk. He leaned over to put Danny down but to his surprise, the kid tightened his hold on Jack, refusing to let go.
"Hey, it's okay. See, we all got our own beds here. You just move on over and I'll wrap you up in another nice, warm blanket."
Realizing there was no way the kid was getting into the bed without a struggle, Jack eased back against the mattress until he was leaning against the wall. With his legs against the mattress, Danny had no choice but to loosen his death grip with his thighs. Jack immediately caught Daniel's legs and dragged them across his lap so that he was in a more comfortable position.
The blanket he'd wrapped around Daniel had gotten tangled so Jack eased it away as Fraiser stripped the other bed of its linen. Danny shivered before Fraiser could get the blankets wrapped around his nearly naked form.
"Sir, I'm kind of hungry." Carter was standing in the doorway. The room was tiny and it was definitely crowded with everyone standing around. "How about Teal'c and I go look for the commissary and bring us all something to eat?" She looked pointedly at the boy still nestling against Jack.
"Good idea. I could eat. See if you can find some sweet jam and toast. Maybe some hot tea?" Jack glanced up at Daniel, who was leaning against the bureau, arms wrapped around his torso. "Make that a couple of teas."
Fraiser sat down on the mattress and cupped a hand around Danny's cheek. "Hey, sweetie." She smiled at him and brushed his bangs out of his eyes. "I need to take a look at you, okay?"
She placed Danny's chart on the foot of the bed and then rummaged through her backpack for her medical case. Jack hadn't realized she'd had the forethought to bring the chart with her from the infirmary bed.
"I'm going to listen to your heart, then listen to you breathe. It'll just take a second." She positioned the stethoscope and pulling down the blankets just enough so she could get her hand to his chest, she began her examination.
"Where're his clothes?" Jack asked when Fraiser leaned forward so she could move the stethoscope's bell to Daniel's back.
"We took them to examine them for any signs of how he..." Dobson stopped and raised her eyebrows, indicating she didn't want to talk in front of the child.
"We found nothing."
"Did he have anything on him? Anything to indicate where he'd been? Who he�"
"A keychain," Daniel interrupted, speaking softly, staring at the floor. "It looked like a bird, but it was Horus, actually. But the beak broke when I dropped it at... it was my good luck charm. I carried it everywhere, but I broke it the day after we came to New York. I always thought that somehow because I'd damaged it, I had inadvertently caused the bad luck that made the coverstone fall when my parents�"
Fraiser had exchanged the stethoscope for a pen light and held it up before Danny's face. "Daniel, can you just look at�"
"What?" Daniel said, breaking off his low rambling.
"Hey, since we got two Daniels in the room," Jack said in a falsely cheerful voice, "how about we call the big guy over there 'Daniel', and the little guy here, 'Danny'? That work for everyone?"
"Oh. Okay." Daniel's distracted air was beginning to worry Jack.
"Okay. Danny," Fraiser said, matching Jack's tone of voice. "Can you follow my finger just with your eyes without moving your head?"
"He really wants that keychain back," Daniel whispered, the words barely reaching Jack.
"That's good, Danny. Now can you tell me if anything hurts?"
"I� he's got a headache," Daniel answered, his brow furrowed as he raised his head to watch Fraiser use an ear thermometer to take Danny's temperature. "Thirsty."
Daniel turned suddenly and left the room. Jack exchanged a worried look with Fraiser. "Doctor Dobson, how about getting Danny's stuff? It'll be a little awkward for him to be running around in his skivvies when he's feeling better."
"Sure, I'll see about getting his belongings. And I'll see to bringing any medical supplies you might need, Doctor Fraiser."
"Thank you. He's still running a temperature despite the Advil you gave him. I think we might try a second dose?"
Daniel walked back into the room just as Dobson left. He was holding a glass of water and moved almost nervously, up to the bed. "Here." He held the glass out to Fraiser, who took it after a long, searching look at Daniel.
"Are you thirsty, honey?" She raised the glass to Danny's mouth and it clattered against his teeth but he gulped down most of the water while she held it steady for him. "You know, if you're hungry or thirsty, you just have to let us know, and we'll gladly get what you need." She smiled at him as he turned his head and buried his face into Jack's jacket as he gave a shiver.
"You still cold, sport?" Jack tugged the blankets closer to the small body which was still plastered against him.
"Daniel, you okay?"
Jack looked up to see Fraiser standing in front of Daniel, her hand lightly gripping his bicep. Daniel shook his head, still looking decidedly dazed.
"C'mon, why don't you sit down?" She led him to the bunk opposite where Jack was sitting and waited until Daniel sat. He looked uncomfortable, sitting on the edge of the mattress, his hands dangling between his knees. "Can I get you anything?" It wasn't lost on Jack that Fraiser's fingers were now circling Daniel's wrist.
"I just... he's... I forgot. I mean, I hadn't thought about that keychain for years." Daniel's voice was low and Jack had to strain to hear the words. "I think I still have it, somewhere... my dad gave it to me when I was four... he's worried he's lost it."
"I'm sure they'll give it back." She began rubbing Daniel's back and they sat in silence for a few minutes until Carter and Teal'c returned.
"You won't believe the choices they have at the commissary." Carter breezed into the room, carrying a tray piled high with Styrofoam containers. Teal'c followed behind with a tray with Styrofoam cups. Carter stopped near the bed and grinned down at Jack. "They even have Krispy Kreme donuts."
"No," Jack said in an exaggeratedly astounded voice. He gave Danny a quick squeeze and rocked him gently for a moment. "You hear that? They got donuts."
"And that's not all. They even had Chinese food." She placed the tray on the small table and began opening the containers.
"Hey, I've been trying to get the SGC to serve Chinese."
"I know, sir." She grinned at Jack as she held up three choices of jam. Jack nodded at the grape jelly and she began spreading it over buttered toast. "It's too bad we arrived after the supper shift was finished. I did get the cook to scramble a few eggs for us."
Teal'c opened the lids of the Styrofoam cups and began removing teabags from the steaming cups.
"Teal'c, make sure there's lots of milk and lots of sugar in two of those."
Doctor Dobson took that moment to arrive and she squeezed past everyone to reach Fraiser. "Here's the Advil. And here's the infirmary's number, should you need anything." She handed the pills and a piece of paper to Fraiser, along with a plastic bag. "His belongings are in here. And Doctor Jackson was right." She held out a small, chipped keychain with the bird figure that could be bought at any souvenir store in Egypt. The figure had been split in two, part of it still attached to the chain, the other half loose in her palm. "He also had a few coins, a half pack of Juicy Fruit and a piece of paper. They're all in the bag."
Jack reached out and took the pieces of the keychain and gently pulled Danny back. From the tension in his body, he could tell Danny wasn't sleeping. "Hey, look what we found." He held the keychain in front of Daniel's face and let it dangle from his fingers. "It's a little worse for wear but I think we can glue it back together.
The boy stared at it for a few moments, seeming to have problems focusing. Then slowly, hesitantly, his hand crept out from beneath the blankets and he took the pieces from Jack's grasp. He snaked his index finger into the metal circle and pulled his hand back underneath the blankets. Jack could feel Danny fingering the keychain as he rested his hands against his chest.
"Would you care for some tea, DanielJackson?"
"Call him Danny. It'll be easier to keep the two separate..." Jack pointed to his head.
"I understand. DannyJackson, would you care for some tea? I have put milk and sugar in it as per O'Neill's directions." Teal'c held the cup towards Jack and he reached for it, glad that Teal'c had had the foresight to not fill the cup to the brim. He took a sip and found it to be not too hot and very sweet.
"Want some?" He held the cup to Danny's lips and when he obediently opened his mouth while his eyes focused on Teal'c's forehead. Jack allowed him a sip. Fraiser handed him the pills Dobson had brought and he fed him that with a bit more tea.
"Hey, Danny." Carter sat down on the bed beside them and waved the toast within Danny's view. "Would you like to eat something? I brought you some toast. I put some jelly on it seeing there wasn't much choice in jam. Do you like jelly?"
Jack handed Carter the cup of tea and shifted Danny so he was sitting up against his back rather than lying against him. He picked up a slice of toast and held it before Danny. "Want some?" When Danny didn't move, Jack took a small bite. "Mmm, you know, it's not Chinese, but the jelly isn't bad." He placed the slice near Danny again and leaned over so he could see his face. Danny was still watching Teal'c, his eyelids heavy as he fought off sleep. He raised his eyes to look at Jack with an unfocused gaze.
"How about just a couple of bites?"
Danny reached for the toast and lethargically brought it up to his mouth. He took a bite, lowered his arm and began to chew slowly. Jack motioned to Carter for the cup of tea and when Danny swallowed the bread, he gave let him drink again. Danny ate a few more bites and then when it was apparent that eating was becoming too difficult for him, Carter took the remaining toast away and wiped his fingers free of jam and butter with a damp napkin.
As Danny curled up against Jack once again, Jack reached for the uneaten toast and finished it off, along with the scrambled eggs that Carter had doled out for him and Daniel. He kept an eye out on his friend, glad to see he was eating also.
"Colonel, I'll leave you and your people. You can call the colonel's office if you need anything."
"Would it be permissible to view the area where the boy was discovered?"
Dobson looked at Teal'c and shrugged. "You'll have to ask the colonel, of course. But it was searched thoroughly and nothing was found."
"Perhaps. But do your people not say that two bodies are better than one?"
"Heads, Teal'c, that's two heads are better than one and the more eyes, the better. You can ask Maybourne if he'll let you and Carter go out and look around."
"I will seek out his permission so that we may investigate before it becomes too dark."
Teal'c left the room while Daniel stood. There was a rustling sound as he removed Danny's belongings from the plastic bag. Jack watched as Daniel removed each piece of clothing, examining them carefully. He fingered the bottom zipper on the jacket and then turned it around to show Jack the cigarette burn he'd mentioned earlier, then stuck his fingers through a hole in the right hand pocket. Looked like Daniel's memories were right on.
Danny shifted in his arms, his head beginning to slide to the side. Jack tightened his hold and braced Danny's head against his bicep. He glanced up at Fraiser, who nodded. "Nearly there," she whispered. Jack leaned over and saw that Danny was fighting to stay awake, his eyes were closed but they fluttered open for a second when Daniel unfolded a sheet of paper.
"What is it?" Jack asked softly when Daniel stood there, staring down at the paper.
"It's a list of exhibitions..." Daniel glanced at Jack from beneath his glasses, his face ashen.
"Exhibitions...?" Jack prompted. Danny was now a dead weight in his arms. He shifted, lifting the boy up in readiness to lay him down on the bed.
"Daddy?" Danny's eyes fluttered open and he looked sleepily around the room.
"Shhh, go to sleep." Jack eased the boy back down against him, deciding he'd wait till he was sleeping a little more soundly before moving him. Danny closed his eyes and snuggled, breathing deeply.
Carter had moved to stand beside Daniel and was peering at the paper. "I think it's from a museum," she said.
"The New York Museum of Art," Daniel said softly. "I� he� the school� there was an outing to the museum. I remember�" He looked up and stared at Jack, his expression forlorn and bewildered. "What's happening to me? I'm remembering stuff� things that were vague� you know how it is when you try to remember stuff from when you were a kid?" Daniel swayed and immediately Fraiser was there, urging him to sit. Daniel put a hand down on the sheet-covered mattress and sat, his eyes still fixed on Jack and Danny. "But the memories are crystal-clear, just as if I'd experienced these things� today or yesterday."
"Could you be reading his mind?" Carter sat down beside Daniel, easing the now-crumpled sheet of paper from his hand.
"No, I don't� I don't know. I remember going on that visit to the museum. I hadn't wanted to, but I'd had no choice. The organizers hadn't realized, or known, that that was where my parents had� died." The last word came out in a whisper. "When they entered the Egyptian section I� he�"
"Daniel, are these your memories, or his?"
Blinking, he turned to look at Carter. "Both. I think. I remember, I mean, I've been thinking about my parents a lot since yesterday. I thought it was because of Machello and just... life and death in general, but I didn't think� the details have suddenly become sharper, and even more so since Danny� but if he's me, wouldn't I remember coming here when I was eight? I don't remember anything � the last thing he remembers is being forced into the Egyptian exhibit by his teacher and at the sight of the� he ran out of the room. I ran out of the room. I couldn't bear seeing where my parents died."
"So you can read his thoughts."
"No. Yes. Maybe. Sam, it feels like it happened to me yesterday! The emotions are so fresh. It has to be what he's gone through. Why would I remember this now? Why does it feel like it's happening again now?" Daniel bowed his head, his shoulders slumping in frustration.
"I don't know, Daniel." Carter pursed her lips together and stared at the boy in Jack's arms.
Jack rolled over slowly, bringing the sleeping boy with him, trying to disturb him as little as possible as he laid him down onto the bed. Danny didn't stir and Jack eased slowly away from him as Fraiser adjusted the blankets around his body.
- - - - - -
For a moment Daniel envied his sleeping, younger self. The heart-wrenching loneliness was back; something he thought he'd escaped in his adult years through immersing himself in his work. There had been many times when the emotions had crept through; times when he'd felt vulnerable. But in the past two years those particular feelings hadn't once shown their face as often and he knew it was due to the people sitting in this room with him.
Jack took the few steps separating them and looked like he was going to lean over to pat Daniel's shoulder. Instead, he glanced at the paper Sam taken away from him. "Carter, you're the scientist. Any theories?"
"Sir, we don't know much about time travel, but theoretically, it's possible. What if somehow, Daniel�" She shrugged and made a face. "...Young Daniel... Danny... was somehow brought forward in time�"
Thankful that he could string words together again without having to fight through the confusion in his brain now that the child was sleeping, Daniel interrupted when Sam's theory didn't sound right.
"Wouldn't I remember coming here when I was... um, eight? I definitely don't remember any of that. Well, not that I don't really remember anything about how he... I, got here, everything is all jumbled together� he's exhausted, he's not thinking straight� but I don't have that particular memory. Of coming here. Or rather, what I do remember, it's his, not mine. Not like the keychain� the jacket� the museum�"
"Maybe you... he... blocks it out when we send him back to his own time. He has to have gone back to his own time, seeing you're still here, now. Maybe his being here is what's triggering your memories."
"Wait." Jack had a pained look on his face which he usually got whenever thing began to get technical. "If we're talking time travel, and I know I'm not your resident expert but I have read some books... if the kid really is Daniel and he changes the timeline somehow by coming here, how'll we know whether he's gone back or not? I mean, he's here, now, right? But if something happens to the kid while he's here, what'll happen to Daniel?"
"Then Daniel as we know him will either cease to exist, or grow up to be someone else entirely."
"Sam, how do we know I'm really me? That I haven't been changed already? Would I know it?"
Sam inhaled deeply. "I don't think you'd be aware of any changes, Daniel."
"Maybe the reason I'm remembering things unclearly is because the timeline has already been changed." That should have scared him but strangely, he was just too weary to care.
"What do you remember about how he got here?"
"Not much... I can't explain it. He's asleep now, my mind's clear again. When he's awake, I know what he's feeling... it's like it's happening to me. Now. At the same time. It's more than a memory � well... I mean, it becomes a memory, because it's happening now.
"Everything that's happened to him since he came through, I remember. Like it was yesterday. Waking up in the desert... I thought... I'd had vivid memories of the desert yesterday, but I thought for some reason I was thinking of Abydos. Of Shau'ri. I... my mind's fuzzy, making it hard to think. It's his confusion I was experiencing. What he's going through, it's all happening to me at the same time. He's terrified. He doesn't know what's happening, he's exhausted and he's feeling very much alone."
"I can't imagine what he's going through," Sam said as she took one of Daniel's hands in hers. "But you know we're here for him. For you."
Daniel smiled at her and sighed deeply. "Jack, he feels safe when he's with you. Can I ask that you�"
"You don't have to ask, Daniel. I'll stick close to him like a shadow. Kid's pretty smart, kinda like you." Jack grinned at Daniel. "He knows who's got his best interest at heart."
"It's your aftershave."
"Your aftershave. It's very similar to what my dad used. He... Danny is associating that with feeling safe. I always felt safe in my dad's..." Daniel let go of Sam's hand and cleared his throat, looking around, feeling embarrassed. "Anyway, in his confusion, he's latched onto the one thing he can recognize. I... please, just don't�"
"Hey, I said I was gonna watch his six. Don't worry about it."
"Daniel, you say you're experiencing what he's going through?" Janet sat on Daniel's other side. He could feel both women's body heat, sandwiched as he was between them. "Can you remember what happened to him? What brought him here?"
Reaching up, Daniel removed his glasses and massaged the ache between his eyes. He was going to have a migraine by the end of this evening, he just knew it. Between his confusion, Danny's emotions and this whole time travel confusion, he was going to suffer. He closed his eyes and tried to make sense of some of the images that had been haunting little Danny.
"He ran off when they tried to force him into the museum's exhibition. I remember the fear, terrified something would happen if I went into that room and even more terrified of seeing traces of blood or maybe bones that the museum staff might have forgotten to clean up even though the accident had happened months before."
Daniel opened his eyes and looked at his friends, shrugging off the embarrassing revelation. "Hey, I was eight."
Janet brushed her shoulder against him, urging him to go on.
"I ran to the end of the hallway and realized too late it was a dead end. One of the teachers had followed me out and I guess I looked pretty freaked out so she made me sit on a bench in the hallway and promise to wait for the class there.
"I felt so stupid at that moment. I knew I was in trouble and when I'd have to explain my actions to the teachers, I was going to end up with looks of pity, and I hated that even more. They were taking forever and all I wanted at that point was to finish the tour and head on back home or to school.
"There were exhibits of various jewellery worn by the ancient people of Egypt in the room where I was. And I was bored because the class was taking so long." Daniel stopped, paused and offered an apologetic smile. "I said that already, didn't I?" He didn't wait for an answer. "I began to study the displays and there was one piece of jewellery that caught my attention. A necklace." Daniel nodded, prompting the memories. "I kept staring at a necklace, remembering how mom had dug up something pretty similar in one of the digs she'd worked on. She�"
"Hold it. Back up a second." Jack had moved to the table and was going through the plate of Krispy Kreme donuts. He held one in his hand and pointed towards Daniel. "You just said you were in the hallway waiting for a teacher. When did you go into one of the rooms?"
"I didn't." Daniel put his glasses back on, irritated for some unknown reason at Jack's interruption. "I stayed in the hallway until she came to get me. I�" At that moment Daniel knew where Danny's memories differed from his own. "It wasn't me." He rubbed his temple, then pointed towards the sleeping child. "This is his memory. And that necklace, it was on the ground. Along with broken glass. Danny was on the floor... he..." Daniel could remember the terror, the pain... he just needed to take it from the child's perspective and put it into the proper context.
"What happened to him?" Sam's voice was sharp and high pitched in her excitement. "Was there something in the museum that caused him to come forward in time?"
Daniel raised a finger to stop further questions, then tapped it against his mouth, trying to tease the nightmare together.
"Not something," he said as he recalled glowing eyes. "Someone."
"Daniel?" Jack's voice held more than a touch of impatience, but he ignored it and tried to puzzle out the pieces of disjointed memories. Then one finally fell into place.
"The Goa'uld had a ribbon device," Daniel said, his gaze jumping back to his sleeping self. "That's why he can't remember. The bastard scrambled his brains and�" Daniel pressed his lips together in anger. He was breathing heavily � he'd kill that parasite the moment he�
"Goa'uld? Daniel, you're saying a Goa'uld did this?" Sam grabbed his arm and squeezed. Hard.
"Sonafabitch." Jack looked like he wanted to kick or hit something. For a moment Daniel thought he would and tensed at the noise it would make.
Janet jumped off the bed and leaned over Danny, examining his face. "There's no tell-tale burn mark but it could be hidden by the sunburn..." She grabbed Danny's medical chart. She began flipping through the pages, stopping here and there to read. "There doesn't seem to be any signs of brain injury � although the ribbon device could account for some of the test results."
"How will we know?" Sam let go of Daniel, stood and leaned over the bed to peek at the sleeping boy. As if he knew he was being watched, Danny stirred, pulled the blankets up to cover his nose as he brought his legs up to his chest. He was now just a lump beneath the blankets, his blond hair spread out on the pillow.
"Do you know which snake it was?" Jack had apparently gotten himself under control, although his hands were clenched tightly by his side.
Daniel began to say no when he recalled the image of dark-coloured skin contrasting against the gold of the ribbon device. There had been glimpses of some odd metallic decoration around his right eye, making the glowing eye look even more ominous. He tried to picture more in his head as Teal'c came back into the room.
"Colonel Maybourne has given permission for us to return to the site where the boy was found. There is a transport waiting."
"Fine." Jack motioned towards the bed. "Doc, you mind staying with the kid?"
For some unknown reason, panic began to well inside of Daniel "Jack..." He didn't know what he wanted, he just knew that he didn't want Jack out of his sight. Or Danny's. The fear was irrational and he wondered if it was his own, or a remnant of Danny's.
"Hey, you okay?" Jack turned his attention to Daniel.
"Maybe you better sit this one out, Daniel." Sam was peering at him with a worried look.
"I agree." Janet put a hand on his shoulder, as if to keep him on the bed.
"Jack..." Daniel tried again. "I'm not sure, but I think the Goa'uld was Apophis." The memory of eight-year old Danny's ribbon-induced headache caused one of his own.
"That's impossible. He's dead." Janet took her hand off his shoulder and ran it through her hair. "Sokar killed him. We all saw it."
"Martouf did say Sokar was in possession of a sarcophagus," Daniel said without conviction.
"All it means is that Apophis somehow went back in time before he died."
"O'Neill, if a Goa'uld has discovered a method of travelling through time, there is a possibility that he either brought the child to this time, or followed him here. It would be unwise to leave the boy without adequate protection."
"Teal'c's right, sir. We have to assume that Apophis went back to do something to Daniel before he became a threat. The most logical point would be when he was a child."
"Why? Why me?"
"Maybe because you opened the Stargate, Daniel," Jack said roughly.
Somehow, Daniel thought his younger self had managed to evade a danger that would only exist twenty-five years later, but at this point he had no idea how that had occurred.
"Jack, I think I should go with Teal'c and Sam. Maybe I can... remember something if I see where Danny was found." He thought it weird how they had all started calling the child Danny; the nickname his parents had called him and after their death, everyone else had called him by his full name. Until Jack.
"If you're sure you're up to it."
"I am." He studiously ignored Janet, who hrmphed loudly to show her displeasure. "I can probably be more help out there than in here."
"Fine. You go and I'll watch the kid... sleep. Just, make sure you let Maybourne know that we may have a Goa'uld on the premises."
- - - - - -
Daniel didn't want to get out of the jeep. The heat was just as bad now as it had been a couple of hours ago, the glare of the sun low in the sky was making his headache worse. Still, he followed his teammates along the dusty, rocky ground as the major pointed to a spot a couple of feet in front of them.
"That's where we found the kid."
Sam held the photograph she'd brought from Cheyenne mountain and compared it with the land. Daniel moved closer to look at it and there was no doubt that this was the place. He looked around; there was nothing visible except for desert and badlands around them.
"We backtracked the kid's footsteps. We'll need to drive there, otherwise we won't make it before nightfall."
Wordlessly they all got back into the jeep and Daniel grabbed the seat in front of his and closed his eyes. The disorientation was back, but this time Daniel believed it was the memories he'd gotten from Danny that were the cause of it. They drove for about twenty minutes into the sunset; the sunlight bounced nauseatingly behind his closed lids until he finally lowered his head so that the passenger seat was able to blot out the glare.
When the jeep finally came to a stop, he stayed where he was.
"I'm fine. I'm just trying to remember all of this," he said in a half-lie. Actually, at the moment he felt that if he tried to stand, he'd lose the little bit of food he'd eaten earlier. He breathed deeply, trying to relax. At least part of the worry that had been plaguing him since yesterday was gone. What he'd been experiencing wasn't any sort of delusion left-over from Machello's body switching. For a little while, he'd been terrified he might have been going crazy. Again.
The heat and smell of the desert was achingly familiar, mixed as they were with his already-aching head. He wasn't sure if this was part of Danny's memories or a combination of both, but he knew the poor kid had found himself here, in the middle of nowhere, terrified, in pain and totally lost.
And crying for a mysterious amorphous figure who had rescued him from the monster with the glowing eyes. Daniel blinked at that particular memory, unable to tease more of it from where it came.
Slowly the nausea abated and Daniel raised his head, able to look around. He squinted as he searched the area visually. Sam and Teal'c were walking around the perimeter, looking for God knew what. After a few more minutes, they all returned to the jeep.
"There's nothing to indicate how Danny got here," Sam admitted as she slipped into the back of the jeep beside him.
"I could have told you that, Captain," the major replied, "and saved us all a trip out here."
"The trip out here wasn't a waste of time," Daniel said. "Someone, or some thing, helped Danny escape. He, or it, brought him here and left him here."
"Alone? Who would leave an eight-year old kid alone in the desert? Not to mention he'd been injured?" Sam turned on Daniel, her anger rounding on him even though he knew she was simply using him as a focus.
"I don't know," Daniel said tiredly. "Maybe someone who had to go back and deal with a Goa'uld who'd just tried to murder a kid?"
"Major, I'd like to look at the security tapes taken of the time before and when the boy was found."
"You'll need to speak to Colonel Maybourne, Captain."
They sat in silence, arriving at the complex just as the sun was setting. Sam and Teal'c headed for Maybourne's office while Daniel returned to their quarters.
He entered the room and was surprised to find that Danny was sleeping in the other bed. Jack, probably, had carried him to the bed they'd stripped earlier and he and Janet were sitting on the other lower bunk, talking softly.
Both of them stopped talking and looked up at him expectantly.
"Um, Sam and Teal'c have gone to look at the surveillance tapes to see if..." He stopped talking when Janet stood up and leaned over Danny. "How is he? Is he okay?"
"He's still a little a little feverish," Janet replied as she laid the back of her fingers against his cheek. "But he's slept the whole time. Unfortunately I've got to wake him. Would you hand me the pills and the water?"
As Daniel picked up the Advil and the bottle of water, Janet pulled the blankets back and shook Danny's shoulder. "Danny, sweetie, wake up."
Danny mumbled something and tried to pull away. She smiled and tried again. "C'mon, open your eyes just for a second." When Danny reluctantly opened his eyes, she put her hand out for the pills. Daniel opened the bottle, fumbling for a moment at the child-proof cover before giving it to her. As she spilled two pills into her palm, Daniel opened the bottle of water.
She handed the pills to Danny, who sat up on his elbow and looked at them sleepily. "You have a fever," she said gently. "This will help."
After a moment's hesitation, Danny took the pills and put them in his mouth. Daniel stepped forward and handed him the water. Looking at the plastic bottle a moment, Danny tipped it and drank close to half before handing it back.
"Good boy. Let's get you to the bathroom before you settle down for the night." In a quick swoop, she pulled the blankets off, revealing Danny's nearly naked body. "C'mon, it's right out here."
Danny slid out of bed and followed Janet out the room, walking with eyes half-open. Janet placed a hand on his shoulder to guide him when he nearly walked into the edge of the door jamb.
Daniel sat on the foot of the bed as Jack moved over to make room for him. Strangely the disorientation he'd had earlier hadn't returned. He nodded at his friend when he saw him grinning from ear to ear. "What?"
"Kinda funny seeing what a pipsqueak you were at that age."
"So I was a late bloomer."
"I'll say. That kid's got no meat on his bones."
"Geez, Jack, he's not exactly at his best right now." Although Jack was right; dressed in nothing but underwear, Daniel had seen how prominent Danny's ribs had been. Then again, he recalled the months of adjustment after his parents' death had been hard. Thankfully the foster parents he'd stayed with had been understanding and loving. "Give him a break."
"Look, I'm just saying�" Jack broke off when Janet brought Danny back into the room. Immediately Jack swept the blankets up invitingly. "Quick, get in, before all the nice warm heat sneaks out and you end up lying there like an ice cube."
Danny crawled into bed, turning on his side as Jack lowered the blankets. He closed his eyes and by the time Jack straightened up, the kid was asleep.
Daniel watched his friend watching Danny. Jack stood there with his hands thrust into his pockets, staring down at the lump in the bed.
"So I guess you don't consider him... me, cute, huh?"
"What?" Jack turned and frowned at Daniel.
"You said earlier today that kids were supposed to be cute and that we shouldn't be taken in by their vulnerability. So I guess you're just playing a game to earn his trust and stay detached."
"I meant until we were sure he wasn't a threat."
"And is he?"
"I don't know." Jack backed up and sat down again. "What do you think?"
Daniel sighed, wishing the memories were clearer. "I don't think he was sent here by Apophis. I think he was sent here to protect him... me... from Apophis."
"Did you remember something, Daniel?"
Lying down would be good right about now. Shaking his head at Janet's question, Daniel pulled his legs to his chest and let himself slide down onto the mattress, against the far wall. The mattress shifted as Jack moved to give him more space.
"Headache?" Janet's voice was very close.
"Yeah." Sure, his head hurt, but trying to make sense of the jumble of images in his head was making him dizzy. He couldn't seem to get the visuals to stop; the images kept replaying.
"Here." He felt Janet's hands on his face and he opened his eyes. She was holding two pills and he took them without even asking what they were for. He swallowed them down with the rest of the water in the bottle Danny had drunk from, then lowered himself back onto the bed. He kept his eyes closed as Janet took his pulse, his pressure and listened to his heart. He just hoped whatever she had given him numbed his brain enough to let him get control.
- - - - - -
Sam and Teal'c finally came back around 2 am. Daniel heard them talking together for a short while outside the door, then Teal'c stepped in quietly while Sam must've joined Janet in their assigned room.
"Any luck?" Jack asked softly as Teal'c began unlacing his boots. There was a shadow in front of Daniel as Teal'c stepped in front of the small lamp on the table. Daniel lay still, trying not to shiver.
"CaptainCarter and I went through all the video footage and records of the hours preceding young DannyJackson's arrival. None of the equipment on the base recorded anything unusual. Even the boy's appearance was first thought to be that of a large canine, which is why no rescue units were sent at first."
"So we're no further ahead than when we got here."
"Indeed." Daniel heard the sound of material rustling as Teal'c removed his pants. "How is the boy?"
"Kid's been sleeping the whole time. He's still got a fever and... Fraiser thinks whatever's affecting him's affecting Daniel. He's running a fever, too."
Well, that was news to Daniel. He opened his eyes a crack only to see Teal'c leaning over him. "I apologize for waking you, DanielJackson."
"Wasn't sleepin'," Daniel grumbled as he tried to shift away from Teal'c, who'd laid his hand flat on his forehead. The heat from Teal'c's hand felt good and he lay still, trying to absorb as much of it in the few seconds he kept it there.
"O'Neill is correct. Your body temperature is elevated. Is the boy possibly a carrier of some contagious disease?"
"Fraiser doesn't think so. The samples she took from us this morning show some weird protein thingies only in Daniel and Danny."
The mattress squeaked as Teal'c climbed into the bunk above Daniel's. Then the light was blocked out again as Teal'c stepped back down. Daniel opened his eyes as Teal'c spread his blanket on top of Daniel.
"I... I don't need�"
"You are feverish and are shivering. I do not require the blanket."
"Thanks." Daniel pulled the covering up to his shoulders and lowered his chin so that his nose was covered. He hadn't slept, the discomfort from the fever and the headache preventing him from nodding off.
Teal'c climbed back up and after a few seconds, there was silence from the two upper bunks. Daniel closed his eyes and tried to relax, listening to the breathing of the boy in the bunk next to his.
- - - - - -
Jack was beginning to feel pretty cooped up in this room. Fraiser and Carter had been running back and forth; the former to the medical research labs and the latter to the surveillance center. Teal'c was playing detective, talking to the various pilots who'd been doing test runs to see if they'd seen anything out of the ordinary.
He, on the other hand, had been babysitting Danny and Daniel for most of the morning. So it was with pretty much a sense of relief when Danny woke up, sat up in the bed and looked around.
Danny jumped when Jack spoke. He looked nervously at Daniel, who was levering himself up onto an elbow.
"Good." Well, that's a step in the right direction. The kid was talking now, which was a huge improvement over yesterday. Although they were still glassy from fever, there was lucidity and intelligence in those blue eyes, and the apathy and fear was gone. "Hungry?"
Danny nodded hesitantly.
"That's great. Pancakes sound good?"
Another nod. Jack turned to Daniel, who simply shrugged. He'd refused breakfast earlier and had remained in bed when everyone else had gotten up. Jack was pretty sure he hadn't slept much during the night, if at all.
Jack stood and stepped out into the hallway and approached the airman stationed near their door.
"Please, inform Captain Fraiser that young Daniel Jackson is awake and lucid."
"And could you have two orders of pancakes brought up from the commissary. With orange juice and two coffees."
Jack returned to the room, listening to the man's footsteps as he walked to the nearest telephone only a few feet away. He'd most likely inform Maybourne first; hopefully the rat-colonel would be busy and Danny would have time to eat something before the interrogations started.
He stopped when he saw a look of panic on Danny's face. He'd gotten out of bed while Jack had stepped out and was looking around in fear.
"Where're my clothes?"
Jack grabbed the tee shirt Fraiser had purloined from someone on the base. He tossed it to Danny. "Your clothes are right over there," he said, "but you can put this on for the time being."
Danny struggled a moment with the shirt, then finally tugged it over his head. The hemline reached nearly to his knees, dwarfing his small form inside of it. He shifted from one foot to another and for a moment Jack thought he should try and get him some socks until Danny spoke up.
"I gotta pee."
Trying not to smile, Jack motioned with his hand and Danny hurriedly padded towards him. Jack led him to the facilities a few doors away and waited while Danny attended to business. As Danny washed his hands, he kept glancing in the mirror at Jack.
"This doesn't look like the museum," he finally ventured a little timidly as he dried his hands on a sheet of paper towel.
"Well, that's probably because it's not."
Jack pushed the door open and Danny dropped the crumpled piece of paper towel into the trash and stepped into the hallway.
"Then where are we?" Danny eyed one of SFs standing on guard outside their door. "He's got a gun," he said in a loud whisper as they entered their room, walking backwards until the door closed, hiding the SF from his sight.
"Yeah, I know. And the reason he's got a gun is because he's out there to protect you."
"Me? Why?" Danny climbed back into the bed and sat cross legged. There were twin spots of colour in his cheeks and he shivered slightly before pulling the blankets up over his lap.
"Well, you see, there's this little problem." Jack doled out some Tylenol and handed the pills to Danny, along with some water. The kid looked at the pills in his hand, then at Jack. "You've got a fever. They'll help."
"What problem?" Danny picked a pill and put it in his mouth, then gulped some water, swallowing with distaste. He did the same with the second pill, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand when he'd finished.
"We're not exactly sure what happened to you," Daniel said as he sat up, mimicking Danny's cross-legged pose. "We were hoping you could tell us what you remember."
Danny placed his thumb over the opened bottle of water and turned the bottle upside down. He narrowed his eyes, squinting at Daniel. "You look like my Grandpa Nick when he was young."
"You knew your grandpa when he was young?" Jack reached over and took the bottle of water before the kid spilled it all over the bed.
"No, I saw pictures. He looks like him."
"Danny. About what happened? Do you think�?"
The door opened and Fraiser burst into the room. She grinned when she saw Danny sitting up. "Well, young man, you sure are looking a lot better this morning." Fraiser headed straight for her medical bag and hung her stethoscope around her neck.
"Are you a doctor?"
"Yes, I am. And if it's all right with you, I'm going to have a quick look at you and see how you're doing."
"He gave me some pills." Danny pointed at Jack as Fraiser held a thermometer before his mouth. He let her put it in his mouth and then held it when it drooped. He shivered visibly as Fraiser raised his tee shirt and snuck the stethoscope underneath it.
"I gave you something for your fever."
"And speaking of fevers, how are you feeling?" Fraiser glanced at Daniel as she shifted the stethoscope to Danny's back.
"He's about the same," Jack corrected.
The food arrived just as Fraiser was finishing up. Jack decided to wait and question Danny after he'd eaten. Fraiser sat down on the bed beside Jack as Danny and Daniel each balanced a plate of pancakes on their laps. Danny ate with gusto; then again the kid hadn't eaten in over a day so he was making up for it. Daniel, on the other hand, managed only a few bites before pushing the plate aside.
Mouth shiny with syrupy-residue, Danny looked up at Jack questioningly.
"Do you think you can tell us what happened to you?"
Danny shrugged, lowering his gaze to the pancakes swimming in syrup. He cut off a small bite, dragged it through the syrup and ate it. "How do you know my name? Maybe I'm not who you think I am."
"You're Daniel Jackson, right? Birthday is July 8th?"
Danny nodded and ate another piece of dripping pancake. "You never told me who you are," he said with his mouth full.
"We didn't? I could have sworn... okay, I'm Jack O'Neill. Your grandpa Nick's look-alike is Daniel." Jack deliberately omitted Daniel's family name; no use trying to confuse the kid any more at this point. "The doc's Janet Fraiser." "Do you remember the others who were with us? Sam Carter? Teal'c?"
Daniel shook his head uncertainly as he dragged more pancake through the plate.
"Okay, let's try something simpler. What's the last thing you remember before you got sick?"
"Waking up and it was really hot outside," he said, poking a finger in the syrup and running it alongside the plate's edge.
"Not New York. Not Egypt. Out there." He pointed towards the small window. For a moment Jack wondered when he'd glanced outside then realized there was a window in the bathroom facing out onto the badlands.
"And you must have been pretty scared, huh? Finding yourself alone somewhere you'd never been?"
Danny nodded, his gaze coming back to Jack. "I was lost. I couldn't find a road or houses or anything."
"So you just started walking?"
"Uh huh. Until it got too hot and I got sick."
Before Jack could ask another question, Daniel spoke up. "What about before you woke up outside. What do you remember before that?"
Again, Danny shrugged, glancing quickly at Daniel, then at Fraiser. He busied himself cutting off a piece of pancake with the fork's edge. "I think I was kidnapped," he said so softly that Jack barely heard him.
The door swung open abruptly and Maybourne stepped into the room. Danny jumped, dropping his fork and the piece of syrup-drenched pancake he'd speared with it.
"Well?" Maybourne asked as he marched inside. Danny watched the man warily as he walked around the bed. "Did he tell you anything yet?"
"Give the kid a chance, Harry. He just woke up."
Maybourne turned his back on Danny and rounded on Jack. "This is a matter of national security, in case you've forgotten. We need to know how the kid got here and who's responsible for all of this. If they were able to get in beneath our security�"
"He doesn't know anything, Colonel." Daniel slipped off the mattress and stood in front of Maybourne.
Danny was obviously feeling the tension in the room. He pushed the plate of pancakes to the side and slid backwards on the bunk, away from Maybourne. He stared between the two bodies standing off in front of him and caught Jack's eyes, fear reflected on his face.
"Have you even asked him? Look, the kid's finished eating. Get him back to the lab and start questioning him."
"He's not going anywhere, Harry."
"Jack, this isn't up for discussion." Maybourne's eyes fixed on the pieces of the keychain sitting on the bed beside Danny. "We need answers and the kid's the only one that's got them." He pointed to the keychain. "Like why we found a transponder hidden inside that thing."
"Why weren't we advised of this?" Jack was getting angry; not only hadn't they been given all the information at hand, Maybourne was forgetting this was a child sitting before them.
"It's some kind of advanced technology. My people just figured out what it was. So tell me, Jack, you still think this kid is from his past?" He mockingly cocked his chin towards Daniel.
"And we'll get you answers, just give us�"
"Intimidation isn't going to work," Daniel said, taking a step forward. There was sweat dripping down Daniel's face and his tee shirt was stuck to his chest.
"Daniel�" Jack slid along the mattress so that he could get between Maybourne and Daniel. He placed the tips of his fingers against Daniel's chest, feeling the heat of fever through the thin shirt. Daniel's jaw was thrust forward, his lips tightly pressed together. Jack pushed gently and silently asked Daniel to let him handle this.
Daniel's response was two steps backward, allowing Jack to turn around and face Maybourne. "Look, Danny's been through a lot and he's still confused."
"I never did anything to him." Danny's voice was shrill. "Why doesn't he�" Jack quickly raised his hand to stave off Danny's interruption. "But�"
"Colonel Maybourne." At Fraiser's approach, Maybourne had to take a step back from between the bunk beds to face her. "From the tests I've run, it looks like Danny is suffering from a virus. Now it may be something he caught at the school but�"
"Is it contagious?" Jack didn't miss the fact that Harry backed up a few steps away from the bed where Danny was cowering.
"No, I don't think so. But he's running a fever and I don't think putting him through undue stress right now is a good idea."
"But you can't be certain if he's not contagious." Maybourne waved a hand in Danny's direction. "What if this is the reason he's been sent here? To contaminate everyone and destroy the�"
"Colonel, he's not�"
Fraiser frowned when Maybourne interrupted her and waved to the SFs standing outside, by the open door.
"I want this boy taken back to the infirmary and placed in isolation. I'm certain we'll be able to find ways to encourage him to remember�"
Two SFs entered the room and one of them moved towards the bed while the other guarded the door. Even as Jack moved to prevent the SF from reaching for Danny, Daniel cried out while Danny squirmed away from them both, cowering against the far wall.
"No! Leave him alone." Daniel pushed the SF out of the way. Maybourne sidestepped them both and bent under the top bunk, trying to grab Danny's arm. He kicked at Maybourne and dashed off the bed. Jack made a grab for Maybourne, giving Danny the time to slide off the bed and run towards the far wall, hiding behind Fraiser, away from all four struggling men. The kid was crying openly and Jack realized it was just a matter of seconds before someone managed to grab him.
Jack knew he was going to lose, mainly because he was on Maybourne's turf. Still he'd reacted before thinking when he'd seen Maybourne reaching for the kid. This was going to play out, no matter what he did, with Maybourne dragging Danny and throwing the kid into a cell where he could very easily rot until he died of old age.
It had all happened in a blink of an eye. One second they were standing around arguing, the next they were all struggling for control of Danny. Maybourne had the upper hand; despite appearances he was physically fit and a match for Jack. For a moment Jack had forgotten about Daniel, who was doing the same push and pull routine with the SF. It was only when Fraiser cried out Daniel's name and he heard a loud thud behind him, that Jack realized something was wrong.
The SF was standing over Daniel, his arms held out at his sides. He was straddling Daniel's unconscious body, which lay between both bunk beds. "I didn't do anything to him. He just collapsed," he said quickly when both Jack and Maybourne turned to him.
Fraiser shoved past all of them, her smaller body moving with ease as Maybourne and the SF tried to move out of the cramped space. As she bent over Daniel, Jack immediately stepped past his adversaries and placed a protective hand over Danny's shoulder. He could feel Danny's shoulders rising up and down as he sobbed in fright.
"Sir, he's burning up. I need to get him to the infirmary."
Maybourne motioned the SFs to make the call and turned to smirk at Jack. At least this fracas had all been for nothing - Danny was going to end up in the infirmary after all but at least Jack and his team would be there with him. The best Jack could do was try and keep control of the situation by staying close to the kid and not letting Maybourne's staff get their hands on him.
As much as Jack wanted to go to Daniel, he knew he'd be in the way so he concentrated instead on the small boy who was looking to him for succour. He hugged Danny closer as everyone moved even farther away from the unconscious man to give Fraiser room to examine him.
"Is he dead?" Danny whispered, leaning against Jack.
Daniel's eyelids fluttered open for a second as Fraiser called out his name.
"No, he's just a little sick."
"Doctor Fraiser, can you in all honesty tell me that Doctor Jackson isn't afflicted with whatever virus the kid has?"
"Both of their blood tests have come back positive with the virus, Colonel." Fraiser raised her head to glare at Maybourne, who had backed further way until he was standing by the opened door. "But I'm positive he didn't catch it from Danny, not in the conventional manner, anyways. Neither of them is contagious."
"How certain are you?"
She shook her head. "Even if there were a short incubation period, others would be showing signs of infection by now. Nobody else has caught it yet. I can't tell you how and why Danny and Daniel are both infected, but they didn't get it from one another."
Danny leaned more heavily against Jack, almost to the point that Jack was holding him up. He looked down and saw how pale Danny was. Immediately Jack got down on one knee so that he was eye level with the kid. Danny turned glassy blue eyes towards him as Jack gripped his arms.
"Hey, it's gonna be okay. Doc there's gonna take care of Daniel, and me and Carter and Teal'c are gonna make sure nothing bad happens to you."
"Am I sick? Am I going to have to go to a hospital? With him?" Danny glanced quickly towards Maybourne, the fleeting look reminiscent of the adult he would eventually become. "He says I'm sick. I know what a virus is."
Wishing he knew what to tell the kid to allay his fears, Jack realized he'd probably do better by telling him the truth. "We don't know, Danny. We're all going to go down to the infirmary and Fra�Janet will run tests on the both of you. You were there yesterday, do you remember?"
Danny shrugged. Jack figured his memories of the previous day were so confused that it must all seem like a dream to him.
"I don't feel too good." Danny's eyes, which Jack had thought had been shiny with fever, suddenly lost their focus. To Jack's horror, Danny's eyes rolled back and he collapsed against Jack, who had just enough time to pull the kid against him before he fell to the floor.
"Doc!" Jack straightened up, holding the boy's dead weight in his arms. He moved the few feet to the nearest bed and went to lay Danny down. At the last moment he changed his mind and sat, pushing away the pancake and syrup splattered blanket aside with his knee, and easing the limp form into a half-seated position on his lap. He cushioned Danny's head on his chest, holding it in place with one hand.
Fraiser stood and took Danny's pulse, then ran her fingers over his face. "His pulse is fast but his fever's not high. This might just be a reaction from over-stimulation; he's definitely not recovered from yesterday's ordeal."
Danny sighed, his fingers twitched, and then he jerked as dry heaved twice, coming awake just as Jack quickly leaned forward so that his vomit splattered onto the floor. Coughing, crying and gagging, Danny quickly lost the bit of breakfast he'd eaten earlier with such gusto. Jack was too busy trying to hold onto the heaving body so that he didn't fall onto the floor but when Danny was done, he did notice that Maybourne had left the room. Jack's only regret was that Danny hadn't tossed his cookies all over Maybourne instead of Jack's boots.
Danny was crying softly as Jack pulled him back against him. Fraiser handed Jack a bottle of water and he used the edge of the bed's sheet to wipe Danny's face with it. "Here, take a sip." He held the bottle to his mouth. Hiccupping, Danny managed two swallows, water spilling down his chin as he choked a little on the liquid.
As two corpsmen noisily pushed a gurney into the small room, Jack poured the remaining water over his boots, cleaning most of the puke from them.
Danny turned his face against Jack's chest as the corpsmen lifted Daniel and carried him to the gurney. Danny was shivering now, as was Daniel. Fraiser grabbed a blanket and spread it over Daniel just as they began pushing the gurney from the room. She grabbed a clean blanket from the other bed and as Jack stood up with Danny in his arms, she draped it over the kid and Jack's shoulders, tucking the excess into Jack's hands so he wouldn't trip.
"I want my mommy," Danny said into Jack's neck.
"I know," Jack said softly. Danny's neck was hot against his skin; he hadn't felt this warm just a few minutes ago. As they all stepped into the waiting freight elevator, he motioned to Fraiser to squeeze closer. "He's hot."
Fraiser pressed fingers against Danny's cheek. Her lips compressed tightly as she glanced at Daniel, who had barely stirred since he'd collapsed. "Whatever this is, it hits hard and fast."
"What Maybourne said about contagion..."
"None of us have any signs of the virus in our systems. I suspect Daniel's got it because Danny's got it. It may have lain dormant all these years and whatever's causing it in Danny could be causing it in Daniel." She reached up and adjusted the blanket that was slipping off of Danny's right shoulder. She lowered her voice. "Of course this is all speculation, sir. I would caution that everyone who's been in contact with both of them be on the lookout for symptoms, but as we don't know where the virus originated from, it's too late to even start thinking of a quarantine."
Before long they were back in the infirmary. It was without surprise that Doctor Dobson greeted them at the entrance and led them to a separate area. There were two beds inside the large room and even as Jack entered, he saw SFs rolling more beds towards them. At this point he wasn't ready to raise a ruckus; with both Daniels this sick, it was better to err on the point of caution than throw caution to the winds just to make a point.
As the medics transferred Daniel from the gurney to one of the beds, Jack moved to the second empty bed and lowered Danny to it. To his surprise, Danny, who had been fairly limp in his arms, suddenly grabbed at Jack, expressing a mewl of protest.
Not wanting to upset him, Jack straightened and sat down on the bed, holding Danny in his arms again. If this kept up, he and Danny would become a permanent fixture together. He smiled down at him as Danny burrowed against Jack, his knees sharp against Jack's thighs as he shifted restlessly.
While Fraiser and Dobson took care of Daniel, a nurse, wearing a protective mask around her mouth and nose, approached Jack. She placed a tray holding some medical paraphernalia on a roll away table and pulled the table close to the bed. "Please place him on the bed," she asked as she positioned the stethoscope's earpieces into her ears.
In response, Danny wrapped his arm around Jack's waist.
"I think we're good like this."
"Colonel, I need to look the boy over. Please put him down on the bed."
"Listen, the kid's a little traumatized right now." Jack reached for the edge of the blanket and flipped it over Danny's bare feet.
"You're going to tire pretty fast sitting like that, sir. How about I put the bed up and you can lean back. See if you can get him to lie down beside you."
As the nurse raised the head of the bed, Jack pulled Danny away and rolled him back so that the boy was looking up at him. Jack smiled. "Hey. We need to lie down on the bed. Can you scoot over beside me just a bit?"
Danny was having none of it. Just as he shoved his head back against Jack's chest, the nurse leaned over and pulled Daniel's legs away from Jack. Danny screamed and kicked out, his bare foot catching the roll away table, tipping it over, the tray and equipment scattering loudly on the floor.
Danny screamed again, writhing in Jack's arms. Moving quickly, he slid out from beneath Danny, not sure what was happening. But the moment the kid felt Jack move away from him, he stopped struggling and grabbed for Jack, moving onto his knees to follow before Jack could stand. He was crying now, tears flowing down his cheeks.
"P... Please," Danny begged, his body wracked with shivers as the blanket fell away from him.
Without a word, Jack scrambled back onto the bed, moving forward so that he could lie down. He pulled Danny towards him so that the boy was lying beside him, his face once more buried against Jack's chest.
"I'm sorry," the nurse said as she rearranged the blanket around Danny. "I was just trying to make you more comfortable, honey." She smiled apologetically at Jack. "I'll give you a few minutes while I get more supplies."
Jack rubbed slow circles along Danny's back. He looked over to the other bed where Dobson was adjusting the drip to an IV. Fraiser was leaning over Daniel, talking to him and to Jack's relief, he saw Daniel's mouth move as he answered her.
"Am I gonna die?"
The question was the last thing Jack had expected. The high voice was nasal, his sinuses clogged from his tears. Jack stopped rubbing and leaned his head closer to Danny's ear.
"Not for a long, long time," Jack said, saying the words and offering them up as a prayer at the same time.
"My head hurts."
"I know. It's the fever."
When the nurse returned, Jack immediately told her Danny had complained about a headache.
"I'll give him some Tylenol; it should help his headache and bring down his temperature. Danny, I'm going to listen to your heart now, okay?" she warned as she pulled back a bit of blanket to expose Danny's upper body.
Between the two of them, they manoeuvred Danny so she was able to take his vitals. By the time she finished, Dobson had joined them and was looking over the numbers the nurse had written in the new chart.
"I need to compare these to the boy's earlier stats. Get his chart from the colonel's assigned room while I draw some blood." When the nurse left, Dobson put the chart down and looked at Jack. "I'll need some from you and your team."
"Someone needs to tell Carter and Teal'c�"
"They've been notified and are on their way back." She picked up a glass of water someone had left beside the bed and a small paper cup with pills in them. "Here, Danny, I want you to take these."
"What about Daniel?" Jack eased Danny's head to the side so that Dobson could get the pills into his mouth. He didn't like the way he was being so complacent; Jack began to fear the kid was becoming more and more unresponsive, like he'd been when they'd arrived yesterday.
"We've given him something for the fever and taking care he doesn't get dehydrated." She placed the glass next to Danny's lips. "C'mon, Danny, drink some water." She glanced at Jack. "If he doesn't take in enough liquids, I'm going to have to put him on an IV."
She coaxed him again and Danny swallowed the water and the pills, his eyes fixed on the mask she wore around her mouth and nose. He rested his head tiredly against Jack once again. Dobson raised the edge of the blanket again and pulled Danny's arm out. "He's awake, Colonel, although Doctor Fraiser has sedated him to help him try and get some rest."
She swiped the inside of Danny's elbow with an antiseptic wipe. "I'm going to take a bit of blood, now, Danny. We did this yesterday, do you remember? It's going to pinch just a bit. I don't want you to move, okay?"
Danny didn't react and for a moment Jack thought he'd passed out again until he felt Danny's fingers curl against his shirt, the grip pinching his skin as Dobson eased the needle's tip into a vein.
"Atta boy," Jack told him as Dobson pushed a vial into the syringe. When she was done, he held a piece of gauze down on the pinprick while Dobson placed a band aid over it.
"You next, Colonel."
Jack released his hold on Danny and relaxed his arm by his side. As Dobson was strapping an elastic band around his bicep, Carter rushed into the room.
She stopped a moment by the door, taking in the two beds. "Sir, I just heard." She moved to Daniel's bed, it being closer to the door. "Janet, what happened?"
"The virus went into overdrive." Fraiser pointed to a chair next to the bed. "I need to take a blood sample, Sam."
While Fraiser took her sample, Carter leaned over and ran her fingers through Daniel's hair. Dobson had said that Daniel was awake; although Jack hadn't seen him move or heard him speak, he turned his head at Carter's touch. Jack couldn't see much from his vantage point; Daniel was facing away from him but Carter's face softened as she smiled down at him, her fear for him conveyed only through the tightness around her eyes.
"Danny? Is he�" Daniel coughed and turned his head, obviously looking for the boy.
"He's with the colonel," Carter answered just as Daniel's gaze focused on them.
Danny inhaled, his breath shaky beneath the hand that Jack had kept on him. When the shuddering increased with the next two inhalations, Jack realized the boy was crying.
"Jack. Tell him..." Daniel was trying to sit up and both Fraiser and Carter were trying to keep him horizontal. "Tell him they didn't forget him." Daniel gave up the struggle, lifting only his head to look at Danny.
"Abbud and Dawud, they always wondered what happened to you. Tamir offered prayers to Allah every year on the anniversary of their... for mmm... you and your parents."
Still crying, Danny raised his head to look at Daniel over Jack's body.
"Raja missed her little boy very much. Missed his laughter, his chatter... she said she never had a little boy in her care who was as full of life as her little Danny. She kept the necklace you made for her... the one with all the shiny stones... and said she remembered you every time she wore it.
"Diya and Bob, they�" Daniel coughed, then laid his head back onto the pillow, but kept speaking. "�They said they missed their little helper and thought about him every time they saw a boy with bright hair shining like a beacon in the sun."
"Bob?" Jack smiled down at Danny, who shifted slightly.
"His papa liked old movies," Danny said, his voice thick with emotion.
"You can write to them, Danny. I can help you find their addresses. I know they'd want to hear how you're doing..." Daniel's voice trailed off and Jack couldn't help but wonder how Daniel knew all this. But it seemed the thing to say to the kid as he stopped crying.
"Can I?" Danny asked, sniffling while creeping closer to Jack. He was so hungry for affection, for comfort, that it almost broke Jack's heart and he hugged the kid closer.
"Write to them?"
"Sure. As soon as you and Daniel are feeling better," Jack promised.
"How'd he know?" Danny whispered.
"Know what? The names of the people who worked with your parents?" Jack guessed.
"No, how'd he know I was feeling sad?"
"Oh." Jack glanced over at Daniel and nodded when he caught his friend's gaze. "He's good at those kinds of things."
"I miss Raja," he said forlornly. "I miss my mommy and dad."
Danny quieted and Jack remained silent, hoping the boy would fall asleep. By now he was literally lying on top of Jack. Dobson came by and adjusted the blankets. Between the coverings and Danny's fever-ridden body, Jack was beginning to sweat.
Teal'c entered the room and seeing that Carter was sitting with Daniel, made his way to Jack's side.
"I have discovered something that may shed light to the mystery around Danny's appearance here." Teal'c leaned over at the two of them and cocked his head. "Would the boy not be more comfortable alone on the bed?"
"You'd think so, huh?" Jack stroked the soft hair indulgently. "What'd you find out?"
"At approximately the same hour as the boy's appearance, there was a system failure with one of the experiments conducted here. Those with whom I spoke are unaware of the true nature of the test, but the rumours abound that the whole base was in danger of being destroyed. I believe the rumours are widely exaggerated, but the fact does remain that the system failure did occur."
"You think he had something to do with that?" Jack pointed to the kid with his chin.
"I believe his appearance triggered the system failure, but not the near-catastrophe. But what is coincidental is that the incident caused system-wide failure of all tracking systems for a forty-mile radius for approximately four point two seconds. The child was most likely transported within that time-frame."
"I found the same anomaly last night," Carter said softly. Her taking part in their discussion led Jack to believe that Daniel might have thankfully drifted off to sleep. "We've confirmed all the security systems went down; satellite, infrared, motion detectors, radar � anyone could have flown in and ringed Danny down to the desert. The only way he'd have been spotted was by visual sighting."
"No wonder Maybourne's acting a little paranoid."
"Is that not his normal temperament?" Teal'c asked as he pulled a chair to sit beside Jack's bed.
"And your point is?"
"Excuse me, gentlemen." Dobson stopped beside Teal'c, carrying blood-drawing paraphernalia. "I need some blood samples."
"That is unnecessary. My symbiote protects me from any ailment."
Dobson blinked at Teal'c. "I still have to do this, Mr. Teal'c. Colonel Maybourne insisted�"
"Colonel Maybourne knows full well what the situation is," Fraiser said as she stopped beside Dobson. "But we need the blood anyways, Teal'c, if only as a precaution."
"Very well." Teal'c allowed the doctor to draw his blood and Jack had to bite his cheek to stop from smiling as the woman had difficulty tying the rubber band around Teal'c's impressive bicep. He brought his attention back to his charge when Danny raised his head and looked at him with swollen eyes.
"Was I kidnapped?"
"Why aren't you sleeping?"
"My head still hurts."
"I'll give him something stronger if he's not feeling better in another hour," Dobson said as she pulled the needle from Teal'c's vein.
Danny stared wide-eyed at the needle and then his gaze shifted upwards, to Teal'c's forehead. He stared a moment before turning to Jack.
"So, was I kidnapped?"
"I don't know. How about you tell us what you remember happened to you and we'll try and figure it out."
"I don't remember much. It's all stuck together, like a dream." Danny's voice faded, his brow furrowed in pain.
Carter left Daniel's bedside and approached Jack's. "How about you describe the bits you do remember and maybe, like a puzzle, we can figure put the pieces together and figure out what happened."
"I was at the museum." Danny squirmed so he could face both Carter and Teal'c, his elbow pinching Jack's ribs. "I didn't want to go into... I had to wait for the class in the hall." Jack rubbed Danny's arm, encouraging him to go on. "Mrs. Baker told me they wouldn't be long but it was taking forever. Then someone came and grabbed my arm and pulled me into a room. I tried to yell but he was hurting me so much I..."
Danny shuddered and Jack rubbed his arm.
"His eyes were funny, like there was a light inside his head, like a Jack-o-Lantern. We made some of those last year when mom bought some pumpkins at the market."
Jack exchanged a sharp look with his teammates. "Did he say anything to you?"
Danny hesitated, then shook his head. "I don't know. It hurt too much."
"Janet, could Danny's headache be a residual effect from the ribbon device?"
Fraiser, who had come up behind Jack while Danny was talking, nodded. "Some of it could be; but I think it's mostly due to the virus." She leaned over and rubbed a thumb over Danny's reddened forehead. When she reached the area between his eyes, he batted her hand away with a loud hiss. "And then again, maybe not. His neurological tests are all normal so either Apophis didn't get a chance to harm Danny too badly or else Danny somehow got pretty much healed. The burn mark isn't serious, but it's definitely there."
Reaching a hand out, Danny tried to trace the symbol on Teal'c's forehead. "Nabil had something like that painted on his face. He tried to hide it, but I saw it one time. What's it mean?"
"What? When?" Danny quickly lowered his arm at Jack's outburst.
"At the dig, before we came to New York."
Jack turned to Daniel, hoping for confirmation of his memory, but his teammate was deeply asleep, snoring.
"It wasn't big and shiny like yours. It was black, like paint. I like yours better. Daddy didn't like him much but Nabil always told me great stories. I miss him. Do you think we can look for his address so I can write to him? Maybe he'll write me and tell me more stories."
"I'm not sure we'll be able to find his address, but we'll try," Jack said as Carter muttered something about Jaffas and System Lords both going back in time.
Teal'c inclined his head. "What happened next, DannyJackson?"
"Then..." Danny turned his head to look up at Jack once more. "Then the angel came to save me," he said in a rush. "The man who hurt me... Apophis?" Jack nodded. "He was really mad but the angel touched my hand and then we weren't anywhere."
Okay, this was a new one. Jack couldn't remember any of their allies looking like angels. Or any of the inhabitants of any known worlds they'd explored. "Does this angel have a name?"
Danny shrugged. "She didn't say."
"What makes you think she's an angel, sweetie?" Fraiser reached down and pushed Danny's overlong bangs out of his eyes.
" 'Cause she was all white and misty and floated and I couldn't see anything but her face."
"So let me get this straight." Jack raised a hand and rubbed his nose where Danny's hair was tickling him. "Someone with glowing eyes grabs you and hurts you. Then a flying angel comes down and rescues you from the bad guy?"
"Yes. And the bad guy tried to follow but we went somewhere that was really nowhere and he couldn't follow us there."
"What did the nowhere look like?" Jack asked.
Danny shrugged again. "It was white and fuzzy and quiet. I didn't hurt so much when we got there. The angel smiled at me and told me everything would be okay. Oh." Danny jerked up onto his elbows, causing Jack to wince. "I remember. She said I'd have to go somewhere else for a little while until it was safe to go home."
"Did the angel tell you how to get back home?"
Danny dropped back onto Jack's chest. "No," he said with a heavy sigh. "But she showed me some pictures. They were all kind of weird, though."
"What kind of pictures?"
Danny shrugged. "Squiggles. There were seven of them. I can't remember many, though."
"Seven? You're sure?" There was excitement in Carter's voice. "If we got you pen and paper, do you think you could draw them for us?"
"Maybe. I dunno."
"Here." Fraiser grabbed Danny's chart and turned the top sheet of paper over. She handed him her pen and Danny held it awkwardly in his hand while he leaned over the side to begin drawing what began to look like 'gate symbols.
"I remember these four," he said. He'd left a blank between the second and third symbols. "I don't remember this one, or the last one." He dropped the pen and brought his hand back up, curling his fingers into the neckline of Jack's teeshirt, as if he wanted to anchor himself to Jack. "I'm tired." Danny rubbed his eyes with his free hand.
"Go to sleep," Jack whispered in his ear.
"We need to put these into the SGC's computer and see if we come up with a match." Carter's voice still held a quality of excitement.
Jack, however, was wondering how they'd get Danny and Daniel back to Colorado Springs, sick as they were. He didn't think Maybourne would let them out of the compound even if all test results showed that they weren't contagious.
He watched as Carter used her cell phone to contact the SGC and read out the glyphs to Harriman. If they had already dialled out to this particular combination, it wouldn't take the computer long to figure out the missing glyphs and come up with a match. If Danny had written the symbols in the wrong order or if Carter's cold dialling system hadn't hit upon it yet, then they could be days before the computer went through all the permutations and came up with a viable address.
"Sir, we have a match."
"Already?" Hell, Carter hadn't even hung up yet. It had to mean this was a planetary designation that someone had visited within the past two years.
"It's P8X 928." She listened to the person on the phone a moment. "SG-4 went there last year and�" her voice rose in excitement� "Captain Willis was infected with a virus."
Fraiser stepped forward. "Yes, I remember. The virus wasn't contagious but he couldn't shake it. He was sick for weeks. We found the cure on the planet. I should have known." She glanced down at Daniel and then back at Jack.
"A crystalline cavern that vibrated to a specific frequency which destroyed the virus when exposed to it," Carter finished, grinning widely. "Sir, this could very well be the same virus that's affecting Daniel and Danny."
"It is, I'm betting on it. Sam, can you have Medical send the information on the virus to me here. We can compare the virus' makeup and if it's a match, all we have to do is bring them to the cave and they'll be good as new."
"DannyJackson has no memory of being on P8X 928. He could not have been infected with the virus that pertains only to that world."
"I know." The details of SG-4's mission were sketchy, but the yellow grass and red leaves from the photographs were imprinted in Jack's mind. Even the crystal cave, which gave the impression of being buried in ice, would have stood out in Danny's mind. "If someone deliberately infected him, that means they want us to go there."
"He could have blocked the memories out. He admitted to everything being fuzzy. The ribbon device could have caused him to black out while he was there." Carter leaned over and pulled back the edge of the blanket under which Danny had snuggled under. "He's sleeping, sir."
Gently, Jack turned onto his side, supporting Danny until the boy was lying on the mattress. He eased away, allowing Danny to have the bed to himself. Fraiser adjusted the blanket and pillow beneath the limp body.
The next couple of hours were just as long and unending as the majority of the day had been. Jack hated waiting. At least at the SGC there was always something to do but being locked up in this isolation area was wearing on his nerves. He alternated the time between pacing and watching the two Daniels sleep.
Carter and Teal'c had each taken a bedside vigil; Carter with Daniel and Teal'c with Danny. Fraiser, caught in the room with the two of them, couldn't do much more than check their vitals and make them comfortable. They hadn't talked much; there wasn't much to discuss until the results of their blood tests came back and Fraiser could compare them with those received from the SGC.
So when the door to the room opened and Dobson came in holding a sheaf of papers, Fraiser literally bounded off the chair, grabbed the folder containing the virus' data and joined Dobson at the small table in the corner.
It didn't take them long to confirm that the virus was one and the same.
"Everyone is clean, sir." Dobson lowered the mask and let it hang below her chin. "The only two affected are Doctor Jackson and the boy." She turned to Fraiser. "You were right; there's no chance of contagion."
"Get Maybourne in here. We need to get back to Cheyenne Mountain."
"Yes, sir." Dobson left the charts on the table and hurried out of the room.
- - - - - -
"There's an ambulance and a jeep outside waiting to take you to the airstrip." Maybourne glanced at Daniel with derision as two medics pushed a gurney next to the bed. A nurse pushed a second gurney into the room and headed for Danny's bed, who was still fast asleep despite the sudden influx of people in the room. "I'm really not happy about you taking the boy back to Cheyenne Mountain."
"Taking him to the planet is the only way of getting rid of the virus. And at this point it's our only lead in figuring out who brought Danny here, and why."
"Yeah, well..." Maybourne scratched at his freshly-shaven face. "I bet you it'll be something mundane, like a system lord going back in time to kill him when he was a defenceless kid so that he couldn't open the Stargate as an adult."
Jack had taken a step forward in order to lift Danny from the bed and move the sleeping boy to the gurney, but Maybourne's words had shocked him. He stopped the movement and turned, glaring at the man. "You know, if we do find a time machine on that planet, I'm thinking it might be interesting to try it out. You did say you were from the mid-west, didn't�"
"No! I don't wanna go." Danny, who had been approached by a nurse when Jack had stopped to threaten Maybourne, twisted away from her. "Leave me alone."
The nurse tried to hold him down but he managed to squirm out of her grasp and jumped off. He stumbled as he landed, running a few steps, obviously disoriented. He seemed to realize the room was full of people and he skidded to a stop, slamming his bare foot onto the foot of the bed as he did so, looking around in panic.
Everyone began advancing on Danny at once and he seemed to fold in on himself, glancing around wildly, obviously not recognizing anyone.
"Danny," Jack called out. Immediately the boy turned towards Jack's voice, hope blooming on his face. "It's okay, I got him," Jack said as he pushed past the two nurses and the gurney. Danny limped two steps towards him and when Jack picked him up, he twined his arms around Jack's neck, holding on as if he'd never let go.
"I'm sorry. You must have gotten a little startled when you woke up, huh?"
"Are they taking me away?" Danny asked as he watched Daniel being wheeled out of the room. "Am I going to jail?"
"No, no, nothing like that?" Jack walked back towards the gurney and put him down on it. For a moment Danny tightened his hold, around his neck. "Trust me? I promise you'll be safe."
Slowly, Danny released his death grip and looked at Jack with wide eyes. Grabbing the blanket, Jack began pulling it over Danny, covering his bare legs, then patted it in place. "Did you hurt your foot?" Jack reached for Danny's foot and although there was a red welt on the top of it, there didn't appear to be any bruising or swelling. "We're all getting out of here, and you and Daniel are going out in style." He smoothed the pillow. "C'mon, lie down, and I'll push this old cart myself." He tied the strap loosely around Danny's middle and with a wink, began pushing the gurney out the door.
"Ever been on a plane?"
Danny turned onto his side to look up at Jack with a sly, very familiar smile. "I lived in Egypt with my parents. How do you think we came here?"
"Oh, I dunno." Jack observed Daniel being wheeled into the elevator car. Dobson, Carter and Maybourne stepped inside, while Fraiser and Teal'c waited for Jack and Danny. One of the nurses was holding the second elevator open and Jack pushed the gurney inside. Jack shrugged, "Maybe you crossed on a rowboat." Danny rolled his eyes and Jack smiled, the action very reminiscent of the adult Daniel.
Fraiser pushed the gurney against the wall, making room for them in the small space.
"Okay, so you didn't row across. Then maybe you came in style on the Queen Mary?"
Danny shook his head.
"No," Danny giggled.
"Then you swam across the ocean?"
"We didn't take a boat, we took a plane," he said with a little more animation in his voice than Jack had yet heard. "Mom said I'd been on a plane when I was just a baby, but I don't remember."
"Were you scared?"
"No." Danny's eyes lit up as he remembered the flight. "It was fun."
"Good. So it's not a problem that we're getting onto a plane now?"
"Are we going back to Egypt?" Danny tried to sit up but the belt prevented him. He slid forward so that the belt lay across his legs and then did sit, turning to look at Jack excitedly. "Can we go visit Raja and Tamir and Nabil and�"
"I'm sorry, Danny, we're not going to Egypt."
"Oh." Danny grew quiet and his lower lip began to tremble. The elevator doors opened just as Danny lay back down. "I'm cold."
Without a word, Fraiser removed her jacket and placed it over his small frame. Danny closed his eyes. Teal'c and Jack manoeuvred the gurney out of the elevator, Jack talking the whole time.
"It's gonna be a shorter flight than the one you took from Egypt. Just a couple of hours. Not a fancy plane, either, and we won't have to wait around to get airborne. But it'll get us to our destination sure enough and then hopefully we can get rid of this virus that's making you and Daniel sick."
Dobson was waiting by the doors, holding them open for them. When Jack pushed the gurney outside, two medics approached, grabbed the ends and expertly moved it into the ambulance. Daniel was already inside. Fraiser climbed in and Jack immediately saw there was no room for him.
Jack stuck his head inside, placing a hand on Danny's foot. "I'm riding shotgun, looks like. I'll see you two in about ten minutes. Don't give Fraiser a hard time." He winked at Danny, seeing alarm in his face. "You hang on tight. We'll be right behind you."
Jack stepped back and closed the ambulance doors, then hurried to the waiting jeep.
- - - - - -
He'd been peripherally aware of being moved, but it wasn't until the gurney lurched beneath him did he come fully awake. He reached out blindly for an anchor as he opened his eyes, only to find nothing. Then a cool hand grabbed his and he was able to focus on Janet.
"Where�" He coughed, his mouth dry, his tongue feeling swollen and stuck against his palate.
"We're on our way to the plane. We're heading back to the SGC." Janet held a bottle of water before him and slowly Daniel raised his aching head. He felt weak, shaky and incredibly thirsty and the few sips she allowed him didn't do much to quench his dry throat but it felt good just the same.
When Janet leaned sideways to put the bottle down, Daniel spotted Danny lying on a stretcher behind her, watching him. Daniel smiled at his younger self, and he was glad to see some of the apprehension on Danny's face fade.
"We're almost there. How're you doing?"
"I've felt worse," he told Janet. He had to have, right? Considering he'd died at least once and had been close to death's door a time or two since he'd been with the Stargate programme. "How's Danny doing?"
"About as good as you. Maybe a little better, considering his age." The vehicle, which Daniel realized was an ambulance, pulled to a stop. The doors opened and the bright sunshine forced him to close his eyes.
He suffered the humiliation of being wheeled onto the plane, whereas Danny had somehow managed to slide off his stretcher and was now in Jack's arms. The dimmer lighting and cooler temperatures inside the plane was a relief. While Janet took a few minutes to check him out, Teal'c remained close by while Jack tried to coax Danny into lying down in a couple of seats. He was having none of it, though, and finally settled beside Jack, curling his small body onto a seat, his head on Jack's lap.
"Are you well enough to converse?" Teal'c asked when Janet went to check on Danny.
"Um, yeah, sure."
"DannyJackson revealed one of the men who worked with his father, was most likely a Jaffa."
"He did?" Daniel looked up at Teal'c, wishing he'd not missed out on that conversation. He tried to recall the men who'd worked on the various digs; faces had blurred and faded over the years, but thanks to Danny, he could picture them more easily. "Who?"
"His name was Nabil." The motors revved up and the plane jerked slightly as it began to taxi onto the runway.
A large, muscular man, who always had scarves wrapped around his takeya, which meant he was overdressed amongst those working at the excavation site. Somehow Daniel knew this memory was new; especially as he now remembered catching Nabil alone one evening, pouring water over his head to cool off, a black tattoo, normally hidden by the scarves, prominent and exotic in the dimming sunset.
"He wore the sign of a System Lord, but not one I'm familiar with," Daniel confirmed, clearing his throat. Teal'c picked up the water bottle and handed it to him. "It's one of Danny's memories." Daniel took a sip of water. "His are more vivid� I mean, all my memories are there but if he should think of something, I can remember it as if it had just happened recently. And there's something� different about some things that happened to him and not to me� although I guess logically whatever did happen to him happened to me also� although I guess that's not really true, huh?" He raised the bottle to take another sip. "Never mind, I guess I'm not making much sense." Daniel smiled apologetically at Teal'c, realizing he was having trouble putting his feelings into words. "But I mean those things that happened after Apophis went back� wait a second." Daniel lowered the water bottle and raised himself onto one elbow. "If Apophis went back a year after my parents died, what was a Jaffa doing in Egypt before their deaths?"
"Perhaps Apophis sent the Jaffa first to gain intelligence."
"Yeah. Maybe. I remember Nabil because he used to seek me out. Tell me stories. He was only there a short time� he wasn't a regular worker, he stayed with us for two weeks helping pack the display in order to ship it to the museum in New York."
Talking had made his headache worse, so he lay back down and closed his eyes.
"You are fatigued. I will leave you to get some rest."
"No, it's okay." Daniel rubbed his eyes then opened them, wondering where his glasses were. He frowned as one of the captains assigned to their party on the flight hurried from the cockpit to speak to Jack.
"What's going on?" Daniel asked.
A moment later, Sam left her seat and hurried to them.
"There was another security breach. The radar went down for a few seconds. We've got orders to take off immediately."
"Apophis," Teal'c said, anger making the word sound short and clipped.
"We don't know, but we're not taking any chances."
The plane was quickly secured, the engines revving as the pilot quickly went through the flight checks. Sam hurried to her seat while Teal'c sat next to Daniel's gurney.
"He never fit in." Daniel raised his voice over the sound of the engines. "Nabil covered his head with scarves; it's like dressing in your best clothes to go and work out in the fields. Some of the men talked about it; they all disliked him. He kept to himself, except when I was around. He� he never tried to hurt me, Teal'c. I mean, Danny�" Daniel turned look at his friend. He didn't feel any danger from Nabil, although to be truthful these were the memories of an eight year-old. Still, sifting through them, he could only remember kindness and gentleness from the Jaffa.
"We will talk some more when you are rested. Perhaps young Danny will remember more." The plane jerked as it began moving.
"Yeah, maybe� Okay."
Daniel closed his eyes again, and drifted, feeling the plane bounce as it picked up speed. The motors were loud and drowned out his friends' voices as they talked together. He drifted in and out of sleep for what felt like a long time, his sense of time obviously skewed thanks to the fever that didn't seem to want to let go.
He came awake suddenly with the feeling that someone was watching him. He cracked his eyes open and saw Danny leaning against the gurney, watching him intently. The boy's eyes were glassy and most likely matched Daniel's.
"Hi," Danny said tentatively.
"Hi yourself. Shouldn't you be lying down?" Daniel rubbed a hand over his cheeks, feeling the rasp of stubble on hot, dry skin.
Danny shrugged. "I had to go pee." He began chewing on his bottom lip as he began to trace a seam on the blanket with his index finger. "Can I ask you something?"
"How did�" Danny raised his eyes from the thread and met Daniel's gaze. "How did you know about my morabeya?"
Daniel thought fast, wishing his mind wasn't quite so sluggish. He and his team hadn't really discussed about what to tell Danny and what to keep from him. "I guess you could say I met your nanny when I was younger."
"You met the others, too? Nabil and Abbud and Diya and�"
"And Bob. And your parents."
"Did you meet me?"
"Yeah, I did." Daniel couldn't help from smiling at Danny.
"And you meant what you said? That you'd help me find their addresses so I could write to them?" The blue eyes lowered once more to gaze at the fingers busily plucking at a thread he'd managed to tease from the blanket. "I always wanted to write but nobody knew how to find anybody. Raja must be worried so about me. She was going to bake something special for my birthday and that was two months ago and what if she baked it thinking I was going to come home and nobody ate it because I wasn't there?"
"She's some other little boy or girl's nanny now, Danny. You realize that, don't you?"
Danny nodded sullenly, the fingers stilling. He sniffled softly. "Does she really miss me?"
"Oh yeah, kiddo. She does. We'll see about writing to her as soon as we can, okay?"
The effort of standing seemed to be tiring Danny out. He was leaning heavily against the gurney now.
"Why don't you climb up onto the other bed and keep me company?"
After a quick glance at the empty gurney, Danny gazed longingly at the bit of space in front of Daniel. The mattress wasn't very big and it would be an uncomfortable fit, but Daniel could remember the intense loneliness and alienation he'd felt for the longest time after his parents' death. He patted the mattress and shifted backwards, turning onto his side when Danny began to clamber onto the mattress beside him.
With a contented sigh, Danny snuggled close to Daniel. It was almost surreal, the idea of him holding himself as an eight year old boy, giving himself comfort. He wrapped an arm around Danny to make sure he didn't roll off the bed and allowed the white noise of the plane's motors to lull him to sleep.
He slept through the landing, waking up as the gurney was jostled as it was rolled out of the plane's cargo hold. Jack was carrying Danny, his body limp and loose in sleep. The two disappeared into the cab of their transport while Sam, Teal'c and Janet accompanied Daniel into the back of the large truck.
"General Hammond gave us the go-ahead to 'gate to P8X 928," Sam told him as the truck began rolling out of the airport.
The planet designation was familiar and it took him a long moment to come up with its specifics. "Someone got sick there, right?"
"Yeah. Captain Willis picked up the same virus that's infecting both you and Danny. The cure is also on the planet."
Sam and Janet went on to inform him what had transpired in the past hours and as they described the glyphs Danny had drawn, Daniel was able to bring them to mind. As if in a dream-state, Daniel recalled some thing giving the 'gate address to Danny. In the same way, he sensed that this being was also Danny's saviour from Apophis.
There was no true form to the person, just the hint of a face in an amorphous cloud. Female, he thought, with a kind smile. Other than that, he couldn't seem to get a grasp on any other features; like a dream, if he tried to concentrate on any particular part of her, she just drifted out of his grasp.
"I just thought of something," Daniel said abruptly when the thought came to him. "If Danny is me, I didn't have any recollection of the SGC or the Stargate when I was first brought here. Won't seeing Cheyenne Mountain affect my opening the Stargate later on?"
"Sam thought of that already." Janet smiled and patted Daniel's hand. "I've given him a sedative. We'll make sure he won't see anything except the inside of the infirmary. When we go through the Stargate, he'll be just as deeply asleep as he is now."
"Oh." That explained why Jack had been carrying Danny from the plane.
"General Hammond has agreed to let us take you two through the Stargate as soon as possible. Which should be in about three hours; it's the middle of the night on 928. We'll go through at sunrise."
"What about the virus? Captain Willis picked it up on that planet. Can't you guys get infected, too?"
"We know the virus was in the water. It entered his system from a scratch on his hand. Don't worry, we'll take all possible precautions."
"Okay." The motion of the truck was making him nauseous. He closed his eyes and drifted off.
- - - - - -
"Daniel, can you hear me?"
As he opened his eyes, coming awake from a deep, dreamless sleep, he realized Janet had been calling his name. She smiled at him when he focused on her face.
"Hey." The word came out as a husky croak and he cleared his throat.
"You were sleeping pretty heavily. I'm sorry I had to wake you, but I need you to remember a couple of things."
"Um, yeah, okay." Daniel felt the lure of sleep pulling at him and suddenly his eyelids were too heavy to keep open.
"Hey, hey, don't go back to sleep." There was a light tap on his cheek and he reluctantly opened his eyes again.
"I'm taking your IV out," she said, reaching for his hand. "We're leaving several bottles of water so I need you to remember to drink as much as you can. And make sure Danny drinks, too."
"Danny?" He scrunched up his face in confusion as his memory slowly came back to him.
Janet laughed softly. "I think the sedative I gave you is still working. We're on P8X 928. We're in the cave. We have to leave you two in here while the crystals do their magic."
"Yeah. I don't like the idea but we don't have a choice. Prolonged exposure on healthy bodies isn't a good thing."
"How...?" Daniel looked around and realized the room they were in was odd, the lighting was muted and sound echoed in a strange way. The chamber wasn't large, maybe ten feet by ten feet. The walls were opaque, the sun shining behind them but not quite reaching inside, as if there were many layers between him and the outside. Danny was lying on a stretcher next to him. There were bottles of water and other supplies also within reach.
"We're not sure, but the people here say the crystals vibrate at a certain frequency that kills off that particular virus." Sam and the rest of his team entered the cave. She knelt beside Daniel. "How are you doing?"
"Sleepy. Janet said she gave me something..."
"You've been sleeping like a baby ever since we got home."
"Perimeter's set. We'll be waiting for you guys outside." Jack, who'd been standing by the entrance, stared at Danny. "He might be a little confused when he wakes up. The last thing he'll remember is being on the plane."
"Don't come out before we come for you, Daniel." Janet stood and brushed the dirt off her pants. "You need to be in here for at least fourteen hours, and that will be just after the sunset." She picked up her gear and walked towards Jack, then stopped. "One more thing. Since we're told that they'll interfere with the healing process, I can't give you any medication for the fever or headache. So you have to remember to make sure you both drink plenty of water so you don't get dehydrated."
"Healthy bodies, remember?"
"Right," Daniel said, rubbing at his eyes. "I got it. Water. Drink. Wait till the sun sets."
"We'll see you soon." Jack waited until everyone left before following, and then Daniel was alone with Danny. The realization that he was responsible for the child had Daniel watching him keenly, waiting for a sign that he was waking up. He kept nodding off, waking up with small starts each time, thinking that while he'd been asleep, Danny had panicked and had run outside. But each time he opened his eyes, he'd see Danny, deeply asleep.
Checking his watch, he realized he'd been drifting for over an hour. The luminosity in the room had changed; although it had gotten brighter, the sunshine wasn't reaching the interior of the cave. Still, the brightness was making his headache worse. Or maybe that was the effect of Janet's meds wearing off.
He rose onto his elbow and reached for some water. His hands were shaking as he unscrewed the cap. As he tipped the water into his mouth, he was overwhelmed with an inexplicable surge of fear that he ended up choking on the water. Coughing loudly, he realized when he saw blue eyes watching him warily that the feelings weren't his, but Danny's.
Still trying to catch his breath, eyes tearing and headache pounding, Daniel simply pushed the water bottle towards Danny. "Here, drink," he croaked.
Eyes still wide with fear, Danny sat up and took the bottle, holding it loosely on his lap.
Daniel cleared his throat and rolled onto his back. "Drink, Danny. Slowly." He coughed once more for good measure, still feeling tightness in his lungs but was able to breathe without feeling he was choking.
"Where are we?" Danny stared at the walls and ceiling and the panic began to grow again. Memories of their parents' death filled Daniel and he realized Danny feared the walls would crush them both.
"It's a special room that's going to make us both better. It's okay, Danny, it's safe. Jack wouldn't leave us here if it wasn't."
Danny stared at Daniel with a look so full of trust and hope that he had to close his eyes against the influx of emotions he was feeling. When he opened them again, Danny was drinking, much of his fear having abated.
"Why do we have to stay here?" Danny squinted up at the ceiling and hitched his shoulders up to his ears. "I don't like it." He fiddled with the water bottle and handed it over to Daniel when he put his hand out for it.
"I know. I'd don't care much for it either. But it's just for a day, okay?" Daniel took a couple of long swallows, almost choking again when he was beset with an intense longing for loving arms, cool hands and the soft voice of their mom. Blinking back tears at the memories Daniel's yearning invoked and feeling the same intense loneliness, he reached over and tugged Danny's stretcher closer to his. With a sob, Danny curled up against Daniel.
Daniel held him until the boy cried himself to sleep. Swallowing back the lump of emotions deep in his throat, he followed Danny into oblivion.
- - - - - -
The next several hours were a fever-induced blur. He woke up, disoriented, to Janet's voice, calling his name. He was shivering uncontrollably, Danny curled up against him, his fevered body heat not enough to warm Daniel up.
"Yeah?" he called out between chattering teeth. It was only after several more attempts to answer Janet that he realized he was hearing her voice through his radio. He rolled Danny backwards as he reached for the radio amidst the small pile of supplies she'd left for them.
"Yeah?" he repeated as he fumbled the controls.
"Daniel." There was relief in her voice. "I was getting worried."
"How are you two doing?"
Danny made a small sound as he shifted against Daniel again. The boy was shivering almost as bad as Daniel was.
"Did you remember to drink the water I left you?"
Daniel swallowed thick saliva, realizing he was thirsty. "Um..." He fumbled the radio to his other hand and reached blindly for a water bottle. His questing fingers knocked it over, and he stretched protesting muscles and joints to grasp it. "Drinking now."
He dropped the radio beside him and used both his hands to unscrew the cap. He was weak, the effort almost too much for him. Finally he got the bottle open and held it to Danny's mouth.
When Danny didn't move, Daniel raised the boys head up against his chest and tipped some water against his lips. Sensing the water, the boy opened his mouth. His eyes opened partly, waking up just enough to drink.
Afraid to make him sick, Daniel pulled the bottle away when he'd drunk half of it. He finished the water off, the tepidness as refreshing as if it had been ice cold. He curled around Danny, seeking warmth as much as trying to provide some for the boy.
There was a heaviness in his ears; at first he thought it was from the fever but he realized it was coming from the room. When he ground his teeth together, he could feel the vibrations in his skull. The crystals, he assumed.
The room was brighter. He checked his watch, trying to calculate how long he'd been here. His brain couldn't seem to make the math work, so he picked up the radio.
"You've been inside for five hours." Jack's voice seemed to be coming from far, muted through the vibrations. "Hang on, Daniel. The natives say that you'll be feeling better very soon."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. Normally victims of the virus start feeling better once the sun has peaked."
"No, I mean, are you sure it's only been five hours?"
"Yeah. I know. Time's draggin' on this end, too." There was a long pause. "How's Danny."
"Feeling miserable," Daniel answered as the person in question raised his head.
"Can I talk to Jack?"
"Yeah." Daniel handed him the radio. "Press here to talk, let go when you're done."
"My head feels funny."
"Are you okay?" There was no mistaking the concern in Janet's voice. With a quick apology, Daniel took the radio back from Danny.
"It's the crystals. They're making a sound that's kind of bone-deep. It's a weird feeling, kind of like when you come from a concert and you're half deaf for a while."
"You've been to concert? Doesn't sound like you."
"What. You think I spent all my youth in libraries studying?" He rolled his eyes, eliciting a giggle from Danny as he handed him the radio back.
"Well, yeah, I guess."
"Jack? Why are we here? Why aren't we in a hospital? This looks like a cave. I saw pictures of a cave once. Dad promised we'd go visit one some day but we never..." Danny took a deep breath and continued. "If we're sick, shouldn't we be in a hospital?"
"The room you're in is a special room," Janet explained, quickly circumventing the idea that they were in a cave. "It's specially designed to kill the virus that's inside of you."
"So sick people come here to get better?"
"Um, no�" Daniel started, only to stop when Janet answered.
"Only those who have the particular virus that's making you sick. It's a very rare sickness so people don't go to this room very often."
Daniel was beginning to believe too many lies and half truths were being conveyed to Danny. They were sure to end up making a mistake, and he was afraid that his own existence was at risk. The fact that he, the adult Daniel, was still here with Danny's memories meant that at some point, Danny was returned to his own timeline. But the fact that Danny was still here, in the future, meant that there was always a chance of a slip-up up until the time he went back, and that Daniel, or the Daniel that he was now, would cease to exist at some future point.
Time travel was something he had read about in science fiction and mythology and he had never really given much thought to the actual application. And now, thinking about it while he wasn't at his best was enough to give him a headache - if he hadn't already been suffering from one already.
Danny's short burst of energy was already flagging, his eyelids drooping once again. Daniel took the radio from him and Danny curled up on his side, his back to Daniel. He waited a moment, then keyed the radio again.
"Is Teal'c there?"
"I am here."
"During the time you served as First Prime," he said softly, choosing his words, "do you remember any mention of a device that could do what we think happened to me?"
There was a pause. "There were rumours that the system lord Khonsu had invented something similar," Teal'c said, speaking slowly.
Daniel's mind went into overdrive. Khonsu, known as the Traveller�
"Khonsu," Danny said in a sleepy voice. "Also known as Khons or Khensu, son of Amun and Mut. God of the moon. God of time, lover of games..." Danny's voice trailed off as he slipped into sleep. Daniel couldn't help but smile as the boy snuggled closer.
"The one under whose reign I served conquered Khonsu shortly before... his mate was found a new host. It is possible that he found such a device among Khonsu's possessions."
"Khonsu was the god of time," Daniel said, ignoring the hesitation when Teal'c had referred to Amaunet. "He was known to be the 'Keeper of the Books of the End of the Year' and rumoured to have written the names of those who were going to die during the year. If there's any truth to these myths, it's possible that he had a... you-know-what."
"Do you have idea where you-know-who might be hiding the you-know-what?" Jack asked.
"Sorry," Daniel sighed. "Maybe Teal'c..."
"I have no knowledge but I shall attempt to slumber on it."
Daniel's lips quirked into a smile as his eyes closed. The radio was heavy in his hands and he let it fall to the side. "Sleep," he said to Teal'c, realizing his fingers were no longer on the controls but too tired to try and reach for them. "Sleep on it," he whispered. "Sounds like an excellent idea."
- - - - - -
Lying in a pool of sweat, Daniel woke up with the feeling he was being watched. He cracked open one eye and turned his head. Danny was sitting cross-legged beside him, chewing something. He swallowed quickly when he saw Daniel was awake.
Danny looked down at the power bar in his hand. "I was hungry," he said apologetically.
Daniel's stomach rumbled noisily. "I think I am, too. Are there more of those?" Daniel sat up, pushing the blanket away from his legs. His scrubs were soaked through. He felt shaky and weak, but the headache and pain from his fever were gone.
Danny pushed a bag towards him, which held several power bars. He took one and unwrapped it, his hands shaking embarrassingly as he did so. He took a bite and forced himself to chew slowly. By the time he finished a third of the bar, the tremors had stopped.
He opened a bottle of water for each of them and they silently ate their meal. Daniel shifted uncomfortably in his wet clothes, then thought to look through the rest of the supplies. He was rewarded with a change of clothing for him, plus the clothes Danny had been wearing when he'd been found at Area 51.
"Here." He put the neatly folded garments beside Danny. "We still have a few more hours to go," Daniel said, checking his watch. "We might as well be comfortable."
They changed quickly, then sat on the hard ground; the blankets and canvas of the stretchers too damp to sit on comfortably. Daniel reached for the radio, and clicked it on. "Hello?"
"Daniel. How are you feeling?" Janet asked quickly.
"Fever's down. We both had something to eat, and something to drink," Daniel quickly added. "How much longer before the sun sets?"
"Another four hours," Sam replied. "But you'll need to stay inside at least an hour until after sunset, when the crystals become inert."
"So, five hours? You guys didn't leave us any books or games or anything like that, did you?" Daniel fumbled one-handed inside the bag where the food and clothes had been stashed, hoping to find something to while away the time.
"Sorry. We were a little pressed for time," Janet replied.
"You can always play hangman," Jack suggested. Daniel made a face at the radio, eliciting a giggle from Danny. And he knew Jack would have been perfectly happy spending the next five hours playing this simple game with Danny. On the other hand, Daniel spied the various black and white pieces of crystal and rocks littering the floor.
"Care to try your hand at checkers?" Daniel suggested as he grabbed a fistful of sand and began drawing lines on their 'beds'.
Laughing, Danny crawled around on hands and knees, gathering stones of differing colours. He tossed several in Daniel's direction, and moved on, searching for more. When Daniel had finished creating the 'grid' of a checkerboard, he looked up to see Danny kneeling at the far corner of the cave.
"I think there's something in here," Danny said. He pointed to the crystalline wall.
Daniel got up, legs feeling like jelly. He staggered the few steps to where Danny knelt, wondering how kids could recover more quickly than adults. He crouched and saw Danny was right. There was something behind a slab of sparkling stone.
Daniel pressed his fingers on the slab, looking for a way in. After several moments, he heard a click and the slab moved on silent hinges. Daniel reached for the stone tablet hidden behind the rock. It took him only a moment to realize that part of the writing on the tablet was a 'gate address. Then he noticed the carving of a figure with the head of a hawk wearing a lunar disk. He reached for the radio.
"Jack, I think we found something."
- - - - - -
Jack could feel everyone's edginess as they all watched the M.A.L.P.'s telemetry through the video screens in the control room. So far they'd seen nothing to warrant this tenseness, but Jack had that gut feeling that it was there, waiting for them around a corner, behind a rock or, as in this case, at the bottom of a cliff. Jack inhaled deeply when Carter manoeuvred the M.A.L.P. close to the edge of the cliff and focused the probe's cameras towards the man-made building in the center of the field down below.
"Bingo." Somehow stating the word didn't release the pent-up stress he felt, but it had felt appropriate.
"I count four." Carter zoomed the cameras as far as they would go, revealing the tell-tale glitter of sunlight on the Jaffa's armour.
"There are most likely two more inside the structure." Teal'c said.
"Do you have any idea what could be inside that building?" Hammond, who had been standing next to Jack, turned to look questioningly at Teal'c.
"I do not."
"Well, sir, there's really only one way to find out." Jack balanced forward onto his toes, then rocked back onto his heels. "Permission to go out there and... find out."
Hammond gave him a short nod. "I'll authorize it, but only when we get the results back about Doctor Jackson and the boy. If this is connected with the time travel and you have a chance to return the boy to his proper time, I don't want to chance him spreading any sickness when he returns home."
"Janet said the virus wasn't contagious, sir."
"They were infected. That's contagious enough for me." He nodded towards the screen. "Bring the M.A.L.P. back, Captain, and we'll discuss the situation when Doctor Fraiser has news."
While Carter got busy with returning the probe back to the base, Jack turned around and decided to head for the infirmary. The scene that awaited him there was the same one he'd left not more than thirty minutes ago. Danny was a lump on the bed, blankets tucked under his nose. Daniel was sitting up, examining the stone tablet he'd brought back with a magnifying glass. A pad of paper half full of his handwriting sat beside him.
Daniel glanced up at Jack, then back down to the tablet.
"A building guarded by a half dozen Jaffa." Jack motioned to the tablet. "So, you figure out what that thing is?"
Jack couldn't help but place a proprietary hand on Danny's forehead, the urge to test for fever too strong to resist. The skin was thankfully cool to the touch. Danny smacked his lips at the touch, but he remained asleep.
"I think it's a key." Daniel put the magnifying glass down and did something to the tablet. Suddenly he was holding two pieces; one a slab of rock with an indentation in it, the other the figurine of the snake Khonsu which had popped right out of the stone.
Jack reached for the figurine, turning it around in his hands. It wasn't made of stone, like he'd thought at first glance. It felt heavier; metal, most likely. Most probably Naquadah. "Looks like we need a pretty big door for this." He mimed fitting the figurine into a lock, then looked at Daniel. "A key to what?"
"I'm not sure. The inscriptions aren't clear, but there are suggestions that it's a key to something."
Hearing footsteps behind him, Jack handed Daniel the figurine back.
"Well, I'm happy to report you're both virus-free." Fraiser stepped up to the infirmary bed and smiled at Daniel. He looked at her when her words sank in, eyebrows coming up over the top of his glasses. "And there's no sign of the virus in anyone who's been in contact with you."
"Hammond's gonna be happy to hear that." Jack glanced at Danny. "How much longer is he gonna be out?"
"The sedative I gave him before we left the cave should start to wear off within the next thirty minutes." She reached over and pushed a strand of hair away from Danny's cheek.
"Kind of overkill, don'tcha think? If we have to knock the kid out every time we need to move him out of this room..."
"If we want Daniel to retain no memories of the SGC, it's a necessary evil, sir."
"You know, this is all too coincidental for it not to be some sort of setup." Daniel scowled at the tablet in his hands as he pressed the figurine into it. "First the virus, which led us to the crystalline cave, which led us to this key, and which is leading us to another planet that has some thing being guarded by Jaffa."
"So, you think this key has something to do with what the Jaffa are guarding?"
Daniel looked at Jack and made a small shrugging motion. "The way things are going, it would be surprising if it didn't." Placing the tablet onto the bed, Daniel stood. "Janet, am I free to go?" He swayed and made a quick grab for the mattress. Face pale and shiny with sweat, he sat back down and held onto the bed's edges.
Fraiser shook her head at Daniel. "You're virus-free but your body was put through the wringer. You're stuck here for at least twenty-four hours, or at least until you get your sea legs back."
"I can't stay here. I need some reference books to follow up the translation and I promised Danny I'd look up some addresses for him." He wiped the sweat from his forehead, looking a little less like he was on the verge of passing out.
Jack picked up the stone tablet and the notepad. "How about I bring this down to some other geek and see if they can finish what you started."
"Geek?" The hurt look Daniel shot his way immediately made Jack contrite for having spoken without thinking.
"You know, the guys with all the diplomas on their walls?" He patted Daniel's shoulder with his free hand. "I'll find someone who can finish this up and�"
"Try Cameron Balinsky. He's got some experience with ancient text."
"Gotcha." Jack took a few steps and then stopped. "Those addresses you need. You got any leads?"
"I have some of their current addresses. What I need is to backtrack to the time when I was... abducted."
"I could give that a shot. If you'd like me to... that is, unless you want to wait until Fraiser releases you and..." Jack shrugged.
Daniel gave Jack a confused look. "You'll need to use the internet to�"
"I can figure it out, Daniel. Just give me the current info and�"
"You're going to ask Sam to help you, aren't you?"
Jack grimaced. "Okay, yeah, I thought she could give me a few pointers and in exchange, I could give her this key to play with."
"The addresses are in a ledger on the top right shelf of my filing cabinet. Bring the ledger back to me and I'll show what you'll need."
"Right." Jack made a twirling motion with his index finger, pointing towards the bed. "You just lie there and work on those sea legs. I'll be back in a short while."
- - - - - -
Just a few more moments of silence and Daniel knew he'd be able to sleep. Quiet... bliss... he felt himself drifting and�
"Well, if we can't go outside, can we go for a walk?"
Daniel opened his eyes and looked at Danny, sitting cross legged on the bed next to his. The boy had been quiet for all of sixty seconds. "There's nothing to see but cement walls and hallways." He closed his eyes, hoping to drift off before the next question. He took a deep breath, relaxing once again into the pillow.
"Aren't there kitchens or dining rooms? Or restaurants? Why do we have to eat in bed?"
"Because we're in the infirmary."
"But we're not sick. Janet said we were fine. So why do we have to stay here?"
Gritting his teeth and wishing he had a fraction of the energy Danny did, Daniel turned onto his back. "Because we're still recovering from the effects of the virus. Aren't you tired?"
"No. I'm bored."
Of course Danny wasn't tired. They'd forced the kid to sleep so much that he probably would be up for the next thirty-six hours, bouncing off the walls. He'd been talking non-stop for the past two hours, sometimes going on for so long without taking a breath that Daniel thought he'd suffocate. He vaguely remembered his mom teasing him about being a motor-mouth; he had actually forgotten that little fact until he'd seen himself in action.
"How about you ask one of the nurses for something to read?"
Danny shrugged. "What about TV?"
Daniel squeezed his eyes shut. Visions of Danny watching some current television show like The Simpsons was enough to give him a heart attack. He squinted one eye open. He wondered if that was why he had such an aversion to the cartoon now. Maybe Jack would somehow manage to sneak some tapes for Danny and... Nah, Jack wouldn't... would he? Daniel made a mental note to make sure Danny was kept well away from televisions and VCRs and DVDs.
"We don't get a good reception in here," Daniel lied. He gave up on trying to sleep and sat up. He looked at the board game and tried to swallow his distaste. But before he could suggest another rousing game of checkers, Jack swaggered into the room, carrying a manila folder.
"Hey. Look who's up."
"I've been up for hours, Jack." Danny slid off the bed and ran to Jack, bare feet pattering on the cement floor. He was wearing a tee shirt once more and he self-consciously looked down at himself as he accompanied Jack back to their beds.
"You have?" Jack gave Daniel a measuring look before his expression changed to one of apology. "You guys been playing checkers?"
"Yeah, but Daniel got bored."
"Hey," Daniel replied. "You kept winning every game. It gets a little monotonous after a while."
"Well, how about we try something different, you and me? We could play hangman. You ever play that?"
Danny shook his head and Jack grinned.
"Give me a minute to give something to Daniel and we'll play. How about you go see if you can scrounge up a pen or pencil, and some paper?" When Danny ran off to ask one of the nurses for the required items, Jack handed Daniel the folder. "I think I got everything you were looking for. You might want to double check. I've got the addresses here and the methods I used to find them."
"Okay. Thanks." Daniel settled back on the bed, opening the folder. Double checking Jack's searches would take a lot less time than it had taken him to find the addresses. Listening to half an ear as Jack explained the game to Danny, Daniel got to work, his fatigue forgotten.
Not only had Jack printed out the trails he had used to find the people who had worked with his parents, he'd found photographs of them, where available. Smiling to himself, wondering how much of this was Jack's doing and how much was Sam's, Daniel flipped through the printouts. He knew that Abbud had been working in the digs to make money to go to school and that he had graduated and had gone on to become an engineer.
Dawud had continued working in digs until five years later when he died in an accident. Diya had retired with his parents' death and had opened up a small shop with his wife and four children. Bob had worked small jobs for several years, and had moved to the country to live with his brother. Nabil had...
Daniel stopped, looked at the information before him, and stuck a finger under his glasses to rub his eyes. Jack had to have made a mistake. He looked over the information, and as he turned a page, he found a newspaper clipping describing the accident at the museum where his parents had died, complete with a snapshot. He went to put the clipping aside when something caught his eye.
It couldn't be. He brought the paper closer to his face, wishing the picture wasn't quite so grainy. But there was no mistaking it. Nabil was there, amongst the crowd of onlookers, trying to get a view of the damaged display in the museum.
What was a Jaffa warrior doing in New York City mere hours after Daniel's parents had been killed? The only explanation that came to him drew a pained gasp from him.
The Jaffa had gone there to murder Daniel's family.
Rage filled Daniel, making him wish the Jaffa was there in front of him so he could strangle him with his bare hands.
"Hey, you okay?"
Daniel felt a hand on his shoulder and he looked up to see Jack staring at him with a concerned look. Slowly Daniel relaxed his grip on the crumpled paper in his hand, trying to get his breathing under control. Jack reached over and plucked the clipping from his hand. Daniel spread his fingers flat on his thighs, concentrating on breathing in and out in long, deep breaths.
"Hey, that's Nabil." Danny was leaning on Jack's leg, pointing at the picture.
"Really, huh?" Jack had apparently skimmed the headlines and met Daniel's gaze with narrowed eyes. "Funny, I never found an address for that guy," Jack said softly.
"Why's he in a newspaper? That's not an Arabic newspaper? Is he nearby? Can we go see him?" Danny was trying to tug the paper from Jack's hand, trying to read the article. Jack pulled it away from him, folding it in half.
"Hey, I wanted to read that."
"Danny, that's enough." Daniel's voice was sharp. He didn't want Danny to know what he'd just realized and he was afraid the boy was intelligent enough to figure it out.
"C'mon, let's finish the game." Jack pushed the clipping into his pocket, out of Danny's reach.
Pouting and glaring, Danny turned his back to them and took several steps away from the beds. Jack starting moving towards Danny when the lights suddenly dimmed. All monitors and electrical equipment began to power down, then a few seconds later, the lights brightened again. Everything appeared louder than normal for a moment, until the klaxons sounded.
"Danny, get back here," Daniel yelled as SFs footsteps were heard running down the corridors.
Danny froze, staring at the muted red light whirling near the exit. Daniel slid off the bed, intending to bring Danny back while Jack ran for the nearest phone. He'd only taken a few steps when suddenly someone barged through the infirmary doors. Daniel saw something in the man's hand and his first instinct was to get Danny out of danger's way.
He began running, grabbing the first thing that came to hand. He felt hard plastic, barely glancing at the emesis basin as he threw it at the Jaffa. Somehow his aim was true and something clattered to the floor. Unfortunately, Nabil held a zat gun in his other hand and when the electric jolt hit Daniel, he fell hard. His momentum carried him into the wall. He felt a sharp pain hit his hip and leg just as he lost consciousness.
- - - - - -
Daniel woke up to the alarms still blaring and someone yelling close by. Muscles still jerking painfully, he turned onto his side and brushed against someone's foot. He opened his eyes, seeing a boot just a few inches from his face. He looked up and saw Jack standing next to him. Moving more quickly than he should, Daniel sat up, disentangling himself with some difficulty from the roll away table that had fallen on top of him.
"You okay?" Jack's voice was low. He didn't glance at Daniel but shifted his weight, moving a few inches to the side to give him more room.
"Yeah, I think so."
Daniel got to his knees and his mouth went dry when he spotted Nabil holding Danny, the zat gun held to the boy's head. Several SFs had entered the infirmary, all guns pointed at the Jaffa. Realizing the danger Danny was in, Daniel threw himself to his feet and nearly overbalanced. Jack's hand shot out, grabbing his bicep and holding him steady.
"Let him go," the major in charge of the SF unit yelled at Nabil. "Let him go or we will shoot." Danny stared at Jack, eyes as large as saucers. Jack let go of Daniel and bent down to pick something up. For a moment Daniel thought it was the emesis basin that he'd thrown at Nabil, but when Jack straightened, he realized it was what he'd knocked out of the Jaffa's hand.
It wasn't a weapon; it was a figurine of Khonsu. The key. The Jaffa had stolen it. And had somehow activated it, because the back of the figurine was glowing, with symbols and numbers flashing on the metal.
Daniel looked back at Nabil and saw that the Jaffa's gaze was on the key. Jack saw where the Jaffa was looking, and smiled.
"Need this to get back, do you?" Jack waved it teasingly in front of him, holding it carefully by the edges. "You may as well give the boy up. No matter what you try, you won't get away."
Nabil stared at them a moment, then leaned down and whispered in Danny's ear. He deactivated the zat and handed it to Danny, who took the weapon and held it awkwardly against his chest. Then the Jaffa raised his hands, releasing his hold on Danny and took a step away from him.
"Danny!" The moment the boy realized he was free, he ran to Jack, burying his face in Jack's belly. Jack hugged the boy, taking the zat and handing it to Daniel, who looked at it in confusion before handing it to one of the SFs.
The moment Danny was out of harm's way, the SFs converged on Nabil.
"He wanted to hurt me� why'd he want to hurt me?" Danny sobbed.
"It was never my intention to hurt you, child."
"You hurt Daniel." Danny raised his head and glared at Nabil, his jaw thrust out in indignation. "I thought you were my friend."
"It was also never my intention to hurt� Daniel." Nabil allowed himself to be handcuffed, staring at Jack. "My only wish was to return the boy to his proper time."
"How'd you get in here?" Jack demanded as one of the soldiers frisked the Jaffa. He was wearing jeans and a tee shirt, somehow looking ridiculous in Earth garb as Teal'c rarely had. "Did you steal this from us?" Jack asked as Daniel took the activated key from Jack's hand and examined it.
"I did not. I presume, therefore, that you have its twin?"
"I dunno. You tell me. You're the one who walked into the middle of a military base with a zat gun."
"I did not walk in, but I am now unarmed, as you can see."
"So, um, why did you come here?" Daniel asked, tearing his gaze from the blinking symbols.
"As I told you, to return the boy to his proper time." Nabil glanced at the guards. "May we talk?"
"What in tarnation is going on here?" Hammond strode into the infirmary, Carter and Teal'c right on his heels. He stopped beside Jack, glancing at the boy still holding tightly to him. "Is he all right?" he asked softly.
"Yeah, he's fine," Jack said, patting Danny's head and then gently pulling him away. "Take him out of here," he said to the nearest guard. Danny, eyes wide with apprehension, didn't make a sound as the guard took his hand and pulled him out of the main infirmary.
"Seems we have a small security problem, General," Jack said, staring at Nabil with narrowed eyes.
"Your security presents no barrier for Khonsu's device. I have come here to finish my Lord's work."
"You mean murder the boy as you murdered our parents?"
For a moment, Nabil appeared confused. "It was not Khonsu's way to change history. My Lord simply observed; never did he, nor any of those who were blessed to serve him, interfere in any way with the past or the future. Unfortunately, the one who conquered My Lord Khonsu uses the device for his own personal gain. When I realized what he was about to do, I travelled to the period in time where I believed he would strike." He nodded at Daniel. "I was mistaken. He played no part in your parents' death."
"You were there? You saw them die? You knew they were going to die and you did nothing to stop it?" Enraged, Daniel tossed the key onto a bed and took several steps forward, stopping only when Jack placed a cool hand on his overheated skin. He was aware of Sam flanking his other side, and Teal'c a step behind him.
"We do not interfere. It saddened me to see your loss, but saving your parents would have changed the person you are now. We study the flow of time, we do not change it."
"I don't believe you."
Jack's grip tightened slightly, warning Daniel not to try anything.
"I understand. I am sorry."
"So you're saying you found out Apophis was using this time machine to go back and kill Doctor Jackson as a child?" Hammond stepped closer, moving past Jack.
"And you thought that Apophis caused his parent's death because they died tragically?"
"It was a logical assumption, General Hammond. Only when I arrived in that timeline, I realized that it had been a natural progression and not interference."
"You can tell the difference?"
Nabil inclined his head. "I moved too swiftly. I did not take the time to logic it out. I was desperate to stop Apophis, so I returned to Daniel's past and ensured I was able to track him for several years, enabling me to study when the attack would surely come."
"The transponder," Sam said softly.
The rage had left Daniel but the anger remained. He'd been tagged like a wild animal, followed over a series of months, maybe even years. "And when Apophis did attack Danny, you didn't do anything to save him, did you?" Daniel accused, knowing somehow that Nabil wasn't Danny's ephemeral saviour.
"Something interfered." Nabil looked each one of them in the eye. "The boy was whisked away, Apophis returned to his proper time and the key to the device mysteriously missing."
"So this," Sam said, taking a step back and picking the blinking figurine from the bed, "is what makes the time machine work?"
"The keys enable the traveller to return to his proper time. Without it, the traveller would remain trapped forever�"
"Keys," Hammond interrupted. "There's more than one?"
"There are. I had possession of one. You have a second."
With one finger raised, motioning for a time-out, Jack walked to the nearest phone. After punching in some numbers, he spoke softly into the receiver. After a moment, he hung up. "Seems like our key's still with Balinsky. He's telling the truth."
"At least about there being two keys," Daniel said under his breath.
"That's all very well, but how did you find the boy? And how did you get into the base?" Hammond demanded.
"The transponder, sir," Sam said, putting the figurine back onto the bed. "He must have traced it to this timeline. The second security breach at Area 51, that must have been him."
"When I realized that somehow the boy had jumped forward in time, I followed. When I discovered the boy was no longer in possession of the transponder, and returned and found the coordinates for your Tau'ri base."
"You mean you used the time machine to come here? Directly here?" Daniel realized suddenly how vulnerable they were. If Sokar found the machine and figured out how to use it, there was nothing stopping him from attacking Earth, anyplace, anytime.
"I did. I believed I could spirit the boy away and return him to his proper time before anyone could react. Unfortunately I underestimated you." Nabil nodded at Daniel. "If you allow me to return young Daniel to his proper timeline, I would petition you destroy the machine after I have returned to mine."
"How do we know it's not a trap?" Jack's face was as hard as his voice.
"Because, O'Neill," Teal'c said as he stepped forward, arms clasped behind his back, "if Nabil had wished to destroy the Tau'ri homeworld, he only need have sent a bomb in place of himself."
- - - - - -
"I don't trust him." Daniel stood in the far corner of the briefing room, a freshly poured cup of coffee cradled in his hands, glaring at Nabil who sat beside Carter, explaining something to her.
Daniel looked exhausted. He needed to be resting and recuperating, getting quality sleep and nutritious food instead of drinking coffee laced with sugar in an attempt to stay awake and alert. Fraiser had made it abundantly clear that there was no way Daniel was in any shape to accompany them should Hammond approve the mission until he rested.
"If he's telling the truth, he's Danny's ticket home. Your ticket home." Jack remembered the look on Danny's face when they had escorted Nabil past him, out of the infirmary, the Jaffa surrounded by the SFs. Cries and tears had followed them out, leaving a hysterical crying boy in Fraiser's care. Jack poured himself a coffee and motioned with his head for Daniel to return to the table with him.
Daniel remained distant with Nabil, playing Devil's advocate every time the man tried to explain why he'd tried to save Danny from Apophis' clutches. This wasn't like Daniel, and Jack wasn't sure the antipathy was due to his fatigue or something else entirely. Jack thought Daniel still suspected Nabil to having caused his parents' accident. And short of their going back in time themselves to check it out, this might be something they would never truly discover the truth for.
Hammond stepped out of his office, finished with the phone call which had prompted the short break. As he took his seat, Carter looked up and took a deep breath. "If I understand what Nabil's explained to me, the machine keeps a log of every jump made and the subsequent return of the traveller. When we take control of the device, we should see only Nabil and Danny's as being the ones out of sync with their normal timeline. I guess once we return Danny and Nabil to their proper times�"
"Actually, Captain, there is no need for me to return. There is nothing for me to return to except slavery."
"You are free, my brother. You may do whatever you wish."
Nabil stared at Teal'c, surprise on his face. He grinned after a moment. "Yes. I am." He inclined his head, saluting Teal'c.
Hammond clasped his hands together and cleared his throat, bringing the attention back to him. "I presume the log will also clearly show if there's any danger from others out there who've used the device?"
"Indeed." Nabil smiled, more than aware nobody trusted him. "As mentioned already, you will require Doctor Jackson's abilities to decrypt them but I assure you that you will discover they are extremely accurate."
"So, we have to take your word that there's nobody else wandering around in our past trying to kill either us or our grandparents." Jack couldn't help but glance at Daniel, who lowered his head, chin to chest.
"I assure you, there are no other travellers unaccounted for. My Lord Khonsu and his First Primes have been the only ones who have used the device in the past thousand years, until Apophis' attempt to destroy Doctor Jackson. If you wait until Doctor Jackson has the leisure to translate the log before destroying the time machine, then it may be too late."
"Wait a second. If only you three used the machine recently, how did Danny come to be here?" Carter stared at Nabil, eyes narrowed in concentration.
"I do not know. Most likely in the same manner Apophis' key was taken from him and placed in your possession."
"Guardian angel," Daniel murmured softly. When Jack tried to catch his attention so Daniel could elaborate, his friend turned his eyes down and stared at the table.
"Why are you so eager to destroy the time device? Would not another week to allow DanielJackson to decipher the log make no difference?"
"And here comes the zinger", Jack said softly to himself.
"There is a third key. It is just a matter of time before it is discovered and used. The sooner the device is destroyed, the sooner we all shall be safe from our past."
"You're saying someone's searching for this third key?" Hammond's voice was icy cold.
"None of us are safe should he find it. The boy was rescued the first time, the next time none of us may be so lucky. It has been My Lord's life's work to study the past, and he has taught me to respect what has been. One small, pertinent change can seriously affect the universe as you know it. We must prevent this at all costs."
"And, of course, you know who this person is who's threatening to change the past but won't tell us?" Daniel smirked at Nabil, as if daring him to give them the name of this so-called threat, then and there.
"Would it not suffice to know that the danger is there?"
"So you say." Looking calm and collected, Daniel raised his coffee cup and took a sip. His hand shook, however, just as he put it back onto the table.
"By divulging my knowledge, I could just as seriously affect your future as my interfering with your past. I cannot give you a name, only affirm that the threat exists. And the threat on young Daniel's life continues even while he is in this time. I found him with considerable ease," Nabil continued as Jack opened his mouth to speak, "and so could his enemy."
"Very well. In the morning, SG-1 and SG-2 will attempt to take control of the device. If successful, young Danny will be returned to his own time. You're to destroy the time machine the moment the boy is safe."
"Thank you, General Hammond." Nabil nodded his head regally once more.
- - - - - -
Jack got Daniel back to the infirmary on the pretext of wanting to check on Danny. His friend was staggering from exhaustion; he needed to get him to bed ASAP and he hoped that he'd be able to talk him into climbing into one of the infirmary beds and getting some sleep. Daniel wasn't cleared yet to go out with them tomorrow, but Jack hoped to talk Fraiser into letting him be the one to take Danny to them once they took the Jaffa out and had control of the time machine. Otherwise they'd have to take Balinsky along and although the man seemed capable, he'd rather have Daniel, considering how much was at stake.
Danny was sitting up in bed, playing with something in his hands. As Jack got closer, he saw it was his keychain. Danny ignored them, keeping his eyes on the figurine which appeared to have been put back together again. He assumed this was Fraiser's handiwork.
Danny raised his eyes at them, and once again gave them a look that was a cross between a glare and a resigned pout, and returned to fiddling with the keychain, obviously the kid was far from happy.
"You doing okay?"
Danny shrugged, digging a nail against the edge of the keychain.
"Pretty scary stuff happened, huh?"
A shoulder came up in a half shrug.
"Daniel was pretty cool, wasn't he? Did you see that bedpan go flying?" Jack sat down at the foot of the bed. "Bang, perfect shot." Jack leaned forward and whispered, "I bet he couldn't hit a barn door with that thing again, even if he tried."
Danny's lips quirked slightly, as if he wanted to smile but was trying not to.
"And you were very brave back there."
"Why did Nabil want to hurt us?" Danny asked in a small voice.
"Actually, he didn't really want to hurt you two. He was trying to get you back home, but he was wrong, sneaking in the way he did. He just ended up scaring you and getting into a lot of trouble."
Danny nodded, still trying to push a nail into the side of the keychain. He finally looked up when Daniel held out a hand. "Can I see that for a second?"
"It was broken," Danny said as he handed it to Daniel. "Janet fixed it."
"Yeah, you can hardly see the seams." Daniel turned it over a few times, then reached out to hand it back to Danny. He fumbled, dropping the keychain onto the bed.
Danny picked it up and threaded a finger into the metal ring, eyes downcast. As Jack reached over and pressed his fingers against the boy's forehead, Daniel sat down heavily on the empty bed opposite Danny's.
"Why don't you just stay here for the night?" Jack removed his hand after brushing his hand affectionately through Danny's hair, grateful there was no fever.
Daniel looked up at Jack, emotions flitting over his face. For a moment Jack thought Daniel would argue, but Fraiser's quiet approach seemed to drain the defiance from his friend.
"That's a good idea, Colonel, considering the only reason I let Daniel attend the briefing was on the proviso he come back and spend the night in the infirmary."
"I'm right here, you know." Resigned, Daniel raised a leg, balanced it on his knee, and began untying his boot.
Danny watched silently. The kid looked tired, and considering it was late, Jack figured his unusual reserve was due to a combination of fatigue and disappointment. Jack stretched his arms wide, yawning loudly. "Well, I'm gonna hit the hay. You two don't stay up too late gossiping about me."
A boot thudded loudly to the floor. Daniel began removing his second boot.
"I'll be back in the morning. And Danny, don't worry about Nabil, he's fine." Danny raised his head and gave Jack a measuring look. "Goodnight, don't let the bed bugs bite."
"Night, Jack." Danny slipped lower onto the bed and Fraiser adjusted the blankets around him as she adjusted the bed.
As Daniel slid under the covers, Jack motioned to Fraiser that he wanted to talk to her. Danny was most likely going home tomorrow, Jack just hoped the two of them were fit to travel.
- - - - - -
Watching Carter pace wasn't exactly Jack's idea of a fun time, but it beat watching Daniel and Danny sleep. Hammond had already delayed the mission by an hour since Fraiser refused to disturb her two patients.
"I'm not convinced that destroying the time machine is the way to go, sir," Carter said for the fifth time. "Just think what we could learn if�"
"I'm not really liking the scenario where some Goa'uld goes back a hundred years to kill off my great, great gran'pappy," Jack said, not holding back his sarcasm. He understood where Carter was coming from but the threat to Daniel's childhood-self, which the Jaffa had affirmed wasn't yet over, was proof enough for him. Whether the threat was Apophis or Sokar or some yet to-be-named Goa'uld, he wanted it gone ASAP. "We got our orders. And I'm not convinced we got enough C-4 packed to blow up the thing to smithereens. I don't want anything less than a pile of dust standing when we're finished with it."
"Teal'c, what did you know about Khonsu?" Carter stopped pacing and stood in front of Teal'c.
"He is a little known System Lord, who kept much to himself. He was rumoured to know many unusual things, however, and some have attempted to fall into his good graces in order to get access to his wisdom. To my knowledge, he has remained unassociated with the majority of the Goa'uld."
"Do you think Nabil is telling the truth?" Carter demanded.
"I believe he is."
"Carter, whether or not Nabil is lying, that machine's got to go." Jack lowered his voice. "Just think what damage can happen if the NID get their hands on it. It's just too volatile a weapon to fall into their hands. I'd rather deal with the snakes out there than those on Earth."
"But we could�"
"I concur with O'Neill. The time travel device must be destroyed as soon as possible."
"Anyways, you got those key things to study." Jack got up to answer the phone, using that as an excuse to ignore the mutinous roll of Carter's eyes.
"Colonel." Fraiser's voice sounded in the receiver. "Daniel and Danny are eating breakfast." 'Lunch', Jack amended to himself. "They should be good to go in about thirty minutes. I've informed General Hammond."
"Thanks, doc. That gives us just enough time to get things moving and get Danny home." He hung up and rubbed his hands together. "Looks like we'll be good to go in a few."
- - - - - -
Jack half crouched, half ran to join Ferretti in overlooking the Jaffa at the cliff's edge. As he joined SG-2's team leader, Teal'c and Carter flanked him, getting onto their stomach to peer at the Jaffa and the nondescript building they were guarding.
"There's a total of six," Ferretti said, "two just inside the door, four outside. Two of them do perimeter checks every 48 minutes."
Jack took out his monocular and focused on the Jaffa down below. With a bit of patience, he was able to make out both Apophis' and Sokar's signs; which made sense � Sokar would have taken Apophis' warriors as his own after the latter's defeat.
So, Sokar was most likely the enemy Nabil wouldn't talk about.
"How much longer before the perimeter check?"
Ferretti checked his watch. "Eight minutes."
"Okay, that's our ticket. We zat the first two once they've left, surprise the remaining four."
The operation went smoothly and before they knew it, they had entered the building. Jack stopped just inside the entrance. The room was empty.
"There must be a transport device here somewhere," Carter said.
"There is." Without a word, Nabil stepped to the far wall on the right and touched a wall panel. The panel moved aside, revealing the controls to the transport rings.
Jack moved to the center of the room, as did Teal'c and Carter. Five seconds later, they were all standing in a large chamber, illumination given by sconces high up on the ceiling.
The chamber they were in was enormous. Their footsteps echoed; their shadows danced in the dim lighting. In the center of the room was a small, raised wooden platform with a pedestal set to the side. They approached carefully, cautious not to touch anything. "Time machine? For some reason I thought it'd look like a phone booth or something a little more..."
"Yeah." He keyed his mic. "Ferretti, can you read?"
The major's voice came in full of static. "Just barely, Colonel."
"Hold on a sec." Jack moved to the transport controls, Teal'c right behind him.
"Carter, do not touch anything while we're gone. You can look, but no touching. That goes for you too, Nabil."
"Yes, sir," she said, smiling at him while the Jaffa nodded.
"So help me, if I find out you snuck back six months to see who left you those roses on your birthday�"
"Don't worry, I know who it was."
Jack paused, his hand hovering over the controls. "You do?"
"Yeah, it was Lieutenant Simmons."
"Ah." Jack pointed to the surface. "I won't be long."
"Take your time, sir. This will most likely prove to be very interesting." She looked at the device with an expression of a kid in a candy store.
Jack keyed the mic again once he was in the building. "I'm coming back up. I want two of your men down here to accompany Captain Carter while she studies this thing. Teal'c and I are going to go back to the 'gate to get Daniel and the kid."
- - - - - -
Daniel came out of the Stargate carrying an unconscious Danny. For a moment, Jack's heart jumped into his mouth, then he recalled that Fraiser had drugged him to avoid the kid seeing the military base and the Stargate.
Daniel was struggling with the dead weight. But before Jack could go take the boy from his grip, Teal'c had gently extracted the limp body, cradling him against his shoulder.
"Let's go." Jack placed a hand on Daniel's arm and gave him a questioning look.
"I'm fine." Daniel began walking at a brisk pace and Jack hurried to pass him and take point.
"How long is he gonna be...?"
"Janet said no more than ten minutes. He should wake up in another minute or two."
"All right." They had descended far enough down the trail so that Danny wouldn't be able to see the Stargate should he wake up now.
By the time they got to the bottom of the trail, Danny was crying, having woken up disoriented. Teal'c murmured softly to him until he got his bearings. He buried his face against Teal'c's shoulder, groggy enough from his enforced slumber to allow himself to be carried.
The way to the entrance had been cleared of dead Jaffa thanks to the ever-so handy zat, so Danny was spared any of the horrors that had happened twenty minutes earlier. Still lethargic and with his face buried against Teal'c, they quickly whisked him through the rings.
Teal'c put him down close to the time machine. Danny staggered slightly, then leaned against Teal'c's legs. With an arm held around Danny, Teal'c was content to allow the boy to rest against him while Jack and Daniel went to see whether Nabil and Carter had made any progress.
"Sir," Carter said with wide-eyed wonder. "This is incredible. According to the log, there have been literally thousands of jumps into time, both back and forward, over the last one hundred years."
Daniel peered over Carter's shoulder, then moved closer to the log, examining it intently.
"Yeah, well, are any of these jumps any danger to us?"
"As I have informed you already, Colonel O'Neill, my Lord used this device only to observe. By destroying it, you will also destroy all of his observations so that none will fall into the wrong hands."
"Hey, wait a second. You didn't tell us that. Observations? As in notes? Records? Intel?" Jack glared at Nabil and even Daniel took a moment from examining the printout on the pedestal to stare at Nabil in disappointment.
"Any information gained through tampering through time will be detriment to your future. This would be dangerous in the hands of most Goa'uld. I requested your aid, you, the Tau'ri, enemy of my people, in destroying the device."
"You could have destroyed this thing yourself," Jack countered.
"It was always my intention to do so once I returned young Daniel to his own time."
"How soon before you can send the kid home?"
Looking to Jack for permission, Nabil pressed several buttons on the pedestal once Jack nodded his consent. "The coordinates are set. He will be returned exactly one hundred twenty seconds after his attack by Apophis."
"Wait." Daniel moved forward quickly, placing himself between Nabil and the time machine. "Isn't that cutting it close? If Apophis is still there�"
"He is not. Whoever spirited young Danny away, also returned Apophis to his own time after taking possession of the key. There will be no danger and young Daniel will be back among his classmates."
"What about his memories?"
"That is unfortunate. One can only hope that these experiences do not sway him from what was your path, Doctor Jackson."
Jack patted Daniel on the back and sent a swift, silent prayer. "So, we can send him off now? You translate that writing yet?"
"It's just dates and coordinates, Jack. It's not telling me much except that someone went through, and came back. But like Nabil said, there's only one person who's travelling in time right now, although it doesn't tell me who it is."
Jack thought a moment, realizing he needed to trust that Nabil was telling them the truth and that he was the person "out there" in time, and not Sokar or Apophis or some other snakehead on a killing spree. Finally, he made his decision.
"Danny." Jack walked to the young boy, who was watching them with apprehension. They'd tried to speak softly but Jack didn't doubt that the kid might have picked up on a few words here and there. "You ready to go back home?"
"H... home?" He looked up at Jack, obviously confused.
"Yep. Back to..." Suddenly Jack realized that he knew absolutely nothing about Daniel's past.
"Back to the Forresters," Daniel said, kneeling so that he was close to Danny's height.
"Do I have to?" There was fear in his voice, tinged with a slight whining quality. He leaned closer to Teal'c, as if hoping that the big man wouldn't allow anyone to force him to go.
"I'm afraid so." Jack squatted down beside Daniel.
"But I like it here... I mean..." He looked up at Jack, "Can't I stay with you?"
Caught by surprise, Jack didn't know what to say. He glanced over at Daniel, who seemed embarrassed as he ducked his head. "Um, I wish we could do that, but I'm afraid not."
"It's complicated. Sorta." Jack stood and extended his hand. "C'mon, you can say goodbye to Nabil, and then we'll get you home."
"No!" Danny let go of Teal'c and backed up. "I thought you were my friend. I thought you wanted to take care of me."
"Danny. I am your friend. But it's not up to me to take care of you."
"You have guardians," Daniel said. "They're good people. You'll come to like them a lot. You just need to give them a chance."
"They can't protect me from the bad guy with the glowy eyes." Daniel was sobbing now, and realizing that he couldn't rationale his way out, he began yelling all sorts of accusations in an attempt to feed the adults' guilt, obviously not realizing they were seeing through him. "You said I was safe with you. You're going to send me back home where there're monsters waiting for me."
"There aren't any monsters." Jack took a step closer and grabbed his arm, trying to pull him closer into a hug. "They were part of a dream when you were sick, remember?" Jack started the scenario they were going to try and feed Danny, hoping to make him believe he'd dreamed what had happened when he returned home.
"No, you're lying." Danny squirmed in Jack's hold, trying to get away, but Jack had a good grip, keeping him off balance without injuring him. After a minute, the boy tired and sagged in Jack's arms.
"I'm sorry, Danny, I really wish you could stay." And that confession surprised Jack. He'd enjoyed his time with Danny, enjoyed the trust and confidence the boy had had in him, reminding him of his own son. "C'mon."
He released his hold and tugged on Danny's arm, forcing him to follow. They approached the time machine, Danny's breaths punctuated by hitching sobs as he sullenly watched them.
"Danny?" Carter knelt beside him and placed a hand on his shoulder. "When you go back, it's going to be really, really strange." Danny wiped his eyes with the back of his hand as he looked at her, the words catching his attention. "You're going to close your eyes, and when you open them again, you'll be back at the museum."
"And even stranger is that you'll be in the hallway waiting while Mrs. Baker brings the class inside the exhibition. And it's two days ago."
"This is a dream?"
Carter glanced at Daniel, pursed her lips, and nodded. "Yes. You're not feeling very well and you fell asleep and had a funny dream. When you wake up, you'll be back in the museum."
"You're a liar!" Danny pulled away from Carter and glared at them all. You're all liars."
"Okay, enough, everyone." Daniel stepped forward, putting a hand out at Carter to stop her from continuing with the story they'd come up with. "It's confusing enough for him as it is." He sighed loudly, then motioned Danny closer. Still angry, Danny approached.
"You've read stories about time travel, right?"
"Yeah, of course."
"So you understand what can happen if someone goes back in time and changes the past?"
Danny nodded slowly and uncertainly, as if suddenly he had caught on to what was happening.
"We were trying to keep the knowledge from you because it could change your... my future."
Danny's mouth dropped. "You're me," he said in a huff of breath.
Daniel smiled sadly. "Yeah."
"But you're so old. Not as old as Grandpa Nick, but close." Danny glanced quickly at Jack, his gaze pointedly going to his silvery hair, then to Daniel's.
"So you see why you can't stay here? If you stayed, I'd not exist anymore."
"But you're here now, with me."
"Because, little one," Nabil said as he slowly approached the group, "up until this point, you have returned to your own time. If circumstances made it possible for you to stay, then the adult version of you would cease to exist. You must return, so that you may become the man you are destined to be."
"I..." Tears shimmered in Danny's eyes and his lower lip began to tremble. "I'm gonna miss you."
"Gonna miss you too, sport," Jack said, getting down on one knee again and reaching for the kid. Danny threw himself into Jack's arms, sobbing quietly this time. Jack blinked back the stinging moisture threatening to spill into his own eyes, not wanting Daniel, or Danny, to realize how much the kid had gotten to him.
Once Danny had calmed down somewhat, Jack stood and led him to the machine. Nabil went to the control panel.
"Are you the one who brought me here?" Danny asked as Nabil made an adjustment to the controls.
"No, but I am the one with the knowledge to send you home. Step onto the platform."
Hesitantly, Danny got up onto the small, wooden platform and turned to face them. Daniel approached and pushed a lock of hair out of Danny's eyes. "It won't all be bad times, Danny. Give the Forresters a chance; they really do care for you."
Wiping his tears with the back of his hand, Danny nodded, then stared up at Jack as he went to stand beside Daniel.
"You know you can't talk to anyone about what just happened."
Again, Danny nodded wordlessly, trying to control his emotions, but failing.
"When you get back to the museum, just tell your teacher you don't feel well," Carter added, joining the trio once she handed Nabil the key to the time machine. "Any medical tests will show you aren't totally well, so you won't get into any trouble." She smiled encouragingly.
"Till we meet again, DannyJackson." Teal'c completed the foursome, his fisted hand crossed over chest, his head lowered in a regal bow.
"You must take a deep breath." Nabil inserted the key in a hole on the side of the pedestal, punched a button and a low hum began. "The process is painless, but may be slightly disorienting."
A light enveloped Danny and the boy looked up. The expression on his face turned to one of panic and he took a step forward, his hands reaching out to them when he slowly began to fade, freezing him in place. Jack blinked again, hating to see the fear on the kid's face, wishing he could step forward and pluck him out and comfort him, but he resolutely stood there, hands fisted together, holding himself back.
Daniel's shoulder and arm pressed against his and he could feel his friend trembling. Then just before Danny disappeared completely, a glowing form enveloped him. Jack got the impression of a kind face, smiling gently at Danny as a misty white tentacle brushed his cheek. Then both were gone, and the machine powered down.
Suddenly Daniel collapsed to his knees with a loud gasp, surprising them all. Struggling for breath, he fell forward, supporting himself on his hands. Immediately Jack and Teal'c were down, holding him up and trying to find out what happened.
Face flushed, Daniel raised wild eyes towards them. "I can't feel him anymore."
"Daniel, is he�" Carter swallowed loudly.
"No, otherwise Daniel wouldn't be here now." Jack shifted his grip as Daniel slowly fell sideways onto his hip. Jack held him up so that he was now sitting as he struggled to breathe, looking almost as Danny had as he disappeared into time.
"I can't remember..." Daniel said, his voice high with emotions. "His memories are gone, it's like the connection died, but I can remember his being here, and I can remember remembering his emotions, but..." Daniel took a noisy, ragged breath, and exhaled noisily. "I can remember the museum, feeling exhausted and... not scared, somehow I felt... disoriented and confused, but comforted. One of the teachers took me back to my foster parents in a cab. I remember being put to bed and staying there for a day or two, saying I probably caught the flu."
Daniel smiled, his face relaxing, his breathing easing. "Somehow his memories of us, his time here, are gone. I..." Daniel suddenly realized where he was and how Teal'c and Jack were holding onto him. He looked around, smiling sheepishly. "I'm fine, guys. Let's blow this thing." He stood, albeit shakily and shrugged off their help.
Carter and Nabil began setting charges, placing the C-4 in and around the time machine.
"You sure there's nothing in there that'll come and bite us on the ass sometime down the road?" Jack took out the timer and hesitated, looking down at the control that would detonate the charges.
"All travellers are accounted for. If we are to destroy the device, now is the time, before the device is moved." Nabil plucked the key from the pedestal and handed it to Jack.
"Ahhh," Jack said, realizing now that the Jaffa hadn't been totally honest with them. "So, some Goa'uld is coming to take possession of this thing? Move it into his palace and go on a couple trips down memory lane?"
"That is correct." Nabil stood back, looked at the timer Jack was holding in his hand. "We must do this now."
"Don't you want to return to your own time?"
"I believe, as Teal'c has said, that I am free. I choose to remain here and enjoy my freedom." He looked at the last packet of C-4 in his hand. "I choose to serve no Lord." Nabil placed the last of the C-4 and straightened.
Nodding, Jack set the timer for sixty seconds and placed it beside the time machine. They moved to the rings, Teal'c activated them and they reappeared inside the small building. They all quickly stepped outside, although Jack knew it wasn't likely the time machine had been set up directly below. Most likely it was several hundred feet straight down.
He checked his watch, then counted down the seconds. He hit zero and waited for the sound of an explosion.
Nothing happened. They all looked at one another when suddenly Daniel staggered. Teal'c reached out and steadied him. Daniel looked at them all, frowning.
"This is getting really weird, guys. Now I don't remember having the flu when I got back. I just remember..." Daniel squinted and frowned... "waiting impatiently for the class to come out of the exhibition and then going for lunch. What the hell is going on?"
"You no longer recall young Daniel's memories?" Nabil frowned at Daniel.
"No. I remember him being here, but I have a bunch of different memories along with all the others. Which are the right ones?" Daniel was sounding exasperated, and Jack couldn't blame him.
"That is curious. I can think only think of one reason for this to have occurred. Somehow his memories were erased or suppressed�"
"Or," Carter said, "the event hasn't yet happened and by destroying the time machine, we changed the time line so that Danny was never brought to us."
The look that Nabil gave her had Jack wondering if Carter hit the nail on the head.
"But that would mean the attack on me happened from someone living the future, and that's impossible because Apophis is dead." Daniel thrust his chin out at Nabil as they all turned to look at him.
"Or," Nabil said slowly, "Apophis travelled to the future, and from that point, travelled to Daniel's past. As he no longer is capable of accessing the time machine in the future, Daniel's time line was never changed."
Jack felt like his brain was starting to overheat. "Oy, okay, so, in a nutshell, you're saying that everything's back on track?"
"Everything is back on track, Colonel." Nabil smiled at him. "There will be no further threats from My Lord's device."
"It's about time."
- - - - - -
Danny tossed and turned in his bed, unable to go back to sleep. He'd had a strange dream and couldn't get it out of his mind. He'd dreamed of his dad, but with silver hair. He'd woken up feeling both bereft and comforted, feeling disappointed and encouraged.
He turned onto his side, catching sight of the battered stuffed toy he'd had all of his life. The beady, brown eyes glinted in the moonlight, and although too old to be carrying a stuffed camel around, tonight he felt he needed its comfort. He padded out of bed, grabbed Lumpy and climbed back under the covers with him.
He pulled it close, feeling its familiar weight and feel, imagining his mom and dad coming to tuck him in at night. He closed his eyes, listening to the faint sound of Mr. Forrester's snores coming from down the hall. He began to relax, feeling sleepy again.
A voice echoed through his mind, a whisper of a dream, fading fast.
"Don't be afraid, Danny. All will be well."
"Who are you?"
"You saved me before, didn't you?"
"Did I?" There was laughter in her voice.
"I remember you. You made us sick. And you're going to take Daniel's pain away. Like you did for me."
"You have a good memory, young man. We'll need to do something about that." Her smile was kind, her voice gentle. The words didn't worry Danny.
"Am I going home?"
"Will I ever see you again?"
"Of course. I have to take away the pain, right?"
"Jack? Sam? Teal'c?"
"One day. Count on it."
"Good. I can't wait."
Author's Comments: The whole idea of time travel has been written a certain way in most fantasy/scifi novels. I tried going for a slightly different grasp to what would happen to someone who was brought forward in time, as with Danny/Daniel's memories. I'm not sure it worked, I'm sure there are tons of holes in my logic, but I tried to make it work for the story.
Hugs and kisses to devra, who kept the logic flowing when I lapsed, and for her eagle eye, as always. And any and all mistakes are purely mine.
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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.