Second ChancesSecond Chances
�Carter, what exactly are we looking at?� Jack asked as he leaned over her shoulder to get a better look at the computer monitor showing a live video feed. All he could see was a beige wall with what looked like part of an Egyptian hieroglyph painted blue in the far right upper corner.
Carter�s laptop was connected by a multitude of wires to some kind of oblong black box, about 18 inches in height and 8 inches thick. A large part of a corner had broken off at one time and it had been glued back on, the cracks of which clearly marred the shiny surface. The wires were connected to a variety of small bumps with holes in them which were found all over the box. Several bumps near the broken corner had obviously also broken off and had since been jury rigged. Red, green, blue, yellow and white wires stuck out of said holes. A large portable battery powered the device.
�Well, Sir, we think that this is another type of quantum mirror, and what we�re seeing here is, well, a parallel universe.�
�Oh great, here we go again,� Jack sighed.
�Sam, is there any way to change the angle of the view on this thing?� Daniel asked as he leaned over Carter�s other shoulder.
�Nope. We�re limited to whatever direction the front of the device is pointing towards,� she answered as she tapped one of the indistinct bumps on their device.
�That�s obviously Egyptian,� Daniel said of the partial hieroglyph.
�Well, even I knew that,� Jack snarked.
Daniel turned away from the computer and looked at Jack, eyebrows raised.
�Well, it looks Egyptian. Don�t you think I�ve been exposed to enough of the stuff in all the years I�ve been hanging around you?�
Although he didn�t smile, Jack saw the amusement reflected in Daniel�s eyes.
�Right, Jack. Maybe next mission, I�ll let you do the translations,� Daniel said before turning back to the screen. Jack straightened up and stood staring at the backs of his two team mates, both staring intently at a computer monitor which showed nothing but a boring beige wall. And part of a hieroglyph. He glanced at Teal�c, who was standing beside him, watching silently.
He turned his attention to the strange device, trying to recall what he�d read about it in the latest memos. It had been discovered two years ago in the basement of a museum, obviously broken, in a box with several other artefacts that had held cryptic references to the Goa�uld. It had been possessed by the NID, who had ignored it up until a few months ago when someone had figured out how to get it charged up. Carter had been contacted a few days ago and she and a team of scientists had eventually gotten it working. Obviously. So now here they were, staring at a wall.
�Whoa, what was that?� Jack asked as something white flashed across the bottom part of the screen.
�Looked like someone�s head,� Daniel said. �Either someone quite short, or else the device is pretty high up.�
�Are we recording this?� Jack asked.
�Yes Sir,� she answered distractedly, her attention back on the screen, waiting for the movement to be repeated. Jack shook his head and stepped back. �Let me know when you guys see something interesting.� Rolling his eyes at Teal�c, Jack returned to his office.
- - - - - -
Two days later, the plain beige wall had been transformed into a museum piece. Large black and white snapshots of what appeared to be ancient tombs were hung, a collection of artefacts were on display, and a decorated sarcophagus had been stood up against the wall. The view of that part of the room was still very limited, but it was obvious that it was a showroom.
Hammond had been reluctant at first to allow SG1 to cross into the other universe seeing as the room was obviously occupied. He had eventually given his permission due to pressure from his higher ups to try and explore the quantum mirror and see just why it was associated with other Goa�uld-related artefacts. So Jack, Daniel and Teal�c were now waiting in the lab while Carter made some final adjustments to her laptop.
�You sure you�re gonna be able to connect your computer to that thingamajig out there, Carter?� Jack asked as she closed her laptop and placed it in her pack.
�Yes Sir, it�ll only take a couple of seconds. Since the remote control is missing, if there even was one, the programme I�ve written essentially acts as the remote. I just need to plug the device into the portable battery and charge it up and give it the command to turn itself on. It�ll hold the command and the charge for sixty seconds. I�ve more or less managed to figure everything out so I can get us home in no time.�
Jack nodded, realizing that if they appeared suddenly in a room full of people, they might have to make a quick escape back home. �Wait a minute, more or less managed? Is there something you�re not telling me?�
�Well, there was one button that we haven�t been able to figure out yet. I have a couple of theories but they�re still unproven.�
�That won�t affect our getting back home, will it?� Daniel asked worriedly.
Carter smiled. �No, it shouldn�t. There�s some kind of energy field being given off by the device; I think that that unknown piece is what�s causing it. It might have been damaged when the device was broken. I�ll know for sure when I examine the one on the other side.�
General Hammond entered the room as SG1 stood ready to depart. Teal�c picked up the portable battery that would be used to power up the device in the other reality. Jack was uneasy with this mission; he didn�t like the fact that they�d be materializing in a room which had people in it, at least part of the time. But the fact that a child had been glimpsed on a few occasions gave him hope that the people there were at least peaceful.
�Good luck, SG1,� Hammond announced. �We�ll be expecting you back in three hours.�
Sam nodded, and hit a key on the laptop. A faint hum arose from the machine as its surface turned reflective. She motioned quickly for them to approach. They all placed a hand on her shoulders, and she touched the machine.
The next second Jack was standing close to the same picture-strewn wall they�d been glimpsing for the past three days. He was aware of urgent screams and yells, and the sounds of people running. He raised his weapon as a precaution, but to his surprise, nobody was paying them any attention. They all seemed to be running towards some broken pillars in the right hand corner of the large room, which looked strangely familiar to Jack.
A man ran by and bumped the display case before them. As it began tipping over, Jack recognized the device that had brought them to this dimension. Before he could make a move, Teal�c reached over and plucked the quantum mirror from the air as it fell to the floor.
Jack was going to commend Teal�c on his quick reflexes when Daniel�s voice distracted him.
�Oh my God!� Daniel exclaimed hoarsely. Jack turned towards the man as he heard his stricken voice, seeing his face pale and his eyes widen in shock. Jack looked to see what Daniel was staring at and saw a blond, eight year old child screaming and kicking while being held by what appeared to be a museum employee.
�Daniel,� Sam�s soft voice confused Jack. She placed a hand to his shoulder, but the younger man shrugged it off. He began striding towards the woman holding the struggling child. Jack and the others followed more slowly.
�Give him to me,� Daniel ordered. The woman gladly handed the boy over, having trouble keeping him from running towards the crowd of people surrounding the damaged section of the room. Jack glanced towards the group and spotted a large pool of blood coming from underneath one of the pillars. Again, the scene was very familiar, but Jack couldn�t quite place it.
Hugging the young child to his chest, Daniel almost ran from the room. Jack followed, noting that the boy was staring wide-eyed at the blood as he was carried away. He glanced over at Carter who had a very worried expression on her face. She said only one word when everything fell into place.
�Goddamn�, Jack thought. That little boy; that was Daniel!
- - - - - -
Daniel almost ran out the door, trying to get away from the sounds and sights that had haunted his dreams for the past 26 years. He ran down some stairs and rushed along a long hallway, his footsteps echoing while he searched for a quiet place to hide. He could hear the rest of his team following behind, but his attention was mostly on the boy in his arms. He�d felt the slight body stop struggling once they�d gotten out of earshot of the rescue attempt. The boy had begun shivering and had gone very quiet. Seeing what appeared to be a storage room, Daniel opened the door and went inside. Jack and the others joined him seconds later.
His legs suddenly had trouble holding him up and Daniel sagged against the wall. The boy was now a dead weight, and Daniel knew that he�d gone into shock. He himself couldn�t recall much else of that ill-fated day or even the ones immediately following it. He had been told that he�d been brought to a hospital, and had slowly begun coming back to himself at the orphanage a few days later.
As he let himself slide down the wall, cradling the limp body in his arms, Daniel remembered those days of loneliness. He�d been mostly ignored as he had been totally unresponsive. He�d craved human touch but couldn�t seem to remember how to ask for comfort in his devastation, and so first the medical staff and then the people in the orphanage had left him alone. His world had been turned upside down with the death of his parents, as had this young Daniel Jackson�s.
Jack knelt beside them, a worried look on his face. Daniel opened his mouth to explain what had just happened, but he was too choked up. He took a shaky breath and lowered his face into the soft hair cradled against his chest.
Jack�s gentle touch on his nape was the trigger that set the tears flowing. He sobbed for the pain that this young boy had just experienced, for the memories that had just been revived and the still agonizing memories that the Gamekeeper had inflicted on him last year.
- - - - - -
Jack pulled Daniel sideways against his chest, and held both warm bodies against him, both hurting in different ways but for the same reasons. Carter came around to their team mate�s other side and laid a hand on his shoulder while Teal�c stood guard at the door. After a few minutes, Daniel finally calmed and pulled away from Jack. He straightened up slightly, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. He sniffed, trying to clear his clogged sinuses. His breath was still shaky, but Jack could see he had control over his emotions once again.
Jack was worried about both Daniels. The youngster was staring ahead blankly, oblivious to the emotions which had overcome the adult Daniel. The older Daniel was hugging the young child to him, and Jack didn�t know whether he was trying to comfort the boy or was taking comfort from the boy�s presence. He slid his jacket off and wrapped it around the young, shivering body.
Jack now recalled Daniel�s pained face when the Gamekeeper had transported Teal�c and himself to the museum. He�d known that Daniel had been shocked by the memories, but he was pretty sure that his reaction then hadn�t been this bad. Carter had said he�d been upset, but even she had seemed surprised by his reaction upstairs. It must have to do with seeing himself as a young, traumatized child.
Jack eyed the young boy lying still in Daniel�s arms. He reached over and raised the small face towards him, noting that the dull blue eyes weren�t tracking. His long blond hair was reminiscent of Daniel�s when Jack had first met him. He obviously needed a haircut; his bangs were falling into his eyes.
�We have to bring the boy back,� Jack began softly.
�His name�s Daniel,� Daniel interrupted in an unsteady voice.
�We have to bring Daniel back so that he can be taken care of,� he repeated, eyeing the boy with worry. �He�s obviously in shock and needs medical treatment.�
Daniel shook his head, holding the boy tighter against him. �They�ll dope him up and leave him alone with his memories and his fear. He needs someone with him right now, Jack. He needs someone to hold him, to tell him everything will be okay.� Daniel�s voice broke and he wiped newly formed tears from his eyes.
�Daniel, he�s not aware of anything or anyone right now,� Sam said gently. �The Colonel�s right, he needs medical attention.�
�Then let�s take him home. Janet can look after him,� he mumbled against the boy�s hair.
Teal�c moved a step forward into the small space. �That is unadvisable, DanielJackson. This is an alternate reality. To bring the boy to ours will cause him to experience Entropic Cascade Failure.�
�Well I�m not leaving him here alone,� Daniel said. The determined look on his face conveyed to Jack that they�d have to knock him out to take the youngster away from him.
Jack threw up his hands in frustration and looked at Carter. �Okay, power up that thing,� he waved towards the black box that Teal�c had rescued from the showroom, �and let�s go home. We�ll bring the kid with us,� he added, hoping that Fraiser could treat him before the 48 hour deadline.
Carter shook her head. �Sir, I don�t think I can.� At Jack�s shocked look, she continued quickly. �I mean, I can get us home, but I need time to check my calculations. We�ve not only moved into another reality, but we�ve changed timelines. Remember that one control I said I couldn�t figure out? It must be the one controlling *when* we travel to. If we go back now, we chance coming into this same time in our reality.�
Jack was feeling a headache coming on. �Okay, how long?�
�A few hours,� she said with a shrug. �Maybe more, if I have to adjust for the timeline shift in my calculations.�
�Well, we can�t stay here,� Jack said as he heard someone running down the hallway. �They�ll know the kid�� he saw Daniel glare at him and began again. �They�ll figure out that Danny here is missing and will probably start searching the place. Teal�c, Carter, start looking for another way out, there must be more than one exit out of here. The fewer people who see us leave, the better.�
Jack began gathering their weapons and tied the larger ones together, covering them with one of the emergency blankets. Teal�c�s staff weapon could be carried openly; no one would know it was a weapon. Jack figured that was all they needed, to be caught carrying arms and a kidnapped child in the middle of New York City.
�You okay?� Jack asked as he watched Daniel close his eyes tiredly. They snapped open and stared at him, bloodshot and swollen.
�No,� he answered in a small voice. �This brought back a lot of emotions I thought I�d buried.� He looked down at the boy. �I can�t let him go through what I did, Jack. I just can�t.�
Reaching for his canteen, he uncapped it and handed it to Daniel. The distraught man stared at him blankly until Jack nudged his arm. He accepted the canteen and took a couple of sips before handing it back. Jack motioned towards the boy and understanding, Daniel raised the child�s head.
�Danny,� Jack said in a gentle voice. �Do you want some water?� He waited a moment for a reaction, and seeing none, he placed the mouth of the canteen against the boy�s lips. As he tipped the container, he was relieved when he swallowed a few mouthfuls.
�Atta boy,� Jack praised, reaching over and brushing his hair out of his eyes.
Danny blinked, but kept staring blankly. Jack took the opportunity to examine the boy, noting that although his hair was much lighter than the adult Daniel�s, there was no mistaking the resemblance. He was still shivering slightly, even enveloped in Jack�s jacket and cuddled against Daniel�s bulk.
Having stuffed everything into their packs, they were ready to leave when Teal�c and Carter returned with an escape route. Jack tossed Teal�c his black knit hat, which he placed on top of his head to hide his tattoo. They made their way out of the museum without encountering anyone; everyone obviously having gone to the accident site to check it out. Jack seethed inwardly at their morbid curiosity while at the same time he was relieved that they wouldn�t have to try to explain why they were kidnapping a child. With any luck, they�d have forgotten about young Danny Jackson in all of the confusion.
They walked the few blocks towards Central Park without drawing a second glance from any passersby. Where else but New York City could four adults walk around in BDUs without attracting undue attention? He caught Carter grinning at him when a teenager commented on their neat clothes.
Daniel walked alongside them in a daze, young Danny clutched in his arms. The boy hung limply, not even attempting to anchor himself to Daniel. He was a dead weight and when Jack offered to relieve Daniel of his burden, the younger man shook his head emphatically. His friend hadn�t uttered a word since they�d left the New York Museum of Art and Jack was beginning to worry about him.
They entered the park as the sun was low in the sky, and they made for a large copse of trees by a small lake. They made camp under the trees; Jack wishing he could dare a campfire but they had to ensure that they remained unseen. Although it was early summer, the night was cooling off quickly.
As Daniel settled down with the boy in his lap once more, Jack took out an emergency blanket and wrapped it around the both of them. Daniel was shivering slightly, and Jack thought it was from more than the damp air. He didn�t look at Jack; he simply sat there with his cheek resting against Danny�s head. Jack was becoming a little worried at Daniel�s obsession with his younger self.
Jack took out another blanket and wrapped it around his own shoulders. He missed the warmth of his jacket, but the child needed it more than he did. Carter went to the lake to gather water to heat their MREs. Teal�c checked their perimeter, ensuring that they were alone. Jack heard a couple of squawks and squeals when Teal�c ran off a drunk who had decided to party too close to their campsite.
�Daniel,� Jack said softly as he knelt beside his friend, placing a hand on his knee. Daniel looked up at Jack slowly, his eyes a little glazed in the dimming light.
�You should put him down,� Jack urged, putting a hand on the child�s shoulder. �He�ll be more comfortable lying down.�
Daniel shook his head before raising his knees and bringing Danny closer to him. He lowered his head once more.
Jack opened his mouth to protest, then gave up, realizing that Daniel was probably in shock. He sat beside his friend and patted his knee, feeling the slight tremors beneath his hand.
By now the sun had set but the sky still retained a pink glow, illuminating their camp with a cosy warm radiance. A streetlamp situated not far would allow enough light so they wouldn�t be totally in the dark.
When Carter returned and handed him his supper, Daniel ignored the proffered meal. �Daniel,� Carter called gently. She ran a hand through his hair, but his only reaction was a shaky inhalation. She pulled out her medkit and removed three Benedryl tablets, snapping one in half. Familiar with the sedating effects of the antihistamines, Jack accepted the half pill and unclipped his canteen.
�I need you to take these,� she coaxed as she placed a hand underneath her friend�s chin. When Daniel raised his head compliantly, Jack saw the wet tracks on his cheeks. Daniel stared blankly at the pills.
�They�re antihistamines. They�ll help unstuff your head,� Carter told him; which was true because he could hear Daniel�s difficulty breathing through his clogged up sinuses. After a moment Daniel reached a hand out and accepted the tablets, swallowing them with a few sips of water from Carter�s canteen. Jack hoped that they�d also knock Daniel out. The best thing for him right now was sleep. For both Daniels.
While Daniel was drinking the water and before he could huddle against the boy, Jack took the half pill that Carter had given him and popped it into young Danny�s mouth. He dribbled some water against his lips and the boy once again swallowed automatically. Jack patiently coaxed until Danny had taken in enough water to satisfy him.
He picked up his cooling supper as Daniel gathered the young body and hugged him against his chest once more. They ate their supper in silence; three pairs of eyes watching with concern as their team mate sat huddled over young Danny, lost in his memories. Jack could see the boy�s face as he stared blankly into the depth of the night.
Soon the dull, blue eyes began to droop. Jack looked at his friend and noted that his body appeared to be a little more relaxed. Placing a hand on Daniel�s nape, Jack said softly, �The boy�s getting sleepy. How about lying down?�
Without a word, Daniel stretched his length along the ground while Jack helped settle Danny beside him. Jack tucked a pack under his friend�s head as Daniel pulled the young boy against him, pillowing Danny�s head on his shoulder and pressing his face against his chest. As much as Daniel was trying to comfort Danny, Jack ached to see his friend so obviously hurting. He curled up around the boy, effectively shutting himself off from his friends.
Soon Daniel�s body relaxed as the pills took effect. Both man and child fell into a deep sleep, Daniel�s hands finally loosening their grip on the boy as he relaxed into slumber.
At Jack�s request, Teal�c settled into kel-no-reem while Jack kept first watch. Carter had opened her laptop, the light illuminating her face as she lost herself in numbers and equations.
Time passed slowly as the night wore on. Jack alternated between walking around their camp and sitting watching Carter�s face as she worked doggedly through the late evening. Upon returning from what he�d decided to be his last survey before waking Teal�c, he saw Carter fiddling with her computer. Finally, she swore and closed the laptop, rubbing a hand tiredly over her face.
�So, did you figure how to get us back?� Jack asked in a low voice.
She exhaled loudly before shaking her head. �The variables are very complicated,� she explained as she settled the blanket around her shoulders. �It�s going to take me a little longer to figure them out; but that�s not the problem. My battery�s running low and the spare isn�t working.� She raised a hand and waved it at the recalcitrant machine. �I can�t do anything more until we find a place where I can plug it in.�
Jack nodded, and ordered her to get some sleep. He roused Teal�c and curled up on the hard ground, hoping to get a few hours� sleep before morning. He knew they couldn�t stay in the park, and tried to think of an obscure place where Carter could go work with her laptop. The problem was� laptops weren�t exactly a common thing in 1972. It would have to be a quiet place where she could work uninterrupted for a couple of hours, at least. They needed that computer charged and working if they were to get home as it was in actuality the remote control device for the mirror.
Jack�s mind was churning with these thoughts. Normally he could will them aside and easily fall asleep; his life as a soldier had taught him to do so years ago. But tonight his mind kept returning to the look on Daniel�s face when he first spotted his younger self. He felt bad for the boy, but Daniel�s actions had put them in a situation which would be difficult to explain now as to why they�d kidnapped a child who was clearly traumatized, and had him sleeping in the middle of Central Park.
He must have dozed off when he became aware of a soft whimpering next to him. Thinking it was Daniel, he was a little surprised to see that young Daniel was crying in his sleep. He could hear him murmuring as he called out for his mom and dad.
Daniel had rolled onto his back in his sleep, and the boy was curled up beside him. Motioning to Teal�c that he�d comfort the boy, Jack reached over and picked up the child, surprised at the slight weight. At the movement, Danny cried out �Laa!�
�Shhhh,� Jack crooned, �it�s all right.� He glanced over at Daniel, glad to see that the boy�s cry hadn�t woken him up.
�Sir?� Carter asked sleepily, raising herself up on an elbow.
�S�okay, kid�s having a nightmare,� Jack explained as he straightened his jacket around the boy�s shoulders and then tucking his blanket around the both of them.
Still whimpering, Danny looked up at Jack in alarm. Jack smiled down at him, seeing the exact same look Daniel gave him sometimes. �You�re safe. Why don�t you go back to sleep,� Jack coaxed. Still feeling the effects of the antihistamines, the boy�s eyes closed involuntarily. He snuggled up against Jack, looking for heat and comfort. As Danny leaned against him, Jack felt the boy�s wet pants against his hip. Placing a hand on the boy�s head, he stroked the soft silky hair as the boy relaxed against him.
He sighed as he lowered himself back onto the ground, trying not to wake Danny. The boy moaned slightly when Jack�s movement disturbed him and he clutched at Jack�s shirt, his fingers loosening when Jack rubbed his back. Jack lay on his back with Danny lying on his side. The warm body reminded him of Charlie and Jack fell asleep with memories of his son snuggled up against him.
- - - - - -
The touch of a cool hand on his forehead woke Daniel out of a light sleep. He�d been drowsing on and off for the past hour, a splitting headache keeping him from falling back into a deeper sleep. He shivered suddenly, his stomach was churning sourly and he felt very tired.
�Are you awake?� Sam asked in a low voice.
He nodded, the pain in his head worsening with the movement.
�I�m sorry, I didn�t mean to wake you up. How are you feeling?� She brushed back the short bangs from his forehead.
Daniel opened his eyes and turned to look at Sam. It was dawn, the sun not quite up yet. It was light enough that Daniel could make out objects around him, and he suspected that as soon as the sun rose, his headache would go up a notch or two.
�Headache,� he admitted, hoping she�d give him something for the pain so he wouldn�t have to get up and rummage through his pack. To his relief, she moved away and then returned shortly with two pills and some water. He turned onto his side and raised himself on an elbow before accepting the medicine. He took the proffered canteen and swallowed some water.
�You�ve got a fever,� Sam said as she took the canteen from him. �Try to get a bit more sleep.�
As he lay back down, Daniel was surprised to see Danny curled up against Jack, both sleeping soundly. The sight of the small form huddled beneath the blanket brought back all of yesterday�s horrible memories, and he swallowed convulsively to keep the meagre contents of his stomach down where they belonged.
Daniel ached to go to the child and take him in his arms. He had had a bad time dealing with the aftermath of the Gamekeeper�s actions last year, but actually seeing himself yesterday after witnessing his parents die a third time in his life had tripled the strength of his emotions. He lay there on the hard ground and stared at Danny, remembering the fear and confusion he�d experienced as a child after that awful accident.
He shivered and pulled the blanket up to his chin, trying to keep warm. He started when he felt someone touch his back, realizing belatedly that it was Teal�c. For all of the man�s bulk, he could move more silently than any of them when necessary. The Jaffa spread another blanket over him, for which Daniel was grateful for its warmth.
Sam and Teal�c moved off a ways and sat together, talking quietly so as not to disturb their sleeping team mates. Somehow today their actions felt deliberate to Daniel, leaving him feeling lonely and miserable. Even Danny had distanced himself from Daniel in his sleep and had turned to Jack.
He closed his eyes and tried to rest, trying to ignore the aches and discomforts of his body. The pounding footsteps of an early jogger roused him from an uneasy doze. Another jogger went by a few minutes later, and the sharp bark of an accompanying dog startled him.
Danny made a sound of protest but before Daniel could sit up and go comfort the child, Jack had pulled him close. He could see the boy�s hands clutching at Jack�s shirt, and Jack�s hand gently rubbing his back as he spoke softly to him. Daniel couldn�t hear the words, but heard the tone of voice. He lay back down, feeling more and more alone.
He knew deep down that these feelings weren�t normal, and were probably exacerbated by his fever. But knowing there was an explanation for his emotions didn�t necessarily help make him feel better. He huddled under the blankets, shivering, listening to Jack soothe his younger self and wishing it was him that Jack was comforting.
- - - - - -
Jack had seen Daniel looking his way when he lifted Danny into his arms. The boy clutched at Jack as if he was a lifeline and Jack bent his head as he soothed him. The next time he�d looked over, Daniel had his eyes closed. The barking dog had woken the boy up, startling him. Jack presumed that the memories had come rushing back, but at least he was more alert this morning than he�d been last evening. He had actually looked at Jack twice; the first time during the night and again just now.
When Danny had calmed down and lay quietly against him, Jack tightened his grip and warned him that he was going to sit up. Danny grabbed at him as Jack put a hand onto the ground to push them up into a sitting position. He pulled the boy up into his lap, wrapping the blanket up and around Danny�s shoulders.
Carter and Teal�c glanced over and got up to join them. Teal�c removed a Power bar from his pack and tore the wrapping before handing it to Jack. Jack offered it to Danny, who turned his head away and pressed up against Jack�s chest.
�Aren�t you hungry?� Jack asked Danny. He didn�t expect an answer and didn�t receive one, but bit into the bar instead. Chewing the soft food, he wished he had coffee to go with it. Swallowing the bite, he offered the bar to the boy once more. Danny pulled away from it, so Jack relented.
�So, Danny,� Jack started. The boy turned his head to look at Jack curiously. �I guess you�re a little confused, huh? I�m Jack, by the way. That�s Carter over there, but I guess you could call her Sam. The big guy is Teal�c, and that�s Daniel.�
He watched as Danny eyed each person as Jack named them. His eyes widened slightly when he named Daniel, and Jack chuckled. �Yup, there are two of you,� he said, thinking how that was true in more ways than one.
He finished off his breakfast, swallowing the last mouthful with some water. He offered the canteen to Danny, who after a slight hesitation, reached out and accepted it. He took a few swallows before returning it to Jack.
�I�ll go fill these up,� Carter offered as she gathered all of their canteens. �There�s a water fountain over that way,� she said, pointing to the right with a cant of her head. �Do you want to come with me, Danny?� Danny turned towards Jack, throwing his arms around him. �Okay, I�ll try not to take it personally,� she said with a smile as she met Jack�s eyes.
She walked over to kneel beside Daniel, talking to him softly. It wasn�t normal for Daniel to remain abed while the rest of the team had gotten up. Daniel hadn�t been himself since yesterday after witnessing his parent�s deaths once more, and Jack hoped that the sleep had done him some good.
�Hey, you gonna lie there all day,� Jack said once Carter had gotten Daniel�s canteen and was making her way to the water fountain.
�DanielJackson is ill, O�Neill.�
Teal�c�s softly spoken words shocked Jack. �Why the hell didn�t someone say something,� Jack groused. �Daniel, what�s wrong?� He made to put Danny down but the boy grabbed onto Jack�s shoulders, reluctant to be separated from him.
�I�m fine, Jack. It�s just a headache,� Daniel said to him. �Sam gave me something earlier, I�m feeling better.�
Jack looked at his friend and saw his pale, sweaty face. �His temperature is also elevated,� Teal�c added. Jack leaned over and put a hand to Daniel�s cheek, registering the higher skin temperature. Daniel pulled away from his touch, turning onto his back.
Jack pulled his hand back and watched his friend a moment. �Daniel,� Jack said softly. Daniel turned his head back towards Jack. �By any chance would you remember the hotel where you stayed before your�� Jack was suddenly very aware of the small body in his arms. �I know it was a long time ago, but��
�I remember,� Daniel interrupted. �There were gargoyles above the entrance,� he continued in a toneless voice. �And the doorman always wore a red hat. It was pretty close to the museum, I remember we would walk there.�
�Would you be able to find it? Danny needs a change of clothes and a bath. It�s still early, possibly the authorities haven�t notified the hotel yet.� Jack also hoped that Danny�s parents had left some cash in the room. They might be stuck here all day and they were running out of food. They had a few articles that they could pawn, but Jack preferred not doing so if at all possible.
�I can find it,� Daniel said dully. �I can even get you to the door. Room 403,� he said with a sharp laugh. �Funny the things you remember no matter how hard you try to forget.� Jack felt Danny stiffen beneath him. So much for trying to talk over the boy�s head. He tightened his hold on the boy and rubbed his arm, letting him know it was okay.
�Carter,� Jack said as she handed back the water bottles on her return. �How much more time do you need to figure out how to get us back?�
�Several hours,� she answered. �I hope,� she continued in a lower voice. At Jack�s confused look, she added, �by adding in the time shift variable, it�s thrown everything else off. I need to double and triple check everything, Sir. One tiny error and we could either end up in a totally different universe, or miss our own time and land several years too early or too late. There�s another problem, I�ve just discovered that the device will only permit a few jumps into each universe. So in essence if I make a mistake, we may only have one more try to get back home. I think it�s a failsafe so that the users don�t try and inflict too much damage on the timeline.�
�That doesn�t make sense,� Jack said. �You just need to go back and kill off someone�s grandfather and the damage is done.�
Carter shrugged. �And then someone comes back and kills your great grandfather and you cease to exist before you kill off the grandfather.� Jack wasn�t about to go into discussing the concept of altering history through time travel, because he knew hands down she�d win the argument.
Jack looked over at Daniel, who hadn�t moved since Carter had returned. He hated to wake him, but they couldn�t stay here during the day, and the sooner Carter got busy on her laptop, the sooner he�d get Daniel� both Daniels, to Fraiser.
�Daniel,� Jack called softly. His friend�s eyes popped open and he looked at Jack wearily. �We gotta go,� he said apologetically. Daniel nodded, and sat up slowly. He began folding the blanket. Carter took the blanket from Jack, and put it away. Jack kept his jacket wrapped around Danny; his pants were almost dry but still a little damp to the touch.
�Sir, do you think it�s a good idea for Danny to go� I mean, the memories�� She looked at the boy who still had his arms wrapped around Jack�s torso. The thin arms tightened minutely at her words.
�I won�t leave you, don�t worry,� Jack whispered, and the arms relaxed. �What about the Benadryl?� Jack asked. �It might ease the shock.�
She nodded and took out the half pill from her pack.
�Danny, I�d like you to take this,� Jack said to the boy, pulling him away from him. Danny looked at the pill and then up at Jack, a perplexed look on his face.
�The medicine will make you a little sleepy, that�s all. I promise I won�t leave you alone.� Danny stared up at Jack, obviously trying to figure out what was going on. Jack pushed back the heavy bangs from the boy�s eyes, and asked, �Trust me?� Danny took the proffered pill and with a grimace, swallowed it with a few swallows of water. �Sure you don�t want to eat something?� Jack asked. The boy rested his head against Jack�s shoulder.
They made their way slowly to the museum. Daniel wasn�t in much better shape than yesterday. He was uncommunicative, answering in as few words as possible when they spoke to him. Jack could tell his head was still hurting just by the way he held it slightly tilted to the side.
The medication had kicked in and Danny was dozing in Jack�s arms. Teal�c had offered to carry him but Jack was reluctant to let go of him.
At the museum, Daniel stood a moment to get his bearings, eyes closed. He began walking north, and after a few wrong turns, they found a small hotel with gargoyles perched on top of the entrance. Instead of entering, Jack ordered them to continue on down the block. They stopped and he sat down on a wooden bench, gratefully taking Danny�s weight off his arms.
�Carter, you and Daniel go inside and check out the room.� Jack had no doubts in Carter�s abilities to pick a lock. �Teal�c and I will wait here and you can radio us with the all clear. I�ll go up with Danny; Teal�c, you stay in front of the hotel and make sure to warn up if anybody suspicious comes in.�
- - - - - -
Sam and Daniel brazenly walked to the elevator and punched the button to the fourth floor. Walking to room 403, after knocking on the door, she knelt and made short work of opening the locked door. She peeked inside, noting immediately that the room was empty. They entered and shut the door behind them. She flicked on the light and rifled through a stack of papers. When she found a snapshot of a man and a woman kneeling beside Danny, she radio�d the Colonel, telling him to come on up.
Daniel sat down listlessly on the bed, staring into space. She thought that he�d have been anxious to look at his family�s belongings, but realized that she�d been wrong. She sat down beside him and placed a hand on his arm.
�You all right?� she asked. He turned pain filled eyes towards her and she realized that he was still feeling sick. She tested for fever and wasn�t surprised to find that his temperature still hadn�t gone down. She dug out two more Tylenol and handed them to him. He swallowed them dry, grimacing at the acrid taste.
�I guess we should start packing,� she suggested as they waited for Colonel O�Neill to arrive.
�There�s no rush, Sam,� Daniel said in a weary voice. �We�ll be lucky if they remember that there was a kid in the museum when the accident happened.�
�Daniel,� Sam started, but he continued as if he hadn�t heard her.
�They locked me up in an office, and forgot about me. Apparently a janitor came in at three in the morning and found me sitting on the floor in shock. They�d put me there to keep me out of the way while the police investigated the accident, and they were all caught up in the horror of it all that they forgot about me.�
Sam brought her arms up to give Daniel a hug when he got up suddenly and walked to the bathroom. She heard water running, then the sound of a glass being lowered to the counter. He came out a few seconds later. He stayed there, leaning against the door jamb. Sam ached to go to him but he obviously didn�t want her comfort. His low voice barely reached her ears as he continued to speak.
�I was in shock for days, totally unresponsive. That Danny is reacting to Jack is amazing. I wonder if someone had stayed with me that night��
Whatever Daniel was going to say next was interrupted by the Colonel�s light knock on the door.
- - - - - -
Jack saw Carter�s stricken face and wondered what had just happened. He looked from her to Daniel, but nobody spoke. Carter suddenly got busy setting up her laptop. Remembering the boy in his arms, Jack headed directly for the bathroom.
�Wanna give me a hand here?� he asked Daniel as he walked by. He sat Danny on the toilet seat and had Daniel make sure he didn�t fall off. Danny leaned up against Daniel, wanting to sleep. Jack busied himself running the bath, then with Daniel�s help, they undressed the unresisting child. He made quick work of the bath, and wrapping him up in a large bath towel, he carried him out to one of the beds and laid him down. After towelling him dry and dressing him in clean clothes, he covered him with the bedspread and let him sleep in peace.
He found a small valise and asked Daniel to start packing clothes for Danny. Jack began going through the Jackson�s personal papers, finding Danny�s birth certificate. He was also relieved to find a few hundred dollars in cash. At least they�d had money to keep them going, and even pay for a hotel room for the night if they were still stuck here.
Jack had no qualms about taking the money; he�d return it to the boy as soon as they got home. But they needed it now, it was survival.
Pocketing the papers and the cash, Jack turned to see Daniel holding a cream coloured sweater in his hands. It had obviously been the father�s, it was too big for the child. Daniel held it up to his face and took a deep breath. Jack wanted to look away as Daniel�s eyes filled up with unshed tears, but instead he walked up to Daniel, intending to comfort. Seeing Jack approach him, Daniel put the sweater back into the drawer.
�Why don�t you take it,� Jack said softly. He saw Daniel swallow before passing a shaking hand over the soft material. Jack reached over and picked up the sweater, placing it in the valise. He patted Daniel�s arm before moving off to check on Carter. She was busily typing in data, so he let her be.
Spotting a few picture albums, Jack leafed through them. They were all family pictures, so he packed those up too. A tattered beige teddy bear with a torn ear was placed on top of the albums. Jack could see nothing else that might be needed, so he checked in with Teal�c.
After ascertaining that Teal�c had no problem waiting outside for the next few hours, Jack urged Daniel to lie down beside Danny. He was worried about Daniel�s fever; it hadn�t abated even with the Tylenol that Carter had told him she�d given him.
Jack leaned back against the headboard, patiently waiting. The hours passed slowly; Carter worked non stop, laptop balanced on her lap. Daniel lay on his side, staring blindly at the bedspread. He wasn�t sure what was going on in that brilliant mind of his, the only thing Jack knew was that Daniel was pulling away from them. He had always allowed his friends to comfort him; his distancing himself from them wasn�t typical Daniel behaviour. Jack wasn�t sure what to do, but certainly forcing himself on Daniel wouldn�t help. Danny, on the other hand, seemed to be responding fairly well to Jack. Poor little guy. If seeing his parents die did this to the adult Daniel, he couldn�t begin to imagine what young Danny was going through.
Again he wasn�t sure what to do with the boy, bringing him back to their own reality was only a short-term solution. They�d have to return here within 48 hours of leaving to prevent those tremors.
Jack was a little uneasy staying in the hotel room; he was afraid that the authorities would arrive any moment searching for Danny or to pick up the Jackson�s belongings.
Carter�s expletive startled Jack. Strangely, he�d been watching Daniel and the man hadn�t twitched at the unexpected sound. Jack turned questioningly to his second in command.
She raised her hands to either side in frustration as she looked up from her work. �I need to get some information, Sir. I�m afraid I don�t have everything here on hand, and since there�s no internet in this time, I�m going to have to go to the library.�
Jack raised an eyebrow and couldn�t help his grin. �Library, Carter?� Somehow he was used to seeing her sitting at a computer; the picture of her walking through rows upon rows of books didn�t quite fit in with his mental image of his Second. Daniel, on the other hand� The thought of his friend sobered him once more.
�Well, I didn�t exactly learn everything I know by watching The Learning Channel, Sir.� She smiled back at him tiredly. �I did spend a lot of hours in libraries. I think I know what books I�ll need. It shouldn�t take too long.�
�Can you get us home today?� Jack asked.
She shook her head. �Not for another several hours. And Colonel, we need to put the device back where we found it. The museum is probably the safest place for it, that way nobody will know what it is and it�ll hopefully remain undiscovered for many years. Which means that we have to return to the museum, and it�ll most likely be closed by the time I�m ready to activate it.�
�Fine, let�s get a hotel room not far from the museum. We�ll settle in, get something to eat and then you and Teal�c can go to the library. I�ll guess I�ll be babysitting Daniels.�
As Carter got up and stretched her stiff muscles, Jack slid his legs over to the side of the bed and checked on Daniel. A hand to his forehead revealed that he was still running a temperature. He didn�t react to Jack�s touch, and Jack gently shook his shoulder.
�Daniel, you awake?� Jack asked. His friend blinked before raising his eyes to Jack�s. Motioning with his head, Jack said, �Come on, we�re leaving.� He watched as Daniel looked around a moment before sitting up. He shivered slightly as the bedspread fell from his body. As Daniel stood, Jack reached over and smoothed the rumpled covers, erasing any sign that someone had been here. Carter did the same for the bed that they�d been sitting on.
Danny didn�t quite wake as Jack lifted him into his arms. He clutched at Jack and whimpered slightly, but didn�t open his eyes. Holding him against his shoulder, the boy laid his head trustingly against Jack�s neck.
Daniel and Jack waited by the door while Carter made sure the room looked exactly as it had when they had entered. Then picking up her laptop and the valise, she joined the men at the door. Jack radio�d Teal�c, warning him that they were coming down.
- - - - - -
Jack and Teal�c had gone out in search of lunch. They�d found a Hunan restaurant nearby and had returned to their hotel room with takeout. Both Daniels refused to eat until Jack snapped at Daniel and held a cup of broth to Danny�s lips. Daniel finally accepted the plate Jack had prepared for him, and although he barely touched it, he did manage to swallow a few bites at Carter�s coaxing. Danny sipped the broth whenever Jack urged him to, otherwise he�d forget he was holding the sytrofoam cup and would lapse into whatever fugue world he was escaping into.
When Carter and Teal�c left for the library, Jack tried turning on the television to entertain Danny, but it didn�t hold his attention. Both Daniels each sat on a bed, staring into space. Danny only reacted whenever Jack touched him and spoke to him. Daniel�s reaction still made Jack uneasy, he would only speak when spoken to and Jack wasn�t sure if he wasn�t totally aware of where he was at times. After a while, Daniel slid down on the bed and lay on his side, his back to Jack. His fever had never left him, and Jack was worried.
Jack was marginally aware of the television droning on in the corner. He was a little bored and was feeling helpless. He walked to the window and stared outside, hoping that Carter would quickly finish whatever it was she was researching and return back to the room.
It wasn�t until one of the TV characters began screaming hysterically that Jack heard Daniel rush to the bathroom. Sounds of retching reached him, and when he turned to go check on him, he saw that Danny was lying with his hands over his ears, eyes wide and terrified, panting with fear.
Swearing, Jack fumbled for the remote and clicked off the TV. He gathered the boy in his arms, rocking him gently. He could still hear Daniel being sick, and he was torn between the boy and his friend. He desperately didn�t want Danny to return to that catatonic state he�d been in last night so he spoke to him softly, coaxing him out of his memories and panic. Daniel would be all right once his stomach settled, although Jack felt guilty for having to choose between the two.
Belatedly recalling the toy that he�d packed, Jack walked to the valise with Danny in his arms and searched one handed until he found the soft teddy bear. When he placed it in the boy�s hand, he clutched it tightly and brought it up to his face, rubbing his cheek in the matted fur. Jack paced back and forth before the window with Danny in his arms. The small body was more relaxed now, his breathing back to normal.
There was no noise coming from the bathroom and for a moment Jack got worried, until he heard the toilet flush, then the sound of running water. A few moments later, Daniel stepped out, pale and unsteady. As he made his way back to the bed, Jack asked, �You okay?�
Daniel nodded without looking at Jack. As he slipped back under the covers, Jack put Danny down on the other bed and the boy curled up with the stuffed toy clutched in his hand.
Daniel pushed the blankets off moments later. Jack walked over and sat down beside his friend, who had his back turned to Jack once again. Jack was aware of Danny�s eyes tracking him and he looked over at him and smiled. The boy�s cheek dimpled slightly as he nearly smiled back.
Jack reached over and put a hand on Daniel�s shoulder. He felt his friend tense up beneath his fingers.
�Danny,� Jack said quietly, aware of the heat coming through the cotton tee-shirt. �Let me help, tell me what�s going on.� For a moment Jack thought Daniel wouldn�t respond, but then Daniel said quietly, �I don�t know.�
Jack rubbed Daniel�s arm a moment then placed a hand on his cheek. Damn, his fever had risen.
�Get up,� Jack said. He pulled at Daniel�s arm until he was sitting. �First thing, let�s try and get your temperature down.� He led Daniel into the bathroom where he told him to strip while he turned on the shower and adjusted the temperature.
Jack stepped outside to check on Danny while Daniel finished undressing; he was watching the bathroom door with wide eyes. Jack walked to the bed and knelt beside the boy.
�I�ll just be in there a short while. You�ll hear me talking, okay? I won�t be far.� The boy�s eyes never left Jack�s face and Jack�s heart tightened when he had to step out of his view.
Daniel had removed his pants and tee shirt, and was standing shivering in his shorts and socks. Jack helped hold him steady as he took off the last items. When Daniel stepped under the tepid water, Jack heard him gasp with the shock to his overheated system. He stood shivering under the flowing stream, arms clasped around his chest. His teeth soon were chattering as his body attempted to maintain the feverish heat.
When Jack deemed that Daniel had been in there long enough, he turned off the water and wrapped his friend in a large towel. He helped Daniel step out of the tub and sat him down on the lowered toilet seat cover. Daniel felt cooler to the touch, although he was still shivering. He quickly towelled him off and helped him back into his clothes. Daniel stumbled as he made his way out of the bathroom, Jack�s hand on his arm holding him steady.
Danny still appeared to be alert, following their progress around the bed. Jack settled Daniel back under the covers, and got some more Tylenol and water. As he�d swallowed the pills, Daniel had looked up at Jack. He�d seen the same hurt mirrored in his friend�s eyes as he�d seen in the boy�s.
Jack placed a hand on Daniel�s forehead, noting that his temperature had gone down some. He stroked the wet hair back, and saw that Daniel relaxed at his touch. He slid a hand down and massaged his nape gently. Daniel sighed.
�Headache still bad?� Jack asked. Daniel nodded.
Jack got up from the side of the bed and circled it, sitting up against the headboard beside Daniel. He motioned for Danny to come and the boy quickly slid off the bed and crossed over to theirs. Jack took the boy in his arms, teddy bear and all. He kept one hand on Daniel and one arm around Danny. Taking a deep breath, Jack decided it was time to talk to his friend.
�Is this about what happened at the museum?� Jack asked, his hand continuing the gentle massage of nape and back of skull. Again, Daniel nodded. Jack glanced down at the boy who was fiddling with the stuffed toy�s torn ear.
�I don�t pretend to understand what you went through, Daniel, but it seems to me your reaction is a little different that when Shau�re�� Jack let the words lapse as he recalled how sad and dejected Daniel had been during the days following his wife�s death. The difference was that Daniel hadn�t turned away from his friends then. He hadn�t contained his grief; once Fraiser had permitted Daniel to leave the infirmary, Jack had taken him to his house to recuperate and had gotten Daniel talking with little prompting. Daniel had broken down in Jack�s arms, and they had spent the night talking about lost loves, pain, and death. It had been cathartic for both of them, and the next day Daniel�s eyes were a little less haunted.
But Daniel�s current actions were very similar to Danny�s. Jack understood shock; he�d seen plenty of it from soldiers who hadn�t been ready to see battle. Danny was definitely still in shock, but was obviously fighting to recover. His friend, on the other hand, appeared to also be suffering from shock but wasn�t making any moves to help himself. If anything, he appeared to be worse off than Danny.
The tight muscles beneath his hand had begun to relax, and his friend�s deep and rhythmic breathing indicated that he�d fallen asleep. Jack removed his hand and turned his attention to the boy.
�So, does the bear have a name?� Jack asked Danny, who was still fingering the toy�s ear. Clear blue eyes looked up at Jack, and the small forehead frowned slightly as he contemplated Jack�s words. �Oursie,� he finally said in a shy voice. Jack grinned at hearing the first words out of the boy�s mouth.
�Horsie? Now what kind of name is that for a bear?� Jack teased. �I�d think something a little more proper, like Mr. Bear, or even Teddy, but Horsie?�
Danny giggled softly. �Not Horsie, Oursie. It�s French. Ourson means a baby bear, and I�ve had Oursie for ever and ever,� Daniel explained, looking a little nervous.
�Well in that case, hello Oursie. Nice to meetcha,� Jack said with a smile as he gave the bear a pat on the head. Danny smiled as he relaxed and laid his head back on Jack�s shoulder. The boy had spoken! Jack remembered Daniel telling him that he�d been uncommunicative for weeks, unable or unwilling to talk. He hugged Danny close for a moment, glad that the boy was coming out of his shell.
�Are you and Oursie hungry?� Jack asked, remembering that the boy had had nothing to eat except a few sips of water and broth. �There�s some leftovers if you want.� He felt Danny nod, so Jack slid out from beneath Danny. He put some rice, vegetables and chicken onto a plate and handed it to him. As Jack sat down on at foot of the bed, Danny had already placed a bite of chicken in his mouth and was chewing on it experimentally. Before he knew it, the boy had emptied the plate.
�Want some more?� he asked as he took the dirty plastic dish from Danny. The boy shook his head, his hair flopping down into his eyes. He threaded a hand through his hair, pushing it back irritably. Jack smiled, remembering how Daniel had constantly made that same action when his hair was longer.
Jack busied himself at picking up and discarding the leftover food. As he walked into the bathroom to wash him hands of the sticky residue, he felt Danny�s eyes following him. When Jack came out of the bathroom, the boy was nervously playing with the teddy bear, looking up at him furtively. Jack sat back down on the bed, and the boy leaned forward slightly. When he saw that Jack wasn�t approaching, he began chewing on his lower lip.
�Need a hug, kiddo?� Jack asked softly, realizing that the boy was craving physical comforting. When his eyes came up slowly to look at Jack, Jack motioned him to scoot over. As Danny moved closer to Daniel, Jack sat down in Danny�s place. He wrapped an arm around the boy and pulled him close against his chest. Danny snuggled close to Jack, one arm going around Jack�s torso and his teddy bear clutched close against his face.
- - - - - -
The word echoed through Daniel�s head as he found himself sitting up in bed, tangled in blankets and trying to catch his breath. He looked around, thinking he was still in the museum, his parents lying crushed amongst the ruin of their display. His vision blurred whenever he tried to focus on the drab furniture before him. He couldn�t remember where he was or how he�d gotten there.
He jumped as he felt a hand on his shoulder, but he recognized Jack�s voice.
�Easy, Daniel. Just a dream.�
With a groan, he closed his eyes as he sank back onto the pillows, his head pounding furiously.
He felt a cloth pass over his face, wiping the sweat dripping off him. Cool fingers touched his cheek, then his forehead.
�Your fever�s up again,� Jack said. Daniel opened his eyes and saw two pairs of eyes staring at him. One was brown and familiar, reflecting concern. The other was bright blue, wide with alarm. Daniel blinked, trying to bring the rest of their faces into focus. Their heads were strangely haloed, as if there was an aura around them.
�Headache still bad?� Jack asked as his thumb massaged small circles on his temple. The movement felt good and Daniel turned his head into the pressure. A moment later the pressure was gone and he missed the contact. He closed his eyes, the light hurting his head. He felt the bed move as Jack got up and he heard him walking around the room. He listened dispassionately, feeling strangely detached once more.
Jack walked into the bathroom and ran some water. Someone shifted on the bed beside him and Daniel suddenly remembered Danny. He opened his eyes again, looking at the boy. He was staring towards the bathroom, and as Jack came out, the boy watched him attentively. Daniel saw something beige and furry clutched in Danny�s hands. It somehow looked familiar and Daniel squinted, trying to make it out.
As Jack sat down beside Daniel once more, he held out two pills and some water.
�Darvocet,� Jack informed Daniel as he looked up at Jack questioningly. �The Tylenol don�t seem to be helping, maybe this will kill the headache a bit.� Daniel raised himself up onto an elbow, the movement worsening the pain.
�Migraine,� Daniel corrected before he swallowed down the pills and water. He got a good look at the toy in Danny�s hands, and seeing the torn ear, Daniel smiled despite his headache.
�Oursie?� he asked.
Danny smiled and nodded. Daniel thought what a beautiful child he was, until he realized that this was him. He couldn�t believe that he�d looked so adorable as a kid. A little embarrassed, he reached a hand out for the teddy bear.
�Can I see him?� he asked. Danny�s lower lip trembled slightly but he handed the bear over to Daniel without a word. He brought the soft toy to his face and inhaled its unique scent.
Daniel�s own plush toy had disappeared when the orphanage had gone through his parents� belongings; Daniel figured that they had deemed it too raggedy to be of use. Little had they known that the little teddy bear had been through many an archaeological dig and had been lost who knew how many times under mounds of sand, eliciting feverish searches for the beloved toy. The ragged ear was due to a nervous habit Daniel had developed at age four when he�d started chewing on it. He fingered the tattered appendage, smiling at the memories it invoked.
Jack slipped behind Danny on the bed, lifting the boy onto his lap once more. Daniel saw how the boy relaxed against Jack, and was glad that his young counterpart had been able to find someone to trust. When he handed the toy back to Danny the relief was evident in the boy�s face.
�Thank you,� Daniel whispered, as he closed his eyes against his worsening headache.
�Try to relax and let the pills take effect,� Jack told him. He felt the bed shift beneath him as Jack settled closer, and then his fingers took up their massage once more around his temples. Daniel tried to follow Jack�s directions and relax, aware that his jaw was clenched tightly against the pain.
He felt something move against his side and he opened his eyes. Danny was lying beside him, his head pillowed against Daniel�s shoulder. He was staring up at Daniel with concern. Daniel brought a hand up and cupped the boy�s head gently. Danny placed Oursie on Daniel�s chest. With a smile, Daniel raised his other hand and gently clasped the teddy bear, accepting the gift. The boy�s small hand covered his own and together, they held onto the ragamuffin toy.
- - - - - -
Jack wiped the excess tomato sauce from his fingers on his napkin and then wadded it up into a ball. He aimed for the small garbage can by the door and lobbed it, smiling as his projectile landed right where he�d aimed for. He glanced at his team mates, but none had noticed his perfect shot. The two Daniels were still sleeping, having dozed off before Carter and Teal�c returned from their foray to the library. Carter was sitting at the small table in the corner of the room, busy working on her laptop, taking an occasional bite from a slice of leftover pizza. Jack had just finished off the last piece; by rights it should have been Daniel�s but Jack was sure his friend�s stomach wasn�t up to dealing with pizza at the moment. Teal�c was sitting beside him on the bed, staring at the television, which was showing the local news.
When a news report of the Jackson�s deaths came on, Jack glanced hurriedly at their sleeping sons. Neither stirred, for which Jack was relieved. The reporter went on to say what a terrible tragedy the accident had been, but no mention had been made of their eight-year old son. Jack wondered if this had been done deliberately or if nobody actually remembered that he�d been there.
They had down and out kidnapped the boy in blatant view of a room full of people. Admittedly most of the people in the room had their attention focused elsewhere; but if no one else, the museum worker should have remembered Daniel taking Danny from her.
He shook his head, looking at them as they slept. He and Daniel had curled up together, sharing the same pillow. Daniel�s face was too pale, except for two spots of color on his cheeks indicative of his fever. Looking at their faces relaxed in sleep, Jack thought that they could easily pass for father and son. He could see in Danny what Daniel�s children would most likely look like, were he to have any.
Jack swallowed the last of his coffee, wishing for a beer instead. He debated whether he should wake Danny up and have him try and eat something, but decided that sleep might be better. Anyway the boy had eaten earlier that afternoon. Daniel, though, was another matter. Jack was anxious to get him back home and to the infirmary, that fever still had him worried.
�That�s it,� Carter said as she closed her laptop. She arched her back, stretching what must have been stiff muscles. She�d been sitting on the hard chair and working diligently for the past 5 hours.
�So�� Jack said. �We can go now?�
�Yes sir,� Carter answered. �I just need to attach the device to the laptop and the power source and we could leave here and now.�
�That would not be wise,� Teal�c interjected. �If we are limited in the number of instances that we may revisit this dimension, we should choose our time and place wisely. You must not forget that we must return the child.�
�Yeah,� Jack said sadly. And therein lay the problem. There was no way that he was going to hand over Danny to a care system that couldn�t even acknowledge the fact that a young boy was missing.
�We�ll leave tomorrow morning from the museum. There must be some place that we can bury that thing where hopefully it won�t be found for a day or two. That�ll give Janet a chance to check him out, and give the boy a chance to get his equilibrium.�
�Do they not have adequate medical facilities in this era, O�Neill?� Teal�c asked.
�Yeah, they do, but that�s not the problem, Teal�c. It doesn�t even look like anyone�s missed the kid yet, and it�s been over twenty four hours. If we were to hand him over to the authorities, he�d just be dumped in an orphanage and become part of the system.�
�Is this what happened to DanielJackson?�
Before Jack could answer, Sam said, �Yes, it was. But I don�t see what else we can do, Sir. There�s nobody here who�ll adopt Danny; we�re just postponing the inevitable. We�re going to have to hand him over to the authorities, and he�ll end up in an orphanage one way or the other.�
Jack ground his teeth together in frustration. She was right, and he had no answer for her. He glanced over to the bed and suddenly saw the slight body lying stiffly on the bed. Ah shit, had he overheard?
�Danny,� Jack said gently as he leaned over the young boy. He lay unmoving but his eyes were squeezed tightly shut, his lips pressed one over the other as if to hold back a scream. When Jack touched him lightly on the shoulder, he turned abruptly and grabbed hold of Jack. He picked him up as the sobs began.
He sat back down on the other bed with Danny on his lap, rocking him back and forth. Daniel cried silently, the only sounds being deep, heart wrenching sobs as the boy fought for breath.
He looked over at Daniel; his soft voice had been full of worry and confusion.
Jack shook his head and said, �It�s okay.�
Carter stepped over to Daniel, talking to him as Jack rocked the grieving and frightened child. Jack heard Daniel asking what had happened, but he tuned his friends out, concentrating instead of trying to soothe the distraught child in his arms. He bent over Danny, whispering nonsensical words in his ear, relieved on the one hand that Danny was expressing his grief, and afraid that his having overhead their conversation might just be enough to send him back into a non-responsive state.
Daniel sat up in bed and pushed himself across the mattress so that he was sitting facing Jack. He held out a shaking hand and stroked the back of Danny�s head.
�I know you miss them. It�ll be okay,� Daniel said. �Well take care of you. You won�t be alone.�
Jack stiffened at Daniel�s words. How could he be giving the boy false promises!
�Daniel,� Jack warned. But the man was either too caught up in his own grief and he ignored Jack or he didn�t hear him. His anger grew as he continued on.
�Believe me, I know exactly what you�re feeling right now. It�ll get better, I promise; and we�ll be right here for you.�
�Daniel, for crying out loud, shut up,� Jack said softly between clenched teeth. This time Daniel heard him and he looked up at Jack in bewilderment. He must have realized what he�d just been saying because his face simply crumpled. Before Jack could register the guilt he�d just inflicted on Daniel, Danny�s sobs turned to hiccupping breaths as he turned to look at Daniel.
�I�m sorry,� Daniel whispered as he saw the boy�s tear-streaked face turn towards him. �Oh God, I�m so sorry.� Daniel�s voice broke and his eyes shone with unshed tears. To Jack�s surprise, Danny shifted in his arms and slid onto the floor, quickly moving to Daniel�s side. He clasped Daniel with his small arms as his counterpart picked him up and hugged him to his chest. Both were crying now, both understanding each other�s pain and knowing that they�d have to part soon.
Jack saw Daniel begin to shiver, and he grabbed the comforter and covered the feverish man�s shoulders with it. When they�d managed to get control over their emotions, wiping their eyes with the back of their hands and snuffling to clear their sinuses, Jack handed them both a few tissues and then urged them to lie down again. Danny was half asleep, exhausted from his emotional overload. Jack was a little worried about the boy, it wasn�t normal for an eight year old to be so quiet, or to sleep so much. He helped both settle down once more and picked up Oursie from the tangle of blankets. He handed the toy to Danny, who sleepily clutched it against his chest.
- - - - - -
The night passed slowly for Jack. He shared the bed with Daniel with Danny sandwiched in the middle. The younger man slept fitfully; even with the painkillers, he tossed and turned restlessly most of the night. Carter and Teal�c shared the other bed. Jack was pretty sure that neither slept well either; they were all worried about their friend.
They rose early the next morning, even though they still had several hours to wait until the museum opened. Carter and Teal�c had walked by yesterday on their way to the library and hadn�t been surprised to find that the museum had been closed to the public due to the accident. It had been announced that it would be reopening today.
As they sat on the beds eating coffee and muffins, Jack coaxed Daniel to try and drink a bit of orange juice. He�d managed a few sips but the cold liquid had set him to shivering once more.
�Sam,� Daniel turned towards her, bundled up with the blankets pulled up to his chin.
She moved over to sit beside him on the bed.
�You said that the mirror is also a time machine?� Carter nodded. Jack didn�t like the breathless quality of Daniel�s voice. �Couldn�t we jump back in time five minutes before we got here. We could save my parents��
�Daniel,� she started. Jack�s head ached just beginning to think of the possibilities and problems this could create. �I don�t think it�s a good idea going back to try and fix events that have already happened,� she said after a moment�s hesitation. �We�ve already managed to change his, *your* future,� she encompassed both Daniel and Danny with a wave of her hand, �and I don�t want to waste what might be our only remaining opportunity to return Danny to this reality.�
�Remaining opportunity?� Daniel asked.
�MajorCarter believes the device will only work a limited number of times between dimensions,� Teal�c explained. �If we return to our own world, we may have only one chance to return the boy to his.�
�But you�re not sure?� Daniel turned to Sam once more. She shook her head slowly. �So the mirror might allow us two more tries. Jack,� Daniel said eagerly, �we have to try. If we can save our parents�� Daniel stopped as he saw Danny watching him with huge eyes, the half-eaten muffin in his hands forgotten.
�Danny?� Daniel said softly. �Do you understand what�s going on?�
Jack had to strain to hear the boy�s very soft reply as he nodded his head.
Daniel nodded. �That�s right.�
Danny turned wide eyes to Jack. �Can you save my parents?� he asked hopefully.
Jack didn�t know what to answer. He looked up at Carter for help, and saw the indecision in her face. Teal�c�s jaw was tightly clenched as he stared at them.
�Danny, I don�t think we can, or that we should even if we could.� The boy dropped his head to look down at his hands, his shoulders slumped in dejection.
�Jack,� Daniel said as he pushed himself up to a sitting position. He placed a hand on Danny�s shoulder, but the boy ignored the intended comfort. �Can�t we at least try?�
�Daniel, remember all of the other alternate worlds we heard of? Most of those that survived Apophis� strike against Earth had you on the team. We can�t afford to change the future here; otherwise we�ve just doomed this world.�
�But our parents��
�Might influence him into different studies if they were alive,� Jack interrupted. �Might encourage him to work on another continent when the project needs him here; might find the perfect woman for him and he�ll be living happily with three kids, unwilling to leave them and join the team. Daniel, he needs to be at the right place at the right time so that he can open the you-know-what.�
�But�� Daniel said, obviously at a loss for words.
�O�Neill is correct,� Teal�c said. �What would be the use of helping the child when his world is certain to end in destruction?�
�What�s the you-know-what?� Danny asked, still staring at his hands.
�Something incredible that you�ll be asked to work on when you grow up,� Daniel answered before he lay back down.
- - - - - -
A cool wind was blowing as they walked under a dark and threatening sky. They made their slow way to the museum. Daniel was unsteady on his feet, but both Carter and Teal�c were flanking him, ensuring that he didn�t falter. Danny and Jack followed behind; the boy�s small fingers tightly curled around Jack�s larger ones, Oursie clutched in his other hand. Teal�c was carrying the bulk of their supplies and their weapons; Jack had Danny�s valise and Daniel�s pack. Carter had her pack and laptop in one hand and with the other, she kept a grip on Daniel�s arm.
Once they reached the museum, Carter ran up the stairs and went through the main entrance while the rest of the group made their way down the small alley to the smaller, less-used door that they had escaped through almost forty eight hours earlier. The wind howled loudly here, the narrow walls almost acting like a wind tunnel.
Jack eyed Daniel as he leaned against the stone wall, his head turned away from the wind. He could see the tremors coursing through his friend�s overheated body as the cold and wind assailed him. Danny was shivering nearly as badly as Daniel, Jack realizing that the boy wasn�t used to these colder temperatures. He squatted down and gathered the boy against him, using his body to shield him from the wind. Teal�c stood close to Daniel, attempting to do the same.
Carter opened the door a good ten minutes later and they all quickly squeezed into the dark hallway. They quickly but quietly walked down the hall till they reached the same storage room they had sheltered in the last time. While Carter and Teal�c went to search out the way to the basement, Jack had Daniel and Danny sit in the far corner, out of sight should anyone open the door.
The short walk of four blocks had exhausted Daniel. Jack could see the sheen of sweat on his face even though he was still shivering. Danny sat quietly beside him; he had barely said a word since they had discussed the Stargate programme in a cryptic manner around him. Jack had no doubt that Danny�s intelligence far surpassed a normal eight year old child�s; he must have understood enough to confuse him and give him false hope.
He didn�t know what the boy thought was happening; Jack had been reluctant to bring up the subject of alternate dimensions and time travel to the kid. He was confused enough with his parents� death and the uncertainty of his future, but Jack figured he had no choice but to try and prepare him for what was soon to come on their return.
�Danny, I don�t know how much you�ve understood about what�s been going on so far.� Clear blue eyes looked up at Jack, teeth chewing on bottom lip. �You must be very confused, especially after seeing your folks�� Jack swallowed as he saw tears begin to well up in the boy�s eyes. He reached over and wiped a tear from his cheek with the pad of his thumb.
�You�ve been very brave, kiddo.� Danny sniffed and brought his knees up to his chest, his stuffed toy resting between knees and chest. �Now you�ve heard us talking and you realize that we�re kinda going on a little trip, right?� Danny nodded. �It won�t be scary; it�ll just be a little disorienting. Because we�re going to leave from one room and we�ll appear in another. Understand?�
�Your world?� Danny asked.
�My world. Which is almost exactly the same as this one, except that we�re going to be about twenty seven years in the future.�
�I�m not going to be staying with you, am I?� Danny asked, his voice almost breaking. His bottom lip began to tremble as he tried to hold in his emotions.
�You can�t,� Daniel said as he pulled the boy against him. Danny hid his face against Daniel�s shoulder. Jack could see the tension in the boy�s back as he listened to Daniel�s words.
�I want you to stay � more than anything,� Daniel continued. �But something happens when two people occupy the same space. It�s very complicated, Sam could explain it better than me. But it�ll kill you, Danny, if you stay. Just like it�ll kill all of us if we stay here much longer.�
Danny suddenly relaxed against Daniel, and Jack realized that maybe the boy had thought that he hadn�t been wanted.
�You want me to stay?� he asked in a hopeful voice, looking up at the man holding him and then looking back at Jack.
�More than anything, kiddo,� Jack agreed. �We�ll think of something. I just wish I could�� His words drifted as an idea came to him. He�d have to talk to Carter when they got back, see if it was feasible.
- - - - - -
Carter was removing the wires attached to the portable mirror and quickly disconnected her laptop. The time travel/quantum mirror was now stuffed in the corner of a dusty and little used section of the museum�s basement. She nodded at Teal�c, and he did the same with the portable battery. They now had sixty seconds to go through the mirror, more than enough time to gather their belongings and remove all evidence that they�d been in the museum.
Jack herded Daniel and Danny forward, ensuring that Danny was holding tightly onto Daniel�s hand. Jack took a firm grip of Daniel�s arm and clasped Carter�s shoulder. Teal�c hefted their packs over his shoulder and placed a hand on Carter and another on Danny. Holding her laptop and the spare battery under one arm, Carter reached forward and touched the device.
The sound of guns being cocked told Jack that they were home. Quickly homing in towards the sound, he let go of Daniel and Carter and turned and raised his hands, showing that they were empty. He saw Carter start to do the same when he heard a loud thud beside him. Daniel lay on the floor, unconscious.
Jack knelt beside his friend, yelling for a medic. Placing his hand on Daniel�s cheek, he realized that Daniel�s fever was raging. A touch at his carteroid artery showed that Daniel�s pulse was both rapid and weak. Teal�c and Carter both joined him by Daniel�s side. Jack glanced around, and saw that Danny had taken several steps backwards and was standing with his back against the cement wall. He had his arms wrapped around himself in a defensive posture, so reminiscent of Daniel that it brought an ache to his throat. His eyes were fixed on Daniel; Oursie lay on the floor, forgotten.
One of the SFs put the call through for a medical team while the other was on the phone to Hammond.
�Danny, come over here,� Jack called, raising an arm to the boy. Jack could see that he had begun breathing quickly and on the verge of hyperventilating. �Danny,� he called again in a sterner voice. The boy dragged his eyes from Daniel, then widened as they glanced behind Jack. Oh right, the SFS, guns�
Swearing under his breath, Jack left Daniel in Carter�s care as he stood up and took a couple of steps to reach the boy. He bent down and took him in his arms, picking up the teddy bear at the same time. As Danny buried his face against his neck, Jack said, �He�ll be okay, we�re just waiting for a doctor.� As Jack returned to Daniel�s side, he was peripherally aware of the gun following his movements. He ignored them, waiting for either Janet or Hammond to arrive.
The medical team arrived several long minutes later, with General Hammond on their tail. As Janet Fraiser knelt to examine their unconscious friend, the General dismissed the security guards with a wave of his hand.
�What happened to Doctor Jackson?� Hammond asked as Fraiser gave the order to put him onto a gurney. Daniel began to stir as the medical staff lifted him up, his groan sounding loud in the large, cluttered room.
�I don�t know. He got sick not long after we got there.� Jack saw Fraiser glance at him as she helped position his friend on the gurney.
�He had a fever and a migraine. Nothing we gave him seemed to help much,� Carter added.
As the team whisked their friend off to the infirmary, Hammond gave Jack a curious look as they all exited Sam�s lab and strode towards the elevators.
�I was getting worried. You�re 40 hours overdue.�
Jack started at the news. He had assumed that Carter would have returned them within the three hours� deadline in which they had been slated to return. She shrugged when he looked back at her.
�Actually, we�re a little early, Sir. Give or take 30 years,� Jack said as he fell into place beside the General, heading for the infirmary. �Carter�s toy had a slight side-effect that we weren�t aware of.�
Hammond raised his eyebrows, conveying that he expected a detailed explanation during their soon-to-be briefing. �Who�s the little guy?� Hammond asked in a soft voice, looking at Danny who had his arms and legs wrapped around Jack�s body.
�General Hammond, meet Danny Jackson,� Jack said in a quiet voice.
�You mean�?� the General started, at a loss for words.
�The device is also a time machine,� Jack finished.
�You went back in time, again?�
�Yes Sir, but not in our reality. We went back in his reality.�
�So you�re telling me you went to an alternate reality, thirty years back?� Hammond suddenly stopped walking, forcing Jack to take two steps to return to where the General stood. Teal�c and Carter crowded around the two men. �How positive are you that it wasn�t this reality?� Hammond hissed.
Jack knew exactly what would happen when the news of the device�s properties reached the ears of the NID. It wasn�t going to be a pretty sight.
�I�m sure that Carter can explain all the scientific mumbo-jumbo, but I�m positive that we weren�t in our own reality.� Jack looked over at Carter, hoping for her confirmation. �The device we used was still cracked when we came through it five minutes ago, but the one over there was never broken. Teal�c saved it from a fall when we first arrived.�
Carter nodded her agreement to his explanation as they resumed walking once more, adding, �Although it�s always possible that the device wasn�t meant to be broken at that time, and that it gets broken later.� Great. Why did she have to go and play devil�s advocate?
As Carter began explaining that her formulas and calculations proved that they were in another dimension, Jack tuned her out as he leaned against the wall, waiting for the elevator.
Danny had been very quiet since they�d arrived at the SGC; his seeing Daniel collapse and the SF pointing guns at them seemed to have set him back a bit. He didn�t make any effort to look around as they continued on to the infirmary, his breathing sounding loud and shaky in Jack�s ear.
When they arrived at the infirmary, Jack could see the activity farther down the room where Fraiser was working on Daniel. They all took beds as close as they could get without getting in the way of the nurses.
�Danny, it�s okay now, you can let go,� Jack said as he sat down with the boy still clutching at him. His thin arms tightened around Jack�s neck as he tried to pull them away. Relenting, Jack said, �I�ve got you, Danny. Try to relax.� He rubbed the boy�s back, feeling the tension in the trembling body.
A nurse came by and gave him an enquiring look. Jack shook his head, he�d like Danny to calm a little more before letting someone start looking him over.
He kept half his attention on calming the boy, the other half caught up with the activity around Daniel�s bed. Although Fraiser was barking orders and her staff was quickly and efficiently following through, there wasn�t any of the urgency that he�d sometimes seen when patients were dangerously ill or injured. She was concerned, he could tell from her expression, but Daniel didn�t appear to be in any immediate danger.
Jack heard Daniel�s weak call and Fraiser�s quiet words as she tried to calm him. A glance his way indicated that he had her permission to approach.
�Danny, I need to go see Daniel,� Jack spoke quietly near the boy�s ear. �I�m just going to put you down for a minute, okay?� When he didn�t react to his words, Jack picked him up and sat his now unresisting body on the mattress. Danny tilted to the side and curled up into a tight ball, staring straight ahead. Jack picked up the raggedy toy that he�d placed beside him, offering it to Danny. He ignored the teddy bear so Jack gently lifted his hand and placed it near his chest, under his chin. Feeling the soft fur on his skin, Danny grasped it tightly against his chest.
�I�ll be right back,� Jack said as he brushed the long blond hair out of his eyes. Reluctantly he left the child and walked over to his friend. Daniel was lying in nearly the same position as Danny, sans Oursie.
Daniel�s face was damp, his hair plastered to his scalp. They hadn�t removed his clothes yet, but Jack could see they were darkened with sweat. Despite this, he was shivering. As Jack approached, Fraiser covered him up with a woollen blanket.
�I�ve given him some Imitrex for his migraine,� Fraiser informed Jack. �It�s going to make him sleepy what with his weakened condition,� she warned. �His fever�s coming down, although I can�t take the credit for that.�
�Jack,� Daniel said as he spotted his friend. Grabbing a clean cloth from a nearby table, Jack gently dabbed the sweat from his friend�s pale face. �Where�s Danny?� Daniel asked, looking around, his eyes somewhat unfocused.
�He�s resting,� Jack said, taking Daniel�s chin and gently turning his head towards him as the man continued to search for the boy. �Like you should be doing.�
�I want to see him,� Daniel said, trying to sit up. Both Fraiser and Jack pushed Daniel back down onto the bed. �Where is he? Why won�t you let me see him?� he asked as he shifted restlessly under the blanket. His eyes began to close and Jack could see that he was fighting to stay awake.
�Danny,� Jack began chiding when he felt a presence leaning against his leg. He looked down and saw young Danny. Daniel spotted his younger self and smiled sleepily at him.
�You okay?� Daniel asked him. Danny nodded, then moved to hug Daniel. As he pulled back and leaned up against Jack once more, Jack saw that the boy�s hands were empty. Oursie lay on the pillow beside Daniel, who had relaxed enough to let the medication carry him into sleep.
�Let�s let him sleep,� Jack whispered as he guided Danny back to his bed. As he clambered back onto the bed and lay on his side, he looked up at Jack and said, �My head hurts.�
- - - - - -
The pounding in his head had been reduced to a dull throb by the time Daniel woke up. He could hear the usual goings on of the infirmary. For a moment he couldn�t remember what had happened, until he spotted the tattered teddy bear lying inches from his face.
He smiled at the offering of comfort as he picked up the limp toy and stroked the matted fur. He looked around, searching for his team mates, surprised that none were sitting with him. He spotted his glasses on the table beside his bed and reached over to put them on. He noticed Jack sitting in a chair in a shadowed corner of the infirmary, obviously fast asleep by the way his head was lolling crookedly on his neck.
With a feeling of dread, Daniel sat up, vaguely aware that he was feeling much better than he had been in the past few days. He noted the IV in his hand and deftly removed the needle, grabbing a tissue and holding it to the small bleeding pinprick. The floor was cold on his bare feet as he gingerly stood up. He wavered a moment, his legs having trouble holding him up. He took a tentative step and confident that he wouldn�t fall over, he slowly padded over to the bed where Jack was sitting vigil.
Daniel looked down in disbelief at Danny�s wan figure lying curled up in misery. The blush of fever was the only color on his pallid cheeks, making him look even younger than his eight years. Daniel sat on the bed beside him and gently stroked the soft, hot cheek with the back of his hand.
Chiding himself for having forgotten Oursie, Daniel got up and made his unsteady way back to his bed. He had to stop a moment to catch his breath before returning the few yards separating them. Obviously he hadn�t made as much a recovery as he had thought he�d had. With a forced smile, he waved aside the assistance of a nurse as he returned to the boy�s side.
Although sleeping deeply, probably due to Janet�s intervention through the IV he saw snaking underneath the blankets, Daniel placed the beloved teddy bear by the boy�s pillow, as he had earlier done for Daniel, before sitting back down on the bed.
He jumped when a hand touched his, and he looked up into Janet�s concerned face. With a tsk, she wiped the blood leaking from the back of his hand, and put pressure on the forgotten slight wound with a tissue. In the meantime, she took his pulse then checked for fever, but didn�t order him back to bed.
�What happened?� he asked softly, not wanting to wake up either Jack or Danny.
�I think he�s caught whatever it was you had,� Janet said, also speaking quietly. �He complained of a headache just after you went to sleep, and his temperature rose soon after. I�ve given him some Demeral for the pain; it was pretty severe.� A bandaid on the back of his hand completed her ministrations.
�Yeah, I know, I remember.� He rubbed his head at the memory of the ice pick chipping away inside his head. �Why us, Janet? Why not Jack, or Sam? Don�t you think it�s some kind of coincidence?�
�Both the Colonel and Sam admitted that they�d experienced headaches just prior to your returning here, Daniel. Looks like you both got it full force, whatever this is.�
�Carter thinks it�s the device.� Jack�s sleep-hoarsened voice surprised Daniel. He was sorry to have woken his friend; he looked like he needed the rest, but in a sense was glad because Jack was going to have one heck of a stiff neck if he�d remained sleeping in that position for long. As if reading his thoughts, Jack rubbed his neck as he straightened up in the hard plastic chair.
�The quantum mirror is making us sick?� Daniel questioned.
�Not you, not now. Danny,� Jack said cryptically.
Shaking his head as if trying to shake sleep from his brain, Jack explained. �I�m not sure if I understood half of what Carter was saying, something about the device causing the traveller to the alternate world to become sick when he gets too close to his alternate self. You and Danny were together from the start, so it�s a given you got sick right away.� Jack leaned forward to rub a hand gently over Danny�s head, as if to make sure the boy was still physically before him.
�You began getting better almost as soon as we got back here, but then Danny got sick. Carter says the device produces something or other that prevents those Cascade tremors, but the side effect is migraine and fever. She thinks if we�d stayed over there long enough, it�d have killed us just as effectively as the tremors.�
�So how long does Danny have?� Daniel asked Janet.
She shook her head, frowning. �I can�t see any physical evidence of what could be causing his illness or what caused yours. All the tests came out negative. But his fever�s not responding to anything I�ve given him so it could get worse very fast.�
Daniel shivered, not sure if it was from Janet�s prognosis or from his encroaching weakness.
�By the way, Daniel. His X-rays showed that he�d broken his right arm when he was around five. You never did so that�s at least one variance from your childhood.�
He knew exactly when that broken arm had occurred. It had been a close call on his part.
�I disobeyed my parents and climbed up onto some ruins. I lost my footing and nearly fell. One of the workers caught me just in time.� Daniel shivered again, remembering how close he�d come to falling down the tumble of stones he�d clambered over. He�d obeyed his parents for a few weeks after that, the fear of falling having subdued his curiosity for a short while.
�I think you�d better lie down,� Janet said gently as she noticed, to his embarrassment, that he was tilting to the side. He straightened with effort, his muscles shaking with the exertion of trying to remain upright.
�I�m fine,� Daniel mumbled, needing to lie down but thinking that what he�d thought earlier as a short distance between beds now looked too far away to attempt to cross.
�Here,� Jack said as he pushed Daniel down beside Danny. He tried to resist the pressure of Jack�s hands, but he seemed unable to move against his friend�s insistence. He found himself lying behind Danny, feeling the heat rising from the small body. Jack pulled a blanket from the bed beside him and covered Daniel with it. Before Daniel could pull the scratchy edge to his chin, he�d fallen asleep.
- - - - - -
�1984?� Carter exclaimed after Jack had made his request. She looked up from her laptop and stared at him. They were waiting for Hammond to give his okay to send Danny back to his own world. But if Jack had his way, they�d be going back more than ten years before the time they�d taken the child away from his world.
Jack nodded, knowing that if he could convince a certain couple to take Danny in, the boy would have a loving set of adoptive parents to care for him. And a soon-to-be-born brother to add to his family.
�Can you make the machine work so that we go back on that particular time and day?� Jack asked.
�Yes, that�s no problem,� she said. �I just thought that��
�I know some people who can take Danny in, but it�s got to be on that day. I know for a fact that he�ll be alone, I can talk to him, convince him while is wife is out.� At her wide-eyed look, he continued. �Do you really want him to go and live out his life in an orphanage, shipped from one set of foster parents to another? I know our Daniel turned out fine, but if we can prevent the heartache and give him a stable home, Carter��
�What about the Stargate programme?� she asked, fiddling with an empty cup of coffee on the table.
�I�ll talk to the guy, make sure he encourages Danny to study languages and archaeology, same as Daniel did. Look, this person can be stubborn but I can probably convince him. He�s the best thing for Danny. Trust me on this.�
She nodded, and Jack left her lab with a lighter heart. He headed for the infirmary, reluctant to see Danny so ill but grateful that Daniel was recovering. They would have to move out soon, before Danny got worse. Fraiser wasn�t going to release Daniel for this trip, and SG1�s archaeologist was not pleased. He was still confined to the infirmary, a low grade fever still hanging on tenaciously. Jack was going to miss his presence on their mission.
Hammond had been on the phone all day in his attempt in convincing the President that the device couldn�t be used as a time machine for the NID�s experimentation. They had one shot at saving Danny�s life; and that was to return him to his own reality. The NID had arrived shortly after SG1�s mission reports had been filed, ready to seize the quantum mirror, but Hammond had held them off, insisting that they had to return the boy before letting them play with the mirror/time machine. The little detail of how the device wasn�t going to last for many more trips had been left out of their reports, and Hammond was now explaining this to the President. Jack grinned at the thought of how the NID�s scientists were going to be wasting their time in trying to get the thing to work again.
- - - - - -
Jack was in the infirmary with Daniel as they both sat vigil beside Danny when Hammond came by a short while later. Informing them that SG1 would be returning to the alternate world in thirty minutes to return the boy home, Hammond expressed his regrets to Daniel that he would have to stay behind. Daniel nodded and smiled at the General, but Jack could tell that having to stay behind was tearing him up.
It felt strange going out this time dressed in civilian clothes. Not wanting to call attention to themselves, they�d dressed in plain jeans and tee-shirts. They met up at Sam�s lab once more, this time armed with plenty of cash and a suitcase full of Danny�s belongings.
Daniel and Fraiser arrived shortly after, Daniel carrying Danny in his arms. The boy was still unconscious or asleep, heavily drugged against the excruciating headache he was experiencing. His teddy bear dangled from Daniel�s fingers as he clutched the boy against his chest.
Carter entered the finishing touches to her calculations and asked if they were ready. She picked up her pack containing laptop and battery, Teal�c hefted the suitcase and Jack went over to Daniel and took the boy from him. Daniel swept a finger down the sleeping boy�s face before turning away. Fraiser placed a small bag of pills in Jack�s jacket pocket, informing him that the instructions for Danny�s care were inside.
Daniel stuffed Oursie into Carter�s packsack as they all approached the quantum mirror. Jack glanced at Daniel, who had stepped back and was standing with his arms wrapped around his torso. He met Jack�s eyes, and Jack wished he could tell him that everything would be all right. He swallowed thickly, hoping that he�d have good news to impart when they returned from this trip.
He turned his attention to Carter, and both she and Teal�c placed a hand on his shoulders. As he saw Carter reach for the mirror, he felt a third hand on his back. He turned as fast as he could despite the burden he carefully held in his arms.
�Damn it, Daniel!� he barked.
He squinted in the dark of the museum basement, the faint light reflecting off of Daniel�s glasses.
�Daniel,� he heard Carter say in surprise. Teal�c turned his flashlight on, playing it on Daniel�s unrepentant face.
�I couldn�t let you go without me,� he stammered as he looked at each of his team mates. �I had to make sure he�d be all right.�
�And what about you?� Jack snapped. Daniel glanced away before looking back up at Jack.
�I�ll be fine,� he answered.
�No, you won�t. You didn�t think, did you?� At Daniel�s frown, he continued. �This means that there�ll be two of you to look after,� he grumbled. He was immediately sorry as he said the words, doubly so when he saw the hurt look on Daniel�s face. But the man had known the reason why he�d been kept back from this trip; he still hadn�t fully recovered from their first foray into this world and here he was again, sure to experience the same pain and illness.
Jack shook his head as Daniel turned away from him. He ordered Carter to pack up the device and told Teal�c to go scope out the place; it was early morning and the museum wasn�t due to open for another thirty minutes. This would leave them free to find a place to hide until they were able to simply walk out of the museum�s front doors.
Teal�c returned after a short time and led them to what Jack believed to be the same storage area they�d hidden in twelve years previously. He sat down on the ground, leaning Danny against his chest. As they waited patiently, Jack saw Daniel rub his temple.
�Headache?� Jack asked worriedly. Surely he wouldn�t get sick this quickly. They�d only been in this reality less than fifteen minutes.
Daniel quickly looked up and shook his head. Jack doubted that he was being truthful but after his thoughtless words earlier, he couldn�t blame him from holding back. Damn, he wanted to apologize but he was still angry at Daniel�s little trick.
He concentrated on their plan; first step was to leave the museum, second was to get to the airport. Jack sighed as he saw Daniel absently rub his temple once more.
- - - - - -
Daniel glanced at Jack out of the corner of his eye. He could tell that Jack was still angry at him and that he was worried about Danny. The boy was still sleeping, and his fever hadn�t shown signs of abating yet. Hadn�t Janet said that Daniel�s fever had begun to go down soon after he�d gotten home?
They�d been sitting in this small room for nearly sixty minutes. The museum had opened thirty minutes ago but they didn�t want to arouse suspicion by walking out the moment the doors had opened. The heat in the room had caused Daniel�s headache to rise from a slight throb to a severe pounding in that short time. He badly wanted to ask Jack for something for the pain, but he didn�t want to see his �I told you so� expression when he did.
Jack kept asking him if he was all right, and it was all Daniel could do to put on a brave face. He could tough it out a short while longer, they had to be leaving soon; they needed to get to the airport and onto their flight. Jack had enough to worry about with Danny; he didn�t need to know that Daniel was already feeling pretty lousy. He leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes, trying to breathe through the pain.
A soft whimper caught his attention and Daniel opened his eyes. Danny was stirring restlessly on Jack�s lap; the older man talking softly to him. Daniel turned to ask Sam for some water for the boy and was surprised to see that she wasn�t in the room. He checked his watch, his eyes having trouble focussing on the timepiece. The movement aggravated his stomach and he swallowed down bile with effort.
He must have fallen asleep despite his headache, not noticing Sam leave the room. Teal�c walked over to Jack with a water bottle, blocking Daniel�s view as he knelt beside him.
He shivered suddenly, aware that he no longer felt warm. He laid his head back once more, hoping he wasn�t going to be sick. He�d give anything to be able to lie down and curl up on the floor. But he�d known this would happen the second he�d stepped forward and touched Jack�s back as Sam reached for the quantum mirror. He hadn�t planned on coming through with them; it was an impulsive decision, which he was now beginning to regret. At the time, the memory of that killer headache hadn�t seemed so bad.
�Daniel, let�s go.� Jack�s voice startled him. He blinked and saw Jack standing before him with Danny still in his arms. Danny was awake but appeared to be groggy. Somehow Daniel managed to get his feet underneath him and forced himself into an upright position. The room blurred and he kept a hand on the wall until he could make out the doorway. He stepped forward and followed Jack�s back as they made their way outside.
Sam was waiting outside for them, having hailed a cab. They all piled into it, with Jack and Danny sitting up front and the rest squeezed into the back. The sunlight sent waves of pain through Daniel�s eyes down into the farthest reaches of his brain. He sat there with his head tilted back, one hand trying to shield his eyes from the glare.
The trip to the airport was a blur, and once there he followed Jack�s leather-clad back through the streams of people until he was urged to sit. He ignored the nudge against his arm until Jack ordered him to look up. His friend was holding out two pills and an opened bottle of water. Needing relief, Daniel grabbed the pills with a shaking hand and swallowed them down with a small sip of water. He felt a hand on the back of his neck, and then heard Jack swearing softly.
- - - - - -
�Damn,� Jack muttered when he felt the heat rising from Daniel�s skin. He�d figured the man was suffering from a headache by the way he�d gone quiet in the storeroom, but he hadn�t expected his fever to rise this fast. He�d just given him some Demeral for his headache, but he shifted Danny on his knees and fished in his pocket again for the Tylenol that Fraiser had also given him for Danny.
Thankfully Danny�s fever was going down and even with the painkiller wearing off, his headache seemed to be much better. It was ironic that when one Daniel would begin to get better, the other worsened. He shook three pills out and nudged Daniel once more. Red-rimmed eyes looked at him in confusion.
�Take them,� he ordered quietly. Daniel swallowed them down obediently like he�d done with the painkiller. When he saw he�d only taken a sip of water, Jack coaxed him to try and drink some more. He needed fluids. Fraiser had admonished them all for having let Daniel become dehydrated the last time they were here. Right, try to explain to the good doc. that Daniel wasn�t keeping anything down�
As he sat in the airport waiting for Carter to return with their plane tickets, he hoped he had made the right choice. It was ironic in a sense that they�d just left Colorado and were now getting ready to fly back to the same State.
He kept a wary eye on Daniel; the man looked like he was ready to collapse. Teal�c sat beside their friend, lending moral if not physical support. Danny shifted on his knees and Jack could see that the boy was much more alert, looking around with curiosity. Carter arrived shortly after and herded them all to the Gate; their flight was due to leave within twenty minutes. Good, he had timed everything fairly well up until now.
They found their seats quickly and Jack settled Daniel in the window seat, pulling down the shade to reduce the light. He sat Danny between the two of them, Carter and Teal�c had the seats before them. He asked the stewardess for a pillow and blanket for Daniel. The stewardess, noticing Daniel�s pale face and weak demeanour, asked if she could be of assistance. Jack assured her it was nothing more than a migraine. Daniel fell asleep before the plane had even taxied to the runway.
�We�re back, aren�t we?� Danny finally spoke in a low voice as he watched the flight crew handing out drinks to the passengers.
�Yes, we are,� Jack answered before he asked for a coffee for himself and a juice for Danny. Handing the orange juice to the boy, he said, �I�ll explain later, when we�ve got a bit more privacy.� Danny looked up at him over his plastic cup, blue eyes trusting.
Daniel slept throughout the four and a half hour flight, curled up against the edge of his seat and the plane�s bulkhead. Jack was relieved when Danny showed interest in his lunch and polished off most of it. He curled up against Jack and slept the last ninety minutes of the flight, waking just before they landed. His fever was gone, as so was his headache. Jack wished that his friend had bounced back just as quickly.
Jack, on the other hand, developed a headache an hour into the flight. Although nowhere near as bad as Daniel�s, the longer they flew, the more his head throbbed. He took some Tylenol shortly before landing, and as he swallowed the pills he realized that his alternate self was definitely close by.
Once the plane landed and was taxing to the airport, Jack reached over and shook Daniel awake. He was groggy and still feverish, but his headache appeared to have abated somewhat. Jack opted to wait till all of the passengers had passed ahead of them before getting off. He sent Carter ahead to begin procedures for renting a car, telling her they�d meet up with her at the kiosk. She gave Daniel a concerned look before getting into the slow queue of disembarking passengers.
- - - - - -
Once in the rental sedan, Daniel slid into the back seat, glad to be sitting once more. Whatever Jack had given him for his headache was helping, but he felt weak and shaky, probably due to his fever. Danny climbed in after him and Jack followed next. Sam took the wheel while Teal�c sat beside her.
When Jack handed him some more medication, Daniel didn�t argue or question. He swallowed the pills down with a sip of water, then finished off the bottle when Jack urged him to. He knew he needed liquids; he just hoped his stomach understood the need also.
�Okay, Danny,� Jack began, once they were on their way. Danny turned to look at Jack.
�You understand that we�re back in your world?� He nodded.
�Now here�s where it begins to get a little complicated. When we left, we were in the year 1972. We�re now in 1984.�
Daniel�s brow furrowed as he processed the information. �Shouldn�t I be older?� he asked.
Jack smiled. Daniel looked up and saw Carter looking back at them in the rear view mirror, a grin plastered on her face.
�Yeah,� Jack continued. �If you tried getting here the normal way, you would. But we came through using a very special technology that allowed us to move forward in time. Now, the reason why we did that is because I know someone who I think might like to have you come live with them.�
Danny�s expression suddenly fell and he glanced away from Jack.
�Danny,� Daniel called softly. �You know that you can�t stay with us.� The boy nodded, his shoulders slumped. �If you come back with us, you�ll just get sick again.� Again, Danny nodded.
�Jack, I�m presuming you�re taking us to a young Captain and his wife?� Daniel asked. He recognized the address Jack had given Sam; or rather he remembered Jack saying that Winter Park was where he�d lived when he was married.
The motel they booked into was just outside of town and according to Jack, only 5 minutes away from their destination. While his friends ordered pizza and sat down on the beds enjoying their meal, Daniel waved the food away, the smell of it making him nauseous. He refused Sam�s offer to go get him soup or juice, he really couldn�t stand to eat anything.
He curled up on his side and watched them through half-closed eyes, eating and talking quietly. The drugs made him sleepy but he fought off their siren effect. He wanted to make sure he didn�t miss Jack�s departure; he wanted to be there with him when he spoke to his other self. Jack had already told the team that he�d be going by himself, it was a needless risk for his other self to get a look at them at this time.
So when Jack finally washed his hands of pizza juice and picked up the keys to the rental car, Daniel sat up and said, �I�m coming too, Jack.�
His friend shook his head, his look assessing and dismissing Daniel all in one. �I�m the one who has to convince him. There�s nothing you can say at this point.�
�I�m not going there for him,� Daniel said. �I�m going there for you.�
Jack�s mouth opened in surprise before he nodded. �We�ll be back in a short while,� he informed the other half of SG1. As they walked to the door, Danny ran to them and grabbed Daniel�s hand. �Me too,� he whispered. Before Jack could say anything, Daniel squeezed Danny�s hand and let him precede him out the door.
- - - - - -
Jack drove the seven blocks to what used to be his house. He pulled up before it, nostalgia hitting him hard. It was still painted blue and white the way it had been when they had first bought the house and before they�d begun making renovations.
�Wait here,� he stammered as he got out of the car. Two sets of blue eyes followed him: one worried, one anxious. He smiled gently at them before he went up the stone walkway and rang the doorbell.
Shock couldn�t quite describe the expression on his younger self�s face. He obviously recognized himself as he looked at Jack.
�What are you, a long lost brother?� he finally snarked.
�You could say that� an older brother, in a sense,� Jack said. �Can we talk?� He saw the man glance out the door and by the way his eyes narrowed, knew he�d spotted the two Daniels.
He moved back and allowed Jack entrance, limping slightly as he made his way into the living room. Jack followed, remembering the painful recovery of a badly bruised leg and ribs. He glanced at his watch. He had less than forty minutes to convince the man, knowing that Sara would be arriving then.
�So who exactly are you?� he asked as he sat down with a grimace.
Jack sat opposite him, hands clasped together.
The feral smile he�d heard described appeared on his alternate�s face. Damn, but he looked dangerous. Jack smiled inwardly to himself. It was nice to know the effects he had on his opponents.
�Not before you hear me out. I don�t have much time, and I need something from you.�
�Don�t they all?� He chewed his cheek a moment, looking away from Jack. �Look, I don�t know what kind of sick joke this is, but��
�I�m from the future,� Jack blurted. Well, so much for diplomacy.
The other man sighed and rolled his eyes.
�There�s a young boy, his parents were killed. He needs a home and you and Sara were the best couple that I could come up with.�
�What do you know of Sara,� Jack snarled.
�She was my wife,� Jack cried, his voice rising. Damn the headache. It was making him irritable and he was having a hard time thinking.
�We divorced. Look, that�s not the question. I can�t take Danny in because coming into my time makes him sick. If I bring him back to his own time, he�ll undergo years of being shuffled from foster homes to orphanages.� Not to mention that he probably couldn�t bring Danny back to 1972, their time machine was on its last legs.
He could see that his double�s face remained impassive, uninterested. Damn, he�d forgotten how pissed he�d been after being injured and forced to recuperate after a mission gone bad. Maybe this hadn�t been the best time to approach him.
�Listen, he�s outside in the car. At least come out and meet him.� His head was pounding so hard that he could hear his heart beating in his ears.
�Now why would I want to do that? I have absolutely no interest in what you�re selling here.�
�Damn it, I�m not selling anything. Come out and meet him. That�s all I ask.� Shit, was he always this stubborn? �There are no price tags attached. I need someone I trust to take care of Danny, and since you�re me, I know how you feel about kids. You�ll be a great dad and � shit please, just come out and meet him.� Jack couldn�t believe he was reduced to begging. He rubbed his temples, willing the ache to subside.
�I think you should leave now,� he said with finality as he stood up.
Jack stood also, not knowing what else to say. As he walked numbly to the door, he remembered suddenly why he had chosen today to come speak to his younger self.
�Your wife is going to walk through that door in the next thirty minutes and announce that she�s pregnant. In 8 months you�re going to have an 8 pound 9 ounce baby boy. You�re going to have one hell of a career, both good and bad. For a while the bad will overwhelm you, but you�ll persevere, and come out stronger for it.�
Jack took a deep breath, watching the man�s look of incredulity, seeing him mouth �a baby�. He remembered how Sara had been trying to get pregnant for the past three years; with Jack away so much of the time, it had been very difficult on both of them.
He forged ahead, having nothing else to lose. �If I leave now, in 1996 your whole world will be turned upside down. You can�t imagine the heartache. At the same time you�ll become part of the most incredible discovery, it�ll make what you�re doing now seem insignificant. And since we just screwed up your past, if you�re not around to properly guide Danny between now and then, your world will be destroyed. And I just don�t mean your career and marriage. I�m talking the Earth. Nations. Countries. Near total decimation. People reduced to slavery. You need Daniel on your team, and you need to be able to pull the strings to get him there.� Jack turned and walked to the door. He stopped short of opening it. �If you change your mind, here�s where we�re staying.� Jack handed him a piece of paper with the name of the motel and their room number.
He opened the front door and walked out towards the car. Daniel had opened the car door and was sitting with his feet on the curb, while Danny was playing with a neighbour�s dog. He could hear the boy�s giggles from here and smiled to himself despite his anger. Danny had been too quiet for an eight year old boy; it was nice to hear him act normal.
�Danny,� Jack called out. The boy looked up and seeing Jack returning to the car, glanced warily back towards the house. Jack looked back at his other self as he approached the car, noting that the man was watching Danny. The youngster smiled up at the dog�s owner then ran back to the car. He clambered over Daniel and settled between them.
He was aware of Daniel�s glances as he drove back to the motel. �Didn�t go well?� he asked quietly.
�Am I usually that stubborn?� Jack asked.
Daniel laughed quietly at his question but didn�t answer.
- - - - - -
They sat around the motel room waiting. Jack�s headache had gotten bad enough that he had to lie down. He knew he also had a slight fever from the aches in his joints. He pitied Daniel; this must be what he�d been going during all the time they�d spent in this alternate world.
When she saw him give in to his pain, that was when Carter gave him some Demoral. He dozed for a while beside Daniel and when he woke, his headache had gone down to a near tolerable level. Carter, Danny and Teal�c were sitting on the other bed playing cards. From what it sounded like, Danny was winning.
He glanced at his watch, wondering whether his words had reached the other man. It was nearing 11 PM, he didn�t think Jack would call them tonight. He�d just decided that they�d return to the house the next day when there was a knock at the door.
Immediately Carter went to stand by Daniel, who hadn�t woken at the sound. Teal�c approached quietly behind Jack, backing him up. Nobody except his other self knew that they were there, so why was he nervous?
He opened the door cautiously, only to see Jack and Sara standing outside. Damn, but his wife looked lovely. He smiled gently at her, recalling how much he had loved her. He saw her staring back at him, and he wondered what was going through her mind.
Remembering suddenly why they were there, he opened the door wide and stepped back, allowing them entrance. Carter was shaking Daniel awake. He sat up looking a little bewildered, hair spiked up and blinking groggily. Danny went over to sit beside Daniel, leaning into him as if for protection.
�I�m sorry, I know it�s late,� Sara said as Jack closed the door behind them. He smiled again and with a wave of his hand, offered them a seat on the slightly rumpled bed as Carter hastily picked up the playing cards that were strewn over it. Sara walked over and sat down on the edge of the mattress, as Jack went to sit beside Daniel on the opposite bed. Sara�s Jack limped over and sat beside her, obviously ill at ease.
�Jack told me about the boy,� she said, giving Danny a gentle smile. Jack saw him press back against Daniel as his eyes flitted sideways to Jack�s. He patted Danny�s leg, feeling the tense muscles underneath. Daniel pulled Danny securely against his chest, offering him a modicum of reassurance in the action.
Sara looked up at Daniel, and asked, �I don�t understand; Jack said his parents had been killed. Aren�t you his father?�
Daniel shook his head with a slight smile on his face.
�But the resemblance,� she began.
�You�re him. You�re the boy,� Jack�s alternate said, interrupting his wife. He caught Jack�s gaze. �Just like you�re me, he�s the boy all grown up.�
�So it�s true,� Sara said to herself. Her husband took her hand, and Jack stared at the intertwined fingers. He admitted to feeling a twinge of jealousy; this was what he had had all those years ago, and it was his own fault that he�d lost everything.
�Just so you�ll understand, I know exactly what Danny�s going through right now.� Daniel�s voice was steady and clear, with no indication of the weakness or fever that Jack knew he was experiencing. His pale face and fever-bright eyes told a different story. Jack could feel the minute tremors through the mattress as Daniel attempted to hold himself upright. When Danny turned and buried his face against the younger man�s shoulder, Daniel�s hand went up and caressed the back of his neck. �We want to give him a chance at happiness, and you two really are the best thing for him.�
�How do you know that, you don�t even know us,� Jack snapped.
�I know him,� Daniel said, casting his eyes sideways towards Jack. �I know that he loved his s� f..family.� Daniel stumbled over the word, trying to cover his slip-up. They had agreed earlier that they wouldn�t mention Charlie�s death, although Jack had every intention of reminding his alternate before they left to keep guns away from the kids.
�Jack�s my best friend, and if I were in Danny�s shoes right now, I�d give anything to have him for my dad.� Daniel looked up fervently at the younger Jack, holding his gaze.
�Danny,� the man sitting opposite the boy said. �Danny, do you want to come and stay with us?�
Daniel shook his head no, but slowly turned to face the couple. �I want to stay with Daniel and Jack,� he said in a low voice. His lower lip trembled slightly as he tried to contain his emotions. �But I can�t. We get sick when we�re together.�
At Jack and Sara�s confused look, Sam spoke up. �It has to do with two bodies occupying the same space in this reality. We can�t stay here much longer, Daniel and the� Jack are both pretty sick.�
�What about you two? You don�t look as bad as they do,� Sara asked.
�Our other selves aren�t standing two feet away from us,� Sam replied. �We�ve seen that the closer we are to our doubles, the faster and more severe the fever and headaches.�
Sara scooted forward slightly on the bed so she was closer to Danny. She reached a hand and pushed the thick blond bangs away from his eyes. �But you need a home, Danny. Would you like to come and stay with us?� As Danny stared at them, unwilling to commit, she added, �What do you think of a baby brother or sister?�
�Would you still want me after you had a baby?� Danny asked in a small voice.
�Of course they would, Danny,� Daniel said softly in his ear. �Hey, Jack likes me, and he likes you� if he can stand the two of us together, don�t you think that Sara and Jack can love both you and a new brother or sister?�
Watching Danny�s face, Jack saw the hint of a smile. The boy was watching the other Jack with a hawklike intensity during their conversation; Jack assumed he was looking for similarities between himself and his younger self.
Jack pulled Danny over to him a moment, sitting him on his lap. �Danny, both him and me are the same person. The one sitting over there on the bed opposite you is really grumpy right now because his leg and ribs are hurting him and he�s too damn stubborn to take anything for the pain.� Jack smiled inwardly as he saw his twin�s eyes narrow, but felt a twinge of guilt when Sara looked up at her husband in worry.
�He�s really a great guy, otherwise Sara wouldn�t love him. And yes, they�re going to have a baby, which means you�re going to have a brother in a few months. Just think of all the things you�ll be able to show him.�
�Can I teach him hieroglyphics?� he asked, looking first at the younger Jack and then up at Daniel.
A genuine smile lit up the younger man�s face as his wife giggled beside him. �You can teach him anything you want, but I think teaching him how to write might have to wait until he�s a few years old,� the brown haired man said.
Jack felt Daniel shiver beside him. A sheen of sweat was evident on his face and if possible, his face was even paler. He knew he needed to get Daniel home soon, and himself also as the pounding in his head began to escalate once more.
Relieved that they�d found a home for Danny, Jack decided that they should leave as soon as possible. He placed a hand on Daniel�s arm, feeling the heat of fever through the layers of clothes.
�We need to leave as soon as possible. There are things we need to show you, can we go back to your place as soon as we�ve packed up here?�
- - - - - -
Daniel sat shivering on the bed, feeling bereft once the small needy body of his younger self left him to go sit with Jack. He attempted to follow the conversation, but an overwhelming lethargy and fever haze prevented him from making much sense of it. He felt a hand on his arm and he forced his head up to look at Jack.
Everything afterwards seemed to move in slow motion. He accepted whatever pills Sam asked him to swallow, lying down at her request, watching the flurry of disorienting activity with dispassion. By the time he was urged to his feet and escorted out the door by Teal�c, he began to feel slightly better. The cool night air on his body helped revive him a bit more as he climbed into their rental car. He closed his eyes a moment, laying his head sideways against the door. The next thing he knew someone was shaking his shoulder. He blinked in confusion; they were parked in front of a house� hadn�t they just left a motel?
They entered the house and he was led to a sofa, a pillow was placed beneath his head and a blanket covered his body. His ears buzzed strangely as he tried to listen to Jack and Sam explain things to his friend�s younger twin. Danny sat down on the floor beside him and Daniel reached a hand and curled it limply around the boy�s chest. They�d be leaving soon, and as much as he knew that Jack had found the perfect parents for Danny, he still felt like they were abandoning the boy.
�You�ll be happy here,� Daniel said softly in Danny�s ear, not sure if he was trying to convince himself or Danny of the fact. �I know you miss your parents, but I promise you, the pain will get better after a while. You won�t forget them, they�ll always be a part of you� a part of me.�
�I�ll miss you,� Danny said just as softly.
�I�ll miss you too. But you�ll see as you get older that I�m really a part of you. Just look inside yourself and you�ll see me. Believe in yourself, and trust in what you believe. Never give up, Danny. It might be hard at first, especially when the nightmares come. Just remember that our parents would be proud� I�ll be proud.�
�I want to be just like them. I want to study archaeology and languages. Do you think Jack and Sara will let me? Do you think that�s silly?�
Daniel swallowed a lump in his throat, remembering how he had vowed to honour his parents� memories by following in their footsteps at a very young age. His zeal for learning had turned off many of his foster parents, but he was sure that Jack would understand.
He was also confident that Jack would be able to balance the boy�s fervour for study with enjoyment of the small pleasures in life. It had taken his adult friend a long time to draw Daniel out and teach him how to relax. He cherished those evenings when Jack and he would spend a simple evening watching television, or sit outside on Jack�s roof watching the stars. He realized now that he�d missed out a lot in his childhood, he just hoped that this young one�s wouldn�t be as lacking.
�I don�t think it�s silly at all. That�s what I did. And I think it�s very important that you study what interests you. If that�s what you really want, I�m sure that Jack will agree to it.�
They fell silent as they watched the others standing around the living room while Sam showed the alternate Jack how to take the quantum mirror apart, how to detach the Naquada power source and instructed him to bury it somewhere far.
He closed his eyes a moment, and when he opened them again, everyone was gathered around the coffee table. Danny was asleep beside him, his head resting against the edge of the couch.
Papers were strewn all over the coffee table. Jack was giving his younger self a list of names and addresses, and was saying something about forging Danny�s birth certificate and adoption papers. His muddled brain took a few moments to realize that of course, Danny should be twenty years old by now. He was impressed that Jack knew of these kinds of people. His friend never ceased to amaze him.
The next time he opened his eyes, Danny was sharing the couch with him, his slight form nestled against his chest, Oursie lying loosely in his hand. Someone had wrapped the blanket around them both. He looked around, and saw that they were alone in the living room. Muted voices came from what he thought was the kitchen. He could hear the tinkle of cutlery against china; maybe his friends were having a snack. He thought he smelled coffee. He wanted to call out, make sure that he hadn�t been left behind, but the effort was too demanding and he closed his eyes one again.
- - - - - -
Carter announced that was just about ready to power up the device, so Jack went upstairs with Teal�c to wake the two sleepers. She�d set everything up in the basement, to ensure that no prying eyes might inadvertently see people disappear from the middle of a room, even though it was the middle of the night.
He walked into the living room, his heart lurching when he thought again of having to leave Danny behind. He�d seen the two Daniels talking softly earlier; Danny appearing to be a little more vocal tonight than he�d been during the past few days. Jack knew that with time and patience, the boy would recover from the trauma of seeing his parents die and being separated from his new friends. Jack assumed that a quiet Danny wasn�t quite a normal thing; Daniel had once told him that his mother used to call him �motor mouth�. He smiled at the thought; his friend truly hadn�t changed much.
This couple was more than ready to adopt Danny, and although Sara had expressed doubts about altering all the pertinent information, both Jacks had assured her that it was necessary. He was confident that the falsified documents would stand up to scrutiny; the people he�d recommended were the best. You ended up meeting strange acquaintances in his line of work.
He fervently wished he could revisit this family in their own time one day, just to see how they made out and if the advance information on the Stargate and Goa�uld technology could give them a head start in protecting the Earth. They�d found copies of all of Daniel�s published works before he�d joined the Stargate programme in Sam�s pack, plus several CDs clearly labelled SG1 field missions. Daniel must have put them in her pack and forgotten to inform them about it. The neat thing was that until CD players were invented, the information was kept away from prying eyes.
They decided to keep most of the data away from Danny until Jack and Sara was sure he�d be able to accept his role in this, feeding him bits of information and guiding him towards opening the Stargate. But at least the info was there for him to study later on; and if Danny chose to not follow in his Daniel�s footsteps, then the records were there to help someone else to open the �gate.
He knelt down beside the sleeping duo, ignoring how the movement exacerbated the pounding in his head and automatically checked both for fever. Danny slept the sleep of the exhausted child, Daniel the sleep of the very ill. His fever had climbed even higher, and it was way past time to get him home. He brushed the hair back from Danny�s face before waking him up. Sleepy eyes looked up at Jack, and then widened when he realized that it was time.
�Coming to say goodbye?� Jack said gently. Danny nodded, and sat up so that Jack could get to Daniel. His friend was harder to rouse, but between Teal�c and Jack, they got Daniel down the stairs and into the basement.
Daniel leaned heavily against Teal�c as they waited for Carter to put in the final touches. Danny came up to Jack and hugged him, tears flowing freely down his cheeks. Jack blinked back his own tears, hugging Danny hard.
He let him go reluctantly as the boy went to Daniel. Both Daniels� faces were wet with tears when they parted, Daniel looking at something in his hand. Danny moved to stand stiffly beside his prospective parents and Sara put a comforting hand on the child�s shoulder. The alternate Jack knelt down and spoke softly to Danny, and Jack saw the boy relax slightly. He kept his eyes on the trio as he placed a hand on both Daniel and Carter, and saw Danny lift a hand in farewell when he found himself back in Sam�s lab.
- - - - - -
Daniel awoke in the infirmary with a feeling of d�j� vu, his head pounding slightly and with Oursie sitting on the pillow beside him. He vaguely remembered Danny pressing it into his hand saying �remember me� before he went back to join his new parents. He stretched and heard Jack�s voice calling from beside his bed.
Turning to his right, he saw Jack in the bed next to him. He was lying on his side, his weight on his elbow, grinning at him. For a moment Daniel couldn�t remember what happened to his friend to put him in the infirmary; then he realized that they must have both suffered from the symptoms of being in the alternate universe.
�Hey Jack,� Daniel said as he turned on his side to face his friend.
�About time you woke up,� Jack complained. �You�ve slept almost thirty six hours straight. Do you know how boring it is having nothing to do but watch you sleep?�
Daniel stared back at Jack, a slight grin forming at the corner of his mouth.
�You okay?� Daniel asked his friend. He thought that Jack looked a little pale, but he figured he didn�t look that great himself.
�Yeah, doc�s released me already. I was waiting for Teal�c to get me some clothes. I was just getting ready to get dressed when you decided to wake up.�
�Oh,� Daniel said, wondering how much longer he�d be stuck here in the infirmary.
�He got yours, too,� Jack said, pointing to a neatly folded pile. Daniel glanced at them, not paying particular attention because he suspected that Janet wasn�t too happy with him for going off when she had adamantly stated that he wasn�t fit to do so. But something caught his eye; he didn�t own a sweater similar to the one sitting on the table. But it looked familiar; a memory of rifling through Danny�s father�s belongings came to mind.
He reached over and picked it up and memories of his own father wearing this favourite cream coloured pullover came to him. He held it to his face and breathed deeply, smelling just a hint of his father�s aftershave still lingering on the soft wool. He smiled to himself at the nostalgia, the memories no longer painful now that the machine�s effects weren�t addling his brain so much.
�Thank you,� he told Jack, remembering how Jack had packed it for him when Daniel hadn�t been able to decide what to do with it.
�You gonna be okay?� his friend asked as he hopped off the bed. Daniel knew that his question was loaded� was he okay with having left Danny; was he okay with the memories of seeing his parents� deaths; was he okay with knowing that they had probably changed the future in that reality and despite their best efforts, had possibly doomed it.
�Yeahhhh,� he said softly. He was okay; he felt a little sad, but he knew that they had tried their best to help them.
Jack picked up his clothes and stood turned to go to the bathroom to change.
�You okay?� Daniel asked Jack. He thought of Jack�s son, and figured that it must have been hard on him knowing that Sara had been pregnant with the son that his friend had lost a few years back. �Did you warn the other Jack about Charlie?�
Jack stopped and turned to look at Daniel. He took two steps up to the bed, leaning his thigh against the mattress. �I didn�t say anything.� Before Daniel could open his mouth to protest, Jack lifted a finger, silencing him. �I figured that if I warned him, he would live the rest of his life a nervous wreck, waiting for that accident to happen. As much as I wanted to prevent him from losing our son, I couldn�t do that to him. To me. I did what I could, Daniel. I just hope that it�s enough.�
�We did our best, Jack. That�s all one can ask.� Jack smiled at him, and Daniel smiled back. �I just wish we could go back one more time and see how they made out,� he said longingly.
�Not gonna happen,� Jack confirmed. �The gizmo�s toast. It started smoking and melting when we got back.� He grinned. �I�d love to have seen the faces of the NID when they came to recover it.�
�I guess we�ll never know,� Daniel said as he picked up the teddy bear beside his pillow, stroking it thoughtfully.
// Of all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are those, �it might have been� //
John Greenleaf Whittier
Eleven years later�
Jack stood in the doorway of his son�s bedroom, watching Daniel hunched over his desk, nose buried in the papers he and Sara had presented to him a few weeks ago on his nineteenth birthday. Dr. Daniel Jackson�s papers. Jack was thrilled to have Daniel home from college for summer break. He missed his oldest son. The computer screen displayed what looked like ancient Egyptian artifacts, Danny�s favorite subject. His son was completely engrossed, oblivious to his presence.
Jack hoped that he and Sara hadn�t made a mistake giving Daniel the writings a few years earlier than they�d planned. The alternate reality Jack had strongly suggested that they give Danny the manuscripts by the time he turned nineteen. He was so adamant that they had agreed, but privately decided to wait until Daniel was at least twenty-one. They didn�t want to overburden him. But Daniel was so smart and he had wanted them so badly that they ended up following the other Jack�s directive.
There was no holding Daniel back, even though Jack had tried his level best to do just that. Maybe not hold him back, but at least slow him down some. Daniel had graduated from high school early and was going to be starting what amounted to his senior year of college. Jack thought Daniel was way too studious for his own good. He didn�t want him to miss out on the fun of being a kid. He had grown up too fast as it was. Jack looked at the boy and realized it was too late. He was already grown up.
Daniel was always serious, even as a little boy. The Egyptian images on the screen reminded Jack of their first Halloween together. Daniel had practically grown up in Egypt and had never experienced Jack�s favorite holiday. He had asked a million questions about the reasons behind the traditions. //Why do we carve pumpkins? Why do kids dress up in costumes? Why do people give you candy for free? // Danny never ran out of questions.
Jack smiled at how none of his answers ever seemed to satisfy Daniel. The little guy would wrinkle his nose, lift his eyebrows and fold his arms as if deep in thought and say, �That doesn�t seem right, Jack.�
Both he and Sara had to fight back the laughter that Halloween when little Danny self-consciously stood before them dressed up as a mummy. As Jack took Daniel door-to-door, the poor kid confessed to being worried sick because his costume was all wrong�real mummies didn�t use sheets. Jack smiled broadly at the memory. By the time Danny was eleven he loved Halloween. He would help Jack transform the garage into a haunted house to scare the kids in the neighborhood. As Daniel got older, he quit going out for candy, unless it was to take Charlie, but his ideas and plans for the garage became more and more elaborate. A trip to the O�Neill�s haunted garage had become a Halloween highlight for every kid within a twenty-mile radius.
So Daniel wasn�t like other kids. Aside from everything else that had happened to him, he was a genius, that had been verified, and Jack and Sara constantly worried about the pressure he put on himself. Since Daniel was eight years old, he had been aware that it was his destiny to do something important, something so important that it could save the whole world. He didn�t want to fail.
Some days, Jack and Sara hurt for the burden Daniel had been saddled with and cursed their //other// selves for placing it there. It was too much responsibility for any one person, much less a teenager. Although, they both had to admit that Daniel seemed to thrive on it. He had barely come out of his room since they�d given him those damn papers. Jack had tried to decipher them, but they seemed to be written in some sort of techno babble in languages that made absolutely no sense to him. Even though he knew his son was a genius, it shocked him that Daniel appeared to be making headway.
�Knock, knock,� Jack said in lieu of actually knocking. Daniel smiled at Jack and pushed up the glasses that were constantly sliding down his nose.
�Leave that for a while, Daniel. Charlie and I are gonna go out back and throw the ball around.�
Daniel looked at the papers longingly. �Um�maybe later, Jack. I�m right at a good part.�
�Yeah, yeah, that�s what you�ve been saying for two weeks. Come on, Danny, it�s a beautiful day out there. Come out and play with us. Don�t sit in here all day with your nose buried in a book.� Jack put on his best pleading face and thought of the irony of a parent begging a teenager to stop studying. That was life with Daniel.
�Okay, okay, Dad, just give me a few more minutes.� Jack smiled at Daniel�s use of the word Dad. He loved when Daniel called him that. Usually, Daniel only let it slip when he was scared, or distracted like he was now.
Jack sighed his agreement. The odds of Daniel not getting caught up in the next //good part// and coming out to play ball were a long shot. �Daniel,� Jack said as he turned to leave. �Don�t forget Sara and I are going out tonight and you�re babysitting Charlie.�
Daniel looked confused.
�July 24th, Daniel, your mother�s charity auction.� Jack made a face to show his lack of enthusiasm at attending the event. �July 24th�babysitting�ring any bells?�
Daniel�s blank expression proved to Jack he had forgotten. Not that it mattered, Daniel rarely went out with his friends in the evenings. That was his computer time. Now that he had Dr. Jackson papers, all day seemed to be his computer time.
�It�s no problem, I�ll be home,� Daniel nodded.
�Don�t sit up here the whole time we�re gone, Daniel. Spend some time with Charlie. He misses you since you�ve developed this unnatural attachment to those papers and that computer.�
�I will, Jack. I�ll turn it off. Promise.�
�Good.� Jack said, giving the doorframe two good whacks with his hand on the way out.
- - - - - -
Daniel smiled listening to Jack mumbling down the hall. �Baseball, Danny. Backyard, sunny, seventy-five degrees.�
Daniel knew that his fascination with the publishings and writings of his alternate, older self had crossed the line into obsession. He just had so much to learn and not much time to learn it in. He often worried that he wasn�t as smart as the other Dr. Jackson. He had to get smarter and learn more if he was supposed to save the world.
Daniel tried to get back to interpreting Dr. Jackson�s translation, but something kept nagging at him. It was the date, July 24th, it sounded so familiar, unless he just remembered it because he was going to watch Charlie tonight.
�Yes!� Daniel said out loud when he found an excellent, detailed web site on ancient Egyptian myths. He had just started researching the God, Ra when it struck him why the date sounded so familiar. He took out the last manuscript in the pile and turned to the last page. There he found the handwritten note that the alternate reality, older Jack, had attached. He remembered it because it was the only thing personal in the huge stack of reading material.
Daniel read the note with confusion. The small paper had Daniel�s name written at the top and underneath it listed today�s date, July 24th, 1996 and then�1:40 PM take care of Charlie. Daniel wondered if older Jack was making a joke about him babysitting for the auction. But that made no sense at all. He checked his watch. It was 1:10. //1:40 PM take care of Charlie.// It must mean something if Jack included it.
A restless Daniel went to the window that overlooked the backyard. Charlie and Jack were tossing the ball back and forth having a fine time. Daniel smiled at the two of them, thinking how lucky he was to have ended up with the O�Neills� after the accident. His life was certainly a different life than he had lived with his parents. They had visited numerous countries and experienced a wide variety of cultures. As a child, Daniel had been allowed to roam free around the dig sights, exploring the caves and ancient ruins. He thought he�d miss all of that more than he actually did. There was something to be said for the security of knowing what was going to happen next and sleeping in your own bed every night.
It had taken Daniel a little while to adjust, but he eventually settled into the O�Neill home with all of its comforts and traditions. You could set your clock by the O�Neill family traditions. The first and the last day of every school year were official pizza and ice cream days. Thanksgiving dinner was served at precisely 2:00PM and Jack HAD to have a turkey leg. Every Christmas the family would hike into the woods and argue over which evergreen would make the perfect Christmas tree. Eventually, Jack would chop down which ever one Sara told him too. Everyone was given one gift to open on Christmas Eve, the rest were saved for the morning. When it snowed enough to close the schools, Sara baked chocolate chip cookies and made hot chocolate. On St. Patrick�s Day you wore green and ate corn beef and cabbage. The fourth of July was spent with a picnic at the lake, followed up with a spectacular fireworks display. It was almost as if his life before and after his parents� death were opposites of one another. It seemed odd that he could love both of them so very much.
Daniel went back to his desk. If Charlie needed to be �taken care of� today he was with Jack and no one would take better care of him than his father.
For the first time since receiving the manuscripts Daniel found he was having trouble concentrating. He kept checking his watch. 1:30. He went back to the window. Charlie and Jack were gone. Probably just moved to the front yard where Sara was working in the garden. Daniel went into Charlie�s room; those windows faced the front. Jack and Sara were standing by the garage talking. Charlie was nowhere in sight. Daniel watched his parents for a few minutes and smiled as Jack planted a kiss on a surprised Sara�s lips. The slamming of a door brought Daniel back to reality. Charlie must have come inside.
1:35. Daniel decided it wouldn�t cost him anything to go check on Charlie at the time stated in the note. �Charlie,� he yelled on his way down the stairs. �Charlie?� His little brother wasn�t in the kitchen or the bathroom. Daniel was just about to head outside thinking he must have slipped back out when he thought he heard a noise coming from Jack�s office.
Charlie wasn�t allowed to play in there but something made Daniel check anyway. When the office door opened Charlie jumped with a look of guilt and surprise. To Daniel�s shock, he was holding Jack�s gun.
�Charlie, what are you doing with that?� Daniel�s heart began to race as he thought of the implications of the note.
�Mom and Dad won�t let me go hunting with Kenny and his father,� Charlie pouted. �Dad says I�m too young to handle guns. I�m not. Look, Daniel, I can handle this gun.�
Daniel concentrated on staying calm. �Charlie, put the gun down now.�
�There�s no bullets in it, Daniel. See?� Charlie turned the gun on himself, held it up to his face and looked down the barrel.
�Charlie!� Daniel forced himself not to scream. He could see the wall clock�1:39. �Put the gun down!�
�Are you gonna tell dad?� Charlie asked, sounding fearful for the first time, knowing how angry his father would be.
Daniel was frantic, the ticking of the clock pounding in his ears. �Charlie, if you point the gun away from yourself right now, I won�t tell him.�
�Okay.� Charlie shrugged, moving the barrel away from his body. �But it�s not loaded, Daniel, see...�
The explosion that rang out was deafening as the bullet slammed into the wall just under the office window. The gun dropped out of a terrified Charlie�s hand and on to the floor with a cold thud. Daniel had the presence of mind to check the clock � 1:40 PM. Neither of them was able to move or speak.
Jack came flying into the office at a run. He saw the gun at Charlie�s feet and surmised who was responsible for the shot fired. He knelt in front of his son.
�Charlie, are you okay?� Daniel watched as Jack�s shaking hands searched every inch of Charlie�s body, checking for wounds. His voice sounding so scared and hollow, that Daniel would not have recognized it as Jack�s.
When Jack was satisfied that Charlie was fine he turned to Daniel? �Danny, are you okay?� he asked in that same strange voice.
�I�m fine, Dad. We both are. The bullet hit the wall over there, see?� Daniel pointed out the frayed wood that had been torn up by the blast.
�Come here.� Jack called Daniel to his side and hugged the two of them tightly to his chest. �I�m sorry, Daddy, I�m sorry,� Charlie sobbed over and over despite Jack�s soothing voice telling him it was okay.
�Sara,� Jack mumbled. He went to the window, an arm clasped fiercely around each of his sons. Daniel saw Sara standing frozen like a statue in the driveway. Her face twisted in horror, both hands covering her mouth, terrified to move, afraid that any action would make the moment real. Jack flung the window open and shoved all three of their heads out of it. �We�re okay, Sara,� he yelled. �Everyone is okay.�
The spell was finally broken and Sara ran into the house to hug her boys.
- - - - - -
Jack and Sara didn�t go to the auction that evening. They stayed home to keep their eyes on their children. Jack had a private talk with Charlie. Daniel wasn�t sure what was said but Charlie seemed okay with whatever Jack had told him.
It was after 11:00, but Daniel couldn�t sleep. He lay on his bed, his hands clasped behind his head, staring up at the ceiling. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw Charlie holding the gun, turning it towards himself, looking down the barrel. �But it�s not loaded, Daniel, see�� And then the terrifying sound of the bullet exploding out of the gun and smashing into the wall.
Daniel couldn�t forget the look of horror on Jack�s face when he ran into the room or the hollow quiver in the timbre of his voice. He could still hear Charlie sobbing, inconsolable in Jack�s embrace��I�m sorry, Daddy, I�m sorry.� Daniel had been the only one to remain calm, even pointing out the damaged wall to reassure Jack.
He wasn�t feeling calm now. He felt scared and sick to his stomach from running all the //what if// scenarios through his mind. What if Jack and Sara hadn�t given him the papers? What if Jack hadn�t mentioned July 24th? What if he hadn�t remembered the note? What if he wouldn�t have come home for the summer? Worst of all�what if he had ignored the note�s warning. He came so close to doing just that. He wouldn�t have been able to live with himself if the unthinkable had happened.
And what would have happened to their family? To Jack? When Charlie was taking a shower, Daniel wanted to sneak in and talk to his father. He stopped short at his parent�s bedroom door, one hand already on the knob when he heard Jack crying behind closed doors, Sara trying to console him. Daniel had quietly tiptoed back to his room.
Aside from all that, Daniel couldn�t stop wondering about the other Jack. The Jack who had protected him and cared for him when his real parents had died. The Jack that saved Charlie�s life today.
�Hey.� His Jack opened the door and sat down on the edge of bed. �You doin� okay, Danny? You seemed mighty quiet.� Jack put a hand on Daniel�s shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
�I�m fine,� Daniel said quickly. Jack had enough to worry about. �How�s Charlie?�
�Charlie�s good. It�s Sara I�m worried about,� Jack winked. �Charlie�s in our bed. Sara won�t let him out of her sight. He�ll probably have to sleep with us until he goes off to college,� Jack joked.
Daniel smiled and looked away.
Jack put a hand on Daniel�s cheek and gently turned his face to maintain eye contact. �Danny, tell me exactly what happened.�
Daniel sat up on the bed and moved over so Jack could sit beside him.
�Dad, I-I�� For the first time since the ordeal began Daniel began to cry.
Jack�s arms were around him in an instant. �Shh, it�s okay, Danny, it�s okay,� Jack comforted, using the same soothing tones he used earlier that day with Charlie.
�What if I wouldn�t have gone to check on him? I almost didn�t,� Daniel stuttered between sobs.
�Hey,� Jack said sharply. �You did. You were there and Charlie is fine.� Jack hugged Daniel harder. �Listen, Danny, I tried to ask all those //what if// questions too. Your mother wouldn�t let me get away with it and I�m not going to let you get away with either, understand?�
Daniel nodded. He hadn�t felt this scared since he was eight years old. The other Jack had comforted him then. �There�s something else too,� Daniel whispered as he regained control of himself.
He pulled away from Jack, slightly embarrassed by the crying jag. He reached into his pocket, pulled out the note and handed it to Jack. �This is why I checked on him.�
�Where did you get this?� Jack asked, his eyes wide with shock.
�It was in with Dr. Jackson�s papers. The other Jack must have put it there.�
This Jack nodded dumbly, certain that the other Jack�s son was dead. Something he remembered seeing in the older man�s eyes that day eleven years ago told him for sure that the Charlie in that universe had died. The thought filled him with inexplicable sorrow.
�Jack,� Daniel asked in a small voice. �Does this mean that the other Jack�s son really shot himself? Because, because Charlie had the gun pointed right at his head. If he would have pulled the trigger then�� Daniel�s voice trailed off as he relived the nightmare.
�I don�t know,� Jack answered quietly, rubbing Daniel�s back to calm him.
�I think he did,� Daniel whispered. �I think the other Jack�s son is dead.�
Jack put a comforting arm around Daniel�s shoulders. �I think so too,� he whispered sadly. �Let�s not tell mom any of this, okay?�
Daniel nodded his agreement. �I�m going to try to open that gate. They think I should open it. It must be right. It must be really important. I have to do it, Jack. I have to save the world.� The youthful determination and confidence brought unwanted tears to Jack�s eyes.
�You already saved the world, Danny. You saved //our// world.� Jack waited until Daniel fell asleep before kissing the top of his head and slipping out.
It was 2:00 AM and Jack was still restless. He kissed Charlie and Sara�s sleeping faces, checked on Daniel and gave him a smooch as well. Then he wandered downstairs to the kitchen, grabbed a beer from the fridge and stepped outside to gaze up at the stars. He unfolded the note Daniel had given him and read it again. //July 24th, 1996. 1:40 PM take care of Charlie.//
The older Jack had given him a precious gift, a son, Daniel, who he loved with all his heart. And now he had given him Charlie too. He raised his beer up to the stars with gratitude.
�Thank you, Jack,� he whispered.
DebiC did the alpha, and Darcy, Babs and devra supplied the encouragement. Thanks you guys!
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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.