Deja Vu

Note: This story first appeared in Jmas' Ancient's Gate Little Daniel zine


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"Any luck?"

Frustrated and more than a little bit angry, Jack put the phone down and nodded his thanks to Hammond's aide. Trying to control his annoyance and impatience, he walked across the room and back towards the people waiting for him at the table. "No, sir. Daniel's not answering his phone. With your permission, I'd like to go back to his office and drag his sorry ass back here."

"Go ahead, Colonel. But make it quick. You know the urgency with which we need to deal with this problem."

"Yes, sir. I'm sure Daniel's on his way up here and I'll probably catch him in the hallway." As he hurried out the door, Jack caught a glimpse of amusement from Ferretti while the rest of SG-2 looked annoyed. He felt Carter's eyes on him as he left the room, standing forlornly beside the projection screen, her presentation on hold until he returned.

He strode quickly to the elevator, trying to tamp down his irritation, although it wasn't like Daniel to be this late for a meeting, especially one where he'd spent the past six hours working at finding a solution to help locate and free SG-12 from what they'd dubbed to be the Mushroom Planet.

Keeping a lookout for Daniel, Jack hurried up to his office. He stepped inside and immediately saw that the room was empty. Looking around quickly he found a half-eaten sandwich sitting on the side of the desk along with a nearly full cup of coffee. Jack cupped his palm over the mug and found it to be cool. What was disturbing, though, was that there were a couple of printed sheets of Daniel's notes spread out on his desk, as if Daniel had been reviewing them, while the remainder of them were still in the printer.

Jack picked up Daniel's phone and called the briefing room, trying to ignore the hairs that were prickling along the base of his neck. He asked for Hammond and waited several seconds while the general came on.

"Sir, Daniel's not here. His notes are printed but it looks like he left the office before they finished printing. Something doesn't feel right, sir."

"Have someone search the base for Doctor Jackson. In the meantime, you may as well bring his notes back with you."

"Yes, sir." Jack hung up, picked up the papers and gave the room a last check before dialing security.

"I need a search initiated on base for Doctor Jackson. And get the video footage of his office for the past couple hours. I'll be in Hammond's office."

Jack waited for confirmation of his orders and hurried back to the meeting. Video footage taken of SG-12's capture was playing and Jack tried to ignore it as he resumed his seat. He'd seen it dozens of times and each time was just as disturbing, seeing three members of the team descend the dais while Captain Carlson remained and filmed the four-foot high mushrooms scattered amongst the ruins of an ancient city. Jack sat and looked up just as the living vines exploded from the earth and wrapped themselves around all three men. Within seconds the vines pulled them beneath the soil, with no trace that they had ever been there in the first place except for Captain Carlson's frantic screams as she dropped the video camera and tried to dig them out.

He handed the notes to Carter; he'd looked them over in the elevator and nothing jumped out at him and he hoped another set of eyes might be able to figure out if anything there might be actually useful.

She began skimming the pages and stopped on the third page. "Where's page number three?"

"You've got everything that was in his printer."

"Well, the pages are numbered one through eleven, but page three is missing." She continued reading while everyone waited. After a moment, she put the stack down and shook her head. "There's nothing here that appears to be useful, unless there's something I'm not seeing that Daniel would have expounded on."

"Very well." The chair squeaked as Hammond shifted. "Let's move on. Major Carter, you were about to give us a presentation?"

"Yes, sir." Carter stood and moved to the projector where thankfully she stopped the looping video feed.

Jack focused his attention on the task at hand while at the same time tried to bury his concern over his missing team member. Daniel was an adult; he could take care of himself. Most likely someone had called for Daniel's help in another area and Daniel had gone and had somehow lost track of time.

She rewound the tape to the point where the men were being pulled into the soil, and slowed down the movement. "We've analyzed the earth where SG-12 disappeared and found nothing to explain why the soil beneath them turned into what appears to be quicksand."

Carter stopped the videotape just after the last of the men had disappeared from view. "Initial examination has shown that the soil was indisputably disturbed. Two feet away, samples of clay were found approximately one meter below the surface whereas where Colonel Moore was taken, the clay is an inch beneath the surface. Further tests indicate�"

The sudden klaxon over the speakers interrupted Carter's speech. The announcement of "Unscheduled Gate Activation," which followed within seconds of the alarm had them all scrambling to the window overlooking the Gateroom while Hammond quickly descended the circular stairs into the Control Room.

When nobody came through the active wormhole, Jack took a few steps back towards the stairs to eavesdrop into the Control Room. Somehow hearing the alarm eased his worry over Daniel. Surely now that the klaxons were blaring all over the base, Daniel would realize he was late and would come running to see what was going on here. Then the words coming over the speakers drove all thought of Daniel from his mind. Walter was confirming SG-8's IDC from P9J 873, aka the Mushroom Planet.

"General, we're under attack. They've captured two of the miners and they're threatening to kill them unless we stop digging."

"What?" Jack turned to Teal'c and Carter in surprise. Other than the abandoned city, the UAV and MALP had shown no signs of current civilization.

"Have you explained that we're trying to perform a rescue operation? That three of our men are missing?"

"Yes, sir, but they won't listen to anything we say. When we attempted to approach them, they fired at us. We need reinforcements, sir. We're pinned down next to the 'gate and can't reach the machinery."

"Hold off, Major. I'm sending in SG's 2 and 7. I want this situation resolved and that area dug up pronto."

Jack moved sideways to allow Ferretti and his men to pass. Two of them had filed past him when a bright light lit the briefing room table and a small body appeared over it, almost levitating for a second. Jack got a glimpse of long, wet hair plastered over a pale face before the naked boy crumpled on top of the papers littering the table.

"What the�"

The boy tensed, gasped loudly and his body arched before he collapsed back onto the table and began to jerk wildly. Someone hit the alarm and the SFs came running, their guns trained on the little boy who was in the midst of a seizure.

"Call Fraiser!" Jack ordered Hammond's aide. Teal'c moved forward, past the SFs and eased the boy away from the edge of the table where he'd been in danger of falling off. After a moment, the seizure ended and the boy, with a soft cough, quieted. Teal'c turned the child onto his side and Carter shrugged out of her jacket and covered his naked body with it. She ran a finger up his arm and it came back shiny with some sort of goo. That was when Jack realized the boy was covered with it.

"Colonel, what in tarnations is going on up here?" Hammond was striding towards them, his eyes wide with shock as he stared at the child who'd materialized on the middle of his table. "Who is this and how did he get here?"

"Asgard, sir." Jack turned to Carter, who nodded as she brushed strands of sticky hair from the boy's face.

"It was definitely Asgard beaming technology, sir."

Other than Teal'c and Carter, everyone stood in a circle around the table, watching as the boy coughed and suddenly seemed to have trouble breathing.

"GeneralHammond." Teal'c grabbed the child, jacket and all, and took him into his arms. "It will be more efficient if I were to take the child directly to the infirmary."

"Go."

Jack stood back and watched Teal'c hurry out of the room. He heard Fraiser's voice somewhere in the hallway. Teal'c's answer was indistinct.

Teal'c's exit for the room seemed the impetus for everyone to get moving. Ferretti herded his team out while Hammond returned to the Control Room.

"Colonel?"

Jack turned to Carter, who was holding a crumpled piece of paper in one hand. "I found Daniel's missing page." She held it before him and it was damp with the gunk that had covered the kid. "It was on the table."

"So it was in the pile after all?"

"No, sir. I just found it over here." She pointed to the goo-covered area that the kid had smeared when he'd collapsed, several feet from where Carter and he had been sitting earlier. Carter rubbed her fingers together, examining the stuff. "It feels like some kind of gelatin. I should�" She turned when one of the technicians called her name. "Excuse me, sir."

Jack nodded as she left, and he stared at the wet smears on the table for a long moment, then headed out. One of the SFs by the door handed him a videotape as he passed by. He'd planned on heading to the Gateroom to see Ferretti's team off; he could easily appropriate a VCR there and check out the playback and see where if there were any clues to Daniel's whereabouts.

As he settled before the VCR, Jack heard Walter tell Hammond that NORAD reported no Asgard vessels in orbit.

"Doesn't mean they're not there," Jack muttered to himself as he fast-forwarded the tape, watching Daniel do Daniel stuff in his office. He blinked when Daniel, who'd been holding one of the pages of his notes in his hand and reading it, disappeared in a bright light.

"General Hammond!" Jack cried, hitting pause and rewinding the tape back to the start of the disappearance, "I think we have a problem."

oo~O~oo

The situation on P9J 873 was tense; Jack listened as Ferretti described his attempts to talk with the natives. As a show of good will, he'd had the miners move the heavy equipment back to the Stargate. The damage the miners had done to the area was pretty extensive, video footage from the MALP showed they'd knocked over several small pillars and destroyed some of the giant mushrooms.

"We're outnumbered three to one. And even if we send more teams out there, this can't end without bloodshed, sir, even though our weapons are more advanced. We need someone to go and talk to them. We need Doctor Jackson�"

"I'm afraid that's not possible at the moment, Major." Hammond sat still a moment, his eyes gazing out across the room.

Ferretti quickly glanced at Jack in bewilderment. Oh, right, Ferretti hadn't been here when they'd discovered Daniel's abduction. Before Jack could explain things to him, Hammond spoke again.

"Major Ferretti. Your team will accompany SG-13. Doctor Balinsky will go talk to these people and try to get a peaceful conclusion to this standoff. I'm afraid we may have to list SG-12 as MIA. It's been nearly eight hours and according to the reports, there are no signs of caverns beneath the surface.

"Colonel O'Neill. I want answers as to why Doctor Jackson was abducted and a child returned in his place. We're attempting to contact the Asgard for answers but we haven't received a reply as of yet."

Jack nodded reluctantly, ignoring Ferretti's look of confusion. Great, he had babysitting duties. A thought which had been niggling at him ever since Teal'c had rushed the boy out of the room came rebounding back as he stood when Hammond did. Adult taken, child returned, and the Asgard behind it all. Actually if you put two and two together, you came up with a double.

They had a clone on their hands.

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Jack headed for the infirmary, Carter trailing quietly behind him. To Jack's surprise, Teal'c was sitting at the kid's bedside. He approached slowly, noting the IV and the nasal cannula. The kid's hair, now dry, was a very light blond. His eyes were open just a sliver and the blue of his irises were very similar to Daniel's. It hadn't been obvious earlier with the kid's face distorted during the seizure but now Jack could see how much he looked familiar. Actually it was a little disconcerting; he could actually see the adult Daniel within this miniature face and he didn't need Fraiser to confirm that this was Daniel's clone.

"The boy was in respiratory distress, but DoctorFraiser has aspirated his lungs. He responds mildly to stimuli, and DoctorFraiser has assured me he is not in a coma. She believes he is in shock."

"What about the gel he was covered with?" Carter circled the bed to stand on the far side, looking down at the kid.

"That was the cause of his distress. I believe DoctorFraiser is running tests on its composition." Teal'c stood and faced Jack. "Is SG-1 needed offworld?"

"Nah. Hammond's sending SG-13 out to try and negotiate; SG-2's providing backup. We're stuck here trying to figure out why the Asgard took Daniel and sent us his�"

"DanielJackson has been taken by the Asgard?"

"Um, yeah." For a moment, Jack hadn't realized that Teal'c hadn't yet been told. They'd passed that info along to Fraiser and he figured she'd been too busy to inform Teal'c. "Hammond's trying to get a hold of Thor but they haven't gotten back to us."

"Then it is possible the child is�"

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking."

"You think he's a clone?" Carter looked at Jack, wide-eyed with shock. The expressions on her face changed swiftly as comprehension hit her. He thought it odd that she hadn't come to the same conclusion earlier until he realized most of her focus had been in trying to find a way to save the missing SG-12.

"I saw photos of Daniel when he was about this age... how old do you think, three? Four? Spittin' image."

"When did you see pictu�" Carter frowned, the harrowing events of last year coming back to hit her in the stomach. "Oh."

Packing up Daniel's apartment hadn't been easy after he'd ascended, but Jack had insisted on doing it himself. He'd spent an evening going through Daniel's personal stuff with a quarter bottle of scotch.

"Yeah." Jack stuffed his hands into his pockets, wondering if this clone would have the same fate as all the ones the Asgard had played with.

"But Loki�"

"The Asgard merely stated that O'Neill's DNA had been safeguarded. There was no such declaration that DanielJackson has enjoyed the same privilege."

"But why would they try and clone Daniel?"

"Think, Carter." Jack stepped away from the bed as the kid coughed and began to stir. "What's different about Daniel now?"

"He ascended." She nodded to herself. "Maybe when Loki kidnapped and cloned you, sir, he hadn't learned of Daniel's return and he supposes there's something different about Daniel now that he's returned?"

Daniel coughed again and suddenly the cough turned to retching. Teal'c had the kid sitting up so fast that his head must have spun while Carter promptly grabbed a basin and thrust it beneath his mouth. He puked a few mouthfuls of thick liquid and coughed some more before weakly pushing the basin away. Teal'c went to put the kid down again but he grabbed Teal'c's tee shirt and looked around blearily.

"Teal'c?" The fingers were tiny against Teal'c's chest as Daniel's clone looked up at him.

"Do you remember us?" Carter put the basin aside and pressed the call button.

"Sam? Do I remem...? Of course I do." The kid frowned at her then turned his gaze towards Jack. It was all Jack could do not to take a few steps backwards. He didn't want this. He didn't want to get involved. It was bad enough he'd met his own clone a few months ago � he still had nightmares waking up thinking that he was the clone instead - he pushed those dark thoughts aside with effort. They were frightening enough in the middle of the night, he didn't want those particular dreams haunting him in the daylight, especially when it looked it would soon be Daniel's turn to live through the guilt of being the real McCoy and knowing there was another copy out there living a different life with his memories and experiences. Unless, of course, Loki still hadn't figured out how to fix a clone so that it didn't expire a few days later.

"Jack?"

The tenor of the question, had it been in Daniel's deeper voice, would have simply been a "Hey, how ya doin'? Did we get our butts kicked again or was it just me this time" type of question. But in this childish tone, it sounded unsure, almost begging for comfort and reassurance. This time Jack did take a step back, hands still thrust deeply into his pockets as the kid frowned at him before turning to watch Fraiser approach.

"Hello there," Fraiser said as she stepped up to the bed. Her gaze went to the bit of liquid in the basin before she gave the kid her full attention. "I see you've been a little sick. How are you feeling now?" She reached down and adjusted the cannula under Daniel's nose.

"I'm fine, Janet." Pulling away from Teal'c, he scooted back on the bed. "A little tired and my chest feels a little odd, but I'm okay." He cleared his throat nervously as Teal'c slid off the bed and stood. "Can I go? I have a meeting scheduled with General Hammond and SG-2." He cleared his throat again. "Am I coming down with something? My voice sounds weird."

Fraiser's eyebrows went up and she gave Carter a confused look. "Um, no, I don't think you should leave right now, and can you give me your name and date of birth, please?"

The kid rolled his eyes. "My name is Daniel Jackson, I'm 39 years old and my birthday is July 8th. And we currently have a team on P9J 873 that's in jeopardy due to some kind of alien plant which attacked them and we need to try and see if we can find a way to dig them out from under the earth and pray they haven't suffocated."

"Did you find anything of importance in your research?"

Jack noted how Teal'c deliberately hadn't called Daniel by name.

"I'm not sure. It's a detailed account of an old folktale describing demons and protective spirits." He squirmed a little against the pillow. "How come the bed's so big? Have you redecorated the infirmary?" Daniel looked around the room for a moment before continuing with his explanation. "The demons, which I take are the Goa'uld, were kept... at bay by the... spirits of the..." He raised his hand and pinched the bridge of his nose while closing his eyes. His face paled and he broke out into a sweat.

"Daniel?"

"Sorry, Sam. I'm just... um... a little dizzy." He dropped his hand and took a few shaky breaths.

Immediately Fraiser wrapped a BP cuff around his arm and began taking his pressure. After a moment she unwrapped it and gave a quiet order to one of the nurses.

"Your blood pressure just dropped. We're giving you something to stabilize it." Shortly after the nurse injected medication into his IV, a little color crept back into Daniel's cheeks. "Better?"

"Yeah," Daniel answered, wiping a sheen of sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand.

"We'd better let you rest." Carter took a step back but Daniel grabbed her arm to stop her.

"No, I'm better. Really. As I was saying, the spirits of the toadstools protected the people from the demons and..." He laughed softly. "I guess we know what those are, huh? Considering the size of those things we saw on the...?" He frowned as his voice faded, staring at his hand which was still latched onto Carter's wrist. He let go and slowly brought his hand in front of him. He made a fist, then wriggled his fingers several times before raising the sheet and looking down at his body underneath.

"What the hell is going on?" The high-pitched voice slowly rose in anger. "Who did this? What happened to me?" He turned on the bed and glared at Jack. "Nobody thought it was important enough to tell me about this?"

"Daniel, we didn't even realize it was you until just a few minutes ago. We're not sure but we think..." Carter glanced quickly at Fraiser before going on. "The Asgard took you several hours ago and then returned you like this. We think you..."

Jack's stomach clenched as Carter fumbled for the words.

"You've been cloned, Daniel," Jack blurted.

"I've been... what?" The paleness had returned and the kid began breathing faster. Although calling the person in the bed before him a kid was an oxymoron because his body might be tiny, his brain was obviously that of an adult. "I can't... I'd know... I'd remember..." He sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. "I've gotta go... get in touch with Thor." Teal'c reached over and placed a hand on his chest, stopping him from sliding off the bed. "I was working at my desk... I was at my desk... I wasn't sleeping." Gasps began to punctuate his speech. "I'd know. I wasn't sleeping. Jack... you were... missing... for days."

As Daniel's breathing worsened, Fraiser called a nurse over as she picked his legs up and laid him back down on the bed. Jack steeled himself as his instincts cried out that he try and help calm the clone down as the two quickly checked his vitals.

"It's been hours... you said... the Asgard... hours... I can't... I woke up... here... I'd..."

As his eyes rolled back, he fell limp against the pillow. Jack tried to ignore the pang at seeing his friend's miniaturized copy lying helpless as Fraiser hurriedly continued to check him over. After another long moment, she pulled the sheet up to his shoulders and straightened. The kid was breathing easier now that the panic which had overcome him had abated.

"His vitals are strong. I think whatever process that did this to him was a strain on him, both mentally and physically. He should be fine after a few hours' rest. In the meantime, I'll take another blood sample and run a DNA test. Colonel, I think we should contact the Tok'ra. Selmak was a huge help with you... I mean, your clone, sir."

"Yeah, I'll speak to Hammond." Jack pulled a hand out of his pocket and rubbed his jaw with it. He hoped they weren't going to have to call in "Jonathan" for consultation because he really didn't want to see his other self.

"We ran tests on the gel-like substance that Dan..." She paused a moment, then repeated the name with more assurance. "...Daniel was covered with. It's some sort of highly oxygenated compound which apparently he was immersed in. It was in his lungs and�" she glanced at the basin into which Daniel had vomited� "in his stomach. It began to break down within minutes of his arrival here, which most likely caused his respiratory distress earlier." She wrapped a rubber tube around the kid's upper arm and began prepping him for a blood sample.

"I'm assuming whoever did this to him hadn't planned on cloning Daniel into a child's body. My best guess is that his sudden removal from the incubation process caused the seizure Teal'c described. His body is still adapting and his vitals, although strong, are fluctuating, as you saw with his BP earlier."

"What about the abnormality that had been in the colonel's DNA?" Carter looked worried and Jack felt like shaking her. She shouldn't get attached to the kid � best-case scenario, the Asgard wouldn't show and it would die within a few days. Worst case, the kid would live, Daniel would be returned to them and his friend would have to go on with the constant worry in the back of his mind that his clone was living out a totally unhappy life.

The clone's cheek twitched and he made a small sound as Fraiser pushed a needle into his vein.

"We'll see when the DNA tests come back tomorrow."

"So..." Jack raised his chin, pointing to the kid with it. "According to previous abductions, our Daniel will be returned in about a week, right?"

"Sir..." Carter bit her lip, still staring at the kid. "Your clone didn't experience this..." She waved a hand over the bed. "Even the people who went through the same experience who Daniel and Teal'c interviewed when you were abducted, there was no mention of their clones arriving full of... My best guess is that something interrupted the cloning process. And no, it's not based on scientific basis, just a gut feeling."

"Excuse me, sirs." One of the nurses had approached the bed and smiled apologetically. "General Hammond needs you in his office."

"I would remain here, O'Neill." Teal'c pulled out the chair he'd been sitting on earlier and sat. "This may well be DanielJackson's clone, but he still has his memories. I would ensure he does not awaken by himself."

Jack wanted to counter that the kid was just gonna die anyways, but instead he blew air out noisily through his mouth. "If we need you�"

"Then I will come."

"Fine." He turned around and left without looking back at the small form asleep on the bed.

oo~O~oo

Jack arched his brows as he stepped into the briefing room, accompanied by Carter. Ferretti and all of SG-13 were already seated. Jack walked around the table and took a seat at the far end.

"Doctor Balinsky?" Hammond prompted the man to give his report.

"We tried to talk to them, sir, but from what I could figure out, they're waiting for something to happen. They haven't harmed the miners, sir. We managed to exchange a few words with them and they confirmed they were fine. I don't think negotiations are going to work until whatever event they're expecting... occurs."

"Major." Hammond focused his attention on Ferretti. "Do you still believe a show of force is uncalled for at the moment?"

"Yes, sir. I don't think we can get the miners out without bloodshed on either side."

"Doctor Balinsky, do you have any idea how long we have to wait?"

Balinsky winced. "They seemed to have set up camp, sir. Probably not before tomorrow morning, if even then."

Hammond was silent for a few moments, obviously thinking things over. He then turned to Jack. "Colonel, I want SG-1 on P9J 873 to relieve SG-8 up until the morning. You leave in thirty minutes. And if there's any news from the Asgard, I'll make sure and let you know."

"Thank you, sir." Jack gave Carter a quick side-glance. "About the boy... I think the Tok'ra might be able to help us out when Doctor Fraiser's tests come back tomorrow..."

"Actually, sir," Carter added, "I think my father might be the best person for the job. I'd like permission to contact him."

Hammond nodded. "I'll have someone get on that right away. Dismissed."

oo~O~oo

He was cold; that plus the fact that he needed to pee were what had driven him from sleep. Daniel brought his legs up to his chest, trying to preserve heat. His feet were chilled and he tucked one just under his knee while folding his hands up against his chest. There was a slight tug against the back of his right hand and he reached out with questing fingers and found the tape that secured the needle in his hand.

He opened an eye and followed the tubing until it reached an IV bag. It seemed far away, and the bed felt too big to be part of the infirmary. He stretched his legs, trying to touch the foot of the bed but his toes met empty space. His perceptions were off; even when he raised his head to look at his feet, they seemed to be closer than they should be.

And then memory hit. What Jack and the others had told him, what he'd seen. The nightmares he'd had for the past six years - the what if he had been the one to wake up as a robot and not the original � had come to life. He was the clone. He was the imposter. He had lost this round, and somewhere, out there, there was the real Daniel Jackson who would go on with his life and he, the clone, the phony version, would either die or be sequestered away to live a false life.

He curled up on himself again, this time not from cold but from self-pity. Just the fact that he'd woken up alone, here in the infirmary, was all the proof he needed that he wasn't their real friend and teammate. Somehow that hurt more than the fact that he'd been cloned into the body of a child and not an adult.

He lay there, shivering, until the need to empty his bladder forced him out of bed. He stumbled, misjudging the distance from mattress to floor. His legs felt weak, shaky. He grabbed hold of the IV pole and began to push it towards the bathroom but his feet seemed to either catch on the hem of the oversized hospital robe or bump on the wheels of the pole � both constantly threatened to trip him.

By the time he made it to the bathroom, he was exhausted and frustrated. He went inside, shut the door and stared at the size of the facilities. He pushed the hospital gown aside and then froze when his fingers touched his penis. He felt like he was handling a stranger's body; unfortunately the discomfort of his bladder was all too familiar and its pressing need forced him up to the toilet.

When he was done, he bypassed the sink; trying to reach up and wash his hands was just too much of a feat to attempt. He opened the door and stared down the line of infirmary beds. Everything appeared huge; his perception was off � he could barely see over the beds and the room itself appeared non-ending. In his head he knew there were less than a dozen beds but there appeared to be several dozens lined up before him.

Feeling overwhelming defeat, Daniel began making his way back to his bed. It was easy to spot, it was the only one that had rumpled bedding.

"Doctor Jackson, what are you doing up? You should be in bed."

Daniel stopped and looked at the nurse who'd approached him and towered over him. Feeling suddenly vulnerable, Daniel took a quick step backwards and promptly tripped over the IV pole. He went down fast and oddly, the distance to the floor didn't seem quite as far as he'd expected.

Then the pain hit him; he'd probably have a bruise along his hip in the morning.

"Did you hurt yourself?" The nurse knelt and reached for him.

"No, I'm fine." Daniel pushed away from both her and the pole, trying not to get caught up in the multitude of wheels running out from the foot of the pole. To his embarrassment, she picked him up by the armpits and put on his feet.

"Let's get you back to bed. It's late, you should be sleeping." She grabbed the IV pole and began pushing it when he began walking.

Daniel felt overpowered by the size of the woman and stared at his feet instead.

"Are you sure you didn't hurt yourself?"

"I'm fine." He hated the sound of his voice; it sounded like he'd inhaled helium. And that was something he could see Jack doing, and the thought brought back the realization that he was alone.

When he got to his bed, Daniel realized that he was too short to get back into it without climbing up the bed rails. He'd only managed to put one bare foot on the metal, the chill of it shockingly cold for just a second before she abruptly lifted him once again and placed him on the bed.

"Thank you," he managed to force out between clenched teeth. He slid back under the blankets, curling up into a ball. Part of him enjoyed the hugeness of the bed and he wondered idly how his own queen-sized bed at home would be like sleeping in, in this body, when he realized with a pang that that bed was no longer his. Just like his friends were no longer his.

When the nurse spread a blanket over him, he simply curled up deeper into himself.

oo~O~oo

Waking brought familiar feelings of despondency that had followed him throughout various times of his life � his parents' death and Shau'ri's abduction and subsequent release from captivity being the worst of the worst. But this morning, his depression equaled any and all of those trying times.

Finding himself alone in the infirmary, Daniel decided to just give in. His time was forfeit � most likely his cells were already degrading even though he couldn't feel it yet. He'd just lie here and wait for the end � one day soon, the Asgard who'd done this to him would beam him up and replace him with his real self and then he'd be... gone. The pain of his friends' rejection wouldn't matter anymore. He coughed, trying to rid himself of the tightening in his throat when he thought back how he'd treated Jack's clone. Yes, they'd tried to help Jonathon but had he given him his fullest support? Self-examination came back with a resounding no.

Many sets of footsteps punctuated by conversation broke through his ruminations. He recognized his teammates' voices amongst the speakers, and curled himself tighter into a ball, deliberately pulling the blanket up past his face in the hopes that they'd think he was still sleeping. He didn't want to see their looks of indifference or glances full of pity. Worst of all, he was afraid they'd tell him that they'd contacted Thor and that he'd be fixed, like Jonathon, and would have the opportunity to live his life over once again.

He didn't want another life. He'd lived close to 40 years with this one; how could he spend the next fifteen in the body of a growing child?

From the conversations going on, it sounded like everyone was undergoing post-mission exams. The place sounded crowded, and the jubilant quality made him want to pull deeper into himself. So when Sam softly called his voice from right next to him, he tensed.

"Daniel, are you awake?"

He didn't move when she pulled the blanket from his face. The air was cool on his skin and he tried to relax his features to make it look like he was asleep. She adjusted the blanket against his neck and sighed.

"He still sleeping?" The tightness in his throat threatened to affect his breathing when he heard Jack's voice.

"Yes, sir. I just wanted to let him know that SG-12 and the miners were safe and back home."

"We'll tell him when he wakes up. C'mon, let the kid sleep."

"He's not a child." Sam's voice was muffled and Daniel guessed that she'd turned from him and was walking away. He cracked an eye open and peeked, and his guess was right. He stayed that way, unmoving, until the infirmary began to empty. When the last person left the room, Daniel finally opened his eyes.

"Are you in need of anything, DanielJackson?"

Startled, Daniel jumped when Teal'c's voice sounded right next to him. He hadn't heard him and he wondered how long he'd been sitting in the chair next to his bed.

"Um... no, I'm fine." He stretched, pretending to be waking up. "Is everything okay? You're not sick or anything�"

"I am fine. I merely wished to ensure you were recovering well."

Daniel pressed his lips tightly together, trying to hold back the feelings that were overwhelming him. He breathed deeply several times, touched that someone had bothered to stay with him. He didn't deserve this; they should be trying to do something to save his real self. Desperate for a diversion, he wracked his brain for something to say.

"What's that status with SG-12?"

"Safe. The creatures that took them did not harm them. They interrogated them at length before they were convinced that the Tau'ri were not demons. Upon their release, the natives of P9J 873 freed their hostages and all have safely returned to the SGC."

"All's well that ends well..." Daniel murmured softly. "I guess everyone's gone home?" He couldn't help himself � this self-flagellation seemed to be taking over and he was digging himself deeper and deeper into misery.

"ColonelO'Neill and MajorCarter are currently debriefing General Hammond. We are also awaiting the arrival of�"

"Don't bother." Daniel sat up and pushed the blanket away, feeling a sudden urge to move. "I don't think I can take..." He began picking at the corner of the tape holding the IV affixed to his hand. "Never mind," he said, realizing he'd almost blurted out his feelings. He was saved by the arrival of a nurse bearing a breakfast tray. As she adjusted his bed, Daniel pretended interest in the food.

"Shouldn't you be at the debriefing?"

"I requested permission to remain here."

"Well, you don't have to stay with me." He picked up a triangle of toast and took a bite and chewed. It felt like sawdust in his mouth and he swallowed with difficulty. "I'm just going to eat, take a shower and do some reading. I'm sure your attending the meeting is more important than sitting here holding my hand."

"I am not holding your hand."

"I meant figuratively speaking." Daniel picked up a fork and held it awkwardly. The size of his hand just didn't fit comfortably around the utensil. He managed to shovel some scrambled egg onto the tines and brought it to his mouth. The fork was larger than he'd expected and the metal struck his teeth and half the egg fell against his chest, landing on his lap. "I'm really going to need that shower when I finish eating." He picked up the pieces of egg with his fingers and put them on the side of his plate before picking up the toast. "Could you please tell General Hammond I'm sorry I wasn't able to be more help and that I'm glad everyone's safe?"

Teal'c stood and bowed. "I shall convey your message and will return as soon as the briefing has concluded."

Daniel waited, toast held halfway to his mouth, until Teal'c left the room. Once he was out of sight, he dropped the toast and pushed the tray away. The few bites he'd eaten were sour in his stomach. He turned onto his side and closed his eyes.

oo~O~oo

He hadn't thought to sleep again, but the lethargy had crept over him and he'd drifted off. He'd slept too much, though, as his body felt stiff when he turned onto his back and stretched.

"Well, it's about time you woke up."

Daniel's eyes flew open at the sound of the familiar voice.

"Jacob?"

"How are you doing, kiddo?" There was a wry grin on Jacob's face as he sat in the chair Teal'c had used earlier. The nickname shouldn't have angered Daniel as he'd heard Jacob call Sam that many times, but it did.

Daniel raised a finger as he sat up. "Don't... just... don't. It's not funny."

"Sorry, but you know, if the shoe fits�"

"My shoes won't fit for at least ten years... and that's only if we get lucky and the Asgard remember to come exchange me with the real Daniel Jackson before I melt into a puddle." He wanted to punch something � even with his voice rising in anger, he sounded like a child on the verge of a temper tantrum. He thrust his hand beneath the blankets and forced his fingers into a fist and squeezed. Hard.

"Daniel, there's something you need to�"

Jacob broke off as all of SG-1 entered the infirmary, accompanied by Janet. Daniel turned away; it was painful seeing them and knowing how they really felt about him. He laid his palms flat against the mattress, trying to force himself to relax.

"Hey, Daniel."

"Jack." He contemplated the threads on the sheet, wishing they'd go away.

"I haven't told him yet, Jack."

"Oh." There was an odd tone of disappointment in Jack's voice. Daniel steeled himself for the bad news that Jacob was about to impart on him.

"Daniel, Selmak examined the results of your DNA and he's positive you're not a clone."

"So, what happens now?" Daniel brought his hand up and began to tease a piece of thread from the blanket's edge. "How much time do I�I'm what?" Jacob's words suddenly sunk in and Daniel raised his face to stare at Jacob's gently smiling one.

"You're not a clone. There are no abnormalities in your DNA and it matches the one Janet has on file perfectly. And there's no sign of any cellular degradation � you're not dying."

"If I'm not a clone, Jacob, then why�"

"We're still waiting on Thor for that explanation." Jack moved closer and sat on the edge of the bed. "We have no idea why Loki did this to you but�"

"We don't know it was Loki. I don't remember anything about my abduction. Are we even sure it was the Asgard?"

"It was definitely Asgard beaming technology that was used in both your abduction and return."

Sam's expression looked pained while Jack looked... guilty? Then it hit Daniel. He wasn't going to die. At least not anytime soon. But he also wasn't himself anymore. He was now just over thirty years shy of being normal.

Janet moved closer and she gave him a stern look. "What I've concluded from your test results is that you're a normal four-year old child whose body has undergone a severe shock but is recovering well. As soon as you eat a full meal, I can take out that IV and release you from here. I'm sure you'd like to get out of bed, stretch your legs a little?"

"Um... yeah. I would." Suddenly he felt full of energy and his stomach gurgled loudly. "Is it lunchtime yet?"

oo~O~oo

With as much dignity as he could muster, Daniel slid off the bed, held the ends of the hospital gown in one hand so he wouldn't trip, pressed the bundle of clothes Walter had handed him earlier closer to his chest, and followed Janet to the showers. Stomach replete with a meal under his belt, the next step on his agenda was to wash and put something on that didn't threaten to trip him when he walked. He knew his teammates were staring and he concentrated instead of how different this new body moved.

His earlier disorientation was gone; he just felt as if he'd woken up in a land where everyone and everything was three feet taller than he was. Oh wait, he had woken up where everyone was bigger and taller than him.

There was no weakness, no pain, no dizziness, no odd sensations � it would probably be just a matter of time to get used to the fact that he was shorter than three feet tall instead of six. He nodded at Janet to indicate that all was fine, put his clothes down on a bench and entered one of three cubicles. Quickly doffing his gown, Daniel turned the water on and waited until it was the right temperature before stepping under the stream.

He glanced around to make sure he was alone, and then took time to examine himself. He didn't remember his penis being that small but then again he'd had the majority of his life to enjoy a mature one. From where he stood, everything seemed to be properly proportioned, just... smaller. He was scrawny and hairless and from the effort it had taken to turn the taps on, most likely without much muscle.

As he began soaping himself, the first thing he noticed was the lack of scars. The burn mark on his right shoulder was gone. The puckered wound he'd gotten from shrapnel on P3X 254 was gone, the skin smooth above his knee as if Hathor had never kidnapped him and his team and placed them in suspended animation. And the scar on his belly... did that mean he still had his appendix? His soapy fingers stopped a moment on the area at the sudden fear of the recurrence of that particular pain. He made a mental note to ask Janet to find out whether he was still appendix-free, or not.

He quickly washed his hair, rinsed, and grabbed his towel. Drying himself off, he walked over to the bench, finished quickly and sat down. Out of habit, he raised his index finger to push his glasses back and realized he wasn't wearing any. At the moment, the only good part with this whole scenario was his 20/20 vision, which he knew would most likely begin to deteriorate in another half dozen years or so. He'd make sure to appreciate the lack of glasses or contact lenses until the time Thor came for him.

Fingering the clothes Walter had gone out to buy for him, Daniel enjoyed the solitude here in the shower. The jeans were stiff but they'd soften after he'd worn them a while. He stepped into the underwear, which were slightly too big. The jeans were a fairly good fit, although they were much too long. After zipping them up, he sat and began rolling up the material of his pant legs. The material was unwieldy and he cursed softly at the ineptitude of his fingers.

The maroon tee shirt was slightly baggy and comfortable. He put on socks and stood, then rubbed the soles of his feet on his jeans when he stepped into residual puddles on the tiled floor.

"Daniel? Everything all right in there?"

"I'm fine, Janet. I'm done." He smoothed down his tee shirt, picked up the towel and the hospital gown, bunched them up under his arm and headed for the door. He took a deep breath and schooled himself to face the audience once more.

He handed his dirty laundry to one of the nurses, ignored the two captains who were standing nearby and openly staring at him, and made his way back to his bed. He passed a major and one of the SGC's cooks waiting nearby, and ignored the confused look coming from a patient lying in a bed. The man's eyes widened when his visitor leaned close and whispered in his ear.

Daniel ducked his head, trying not to look at any of the personnel. The infirmary had seen more than its share of visitors today and all of them apparently making a point to come see for themselves the odd predicament he'd gotten himself into this time. When he got to his bed, the privacy curtains were still pulled firmly closed around it. He reached for the edges of the curtain when Janet came across the infirmary towards him.

"I've signed you into a VIP room. You'll be more comfortable there than here and you'll have privacy."

A VIP room still meant everyone staring at him whenever he stepped out.

"Janet, I appreciate you taking the trouble... no offence, but I'd rather just go home." Daniel pushed aside the privacy curtain that Jack, in a fit of anger, had pulled closed around the bed earlier to stop the gawkers, and entered the small space. Sam and Teal'c had gone, but Jack had remained and was sitting at the foot of the bed. Daniel was surprised � Jack had been tense and quiet since the moment they'd broken the news about his not being a clone. And now, Jack was watching him climb onto the bed, which made Daniel awkward. He settled in the middle of the bed, crossing his legs and rubbing his damp socks on the sheets.

When Janet didn't answer, Daniel looked up at her expectantly. She was staring at Jack, her mouth set stubbornly and Daniel got the feeling that there had been some discussion about this behind his back while he'd been showering.

"I'm afraid that won't be possible, Daniel. While everyone here knows that you're not really a child, there's no way we can allow you to stay by yourself without someone noticing and bringing the authorities into the picture. Plus you're somewhat limited by your size at the moment and it would be too dangerous to allow you to fend for yourself, at least until you have your apartment altered for someone your height."

"Hey, you're talking as if this is permanent." Pushing back impending panic, Daniel turned to Jack. "You did try to contact Thor, didn't you?"

"Yeah." Jack didn't meet Daniel's gaze and his voice was soft. "He hasn't answered us yet."

Pushing back the uneasiness that had been growing at Jack's attitude, Daniel turned back to Janet. "It'll probably be just for a couple of days. C'mon, Janet, I can't stay here. I'll go crazy locked up in a room. I can't even see myself going to my office to work because if I can barely climb onto this bed, how am I expected to get my books off my bookshelf? At least if I go home, I can barricade myself in my apartment until Thor beams me up from there."

Janet crossed her arms and glared down at Daniel. Suddenly he felt sorry for Cassie, wondering how often she'd gotten this look. It was different staring her down when he was taller than she was; now that the tides were turned, he suddenly realized how easily cowed children could be just with an adult's presence.

"If you think working is going to be awkward, just picture yourself trying to cook at home. Can you even reach the microwave? What about boiling a pot of water? Can you even reach the stove? Can you take something out of the freezer without climbing onto a chair? What about your dishes? How do you plan on getting home from here? Driving? How about groceries? Doing laundry?"

"I can order out and I have plenty of clean clothes so laundry isn't an issue!" The moment he yelled the words, he realized how silly they sounded. The only clothes that fit him were on his back. He needed to go shopping for a change of clothes and some shoes, at least, and Janet was right. He couldn't drive himself to the mall and he wasn't about to ask Jack, not when his friend was so tense that he was shaking with controlled emotion.

"He can stay with me."

"Or, I can stay with Jack," Daniel immediately repeated in a softer voice. Janet took a deep breath, but didn't say anything. Jack seemed calmer now, and he raised his eyes to finally look at Daniel.

"Sir, you know that we�"

"It'll be easier on him staying somewhere where he's comfortable. You've seen what it's been like here all day long. I've already spoken to Hammond and I can take a couple days off�"

"Jack, you don't need to take time�"

"Fraiser's right. Unless you plan on living on peanut butter sandwiches, there's no way I could leave you alone at home. It's not that I don't trust you, you know better than that," he added quickly when Daniel opened his mouth to argue. "You don't have the strength, at the moment, to carry a pot of cooked pasta from the stove to the sink to drain the water. When Thor fixes you�"

"What if Thor can't�"

"Then we'll worry about it when the time comes. For now, you need to get away and get used to being... smaller."

"The Colonel's right about one thing. You need to learn your limitations. Even if this is for a couple of days, we can't chance you getting hurt because of our neglect."

Daniel nodded reluctantly. He was terrified that he'd remain this size for good but Jack was right. There was no use worrying unduly until they got the bad news. "Okay."

"Then, you ready to go?"

"Gentlemen, I'm sorry, but Daniel is not leaving my infirmary. In all good conscience, I can't allow him to leave without running more tests. Even though you appear to be healthy and normal at the moment, your body has undergone an incredible shock. It's going to take you time to adapt to what's going on, not only with the physical aspect, but all the mental and psychological ramifications this has caused. You'll need to speak to a�"

"No."

"Daniel�"

"Not today. Not tonight. I have to try and come to terms with this myself before I can even discuss it with anyone. So in the meantime, I need to get out of here and go somewhere where I can think quietly without having half the personnel staring at me in horror."

Janet nodded slowly, albeit reluctantly, when Daniel looked up defiantly at her.

"Okay. I'm not happy with this but I understand where you're coming from. I'm giving you two days' grace, and then I want your ass in here for more tests if we don't hear from the Asgard."

Before Janet could change her mind, Daniel unfolded his legs and slid off the bed, smacking his ankle on the metal rail. Avoiding the temptation of rubbing the stinging limb, Daniel thanked Janet and followed Jack out of the infirmary.

Jack seemed to be in a hurry to get out of the base. His long strides, once not a problem to keep up with, forced Daniel to trot behind him. And having to slip and slide in stocking feet was adding insult to injury, not to mention all the people he was passing by who were blatantly stopping to stare.

"Jack, slow down," he cried when Jack stepped out of the elevator and headed for the locker room at a fast clip.

A sheepish-looking Jack stopped and turned to wait as Daniel caught up to him. "Sorry." They walked together at a slower speed, Daniel more than grateful for Jack's presence when several marines walked by. Their conversation stopped as they all turned to gawk. Jack's glare was motivation enough for them to face forward and move on.

"Have you tried contacting the Asgard again?" Daniel sat on a bench as Jack opened his locker and began changing.

"Yeah. I told you that already."

"So?"

Jack shrugged, the motion declaring the answer loud and clear.

"General Hammond's going to keep trying, right? I mean, they did this to me. They have to put me back the way I was."

Daniel stared up at Jack, who was shrugging into his leather jacket and not making eye contact with him. He sat next to Daniel, took his sneakers out of his locker and began tying the laces.

"Jack?" Daniel winced at the high-pitched tone of his voice. He didn't think he'd ever be able to get used to that.

"Yeah, of course Hammond's gonna keep trying." Laces tied, Jack stood, went to Daniel's locker and handed him the contents of his pants' pockets. His wallet was too large to fit in his smaller pocket so Jack silently took it from him and put it in his jacket. By the time Daniel had transferred his keys, change and other belongings into his jeans, Jack was already at the door. He waited for Daniel but he still appeared to be in a hurry to leave.

Daniel was confused at Jack's attitude. He'd gone from cold and withdrawn when Daniel had first woken up, to quietly supportive. And now he was retreating into himself once more. Something was bothering his friend, and Daniel wondered if it had to do with Jack's experience with his clone. He wasn't sure if he should bring it up, though; his own emotions were still raw after the rollercoaster ride of finding himself in a child's body and believing he was a clone.

They rode the elevator in silence. When they reached the guard station, Daniel bit his lip in frustration at the awkward feel of a pen in his hand when he signed out. Despite years of writing longhand, he found himself struggling; his mind might remember how to but they were used to digits triple the length and with more dexterity.

"Better make a fast run for the car, Doctor Jackson. I hear it's cold and damp outside. Autumn's come in with a vengeance."

Daniel looked up in surprise. Whenever he was on duty, Lieutenant Gibson had always exchanged pleasantries with him. Daniel put the pen down and smiled. "Thanks for the head's up. Did you try that restaurant I suggested?"

"Yes. And Betty and the kids absolutely loved the place. Thanks. I owe you one."

"You're welcome." Daniel nodded at the lieutenant, feeling oddly pleased that someone was treating him normally. The elevator doors behind them opened and Daniel followed Jack inside.

"I hope things turn out okay," Gibson called out as the doors closed.

"So do I," Daniel said softly to himself, staring at his sock-clad feet. He heard Jack sigh noisily and he glanced up. Jack was staring stonily at the closed doors and looked like he was trying to ignore Daniel.

He went back to contemplating his feet. When the elevator doors opened, he stepped out and headed outside, only to be forced back inside when the wind nearly tore the door from his grasp. A wet sheet of rain struck him in the face. He gasped at the shock, then gasped again when Jack picked him up, held him close and began running for the Avalanche.

Instinctively he wrapped his legs around Jack's waist and grabbed onto his jacket, holding tightly as Jack keyed the lock from afar. Jack opened the driver's side door and nearly threw Daniel inside. He clambered over the seats and fell onto the leather cushion, one leg bent beneath him as Jack slid inside and slammed the door shut. Wind buffeted the truck, making the drizzle outside sound more like a downpour.

As Jack turned the motor on and adjusted the heat, Daniel fumbled with the seatbelt. He swore when too small fingers struggled to get the clip into the slot. He heard the telltale click just as Jack put the car into gear. He leaned forward and adjusted the air vent so the warm air blasted straight onto him.

They rode in silence, Daniel not sure if he'd experienced embarrassment or relief during the race across the parking area. He wasn't wearing shoes and the ground was soaked, so it made sense for Jack to carry him. And of course it would have taken them longer to reach shelter with his shorter legs.

Despite the warm air, Daniel shivered. The wind had blown the light rain hard enough that his clothes were uncomfortable despite having been partly protected by Jack's chest. He looked out the window at the gloomy afternoon, suppressing another shiver. From this angle, everything outside looked normal. If he ignored the fact that he was several inches lower in the seat and that his feet didn't touch the carpet, he could almost pretend that the last days hadn't happened and that Jack was giving him a lift home because his car was in for repairs.

The fantasy continued until Jack slowed and pulled into a mall.

"Um, where're we going?"

"You need clothes. Shoes in particular."

"No, I don't." Highly aware of the fact that his jeans were too long and that he was wearing no shoes and hence his white socks were probably so dirty he'd never get the stains out, the last thing he wanted was to be carted out among people to be stared at. "I'm fine like this."

Jack didn't reply and just continued on until he pulled into a parking slot. Short of wrestling the keys from Jack and driving away himself, Daniel had no choice except to sit in the truck and wait for Jack to get him a change of clothes.

So when Jack opened the door and slid out, Daniel crossed his arms and didn't move.

"C'mon."

Daniel simply turned to glare at Jack.

"Oh for crying�" With a quick movement, Jack unlatched the seatbelt and had Daniel in his grip, pulling him out of the truck before he realized what had happened. By the time he began struggling, Jack had positioned him so that his crotch was nestled against his hip and Jack's hand secured underneath his butt in an age-old stance of adult/child conveyance.

"I'm not going in there." In response to Daniel's struggles, Jack nudged the door shut with his knee and used his other hand to secure Daniel more tightly. Then they were hurrying to the entrance. "Put me down!" Even to Daniel's ears, his cries sounded more of a tantrum ready to fly than a tone of voice that would make a Jaffa flinch.

The annoyed stares from other shoppers finally forced Daniel into biting his lip and lapsing in silence. When he quit struggling, Jack loosened his hold. Once they'd gone through the entrance doors, Daniel had expected Jack to put him down but he simply hefted Daniel slightly to adjust his hold and continued striding through the mall as if he knew exactly where he was headed.

Daniel leaned over and put his mouth close to Jack's ear. "Put. Me. Down."

"Almost there."

"I. Don't. Care. Do you have any idea how embarrassing this is?" Daniel hissed.

"It's only embarrassing because you made a scene."

"And why would I ever want to do that? Oh, right. Maybe because I didn't want to be paraded in front of half the city of Colorado Springs."

He felt the shift in Jack's gait and wondered for a moment if he was all right.

"Daniel, this isn't the base. Everyone here sees you and thinks you're just a normal kid who's gone to the mall with his father. Look, we'll make it quick. In and out. Fifteen minutes, twenty, tops."

Daniel suddenly realized Jack was right. He didn't know any of the people here. They had no idea who he was and most, except for a handful of clerks at the stores he did frequent, wouldn't know a four-year-old child from his adult self. Embarrassed that he hadn't thought of this himself, he stopped pushing against Jack and hid his face against Jack's neck.

This close to Jack, he could smell a faint tinge of aftershave mixed with the tang of sweat, accented by the dampness of their clothes. He felt oddly safe and secure and wondered idly whether this was a memory of his childhood, being carried around by his father.

Jack turned into a store that catered to children. Just inside the entrance, he put Daniel down. Immediately a salesman came to them.

"My nephew's family just flew in and the airline lost their luggage. Think you can fit us up with enough clothes to last a couple of days? Pajamas, jeans, tee shirts, underwear, socks and shoes."

"Of course." The man took a quick look at Daniel and led them to the racks holding the specific clothes required. After a quick look at his feet the salesman disappeared, only to return with a couple of boxes in his arms. He pointed to a bench where Daniel sat.

"So, did you like your plane ride? Were you scared?" The salesman grabbed Daniel's foot and slid a sneaker onto it before Daniel could reach for it and do it himself. It was slightly too small and after a moment of wriggling the shoe to try and make it fit, the salesman tossed it back into the box and took out another pair.

"Daniel." Jack, standing with several pairs of tee shirts in his hands, cocked his chin at the salesman.

"Huh?" Busy trying to pull his leg from the salesman so he could put the shoes on himself, Daniel looked up at Jack in confusion.

"Answer the man. Did you like your plane ride?"

Daniel narrowed his eyes at Jack, looked at the salesman crouching before him, and gritted his teeth. "No, I did not like my plane ride. We got hijacked."

"You did?" The man looked back at Jack in alarm.

"By aliens." Daniel canted his head slightly, daring Jack to say something.

"Don't mind him, he's always had an overactive imagination." Jack tossed the tee shirts onto the bench next to Daniel and moved off to examine the jeans. "I'm going to have to talk to his mother about his tall tales."

"So where are you from? Did you come far?" His foot was forced into another shoe; Daniel wriggled his toes once the shoe was on � this one seemed to fit better.

"Egypt," Daniel sighed after contemplating not saying anything at all while the man tied the laces.

"Wow, that is far. Have you traveled a lot with your parents?" He stuck the matching sneaker on his other foot and did the laces up.

"You could say that." Sliding off the bench, Daniel took a few experimental steps and figured the sneakers would do. He turned to the growing pile of clothes Jack had placed on the bench and looked at the prices. His eyes widened in shock; for such tiny pieces of clothing, he would be paying close to what he'd pay for an adult sized shirt and pants.

True to Jack's word, they were out of the store in fifteen minutes. Wearing proper footwear and a jacket, Daniel was relieved to be able to walk out of the mall alongside Jack. He clambered back into the Avalanche without a word, aware that Jack had been right, that he'd needed shoes and was too frustrated to admit it.

He stayed quiet the rest of the way, mimicking Jack's frame of mind. He hadn't enjoyed being treated as a child. Of course it had been quicker to allow Jack to choose his clothes since he seemed to be familiar with the sizes of children's clothing, but the salesman had grated on his nerves. He wasn't sure if dealing with people who knew who he really was would be easier than dealing with strangers who saw him as a four-year old with a four-year old mentality.

It had grown dark when Jack pulled into his driveway. By the time Daniel struggled with his seatbelt and got out of the truck, Jack had picked up their purchases and was already unlocking the door.

He followed Jack into the spare bedroom and picked up a pair of soft pajamas after Jack dumped the contents of the shopping bag onto the bed.

"You'll need to take me to an ATM so I can pay you back for these."

Jack grunted on his way out.

Using his pocketknife, Daniel removed the tags off the new clothes, dumped them into one of the empty drawers in the bureau and debated getting into his pajamas. He was still wearing his jacket and he still felt cold. He opted for replacing the jacket with one of the thicker tee shirts and left the bedroom.

He could hear the television downstairs. He wandered into the kitchen and decided that coffee might help warm him up. Immediately he discovered that Jack and Janet had been right. He had to drag a chair to the sink to fill the coffee pot and then could barely heft the overflowing pot to the opposite counter. The chair was needed again to dig the coffee filters out of the cabinet overhead, and measure out the coffee.

As the coffee brewed, he dragged the chair around one last time to get a mug out of the cupboard. He left the chair next to the cabinet and sat down on it, his legs strangely rubbery from climbing up and down. He bent his knees, anchored his feet against the edge of the chair and circled his legs with his arms. Despite the exertion, he was still feeling chilled. And tired. He sighed, then sniffed in the welcoming scent of brewing coffee.

oo~O~oo

Jack dragged himself back upstairs, empty beer bottle hanging from his fingers. He'd been curious as to what Daniel had been doing but figured the guy would have asked for help if he'd needed it. He entered the kitchen, seeing a child standing precariously on a chair, pouring himself a cup of coffee, struggling to hold the coffee pot with both hands.

For a moment Jack was thrown back into his past and saw his son. He aborted the attempt to grab the hot coffee pot from Daniel's hands as common sense kicked in, hiding the movement by slamming the empty beer bottle on the counter and turning around to get another. "Do you need cream?" Jack asked, hoping he sounded nonchalant as he rummaged in the fridge.

"Please."

As he put the creamer next to Daniel's mug, Jack twisted the cap off the beer and watched his friend from the corner of his eye. It was going to take some time for him to adjust to the fact that Daniel's thirty-nine year old brain was stuck inside the body of a four-year old. And a scrawny one, at that. He watched as Daniel poured cream and sugar into his coffee, stirred it and with both hands, raised the mug to his mouth.

He expected an orgasmic sigh. To his surprise, Daniel smacked his lips, made a face before taking a second, cautious sip. He turned a disappointed face towards Jack.

"Do you think the cream is off? It tastes... funny."

Jack put his beer down, grabbed the mug one-handed and took a swallow of hot coffee. He swirled it around in his mouth, trying to get rid of the lingering taste of beer.

"Tastes fine to me." He plunked the mug onto the counter and grabbed a bag of Cheetos from one of the cabinets. "Want some?" He offered the opened bag to Daniel, who hesitantly snuck one tiny hand into the bag and came out with a handful of snacks sticking between his fingers.

"Coming to watch the game?" Somehow the sight of Daniel's small teeth gnawing on the seemingly gigantic Cheetos was mesmerizing. He turned away in disgust; if he wasn't going to be able to get used to his friend looking this way, how the hell was Daniel expected to adapt?

"No, I think I'm going to read." Daniel licked the orangey residue off his fingers and lowered his head to the mug, sipping noisily. "You're sure this tasted right? It doesn't taste that good." He made a face as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

Jack remembered an article he'd read on the internet a few months back. "You know, your taste buds change all the time. It could be the taste for some things you liked as an adult just haven't developed yet."

"Oh great." Daniel pushed the coffee aside and turned the coffee pot off. "I was such a picky eater as a kid; my parents had the hardest time getting me to eat." He jumped off the chair. "If that's the case, you may have to go out and buy a truckload of pita and hummus. It was the only staple food I ate for years."

Jack went back downstairs and settled on the sofa with his beer and snack, his legs propped up on the coffee table before him. He lost himself in the game until a while later, when Daniel trudged down the stairs and curled up into the far corner of the sofa.

"Changed your mind?"

Daniel didn't answer right away, too busy trying to pull the afghan off the back of the sofa. It was partly trapped behind Jack's shoulder so he leaned forward so Daniel could bundle up with it.

"Not really. Headache. Maybe I do need glasses after all." He stopped squirming, bundled from toes to chin, and turned to watch the game.

"Did you take something for it?"

When Daniel shook his head, Jack stood and went upstairs. He shook out one Tylenol, sliced it in two with a knife, and poured some orange juice into a glass. He offered both to Daniel, who took the half-pill and washed it down with the juice. His teeth clinked against the glass, as if Daniel had trouble gauging the size of the glass with his mouth.

"You look flushed." Jack pressed the back of two fingers against Daniel's cheek and noted the warmer than normal skin temperature.

"I'm just cold." He shivered as he handed the empty glass back. His hand and arm snaked back under the afghan as Jack put the empty glass on the coffee table.

"I think you've got a fever."

"It's just a headache."

"I'll get a thermometer."

Ignoring Daniel's complaints which followed him up the stairs, he dug the thermometer from the medicine chest and picked up his cell phone. He placed both on the coffee table as he sat back down next to Daniel.

Daniel stared at the thermometer then looked at Jack in confusion. "You just drank something cold. Let's give your mouth a few minutes to get back to a normal temperature."

"I'm not sick."

"You've got chills and a headache. What else? How's your stomach?"

"It's fine. I've just got a headache."

"Sore throat?"

"Headache."

"Cough?"

"Headache."

"Aches and pains? Backache? Fatigue?"

Daniel hesitated a moment before answering. "Headache."

"So, fever, chills, achy, headache, and fatigue. Anything else?"

Daniel sighed and closed his eyes. Jack concentrated on the ball game a few minutes before reaching for the thermometer. "Open up."

"I'm not sick." Despite the complaints, Daniel opened his mouth and Jack stuck the thermometer in. It flopped down and Daniel was forced to pull his hand out and support the end. He glared at Jack, then shivered as a tremor shook him.

Jack tapped a tune on his knee, waiting for the thermometer to beep. When it did, Jack pulled it out and looked at the readout.

"Well?" Daniel raised his chin in defiance.

"100.7." Jack shoved the thermometer at Daniel, showing him the proof.

"That's not so high."

"No, it's not. But Fraiser gave you a clean bill of health just a few hours ago." Jack picked up the cell phone and dialed the infirmary. Daniel sighed loudly as Jack asked to speak to Fraiser.

"I'm afraid she's left for the day, and Doctor Warner is with a patient. Can I ask him to get back to you, Colonel?"

Jack quickly explained the situation to the nurse.

"I'll inform Doctor Warner, but I'm sure it's nothing serious. Most likely Doctor Jackson picked up a bug and his immune system is a little out of whack due to the whole scenario. If there's any reason to bring him in, Doctor Warner will call within the hour. Unless his fever gets high or there are any other symptoms, he's probably better off at home."

"Okay, thanks."

Daniel raised an eyebrow as Jack thumbed the phone off.

"You probably caught a bug. Warner'll call if he thinks you need to go in but the nurse I spoke to thinks it's not serious."

"Told you I was fine." His words proved false as he shook again with another shudder.

"C'mere." Jack motioned Daniel forward.

"Why?"

"Because I can help warm you up, that's why. C'mon." Jack motioned again.

Reluctantly lowering the blanket, Daniel crawled over to Jack, dragging the afghan with him. Jack reached over and pulled Daniel close so he was lying against his chest, his legs drawn up close against his lap. He pulled the afghan over them both and wrapped his arms around Daniel. To Jack's surprise, Daniel snuggled closer, nudging his face into Jack's shoulder.

The sensation of clean little boy coupled with the overly warm body heat brought back a sudden pang of loneliness for his dead son. Talk about d�j� vu. He'd sat like this a few times when he'd been home when Charlie was sick. His son had been a snuggler and he was surprised that Daniel appeared to be one, too.

"This is damn embarrassing," Daniel said into Jack's shirt.

"Everyone gets sick."

"That's not what I meant." Another shudder wracked the small body and Daniel squirmed, trying to plaster more of himself against Jack.

"Do you want to lie down instead?" Knowing how uncomfortable Daniel was with the whole situation, Jack tensed, intending to lay Daniel down on the couch, but the small hands gripped his shirt.

"No. This feels good."

"Ahhh, okay." Jack relaxed back against the cushions and wrapped his hand around Daniel's head. He fingered the soft hair a moment before beginning to massage his scalp. Slowly Daniel relaxed against him, the shivering easing as his breathing deepened. Jack turned back to the game, watching until the last inning, then stood slowly, trying not to wake Daniel.

Warner hadn't called so Jack figured it was safe to put Daniel to bed. He carefully went up the stairs and then sat Daniel on the edge of the bed. Immediately he tipped over, trying to curl up on the covers before Jack could pull them back.

"Ack, PJs first." He glanced around the room. "Where'd you put them?"

Sleep-glazed eyes looked up at Jack before contemplating the room. Daniel slid off the bed and lethargically walked over to the bureau and pulled open a drawer.

"Get changed, I'll be right back."

Jack went back down to the den to retrieve his phone and the thermometer, then began locking up the house. When he was done, he grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator. He found Daniel curled up under the blankets, afghan and all.

"Still cold?" He sat on the edge of the bed, flicking the edge of the afghan back under the blankets, and clicked the thermometer on.

"Yeah."

There was no complaint when Jack waved the thermometer in front of Daniel's face. They waited in silence together while it registered, Daniel's eyes slowly growing heavier and heavier.

"99.5. How are you feeling?"

"Tired."

"How's the head?"

"Better."

"Good. Go to sleep. I'll check in on you in a couple of hours and take your temperature again. And there's water here if you need it." Jack picked up the bottle of water, twisted the cap to break the seal, and placed it on the bedside table, close to hand.

In answer, Daniel closed his eyes.

oo~O~oo

"Jack?"

At the sound of the child's voice, Jack jolted up in bed. He stared in confusion at the blond little boy standing at the foot of his bed, an afghan covering half his body and dragging on the floor. It took a moment for his sleep-fogged brain to remember who the little tyke was.

"Daniel." Jack rolled over and turned on the lamp.

"Where did you put the Tylenol? I can't find the bottle. My headache's back."

And so was the fever-flush and the chills. Jack pushed the covers aside and sat up. "Get back to bed. I'll get the pill." His toes curled in annoyance at the chill of the wood floor. He glanced at his watch; he'd been asleep for four hours; he should have woken up sooner to check on Daniel.

Daniel padded behind him and Jack tsk'd at the sight of his bare feet. He stopped by the door of the spare bedroom and pointed towards the rumpled bed. "Get in. And take your temperature. I'll be right back."

He stopped a moment at the entrance to the kitchen and stood staring at all the opened cabinets. One of the kitchen chairs had been dragged to the counter again and obviously been used again as a step stool. Although Jack normally kept his medications in the cabinet near the kitchen sink, he'd left the bottle of Tylenol on the kitchen table, in plain view.

He picked up the half pill from the table where he'd left it and returned to the bedroom where he found Daniel huddled beneath the blankets. The thermometer was still on the bedside table.

"I'm not sick." Heavy-lidded, the glare Daniel threw Jack's way was pretty impressive when he reached for the thermometer. "I've just got a�"

"Headache. Yeah, I know. And the Tylenol I'm holding here says you're sick." Jack dropped the half pill on the table, clicked the thermometer on and stuck it in Daniel's mouth.

This time the thermometer registered a fever of just over 102. He made sure Daniel drank half the water before adjusting the blankets around the small body.

"Stop fussing. I'm fine." Daniel turned onto his side, offering his back to Jack.

"I'll go and get some Children's Tylenol in the morning so we won't have to worry about breaking up the pills. In the meantime I'll cut another Tylenol in half, just in case you need some again�"

"I'll be fine in the morning, Jack. Go back to bed."

Jack hesitated a moment longer, feeling a rush of concern that he suspected had more to do with old memories due to the similarity between this Daniel and Charlie, than of Daniel not feeling well. With a soft grunt, he got up off the bed, turned off the light and returned to his room.

oo~O~oo

The smell of coffee teased at Daniel's nose. He'd come back to Earth without his watch and had no idea what time it was. He listened to the sounds of Jack puttering around in the kitchen, trying to gauge whether he was hungry or if he was nauseous. The headache had toned down a notch and he wasn't cold so that had to be a good thing. Or maybe it was due to the third half Tylenol he'd taken just as the sun was rising.

He found himself tangled in the afghan and it took him a minute to fight his way free. Crawling to the edge of the bed, he slid down and padded to the bathroom. Even as he freed himself from the pajama bottoms to pee, he hated how his body didn't feel right and how everything else was uncomfortably big or out of reach.

Standing on his tiptoes to wash his hands, Daniel remembered how he'd always been shorter than all the other kids his age. He wiped his hands on a towel and stepped out into the hallway, debating whether to go back to bed or see if he could eat something. His stomach growled so he opted for the latter.

"Hey, just in time." Jack was standing at the stove, flipping pancakes. "How's the head?"

"Better." The chair squeaked loudly as he pulled it away from the table, the sharp noise causing him to wince. He tried not to pull away when Jack stepped closer and pressed his hands against his cheeks and neck.

"No fever. Guess a good night's sleep did the trick."

Daniel squirmed on the chair, trying to find a comfortable way of sitting so he wouldn't be too low at the table.

"Hungry?"

"I could eat. Got any maple syrup?"

"In the fridge. Here." Jack took two glasses from the cupboard as Daniel slid off the chair. "Pour us some orange juice while you're at it. Want coffee?"

"Please." Maybe a jolt of caffeine would help push back the muzzy feeling he had.

Jack poured them each a cup of coffee as Daniel struggled with the large container of juice. He managed to pour the juice into their glasses without spilling too much but it was a close thing. His arms just didn't have the strength to do what he'd been able to do one-handed in his adult size. By the time he replaced the juice in the fridge and taken out the syrup, Jack put the pancakes in a plate and joined Daniel at the table.

Climbing onto the kitchen chair again, Daniel realized he was too short to sit comfortably and reach the table. He clambered onto his knees, the wooden seat immediately digging into skin and bone. He squirmed a little, trying to get comfortable. He'd be able to stay this way for a little while but he'd tire soon.

Fixing his coffee the way he liked it, he began to fear he might eventually need a high chair. Maybe they could take their meals on the couch for a while. He carefully picked up his coffee and took a sip. It still tasted bitter and odd, nothing like the coffee flavor he'd enjoyed for the past twenty-five years. Still he forced a couple more sips before finally giving up on it.

"Still doesn't taste right?" Jack asked as Daniel pushed the mug away.

Daniel shook his head and poured a generous amount of syrup on his pancakes. He picked up a fork, the implement feeling awkward in his small hands, and cut a bite.

"Just as well. Coffee might just stunt your growth."

Jack had his head down, busy with his own pancakes when Daniel threw him a dirty look. "What does it matter? We're gonna get me back to normal as soon as Thor gets here, right?"

"Right." Jack looked at Daniel, almost startled. "I just meant... you know."

"I'm not staying this way," Daniel said with conviction. "This is just a temporary condition." Daniel ate the bite of pancake, which was delicious.

"Of course." Jack speared his own piece of pancake and began dragging it through the small pool of syrup on his plate. He glanced up at Daniel quickly before looking back down. "I just want you to know that we'll get through this together... you know..." Jack coughed softly. "...If Thor can't fix it... if you need a place to stay for a few years, for however long, you know you can count on me."

Daniel swallowed quickly as his throat closed with sudden emotion. Even after these few hours of being... downsized... he knew with certainty that he would never be able to cope on his own. "I... don't know what to say." He cleared his throat nervously. "Thank you, Jack. I hope it doesn't come to that but..." He cleared his throat again. "...It's taken a load off my mind."

"Hey, you know I wouldn't just let you fend for yourself. Anyways, it won't come to that. Thor'll contact the SGC in a day or two and he'll have you back to your annoyingly geeky self in no time."

Daniel laughed softly as he began cutting another piece of pancake. "You haven't called me that in a long time."

"Annoying?"

"No, a geek."

"That's because you haven't given me reason to."

"You mean I haven't acted like a geek recently?"

"No, I mean you haven't been annoying." Jack turned his head, trying to hide his smile when Daniel sighed.

"Oh. Sorry. I'll try harder from now on."

"Don't go out of your way on my account." Jack grinned, fork laden with dripping pancake held before his mouth. "At least now I can pick you up and carry you out of whatever situation you've gotten yourself into."

Putting his fork down, Daniel raised one syrup-coated finger before him. "If you ever pull a stunt on me again like you did last night at the mall, I'll�"

"What? Kick my shins?" Jack plopped the forkful into his mouth.

"No, I'll get Teal'c to kick them for me."

Jack snorted, unable to speak with his mouth full. He merely waggled his eyebrows at Daniel. "Good one," he said when he finally swallowed.

When he finished his plateful, Daniel looked longingly at the stack of pancakes that remained uneaten.

"Go ahead, there's plenty." Jack helped himself to two more from the stack.

"I wish I could." He licked maple syrup from his fingers. "Looks like two is the limit that'll fit in this body's stomach." He rued the days when he could easily down five or six of Jack's pancakes.

Grabbing the plate from the table once he'd slid off the chair, he forewent rinsing it, placing it directly into the dishwasher instead. He went back for the cutlery and coffee cup, his fingers getting even stickier from the syrup that coated the knife and fork. Sighing, he stretched on the tips of his toes to reach the kitchen faucets and rinsed his fingers under the stream of water. Jack and Janet had been right; there was no way he'd be able to function alone in a house, at least not unless everything was lowered by at least a foot until he grew those twelve inches. Jack's offer meant more to him that Jack would ever realize.

"So, anything particular you'd like to do today?" Jack had gotten up and was pouring himself a second cup of coffee. "Other than maybe going to your place and picking up a few things..."

"I don't need much more than a toothbrush and a few toiletries. Thanks to you, I don't need any clothes or�"

"I got a spare toothbrush and..." Jack raised a hand to rub at the back of his neck as he sat down again. "Obviously you don't have to worry about shaving or�"

"I should have brought some work back with me last night," Daniel said, more out of a feeling of obligation than a true need to work. To be honest, he didn't feel like working or actually doing anything but resting. He was feeling tired again and his headache was tapping at the back of his skull, as if asking for permission to come back. He leaned wearily against the door of the dishwasher.

"How about just hanging out here? We could watch a few movies, take a nap�"

"I need to go to the ATM�"

"Don't worry about paying me back. We don't have to go today�"

"I don't want to owe you anything�" "Don't worry, I won't let you forget." He picked up his fork again, then waved it in the direction of the refrigerator. "Other than hummus, any other stuff in there you think your tastes buds won't object to?"

"Huh?"

"Picky eater, right? You said last night you ate hummus and pita as a kid."

"You don't have to go out of your way just for me." Pushing off the dishwasher, Daniel made his way back to his chair. His stomach, full and content just a minute ago, suddenly churned in a sickening way. He burped softly, feeling some of the pressure release as he sat.

"And there's no reason for you to eat something you simply don't like. You don't force me to eat roasted alien lizards when we go visit Kasuf, so I'll return the favor. Of course, if you're not crazy about Mexican or Italian or Greek or Chinese, we may have a slight problem."

Daniel smiled despite the increasingly growing discomfort in his stomach. "I'm sure I'll find a few items from each that I'll be happy with."

His stomach almost felt swollen, sitting in his body like a lump of cement. He rubbed at his abdomen as his headache stopped tapping and instead, stepped over the threshold and insistently made itself known.

Jack put his fork down and swallowed the last of his coffee. "So, any particular movies you'd like to see?" Jack put the cup down and checked his watch. "We can run to the grocery store, stop at the ATM and rent a couple of DVDs on our way back." He looked at Daniel inquiringly.

A wave of nausea spread over Daniel. Pressure built up in his stomach again and the sour taste of coffee bubbled into his throat as he burped again.

"Hey, you okay? You look a little pale�"

His breathing suddenly sped up and he knew without a doubt he was going to spew. Without thinking, he jumped off the chair and ran for the bathroom, stumbling as his legs wobbled beneath him. He made it to the bathroom just as his stomach rebelled, splattering the toilet seat as he lost his breakfast.

He retched until he was dry heaving, his head escalating in pain with every heave. Finally, exhausted, he allowed himself to slide to the side of the toilet, wedged in beside the wall and the porcelain. He shook, either with reaction or fever. At this point, he wasn't sure which it was, and he didn't care.

When Jack flushed and started cleaning up the mess he made, he forced his eyes open and went to sit up.

"Don't move. I got this covered."

"Sorry." A wave of heat came over him and he fought back the threatening nausea. He watched through cracked eyelids as Jack waved his apology aside and finished wiping down the toilet. Just as Jack flushed a second time, hot bile flooded Daniel's throat and he tried to scramble up. Then two strong hands hefted him forward, over the bowl and he coughed as he spit up bile. Jack's hand was warm and strong as it supported his chest, his other hand rested against Daniel's middle back. He dry heaved a few more times, then pushed away.

"You done?" Jack looked at him with concern as he pushed back a strand of damp hair from his face. Daniel closed his eyes and hoped that he was. He nodded slowly, pain stabbing down his neck at the movement.

"Let's get you back into bed." When Jack lifted him into his arms, Daniel didn't protest. He hurt all over, from his joints to his back and all the way up to his scalp. There were pros to being little, he thought as Jack laid him back into his bed. He curled onto his side, one hand coming up to massage his aching stomach muscles.

"You should have told me you weren't feeling good. I'd have made something lighter for breakfast." Jack eased Daniel's bare feet under the blankets and pulled them up to his shoulders.

"I was fine. It hit me really fast." His voice was raspy and he cleared his throat.

"Headache back?"

"Yeah."

"Okay. I'll be right back."

A wave of heat drifted over him and he kicked off the blanket that Jack had just covered him with. By the time Jack came back, he was in the grip of a chill, awkwardly trying to pull the blankets back up. Jack plopped the thermometer into his mouth then pulled the blankets over him. Daniel closed his eyes, embarrassed beyond description.

"Doctor Warner, please."

Surprised to hear Jack's voice, Daniel opened his eyes to see Jack into his cell. Mortified, he turned his head while Jack sat next to him and described his symptoms to the doctor.

When the thermometer beeped, Jack reached over and picked it up. "His temperature's only 100.1. It was a higher overnight."

"Uh huh. Yeah, okay. I will." Jack shut the cell off and placed it on the table next to a bottle of water. "Apparently there's a virulent intestinal bug going around and it's hit the SGC. Warner said to keep an eye on your fever and make sure you don't get dehydrated. Think you can take a pill and a bit of water?"

His stomach definitely wouldn't endure anything in it at the moment but he'd try at least to swallow enough water to down half a pill. He took the medicine with a small sip of water, and lay back onto the pillow, shivering.

"I'll let you rest. If you need anything, just call."

When Jack left the room, Daniel felt... not quite abandoned, but definitely more alone. He wondered if this odd feeling of being neglected was due to his illness or simply a side effect of the stress of his life being turned upside down and reduced to the existence of someone not even big enough to attend school. He settled for listening to Jack puttering around the house, telling himself he wasn't truly alone.

oo~O~oo

The morning dragged on while Jack attempted to find busywork to keep him occupied. He tried to stay away from Daniel's bedroom but worry and the need to know how he was doing seemed to pull him in there every thirty minutes or so. He was afraid of disturbing Daniel, of waking him if he was asleep but each time he went in, he seemed to be awake, barely dozing.

This time was no different. Tylenol cupped in his palm, he stopped in the doorway and peeked in. Daniel was a small lump under the covers, curled up almost into the pillows, seeming tiny in the double bed. He waited a moment and as every other time, Daniel raised his head from beneath the blankets and looked at him.

"How're you feeling?" Relieved he wouldn't have to wake Daniel to give him his medication, Jack stepped into the room and sat on edge of the bed.

The small shoulders shrugged up and down as Daniel settled back onto the pillow. " 'M okay."

Jack glanced at the still full bottle of water next to him on the bedside table as he felt Daniel's cheeks for fever. It was still fairly high despite the doses of Tylenol. "It's been a couple of hours. Think you can drink something now with the pill?"

A mixture of emotions flitted over Daniel's face, and when Daniel reached for the pill with a sigh, Jack recognized that resignation had won. Jack picked up the bottle of water, twisted the cap open and handed it over. He waited while Daniel drank slowly at first, then with bigger swallows as his thirst finally registered.

"Whoa, slow down." Jack tipped the bottle away from Daniel's mouth. "Slow and easy like before."

Daniel's lower lip came up and pressed against his upper one for a moment. "You're the one who wanted me to drink." He tilted the bottle back to his mouth again but took smaller sips.

"I didn't want you to drown. Look, you might feel better with a little something in your stomach other than water... I can get you crackers... maybe some rice pudding?"

Daniel released the plastic bottle with a loud, wet pop. "Maybe later." He handed the nearly empty bottle back to Jack and lay back down. A full body shiver had him reaching for the blankets again. "How long did Doctor Warner say this would last?" Daniel's teeth chattered together and his breath hissed loudly.

"Twenty-four hours."

"It's nearly that now isn't it? Shouldn't I be feeling better by now?"

"You still have a few more hours to go. It's not even lunchtime yet."

Watery, glazed eyes looked up at him. "It's not? I thought for sure... it's still daylight?" Daniel craned his head up and looked towards the drawn blinds of the window which showed barely a crack of daylight around the edges.

"Fever sort of distorts time." Jack patted the small shoulder as he stood. "I'll bring some crackers, just in case you get hungry later." He'd barely made it to the door when a panicked cry came from the bed. Daniel managed to sit up and push the covers aside when the water he'd drunk came back up with a vengeance.

"Okay, maybe we'll skip the crackers for now," Jack joked in a soft voice as he picked Daniel up with one arm while quickly pulling the soiled blankets off the bed and dumping them onto the floor. He'd intended on heading for the bathroom, but the retching turned into a ragged cough. Jack sat down on the edge of the bed and rubbed the small back, surprised when Daniel leaned against Jack, resting his head against his shoulder.

"God, I hate this."

"I know." Jack stood, took two steps closer to the head of the bed to grab the afghan Daniel had discarded earlier and wrapped the shivering body with it. Jack twisted at the waist, bringing his legs up onto the bed and shoved the pillow behind him so he could lean against the wall.

Daniel squirmed, the little body shifting closer, homing in on his body heat. Once again Jack felt the odd pull of memories hit him - Charlie sleeping with him and Sara, brought into bed either due to illness or a frightening nightmare. He felt a sense of protectiveness surge over him, different than the normal feelings of friendship he had for Daniel or the rest of his team.

He knew it had to do with the vulnerability of his smaller body, the lack of physical strength and the now total dependence on someone older and bigger. The guilt he'd been feeling struck him hard at Daniel's trust in him. Daniel had to be terrified; Lord knew Jack was. What if Daniel was stuck like this for good? How would he cope? How would Jack cope?

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He was also feeling anger and relief. Anger at Thor for not responding. Anger at whichever Asgard that had done this to Daniel. And relief that the small, feverish body with the adult mind clinging to him for reassurance was not a clone, which meant that the adult version of Daniel wouldn't be exchanged for this tinier one. And overlaying it all, there was anger at himself for having pulled back earlier when he'd believed that Daniel had been the clone. Because no matter if this was a replica or the real McCoy, they would both be experiencing the exact same fears and pain.

"Daniel, you sleeping?" Daniel hadn't moved in a few minutes. Jack kept his voice soft so as not to wake him if he was asleep. He pulled the blanket back to expose Daniel's face. His eyes were closed and his face slack. He didn't stir, his breathing slow and heavy. Jack readjusted the blanket and laid his head back against the wall. He'd wait a few more minutes to make sure Daniel didn't wake and then he'd put him back onto the bed.

oo~O~oo

The chime of the doorbell startled Jack out of a doze. He hadn't meant to fall asleep but when he'd gone to put Daniel back down onto the bed, he'd stirred just enough to grab onto his tee shirt to prevent their separation.

Rolling Daniel off him and onto the mattress, Jack immediately felt the coolness of the room now that he was separated from him. He quickly cupped his fingers onto Daniel's cheek and registered the much higher temperature. Then remembering the doorbell, he hurried to answer the door.

"Doc." Jack stepped back in surprise, allowing Fraiser to enter the house. "Is this a�"

"I have the late shift tonight and was on my way to the base. I thought I'd stop by and see how Daniel was doing." She raised her black bag, indicating it was an official visit. "And take some more blood samples, just to make sure there's no surprise developing."

Jack rubbed one eye and shut the door, waving her down the hallway, towards the bedroom. "Warner says he's caught some stomach flu that's going around the SGC. He's still got a pretty high temperature and can't keep anything down." He leaned against the doorframe as Fraiser turned on a bedside lamp and began checking Daniel out.

"Janet?" Daniel's head came out from under the covers as he looked around dopily. "What're you doing here?"

"Shhh, just making a house call." She stuck a thermometer into his mouth and pulled out a BP cuff, laying Daniel's arm on her lap while she affixed the cuff to it. "The Colonel tells me you're having problem keeping food down? Any cramps? Dizziness? Pain?"

Daniel first shook his head no, then yes, and yes again to her questions. "What hurts?"

"Headache," Daniel mumbled around the thermometer.

"He's had a headache since we got home last night." Jack pushed off the doorframe and stepped closer to the bed, leaning against his bookcase.

"Your blood pressure's a little low and you've definitely got a pretty good fever going. Have you given him any anti-pyretics?"

"Half a Tylenol earlier but he threw it up. Then he finally fell asleep and I didn't have the heart to wake him..."

"Do you feel like you could eat or drink something now?" Fraiser took out a stethoscope and placed the bell on Daniel's chest.

"Not really."

"Okay. I'll administer some Compazine for the nausea and we'll see if you can eat and drink a little when it kicks in." She put the stethoscope away and removed the paraphernalia for blood sampling. "I need to take some blood samples; let's get that out of the way first."

When Fraiser was through, she placed the several vials of blood into her bag and rummaged through her medical samples. After a moment she found what she'd been looking for. "Here. It's a suppository so you won't have to worry about vomiting up a pill." She started to tear the wrappings when Daniel sat up and put his hand out for the medicine.

"I'll do it."

"It'll be easier if I�"

"I can do this, Janet." Daniel's face, resolute and pale, seemed at odds with the childish features.

"Daniel, I�" She finally nodded and handed the suppository to Daniel. "I'll give you some privacy." She smiled at him and walked out of the room. When Daniel turned to give Jack a look, he followed Fraiser into the hallway. He flicked the kitchen lights on and offered to make coffee.

"Thanks, sir, but I need to get to the base." She placed her bag on the kitchen table. "His fever's pretty high, and I'm worried about dehydration. If the Compazine doesn't help and he can't keep anything down by tomorrow, bring him to the infirmary." She pursed her lips together, lost in thought. "Actually, I'm debating taking him in with me now. If this illness is related to what happened to him and actually not the flu, I could be putting him at risk."

"He's more comfortable here�"

"Yes, I know. But�"

"And you can't do anything for him until you get the results of the blood tests, right?"

"I could give him an IV to provide fluids�"

"And the stuff you just gave him will have kicked in by the time we'd get to the mountain. So logically speaking, he could be drinking water or juice by the time you'd be sticking an IV into his arm."

Fraiser made an annoyed sound. "If there's any anomalies in the blood tests, I'll call."

"I'll bring Daniel to the infirmary if you feel he really needs to be there. But in the meantime..."

"I'll wait." She sighed heavily. "Give him the Tylenol in about twenty minutes. Try giving him juice and broth, then something light and easily digested. But if he still can't keep anything down by morning, I want him in the infirmary, no questions. He's gone through enough as it is; he doesn't need the stress of illness on top of everything else."

"Yes, ma'am." Jack raised an eyebrow at Janet's pained expression.

"Can I have some water?"

Both Jack and Janet turned as Daniel slowly walked into the kitchen. He looked awful; his hair was stringy and mussed, his face pale except for two fever-spots on his cheeks, with shadows beneath his eyes. As Daniel leaned tiredly against a counter, Jack went to the fridge and removed a bottle of water. He twisted the cap off and silently handed Daniel the bottle.

"Thanks."

Daniel paled visibly before bringing the bottle to his lips. Jack was pretty sure the last thing at the moment Daniel wanted was water and this was just a show for Fraiser. "So doc?" Jack stepped in front of Daniel, blocking her view of him. "How contagious is this flu and what're the chances of me catching it?"

"Fairly contagious and unless you've both been vigilant with washing your hands, chances are pretty high that you'll catch it also, sir."

Jack glanced down at his hands, realizing that he'd been fairly lax, especially with Daniel's last bout of nausea. He rubbed them on his pants, wondering if he was going to get sick and suddenly worried about what would happen to Daniel if he did. Then he remembered Daniel wasn't a child. Sometimes it was hard to keep track; it was rare Daniel was this quiet and it only served to prove how sick he must be feeling.

"Although a fever isn't part of the symptoms and I'm a little concerned." She walked to the table and picked up her bag. "You just make sure you get some liquids inside of you, Daniel."

Nodding, Daniel lifted the water bottle in a toast.

"Liquids, Tylenol for the fever, some food and rest are the best things for him," Fraiser said as Jack walked her to the door. She stopped just outside. "The Compazine may make him sleepy so let him sleep. I'll have the results of the blood tests in a couple of hours. I'll call you..."

"I'll be here."

Jack shut the door and returned to the kitchen. Daniel was leaning against a chair, as if too weak or tired to pull it out and sit. The water bottle, still untouched, was on the table next to him. He raised his head and looked at Jack with eyes that were too old for such a small body. Without a word, Jack picked him up in his arms, feeling Daniel go limp against him, either a sign of trust or one of total resignation. He reached down for the water bottle and carried Daniel to his own bedroom.

He put the water down first next to the bed, and then lowered Daniel onto the mattress. The moment he was flat on the bed, Daniel turned onto his side. Jack pulled the blankets up over him, then left the room to gather his cell phone, several magazines, some juice and half a Tylenol.

He grabbed the water bottle from the bedside table before walking to the other side of the bed and held the pill out to Daniel. With a resigned sigh, Daniel sat up and took the Tylenol from him.

"Take just enough to get the pill down for now." Jack handed him the water. "We'll try with more water in another ten minutes, when we're sure the Compazine's kicked in."

With the half pill held between his fingers, posed before his lips, Daniel seemed to register where they were. "Why am I in your bed?" Small lines puckered around his forehead as he swallowed the pill with a few sips of water.

"Because you threw up in your bed and I need to go wash the blankets and bedspread before putting you back in it." He sat on the bed and waited for Daniel to give him back the water bottle, but instead Daniel hitched himself forward, folded the pillow in half and leaned on it. He took another sip of water, swallowed, closed his eyes and seemed to wait.

"Should I go get a bucket?"

"No." Eyes still closed, Daniel took another, larger swallow. "My stomach's starting to feel better."

"Then try some of this." Jack reached for the glass of apple juice he'd poured earlier and held it out. Daniel reluctantly traded the water for juice, but after a few sips, seemed content to finish it.

"I'll get some more, and maybe some toast?"

"Um..."

"Finish the water first. Maybe by the time the toast are done, you'll feel up to trying some."

Jack took his time, preparing toast on a tray, then adding containers of pineapple jam and peanut butter. He also took out a sleeve of crackers for later, and wrapped some slices of cheese in a napkin.

Daniel lethargically swiped a jam-laden knife over a triangle of toast, then took a tentative bite. He chewed sleepily, his eyelids drooping low over his eyes, looking for all the world like a sick, exhausted child. Except that a true four-year old would be cranky and temperamental at this point. Daniel, on the other hand, was trying hard to eat despite it being obvious he wasn't hungry or feeling up to it, and only because it would keep him out of the infirmary.

Jack didn't say a word when Daniel put down the second half-eaten triangle of toast and pushed the tray aside. He took it away from the bed, placing it on a nearby bureau while Daniel buried himself under the blankets. He was restless, though, tossing and turning until he rolled up against Jack.

Half asleep, he mewled softly as he plastered his short length against Jack's hip. He was like a tiny furnace, giving off heat that was making Jack uncomfortably warm beneath the blankets. But if it kept Daniel quiet enough to rest, he'd gladly suffer for a few hours.

He picked up a magazine and began reading, hoping Daniel's fever would break and waiting for Fraiser to call. The phone vibrated just as he was finishing the second Cracked magazine.

"Colonel, I need you to bring Daniel in right away."

Jack felt a shock of anxiety go through him at the urgency in Fraiser's voice. "Why? What's wrong?"

"To make it simple, sir, he has no antibodies. It's like he's never been exposed to any illnesses, and now he's not only susceptible to catching everything and anything going around, he doesn't even have any titers for childhood illnesses. Whatever made him smaller wiped his immune system clean and until we get him stabilized and fever-free, I can't even give him the normal childhood vaccinations. We need to put him into quarantine ASAP."

"Quarantine?" Immediately thoughts of Daniel came to mind, alone in the isolation room, tended by nurses wearing protective clothing without even the comfort of human contact. "Can't he stay here? If we stay inside, not go out�"

"I understand how he feels, sir, but I need him in a medical environment as a precaution."

Jack hated this and knew Daniel would hate it even more but Fraiser was probably right. He could feel the heat from Daniel's fever and it hadn't gone down much with the Tylenol. "We'll be there in thirty."

It took Jack five minutes to change, gather a few of Daniel's new clothes and put them into a bag. He placed the bag in his truck, turned the motor on and raised the heat in the cab, and then went back for Daniel. Rather than getting him dressed, Jack grabbed the discarded afghan and decided to wrap Daniel up in it.

Daniel jumped, startled when he woke up when Jack pulled the blankets off and picked him up, placing him on his lap. "Easy. It's all right. We gotta go back to Cheyenne."

"Thor?"

"No, sorry. Fraiser."

"What're you doing?" He lethargically pushed Jack's hands away as Jack wrapped the afghan around him.

"Taking you out to the truck. It'll be easier this way." Jack resolutely wrapped the afghan more firmly around Daniel.

"No, I can walk." Another languid push against Jack's hands as he tried to sit up.

Lowering the blanket, Jack sighed, thinking it would be easier after all if Daniel had truly been a child in both mind and body. "Then you'll need to get dressed first. It's chilly out."

"Okay." Daniel leaned forward against Jack's chest. "Where're my clothes."

"Um... in the other room." When Daniel leaned his head against his shoulder, Jack slowly raised the afghan up to cover him.

"Okay." The word came out as a soft sigh as Daniel closed his eyes.

"You gonna get dressed?" Jack eased the rest of the blanket around Daniel's now limp form.

"Mmm hmmm."

"Okay. Want your shoes?" He stood, trying not to move Daniel overmuch as he balanced him in his arms, one hand supporting Daniel's head where it rested against him.

Daniel mumbled something unintelligible as Jack walked to the front door. He hurried through and had Daniel in the passenger seat before he could get chilled. He quickly wound the seatbelt over him, clicked it secure and shut the door.

As he turned to look behind as he began backing the Avalanche out of his driveway, Daniel somehow slid from beneath the confines of the seatbelt and made his way to Jack's lap. He laid his head and shoulders on Jack's thighs, bringing his knees up to the edge of the seat. With one hand on the wheel and the other cupping Daniel's head, Jack started his cautious drive to the mountain.

oo~O~oo

"This way." Deviating from the corridor leading to the infirmary, Fraiser, who'd met Jack at the elevators, led him instead towards one of the isolation room. When Jack walked in, it was obvious they'd been preparing for Daniel. The two nurses were clad with surgical masks, as was Fraiser. He headed straight for the bed in the middle of the room and carefully lowered his limp burden onto it.

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The nurses descended upon Daniel immediately, checking his vitals, setting up an IV, talking amongst themselves and relating their findings to Fraiser. Jack backed out of the way, watching helplessly, hands shoved into jacket pockets. Fraiser was looking worried... maybe Jack should have brought Daniel in sooner, maybe he should have turned around the moment Daniel had a temperature. Definitely before he started throwing up. Jack should have known; he hadn't been able to take care of Charlie, was it any wonder he couldn't help his friend?

Movement caught his eye and he looked up into the observation room, where Carter, Teal'c and Hammond were watching. Carter nodded at him when she noticed him staring up at them. He nodded back, then turned his attention back to Daniel. He was waking up; who wouldn't, with people poking needles into your arm and sticking suppositories up your butt.

"No, stop it. Don't!" The voice was hoarse and panicked as he thrashed on the bed, trying to move away from the nurses' attentions. "What are you doing to me?"

"Daniel, it's all right." Despite Fraiser's reassurances, Daniel continued to struggle against the nurses' ministrations.

"Stay still, Doctor Jackson." One nurse pushed Daniel back, pinning him to the bed while Daniel increased his struggles.

"Let me go."

"Hey!" Ignoring Fraiser's warning look, Jack pushed the nurse aside, forcing her to let go of Daniel. "He said to let go." He leaned over to put gentle pressure against Daniel's shoulder. "Daniel, stop it."

"Jack?"

"Yeah, who'd you expect?"

Shivering, Daniel collapsed back onto the pillow. "I don't... not you... I think I was dreaming..."

"You're safe, Daniel. You're at the SGC." Jack looked up and glared at the nurse. "He may look like one, but he's not a child. There was no reason to use physical force to restrain him."

"Colonel�"

"No, Doctor Fraiser." Jack raised a finger to stop her from further speech. "He woke up disoriented and confused, and considering what he's just gone through, I think trying to force him into doing what's good for him isn't the best strategy right now. He's an adult, he's used to being treated with respect and just because he's small enough to be manhandled and bullied doesn't mean he should be. A child won't necessarily always understand and an adult may be forced to do things like that to them. But Daniel's adult mind is still inside that body."

"Jack, if I'm good, can I have a lollipop?" There was a hint of a sparkle in Daniel's eyes as he looked at Jack.

Rolling his eyes, Jack sighed. "Not now, Daniel."

"Oh, okay." He pulled the blankets up to his chin. "I'm cold."

Immediately one of the nurses grabbed extra blankets and piled them over Daniel.

"Sir, you should at least put a mask and gloves on."

"I've been with him for a full day. If I'm carrying any bug that could hurt him, I've probably already infected him with it." Jack fiddled with the blankets, patting the edges down near Daniel's neck.

Fraiser's eyes softened over the cover of her mask as she nodded slowly.

"Daniel." Carter's voice came through the loudspeakers.

"Sam?" Daniel looked around in confusion until Jack pointed towards the observation room.

"Jonathon... the Colonel's clone, experienced a couple of flashbacks about being on Loki's ship. Could that be what you just remembered?"

"No..." Daniel seemed to drift off, his eyes fluttering shut. Jack opened his mouth to comment when Daniel spoke again, his voice slurring as he fought sleep. "Not Loki. It was Idun."

"Who?" An exchange of looks with Carter and Teal'c offered him no further explanation. Daniel was out for the count.

"Doc?"

"There's nothing more I can do for the time being. Daniel's blood tests showed he's been infected by two separate viruses, one the intestinal flu that's going around and the second one that Corporal Jennings picked up offworld a couple of days ago. Both aren't serious by themselves but seeing that Daniel's immune system is so vulnerable, it's affecting him more seriously than it normally would. And because it's a virus, there's nothing I can do for him except treat the symptoms and wait for the virus to work its way out of his system."

"And how long's this going to go on for?" Jack looked over the tiny body which seemed lost beneath the mound of blankets.

"He's going to catch everything that's going around, and then some, until his immune system catches up to that of a normal four year old." Fraiser handed Jack a pair of gloves and mask.

"Don't kids need to get sick to...?" Jack made a waving motion in front of him with the gloves... "you know, build up their immunities?"

"Yes, they do. But in this case Daniel's so weak that any other infection or infestation could... well, let's just say his body isn't able to fight anything more until he's over these." Fraiser looked up at the observation room and sighed. "At least the intestinal virus appears to be easing off. He hasn't been sick since I came over, has he?"

"No. He ate a little and slept."

"Good."

Both of them turned back to the bed when Daniel mumbled something under his breath as he tossed his head to the side. "Mushrooms," he said, more clearly.

"Think he's hungry?" Jack made a face even as he knew his joke fell flat.

"No. Toadstools... spirits." Daniel mumbled the words into the pillow as he turned restlessly onto his side. "SG-12... demons. We gotta go talk to them." This last came out clearly, almost frantically.

"I think he's dreaming, sir."

"Ya think?" Jack leaned down so that he was on an even keel with Daniel's face. "Hey, Daniel." He touched the hot, sweaty forehead and stroked back a few strands of hair that were stuck to his temple. "It's okay, Daniel. SG-12 are safe now."

"Safe?" Daniel's brow furrowed and he made a few smacking sounds.

One of the nurses rolled a chair over and Jack perched his butt on it, still leaning close to Daniel. "Yeah. Everyone's safe. Go back to sleep."

"Jack?"

"Yeah?"

"Thanks." His voice drifted off once more.

oo~O~oo

Jack swiped at the sweat pouring down Daniel's face and neck, pushing back the sweaty locks from his forehead and temple. Daniel made a slight face at the treatment but didn't wake. His pajamas were soaked; they were going to change him as soon as Deborah came back with a basin of water for a quick sponge bath.

"Colonel, you should go and get some rest." Fraiser walked briskly through the door, adjusting her mask.

"No, I'm fine." Jack hid a yawn and rubbed his stiff neck which he'd gotten from an earlier catnap. One thing with having had a sick Daniel at home was that he could stretch out in bed right alongside him. "Maybe later, once he's woken up."

"At least go and get something decent to eat." Fraiser added a couple sheets of paper to Daniel's chart, then began viewing the latest vitals the nurses had recorded over the past couple of hours. "You know, a shower might also help."

"What?" Frowning slightly, Jack unobtrusively raised an arm and sniffed his armpit.

"For your neck," Fraiser added, a hint of amusement in her voice.

Jack made a face as he rolled his shoulders, thinking longingly that she was right. He tried to ignore his rumbling stomach that he'd treated to nothing more than coffee and a muffin over the past hours. "How's he doing?" He looked pointedly at the pages Fraiser had attached to Daniel's chart.

"Well, obviously his fever's broken and his latest blood work shows the second virus is finally running its course. He should be feeling better when he wakes up."

Jack dabbed the cloth again at the thick beads of sweat that just kept coming. "So the worst is over?"

"He may be somewhat weak for a few days but yeah, the worst is over." She pulled the sheet back when Deborah arrived with the basin of water. "Sir, we can take care of this. Why don't you go eat and shower and come back in an hour or two?" She smiled down at Daniel who didn't react when her nurse pulled his pajama bottoms down. "He's probably going to sleep through this; you probably could take a nap and come back in four or five hours." She took the cloth from his hands, tugging gently until he let go. "I would ask, though, that you shower just before returning to the Isolation room to cut back on the chance of bringing back infectious agents, and that you wear a mask on your return."

Jack rubbed a hand against his bare face; he'd enjoyed the fact that nobody had insisted he wear protective gear but that would definitely change once he went amongst the SGC personnel. "How about I wear a mask out there?"

Fraiser cocked an eye and the fine lines around her eyes crinkled, indicating she was smiling behind her mask. "That'll work. But you'll have to keep your distance from people if you eat in the commissary."

"Okay." Jack watched, almost reluctant to leave, as Deborah washed Daniel's tiny body with quick, efficient strokes. Fraiser was right; Daniel wasn't stirring and it looked like he was going to be out of it for a while longer. He looked around, spotting the discarded gloves and mask he'd tossed onto one of the tables earlier. He picked up the mask and pocketed the gloves. He figured he'd wear them before returning to the room, kind of like a reverse sterilization procedure. And he planned to have as little contact with people as possible.

He'd get assigned barracks, get something to eat, eat it in his bunk, grab a nap and then shower before returning here. He glanced back down at Daniel, who was now lying on his side while fresh sheets were applied to the bed. He remained limp and dead to the world as he was rolled back onto his other side. Sighing, Jack put the mask on and left the Isolation room, in search of a meal and a bunk.

oo~O~oo

Infirmary. He immediately recognized the smells, the sounds and the feel of the linen beneath him. Daniel turned and cautiously stretched, feeling achy and strangely weak. Nothing hurt, though, which was a good thing. He moved his legs, feeling for the foot of the bed with his feet. "Jack?"

"Daniel."

Okay, not Jack. But Sam would do. "What happened? Where's Jack?" He squinted and looked around, still feeling for the edge of the bed with his toes. He didn't see Sam anywhere, but the tinny quality to her voice prompted him to look up, towards the observation room. There she was, looking down at him with a smile on her face. Observation room, which meant, isolation... He looked at himself, lying in a bed that was much too big for him�

"The Colonel stepped out to get some rest... he'll be back in�"

Memories suddenly hit him. He raised a hand and massaged the bridge of his nose. His hand shook, accentuating how weak he felt. "No, he won't."

"Of course he will... he's been with you for nearly twenty-four hours. Janet just sent him to get some�"

"He doesn't want anything to do with me. Why are you here, Sam?"

"Daniel?"

"I'm a clone. I understand.... nobody wants to get too close to the fake Daniel. It's okay, I�"

"Daniel, you're not�"

"Doctor Jackson?"

The voice was right next to him and he turned to see a familiar face despite the surgical mask covering half of it. Grey hair pushed back behind her ears, glasses emphasizing light brown eyes... he had a few memories of her caring for him, giving him water, reassuring him, her hands and voice soft and gentle right alongside Jack's.

"Deborah?"

Her smile was immediate and her eyes crinkled above the mask. "Glad to see you back with us. Colonel O'Neill stepped out a few hours ago to get some food and some rest. He'll be happy to hear you've finally woken up."

He felt his lower lip tremble and he pressed his lips together for a moment, almost afraid to ask if what he remembered was true, or if he'd simply been dreaming. "Jack was here?"

"Sat right there the whole time." She nodded at an empty chair next to her. "Let me just check you out and I'll give you some water when I'm done."

He opened his mouth obediently when she waved a thermometer before him. He turned to look at Sam, who clicked the mic on and began to explain what had happened while Deborah did a quick examination.

He eagerly took the glass of water from the nurse when she was through. He gulped it down thirstily, trying to process Sam's explanation along with his bits of memories.

"So, I'm better now, right?" he asked Sam as he sat up and leaned forward, trying to stretch stiff muscles in his back and neck.

"For the time being."

"Then, when can I get out of here?"

"Daniel... did you hear what I just said�"

"Of course I did, Sam." He leaned forward, getting onto his knees and moving closer to the foot of the bed until he felt a tug on the IV line attached to his hand. "I have no immunities to any germs or viruses, and I'm getting over the ones I did catch, here in the infirmary, I might add. So why can't I go back to Jack's house?"

"Because, Daniel, the moment you leave this room, it'll be open season for every germ and virus out there, including every single possible childhood illness until I can get you inoculated."

Still on his knees, Daniel turned to face Janet, who was quickly donning a mask and gloves as she approached his bed. Belatedly realizing that it looked like he was begging, he sank back onto the mattress. "But Janet�" He broke off when she sent him a look that meant business.

Slowly he pushed himself forward with his feet until his head and shoulders were on the pillow. As he waited for Janet to finish reading his chart, he felt his eyes begin to close. He yawned; it would be so easy to just go back to sleep. He blinked and opened his eyes wide a moment, only to realize that Janet had been watching him.

"Sleepy?"

"Mmm, a little."

"How about you take a nap, and when you wake up, I'll make sure there's something here for you to eat. The sooner you get your strength back, the sooner your body will be better able to build up an immune system and the sooner we'll get you out of here."

Making a face, Daniel huffed softly as he turned onto his side. But she was right, he could use a nap, although the idea of food wasn't quite appealing at the moment. He yawned again. Maybe when he woke up again, he'd be hungry...

oo~O~oo

The first thing Jack noticed when he walked back into the Iso room was that Daniel was awake and watching him. The second thing he noticed was that there was a tray of food sitting next to Daniel's bed on a rollaway table.

He groped at the mask, feeling embarrassed, somehow, at being seen wearing it whereas he'd had no such compunctions as he'd walked around the SGC with it on. He tossed it into the disposal bin, and tried to get the gloves off without Daniel seeing what he was doing. The gloves came off with a loud snap, leaving him with the scent of latex floating around his hands.

"Hey." He turned quickly and pasted a bright smile on his face. "Fraiser said you wouldn't be waking up for a while..."

Daniel cocked his head. "I woke up a couple of times... hell, the first time I woke up, they were putting pajamas on me. Sam said you'd gone to get some sleep?"

The comment didn't sound accusatory, not in the least. Still, Jack felt extremely guilty for Daniel waking up without him being here. He pulled the chair closer to the bed and sat. "Yeah. Fraiser insisted and I was a little hungry. Sorry I wasn't here�"

"That's okay. I visited with Sam."

Jack looked around in confusion, half expecting the rest of his team to be hiding in a corner. Then Daniel waved up towards the observation area which was now empty. "Ah."

Jack motioned towards the tray of food that appeared to be untouched. "You're not gonna eat?"

"I'm not really hungry."

Jack picked up a spoon and tapped a hardening glob of orange Jell-O. "Can't say I blame you." There was congealed butter on the toast, but they'd both had worse and the jam in the miniature containers would easily camouflage everything. "You should eat, though. Fraiser's not gonna be happy."

"Janet explained what happened and that I have to stay here for a few days so I can get inoculations." He yawned and slid his eyes shut in a slow blink for the duration of the yawn. Long eyelashes fluttered against pale skin, creating a momentary shadow. He opened his eyes again and Jack could see the fatigue reflected therein. Without thinking twice, Jack brushed his fingers against Daniel's forehead.

"You've still got a bit of a fever."

"It's evening. Janet said it was normal and that I'd probably be running a low grade fever for a few more days until I got stronger." He yawned again, the last of his words swallowed until almost unintelligible. "Sorry."

"How about you get some sleep? I'll be here when you wake up."

A small smile dimpled Daniel's cheek for a second. "I hope I didn't make you feel guilty earlier. Janet told me you'd stayed here for nearly twenty-four hours. I feel bad that I can barely keep my eyes open now that you're here."

"Not to worry. I'm used to it. I have a very calming effect on people."

Daniel giggled softly.

"What."

"D�j� vu." Daniel curled up on his side, facing Jack, his eyes half closed. He yawned again, shut his eyes, and didn't open them again. Jack sat there and watched Daniel sleep.

oo~O~oo

"Daniel, you have to eat something."

"I'm not hungry." Angry blue eyes glared back at Fraiser. Jack slowed his pace, watching the war of wills as Daniel brought his arms up and crossed them against his chest, looking like nothing more than a temper-in-the-making four year old. Jack allowed the surgical mask to dangle from his fingers and he toyed with the ties as he watched the drama unfold before him.

"You didn't eat more than a half a piece of toast this morning and you hardly touched your lunch. Now Sam's put together a small m�lange of things you like." She shifted a couple of plates around, trying to entice Daniel. "Try and eat a few bites of each and�"

"I told you. I'm. Not. Hungry."

"Well, I. Don't. Care." Fraiser pushed the tray closer to the bed, and some of the soup sloshed over the side of the bowl. You're going to eat some of this one way or the other�"

"I don't like any of this stuff. Anyways, I told you, I'm not hungry." He pushed the tray away, and more soup sloshed onto the tray. Jack could smell the chicken broth from where he stood watching.

"Listen, Daniel, if you want to get better, you have to get stronger. Your body can't fight infections if you're malnourished. I took your IV out this morning because you said you were feeling up to eating despite your barely touching your supper yesterday. But if you don't start eating, I'm going to have no choice but to hook it up again. And possibly set you up with a naso-gastric tube if you don't start putting calories and nutrients into your body soon."

"And how do you plan on doing that? Holding me down and forcing a tube down my nose? Sedating me so I don't pull it out because I can't fight you in this body and you know it. I'm a prisoner here for God knows how long and this is no better than when you committed me when Machello�"

"Daniel, that's enough." Jack took a step forward, partly out of anger and partly out of shock that Daniel's diatribe was so unfounded. "I step out of here for sixty minutes and I come back to World Word III?"

"Then you tell her, Jack. I'm not hungry and she can't force me to eat."

"Doc?" Jack motioned for Fraiser to move away from the bed so that they could talk, earning him a suspicious look from Daniel. He followed her, and they stopped near the door. "Look, he admitted earlier that his taste buds are all wrong. Maybe he really doesn't like the food and if he's still not feeling a hundred percent, it's probably a real struggle for him to eat something he doesn't like."

"I understand, Colonel, and most likely he's experiencing a hunger headache which is making him crabby, along with the residual fever and weakness. But he really needs to eat something. The adult Daniel would force down anything I gave him to eat no matter what�"

"This is the adult Daniel, Doctor." Jack pursed his lips, allowing his words to sink. "He has the intelligence and the emotions of his old self. It's his body that's betrayed him." Jack tugged on the mask's ties, pulling it first one way and then the other against his body. "Look, I have an idea. Give me an hour, ninety minutes tops, and I'll see if I can get him to eat something."

Fraiser nodded, glancing back at Daniel who still had his arms crossed and was glaring their way.

"And if my idea doesn't work, I'll help you tie him down so you can get that naval-gastro thingie in him."

"Good luck, sir." Fraiser left the room without a word, not even glancing in Daniel's direction. Jack met Daniel's gaze, held it for several seconds, then followed Fraiser out, heading for the nearest phone.

oo~O~oo

"You got everything?" He took the paper bag from Carter, feeling confident as he hefted its weight.

"I sure hope so, sir. I told the owner of the specialty store that friends were visiting from Egypt, and that their young son was sick and wouldn't eat any of our food. So he gave me a selection of things that might coax him to eat."

"You got the hummus and pita?" Jack stuck his nose into the bag and sniffed. Despite the surgical mask covering his nose, he got a whiff of a few exotic scents, most of them familiar from his stint overseas years ago.

"Yep. And tahini. A bunch of crackers with spices on them. Falafel. Nuts. Cheese. Milk. Couscous. A bunch of other things I don't recognize and could never pronounce."

Jack put the bag down next to an empty tray and began removing the small, wrapped samples and containers and placed them all on the tray. He grabbed two clean Styrofoam cups and added them to the variety of cutlery and napkins he'd already collected, and tossed the now empty bag into the garbage. "Thanks, Carter."

"Just... tell him I hope he enjoys."

Armed with the tray, Jack entered the infirmary. Daniel, who'd been napping, woke up as Jack plunked the tray on the roll away table and pushed it over the bed and his lap.

"I'm not�"

"Will you stop with that and at least look what Carter and I got you?" Jack ripped open the plastic wrap that held the herb-encrusted pita. "Here." He handed Daniel a piece of the flatbread, then opened the plastic container of the hummus. Daniel's eyes widened and he broke off a small piece of pita, scooped some hummus with it, and popped it into his mouth. He chewed slowly, as if afraid he wouldn't like the taste. But the chewing motions speeded up and he quickly dipped another piece into the chickpea mixture, waiting to be eaten once he'd swallowed.

"There's fancy crackers. Nuts. Dried fruit." Jack opened each container and put them close to Daniel, who immediately abandoned the pita, still clutched in one hand, and tried a bite of each of the foods as Jack uncovered them. While Daniel was chewing, Jack picked up the carton of milk and poured them each a measure into the Styrofoam cups. He fished for a piece of dried apricot and chewed, watching while Daniel bit into a falafel ball.

Jack swallowed the fruit, flicking his tongue against bits of it that stuck to his teeth, then took a large swallow of milk to wash it down. And immediately choked and spit the milk back into the cup. "What the�"

Daniel began laughing as Jack wiped dripping milk from his chin.

"It's goat milk, Jack." Trying to stifle his giggles, Daniel picked up his cup and tried to drink his milk, but the laugher bubbled out of him, preventing him from taking a sip. "You should have seen... your face," he chortled, the bed shaking with the strength of his laughter.

"Yeah, well, warn a person next time." Jack fiddled with the carton of milk, noting that the writing was largely Egyptian, with the English version in very fine print. "How's the tahini?" Jack spread some of the sesame seed paste on a cracker and bit into it, grateful for anything to get rid of the taste of the goat's milk in his mouth.

The cracker and tahini were great, and Jack quickly spread more over a second cracker while Daniel continued to laugh. Then suddenly, the tone of his laughter changed. The sounds of mirth became gasps for breath. He pulled away from Jack, turning onto his side. Jack, mouth full, had to quickly swallow the half-chewed cracker, feeling the sharp edges prick his throat as it went down.

"Daniel, you okay?" Pushing the roll away table out of the way, Jack anxiously leaned over Daniel. He grabbed the piece of pita, still clutched and half crushed in Daniel's fist, and tossed it onto the tray. It was then that he realized that the laughter had turned to tears.

"Hey, hey... it's all right." He placed a hand on the stuttering ribs as Daniel buried his face in his pillow. He massaged gently, letting Daniel know he was here; wishing right now that Daniel really was a child so he could take him in his arms and tell him everything would be fine. Instead he sat there, waiting for the tide of emotions to run dry.

And slowly, they did. The gasping eased, the breathing deepened, punctuated occasionally by uncontrollable gasping breaths, until finally, Daniel sighed heavily. He turned onto his back, and Jack removed his hand from Daniel's back.

"You okay now?"

"No. I'm absolutely mortified." His voice was thick and nasal. Daniel rested his arm over his reddened eyes, as if to hide from Jack.

"Hey, it's not like I've never seen you cry before. And with everything that's been going on, a breakdown of some sort was bound to happen." Jack pulled the roll away table back towards the bed and picked up Daniel's untouched milk. "Here."

Daniel sat up straighter before accepting the milk, then took a tentative sip. His face was red and splotchy, his eyes swollen, but he forced a small smile. "It's good. Everything is good, Jack." He sniffed loudly before burying his face in his cup.

Pushing the table closer with his foot, Jack motioned towards the tray. "There's still plenty of food." While Daniel picked up a piece of dried fruit, Jack spread more tahini on a cracker, then silently handed it to Daniel. Then he nibbled on more fruit, watching as Daniel continued to eat with a healthy appetite. Finally, having made a dent in the food that Jack was sure Fraiser would be more than pleased with, Daniel burped loudly. He giggled softly as he licked his fingers. "Thanks for all of this."

"Thank Carter when you see her. She's the one who went out and got the stuff."

"But it was your idea, wasn't it? You just didn't want to leave..."

"Well, I was afraid that if I left the mountain, Fraiser'd never let me back in here so..." Jack plopped an almond into his mouth, and smiled.

oo~O~oo

"So how long am I'm going to be stuck in this room?" Daniel appeared calm, even his voice was moderated to a soft tone. But the small spots of color high on his cheekbones and the flaring of his nostrils told Jack that Daniel was holding back his anger.

Fraiser shook her head. "I honestly don't know, Daniel. Hopefully I can inoculate you tomorrow against all the childhood illness if you remain fever-free today. But you'll still be susceptible to the common cold and flu viruses, more so than a normal child your age because you've have no immunities to any of them."

"That doesn't make sense, Janet. If I don't go out there and catch the germs," a wave of his hand emphasized the 'out there', "then how can I catch the germs and hence become immune to them?"

"I'd rather deal with one illness at a time and considering there's a bad cold virus going around a few of the schools in Colorado Springs, I want to make sure you don't come in contact with anyone who might be contagious. At least not until you've gotten some of your strength back."

Sitting cross-legged on the bed with flexibility mainly prevalent in the young, Daniel turned his attention to Jack, as if daring him to say something in his defense.

"So... what time frame are we talking about here?" Jack stuttered. Sure, Daniel was now out of the Iso room and in a private room, but it consisted mainly of four walls, a television set and a handful of people who could only come visit him so long as they wore surgical masks and washed their hands before stepping through the door. Jack included, since his grace period was over and he'd had to return to work.

"A couple of weeks at least�"

"Weeks?" The temper that had been held in check erupted as Daniel slid forward onto a knee, coming up to eye level with the doc. "This is already tantamount to me being in a prison cell, Janet. You're going to keep me cooped up in here for weeks?" He slammed himself back down onto his butt, causing the bed to creak and the mattress to bounce. "At least at Jack's I had rooms to wander in. Windows to stare out of."

Well, that had been true, literally speaking, but considering Daniel had fallen sick the moment he'd stepped into Jack's house, he really hadn't much of a chance to avail himself of said windows and rooms. But Daniel did have a point. Jack himself would hate being cooped up here for a few days, let alone weeks.

"Look, how about I work a deal with General Hammond? I could take an extended leave, bring Daniel home and�"

The look of hopefulness growing on Daniel's face quickly faded when Hammond stepped into the room at that moment. "I'm sorry, Colonel. That's not going to be possible."

"Why not?" Daniel turned the glare towards the general, who was struggling to put on the surgical mask from a supply near the door. Daniel had perfected the look while in his thirties, getting plenty of practice with Goa'uld and Jaffa. It looked downright eerie on the face of a four-year old child, and Jack could almost superimpose the adult Daniel looking out of those too-old eyes onto the innocent visage of his friend before him.

"I'm afraid the President is considering sending you to stay at a safe house until such time you've gained enough years that you can actually physically defend yourself from any possible enemies. He feels, at the moment, you're much too vulnerable and wouldn't be able to fight back if any attempt were made on your life or any attempt were made to physically remove you from the protection of the SGC�"

"That's the most ridiculous�" The words were out of Jack's mouth before he realized he'd interrupted the general. He bit back the rest of his words, but Daniel felt no such compulsion.

"Jack's right. It is ridiculous. I can so too defend myself. How many four year-olds can shoot a 9ml with sharpshooter accuracy? How many of them are proficient with a zat? I may not be able to overpower any assailant but I do know pressure points and I could still probably disable an assailant, even with this small body."

Jack had made sure the adult Daniel could defend himself. He had no doubt they could go over his training again and adapt a variety of moves to this shortened version.

"I could also take time off; relieve the Colonel if he was needed here at the SGC." Carter, who'd remained quiet during Daniel's earlier temper, leaned forward, face alight with enthusiasm. "We could share custody, so to speak." She smiled at Daniel, probably to sweeten what could have been an insult and some of the tension thrumming through the tiny body eased.

"I, too, could remain with DanielJackson, if I were permitted to leave this facility for varying periods of time."

Daniel smiled at Teal'c and some of the strain from his face began to fade.

"I'm sorry, but it's not my decision to make." Daniel's face fell at Hammond's words. He dropped his head, his chin resting on his chest in a look of utter defeat. "I will, however, take your suggestions when I speak to the President again and try to convince him of an alternate solution."

"I could stay offworld. You could send me to Abydos�" The sudden remembered hurt of the loss of his wife's home planet reflected on Daniel's face a moment, and he closed his eyes. "�to P3X 797. I'm sure Tuplo wouldn't mind giving me sanctuary for a few years. Or there must be some other allies who'd be willing to put up with me for a while..."

Hammond sighed and Jack thought he looked sad. "I'll bring these points up when I speak to the President tomorrow, Doctor Jackson."

Daniel raised his head and placed a fisted hand against his mouth as Hammond left the room. "It's starting to look like this is going to be permanent, doesn't it?" His voice was low and defeated.

Jack leaned back in his chair and placed the sole of his foot against the iron railing of the bed and gave it a slight nudge to get Daniel's attention. "The other day, you mentioned remembering that the Asgard who kidnapped you wasn't Loki�"

"No, I didn't."

"Yeah, you did."

"Didn't."

"Did."

"Didn�"

"Yes, you did, Daniel." Carter's interruption seemed to startle Daniel.

"Are you su... I, um, don't remember."

"You were half asleep at the time. You said it was someone else who was responsible."

"Who?" Daniel's looked at Carter, eyes wide in confusion.

"The Asgard you mentioned was named Idun." Teal'c turned to Jack. "Perhaps we should attempt to ascertain the reason for your kidnapping and subsequent return in a younger form."

Teal'c was right. The majority of their discussions had been Daniel's health, and the whys and wherefores of what had happened to him had been more or less ignored in favor of getting him back on his feet. "If it's an Asgard, the only reason I can see is the cloning thing."

Carter straightened up, wriggling slightly as she mulled over the discussion. "Then why did he send Daniel back in this form, sir? We've already ascertained Daniel isn't a clone." She smiled at Daniel again, who didn't smile back.

"Are you sure about that? Maybe you and Janet should run some more tests." Daniel lay back onto the bed, one pajama clad leg sliding beneath the sheets, followed a moment later by the other.

Carter appeared startled. "Yes, we're sure. At least Selmak was pretty certain so I don't think we need to double�"

"There's no other logical explanation for why I ended up this size." Daniel sat up, pulling the blanket up over his legs, then patting it down around the edges, cocooning his feet. "Other than my being a clone. I think you're all wasting your time and you should be looking for the real version of me."

His voice was petulant; he'd be sounding disappointed if he'd been his adult self � in the child's body he simply sounded cranky. He lay back on the bed again and Jack realized that Daniel had been up for several hours and was most likely getting tired.

"Ack, that's not true. This is alien technology we're talking about, remember?" Jack caught Carter's gaze and motioned towards the door, hoping she'd get the message. Her eyes shifted towards Daniel for a second as understanding swept over her.

"Right." Carter slid her hands down her thighs in a quick motion. "I think Teal'c's right, though. We should try brainstorming tomorrow and see if we can come up with something." She stood and stretched. "I need to go finish up a few things before heading home. I'll see you in the morning?"

Jack stood also, followed a moment later by Teal'c. There was a wisp of relief on Daniel's face as he nodded and said his goodbyes. Jack lingered for a moment at the door and met Daniel's gaze.

"You're not a clone," he said softly. He left only when Daniel nodded and acknowledged his words.

oo~O~oo

"What's this?" Daniel put aside the book he'd been reading when Teal'c entered his room carrying a box. He leaned over, curious, when Teal'c put it down on the bed. "Meditation?" He pulled out a fat candle from the box and cocked his head at Teal'c.

"Indeed. I thought, perhaps through relaxation you could recall the details of your abduction."

"I, um, don't have any memories, Teal'c."

"You identified the Asgard who took you as Idun and not Loki. O'Neill's clone and others that had been abducted over the years all retained various memories, so it is possible you can recall them through your subconscious." Placing the candles in a familiar semi-circle pattern with one candle in the center, Teal'c lowered himself to the ground. Daniel slid off the bed, turned off the light and sat opposite him, cross-legged, while Teal'c lit the candles.

Concentrating on the candles before him, Daniel tried to get into a meditative state. He'd done this often enough with Teal'c throughout the years, some days were easier than others but he always seemed to come out of their sessions relaxed and centered. But tonight all he was aware of was the cold chill of the floor through his pajamas and how much his back ached trying to sit up. He fidgeted, leaned forward to ease the stiffness of fever-induced sore joints, then closed his eyes again, envisaging the candles in his mind.

His neck ached and felt too heavy for his head. Tilting it first to one side then the other, he took a deep breath before squaring his shoulders and trying again.

"Perhaps you would be more comfortable on the bed."

Opening one eye, he looked at Teal'c through the candlelight.

"I'm sorry, I'm a little tired and sitting up like this isn't comfortable for me tonight."

"There is no rule that states one must sit on the ground to perform kelno'reem. One must merely be comfortable." Teal'c unfolded himself and stood, bringing a single candle with him. Daniel stood more slowly, feeling his adult age in the young body no thanks to a recurring nightly fever. He clambered back into bed and gratefully slid under the blankets.

Teal'c placed the candle on the rollaway bed and maneuvered it so it was over Daniel's feet. He blew out the other candles and pulled up a chair.

"Shall we try again?"

Lying back against the pillow, Daniel felt much more comfortable. He had just closed his eyes again when the door opened, throwing light from the hallway into the room.

"Hey, whatcha guys doing?"

"We are attempting to perform kelno'reem so that DanielJackson may engage his memories of his time aboard the Asgard ship."

"Cool." Jack shut the door and entered the room, carefully stepping over the candles still littering the floor. He pulled a chair and rolled it close to the bed. "I'll watch."

"Oh, great. This isn't a spectator sport, Jack." Tilting his head backwards in frustration, Daniel squeezed his eyes tightly shut, trying to ignore the growing irritation at the thought of now having Jack watching him.

"Hey, I can meditate. I can meditate with the best of them. I even managed to get the kelno'reem thing right once, right, Teal'c?"

"Indeed you did. Perhaps you would wish to attempt it a second time?"

"Okay. Fine." The chair squeaked as Jack settled and Daniel opened his eyes to look at the candle again. He was peripherally aware of Jack's urge to fidget and forced attempt to sit quietly, but Daniel was slipping towards the edge of... sleep. He knew this wasn't their goal but he was so tired, and letting go would be so easy. He fought for a moment, knew he'd drifted off for a few seconds when Jack moved and caused something nearby to rattle.

Trying to envisage Loki, Daniel tried to force his sleepy brain towards the right objective. Asgard. Cloning. Loki, god of mischief. Oh wait, Teal'c had mentioned Idun, and so he tried to remember who he... no, she, was. In Earth mythology, at least, she was the goddess of youth. It made sense, in an ironic sort of way.

"Hey, T. S'not working. He's asleep."

Afraid he wouldn't live this one down, Daniel mumbled, "Not sleeping."

"Pretty damn close, though. Considering the snoring usually gives it away."

"O'Neill."

Daniel wanted to thank Teal'c but the effort would be too great. He inhaled deeply. Part of the sleepy feeling had gone; now his body was heavy and lethargic but his brain was alert.

It hit him suddenly, the memory of lying somewhere, being unable to move, totally at the mercy of someone who was doing something to him against his will. Daniel fought to move one finger, just as he had fought then and had failed. But this time the finger moved and in doing so, he sat up with a huge, resounding gasp.

"What?" Hands reached out to catch him as he fought for breath. "You okay?"

He nodded, unable to answer because his teeth were chattering too hard for him to speak. "I'll get Fraiser." But even as the hands released him, Daniel reached out and tried to grab Jack's arm, but missed.

"I remembered something," he finally managed to force out. He was still shaking, not from cold, but from reaction. The overhead lights went on just before the door opened, blinding him and forcing him to turn his head. Teal'c must have thought he was cold, though, because the bed dipped and he was pulled close. Gratefully he buried his face against Teal'c's tee shirt, just to hide from the light.

The shivering was easing, and he took a deep, shaky breath. "I'm fine," Daniel lied. He didn't move away. The physical contact with Teal'c was the one thing at the moment that was keeping the remembered emotions from overwhelming him.

"What happened?" Janet's hands were on him and he allowed her to check him over. Actually he felt so limp and exhausted that just resting here right now was just about all that he could do.

"DanielJackson has recalled partial events of his abduction."

"Everything," Daniel whispered against Teal'c's chest. "I remembered everything." He turned his head and saw concern expressed on Jack's face.

"You were right, Jack. I'm not a clone."

oo~O~oo

"You're sure you're up to this, Doctor Jackson?"

Ensconced once again in bed and under the covers and wanting nothing more than to close his eyes and sleep, Daniel nodded. He needed to tell them, tell someone, what had happened to him.

"Idun beamed me up and like Loki, his aim was to use me as a means to improve their cloning technology because of the fact that I was an Ancient. He hoped that there was something in my DNA that might be different..."

"I thought being ascended was more spiritual than physical."

Nodding at Sam, Daniel continued. "It is. I guess maybe Idun was grasping at straws. He also wanted to try something... different." Daniel shivered at the memory of when he'd realized, on some deep, unconscious level, what was happening and waking up in a gel-filled tub.

"He had a device that was able to... shrink me... he was going to bring me back to when I was a fetus... actually to the time I was composed of nothing more than a few cells and use the DNA from those for cloning because they were... purer." He shivered again. He'd never thought that kind of technology was possible and he was grateful he'd been able to stop Idun when he still had a body that was able to at least interact with others. If it had happened later, when he'd been a baby or, heaven forbid, a fetus... He shivered again and forced a smile for Janet when she unfolded a blanket and spread it over him.

The silence in the room was deafening, and Daniel figured they were all trying to come to terms as to what had nearly happened to him.

"So, how'd you stop him?"

Daniel pursed his lips and turned to face Jack. "I, ahh, don't know." Oh, he had his suspicions, but had no proof to back it up. "I think either Oma or one of the Ancients stepped in or... I did it myself."

"I did not think you had retained any of your abilities once you returned to us."

"Neither did I, Teal'c. But who knows what's buried in my subconscious. Maybe the ability to use them is there, inside my head, but it's just... locked out."

"And do you have any idea where this Idun and his ship are, at the moment?"

"Um..." Daniel looked up and pointed towards the ceiling with his chin. "Ship's disabled but cloaked. It's probably a safe bet it's still in orbit around Earth."

"And the Asgard?" Jack raised an eyebrow and cocked his head with a slightly suspicious gaze.

"He... um..." Daniel scratched his nose, trying to stall so he could find the right words.

"Daniel?"

"He's in the alien device, in suspended animation. I think."

"Don't tell me he's been turned into a... mini...Asgard."

"Um, no, Jack." Daniel had the decency to at least sound horrified when part of him wished he'd done to Idun what Idun had done to him. He had no idea how he'd gotten out of the basin of gel and transported to the SGC. He'd been acting more on instincts and he had a feeling he might never remember all the details. "He's fine, just... I think someone will have to go get him out of there."

"So you don't remember exactly what happened?"

"No, sir. Just fragments, emotions, a few visuals. I'm sorry, I really can't piece much of it together except that I know I woke up, unable to move, immersed in a tub of... gel. And somehow recognizing the technology�"

"It was an Ancient device?"

"Yes, Sam. I... um... I think I panicked... there's just something about the idea of being brought back to the time of your creation that..."

"I think we all understand, son."

This time the smile was genuine. "Thank you, sir. I'd like to say that I transported myself out and stopped Idun with my... ascended powers... but for all I know I dragged myself out and pushed him in. I don't know how I beamed back here, though. I don't think I had the strength to find the controls..." He paused, wishing this were over. God, he was tired. "I'm sorry, that's all I remember."

"General?" There was finality in Janet's voice, more a reminder than a question, and Daniel sighed a small breath of relief. He closed his eyes for a moment, waiting for everyone to stand or shift away from the bed.

"Get some rest, Doctor Jackson. Perhaps when you wake up, the Asgard will finally acknowledge our messages and return you to your... normal self."

"Right." Jack made an exaggerated cheering motion with his fisted hand. "Thor to the rescue, again. Is it just me or is whole scenario starting to sound a little... old and clich�d?"

"Believe me, Jack," Daniel mumbled. "I'd give anything to feel old right about now." He didn't wait for everyone to leave, closing his eyes instead and giving in to the exhaustion and sickness his body just couldn't seem to shake. When he felt a light touch on his shoulder, he opened his eyes reluctantly.

"I will remain."

"Thanks," Daniel breathed as Teal'c sat back in the chair to keep watch. Not that he was afraid of being abducted again but just knowing someone was there, watching his six, eased some of the remembered fear that had been in the back of his mind.

oo~O~oo

Stumbling through the corridors, stiff and fuzzy-brained from being woken up by an airman in the middle of the night, Jack hurriedly made his way to the infirmary. The airman hadn't had any details except to say that it concerned Daniel. Despite the adrenaline coursing through him, Jack was feeling every day his age.

"What is it? What happened?" He scanned the infirmary, noting that Teal'c and Fraiser were standing next to Daniel's bed. Daniel's very empty bed, that was. Before they could answer, Carter came rushing in.

"What happened?" Carter called out as she jogged the last few feet, arriving next to the bed at the same moment as Jack. Her hair was disheveled, evidence that she'd been woken up from a sound sleep, just like Jack.

"I was asking the same thing." The bed was definitely empty and the IV which had been plugged into Daniel's arm earlier, was lying on the mattress. There was no trace of blood on the rumpled green sheets.

"DanielJackson has been transported once again by Asgard beaming technology."

"Thor?" Carter's voice was hopeful.

"It's very possible." Hammond entered the infirmary at a fast clip. "The Asgard finally contacted us and said a ship would be here soon."

"Teal'c, are you sure it was Asgard technology that beamed Doctor Jackson out?" Carter had one of Daniel's sneakers in her hand, fiddling with the laces, the shoe looking tiny between her palms.

"Indeed. I believe the Asgard are once again responsible for DanielJackson's disappearance."

"Good. Then they'll have Daniel fixed in no time and we'll find him back here before we know it, griping about his legs being too long for the bed." Jack yawned and stretched, pretending nonchalance as he looked at his watch. "I don't know about you, but I could use a couple more hours' shuteye."

Jack's words seemed to be the impetus that broke up their impromptu meeting. He returned to his bunk, knowing he wouldn't sleep, worrying that whatever was happening to Daniel was a good thing, and that Idun hadn't somehow gotten free and recaptured him again.

He lay there, tossing and turning, until finally he got up and took a shower before making his way to the commissary. He'd just sat down with coffee, Froot Loops and toast when Carter walked in, looking half-asleep. She grabbed a coffee and waffles and joined him at the table.

"It's been four hours, sir." She sliced into the waffles and speared a piece with her fork. Holding the fork up close to her mouth, she looked at Jack over it. "I can't help but worry that maybe this wasn't Thor or another Asgard, but the one who did this to Daniel in the first place."

"I've been thinking along the same lines," Jack admitted as Carter began to eat. They both sat in silence, eating slowly, probably wondering if Daniel was now something that could only be seen under a microscope, or if he was on his way to fitting into his size 10 shoes again. The toast was dry, the Froot Loops overly sweet and the coffee more bitter than normal. He'd barely finished half his meal when Jack pushed back against the chair and dropped his spoon onto the table with a loud clatter.

"Okay, this is ridiculous. I'm going to go see General Hammond and ask if we can try contacting the Asgard again�" He stood and turned, intending to stomp out of the commissary. He was aware of Carter standing and following him when suddenly the bright lights of the SGC dimmed, the cement floor beneath his feet became metallic and the air had a familiar, exotic taste to it.

He nearly stumbled in shock, caught himself and turned when he found himself facing a bulkhead. And there, in all his short, grey glory, was his favorite Asgard.

"Thor. Buddy."

"O'Neill. Major Carter."

Jack turned his head to glance back at Carter as he approached Thor, not having immediately noticed that she'd been beamed up with him. There was a flash of light behind him and Teal'c, sitting cross-legged in a position of kelno'reem, opened his eyes and looked around without any expression of surprise.

"What of DanielJackson?" Teal'c asked as he stood in a smooth, lithe motion.

"Yeah, what he said." Jack pointed his thumb in Teal'c's direction.

"I am attempting to reverse the procedure that transformed him into the body of a child. Come, this way." Thor walked out of the main control room, into a corridor. Jack followed, adjusting his pace for the smaller Asgard legs. "I apologize I did not contact you sooner. It took me some time and experimentation to decipher the controls, but I have now mastered it and Daniel Jackson is currently undergoing the process."

The room they entered appeared to be a lab. There was a large, opaque tub in the center, lit from within, outlining the form of a body inside. A tall, imposing wall that looked to be made of oily stones sat behind it. Jack cast Carter and Teal'c a worried glance, then all three of them hurried to peer inside the tub while Thor moved to the wall.

Inside the tub, submerged under several inches of clear gel, lay Daniel. And an adult-sized Daniel, at that. A very naked, adult-sized Daniel. Carter's eyes widened and even as the blush spread up her neck and towards her cheeks, she moved forward several inches so she was even with Daniel's chest and staring at his face. Jack could see Daniel's chest moving up and down.

"The process is almost complete. He will awaken momentarily." Thor pressed one of the stones, which moved minutely.

"Is he breathing that stuff?" Jack lowered a finger, intending to stick it into the gel, and maybe even poke Daniel through it, when Daniel opened his eyes.

And promptly panicked.

Daniel tried to sit up, but was unable to get a purchase in the oversized tub. He slipped and slid in his attempts to escape. The moment his head was clear of the stuff, he gasped deeply, and promptly began coughing, spraying the alien goo when the oxygen hit his system.

They all grabbed for him, trying to help him but the gel was slimy and slippery and he was fighting their efforts. Finally the three of them were able to lever him up and Jack grabbed Daniel's shoulders, holding him close to his chest.

"Daniel, stop it, it's us." Daniel struggled a moment against him, then slowly relaxed, his head coming to rest against Jack's shoulder, shivering in reaction. Jack could hear and feel the stuff bubbling in Daniel's lungs every time he inhaled or coughed, until Daniel cleared his throat and spat out a large gob of gunk.

"It's okay, it's over." He patted Daniel's back awkwardly, feeling the gel slither between his fingers. It felt warm to the touch.

Carter knelt beside them and wiped the gel from Daniel's face with the edges of her jacket. When she was done, Jack pressed against Daniel's back. "Think you can stand so we can get you out of this thing?"

Daniel's head moved against his shoulder, and Jack took it to be a nod.

"Okay, on three." Jack shifted so that he was on his knees, and Teal'c positioned his hands beneath Daniel's armpits. "One, two, three." They heaved, and Daniel was deadweight. Still, they managed to get him out over the side of the tub and onto the floor where he sat in a puddle of dripping gel. "You know? You were a little easier to pick up and move around when you were little."

"Litt�" Daniel cleared his throat and looked at Jack, then looked down at himself. "Oh."

"Welcome back." Jack grinned when Daniel's hand gravitated towards his genitals.

"It wasn't a dream?" The hand stopped, then moved up towards his chest. He massaged his upper abdomen.

"Unfortunately, no." Thor popped up behind them, his head barely reaching past Daniel's shoulder. "I apologize on behalf of my brethren, Daniel Jackson. I assure you, this act will not go unpunished."

"I hope you throw the book at the guy responsible for this," Jack growled. He half-expected Daniel to make a conciliatory comment. Instead the hand massaging his stomach moved upwards, pressing against his mouth. The color leached from Daniel's face, only to be quickly replaced by a flush and increased breathing.

Jack winced, unable to move away in time as Daniel's stomach expelled the goo that he'd obviously swallowed. He tried valiantly to not make a face, then immediately reached for Daniel when he swayed and pulled him close once again. Thor had disappeared, only to appear behind them again.

"This will help keep him warm until I return you to your infirmary." The little guy was holding up a blanket. Teal'c reached for it and spread it around Daniel. Jack half expected the weight of the blanket to be heavy and cumbersome from the looks of it, but it was light, and soft, and felt like it would be warm and comfortable.

"Thor?" Daniel raised his head off Jack's shoulder, resting his chin there instead. "What happened to Idun?"

"He remains in stasis. Do not concern yourself with him, he will be dealt with severely." Thor placed a hand on Daniel's shoulder, tapping it in a manner similar to Jack's patting Daniel's back earlier. "I have accessed Idun's notes on his research. You should recover completely from the procedure, although you may experience some lingering weakness for a short while." Thor did a slow blink. "I will return you all to your base."

As Thor left the room, Carter shifted so she was facing Daniel. "How are you feeling now?" Using the corner of the blanket, she wiped away some of the gel dripping from Daniel's hair.

"Incredibly tired."

As Daniel lowered his head again, Jack shifted his grip and brought his fingers up to check for fever. Daniel's skin was cool to the touch, more so than normal, which Jack attributed to the gel covering him and the fact that he wasn't wearing any clothes.

"And I can't believe it's over. Please, tell me I'm not dreaming and that I'm really me again."

Jack pressed his mouth against Daniel's ear. "You're not dreaming."

A moment later he was half-blinded by the lights of the SGC. He blinked, trying to adjust to the brightness. "I wish he'd give us a warning when he does that," Jack complained as he looked around. All four of them were gathered together in an unoccupied section of the infirmary. A startled nurse stared at them for a moment, then called for help.

Within moments, medical personnel were rushing into the room, taking Daniel and placing him on a bed even before Jack and Teal'c could do it themselves. Jack caught Daniel's wide-eyed, startled gaze before Fraiser's team descended upon him. Standing slowly, Jack found he still had hold of the blanket. He folded it carefully as Carter hurried to stand at the foot of the bed.

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Jack allowed her to fill Fraiser in on the details of what had happened as Teal'c stepped forward to stand shoulder to shoulder with Jack. It seemed to take forever before Fraiser turned to them and smiled.

"He's exhausted, but his pressure and temperature are within normal levels. I'll know more when I get his labs back, but to be on the safe side, I'm going to move him into isolation again."

"So..."

"Go make yourselves comfortable. Until I know for certain, I'm invoking total isolation except for essential personnel."

Daniel was going to hate being in there without anyone to entertain him. Jack had managed it before, maybe he could wangle his way back in again "What if I�"

"Nope." Fraiser softened the word with a smile. "In any case, he'll be sleeping for several hours."

A quick glance towards the bed showed that Daniel was indeed fast asleep, despite the fact that one of the nurses was washing the gunk off his body.

"I gave him a sedative. Despite his fatigue, he was a little tense and I wanted to make sure he gets some rest."

Jack watched a moment with narrowed eyes, repressing a shudder at remembered baths. "He'll thank you for that sedative when he wakes up."

oo~O~oo

"Jack, slow down."

Daniel's body felt like someone else's. His coordination was off, his legs felt wobbly and the faster he'd tried to walk to keep up with Jack, the more trouble he had. Immediately upon hearing him call out, though, Jack stopped and looked back to watch him struggle to catch up.

Head bent against the cold wind, hands shoved into pockets of an inadequately lined jacket, Daniel caught up with Jack, who started walking again at a much slower pace than before. As much as Daniel wished he could move faster just to get out of the cold night air, this pace was easier for him to maintain. He kept his head down, discomfited at how the same thing had happened just a few days ago when his legs had been too short to keep up with Jack's longer ones.

"You sure you don't want to stay in the infirmary another day?" Jack hit the auto lock on his truck as he approached. "You look pretty shaky."

"I'm sure. I just need some sleep and a few days off to recuperate." His fingers shook as he reached for the handle and he used the door to help lever himself inside the cab.

Jack waited until his feet and arms were clear and shut the door before hurrying to the driver's side. Daniel buckled his seatbelt and sat there with his arms crossed against his chest to ward off the chill. He closed his eyes, enjoying the blast of warm air when Jack turned the heat up. As he drove out, Jack kept giving Daniel worried glances.

"I'm fine," Daniel said, aware of Jack's scrutiny despite the darkness outside.

"Like I said, you look pretty shitty."

"And I feel pretty shitty. Guess that's bound to happen when your body gets shrunk and then stretched."

Jack drummed his fingertips against the steering wheel. "I wonder what Thor's gonna do with that alien technology..."

Daniel shrugged. "Study it. Maybe they'll find a way to use it for their own benefit. You know, that's not what it had been built for in the first place..."

"You mean it wasn't meant to shrink people into tiny, microscopic pieces?"

"It was made to heal. Idun changed it, made it into something else."

"And you know this... how?"

"I don't know." Daniel rubbed his palms against his face, the skin making scritching sounds against light stubble. "I keep getting impressions. Fragments of thoughts. They might be memories, or just bits of my subconscious working things out from the time I ascended, or maybe I just dreamed it all. But somehow I know the device's purpose isn't for... That... was an aberration."

They drove in silence for a while, Daniel staring out the window, his body relaxing as heat filled the cab and drove out the lingering dampness.

"The machine must have some sort of DNA memory." Daniel spoke slowly, as opposed to the rapid-fire sentences he'd just spit out. "It gave me back all the antibodies as well as my appendix scar. It had to have recorded all of that somewhere to make me back the way I was before."

"So, no extra appendix?"

Despite himself, the corner of Daniel's lip curled up in a smile. "Nope. For which I'm extremely grateful because I wouldn't want to go through an appendectomy a second time around."

"Don't blame ya." Jack turned, pulled into the driveway, and put the Avalanche in park. Daniel unbuckled his seatbelt, slid out of the truck and then realized where they were. Somehow he'd expected their destination to be different. He looked at Jack over the top of the cab. "I thought you were taking me home."

"Yeah, well, I thought maybe, you know, it'd be best if you stayed with someone for the first night... just in case..."

"Did Janet put you up to this?" Daniel's eyes narrowed and hardened, watching without moving from the truck as Jack stepped up to the front door.

"Nope. I just figured in case she was wrong... and you got sick again, at least you wouldn't be alone." He unlocked the door and stepped in. As he flicked the lights on, Daniel moved onto the walkway.

"Mind if I make coffee?" Daniel brushed by Jack, heading for the kitchen, needing something to help keep the exhaustion at bay for a while.

"Make yourself at home. I'm gonna order some supper. Chinese sound good?"

"Yeah, sure."

There was old coffee remaining in the pot, the edges dried in a ring testament to the fact that it was days' old. Daniel rinsed it out, preparing to fill the reservoir with cold water.

"You're sure? I could go out and get some falafel or hummus..."

"No, Chinese is fine. I think my taste buds are back to normal." As he reached for a filter, it came to him how easy doing such a simple task was, compared to the last time he'd attempted it. The chair he'd used to climb onto to reach the coffee mugs was still pushed against the far cabinet.

With shaking fingers, Daniel began measuring out the coffee, working carefully so he wouldn't spill any. When he was done, he debated going downstairs to the den where he could hear the television playing, but the thought of having to come back up when the coffee was ready was too daunting so he pulled the chair to the table and sat down.

Bed would be nice right about now, and he'd planned on diving right into his when he'd gotten home. Jack's change of plans meant... a change of plans. And as Jack had done more than his share of taking care of him while he'd been sick, he refused to put Jack in that position once again.

He laid his arms on the table, and his head on his arms, needing to scoot the chair back slightly to get enough room to bend comfortably. He wasn't going to close his eyes, just wait for the coffee to brew, but the doorbell startled him awake.

He sat up as he heard Jack jog up the stairs. The coffee was ready, its scent permeated the kitchen. He gathered plates and cutlery as Jack paid for their supper, then held the coffee pot poised over two cups.

"Want some?"

"Yeah, sure."

His arm shook with the weight of the pot, and he refused to use both hands to hold it, that being too reminiscent of his child-sized arms struggling with the weight. He brought the cups to the table, got cream and sugar from fridge and cupboard and while Jack laid out their supper on the table, he prepared their coffees the way they both liked it.

Sniffing in the pungent scent of coffee, Daniel wrapped his hands around the mug, feeling the warmth heat his palms. He licked his lips, almost afraid to bring the cup to his mouth.

"Well?"

"Huh?"

Jack had a forkful of vegetables poised halfway to his mouth. "You gonna drink it or sniff it all evening?"

Daniel glanced down at the coffee and ran a finger around the edge of the mug. "I'm afraid it's not going to taste right again."

"You said food tasted okay�"

"I know, I'm just..." He smiled sheepishly. "I like coffee."

Jack swallowed his mouthful and took a quick sip of coffee. "Tastes fine to me."

Reluctantly Daniel raised the cup and brought it to his lips. The liquid exploded into his mouth and he swallowed with a satisfied ahhh.

"I take it that it's fine?"

"Perfect." He took a second, then a third sip before turning to his meal.

He'd hoped the coffee would give him some energy, but thanks to the hot meal, he was feeling sleepier and sluggish. A second cup of coffee, sipped slowly while Jack helped himself to seconds, didn't help either. It took almost all his willpower to stand and start clearing the table when Jack was done.

Placing a hand over Daniel's as he picked up his plate, Jack tried to take it away from him. "Why don't you go lie down? I'll do this."

"I can do it." He tugged back, feeling irritation at Jack's solicitous manner.

"I know. But you look tired. Why don't you take a shower and then hit the sack?"

"I don't need you to clean up behind me." The irritation quickly turned to unexpected anger and he tugged on the plate. "I can do this. I'm not a child�"

"Damnit, Daniel, I know that. But�"

"It's not like you really care, is it? I mean, let's face it. You couldn't give a damn about me when we all thought I was a clone." Daniel blinked, not knowing where this emotion came from, but he was too tired to try and figure it out. Jack let go of the plate suddenly and the edge thumped loudly on the table. Breathing heavily, Daniel kept his grip on the plate. Somehow being autonomous was extremely important to him and he wasn't about to give it up.

"Look... I..." Jack's face had gone pale and he looked extremely uncomfortable as he searched for something to say.

Despite the anger, Daniel began to feel awkward himself. Jack had gone over and beyond what friends would do for one another, despite the rocky start to his downsizing. "Never mind. Forget I just said that."

"No. We need to discuss this. I just... I kept thinking what I... I mean, my clone... Jonathan... must have felt when he found out he wasn't the real... I guess maybe I... you..."

Nodding, Daniel picked the plate up and held it with hands that were shaking slightly. He stared at the vibrating dish in his hands. "I understand. You were too�"

"Yeah, I was. You were�"

"Too close to the�"

"Same situation..."

"Yeah."

The silence remained awkward for a few more seconds. "But," Jack said with a surge of forced vigor, "you've just gone through hell and it's obvious you're exhausted and you know I'd order you to bed after a hard mission, no matter your size."

"Well, you wouldn't have had to order me to bed if you'd just brought me home in the first place."

"So that you could walk into your apartment and head straight to bed without any food in your stomach?" Jack waved at the plate in Daniel's hands. "Fine, you can clean up. I'm going to watch the game. Come and join me when you're done, if you feel up to it. Otherwise, mi ba�o is tu ba�o. Bed's yours, too."

Left alone with the cleanup, Daniel slowly put the remaining food into containers and the dirty dishes into the dishwasher. It wasn't a big job and he should have felt like he'd won the argument. Instead he felt uncomfortable and embarrassed.

When he was done, he went downstairs, into the den. His legs threatened to give out at each step, and he took them slowly, holding onto the wall and balustrade until he was halfway down and could see Jack clearly. Instead of joining him, he sat down on the steps.

"I'm sorry."

"My kitchen clean?"

"Yeah."

"Then you're forgiven."

Jack was facing the television but Daniel knew he still had his attention.

"A couple of days ago, my existence was turned upside down. I was informed that I would remain dependent on other people for years to come. That there was a chance I'd be pulled out of the life I've known for the past several years and forced to pretend to be something I'm not.

"That was very hard for me to accept. And I guess I'm still a little touchy on the subject. You were there for me in a way I never expected, and I can't even begin to thank you for what you did for me.

"But now, just as I think everything's back to normal, I end up being dependent on you again. And I'm tired and sleepy and cranky and I guess although I may not look like a four year old anymore, I certainly acted like one."

Daniel paused a moment, expecting a remark from Jack. Instead he continued to look at him, remaining silent.

"So I'm going to skip the shower and go straight to bed. Thank you for supper." He heaved himself to his feet but didn't get past the first step up when Jack spoke.

"Daniel, you're my friend, right?"

"Yeah."

"And you know that I never make offers if I don't mean them."

Nodding, Daniel sat back down on the stairs.

"Then you go ahead and be cranky if you have to. You sure as hell deserve to be. And angry and confused and frustrated while you're at it. Just remember while you're having your little tantrum, that I really do have your best interests at heart. But if you really would rather go back to your apartment tonight, I'll drive you there."

Daniel cleared his throat, feeling somewhat awkward. "Actually if I go home now, who's gonna cook me breakfast in the morning?" He gave Jack a hopeful smile.

"Pancakes?"

"With maple syrup?"

"You got it. Now get yourself to bed before you fall asleep on the stairs."

"Is that an order?"

"Yes, it is. I'm still your commanding officer no matter how big or small you may be�"

"Tuck me in?"

"Don't push your luck."

"Read me a story?"

Jack snorted. "Go to bed, Daniel. Don't let the bed bugs bite. Sleep well. Sleep through the night, and I promise there'll be pancakes for you when you wake up."

"Thanks for taking care of the little things, Jack. Including me, when I was small."

"Go!" Jack yelled in mock frustration. "Before I have to call Fraiser and tell her that you're up past your bedtime."

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FINIS!


Author's Comments: Many thanks to Jmas for trusting in me and publishing this story in her E-zine 'Ancients Gate Little Daniel zine

If you want to see more of Jmas' ezines, here's her link:

I have to admit I probably spent more time pulling my hair from frustration trying to make these manips than I did the story. :)

 

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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.