Part Two of the Welcome Home, Danny Boy Series
The voice came from far away and Jack wasn't entirely sure he understood what it had said. He opted for ignoring it and snuggling back under his bedclothes for more shut-eye.
The voice this time was accompanied by a sharp prodding. Jack grimaced and opened his eyes blearily. "What?"
The voice was unfamiliar and very young.
"I am now," Jack grumbled. He blinked a couple of times and scrubbed at his eyes then shot up in bed as the small figure standing over him finally coalesced into human shape - and he remembered. The planet, the village elder's pronouncement - "He is troubled. We can assuage his pain." Daniel staggering under the onslaught of a bright light, all of them blinded by it, their sight finally clearing to find a small, blond-haired teary-eyed boy staring up at them. Daniel! A woman, leaning in close, about to lift Daniel into her arms.
"Let me keep him. I have no young of my own."
Jack had snatched at the boy, tearing him from her embrace. "Sorry, you don't want this one. Way too much trouble." He'd turned, shouting for Sam to get to the Gate and dial home, telling Teal'c to cover their six. There'd been another blinding light from behind them and a force so powerful, it had almost knocked him to his knees. He'd staggered up, barely aware of the rain pouring down on them, or the mud they sloshed through, only barely cognizant of the child clinging tightly to him, sobbing as they ran for their lives.
"Sorry." Jack gave the kid a smile that morphed into a yawn. "I'm still half-asleep here. What time is it?" He looked over at the alarm clock and groaned. "Three AM! Daniel, it's not even light outside. Go back to bed, huh?"
"Can't," Daniel said. He wiped his pajama sleeve across his nose. "My head hurts."
Jack thought for a moment. Daniel hadn't seemed to be in any pain since they'd brought him back and he didn't have any pain meds suited to kids. "How bad is your headache?" he asked.
"Not real bad. Can I stay in here with you?"
"Sure, maybe we'll both get some sleep that way." Daniel was already scooting under the covers before he'd finished speaking. "Don't hog the bedclothes," he warned as he punched his pillow into a more comfortable shape then lay down with an aggrieved sigh as Daniel's icy cold feet came to rest upon his. "Better buy you some slippers," he muttered, already drifting off.
"What happened to me?"
"You know what happened. Go to sleep."
"Why am I small?"
A stab of concern lanced through Jack. He raised himself up on one elbow. "Don't you remember?"
Daniel stared at him solemnly, his eyes over-bright with unshed tears. "If I think about it, I can remember some of it, but I don't want to think about it, 'cause it makes me scared."
Jack reached for the phone.
"I don't want to go back to the infirmary," Daniel said, his voice wavering. "No more needles, okay?"
Jack reached out and felt Daniel's forehead. He didn't have a fever and he was oriented to time and place. It was the middle of the night and Daniel didn't seem dangerously ill. He'd let the kid sleep, he decided and get Janet to check him out first thing in the morning. Pulling the child closer to him, he smiled when Daniel snuggled in with his head on Jack's chest. "Go to sleep, buddy. We'll work it out in the morning."
Daniel was soon breathing evenly and deeply, but for Jack, any thought of rest had vanished and he lay awake until pink streaked the dawn sky. Restless and anxious, he rose and padded out to make coffee and phone Janet.
"No!" Daniel planted tiny hands on equally small hips and glared at Jack. "I don't want to!"
Jack bit back a curse. "This isn't about what you want, it's about what we need to do."
"I don't want to go see Janet again and you can't make me."
"Don't you want to be grown up again?" Jack asked. He continued to pull clothing from the supermarket bag and hold them up for Daniel's perusal. They'd made a quick run to the store that morning, Jack rightly figuring Daniel wouldn't want to show up at the base in clothes that swamped him. He'd already suffered through one yelling match when he'd insisted that Daniel would just have to wear the Spiderman t-shirt and little blue jeans he'd managed to filch from Lieutenant Kelly's son on the way home. What he hadn't expected was a tantrum about returning to the base. "Hopefully by now, Janet and Sam have figured something out."
Daniel shook his head. "They can't. Janet said she didn't have a clue how to grow me back up." His chin quivered and a tear rolled down his cheek. Roughly, he swiped at it with the back of his hand. "And I'm not wearing t-shirts with clowns, animals or superheroes on them."
"Fine!" Jack tossed him the only plain t-shirt he'd managed to find in Daniel's size. "And don't tell me puke green isn't your color. It's all we've got. Now get dressed. I told Janet we'd be there in half an hour."
"I'm not going. I don't feel well." As if for emphasis, Daniel reached up and rubbed his temple. "My headache's back."
Jack's concern ratcheted up a notch. Another headache, and he had to admit Daniel looked pale. It certainly wasn't like Daniel to not want to fix whatever had been done to him. Just the day before, he'd begged Janet to find a cure, his face solemn when she'd explained she'd do her best but had no real idea where to begin. "You'll figure it out," he'd told her confidently. "You always do."
"Best place to go then," Jack said. "Janet can give you something for your headache."
Daniel shook his head again then turned away and headed out the bedroom door. "I don't want to go. Everyone will laugh at me."
"Maybe at first," Jack called out, "but they'll stop once you kick them, like you did me. C'mon, Danny, be a sport, huh?"
"No! You're not the boss of me!"
"I'm your commanding officer and if I have to order you to come with me, I will."
Daniel tensed, his jaw squaring with defiance. "I'm not military."
"No, you're not." Jack sighed and rubbed at his forehead, feeling his own headache blooming. "But you are a child, and I am your guardian, for now. Come on, Danny, let's just do this, okay? Then we'll stop and get some lunch on the way back and chill out for the rest of the day."
Daniel's head was already shaking a firm negative. "No! And stop calling me Danny!"
Jack sighed and picked up the green t-shirt then levered himself up to his feet with a groan. His knees weren't going to make it if they didn't grow Daniel up soon. He could only kneel to talk to the kid face to face for so long.
The front door slammed and this time, Jack gave vent to a curse. "Damn it! Daniel, get back here right now!"
Daniel ran and ran until he thought his lungs would burst from his mad rush. His head really hurt now and was thumping in time with his wildly pounding heart.
He skidded to a halt and crossed his arms over his chest, leaning forward and trying to calm his breathing. He was so stupid! All Jack wanted to do was make sure he was okay and here he was, acting like the four year old he'd been downsized to, throwing tantrums and yelling. He really didn't want to go back to the base and get stuck with needles. He'd never liked them, even as an adult. But did he really want to stay a four year old forever? It was of course a rhetorical question. Hell, no!
Okay, then. Time for some serious apologizing. Straightening, he turned around in a circle then took a hesitant step forward. He froze when the bushes and trees seem to close in on him, casting dark shadows and blocking out the sunlight. He was cold and in his mad rush to escape, he couldn't exactly remember which way he'd gone. Had he turned around? Something wet dribbled down his cheek and he swiped at it, sternly telling himself to stop being a baby. He stared at the red on his fingers. He was bleeding? "Jack?"
Only the wind in the trees whispered a response. Daniel abandoned all pretense of being an adult. "Jack?" he screamed. "I'm lost!"
There was no sign of Daniel by the time Jack got outside. He'd hoped to find him cooling his heels on the dock or stomping around on the verandah, muttering curses in one of his foreign languages but he appeared to have vanished.
"Damn it!" Jack slammed his hand against the front door frame. He was failing at the parenting thing as miserably as he had the first time around. Jack had seen that terrified look in Daniel's eyes before when he'd been locked up in the mental institution. His concern for Daniel's wellbeing, and he had to admit, his impatience with Daniel's seeming pettiness over something as trivial as a trip to the doctor had blinded him to the realization that while there was a thirty-five year old mind locked up in that little body, Daniel's emotions were more on par with his physical age.
He stepped off the verandah and stared at the trees. "Daniel?"
He thought he heard a faint voice. Stilling, Jack tried to focus past the wind in the trees.
"Jack? I'm lost."
"Daniel!" Jack took off, running into the woods, brushing aside the limbs that threatened to impede his progress. "Stay where you are and keep yelling," he shouted. "I'm coming!"
He almost fell over Daniel as he raced into a small clearing. The boy stood, backed up against a tree trunk, his arms crossed over his shivering chest, tears mixing with the blood that streaked one pale cheek. Jack swept him up in his arms and hugged him. "Daniel! Thank god, you're all right."
Daniel's arms wound around Jack's neck, the damp cold body of his small friend pressing close. "I'm sorry," Daniel sobbed into Jack's neck. "I'm sorry."
"S'okay, buddy," Jack soothed. Daniel was shivering violently with either cold or shock, or more likely, a combination of the two. Loosening the boy's iron grip from his neck, Jack set him back on the ground and pulled his jacket off, wrapping it around Daniel's thin shoulders. He ruffled Daniel's tousled hair and tried for a smile though it felt strained on his face. His insides were still roiling from both panic and relief. "Let's go home, get you warmed up, then we'll talk."
"Okay." Daniel sniffed and wiped at his eyes. He slipped his hand into Jack's and took a step forward then faltered. "My head hurts," he whispered. Before Jack could react, his eyes rolled back and he collapsed with a soft sigh into Jack's arms.
Janet Frasier was waiting at the entrance with a small group of medical personnel and a gurney when they arrived at the mountain. Jack pulled the SUV to a stop in front of them and was out of the driver's side, racing around to yank open the rear door, not bothering to turn off the engine. Other hands were there, assisting him as he pulled Daniel's limp body from the car, but Jack cradled him close, unwilling to let him go, despite knowing that the child's life now lay in their capable hands.
"He had some kind of seizure on the way here," he said to Frasier.
Janet nodded. "Let's get him on the gurney, sir."
"I'll carry him," Jack said but Janet shook her head.
"I want to get him on some oxygen and I have better access to him on the gurney, in case he has another seizure."
Jack saw the logic in her words but it was still the hardest thing to relinquish his precious burden and place him in Janet's care. Medical orderlies and nurses took charge then, steering the gurney through the entrance and into the mountain complex. Jack kept one hand closed around Daniel's and ran alongside.
"How long?" Janet asked.
Jack stared at her blankly, his concentration solely on Daniel's pale face. "What?"
"How long did the seizure last, sir?"
"Seemed like an hour but it was probably no longer than a minute or two." He wished she hadn't asked. He tried to block out the memory of hearing Daniel moan, of seeing his body stiffen and jerk, blood and saliva foaming on his lips.
Janet nodded. "How has he been since you took him home?"
"How would you expect him to be?" he asked, impatience flaring. "He got downsized to a five year old! He was a little pissed off."
"If I'm going to help him, sir, I need information." Janet's words were gentle and patient but there was a spark of fire in her eyes, reminding Jack that Daniel was Janet's friend too. That everyone here cared as much for the kid - and the man - as he did.
"Sorry." He rubbed at his forehead with his free hand, trying to corral the events from the night before and that morning into some kind of order. "He had a headache and felt a little warm. He didn't want to come back to the infirmary though. He ran off." He shuddered, remembering the terror he'd felt at finding Daniel gone. "He said he couldn't really remember how he got downsized."
Janet reached out and touched his arm, squeezing gently. "Okay." Not wasting time, she turned back to her team. "Okay, I want a CBC, Chem7, UA, CT scan."
Jack let the mindboggling words rush over him, still feeling dazed and shocked by all that had occurred in the past couple of hours. He went to follow as the gurney was pushed into the infirmary but Janet shook her head.
"Sorry, sir, you'll have to wait outside. As soon as I know something, you'll know."
Jack opened his mouth to object but saw the determined look on Janet's face and knew she was right. He nodded and stood at the door as it closed, one hand resting against it.
Jack turned at the familiar and welcome voice. "Carter. Hey, T," he said, acknowledging the fourth member of their team.
"O'Neill." Teal'c bowed his head in his customary greeting.
"We just got the news from General Hammond," Sam said, her voice sounding breathless. "What happened? How is he?"
"Sick, Carter." Jack suddenly felt enormously weary; the adrenaline that had kept him going for the past several hours suddenly depleted. "Really sick."
He felt a hand under his arm, guiding him to the exit. "Why don't we head to the commissary? Grab some coffee and something to eat," Carter said. "Janet will page us as soon as she knows something."
Jack shook his head vehemently. "I'm staying here. He might wake up and ask for me. He's scared and confused."
Carter nodded. "Okay. Why I go get you some coffee and something to eat? If you don't mind me saying, sir, you look ready to pass out."
Jack lowered himself into a chair. "Coffee would be great, Carter, thanks."
"And a muffin or something?"
Despite his worry and exhaustion, Jack couldn't help a small grin forming. "A muffin? Do I look like a muffin kind of guy to you, Major?"
Sam gave him a little smile in return. "No, sir, just my idea of comfort food." Her expression grew serious. "But it might be a long wait. You need to keep your strength up."
"Major Carter is right," Teal'c agreed. "You are of no use to Daniel Jackson if you yourself are ill."
Jack held up a hand to forestall further cajoling. "Yeah, okay, whatever. Bring me something just not muffins."
Carter nodded, looking relieved. "Yes, sir. Back in a minute."
Silence filled the room for a few minutes before Teal'c spoke again. "Does Doctor Frasier have any idea what ails Daniel?"
"Not yet, Teal'c. She's gotta run some tests." He looked up and turned to his friend, a lump catching in his throat. "I swear, when he started jerking and choking in the car, I thought he was dying."
Teal'c reached out and rested a hand on Jack's arm. "But he did not. All is not lost yet, my friend."
Jack leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes. "From your mouth to god's ears, buddy."
Jack had just about worn a trench in the floor before the door to the infirmary swung open and Janet emerged. She looked about as exhausted as Jack felt. He wasted no time with niceties. "How is he, Doc?"
Janet rubbed a hand across her forehead, smoothing back a few stray hairs. "He's exhausted, frightened and increasingly confused. I'm still not sure what the problem is, sir. He had another seizure while we were doing the CT scan, so I've asked Doctor Warner to take a look at the pictures. We may have to repeat the scan if it's not clear. At the moment, I'm treating him with anti-seizure medication, something to bring down his fever and a mild painkiller. I'm sorry, until Doctor Warner looks at the CT results, there's nothing more we can do."
"Can we see him?" Jack asked.
Janet frowned. "It might be best for you to see him alone, sir," she said, giving Sam and Teal'c an apologetic smile. "As I said, he appears to be confused, he's having problems with his memory He didn't know who I was, but he did ask for Jack, just before he drifted off to sleep again."
Jack nodded brusquely and headed for the infirmary door but Janet halted him with a hand on his arm. "He's losing memory of who he was, who we are, at a rapid rate, sir. You need to be aware of that."
What did you say to that? Jack wondered. Did you thank the bearer of such awful news? No good shooting the messenger, he decided tiredly. He doubted he had the energy to aim the gun anyway. Instead, he nodded. "Thanks, Doc." He looked back at Carter and Teal'c. "Fill Hammond in for me."
Carter nodded. "Right away, sir." Jack could see the tears glistening in her eyes.
Jack leaned forward as Daniel murmured and shifted in his drug-induced sleep. When the child didn't awaken, Jack rested his arms on the safety rail and went back to his silent vigil. His numb butt reminded him it had probably been hours that he'd sat here, waiting for a sign that Daniel was going to wake up, but he had no real idea of how long it had been. His mind was too focused on willing Daniel to open those blue eyes and smile at him, to bitch at him about how it wasn't fair for your body to be five when your mind was thirty-five, and if Jack didn't get him some coffee right now, he was going to start a commotion. Still, Daniel slept on.
Jack studied his altered friend carefully. Just the day before, he'd marveled at the similarities he could see of the adult Daniel in the juvenile version. The blue of his eyes, the same shy curve of his smile. Now, he found it hard to see any familiarity at all in the exhausted, pallid features of the child in the bed.
Soft footsteps approached and he stood, ignoring the protests from his cramped knees. "Hey, Doc," he said as Janet approached. "What have you got?"
Janet's expression was tense, and Jack, knowing her as well as he did now, could see she was struggling to compose herself. "Doctor Warner checked the CT scan. Doctor Jackson Daniel has a brain tumor."
Jack felt the world drop away from beneath him. He staggered and reached out to grasp the back of his chair. "A tumor? How? Why?"
Janet was already shaking her head. "We don't know, sir. It looks like a slow-growing tumor that is situated on the side of his brain that controls long term memory. It also is the cause of the seizures and mood swings. Our best bet, at this time, is chemotherapy. It has a better success rate in children than radiation."
"You can't take it out?"
"It's close to other vital centers in the brain. Chemo's our best option."
Jack spun around at the reed-thin, quavering voice. Hunching over the bed, he gently stroked Daniel's cheek, smiling into the confused blue eyes. "Hey, Danny, how you feeling?"
Daniel blinked slowly, then reached up and clutched at Jack's hand, tears brimming and flowing down his cheeks. "My head hurts. Are you my daddy? I want my daddy."
Jack's heart clenched. Smiling tremulously, he pulled a tissue from the box on the bedside table and wiped away Daniel's tears. "Yeah, Danny, I'm your dad."
TWO WEEKS LATER:
Jack had heard once that the cure was sometimes worse than the disease. If the past two weeks were anything to go by, whoever had said that had hit the nail right on the head.
Frasier had flown in a pediatric oncologist to oversee Daniel's treatment. While she and Warner were the best of the best Airforce physicians, neither had the training nor specialist knowledge needed to treat Daniel. Doctor Wiley was an elderly, kind man, whom Daniel took to immediately - until the time came to insert the shunt needed to administer the measured, timed drug cocktail that would be used to hopefully eradicate the tumor.
Daniel had - of course - developed an allergy to the adhesive tape used to secure the shunt in place. Tiny weeping blisters had sprung up along his arm, leaving the child itching frantically and more than once almost dislodging the shunt. Doctor Wiley had replaced the tape with a more confining and bulky arm splint and gauze wrap, which left Daniel effectively one-handed, causing more frustration when he ate or wanted to write or color in. His memory of his previous life seemed to have completely disappeared. With his now child-like understanding, he accepted Frasier's explanation that he'd been sick for a little while but would soon be better. He'd regarded Teal'c with some apprehension, had taken to Carter immediately and looked upon General Hammond as a grandfather. Jack wasn't sure whether to be relieved or not. While he was glad Daniel was not suffering nightmares from his adult memories, he mourned the loss of his friend now as much as he had when Daniel had ascended.
Things had finally come to a head the evening before. Daniel had developed mouth ulcers, a common, painful side effect to the toxic chemotherapy. He'd been listless and feverish for the past couple of days and this final problem had obviously been the straw that broke the camel's back.
Jack was trying to cajole Daniel into eating a small amount of blue jello - Sam's favorite, he told the boy - promising it would soothe his mouth. Daniel, though, had apparently decided that enough was enough. His face was swollen too from the chemo, making him look hollow-eyed and more miserable than any child should be.
Clamping his mouth shut, he shook his head. "No, I don't want it."
"Come on," Jack urged. "It's delicious and it'll make your mouth feel better."
"It's yucky," Daniel said grumpily. "It's blue."
"You haven't even tried it yet. How about red? Would you like red jello instead?"
"No!" Daniel crossed his arms over his chest, grimacing when he knocked the shunt in his arm. Fresh tears brimmed in his eyes and he shoved the offending appendage in Jack's face. "This hurts! Take it out."
"I can't take it out, Danny, I'm not a doctor. Besides, it has to stay in so you can get that good medicine to make you feel better."
Daniel's other hand lashed out, knocking the bowl of jello in Jack's hand and dumping the lot in Jack's lap. Jack jumped up from his chair as the cold mess seeped through his pants. "Hey! Now that was not necessary, young man!"
Daniel glared at him, his lower lip quivering. "You're a mean daddy," he whimpered. "I hate you."
Jack's heart clenched at the heartfelt words. Reaching out, he ruffled Daniel's hair. "I'm sorry, buddy, I shouldn't have yelled at you. I know you're hurting. I wish I could stop it all but I can't."
Daniel stared at him for a long moment, his chest heaving, and for the briefest moment, Jack was certain he saw a flicker of understanding, a glimpse of the old Daniel in the blue eyes. Finally, Daniel breathed in a deep, hiccupping breath. "I'm sorry too. I don't hate you."
Jack opened his arms and Daniel scooted willingly into his embrace. Sitting back down, Jack held Daniel close, ignoring the sticky jello that now was smeared on both of them, only caring about giving and receiving the comfort they both needed. He pressed a kiss to Daniel's head. "I know," he said, gently rocking Daniel. "I know."
Jack wasn't sure what to expect when he arrived at the infirmary the following morning. Daniel had finally accepted a few swallows of some red jello and had fallen asleep on Jack's lap. Remembering the growing pile of paperwork on his desk, Jack carefully shifted the boy back into his bed and left, leaving instructions with the duty nurse to page him if Daniel woke. He'd ended up falling asleep before he could add his signature to the first report, waking only when Teal'c shook his shoulder and insisted he bunk down in one of the VIP rooms for the rest of the night.
Janet approached him as soon as he entered. "Good morning, sir. He seems a little brighter this morning. I brought Cassie in to visit with him before she heads off to school."
Jack nodded. "Good idea. He hasn't seen another kid since he got downsized. Any news on that, by the way?"
Janet's expression became serious. "Doctor Warner and I have consulted with Doctor Wiley about that. He thinks that it would be best to leave attempting anything until after Daniel's tumor is gone. We have no idea what effect it might have."
Jack nodded. "Makes sense." He scrubbed a hand through his hair. "So, you said he's a little better today?"
There was no answering smile from Janet. "He seems to be in better spirits," she replied. "We have a meeting scheduled for everyone at 9AM, so Doctor Wiley can fill you in on Daniel's progress and further treatment options."
Jack's eyes narrowed and his gut tightened with dread. "Further treatment? What aren't you telling me, Doc?"
"I'd rather let Doctor Wiley explain it," Janet said. "He's the expert."
"Okay." Jack walked over to Daniel's bed, his thoughts churning, but when Daniel looked up and greeted him with a bubbly, "Hi Dad. This is Cassie", he pasted a smile on his face.
"Cassie's a good friend of mine," Jack said. He leaned down and pressed a kiss to Daniel's forehead, then to Cassie's. "Hey, Cassie. Thanks for coming to visit Daniel."
Cassie grinned at him. "That's okay. I've been reading him a story." She glanced at her watch and groaned. "I have to go or I'll be late for school." Standing, she reached out and ruffled Daniel's hair. "Bye, Danny. You be good for my mom, okay?"
Daniel nodded. "I will. Big Ted says bye too." He pulled a large brown-furred teddy bear from beneath the covers and waved a paw at her. "Cassie brought him for me, Dad, so I don't get lonely."
"That's great, sport."
Cassie handed a small pile of books to Jack. "The bottom one's his favorite. I must have read it like five times now."
"Will you read it to me, Dad?" Daniel asked, settling back on his pillows, with Big Ted in his arms, a smile of anticipation brightening his pale face.
"Sure, why not?" Jack settled into the chair Cassie had vacated, opened the book and began to read.
Jack sat forward in his chair and stared across the table at Doctor Wiley. "What do you mean the drugs aren't working? I thought you said this was the best treatment!"
"I wish I was bringing you better news," Doctor Wiley said. "In the case of most brain tumors in children, the drug cocktail we're administering is most effective in shrinking the tumor. In Daniel's case, though, that doesn't seem to be happening."
"Maybe it hasn't been long enough," Sam said.
"By now, we should have seen some improvement. I'm sorry. It may be that the downsizing of Daniel's body is causing complications we hadn't foreseen."
"Is there nothing else you can do?" Teal'c asked.
"I'd like to do a biopsy of the tumor," Wiley said. "It might give us more information on what we're dealing with."
"You want to drill a hole in his head?" Jack stood, pushing back his chair. "No! He's already been through enough!"
"Colonel," Hammond interjected. He sighed, looking as distraught as the rest of them. "Jack, sit down. While Daniel thinks of you as his father, I'm afraid it isn't your decision to make. I'm sorry." He turned to the doctors. "If the biopsy isn't done, what is Daniel's prognosis?"
"It's hard to say," Wiley said. "While the tumor hasn't shrunk, it hasn't increased in size either, but we've already seen the damage its presence has caused: seizures, loss of memory, worsening eyesight -"
"Could he die?" Jack interrupted.
"There's every possibility that over time, the tumor will begin to impact on the function of Daniel's vital organs. Yes, he could die."
"Do the biopsy," Hammond said. He cast Jack an apologetic look. "I'm sorry, Jack, but if there's any chance of saving the boy "
"Yes, sir. You're right. It's just he's gone through enough already."
"He won't feel anything," Janet said. "He'll be sedated. We'll schedule it for this afternoon and get back to you as soon as we have the results." She stood. "I'll go get him prepped."
"Let me talk to him first," Jack said. "Explain it to him."
Daniel clutched Big Ted to him and looked up at Jack wide-eyed. "How are they gonna do that?" he asked. "Look in my head?"
Jack was really hoping not to have to explain that part. "Well, they're gonna give you some medicine so you go to sleep and then they're going to put a teensy peephole, right about here," he reached out and gently tapped the side of Daniel's skull, "and take a look-see."
"Won't my brains fall out?" Daniel asked but there seemed no fear in his expression, just curiosity.
"Doc Wiley will put a bandage on there until it heals over, just like when I cut my finger cutting my bagel yesterday." Jack held up his bandaged finger for Daniel's inspection.
"And it won't hurt, and no more needles?"
"Nope. They'll put the medicine in there," Jack assured him, indicating the shunt.
"Will you stay with me?"
"Until you're asleep and then I'll be right outside the door."
Jack turned at the sound of Carter's voice. Teal'c stood beside her, a gentle smile on his face. "Carter, Teal'c, glad you stopped by.: He waved a hand at the bear in Daniel's arms. "Meet Big Ted."
"Cassie brought him for me," Daniel added.
"He's very cute," Sam said.
"Doctor Wiley's gonna put a hole in my head and look inside," Daniel announced.
"So we heard. Teal'c's got something he wanted to give you," Sam said. She stepped back and gestured Teal'c forward.
"I thought perhaps a head covering would be appropriate," Teal'c said. He held out one hand, revealing a camouflage colored bandana.
"It's a soldier one!" Daniel exclaimed. "Can I put it on now?"
"Sure," Jack said. Taking the cloth from Teal'c's hand, he tied it around Daniel's head. "How's that?"
"You look like a true soldier," Teal'c said with another small smile.
Daniel nodded happily then looked down at his clothes. "I'll have to get some soldier clothes to match though, and some for Big Ted too, and a scarf for him, just like mine." He looked up at Sam through his eyelashes. "Sorry, Sam," he said. "I really like the Spiderman pajamas you got me, but if I'm gonna be a soldier "
"I'll see what I can find," Sam promised him solemnly.
"Right, looks like we're all ready for you, Daniel," Janet said as she walked over to join them. "How about you?"
Daniel looked at Jack and reached out to be picked up. "Daddy's staying with me till I go to sleep," he said.
"You bet," Jack replied.
Jack stroked his hand across Daniel's sweat-damp brow as the little boy murmured and shifted in his drug-induced sleep. His bandana had been pulled askew by his fretful movements and Jack pulled it off, staring for a moment at the small square of gauze taped over the burr hole in Daniel's skull. "Go to sleep, Danny," he whispered. "Daddy's here."
"Colonel?" Janet carefully pulled the screen aside and motioned to him. Taking Jack's place at the bedside, she did a quick visual scan of the monitors and nodded, apparently satisfied. "He's doing well. He should be waking up soon. Doctor Wiley has the results of the biopsy back."
Doctor Wiley stood when they entered the briefing room. Carter and Teal'c were already there, seated opposite General Hammond. "Well, it's not a tumor," Wiley said.
"What?" Jack stared at the man. "What the hell is it?"
"I'm not entirely sure," Wiley replied. "A device of some kind."
"Well, get it out of him!" Jack shouted.
"I don't want to risk doing that until we know for sure what it is. We don't know how it was inserted or what it might be attached to. Colonel Carter has taken a look at the films we took of it and she has some thoughts on it."
Jack looked at Carter expectantly.
"Everything that's happened to Daniel thus far - the seizures, the tumor - have only occurred since he was downsized. What if the device is what caused it?" Sam said.
"So, we take it out and he grows up again?"
"I don't think we should do that just yet, sir. I do think we need to ask the people who did this if they know what it is and how to remove it."
"Fine!" Jack nodded, relieved to have something concrete to do. "Let's go."
"Colonel, I think it might be best if you let Major Carter and Teal'c handle this," Hammond said. He held up a hand when Jack opened his mouth to protest. "Doctor Frasier tells me Daniel's about to wake up. He'll want you here with him."
Jack saw the sense in that, despite wanting nothing more than to pay a visit to the people who had caused all of this shit and beat the living daylights out of them. "Yes, sir." He turned to Sam. "Hurry back."
He'd spent entirely too much time sitting on his ass, waiting for something to happen, Jack decided. Coming to a decision, he went in search of Frasier.
"Hey, Doc," he greeted when he found her in her office. "So, Daniel's awake, all his vitals are good, according to Doc Wiley."
"Yes, sir," Janet said, waving him to a seat. "At least that's one good thing."
Jack remained standing. "Okay if I take him out for a while?"
Jack shrugged. "Haven't really decided yet. The park, maybe. Look, it's a beautiful day and the poor kid's been cooped up on the base for weeks now. Besides, nothing you can do for him till Carter and Teal'c get back, right?"
"True," Janet conceded. "Let me clear it with Doctor Wiley, but it should be okay, for a couple of hours. We can disconnect his IV, but we'll leave the shunt in for now."
Jack sketched a salute. "Gotcha. Thanks, Doc."
"I can walk, Dad," Daniel said, squirming in Jack's arms.
"I know you can," Jack replied, setting the boy on the floor and taking his hand. "Just don't want you getting tired out before we get started. We've got a lot to do."
Daniel looked up at him, his blue eyes sparkling. Just the mention of this little excursion had seemed to instill some renewed vigor in him. "What do we have to do?"
"Have fun," Jack said, ruffling Daniel's hair. "Let's do this."
If anyone was worn out by the end of the day, it was Jack. He'd forgotten just how much energy five year olds had, even sick ones, or maybe that was especially sick ones because they had to cram so much into such a short time.
They'd gone to the supermarket first, making up a picnic basket of goodies for lunch. Jack sneaked a chocolate bar in for Daniel to eat after lunch, assuming that even this downsized, unaware version would still have a thing for sweet treats. Daniel slipped in a bag of chips and Jack pretended to disapprove but Daniel saw right through him.
"All Dads like chips and sports, that's what you said, right?" he announced firmly.
"Yeahsureyoubetcha," Jack agreed, swinging the boy up into his arms and depositing him in the shopping cart. He raced out of the store and had Daniel squealing and laughing madly as he pushed the cart across the parking lot at high speed, giving it a few slalom twists for fun.
By the time they got to the park, Daniel was rosy-cheeked and grinning from ear to ear. The happiness shining in his eyes couldn't hide the dark circles beneath them, and the bandana he wore on his head only served to remind Jack of the damn thing that had been implanted in his child-sized skull by a bunch of unthinking, idiotic morons He pushed his anger aside for now and focused on giving Daniel the best day ever.
After what seemed like hours of pushing Daniel on the swing, the boy finally tired of that, and spotted an ice cream vendor approaching. "Ice cream!" he exclaimed, scrambling from the swing before it had fully stopped.
Jack grabbed for his hand before he could take off and he stared at Jack with a frown. "Yes to ice cream," Jack told him. "No to running off. You fall and hurt yourself and Doc Frasier is not gonna be happy with me."
Daniel nodded, his attention already back on the ice cream vendor's gaily colored cart. "Okay. I'm gonna have double chocolate."
"Great," Jack said, checking his pockets for coins. "And I'll bet you're gonna wear more than you eat."
So, they sat on the park bench and ate their ice cream, watching the world go by. Jack felt Daniel's gaze on him and he turned and smiled at him. "What?" he asked.
"How come I can't remember before?" Daniel asked. He wiped at the chocolate coating his chin with the sleeve of his sweater.
Jack grabbed a tissue and finished the job. "Before?" He felt a lump form in his throat.
"Like, I know you're my daddy 'cause you told me you are, but how come I don't remember our house, or Sam and Teal'c from before?"
"Well, you were very sick," Jack explained, his voice wavering. "And there was something wrong inside your head and it made you forget some things."
Daniel nodded gravely. "Is that why I don't remember my mommy?"
"Yeah." Jack closed his eyes for a moment, willing away his tears then he reached out and picked Daniel up, depositing him on his lap. He hugged him tightly, uncaring of the ice cream that smeared his shirt. "But you've got me, Danny."
Little arms reached up and encircled Jack's neck, squeezing hard. "I love you, Dad."
"I love you too, Danny." Jack stood, resituating Daniel on his hip and reached for his car keys. "Now, if you're done wiping ice cream all over us both, we have one more thing to do before we go back."
Jack pressed a finger to his lips. "It's a secret mission," he said conspiratorially. "A very secret mission."
"Doc Janet," Daniel shouted when they arrived back at the infirmary. "Daddy got me a dog of my very own!"
Janet raised an eyebrow at Jack. "He did? Well, that's very exciting. Your dad has a thing for giving dogs to kids. Where is this dog?" Janet made a show of peering behind Daniel.
"Actually, I need a favor," Jack said, pasting his most disarming smile on his face.
Apparently, he was getting more transparent by the hour because Frasier just rolled her eyes and said, "He stays outside and Cassie can feed him and walk him until Daniel goes home."
Jack gave her a small bow. "Thank you."
"But when I go home, that's gonna be my 'sponsibilty, right, Dad? His name is Homer."
"Well, that's a fine name for a dog." Janet lifted Daniel and set him on the bed. "How about you let me take a look at you and make sure you're feeling okay after all this excitement, and you can tell me all about Homer." She glanced at Jack. "Sam and Teal'c are on their way back to the gate. They should be earth-side any time now."
"Gotcha." Jack reached out and patted Daniel's head. "Be good for the doc, okay, sport?"
The puppy had been a spur of the moment thing, not exactly well thought out, Jack knew. After all, he had no idea how much longer Daniel would be in the infirmary, and there was also the possibility that Daniel might be able to be upsized now. Jack wasn't sure what the adult Daniel thought of dogs, and he lived in an apartment, after all. Still, if worst came to worst, he'd been thinking about getting a dog himself for a few years. Giving a mental shrug, he dismissed the problem and walked into the briefing room to face what he knew was a far greater one.
"How'd it go?" he asked Carter and Teal'c without preamble.
The looks on their faces didn't bode well for success. "The news is both good and bad in equal measure," Teal'c said.
"Good news and bad news, I got that," Jack said. He held out his hands. "So, give us the good news."
"When we first arrived on the planet a few weeks ago, Valna, the village's seer, sensed that there was an aura of anguish and sadness around Daniel," Carter said. "Her thought was to turn Daniel into a child, because children are innocent and pure. When she did that, she implanted the device in order to remove the cause of Daniel's sadness, but that couldn't be done without erasing his memory entirely. Unfortunately, she didn't take into account that our physiology is slightly different, which is what caused the seizures."
"That's the good news?" Jack asked. "I changed my mind. I don't want to hear the bad news."
"The good news is that they can remove the device from DanielJackson's head," Teal'c said.
"Okay!" Jack nodded enthusiastically. "That's the kind of good news I like." He narrowed his eyes. "What's the bad news?"
Sam took a deep breath before she spoke again. "The downsizing can't be reversed. It's permanent, sir."
Daniel was sleeping deeply now but Jack was loathe to put him back in bed. He sat, rocking the boy in his arms, stroking one hand across the peaceful face, tracing the contour of Daniel's altered but still familiar features, inhaling the scent of bubblebath that clung to Daniel's hair.
"He's asleep," Janet said from behind him. "Why don't you get some rest yourself, sir? I'll keep an eye on him."
"You want to tell me how I'm supposed to sleep after being told that?" Jack asked angrily. Daniel stirred in his arms and he sighed, beginning to rock him again. It wasn't Frasier's fault, he knew. "Sorry, Doc," he said softly. "It's just a hell of a decision to make."
Janet laid a hand on his shoulder and squeezed gently. "I know."
"Thing is, Daniel should have a say in this, but how do you ask a five year old child who has no memory of his previous life to decide whether he wants those memories back or whether he wants to stay as he is now?"
Janet moved around in front of him. "What do you want for him?"
Jack snorted. "I want him back. I want my standard, aggravating, pain in the ass best friend back."
"Maybe in time, we might be able to reverse it," Janet said. "Maybe the Asgard or the Nox -"
"And until then I have to decide what's best for Daniel."
"You're not alone in this, sir. You'll have all our support, no matter what you decide."
Jack reached out and took her hand. "I know, doesn't make it any easier, but I know."
Jack leaned forward as Daniel sighed and shifted in the bed. Finally, blue eyes blinked open and stared at him blearily. Jack smiled and ruffled Daniel's hair. "Hey there, sleepy head. Thought you were gonna sleep the whole day away."
Daniel knuckled his eyes then sat up, staring around the room. "This isn't the infirmary."
"Nope, brought you back to the cabin while you were still sleeping."
It seemed to take a moment for that to sink in, then Daniel nodded. "I had a dream," he said around a yawn. He stopped and looked down, wiggling his toes beneath the bedclothes. "Wasn't a dream," he whispered, "I'm still small."
"Yeah." Jack sat down on the side of the bed. "Seems the villagers forgot to tell us that this wasn't reversible. Carter and Frasier are still working on it," he rushed on when Daniel looked up at him with wide, tear-filled eyes. "We're not gonna give up, Daniel, I promise."
"I kept dreaming I was sick and I was in the infirmary, and then you took me to the park Then I woke up here."
"It's a long story," Jack said. "You were sick for a while but you're okay now." He looked at his watch. "Now, how about you get dressed. We have guests coming for lunch and I have steaks to cook."
"Guests?" Daniel scrambled out of bed and reached for his clothes. He held up the little green t-shirt and grimaced then shrugged and pulled off his pajama top. "Spiderman pajamas?" He rolled his eyes. "Let me guess. Sam, right?"
"Yeah, well, I guess her maternal clock is ticking or something." Jack glanced over his shoulder as the doorbell rang. "That'll be them now. Get a move on, huh?"
Daniel was already stripping off his pajama bottoms and struggling to pull on his jeans. "I need help," he whined. "I'm not used to having fingers this small."
"Door's open, let yourselves in," Jack called then bent to pull Daniel's jeans up and fastened the zipper and snap. Lifting the boy onto the bed, he slipped on his socks and shoes then stood him back on the floor. He held out his hand and Daniel took it. "Let's go party," Jack said.
"Hey, guys. Glad you could make it." Jack waved at the small group who stood in the living room. Daniel had pressed close up against his leg and he looked down, jiggling Daniel's hand. "It's okay, buddy. Just the team."
Daniel looked out from his protected position. "Hi, Sam. Hi, Teal'c. I'm still small."
Sam knelt down and took his hand. "We know, Daniel. It'll be okay."
Daniel nodded and Sam pulled him into a hug. "Thanks for the pajamas," he said against her shoulder.
"You liked them?" she asked with a delighted smile. When Daniel nodded, she gave Jack a triumphant grin. "I knew you would."
Daniel pulled away from her and tugged on Jack's hand. When Jack leaned down, he whispered, "What else could I say? It wouldn't be manners to say I hate them."
"No, it wouldn't." Straightening, Jack rubbed his hands together. "T, my man, you and I have steaks to cook. Carter, you know where the drinks are." There was another knock at the door. "You want to get that, Daniel?"
Daniel gave him a somewhat nervous nod then ran to the door and opened it. "Janet! And you brought Cassie, and General Hammond."
Hammond gave Daniel a smile and patted his head. "How are you doing, son? I hope Colonel O'Neill's taking good care of you."
"So far." Daniel looked over his shoulder at Jack and grinned and Jack only barely resisted the urge to poke out his tongue at his little friend.
"Daniel," Janet said, giving him a hug. "You're looking a lot better than the last time I saw you."
"And we brought Homer back for you," Cassie added, handing him a squirming brown bundle of fur.
Daniel stared at the puppy in his arms then at Jack. "He's mine? You bought me a puppy?" His brow furrowed. "I don't remember "
Jack shrugged. "Well, like I told Cassie a while back, every kid has to have a dog, right?"
Daniel's eyes sparkled and he giggled when the puppy covered his face with exuberant licks. "Homer? I called him Homer?"
"I may have had some input," Jack replied sheepishly. He clapped his hands. "Right, gang's all here. Time to eat."
Jack settled himself into his chair on the dock and sipped at his beer. Life was looking pretty damn good right now. Daniel squealed with delight as Teal'c tossed him into the air and caught him again in his big, safe arms.
"Colonel?" Janet asked from where she sat beside him.
"You want to know why I decided to go ahead and have Daniel's memory restored."
"I have to admit I'm curious. I'm not saying you made the wrong decision " Janet waved a hand at the giggling Daniel " just wondered, that's all."
"See that kid there?" Jack said, pointing at Daniel. "Who he is right now is made up of his past, his experiences, his relationships with his friends and family His memories, both good and bad. All of that makes Daniel Jackson who he is, big or small."
"Jack! Look at me! I'm a giant!" Daniel called from atop Teal'c's shoulders. "Come and play with us."
Jack stood, groaning. "My knees will never be the same." He trotted back up the dock, stopped halfway and turned back to Janet. "And I got what I wanted," he added with a grin. "My aggravating, pain in the ass best friend back."
Daniel smoothed down his Spiderman pajama top and climbed into bed. "You know, Jack, it's not all bad being five," he said with a yawn and a stretch.
"Oh yeah," Jack replied, crossing his arms over his chest and studying his young friend. "Why's that?"
"I get a hell of a lot more attention now than I did when I was thirty five," Daniel said with a smile.
"Language," Jack chided.
Daniel rolled his eyes. "I promise when we're out in public, I'll be the perfect child," he said.
"Riiight," Jack acknowledged cynically.
"Homer! Here, boy." Daniel patted the bedcovers and Homer obligingly jumped up, settling in at Daniel's side. The puppy yawned and gave Jack a decidedly smug look before going to sleep.
Some things were going to change though, Jack decided, and the first order of business would be, that as of tomorrow, puppies, whether they were called Homer or not, would not be sleeping on beds, no matter how much a certain blue-eyed mini-archeologist begged.
Daniel's eyes were drooping closed and he rolled over onto his side, hugging Big Ted, asleep almost as quickly as Homer. Jack leaned down and pressed a kiss to Daniel's head. "No, it's not all bad, Danny boy," he whispered. "Not bad at all.