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Tuesday, November 29th, 2016 01:23 pm
Backup contribution to Kidfic Alphabet Soup! Also, I believe this is the first time I have actually had Jack use a certain expression. It certainly seemed to fit this time.

Five times SG-1 had to accept an unusual perspective of childhood and adulthood. Jack POV, set in Seasons 1 & 2. Includes detailed spoilers for Brief Candle, the Nox, and Thor's Chariot. 2,250 words. Rated PG-13 for certain details involving Brief Candle.


O is for Other Perspectives


The meeting was... unpleasant. Jack didn't like having his frailties -- very literal ones, this time -- aired so publicly. But there was no choice, not really. As soon as the doctors pronounced him to be in no danger of tottering into the grave, Hammond had demanded a full debriefing. Jack couldn't blame him, considering how close this had come to disaster. So he swallowed his pride and dealt with it, just like he always did.

Despite the arthritic aches and pains that accompanied every move, the debriefing didn't seem too bad. They recounted their actions and decisions, pausing only when Hammond consulted the paperwork in front of him. Things got uglier, though, when Doc Warner delicately mentioned "questionable consent" and started to murmur things about "psychological effects" and "counseling" and...

Jack's palms slammed down on the table, bringing the rambling monologue to a startled halt. All eyes focused on him, and he hated the gleams of sympathy in two of those gazes. Teal'c and Hammond, at least, had the decency to remain impassive.

He held back the wince from the pain that had shot through his gnarled joints at his rash move. It was better than yesterday, after all. He could handle it for the few days more it would take to get back to normal.

"Kynthia was as much a victim as I was," he said distinctly, biting out each word to hide the elderly quaver in his voice. "She assumed I knew that cake was an official offer of marriage. And she was only nineteen days old, for cryin' out loud! She wasn't trying to drug me or force me or --" He stopped, breathed. "Leave it, Doc. I came, I got burned, I got back home."

"There was no way to recognize that the Argosians were essentially children, Doctor Warner," Daniel said smoothly, directing attention away from Jack. "Even if they were physically mature, it's impossible to expect a group of people to learn and grow in only a handful of days. They had no teachers, no mentors."

Carter gave a sudden start. "It just occurred to me," she said, looking slightly horrified. "If baby Danel turned almost two in only a day, how did Thetys manage to get pregnant and carry to term? Do you think the fetus gestated in only nine hours?" She looked appealingly at Warner. "How could her body have survived that?"

Warner, after a thoughtful pause, launched into a detailed explanation that was a lot more graphic than any of the males in the room -- females, too, probably, judging from Carter's squeamish expression -- wanted to hear. But the subject was well and truly changed by now, and Jack subsided gratefully in his chair, comforted by the way Carter and Daniel were watching his back.

*

It all seemed routine at first: walk through the Gate, find the locals milling curiously around the MALP, step forward and let Daniel handle the meet 'n' greet. The curious onlookers seemed mostly adolescents, which was both perfectly normal and a good sign of a world where kids were allowed to explore and satisfy their curiosity. A handful of the older ones dashed off to bring back a group of adults. Considering they were all either Jack's height or taller, he was vaguely interested in seeing how tall the grown-ups would be.

Several of the kids were clustered around Teal'c, asking questions about his staff weapon and his tattoo. They weren't apprehensive, only curious -- definitely a good sign there. Three of them had wrestled the remote for the MALP from Carter and were playing with it, and two others were proudly showing Daniel the point of origin on the DHD. This was looking better and better: no signs of fear of the Goa'uld, experience with traveling through the Stargate, comfortable with the idea of technology, no fear of strangers. Well, that last one wasn't always a good thing, Jack knew, but it did mean that these people were used to peaceful lives.

He kept back, maintaining a relaxed pose, keeping an eye on all of them. Maybe that comfort in technology would translate into actual usefulness, if these people had any advanced science thingies to share with the rest of the class.

It took a little longer than he expected, but about forty-five minutes later, he spotted the delegation coming towards them. The five or six teens who had bounced off to get the adults were coming back, too, bobbing around the stately group that walked with measured steps. Jack felt a twinge of guilt at making them walk so far; the one in the middle, at least, seemed to need that cane in her hand, even if the dark hair braided elaborately on her head showed no glints of gray.

"Heads up," Jack said succinctly, and Carter and Teal'c and Daniel gently shooed their new friends away so they could stand together and greet the delegation properly. He noted that the tallest, a man towards the back, had a good four inches on Teal'c. He hoped this would stay friendly.

As the newcomers halted, the leader of the group took an extra step forward, her smile warm. "Welcome, travelers!" she said. "We are pleased to --"

Then she stopped. Took another step forward, peering at them carefully. The smile quickly became a frown.

"Now, really," she said sternly. "Do your parents know you're here?"

Daniel, whose mouth had been open to speak, snapped it shut again. The team exchanged incredulous, bewildered looks.

"I know it's fun to go through the Great Circle," the woman continued, and her stern expression turned a bit kindly. "But really, dear, I don't think your brothers are old enough yet."

She spoke directly to Sam, with occasional glances at Daniel. Teal'c and Jack were being ignored completely.

"I'm sorry, but there seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding," Daniel tried, stepping forward. "I'm Daniel Jackson. This is Major Carter, Teal'c and Colonel O'Neill. We --"

She actually reached out and patted him on the hand. "I can see that you're all having a lovely game of make-believe, dear, but your brothers are much too young for this. Children their age shouldn't be allowed off-world." She eyed Daniel critically. "Even the two of you still have some growing up to do, I think." She raised her gaze to include Carter in her reproach. "If you go home right now, I won't send a message to your parents. But you should both be more responsible."

Jack, sputtering with disbelief, finally managed to string enough coherent words together to form a sentence. "Look, we're not kids. Teal'c here is more than--"

"You most certainly are children," the woman said, her expression turning stern again. "I'm not going to repeat myself." She pointed a strict finger towards the DVD. "Return home, right now."

"Sir," Sam breathed suddenly. "Look at her eyes. Look at all of their eyes."

Jack's gaze flicked quickly from the leader to the other members of the delegation to the children still watching so avidly... and then he got it.

The youngest children's eyes -- those that were under six feet tall -- were dark, almost black. The taller ones, presumably a bit older, had eyes that were varying shades of brown, shifting through purple into blue as height and adolescence increased. And the eyes continued to lighten with age, turning first gray, then silver. The leader of the group, who was now tapping her foot impatiently, had eyes that were almost white.

"The lighter your eyes, the older you are," Daniel muttered. "Jack, i don't think we can do anything else here."

"Yeah, right," Jack sighed.

Sam, who the woman had clearly assumed was the eldest, tried one more time. "Maybe our, ah, parents could come back and talk with you?"

The leader's expression softened again. "I'd love to meet them, dear," she said. "And I hope you'll behave yourselves next time."

"We will attempt to do so," Teal'c told her, and she beamed down at him as if he was a very good little boy.

They all felt ridiculously foolish as Daniel dialed the Gate and Carter sent the code from the GDO to open the iris. "Should've worn my sunglasses," Jack said disgustedly, and tried not to stomp as he followed his teammates back to Earth.


*

Jack wanted to scream, to grab Anataeus and Opher by the shoulders and shake some sense into them. Couldn't they see they were compromised now? Why didn't they realize the danger? Did these idiots want to be killed?

Daniel had gone off with Opher and brought back the incredible news that the little guy with twigs in his hair was actually more than four centuries old. Okay, enough wacky stuff was going on with these Nox that he could believe it. They weren't actually human, that was certain enough. But in four hundred years plus, hadn't Opher actually learned something?

You couldn't just hold hands and sing kumbaya. Not with a sadist and killer like Apophis!

Why were they so calm, so trusting? They offered to take SG-1 to the "Doorway" and safety, but they didn't seem to think they themselves were at risk. How could he make them understand?

"Anataeus," Opher said abruptly, "where is Nefreyu?"

Alarmed, Jack joined Daniel and Anataeus as they searched for the child. Nefreyu had expressed interest in meeting a Goa'uld and -- oh, no.

"I told him to go home," he muttered aloud, dreading what might have happened.

"I told you the same," Anataeus replied evenly. "The very young do not always do as they are told."

Jack winced, knowing he'd been put in his place. It was hard to accept that the Nox really were much, much older than they looked. And, yeah, probably smarter, too, even if their survival instincts were incredibly lousy.

But Nefreyu was in danger now. He swallowed his pride and kept searching.

After it all went wrong, after they'd nearly killed the kid and themselves, after the Nox had shown them their true capabilities and patted them on the heads and shooed them off home again with the knowledge that they'd lost the chance to make allies with such an advanced race...

"The very young do not always do as they're told," Jack sighed, and tried not to speculate, even as he grudgingly conceded that the Nox had been right, just how long they would have to wait before they'd be considered grown up.

*

Jack stared down at the smiling face of Headman Qirtith, complete with bright green hair and pleasantly ugly features.

...Make that headkid.

No, headman, this diminutive figure really was the head of the village with the nice shiny light sources that so interested Carter and...

He was vaguely aware that Headman Qirtith was talking -- probably something about trade and trust -- but he couldn't concentrate. His fingers almost spasmed in his desire to reach down and carefully take away the large, curved, unsheathed hunting knife thrust inside the bright red sash wrapped around Qirthith's waist.

How was he supposed to treat Qirith as an adult and potential ally when he really wanted to ask if it was past his bedtime?

"Munchkins," he muttered, forcing himself to recall that yes, the people of P4X-171 really did reach a maximum height of a meter or so. Even if they did remind him of Cabbage Patch Dolls, Qirtith and his delegation were actually grown-ups.

He hadn't meant to be overheard, but he felt the irritated dig to his ribs that told him otherwise.

"Think of them as Munchkins or hobbits or Lilliputians or Oompa-Loompas, for all I care," Daniel hissed through a gritted smile. "Just think of them as adults, all right?"

Jack resisted the temptation to elbow him back, or possibly stamp on his foot. He did allow himself the luxury of sing-songing "Keebler Elves!" under his breath, though, before going back to pasting a friendly, relaxed, make-nice-with-the-natives expression on his face.

*

"Ladies and gentleman," Daniel breathed, staring up at the sky. "I think this is Thor's chariot."

"An Asgard mothership," Teal'c clarified, his own dark eyes shining with approval.

The team watched with something close to awe as the massive ship descended and a strong, wide beam of light suddenly engulfed the Jaffa. Warriors, equipment, ships, even the pyramids vanished in the beam. Seconds later, all signs of Goa'uld occupation had vanished. There would still be plenty of damage, of course, homes to repair and wounded to heal, but at least now the Cimmerians had a real chance to recover.

And maybe, just maybe, Earth would have the chance to meet properly with Thor and --

A final burst of light, and Gairwyn was standing there, her face alight with joy.

"The Ettins are gone!" she announced, beaming. "Thor sends his thanks. It was your help that made this possible."

Well, that part was good. And so was the intel Gairwyn was offering, explaining who the Asgard really were. But...

"I'd still like to meet the old guy," Jack tried.

"Well, he said that, like us, you're still much too young," Gairwyn explained. Her smile seemed a bit apologetic, but she had no trouble accepting Thor's decision.

Jack smiled back. He really did. And if Gairwyn didn't notice how forced it was... good.

He exchanged a wordless glace with Daniel, whose own smile seemed as strained as his own, and wondered when Earth would be allowed off the kiddies' table.

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