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Friday, December 2nd, 2016 01:16 pm
This is the second half of Kidfic Alphabet Soup. Other links are Kidfic Alphabet Soup (A-M) and the Table of Contents.

N is No One Gets Left Behind
by [personal profile] sg_wonderland

Gus was busy stacking firewood when he heard his neighbor shouting his name. “Gus? You got any rope? We got a kid in the pond.”

Gus dropped his ax and ran to his shed where his grandson was puttering with an old lawn mower. “Jack, grab me that rope. Hurry.” Jack snatched it and followed him, running to keep up.

“What's going on?”

“Don says there's a kid fell through the ice.”

Jack felt a shudder run through him. If there was one thing his granddad had pounded into his head was that he was not to go out on the ice without someone with him and certainly not this late in the season.

They broke through the trees to find a dozen or so folks standing on the shore, gesturing across the ice. There was a hole, about twenty feet from shore and a dark head bobbing in the water.

“Crow,” Gus grabbed a tall, thin man. “What can we do?”

“We've called the fire department but I...I don't think we can wait. I tried going out there but the ice won't support my weight.”

“Damn,” Gus looked around. “And you're the lightest one out here.”

“I'll go,” a young voice piped up.

Stunned, Gus whirled around. “Jack!”

“I'm the littlest one here, I don't weigh much.” He thumbed his chest.

“Jack, I am not letting you go out there. No damn way.”

“Gus, we could tie him off, let him crawl out there.”

Gus yelled, “Have you lost your mind? I'm not sending a child out there.”

Jack had grabbed the rope and starting knotting it. “Tie it around my waist.”

“Here,” Crow took the rope.

Gus grabbed Jack by the elbows. “Jack, slow down, think about this.” He stared into intense, suddenly adult brown eyes.

“Granddad, that kid's drowning, we can't just do nothing.”

Gus sighed, then took the rope. “Okay tie it around his waist and loop it though his belt loops. Jack, you holler when you've got hold of him and we'll pull you both in.” He took a deep breath. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“We can't just leave him out there to die.”

*

Jack inched his way across the ice, holding his breath as if that would make him weigh less. “Hey, hold on, I'm coming,” he shouted.

“Hurry, I can't hold on!” The voice was weak, frightened.

“Okay, grab hold.”

“I can't let go of Freddie!” The boy cried.

“Freddie?” Jack was shocked.

“My dog. If I let go, he's going under.”

“Man, I can't pull both of you out. Reach out, now!”

“No,” the boy was now sobbing.

“For crying...” Jack swore. “Can you pull him out of the water?” He hoped it was a small dog; if it was a big one, they were all three goners.

“I'll try.”

Jack saw a couple of paws scrabbling for purchase on the ice. He jolted forward, reaching as far as he could and finally got a grip on a sodden hairy leg. He yanked as hard as he could and the dog popped out of the water with a squeal. Without looking, Jack slung the dog behind him. “Come on, give me your hand.”

“Freddie!”

“I got your damned dog now give me your hands!” Jack got hold of mittens, then worked his way up until he had a good grip of the collar of the boy's coat. “Pull!” He shouted as loud as he could, feeling the boy's weight as he slid up on the ice, which was still slivering ominously. Slowly, they slid away from the hole and onto firmer ice. Jack could hear the continuous cries of “Pull!” behind him.

“Where's Freddie?”

Wildly, Jack looked around. Freddie was frantically skittering on the ice, his paws slipping and sliding, skidding back toward the center of the pond. Smothering an oath and breathing heavily, he took a better grip with his left hand and released his right hand momentarily, long enough to grasp whatever part of the dog he could get to. “Here,” Jack shoved the dog toward the boy, trapping him between the two of them. “Hang the hell on to him.”

It seemed like hours until Jack finally felt hands on his ankles, then his legs, firmly pulling them off the ice.

*
“Jack,” he looked up from his seat on the floor in front of the roaring fireplace. The rescued boy and his dog had been whisked away by the fire department and Gus had rushed Jack home for a hot shower, a change of clothes and a mug of chocolate. Gus fumbled, “That was an awful brave thing you did today, buddy.”

Jack ducked his head and blushed. “It was nothing. I knew you guys weren't going to let me fall in or anything.”

“It was still brave. I'm very proud of you.”

Jack hoped his flushed face was because of the fire but he suspected it was the warm feeling of praise from his normally taciturn grandfather. “Well, you and Dad always said that we should help people if we can. And you wouldn't have left him behind either, would you?”

Gus sighed at those earnest brown eyes. “No, I wouldn't. Still,” he looked down at his big strong hands that continued to tremble just a bit. “I...I just think we shouldn't mention this to your mother. At least for a while.”

Jack grinned. “She might be pretty mad, huh?”

Gus grinned back. “No 'might' to it, bud.”

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O is for Other Perspectives
by [personal profile] fignewton

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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by [personal profile] ivorygates

There are few birds on Abydos.

Dr. Daniel Jackson’s unmediated relocation to a planet several thousand light-years across the galaxy (the Egyptian word “million” basically means “lots and lots”) was, like so many adventures of his recent past, a combination of whimsy, inspiration, and blind luck. Unlike any of them, he did it for love. Unlike many of them, it seems to be working out. Like all of them, it has its unexpected moments.

He knew, for example, that the Egyptian culture transplanted to Abydos by Ra more than five thousand years before had been kept in an artificial stasis by its evil alien overlord. He knew, also, that despite Ra's best efforts, it had changed--the fact that it had taken him so long to learn to speak to the Abydans was proof of that.

Beyond that, he hadn't given the matter much thought. Sha're was here, and he loved her, and there was nothing for him back on Earth: his worldly possessions had consisted of two suitcases full of books and a few changes of clothes, and he'd brought most of the books with him.

Still, he felt strangely alone after Colonel O'Neill and the survivors of the Abydos Expedition had left. At least after the flurry of work they'd done to block the Gate, and the long trek back to Nagada.

The Abydans could neither read nor write. Ra had forbidden it. Daniel meant to change that. But aside from Sha're (beloved rebel), the Abydans had little interest in learning. Even Skaara was more interested in the guns the soldiers had left behind than in either the Western alphabet or hieroglyphics.

But Daniel was determined. And when the teacher is determined, the students will appear.

"This, Dan'yel! What is this?" Wenef demanded, pointing at the picture in one of Daniel's precious books.

On Abydos, the men worked in the naquadaah mine, the women spun and wove and cooked and planted crops, and the older boys hunted and herded. Even though nobody now worked the mine, the only group with any particular leisure time was the younger children. Abydans adored their children. So many had been taken from them by Ra that every young life was precious.

Daniel peered at the object in Wenef's hands. He had no idea how the copies of National Geographic had gotten into his suitcase full of books, but at least they had pictures.

"It's a penguin, Wenef," he answered. "A penguin is a bird. They can't fly, though. Actually, they swim, but--"

Wenef, however, was no longer listening. At the word "bird", he had leaped to his feet, and, arms outstretched, had begun doing the dreaded "chicken dance". "Baaaaaaaw!" he shouted. "Baw! Baw! Baw!" The other children immediately joined in. Sha're's soft laughter mingled with the shouting.

"No," Daniel said, rescuing the precious magazine. "No, actually, penguins don't go 'baw-baw-baw'. They sort of..." His voice trailed off. He had no idea what sound a penguin made.

"Tell me, husband, of this 'pan-kwin'," she said, sitting down beside him and taking the magazine from his hands reverently.

Daniel smiled at her. "Well," he said, I guess I'd have to start by telling you about snow..."

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Q is for Quest… for Courage
Her Grandmother's Legacy
by [personal profile] traycer

"I'm not used to waking up before the sun," Cassie said as she sat down at the table. She looked over at her new mother and felt like crying. Everything was so different and she wondered if she would ever feel like she belonged in this world.

"Come on," Janet said with a smile. "It's not so bad." She seemed to think about that for a minute, then said, "Well, at least during the school year. Once summer comes along, you can sleep in as long as you want." She smiled at Cassie, then added, "Eat your breakfast, sweetie. You don't want to be late for your first day of school."

Cassie looked down at the bowl of cereal, wondering if she should admit that she really didn't want to go at all. She closed her eyes, trying hard to chase away her fears, but she couldn't shake it. No matter how hard she tried.

If only she could run to her grandmother's house. Whenever things got too scary, or she was sad, she'd follow the path behind her mother's house, past the field of wild flowers that never seemed to fade, and across the little bridge her father had built over the stream. Grandmother would scold her for not facing up to what was bothering her, then hug her tightly and hand her a sweet biscuit to munch on. Cassie could almost smell the bread that her grandmother always had in the oven.

She came out of the memory when Janet sat down next to her and wiped away Cassie's tears. "Oh honey," she said. "What's wrong?"

Cassie couldn't speak. She tried, but the lump in her throat was too big. She let the tears fall instead as Janet pulled her into a tight hug and smoothed her hair as she whispered words of comfort. "It's okay, baby. I promise. It's all right. Everything is going to be okay."

Cassie tried to stop. Foolish tears, her grandmother would say. But she cried anyway, and tried to believe her new mother's words. It could be okay. All she needed to do was face this.

"Want to tell me what's wrong," Janet said when Cassie sat back and wiped at the tears. She turned Cassie's face toward her and gave her an encouraging smile. "Cassie?"

Cassie tried to smile, but it didn't last. "I'm scared," she said softly, taking comfort in Janet's understanding smile. "What if they don't like me? What if they find out that I'm from another world?"

Janet heaved a sigh, then said, "Don't you worry about that. You are going to have lots of friends." She hugged Cassie again. "As for you being from somewhere else…" she nodded wisely, a gesture that brought back more memories of her grandmother, then added, "You won't be the only one. Most of those kids at that school come from military families. More than half of them came here from all over the place."

Cassie hadn't thought of that and already felt a little better. "Really?" she couldn't help but ask.

Janet nodded and touched her forehead to Cassie's. "Really," she said, then smiled brightly at her as she sat back. She picked up a piece of toast and spread some jelly on it. "Here. You should eat something before you head out."

Cassie took it, memories of her grandmother's kitchen flooding through her as she took a bite. "Face those fears Cassandra," her grandmother used to say. I will, Cassie thought as she gave her new mother a tearful smile.

"Okay," she said with the courage she had been looking for. "I'm ready."

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R is for Reading
by [profile] antonomasia09
The Priors give Adria two books. One is THE Book - the Book of Origin. The other is the diary of Neelis, a heretic.

“Read this one first,” they tell her, indicating the holy book.

She is the will of the Ori, but she is still young, and in need of guidance, so she does as they ask.

In the Book of Origin she finds comfort, strength, purpose, understanding. The diary she finds confusing, and it makes her angry. Why would anybody reject the teachings of Origin?

“Why did you want me to read a heretic’s diary?” she asks them afterwards.

“So that you will be familiar with the rhetoric of those who oppose Origin, and be prepared to counter it,” they answer.

Quick research in the archives reveals that Neelis was burnt on the ara, a sacrifice to cleanse his soul and increase the power of the Ori. Adria’s mother was burnt on the ara as well, but survived.

Adria wonders if her mother ever read Neelis’ work. She wonders if Vala ever wrote her own. She wonders if she herself is doomed to burn. After all, if Adria’s words can’t sway Vala, how can they convert a whole galaxy?
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S is for Shadows and Substance
by [personal profile] thothmes

The Dwelling of Ronac, First Prime of Cronus

Ronac rose from his seated position in front of the family altar at the completion of his kel'noreem, snuffing out each candle swiftly with a quick pinch of the fingers. He was careful not to linger with his fingers on the wick too long. Too short a pinch, and the embers would continue to glow, and the flame might rise again. Too long and he would burn his fingers, and his simbiote would not be pleased. It was his duty to please the young god within.

The sun had not yet crested the hills, but already a weak grey light allowed the outlines of the window openings to be seen. Moving silently, so as not to disturb the devotions of his wife, who had not yet emerged from the women's cubical, he walked silently over to the small enclosure where his son lay. Already three months old, and yet unnamed, because it was the place of a father to name him, and Ronac had been away in service to his God, Cronus, may his will prevail in the Counsels of the Gods, and may He be ever victorious. He had returned after many battles. My Lord Cronus was ever more daring in choosing his opponents and his strategies, seeking always to gain power and control, and Ronac had experienced moments of doubt, but as his simbiote reminded him even now, with a twinge in his gut, that was Ronac's failure of devotion. He should have had faith in the true glory of his God.

The boy slept, small thumb hanging from the edge of his mouth, dark, soft, whisps of baby hair plastered in sweat across his brow, chubby cheeks moving as if dreaming of sucking from his mother's breast. Ronac felt a pang, a shiver of fear. He was so small. He had no prim'ta to protect him. Many young Jaffa died in the years before they came of age to receive one, as was right and proper, since only the strong should be granted the gift of long life and vibrant health that the gods gave. Ronac had been shocked on his return, when his wife had put this tiny scrap of a thing into his arms.

"He is too small!" he had gasped, and looked at his wife with disapproval. She was tall, among Jaffa women, only a few inches shorter than he himself, but she was slender. Perhaps he should not have married her for her strong character, and her ready smile. Their offspring was small and weak, and would not thrive.

And she laughed at him! At her husband that she should serve without question as a Jaffa warrior serves his Lord!

"Had he been born any bigger, he would have been the death of me, his shoulders were so broad, even with the help my prim'ta grants, and he grows like the belly of Nerus at a feast!"

Still, he was so light, so small, so very easy to harm. And he needed a name.

Carefully, gently, stealthily Ronac rolled his sleeping son over onto his corded forearm and lifted him to his chest, but in spite of all his care, the baby woke, his dark grey baby eyes, not yet the deep dark brown they someday would be, rimmed with dark black lashes, looked up at his father, and he smiled the powerless, toothless smile of all small babes. This small scrap of life could not even bite his enemies yet.

Did I say "powerless"? whispered Ronac's mind. I am First Prime to a System Lord, and yet he has conquered my heart

He heard the soft padding of bare feet on the stone flags behind him, and his wife appeared, fresh from her kel'noreem, and she took the boy deftly from him, apologizing as she did so that he had been forced to attend to him. Jaffa children were the province of their mother until they were old enough to be sent to begin training just as they grew old enough to lose their first milk teeth.

Ronac watched her change the boy's diaper cloths with practiced ease, and put him to her breast, speaking softly to him. She had no fear. She lived each moment as if the boy's survival was foretold in the temple. It came to him then, as it should have long and long ago. When it came to giving her fragile heart, his wife, no matter how slender her long neck, no matter how gracile her arms, was stronger than him. She had to be.

He watched them for a moment, the boy snuffling and suckling, fingers splaying and feeling their way across his mother's breast, the chubby brown legs squirming in delight, his wife's face bent down to gaze into the boys eyes, singing a song of a mother's pride in her warrior son that his own mother had sung to him.

Perhaps the boy would grow to be a mighty warrior, broad of shoulder, carrying the bulk and muscle of one who would excel at feats of strength. And perhaps he would not, and he would be called to join the ranks of the priests. Ronac hoped he would live long enough to find out the answer. But if he took after his mother, and carried her spirit in him on his journey, he would be fine, no matter what happened.

Ronac walked over to the chair where his wife sat, and took her by the free hand. She looked up at him, questioning, and he gazed at her with love.

"I have chosen the boy's name," he said. "I name him for the character of his mother."

Her look was questioning, patient, but she remained silent.

"He shall be Teal'c for your great strength."

"Teal'c," she whispered, gazing on their son, "Your father honors me, even as he honors you. May you die free!"

"Aahhhhh" cooed Teal'c with a milky smile. But babies too have their work, and after that he said no more but applied himself with deep concentration to emptying the other breast.


Maple Street, across from the playground of the Carl O. Janson Elementary School Playground

Officer Charlie O'Neill sat on the hood of his police cruiser, and took a last draw on his cigarette, before throwing it down on the pavement, and snuffing it out with the ball of his shoe. Really, he should stop smoking. It would set a good example for the kid, and it would make his wife happy, but it was too late now, really. Pointless. The doc said they could cut out the lung, buy him some time, and the guy from the union said that his medical would cover it, and he could go on disability for as long as he lasted. He thought about it, hand to God he did, for all of five seconds, but then he said no. If he had to go, he'd go, He just hoped he had the courage to see it through. He needed to be brave. For the boy. For Jack.

That was why he was here, on a Tuesday afternoon, just as the school bell was about to ring. After the appointment, and the meeting with Mike from the union, and the call to the doctor's office, he needed to see his boy. He was worried about Jack. How would he learn how to be a good man without his father to show him?

Charlie took a deep sniff, and gazed up at the sky. He was not going to cry. Yeah, it was tough luck, but he would not cry, and especially he was not going to cry right out here on Maple Street, in front of all the kids. He was a grown man, dammit!

Joe, in the passenger side, was radioing the station to let them know where they were stopped. He had let Charlie be, given him space, asked no questions, and now he was running interference with the station. Good man, Joe.

Oh, he didn't worry about how his family would survive. His partner Joe and the guys down at the station would make sure the union did right by them, that they didn't want for anything.

But his wife just didn't understand how it was, to be a man. She wanted to soften Jack. Lately she'd been telling him that he needed to do something about Jack getting in fights. Oh, he'd seen the signs as much as she had, the torn t-shirts, the bruise here or there, the scrapes. The boy was quick, though. No black eyes. Charlie was kinda proud about that. He'd tried to explain to Kate that fighting was part of growing up. That there was a word for boys who didn't fight. The word was "sissy," and no O'Neill boy was going to grow up to be a sissy.

That was the whole problem with this cancer thing, Charlie thought, bending forward to hack, laboring for a few seconds before spitting on the road and lighting another cig. Fighting he knew how to do, but how could he fight his own body? He felt helpless. Helpless was not manly, so he couldn't let that show. He needed to show Jack how to be a man. How to face disaster like it didn't hurt.

The bell rang, and kids began streaming out of the school, and making their way home. There were orderly lines of kids with satchels, coats that were too warm for the mid-afternoon sun but had been necessary in the chill of morning over their shoulders, walking single file to the two waiting busses. Some kids burst out, like popcorn from a pan when the lid came off, and tore off home, yelling and whooping for all the world like it was June and summer awaited, leaving a scattering of mimeographed homework sheets here and there as they went. Some parents would be walking them back to look for those later! But where was Jack?

It took Charlie a while, but there he was, his short hair sticking up in the back since his mother's earnest wet combing of the morning had long worn off, army surplus day pack dragging down past his rump, and gaping open at the top. He was dragging his sweater in the dirt, and moving with some purpose toward a slight red headed kid, with hunched shoulders and thick black-rimmed glasses. The kid had BULLY ME written all over him, and it made Charlie proud to see Jack heading over to escort the kid home, right up until Jack sucker punched him. From behind. A smaller kid. With glasses.

Charlie dropped the cigarette, and began to run. Behind him he heard the cruiser door slam and the slap of running feet. It might only be two seven year old boys on a playground, but Joe, as always, had his back.

Well he was caught red handed being a bully, but the kid had cool. Within seconds, his father had him by the armpits, dangling five feet in the air, and the kid was trying to kick and flail his way out of the hold.

"You put me down right now,Mister!" he was yelling in his high boy's voice.

Then he saw Joe, who was helping the red headed kid up, and must have realized that he person holding him up was his dad, because he went limp, and waited to be put down. Charlie obliged, because he was trying to catch his breath.

"Time to lay off the doughnuts and do more jumping jacks, don't you think?" said his loving son.

By that time Charlie had his breath back, and he looked down on his son. The officer was still, even his hands, and his voice was low and quiet. The grunts who had served on Sgt. O'Neill's squad in Korea would have told the boy to run.

"Jonathan James O'Neill," he said. "Why did you do that? And this better be good!"

Joe had found the littler boy's glasses and had cleaned them with his pocket handkerchief, and was placing them gently back on the boy's face.

Jack scuffed his rubber toed Keds sneaker on the blacktop, and looked away from his father's cold dark eyes. Scuff. Scuff. Scuff. Then he looked up and looked his dad in the eyes. Mad as he was, Charlie had to admire the kid's pluck.

"He's annoying! He makes our team lose every time! Mr. Nelson always picks me and Ollie Johnson for captains, but we have an odd number of kids, and Johnson comes before O'Neill in the alphabet so Ollie always gets to pick first, and he is always the leftover 'cause we got a class of 29, and he couldn't dodge a ball if it was lit on fire and had teeth! And he whines! and he always has the right answer and he sits behind me, so if I get the wrong answer to a question, he gets it right and he makes me look stupid! And he can sit still better than a girl, even, so Mrs. McAllister likes him best!"

Mrs. McAllister was a Noted Authority in the O'Neill household of late, and Jack shared her pearls of wisdom frequently around the dinner table, so even though he was still plenty angry at his son, Charlie had to hide a smile. He suspected Jack had saved the worst for last. He also had to ruthlessly quash a glimmer of sympathy a-borning. He remembered all too well how hard it had been to sit still. Just this morning the Captain had spoken to him about fidgeting at roll call. He looked away from Jack and settled down on his haunches to talk to the other boy.

"What's your name, son?" he said gently, noting with relief that the glasses seemed to be undamaged.

"William," the boy said. "William Pankhurst Peterson."

Charlie refrained from rolling his eyes. Pankhurst! Jeez! Poor sucker.

"Well, William, we're going to drive you home and make sure you get there safely. I'm Officer Charles O'Neill, and this is my partner, Officer Joseph D'Abruzzo, and we're policemen here in town. From now on, if my son Jack or any of his friends give you trouble, you just have your mom or your dad call down to the station and ask for us and we will personally make sure that Mrs. McAllister knows exactly what happened, okay?"

He stood up to his full height again and looked down at Jack. If the boy's lip was slightly wobbly, and his eyes were a little shiny, he still stood straight and again looked his father in the eye. Good little man.

"Jack, I don't ever want to see behavior like that again. Not ever. There are times a man needs to fight in this world or bullies will just run right over him. I don't care how annoying anyone is, that is no excuse, do you hear me?"

"Yessir."

"Now earlier, when you told me why you did this, why you were beating up on a smaller kid, were you whining?"

"No, SIR! Well, maybe a little."

"Do we whine?"

"No, sir."

"Next time I see you fighting it better be with some boy who's bigger than you, and it better be to stop someone from bullying. No son of mine is going to be a bully, is that understood?

"Yessir!"

"Now go on home, and tell your mother that I said you are to sit on the piano stool for an hour, by the kitchen timer, and if you wiggle, even a little bit, she is to start the timer over."

Charlie's smile was only half there, and it was not kindly. Jack would spend an hour (or so!) in Hell. Jack sniffed, and blinked, but no tears fell. He didn't argue. He just adjusted his pack and picked up his sweater, and started walking in the direction of home. After twenty feet or so he turned back.

"Dad?" he said, "You take care."

O'Neill-speak for "Pop? I love you."

On the way back to the cruiser with Joe and young William, Charlie took the nearly full cigarette packet out of his breast pocket, and threw it in the trash.


The Kitchen Tent, Abusir Temple Middens Excavation, Abusir, Egypt

Clare Jackson looked up guiltily from the day's paper, and swallowed down the last of her cooling coffee with a grimace. When would she learn not to let her attention span run away with her? Granted, it was a rare treat to get the Times out at the dig, and this one was only two days old, but Mel was probably already hard at work, and the sun was rising. Soon it would be too hot to work outside, and work would have to move into one of the tents until he cool of the evening.

On the way out she passed Daniel, and Fareed, the rais' son. Daniel was patiently showing the older boy how to sound out the letters in his primer. Again. This had to be, what? The third day, and again it was "r-a-s, ras, r-u-s, roos" head, heads she translated into English, and then into Dutch, Old Babylonian, and Ancient Greek, just for the exercise. Farouk, the rais, was a bright fellow, who ought to have been able to get a concession to excavate on his own, if it were not for the fact that he was Egyptian, and concessions were for professors from abroad. Fareed, Clare suspected, was a product of a home birth that did not go exactly according to plan, and was the worse for it. But Daniel, bless him, refused to let Fareed give up on learning to read.

"Rrrrrrr" said Daniel, pointing to the letter at the top right corner of the page, and rolling his "r" in local fashion.

"Ahhhh" The letter just to the left of the first.

"Sssss" To the left of that.

"Rrras."

He resisted the urge to knock wood by rapping Fareed on the head. Knocking on wood was a Western thing, and poor Farouk wouldn't understand it. He'd just wonder sadly why Daniel did that to him. Then he would apologize. He'd been doing that a lot lately.

Daniel pointed to the first letter of the next word.

"Rrrrrr" he said.

And then the miracle happened.

Fareed put his nose nearly on the page, pointed to the letter, and then back at the first letter.

"Those two are the same!" he said.

"Yes," said Daniel. "Noticeably so."

Fareed put his face not three inches from the print, and seemingly breathed it in. He pointed to the page again.

"And that one and that one, those are the same."

"Yes." said Daniel.

He thought for a moment.

He took off his glasses, and handed them to Fareed.

"Try these," he said.

Carefully, as if he was afraid that they would break if he breathed too hard, Fareed put them on, and slowly, rapturously, broke into the biggest grin that either Clare or Daniel had ever seen on anyone. He reached shyly over and touched Daniel's fine slightly reddish brown hair, so smooth and fine and different from his own coarse sleek black hair.

"I can see every one!" he almost whispered. "And over there," he gestured at the desert cliffs across the Nile to the east, "I can see lines in that! It is not just a blob."

"Mom," said Daniel, "Can I?"

She knew what he meant. No explanations were needed.

"Sure," she said.

Daniel got up to head for their sleeping tent, but tripped before he had gone five yards. The desert floor was rocky and uneven. He got up, ignoring his skinned knee, and went back to Fareed, stepping carefully. He lifted the glasses carefully off the other boy's face and put them on his own.

"I'm afraid I need these to see where I am going," he explained. "Wait here!" and he departed again, at a gallop.

A few moments later, he was back, waving his second pair of glasses, his old pair, which they had kept as a back-up plan. Gently, he opened the case, and put the battered old slightly crooked frames on the Egyptian boy's face.

"For you," he said.

Fareed tried hard not to accept them. He was afraid that by admiring Daniel's wonderful glasses, he had obligated the Jacksons to give him a pair. It was a terrible breach of manners to make someone have to to give you what they need! Back and forth the two boys argued.

Daniel won.

"No, Fareed." he said. "You must take these, because you are my friend."

With that settled, the two boys sat down with the primer again, and Clare set off to join her husband.

" Was reading the paper today," she said as she settled into her square next to his, "All that news about Vietnam, and people burning their draft cards, and I was worried about Daniel. They keep saying the Americans will get out, but it just drags on, and I thought what if when he is eighteen, Daniel is drafted? He's such a gentle soul! How will he manage? But after what I just saw, you know what? He's headed for a student deferment, and a career as a professor, just like his daddy!"

By the time the sun was beating down on them enough that they retreated to the kitchen tent in search of liquids and a light lunch, Fareed was reading, slowly, laboriously, but reading.

As she tucked Daniel in that night, making sure that there was a blanket within reach at the foot of his cot, because the desert air could be cold at night, Clare looked down at her son, blinking owlishly up at her with his clear blue eyes now that his glasses were safely in the case for the night, and his world had shrunk to the small sphere around him that he could see without them. She stroked her right hand over his smooth, soft, rounded little boy's cheek.

"Whatever life brings, mon petit choux, don't ever lose your loving heart, Daniel."

Of all the boys in all the world, hers had the sweetest smile.


Family Housing, Travis AFB, USA

A balding, middle aged full bird colonel was pacing back and forth in front of one of the units of the family housing that clear Saturday afternoon, and blinds were twitching all up and down the street. All but the most recent arrivals to the neighborhood knew who the man was. That was not the question the watchers were asking themselves as they watched the man pace and mutter outside his own front door.

It was Col. Jacob Carter, and what everybody on the street wanted to know, but given what they knew of the colonel's quick wit and sharp tongue, were afraid to ask was "What has gotten Jacob Carter's panties in such a twist?

It was, as a matter of fact, a subject on the periphery of panties that was bothering Jacob. He'd been folding the laundry that had been abandoned in the dryer, wanting to get it out of the way so he could dry a few items of his own, including the shorts that he intended to wear golfing with the general on Sunday afternoon, when he noticed that the panties he was folding were no longer cotton and covered with cartoon daisies. They were plain white, and the waistband had lace. His little girl was growing up.

That was the real problem, and the reason he was marching back and forth, cursing himself for a coward, a lily livered chicken, a pantywaist! If his wife was still here, surely he could have had her talk to Sammie about the changes in her body, the monthly-- well, events that should be happening soon. His little girl!

Whatever happened to the little?

Not a minute, not an hour, not a day passed that he did not miss his beautiful, graceful, challenging, intelligent wife. He didn't need to close his eyes to bring her image to mind. All he needed to do was look at his daughter over the breakfast table. Sammie grew more like her every passing day. But she was gone, and he was the only one left. It was his duty, and Jacob Carter was not a man to shirk his duty.

He squared his shoulders and marched up the front steps to his execution. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the dropping of shades all down the street. He was very tempted to turn and stick out his tongue, but remembered his new rank and did not. Maybe majors did that sort of thing, but not full bird colonels, and certainly not generals!

Samantha, not surprisingly, was in her room, and even less surprisingly, she was working on some sort of problem set. Physics, by the look of it. She hardly noticed him standing in the doorway. After several throat clearings, and a tug on his collar, which seemed to be binding him, she motioned for him to sit on her bed, but went right back to her problem.

Jacob sat at attention, and tried to remember how to swallow.

Well, this is awkward.

Finally, she reached some kind of conclusion, and circled a number at the bottom of the sheet, and transferred it to the space at the end of the question at the top of the page. Then the engagement began.

"Sammie!"

"Dad."

"Sammie."

"Dad?"

They went several rounds before Sam, ever the budding tactician, broke the stalemate.

"I think we have established what we call each other," she said. "Are we doing this for a reason?"

"Well, I really would prefer for your mother to be here to do this--"

"I know, Dad."

Her voice was soft, understanding. A month ago it would have been sharp and accusing. Progress.

"Well, what I came to say--"

Once there were words, and a voice to say them.

Silence stretched out mercilessly. Jake kicked at her rug and fidgeted with the tassels on the bedspread. Sam waited.

This was hard, so hard.

"Do you know the meaning of the word, 'puberty' Sammie?" he finally said, almost in his usual range.

Sam sighed.

"Yes, Dad."

It was the world weary tone of youth, dealing with the astounding stupidity of age.

She uncrossed her legs, and in unconscious imitation of her mother's grace, despite long legs that she had not yet quite grown into, walked across the room, and after a moment's pause, she pulled a book out from her bookshelf.

She walked back and tossed it onto her father's lap.

Our Bodies, Our Selves it said, "By The Boston Women's Health Book Collective."

"That should answer any questions you may have," she said. "It's pretty comprehensive."

She went back to her physics.

For one of the very first times in her memory, her father left without getting in the last word.

And he took the book with him.

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T is for Teal'c
by [personal profile] fignewton

Daniel likes watching Teal'c interact with people.

Most people assume that Teal'c's most dominant persona is the warrior -- the fierce, uncompromising former First Prime who unerringly fires his staff weapon to kill his enemies, who once led large armies and can easily take command when the need arises. (Daniel will cheerfully concede how much he enjoys seeing Teal'c loom, sometimes. Watching Maybourne cower on more than one occasion was particularly satisfying.) Such generalizations are usually made by those who don't know Teal'c well, and never bother to look past those schooled features and raised eyebrow to see the subtle wash of emotion that his teammates can read so easily. Teal'c-watching, when he is interacting with strangers, is sometimes more of a lesson in others than in Teal'c himself, as Daniel observes their reactions and assumptions.

Those that know him a little better recognize the dichotomy of Teal'c being both idealist and realist. He dreams of freedom for his people. He places his faith first in Jack, then in his team and then the Tau'ri. He offers visions of emancipation to enemy Jaffa, even if he willingly fires to kill when they reject his goal of independence from Goa'uld domination. He will walk open-eyed into situations of great risk with the conviction that his own strength of will, coupled with the support of his team, will ensure victory. At the same time, however, Teal'c defines pragmatism: he keeps a wary eye on their supplies, even if his learning curve regarding human needs versus Jaffa ones is rather steep; offers logistical and practical counsel for the most far-fetched scenarios his teammates offer; and never hesitates to do what is necessary for survival. Daniel can still feel the frisson of unease that crawled down his spine when Teal'c so coolly shot his alternate self and stated calmly in explanation, "Our is the only reality of consequence."

(Later, when they learn that Teal'c was secretly convinced at the beginning that there was no path to victory against the Goa'uld, Daniel's awe for Teal'c's ability to combine both pragmatism and idealism to still keep going despite everything multiples exponentially.)

Most fascinating at all, however, is the side of Teal'c that very few outside of SG-1 are privileged to see: Drey'auc and Ry'ac, of course; General Hammond, Janet Frasier, and perhaps a handful of others on base. Daniel isn't even sure that Bra'tac, who himself understands and connects with Teal'c through both their shared culture and decades of deep rapport in a way that his Tau'ri friends know they can never truly comprehend, actually realizes how very, very good Teal'c is at dealing with children.

Daniel himself never gets the opportunity to see Teal'c interacting properly with his own son when Ry'ac is still a child; the first time they meet, the boy is sick and weak, and by the time the team sees Ry'ac again, he is brainwashed and not himself. But Daniel doesn't think that the wonder and sheer happiness he initially saw in Ry'ac's eyes when he talked with Teal'c was only hero-worship for a distant father. Jaffa childhood is flash-fast; aging marks the need for a symbiote, and the Goa'uld do not deign to grant the privilege of survival into adulthood to any child who does not conform in terms of strength and devotion. Yet the Jaffa cherish their young all the more for the brevity of their existence. It is surprising, Daniel muses, how easily Teal'c accepts that other peoples measure "childhood" so differently, and how he treats the various children he meets in precisely the most appropriate fashion.

Daniel's first opportunity to see Teal'c's behavior with children is on Hanka, when they stumble upon Cassandra, the sole survivor of an entire planet. Cassandra is a happy, confident adult now, matured and refined by her successions of loss and grief; but Daniel still remembers the very small child she had been, a little kid trembling in the bushes, too afraid of the human members of the team in their MOPP suits to risk coming out into the open. Jack, instructing Teal'c to try and coax her out, rather dubiously instructed him, "Try to look friendly."

But Jack's advice wasn't necessary. The first genuinely gentle smile the team ever saw graced Teal'c's face as he crouched down. "We will not hurt you," Teal'c promised the little girl, his deep, rich voice a soothing bass. "Please come out."

And Cassandra did, placing her tiny hand in Teal'c's huge one.

Daniel can still recall his fascination at Teal'c's suddenly-revealed ability. It's not as if Teal'c is someone who usually knows how to put people at ease; a similar attempt at reassuring Jamal, back when they grappled with Jonas Hansen and his delusions of grandeur, had been pretty much disastrous. But even if Teal'c struggles to discard enough of his Jaffa persona to convince an adult, he has no difficulty when it comes to comforting and supporting a child.

Daniel watches Teal'c dealing with kids of varying ages, over and over again. He never tires of the wonder of seeing his large, formidable friend suddenly making himself appear smaller, less threatening, a person that a child can trust. Jack, too, possesses this talent, and Daniel idly considers that this ability might somehow be inherent in those that make good fathers. It's an experience that he himself never had, but... (He closes that line of speculation when his heart aches for Sha're's loss and Shifu's absence.)

Even when staggering under the deadly weight of mutation into a nest of creatures that will consume his body, Teal'c manages to befriend Aylee and create a desperately-needed ally. It is a revelation to see Teal'c himself with a more carefree persona, gleefully weighing the water pistol in his hand before casually soaking Daniel and almost bouncing off to participate in a water fight.

Charlie, the child created by the Reetou, had little chance to interact with Teal'c; his terror of Teal'c as Jaffa, coupled with Teal'c's own painful reactions to the presence of "Mother," made that impossible. Tomin of Orban, on the other hand, immediately recognized Teal'c as a dangerous warrior, yet easily sat down to discuss Goa'uld tactics with him. Teal'c had no trouble shifting from "talking to children" mode to "talking to allies" mode, as this was clearly what Tomin wanted and expected. And yet, when Tomin's mind and self was lost to Averium and he reverted to even less than the child he truly was, Teal'c didn't hesitate to champion his cause: he was first to protest, first to urge that others shouldn't suffer as Tomin. Daniel's words, "In our cultures, we don't believe in doing anything that results in harming a child," rolled easily off his tongue. He knew that Teal'c agreed with him.

(He closes his mind to what Teal'c might have done and seen in the years as First Prime. Teal'c himself will be the first to agree that he caused Hanno great harm by killing his father, and Daniel is all too aware that the deaths of children likely played a large role in cowing and subduing rebellious people. There's also the vivid, anguished memory of the bodies sprawled around the Gateroom in the pyramid on Abydos, when Daniel himself was too focused on the loss of wife and brother to properly grieve until later. Maybe it's unhealthy to ignore what he knows happened, but the alternative is the inability to do anything at all. The Ancients taught him that one, if no one else.)

Loran, in particular, for all of Jack's natural abilities, seemed to place his trust more in Teal'c. Without the rapport that both Jack and Teal'c established, they never would've found a way to get safely home. He never does find out the full story behind it, but the sight of Teal'c carefully securing the toy gun Loran gave him as a birthday gift leaves Daniel with an ache in his heart.

(Loran is one of their success stories, as they traced the clues and prompted enough memories to find his home planet and reunite him with relatives. It's a sobering thought that their greatest successes with kids seem to involve children who have lost everything. But doesn't that circle back to the Goa'uld, as so many things do?)

So many children, over the years... Daniel doesn't know what happened while he was gone with Oma, but he watches as Teal'c deals with Nevin, with Nesa, with a vast array of children from different planets and cultures. He sees Teal'c playing catch with the local kids during his short-lived residency outside the base; he observes how the children of SGC personnel, blessedly innocent of their own parents' unspoken wariness, climb all over Teal'c at the annual SGC summer picnic. Through all of it, Teal'c manages to respond to each individually child on their own level, according to the expectations of their culture, and inspire confidence and trust.

(He was, Daniel admits to himself, in some ways very childlike when the team first discovered him on Vis Uban, and once again, it was Teal'c who knew how to talk to him, how to soothe his fears of the unknown and coax him to make the tremendous leap of faith and go back to Earth.)

Even now, with the grey streak in his hair that bears silent witness to five lost decades, Daniel suspects that Teal'c will outlive them all. There's an odd comfort in knowing that the man who once depended on a Goa'uld symbiote to survive, who faced the risk of casual death, on a daily basis is now the father of a happily-married son, with every expectation of grandchildren in the near future. Daniel doesn't expect that he or Sam or Jack or Jonas or Cam or Vala will ever have children of their own; some of them are too scarred, some too busy, and Sam, in particular, is perfectly happy with her life just the way it is. So it is Teal'c who will perpetuate SG-1's heritage, both with the memories he can offer the next generation and the next generation he can offer.

The legacy of SG-1, Daniel decides, couldn't possibly be in better hands.

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U is for Uncommon Threads
by [personal profile] eilidh17
Uncommon Threads

Chapter 1

~Threads~


“I tell ya, I’m going nuts!”

I thought my little declaration would get a bite out of Carter, but nope. A slight shudder—as though I caught her off-guard—is the most she gives me, preferring, instead, to keep her gaze fixed on whatever it is that has her so damn glued to her laptop.

Now, see, this is a change from the Carter of not so long ago. There was a time when me strolling into her lab had her straining every muscle to come to attention. It was respect back then. Now? Nadda. Don’t get me wrong, though, because her turning up in my office is a different thing. She gets all tense—checking the proverbial coast is clear of ‘our’ leg-hugging tyke—before she’ll even dare to utter a word. See, our tyke is one freshly descended and very smaller than normal archaeologist, who—for reasons we can only speculate over—has a deep seeded fear of Carter.

Last time any of us saw Daniel, he was picking off bugs with a P90 before being mysteriously zipped away. According to Carter, the Replicators beamed him up with their nifty beaming thingy. They did the same thing to her not too long ago, only back then it was a lovesick Fifth with an axe to grind and some deluded fantasy to fulfill.

Anyway, after the whole kidnapping Daniel incident, the Replicators started to make good on their plan for galactic domination and did a real number on the System Lords. If anyone expected me to get all teary-eyed over their loss, they’d be sadly mistaken. The Replicators, however, didn’t stop at snacking on Hat’aks. Nope, they decided to advance on Dakara. The Tok’ra poked their heads into proceedings—okay, just Jacob—and then Ba’al showed up for the party dressed in his gooldy best and forcing his ‘higher than thou’ attitude down our throats. Anubis got himself lost somehow; and Carter and Jacob reprogrammed the weapon at Dakara, sending a lovely message to the Replicators, who went to pieces. Literally.

Would have been quite the heroic ending if not for Jacob and Selmac checking out on life towards the end. Not taking away anything from the old General’s death, but I could feel the seams of Earth’s already shaky friendship with the Tok’ra fraying just that little bit more. All in all, it was a pretty crappy couple of days. Carter had lost her father and we’d lost Daniel.

Or so we’d thought.

Really, should have known something was up. Ya, see, during all of this there were a few freaky things that made me wonder if our formerly ethereal teammate hadn’t dipped his toes in the Ascended pond again. I was gonna kick his butt six ways to hell if he had, but at the same time, those instances of freakishness saved our collective assets.

In that moment of quiet that inevitably comes into being after such a hectic week of playing hero, what was left of SG-1, that old coot Bra’tac, and yours truly, gathered around the hallowed oak table for a briefing.

“I still don’t understand what happened,” Carter says, looking more than a little perplexed. She hates it when there’s a mystery to be solved and she doesn’t have all the clues. “One minute Anubis is about to push the button that ends all life in the galaxy and the next minutes he’s just… gone.”

Hey, I don’t have a problem with that!

“Indeed, it is a great mystery,” Teal’c readily agrees with a raised eyebrow. How does the man do that?

Bra’tac, who I never truly took for being a great believer in all this Ancient mumbo jumbo and gobbledygook, decided he’d found some faith. “One can only assume he was vanquished by some beings. If not, why would he forfeit the weapon and his army?”

Damn! I hate it when the old guy makes sense…which is most of the time. Carter obviously agrees with him, and for once, we find ourselves locking gazes in some kind of freaky understanding.

“You think?” she says to me, using my favorite catch phrase.

“I do.” Heck, what else was I supposed to say? To disagree would require me to give a reason why, and I don’t do that whole subjective reasoning thing very well.

“It’s the only thing that would explain the self destruct not going off.”

Hmm…bad wiring? Replicators in the circuitry? Bats in the belfry?

“Of what do you speak?” Bra’tac asks.

“O’Neill believes that Daniel Jackson was somehow responsible.”

I do? Sure, why not.

Before I can answer in my own defense, there is a flash of light from my office that triggers the base alarms.

“Sir?” Carter starts to stand, rubbing her eyes. “I think it came from your office.”

Really? What gave it away? The blinding flash? “Stay here,” I order in my best base commander voice. Naturally, no one listens to me. Teal’c is off down the stairs, probably looking for a weapon. Carter decides to cover my six, while Bra’tac covers hers. Old geezer!

I peer around the door jamb, expecting Thor to be sitting in my chair or a Replicator to be hanging from the light fittings, but instead—and much to my total dismay—I find a kid curled up on my desk, totally buck naked and shivering.

“Carter, get me a blanket.” My ever ‘thinking on her feet’ 2IC decides to improvise and pulls down the SGC flag, offering it up to me. “You call this a blanket?”

“Close enough,” she shrugs.

At the same moment our mysterious kid springs from my desk and all but leaps into my arms, his mouth open in a silent scream, eyes locked firmly on Carter.



Chapter 2

~The Smallest Thread~


I gotta feel sorry for Doc Brightman. She gets this perpetual ‘deer in the headlights’ look on her face every time something new and perplexing is thrown her way. Us turning up in her infirmary with a flag shrouded kid glued firmly to my chest was one of those occasions. Much like Teal’c, the good Doc tends to speak with her eyebrows, lifting one to indicate a question, and two for something akin to ‘what the heck!’. This time, though, her face is unreadable, which is just plain scary.

She motions for me to put the kid on the nearest gurney, but my little limpet had other ideas. He’s got me in a death grip so fierce that I can feel my circulation starting to seize up.

“Here, let me try,” she offers, attempting to uncurl his fingers from my shirt. Kinda reminds me of that scene in Alien where they’re trying to peel the face sucker off the guys head, and I have an acid spurting thought as she slowly releases one finger and then the next.

Carter—all sense of timing and common sense gone down the drain—offers to help out, and even before she’s taken one step forward, the kid stiffens in my arms and head butts me in the face.

“Back up, Carter!” I order, sure he’s split my nose in two. Hands raising in surrender, Carter gets the message loud and clear and slowly moves away. In the end, and much to my relief, Brightman orders everyone out of the infirmary except me and the kid, and sets about getting us settled on a bed.

“Can you tell me what happened, General?” she asks, pen poised and ready to make notes.

Let’s see, what did happen? “Well, we lost our archaeologist and gained a kid.” I guess that about sums it up.

“You’re saying this is Doctor Jackson?”

Did I say that? “Did I say that?” Is there an echo in here?

“Well, that’s what you inferred.”

“Look, Doc. One minute we were in a briefing, next minute there’s this bright light in my office, alarms going off everywhere, and I find junior here curled up on my desk.”

“I heard the base alarms,” she says with a nod of agreement. “And you have no idea who this is?”

Said limpet appears to have fallen asleep with his head under my chin, drooling happily away on my best BDU blues.

“Not a clue,” I say with all confidence.

“So, not Doctor Jackson then?”

“Well, if it is, he’s lost a little weight, not to mention some height.”

As she’s scrawling away on her notepad, she mumbles, “Not the strangest thing I’ve seen around here.”

I pretend I didn’t hear her. “What was that?”

She looks up at me. “Nothing, sir. I’ll need to get a blood sample from him.”

“Yeah, and you might want to check for bombs in the teeth… you know, that sort of thing. Wouldn’t be the first time the goold have used a kid to get at us.”

“You think the Goa’uld beamed him into your office?”

“No, I think this kid was descended into my office, but that shouldn’t stop you from checking him out anyway.”

“Descended?”

“Yeah, the whole naked thing is a bit of a giveaway. When Shamda and his goat boys found Daniel, they said his arrival was preceded by a bright flash of light, before he appeared on the ground, buck naked.”

Slightly puzzled, she replies slowly, “I guess that makes sense.”

Hallelujah! Someone gets the whole naked thing. Now perhaps she can explain it to the rest of us. “It does?”

“Well, it makes sense as to why you would think he was descended.”

Do’h! So close! “How ‘bout you stick him while I hold on tight for the ride. Unless you think zatting him might be a better option?” I am kidding, of course.

“General, zatting isn’t a recognized or approved form of sedation.”

Woman does not understand my brand of humor.


Chapter 3

~Pulling the Thread~



Doc opted for a quick jab of her ‘approved’ sedation, before she ran the kid through every test known to mankind, and a few I’m sure she made up along the way. At that point I was starting to wonder if Fraiser had left a handbook of ‘how to do’ in her office before she died. Wouldn’t surprise me really, woman was a true legend.

Limpet, as I’ve christened him, has been unfurled from his flag and draped in an over-sized pair of scrubs with the arms and legs rolled up.

“You can stand down the bomb squad, General.” Brightman returns Limpet’s chart to the slot at the end of the bed and moves to check on the monitors she’s attached him to. “There was nothing abnormal in his preliminary blood work.”

“No bombs hidden in teeth, odd mechanical heart doodads?”

“He’s a perfectly normal human child of approximately five years of age.”

“What about his DNA?”

“Well, it’s safe to say he has some,” she replies, deadpan.

Damn! She does understand my humor! I’m in the company of a professional comedian.

“Funny, doc.”

She gives me a small smile, the first I’ve seen from her since she took over the CMO position from Fraiser.

“The DNA will take a while longer.”

Really? Well, that’s sworn me off all those Maury Povich ‘Who’s your daddy’ programs for life. “Then when can we expect him to wake up?”

Brightman nods towards the bed. “He’s awake now.”

What? I turn my attention back to Limpet, who is staring up at me from under a whorl of bed head hair, one hand curled under his chin. I’m not sure why I didn’t notice this the first time we locked eyes in my office—perhaps it was the whole naked kid on my desk, alarms blaring, blinding light drama—but he has the most brilliant blue eyes. That is, once I’ve pushed aside a few unruly blond bangs to find them.

I hook a plastic chair with my foot and drag it over, parking my weary butt alongside his bed. “Hey,’ I offer in my best caring tone. “You got a name?”

Limpet blinks slowly and licks his lips, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to answer me.

But he says nothing.

“Okay, well, I’m Jack,” I say, pointing to my chest as if to emphasize my identity. “And this,” I toss a thumb over my shoulder at Brightman, “is Doctor Brightman.”

“I don’t think he understands you, sir.”

Really? What gave that away? “You wanna try?”

“He either can’t understand you or can’t hear you.”

“Oh, he can hear alright. How do you explain his reaction to Carter? He definitely heard her before he saw her.”

“You didn’t mention that.”

“I didn’t think it was relevant or I would have.”

Brightman steps in closer and crouches down to his eye level, and for a moment it looks like she is going to pull out her penlight of death and blind the poor kid with it.

“Hello,” she whispers. Now, see, I tried that and it didn’t work.

Limpet, living up to his new name, fixes his gaze firmly on me and appears to ignore her completely. I start to wonder if this is a woman thing he’s got going here, although he hasn’t done that whole stiff as a board and scared witless routine with Brightman.

She stands back up and moves away, telling me she has other patients and that if I have other duties to attend to, she’ll have one of her nurses’ sit with him. I check the time on the wall.

“Na, I’m good,” I say, looking first at the kid and then back at her. “Shoulda bugged out of here a few hours ago.”

After the doc has left, I turn back to Limpet to find him asleep again, hand still tucked under his chin and those errant bangs of his falling against his eye lashes. Whoever this kid is, he’s going to be a real lady-killer when he grows up.



Chapter 4

~Immortal Threads~


“This is a joke, right?” I had an inkling Brightman was a comedian at heart, despite her outwardly cool exterior, but this has gone beyond funny and all the way up to cosmic giddiness. “Oh, I get it.” I waggle a finger in front of my face, a sure sign that I’m on to her attempt at humor. “You think because there’s one of me running about the place that Daniel might like his own… Daniel.” Why doesn’t that sound right? “Right. Gotcha. Did Carter put you up to this, because it’s just the kinda thing she’d do.”

Funny. Brightman doesn’t look amused. “General, if you’d like, I can have Doctor Warner read over these results again and confirm them for you?”

I'm trying my best not to do that whole squinty-eyed, brow-furrowing thing. You know the one that makes it look like I’m so utterly confused that everyone thinks it’s a put on and I actually know more than I pretend to? Oh, they don’t know how wrong they are.

I swallow hard and tear my gaze away from Limpet. “You’re trying to tell me that this… kid… is Daniel?” Huh! I’ve just discovered that I can talk and laugh maniacally at the same time. I think this is what is loosely called desperation.

“The DNA is a perfect match.”

“Clone?”

“We’re not seeing any sign of the genetic drift that is present in the DNA of a clone, so… no.”

“Okay, so what happened to the rest of him? You can’t just shrink a person.”

Brightman looks slightly exasperation. “As this is my first downsizing case, I don’t have any clear answers for you.”

“What about the unclear ones?” Yep, definitely desperation.

“You, yourself, thought the child had descended, so I can only assume something in the process went wrong and resulted in de-aging Doctor Jackson. Or—”

“There’s an or?”

“Or perhaps he was deliberately sent back this way.”

She has a point, albeit a very small one. “You know, this isn’t Daniel’s first trip down Ascension Avenue. He’s been there and got the t-shirt to prove it.”

“I know that. You’re point?”

I step away from the bed and motion for Brightman to follow. No way do I want the kid listening in on this conversation. “My point is that the first time he ascended, he had to die first. Now, with that in mind, it would stand to reason that the Replicators had him killed or were at least responsible for his death.”

“Meaning?”

It's clear Brightman didn’t understand. “I need to speak to Colonel Carter. Call me when he wakes up. No, wait… I’ll have Teal’c come and sit with him.”

“We’re more than capable of looking after him, General.”

“If this is Daniel, then no, I’m not sure you are.”


Chapter 5

~Picking at Threads~


So, here I am in Carter’s lab, ranting about my impending psychological breakdown and subsequent move to mental health, while she pretends to totally ignore me.

At least I think she’s pretending.

“Yo!” I snap my fingers in front of her screen. “Carter!”

She looks up slowly from the monitor and gives me a half-smile. “Sir?”

“You didn’t hear me come in?”

“Are you mad?”

“So, you did hear me?”

“No, sir. I mean, yes, sir. You said you thought you were going mad.”

Hey, no thought required here, it’s more a statement of fact. “I am going mad.”

“Why is that?”

“You haven’t heard?”

Carter goes back to tapping on her keyboard, which I was pretty sure she's doing just to look busy. “About what?” she says without looking up.

I snag a stool and sit down heavily. Her desk is a clutter of bits and pieces from who knows what, and I set about playing with it all, mostly because I like annoying the heck out of her.

“Ah, sir?”

“Yup,” I say, chasing an odd looking battery around her stapler, past her coffee mug, and through some weird alien doohickey that probably should have been crated off to Area 51 years ago.

“Could I have that back?”

“What? This thing?” I tap the battery once, before sending it off on its little obstacle course again.

“Yes.” She plucks the battery up as it rounds the doohickey, heading for home base. “It’s a prototype power core for an Earth-based version of a zat gun.”

“We have those?” Am I not getting memos again? Walter!

“No, sir. We have prototypes, nothing operational.”

“Oh, cool!” Stand down, Walter.

She puts the battery away in the top draw of her desk and leaves me looking for something new to annoy her with.

“So,” she says, sitting back on her stool. “What was it you wanted to tell me?”

“It’s about Daniel.”

Carter sits up straight, her attention now firmly focused on me. “What about him?”

“Well, he’s alive and... well.”

“He is? Why didn’t you tell me? Where is he?”

“Whoa, slow it down here, Carter! My brain can only process one question at a time.”

“Sorry, sir. It’s just that I can’t believe no one told me he was back. Do we know where he’s been?”

“That I can’t answer, but I can tell you where he is.”

“You can? That’s great!”

“He’s in the infirmary.”

She starts to slide off her stool. “Ah, not so fast,” I say before she can make a break for the door. “You can’t see him.”

“Why not?”

“Well, because the last time you got close to him, he nearly split my face in half.”

“He nearly…” Confusion quickly gives way to realization or, in Carter’s case, the light bulb doesn't so much as flick on but explode. “The boy in your office?”

“Yup. The very one. Brightman just confirmed his DNA is a perfect match for Daniel’s. And, before you say it… no, he’s not a clone.”

“But that’s—”

“Impossible! I know!”

“The Ancient’s did this. They had to have.”

Same conclusion I came to, but I want to know her reasoning. “Besides the fact he descended, what makes you think that?”

“Daniel told us that lessers—us mere humans—aren’t capable of ascension without assistance, so it stands to reason that descension would require the same level of intervention. Unless, of course, Daniel figured out how to do it on his own.”

“You think that’s possible?”

“I’d only be speculating, sir, but it does stand to reason that his body might remember what it was like to ascend and descend, making it possible for him to do so on his own.”

“Bit of a stretch, don’t you think?”

Carter shrugs, clearly not taken by her own brilliant reasoning. “Yeah, like I said, it’s pure speculation.”

“Let’s assume that he can’t ascend and descend on his own.”

“Okay.”

“So?” Help me out here, Carter.

“So, if he can’t do it on his own, that would mean that he had to have help.” She pauses for a brief moment of brow furrowing and lip chewing. This is Carter in her deductive reasoning mode, which means I need to brace myself for one of her rambling sessions. “If he had to have help,” she continues on, “then he had to have been dying at the time. Oh my god, sir, the Replicators killed him, and if they didn’t then he had to have died when we activated the weapon on Dakara! They beamed him to one of their ships, which would have disintegrated when the beam hit it!”

Give the girl a kewpie doll! No, wait…

“I don’t suppose you’ve got some brilliant theory as to why Daniel is now a five year old? Archaeologists don’t just get smaller in the cosmic wash. I mean, that’s a hell of a lot of shrinkage we’re talking about here.”

“Is it possible something went wrong during the descension process?”

“I’m the one asking the questions, Carter.” I’m also the one clutching at straws and then mentally turning them into little stick figures out of sheer frustration.

“Then I don’t know. The only person that knows anything about the ascension and descension process is Daniel, and he only knew it while he was ascended.”

“Ah, yes. Amnesia is such a pain in the butt.”

“In the case of his ascended memory, I don’t think the amnesia was to blame.”

“Punishment?”

Carter shrugs. Daniel was sure his ascended memory had been taken from him as punishment for his actions on Abydos. Fraiser, on the other hand, was more clinical in her assessment, and theorized that his brain wasn’t able to hold the knowledge while he was in his human form. She had my experience with that damn head sucker device to back her up. As for me? I blame magnets.

Well, I would have… had I been asked.


Chapter 6

~Annoying Little Threads~


I’ve gotta get used to thinking of this kid as Daniel. Not an easy task, considering the last version we had to play with was more mature and came complete with a P90 and a slightly jaded view of the galaxy. He was a seasoned explorer, academic, and collector of rocks, all of which made him a handy guy to have in the field.

What we have now is anyone’s guess.

Have to hand it to Teal’c; he certainly has a way with kids. Not a very successful way, but he’s putting in a monumental effort to drag some kind of response outta him. I can’t tell from this distance, what with my hearing not quite what it used to be, but I think he’s fallen back on his old Setesh guard joke. Talk about scraping the bottom of the comic relief barrel!

“Hey, Teal’c.” I toss a thumb over my shoulder in the universal sigh for ‘get outta my chair’ and he acquiesces with a nod. “Wanna see what Carter is up to?”

“Is she in need of assistance, O’Neill?”

No, she’s tapping random keys on her laptop to present the illusion of being busy. “Well, no… not exactly.”

“Then I would prefer to remain here in the company of young Daniel Jackson.”

“Suit yourself.” I squish my butt back into an infirmary chair and slide in closer to Daniel’s bed. Now, it’s not that I mind being ignored, but I could have sworn he was facing Teal’c when I first came in.

“Hey,” I say with a tap to his too-small shoulder. He shudders under my touch, but after a moment of what I take as hesitation, he turns to face me, eyes hooded under his mop of a fringe. “How you doin’ there, buddy?”

As predicted, the best Daniel gives me is a long stare, punctuated every so often by a slow blink. It’s not that I’m not used to this type of reaction from his adult self, but I was kinda hoping this sort of behavior was something he’d picked up later in life. I guess not.

“Afternoon, General.” Brightman scares me six ways to hell by sneaking up and announcing her arrival from right behind my chair. Damn that woman and her stealth abilities!

“Doc,” I manage to drawl, after pulling myself together. “Do the words ‘Napoleonic Power-monger’ mean anything to you?”

“Not particularly, General. Should they?”

“Only if you believe in reincarnation.” See, I have this theory that Fraiser didn’t die, but instead transferred herself into Brightman in some bizarre attempt to carry on in her self-appointed job of bamboozling base commanders. She did a fine job on Hammond from time to time. Me? I saw right though her. Cough… right.

Brightman pushes past me, seemingly ignoring my comment. Her gaze drifts down to Daniel, who is still watching us from under his unkempt hair, and then back over to me. “General, nothing surprises me anymore, not even reincarnation.”

Ah ha! Janet Fraiser is alive and well!

“However…” Uh, oh… “If you’re using the term in reference to the firm hand my predecessor wielded while in charge of the infirmary, then yes, I do believe I know the phrase quite well.”

Nuts! RIP, doc. I had such high hopes that you might have—

Hungry

Huh?

Hungry

“Doc?”

Brightman looks up from her note making. “General?”

“Did you hear that?”

She raises her brow questioningly at me. “I didn’t hear anything, sir.”

“Teal’c?”

The big guy stares blankly at me, which either means he has all the answers or none at all. A little hard to tell at times, but I’m taking the lack of dialog as a sign he heard nothing.

My earlier fears of slowly going nuts are coming to fruition.

Hungry

Okay! Now I definitely heard that! I look at Daniel who is looking at me. It’s a kinda super-freaky stare off, which I lose because he can hold his gaze way longer than me.

“Ah, Daniel?”

Hungry

“Doc?”

“Sir?”

“He’s hungry.” I’m still caught in a staring contest with the kid.

“Doctor Jackson is hungry?”

No, the janitor on level 17 is hungry. “Yep.”

“And you know this how?”

Let’s review the facts here. I heard something that neither the doc nor T did. Okay, make that fact… singular. So, either I’m going nuts—the most likely explanation—or this kid has found his way into my mind.

My two remaining brain cells are quivering in fear.

Oh! Nope! Make that one.

“General?”

“Hmm?” Dang! Day dreaming again.

“I asked you how you knew Doctor Jackson was hungry.”

Let’s try a new tactic here. “Am I the only one who finds it weird to be calling a five year old ‘doctor’?”

Brightman doesn’t miss a beat. “His title isn’t in question, sir.”

No, just my sanity. Oh, I know! I hold up my watch for her to see. “Kids like to eat frequently and I figure he must be getting a little peckish.”

She hesitantly nods her agreement; eyes slighted just enough to tell me that she’s not quite buying my reasoning, but is prepared to let me off the hook. Phew.

“I’ll see what I can find for him.” She’s so deadpan that I sometimes wonder if she was hiding when personalities were being handed out.

“You know,” I say, turning back to Daniel who is still engaged in a stare-off, “if you’d said you were hungry just a little louder, I wouldn’t be sitting here looking at an impending psych evaluation.”

Daniel finally breaks the stare and gives me a slow blink as though he’s fighting to stay awake. He turns his head towards the pillow and, for an instant, I’m fairly sure his lunch would have to become supper and he settles in for a nap, but…

Thank you

“Ah, Daniel?”

Hungry

“Doc’s gone to get you something.”

Soon?

“Soon? I don’t think she’ll be long. Think you can stay awake that long?”

Yes

“Sure doesn’t look like it.”

Tired

“Really?” I pull the blanket up over his shoulders and tuck it in around his neck, taking a moment to smooth the hair away from his face. He feels slightly cold to the touch, but with all the gadgets Brightman has attached to him, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t need my input.

“O’Neill.”

Hey, kinda forgot the big guy was standing there. “T?”

“Are you unwell?”

“Unwell? Ah, no, well… the knees, the back, some niggling sciatica. You know how it goes.” I pray to whoever is tuned in to this conversation that Brightman isn’t taking note of my litany of aches. “Why do you ask?”

“You were engaged in a conversation with yourself.”

“I was?” I was? Appears I still am.

“Indeed.”

Well, that can’t be right. “And you didn’t hear Daniel speak just now?”

“I did not.”

“You didn’t hear him thank me and then ask how long until lunch?”

“I heard you respond in a manner that would imply such statements were made, but I did not see nor hear Daniel Jackson respond.”

Teal’c is doing that staring down his nose ‘thing’ he does to me from time to time. The one that tells me I’d better believe what he’s said for my own sake.

“I think I’m going nuts!”

Dang! Did I just say that out loud?

“That was my conclusion, also.”

Gee thanks, Teal’c.


Chapter 7

~Curious Threads~


“And this is the commissary.” My announcement, complete with a theatrical sweep of the arm to encompass a room currently full of snacking Marines, seems to be lost on Daniel. He’s holding onto my other hand with a bone-breaking grip, hiding himself behind me as though he doesn’t want anyone to see him. I can’t see his eyes from this angle, but I know Daniel, and despite his obvious fear of what is going on around him, I can just imagine his keen eye is taking in every little detail.

Teal’c waves us over from a table he’s procured in the quietest corner of the room, and I can already see he’s stocked up with a supply of Daniel’s favorite foods, minus coffee. Like Carter, Daniel—the adult version—was kinda partial to Jell-O. Initially, I thought those two had nutted out some food related prank just to annoy me—matching desserts, matching IQs, matching BDUs—but Daniel’s request for pineapple flavored Jell-O put paid to that ridiculous notion. I mean, sheesh, who likes pineapple flavored anything? It didn’t stop the commissary captain from promptly ordering it in by the box load, though. Favoritism has always been alive and well when it concerns one Doctor Jackson.

I deftly usher my little limpet through the Marine obstacle course and over to our table, noting his head is still buried in the crook of my arm and his grip is now approaching vice-like proportions. An extraction crew might be necessary.

Teal’c pushes out a chair and I set about gently persuading Daniel to park his butt down.

“Oh, for the… Daniel will you just sit down?” I didn't mean to raise my voice, but the lack of blood flowing to my hand was becoming life-threatening.

“Perhaps Daniel Jackson would prefer to sit on your lap, O’Neill.”

Oh, great idea there, Teal’c. Just encourage the kid why don’t ya? I was never a fan of letting Charlie sit on my lap at the table when he was in a ‘mood’, so there is no way I'm going to let Daniel get away with it.

In perfect synchronization, a dozen Marines turn their attention on me. “What?” I snap, wondering if I’d been thinking out loud again. It wouldn’t be a first.

While I ponder my next witty retort to a room full of Jarheads, Daniel has unglued himself from my side and slid into the chair closest the wall. He’s all curled up there like a cat, his blond bangs falling over his eyes, and his far-too-big scrubs dangling down over his wrists. I don’t know how many times between the infirmary and here we’d stopped to roll the sleeves up, only to have them dragging on the floor a few minutes later. Brightman promised Daniel some user-friendly clothes, but conceded he’d have to put up with the scrubs until she could shop for him.

I tried to ignore the painfully loud “oohs” and “aahs” of the nursing contingent in the infirmary. Daniel plus blue scrubs as always equals overzealous female adoration.

Daniel breaks me from my procrastination by playing with a cup. He turns it upside down, around and around, and then peers into it longingly.

Coffee?

Had to happen. To be honest, I’m surprised he hadn’t asked earlier, especially when Reynolds dropped by for a visit sporting a Vente sized Café something-or-rather from Starbucks.

“Juice,” I offer as a poor substitute, knowing full well I’m going to be hit with the glare from hell. Teal’c doesn’t give him time to respond, instead grabbing the carafe and pouring a liberal amount into Daniel’s cup, smiling with his eyebrows.

Lunch is a tug-of-war match. Everything I suggest is met with stern resistance, but somehow Teal’c manages to get enough down Daniel’s throat to keep Brightman off our backs for a while. The encore performance being a sizeable serving of pineapple Jell-O.

Oy…

So, as I sit here watching Daniel coat his place with sauce and mustard, a trick I like to think he learned from me, my mind wanders to Carter. She’s dying to see Daniel, but I can’t say the kid is thrilled at the prospect. I took a team picture to him while he was still holed up in the infirmary and attached to Brightman’s gadgets and widgets, and the reaction from him was pretty… intense.

He took flight faster that we could think and scrambled his way to the very top of the bed. Leads flew off and alarms wailed in protest all around us. The picture was trampled in the eschewing chaos, but that was nothing to the look of sheer horror on Daniel’s pale face. Brightman had managed to connect up her pulse oxy thingamajig, and called for a sedative when the numbers started flashing ‘Danger Will Robinson’ at her in red. Daniel, meantime, had curled himself up and was clinging onto the headboard like it was a lifeline. Teal’c and I tried to detach him from the railing, but his fingers were so rigid that I was afraid of breaking them. In the end, the doc was choiceless and a sedative was the only way to settle Daniel down. Cowardice got the better of me, and when Brightman was handed the syringe, I turned away.



Chapter 8

~Threads of Many Colors~


“All the colors of the rainbow in one kid-sized pack.”

I’m pretty much a legend at my local Walmart, especially in the craft department. Me and Crayola, well, we’re the best of buddies. I used to buy them for Charlie, and then for Cassie when she was living with Doc Fraiser, and not to mention a whole planet of Orbanian kids that put a serious dent in my credit card. Try getting reimbursed from the Air Force for several thousand dollars worth of crayons! Filling out forms in triplicate is nothing compared to explaining why you bought them in the first place, without, I might add, breaking the almighty non-disclosure agreement. Funny how the finance department readily accepted my excuse that arming Marines with crayons was the first stage to teaching them the fine art of writing mission reports.

Daniel is sitting at my desk, his legs swinging back and forth as he scribbles on page after page of my printer paper. It was all I could find at the time, and infinitely better than coloring on the classified mission file he found first. I couldn’t have cared less, and I’m sure Dave Reynolds would have appreciated the irony of a kid scrawling all over his carefully worded notes, considering he has quite a brood, himself.

Teal’c felt it was important to let Daniel express himself through drawing, and knowing his older self’s affinity for the written word and any chicken scratchings he could find, I guess I can see the point. Brightman agreed, and so here we are. Actually, it’s pretty hard to hide behind an impassive mask and not be taken by the seriousness Daniel is devoting to his latest masterpiece. I can just see his tongue peeking out from between his teeth, which he occasionally uses to lick his lips; and his brow is knotted in either thought… or a need to take a trip to the bathroom.

He treats the Crayola pack like something to revere, carefully replacing each crayon once he’s through with it. I can’t quite see what he’s drawing, so I let my curiosity get the better or me and reach for the nearest picture. Daniel looks up at me through his curly bangs with a quizzical expression on his face, and I wonder for a moment if he’s about to tell me off for touching his stuff. He opens his mouth and I think he’s about to speak, but he shuts it quickly goes back to his drawings.

As I cast my finely honed kiddy-art eye over Daniel’s work, Teal’c looks over my shoulder and nods thoughtfully, apparently impressed with what he sees. Daniel has drawn a sandcastle; well… that’s what it looks like to me. A collection of buildings of various sizes, all colored in earthy beige tones. I think back to Charlie at this age and I’m forced to concede that Daniel’s drawing skills are pretty advanced in comparison. I’m so busy trying to figure out the meaning of the picture that I only just catch Daniel passing another drawing to Teal’c. He’s insistent, virtually crawling out of his chair and onto the desk to thrust the image in Teal’c’s face, one finger stabbing at the blue blob in the center. Teal’c takes the drawing and nods his thanks, but I can see a current of underlying concern in his eyes as he takes in the details.

“O’Neill,” he says quietly, gaze fixed on the drawing. “I believe young Daniel Jackson is trying to tell us something.”

“What you got there, T?”

Teal’c hands the picture to me and I can see that besides the blue blob there is also a caricature of a person with blond hair. Carter? The blob is more of a cylindrical shape with something like long feelers coming out the front.

“This image resembles the Replicator ship that kidnapped Colonel Carter while you were being held at the Ancient outpost,” Teal’c suggests softly.

“It does?”

“Indeed. Did you not come across an image of the vessel in the Daniel Jackson’s computer when your consciousness was transferred by Thor?”

“Oh, probably, but you know me and mind uploads and downloads. Don’t remember a thing.”

Teal’c grumbles and looks up at Daniel, who is head down and sketching furiously, one hand covering his work as though he’s hiding the answer to a math's test. “The reason for his distress with Colonel Carter is now clear to me.”

It is? “Wanna clue me in here, buddy?” I have my own theory, but was hoping not to share until I had something concrete to offer.

“I believe it was the replicator version of Colonel Carter who kidnapped Daniel Jackson.”

The crayon in Daniel’s hand snaps loudly, the pieces falling onto the table.


Chapter 9

~Unraveling the Thread~


“Me?”

Hmm. Carter isn’t taking the news as well as I’d hoped. We’ve known about RepliSam (as I’ve chosen to call her) for some time now. Hell, Carter nearly ballsed up her career not too long ago by letting her Lego twin gain access to the Alpha site computer. It’s all old news now, and yeah, Fifth did meet his maker, but Carter barely got out of jail free there and I know she’s still keeping a mental check on her actions in the field. What do they say? Once bitten, twice shy… yadda.

No escaping the look on her face right now as she tries to internalize the news. Shock and realization all rolled into one makes for an interesting sight, especially when you’re not on the receiving end.

“Yep. You wanna see the pictures he drew?” I strum my fingers on the folder I’d deposited on her workbench, while trying to gauge what her reaction will be from her carefully schooled expression. “Kid should take up cartooning for the Simpson’s. Think he’d draw a mean Burns.”

Carter levels me with a hardened gaze and I unconsciously squirm under her scrutiny. Can’t quite tell what she’s thinking now, but she reaches out towards the folder and then pulls her hand back before making contact.

“So,” she clips, keeping her lips bunched for a moment. “You mean to tell me that you and Teal’c figured this out from a bunch of pictures Daniel drew? Nothing more concrete than that?”

Well, I wouldn’t quite put it so harshly, but yeah. “It’s a common and proven psychoanalytical approach, adopted quite extensively by child psychologists around the world.” Geez, did I just say all that? That’s my quota of big words used for the day.

“I know that, sir, but this isn’t your average child and this isn’t a typical situation. We don’t know where Daniel has been or even is this truly is him.”

“You don’t trust Brightman’s test results?”

“It’s not a matter of trust, but more knowing that we simply don’t have the ability to test for every eventuality. We can test a person’s DNA and compare it to what we have on file, but that in no way excludes the results from being accurate.”

“We make do with what we’ve got, Carter.”

“Exactly!” She stands abruptly and strides away from her workbench, beginning what I know will be an irritating pace of her office. “Just because the results say he’s not a clone…”

“Doesn’t mean he isn’t one created with a technology we don’t know about?”

She pauses mid-stride. “Too farfetched for you, sir?”

You betcha. “I’m not the one having trouble with all of this.”

Carter goes off in a wide arc and swings herself back around to the bench, pausing with her hand over the folder and looking at up for me as though she needs my permission to open it up.

Annoys the crap out of me. “Unless you’ve got x-ray vision, I’d suggest the tried and tested method. Just open the damn folder, Carter.”

She huffs her annoyance and flips the cover over. The first picture, and one that Daniel drew after the sketch of the Replicator ship, shows an image of what Teal’c and I have decided is our adult Daniel, dressed resplendently in his robes from Vis Uban. The blue is a giveaway there. Next to Daniel is a crudely drawn likeness of Carter, complete with her hand firmly wrapped around his. At least to my untrained eyes, that’s what it looks like.

“Her hair is shorter,” Carter grumbles, turning the picture one way and then the other, like it might make a difference.

“She’s a Replicator, Carter. I doubt her hair actually grows.”

Carter shrugs off the suggestion and stares at the image for a while longer before her face drops and she sags back onto her chair, defeated. “It’s her.”

“Yep.”

“I knew the moment the beam struck him that it was the Replicators. I guess I just didn’t think it was her.”

“We’ve been over this, Carter. There was no way of truly knowing how many of these creatures were lurking around the galaxy in one form or another. Heck, I’m surprised they didn’t try and infiltrate Earth and the SGC. Wouldn’t have been too hard to replace one of our own, and we both know the possibility always existed.”

“Maybe not, but I should have realized she was behind Daniel’s disappearance. And really, it makes perfect sense.”

It does? I note Carter doesn’t make an effort to look at the other pictures in the folder, instead continuing to scrutinize this one.

“How's that?” I ask, attempting to draw out her conclusions. Blood from a stone sometimes.

“Because she’s essentially me and it can’t be a coincidence that the Replicators set course for Dakara at the same time the Goa’uld did. They were both after the same thing and, if I was her, Daniel would be the one to provide the intel she needs.”

“What type of intel?”

“We already know the Replicators can gain access to our minds through physical interfacing.” That’s Carter’s fancy way of saying they stick their grubby hands in our brains. “So imagine what she could find if she did the same thing to Daniel?”

Well, certainly not last week’s hockey scores. Another match unwatched all because this little planet has suddenly turned into hub central for the galaxy’s most over stated and worst dressed enemies. Oh, and the Tok’ra… can’t forget them. I think my eyes must have glazed over or done something funky because Carter rolls her eyes at me and continues on like I need her question to be spelled out clearly for me.

“His ascended memories?”

And a bell rings somewhere in my mind. “Oh!” Wait! I pull the folder open and rifle through Daniel’s collective masterpieces, searching for one particular drawing. “Remind you of anything?” I ask, and slide the image what I think is a set of ruins over to her.

She studies the drawing closely, doing that whole turn it this way and that thing again, before finally settling on one particular angle.

“Dakara?” she says with a fair degree of hesitation in her voice.

“I couldn’t tell at first.” Who are we kidding here? I didn’t have a clue. “But if Dakara is one of the earliest Ancient outposts in this neck of the woods, then I figure Daniel would have known about it when he was…” I waggle my finger at the ceiling. “All knowing and glowing.”

“You think she knew about Dakara all along or dragged it from Daniel’s mind?”

“How the hell do I know what a Replicator thinks, Carter?” I hesitate to add that knowing what goes on in her mind would easily be enough to scare me off, and that goes doubly for her… double. Damn Lego blocks! “I think we’re wandering off the path here. The fact is she kidnapped Daniel for his Ancient knowledge.”

“So, he’s probably remembering his own interrogation at her hands. Well,” she says with a throaty sigh, between rubbing her eyes with the heels of her palms, “I guess from a child’s perspective that would be a very scary thing to remember.”

“Pretty sure I wouldn’t care for remembering her interrogation techniques at any age.”

Carter shifts back on her stool and rubs her hands down her BDU pants. It’s almost a subconscious action because I can tell she’s still mentally working through everything I’ve presented her with. I wonder if her palms are genuinely sweaty or she’s trying to wipe away imagined blood spilled by her replicator self.

“Carter.”

“Yeah?” she says after a beat, lifting her gaze to meet mine.

“There’s something else you need to see.”

She looks confused, but reaches for the folder probably thinking that there is more there for her to see. I pull her hand away and shake my head at her silent inquiry. It’s a sin of omission on my part, but Teal’c agreed with my judgment and decided his time would be better spent with Daniel, leaving me to reveal the kid’s fate to Carter.

I withdraw a piece of paper from my breast pocket and unfold it gently, almost making each action deliberate and time consuming. I don’t mean to draw out her curiosity like this, but there’s no other way for me to adequately convey that what she’s about to see is going to be painful in oh so many ways.

“Sir?”

Taking one last look at the image, I lay it flat on the table and get up off my seat. Unfortunately, this is one moment Carter will have to savor herself, because I’m fairly certain there is nothing I can say that will help deflect the guilt she’s about to feel. We all know she isn’t responsible for what happened to Daniel, but he died at the hands of someone wearing her face… and that’s the clearest memory he has.

Children are innocent, and this picture doesn’t lie. Daniel has drawn this moment like he’s standing outside of his own body and taking note of every detail, every nuance. No longer dressed in his robes, he has on his black shirt and matching BDU pants, and is standing face to face with RepliSam. Like everything else he’s sketched, the figure representing his adult self is quite accurate, if not a little cartoonish. RepliSam is crude, her face a mash of colors topped off with shockingly short yellow hair.

It’s the Terminator-like blade jutting from her hand and impaling Daniel that fully tells the story of his last moment alive.



Chapter 10

~Distant Threads~


I feel lost and it is not an emotion I would care to discuss with either O’Neill or Colonel Carter. Solitude is what I desire; the time to process the measure of separation I am feeling towards Daniel Jackson, and the unnatural silence that has fallen between us.

If I were to adequately sum up the events of the last few days, then my best response would be to acknowledge that I miss our often one-sided, but very animated discussions. There is something innately soothing when watching my friend take the smallest thread of information and weave it into something incredulous.

The unspoken bond O’Neill has with this young incarnation of Daniel Jackson is something I do not share, to my disappointment. I am not sure what passes between them, nor can I tell whether it is an exchange of words or emotions; this is not something O’Neill has chosen to share. However, the boy has been left in my care while O’Neill sees to Colonel Carter, and I can see a depth of understanding in his eyes that tells me no physical communication is really needed.

Daniel Jackson’s office is as he left it, much like it was when he first ascended. It is not a time I care to reflect on with much more than a passing thought. Death, as O’Neill would put it, is a one-way street, and grief can be measured by the worth of what we have lost. How do you accept what has been returned to you when you are still mourning its loss? I will admit it is an experience I never wished to live through again, but one for which I clearly have no say in. Daniel Jackson is back… again… but he is not someone I quite recognize.

“Daniel Jackson,” I say softly, not wanting to break him harshly from his in-depth study of the case of books that line his office. “Should you wish, you may take some of these books to your room. I believe the light there would provide a better environment for you to read them.”

He pauses with one hand just short of touching the spine of a leather-bound book and the other grasping the shelf as leverage. I know he heard me because from my vantage point I can see his brow creasing in thought. I believe my suggestion was quite clear and yet it is eliciting more concentration from the boy than I would have anticipated. Perhaps, in that respect, there is much more in common between the child and his adult self than I had credited.

He passes over his initial reading choice and continues along the shelf, pausing every few moments to inspect a particular volume or subject. I almost wonder if he is looking for something in particular. A momentary distraction comes when the door to the office creaks on its hinges as O’Neill enters the room. Wordlessly he juts his chin in Daniel Jackson’s direction and lifts one eyebrow questioningly.

Keeping my tone low and even, I tell him “I believe Daniel Jackson is seeking a particular book.”

“Like?”

“He has not chosen to share.”

“Not sharing his toys, eh? Oh, Daniel?” O’Neill sidles up to the workbench and hooks a stool with his foot. “Whatcha’ looking for?”

The moment is surreal. I can see it in their facial expressions and feel a pang of regret at once again being left out of their conversation. Words, expressions, feelings are being passed between the two and yet nothing is being said.

“Well,” O’Neill says after a few minutes, his face twisted into a sour expression. “Can’t say that was very nice.”

“Something is wrong?” I ask in the hopes of being let into their silent repartee.

“Nothing I’d care to repeat verbatim.”

“He appears preoccupied.”

Daniel Jackson turns towards us with a book in his hand, his gaze sliding from O’Neill to me and back again. The book he carries is small and bound in some type of animal hide that has started to disintegrate with age and excessive handling. He caresses the cover, fingers dancing along the spine and over faded gold lettering that is mostly unreadable.

The stool O’Neill was about to sit on is forgotten as he locks gazes with Daniel Jackson once again. He pales, all color draining from his face as he blindly seeks the edge of the workbench for support. “No,” he breathes on the exhale, the softly spoken word cutting the air like loud music. “Cursum perficio?”

“O’Neill?”

“What?” he mumbles and blinks slowly, reacting as though he is not quite sure he heard me. “Cursum perficio. I know I shouldn’t know what it means, but I do.”

“I trust that you will at least share the meaning?”

Daniel Jackson opens the small book and rifles through the pages briefly, stopping at a particular point and handing the book to O’Neill, a sad smile tugging at his lips.

The pages are written in Latin, which Daniel Jackson once explained is the modern version of the language of the Ancients. O’Neill reads a passage and swallows hard. Closing his eyes, he snaps the book shut and repeats like mantra, “No, no, no… this has to be wrong. It's wrong, isn’t it, Daniel?”

The blond curls that fall down over Daniel Jackson’s face seemed so endearing hours earlier when we shared a meal in the commissary, but now they reveal eyes that plead forgiveness and hide a sorrow I cannot understand.

Beside me, O’Neill radiates fear like a beacon in the night. “It means ‘My journey is over’.”


Chapter 11

~Defining Threads~


“Hi, Jack.”

“Daniel.”

“How’s things… h-how have you been?”

I could have sworn I hit the sack after an evening of a few too many conciliatory vodkas and three pieces of stale pecan pie that should have been tossed out with the commissary’s week-old meatloaf and three veg. The vodka was Russian bootleg, courtesy of Colonel Chekov and his need to encourage the forging of strong diplomatic ties through mutually painful hangovers. Rough? Burn the fleas off an Unas. Good old Abydonian moonshine has nothing on this stuff.

Mercifully, the bottle was only half full. Unfortunately, I’ll be forever emotionally scarred by the memory of being tucked into bed by a towering Jaffa sporting the eyebrow of intense ridicule. Don’t think I’ll ever live down burping vodka and pecan pie fumes in his face, either.

“Good actually. Well… maybe a little less than good. You?”

“Oh, you know how things are in the afterlife.”

“So, you’re dead?”

“Technically yes… and no.”

As far as conversations go, this one is positively bizarre. Why? Because I’m asleep. I know this; can sense myself lying on my bed with the limpet barely a few feet away in his, and Teal’c sitting guard on the floor between us. That's the last thing I remembered before starting my inevitable slide towards a morning hangover.

And yet...

“Nothing is ever black and white with you, is it?”

“Jack, I need your help.”

Daniel old pal, old chum, part-time poltergeist, remember that lovely padded cell you called home for a few days? Nice crisp white walls and floor. Soft on the butt, well… soft on just about everything. That’s the kind of help I need right now.

“I’m asleep, aren’t I?”

“Yes, but that’s not the point.”

Don’t you love it when Daniel’s in the zone and everything he needs to get out has to be done at light speed? He rolls his hands over and over as though the mere act might help him speak faster. Yep, good old Daniel of the Clan Luigi has more hand signals than a school for the deaf or a meeting of the Italian Hand Wavers Association at a local restaurant.

“I’m asleep and having a conversation with my dead best friend and that’s not the point?”

“Well, not if you consider that I’m not really dead, no.”

“What?”

“What?”

Okay, so we’ve established that I’m asleep and having a conversation with an apparently dead but un-dead Daniel who, I might add, is his usual six foot something self and dressed in that particularly fetching cable knit number Carter bought him for his thirty-something birthday. Now why is that? I kinda expected the guy to turn up in a pair of denims and a plaid shirt. You know the stuff—standard Jackson attire. Seriously, two deaths and he’s still in the same clothes? I sense a distinct lack of laundry facilities in the afterlife.

“You know,” I say looking him up and down and frowning, “you really could have changed for the occasion.”

“Jack.”

Love it when he draws my name out. It means I’m starting to really piss him off.

“We don’t have time for this.”

“For what exactly? I’m asleep… ergo this is my dream and I’m pausing the conversation to discuss your wardrobe habits.”

“Cursum perficio?”

There it is. Two words that tell me we just went from a pleasant dream to a nightmare. “That’s playing dirty.”

“Sorry, but I need you to focus here. Daniel’s in trouble.”

“You’re Daniel!”

“Yes, but I’m talking about my other me.”

“I get it. Just not sure I want to talk about him.”

“Replicator Sam kidnapped me for information about the weapon the Ancients hid at Dakara.”

“Yeah, we kinda figured that part out. She did the whole Terminator thing on you.”

Daniel winced and subconsciously rubbed at his chest. “I’d served my purpose and for her to hold on to me any longer would have been bad. I managed to take control of her Replicator army away from her for a short time.”

“That was your doing?”

“Making them stop? Yeah, for all the good it did. There was just too many of them for me to maintain any long term control.”

“You bought us some valuable time.”

“Jack, she killed me but I didn’t ascend.”

“You didn’t?” Could have fooled me.

“Ascension can only be achieved at the moment of death.”

“Oma?”

“Was a little too late on the scene. From what I’ve been able to get from her, the Others tried to stop her from ascending me again. They argued, but in the end Oma broke away and managed to take me to some kind of halfway point to ascension.”

“A stop along the way?”

“More like a diner. Great waffles. Anubis was there.”

“Eating waffles?” And doesn’t this conversation just get freakier and freakier.

“Drinking coffee mostly.”

“Ah.”

“Jack, Oma is gone. She took on Anubis in a fight for all eternity.”

“Over the coffee?”

“Jack!”

Geez, brain dead here. “Spell it out for me, Daniel. I’m asleep, remember?”

“Only your body is resting, your mind is wide awake and talking to me.”

Really? “I thought it was your mind that required rest? You know, the whole reason we get shuteye in the first place?”

“Can we get to the point here?”

I really wish he would. “Sure, point away. I’m all ears.” Wait! No, I’m not. Can't see any of me at all!

“Oma left to fight Anubis and the Others didn’t know what to do with me. In their eyes I was damaged because Oma hadn’t ascended me at the moment I died.”

“Which wasn’t her fault.”

“No. It didn’t matter, though. If a lower is chosen for ascension then their essence needs to be guided from the moment of death. Waiting too long means the whole is diminished.”

I bite down on my tongue and all those flaky comments of years gone by. “What are you then? Heck, what is the kid?”

“He’s that part of me the Others were able to return.”

“As a kid?”

“No choice, Jack.”

“And this Cursum perficio?”

“My journey is over.”

“I know what it means… just not what it means.”

"He's dying. It's nothing you can see or Brightman can fix. Jack, you need to take him to Kheb. If you don't... I don't think there's a way back for me."

“Kheb? Dead monk, Jaffa everywhere, mystical juju, thunderbolt and lightening—”

“Yes, very, very frightening. Jack, you really need to start taking me seriously.”

Really? I’m awake in my own sleep, talking to my partially ascended teammate whose only earthly connection comes in the shape of a much younger version of himself, and he wants me to take him seriously? “I’m trying!”

“Try harder!”

Hey, isn’t that usually my line? “Look, Daniel, it’s not that I don’t trust you, but Kheb didn’t exactly work out so well for us last time. Give me something to work with.”

“Oma is gone, Jack. She's not coming back.”

“Never?”

“No. It was the only thing she could do to prevent Anubis from gaining access to the weapon at Dakara and then taking over the combined forces of the System Lords. Eradicating the replicators meant that the galaxy was there for Anubis to take."

“And this has exactly what to do with Kheb?”

“Jack, Oma didn’t work alone. She wasn’t the only ascended Ancient who flouted the rules and went against the Others. There is a way to fix this, I know there is.”

“And?”

“The writing is literally on the walls at Kheb. A way to let those who supported Oma know that we need help. That I need help.”

I want to ask him how he knows this but in the blink of an eye he’s gone, and my next view is of Teal’c standing over me with a glass in one hand and two Tylenol in the other.

"You look as though you have witnessed a paranormal being, O'Neill."

Kill me now.


Chapter 12

~Threads of Life~


“And there you have it, kids. Oma is off kicking Anubis' oily ass for the rest of eternity. This is good news, right?”

“And you say you were asleep, sir?” Carter is wearing that look she gets when someone, usually Daniel, introduces something into a mission briefing that she can’t logically explain. I liken it to her looking like she’s listening when in fact her mind is focused on some harebrained experiment she’s running in the bowels of the SGC.

“I was.” I look to Teal’c, who holds my gaze for a few seconds and then nods in agreement.

“Teal’c?”

“Both O’Neill and Daniel Jackson were asleep at the time this conversation was reported to have taken place.”

“Reported?” I ask in my best General tone. “Where else was I if I wasn’t there?”

“I believe had Doctor Brightman tested the level of alcohol in your bloodstream, she may have questioned exactly how you were capable of carrying out any such conversation.”

“You were drinking?” Carter is staring me down like I’m a first year cadet.

“I wouldn’t exactly call it drinking, Carter. More like a toast to wrap up the latest round of US-Russian program negotiations.”

“Over a bottle of Russian vodka?”

“Half a bottle. The point is Daniel... both Daniel’s, need our help. And if our Daniel says the answer is on the walls at Kheb, then I say we have nothing to lose by checking the place out.”

“What about me, sir?” asks Carter. “I’m not exactly Daniel’s flavor of the month right now.”

She’s not. I think it’s time Limpet and I had a little man to little-man chat. “Leave it with me, Carter.”

And with that, I mentally sign off on a mission to Kheb to search for who knows what on walls that I could have sworn were covered in squiggles with no actual meaning. Carter gathers up her folders and shrugs at me as she leaves the briefing room, while Teal’c gives me his customary stiff nod, followed by another prolonged stare that tells me he thinks I’m just as nuts as I’m starting to think I am.

"Walter!” I call out because I know the master sergeant has been listening in to our every word.

“Yes, sir,” he replies from my office, just out of view.

“When I approve a mission based on the advice of my drunken self having a telepathic conversation with a partially ascended teammate, then I know it's time to consider retirement."

"Shall I get the papers for you, sir?"

"Stand down, airman."

“Yes, sir.”

Pack a picnic, kids. We're going to Kheb.


Chapter 13

~Loose Threads~

I know I've said it once before, on some mission I can barely remember the details of, but talking to Daniel is like talking to a brick wall. Talking to a smaller yet equally smartass version of him is more like throwing myself at said wall and knowing I'm not getting up.

"Daniel," I say as he skillfully colors in the energy conduits of some blueprint Siler has given him in blinding fluorescent yellow sharpie. At least I think they're conduits. Could easily be the sewerage pipes from the base latrines on level 22, the ones claimed by the Marines and avoided by even the best-equipped hazmat teams. "Oh... Daniel."

Failure of communication is a long-known fact of life when it comes to Doctor Jackson. Usually, it's more me ignoring him because trying to understand anything he says leaves me with either an impending brain bleed or a burning desire to punch him. Ignorance is that happy medium that leaves him thinking he's way smarter than me, and me actually knowing he's way smarter. I fire guns and kill the bad guys... after he's tried to talk to the bad guys and they've decided they want to kill him.

However, this version of Daniel appears to have inherited the lion's share of his adult self's stubbornness.

I grab the sharpie mid squiggle and hold it just out of reach.

Jack!

"It's rude to ignore your elders."

He gives me a mental giggle accompanied by a physical smile, right before he does that grabby hand thing kids do when they want something. In this case... the sharpie.

Mine.

"Not so fast, Picasso. We need to talk."

No.

"You don't even know what--"

Sam.

"Well, yes."

Not Sam.

He blinks slowly at me and lowers his hand back down to the table, the blueprint and sharpie forgotten.

Not Sam.

"Look, Daniel. We have to go somewhere. Offworld. We can't do it without Carter."

Kheb.

"Right. How did you--"

Daniel.

And doesn't this just get freakier and freakier by the minute. "You spoke to Daniel?"

Limpet nods slowly, blond bangs swishing over his eyes and he lifts one hand and taps the side of his head with a finger. Here.

"Off course you did." So, Daniel has been making house calls to most of the major players in this little adventure, except for perhaps the one he needs to the most.



Chapter 14

~Threads of Kheb~



It's a bright sunny day on...

"Carter, what planet is this again?"

"P9Q-292, sir," Carter snaps back without even pausing to think over the answer. She's like that, all smarts with little effort. So is Daniel. Both of them. Daniel Junior is currently bouncing up and down on Teal'c's shoulder and slapping the top of his head. If the small guy would give up a word or two, I'm sure he'd be telling Teal'c to giddy-up or go faster, or something like that. Carter, for her part, keeps her distance, preferring to hang back behind us and bring up the rear with Feretti, while the rest of his team has our point and flanks.

Right! So, it's a bright sunny day on...

"We couldn't just call it Kheb?"

"We do, sir, although Kheb is more a reference to the temple rather than the planet itself, but given--"

"Aht!" Putting an end to this now before she goes full blown science mode on us. "So, Kheb it is, then."

"Yes, sir."

Don't know why I asked.

According to the latest intel, no one has visited the planet since we were here last. Well, at least no one has been to the temple via the Stargate. The temple complex looks much the same as it did when Oma did her squid impersonation and took off with Shifu into the ether, while simultaneously taking down an entire squad of Jaffa.

It's not until we pass through the gates that we can see how overgrown the place has become.

"Someone sacked the gardener?" I say, which earns me a frown from Daniel as Teal'c gently lowers him to the ground. "I guess all knowing and all seeing doesn't equate to all doing as well."

"Was the monk that protected this place not killed in our last encounter here?" asks Teal'c.

"Well, yeah."

"Then perhaps Oma DeSala has been too preoccupied to assign another caretaker."

"It's a temple, Teal'c. It's supposed to look all mystical and...overgrown."

"Then what is the purpose of your complaint, O'Neill?"

A snort of approval from Carter, who has been trying her best to stay out of Daniel's way, has Daniel hugging my leg and sneaking a disproving look at her over his shoulder.

"She won't bite, Daniel."

But he doesn't care.

"All clear," calls Feretti from the temple entrance. His team have checked the place out and set up a perimeter all in the time it took for us to discuss horticultural skills and the employment efforts of rogue Ancients.

"Good man. Carter, you hang back here and scan something while Teal'c and I take Daniel inside."

"Scan something, sir?"

I wave to the little hand held doodad she likes to carry on missions. "You know. Make that thing work. Take some readings, look for power sources. All that stuff you do so well."

"Right," she says stiffly and without so much a witty comeback. I hate leaving her out here when she should be inside with us, but it's pretty clear my attempted man-to-man talk with Daniel achieved nothing more than me helping him color in the rest of Siler's blue print. And those conduits? Definitely sewerage pipes.

Hi ho, hi ho.





Chapter 15


~Ancient Threads~



There is nothing more in this world I like than to be proven right. Well, at least in my own mind, where I get to think I'm right even when I have no empirical evidence to back myself up.

We are back in the main temple room. That place where our bigger version of Daniel once thought he started fire with his mind, and where we all communed bare foot while simultaneously trying to ignore the smell of serious foot odor from having trekked all the way from the Stargate on a hot day.

And, once again, the writing on the wall means absolutely nothing to me. "Makes about as much sense as it did last time."

"Your interpretation of the writing has changed in some way, O'Neill?"

"Huh?"

"You used the words 'about as much', which would imply that there is now something in this writing that you understand."

"No, it would imply that like the last time we were here I found nothing on these walls that made any sense."

"Then perhaps it is good you are not employed by the Air Force as a linguist."

And there you have it, folks. Teal'c at his snarky best.

Ha ha.

"Don't you laugh at me, Daniel. You're the reason we're here."

All I see is wall after wall of nonsensical squiggles, while Daniel, at barely half the height of his former self, runs one small hand over each symbol with a reverence reserved more for an adult. And this is probably where I fall down in this whole 'view of the universe' mentality that Daniel has when he buries himself in some new culture. I see a kid looking at writing that surely someone his age has no chance of comprehending, but then I'm reminded that at ten times his age I don't understand them at all.

"General, come in."

Daniel flinches and toddles away to another part of the wall. Teal'c follows close behind.

"Carter."

"I picked up a weak signal just outside the compound."

"Source?"

"Unknown. Feretti and I are going to investigate now, but it definitely wasn't active when we got here."

"Let me know what you find."

"Sir."

My well of happy thoughts ran dry years ago, which means I'm already thinking Jaffa at the gate and booby traps. You get the idea. Any scenario that might explain why my best laid plan, conceived with the help of a bottle of Russia's best, is likely to end up being one of my worst.

I have a track record in that regard.

Jack.

"Daniel."

This.

He' points to a segment of wall that, to me, looks like all the other segments of walls. Covered in squiggles. So, I try to look interested and wander on over to see what the kid has found.

Now, if I remember the first mission to Kheb correctly, which, admittedly, is not going to happen, these squiggles are actually Zen Koans, so I'm guessing whatever Daniel has found is going to be something profound.

What is the color of wind?

Damn it!

"What is the color of wind?" I say out loud so Teal'c can at least get the gist of some of our conversation. "Depends where it comes from?"

So shoot me. My first response probably wasn't the best, but at least it gets a small smile from Teal'c, the uncrowned king of all things fart-related. Pity Daniel isn't laughing. Instead, he does that grabby-hand thing and waits for Teal'c to pick him up.

Once settled in Teal'c's arms he leans forward and points to another segment of writing, this time further up the wall.

Here.

"And?"

What is the color of wind?

I do a quick squiggle check. "They're the same?"

Yes.

Daniel wriggles and Teal'c puts him down. He crosses the room and points to another spot on a different wall.

What is the color of wind?

It's pretty clear I'm no linguist. That was Daniel's job. But it doesn't take much to see the same group of symbols repeated at intervals all over the walls.

"And the rest is?"

Words. Nothing.

Safe to say, I'm pretty confused. "So? What now?"

Cursum perficio.



Chapter 16

~Dangerous Threads~



"It's a Goa'uld long range probe."

"Like that thing Dixon's boys found?"

"Exactly the same, although this one looks like it's been damaged at some point."

"What's it doing now?"

"Sitting on the ground, mostly in pieces, sir."

"You blew it up?"

"Colonel Feretti landed a couple of well placed shots before it could fire back at us. It went down quickly, which suggests it was already damaged."

"What have I told you about blowing stuff up, Carter?"

"That it's your job, sir."

Damn straight it is. A general has to get his kicks somehow. "So?"

"I'm fairly sure it got off a message before we, ah... deactivated it."

Déjà vu.

"So, we can expect company sometime soon?" And here is me without my dress blues.

"That would be my guess. Sokar must have sent the probe back after the loss of his patrol. It was probably programmed to alert him to any activity at the temple. Like an early warning system. There are scorch marks on its exterior casing, but it's hard to tell whether it's from a lightning strike or something else. The damage is old."

"Would that explain why it didn't send out a signal as soon as we arrived?"

"That would be my guess, sir. It probably has some safe setting in its program code that forced it to go into sleep mode after it was damaged. So it's sensors likely registered our movement but the probe itself took a little longer to boot up. There's just one problem with all of this, sir."

Only one? "And that would be?"

"Apophis took over Sokar's domain when Netu was destroyed. Anubis essentially replaced Apophis."

"And with Anubis now gone, that leaves us with Ba'al."

Goa'uld politics, eh!

"Colonel Feretti has sent Penhall and Cramer back to the gate just in case someone decides to act on the probe's communication. Any luck there?"

"Well, Daniel has discovered the color of wind."

"Sir?"

"He's on to something, Carter. I'll keep you posted."



Chapter 17

~Gathering the Threads~




"Cursum perficio?"

"It means 'my journey is over' or something like that."

Teal'c eyes me suspiciously for a moment before focusing his attention back on Daniel, who has one of his older self's journals out and is copying squiggles from the walls down... using crayons.

"Daniel Jackson Junior said this to you?"

"He did. A while back. Our Daniel said the kid is broken, can't be fixed. The Others or Oma didn't quite make him right... or something. Listen, I don't really understand this stuff, but I get the feeling this Daniel knows his fate and what has to happen. I'm not afraid of dying but I certainly try not to do anything that might speed things up."

"There are many who would disagree with you, O'Neill."

"Yeah, well, there's a difference between putting yourself in danger for the sake of what is right, and being downright stupid with your life. This kid, though..." I wave a hand at Daniel, who is far too entrenched in his notes to care about us, "he understands what the rest of us are trying to figure out."

"He is Daniel Jackson."

"Maybe so, but there isn't enough space in that head of his to know everything that Daniel knew... knows. And face it, Teal'c, with what Daniel has seen and been through in his life, well, I wouldn't inflict that knowledge on anyone, especially not my younger self."

"You do, in fact, have a clone. Would not your last statement be relevant to him also?"

He just had to go and bring the kid up! He went his way, I went mine, but the school still likes to remind me of his poor class attendance and somewhat lacking grades. Carter tried to explain the whole fork in the road concept, where his life only mirrors mine in memories, and everything he does now is a consequence of his actions. I get it... but you'd think with my memories on board he would at least settle for getting better grades!

I digress. Happens all the time!

"Let's not go there. Not now."

There's a tugging on my pant leg and I look down to see Daniel staring up at me through his scruffy blond bangs.

Twenty seven.

"Twenty seven? Twenty seven what?"

What is the color of wind?

"On the walls? Twenty seven times?"

Yes.

Okay. "So?"

Touch.

"You want us to touch all twenty seven sets of symbols? Is that right?"

No. Me.

"And then what?"

Cursum perficio. Home.

Again with the Cursum perficio! "Home?"

He doesn't answer me this time, but instead turns to Teal'c who lifts him up and takes him to the first wall. Despite our one-sided conversations, Teal'c has the smarts to work out what is going on and what needs to be done. I grab Daniel's journal, brushing aside the colored crayons, and start writing down the numbers as he and Teal'c move from one set of symbols to the next.

The room is warm. Almost hot. I didn't notice it before, but as we get down to the last few sets of symbols I can feel sweat beading on my head and the crayon in my hand growing slick and harder to press down with.

"Sir!"

Carter's timing is impeccable, if not somewhat annoying. I put the crayon down in the crease of the journal pages and reach for my radio. "Go ahead."

"The gate has activated."

Crap! I figured Ba'al was too busy mopping up Anubis' forces and taking over his harems to worry about some alert from a long-range probe he likely knows nothing about.

"Jaffa?"

"Penhall said a bright ball of white light with tendrils just came through. He and Cramer kept their distance and didn't engage."

"Tell them to maintain their position. You and the rest of SG-2 come inside the entrance to the temple. We're in the main room, same as last time."

"On our way."

Carter and SG-2 are no sooner in the temple when the bright ball of light Penhall reported draws down from the ceiling almost directly above us and settles in the space between myself and where Teal'c is holding Daniel. The kid has a smile on his face a mile wide, his brilliant blue eyes capturing the light of the slowly coalescing Ancient.

It's not Oma. I kinda figured it wouldn't be given her current predicament.

The light dies to a semi halo that is wrapped around the form of a lady in a white dress with long brown hair and brown eyes. She casts her gaze over each of us, a small tugging at her lips, until she stops at Daniel and takes a small step forward.

"Daniel Jackson."

"Howdy, Ma'am," I interrupt in my friendliest tone, because I already know what Ancient beings are capable of, especially those that like to bend the rules and flex their powers when they aren't supposed to. "I'm General--"

"Jack O'Neill."

She has me there. "That would be me. And you are?"

"My name is Morgaine, although Daniel Jackson knew me by another name during the brief time he was ascended."

"So you've met before?"

"In a sense, yes. Ascension affords those who take the path the ability to sense others around us without necessarily interacting with them."

"Any idea of what Daniel's path is?"

"We each determine our own path, General O'Neill. Where that leads is not for others to decide."

So, just as cryptic, all-annoying, and all-knowing as Oma. "Yeah, well, Daniel's path got a little messed up along the way."

"Oma was stopped by the Other's before she could reach him at the time of his death. She did all she could, given the restraints of her abilities."

"Not as powerful as she thought she was?"

Morgaine tilts her head to one side and frowns in that way someone does when they're trying to figure things out. I'm going to call her confused.

"I believe you misunderstand the concept of ascension. We do not become all-powerful or all-knowing. Our abilities are limited to purposeful actions based on what we can achieve by intervening in a problem. And only if we really have to. Daniel Jackson's attempt at defeating Anubis at Abydos failed not because he didn't have the power, but because he did not consider what the outcome of that defeat would mean. We are not the protectors of the galaxy and, as such, we cannot simply step in and right what we see is a wrong."

"To err is human?"

"If that analogy helps you to understand our motives, then... yes."

I look across at Daniel, who is still staring at Morgaine like a child who wants his mother. His mouth is slightly open like his is trying to formulate words, and arms are slightly outstretched like he is reaching out to hear.

"What about him?"

Morgaine's hardened features soften again as she looks over at Daniel. "His journey is over."

"Just like that?"

She steps forward and takes Daniel into her arms, her smile deepening as he wraps his little legs around her waist and nestles his face into her neck. Behind her, towards the temple doors, I see Carter press a hand to her mouth as she fights back a whimper.

We're losing him. The only part of Daniel we had left

I love you, Jack.

I love you too, kiddo.

The moment is short. I almost don't want to look as Morgaine and Daniel dissolve away into a ball of light and float softly up through the ceiling. Gone.

"So that's it?" Carter says.

"Looks that way, Carter."



Chapter 18

~New Threads~



"There are those among the new Free Jaffa Nation who oppose the use of Dakara as a base for our leadership, fearing the weapon there may become a symbol of struggle rather than one of peace."

I look down at my briefing folder, to a picture of the weapon in action. The image is slightly grainy, probably pulled from some long-range sensor off one ship or another. Bra'tac brought the image with him, along with other pieces of intel from the recent battle with the replicators and subsequent formation of the new nation. I'm pretty sure something isn't sitting right with the old warrior.

"Problem?"

"Word has reached the hierarchy of the newly formed council that Ba'al has taken over Anubis' vast empire, as well as those of several other System Lords, and intends to focus his intelligence gathering efforts towards an eventual overthrow of both Dakara and Earth."

"Makes sense," says Carter as she sifts through the intelligence reports. "I mean, both places have Ancient weapons that are more than capable of repelling pretty much any force he could set against them. Anubis tried that and failed. If Ba'al could control either of those weapons he would be almost unstoppable."

"True, but there are many Jaffa who remain undecided about the new nation, and who have openly spoken of returning to their former domains, regardless of who the ruling System Lord might be."

"Better the devil you know?" I offer, because I can see how tempting it looks to be under the shield of a powerful figurehead rather than facing the ongoing struggle of protecting just one planet with a fledgling force. Of course, I'm not going to say that out loud.

"Perhaps," Bra'tac says. I know the old guy is pro peace at all costs, and he'll go the full distance to make it happen. "Let us not speak no further of these things."

Yes, let's not.

"What of Daniel Jackson?"

Which one? It's been a few days since Limpet went off with Morgaine. And a few more days than that since Daniel paid a visit to me in my Vodka soaked dream.

"I guess he's got his path to take and we've got ours."

"No I don't."

Carter looks up and towards my office. "That sounds like--"

"Daniel!" I say perhaps a little too quickly.

"I'm in here!"

That's Daniel! I'm out of my chair faster than my poor knees can keep up with, only to step through into my office and find him...

"No! Don't come in!" he says, covering his crotch with one hand and holding the other up to stop me from coming any closer. "Something, please!"

The only thing within arm's reach, and big enough to cover him with, is the same thing I used last time, only on a much smaller person.

"Here we go again." I pull the flag down and hand it to him, trying to avert my eyes. Modicum of decency and all that. "We only just got the flag dry cleaned from last time!"

Daniel wraps the flag around his waist and slowly makes his way into the briefing room, much to the delight of a clearly impressed Bra'tac and Teal'c, and a slightly embarrassed Carter.

"This is getting to be a habit, Doctor Jackson," I say as he slips into a chair next to Carter and I sit down next to him. I grab the desk phone and place a quick call for Brightman to come check on our freshly descended teammate, even though I know she'll have him ushered out the room before he can give much of a debrief.

"Habit?" he asks, brow furrowed and squinting at me.

"You know. Showing up naked in my office, the flag, all that interesting stuff."

"Um."

"You don't remember?" says Carter, reaching out to touch his arm. I can see relief wash across her face when he doesn't flinch away from her.

"Ah, no. The last thing I remember is Replicator Sam turning her right arm into a spear and running me through."

Now it's Carter's turn to flinch.

"It's okay, Sam. I know it wasn't you."

"So you don't remember coming back from another date with Oma, only a couple of decades younger and a whole lot shorter?"

"No!" Daniel shrugs and shakes his head at me, just as Brightman comes in with an orderly pushing a wheelchair close behind. He's starting to look more than a little worried.

I don't personally see any reason why Morgaine or the Others would erase Daniel's memories of being a child, not when the rest of us remember so clearly. Perhaps his memory loss is a side effect of whatever was done to return him to human form, or perhaps he didn't want to remember. Either way, I'm not going to waste a whole heap of time worrying over it, not when we have enough security footage to cause him some major embarrassment.

Brightman ushers Daniel away with a warning not to go anywhere near the infirmary until she gives him the all clear. All of which will give Carter enough time to loop the digital recordings together, Teal'c to make popcorn, and me to try and find some way of explaining Daniel's return from childhood and ascension to the Pentagon and President, in words that even I can understand.

Just another day at the SGC!

I wonder if Walter still has those retirement papers?


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V is for View From The Past
by [personal profile] badfalcon

"You don't have to do this, y'know," Jack said as he walked into the room.

"So you've said three times this afternoon, Jack." Daniel looked up from where he sat on the floor, folding clothes. "No, I know I don't. But I want to. You shouldn't have to do this..." He paused and gestured around the almost empty room. "Alone."

Jack flashed him a grateful smile. "Thanks." He sank down on the edge of the bed and looked slowly around the room.

"You OK?"

"Yeah," Jack nodded slowly, then stopped and shrugged. "I don't know. Don't think so. Am I supposed to be?" He opened a photo album that was sitting on the bedside table.

Daniel placed the folded clothes into a bag. "No, and it was a stupid question. Sorry." He took a deep breath in and exhaled slowly. "Jack, I..." He shook his head and pressed his lips together. "That's the last of your mom's clothes ready to donate," he said. "I'll take the bags out to the truck." When he came back in a few minutes later, Jack was still sitting on the bed but had moved so his back was against the headrest and his legs stretched out in front of him, ankles crossed. The photo album was on his lap, a photo in his hands and his brow furrowed. "Jack?"

"Anyone in this photo look familiar to you?" Jack handed Daniel the photo as he asked.

"Uh... why would they?" Daniel frowned, moving to sit on the bed next to Jack before looking down at the photo. He blinked, his lips parting and his eyes widening.

"Yeah, see that kid right there? I can't help but think he looks a lot like..."

"...me," Daniel breathed, looking from Jack to the photo and back again. "That's... Jack's that's me."

Jack took the photo back and stared at it; it was a picture of him, in his early twenties, in his fatigues resting his elbow on the head of a skinny, scowling boy with his arms wrapped around a large leather-bound book, shaggy hair that was too long and sticking out at odd angles. "I was home from basic," Jack said slowly. "Had a week's break and came home to find some kid... you... sitting on the couch in my old hand me downs."

*****

Jack dropped his bag by the door. "Mom?" He called out, kicking his boots off and hanging his jacket up. He strode into the living room, stumbling to a stop at the sight of a kid sitting in his place on the couch. "Mom!" He yelled. "There's a kid here. Why's there a..."

"Stop yelling, Jack!" His mom came in from the kitchen, drying her hands on a towel. "His name's Danny and he's staying with us for a while. He's had some..." she paused, a sad look on her face. "Difficulties in the last few months and needs a place to live. Danny - this is my son Jack, you remember me telling you about him?"

"Hi, Danny." Jack dropped down on the couch next to the boy.

Danny looked up from his book long enough to scowl at Jack before ducking his head back down.

"Friendly kid," he commented dryly, one eyebrow raised.

"He's been through a lot. Come into the kitchen with me."

Jack stood up and followed his mom into the kitchen. "What's going on, Mom?"

"Danny's parents died, Jack," she said softly. "Just a few months ago, and he saw it happen."

"Crap, no way?"

"Mind your language."

"Sorry Mom." Jack frowned and looked back over his shoulder into the living room. "But he's so young. "

"And he's all alone in this world, so you be nice to him."

Jack opened his mouth but no words came out. What the hell did he know about kids? And that skinny little thing sure didn't look like he played hockey. Or any other sport, for that matter. He frowned and nodded, hugging his mom briefly. "What's for dinner?"

"Are you ever not hungry?" His mom asked, laughing. "Meatloaf. And it'll be ready in about 30 minutes. Now go and keep Danny company while I finish up"

"He doesn't look like he wants company," Jack started to argue, backing up when she shooed him out of her kitchen. He rolled his eyes before sitting back down next to the kid. "Mom's making meatloaf and it’s the best," he told Danny. "You'll love it." Danny didn't even look up from his book that time and Jack sighed. "You're not the chattiest kid, are you? So, what're you reading?" He pulled the book from Danny's hands and was not expecting the maelstrom that followed; Danny crying, yelling and punching at him, grabbing the book back and curling in on himself, clutching the book protectively against his chest.

"What on earth is going on in here, boys?" Mum's eyes widened and she gasped at the sight of Danny trembling and crying. "Danny, what's wrong? Jack, I thought I told you to be nice!"

"I was! I asked him about his book."

"It's my dad's book," Danny yelled. "You can't have it!"

"Jack..."

Jack ignored his mom, turning his attention to Danny. "Hey, Squirt, I'm sorry. I wasn't gonna take your book."

Danny nodded and sniffed. He reached up to wipe his face, the rolled-up sleeve of Jack's old shirt falling over his hand and he had to shake it to get his fingers free. His hair tumbled into his eyes from the shaking and a sob escape him. He curled even tighter into himself, face crumpling in misery.

Jack couldn't help but laugh and reached over, rubbing his knuckles over the kid’s head. "You'll be ok," he promised softly.

"That reminds me, Jack. Can you take Danny to the mall tomorrow, get him a haircut and some clothes? None of your old stuff fits him."

"My name isn't Danny!" The kid yelled, fresh tears running down his face. "Stop calling me Danny!" He slammed his book down on his lap, knuckles turning white from his grip on it.

"Um, mom? I don't think he likes being called Danny."

"Yes, thank you, Jonathan." Jack's mom shot him a look and he grinned back at her. "Your social worker said your name was Danny," she said to the kid gently.

"It's not!" He shouted back.

"OK then, Squirt." Jack wrapped his arm around the boy's shaking shoulders. "If you don't like being called Danny, what's your name?"

"Daniel," he replied quietly. "Only my dad calls me Danny."

"I'm sorry, Daniel." Jack pulled Daniel in against him. "I didn't know." Daniel stiffened then whimpered, sniffled and leaned against Jack. "I didn't mean to make you cry." Jack looked up as his mom nodded and went back into the kitchen, leaving them alone. "So... this is your dad's book?" Jack tapped the cover with one finger. "What's it about?"

"The pyramids." Daniel hiccupped and wiped his tears away with a frayed cuff. He shuffled away from Jack, moving to sit next to him, one leg tucked under him. He flipped the book open to show Jack one of the color illustrations. "They're in Egypt."

Jack laughed "I know where the pyramids are. I'd love to see them one day"

"They're amazing!" Daniel smiled brightly despite his tears

"You've seen them?"

Daniel nodded then bit his lip. "With my mom and dad."

Jack winced and kicked himself; the last thing he wanted to do was make the kid cry again. He looked down at the book and pointed to a picture of the Sphinx. "So, what's that?"

"That's the sphinx," Daniel answered. "It has the head of a person and the body of a lion and sometimes wings like a bird and it guards the pyramids and you have to answer its riddle to get past it and..."

*****

"I remember that," Daniel nodded, taking the photo out of Jack's hands and looking at it, running one finger over the faded image. "I had no idea that was you. You took me to the mall like your mom said, I got a haircut, you bought me some clothes and... and a coloring book with pictures of Egypt."

"Only way I could stop you from crying or yelling that night was to get you to talk about the damn pyramids. Not much has changed," he chuckled.

"Yeah, you're still a jerk." Daniel snarked back. "You gave me this huge lecture about how you knew I was scared and angry and hurting and tired and crap but that I needed to be nicer to your mom because she was only trying to help."

"Yeah," Jack made a face. "That was kind of a jerk move."

Daniel shook his head and passed the photo back. "You were right." He stared up at the ceiling. "I didn't know it at the time but..." He trailed off and looked at Jack. "The next foster home I went to, I really tried being nicer to them, and they were the ones I stayed with for the next 10 years. I should be thanking you. Jack, I..."

"I know," Jack nodded and stretched his arms over his head. He popped the photo in his shirt pocket and put the album back on the table. "Come on 'Squirt, we've got work to do..." he teased, reaching over and impulsively giving Daniel a noogie.

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W is for Water
by [personal profile] roeskva

“Today is the day!” Lantash squealed excitedly at his sister, Si’anna. “They’re opening the fence! We are getting out!”

“Yes.” Si’anna looked around the enclosure, then made a small jump in happiness.

“I am so looking forward to it! This place is so small!” Lantash insisted.

“It is also safe,” Ren’tash said to them. “No fish in here. Out there-” he shuddered. “You know what happened when you got out. You were almost eaten!”

“Almost, but I weren’t eaten!” Lantash made a proud splash. “I am much too fast for the slow fishies!”

Si’anna made something that sounded like a cross between a snort and a giggle. “You had to crawl back over land. We should have told one of the guards.”

Ren’tash grinned and rolled in the water from mirth. “We totally should. Maybe Selmak. Or Jolinar. They would have been so angry. You would have only gotten fish-gruel for days!”

“Weeks!” Si’anna squealed.

Lantash shuddered at the thought. “Shut up! That is not funny!”

They looked up as a shadow fell, and all three of them turned to see Selmak letting herself slide into the water, followed by Malek, Ocker, and Sina. Despite how carefully they entered, waves rippled across the lake and caused the young symbiotes to bob up and down.

“Weee!” Lantash squealed happily, and made a small splosh with his fins. “They’re coming to let us out!”

“Stop showering me with water!” Ren’tash complained.

“You are in the water! What does it matter?” Si’anna asked, giggling.

“Ready to get out into the larger lake, sweeties?” Selmak asked, smiling fondly at them.

“Yes! Yes!” Lantash exclaimed, swimming around in circles in his eagerness.

“Wait for us!” many voices squealed behind them as the rest of their siblings from the clutch came swimming towards them, worried they were missing out on the fun.

“Do not be concerned, little ones. None of you will be left behind,” Malek assured them kindly.

“Also, they just leave the fence open, silly!” Si’anna laughed and rolled around in the water.

“No, we do not, Si’anna,” Selmak said. “We will open it again tonight and let you swim into the enclosure so you can spend the night in its safety. Leaving it open until then would just mean large fish might swim inside.”

“Didn’t you say it was safe for us in the lake now?” Lantash asked, suddenly concerned.

“Yes, there are no fish large enough to truly harm you, but some are large enough to be a concern when you are asleep and not paying attention,” Selmak told them.

“You do not want to be awakened by a fish nibbling on your fin, do you?” Ocker teased, smiling.

“No!” they all chorused, shuddering.

“Relax. Ocker is exaggerating.” Selmak sent him a warning look. “Besides, the four of us will be here to guard you, and your older siblings are out in the lake. They can help you as well.”

“Yes, four of us will be here all the time today,” Ocker told them.

“Have fun out there - but stay away from the waterfall and the caves beyond. It’s too dangerous!” Sina warned.

“Caves?” Lantash asked, interestedly.

“Yes, caves, and you stay out of them or it is fish-gruel for a month!” Malek warned.

Lantash snorted and sent him an unhappy look.

Selmak looked out over the many small eager heads that bobbed up and down in the water before her. “Well, I guess it is time to open the fence!”

The four Tok’ra in hosts raised the fence, and the larvae—somewhat hesitantly—swam out into the larger lake.

“It is safe?” Ren’tash asked, looking up at the large, flat rock lying partially on the shore, with water lapping at the lower end.

Anise nodded eagerly. “Yes. Well, mostly safe.” She splashed in the water, giggling. Seeing that her younger sibling was worried, she decide to assuage his fears. She pointed with her fin. “See the outcropping of that cliff up there? It protects us. No birds can swoop down on us, and our hosted siblings guard the coast. No big dangerous predators. So, we are safe.”

“All right.” Ren’tash looked at the flat rock again, with both concern and longing. “It would be great fun to crawl up and look at everything from there.”

“I think so too,” Lantash agreed, eyeing the rock.

“It’s awesome! You can see so far!” Jalen insisted, swimming up behind them. “Didn’t you tell him, Anise?” She asked her clutch-mate.

Anise nodded. “Very far. All the way to the treeline.”

“Sometimes there are rabbits. I saw one yesterday,” Jalen told them excitedly.

“Rabbits?” Ren’tash asked, with clear interest.

“Ah, yes. You cannot access all your genetic memory yet, so you do not know. It is a small fluffy animal that eats plants,” Anise told him, taking on an important look.

“Are they dangerous?” Lantash asked, concerned.

“Only to plants.” Jalen grinned at her little brother.

Lantash sent her an insulted look. “Maybe I will crawl up on the rock later. And look for rabbits.” He swam off in the opposite direction.

“I want to try it now!” Ren’tash said. He swam as fast as he could towards the rock, then leapt out of the water - and landed with about half his body on the rock. He squirmed and used his fins for leverage, and made it the rest of the way up. “Weee!”

Anise made an elegant jump and landed beside him. “Nice, is it not?”

“Yes,” Ren’tash said, looking around with interest at everything. “I can see the grass. And the bushes. And the treeline, just like you said!” He made a small jump in happiness. “This is great!”

Jalen jumped up beside them, and spotted Malek standing on the shore, maybe 4-5 feet away. He waved at them.

“I so look forward to when I can just walk wherever I want!” Ren’tash exclaimed. He looked at Anise, then Jalen. “You two are getting hosts in a few months. I am so envious!”

Anise nodded. “Yes, but then we can no longer just play and have fun. We have to learn a lot of things - and then we have to fight the Goa’uld.”

“The Goa’uld.” Ren’tash shuddered. “I hope they never come here.”

“They will not. We are safe,” Jalen assured him.

Anise sent her a look which said that she was not sure she dared believe it, but she said nothing. No reason to scare the small larva beside them.

Instead they pushed the dark thoughts aside and enjoyed themselves, relaxing in the shallow water. They still had time before they hard work and danger would fill their days.

*

“We were told not to go near the waterfall!” Si’anna warned Lantash.

“I’m just going to take a look. How dangerous can it be? It is just water that is falling down. Like rain. That is not dangerous!” Lantash insisted. He swam closer to the waterfall and peeked his head out of the water. Then he swam even closer. Water droplets hit him and the sound of the falling water was strong.

“Careful!” Si’anna called from a safe distance.

He could barely hear her small voice over the roar from the waterfall, but he swam ahead to where the spray was a lot stronger. “It is fun!” he squealed, as loudly as possible.

He threw a slightly worried look at the - to him, at least - massive amounts of water falling into the lake. Then he looked back at Si’anna who had been joined by two others of their siblings. All three seemed hesitant, worried, and he felt he could not turn back now without appearing a coward. Pushing any fear aside, he decided to just swim to the very edge of the waterfall and then go back to the others in triumf.

“Lantash!” Malek called out, just as the larva disappeared under the falling water. He let himself slide into the lake and began sloshing, then swimming towards the Lantash.

While the waterfall was not actually very large, Lantash was small and the pressure from the falling water was enough to push him down towards the bottom. While he would of course not drown, he still panicked and fought the force of the water bearing down on him.

He was confused and could not tell what was up or down, right or left, when suddenly he felt the rough rock face that was behind the waterfall scrape against his skin. Tumbling around in the water, trying to right himself, he felt a sharp pain at the tip of his tail.

He screeched and pushed off against the nearest surface - and more or less by pure luck made it away from the falling water and out into the calmer parts of the lake.

His small head appeared over the surface just as Malek reached the waterfall.

“I am all right,” Lantash insisted tiredly when Malek picked him up and looked him over, worried.

“You have a small cut at the tip of your tail - that is one of the reasons to stay away from the waterfall. There are some sharp rocks near the left side.” Malek looked down in the water where several symbiotes were squealing worriedly at him. “Lantash is fine. Relax.”

Selmak was now hurrying through the water towards them. “Is he all right?”

“He is. He cut himself on the cliff by the side of the waterfall and he’s a bit shaken up, but otherwise fine.”

“We really should have removed that cliff or at least smoothed down the sharp edges. It is dangerous,” Selmak said.

“Only if the larvae insist on swimming where we tell them not to,” Malek said, looking sternly at Lantash who screeched and squealed a long string of insults at him. He just laughed. “Such a temper!”

“I still think it is a bad idea to have sharp cliffs here in the lake. Egeria actually mentioned it to me. I will make sure it is taken care of.” She reached for Lantash who immediately squirmed out of Malek’s grip and wrapped himself around Selmak’s arm, looking offended at Malek.

“Of course,” Malek said, somewhat humbled by the mention of their recently disappeared—and feared dead—queen.

Selmak looked at the small injury on Lantash’s tail. “It has stopped bleeding and is already beginning to heal.” She gently stroked him. “Still, I think it is better you not go back in the lake until tomorrow.” She looked to Malek. “I will take him back and put him in the tank until tonight when the kids go back in the enclosure.”

“Good - then he learns to be careful,” Malek said. “Sorry, Lantash. It is for your own good.”

Lantash made an unhappy sound, but did not attempt to jump off Selmak’s arm.

She held him down to the surface and gently dipped him to make sure he did not get too dry, then got out of the water and went to put him in the rather large tank they had inside a small building by the lake.

He slid into the water and turned to look at Selmak with a downcast expression.

She smiled at him. “I guess you don’t deserve it, but... don’t worry - I have some balls and other toys for you to play with.”

He squealed happily. “Thank you!”

“Just don’t tell Malek.” She looked at him conspiratorially. “Now, what do you say I go get one of those small silvery fish you like?”

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X is for Xipe Totec
by [profile] annieb1955

“Are we still going to the museum tomorrow?” Daniel Jackson asked around a yawn.

“If you go to bed on time and don’t ask for a million things before going to sleep,” Jack O’Neill replied as he focused on stacking the dishwasher. He grinned to himself at that. Daniel could come up with more excuses for not going to sleep than any kid Jack had ever known, including Jack himself. Daniel was like the Energizer Bunny, an everlasting fount of energy, much like he’d been before he’d been downsized on the alien planet of Genesis. When they’d left the SGC that day a year or so ago, Daniel had been a 6 feet tall archeologist, working for Stargate Command. Two days later, he’d returned to Earth cradled in Jack’s arms, all 3 feet 8 inches of him, aged chronologically and apparently mentally approximately 5 years old. He’d gone from being Jack’s best friend to being for all intents and purposes Jack’s son, a role Jack had come to love even while he missed the man Daniel had once been. Dr. Janet Fraiser and various specialists had worked feverishly to try to reverse the de-aging process, all to no avail, and with the Genesis natives’ adamant refusal to explain what they’d done to cause it beyond saying they’d wanted to gift Daniel with a longer life as thanks for what he’d done for them, they’d eventually decided to let Jack take him home and raise him as his own. Daniel appeared to have no memories of his former life. It was as if his life had always been the one he lived now. There were certain things though that he said or did that made Jack think the “other” Daniel was still there waiting, just below the surface of this small Daniel’s consciousness. The museum was a case in point.

The week before Daniel had stumbled across a documentary on a kid’s TV channel about the ancient Aztec civilisation. He’d been engrossed by it, sitting completely still and enthralled for the entire 40 minutes or so the show was on. When it finished he’d said to Jack, “Can we go see those things that they talked about on the show? The artey things?”

“Artey things?” Jack looked up from the sports pages he was reading and scrunched his brow in concentration. “Oh, artefacts you mean? Well, not those exact ones, no. Didn’t they say they were in a museum in Peru or Portugal or somewhere like that?” At Daniel’s nod, he went on, “So no, not those ones but there’s a museum in town we can go to. I seem to remember they have Aztec stuff as well as lots of other old stuff.”

“So we can go there?”

“Sure,” Jack replied, with a grin and an oomph as Daniel launched himself into his lap with an enthusiastic whoop of glee. It suddenly occurred to Jack there was gold to be found here and he sat Daniel up straight on his lap and said firmly, “But only if you stay with Janet while I’m away for the next two days and behave nicely for her. And,” he put a finger to Daniel’s lips as the boy started to speak, “when I come home you do all your chores without complaining and you go to bed on time without asking for another drink, another cookie, another bathroom break, another story.”

“I promise! I promise!” Daniel yelled happily. As if to prove he meant to go on as he started, he leapt off Jack’s lap and started putting his toys and books away.

“Way to go, O’Neill,” Jack said, congratulating himself. This parenting deal wasn’t nearly as hard as he’d thought it was going to be. You just had to know when to apply the right bribes.

~oOo~

It had gone to plan pretty darn well, Jack thought four nights later as he closed Daniel’s bedroom door and headed for a rare early night himself. Janet had told him that Daniel had been a perfect guest while Jack was off world with SG1. In fact, she’d had to stop him from doing all Cassie’s usual chores himself. Cassie had been understandably miffed at having her new servant taken away so unfairly. “What’s the point in having a dwarf in your house if you can’t make them work for you?” Janet told Jack she’d complained.

When Jack had brought Daniel home, the good behaviour continued with a couple of minor transgressions but Jack had only had to murmur the word museum to orchestrate an immediate change in Daniel’s behaviour. In fact, it was kinda scary. Sort of like suddenly wondering if your kid had suddenly been replaced by a Stepford kid when you weren’t looking. Still, Jack was never one to look a gift horse in the mouth and he figured that walking around a boring museum for a couple of hours every now and then would be worth it if the upside was having a compliant Daniel Jackson. If only he’d thought of this for those times when adult Daniel had refused Jack’s orders, Jack thought as he settled in for an unprecedented long night’s sleep, he could have avoided all the worry Daniel had been prone to put him through almost from the day they met.

“Ja-ack.”

There was a whiny buzzy mosquito assaulting Jack’s ear and he sleepily batted at it with his hand.

The “ouch” he got in response woke him up in record time and he sat up to see Daniel standing next to the bed, rubbing at his arm. “You hit me,” he said accusingly.

“Sorry,” Jack replied contritely. He looked at the clock. 5 AM. “What’s the matter?”

“You have to get up. We’re going to the museum today,” Daniel said, his eyes aglow with excitement.

“Not this early we’re not.” Jack pulled Daniel onto his lap then scooped up the blankets and scooted Daniel under them. He lay back down and closed his eyes. “The museum people are still in bed for at least another… oh, 5 hours.”

“Oh,” Daniel said disappointedly.

Jack was just drifting off when Daniel said, “Do you want to hear my Aztec alphabet? I learned it on that show the other day. Of course, I don’t know all of it yet because I only heard it once but I know most of it. A is for Aztec—”

Jack sighed, sat up and climbed out of bed. “Let’s go make breakfast,” he said. “I think I’m going to need at least 3 cups of coffee today.”

~oOo~

“Wow!!” Daniel whispered in an awe-filled voice as he turned in a slow circle in the middle of the museum floor. “This is so cool!”

Jack grinned down at him then grabbed his hand and let Daniel tow him over to the first exhibit. This had been a great idea. Daniel was in his element here. They stopped in front of a glass case that had some masks and weapons in it.

“These are for Xipe Totec,” Daniel said, reading off the information card stuck to the glass, the name tripping unfalteringly off his 5 year old tongue. “They talked about him on that show. He was the god of Spring. He used to wear people skins sometimes.”

“Ewwww!” Jack said, wrinkling his nose. “I hope this visit isn’t going to give you nightmares.”

“Course not,” Daniel replied stoutly. “It’s just a myth.”

Back in the pre-de-aged Daniel days Jack would have been the one standing up on the side of mythology but Jack was too happy to know this trip wouldn’t be causing any major sleepless nights in the future. He looked around and spotted a concession kiosk in a corner of the room. “Hey, kiddo, you want some juice?”

“Sure,” Daniel said, already wandering off to the next exhibit. “Can I have chips too? Tortilla chips. With cheese.”

“Okay,” Jack replied, taking out his wallet. He caught up with Daniel then kneeled down in front of him and made sure Daniel was paying attention to him. “Don’t wander off. Stay right here next to ole…” he glanced at the name of the statue in the exhibit area they were in front of, “Tealips—”

“Tealoc,” Daniel corrected him with a giggle. “I remember about him. He was the god of rain.”

“Tealoc then. Stand right here by him and wait for me,” Jack ordered. He waited till Daniel nodded then walked across and grabbed two bottles of orange juice and two packs of chips and paid for them. He was just stuffing his change back in his wallet when there was an almighty crash that made the floor shake and then, above the surprised gasps from the people around him, the high pitched scream of a child. He dropped the items back on the counter and ran back across to where he’d left Daniel, horrified to see no sign of him. “My kid, he was right here,” Jack said urgently to the man standing where Daniel had been moments earlier. “Did you see where he went?”

The man nodded and pointed toward the exit. “He took off when that big plinth thing got dropped. Screamed and ran off. Looked like he was terrified. Sorry, buddy, I tried to grab him but he was too quick for me.”

“Thanks,” Jack tossed over his shoulder as he took off running.

He bolted through the exit doors then paused, looking both ways up and down the street, praying Daniel hadn’t decided to cross the road in his panic-fueled dash. He caught a glimpse of a blond head and a blue tshirt about twenty feet away, heading for the cross street and Jack took off as if the devil himself was at his heels.

“Daniel,” he yelled as he got within arm’s reach of the boy. “Wait! Stop!” He reached out a hand and just managed to snag the back of Daniel’s shirt, and as he did, Daniel tripped and fell, landing on his hands and knees. Jack scooped him up into his arms, wincing as he saw that Daniel’s left arm was bent in the shape of a typical greenstick fracture. Daniel’s face was white, his eyes huge, the pupils dilated, and he squirmed to break free despite the pain it must have been causing him.

“Let me go!” he screamed. “I want my mommy. I want my daddy. Let me go, let me go!”

A woman passing by gave Jack a suspicious look but hurried on her way and Jack hoped she wasn’t going to find the nearest cop and report him as a child abductor. He managed to get Daniel settled more firmly in his arms then headed for his car parked at the kerb a few feet away. It wasn’t easy getting the door unlocked and open with a squirming, bawling Daniel in his arms, especially as Jack was trying hard not to hurt him any more than he already was, but he finally accomplished it and climbed into the front passenger seat and placed Daniel on his lap. He rocked him, shushing him, telling him he was okay, that Jack was right there with him, a soothing litany of words that eventually seemed to sink into Daniel’s frightened mind. After five minutes that felt like an hour to Jack, he gave a final hiccupping sob then looked up at Jack, tears still streaming down his cheeks and said, “My mommy’s dead in there.”

Jack shook his head and said, “No, she’s not, Daniel. That happened a long time ago. You’re safe with me now. Remember?”

“The stone fell on them both,” Daniel insisted. “I saw it.” He scrubbed at his eyes with his good hand and said, “My arm really hurts now. Did the stone fall on me too?”

“No,” Jack said, “you fell on the sidewalk when you were running, that’s all.” He looked at Daniel’s arm and grimaced at the purple bruise already forming. “I’m gonna take you to see Doc Janet. She’ll fix you right up, okay?”

He got Daniel settled into his car seat after putting his arm in a soft sling from out of the car’s first aid kit then he climbed behind the wheel and took off for the SGC and fast as he could safely make it.

~oOo~

Jack jumped up from his seat outside the SGC sickbay as soon as Janet Frasier came out. “He’s doing fine, Colonel,” she said, waving Jack back down to his chair. She sat next to him and went on, “As you suspect he has a greenstick fracture but nothing that 6 weeks in a cast won’t heal completely. There is something else though. When you told me what he’d said after the incident, it gave me an idea so I ran a series of tests to check his physical age.”

“And?” Jack asked. “Are you saying he’s going to start growing up faster again? Get back to his old self sooner rather than later?”

“Not exactly, no,” Janet replied. “The scans show he’s still physically approximately 5 years old and he seems to be growing at a normal rate for a human child. However, things he asked me about while I was examining him seem to indicate that Daniel is becoming aware. In other words, he’s starting to regain his adult memories.”

“Great,” Jack said. “Most of Daniel’s memories aren’t things a 5 year old needs to remember or even know about. What do we do about it?”

“All we can do is deal with it on a day by day, case by case basis. We still don’t fully understand how memory works. He’s got you and a lot of good people looking out for him, Colonel. I think he’s going to be fine.” Janet stood up and smiled down at him. “Now you’d better get your ass in there, Colonel. He’s been asking for you for the last five minutes. Won’t let us put the cast on till you’re there with him.”

Jack stood up quickly and walked into the infirmary. He wasn’t totally surprised at what Janet had told. The unexpected always seem to happen around Dr. Daniel Jackson, whether he was big or small. Jack guessed he’d just have to get used to it.

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Y is for Young Samantha Carter
by [personal profile] goddess47

Colonel Jacob Carter watched his daughter Samantha graduate at the top of her class from the US Air Force Academy. His mind drifted to the young girl she once was.

Sam had shown her brilliance, even as a child. Interestingly enough, her first word -- well, after 'mama' and 'papa' -- had been 'how?' Sam had wanted to know how everything worked... Sam's mom had called him at work. Often.

"Bring a maintenance worker when you come home," she'd say.

"What did Sam take apart now?" Jacob would sigh.

"The vacuum cleaner," she's reply.

"Okay, not a problem!" Jacob would promise.

Sam would sit and watch in fascination as the maintenance man -- usually an enlisted soldier -- would put the device back together. Most of them would cheerfully talk through what they were doing at a level that five-year-old Sam could follow.

The car accident that killed his wife had caused a hard time between Jacob and his children. Mark withdrew into his grief but Sam had more 'how' questions.

"How could you do this?"

"How could you let this happen?"

"How could you have not picked her up on time?"

It took a long time for Sam to forgive him. He wasn't always sure Mark had forgiven him, but -- once he apologized -- Sam finally forgave him with her whole heart.

As Sam grew, the questions never ended.

"How can I become a pilot?"

"How can I take more courses?"

"How does that work?"

"How can I become an astronaut?"

As Jacob was transferred from base to base, Sam fiercely identified as a "military dependent" and would bristle at anyone who called her a "military brat."

"How can they call me that?" Sam would demand. ""They don't know me! I am not a brat!"

Fortunately, Sam's temper would wear out quickly, and Jacob could distract Sam by asking what she had been studying in school.

Although school had its own frustrations.

"How does she not know that?"

"How can he make me do this homework?"

"How could not give me an A?"

Preparing for the Air Force Academy helped Sam learn self discipline in a way Jacob never could teach her. The questions didn't end, but they turned focused on Sam's love for science.

"How can they not have seen the Feynman lectures?"

"How does Maxwell's equations apply to curved spacetime?"

"How can get more time in the flight simulator?"

Luckily, the Academy challenged Sam in ways Jacob never could. Sam was an amazing daughter, the Academy turned her into a amazing young adult.

He had come to terms with the diagnosis of lymphoma. Then George Hammond turned his world around -- Sam had found her own way to the stars and Jacob was thankful she could share that with him.

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Z is for Zen
by [personal profile] fignewton

Like all infants, Shifu had no comprehension in the first months of his life beyond his contentment when he was warm and loved and full. He had no awareness that the strong, gentle hands that cradled him belonged to his grandfather, or that his mother was lost somewhere among the stars, trapped in her own body by another.

Then came the day of loud shouting and noises that frightened him, rough hands and strange voices and abrupt, bitter cold. He wailed his protest as an unfamiliar woman gripped him tightly against her, and screamed even more loudly when he felt himself abruptly dropped to the ground.

Then everything went silent, warm, and soothing.

Shifu drifted for some unknown time in the security of full and comfortable again. The voices he'd once recognized were gone and they easily slipped beyond memory. One voice came and went, quickly forgotten.

But as time passed, and his tiny body began to accelerate beyond the norm, Shifu was suddenly bombarded by waves of emotion and concepts that were beyond his ability to grasp. He cringed, mentally and physically, at the deeply disturbing memories that began to flood and overwhelm his innocent mind.

Then Oma came to him, and there was blessed, blissful silence.

Relief.

"The mind is always free," Oma said gently, "but some traps require release."

He sighed. "It is gone."

"I have helped you forget," she corrected, "but a sapling sheltered from the wind can become a mighty tree to resist the greatest storms."

"I shall do my best," Shifu said gravely, and followed her.

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