Santa is an Alien
“He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"
With a deep sigh of contentment Danny snuggled deeper into the crook of Jack’s arm. One small finger traced the picture of jolly ole St. Nik riding away in his sleigh. “I think Santa is real,” he said suddenly, as if the thought had just struck him now.
Maybe it had.
Jack lowered the book he’d been reading from and glanced over at Daniel who was by the stove.
Daniel blinked, gave him a shrug and focused on pouring hot chocolate into the three reindeer head mugs Carter had given to them on her last visit. Jack was pretty sure she had received them at the SGC’s Secret Santa exchange and couldn’t get rid of them fast enough.
Danny loved them. Called them the Rudolph mugs because each of the clunky brown heads sported a shiny red nose.
“Santa has to be real,” Danny repeated. “Every myth has a bit of truth in it. Daniel says that.”
Daniel muttered, “I, uh, yeah.” He managed to carry all three Rudolph mugs at once as he made his way over to the couch. “Uhhh, Danny, Santa... the Santa we know, he’s...”
Jack wanted to know where this was going. He shook his head slightly and Daniel raised his eyebrows over the rim of his glasses, but left the sentence unfinished.
Danny continued, pointing at Daniel, “You told me the story of Saint Nik of Myra. Myra is a town in Turkey,” he elaborated for Jack. “St. Nikolaus was the first real Santa. Not the Coca Cola one America invented.”
“Okay.” Jack didn’t know what else to say. When either one of the Daniels were in lecture mode it was usually best to just wait it out.
“St. Nik was a holy man, a monk, who did tons of good, ‘specially for the kids.” Danny lowered his voice and shared his theory. “He was an al-i-en.”
Jack bit his lip to keep the laughter inside. Well, there was an interesting thought. St. Nik couldn’t have been a Goa’uld. But maybe an Asgard posing as Santa? Jack had seen stranger things out there. Of course they’d have to use their holograms to give people the proper Santa image.
“What makes you think Santa was an alien?”
“’Cause he can fly with his sleigh and fit all the presents into one sack,” Danny said as if it was the most rational reasoning in the world.
Jack turned to Daniel. “He’s got a point there.”
Daniel frowned, but he didn’t say anything and just offered one of the Rudolphs to Jack who took it and took a sip. Cocoa and cinnamon. Perfect.
Danny reached carefully for his mug when Daniel handed it to him. He wrapped his hands around the reindeer head, raised it to his face and sniffed. “Ohhh, I love hot chocolate! It makes me all warm and cozy on the inside!”
Jack couldn’t agree more. But it wasn’t just the hot beverage. It never really got cold enough here to actually need hot chocolate to warm up. It was the whole place. It gave Jack inner peace, something he hadn’t felt in a very long time before he’d come to Ba'th.
Their little cabin on the bluff of Ba'th Town was the coziest place he could think of even though it lacked some of the amenities of their base quarters, like electricity and a real shower. But they still came out here as much as possible. The cabin was their home. It had a small backyard, a well with a pump and the view over the town and harbor was spectacular.
The room was filled with the scent of the pine tree they had put up in one corner. It wasn’t decorated yet because they had no Christmas decorations here. Daniel and Danny would gate to Earth next week and return with baubles and tinsel and all the trimmings.
They had discussed going ‘home’ for the holidays and staying with Carter and Fraiser because unlike Jack and Daniel they actually still had a home back on Earth. But Carter and Fraiser had booked a cabin somewhere in the mountains to go skiing. Cassie hadn’t stopped talking about their vacation ever since. Carter had invited them all to come along, but she hadn’t seemed overly disappointed when they’d decided to stay on Ba'th. Jack suspected his former 2IC and the doc had gotten pretty close this past year and were aiming for getting even closer over the holidays.
So Daniel and Danny were going to spend a couple of days Earth-side to play in the snow, have an early Christmas dinner with T, Carter, the doc and Cassie, go shopping and bring Teal’c back with them so they could spend the holidays together. Jack had wanted to go with them, but base duty kept him Ba'th-bound. Not that there was anything spectacular going on around here, but duty was duty and as base commander he had to be present even if half of his people had already gone home to be with their families until New Year's.
Daniel sat down on Danny’s other side and clinked the Rudolph mugs together, their big noses gently banging.
“You know the flying reindeer and the sack are part of the myth, right?” Daniel said after a quiet moment of just listening to the low crackle and occasional log-popping coming from the fire place.
Danny stretched his short legs and wriggled his toes which were covered by thick red socks with white snowflake embroidery. Another one of Carter’s little pre-Christmas gifts. Unlike the Rudolph mugs, the socks were cute though. And Jack didn’t have to wear them.
“But it could be real. If Santa was an alien.”
“Could be real,” Jack agreed. “If Santa was an alien.”
Daniel shook his head. “Jack...”
“Well, why not? Maybe we should ask Thor if he knows about this next time we meet him.”
Danny giggled. “Not Thor, Jack! Santa would be like the Oma angel who woke me up. ‘Cause she can use magic. Maybe she was one of Santa’s angels. Or maybe Santa is like her.”
Jack looked over Danny’s head and was met by worried blue eyes.
“Interesting theory you have there, buddy,” Jack said.
Daniel cleared his throat and brushed a hand over Danny’s short blond hair. “The Oma angel was an Ancient, Danny.”
“I know. She was very pretty,” Danny said fondly.
“Yes. Yes, she was. But she has nothing to do with Santa.”
“You don’t know that. Just because she didn’t tell us, doesn’t mean she’s not.”
“Yes, actually, I was with her for a while, up there in the sky... we both were, remember?”
“Maybe she just didn’t tell us, cause we were new,” Danny said. “Maybe it’s a big secret.” He had made up his mind about this and Jack knew he’d hold on to his theory now until someone proved him wrong.
And why not? It was a cool theory.
Daniel shook his head. “Danny...”
Jack put a hand on Daniel’s shoulder and squeezed lightly. To Danny he said, “You’re right. We don’t know. But if Santa was an alien, he’d be an Ancient.”
Daniel’s look of worry turned into a glare. “Jack...”
Jack squeezed the broad shoulder once more, reassuring. Trust me. “It’s a nice thought after all.”
Danny piped up. “It’s okay, Daniel. You don’t have to believe it. I know you’re not into Christmas very much.”
Daniel winced. “No. No, that’s not true. I like it. I just...”
Danny reached over and placed his small hand over Daniel’s large one. “I remember Christmas when I was … before... when I was with you. When we were...” Danny bit his lip. He often had a hard time remembering his life on Earth from when he’d still been a real part of Daniel. Part of that knowledge might be forever gone, but sometimes he remembered events or places he’d been to as clearly as Daniel did. It was a muddled state of things and no one really knew how much of Daniel’s memories were still somewhere buried in the boy’s mind.
“Before Oma ascended us, before Kelowna, when we were one,” Daniel tried to put it into the right perspective for Danny, his voice soft.
“Uh-huh. Before we met Jack an’ Sam an’ Teal’c. And when we were little. I remember that, sort of.”
“I’m sorry.” Daniel turned their hands upside down and entwined their fingers.
“It’s okay,” Danny said lightly, “It doesn’t hurt.”
“You’re right. Because it was a long time ago.”
Jack watched them, wondering – not for the first time - if Danny still had the touch-magic in him. When the kid had first appeared on Ba'th he’d been able to established some sort of mental connection between himself and whoever he touched. He had shown Jack memories of Big Daniel. He had also calmed people and somehow put them at peace, made them happier. Jack and Daniel didn’t know for sure if that gift had been completely taken away from Danny when Oma had revived him after the failed reunion or if it was still there and only surfaced randomly.
They had never experienced any kind of mental images again. But Jack suspected a small echo of that gift was still there and that the kid sometimes used it to mellow people in order to get his way. Whether or not he was aware of doing it was another question they didn’t have the answer to because it was very subtle, never ‘in your face’.
But it was still there, somehow.
And sometimes, like now, Jack just knew it was Danny’s touch that helped Daniel to relax almost visibly.
Danny smiled up at Daniel, but then his head turned and he looked at Jack again, his expression subdued, “We never liked Christmas then.”
Jack returned the boy’s look, but when he spoke it was more to Daniel. “I know. And we tried real hard to get you into the spirit.”
“I appreciated the thought, I really did. And holiday team nights were fun...” Daniel said in a kind of apologetic way.
“But you never really...”
“Didn’t get into that special place of Christmas magic, nope. Sorry. But it wasn’t your fault. If anything you all made it better for me. There were just too many...”
“Skeletons in the closets.”
“It’s not bad, it’s not depressing. Not anymore. It just doesn’t mean anything special to me.” There was no bitterness in Daniel’s voice, not even sadness. It was just a statement.
Jack knew a thing or two about how hard and haunting the holidays could be. He’d been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Each member of SG-1 carried their package of pain. Lost parents, lost kids, leaving your family behind. One of them hadn’t even known about Earth holidays. They had come together each year and done a bit of Christmas together. Small gifts, good food, drinks, sometimes a tree, sometimes just a campfire off world.
It had been nice and softened Jack’s own inner grinch, had allowed the memories of great, happier times to surface. But Daniel had always been sort of indifferent to the holidays. No favorite childhood memory to go back to, no favorite gift he’d gotten, no nostalgic thoughts of the years when he’d believed in Santa – because he never had. His parents hadn’t been into celebrating Christmas and after they were gone it had probably just gone downhill on all levels for Daniel.
Danny tugged at Daniel’s hand to get their attention back. “But we always wanted to feel it. We always wondered what it’s like to feel it. And now I can. ‘Cause I’m little. ‘Cause the Oma angel took away the bad stuff when she woke me up again.”
Daniel smiled. “I’m happy she took all the bad stuff away.”
Danny beamed up at him. “Me too!” Then he sighed. “I wish she’d taken away all the bad stuff from you, too.”
“I guess the bad stuff needs to be with me, just like the good stuff. But there’s a lot more of the good stuff now. And Oma gave you to us and that’s bigger than anything I can think of,” Daniel said.
Jack couldn’t tell if it had really been Oma who had taken away the ‘bad stuff’, the burden of Daniel’s adult life and all he had suffered through in his first childhood. It might have been Daniel who’d done that by severing the connection between them during their reunion. They couldn’t tell and it wasn’t really important anyway.
The child-incarnation of Daniel had always been a bright spirit. He had come down from the higher plains like a shooting star. But even then there had been a shadow hanging over the kid, because he had come with a mission. He’d been sent down, a small part split off from ascended Daniel, carrying all the memories in him. When the star child had died during the reunion with descended Daniel, Oma had brought him back to life – and that shadow had been gone.
Danny engaged everything new the same way Daniel used to do when he had first joined SG-1. He was a bottomless well of energy, curiosity and enthusiasm. He had forgotten most languages he used to speak, but was already learning Arabic and French again. His history lessons needed to be put in kiddy-terms for him because while he was a quick study and had fragmentary memories here and there, his mind worked differently now. But he gobbled down knowledge like candy and Jack was secretly grateful for not having to take a huge part in Danny’s homeschooling program.
Danny had started to show interest in Christmas a couple weeks ago when Sam had brought he Rudolph mugs and the snowflake socks. He had wanted to hear the Christmas story and then he’d ventured into asking questions about all the tales kids loved so much. Santa Claus, the reindeer...
Daniel had fed Danny’s hunger for information with myths and facts. Saint Nikolaus of Myra, the origin of the Christmas tree, the birth of the baby Jesus, the different ways Christmas was celebrated on Earth. Some of it Danny remembered, but some of it was ‘new’ to him and he wanted to know it ALL.
Jack had taken over the fun part. He had read Christmas poems and stories, watched The Grinch, Frosty the Snowman and all the Santa Claus movies with Danny. He had shared his own favorite childhood Christmas memories with his boy and Danny had soaked it all up the way only a Daniel could.
So, they had nurtured his enthusiasm about the holidays. Jack had been inspired by fond memories of his own son being so mesmerized and in awe with all things Christmas and Daniel just loved teaching the bug new things, period. He had made Christmas part of their Earth history and culture lessons.
If the star child wanted Santa Clause to be real in whatever form Jack wasn’t going to argue with that. He’d grow out of it soon enough, but this was the magical time of five year olds believing in miracles, angels and flying reindeer. In Jack’s book all was right with Danny’s world if he found some Christmas spirit for himself.
There was no need to burst the kid’s bubble.
Jack took the Rudolph mug from Danny and gave him a gentle nudge. “Go, get some marshmallows from the bedroom. Hot chocolate should never come without them.”
“The bag is on the second shelf from the bottom,” Daniel called after the kid who had already left.
The bedroom was the coolest room of the cabin. Since they had no fridge they kept most of their food there in an in-built closet. And because the kitchen was part of the living room it was too small to store food there. Jack wanted to add a storage room to the little house. It had been on his to-do list for a while but he hadn’t gotten around to it yet.
Daniel placed his mug on the ground by his feet and raised a hand before Jack could say anything. “I know he’s little and we shouldn’t stop him from believing in Santa...”
Jack turned Rudolph around until it was facing Daniel with its oversized ceramic black eyes and red nose, “Buuut?” he said in his best Alvin the Chipmunk imitation. Reindeer, chipmunks... he was sure they sounded all the same, at least in Disney movies.
Daniel rolled his eyes. “You know what he’s like, Jack. He’s like a dog with a bone – he’ll think this through and ask a hundred questions. And he expects answers that fit with his logic.”
“We’ll make something up.”
“We can’t just...”
“Look, I know you’re not into all the Christmas mambo jambo, but he’s five and apparently he wants to believe in Santa. Let him have some fun,” Jack said.
“This isn’t about me. All of this...” Daniel waved at the tree and gave Rudolph a poignant look, “is fine and I’m happy to make this the best Christmas ever for him. But an alien Santa? He’s got an imagination as big as the galaxy, Jack. You really want to try and keep up with that?”
“Well, yeah, if it makes him happy. I can keep up with it. I’m the best story teller on the planet. Any planet. I got this. Trust me.” Jack waggled his eyebrows and smirked.
“Good luck,” Daniel snorted.
Jack put his mug down and closed the space between them, leaning in for a kiss. “C’mon. Don’t be grinchy, Daniel.”
“Grinchy?” But the kiss was returned, which was good.
“Jack...” There was a sigh and a low chuckle.
“It’ll be fun,” Jack coaxed. “Alien Santa, hyperdrive sleighs, robo reindeer...”
“As long as they’re not replicator reindeer,” Daniel grumbled and pulled away after another kiss.
“No replicators,” Jack agreed. “And no glowy-eyed Grinches.”
“Good. We don’t want to give him nightmares.” A smile tugged at the corner of Daniel’s mouth.
Then Danny was back and wedged himself between them again, waving the marshmallow bag in Jack’s face. Jack took it from him, opened it and put three tiny white rolls into each mug and allowed Danny to have one extra to eat right away.
“So, what do you want to do when we’re on Earth?” Daniel asked, purposefully steering the conversation away from alien Santas for now.
“Snow angels! And snow men!”
“Check,” Daniel said.
“Getting all the decorations!”
“Can we make cookies with Sam and Janet? Can we?”
“Sure. Cookies is a go. Hey, we could go to a nativity play if you want. And we’ll go sledding,” Daniel said brightly. Jack felt a spark of warmth, knowing his partner didn’t really care about any of these things but would do it all for the kid.
Danny looked up at them with bright eyes and Jack could practically see the wheels turning in his head before he burst out, “D’you think Santa would come through the gate? To Ba'th?”
Daniel shot Jack a I told you so look.
Jack winked and said, “Well, Santa has his own ways of getting where he wants to go. You’ll just have to wait and see."
Daniel’s smile was just a little bit forced, but he nodded. “I bet you’re on his nice list.”
Danny jumped up and Jack grabbed the Rudolph mug from him before it got toppled over. “Maybe the Oma angel has told him I’m here! I have to write to Santa. I have to tell him about Mania and Ranja... and Mikele... Paolo.. and Jorge...”
Daniel gave Jack another look. You’re on your own.
“Whoa!” Jack got up and put their mugs on the table. He grabbed the little elf, scooped him up and announced it was bed time for little boys who wanted to stay on Santa’s nice list.
Danny squirmed and wriggled. “Jaaa-aaaack, I have to!”
“You can write a letter and a list of names to Santa tomorrow. And you can take it to Earth with you so Daniel can get it to NORAD.”
Now that got Danny’s attention. “NORAD is at the SGC! Why there?”
“Because NORAD does the Santa tracking every year. On a radar. And if you give your letter to Daniel here, he’ll make sure NORAD gets it out to Santa in time.”
The star child turned to Daniel. “Is that true?”
Daniel opened his mouth, closed it, then shrugged. “Sure. Jack is the expert on alien Santa things. So it must be true.”
“Will General Hammond allow Santa to go through the Stargate? Will you make sure he won’t get shot when he comes through here, Jack?”
“I’m sure Jack will clear it all with the general.” Daniel leaned back on the couch and sipped from his hot chocolate, waiting for Jack to talk himself out of that one.
But Jack had this covered and he would go through with it. “Yeahsureyabetcha,” he sing-songed as he settled the star child on his hip and made his way to the tiny bathroom.
“Jack? Will General Hammond give Santa his own GDO so he can come back here every year?”
“I don’t think Santa needs a GDO,” Jack said and put Danny on his feet in front of his own small table and washing bowl. He poured water from the jug into a glass and handed Danny his toothbrush.
“But he won’t be able to get back without one because of the iris.” Danny held the toothbrush out to Jack so he could squirt toothpaste on it.
“If Santa is an Ancient the iris won’t be an issue for him. Here, brush your teeth, elfling.”
“Ohhh.” Danny started scrubbing his teeth. “Doeth Thanna eventh...” Toothpaste dripped from his mouth and Jack quickly grabbed a towel and wiped it away before it could drip on the blue pajama top.
“No talking when brushing your teeth.”
Danny spit and rinsed and spit and rinsed. “Yuck,” he exclaimed, pouting. “Does Santa have to brush his teeth?”
“When he takes human form while he’s Santa he has to,” Jack confirmed. “No one wants a Santa with rotten teeth.”
Danny sighed. “Yeah and he has to brush his teeth a lot ‘cause he eats a lot of cookies. Poor Santa.”
“I’m sure he doesn’t mind. You ready to go to bed now?”
“If I’m real quick I could write my letter to Santa now,” Danny said as he skipped ahead to the bedroom.
Jack was beginning to see Daniel’s point. But he had lots of experience in dealing with the overactive mind of his star child. He wasn’t worried. “Santa letters need to be written with great care. If your writing is sloppy or rushed he might not get what you want. He might get it all wrong and give you a bucket full of new toothbrushes instead of a pony.”
Danny giggled. “Jaaaack, I don’t want a pony.”
“Oh, good. I don’t think we have enough space for one here.” Jack wiped his brow in relief.
“D’you think Santa will bring me my own pottery wheel? A small one just for me?” Danny asked as he climbed into his bed and knuckled his eyes.
Jack tucked him in and bent down to kiss the top of the blond head. “If you ask nicely, who knows.” The pottery wheel was already hidden away at the barn. Jack had ordered it here on Ba'th and it had been delivered last week. Danny loved working with clay and he spent a lot of time at the barn with Mikele and Jorge, making his own figures. But he wanted to throw clay like a pro to create jugs and jars.
“Jack?” Danny yawned and turned on his side, burrowing deep into the fluffy pillow.
“One more question.” Jack raised one finger. He had lots of experience with ongoing questions to draw out bedtimes, too.
“They are tiny questions.”
“I love you, good night, Danny-boy.” He got up and headed for the door, but stopped at the muttered, “Okaaaay, just one.”
He returned to the bed and sat down on the edge. “Shoot.”
“You have to come real close, ‘cause I have to whisper it into your ear. Daniel can’t know about this.” When Jack complied, Danny continued in a hushed voice, “Can I ask Santa to give Daniel some Christmas spirit?”
Awww, man. Jack hugged him close and whispered back, “You can ask Santa anything, kiddo. But you have to be patient. Might not happen this year... but if you keep asking... who knows.”
“Try try try again.” Danny put his finger on his lips when they heard the wood floor creak and a moment later Daniel entered the room to say good-night.