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L is for The Last

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L is for The Last

 

Sam was dead.  The little stone marker, carved by Jack's hand from a rock he had quarried in a nearby riverbed, sat right beside Teal'c's headstone.  They were together now, which in Jack's mind seemed totally right because that's how they had been after Earth was lost. 

Teal'c died when his supply of Tretonin ran out.  Sam, only a few days ago when the roof of their cabin collapsed during the last storm.  Jack had done what he could with the meager supplies from their med kit, but the last of their reserves were gone.  There was nothing left, save for a couple of already used bandages and some adhesive tape.

And then there was Daniel. 

Jack guessed it was funny at first when he lost his grip on the rope Daniel was hanging from, sending him crashing into the water at the bottom of the cenote they had found on P7C-992.   Whether it was hearing his cry of surprise as the rope gave way, or that cutting Daniel off mid-history lesson while he was trying to record unusual hieroglyphs on the underside of the pit was somehow satisfying, he didn't know.  But he'll never forget watching Daniel struggling for breath as the rope came down on him.

The water Daniel swallowed was ultimately their undoing.  Far from being safe, regardless of what Carter's initial tests had concluded, it was tainted in a way none of them could have even imagined.  He had quite literally drunk from the fountain of youth, and there was no one left on Earth to tell.

Burying the gate on '992 had been an option of last resort. All attempts at dialing Earth had failed, and what little contact they had with the Beta site revealed the base was being attacked by the Goa'uld after its location had been compromised. 

They were alone, the only team who had been offworld at the time of their mission.  And now Jack was the only one left to raise a child that had once been a man.

Jack didn't understand the de-aging process.  All he knew was that in the space of a day or so, Daniel got a whole lot shorter, his skin softer, his voice higher, and his memory faded.  And they were just the things he could see.  Carter was no help - she didn't understand the process either, despite coming up with some fairly impressive observations.

It didn't really matter in the end because they were on their own, and the pain Daniel went through as his body de-aged was enough to keep thoughts of Earth buried under layers of worry and stress.

That was almost three years ago.  Today Daniel celebrated what they had all figured was his 7th birthday.

"Happy birthday, Daniel."  Jack raised his canteen cup and swallowed the sip of water it contained.  Not enough to quench his thirst, but then the water came from the cenote and it was a sufficient amount that if he drank just a sip each day he could hold back the years until Daniel was old enough to survive on his own.  

Daniel smiled without looking up from his book, barely acknowledging the moment as he used the charcoal pencil Jack had made him to scribble down words Jack couldn't read.

"Arabic?" Jack asked.

"Hindu."

"What happened to the Arabic from yesterday?"

Daniel reached up to push back his long fringe, and then tapped a finger to the side of his head.  "I finished remembering it.  Now I'm up to Hindu."

The End