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Still Jack and Daniel Series I - Not in Kansas Anymore 4 - Wind of Change

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Wind of Change



I



"Danny?"

The slumped figure huddling under the blanket on the couch raised his head and blinked sleepy owlish eyes at him. "I'm fine. Couldn't sleep."

Jack hobbled over and sat down, leaning his crutches against the coffee table. He took the remote and turned off the TV.

"Go back to bed, Jack. I’ll just stay here a few minutes."

"Crawl in with me."

"No."

"Daniel…" O'Neill rubbed his eyes and yawned.

"I'm sorry I woke you - again," Daniel murmured, pulling the blanket tightly around his body.

Jack patted Daniel's head and started pointing out all the things he'd already told him the night before. And the night before that. And the night before. "I wake up anyway. It just takes longer because of the painkillers. They make me a little dizzy. And I'm not as fast with these damn crutches… so why don't you just do us both a favor and sleep with me for a while? Getting up in the middle of the night and watching TV until you fall asleep again isn't…"

"I won't sleep with you in that bed," Daniel said, as he had said the night before and the night before that… It was like an unspoken law. They had been something different in that bed. Daniel was drawing a line there and Jack had never questioned that line, had even welcomed it. When Daniel had nightmares it was always Jack who got up and went to Daniel's room. It had never been a problem as long as Jack hadn't been handicapped like he was now.

Usually those nightmares were connected with Shau’ri o r past missions gone wrong. And sometimes Daniel dreamed of his transformation into the kid he was now. Those would come and go. There were periods when Daniel went several weeks without any bad dreams and then there were weeks where he'd wake up several nights in a row.

Now he was working out his latest off world adventure, which included waking up every night, screaming Jack's name at the top of his lungs. Daniel had fallen out of bed in his restlessness twice. Apparently it was going to take some time to get over that one. Even Jack had still flashbacks from Daniel's outbursts when his memories had returned while they'd been captured in that damn cave. It had scared the crap out of them both.

In the first couple of nights back on base Daniel had left his quarters, sneaked into the infirmary and slept in a chair next to Jack's bed. Jack, who had been on painkillers and other medications at the time, hadn't even realized Daniel was there at first. Janet had caught the kid and allowed him to have a bed next to Jack's.

Once they had been released to go home, Daniel insisted he'd sleep in his own room.

And he did.

The second night home Jack had woken up because he'd heard the TV running in the living room. When he had managed to get out of bed and hobble over, he had found Daniel curled up on the couch under a blanket. The kid had insisted he was "fine" and that he would "deal" with it.

The next night, Jack and Daniel had met in the living room again.

And now they were here the third night in a row. Jack was tired and wanted to go back to bed. "That Smartie was a bitch. This is going to nag at you for some time. Why don't you…."

"No. And I think it's stupid anyway. I'm almost eight. Or thirty five, or whatever. I should be able to handle this alone. You're injured and need rest," Daniel demanded.

"Well, the point is, I don't get any rest if I'm up every night to look after you."

"This is just the point. You don't HAVE to. I wake up, I watch TV, I go to sleep. There's no need for you to get up. Just ignore me."

"Yeah, right."

"It'll pass."

Jack shook his head. "I can't ignore you when you're having these nightmares. We never ignored our nightmares when you were... you know, big. I'm here. I care. What's the big deal?"

"You're injured and you need your rest.”

“Well, I'm not getting much rest like this,” Jack said, irritation tainting his voice against his will.

Take sleeping pills," Daniel suggested rather snippy.

"For crying out loud." Jack grabbed his crutches and struggled to rise from the couch. When he reached the two stairs leading to the hallway, he turned around. "If this isn't going to get better soon, I'll put a camping bed in your room."

Daniel just shrugged. "I’m going to be okay."

"Let's talk about this in the morning," Jack said wearily.

It would be a better idea to sleep together in the tree house or on the couch in the living room, maybe. Except Jack wasn't up to conquering the stairs to the tree house with his current injuries and the couch was too small, so that was out of the question.

Maybe it would all calm down some once tomorrow's meeting was out of the way. Jack knew Daniel was anxious about it. Hell, they both would be more than happy once that was out of the way.

***

Daniel got up early. It wasn’t exactly his favorite time of the day. Usually it was Jack who prepared breakfast. Sometimes his friend used to wake Daniel with a cup of coffee. Jack had always been the morning person in this house.

But things had changed. Daniel had set his alarm clock for six thirty every day since they had gotten home a week ago.

He strolled into the kitchen, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. If he wasn't useful for anything else he could at least have everything ready by the time Jack got out of the bathroom.

Daniel had started to do most of Jack's chores in the house. As many as he was able to do anyway. There were still too many things he couldn't do on his own due to his size. And everything took him far too long.

For example, he had to make three trips to take dirty laundry into the basement where the washer and dryer were. The basket was too big for him to carry. Usually, when it was Daniel's turn to do laundry, Jack would take the dirty clothes down for him and all he'd have to do was sort them out and put everything into the washer and, later, into the dryer. Now he was using a smaller basket and made several trips up and down the stairs until everything was there.

And when he took dishes out of the washer, Jack had to put some of them away. They had moved things around, but some of the bowls and dishes they needed were still in the upper cupboards.

Which was exactly his problem right now.

He needed to reach up there to get the Froot Loops out. Daniel never ate Froot Loops so Jack had put them up there along with other food Daniel never touched, in order to make space in the cabinets Daniel could reach.

Frustrated, he grabbed a kitchen chair and dragged it over to the counter. Then he climbed up and opened the door of the upper cupboards.

"Daniel? What are you doing in there?"

The seven year old almost bit his tongue when Jack's voice came from the hallway. He knew very well he wasn't supposed to climb chairs.

Or tables.

They had had this discussion on and off over the last few months. Daniel knew all he had to do was ask Jack for help. But his childlike streak kept forgetting that fact, especially if he needed to reach something right now. He had a step stool in his room so he could reach the upper shelves of his closet. And there was another one in the living room. But Daniel was often too lazy to drag the thing all over the house whenever he needed one.

But the last time Jack had caught him standing on a chair, Daniel had gotten a very embarrassing lecture about what could happen to little boys if they were climbing chairs and fell down. Yes. Jack had really used the words "little boys" and said a few other things that had made Daniel cringe. And he had given him the raised eyebrow. Of course he knew Jack just wanted to let him know how childish his behavior was – and he was really not impressed at all.

That he hadn’t climbed any chairs since then was just a coincidence.

Well, but that had been before Jack got injured.

This was a desperate exceptional situation, right? The toast was moldy. And the Froot Loops were on the highest shelf in the upper cupboards. So it wasn’t exactly Daniel’s fault that he had to use a chair. And he'd be down and out of danger anyway by the time Jack was here.

He wasn’t exactly fast on his crutches.

Daniel stood on the c hair and tried to reach the Froot Loops. But the box was so far back on the shelf. Standing on tiptoes, he stretched his whole body like a boa constrictor to get hold of the box with his fingertips. It was useless. Pulling up one knee after the other he knelt on the counter, holding onto the cupboard with one hand and reaching inside with the other.

"Got it," he murmured triumphantly, when his fingers closed around the cardboard box.

Carefully he stretched his left leg backwards to find the chair with his foot. He had to put the box down on the counter because he needed both hands to steady himself. When his other foot was placed securely on the chair, he grabbed for the box again. But somehow he pushed against it and a split second later, the box skittered down to the floor.

It was raining Froot Loops.

"Oh nooo!” Daniel whined, whirling around to watch wide eyed as the Froot Loops were rolling across the floor.

And then the chair started to sway.

Daniel let out a yelp. His hands flew up to grab for anything to hold on, but it was too late. The chair toppled and crashed down, taking him with it. There was a sharp pain in his head when it hit the floor or the chair....

"What the hell!” Jack shouted from the doorway, "Daniel!"

Daniel felt dizzy for a moment. Everything was spinning as he sat up and blinked, too shocked to even cry. When the spinning came to a halt, he scrambled to his feet, rubbing the enormous bump that was developing on the side of his head. With an amount of effort he picked up the chair just as Jack was maneuvering himself through the open kitchen door.

"Don’t! Don’t come in here!" Daniel yelled in panic. If Jack slipped on the Froot Loops…

Jack looked at the colorful, little, donut shaped pieces littered all over the floor. Then he came in, pushing the Froot Loops aside with one of his crutches. He sat down on one of the kitchen chairs, grabbed for Daniel and pulled him close.

Daniel squeezed his eyes shut for a moment to fight sudden nausea as Jack made him sit on his good knee. The sick feeling subsided fast, but Daniel let out another yelp of pain, when experienced fingers gently examined his head. "Are you okay? Feeling dizzy? Sick?"

"No. I’m fine… I was just… wanted to…" He gestured at the cupboard behind him

Jack sighed. "Daniel."

"Jack."

"How often have we been through this?”

I'm sorry.”

"Right. Let's try this again. If you can’t reach something?"

"I ask for help."

"And what did I tell you is going to happen if we have to drive to the hospital because you break an arm or leg?"

He stared at his hands.

"Daniel?"

"Um… you'll tell the doctor to give me a kid-cast… in pink. And you'll make me tell Janet, Sam and Teal'c the truth, if they want to know what happened. And that’s… that’s so mean."

"That’s because you won’t listen to me."

"I wanted to fix you breakfast and didn't want to bother you." Daniel shrugged. "I just wanted to help."

"That's very nice, and I appreciate all that. But if you end up with a broken arm or leg, because you fell off a chair, we'd need Sam and Teal'c to move in here to take care of us," Jack said more softly.

"Sorry," Daniel apologized again.

"So, no more chair climbing. Understood?"

"Okay," he mumbled.

Then he squinted up at O'Neill. "Pink, Jack? Really?"

"Yep. Pink.” Jack gently pushed him off his knee and steered him around. “Go and get the ice pack."

"I need to clean up the Froot Loops."

"Ice pack."

He sighed and did as he was told. When he sat at the table next to Jack and pressed the pack to the bump, he had to admit the coolness made him feel much better. But his head was still throbbing.

"Does it still hurt?"

Daniel shook his head. "I'm fine. It's just a bump."

"If you get a headache or feel sick, tell me, okay? No need to play the hero. You went down pretty hard. Might be a concussion. I think we better let Fraiser check you out," Jack said.

Daniel rolled his eyes. No way was he going into the infirmary just because he hit his head. Janet would ask him how it happened and if Jack told her Daniel had fallen from a chair… no way. "It's throbbing a little, but it's okay. I didn't even cry. It's just a little bump. We don't have to bother Janet with it."

"Doesn't look so little to me," Jack muttered.

"I'm gonna tell you if it gets worse. I promise. Just… I don't want to delay the hearing," he finally confessed.

Jack patted his arm. "Hey… Nervous?"

"Nooo… Okay. Yes. I mean, it's my death sentence. Or something close anyway."

"It's a hearing. And you might lose a few feathers. But it's hardly a death sentence," Jack answered.

Daniel hung his head. He had been anxious about it for weeks now. Due to the long convalescence of Jack's injuries and the fact that Teal´c and Sam had been off world a couple of times in between, the official hearing had been delayed until now.

However, the general had already talked to Daniel some time ago. It had been awkward. Even though Hammond hadn't been exactly angry with him, he'd made it very clear h e wouldn't let Daniel get away with wandering off, no matter how tempting Doctor Pierson's reasons had been. Daniel couldn't stop himself from confessing a few other things, too.

That he'd been lying to Jack on this mission, and that he had been pushing himself over his limits again and again. He'd even told Hammond about the fact he'd been stretching the truth a couple of times with him, too.

But it turned out that Jack had done a lot of reporting himself, so Daniel wasn't telling the general anything new. He also suspected Hammond had known more about his struggles to adjust to the kid-life than he let on. The general had been und erstanding, but he had also made it very clear to Daniel there would be long term consequences. Jack and Hammond had already informed him he'd be grounded from gate travel until further notice. And they would talk to Jane t about counseling.

The official meeting was a mere formal thing, but Daniel was still nervous about it. There would be a protocol and an entry in his personal file and they would discuss his mental issues with Janet. And it would all be reported to the higher ups in DC. He felt stripped and robbed of his dignity. Hammond hadn't been happy, but he had explained to Daniel that he couldn't keep this off the record. Washington had never really approved of Daniel going off world in his current state and he had now efficiently proved they had been right not to trust his abilities in handling himself out there.

"Will it be… will they really make the counseling a condition to let me go off world again?" he asked Jack for maybe the hundredth time.

"Yes. You know that already." Jack patted his arm some more. "You know, I'm just glad it turned out you didn't tell Pierson I gave you permission to go in that temple – or whatever it was."

"You really thought I did that, didn't you?"

"You were pretty mad at me at the time. It seemed to be… logical somehow."

Daniel pulled away from Jack's hand and got up. He didn't want his older friend to know how embarrassed he felt that Jack had assumed he'd been lying agai n. But he really deserved this, didn't he? Jack had told him it would take some time before he'd completely trust him again. There had been a time when Jack would have trusted Daniel's word without questioning it. No matter what the circumstances. Obviously those times were over.

There was a lump in Daniel's throat that had been there a lot over the last few weeks. He put the ice pack back into the fridge and went to the pantry attached to the kitchen. He took out the broom and started sweeping the Froot Loops together. Once he had thrown them into the trash, he sat down at the table again.

"No Froot Loops left for breakfast."

"Why don't we have breakfast at the commissary before the hearing?"

Daniel gulped inwardly. His stomach clenched and he felt sick. "I'm not hungry anyway. But if you'd like to eat there, sure. They have Froot Loops. "

"Yes, oh yes, I know. I had those Froot Loops for… Forever." Jack sighed, rolling his eyes. "I don't know why I started to eat them again."

Daniel had to smile. "Because you really don't like oa t meal?"

Jack smiled back at him.

"I can fix you something. Just tell me what you'd like."

"No, it's okay."

"Oh, do you want the newspaper? And did you take your meds?"

Jack sighed again. "Yes, Daniel, I took my meds. And I'll read the paper later when we get home. Why don't you go and get dressed? I'll call the mountain so they can send us a car."

"I'll call. Just stay here and rest. It's no problem," Daniel assured his older friend as he jumped up to get the phone.

When he returned, Jack stood at the counter, a coffee mug in his hand. Daniel was at his side in a flash, taking the mug away from him to fill it with the freshly brewed coffee. Then he placed the mug back on the table and pulled the chair out for Jack.

"I got it. I ordered a car. They'll be here in half an hour. I told them to send one that is big enough so you'll be comfortable with your leg…"

"Thank you, Da… "

"Shall I help you getting dressed? Which jacket do you want? It's cool outside." Daniel turned around to get Jack's shoes and the leather jacket for him, when a hand held him back at the collar of his t-shirt. "Will you slow down, grasshopper? I need to shave first and change my shirt."

"Oh, okay. I can help you!"

"Daniel, I can shave myself. Get dressed."

Daniel felt ridiculous. But he was so worried Jack might slip in the bathroom or something. He wanted him to sit on the couch all day. Somehow it was really funny. He had always accused Jack of being overprotective. Now he felt like a mother hen himself. But it was Daniel's fault that Jack walked on crutches and he had to make up for it somehow.

He went to his room to make his bed and get dressed. He hadn't slept well. He never seemed to sleep without nightmares since they were back on Earth.

He swallowed.

That lump in his throat didn't go away.

They had been back from Tink-ah's planet four weeks now and Jack had never said a word about any kind of punishment – aside from the official disciplinary consequences - for climbing into the building and wandering off. Daniel had expected Jack to be mad because he'd thrown all caution to the wind and listened to Pierson. But Jack didn't even yell at him or blame him. He had just listened to Daniel's report about how he'd gotten into the temple and had said he believed Daniel, when he'd sworn he hadn't lied to Pierson. Apparently Pierson had confessed he'd been luring Daniel insid.e the building to find the statue.

Of course Daniel was still holding back a few things. He didn't tell anybody about Pierson's offer to help him in case he found the missing stone for the Yggdrasil. Daniel also "forgot" to mention the address in Paris Pierson had given him. But he assumed the Doctor would still be off world somewhere. So the address was of no use anyway at the moment. If he were ever able to find the missing stone of the Yggdrasil, he'd have to ask Hammond and Jack for help. And even then there was the possibility that Pierson wouldn't be back on Earth. Or that he had given Daniel false information at all just to get him off his case.

He felt guilty about that, too. The little card with the address of a bar in Paris was in the tree house, hidden between two books on his shelf.

And Daniel's hope to find the eagle stone anytime soon had been shattered already by being grounded.

He had started to do research on the language based on the alien writings. But so far he hadn't been very successful. It wasn't Swedish, Norwegian or Finnish. All Scandinavian languages he had tried so far didn't seem to be related to the Svartálf language. He had to dig deeper and find older dialects. It would take an amount of time and work to figure it out.

He just hoped that, on the off chance Pierson was back on Earth somehow, they wouldn't find him anytime soon.

Daniel went to the bathroom to brush his teeth, wishing this day would be over soon. He really hated the thought of going to a psychologist. But he hated the thought of living without going through the gate even more.

II

When they arrived at the mountain and sat in the commissary, Jack felt so sorry for Daniel, he wanted to call Hammond and cancel the hearing. Of course that wasn't an option. But he felt like letting it all go, right now.

He wanted to scoop the kid up and take him home, spoil him a little and make him feel better. Daniel was too pale and subdued for Jack's liking. And despite the nightmares, the Wretch rarely talked about his feelings or his worries regarding the hearing. And he wouldn't talk about his nightmares either. He was just trying to hold his head high and keep it all inside. He was trying to act like a man. But it was eating him up.

The driver had picked them up at Jack's house an hour ago.

And as it had been over the last weeks, Daniel was around Jack like he was glued to his back. He had brought him his shoes, offered to tie his laces and helped him into his jacket. He had opened the doors for him and helped him into the car. And during all this the anxiety was radiating off him in waves and Jack was sick of having to put the kid through this despite the fact that Daniel was responsible for a lot of his curerent troubles.

O'Neill knew it must be torture for the kid having to wait for this hearing so long. But Jack's injuries had taken time to heal and the rest of the team hadn't been available either. But Fraiser and Hammond had wanted all of SG-1 to attend the hearing and Jack agreed. To support Daniel, not to make him feel worse. This was, after all, still a team matter. Daniel was part of the team and his future was subject of the hearing. They wouldn't let him face this alone.

Now Daniel sat there, picking at his French toast, gazing into his black coffee without drinking it. That Daniel didn't even enjoy his coffee was a bad sign. He wasn't a happy camper. And Jack was falling for it, little by little. How could he not? He was only human, for crying out loud. And having a guilty, quiet and clingy Daniel around for the last few weeks was more than he could bear. This was almost worse than dealing with the brat Daniel usually turned into when he had issues.

No, he corrected himself. This was worse.

Jack had tried to convince Daniel that feeling guilty wouldn't make it better. Pierson had been a rat bastard to manipulate him like he had done. But Daniel would just give him the "I am fine" line and block him out. It wasn't really something new. Daniel had ridden the guilt trip before. It was part of who he was; if someone told him he had to carry the guilt of the universe on his shoulders, Daniel would have believed it eventually.

But it had never been that bad. Or it just seemed like that. Maybe it was, because Danny looked so little... was so little now.

Jack ripped his eyes away from the slumped figure in the plain g ray sweater and the bowed head. They couldn't go on like this. This was what was best for Daniel, no matter if he liked it or not. And the kid had 'earned' the right to feel guilty at least partly for this. He shouldn't have listened to Pierson. What he should have done was walk away from that guy ASAP.

Yeah, right. Who was he kidding here? Seeing Daniel like that made Jack want to get his hands on Adam Pierson and do some really nasty things to him. That son of a bitch had offered Daniel something he just couldn't say no to. Could they really blame the kid for trying to hold onto a straw of hope? Wouldn't Jack have done the same?

And then it had all turned out to be just a smoke screen.

"How's the head, kiddo?"

"Fine."

"Fine as in good-fine, or fine as in "it hurts, but I don't want to talk about it"-fine?"

Daniel just gazed at him and shrugged.

Jack got up from his seat, grabbing his crutches. "Come on. Let's go."

He couldn't sit there and watch the kid any longer. He had to remind himself this wasn't just about punishing Daniel for getting in trouble off world. This was an opportunity to change a few basic things and force Daniel to face a few truths in his life. To help him adapt. And Jack needed that help, too.

When they entered the briefing room, Doctor Fraiser and Carter were already there. Both greeted Daniel with warm smiles. Carter came over to Daniel and they hugged. The doc flipped through her papers. "I would like to talk about details of your counseling right after this is over, Daniel. Do you think you can do that?"

Jack felt blue uncertain eyes on him, searching for help. He drew a deep breath and nudged him. "What do you think? I'd say, we bite the bullet. If we wait too long, we'll just chicken out. And the doc can check on your head, too."

Jack used the term "we" to remind the kid that he, too, was going to talk to this shrink, and that they were in this together.

"What happened to your head?” Fraiser asked.

I hit it somewhere,” Daniel muttered and Fraiser rushed over to examine it.

There's a slight swelling. Are you feeling all right, Daniel?"

He stepped away. "I'm fine. It's just a bump. Can we do this later?"

"All right. You're a little pale though. Do you have a headache?"

"No. It's okay. I'm a little nervous, I guess."

Fraiser gave him one last concerned look. "I want you to come to the infirmary with me after the hearing, so we can talk, okay?"

"Okay."

Jack saw the smile in her eyes. She was relieved. Obviously she had expected far more resistance. As had Jack. But then again, Daniel had been like this for the most part of the last couple of weeks. Either that or he was driving Jack crazy with his care taking skills. Who would've thought Jack would find himself on the receiving end of a mother-henning Daniel?

They all gathered around the briefing table to wait for the general when Teal´c entered the room. T. had been busy with the continuing negotiations with Kytamo until a few days ago. Which had turned out to be a complete disaster, by the way. The Jaffa's newest rebel hero had turned out to be a Goa'uld and was now deader than dead, killed by Teal'c's own hands. It wasn't a pretty story.

"Are you well again, O'Neill?" Teal´c asked him.

"It's getting better. You know, I've had a couple of knee surgeries over the years… it's getting kinda old these days." Jack shrugged it off.

"When will you be able to join SG-1 again?"

"Oy… don't know. If you want the math, ask the doc."

Fraiser said. "We'll see. It will take a few more weeks though before he'll be back on full duty."

"Is SG-1 on stand down for that time?"

"Yes. We are on downtime for two weeks and then I'm still on low duty. I'll cut back on missions for a while when I get rid of the crutches. I already talked to Hammond about it," Jack informed him.

"Then I wish to start my training lessons with DanielJackson."

Daniel, who was standing next to Jack, looked up. "What are you talking about, Teal'c?"

"We will discuss this after the briefing," the Jaffa replied.

"Oh. Okay." And down went the head again.

 

 

Jack wondered if T's idea of training would be something to get Daniel's interest. "Teal´c wants to give you lessons in Jaffa fighting. So that when you'll get lost the next time without a weapon or a radio, you can do some cool stuff to defend yourself."

"You will be able to fight with your body and mind. You will be able to use a stick as a deadly weapon. I know there are several Asian material arts techniques on Earth who are similar to Jaffa techniques. I will assemble a training plan and combine some of them with what I learned from Master Bra'tac."

Daniel gaped at his warrior friend. "Um, uh, that's nice of you, Teal'c. Really… Um… but… I won't go off world for a very long time. So that might not be necessary."

"You will need the time to learn, DanielJackson. When you are allowed to go into battle again, you will be much stronger and secure about your physical strength. You will be a great value to SG-1 again," Teal'c explained with great confidence in his voice.

"There will be no battles for me anymore until I am… I don't know… eighteen?"

Teal'c was about to answer, when General Hammond joined them at the table and they all sat down.

Jack needed only one look at the face of his commanding officer to know that this was as hard for Hammond as it was for the rest of them. Taking away gate travel from Daniel wasn't easy. Letting him work on translations only, for who knew how long, seemed like a harsh punishment. But there it was. Jack wouldn't have backed down on this, even if it had been his decision alone. Which it wasn't. Not anymore. Daniel's latest adventure had turned the gate travel issue into an official matter.

Sure, Daniel loved to translate and to analyze writings. But Daniel loved going off world more. Talking to people of foreign cultures, learning their way of life and collecting the artifacts himself. They had often talked about how much alive all those history things were for him, when all Jack could see were a few rocks and scratchings or some native people of just another world with just another fancy religion.

Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad for Daniel to give up the Stargate if he'd still been an adult, for some reason. But now that he was a kid, gate travel was one of the very few connections he had to his former life.

Hammond cleared his throat. "All right, people. Before we talk about Doctor Jackson's further involvement with the SGC, I have to inform you that Colonel Simmons is here to ask Daniel a few questions about the escape of Doctor Pierson."

Jack's head snapped up from the folder he was gazing at. "What?!"

Hammond's blue eyes locked with his. "I had no idea until a minute ago. I'm sorry. It turns out Pierson not only stole the statue from P4X-98; there are other organizations searching for him as well. I don't have any information about the reasons for this, but I checked back with the Pentagon and apparently they sent Simmons to investigate."

"Daniel will not talk to that bastard – sir," Jack snapped. “And since when does the NID know about Daniel anyway?” But the question was rhetoric. The NID supervised any military action regarding the Stargate program – it had only been a matter of time until someone would ask questions about the real background of Daniel Jackson's nephew.

"Colonel, we have no choice," Hammond said calmly. Then he turned to Doctor Fraiser. "Unless you have medical reasons to cancel this meeting, Doctor."

Fraiser opened her mouth, when Daniel chimed in, "I'll talk to Simmons. I don't want to delay this any further."

Hammond looked at him, a very serious expression on his face. "Are you sure, son?"

"Yes, General. There isn't much I can tell him anyway. He has my report and there isn't more to say," Daniel answered in that scary calm voice.

Jack wanted to stop this. Simmons was a gangs ter. A corrupt, arrogant bureaucrat.

"Colonel Simmons cannot be trusted," Teal´c said.

"Sir, he works for the NID," Carter pointed out.

Hammond was about to answer, when the all too familiar voice of Simmons came from the briefing room entrance. "And the NID works for the Pentagon, Major Carter. General – you started this meeting without me, as I can see."

O'Neill gritted his teeth and wondered how many times he could possibly wrap that ugly purple tie around Simmons's neck. The colonel was wearing one of his expensive suits. But a rat always looked like a rat no matter how overdressed it was.

"We were just waiting for you, Colonel," Hammond explained, giving O'Neill a warning look.

Simmons crossed the room and came to a halt in front of the table. He gazed at SG-1 and then, with a disdainful smile, at Daniel. "And here we have our little troublemaker. You look good, Daniel Jackson. Very youthful."

Daniel leaned back in the too big seat and stared at Simmons. "And you look old. Are those new crow's feet around your eyes?"

Daniel,“ Jack warned. But he had to bite the inside of his cheek to hide a grin at the flicker of Daniel-the-brat surfacing. He'd almost missed it. Just... almost.

Simmons raised his eyebrows. He walked around the table and placed himself opposite Daniel, putting a file folder on the table in front of him.

Hammond cleared his throat. "Let's get started. I'm sure your time is limited so why don't you go ahead, Colonel Simmons."

The colonel shuffled through his papers and played with his expensive pen for a moment before he finally began. "We need some information about the events on P4X-98. Can you tell me what Pierson told you about the statue and why he wanted it?"

"It's all in my report. I think you read that already," Daniel pointed out, his voice steady and calm.

"I want to hear it from you personally, Daniel. If that is not too much to ask,” Simmons pressed.

Daniel licked his lips and tipped his glasses up his nose. "No problem… Frank… can I call you Frank? Since you're calling me Daniel."

Jack leaned back and enjoyed the show. His kid was going to kick ass. Yep. And it was the first time in weeks that Daniel showed some of his old fighting spirit.

"Doctor Jackson," Simmons corrected himself with a barely hidden sneer.

"Yes, Colonel Simmons?"

"Will you answer my question, please?"

"Doctor Pierson told me about the statue. He claimed there was a possibility it'd help me to grow up again. He also said he wasn't working for the NID and that he was on my side. He didn't tell me why he wanted the statue. Just that I should find it because it would help me."

"And you believed him? Just like that?" Simmons eyebrows wandered up.

"He was convincing. I'm in a desperate situation."

"I see. He made no comment about who he worked for later? After it became obvious that he wanted the statue for his own interests?"

"No. Nothing: I asked him, but he didn't answer."

Simmons pulled a pen from his suit's pocket and took some notes, then asked Daniel, "Colonel O'Neill is your superior officer. Did he allow you to explore the temple?"

"No. And it's not a temple. It's a doorway."

"That is not relevant. Shouldn't you have called him and ask for his permission first?"

"Yes."

"But you didn't."

"No."

"So we can say you actually helped Doctor Pierson to carry out his criminal plans. Against the orders of your commanding officer?"

"I…" There was a first crack in the facade of Daniel's self-control. He turned to Hammond. "I'm sorry, sir. I know I should have reported to Jack before going anywhere. But I had no intention to support any criminal acts."

"We already talked about that part, son. Just relax," Hammond soothed.

Simmons's face turned into a sardonic smile. "Oh, yes. Am I right to assume that Doctor Jackson will stay the rest of his... childhood on base?“

I don't believe the disciplinary choices the SGC will make about Doctor Jackson's actions are relevant to your interrogation. If you'd just do what you came here for... ?” Hammond didn't finish the sentence, but his icy blue eyes spoke volumes as he stared the colonel down.

Simmons, however, didn't back off that easily. “Colonel O'Neill should really keep his people better under control, if you ask me, General."

Jack saw Daniel's hands ball into fists. He wanted to comfort him, but knew now wasn't the time for that. So Jack started to fiddle with his own pen and gave Simmons the evil eye. “You let that be my problem, Colonel,” he snapped.

Hammond replied, "If you have more questions, I suggest you concentrate on asking them."

The smile faded from Simmons's face as he looked through his notes. "If we assume that Doctor Jackson helped Pierson willingly to get the statue, we have to suspect he knows more about the whereabouts of Pierson. Maybe there was some kind of agreement between them? Doctor Jackson let Pierson get away and Pierson would help him to grow up later?"

Jack couldn't listen to this nonsense any longer. "What are you talking about, Simmons? Daniel was hardly able to prevent Pierson from escaping."

"Really? Doctor Jackson, you know how to use a weapon?"

Daniel nodded. "Yes. But I wasn't armed."

"You could have used O'Neill's weapon, couldn't you?"

"No. The recoil of a P90 is too strong. I am not allowed to fire a P90. I'm only allowed to fire Zats. And I didn't have a Zat."

Hammond confirmed this information with a nod.

Simmons frowned, but got himself back on track. "I see. I still think it is very likely you're holding something back here, Jackson."

"Why is Pierson so important to you, Simmons?" Jack wanted to know.

"That is none of your concern, Colonel O'Neill . All you need to know is that he's a criminal and that we'll hunt him down. Can we go back to the matter at hand?"

When nobody objected, he continued, "Pierson rescued you both. And then he left you and Colonel O'Neill in the underground valley. Did you talk to him before he escaped? You wrote in your report you can't remember that part very well. Maybe you can try to recall more, now that you had some time to think about it."

Jack cringed when he saw how Daniel sucked in air.

He himself had talked to Hammond about that part in Daniel's report. Somehow there was something sketchy about it. Jack had been unconscious most of the time after Pierson had kicked Svartil into her own prison. But he was sure Daniel had talked to the good doctor before he had left them.

But the kid had passed out not long after that. He had been exhausted and extremely distressed. So Jack assumed Daniel really couldn't remember. Or Pierson had just said goodbye without any explanation and there was nothing significant to remember?

Jack watched as Danny blinked a couple of times. It took him a while to answer, and when he did, his voice had lost its sharpness and sounded subdued again. "He told me Michaels would be there soon. And that he had banished Svartil into her own prison. Then he left. The statue wasn't working. That's all there is. He just wanted me to get it because he didn't know there was another way into the valley other than through the doorway."

"He didn't tell you anything? He just left? Without another word?"

"He just left." Daniel stared at his hands.

"Are you sure? Because I am not. I think you asked him a lot of questions. I bet you wouldn't just let him go and take the statue – that statue was your only hope to become an adult again."

"It's all in my report," Daniel murmured. "The statue didn't work. It was just a trick."

Daniel avoided Hammond's worried look. His hands started to play with a loose thread at the seam of his BDUs. Jack had seen Daniel like this before. He was hiding something.

O'Neill cursed inwardly. He had known it. Had told Hammond such. But he hadn't been sure, it was more a hunch than anything else. And he hadn't called Daniel on it because he had assumed the kid was still shocked from the whole incident. But right now he saw the signs so clearly… Daniel was lying. Had been lying about something the whole time. And if Simmons was able to get it out of him…

"I don't know anything else," Daniel insisted.

But his eyes had left Simmons's face and focused on the table in front of him. He worked on his bottom lip with his teeth. And Jack wasn't the only on e who could read the signs.

"Oh, but you should try harder, Daniel. Did you know, for example, that Pierson is back on Earth? Maybe you don't know that. But then again… maybe he told you how he'd be able to return without using our Stargate and where you could meet him," Simmons said, his voice soft and dangerous. His dark eyes were locked onto the child’s lowered head. He had gone back to call him by his first name. It was as if he could smell the boy's insecurity.

"Hey! That's Doctor Jackson to you," Jack sniped.

Simmons gave him a sardonic smile: "But he doesn't really look like Doctor Jackson, Colonel. He looks like a miserable, little kid."

Jack was ready to knock Simmons out of his suit, when Teal´c spoke, "Do not let DanielJackson fool you by the way he looks. There is far more courage and wisdom in him, than you will ever gain, ColonelSimmons."

"How do you know Pierson is back on Earth? And how would he be able to return without using the gate?" Hammond interjected sharply.

He might have a contact with a ship,” Carter suggested, frowning.

Simmons shrugged. "One of our contacts was tipped off about his whereabouts, but we weren't able to track him any further than that. We need to know where he might be hiding."

"Then you should let your source figure that out," Jack snapped.

Daniel lifted his chin defiantly, but his hand was still ripping at the loose thread of his pants: "I have no idea what you're talking about, Simmons. Pierson didn't tell me anything and I didn't ask him anything. Jack was injured. I passed out after Pierson left."

"Yes, Daniel. After he left. But what happened before he left?"

"Nothing."

"I think that's not true."

"And what makes you think that, Colonel Simmons?" Hammond got up and leaned forward, his hands resting on the table.

"It's just a hunch," Simmons answered, the sardonic smile back in place.

"I can't remember. As far as I know, he left." Daniel's hands gripped the arms of his seat. Jack could see his distress. He wanted to help him and smack him at the same time. Why hadn't he told them? He should know he could trust them. Should know he could confide in his friends. Was he protecting Pierson? And if he was... why?

The general, however, seemed to have enough of it. With a voice as cold as ice he told Simmons: "You are not going to put pressure on one of my people because of a hunch. This questioning is over."

"No, it isn't," Simmons insisted.

"Yes, it is. Doctor Jackson has been under extreme stress lately. He shows all symptoms of a nervous breakdown. I recommend you stop this questioning right now," the sharp voice of Doctor Fraiser cut through the room.

"Granted," Hammond barked.

"General, I must protest…"

O'Neill rose up from his seat. "Permission to escort Colonel Simmons to hell, I mean out of here, sir," he asked very politely, giving Simmons one of his meanest glares.

"I guess the colonel wanted to leave anyway," Hammond answered.

"I will leave. But I suggest that you keep a better eye on your precious little boy here. He means trouble. And I know a lot of people who would be very interested in him, by the way," Simmons explained, his voice menacing.

He grabbed his papers and rushed out of the briefing room.

All O'Neill needed was a nod from Hammond and he was up and after Simmons, as fast as he was able to on his crutches. It took him a moment to catch up to the leaving man. But as Simmons was waiting for the elevator, he found himself suddenly held in a tight grip by the lapel of his expensive suit. With grim satisfaction, Jack noticed the little droplets of sweat appearing on the colonel's temple. They were almost standing nose to nose now.

O'Neill's leg hurt like hell from the fast movements, but he didn't care. He leaned heavily on the crutches in his right hand while his left was still holding Simmons in place. "Anybody put their slimy hands on my kid and you're a dead man, Simmons,” Jack growled.

"Are you threatening me, O'Neill? You know this could get you court martialed. Attacking…."

Jack stepped back and brushed out the wrinkles of Simmons's jacket with one hand. "Yeah, you know…. I wouldn't call it a threat. It's more a…"

"It is a promise." Teal'c was glowering over O'Neill's shoulder.

"A very serious and sincere promise," Jack added, clapping Simmons's shoulder.

"Indeed. I believe your elevator has arrived ColonelSimmons."

The colonel spun around on his heels and left without a word.

When Teal'c and O'Neill returned to the briefing room, the general shook his head. "I only hope you left him in one piece, Jack."

"He got lucky. I'm not at my best form," O'Neill snorted.

Hammond raised his eyebrows. "Now… What in God's name was that?"

"That was ColonelSimmons," said Teal'c with a grim expression on his face.

Jack looked over at Daniel, who was hugging himself as he gazed down at his knees again. "O-kay… Daniel, let's hear it," he ordered.

The blond head shot up and startled blue eyes met his. "Hear what?"

"Whatever it is you're holding back."

"Nothing." The head went down again.

Right.

That was it

O'Neill turned to Hammond. "General, can I have a few minutes alone with Daniel?"

"Sure. You can use my office," Hammond replied, a frown on his face.

Jack got up and waited for Daniel to either come along or to rethink his answer. Daniel chose to quietly walk into Hammond’s office while Jack hobbled after him on his crutches.

III

Once he had closed the door, Jack went to the side of Hammond’s desk and leaned against it, placing the crutches beside him. Then he watched Daniel, who had walked to the window and stared out into the briefing room, where the others were waiting and obviously discussing something.

"All right. Spill, Daniel."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"What the hell are you holding back? And don't tell me you're not. You almost had a heart attack when Simmons started to corner you with his questions about Pierson."

There's nothing to tell," Daniel answered, finally a shadow of the old rebellion back in his voice.

"You're lying," Jack snapped at him, fed up with this new habit.

"He said goodbye to me. What's there to tell," Daniel snapped back, betraying his own words when he blushed.

"Do you realize how that could've ended in there?! If Simmons had pressed you a little longer?"

"I'm not scared of Simmons," Daniel replied stubbornly.

"The hell you aren't! And that's not the point here! How are we supposed to back you up, when you don't even tell us the truth?! Look out there, Daniel – those are your friends! You could have talked to me or Hammond off the record!"

"I didn't know Simmons would be here."

"Nobody knew! Whatever it is you're holding back about Pierson… You should have told us. And if you have reasons for not telling Hammond, let me know and we'll find a way – but stop lying to me, Daniel. Because I'm not taking any crap from you any longer!" After Jack stopped yelling it was very quiet in the room. O'Neill felt his patience slip with every passing second.

Daniel finally turned to look at him, his face white like a ghost, his lips firmly pressed together.

Jack waited a few moments longer, then said, "Get over here."

 

 

Daniel crossed the room without a word. Jack took him by his shoulders and waited until Daniel looked up at him. He drew a deep breath and said in a much calmer voice: "All right. Just tell me, why you can't talk about it. Gimme something to work with here." Then, as an afterthought, he asked, "Are you scared? Of Pierson? Did he threaten you? C'mon, kid. Talk to me."

"No."

Jack sighed and tried to figure out what the kid was up to. He didn't look scared. More sullen. And a little embarrassed. What the hell was going on? "Daniel?"

"He just left."

"Daniel, so help me…"

Jack looked over to the window. He could see his teammates, Fraiser and Hammond sitting there, talking. Carter glanced up, worry all over her face. The situation and the timing was bad. But Jack had to do something, and fast. He needed to stick to his rules.

"Right. Here's the deal. I can't read your mind. I don't know why you won't trust me with this. But you sure as hell lied to me at least three times in the last five minutes. So you either give me at least a reason why you can't talk to me, or I'm going to take you to the next storage room and paddle that bratty butt of yours. And believe me, you will talk when I'm through with you."

When Daniel didn't say anything, Jack took one of his crutches and made the few steps to Hammond's chair. He turned it towards Daniel and pointed at it. "Sit down. You have five minutes to think it over."

Daniel worried his bottom lip between his teeth. "You can't do that," he mumbled, but sat down in the general's big chair.

"Watch me! Five minutes. And I don't want to hear a word. Think real hard."

Jack turned the chair around so that Daniel was facing the wall. Then parked his butt on the edge of the desk, looking at his watch.

***

Daniel stared at the wall decorated with Hammond's framed medals of honor. He balled his hands into fists to get his emotions under control. His head hurt and he felt a little nauseous. But he wouldn't tell Jack. Jack would think he was looking for an easy way out.

Everything would have been all right if Simmons hadn't shown up.

Jack had been right. Simmons had scared him. Daniel had never been afraid of him as an adult. Simmons was a cockroach, a parasite… and an idiot. But now everybody seemed to be so much taller and Daniel knew what kind of man Simmons was. He was a real bad guy. Corrupt, arrogant, without any scruple… and yes, his cold eyes had scared the kid in Daniel. If Hammond hadn't ended the questioning, he might have lost his self-control.

That was just more proof he was nothing more than a little frightened boy now. He should go right back into kindergarten. Daniel swallowed. He had trouble getting air into his lungs. That lump in his throat seemed to get bigger by the minute.

But he couldn't tell Jack about Pierson and the missing stone. Nor could he tell Jack he had a card with an address on it. Jack would report to Hammond. And even if they'd handle it off the record… Someone would go to Paris and ask questions and force Pierson to flee and go into hiding. He couldn't let that happen.

Not when Pierson was really back on Earth. How did Simmons know? And how did Pierson get back? Did he use the Russian Stargate? Or did he return in a ship?

Daniel checked his watch. Three minutes until he'd take a trip to the storage room...

Jack would understand why Daniel couldn't talk to Hammond about this, wouldn't he? He said he would find a way. But Jack didn't like Pierson. What if he was so mad at the doctor that he wasn't going to listen to Daniel and just see to it that they find and arrest Pierson?

And then again…

What if the missing stone was just another dead end? If Daniel was protecting Pierson for nothing…

But if there was only a small chance….

***

Jack checked his watch again.

Two minutes.

Crap.

These were the hardest five minutes of his life.

Daniel was very quiet. Who knew he'd really sit there without even trying to talk? Jack already started to regret that he had lost his temper. If the kid wasn't going to talk, he had to go through with it. And if he was honest, he really didn't want to.

Sometimes he wondered what was going on in that kid's head. Oh right. Daniel's mind had always been a scary place. He seemed to be way ahead of Jack in almost everything. But sometimes Daniel needed someone to bring him back and keep him down to Earth.

What the hell was the brat thinking, to hold back important information? And what for? Pierson wasn't worth it… unless Daniel had still hope the other man could help him. But how? The statue hadn't worked, obviously. Daniel was still little.

Jack would rather sort this out at home than on base, but if the kid didn't leave him a choice...

One more minute to go.

***

Daniel looked at his watch.

Okay, he had to think faster. Only one minute left. He absently rubbed his sore head and suppressed a moan when he touched the bump.

Could he convince Jack to spank him later, at home maybe? Oh, probably. But Jack wouldn't just say yes and then let it go. Jack would still want to know why Daniel didn't want to talk about Pierson.

But…

That was exactly what he wanted to hear, right? Daniel figured he could tell Jack something. If only his head would stop hurting so badly. He almost couldn't think straight…

"All right. Time's up," Jack's voice came from behind him.

Daniel turned with the massive chair and tried to figure out how angry the colonel still was. But Jack was good in giving him a blank face. He just looked back at Daniel and waited.

"Um… I’m sorry I lied to you. It's true, I mean… I know a little more than I let on. We talked."

"And?"

"And… and the reasons why I can't tell you about it, is that I don't want to compromise you. Because you would have to report to Hammond and I can't let that happen. And if I have to convince you not to talk to Hammond, you would be in a very bad situation."

There. That sounded good, right? It was almost brilliant. It was just what Jack wanted to hear from him. And he could do even better. Daniel opened his eyes wide and gave Jack the pitiful look. “You said you wanted me to give you a reason why I can't talk about it. That's it. I'm sorry.”

Jack raised an eyebrow. "O-kay. You can get up now."

Daniel let out a huff of air and quickly left Hammond's chair.

That had been a very close call.

Jack heaved himself off Hammond’s desk. "Oh – Daniel?"

"Yes?"

"I guess Hammond wants to know what this was all about. So… What are you going to tell him?"

Daniel, already on his way to the door, stopped dead in his tracks. "What? Tell Hammond what?"

"That there are things you aren't telling us, because you have personal reasons to protect Pierson? Or will you just continue to insist you don't know anything and that Pierson just left you clueless? Because if you do that, I'd be compromised, too.”

"Wh… why?"

"Well, you just admitted to me you know more than you let on. If you're going to tell Hammond you don't have a clue, I'd be forced to tell him it's a lie. So there's a little flaw in this."

"Can't you trust me on this? I have my reasons," Daniel answered.

"How about you trust me? And let me decide if I support your reasons or not."

"What if you don't ?"

"Give me a choice," Jack said in a low voice.

Daniel closed his eyes. This wasn't going the way he wanted it to. So he had to tell Jack. But had he really thought he would get out of here that easily? All he could hope for now was that Jack would understand. With a deep breath, he started, "Pierson knows how to help me."

"How?" When Daniel couldn't bring himself to answer, Jack continued, "If we have to tell Hammond, he'll handle this off the record if he can. Simmons will hear none of this if we do it the right way. We all want to help you, Daniel. But we can't if you're holding things back."

"The statue works. There's a piece missing from it. If I'm able to find that stone, he said… um… he's going to help me…"

"Daniel, that's…"

"Nonono… please hear me out."

Rapidly, Daniel told Jack of the eagle stone which was hidden on another world, somewhere. When he was done, Jack eased himself into Hammond's chair, stretching his injured leg out in front of him.

Daniel waited for the scolding about how this would be just a ploy and that Pierson was a bastard and should be zatted three times. But all Jack said after a moment was, "How do you think, you're going to find that thing?"

"I learn the language. There are some old northern dialects based on it. I'll figure it out. Now that I'm grounded, I have enough time. Once I'm able to read the language I can translate all the writings we found in the cave and on the temple wall. Maybe there's a clue to the location somewhere," Daniel explained, ignoring for now that he had to figure out what kind of language he was dealing with exactly, first.

"Okay. And just how do you think you'll get to that world without letting Hammond know about all this?"

"I would have told him, when I'm ready to go. I just didn't want them to know where Pierson is now... if they arrest him, or even if he just goes into deeper hiding, I might not be able to meet him again."

"This might be just another trick to keep us from arresting him, Daniel," Jack sighed. But there was no anger in his voice anymore and his eyes were very sad.

Daniel sighed as well. He had known Jack wouldn't believe any of this and Pierson would end up arrested, if they'd ever find him. "What if it's not? Svartil told me about the stone, too. That it was able to let the dwarfs grow."

"So. None of this helps anybody to find Pierson. We have no idea where he is. What else are you not telling me? And don't even think about saying: nothing."

"Jaaa… "

Don't.” Jack warned. “Don't even start. That storage room is still an option.“

Daniel pulled a face and finally murmured, "He gave me an address. It's a bar. In Paris."

"Paris? As in France?"

"Yeah."

"That's… something."

"Jack, we can't give that address to anyone. He's my only hope right now. If anyone goes to Paris and asks too many questions, Pierson might be warned and will never come back there. I'll never find him."

Jack reached for his crutches. “Let's go back and get this over with.”

Daniel wasn't sure what was happening next.

He asked, "What about Hammond?"

Jack took his time to answer. When he finally stood, both crutches in place, he said, “Well, we have to tell him something… I´ll handle it. You just keep quiet and look pitiful and cute for now."

"I never look pitiful on purpose," Daniel grumbled.

"Sure you do. You did it with me a minute ago. And don't you think that's gonna save you every time. I still think we should have a little 'chat' about you stretching the truth and holding things back, when we get home," Jack said as he followed Daniel out of Hammond's office.

When they returned to the briefing room, nobody said a word about the interruption. Daniel sat down and when Jack had taken his place, the general just looked at them expectantly.

"Daniel just told me there are a few things we should know. But Simmons had been wrong. He doesn't know where Pierson is… right now," Jack started, and was interrupted by Daniel.

"Pierson really left after he locked Svartil up. But he said that he'd help me grow up again if I find the missing piece of the Yggdrasil statue,"

"Which is… missing. On another world. But Daniel is confident he's able to learn the Smartie language," Jack explained.

"I will learn and translate the writings on the cave walls and temple walls. And maybe find the location of that stone," Daniel said.

Jack glared at him. "Didn't I tell you to be quiet and look cute?"

"I am looking cute," Daniel answered. He knew he did.

He could see the confirmation of that on Sam's and Janet's faces. They were both smiling encouragingly at him. He smiled back.

Then he blinked.

They were both a little blurry to his eyes. That must come from the headache. He thought it would get better now that he had survived Jack's scolding.

Jack snorted. "Yeah. That's all I got out of him. Stubborn little Wretch that he is."

"None of this is useful to the NID or anybody who works for Simmons. I don't know where Pierson is at the moment. I was just scared of Simmons." Daniel looked pitiful now.

Hammond looked from O'Neill to Daniel and back. "And why didn't you tell us this before, son?" he asked finally.

"I… I wanted to learn the language first. I wasn't sure if I'm right. Could be all for nothing," Daniel explained, giving him the big blue eyes.

O'Neill looked real tortured. "Let's just pray, he's right about his theories. Because I don't know I'll survive him staying like this forever. He is cheeky, sassy, a slob, eats all my snacks, and wants to watch National Geographic on Friday nights when the hockey game is on. And his books are everywhere in the house… even in the bathroom."

"He makes me eat three times a day," Daniel sighed. "and he yells at the TV when he is watching hockey. He sends me to bed at ten and he's using my Nintendo. Oh, and he makes me do laundry and take out the trash. And I still don't have my own TV connection."

There was silence around the table for a moment.

Then Sam started to chuckle, putting a hand over her mouth. Janet grinned and shook her head. Teal'c raised an eyebrow at the general. "I would say that O'Neill and DanielJackson are perfectly made for each other, GeneralHammond. But I have to request that DanielJackson is allowed to go to this world he is searching for. When he has located the missing stone of the Yggdrasil we shall help him to seek out Pierson. He might be able to help DanielJackson to regain adulthood again. If he will not do so, it will be my pleasure to give him a slow and painful death."

"Oh, yeah," Jack agreed.

General Hammond scratched his bald head and Daniel could tell that he tried very hard to stay serious and stern. "Well, first they have to locate him. If you can 't tell us anything new in this matter everything else is speculation. Colonel O'Neill, I want to talk to you in my office after this briefing is over. And by the way, Teal´c is right. You two really deserve each other."

"Yes, sir," Jack and Daniel said in unison.



An hour later, SG-1 was dismissed. Daniel watched Jack follow General Hammond in his office. He winced inwardly. Hammond wasn't stupid. He sure knew there was more to it than they let on. Daniel only hoped Jack figured out a way not to give away too much without getting in trouble, or to keep what was said in there and off the record.

So now it was official. He really was grounded until further notice. And he had to do counseling as a condition if he wanted to be allowed to gate travel again before he was a legal adult.

In an attempt to get around the therapy Daniel had pointed out there would be no need for the counseling if he was able to find the eagle stone and would resume his normal life again. He would agree to the grounding, until he had found the stone, without giving them any trouble.

But Hammond had said, "We can't be sure you will ever find that eagle stone. And until there is evidence for the existence of such a stone or the location of it, you have to go by the rules. I am sorry, Daniel."

Teal'c got permission to teach him how to fight though. Little useful it would be. Daniel was bad at sports. Okay, he had done all the necessary training sessions as an adult and he hadn't sucked at them. But he still didn't like sports.

Another condition was that Daniel had to agree to the adoption by Jack. Otherwise the Air Force would find "other solutions." Daniel didn't even want to know what kind of alternatives there were. And his option to go to Abydos was not a very satisfying one long term. He had to stay on Earth in order to do research and find the Eagle Stone. So he had agreed to it, still not sure how he felt about Jack being his legal dad.

Hammond had been gentle, but firm about all of this. He made it clear that there were other people putting pressure on him, to close the file "Daniel".

Daniel glanced at Janet who was gathering her papers. With an encouraging smile, she said, "Why don't you come with me? We can wait for the colonel in my office. I have chocolate cookies somewhere in my desk."

"Sure," Daniel murmured. He didn't really want to. But there was no way around it anyway.

They were both silent on their way through the base. Daniel felt exhausted and his head was giving him trouble. He'd ask Janet for some Tylenol later. When they entered the doctor's office, he sat down in one of two visitor chairs in front of her desk. He watched her getting the cookie jar out. Daniel wasn't hungry, but munching a cookie was better than talking. So he took two and started eating.

Janet gave him a sweet smile and he couldn't help but return it. He had always thought she had a lovely smile. It made her warm brown eyes twinkle in a special way. And it was a total contrast to her firmness when she was ruling her infirmary or when she was threatening her worst patients with big honking needles.

He'd always liked Janet. There was a lot of power and courage in that little woman. And even a Jack O'Neill would think twice before going against any medical order from Fraiser.

"Daniel, I must say this. I am sorry," she said, her smile faltering.

He blinked in puzzlement. "What for?"

"I should have judged your distress better. I should have known. I should have pressed you to get therapy. You and Colonel O'Neill are both very touchy when it comes to psychological treatments. I should've known you'd try to avoid therapy as long as possible. And I can't even blame you. You have both been through a lot of distress and traumatic situations over the last few years. To be honest… all members of SG-1 should be in long-term therapy." The last sentence was probably said in jest, but Daniel knew there was a grain of truth in this.

"Even Teal´c?" he couldn't help to ask.

Janet chuckled. "Well… maybe not Teal´c. He is handling things differently."

"Teal'c is going to show me how to fight Jaffa way. I'm not sure why you all think I would benefit from that. I don't like sports and I won't go off world again, so why?" He was curious if she h ad an opinion on this.

"It might help you to feel more secure in this body in general. I think it's a good idea. So does the colonel, by the way. It'll help you to adjust to being smaller. And to learn that being little doesn't only have disadvantages."

Daniel felt the chocolate cookie melt in his hand. Without being aware of it, he crumbled it between his fingers. The lump in his throat was back. He was so often on the verge of tears lately, but couldn't let go.

He needed to be strong and he needed to face all of this like an adult. Jack was recovering from his injuries and the last thing he needed was a crying child to comfort. Daniel didn't even deserve any comfort. This was his fault. So he had to swallow his medicine and get through it. He almost wished Jack had spanked him for going into the temple and wandering off… or this morning when they talked in Hammond’s office. Perhaps it would've helped him not to feel so lousy anymore. He remembered how he had felt better after Jack had done it on the planet.

He grabbed the tissue, Janet was handing him to wipe the melted chocolate and crumbs from his hands. "Jack won't want me on the team anymore. He doesn't say it. But I know. He doesn't trust me anymore."

Janet bent over the desk to get a closer look at him. "What makes you think that, Daniel?"

He shrugged. "I screwed up. I'm not useful anymore. I'm just a brat. He has nothing but trouble with me. He even got injured because of me."

"That's why you'll get the counseling, Daniel. To help you with your emotional problems. Don't think of it as punishment, please," Janet said softly.

"I'm mixed up."

You're in a very difficult position. But you're going to get help.” Janet went through the papers on her desk and finally handed him a card. "We will fix that. If we can't get you big again, we will at least help you to adapt. And as I said, Daniel. This isn't your fault alone. We all... your team, I, even General Hammond, should have handled this differently. I guess we were all trying so hard to make you feel less miserable, we didn't consider that sometimes what's best for you isn't always what you want to do."

Daniel looked down on the white card with red letters on it. "It's... a kiddie shrink."

"It's the one Cassie goes to."

Daniel's eyes went wide. "Cassie's still seeing a psychologist?" He knew Cassie had been seeing someone after she'd come to live on Earth, but he thought she'd stopped therapy a long time ago.

"She started seeing Doctor Svenson again after her last encounter with Nirrti. It was a very painful and disturbing experience," Janet explained gently.

Oh. Of course.” Daniel turned the card over and over in his hands, and then placed it on Janet's desk again. Absently he started swinging his legs. "Jack said… Jack said he would talk to her, too."

"And he will. Doctor Svenson is working with children and their parents. I think you'll like her."

Daniel felt sick all of a sudden. And his head seemed so heavy. Gazing down at his feet he felt his throat tighten. He needed to get away from here. He wasn't able to stand this any longer.

Children and their parents…

Even if he'd find the missing piece of the Yggdrasil one day… They'd never be able to get back to what they had left behind. By the time Daniel was big again – no matter how quickly he solved this - he would be someone else. He and Jack would always be marked by what had happened to him.

Jack would find another partner one day and all that was left for Daniel would be paternal feelings… Provided Jack wouldn't get fed up with him and regret his decision to adopt him long before Daniel turned big again.

And what if he'd never find that stone? He would have to go through all of it again. Puberty, struggling to find a new place in life. And even if he didn't have to. Even if he found the stone...

It would never be the same.

This wasn't exactly news to him. But after today it was so real.

So final.

He jumped up and stormed out of Janet's office, hearing her calling his name. But he couldn't stop running. He had trouble breathing properly. Something was sticking in his throat. Without looking up he found his way out of the infirmary and was running down the corridor. He ran and ran and was only stopped when he bumped into someone.

He didn't want to stop running. Not ever. No way. He struggled to get past and continue running… But when two large hands picked him up and hugged him close, Daniel just slung his arms around Teal'c's massive neck and pressed his face against the broad shoulder as he was trying to get air into his lungs.

Oh god… He was going to lose it. His eyes stayed dry, but he started to shake violently. He felt so cold…

"DanielJackson, do you require medical assistance?"

Daniel couldn't answer. He was going to choke on this lump in his throat… he was going to die of a broken heart or something. Could someone die from heartache?

He could hear Janet's clicking heels running towards them. "I don't know what happened. I talked to him about Doctor Svenson and he just… ran. I guess it's a little too much for him.”

Daniel could feel his teeth clatter. The voices and noises surrounding him were all coming from a distance... he was going to be sick… he could taste the bile in his throat before he threw up over Teal'c's shoulder.

He wanted to apologize for the mess, but no words came across his lips.

He felt himself carried somewhere and gentle hands put him down.

"I will call O'Neill"

"He seemed a little traumatized. I also think he has a slight concussion. He told me he hit his head this morning. Daniel? Daniel, can you hear me? I'll hook you on an IV… just breathe deeply and try to open your eyes, please. Look at me…"

But he didn't. He turned his head away. He was fine. He would handle it. There was no need to get Jack and make him worry. Jack was already worrying too much.

Something cold entered his arm, and a hand brushed over his head.

Then he could hear another voice. "What happened? Danie l? Are you all right?"

Sam.

"DanielJackson seems to have had a nervous breakdown. O'Neill will be here soon."

Cold.

He was so cold.

After a while he could hear voices again... from far away...

"… hang in there, buddy."

"… it's going to be okay, Daniel."

"… I gave him a light sedative."

"We will not leave your side, DanielJackson."

There were three pairs of hands, on him, ruffling his hair, rubbing his arms, cupping his face.

Then he felt the darkness embrace him as he drifted away…