Just a Small Experiment - Part Two

 

After collecting a few changes of clothes in case it wasn’t possible to go shopping for the young boy in the next couple of days, Jonas checked on the state of things in the rest of the building. Sam was cataloging the alien technology she’d found with Teal’c and SG-6’s help, Jack was checking on SG-11 and 17 and their perimeter after having made arrangements for the devices and the bodies to be transported back to the SGC and all traces of the experiment eliminated, and SG-15 was patrolling the inside of the building in case it held any more surprises. Major Kamrath had reported the second floor of the three story structure had a clean rec room and was secure, so Jonas decided to take the child he’d found up there to wait for everyone to be ready to return to Cheyenne Mountain.

The boy resisted being put down on the couch by himself, so Jonas set down the bag Janet had given him to put the clothes in and settled them both in the sofa’s matching recliner. The little blond snuggled against his shoulder, and the Kelownan couldn’t resist laying his cheek against the soft short hair. A few quiet minutes later, the only sound the two of them breathing, Jonas was surprised to find his arms begin to shake, the rest of his body following soon after. Glancing down to see if the boy had noticed, the young man’s mind could only make the connection that he was holding the only survivor of a horrible massacre. This child, out of twenty altogether, had managed to walk away from the bloody mess he had found physically unharmed. And the thought of what the boy had escaped brought back image after image of the bunkroom and the aftermath of the naquadria reactor accident on Kelowna, flipping past his mind’s eye like a sick and morbid slide show.

Jonas never noticed when the tiny child turned wide, scared eyes up to his then slipped out of his lap and over to the couch where he curled into a compact ball on the furthest overstuffed cushion, bright blue orbs never leaving the older man’s quivering form. The Kelownan folded in on himself, the side of his youthful face pressing unknowingly against the arm of the chair and his blue-green eyes staring sightlessly straight ahead, only aware of the never-ending loop of images his brain insisted on replaying. Tears silently ran down his cheeks.

The tears were the catalyst for his recovery. He’d never know how long he was lost in his downward-spiraling thoughts, but the feel of a light touch against his sensitive moist skin eventually broke through and he began to blink furiously. When he finally started to register his surroundings again, Jonas found himself looking at a mystified youngster, tiny fingers tracing the watery tracks along his exposed left cheek. He could almost hear the “why” in the child’s expression.

“It hurt to see what had happened to your friends,” Jonas whispered softly, not moving in hopes that he wouldn’t scare the boy too much. “I had friends who looked like that when they died, and it made me think of them. None of them should have died the way they did.”

The boy looked him in the eye as he talked, his hand never moving from his cheek. When Jonas finished speaking, the summer blue eyes dropped to the floor. The next moment his shoulders drooped, and the rest of his body followed suit, ending up in a seated slump. A tiny sad frown marred the rounded features.

“It’s okay to cry,” Jonas breathed.

With that, the floodgates opened. Silent sobs racked the tiny frame. It wasn’t long before the boy flopped over onto his side and pulled himself into a fetal position, his knees tucked tightly under his chin with his arms clasped around them like they’d never let go. Jonas quietly slid from the chair and knelt by the boy’s side, a hand reaching out to ever-so-gently rub the trembling back. He said nothing. He knew there was nothing to say.

As the boy finally started to calm down, footsteps heralded the arrival of one of the others. Jonas looked up and saw the sympathetic features of Sam Carter looking down on them. “I just came up to let you know we’re ready to go,” she said softly.

Her words were like a lightning strike. At the sound of them, the small child sat bolt upright, shaking, before scrambling up against Jonas, his little arms wrapping tightly around the man’s waist and his face pressed firmly against the vest-covered stomach. Bright, red-rimmed eyes stared at the newcomer warily.

Sam jumped back at the sudden movement. “Whoa, I didn’t mean to scare you,” she said hurriedly.

“Shh, shh, it’s okay,” Jonas said soothingly, again rubbing the boy’s back. “This is my friend Sam. She’s on my team with me.” He looked up at the standing woman. “He seemed fascinated by my SG-1 patch when I found him,” he explained. “That’s what drew him out of his hiding place.”

“I see.” Sam knelt down to be eye to eye with the little one. “Hi there,” she greeted him with a wide smile. The expression quickly morphed into one of utter surprise. “Oh my god,” she whispered.

Jonas looked at her, concerned. “What is it? Did I miss something?”

She shook her head, unable to tear her eyes away from the blue orbs that had entranced her. “No, no, it’s nothing you missed. At least... how could you have known?”

Blue-green eyes narrowed. “What couldn’t I have known?”

“This boy’s eyes... they’re Daniel’s eyes. I think this boy is... Daniel.”

 

* * * * * * * *

 

After Sam’s declaration, the child burrowed his face in Jonas’ stomach, only shifting it to the man’s shoulder when he was lifted and carried to the waiting transport truck. The two of them sat in the back corner of the vehicle’s bed, Teal’c to their left and Sam across from them. Jack was riding with the scientific team that had come up to retrieve the alien devices Sam had found in the labs. “Do you think you’ll be able to learn anything from...” Sam asked the diminutive doctor sitting next to her, her words trailing off out of respect for her younger teammate and the boy that clung to him.

“Most likely,” Janet replied, subdued. She sighed and shook off the bad feeling she had about performing a task she knew would be unpleasant. “Where’s the colonel?”

“He said something about wanting to watch over our new toys,” Jonas offered softly, hoping the boy he held was asleep. He had a feeling he was hoping for the impossible.

“He was kind of short with us about it,” Sam said with a confused frown.

“Indeed,” Teal’c agreed. “O’Neill became stiff and unemotional as soon as Major Carter told him of her suspicions regarding the young boy Jonas Quinn discovered. It was then he made his decision to travel with the second vehicle.”

Sam and Janet gave each other a look. “You don’t think he’s going to keep acting that way, do you?” the auburn-haired woman asked warily.

The blonde shook her head. “I have a feeling it was more surprise than anything. He loves kids. You saw how he reacted to Merrin and the child the Reetou called Mother brought here. And that’s nothing to how he is with Cassie.”

Teal’c raised an eyebrow. “Have you not noticed the similarities in features between the boy and O’Neill’s son?”

There was a long moment of silence as that fact sank in. “This could be a problem,” Sam conceded.

Janet gave the other three a rueful half-smile. “To quote the colonel, ya think?”

 

* * * * * * * *

 

Things got busy once everyone got back to the SGC. Janet had everybody report to the infirmary to make sure the destruction protocols that had been activated had truly been rendered inert by Doctor MacDonald. The petite physician chose to check the little boy they’d brought with them first, because he had the most tests to go through and out of hopes that he could eventually be put into an isolation room and away from all the hustle and bustle that she was sure he wouldn’t be used to.

“So how is he?” Sam asked as she stepped over to the bed where Jonas held the boy on his lap, her examination being complete.

“Like I found at the site, physically fine, but I’ve sent some blood samples to the lab for more in-depth tests, including DNA. Now I just need to check out Jonas.” Janet leaned over and looked the child in the eyes. “Sweetheart, I need you to move out of Jonas’ lap for a little bit so I can check him over like I just checked you. Can you do that for me?” The boy just burrowed his face deeper into the Kelownan’s chest and squeezed his arms tighter around him.

“I don’t think that’s going to work,” Jonas choked out, reaching up to loosen up the grip threatening to cut off his oxygen supply. Once he’d been successful, he pulled his head back so he could meet the wide blue gaze. “I promise you’ll be just fine. Doctor Fraiser just wants to make sure I will be too.” The boy’s head dropped and leaned against the man’s chest.

Sam sighed. “I don’t think he’s moving voluntarily. Of course, he’s been pretty traumatized.”

Janet nodded. “That’s why I’m hesitant to sedate him.”

The physicist’s breath caught and she turned to face her friend completely. “Janet, you can’t!” Shock turned up her volume so that people on the beds nearest them looked to see what was causing such a fuss. Sam blushed.

“Sam, I never said I was going to,” Janet replied.

Sam’s shout made the boy jump slightly and turn to face the source of the noise. He stiffened and his eyes went wide when he saw the patch on her shoulder, his right hand reaching out almost involuntarily for it. “Sam, don’t move,” Jonas gasped when he noticed.

The blonde head turned to see what her teammate was talking about just in time to see and feel the little fingers brush the patch. “Yeah, I’m on SG-1 like Jonas,” she said gently. She smiled when the boy lifted his eyes to meet hers, his arm dropping to Jonas’ lap. “Will you let me take care of you like he does?” After a long moment of silence, he gave a single nod.

There was a universal breath of relief released by the nervous trio, and Sam picked the child up, holding him close. The little blond head settled into the crook of her neck almost immediately, an arm looping around to loosely hook his hand on the opposite shoulder. Sam couldn’t help but smile at the warm feeling that washed over her at the expression of trust.

“Doc, Carter, Jonas,” Jack said as a preamble as he and Teal’c joined the four of them. His face was still mostly closed off, but the rest of his attitude seemed to be gone. “I see our latest visitor has expanded his horizons a bit.” The silver-haired man gestured toward the child in Sam’s arms.

“Janet needed to examine Jonas,” Sam explained. “After he saw my team designation patch he was willing to let me take him.”

“I see,” Teal’c murmured, then moved in front of where the boy was staring off into space. The Jaffa waited until the blue eyes blinked and looked up, acknowledging his presence. “Greetings, little one,” he said gently. “I wish you to know you are safe, as I and O’Neill are also members of the same team as Jonas Quinn and Major Carter.” He shifted his stance so his right shoulder was facing the child. “O’Neill,” Teal’c called softly as tiny fingers once again reached out for the embroidered chevron, “I believe you should introduce yourself. The child may feel safer if he knows all of Jonas Quinn’s team.”

Jack shot the big man a glare that was rebutted with a raised eyebrow. He sighed. “Fine,” the colonel said in resignation. He took Teal’c’s place once the small hand had returned to Sam’s shoulder. “Hey there, sport. How ya doin’?” The other adults were surprised at the total change in demeanor, especially the smile. “The name’s Jack O’Neill. I’m the leader of this bunch.” He tugged on the sleeve of his shirt, revealing his insignia. “See? There’s proof. Well, maybe not that I’m the leader, but they won’t let me put colonel anywhere on my uniform.” Brown eyes darted over his teammates. “Not that I haven’t wanted it there on occasion,” he grumbled.

Again a questing hand brushed curiously against the stiff thread and fabric that made up the SG-1 team patch. Then blue eyes looked up, met the brown ones considering them, and closed with a soul-deep sigh. The child’s body went limp with the exhalation of air. “He’s asleep,” Sam said quickly, a touch of awe in her voice. The others relaxed.

“Well, I’m finished here,” Janet announced. “I’ll know for sure when I get the blood tests back, but I think you’ll be just fine, Jonas. Now why don’t we find a nice, quiet place for our little visitor to rest, and we can all get ready for General Hammond’s debriefing.” The members of SG-1 followed the doctor out of the main examination room.

 

* * * * * * * *

 

“From the preliminary results, I’d say the child was perfectly healthy,” Janet said in the briefing room two and a half hours later, about halfway through the debriefing. “He’s sleeping at the moment in one of the isolation rooms.”

“Do you know who he’s a clone of?” Hammond asked from his customary seat at the head of the table.

The petite woman shared a look with Sam. “Not officially. But some of his features are suggestive of Daniel Jackson.”

The bald man’s pale blue eyes blinked in surprise. “I see,” he said, his shock not coming out in his voice only because of his training and years of experience. “When will you know for sure?”

“My people in the labs have it on top priority along with the rest of his blood work,” Janet answered with a considering nod. “Twenty-four to thirty-six hours from now if everything goes smoothly.”

“We really need to find out the kid’s name,” Jonas said, frowning. “I mean, even though most of the people involved with the experiment looked on the children as merely test subjects, they were hoping to eventually integrate them into the program. They’d need names for that.”

“Until he opens up enough to tell us, there’s not much we can do,” Sam said.

Jack made a little gesture that caught everyone’s attention. “What I want to know is if you found out what happened to the other kids.”

Janet paled slightly, but managed to hold onto her professional mask. “Based on preliminary data we’ve gotten from our examination of the... bodies...” She took a deep breath before continuing. “I’d say there was massively accelerated genetic degradation. There were only three bodies recognizable as such, my guess being that the degradation started in a place that caused death before the entire body could be compromised. The rest...” The woman flinched.

“You wouldn’t want to see the rest,” Jonas said quietly.

“Do you have any idea what caused it?” Sam asked gently. “Doctor MacDonald’s notes stated that the genetic degradation had only just started. What would make it accelerate this way?”

“Your guess is as good as mine at this point. I just don’t have enough information yet.”

“What is to be done with the child in the intervening time?” Teal’c asked.

Janet considered it for a moment. “Well, I think the isolation room is the safest bet for the time being. As soon as I get the test results back I’m hoping to be able to move him to one of the VIP rooms.”

Hammond nodded. “I’ll see about finding a family with proper clearance in the meantime.”

Janet shook her head. “With all due respect, sir, he’s not ready for that. I’d like to bring in a professional to observe him for a while, give us some suggestions on how to handle him. But up to this point the only people he’s responded to have been the members of SG-1. If they could be spared for a while to help his transition, it would probably make life easier. They’re already confined to base for the next two days so I can monitor for any surprises the rogue NID group might have left behind.”

“And we’re so happy about that,” Jack muttered.

“All right, Doctor,” Hammond said with a decisive nod, ignoring his second in command, “we’ll do it that way. SG-1, you can figure out for yourselves how you’re going to handle our guest. Major Carter, have you managed to get any more information from the notes Doctor MacDonald left for you?”

“I’m afraid not, sir. While I have a head start on cracking the encryption, there’s still quite a bit of work ahead of me. My computer’s working on it as we speak.”

Hammond nodded again. “Let me know as soon as you find out anything. I’ll expect your written reports by fifteen hundred tomorrow. Good work, people. Dismissed.” He stood and left the room.

Janet looked at the four members of the team before her as they all stood. “I think one of you should head down to the isolation room. I don’t know when he’s going to wake up, and I’d hate for him to wake up alone.”

Jonas’ eyes dropped. “I... I think I need a little bit more of a break. The debriefing brought up some things I thought I’d dealt with.”

“Go ahead, Jonas,” Sam said quickly. “I’ll grab my laptop and what I’ve got printed of Doctor MacDonald’s notes and go. It’s not a problem.”

“Are you certain, Major Carter? It would not be an inconvenience for me to sit with the boy,” Teal’c offered.

She smiled. “No, that’s okay. I don’t mind. Besides, aren’t you scheduled to teach that hand-to-hand class tomorrow morning? I don’t want you to miss out on any sleep.”

Jack slapped the Jaffa on the shoulder with a smirk. “Yeah, and this batch is a bunch of new Marines. They’re going to need a dose of reality, Jaffa style. Gotta be well rested so you can get the most enjoyment out of the experience.”

“Thinking of rested, I’ll move a second bed into the room with him,” Janet said. “Just lay down whenever you start to feel tired, okay, Sam?”

“I will, Janet. And I have a feeling it won’t be long. It’s been a busy day.”

“You can say that again,” Jack said as he led everyone out of the briefing room. They each then left for their separate tasks.

 

* * * * * * * *

 

When the little boy that had caused such excitement opened his eyes a few hours later, he found he was staring at a featureless stone wall. This didn’t alarm him, as he was used to it, having done so on numerous occasions in the bunkroom at...

Tears filled the wide blue eyes upon remembering what had happened to the rest of the children that had lived with him in that bunkroom. He rolled over to escape what was making him cry and found another bed with a figure curled facing him under the blankets fast asleep, stopping his tears in their tracks. It was the lady that was part of SG-1, Major Carter, although he remembered people calling her Sam. She had smelled very nice when she’d held him so very close. He decided he liked her.

He lay there and watched Sam sleep for a long time, finding the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest soothing. Her pale skin glowed somewhat in the dim lighting, her sunlight-colored hair even more so. The blonde strands that were lighter than his own captivated him. There had only been two adult women that had ever been at the institution, and both had dark hair, almost black. In fact, her hair was almost an exact match for his teammate Samantha’s, except it was a little darker. He’d always liked Samantha’s hair. It was so bright when everything else was dull and drab.

Samantha had laid in her bunk across from his when they’d been told to return there after getting dressed that morning. No one understood why they weren’t allowed to go to breakfast. She looked at him with wide blue-grey eyes and said that her chest hurt. Soon after that she tensed up and gasped, her eyes squeezing shut, and then didn’t take another breath. It was like she was sleeping, except she wasn’t breathing.

The boy bit his lower lip, suddenly scared. What if that happened to Sam? What if it already had and he’d missed it remembering Samantha? He scrambled to the floor and padded over to the other bed on sock-covered feet. Once he was close enough he could hear the soft puffs of air go in and out of her lungs, he relaxed, his shoulders drooping and his chin dropping to his chest. That had been too close.

When he brought his head up again, he found himself meeting a bleary blue-grey gaze. “Is something wrong?” Sam asked gently, bringing a hand up and rubbing the center of her chest for a moment.

The boy’s eyes froze there. Her chest? Did Sam’s chest hurt too? He didn’t want her to stop breathing like Samantha had. He reached out a shaking hand and touched where the woman had been rubbing, his eyes darting to hers, fear darkening them to a rich sapphire blue.

She looked at him, confused, for a long moment, then realization dawned. “I’m okay, kiddo. I was just scratching my chest a bit. There’s nothing to worry about. I’m just fine.” Sam ran a hand through his hair and gave him a soft smile. “I’m sorry if I scared you.”

The child’s hand dropped to the bed as he sagged a bit in relief. Sam’s chest didn’t hurt. She was okay. So why was she sorry? He brought his hand up again and lightly touched her cheek to let her know there was nothing to be sorry for. As long as she was okay it didn’t matter that he’d been scared. Her smile changed slightly and told him she understood.

He was about to go back to his bed when Sam took his hand and squeezed. “Did you want to climb in and sleep with me? That way you don’t have to be alone.”

His eyes widened. He didn’t have to be alone? But he was supposed to be alone, that’s what he’d always been told. Was it different now? What would not being alone really be like? He suddenly needed to know. And so, with a nervous swallow, he squeezed Sam’s hand in return, hoping she’d understand his desire. From the smile his action produced, he guessed she did. That guess was confirmed a moment later when Sam sat up, reached down, and lifted him up to sit next to her.

“Is that better?” she asked, holding him next to her. He looked up at her for a moment then laid his head against her side. She still smelled nice, even after all this time. “I’ll take that as a yes,” she said, a smile apparent in her tone. He could just see the way her eyes would crinkle as the corners of her mouth turned upward, even as she maneuvered them both into a lying position on the bed’s pillows. She covered them both with the light blanket she had recently been curled up under and rested her cheek against the top of his head. “I hope sometime soon you’ll be able to trust me enough to be able to talk to me, or at the very least tell me your name. Good night, kiddo.” With that Sam planted a kiss near his hairline and snuggled in to try to get back to sleep.

But the boy couldn’t sleep. Sam thought he didn’t trust her? She was one of an extremely small number of people he did trust. He just wasn’t ready to reach out to anyone yet. It hurt too much. He’d watched too many of the others reach out right before they died, with all the blood and the cries and the noise and the pain... He shuddered and nestled closer to Sam, a feeling of warmth lessening the blow of his memories, however slightly, when she hugged him briefly with the arm she’d left draped over his waist. He swallowed nervously one more time, gathering up his courage. Sam made him feel better, so he could do this, even if it was just this once for now. He turned his head up slightly and took a deep breath. “Daniel,” he whispered. “I’m called Daniel.”

Daniel felt Sam stiffen for a brief moment before hugging him closer, her cheek firmly planted on the top of his head. “Th-thank you, Daniel,” she said in a broken whisper. “That means... a lot to me. I’m glad you can trust me.” Daniel merely smiled and nodded. He had made Sam happy, and that was enough to let him slip back into slumber.

 

* * * * * * * *

 

When Teal’c entered small Daniel’s room the next morning after his hand-to-hand class he found the boy and Sam finishing breakfast together on the second bed that had been brought in. “Good morning, little one, Major Carter,” he offered in greeting when the two blondes looked up from their meal.

“Good morning, Teal’c,” Sam replied with a smile. “How did your class go?”

“The new recruits require further training before they should be allowed off-world. However, I believe they have much potential.”

Sam nodded. “The usual, then.” She swallowed down the last of her orange juice and finished the remaining piece of toast. “Would you be willing to keep our friend Daniel here company this morning while I check on the progress of one of my experiments? I don’t want him to be lonely.” She turned her head to smile at the slightly nervous looking child and ran a gentle hand through his hair. “You’ll be all right with Teal’c, won’t you, Daniel?” He looked up at her for a long moment then sighed and nodded once.

Teal’c gave the child a respectful bow. “I am honored to be able to entertain you, Daniel.” Wide blue eyes met his brown ones then dropped to the small lap.

Sam stood and pushed the table they’d been using away from the bed. “He needs to take a shower and brush his teeth,” she told her teammate as she headed for the door. “One of Janet’s nurses brought in some books along with a sketch pad and crayons about an hour ago, and Janet herself has the spare clothes Jonas grabbed yesterday in her office. Thanks, Teal’c.”

“As I said previously, it is an honor, Major Carter.” The Jaffa gave her a small smile and slight inclination of the head before she left with one last farewell for the both of them. He turned to back face his tiny charge. “Are you prepared to begin the day’s activities, young Daniel?” The boy took a deep breath before sliding off the bed he’d been sitting on and offering up a hand with only a tiny bit of hesitation. Teal’c waited until the smaller figure’s eyes rose to meet his, then smiled again and took the extended appendage.

An hour and a half later, the Jaffa sat and watched as his charge concentrated on drawing something in the sketch pad with a focus uncommon in one so young. Teal’c couldn’t help but contemplate the behavior he’d witnessed that morning as he’d escorted Daniel to the infirmary to pick up the boy’s spare clothes then to the showers and back to the little one’s isolation room. As soon as they’d begun to encounter other people, the child had almost physically withdrawn, practically hugging Teal’c’s leg and not raising his gaze from the floor directly in front of his feet. He hadn’t responded at all to Doctor Fraiser’s greeting nor to any of the nurses who tried to talk to him. But as soon as they were alone in the locker room and again in the isolation room, he visibly relaxed, looking up briefly when spoken to and even seeking permission with a glance when Teal’c had placed the overtop table in front of him as he sat on the bed, the pad and package of crayons resting on the glossy top.

Daniel drew for another half hour then put away his crayons and looked at Teal’c with a shyly expectant expression. When the Jaffa lifted an eyebrow in question, the boy tapped the sheet of paper and pushed it slightly toward him. Teal’c set aside the magazine he’d been looking through and rose from his chair, taking the few steps to stand next to the bed. He looked down at the colorful drawing.

On the right-hand side of the page was a small boy with short yellow hair, blue eyes, and a tiny smile. Holding the figure’s left hand was a taller woman with lighter yellow hair, blue-grey eyes, and wearing olive drab BDUs. Holding the right hand was a taller man with light brown hair and blue-green eyes, also wearing olive green BDUs. Behind the small figure was a huge dark brown-skinned man with a gold oval in the middle of his forehead. Just to the right of the man holding the child’s hand was another man, this one with light grey hair and brown eyes, a distant expression on his face. The five of them stood above an amazing recreation of the embroidered SG-1 team designation patch. It was obviously what had been the focus of the child’s efforts.

In the middle of the page were three small bodies, two colored in white instead of the un-PC flesh color and the third a dirty mix of brown and grey. Their eyes were closed, and they lay horizontal with their hands crossed over their chests. One had long light yellow hair, one short brown, and the last even shorter black. Beyond them, on the left hand side of the page, a man with short brown hair and grey-green eyes and wearing a white lab coat stood looking over to the right-hand side of the picture smiling.

Teal’c looked from the picture to the boy who’d drawn it. Daniel was staring at him, waiting for his reaction. “This is very well done, Daniel. Do you wish me to place it somewhere it can be seen readily?”

Daniel shook his head and dropped his gaze back to the crayon-colored image. Finally, he picked it up and held it out to the ever-patient Jaffa. “You wish me to have the picture?” Teal’c asked, a bit surprised. Daniel nodded, one corner of his mouth twitching upward. “Then I accept your gift. I will place it in a position of honor in my quarters.” Teal’c knew he’d said the right thing when he saw the child relax another fraction.

The next moment there was a knock at the door. “Hey, Teal’c,” Jack said as he poked his head around the door he’d opened a crack. The colonel was surprised to see the boy relax when he saw who his latest visitor was. “Um, you guys busy?”

“We are not. Please join us.”

“Okay.” Jack stepped fully into the room, closing the door behind him. He took a deep breath and released it, then made his way over to the bed. “So what have you two been up to this morning?”

“Daniel and Major Carter had just finished breakfast when I arrived after my instruction of the new Marine recruits.” Teal’c paused when he saw Jack’s suddenly pale complexion. “Are you well, O’Neill?”

Jack swallowed hard. “Did you say Daniel?”

A black eyebrow rose. “Indeed I did. Apparently Major Carter discovered the boy’s name prior to my arrival this morning. She referred to him as Daniel.”

“Figures,” Jack muttered, his eyes closing for a moment. He quickly shook his head and reopened his eyes, his gaze settling on the child watching him a touch warily from his seat on the bed. “So, you about ready for lunch?” His casual tone was only slightly forced.

Daniel stared at the silver-haired man carefully for a long moment before nodding. He slid off the bed and moved to stand close to Teal’c’s leg, cautiously watching Jack. When the man finally held out a hand, a muted pain visible only in his eyes, the boy gave in to the emotion he saw in the darkening orbs and grasped the offering tentatively. The three of them then left for the commissary.

“Is this wise, O’Neill?” Teal’c asked as they entered the base cafeteria. Daniel had immediately gripped both Jack’s hand and Teal’c’s pant leg so hard his knuckles had turned white.

“Fraiser said it would be best to get him used to dealing with the kind of traffic there is around here,” Jack explained as he wiggled his fingers a bit. Daniel shot him a startled look and began to let go, but as soon as he loosened his grip Jack gave his hand a reassuring squeeze, not releasing it. The child’s lips twitched upward into the briefest of smiles then relaxed his hand. His nervousness didn’t improve, however.

“Then it is well Doctor Fraiser instructed you to join us for our midday meal,” Teal’c said with a small nod of his head, leading the way toward the serving line. Jack shot him a scowl for figuring out the real reason he was with them.

Between the Jaffa and Jack, the three of them got enough food for them all dispersed relatively evenly on two trays then went to a table in the far corner, ignoring the looks they’d been getting since they walked in the room. Daniel had the seat in the actual corner, Teal’c to his right and Jack directly across from him. The positioning made his jaw unclench at the very least.

Most of the meal went on without any conversation until they were almost finished. “Fraiser’s going to be contacting a friend of hers, a psychologist who specializes in trauma victims. Guess she’s got decent security clearance. Hammond’s making sure it’s good enough, but that might take until the end of the week.”

“Do you agree with this course of action, O’Neill?” Teal’c asked, hearing a tone of reluctance in his team leader’s voice.

“As long as it’s not Mackenzie, yeah, I’m all right with it. Never have been a big fan of shrinks, but I understand the need for them from time to time.” Jack looked over at Daniel, who had glanced up at his two guardians during their discussion even as he continued to ignore the rest of his surroundings. “We just want to make sure you’re okay, kiddo, and that you’re going to stay that way.” The corners of Daniel’s mouth twitched upward for a moment before the child’s eyes dropped back to his plate.

The remainder of the conversation then turned to the session Teal’c had led the new Marines through that morning, then the two adults cleared the table and escorted Daniel back to his room. The boy’s relief when the door closed behind them was practically palpable. He was quickly set up with his pad of paper and crayons, and Jack sat on the opposite bed with Teal’c standing nearby and watched over him, talking about random subjects from time to time. When the colonel left an hour later, he was no more comfortable with the boy they’d managed to save, but he was hopeful that he could be brought out of his shell and grow up normally. Jack didn’t think it was too much to ask.

 

* * * * * * * *

 

A week later, SG-1 was called into the briefing room where Hammond and Janet were waiting for them. “Take your seats, SG-1,” Hammond instructed once they’d arrived. “I’ve just received word that the psychologist we’ve called in, a Doctor Sabrina Marconi, has passed the first checkpoint and should be joining us very soon. She’s been fully briefed as we’re sure from the files Doctor MacDonald left us that Daniel knows all about the Stargate Program.”

“But we don’t even know if he’ll talk to her,” Jack protested.

“No, we don’t,” Janet agreed, “but if anyone can get through to him, Sabrina can. It probably won’t be anytime soon, but she also needs to know because of the circumstances of his upbringing.”

“Not to mention Teal’c and myself,” Jonas added. “Since Daniel’s really only responding to us, I have a feeling we’re going to be important in helping him.”

Janet nodded. “Exactly.”

Jack sighed. “Well, as long as she’s got clearance,” he said grudgingly.

Hammond gave him an understanding smile. “She works for the CIA, Colonel. It wasn’t difficult to get her the clearance she needed.”

“And we’re sure there are no connections to the NID?” Sam asked.

“As sure as we can be,” the general assured her. “We’ll be keeping an eye on her just in case, however.”

A short while later, the general’s aide announced the arrival of Doctor Marconi. He then held the door open for a woman of average height and obvious Italian heritage with long black hair pulled back into a French braid and wearing a cream-colored, long-sleeved blouse, rich brown dress slacks, a vest with a mottled, Earth-toned pattern, and brown dress shoes. In her left hand she carried a thin briefcase. “Doctor Marconi, a pleasure to meet you,” Hammond greeted her, gesturing to the chair next to Jonas and across from Janet as his aide closed the door. “I’m General George Hammond. Welcome to the SGC.”

The newcomer smiled and took the seat offered, gently placing her briefcase on the table slightly to her left. “Thank you, General. The feeling’s mutual. I must admit I’m looking forward to seeing what I can of the base. What I’ve read about what you do here has peaked my curiosity.”

“No offense, Doctor Marconi, but that’s not what we brought you in for,” Jack said shortly, nearly glaring at her with a cold, narrow gaze.

“Of course not,” Sabrina replied easily. “But one can hope there’ll be at least some time for a short tour.” A dark eyebrow rose as she eyed up the colonel and took in his attitude.

Hammond quickly made introductions. “We decided to leave Daniel in his room for the time being,” he said when he was finished.

Sabrina nodded returning her attention to the head of the table. “I think that’s for the best.”

Janet leaned forward. “So what’s your plan for treatment?” she asked.

“I have no idea yet,” the Italian woman said with a smile. “But what I plan on doing,” she continued quickly, sobering as she saw the sudden darkening of Jack’s expression, “is observe him for the next two weeks while I research his background and interview those people who regularly interact with him. I want to get a good feel as to where he is and where he came from before I make any kind of guesses as to where he should go from here. This is a unique case. I don’t want to screw up.”

“Is there anything we can do to help?” Sam asked from Jonas’ right.

The psychologist smiled at her. “If you would all make yourselves available, I’d like to talk to each of you about what you saw at the laboratory and what happened there, not to mention your interaction with Daniel over the last week.” She looked at Hammond. “That would go for the rest of the teams that were part of the rescue mission, if that’s possible.”

Hammond nodded. “Of course, Doctor.”

“When will our presence be required?” Teal’c asked.

“I’m not sure at the moment. If it’s all right with you, I’ll get settled into my quarters here on base and figure out a schedule. I’ll let everyone know what I come up with as soon as I’m done.” She smiled when the Jaffa merely inclined his head in agreement.

“As long as you realize we’re not going to just be at your beck and call. We do actually do work around here.”

Sabrina stared unflinchingly into Jack’s hard gaze for a long silent moment. “Colonel O’Neill,” she finally said softly, “I’m not here to dig around in your head, ferret out anyone’s secrets, or get in the way of what you do here. I’m here to help a child who has gone through an amazing and traumatic experience so we can all figure out to the best of our ability what’s in his best interest for the future. I’m going to ask you as nicely as I can not to fight me on this. I know I’m a stranger here, an outsider, and that you don’t have the best track record with people like me, but that child is my focus, my goal. I’ll do whatever it takes to help him - and that’s all I’m going to do. And you’re just going to have to take my word on all that.”

Jack’s shoulders relaxed slightly at the woman’s pronouncement. “As long as we’re clear on that, we shouldn’t have any problems. I’ll cooperate.”

The psychologist smiled suddenly. “Good. Then we’ll all get along.”

“Now that that’s settled, I’ll have an airman show you to your quarters, Doctor Marconi,” Hammond said as he rose to his feet. The rest of the table quickly followed suit. “The rest of you can return to your duties until such time as Doctor Marconi calls on you. Dismissed.”

Back to Gen Fiction          Back to Part One          Go to Part Three


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