Just a Small Experiment - Part Three

 

Doctor Marconi spent the next two days doing her research and observing Daniel via the security camera in the VIP room he’d been moved to after Janet’s tests had cleared him medically. Jonas made his way to the psychologist’s own VIP room after that time per her request. He knocked at her door, entering smoothly at the muffled invitation. “You’re ready for me, Doctor Marconi?” he asked as he shut the door behind himself.

The Italian woman looked up from the folder she was looking through at the suite’s table and smiled. “Of course, Mister Quinn. Please, take a seat.” She gestured toward the empty chair across from her.

“You can call me Jonas,” the Kelownan told her as he took the invitation.

“Thank you, Jonas. If it would make you feel more comfortable, you can call me Sabrina as well.” Her smile widened a bit when her visitor nodded. “So how have things been going for you the past week or so?”

Jonas shrugged. “I’ve been all right. I’ve been helping with a translation one of the SG teams brought back, so I’ve been busy.”

Sabrina nodded, pulling out an empty notepad from underneath the folder in front of her. She placed it aside and refocused on Jonas. “How often have you visited with Daniel?”

The young man considered it for a moment. “Well, I think it averages out to about once or twice a day. Most of the time it’s just sitting with him while he reads or draws something. He hasn’t been talking.”

“Has he ever initiated physical contact while he’s been at the SGC?”

“With me? A few times, like when I went to take him to dinner last night he offered his hand to me so I could hold it on the way to the commissary. Nothing affectionate like a hug or anything like that.” Jonas blinked. “Does that mean there’s something wrong with him? Is there some kind of brain damage from whatever killed the other children?”

“Hold it, hold it,” Sabrina said quickly. “There’s nothing physically wrong with Daniel. Doctor Fraiser would have told you if there was. I’m just trying to compare what you’ve experienced of his behavior with what I’ve observed while I’ve been here. There’s nothing to be scared of. Daniel’s fine.”

Jonas flinched. “Right, right. Sorry about that.”

The psychologist watched him for a long moment. “I know my focus while I’m here is Daniel,” she said finally, “but if you need to talk to somebody I’m more than willing to listen. I can promise my shoulder is as objective as I can make it and my ear isn’t judgmental in the least.” She smiled when Jonas showed some hesitation. “You don’t have to talk now. In fact, it might be better if I just ask you the questions I already had planned. But the offer’s always open, just so you know.”

“Thanks,” Jonas replied quietly, giving her a small smile of appreciation.

“Now then, should I go on?” she asked sympathetically, ready to give him more time if he needed it.

The man nodded, then took a deep breath and let his naturally upbeat personality come back to the fore. “What else did you need to know?”

Sabrina asked questions about what Jonas had seen of Daniel’s behavior on base, taking notes as they went. Her voice was encouraging, and her wording skillful enough to draw out details Jonas didn’t even realize he’d noticed. When her inquiry turned to the raid at the remote laboratory and the events leading up to it, her matter-of-fact tone was laced with just enough sympathy that it was easier than he would have expected to recount the horrible things he’d seen and deduced. Even so, he was emotionally exhausted when he’d finished his tale.

The rest of SG-1 went through the same barrage of questions once Jonas had been allowed to go, and then the rest of the teams that had accompanied the SGC’s premier team were asked to come in to give their observations of the laboratory raid. Once she’d gotten what information she could from the personnel, she visited the boy in question. She wasn’t able to get anything from him as Daniel closed himself off as soon as she entered the room. The psychologist used the rest of her night to put together all her notes for a preliminary report the next day.

 

* * * * * * * *

 

“Let me say first and foremost that this is only a preliminary report,” Sabrina told the group gathered the next morning. “It’s based mainly on research and interviews with relevant personnel. I’ve had minimal direct contact with Daniel, although I have observed him via security camera footage.” She took a deep breath and released it. “So now that I’ve made that clear, let’s get to it.”

“Yes, let’s,” Jack drawled, eyeing the standing woman coolly.

The psychologist gave him a knowing smile, remembering the effort she’d gone through to get the information she needed during their interview. “From what I can tell so far, you won’t be able to place Daniel with any random family that happens to meet security standards. I know you’re worried about clearance, and it’s a valid concern. But this is about Daniel above everything else. He has a very slim, well-defined comfort zone, and if you take him out of it you run the risk of permanently stunting his development. I think we can all agree that we want this child to grow up as normally as possible.”

General Hammond nodded. “Of course, Doctor. I take it you have a suggestion as to how we can solve this apparent conflict of interest?”

“Basically, you can’t take him away from the people he trusts,” Sabrina said, nodding. “If you do, you’ll be showing him he can’t trust you - and by extension anyone else. Apparently Doctor MacDonald told Daniel he could only trust SG-1 when he gave the boy the serum that counteracted the genetic degradation, at least according to his diary.” She looked at Sam. “Did I thank you for figuring out how to open that?”

“Yes,” the major said with a small smile. “It wasn’t that difficult considering what he told the colonel and Teal’c about the storage box it was in.”

“What are you talking about, Major?” Hammond asked, his brows furrowed.

The blonde turned to face him. “It seems Doctor MacDonald used the same kind of thumbprint scanner on his diary that he did on the storage box it was in,” Sam explained. “When I saw the second pad it didn’t take much to put two and two together.”

Sabrina smiled. “And that diary has been invaluable in starting to piece together Daniel’s history. The information Doctor MacDonald gathered from the other scientists at the laboratory were purely clinical in nature, and there wasn’t exactly a psychologist or psychiatrist on staff. Although I understand they did bring one in periodically.” She shrugged. “There weren’t any notes from him, however, so that leaves me on my own.”

Teal’c raised an eyebrow before addressing the psychologist. “What of your suggestion for the care of the child?” he asked.

“Right. Well, I was thinking that since he only trusts the members of SG-1, one of you four is going to have to take him in. As far as I can see so far, that’s the only chance he has for a normal development.”

“Hold it just a second,” Jack protested immediately. “We’re a front line team!”

“I’m fully aware of that, Colonel. But there are other SG team members that are also parents, two of whom are single parents. I checked to see if my solution would be viable.” Doctor Marconi didn’t flinch away from the hard stare Jack gave her.

The colonel’s eyes narrowed. “After everything he’s been through, I don’t think having to worry about mom or dad coming home is the best atmosphere, do you?”

Hammond cleared his throat as he gave Jack a warning glance. “Colonel O’Neill has a point, Doctor. Especially considering this child knows exactly what his guardian is doing when he or she leaves for any extended period of time. Are you sure this is wise?”

“It’s a double-edged sword, I admit,” Sabrina said calmly. “At the same time, taking his background into consideration, I don’t believe this scenario would be any more stressful for him than, say, the child of a police officer. I’ve observed his reactions to the klaxons announcing off-world gate activations. It’s apparent he knows what’s going on, to a degree only limited by his age. He expects SG-1 to go through the gate. It may actually be traumatic for his guardian not to. Between the briefings the children received from their instructors and the assertions of faith and confidence made by Doctor MacDonald on a one-on-one basis, Daniel may feel his world is unsafe if his guardian is no longer a member of SG-1.”

“And let’s not forget how guilty he’d feel knowing he was the reason that one of the members of SG-1 wouldn’t be going through the gate anymore,” Janet added, speaking up for the first time.

“I take it you agree with Doctor Marconi’s assessment?” the general asked the auburn-haired woman.

Janet nodded. “Yes, sir. As she said, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword, but I think it’s the best option.”

Jonas leaned forward as Jack grumbled darkly under his breath. “You’re not going to make him stay here at the mountain, are you?” the Kelownan asked, worry lacing his tone. “I saw the kind of environment he’d been living in. You just can’t do that to a child. You can’t.”

“I’d never suggest that, even if it were an option,” Sabrina refuted, surprised. “I firmly believe that a child needs to play and be out in the sunshine.”

“Then you’ve basically cut your options in half,” Jack practically growled. “And I’m telling you right now...”

“Let me remind you this is just a preliminary evaluation,” Sabrina interrupted hastily, having a feeling she knew what Jack was about to say. “I’ve made no formal recommendations. I’d like to take the next week and try to interact with Daniel more, see how I can help him in the future. I need to establish a place for myself in his world if he’s ever going to trust me, and he needs to trust me if I’m ever going to help. You and Major Carter can take that time to think things completely over and come to a decision as to who would be best as Daniel’s guardian.”

Jack scowled while Sam simply looked shocked. “Don’t you have any thoughts on the matter?” the major asked.

Sabrina shrugged. “A few. But I think you both need to consider whether or not you want the responsibility of sudden parenthood. This is only a preliminary report.”

Hammond gave the psychologist a thoughtful look then turned his attention to Janet. “I believe you also had an update on your research, Doctor Fraiser?”

“Yes, sir,” Janet said as Sabrina sat down across from her. “I’ve been trying to figure out what caused the genetic degradation in the children, and why Daniel was unaffected. I think I have a viable theory.” She opened one of the files she’d brought with her. “Everything had been stalled out when I examined the blood work of the body Jonas found in the kitchen. I’d reached the point where I was looking for anything out of the ordinary. All I could come up with was that he’d had the flu at the time he was shot.”

“So what?” Jack asked, much calmer now that the topic had turned away from future plans for little Daniel. “What does that have to do with anything?”

Janet smiled. “Exactly what my first reaction was. But then I remembered that he acted as the children’s cook.”

Sam nodded. “Nicholas Spencer. He’d been working for the NID for eight years.”

“Right,” the physician agreed. “I realized that I hadn’t seen any kind of illness in any other personnel at the laboratory. I double checked the medical records Doctor MacDonald preserved, and found that anyone working there was well inoculated against diseases, and anyone with even a hint of a cold tended to avoid the children. They were reassigned temporarily until they received a clean bill of health.”

“Sounds like paranoia,” Jack said.

“I’d normally agree with you, sir, but this time it may have been well founded. When I took another look at the children’s blood work, I found signs of the same flu virus Agent Spencer was infected with, as well as signs that it had been rapidly mutating upon exposure to the weakened DNA structure of the cloned children. I don’t completely understand the process, and certainly not why everything happened so quickly, but that mutation appears to be the cause of the genetic degradation that killed almost all of the children.”

Teal’c’s eyebrow rose. “Then what of Daniel? Why was he not affected?”

Janet made a small gesture to her notes. “It looks like Doctor MacDonald’s serum worked like it was supposed to, strengthening the genetic structure of Daniel’s cells. The only thing is, I didn’t find any sign of the virus in his blood and I don’t know why. He had to have been exposed at the same time as the rest of the children. Doctor MacDonald’s notes said that they did everything together.”

There was a moment of silence as they all considered it. “Do we know when they were exposed?” Sabrina asked.

“We can’t be one hundred percent certain, but it couldn’t have been very long before the mutations started. I found a minimal presence of white blood cells, suggesting the children’s bodies didn’t have much of a chance to try to fight off the infection.”

“So why did a few of them manage to die relatively intact when most of them were nearly unrecognizable?” Jonas asked softly.

Janet gave him a sympathetic look while Sabrina gave him a speculative one. “It all depended on where in the body the virus started to take effect,” the diminutive doctor explained gently. “The few you’re thinking of were first effected in either the brain or the heart, killing them relatively quickly without giving the virus a chance to degrade the rest of the body.”

Jack frowned. “So I guess someone shot Spencer when they found out he’d infected the kids.”

“That makes sense, sir,” Sam agreed.

“Indeed,” Teal’c added.

“It certainly matches what we know of the attitude of the rogue NID group,” Hammond commented. “Would you say that Daniel is in any further danger, Doctor?” he asked Janet.

She shook her head. “I don’t believe so, since Doctor MacDonald was able to give him the serum. We’ll keep an eye on him just in case.”

Hammond gave a sharp nod. “Do that. I believe that wraps everything up, unless anyone has anything else to add?” No one said anything. “Then you’re all dismissed. Doctor Marconi, could I see you in my office for a moment?”

“Of course, General,” she replied, a touch confused.

The bald man led the black-haired woman into his office as the others left the briefing room. “Take a seat, Doctor,” he said once he’d shut the door behind them.

Sabrina did as requested. “What can I do for you, General?”

Hammond considered her for a long moment before speaking. “I was wondering what thoughts you had regarding Colonel O’Neill and Major Carter and the guardianship of the young boy in our care.”

“I don’t have anything concrete,” she stammered, thrown by the unexpected question.

“Then your preliminary thoughts. You seemed reluctant to share them when the major asked during the briefing.”

Sabrina took a deep breath and released it. She didn’t think anyone had noticed how she’d avoided having to answer that particular question. “You’re quite observant, sir,” she said with respect. “I thought I’d covered that up with the professional need to wait until I had a final plan in place.”

Hammond smiled. “Everyone else was a bit busy being shocked by the original suggestion. What can you tell me?”

“Well, there are going to be issues either way,” she began. “Colonel O’Neill has experience with being a parent, but the trauma associated with that experience is a factor, especially since I’ve been told there’s quite a resemblance between his son and Daniel. Major Carter doesn’t have that experience at all, although Doctor Fraiser has said she’s been close to that for her adopted daughter Cassandra. As Daniel is a clone of Daniel Jackson, that’s also a factor. Does anyone know for sure what happened to him after SG-1's last mission?”

“Unfortunately no,” the general answered, a flash of sorrow crossing his features. “Major Carter brought up the probability that one way or the other Doctor Jackson won’t be able to make contact with us again.”

“I’m sorry,” Sabrina sympathized. “I can tell he meant a lot to everyone here, and especially to the other members of SG-1.” She took a deep breath and released it. “Which is my point, actually. Whoever becomes the boy’s guardian is going to have to be able to differentiate between the two. I know they both can,” she said quickly, raising a hand to forestall the automatic objection she saw coming. “What I mean is being able to not let their knowledge color their interactions with the child. They need to care for Daniel for his own sake, not because he’s a miniature Daniel Jackson. That’s one of the things I’ll be watching for this next week when I observe SG-1's interaction with Daniel.”

Hammond nodded slowly. “I see your point. That may be difficult. SG-1 grew to be very close, like family. I know I tend to consider them as such.” He sighed. “Do you really think there’ll be problems?”

Sabrina shook her head. “Oh, no, I didn’t mean that. I have a feeling I know which way this one should go, but it would be better for everyone involved if both the colonel and the major came to that conclusion on their own. And I also need to finish my observations. Something may happen this week that totally changes my mind.”

“I see. Well, Doctor, you’ve answered my questions. I’ll be looking forward to your final report.”

“I’m glad I was able to, sir,” the psychologist said as she rose to her feet. With a smile and a nod she left the office and returned to her work.

 

* * * * * * * *

 

Sam spent the next week obsessing over the possibility of becoming Daniel’s guardian. She didn’t think it was likely, considering the colonel’s love of children and his closeness to the Daniel they all missed fiercely. With the time both of them had been given to think things over and get things in order, Sam was sure Colonel O’Neill would face his demons and put them aside to help out the child who needed someone so much.

The blonde major stopped by Daniel’s VIP room numerous times a day, even if it was just for five minutes between tasks. The little smile Daniel gave her when she came inside warmed her heart, and she couldn’t help but wish that she could see it every day in the years to come. That was a wish she firmly put to the back of her mind whenever she thought of it. The last thing she wanted was to have her heart broken when the final decision was made. The time with Cassandra was bad enough.

She was happy to see that Daniel appeared to have become accustomed to Janet’s presence, even allowing the physician to do her tests without any fuss. He still wasn’t speaking to anyone and would only reach out, however infrequently, to the members of SG-1, but at least he was starting to expand his comfort zone bit by bit. Doctor Marconi told her it was a positive sign for the future.

The meeting at the end of that week was one Sam faced with a thorough jumble of emotions. She wanted a normal life for little Daniel, an atmosphere of love and support she was sure he hadn’t experienced up to that point. She hoped that he and the colonel would be happy in their new situation; she knew that they eventually would be. She just couldn’t quite quiet the voice that whispered that Daniel would be just as happy with her.

“Doctor Marconi, I believe you have your final report prepared,” General Hammond said once everyone had gathered in the briefing room, calling the meeting to order.

“Yes, I do,” Sabrina replied, standing and opening her file folder. “After this past week, I am happy to say that things look quite optimistic for Daniel’s future. I’ve seen him begin to accept other people in his life, such as Doctor Fraiser and her staff, as well as allow more of his personality to shine through when he’s with the members of SG-1.”

Sam blinked. She hadn’t really noticed that last point. “Are you sure about that, Doctor Marconi?” she asked. “I don’t think I’ve really seen a change in his behavior.”

Jonas nodded his agreement. “I haven’t either. He’s still not talking to us, and he only reaches out to us when he has to. He’s been doing that since I found him.”

Sabrina smiled. “It’s been more the little things. He pays attention when you have a conversation in front of him, reacting to some of the things you say. He’s started to smile when one of the four of you comes in the room. He makes eye contact with you - not all the time, I admit, but with growing frequency. Things like that.”

“I have to admit, I haven’t been able to get him to look me in the eye since he’s been here,” Janet said ruefully.

“And I’ve seen him withdraw into himself completely when other personnel have needed to come into the room, like when Sergeant Siler had to change the bulb in the overhead light.” The psychologist’s smile grew a bit wider. “Trust me, it’s there. It’s not so drastic as to warrant a flashing neon sign, but it’s happening.”

“What about how he’s reacting to you?” Jack asked. His face was closed off and carefully neutral.

The black-haired woman’s smile faded a bit at the question. “Well, I haven’t gotten the response I was hoping for, but he’s not completely withdrawing from me. He lets me look at his drawings as long as I don’t take them away and I don’t touch him. It’s a start.”

Hammond’s brows furrowed. “Do you think you’ll be able to work with him?”

“Eventually I should be able to cultivate a working relationship with him, yes. I’m going to have to tread very lightly for some time to come, but I wouldn’t want to force another doctor to have to start over with him. I’ve begun to establish something, and he doesn’t need a lot of change in his life when it comes to the people he has to interact with right now. I’m on special assignment with the CIA right now, so I’ll be available for the foreseeable future.”

“How convenient,” Jack muttered with a roll of his eyes.

Sam frowned at the reaction. She wasn’t sure what it was, but something about Doctor Marconi didn’t sit right with her team leader. She just wished she knew what it was. “So you’re saying you’ll be Daniel’s psychologist,” the major clarified.

Sabrina nodded. “Hopefully he won’t need one for too long, but the mind works in mysterious ways, so we’ll have to see.”

Teal’c leaned forward a fraction. “Do you believe young Daniel will be capable of living outside of the mountain at this time, Doctor Marconi?”

The psychologist frowned thoughtfully. “I think he can emotionally handle the transition, as long he’s with people he trusts. He’ll let you know what he can handle from there if you pay attention.”

“Which leads us to the main question: who do you believe should be his guardian, Doctor Marconi?” the general asked, his pale blue eyes briefly darting between Sam and Jack.

“A very good question, General,” Sabrina replied. She turned her attention to the two officers sitting across from each other. “Both of you have had the past week to think about it. What have you come up with?”

“Aren’t you supposed to be the one answering this question?” Jack shot back.

Sabrina shrugged. “I will. But I also said this was something you both needed to consider. It doesn’t matter what I say if one or both of you aren’t ready for this. So are you?”

Jack stared at her for a long moment before releasing an explosive breath. “I can’t take him,” he finally said. “It just wouldn’t work.”

Sam felt her jaw drop, and could sense a few more joining hers on the table. “Are you sure, sir?” she asked incredulously.

“Of course I’m sure, Carter,” Jack responded, irritation thick in his voice. “I’ve thought about it and that’s the obvious conclusion. You’ll have to take him.”

“But, sir, you love children! I’ve seen you with them! Are you sure you can’t take Daniel?” Sam didn’t notice the man flinch when she said the child’s name.

Sabrina did, however. “As long as you’re sure, Colonel,” she said quietly and respectfully.

Jack nodded, his hostility toward the psychologist going down a notch at her acceptance. “I’m sure.”

“But, sir...”

“Damn it, Carter!” Jack snapped, turning a blazing brown gaze on her. “I can’t take the kid! Just accept it and leave it alone!”

“With all due respect, Colonel,” Sam said, straightening in her seat and returning the look without flinching, “I think you owe me an explanation, as I’m the one most affected by your decision. This isn’t like you at all.”

Everyone in the room could feel the anger and frustration threatening to boil over in the grey-haired colonel. Hammond was about to say something to try to defuse the situation but a quick shake of Sabrina’s head stopped him. “I could give you the easy cop-out answer and tell you he looks too much like Charlie,” Jack said in a low, unnaturally even voice, his eyes narrowing darkly. “And it’s even somewhat true. But mostly it’s because Daniel Jackson is still out there somewhere, and accepting this kid into my home would be like trying to replace him in my life. I want my old friend back, not a new son.”

Sam drew back slightly and blinked. “But, sir, that little boy isn’t Daniel Jackson.”

“I know that, Carter!” Jack shouted, jumping to his feet and sending his chair rolling backward to nearly crash into the window that overlooked the gateroom. “In my head I know that! But I can’t feel it! And I absolutely refuse to even try to replace him, not again! You have no right to ask that of me!” He shot a quick look at Jonas then stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind himself.

“I just needed to understand,” Sam whispered eventually into the stunned silence that followed Jack’s sudden departure. “I didn’t mean to hurt him.”

“I have no doubt of that, Major,” the general said gently. “Give him some time then try to work things out.” Sam nodded, her expression sadly resigned.

Sabrina cleared her throat, looking a little embarrassed. “That didn’t go quite like I was expecting, but I think we need to refocus on Daniel’s guardianship. Will you be able to do it, Major Carter?”

Sam took a deep breath and released it, pulling herself together to deal with the situation at hand. She’d apologize to the colonel later, after he’d cooled down a bit. “I’d be glad to, Doctor Marconi. I’ve never been a parent before, but I’m more than willing to give it a try for Daniel’s sake.”

“The paperwork has already been started,” Hammond said. “I was only waiting for the final decision on who the guardian would be to complete it. It won’t take long at all. What kind of timeframe are we dealing with for Daniel’s transition?” he asked the psychologist.

“Well, no less than a month, definitely,” Sabrina replied. “I’m not sure how long you can spare the major, but the more time the better.”

The general nodded. “I believe six weeks is standard for birth and adoption, Major,” he said to Sam. “Why don’t we start with that, and see where you stand when that’s over.”

Sam blinked in surprise. “Adoption? Is that what’s going on? I mean, I don’t think I have any objection but...”

Janet quickly spoke to relieve her stammering friend. “No, Sam, no adoptions, not yet. Not until you’re both ready for it. But you are bringing a new child into your home, and six weeks is the standard amount of leave for that sort of thing.”

“You’ll be declared the legal guardian of Daniel MacDonald,” Hammond clarified. Sam nodded, still looking a little shell-shocked.

“Wait a minute,” Jonas said hesitantly, looking unsure of the reception of his question. “MacDonald? As in Doctor MacDonald?”

Hammond nodded. “Yes, we thought it was appropriate.”

Jonas considered it. “I think I can see that. I mean, Daniel wouldn’t have survived if it hadn’t been for him.”

“It is a fitting way to honor him,” Teal’c agreed.

The general smiled at the two alien members of SG-1 then turned his attention back to Sabrina. “Is that everything, Doctor Marconi?”

“I believe so, yes,” Sabrina replied. “I’ll be continuing my visits with Daniel on a weekly basis for the time being. Is it all right if I do that at your home, Major?” she asked Sam.

“That shouldn’t be a problem,” Sam said. “He’ll probably be the most comfortable there once he’s settled in.”

“That’s just what I was thinking.” Sabrina smiled as she sat down.

Hammond nodded at the arrangements then turned his attention to Janet. “Doctor Fraiser, your report?”

Janet cleared her throat and began. “Everything’s remained normal this past week. As far as I can tell he’s a normal three-year-old boy. I only ask that I keep him under observation for the next couple of days while Major Carter gets her house ready. It looks like Daniel’s managed to pick up a mild case of the flu that’s been floating around the base, and I want to make sure he won’t need another dose of Doctor MacDonald’s serum.”

“Permission granted, Doctor. As long as there isn’t anything else?” Hammond’s question trailed off suggestively.

“Will we be able to visit Sam and Daniel while she’s on leave?” Jonas asked after he raised his hand to eye level to catch people’s attention.

The general passed the query onto Sabrina with a look. “I don’t see why not, as long as you give them some time alone to adjust first,” the black-haired woman said. “Daniel should probably get used to visitors.” She looked to Sam for confirmation.

The blonde nodded. “We get together for team nights pretty regularly. Or, well, we used to...” She trailed off awkwardly, shooting Jonas an apologetic look.

He smiled at her in forgiveness. “Don’t worry about it, Sam. I know you didn’t mean anything by it.” The smile faded. “And I think we all saw how the colonel feels about me.”

“Colonel O’Neill wouldn’t continue to have you on his team if he didn’t think you were capable, son,” Hammond said gently.

“Indeed,” Teal’c agreed. “You have become a valuable member of SG-1 on your own merits, Jonas Quinn. Do not allow yourself to believe otherwise.”

“Thanks, everybody. I’ll be all right.”

Hammond gave him one last sympathetic look then glanced around the table. “Is that everything?” The others shared a look and said nothing. “Then you’re all dismissed. Major Carter, I’ll have the appropriate paperwork sent to your lab as soon as I finish having it prepared.”

Sam nodded. “Yes, sir. Thank you.” She and the others at the table stood and watched as the general returned to his office.

“Are you sure you’re going to be all right with this?” Sabrina asked, coming over and laying a gentle hand on Sam’s arm. “This is a huge change in your life.”

“I’m fine,” Sam said with a small smile. “Daniel’s the important one here, and I’ll do what it takes to make sure this works out for him.”

“Don’t forget you get to indulge your mothering tendencies, too,” Janet reminded her with a grin. “Cassie’s almost too old for them.”

Sam laughed. “Don’t I know it. Every now and again I have to twist her arm to get in our Saturday chess games.”

Janet scoffed. “Don’t let her fool you; she loves those games as much as you do. But I better get back to the infirmary. I want to check up on Daniel. Let me know if you need anything, okay?”

Sam waved her off. “You know I will. Now get back to work!” She laughed again when Janet merely stuck her tongue out at her before leaving.

“It looks like you’ll have a solid support system in place for you,” Sabrina commented. “You’ve got a lot of good things going. It’s nice to see.”

“We would never abandon Major Carter when we were needed,” Teal’c said seriously. “And neither would O’Neill.” The Jaffa’s last statement was directed more at Sam.

“Yeah, Sam. The colonel’s just upset right now. He’ll come around,” Jonas said encouragingly.

The blonde gave her friends a smile. “I know. I’ll go talk to him as soon as I talk to Daniel to let him know what’s going on next. I’m actually looking forward to that part.”

Jonas grinned. “Can we come along?”

“The more the merrier. Come on.”

Sabrina watched three-quarters of the SGC’s flagship team walk out of the briefing room before shaking her head and following. Somehow she knew life would never be dull around these people.

 

* * * * * * * *

 

Sam, Jonas, Teal’c, and Sabrina walked into the infirmary just as Janet began to send nurses scurrying. Her serious expression and the fact that she was standing next to a bed with a tiny form on it had the four newcomers immediately worried. “Janet, what’s going on?” Sam asked as she led the way to the doctor’s side.

“I’m not sure,” Janet replied as she stepped a ways away from the bed. “When I got back, I found out the nurses had been just about to send for me. Daniel’s fever has risen dramatically since I did my check up this morning for the meeting we just had. All he had then was a little sniffle and his temperature was slightly elevated.” She shook her head. “I’ve sent a blood sample to the lab to see if we can figure this out. I just hope that serum is still working.”

“I thought you said it was a mild case of the flu,” Jonas said quickly, a touch of panic in his voice as he remembered the sight he’d found in the basement bunkroom of the NID laboratory.

“It could be a stronger strain,” Janet conceded. “But it still shouldn’t make him react this way, at least not this quickly. You should probably go talk to him, Sam. I think he’s getting scared.” The blonde nodded and went over to the bed.

Sabrina frowned. “Have you considered moving Daniel to an isolation room?”

Janet nodded. “As soon as I get the results of those tests.”

“Perhaps you should do so as soon as Major Carter has calmed young Daniel,” Teal’c suggested. “He has not been comfortable in public previously.”

“And he’ll probably be less so now that he’s sick,” Jonas added.

The auburn-haired doctor smiled wryly. “You’re probably right. Even if this turns out to be something simple moving him will make Daniel feel better.”

The psychologist considered it. “We’ll have to keep a close eye on him one way or the other. This could easily bring up the trauma of watching those other children die. He might think he’s about to join them.”

Jonas looked horrified. “He’s not, is he? He’s going to be all right?”

“He should be just fine,” Janet said quickly, not missing the concerned look Sabrina shot him. She was concerned herself. “There’s no reason to believe the effects of Doctor MacDonald’s serum aren’t permanent.”

“Doctor MacDonald was actually quite pleased with it according to his diary,” Sabrina added.

“I know, I know. I’m overreacting here.” Jonas took a deep breath and released it. “It was just such a horrible sight to see.”

Janet laid a gentle hand on his arm. “I know. Now why don’t the three of you get going? I need to see what I can do to get that fever down and figure out what’s going on. I’ll keep you updated.”

Sabrina nodded as Teal’c bowed his head slightly. “We’ll get out of your way. Maybe we should get some lunch?”

“That would be acceptable,” Teal’c said.

“Could you let Sam know where we went?” Jonas asked. Janet nodded, and the three of them left.

Meanwhile, Sam had pulled up a chair to the side of Daniel’s bed. “How are you doing?” she asked as she took one of his small hands into her own. He turned wide blue eyes toward her, and she could see the fear in them. “It’s okay, Daniel. Doctor Fraiser is going to figure out what’s making you sick and then she’ll make you feel better. And in the meantime, I’ll be right here. Will that help?”

Daniel stared at her for a long moment, then sighed and nodded. His muscles relaxed slightly as the corners of his mouth twitched upward.

“You know,” Sam continued conversationally, “I was coming to see you anyway. It looks like I’ll be able to take you home with me once you’re better. How’s that sound? Would you like to live with me? I know it’s different than what you’re used to,” she added when she saw Daniel’s brows crease together in confusion, “but a lot of kids live with parents or guardians. You’ll get to be just like them.”

Daniel’s gaze slid away from her as he let it wander around the infirmary. It was obvious he didn’t quite understand what Sam was talking about. He finally turned his head back to face the major, his expression no less bewildered.

Sam sighed. “I know this is new for you, this whole concept. But you and I are going to live in my house together, and I’m going to take care of you. I’ll be your guardian.”

The child’s eyes widened. “You’re going to take care of me?” he whispered, much to Sam’s surprise. “Just me?” He squeezed her hand tightly.

“You bet I am,” Sam assured him, smiling as tears suddenly welled up in her eyes. “You’re so very special, Daniel, and I want to make sure you’re safe and happy. Now you just have to get better.”

“Don’t feel good,” he breathed. “Like them.”

It was all Sam could do to keep her tears from falling. “No, not like them,” she said quickly. “The shot Doctor MacDonald gave you makes sure you won’t get sick like them. You’re going to be just fine, and then we’re going to go live at my house. You want to do that, don’t you?” She tried to smile as Daniel nodded. Sam gave his hand a comforting squeeze.

Janet walked up at that point, her gaze warm and sympathetic. “Could I talk to you for a moment, Sam?” she asked quietly.

“I’ll be right back,” Sam told Daniel. “Will you be okay until then?” The boy hesitated a moment then nodded again.

“You’re doing great with him, Sam,” the physician complimented her friend as soon as they were out of earshot. “He’s much calmer than he was when I got back.”

“I explained that I was going to take him home to take care of him,” Sam said as she wiped the moisture from her eyes. “He actually talked to me, Janet. He spoke.”

Janet smiled. “That’s great to hear, Sam. It sounds like he really trusts you.”

Sam shrugged. “I think I just surprised him. What did you need?”

Janet blew out a breath that set her bangs fluttering. “I’ve got to try to get his fever under control. It’s rising too quickly. If you’re going to stay you need to know this is going to be hard until I know exactly what I’m dealing with and how to take care of it. I’ve placed a priority on his blood work so I should be getting those tests back relatively soon. Do you think I should move him into an isolation room?”

“Why are you asking?”

“Sam, you’re his guardian now. It’s your decision to make. He’ll be fine either way, so it’s up to you to choose where you think he’ll be more comfortable.”

“Oh.” Sam considered it. “Why don’t we move him then, if you think that’ll be okay. That way he doesn’t have to be surrounded by people who make him uncomfortable, and we won’t be in your way if any medical emergencies come up.”

Janet smiled. “See? That wasn’t so hard, was it?” She laughed when Sam rolled her eyes. “We’ll transfer him as soon as we can then. Jonas, Teal’c, and Sabrina went to the commissary for lunch if you wanted to join them while we take care of it.”

Sam shook her head. “I should stay here with Daniel. He’s scared he’s sick like the other kids we found. Maybe I’ll grab something if he falls asleep later.”

“Oh, I’m sure he will. Kids tend to sleep off illnesses. We’re just going to hope it’s nothing more serious than that. Now why don’t you let Daniel know what’s going on while I make the arrangements. We’ll do this as smoothly as we can.”

“Thanks, Janet.” She moved back to her charge’s bedside while Janet went to her office. “Miss me?” she asked once she’d sat down again. Daniel nodded quickly and reached out a hand from under the covers. “Doctor Fraiser is going to move you to your own room so it’s not so loud. Would you like that?” she asked as she took the tiny hand. He nodded again and squeezed. “Then we’ll just wait together.” The two of them shared a smile and fell into a comfortable silence, both comforted by the presence of the other. Back to Gen Fiction          Back to Part Two          Go to Part Four


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