Just a Small Experiment - Part Four


Sam sat in her lab that evening, going through the motions of sorting through the more technical parts of the information Doctor MacDonald had passed along. Her mind and heart were actually with little Daniel in ISO room four where the child slept the sleep of the ill and exhausted. Janet had diagnosed him with pneumonia and was trying to confirm whether it was bacterial, viral, or fungal. That hadn’t stopped her from putting her foot down and practically shoving the worried major out of the room once they were sure the boy was sleeping so she could get some supper, however. “How can you take care of him if you don’t take care of yourself?” the doctor had asked. Sam hadn’t been able to come up with a suitable response.

She finally dropped her pen and let her face fall into her hands. She was scared, thoroughly frightened that this could end badly. She refused to even think about Daniel dying. A child that young wasn’t supposed to be that close to death so she wouldn’t consider it - at least not consciously.

A brief knock on the frame of her open door caused her to jerk her head up. “You doing okay?” an unexpected voice asked with concern.

Sam spun her head around and her eyes widened when she saw Jack O’Neill standing in the doorway. “Sir? What are you doing here?”

“Carter, you’re not exactly my favorite person right now, but it’s not like you’re at the top of my shit list either. And Fraiser told me about what’s happening with the kid. How are you doing?”

“I’m fine. It’s Daniel I’m worried about.”

Jack sighed. “Let’s try this again, Carter. The truth this time. How are you doing?”

Sam bit her lower lip and dropped her gaze. “I’m scared, sir. Pneumonia can be dangerous for children, and it’s really hit Daniel hard. And I can’t do anything to help him.”

It was quiet for a long moment before Sam finally raised her head and was shocked to see Jack smiling. “I think you’re going to make a great mom, Sam. And the little squirt is going to pull through this, you’ll see. There’s no one in this mountain that will let anything else happen.”

Sam struggled to smile in return, but it quickly faded. “I’m sorry about the meeting this morning, Colonel. I was so sure you’d want to take Daniel that when you refused I was completely thrown. It didn’t make any sense to me. So I pushed.”

“I can understand why you were thinking that. And had it been any other kid I just might have given you the fight you were probably expecting. But it’s just too soon since all that crap with Abydos and Anubis. It really does feel like trying to replace Daniel. Our Daniel,” he quickly clarified. He sighed again. “I would have explained myself in private, if you’d given me some time. There were people in that room that didn’t need to hear my reasons, or that I didn’t want to hear my reasons. I usually do have reasons for what I say and do, you know.”

“I do know that, sir, and like I said, I’m sorry. And to be clear, it wasn’t that I was expecting a fight. I hadn’t let myself hope that I might be able to take Daniel in. I didn’t want to get disappointed like I did with Cassie.” She tried to smile again.

“I can understand that.” Jack nodded and searched her gaze for a long moment before suddenly shifting his attention to the stack of papers on her desk. “So what are you doing?”

Sam blinked and looked at what he was referring to. “Oh, the paperwork Doctor MacDonald managed to get us. Not that I’ve done much with it. My mind’s been on other things.”

Jack clapped her on the shoulder. “Well, I’d say that’s a given. But I give you points for effort, Carter. What say we go...”

Jack’s offer was cut off by the phone ringing. “Carter,” Sam said into the receiver once she’d picked it up. She listened for a moment, her brows furrowing. “Sure, Janet. I’ll be right there.” She hung up and looked at Jack. “Janet wants to talk to me in her office.”

“You want some moral support?” Jack asked, completely serious.

“Thank you, sir,” Sam said with a smile, truly grateful for the offer. She was glad to see things would be all right with the man who was not only her CO but her friend. The two of them quickly left.

They both knew there was something seriously wrong the moment they saw Janet’s face as she sat behind her desk in her office. An auburn eyebrow rose at the sight of Jack with Sam, but any surprise was quickly dismissed. “Please have a seat,” she told them both, gesturing to the chairs in front of them.

The officers of SG-1 shared a look then did as requested. “What’s going on, Janet?” Sam asked, her worry going up a few notches.

“Well, I’ve had a chance to analyze Daniel’s blood work. I’m seeing signs that this is a bacterial pneumonia, which means I can use antibiotics to fight the infection. But what worries me is that I’m also seeing signs that Daniel is immunodeficient.”

“Immuno what?” Jack asked.

“Immunodeficient,” Janet repeated. “It means that Daniel’s immune system is functioning at a diminished capacity. I’m not sure what’s causing it, if it’s a disease of some kind or a side effect of the cloning process. The DNA sequencing was originally rather weak, after all. This could be a result of that.”

Sam swallowed harshly. “What does that mean for him now?”

Janet sighed. “The antibiotics should work. It’ll just take longer and a stronger regimen. It’s a good thing he’s in an isolation room at the moment since he’s also more susceptible to other infections. Once he’s recovered we’ll have to keep a close eye on him, and you’ll have to be ready to take him to a doctor at the first sign of any future illness.”

Jack raised a hand. “Hold it a second. Isn’t there some kind of treatment that can build his immune system back up to normal?”

“I’m afraid not, sir,” Janet said quietly, her eyes dropping for a moment. Sam and Jack could see the tears welling up in them when she brought her gaze back up. “Like I said, since this is a bacterial infection, antibiotics will work. We just have to give it time.”

“But it’ll be harder for him, won’t it?” Sam asked softly.

“I won’t lie to you, Sam. It will. But he’ll be fine when all is said and done.” She wiped the moisture from her eyes before it could spill over.

Jack leaned forward. “Does he have an immune system at all?”

Janet leaned back in her chair, obviously tired. “Yes. I’ve found signs of white blood cells, so Daniel’s immune system is just suppressed, not absent. I’ll be looking into the cause of that once we’ve taken care of the pneumonia.”

“What kind of symptoms can I expect?” Sam asked, her face pale and her eyes wide. If she thought her fear had been bad before, it was nothing compared to what it was at that moment.

“Well, fever, cough, chills with shaking, shortness of breath, most of which you’ve seen already. He’ll get tired easily and will probably sleep a lot if he can get past the headache and just general discomfort he’ll be feeling. I expect his loss of appetite to continue, and there may be nausea and vomiting. Even rarer would be muscle and joint stiffness, swollen glands, and excessive sweating. He hasn’t shown any signs yet of any of those. We’re keeping a close eye on him. We may already have a head start since we caught it right away.” Janet shook her head. “It’s always hardest when it’s a child,” she murmured.

Jack looked away from both women. “Always,” he agreed in a whisper.

Sam swallowed again and fought back tears of her own. “Can I sit with him?”

Janet nodded. “You’ll have to wear a mask and wash your hands before each visit. That goes for any other visitors as well, and those will be extremely limited. Remember, he’s extremely susceptible to infections, like I said before.”

“I understand,” Sam said quietly. “I just don’t want him to have to be alone. He’ll be so scared.” Her eyes widened after a moment. “Is he going to have chest pains?” she asked urgently.

“It’s possible, yes. Pneumonia is an infection of the lung, after all,” Janet replied, her brows furrowed in question.

“I have to go to him. I have to go to him right now,” Sam said, jumping to her feet.

Jack was standing a fraction of a second later. “Hold on a second, Carter. What’s the rush?”

The blonde major turned a stricken gaze on him. “That first night Daniel was here, when I stayed with him, he came over to my bed while I was sleeping. When I woke up and saw him staring at me I absently rubbed an itch in the center of my chest. He nearly lost it, sir. I think he saw one of the other children die after complaining of chest pains.”

“That’s very likely,” Janet agreed as she also stood, shadows behind her eyes. “Go ahead and get ready, Sam. I’ll come with you. Are you joining us, Colonel?”

Jack looked between the two women, doing his best to cover the inner struggle Janet’s question had set off. “You don’t have to if it’ll make you uncomfortable, sir,” Sam said quietly, smiling to let him know there wouldn’t be any hard feelings.

The colonel relaxed and gave her a small, grateful smile. “Thanks, Carter. I should probably get going anyway. Keep me posted, okay?”

“Of course, sir.”

With that, the three of them left the office.


* * * * * * * *


Two days later, Sam sat in a chair next to Daniel’s bed, a pained look on her face as she watched the boy toss and turn in his sleep, his breathing quick and shallow. His cheeks were flushed, and tremors regularly shook his tiny frame. He coughed almost as regularly. She brushed a hand lightly across his forehead and sighed.

One of the magazines she’d brought in with her lay open on her lap, not that she could remember anything she’d read. Her attention had been focused on comforting Daniel when he was awake and keeping her emotions under control when he wasn’t. Janet, Sabrina, Jonas, and Teal’c had all visited, and Sam had appreciated their attempts to keep her spirits up. Jack had tracked her down those few times she’d left the infirmary for meals and what little sleep she could get, trying to make sure she was still doing okay. Everyone’s support had been all that was keeping her together.

A rap at the window of the door made Sam turn her head to see Janet’s face. The doctor gestured for her to come out. Sam checked one last time to make sure Daniel really was sleeping then stepped out into the hall. “What is it, Janet?” she asked once the door had closed behind her.

“Let’s go to my office.”

“What’s going on?” Sam asked once they’d seated themselves.

The auburn-haired woman’s professional mask cracked at that point, and tears began to well up in the chocolate brown eyes. “I’ve been monitoring Daniel’s condition,” she said quietly.

Sam frowned. “He doesn’t seem to be getting better. I know it was supposed to take longer than normal, but...”

Janet cut her off with a raised hand. “I’ve found that Daniel has a secondary pneumonia infection. This one is viral.”

“What does that mean?” Sam asked, dread growing in her heart.

“The bacterial infection we can fight with antibiotics. If the secondary infection had been fungal we could have handled that.” Janet closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Modern medical science hasn’t been able to come up with an effective way to combat viruses. Normally the human immune system is capable of doing what medicine can’t. But Daniel’s immune system is suppressed.” Her eyes opened again and a lone tear escaped down her cheek. “I don’t know if we’ll be able to help him long enough for his body’s limited defenses to work.”

“Are you trying to say that Daniel’s going to die?” Sam breathed, tears of her own welling up.

Janet wiped at her eyes with a tissue and started to pull herself together. “It doesn’t look good, Sam. We’ll do all we can, but I don’t know if it’ll be enough.”

Sam’s expression became stricken, her lower lip quivering until she bit it. “How long?” she asked shakily, her knuckles white as she clasped her hands together in her lap.

“There’s no way to be sure.”

There was a long moment of silence. “I don’t want to lose him, Janet. I was just getting used to the idea of being a mom,” Sam whispered, her gaze dropping down.

Janet’s face fell even further. “I know, Sam. I know how much you’ve wanted it. I know how much you deserve it. But I can’t promise you anything, and I refuse to give you false hope.”

“And I thank you for that,” Sam said, making firm eye contact with her friend. She took a deep breath and released it, somehow pulling herself together as she did. “I need to go back to Daniel. I don’t want him to wake up alone.”

“Of course,” Janet said as Sam rose to her feet and headed for the door. “Just remember I’ll always be here when you need me, okay, Sam?”

Sam stopped in the doorframe and looked back over her shoulder with a shaky smile. “I know, Janet. And that means a lot. Thank you.” Then she turned and left, determined to be at Daniel’s bedside.


* * * * * * * *


“Hey, Daniel,” Sam said softly a day and a half later. The boy had just woken up from a fitful sleep that had lasted only a couple hours. “I’m still here.” She smiled, having taken off her mask in light of the poor prognosis Janet had given her charge.

Daniel tried to return the expression as much as his pain, nausea, and fast, shallow breathing would let him. His fever-bright blue eyes were locked on her own, and his cheeks were flushed red, belying the chill-induced shaking that wracked his small frame. He managed to pull his hand out from under the covers and reached almost desperately for Sam.

The blonde immediately took it and gave it a gentle squeeze. She wouldn’t let go at all, except that her grasp kept him from sleeping for long, since the connection stopped him from adjusting his position to allow for the most comfort at any given time. “You know, I think I’m going to wait until we go home before I redecorate your room. That way you can help me pick out what you want.” It took everything in her to keep her voice and expression under control as she said it. “Does that sound good?”

Daniel nodded briefly and squeezed her hand. He never looked away from her face, and Sam had a hard time not flashing back to the last time she’d spent in an isolation room gazing into those same summer blue eyes. Those eyes had also been filled with pain as the body that held them got progressively closer to death. Sam swallowed and bit the inside of her cheek to keep that memory from dominating her thoughts. She couldn’t help but wish for a distraction.

A minute later she got one. Daniel’s grip became almost painful and his gaze panicked just before the alarm on some of the machinery he was hooked up to went off, bringing in Janet and a pair of nurses at a run. Just before the petite doctor could yell at Sam to get out of the way, the child’s grip went limp, and Sam stumbled backward out of shock.

“He’s in respiratory arrest!” Janet cried, and her team went to work to get little Daniel breathing once again.

Sam’s own breathing nearly stopped as she watched the medical personnel work and listened to her friend bark out orders. She’d been warned that respiratory failure was a danger Daniel was in. Now she was afraid that was what she was witnessing. She began to shake her head in denial as she flattened herself against the far wall next to the door. She couldn’t watch him go like this, she couldn’t stand there and do nothing while he laid there and died.

It was that thought that made her remember. Maybe there was something she could do after all. This wasn’t radiation poisoning after all...

Janet looked up for only a moment when she heard the door to the isolation room close. When she saw that Sam was gone, her heart broke for her friend, sure that she couldn’t bear to watch the efforts to keep Daniel alive.


* * * * * * * *


Sam practically plowed down Sabrina Marconi as she ran back to Daniel’s room after going to her lab. “Oh my god, I’m sorry, Doctor Marconi. I didn’t see you there,” she gasped as she reeled back from the near-collision.

Sabrina peeled herself from the opposite wall and smiled wryly. “I should have known you’d be in a hurry when I saw you take off like that before.”

“What do you mean?” Sam said, momentarily distracted from the task at hand.

“I was watching from the observation deck when the monitors went off. I saw you leave the room then dash by the doorway at the bottom of the stairs. Janet and her team have him stabilized again, by the way.” She gave Sam a sympathetic look that didn’t quite hide the curiosity the psychologist was feeling. “Where did you go?”

“I had to go back to my lab for something,” Sam said with a sigh of relief. Then she straightened again, unsure of how much time Daniel still had left. “I’m sorry, Doctor, I have to get going.”

Sabrina caught her by the arm as something on the other woman’s right hand captured her attention. “What is that on your hand, Major?”

Sam brought up the item she’d retrieved. “Um, it’s the Goa’uld healing device I usually keep stored in my lab,” she explained. “I’m hoping it can help. I don’t want to lose another Daniel.” That last was spoken in a broken whisper, her eyes dropping to the floor.

“Wait a minute, Major,” Sabrina said, her grip tightening on the other woman’s arm. “You do realize that the person in that room is not the Daniel Jackson that died of radiation poisoning, don’t you?”

“Of course I do!” Sam exclaimed, tearing her arm away and staring at the psychologist incredulously. “My friend is... he’s... I’m not sure where he is, but it’s not here. In that room is a little boy dying of pneumonia, and I might be able to help. He deserves that chance, don’t you think?”

Sabrina gave her a satisfied smile. “I just wanted to be sure that was clear in your mind, that’s all. I read the reports about Doctor Jackson’s death and ascension and how it affected the rest of SG-1.” She shrugged at Sam’s surprised look. “I needed to know what kind of effect having Daniel Jackson’s clone around would have on the people here, since the adult... original, for lack of a better word, had left in such a dramatic - and traumatic - fashion. Everything you’ve said and done up to this point has been more than encouraging, I don’t want you to think otherwise. But when Janet told me what was happening, I was afraid you and the others would draw a few too many parallels.”

Sam gave a small smile. “I have to admit that’s what I was thinking when I remembered the healing device. Speaking of, I should really get back in there. Who knows when he’ll have another attack?”

The black-haired woman gave her a tiny shove. “Go. Don’t let me keep you.” She grinned and headed back up to the observation deck.

Janet raised her head from the chart she was looking over when Sam walked back in. “Sam, I was worried...” Her voice trailed off when she saw the item her friend wore. “Will that work on an illness like this?” she asked.

“It can’t hurt to try.” Sam tried to smother the fear she felt when she remembered the last time she’d used the device.

Janet caught it anyway. “Just remember, this isn’t the same thing. Daniel, the other Daniel, was overwhelmed with radiation. It was just too much. A virus like this has to be easier to deal with.”

Sam nodded. “One way or the other, I’m going to try.” She stood next to the bed and held the healing device over the sleeping child’s chest. Her eyes closed, and a few moments later a golden light enveloped the small body.

Fifteen minutes later, the handheld disc finally turned off, and Sam slumped into the chair Janet had placed just behind her. “Holy Hannah, am I tired,” she gasped, her eyes not leaving the form on the bed.

“Did it work?” Janet asked.

“I think so. It felt like I was working on more than the virus, though.” Sam frowned in thought. “Do you think that was because I was dealing with the bacterial infection, too?”

Before Janet could answer, wide blue eyes fluttered open and quickly shifted to the seated blonde. Daniel swallowed and pulled a hand out from under the covers, reaching urgently for her. “Sam,” he breathed in a barely-audible whisper.

Janet covered her mouth with her hands at the sound of the little voice as Sam grasped the tiny hand, grinning as tears spilled down her cheeks. “I’m here, Daniel. I’m here. How do you feel?” Daniel nodded and squeezed his fingers, a small smile blossoming across his features.

Janet stepped over, quickly listening to the boy’s chest with her stethoscope. “I’m not hearing any abnormal breath sounds,” she announced. “I think you might have done it, Sam.” She quickly called in a nurse to take some blood samples.

Sam said nothing in reply, merely leaning forward and planting a light kiss on Daniel’s forehead then running her free hand over the short blond locks. Woman and child shared a gentle expression before Daniel fell back asleep, Sam nodding off in the chair soon after.


* * * * * * * *


“It’s absolutely incredible,” Janet said to the group gathered in the briefing room the next day. “Not only did Sam eliminate both the viral and bacterial infections, she also increased the growth rate of Daniel’s underdeveloped lymph nodes.”

“What does that mean, Doctor?” General Hammond asked.

Jack frowned. “Does this have something to do with the kid’s lack of an immune system?” he asked.

Jonas’ eyes widened. “Did all the children have that problem?”

Janet held up her hands to stop the questions. “Let me explain a few things. First, Daniel had an immune system, but it was suppressed. In other words, it wasn’t functioning at one hundred percent capacity. I’d probably put it somewhere around thirty percent if I had to guess. That’s what made the viral infection so deadly, since modern medicine hasn’t been able to fight viruses effectively.”

“Will this happen again then?” Hammond asked.

“Most likely not,” Janet replied. “As I said, Sam’s use of the Goa’uld healing device increased the growth rate of Daniel’s lymph nodes, so that they’re now completely developed. I’d be willing to hazard a guess that his immune system is now fully functional.”

“I’m really hoping we won’t have to test that theory for a while,” Sam said with a small smile.

Janet returned the expression before continuing her explanation. “Once I got the blood test results from after Sam’s use of the healing device back, I went over the medical files Doctor MacDonald left for us, as well as his own notes. It seems that the cloning process left a few of the children’s systems underdeveloped.” She frowned. “They classified them as secondary, since they weren’t deemed absolutely necessary to the children’s survival in the sterile, restricted environment they were to be raised in. They were monitored of course, and it was found that they were merely developing at a slower rate and would eventually catch up to the rest of the body.”

Sam was also frowning. “They considered using the same nanotechnology that Colonel O’Neill was exposed to on Argos to speed up the results, but it was decided they could learn more if they let things develop at their natural rate.”

“I read about that,” Sabrina mused as Jack scowled at the reminder of his brush with premature old age. “Why do I get the feeling they weren’t sure if they could program the nanites to focus only on the systems that needed development?”

“That’s what Doctor MacDonald’s notes suggested,” Sam said. “That, and he wasn’t sure what the effect of mixing the two different technologies would be.”

“I’ll give the man credit for his better safe than sorry attitude,” Jack commented. “It’s not exactly one that’s wide-spread throughout the NID.”

“However, that caution may have left the children vulnerable to the illness which claimed their lives,” Teal’c said solemnly.

Janet shook her head. “I’m not so sure. Considering how quickly the genetic degradation cascaded, I’m not sure a fully functional immune system would have made much of a difference. It was the weak DNA structure that was the main culprit here.”

Jonas leaned forward slightly, his brows coming together as his forehead became creased in thought. “So what does this mean for Daniel’s future? Is he in any danger of his immune system failing again?”

“I don’t think so,” Janet replied. “His white blood cell count is already above what it was at the worst of the pneumonia. I think the exposure to the healing device activated his entire immune system. I’d like to use the next couple of days to monitor the situation, make sure everything settles down to normal levels like I expect.”

“That should be fine, Doctor,” Hammond agreed.

“I can use the time to get things ready at home,” Sam added. “I told Daniel I’d wait to redecorate his room until he was there, but I can get some clothes and other things.”

Sabrina cleared her throat. “I don’t think this illness has set Daniel back, but I want to make sure. The time Daniel’s still on base should be enough.”

Jack narrowed his eyes slightly as he gazed at the psychologist. “What, no comments about how the rest of us can reconnect with him now that he’ll be out of the isolation room?”

The black-haired woman returned his look calmly. “I guess I kind of figured that was par for the course. Someone has to keep him company while Sam’s running errands. I’d recommend each of you help out with that, but you should only do what you’re comfortable with. There’s plenty of time now to develop a relationship with Daniel.”

“Right,” Jack said, his expression clearing. “So long as we’re clear.”

“Do you really think the pneumonia might cause adjustment problems for Daniel?” Jonas asked.

Sabrina shook her head. “Not exactly. I want to observe him for the next couple of days to be sure, but I have a feeling this has actually done him some good. When he was feeling sick and scared, you were all there for him. That’s the kind of thing that builds trust.” She smiled when she saw the subtle looks in the colonel’s direction. “Yes, even Colonel O’Neill. He popped in a few times when there was no one else around, usually during the night shift after Major Carter had fallen asleep.”

Jack gave her an irritated frown. “Thanks, Doc.”

The Italian woman grinned. “Anytime.”

“I think that about settles everything,” Hammond announced, his eyes twinkling with suppressed amusement. “Let me know if anything changes. You’re dismissed.” He stood and took a couple steps toward his office before stopping to look back over his shoulder. “Oh, and Major Carter, the paperwork is all filed. You’re now officially Daniel’s guardian.”

“Thank you, sir!” Sam said happily.

“Congratulations, Major Carter,” Teal’c said with a small smile after Hammond had disappeared into his office. “I know you will be worthy of the responsibility you have undertaken.”

The blonde woman gave her friend a grateful smile. “Thanks, Teal’c. It means a lot to me that you think so.”

Janet stepped over and hugged her. “You’ll be great, Sam. And if you need anything, let me know.”

Jack shrugged and offered a hand. “I already told you you’d make a great mom, Carter,” he said as his 2IC shook the offered appendage. “You’ve got all the right instincts.”

“Just let us know what you need,” Jonas said, grinning. “Doctor Fraiser’s not the only one who’ll be there for you.”

“A good support system, just like I said before,” Sabrina commented. “You and Daniel are going to be just fine, Major. There’s a few things I want to look over, so we’ll just set up a schedule for my visits sometime before the two of you leave. I’ll leave you to your celebration.” She nodded with approval at the group gathered in the briefing room then headed for the exit.

“Thank you, Doctor Marconi,” Sam called out after her. “For everything.” Sabrina merely gave her a wave and left.

“You know, I just thought of something,” Jack said once the psychologist was gone. “What are you going to tell your brother? I mean, we can just tell Jacob the whole story and he should be fine, but what about Mark?”

Sam stared at her commanding officer and just blinked for a long moment. “Oh my God, I hadn’t even considered that.” Her gaze dropped to the floor as she thought about what other little details she might have forgotten. Not that her brother was a “little detail”. It just proved how much the people at the SGC were closer to her than her blood relation. “I guess I can just tell him that I’ve decided I’ve put off motherhood long enough and chose to adopt. But, because I’m still not willing to give up my career, I decided to pick an older child.” She looked up again, her gaze traveling over each of her friends’ faces. “I have no idea what kind of background story to give for Daniel, though.”

Teal’c returned her gaze calmly while the others frowned. “It is not necessary for you to deviate far from the truth. Merely explain that young Daniel was raised in northern Colorado before you brought him into your home, and that he has never known his parents.”

Everyone looked at the Jaffa in slight shock. “I think you’ve been hanging around with us too long, Teal’c,” Jack said. “You’re getting far too good at cover stories.”

“On the contrary, O’Neill. As you well know, I was forced to deliver ‘cover stories’ to Apophis regularly long before I knew of any of you. It has merely taken me time to adjust to your world’s culture.” A hint of a knowing smile curved the corners of his mouth upward.

“Well, no matter how you came up with it, thank you, Teal’c,” Sam said with a short laugh. “I can fill in the little details during my leave.”

“Thinking of your leave, will it be okay for us to call you during that first week?” Jonas asked. “I don’t want to interrupt if you think you’ll need the time to focus on adjusting.”

Sam gave him a fond look. “Don’t worry so much, Jonas. A few phone calls won’t hurt, and Daniel should get used to things like that. There’s no controlling telemarketers, after all.”

Jack rolled his eyes. “Ain’t that the truth.” He gave her a considering look. “So you want some company when you go kid shopping?” he asked. “I’m sure we can each take turns.” The others looked at her expectantly.

“That would be wonderful, thank you, sir. I’d be an idiot to turn down the experience some of you have with this kind of thing.”

“I only wish I had experience with a toddler,” Janet said wistfully. “But I’ll do what I can.”

“We all will,” Jack said quickly, not wanting to discuss his experience. “I take it you’re going to start this afternoon?” he asked Sam.

She nodded. “I thought I’d do some clothes shopping since I have accurate sizes from the outfits Jonas found in the basement of the lab, maybe pick up some children’s toiletries, things like that.”

“That’s a good idea, Sam. I’ll give you a list of medicines you’ll want to keep around the house,” Janet offered.

Jack looked around. “So who’s got first shift? Unfortunately, I have some paperwork I can’t put off any more. I’m good for either tonight or tomorrow, though.”

Jonas looked at Teal’c before responding. “How about I stay here and keep Daniel company while Sam and Teal’c do the shopping? It looks like the colonel and Doctor Fraiser are going to be busy, and I can bring some of my work with me when I go to see him. Would that be all right?”

Teal’c bowed his head briefly. “I would be honored to accompany you, Major Carter.”

“That works for me. I’ll go have lunch with Daniel and let him know what’s going on. We can go around one.” Sam gave the Jaffa a smile which he returned with a small one of his own.

“I think that’s everything then,” Jack announced as he clapped his hands together. “This meeting is adjourned.” The rest of them laughed, or smiled in Teal’c’s case, then they all left the briefing room.


* * * * * * * *


Sam was surprised by what good taste Teal’c ended up having in regards to clothes for Daniel. They spent a very pleasurable three hours at the mall picking out a beginning wardrobe for the major’s young charge, the children’s toiletries she’d mentioned that morning, the medicines Janet suggested, a few pieces of kid-sized furniture, and some children’s dishes and utensils. She figured she could rearrange her cupboards either later that night or the next morning.

Daniel had been moved once again to his VIP room after being cleared medically, so Sam headed there once she’d returned to the base. She knocked briefly then stuck her head in the door. “Hey there,” she said, smiling at the sight of the little boy reading a children’s book with an intense focus.

He looked up, surprised, then smiled when he recognized who his visitor was. He glanced around for a moment before picking up a scrap of paper to use as a bookmark, standing after he’d marked his page.

Sam stepped inside, closing the door behind her and moving over to the boy. She knelt down in front of him. “How was your afternoon?” she asked, reaching out to rub one of his arms gently.

He glanced down to where she was touching him, a little confused at the contact, then decided he liked it. He smiled. “I was reading,” he whispered once he looked back at Sam.

“I can see that. Do you like the book?”

“They were okay,” Daniel said with a shrug.

That’s when Sam noticed the book she’d seen Daniel reading was one of five lying on the table. Her eyes widened as her hand stilled. “You read all five of those books?”

Daniel shrugged again, unsure of Sam’s response. “Almost.”

Sam whistled in appreciation and gave the child a wide smile. “That’s impressive. I’ll have to be sure to get you plenty of books I see. Where’s Jonas?” She noted how Daniel had relaxed at her smile. Had he been afraid she wouldn’t approve of him reading?

“Gone. Right before you came.”

“I’m glad he could keep you company while I was gone. Do you want to get dinner?” Daniel nodded and she stood, offering her hand. “Then let’s go down to the commissary.” Hand in hand the pair left.

Dinner was uneventful, although Sam noticed that Daniel wouldn’t speak to her in public. Thanks to Sabrina’s mention of it, she also noticed that he paid close attention when Jonas and Teal’c joined them a short while after they’d begun to eat. The three members of SG-1 discussed the lack of information the Tok’ra had been able to come up with regarding Anubis and his new super weapon. They knew it would give him a distinct advantage, but no one was sure how that would manifest itself yet, and everyone knew it wouldn’t be good. The table had gotten quiet at that point, and Sam had glanced over at Daniel and found a small, worried frown on his face. She swept a gentle hand over his hair and smiled, saying, “Don’t worry, Daniel. We’ll figure out a way to stop him.” Daniel smiled at the reassurance and went back to his meal.

When they’d finished, Sam, Jonas, and Teal’c escorted Daniel back to his VIP room, the latter two wishing him a good night before going on their way. “So,” Sam said once she and Daniel were once again alone in the room, “what did you want to do now?” Daniel shrugged. “Hmm, what can we do to kill time before we get you ready for bed?” She glanced around the space in consideration. “Well, we could draw or color in these new coloring books I see Janet got you,” she said, picking up the top book of a short stack that hadn’t been there before dinner. There was a Post-It Note stuck to the cover that said, “You guys might like these. Love, Janet.”

Daniel didn’t respond, so Sam kept thinking. “I suppose you could finish your book, but then what would I do?” she muttered. She didn’t notice Daniel take a step back at the look of serious contemplation on her face. Suddenly she snapped her fingers and looked at the blond boy with a bright smile. “I know! How would you like me to read you a few fairy tales from the book I just bought today? It’ll be a really nice way for us to end the day together.”

Daniel hesitated for a moment, taking in the happy, expectant look on Sam’s features. “You can read to me,” he whispered, then stood up straight and clasped his hands together in front of him just below his waist.

“Come on, let’s sit on the bed,” Sam invited with a laugh, leaning over to pull a thick book out of a bag she’d left near the table when she’d returned from her shopping trip. “We’ll be more comfortable there.” She quickly made her way over and sat on top of the covers, patting the space next to her. “You’ll like this, I promise.”

“Okay,” Daniel replied politely, a little confused at Sam’s enthusiasm. He started to clamor up on his own before he was startled by Sam’s assistance.

“Looked like you were having some trouble,” she said quietly with a gentle look of understanding. Daniel could only blink wide blue eyes in return.

Sam opened up the book and rested it in her lap before draping an arm around Daniel’s shoulders, pulling him close. “Is this okay?” she asked. “I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”

Daniel shook his head, feeling a bit overwhelmed. “I’m okay,” he breathed.

Sam bit her lower lip at the sound of his reply and loosened her hold on the child. “I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Not scared,” Daniel said quickly, confused by Sam’s reaction and worried he’d offended her.

“Maybe not,” Sam conceded, “but you’re not used to physical contact like that, are you?” Daniel dropped his head and shook it. “Hey, that’s okay,” she said as she brushed the back of her fingers gently across his cheek. “I’m used to snuggling up with my niece and nephew. I need to get used to how you want to be handled. How about I just hold up the book as I read, so you can see the words and pictures as I go? You sit as close as you want to.”

Daniel looked up at her, unsure. He searched her eyes for a long moment, then the tension went out of his shoulders. “Okay,” he whispered.

Sam waited until he was settled, his leg touching hers, then began to read. She made it through two stories, complete with funny voices - she was so proud when she saw she had made Daniel smile - before she decided it was time for Daniel to clean up and get ready for bed. The shower went quickly, and Daniel didn’t require assistance with his pajamas, so Sam just watched from the bathroom doorway as the boy finished up his nightly ritual. The woman was sad to see the evidence of a firmly ingrained pattern in such a young child, but struggled to hide it from her sensitive charge.

“Okay, into bed,” she announced as cheerfully as she could when Daniel had turned around, apparently waiting for a final inspection. She made a mental note to talk with Sabrina about this behavior as soon as she could. In the meantime, she followed the young boy back to the bed and gave him a boost before covering him up with the blankets she had turned down for him. “Are you going to be okay here tonight?” Sam asked gently, absently smoothing out the covers nearest her legs.

There was a pause before Daniel nodded, and he tried to smile.

“Well, would you mind if I stuck around for a while? Maybe keep you company until you fall asleep? I’ve been really worried about you the last few days, and sitting with you would probably make me feel better.” Sam paused. “And maybe you’d feel better, too.”

“You can stay,” Daniel quickly whispered, his eyes dropping shyly. He was glad she’d made the offer, even though he didn’t exactly understand why. But he was beginning to think it didn’t matter, because Sam just seemed to know what made him feel better.

“Thank you,” Sam whispered in return, smiling softly.

Daniel decided right then and there that that smile was his favorite. He didn’t know what it meant - no one had ever smiled at him quite like that before - but it gave him a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. And it was a feeling he really, really liked. As Sam pulled one of the chairs from the table next to the bed, Daniel returned her expression, and with one last sensation of his guardian’s hand lightly brushing his cheek he slipped quietly into slumber.

Sam watched the boy for a long, quiet moment, reveling in the warm atmosphere the scene produced. When she saw Daniel had fallen into a deep sleep, she stood and replaced the chair, then went to stand once more at Daniel’s bedside. She gazed down lovingly on the tiny form and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead. “Sweet dreams, Danny. I’ll be back in the morning,” she whispered.

Just as she reached the door to return to her lab and an experiment that was waiting, she realized what she had just said, and it made her pause. She’d never had the urge to call her adult friend anything but his full name, no matter how many times Jack and her father referred to him otherwise. Daniel was just... Daniel. But the little boy lying in that bed, the same little boy she had comforted through a horrible illness, that she had secretly longed to bring into her home... somehow it was just natural to think of him as Danny. Sam smiled. She knew then that she truly had the child and the adult separate in her mind, and always would. With a wide smile she blew one last kiss in the direction of the bed and went on her way, her heart light and looking forward to the days to come. Back to Gen Fiction          Back to Part Three          Go to Part Five

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