Just a Small Experiment - Part Nineteen


It turned out that only a small amount of work got done before people needed to call an end to things for the night. Daniel and Jonas were exhausted from their cross-country trek, Janet had to get home to Cassie while Sam decided she should spend the night with Danny at the house, and Jack was mentally worn out with all the revelations he’d gone through. Teal’c and Jacob would have been able to continue, of course, but were content to acquiesce to the needs of the others.

The next morning each team reconvened, Janet and Jacob again in the medical lab and the others in Sam’s lab with Danny on a computer off to the side working on a new math program his guardian had bought for him. The larger group had been talking for about an hour when Sabrina stopped in.

“Hey, everybody,” the psychologist greeted the room with a smile. “How are things going? Any closer to a solution?”

“To which problem?” Jack asked, frowning. It was the same expression he’d been wearing for some time.

The new arrival’s black eyebrows rose. “There are multiple problems now? What happened yesterday?”

Sam quickly explained everything that had been discovered since the psychologist’s last visit. “So now we’re trying to figure out when the Asgard responsible will attempt to make the switch,” she concluded.

Sabrina blinked. “Oh.” She glanced around the lab table. “Um, I take it you’ve covered the possibility that the Asgard will return to the place he took the original from,” she offered.

“Well, yes,” Daniel told her. “That does make the most sense for where, but we need to figure out when. It can’t be too long, or the friends and family of the people Jonas and I interviewed would have noticed the gap.”

“What I don’t understand is how those people didn’t notice anything strange,” Sabrina said thoughtfully. “I mean, chances are something from the time they were gone would be brought up, and they wouldn’t remember it.”

“Unless the Asgard had a way to transfer the memories of the clone to the original during the switch,” Jonas refuted.

“I think it would happen soon after the switch,” Sam theorized. “The Asgard would need to scan and quantify the clone’s memories before any kind of transfer of information could take place.”

Jack sighed. “I don’t see what this has to do with anything,” he complained.

Sabrina shrugged. “Just thinking out loud,” she said placatingly. “And you never know. This train of thought could spark an idea in someone.”

“I know, I know,” the teenager replied with another sigh. “That’s how this usually works. I’m still just dealing with everything.”

“Fair enough,” the Italian woman said.

“All right,” Sam said decisively, more than willing to change the subject as she opened a new program on her computer. “I think we need to go over every detail of all the abductees’ stories and work out a schedule. Once we have that figured out, we can piece together when to expect our impromptu Asgard visitor.” She typed in a few commands to set up everything she needed.

Sabrina turned her head to the left at the sensation of a hand on her arm. She smiled at the tentative expression Jonas wore even as a small alarm went off in her mind. “Is there something you needed, Jonas?” she asked softly as the others in the room all gathered around the blonde astrophysicist and her glowing monitor.

Jonas nodded. “Could I speak with you later?”

The psychologist let her smile widen slightly as it softened, realizing something must really be bothering the Kelownan. “Of course. Just let me know when and where.”

“Whenever we get done here is fine,” Jonas replied, relief quite apparent in his tone. “We can figure out where then.”

“That works,” Sabrina agreed, and then the two of them joined the others in the interview review.

* * * * * * * *

The group in Sam’s lab, with only a brief break for lunch, managed to piece together a probable timeline for the Asgard abductions just before breaking again for supper. It had been an intense day of work, and once the evening meal was over Sam glanced at Danny as she had while the seven of them had been eating and finally gave in to the guilt she was feeling.

“I should take Danny home, spend some one-on-one time with him,” she declared as they left the commissary. “I’ve pretty much ignored him all day.” She smiled down on the little boy in question, who looked back up at her with a touch of confusion in his big blue eyes.

“That doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, Carter,” the teenaged Jack said quickly, noting the surprise and slight disappointment in his teammates’ eyes. Workaholics, he wordlessly grumbled fondly. He was just glad to see Sam’s devotion to Danny seemed to automatically interrupt her natural tendency to work for far too long into the night; they both deserved it.

“But we didn’t finish making a plan for how we’re going to handle the switch,” Sam dutifully protested, her heart not really in it.

Jack waved off the concern. “It’s Monday, Carter. We’re not expecting our Asgard visitor until Thursday night. We’ll piece it together tomorrow.” He looked around at the rest of the team. “There aren’t any objections, I hope.”

Before any of them could answer, the tell-tale clicking of a familiar set of high heels approached, and Janet Fraiser quickly came into view. “I figured I’d catch you here,” the doctor said as she reached them. She focused on the teenager. “I think Jacob and I have come up with something. We could really use you with us in the lab to make sure.”

Jack rolled his eyes. “Great. I get to go from brain drain to guinea pig. My day is complete.” He looked at Sam. “Go home. Play with the kid. Have fun. And then get back here tomorrow morning and help us figure out how we’re going to settle this thing once and for all.”

“Go ahead, Sam,” Daniel told her when she looked at the others in a long moment of hesitation. “Jack’s right. We have a little time. It shouldn’t take us long to finish putting a plan together.”

“Daniel Jackson is correct, Major Carter,” Teal’c added. “We have accomplished much this day.”

Sabrina gave her a smile. “It’s important that you try to keep as regular a schedule as you can, you know that. Besides, I was hoping to talk with Jonas yet tonight.”

Sam’s eyebrows lifted. “Really?” she retorted playfully.

The psychologist’s expression grew impish. “Think anything you’d like, but I’ll leave it at that.” Jonas blushed slightly.

“That’s my cue to make a quick exit. Get me out of here, Doc,” Jack said with another roll of his eyes as he led Janet away. The auburn-haired woman merely chuckled and shook her head as she followed.

“We’ll see you both tomorrow, Sam,” Daniel said with a smile for Danny as well as his friend.

The rest of the farewells went swiftly, and once Daniel and Teal’c had left for the archaeologist’s office to work on a translation, Jonas and Sabrina found themselves alone.

The black-haired woman eyed up her suddenly-nervous companion. “I believe you wanted to talk to me,” she eventually said mildly, leaving the ball in the Kelownan’s court.

Jonas sighed. “I do. We can go to my room.”

“After you,” Sabrina said simply.

“Please sit down,” Jonas told his guest once he’d shut the door to his quarters behind the two of them. He gestured to a small table with two chairs.

Sabrina merely gave him a smile and accepted his offer, settling in to calmly watch the Kelownan, who began pacing in front of the door.

Finally he stopped in his tracks and sighed, his chin dropping to his chest. Then he brought his head back up and looked Sabrina in the eye. “I feel lost,” he said simply.

The psychologist saw the truth of that statement in the blue-green eyes. “Why?” she retorted softly, her expression neutral.


“Why?” the seated woman repeated just as softly as the first time.

“The trip we just came back from…” Jonas began. He stopped himself. “Daniel didn’t need me. It was his idea from the beginning, and he knew exactly what he was looking for.”

“Did he?” Sabrina interrupted, her eyebrows rising.

Jonas blinked in surprise. “Well, yes…”

Sabrina gave him a half-smile. “That’s not what I’ve seen.”

The brown-haired man’s eyebrows came together in confusion. “What?”

“Jonas, think about this for a second. If Daniel knew what information he needed, that brainstorming session we just went through wouldn’t have been necessary. He would have flipped through his notes, told us the facts, and we would have put the timeframe together as quick as you please. And I have a feeling that he wasn’t the only one asking questions while you both were out there.” Sabrina looked at Jonas expectantly.

“No, I asked questions,” the man confirmed.

“And I seem to recall Daniel mentioning earlier today how the two of you discussed everything on the plane between stops and on the way back home.”

Jonas sighed. “Well, yes, we did. But I’m not sure you understand…”

Sabrina frowned. “Understand what? That Daniel obviously values your input? That you really did contribute? That your team still considers you to be one of them?”

“When I first came to Earth, Daniel was still alive, but dying a horrible death I had just seen four of my colleagues suffer,” Jonas said softly. “I knew I would be considered a traitor on Kelowna, and people at the SGC, hearing pretty quickly that I’d been involved in the incident that was the cause of Daniel’s suffering, were looking at me sideways. After Daniel ascended and SG-1 started grieving, those looks got worse. And I couldn’t blame them.

“It took me too long to do the right thing in regards to the truth about Daniel’s involvement in the naquadria accident. The fact that I cowered in a corner while he saved millions of people he didn’t even know haunted me, too. It still does. But the SGC took me in anyway. They allowed me to start reading about Earth history and languages, to try and find a way to help. They let me read SG-1’s mission reports. And they even let me read and memorize Daniel’s work.”

Jonas sighed. “When I read his journals, I got an even better understanding of the kind of man he was… is,” he corrected himself quickly. “And I saw people’s faces when they came to the office to give me translation work. I was standing in a long, looming shadow, and in boots far too large for me to ever fill. But I knew I had to keep trying to do what I could to help, maybe find my own small place, not just to help the people of my planet, but to finish what Daniel had started.

“I was just starting to find my equilibrium, my niche, when Daniel came back.” He smiled at the psychologist. “I know we covered this part before. But I just can’t shake this lost feeling his return seems to have caused in me.”

“You’ve spent so much time trying to make up for what you perceived as a wrong you caused him,” Sabrina mused, her eyes narrowed slightly in thought. “In your own way, you’re just as much to blame for being in Daniel’s shadow as anyone else. I don’t blame you, exactly; it’s perfectly logical. But I think the time for your self-imposed penance is over.”

“Logically, I understand,” Jonas told her. “But it’s hard to make myself really believe it.”

Sabrina smiled as the answer came to her. “That’s because there’s only one man who can lift that load for you. You don’t believe you’re worthy enough to make that decision.”

Jonas blinked. “What?”

“Only Daniel can give you the absolution you need, Jonas,” Sabrina explained. “We could sit here and talk for years, examine every minute detail of every nanosecond since the moment you first met Daniel, but nothing you or I say is going to lift the burden of guilt you’re feeling. That’s not to say I wouldn’t do that, because I truly consider you a friend, but it’s not the solution you need. And you deserve that inner peace, Jonas. You’re a good man. Just the fact that you’ve been so determined to do right for a people that have rejected you and labeled you a traitor, and for a man you barely knew and his friends and comrades, tells me that. I admire that.”

“So you want me to…” Jonas began, swallowing down a sudden nervous lump in his throat.

“You need to tell Daniel everything you just told me. He’ll take it from there. It’s going to take one hell of an act of courage from you, but I know you can do it.” The black-haired woman gave him a half-smile. “I don’t think he bites.”

Jonas bit his lower lip for a moment. “I don’t know when to talk to him. This thing with Colonel O’Neill and his clone and the Asgard…”

Sabrina shrugged. “Yeah, I’d agree this isn’t the best time. But it’s all going to be resolved one way or the other by the end of the week. Soon after that should be all right. I wouldn’t wait too long, though. You can’t be doubting yourself every time Daniel comes up with an idea or translation. You won’t be good to anyone that way.”

Jonas took a deep breath then slowly released it. “You’re right, Sabrina. I… I need to resolve this, one way or the other. I’ll talk to him as soon as we solve this whole thing.” He smiled.

Sabrina stood and stepped over to him, impulsively wrapping the Kelownan in a hearty hug. “You’ll be just fine, I know it,” she whispered in his ear as he returned the embrace. “And you can still talk to me about this any time you want.” She pulled back to arms’ length, still gripping his upper arms, and gave him a grin. “No charge for good friends.”

“Thanks, Sabrina,” Jonas said, also smiling. “That means a lot.”

“Now let’s go to the commissary. I’m craving ice cream.” She squeezed his arms one last time before releasing him completely, then headed for the door. Jonas merely smiled a little wider and followed.

* * * * * * * *

The next morning SG-1 reconvened in Sam’s lab with Danny again on a computer in the corner, while Janet and Jacob were back in the medical lab running further tests with Doctor MacDonald’s serum. The five-person team took most of the morning putting together their plan to catch the Asgard responsible for everything on Thursday night. They went to lunch after making arrangements for a briefing with General Hammond in the early afternoon.

When they’d gathered around the table in the briefing room, Sam having put Danny down for his afternoon nap, the team found they were being joined by Janet and Jacob. Apparently they also had a report, and everything was being taken care of in one fell swoop.

“We managed to calculate approximately a seven day gap between abductions, which places the upcoming switch at Thursday night,” Daniel began once the general had been seated and called everything to order. “Now, while we can’t be sure who or what we’ll be facing, we have a plan to subdue the Asgard responsible and get the answers we’re looking for.”

“Like we discussed earlier,” Sam continued, “this switch is most likely our only chance for the capture. We are fairly certain Colonel O’Neill will be returned in any case.”

“How are you planning on intercepting the transfer?” Hammond asked.

Jack sighed when he saw Sam and Daniel share a slightly nervous look. “I’m going to be the bait, General,” the teenager offered. “I’ll have to have a weapon of some sort, of course, but once I’m transported up to the Asgard ship I should be in a pretty good position to surprise whoever’s there and beam up the others. If this really is a rogue agent like we’ve been talking about, I don’t think there’ll be much resistance.”

Hammond frowned. “I don’t think I like the idea of putting you in that kind of danger.”

Jack shrugged. “Like I told these guys when they said pretty much the same thing this morning, no one else is going to be able to do it. I doubt I’ll get beamed up if the ship sensors pick up anyone else with me, and unless someone is right next to me when everything lights up no one’s going to be able to reach me to hitch a ride. We don’t have any other options.”

“We’d be as close as we could be, of course,” Sam assured the base commander. “And we’d be prepared to assist as soon as we were transported onto the Asgard vessel.”

“Not to mention we’d be immediately on site to check on the colonel and make sure he’s all right,” Jonas added.

“I might be able to get you access to Tok’ra communicators so that you could stay in contact even after transport,” Jacob offered. “And I’d be willing to join the team.”

Sam gave him a smile. “Thanks, Dad.” He returned the expression.

The general shook his head. “That’s all well and good, people, but I still have some reservations.”

“Then let me add something,” Janet said, joining the discussion for the first time. She opened the folder that rested on the table in front of her. “We finished our testing of Doctor MacDonald’s serum in relation to Jack’s condition. Now, I haven’t been able to isolate the exact cause for the reaction, but it triggers an excessive immune response, along the lines of a deadly allergic reaction or a transplant rejection. Only by slightly modifying the main protein in the serum and diluting it is it useful at all.” She sighed. “However, that leaves me with a treatment that only keeps the degradation from progressing further, and it has to be re-administered every ten to fourteen days. It is nowhere near a permanent solution, and eventually it won’t work at all.”

“Our guess is that Doctor MacDonald was able to work with his formula because of the immunodeficiency of the children at the lab,” Jacob added.

“So what are you saying, Doctor?” Hammond asked.

“The best chance for a true solution to Jack’s genetic degradation is not going to be found here.” The petite physician shot a quick apologetic look toward the young man. “I won’t give up, of course, but I can’t guarantee anything.”

Teal’c lifted an eyebrow. “Perhaps the Asgard responsible can correct his mistake.”

Jack grinned wickedly. “Just let me have a nine mil and I’ll get a solution out of the sucker.”

Hammond sighed. “No nine millimeter,” he said firmly. He raised a hand before anyone could protest. “I’ll have a zat gun issued to you. That’s as far as I’m willing to go.”

“That’s all I’ll need,” Jack assured him, his eyes sparkling. “Thank you, sir.”

“Is there anything else I need to know?” the bald general asked after giving a slight, almost imperceptible nod to the teenager.

The rest of the meeting covered the rest of the details of both groups’ research and plans. Then General Hammond dismissed them and returned to his office to discuss the matter with his superiors, leaving the seven of them to their own devices. After a brief discussion, they split back up into their two groups to go over what they’d presented to see if there was anything that had been missed. All of them knew it was going to be a stressful next two days.

* * * * * * * *

Thursday evening came with no further surprises or revelations, and the members of SG-1 were in position in and around Jack O’Neill’s home waiting for the fun to begin. Jacob had stayed at the base to watch Danny, Janet having been called away at the last moment to care for injured members of SG-2. The team had returned home early from a first contact mission under fire from the natives.

As the night went on and nothing happened, Jack lay on the bed getting more and more bored. He flipped through a copy of Cracked magazine, merely skimming over things before reaching for the normal walkie talkies they were using, as Jacob had been unable to get them Tok’ra communicators.

“Carter, Jonas, you still got your ears on?” the teenager asked, the magazine falling open onto his chest.

Outside in the driveway near the back of the house closest to the bedroom, Sam glanced at Jonas before responding. “Yes, sir,” she said, managing to keep her half-smile out of her tone.

“Teal’c, Daniel?” Jack asked.

“Everything appears to be normal, O’Neill,” Teal’c replied while Daniel glanced around their position in the bushes toward the far edge of the lawn at the front of the house.

Inside, Jack frowned. “Yeah, well, not to me,” he grumbled into the handheld device.

Daniel quietly chuckled and took the walkie talkie from the Jaffa. “Sounds like someone’s bored,” he commented.

“Oh, don’t start with me,” Jack replied testily.

“Do you want to go over the instructions I gave you again?” Sam asked. Jonas stood beside her trying not to laugh at the previous exchange.

Jack sighed. “Don’t worry, Carter. I’m sure I’ll figure it out.”

Just then the bright light of an Asgard transport beam enveloped the young man, flashing through the windows and immediately causing Sam and Jonas to run for the front door. Teal’c and Daniel, seeing their teammates’ hurry, moved quickly to join them. It wasn’t long before the four of them rushed into Jack’s bedroom and found the adult version of their friend deeply asleep on the bed, face down, knees curled up somewhat beneath him, butt in the air, and snoring slightly.

Sam reached out and shook his shoulder. “Colonel? Are you all right?” she asked urgently. She stepped back surprised when there was no response.

Jonas glanced at her, brows furrowed in worry. “Colonel?” he repeated.

“Jack! Jack!” Daniel called, barely stopping himself from shaking the prone man again. He knew how jumpy Jack could be when startled awake, and admired Sam for her previous bravery.

“O’Neill,” Teal’c said, a note in his tone he normally reserved for dangerous off-world situations. It was amazing the kind of messages the Jaffa could deliver without raising his voice.

It was apparent the last call finally reached the sleeping air force colonel when Jack started with a snort, his eyes blinking furiously. After a moment of orientation, he maneuvered his head to look bleary-eyed at his four visitors. “What are you all doing in my bedroom?” he finally asked.

The others shared a look. They hadn’t considered this part of the plan. “Well…” Daniel started, racking his brain to figure out how to say what needed to be said.

Jack scowled and squeezed his eyes shut, pulling an arm out from under himself to wave off the explanation attempt. Then he took a deep breath and pushed himself up, groggily adjusting his body into a sitting position. Once he was settled on the edge of the bed, he reopened his eyes to a half-lidded stance. “I assume this is important?” he eventually asked.

“Just a little, sir,” Sam answered.

“We wouldn’t be here otherwise,” Jonas added.

Jack sighed and rested his elbows on his knees, letting his face fall into his hands where he tried to rub the sleep away. When he raised his head once again, he pushed himself to his feet and arched his back slightly, stretching. Then he silently glanced from one person to another, going back and forth along the line they had inadvertently formed beside the bed. Finally his eyes paused and he took a deep breath. “You know, I was having the weirdest dream,” he commented.

Daniel rolled his eyes. “Priorities, Jack. Priorities.”

Again the blinding flash of an Asgard transport beam cut off any potential response, and the next thing the members of SG-1 knew, they were standing on board an orbiting alien vessel. The four of them that were aware of why they were there quickly looked around and saw that the situation was secure, a single Asgard unconscious and zip-stripped to an examination table.

“See, Carter? Told you it wouldn’t be a problem.” The teenage Jack walked over to the group from behind a pair of consoles and joined them with a smirk on his face, trying and failing not to stare at his older counterpart.

Said counterpart of the smug young man returned the scrutiny with total confusion. He finally tore his gaze away and looked at the others. “What’s going on?”

Daniel, Sam, and Jonas shared a nervous look while Teal’c merely continued to watch the developing situation. “Well, Jack,” the archaeologist began, “it’s a long story.”

The younger Jack cleared his throat when Daniel failed to continue. “Um, wow, uh, you know I’m…” He hesitated for a moment when all the attention returned to him with a vengeance. “I’m really much taller than I thought I was.”

“Carter?” Jack pleaded, immediately turning away to look at his second in command.

“Colonel O’Neill,” Sam said with a weak half-smile, “meet Jack O’Neill.”

Jack’s head spun to the teenager, then back to Sam. His expression became one of irritation on top of the original confusion. “What’s going on?”

Daniel sighed and gestured at the restrained figure behind them. “We’re pretty sure this Asgard over here kidnapped you and tried to replace you with a clone.”

Jack straightened a bit and blinked furiously, his features changing to utter bewilderment. “How long was I asleep?” he asked incredulously.

“Seven days,” Jonas offered, watching his team leader carefully.

“That’s a record,” the colonel replied, blinking some more. He took a deep breath and turned his attention to his teenage clone. “So you’re… me?”

The younger O’Neill shrugged. “Sort of. We share the same building blocks at any rate.” He shrugged again.

Just then, the Asgard moaned and started to move a bit against the restraints.

“He is awake,” Teal’c announced as he glanced over at the prisoner, inspiring Daniel, Sam, and Jonas to hurry over and place themselves on either side of the table.

“What is happening?” the Asgard asked haltingly, blinking his large black eyes as he looked from side to side.

“We were kind of hoping you could tell us,” Sam responded expectantly.

The little alien began to shake his head from side to side. “No, no, no, this is all wrong.”

That statement set off the still confused adult Jack O’Neill, who stormed over to stand near the head of the table, towering over the face of the Asgard. “Hey!” he protested indignantly. “I’ll tell you what’s wrong! I just woke up, haven’t had coffee let alone a pee in seven days, and I find out you stole my ass and made a… mini-me.” He glanced at Sam, who stood beside him. “Carter, I should be irked currently, yes?”

Sam blinked, surprised by the question. “Well, yes, I… I would be,” she stammered.

“I think you’re more than justified,” Jonas added from where he stood across the table from Sam.

“Why don’t you tell us who you are?” Daniel asked the Asgard reasonably, keeping his own emotions in check.

“Loki,” the alien replied simply.

“According to Norse mythology, that’s the god of mischief,” the archaeologist explained.

Sam leaned in and gave Loki a stern look. “What did you want with Colonel O’Neill?” she demanded.

Loki stared up at the ceiling. “I have nothing else to say to any of you.”

“Hey!” Jack cried again, slapping the side rail of the table. “We just saved your flat little white asses from the Replicators! This is the thanks we get?”

“Well, at least you know you’re going to live to a ripe old age,” the younger Jack quipped, crossing his arms over his chest. Then his eyebrows rose. “Well, riper,” he amended.

“What?” the colonel shot back, turning his head to look at the kid who’d interrupted his tirade.

The teenager sighed. “You may not have noticed, but this guy didn’t exactly hit all the right buttons on the Xerox machine,” he said, throwing his arms out to the side in demonstration. “Not only do I look younger than I think, but unless Doc Fraiser can pull off a miracle, this body is going to fall apart.”

Jonas pointed at Loki. “He still might be able to fix you,” he offered.

Loki shook his head. “I cannot. All the clones suffer the same fate.”

“Why am I not surprised?” Jack’s clone said with a roll of his eyes.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Jonas said, a horrified expression shaping his features. “You let all those clones die a… a terrible death?”

The original O’Neill waved his hands to get everyone’s attention. “Okay, hold on a minute. I’m going back to my original question. What’s going on?!”

“I am a scientist,” Loki began, “a former geneticist with the Asgard Ruling Council.”

“Former?” Sam queried.

“I was stripped of my stature after I was caught performing unsanctioned experiments on humans.”

Jack stared at him. “You’ve got sanctioned ones?”

The younger Jack scoffed. “After what I’ve been through this week, I’m not surprised in the least.” He crossed his arms over his chest again.

“I merely had the courage to do what was necessary to advance our cloning technology,” Loki justified himself a little defensively.

“Instead of courage, some might call it a lack of morality,” Daniel chided.

“Our population cannot withstand the duplication process for much longer,” Loki said.

Sam’s eyebrows came together in confusion. “Well, how can experimenting on humans change that?”

Loki looked at her. “Your bodies are similar to our original form thousands of years ago. Using your physical makeup as a template, I had hoped to find a way to construct a clone that could contain our massively superior intellect. My research was unsuccessful.”

The teenager rolled his eyes. “So much for massively superior intellect.”

The adult O’Neill glanced at him. “I was going to say that.” His younger counterpart shot him a smirk.

“I was going to say,” Loki continued, “it was unsuccessful prior to my being caught and banished. I would have found what I needed eventually.”

“Why risk coming back here and breaking the law after nineteen years?” Daniel asked curiously, his eyes slightly narrowed.

“Because I thought he was the one,” Loki answered simply.

“Me?” both Jacks said simultaneously, then shared a look.

Loki still looked at Daniel. “I believed his genetic code contained the key.”

“Mine?” both Jacks once again said simultaneously.

The adult scowled at the teenager. “Stop it,” he griped. His expression deepened when he got a half-smirk in response.

Loki continued his explanation. “He was physiologically advanced enough to carry and utilize all the data from the Ancient repository of knowledge. That would not be possible for any human one generation ago. He is a significant step forward on your evolutionary path.” The colonel preened a little at the statement.

“You just found this out recently?” Jonas asked, a little surprised.

“I learned about it when all the Asgard did,” Loki replied. “O’Neill is legendary.” The Asgard paused as the humans blinked in amazement at the pronouncement, then went on. “Most recently, the Asgard fleet has been distracted by the war with the Replicators and the subsequent relocation of our people.”

The adult Jack’s eyes narrowed. “So you took the opportunity when no one was looking to sneak back here.”

Loki raised his chin slightly. “I do not regret my actions. I am trying to save my people.”

“Okay, fine, you think you’re going to be a hero,” the younger Jack impatiently snapped, stepping over to the foot of the table. “Now call me selfish, but I want to know what you can do to save me.”

“I cannot reverse your fate,” Loki told him. “Nor can I explain why you did not mature to the proper age as you should have.”

“Well, then it’s easy to see why they kicked you out of the science club,” the teenager quipped darkly, disappointment in his tone. His posture was tense and defensive, his arms yet again crossing over his chest.

The adult Jack shot him a quick look then frowned. “All right, I’ve heard enough.” He walked purposefully over to the pair of consoles his younger counterpart had been standing at when the others first arrived. “Carter, can you call Thor on this thing?” Sam quickly joined him and began examining the set up.

Loki raised his head. “Please, do not.” There was panic in the Asgard’s tone.

“We’ve already tried contacting the Asgard a number of times,” Sam said as she manipulated the lit stones.

“You know, I really don’t think Thor knew about this,” the teenage Jack said, walking away from the Asgard on the table halfway to the console.

Sam made one last adjustment and straightened with an air of accomplishment. “Okay. I’m pretty sure that’s it.”

They all waited and looked around in anticipation. There was a long, silent moment that led to absolutely nothing happening. The young clone sighed and cringed as he rubbed at the thick muscle between his neck and left shoulder.

Jack noticed the movement. “Are you all right?” he asked, his eyes narrowed as he came out from behind the console and stood beside the boy.

“Yeah, pretty much,” the teenager replied, his right hand moving down to his left upper arm. “Fraiser said the shot she gave me would probably cause some muscle soreness from time to time.” He shrugged. “Guess this is one of those times.”

“A shot?” Jack asked.

“Janet managed to modify Doctor MacDonald’s serum to keep my insides from completely turning to mush,” the clone explained. “It doesn’t fix anything, but it stops things from getting worse. But it won’t last forever.” Jack looked a bit disturbed by the pronouncement and how matter-of-factly it was delivered.

“Um, what do we do if Thor doesn’t show up?” Daniel asked.

And then Thor appeared in a flash of light.

“Never mind,” Daniel said with a small sigh.

“Well, it’s about time!” Jack griped, stepping away from his clone.

Thor immediately headed for the restrained Loki. “I apologize for not coming sooner,” he said as he walked. “Loki, what have you done?”

The younger Jack dropped his hand to his side. “Yeah, it seems he’s been playing Doctor Moreau behind your back,” he said snidely.

Jack turned and pointed at the young man. “Yes! Doctor Moreau!”

“You know why I am here,” Thor said to his fellow Asgard. “You should have known O’Neill’s genetic code was safeguarded for his own protection.”

“Excuse me?” Jack blurted, his attention swiftly returning to his favorite Roswell Grey.

“A marker was placed in your DNA to prevent any attempts at genetic manipulation,” Thor explained.

Daniel looked at Sam with an expression of realization. “The abnormality.”

Sam gave him a smile of agreement. “That’s why the clone didn’t mature.”

Thor walked back to a position between Jack and his clone. “Yes,” he confirmed. “Loki will be punished for his actions.”

“Is it true that Colonel O’Neill is the key to solving your cloning problems?” Jonas asked, moving over with Daniel and Sam to join the others.

“No,” Thor answered.

“But I thought I was advanced,” Jack whined. Daniel, Sam, and Jonas shook their heads while Teal’c raised an eyebrow. Only the younger Jack seemed somewhat sympathetic.

Thor gave a nod of his head. “Indeed you are, O’Neill. But our scientists have already determined that while you are an important step forward in the evolutionary chain, the missing link we have been searching for still eludes us.”

Jack looked disappointed. “I’m sorry.”

“Again, I apologize for any inconvenience Loki may have caused,” Thor said with a gesture in Loki’s direction.

“Yeah, that’s what I’d call it,” the younger Jack said, hurt in both his tone and expression.

“Unfortunately, the eventual genetic breakdown of the clone is not my doing, but rather a result of Loki’s inept methods.”

“There was no need for the clones to survive,” Loki said matter-of-factly.

Jack looked around and saw the looks of horror develop on the faces of his teammates, especially on that of his clone. What really pulled at his heartstrings, however, was the fear behind the indignation that shaped the boy’s features. No matter how weird this was for him, he had to do something.

The silver-haired man sighed. “Look, Thor. Is there anything you can do for him?” He glanced at the teenager. “The whining’s starting to grate.” He fought back a grin at the flash of irritation he inspired.

Thor blinked in surprise. “You wish your clone to live?” he asked, amazed.

“You can’t just let me die!” the young clone protested.

“He’s just a kid,” Jack added, looking around again at all the intense, supportive expressions that surrounded him.

“Are you certain, O’Neill?” Thor asked.

Jack paused before answering, earning himself a few glares from his teammates and a smack on the arm from his younger version. “I’m thinking!” he cried, more of a knee-jerk reaction than anything. He met the black-eyed gaze of the Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet. “Yeah, I’m sure.”

Thor bowed. “Very well. I will attempt to repair his DNA. If successful, he should continue to mature at a normal human rate.”

Everyone reacted with relief, and Jack smiled. “Thanks,” he said simply.

“Um, Thor?” Sam asked hesitantly before anyone moved, glancing nervously at Daniel. “Is there any chance you could do another test for us?”

“What kind of test would you wish me to perform, Major Carter?” Thor asked.

Sam sighed as a look of realization came across Jack and Jonas’ faces. A moment later, the younger Jack also clued in, and Teal’c’s eyebrow rose. “Could you do a scan of Daniel?” she asked. “We’re relatively sure he’s the original that was forced to descend after breaking the rules of the Ascended and trying to face off against Anubis, but for everyone’s piece of mind, especially with everything we’ve gone through over the past two months, we’d like to have confirmation.”

Daniel stared at her wide-eyed, utter shock transforming his features. He licked his lips and swallowed, then cleared his throat. “You’ve been afraid I was a clone?” he asked.

Sam gave him a stricken look. “I’m so sorry, Daniel. It’s just that, well, after the NID lab and Danny…” She shrugged. “It was something we had to consider.”

“You know she’s right,” Jack said to Daniel. “With how everything worked out on Abydos and you breaking the rules of some pretty powerful beings, well…” He sighed.

“Not to mention that was one of the first things you guys thought of when I showed up,” the younger Jack added quickly. “And you can’t say you didn’t. I thought of it, and that’s the last thing I wanted to be true.”

“I know, I know,” Daniel said with a sigh. “I guess I can’t blame you for wondering. It does make sense.” His gaze dropped to the floor.

Sam reached out and squeezed his arm comfortingly. “I don’t think I said everything right, and I’m sorry for that, but I want you to know that we all have been pretty confident that you’re not a clone. This is just our chance to eliminate the last tiny shred of doubt.”

Jonas nodded. “Not to mention the doubts that General Hammond’s superiors have expressed,” he added.

Jack rolled his eyes. “Don’t get me started on that,” he griped.

“You will have to tell me about these experiences you have spoken of,” Thor said, glancing around at the people that surrounded him. “For now, let us begin to correct Loki’s mistakes.” He headed for the consoles.

“Sam, I’m okay,” Daniel told the woman who still held his arm. “I was just surprised, that’s all. Your logic makes perfect sense, and you’re right. This will eliminate any doubt as to who I really am.” He smiled at her. “No hard feelings, I promise.”

“Thanks, Daniel,” Sam said, returning the expression. “I was really afraid I was going to hurt you badly when I asked.”

The young clone leaned closer, invading their personal space. “Could we just get going with this and save the make up session for later?” he griped. “I want everyone alert and paying attention in case the little guy needs help.”

Daniel gave him a half-smile. “Nervous?”

The teenager straightened to his full height and blinked. “Who, me? Nah. This’ll be a piece of cake.” He turned and walked after Thor, the others following with varying expressions of amusement. The procedures began not long after.

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