The darkness surrounded him; broken only by the soft glow of the fire Jack always let burn down. Daniel yawned widely, and wriggling into his chair snuggled into the patch work rug with contentment.
There was something warm and comforting about sitting alone in the quiet darkness. No chores to be done, no grown ups to tell him to take his feet of the sofa, eat your greens, or remind him not to be so darn cheeky. Just him, the night, and his own thoughts.
There was nothing in the calming darkness except time and peace, and tonight, Danny decided he wanted that. Uncle Jack was upstairs asleep, but as long as he was near by, Daniel felt safe, even though the pesky nightmare had him hiding under his blankets.
With a sigh, Daniel shivered, and try as he might, he couldn't remember what had driven him to tip toe down the stairs at three in the morning. Shifting and drawing his knees under his chin, his brow wrinkled in concentration as he absently plucked at the colored wool in his rug. He knew Jack wouldn't be happy with his nocturnal wanderings, but that couldn't be helped, the forgotten nightmare had shaken him awake, and sleep eluded him. Normally when his dreams woke him, he'd simply roll onto his side and force his mind to think of other things until he drifted back to sleep, but this one jolted him so violently, he couldn't find the peace he needed.
Sometimes when the nightmares came, he'd call out, and finding himself swept into strong arms, would whisper what had frightened him. Other times he'd slip into Jack's bed begging to be allowed to stay knowing he'd never be turned away. Tonight was different; tonight he wanted to sit quietly and try to remember what frightened him. Tonight he'd grabbed his quilt and wrapping it around his shoulders, tip toed past Jack's bedroom, and into the den. With a smile, he'd climbed into the warmth and comfort of Jack's leather recliner, and blinked at the shadows dancing on the wall. With a look over his shoulder he saw his adventure had passed undetected, but he figured not for long.
Daniel wondered if it was Jack's soldier training or some forgotten paternal instincts, but he always seemed to know exactly when the nightmares came. But for once his cries had gone un-noticed; for once Jack hadn't been there to chase away monsters that dominated his dreams. Danny cried softly, his eyes searching the night, willing Jack to wake, but still he hadn't come. The last mission had been tough, and feeling battered in body and mind, the colonel's tired body betrayed him, and he slept deeply. Running his sleeve under his nose while sniffing, Daniel knew he needed to be a big boy; Jack was too tired to chase away his monsters. Armed with various toys clutched to his chest, he slipped downstairs to find comfort in the welcoming arms of the battered leather chair. With a sigh of relief, Danny moved towards the old recliner, its reassurance and familiarity almost the same as Jack's soft words.
Snuggling into the cushions, Danny's gaze fell upon the lamp. He giggled as he imagined the shadows it cast to be dragons and knights, and imagined the battle they'd fight for victory. He chuckled to himself as he imagined what his family would say if they could read his thoughts. "Probably think I'm nuts," he whispered, thrilled to be the centre of his own imagination. Jack would grin and play along. Sam would shrug and tease him gently. Teal'c would be bewildered, and ask why dragons could hope to best the tin soldiers. He rehearsed his explanation of dastardly dragons and brave knights to Teal'c, laughing out loud and quickly throwing his hand over his mouth. This was an adventure he scolded himself, and with another glance over his shoulder, wriggled further into the chair.
Little boys and their games have a habit of taking over, and eventually his giggles became louder and louder finally waking Jack from his own dreams. Padding silently into the den, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he watched silently as Danny made his hand puppets battle come alive. "Take that you mean dragon!"
Jack sighed. "You sure can pick your times, kiddo," he drawled, and reaching across turned on the light. "Want to tell me what you are doing awake and playing games at this hour?" The tired sounding voice caused Daniel to wince, and with a shrug, he lifted his arms for a cuddle.
"Couldn't sleep, Uncle Jack, the monsters woke me up!" Yawning and resting his head against Jack's shoulder, he added dreamily, "The dragons ated 'em up though!" Daniel closed his eyes and tried to remember a time when Jack didn't make him feel safe, and deciding there wasn't one, whispered, "You were asleep though."
The clock on the mantle piece gave a soft chime letting the room know it was 3am.
"Should have woken me if you needed something, Daniel," Jack scolded softly. "I wouldn't have minded."
Shaking his head and patting the side of Jack's face, Daniel closed his eyes. "This was better."
A look of confusion crossed Jack's tired face. "Let's go back upstairs, there still a few hours left before we need to get up." His only answer was a gentle snore.
Dawn came with gentle colors of pink and yellow peeking through the curtains, and with a smile Jack hugged the sleeping child in his arms.
Daniel Jackson's transition from man to boy had been very hard, but every day brought new hope, and they could ask for no more. As his eyes drifted towards the new day outside, Jack turned and slowly climbed the stairs, all aches and hurts put aside.
"Don't suppose theses dragons and monsters of yours could fight their battles in the afternoon? Looking down his nose at the peaceful little boy snuggled into his arms, Jack snorted gently, "No? Okay, what was I thinking?"