“Is this Colonel Jack O’Neill?” the unfamiliar voice on the other end of the phone asked.
“Who’s asking?” Jack replied. He was exhausted and frantic with worry and really in no mood to talk to some cold caller about whether he needed a new cell phone plan or life insurance. He refocused his mind on the mystery caller as the man spoke again.
“This is Officer Miles Moroney at Colorado Springs PD. We have a child here-“
“Daniel! You found him? Thank god! Is he okay?” Jack’s sheer relief had him collapsing into the nearest chair.
“He’s more or less okay,” Moroney replied. “He’s got a bump on his head but he’s refusing to get checked over until he speaks to you. Keeps saying it’s a matter of national security and if he told us he’d have to shoot us… We probably could have forced him considering he’s only a little kid but we have to be careful about doing that kind of stuff these days, sir. You know how it is? PC and citizen’s rights and all that.”
Jack groaned inwardly. He did know how it was, especially when Daniel, his newly downsized best friend was involved. “Yeah, I know,” he said. “I’m on my way. I’m Daniel’s guardian. What do I need to bring with me?”
“Just your ID, sir,” Moroney said. “I’ll fill you in on what happened as soon as you get here.”
Jack pushed open the glass doors to the police station and walked up to the desk, just barely refraining from banging a hand down on the electric call bell when he saw the desk was unattended. Instead he waited a moment, took a deep, calming breath and then he slammed his hand down on it and kept it there till a door at the back of the room opened and a cop looked out.
“Sir? You wanna leave the bell in one piece. We usually suggest just one ring will do it,” the cop said, taking up position behind the desk and placing a protective hand over the bell.
“I’m Jack O’Neill. You called me about Daniel Jackson?” Jack couldn’t help leaning forward a little over the desk, adding a little body language to the sense of urgency he could hear in his voice.
“Oh right, if you’d just wait here a moment-“
The cop’s words were interrupted by the sound of running feet and a strident yell of “Jaaaack!”
Jack turned in time to bend enough to scoop his small archeologist into his arms.
“I’m glad you’re here, Jack,” Daniel said, twining both arms in a deathgrip around Jack’s neck and burrowing his head into Jack’s shoulder. “I missed you.”
“Didn’t miss me too much when you snuck out of the house, did you?” Jack couldn’t refrain from snarking even as he unwound Daniel’s arms enough to be able to push him back a little and check him over.
Daniel looked a little flushed and there was a lump the size of a marble on his forehead but apart from that, he looked pretty much unharmed.
“Sorry,” Daniel murmured penitently as Jack put him down on the floor. “Are you really mad at me?”
“Hell yeah,” Jack replied. “What the heck did you think you were doing, running off like that?” He stopped and turned back to the cop. “Where was he?” he asked. “How’d he get hurt?”
“You could just ask me,” Daniel interrupted.
“Him I trust,” Jack replied, jerking a finger at the cop. “You, right now, not so much.” He turned back to the cop again. “Want to fill me in?”
“There was a protest at the playground-“
“You just had to do it, didn’t you?” Jack snapped down at Daniel, who was giving his “I might be five but I can’t help being a hero” look. “We talked about this. I told you that if the city had a good reason for closing the playground, then we had to abide by their decision…” He stopped, took another deep calming breath. “Did you organize a protest?”
“Sort of,” Daniel replied. “Lots of people wanted to help. I just posted one tiny little mention of it on Facebook and next thing I knew people were PM-ing me and offering to make banners, write letters. Joe from the store even said he’d pay for a rentacrowd if not enough people turned up…” Daniel canted a quick glance up at Jack. “Sorry,” he said. “How was I supposed to know it’d be that big? Anyway, just goes to prove I wasn’t the only one who thought the city was making the wrong decision.”
Jack looked back at the cop, whose mouth now hung slightly ajar as Daniel made his case. He sighed. “Yes, he’s really five years old. No, he’s not a midget. He’s just bright for his age. He reads a lot, watches all those National Geographic specials on cable.” He nudged Daniel’s back with his knee. “Daniel, pipe down.” He crouched down and poked gently at the lump on Daniel’s forehead. “How’d this happen?” he asked.
Daniel flinched away a little then grabbed at Jack’s hand. “No poking,” he said. “Hey, everything was going fine. Nice peaceful protest. The cops were cool, everyone was cool… Well, until Joe decided to handcuff himself to the top of the slide with some cuffs he stole from Officer Moroney here.”
“What’s that got to do with your head?” Jack asked, almost-patiently.
“I was still attached to him by them,” Officer Moroney put in, blushing hotly.
“And…” Jack pointed at Daniel’s head again.
“I was kind of attached to Officer Moroney’s belt,” Daniel said. “Joe took off for the top of the slide and Officer Moroney really had no choice but to go with him. I forgot to let go until they hit the top step and then I kinda remembered and I fell all the way back down the ladder.”
Jack shook his head and tried to knuckle away the headache now hammering between his eyes. “Did you get knocked out at all?”
“Nope,” Daniel replied brightly. “It didn’t even hurt much at all. Well, not till you poked at it just now,” he added, glowering.
“Do you need to be checked out at the hospital?” Jack asked, knowing already what the answer would be.
Daniel shook his head firmly, not even wincing at the motion.
“He finally agreed to let our police surgeon to check him out and the doc said he’s fine, sir,” Moroney offered.
“Well, I suppose that’s good news at least.” Jack pulled his ID from his pocket and showed it to the cop. “Okay if I take him home now? He’s going to be grounded till he’s at least twenty one and I’d like to start in on that as soon as possible. I’m looking forward to the break.”
“No problem, sir.” Moroney leaned over the counter and fixed Daniel with a stern look. “You stay out of trouble now, Daniel, okay?”
Moroney reached a hand over and held it down for a low five. “Good job on the protest,” he said with a wink. “My kids thank you for it.”
“Hey, don’t encourage him,” Jack protested, ushering Daniel towards the door, actually wondering if Moroney might lend him his handcuffs to borrow till this small resized Daniel actually did reach twenty one.
“You haven’t heard the best part, Jack,” Daniel crowed, skipping across to the truck. “We won! The city’s going to fix the playground up instead of tearing it down.” He grinned over his shoulder at Jack. “That’s worth being grounded for.”
Jack bent as he reached him and scooped him up for a hug. “Yeah, I guess it is. But, hey, the next time you’re planning something like this, let me in on it, okay? I’d rather be there with you, carrying a placard than worrying about you at home.”
“You got it, Jack,” Daniel said, hugging him back ferociously. “As a matter of fact, you know that big old oak tree on Sevenoaks Road, the last one of the seven left. They’re planning on cutting it mmmpff-“ He glared over the hand Jack had clamped over his mouth.
“You’re grounded for another 16 years yet,” Jack said. “I’ll call Teal’c. Get him to cover it for us.”