Time And Again
Dr. Daniel Jackson had been intrigued by the exploration of new planets since he'd joined the Stargate program and that enthusiasm had barely dimmed, apart from a short-lived hesitation when his wife, Sha'ré had been killed. At the time he'd told the manifestation of Sha'ré who'd appeared to him that he had no need to travel through the Gate anymore because he'd found her now. But once the grief of her death had receded to manageable levels, once he realized that she had been right and that Teal'c had done the right thing, he realized that it hadn't always been just about finding Sha'ré. That at the very beginning, before he even knew she existed, it had been this excitement at setting foot on soil that no human had ever trod before, the potential of exploring new cultures, or lost ones, that had kept him in the Stargate program.
That and the friendship of the team who currently sauntered along behind him. He turned his head and stopped to wait for them to catch up, tapping his hand impatiently on the top of his thigh.
"What's the rush?" Jack O'Neill asked as he joined him at the crest of the hill they'd just climbed. Jack bent and massaged his knees with his hands then stretched.
"I told you, if we don't get to the ruins before sundown-"
"You won't be able to investigate properly because night falls very suddenly and deeply on this planet." Jack grinned at Daniel's open-mouthed look of surprise. "I did listen in the briefing, Daniel."
"We've got at least six and a half hours till sundown," Sam Carter said as she sat down on the grass at Daniel's feet and pulled her canteen from her equipment belt, taking a long drink.
"And according to your calculations, only one half hour's walk till we reach the ruins," Teal'c added. "I am pleased to see your opinion about there being no other life here has been borne out."
"Well, I only said nothing was showing up on the MALP or UAV scans," Daniel replied.
"The scans also showed a high concentration of a lead-type element in these hills," Sam added. "That could be shielding any life signs."
"Then we shall have to hope that any life we do encounter is not malevolent," Teal'c replied, glancing around, his staff weapon still held ready in his hand.
"Yeah, chance'd be a fine thing," Jack grunted. "It's Murphy's Law. If it's gonna go wrong, it's gonna go wrong when we're here. Come on, let's keep moving. Daniel can do his etchings, Carter can check for doohickeys and we all get home in time for dinner."
They set a steady pace for the next half hour, made easier by the fact that they had come down the side of the hill and were now on flat ground.
Twenty-five minutes or so later, Daniel stopped and pointed to some crumbling ruins in the near distance. "That's what the UAV filmed," he said excitedly. "Even from here they look vaguely Greek in architecture." He headed off at a run towards them.
"Daniel, wait a minute," Jack yelled then muttering sourly under his breath about archeologists who didn't listen, he took off after him with Carter and Teal'c bringing up the rear.
Daniel was already inside one of the buildings, wandering around slowly, when Jack caught up to him.
Jack looked around then stepped cautiously inside. "Don't touch anything!" he warned as Daniel reached out a hand to a drawing etched into the building's wall.
"It looks like something a kid would do," Daniel murmured.
Jack looked around as Carter and Teal'c entered, pleased to see Carter already had a scanner out. "Anything showing up?" he asked.
"There's a strange energy signature coming from over there," she said, indicating an alcove next to the crumbling doorway. She moved towards it slowly then stopped a foot or so away and frowned at the display. "It's weird. It's very strong but it's not anything I recognize."
"Radioactive?" Jack asked as Daniel moved across to stand next to Carter.
"Don't think so," she said. "I think there's some sort of device in there." She pointed at the alcove again and Jack walked over to stand next to her, peering into the shadowy alcove as best he could. He thought he could see some lights blinking faintly within and moved forward, weapon at the ready, telling Teal'c to stay back and keep an eye out for unfriendlies.
Carter moved with him, and in a few steps, they stood inside the alcove.
There was another recess within the alcove, and inside it, Jack could now see some sort of computer-like device. A row of blinking lights sat along the edge of the console, a larger light illuminating the alcove itself.
"Wow!" Daniel said, moving past Jack and over to the alcove. "Not what I expected to find in a Greek ruin."
"Do you think it's Goa'uld?" Jack asked, relieved when Daniel shook his head.
"The wording's definitely Greek formation. Give me a minute and I'll try and translate it." Daniel peered closely at the console then leaned forward. "This is interesting. It says something about being healed by one's faith in God. I don't think it means the same God we do." He lifted a hand and ran it along the wording.
"Daniel, don't touch!" Jack said sharply.
"It's okay. I don't think I activated-" A loud buzzing cut off the rest of Daniel's words and the light above the alcove sputtered then grew to glaring intensity.
Jack turned to shield his eyes, aware of Carter doing the same. The next thing he noticed was the almost palpable silence as the buzzing stopped and he turned back to the alcove, his heart in his throat. "Oh crap!" he muttered.
There in front of him stood a small child, a boy of around 4 or 5, his hair light brown and cut short, spiked a little on top. Large, frightened blue eyes regarded him seriously through oversized glasses, which fell off the small nose even as Jack watched. The boy bent and scrabbled for them amongst the too large clothing that pooled around his feet, the boy now practically naked though swaddled in a t-shirt that looked more like a dress and reached almost to his feet.
Jack stepped forward then backed up as the boy came up with not the fallen glasses but Daniel's 9 mil, the gun looking heavy and sinister in the child's tiny, shaking hand. The barrel wobbled and wavered, and Jack bit back a curse as the kid's other hand came up and snicked off the safety.
"Is that Daniel?" Carter whispered from next to him and Jack shook his head.
"I don't know but I can't think who else would be suddenly standing there, wearing Daniel's clothes and holding his gun."
He moved again towards the child, hoping against hope that the part of Daniel that remembered enough to operate the gun might recognize him. "Daniel? It's me, Jack. How about you put the gun down, buddy?"
The boy sniffled and the gun shook in his hand then he bent forward and laid the gun at his feet. "Jack?" he sobbed. "What happened to me?"
Jack was in front of him in a step, bending down to lift the child into his arms and holding him close, rocking him back and forth in a comforting rhythm. "Hey, it's okay, Daniel. We'll figure it out. Just hang in there, okay?"
"How did he know to do that?" Carter asked, picking up the gun and clicking off the safety. "If he's a kid, how did he know to take the safety off before he fired."
Jack shrugged. "I don't really care. I'm just glad he recognized me before he fired the damn thing. Let's head back to the Gate."
"Teal'c?" Jack turned to see Teal'c surrounded by a dozen or so children, each dressed in oversized, ragged clothing. They looked dirty and thin as if they'd neither had a bath or a decent meal in weeks.
The oldest looking child, a boy of about 12, stepped forward and reached a grubby hand up to touch Daniel, who whimpered and clung even more tightly to Jack's neck.
"Hey, no touching!" Jack warned. "Who are you? Do you know anything about what happened to our friend here?"
The boy dropped his hand back to his side and gave a small bow of his head. "I am Malik," he said gravely. "I am the elder of my people, their leader. Your friend has become one of the reborn. He has been blessed by the God, Aeon."
"That is another name for Chronos," Teal'c interrupted. He moved up to stand in front of Malik. "Chronos is dead," he said.
"Gods cannot die."
"Oh believe me, ones like Chronos can," Jack said. "Daniel, I want you to go sit over there with Carter while we try to sort this out, okay?"
Daniel nodded, tears still tracking slowly down his cheeks. He allowed Carter to take him from Jack's arms and Jack waited till they were seated a few meters away on the ground, Daniel on Carter's lap, before going on.
"So, what's the story?" Jack asked. "Why did you say he's one of the reborn? Is that what you are? Did you use this machine?"
"Aeon made us use it," Malik said. "We were proud to be the chosen ones. He told us he had to go away for a short time but when he returned, he would examine the results of this great experiment and he would reward us. We have been waiting a long time for his return."
"What about the other adults who were not reborn?" Teal'c asked. "Where are they now?"
"They died," Malik said sadly. "There was a plague Aeon visited upon the people. Then he used the machine to see if it would cure some of us. We were the chosen ones." He indicated the ragtag followers at his back.
"Damn it! Okay, that's it, let's head home. We're not hanging around anywhere there might still be a plague threat." Jack turned to Carter. "Let's go. Teal'c, you carry Daniel, Carter, you're on point."
"Should we not provide some aid for these children?" Teal'c asked.
"We'll send the Doc back with the right gear and some provisions as soon as we get back but for now, we're getting the hell out of Dodge."
Teal'c quirked an eyebrow. "This is not Dodge, O'Neill, this is in fact P59C76."
"Our planet is called Medea," Malik said. "Is it true then? You will send food for us. Our young ones are very hungry."
"We'll send food, clothes, medicine, whatever we can," Jack said. He patted the boy's shoulder gingerly. "Look, I'd take you back with us if we could but we can't risk spreading whatever this plague is back on our planet."
"We are cured by the rebirth," Malik said. "We are no danger to your people."
"We'll let the doctor decide that," Jack replied. "We'll get help here as soon as we can, so you just hang in there, all right?"
Malik nodded and bowed his head again. "Very well. We will wait in the temple till your people come."
"Attaboy." Jack motioned Carter ahead and waited till she'd handed Daniel over to Teal'c before taking up a position directly behind them. "Okay, people, let's book."
They were within sight of the Stargate when Jack saw Teal'c stop and place Daniel on the ground then crouch in front of him. He jogged up to them. Daniel was crying again, heartbroken sobs that made his small chest heave.
"What is wrong, Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c asked, one large hand resting on Daniel's shoulder.
"I-I'm scared," Daniel said, his voice hoarse with tears.
"Of what?" Teal'c asked and Daniel turned and pointed at the Gate.
"Ah, you've been through that plenty of times, Daniel. Nothing to it. Just like a carnival ride,' Jack said.
Daniel shook his head and swiped a hand across his teary eyes and then his runny nose. "I'm scared they'll laugh at me when we get back, they'll say I'm stupid to get turned into a kid…"
"They will say no such thing," Teal'c reassured him gently, "they are your friends, Daniel, as are we." He stood up and lifted Daniel onto his shoulders. "My son, Rya'c, used to like to ride on my shoulders like this," he added. Perhaps we shall go through the Stargate like this."
"Can we?" Daniel gasped and grabbed at Teal'c's bald head as the big Jaffa trotted off towards the Gate.
"I'm not sure who the bigger kid is," Carter said with an indulgent smile as she walked back to join Jack. "My dad used to carry me around like that too."
"Uh uh!" Jack waved a finger at her. "No way am I taking you back through the Gate like that, Carter. The General's gonna have a seizure when he's sees Teal'c and Daniel arrive. Don't want to be giving him apoplexy."
"No, sir. Of course not, sir." Carter grinned at him and followed Teal'c, leaving Jack to bring up the rear.
"Carter, radio ahead, let them know we need quarantine procedures when we step through," Jack called after her.
"Sir. We haven't got clearance to go through. The general wants Dr. Fraiser and her team to check us out here to make sure we're not contagious before we head back."
"Damn," Jack muttered, though he knew it was a necessary procedure. He should have realized it himself but he'd been so concerned with getting Daniel back home and trying to find out if there was a way to undo the damage done, he hadn't given it any real thought. "Well, tell them to hurry then. I don't want to hang around here with Daniel any longer than we need to."
"Yes, sir. Dr. Fraiser said twenty minutes tops," Carter replied.
"We're not going home?" Daniel said from atop Teal'c's shoulders. He sounded worried, reaching out with small hands to Jack, who lifted him down and held him close.
"Soon. The doc just needs to check us out first, make sure we don't have any bugs that could harm our friends, that's all," Jack said reassuringly.
"Okay. I don't want to make people sick," Daniel replied, clinging tightly to Jack's tac vest, and Jack wondered again at how young he sounded. There was a dichotomy here. Daniel's child-like speech and emotions seemed at odds with him knowing how to snick off the safety of the gun he'd pointed at Jack.
Deciding it would have to wait to be investigated till they got back, Jack sat on the ground and perched Daniel on one knee while they waited. He busied himself rolling up the legs of Daniel's now much too big pants and tying the bottom of the over-large t-shirt around the top of the pants, knotting it in an effort to keep them from falling down. "Do you remember being grown up?" he asked as he worked.
Daniel nodded hesitantly. "It's mixed up," he said. "I remember but it's like it was someone else, not me." Tears overflowed his eyes and Jack rubbed his back soothingly.
"It's all right," he murmured. "We'll work it out, okay?"
"Mmm," Daniel agreed through his tears as he laid his face against Jack's chest. "I'm sorry for crying so much," he whispered shakily.
"That's okay," Jack said, snuggling even closer. Somewhere inside this small, frightened little boy was his best friend and Jack wasn't about to turn his back on him now.
By the time the gate engaged forty or so minutes later, Daniel had fallen asleep, his body a limp weight against Jack's chest, but he startled awake as the loud kawoosh of the event horizon sounded, sitting up and looking around with wide, frightened eyes.
"It's okay," Jack said, patting his back, "it's just the doc coming to check us out so we can go home."
Daniel nodded jerkily but he shrank back against Jack as four figures emerged from the gate, looking indefinably alien in their orange Hazmat gear.
"It's okay," Jack said again, standing up and putting Daniel astride his hip. "You've seen people wearing these suits before. You even wore one a couple of times, remember?"
Daniel nodded. "I know. I'm sorry for being such a wuss."
"You're not a wuss, Daniel," Jack replied firmly, moving forward to meet the medical team. "You're one of the bravest people I know. Hell, I'd be scared if this had happened to me."
"Really. Now let's go talk to the nice doctor and ask her when we can go home."
"Colonel," Dr. Fraiser said as he reached her. She looked up at the small boy held in his arms and smiled brightly through the face plate of her helmet. "Hello, Dr. Jackson, I'm glad to see you look relatively unharmed."
"Just smaller," Daniel piped up, a small smile finally lighting his face. "Hi, Janet."
"You remember me?" Fraiser asked, motioning at Jack to set Daniel on the ground.
"Kind of," Daniel said. He stood next to Jack but wrapped his fingers tightly in the fabric of Jack's pants as if to keep him at his side. "Jack told me who you are but I remember some things too."
"Well, that's good." Janet knelt down and began to unpack her medical kit. "I'd hate to think you'd forgotten me so completely. We've spent a lot of time together, you and I."
"We have?" Daniel eyed the medical kit with seeming trepidation and Jack crouched next to him and pulled him over to lean against his knees.
"Yep, you and I are old friends. You've helped me get through some pretty tough times," Janet said.
"And you've helped me," Daniel replied.
"Yes, she has." Jack grimaced as Janet pulled out a set of syringes and put them down on the towel she'd taken from a sterile pack. "So, do you think you can be the tough guy I know you are and let the doc here take a look at you?"
"At you too, Colonel," Janet said. "In fact," she winked at Daniel, "I think we should see how tough your friend, Jack, is and get him to go first."
"Me?" Jack pretended to look horrified, smiling as Daniel giggled and nodded emphatically. "You want me to go first?"
"Yeah!" Daniel crowed.
"Well, okay, I guess, but you have to promise you'll let the doc check you out too, right after. And…" Jack paused for effect, "you have to sit right next to me and hold my hand and tell me how tough I'm being, all right?"
"Okay." Daniel plomped down to sit on his butt next to Jack and let go of his pants leg to take hold of Jack's hand instead. "Go ahead, Janet."
Daniel watched intently as Janet drew samples of Jack's blood for testing then examined him while Jack pretended it didn't hurt at all.
"You were really brave, Jack," Daniel said when Janet was finished. "Is Jack okay?" he asked, looking up at Janet.
"He seems to be fine." Janet held up the vials of blood. "I need to get this tested to be sure but I think he's healthy as can be."
"Good. I thought maybe I'd made everyone get sick," Daniel said worriedly.
"Why would you think that?" Janet asked.
"I had a cold before we came here, and on that machine that changed me, it said something about healing people who had faith in their god," Daniel replied solemnly. "I don't have my cold anymore. My throat was sore before but now it's not."
Jack looked at Janet. "He did say the machine said something about healing people and the kids we spoke to said Ian or something gave them a plague then cured a bunch of them with the machine."
"Aeon," Daniel corrected, sounding so much like his adult self that it brought a lump to Jack's throat.
"Let me check Daniel over first and then you can fill me in a little more, " Janet said, picking up a tourniquet and wrapping it around Daniel's small bicep. "Just squeeze your hand in a fist for me a few times, sweetie." She blushed. "Sorry, I know you're not really a child. I call Cassie that-"
"I like it," Daniel said shyly. "Can you just take my blood now so it's over with?" he asked, turning anxious eyes on Jack. "Can I sit on your lap?"
"Sure. That's what laps are for, right?" Jack made a nest with his knees by sitting cross-legged then pulled Daniel over to sit against him, his arms wrapped firmly around Daniel's waist. "Hang in there, tough guy," he whispered against Daniel's hair. "Nothing to it."
Daniel winced and jumped when Janet stuck the needle in his arm but he stayed mostly still then let out a whooshing sigh when Janet said she was done. "Can we go home now?" he asked.
"I'm just going to send these samples back to the lab and tell them to rush the results through," Janet said, touching his face gently. "I promise we'll get you home as soon as possible."
"I want to go now," Daniel said, turning in Jack's arms and burying his face against Jack's chest. "I don't want to be here anymore."
"Sssh." Jack soothed him, rocking him back and forth. He looked at Janet. "Make it quick, Doc."
"I will." Janet stood and handed the vials to a nurse standing next to them. "Take these back and tell the lab to get the results back to me ASAP. Tell them to run the standard tests plus run them through for any alien bug we've come across before that we have catalogued."
The man nodded and headed back up the dais where he dialled the gate, sent the IDC through then stepped through the wormhole when it engaged.
"What else can you tell me about these kids you met?" Janet asked.
Jack filled her in quickly.
"Okay, I'm going to go check them out. It sounds to me like they're saying they're cured of whatever this plague was. If that's true then I can't see any reason why you can't go back to the SGC. I'll send you and Daniel back first if the tests come back clear then do Teal'c's and Sam's bloodwork and exams after I've spoken to the kids." Janet stood and stretched then called her other team member over.
"T! Go with the doc," Jack called across to Teal'c, who nodded then led the way back towards the ruins.
Daniel was dozing again, Jack realized. He smiled up at Carter when she brought a space blanket over and spread it across the child's body.
"How's he doing?" she asked, sitting down next to him.
Jack shrugged. "He's scared and confused." He ran a hand over Daniel's shaggy hair. "We'll take care of him. He'll be fine as soon as we can get him home."
It took several hours more before Janet returned. In the meantime, Jack had managed to convince Daniel to eat half of an MRE and drink some water. The boy was bored now though and he kept getting up and wandering up to the dais of the Gate or over to the DHD device, almost tripping at times on the bottoms of his pants, running his fingers over the symbols he could just barely reach by standing on tiptoe.
Jack followed him closely, unwilling to let Daniel too far out of his reach. "What's wrong?" he asked as Daniel stood on first one leg then the other, casting a stricken gaze up at him.
"I need to pee," Daniel said softly, looking across to where Sam stood watching them from under the shade of a large tree. The boy' face flushed crimson and Jack forced back a smile.
"Okay, let's find a spot," Jack said, holding out his hand for Daniel to take hold of then leading him over to where a few scrubby bushes abutted the steps leading up to the Gate.
"You have to turn around," Daniel whispered.
"Oh. Right. Sorry." Jack turned his back, not moving till Daniel tugged on the back of his jacket. "You done?" he asked, turning back around.
"I can't make them stay up again," Daniel said, pointing at his pants.
"Okay, let's see if I can fix them." Jack got down on one knee and noticed Daniel's boxers had fallen around his knees under his pants. "Why don't we just take the underwear off for now and then I can get the rest sorted again?" he suggested. "You want me to turn around again while you take them off and get your pants back on?"
Daniel nodded, his cheeks now crimson with embarrassment.
"It's nothing to be embarrassed about, Daniel," Jack said soothingly. "We're both guys."
Daniel flashed a small grin at that but didn't say anything will Jack had turned his back. "Thanks for helping me," he said.
"Nada," Jack replied.
A few minutes later, the small hand tugged on his jacket again, and five minutes later, they had Daniel's clothing more or less in place and were walking back to join Carter under the tree.
"They're coming back," Sam said as they reached her, pointing into the distance where five figures trudged toward them.
Daniel went to run toward them but Jack snagged his arm and lifted him astride his hip. "Stay here," he warned. "They'll get here soon enough."
Daniel squirmed and wiggled to get down but then sighed and laid his head against Jack's shoulder. "Now can we go home?" he asked.
"I hope so." Jack looked worriedly up at the darkening sky. Night was about to fall and he'd hoped to be back on Earth before that happened.
"It's getting dark," Daniel said, echoing his thoughts. "I don't think I like the dark."
"I'll be with you, so will Sam and Teal'c. You'll be fine. Doc," he called as soon as Fraiser was within earshot. "What's the verdict?"
"The kids appear to be healthy, undernourished maybe but I couldn't find any signs of illness in any of them. I've got some blood samples to take back. From what the boy, Malik, told me the plague virus was injected into them so I'm guessing it wasn't airborne or communicable by touch. You're probably all clear. I think we should get Daniel back to the SGC where I can start running tests to find out how he ended up like this," Fraiser said.
"I'd like to come back and check out the device," Sam put in quickly.
"If the General agrees, you can bring a team back in a day or two," Jack agreed. "Dial it up, Major." He patted Daniel's back. "Let's go home, buddy."
"Where have you been?" Daniel asked as Jack poked his head around the curtain of the cubicle he was ensconced in. There was a frown marring the little boy's features, the lower lip pulled down in a pout worthy of ay five year old.
"I told you I had to go speak to General Hammond," Jack said, walking in the rest of the way and parking himself on the edge of Daniel's bed. "What's wrong?"
"Janet said I have to stay here for a while till they can find someone to take care of me," Daniel said. "I just want to go home. I don't want someone to take care of me. I want to take care of myself like I always have." The pouting lower lip trembled and Daniel raised a fist and dashed it across his eyes.
"That's not going to happen till Carter finds a way to reverse what happened to you," Jack replied softly. "It just wouldn't work, Daniel."
"Why not? I'm only a kid on the outside," Daniel said stubbornly.
"That's not true. Back on the planet, there were times when you acted like a little boy. You remember that, right?" Jack put his arm around Daniel and pulled him in close for a hug.
"I know," Daniel whispered, tilting his head back to look up into Jack's face. "But sometimes I remember being an adult too and I think the way I used to before…"
"And sometimes you don't," Jack reminded him. "When all this happened, you remembered enough about being grown up that you knew how to release the safety on the gun but a few minutes later you were as scared as any little kid who'd been through a frightening experience. Besides," he added, "how would it look to the neighbors in your building to see a five year old living alone? Old Mrs. Brown next door would be calling Child Services before you could even get your bags unpacked."
"I guess… Can I still be on the team? Come to work here?"
Jack shook his head. "Not for now, not till we know how long this is going to last for and what effect it's going to have. Daniel, we don't know how much of your adult memories you'll regain or keep if there's no way to reverse this."
"I don't want to be a kid again. I don't want to have to grow up in a foster home again." Daniel began to sob. "What if they're like the others?"
"What others?" Jack lifted Daniel onto his lap and held him tightly. "What others?" he asked again though he had a sinking feeling he knew what the answer would be.
"Some of the people I lived with after my mom and dad died weren't nice to me," Daniel got out between sobs, tears now overflowing his eyes. "I don't want to be a foster kid again. I just want to be big again and live in my place and be on the team and work with you."
"I know." Jack rocked him back and forth, mulling over solutions. "Would you live with me?" he asked after a few minutes, knowing it was both the hardest and yet the easiest decision he'd ever made. "You'd have to stay with Janet or someone like that if I had to go off world," he warned as Daniel tipped his head and looked up at him, relief apparent in his tear-filled eyes.
"Okay." Daniel nodded readily.
"And you'd have to do what I told you to without arguing all the time," Jack added, grinning as Daniel rolled his eyes but then nodded again. "When I'm working here on the base, you could come with me, maybe go to your own office and do some work if the doc thinks that'd be all right," Jack said.
Daniel pushed himself down from Jack's lap and walked across to the curtain, pulling it aside then looked back at Jack appealingly. "Can we go ask Janet now?"
Jack shook his head then stood up and walked over to stand next to Daniel. "First we need to see what Carter says when she gets back from the planet. Maybe she found a way to reverse this." He looked at his watch then reached down and picked Daniel up, carrying him back to the bed and sitting him on it. "Get some rest. Carter's due back any minute. I'll talk to the General and the doc and then I'll come tell you what's going on."
Daniel sighed but he leaned back against the pillows obediently and took the Archeology Today magazine Jack handed him from the bedside table. "You'll come back soon?" he asked as Jack left.
"ASAP," Jack replied, giving him a wink and wave as he left.
"I'm sorry, sir," Carter said as she entered the briefing room, Teal'c following closely behind her.
"You couldn't get it to work?" Jack asked. He sat down in the chair across from her and nodded for her to continue.
"We got it to activate but nothing happened," Carter said. "I guess because I wasn't sick, there was no discernible change. I couldn't even really see how the device worked. I did think that it obviously scans the person's blood for signs of whatever this plague was that Aeon infected the people with and then somehow reverses the aging process, perhaps taking their bodies back to a stage before they were infected." She rubbed a hand over her eyes.
"But Daniel said he only had a cold," Jack said. "Why did the device downsize him then?"
"On Chulak, before we became the chosen of the Gods, it is said many of our people died in such a plague," Teal'c said. "Perhaps the plague Aeon subjected these people to was simply that, a cold-"
"Of course," Carter interjected, leaning forward in her seat. "If the people on Medea had never been subjected to the common cold, they'd have no immunity to it so they could very well die from it."
"So, no way to turn Daniel back?" Jack asked, though he knew the answer even before Carter replied.
"Without being sure of how the device reverses the aging process, I think it would be dangerous to try, sir," Carter said apologetically. "There's as much chance of the device making him even younger or aging him beyond his correct age as there is of it returning him to normal."
"Well, we won't take the risk then," Hammond said. "We do need to find a foster family for him-"
"Yeah, about that, sir," Jack interrupted. "Daniel's pretty adamant about not going to a foster home-"
"I don't see there's much choice in the matter, Colonel," Hammond replied though his eyes were filled with sympathy.
"Well, actually, I kinda told him he could live with me." Jack raised a hand as the General went to speak. "I told him he could come into work with me when I was here on base but that if I went off world, he'd have to stay with the doc or someone else we trusted till I got back."
"And he was okay with that?" Hammond asked, smiling as if he already knew the answer.
"Yep, he seemed to be." Jack stood. "If it's all right with you, sir, I'd like to get back down to the infirmary, fill him in, let him know he doesn't need to worry anymore."
"Dismissed, Colonel. Tell Daniel I'll be down to see him before you take him home."
"I'll do that, sir. Thank you." Jack nodded to Carter and Teal'c and took off out the door at a run.
When he got to the infirmary, he found Janet Fraiser sitting with Daniel, the two of them giggling over some story Daniel was reading from the Archeology magazine Jack had left with him. "What's so funny?" Jack asked, sitting in the chair next to Daniel's bed.
"Daniel was just trying to teach me some Ancient Greek," Janet replied with a grin. She reached and ruffled Daniel's hair. "I think I'll leave the linguistics to you, Dr. Jackson." She looked over at Jack. "We were rather surprised to find out just how much of his knowledge Daniel's retained."
"I can still read all my languages, Jack," Daniel said excitedly.
"That's pretty cool," Jack agreed. "Most kids your age can barely read at all. So," he paused then went on quickly, "I have good news and bad news. The bad news is Carter doesn't think there's a safe way to use the device on Medea to try to reverse what it did to you."
Daniel's face fell and he tossed the magazine aside. "So I have to go live with strangers," he said sullenly.
"Oh, I don't think I'm that strange," Jack said, watching as realization seeped across Daniel's face and a smile broke out.
"I can go home with you?" Daniel asked.
"As soon as the Doc says you can," Jack replied, looking inquiringly at Fraiser.
"No time like the present, she said. "I have actual sick people to look after." She leaned forward and kissed Daniel's cheek, smiling as he blushed. "You be good, Dr. Jackson, you hear me?"
"I will." Daniel climbed off the bed and over to Jack. "Let's go before she changes her mind and wants me to stay and teach her some more Greek," he said, tugging on Jack's hand.
"You got it." Jack stood up and scooped Daniel onto his shoulders. "Home it is."