A Goodbye to Dreams Missing Sceneby babs and devra
"Cold," Daniel mumbled, hunkering further down in the bed, tugging an unresisting Lumpy closer.
"I'm on it, big guy." Jack eased himself off the bed and walked to the closet, grabbing the extra blanket from the top shelf. He spread it over Daniel's already blanket-covered body, adjusting the less than soft covering so that only Lumpy's head and the top of its owner's were visible. Jack balanced himself on the bed and leaned over to plant a soft kiss to Daniel's head, and for good measure, gave Lumpy a kiss as well, far from embarrassed by his show of emotions to either the man or the stuffed camel.
A warmer than normal hand grabbed a handful of tee shirt before Jack was able to stand.
"Sssssh, I'm sorry I woke you," Jack apologized, sitting back down on the bed. "Go back to sleep."
"We're really here?" Daniel whispered, his sleepy gaze studying Jack expectantly.
"Really here. Just like I promised."
"Yup, just like you promised." Daniel pulled Lumpy down, so the whole camel disappeared under the mound of blankets, and Daniel's arm, with Jack's watch on his wrist, appeared in its stead. "What time are we leaving? Can you show me?"
"I have a better idea, what if I set the watch to be like an alarm clock, like we have at home, so it'll ring when it's time to get up and get ready."
"I like that idea." Daniel waved his arm towards Jack, the older man capturing the undulating arm with a chuckle.
"Hold still." Jack squinted at the watch, mentally calculating the wake up time. "Six thirty," he said. "There you go." Jack showed the face of the watch to Daniel. "When the big hand is here and the little hand is here, then we can get up and wake up everyone else."
Daniel giggled. "Even Cassie? Cassie hates to wake up early."
"So does Doc Janet." Jack pressed his pointer finger to his lips. "But don't tell anyone."
"I promise." Daniel yawned and Jack didn't miss the shiver even under the layers of blankets.
"See you bright and early," Jack promised Daniel.
Jack adjusted the temperature of the room's air conditioner and his hand was still on the control knob when Fraiser gave a "knock, knock" to the opened door between their adjoining rooms.
"It's the fever and not the temperature of the room, Colonel."
Fraiser walked over to the bed and placed the back of her hand against Daniel's forehead. Jack held his breath, praying that the doc's touch wouldn't awaken him. "He's still warm. Did you give him Tylenol?"
"Yes," he answered with the twinge of sixteen year old annoyance that Fraiser knew so well.
"If he has a fever, I certainly can't condone a trip to the park tomorrow."
"I understand, doc, but you know something... there's no way in hell I'm going to tell Daniel that and if you decide to tell him that he can't go to the amusement park, you're a much braver woman than I ever gave you credit for."
"This isn't a laughing matter, Colonel."
"No, it isn't," Jack agreed with a sad smile. "I know, but sometimes a little humor is the only way I can get through the day." Jack shrugged and scrubbed his hands though his hair. "Maybe coming here wasn't the best idea in the world, ya know? But maybe Daniel needed this, heck maybe even *I* needed this."
"I'm sorry... Jack. I don't mean to rain on anyone's parade, and as much as I may be considered the Wicked Witch..."
Jack held his hand up in surrender. "Honest, that wasn't me who called you that name."
Fraiser gave an unladylike snort. "Whatever you say, but I could swear last week while Daniel and Cassie watched the Wizard of Oz you made some comment asking if a house had ever fallen on my sister."
"Yes, I did," she answered with a waggle of her eyebrows, "but I didn't forget, just like I'm not forgetting your attempt to derail this conversation."
"Go ahead, you were up to the Wicked Witch comparison..."
"Yes, I was, wasn't I? And as much as I hate that, I guess I am... I need to be Daniel's doctor before I can be his friend. I know how hard it is for you and Daniel..."
"And for you also."
"Yes, and for me, but I have to. I just want you to understand that it doesn't mean I love him any less, or that I get a thrill out of thwarting all the grandiose, fun ideas you have, but I'm Doc Janet first because of how much I do love Daniel, no matter how hard and no matter how mean I seem to be."
The laughing and giggling from the girls' room had died down about an hour ago, but still Jack padded around quietly. Teal'c was in a deep state of kel-no-reem on one of the queen sized beds and Daniel was sleeping restlessly in the other. Jack surely didn't want to disturb Teal'c, but neither did he want to get into bed with Daniel. Indecisively, Jack stood straddling the carpeting between the two beds.
Finally, Jack slipped into bed with Daniel, but not under the top sheet, so in theory he was in the same bed as Daniel, but not *in bed*, so to speak. Ludicrous, he knew, but also a matter of self preservation to not lie in bed with Daniel, his placement under the array of blankets providing Jack with a sense of self imposed mental protection. He stiffened as Daniel rolled towards him, making a futile attempt to snuggle against Jack's body. Daniel gave a snort of indignation in his sleep as the barrier between them prevented him from leeching off Jack's warmth. Daniel tried once, twice, the third time even making an offering of Lumpy as he pushed the stuffed camel under Jack's nose.
"Not tonight," Jack whispered, pushing an errant strand of hair off the warm forehead. Jack slid his body up and bent over the sleeping man, taking Daniel's arms and physically wrapping them around the much loved toy. He slowly backed out of the bed, grabbed the blanket at the end of Teal'c's bed, and made himself comfortable on the couch stuck in the corner of their room.
Jack nearly took a header off the couch when he tried to turn, forgetting he wasn't at home lying on a much bigger place to sleep, or off world on a flat surface. "Damn." He stuck his arm downward, levering his body back onto the too-narrow cushions. Jack jerked the blanket from his feet and tucked it around himself, grumbling at the uncomfortableness of his chosen sleeping arrangements.
"And if we go this way..."
In the silence of the room, snatches of conversation floated loud and clear over to Jack. "Daniel," he hissed, sitting up, swinging his stiff legs onto the floor. "Daniel," he called again, exasperated that once his eyes adjusted to the darkness of the room, Jack could see Daniel's empty bed. The bedside clock showed that it was too early for Daniel to be up, hell, it was too early for Jack to be up. Nevertheless, curiosity and worry got the better of him. He pushed himself off the couch, stepping over the blanket that fell to the floor and shuffled in the direction Daniel's voice was emanating from, the bathroom.
The door squeaked as Jack pushed it open and he blinked convulsively against the light until his eyes grew accustomed to the brightness.
"Ummm, Daniel?" Jack's hand swept the bathroom's disarray. Lumpy was perched on the closed toilet lid, and Daniel was sitting with towels under his ass, a *very* black marker *in* his hands, *on* his hands and a smudge or two of black on his face and the shower curtain. There was a large multicolored piece of paper between his legs that was covered with "X's" and squiggly lines. "What are you doing?"
Daniel scrunched up his face as he looked up at Jack. "Doing?"
"Yes, what's all this?"
"Shhhh, quiet," Daniel warned, placing the opened marker against his pursed lips. "Come on in and close the door, you'll wake Teal'c."
Jack stepped into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. He picked up Lumpy, sat on the closed toilet lid and placed the stuffed camel in his lap. Jack leaned forward, tapping the paper that had again captured Daniel's attention.
"It's the map of the amusement park, Sam gave it to me when we checked in... you know the man at the desk you gave your credit card to, the guy wearing the suit? Well, he gave it to Sam and she gave it to me. And I've been studying it, to see where we're going to visit. I've been marking the way we should walk. See... here and here," Daniel said as he pointed to the numbers one and then two written in bold magic marker. "This is where we buy our tickets and over here is the big fountain and the way I figure it..."
"How do you feel?"
"You interrupted me," Daniel said indignantly. "You always tell me that I should wait until the person is done speaking." Daniel wagged the marker at Jack. "That was very rude."
Jack bit his bottom lip and counted to ten to rein in the laughter that was threatening to explode from the absurdity of the situation. "I'm sorry, honest, but you need to answer my question. How do you feel?"
"Wet? Daniel, did you wet the-"
"Ewwwww... no! I'm not a baby. I meant my clothes are wet." Daniel pulled his tee shirt away from his body and then sniffed his armpits. "I stink."
"Yup, I have to agree with the stinky part." Jack held Lumpy up to his ear, nodding his head. "Oh, I agree totally, Lumpy," Jack said as he comically pinched the area he suspected Lumpy's nose would be. "Even Lumpy says you stink."
"Jack," Daniel looked around before whispering conspiratorially. "Lumpy can't talk."
Jack clapped his hands over Lumpy's ears. "Daniel, don't say that too loud, you'll hurt poor Lumpy's feelings."
Daniel's giggles were infectious and soon Jack's laughter was bouncing off the tiled bathroom walls. "You're very silly this morning." Daniel located the cover to the marker and stuck it back on, and then meticulously began refolding the map.
Jack captured Daniel's hand as he went to reach for Lumpy, pulling him close enough to check for a fever with a gentle kiss to his forehead. He tugged at Daniel's shirt. "You're wet 'cause your fever broke. How about a shower?"
Nervous eyes darted from Jack's gaze to over his shoulder, examining the unfamiliar tub. "No shower... bath... bubble bath."
"Bath I can do... but it's a no go in the bubbles department."
"I don't think so," Daniel responded in a sing song voice. "I'll be right back, you start the bath."
Daniel grabbed Lumpy from Jack's embrace and hurried from the bathroom. Jack was starting the bath, getting the temperature just right, but even over the sound of running water he could hear Daniel's grunts, groans and then the sound of a suitcase unzipping. He returned with two unfamiliar looking yellow plastic bags, with very familiar looking handwriting adorning their front. "I wasn't sure which one so I brought both of them."
Daniel dumped both bags on the vanity and dropped down on the closed toilet. Lumpy was given a seat of honor on Daniel's lap. "Is the water just the way I like it?"
"Of course it is, Sir Daniel," Jack said with an exaggerated bow. "I know I will be sent to the dungeon if the water temperature is not to your liking." Jack had to smile as Lumpy bore the brunt of Daniel's giggles. "Now let's see what's in these bags, shall we?" Jack ruffled Daniel's hair, which did nothing but make the strands stick out every which way. "Think you're gonna have to wash your hair also."
Daniel pointed to the words on the bags. "Sam gave me these bags. She said they were pieces of home that I would need and told me to stuff them in my suitcase... what do the words say?" Daniel used Lumpy's nose as a pointer.
"This one says, 'Things Colonel O'Neill will forget to bring'. Hey, I didn't forget anything."
"Um, Jack, if you didn't forget anything, where's the bubble bath?"
"Hmpf," Jack replied indignantly.
"I bet there's bubble bath in there... betcha, betcha, betcha."
Jack peeked in and smiled. There was more than just bubble bath. There was suntan lotion, one of those new battery operated toothbrushes emblazoned with Sponge Bob, and a bottle of that great smelling shampoo that Sam always bought for Daniel. Jack removed the bottle of bubble bath and poured in a generous amount.
"This smells great, Jack. Doesn't this smell good?" Enthusiastically, Daniel stuck the opened bottle of shampoo under Jack's nose and Jack was assaulted by memories of a different time and a very different Daniel enjoying a shower at his house.
"That is a good smell," he said, removing the opened bottle from Daniel's hand and screwing the cap back on. "I'm going to leave it right over here so you can wash your hair before you get out." 'Damn Carter and her good intentions', he thought, turning his attention back to monitoring the bath water.
Daniel took out the toothbrush, examined it and began to attempt to open up the hard plastic wrapping. Eventually, he just gave up and held it in his hand. "What about the other bag? What's in that? What does it say?"
"This one says 'For Daniel--just because'."
"I don't know, but I think maybe you should look inside, 'cause it's for you."
Daniel shoved Lumpy and the toothbrush at Jack and grabbed the bag. He opened it, peered inside, then shut it, opened it, peered inside and shut it. This went on one more time before Jack called a halt to it. "Enough... what the heck's in the bag?"
Daniel's eyes had widened in shock as he stuck his hand in the bag and pulled out, with great reverence, a brand spanking new Gameboy SP. Daniel clutched the bag in one hand and examined the box like it contained the answers to the universe. "Remember I had wanted this and you said it was too expensive?"
"I remember all too well." He knew Carter loved to spoil Daniel, but he would have to have a discussion with his 2IC regarding limitations.
"And this, she got me this."
"Yup... here's a Sponge Bob game," Daniel withdrew the boxes and began to pile them on the counter, "a carrying case, and... and look at this, Jack. Movies, I can actually watch movies on the SP just like the TV says. She got me Sponge Bob and the Fairy Odd Parents... I need to go wake up Sam right now and thank her." Daniel jumped up and had one hand on the doorknob before Jack intervened.
"No, you don't," Jack said, physically maneuvering Daniel's body back onto the closed toilet seat. The empty plastic bag was clutched tightly to his chest, and every part of Daniel's body seemed to quivering with unbridled excitement that Jack now had to reel in. There were times Jack hated being the responsible parent with Daniel, while Carter, Fraiser, Teal'c and even General Hammond had free reign in spoiling him. He held the bag open for Daniel. "Put everything back in the bag..."
Immediate tears sprung to Daniel's eyes. "I have to return them?"
The thought had briefly occurred to Jack, but he wouldn't do that to Daniel, though all guilty parties in cahoots to this "Daniel spoiling" were going to be forced to attend a briefing where Jack was going to be laying down some ground rules. "No, you don't have to give them back. It's bath time and these things and water don't mix."
"Oh, okay." Daniel happily put the boxes back in the bag and placed it on the floor next to the toilet, with Lumpy standing guard. Jack tested the water and turned it off.
"I'm going to take the bag and start charging the SP," Jack said. "This way if you want to take it with you to breakfast or while waiting for the shuttle bus, it'll be ready." Jack closed the bathroom door three quarters of the way, pushed aside Daniel's opened suitcase and turned on the bedside lamp so he could decipher the instructions on the box. 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em,' he mumbled to himself.
Jack handed his credit card to the girl behind the window, fully aware of Daniel's growing excitement. He scrawled his name on the slip she'd passed him and handed out the tickets.
"Careful, Daniel. Don't tear it," Jack warned in a low voice as Daniel nearly crushed the paper.
"I won't. I'll be careful." Daniel looked at him, all solemn blue eyes and eagerness to please. "And I'll stay close and not walk away. And I'll listen to what you say."
Memory washed over Jack, bittersweet and filled with regret--an image of Daniel on one of their many missions, excited and rapturous over some ruins, throwing caution to the wind.
"I know you will." Jack nodded and smiled, hoping to reassure the younger man as he took in the anxious gaze. Last week's little incident was evidently still fresh in Daniel's memory. It had shaken both of them. Jack tensed as memories of that day assailed him.
He didn't know what awoke him--except a feeling of unease and 'not right-ness'. Jack pushed himself out of bed and walked to Daniel's room, needing to check, to make sure. His heart pounded furiously when he realized the bed was empty, although he told himself that Daniel probably had moved downstairs to put in some videos. Shoes were all still lined up in the closet even though Lumpy was gone. His foray into the living room and then the kitchen had Jack's anxiety growing, because Daniel was nowhere to be found. A check of the closet where they kept their jackets didn't alleviate his fears, since Daniel's windbreaker was gone. Maybe Daniel had gone up to the observatory, but it only took a few minutes for Jack to discover Daniel was nowhere to be found on the property. His voice slightly hoarse from yelling Daniel's name, Jack went back into the house, grabbing the phone and dialing Hammond.
"Sir, we have a problem," he said as soon as the general's voice said a gruff hello.
Jack hung up the phone less than five minutes later, knowing General Hammond would be alerting the SGC to begin its own search. Cursing under his breath at his inability to find his keys, Jack stopped his frantic search and closed his eyes, taking a few deep breaths. He needed to think of this as a military operation, not a parent's search for a lost child. The leadership qualities that served him so well in Special Ops and as CO of SG-1 came to the fore. Jack grabbed his cell phone on the way to the Avalanche, finding the keys where they always were, on the hook by the door. He hit speed dial and explained the situation to Carter, giving her a set of orders while he backed out of the driveway and then dialed 911, deeming the situation serious enough to take that step.
"No, you don't understand," Jack explained, proud that he was keeping his temper under control when he was told that a time frame of less than four hours didn't constitute a missing person's case. He gripped the phone tighter. "He's brain damaged. He has the mind of a five year old and I really don't think a five year old should be out wandering the streets early in the morning." There, he'd said it. Said the words he'd avoided ever since... well, ever since he knew the Daniel he'd used to know was gone. He'd been able to pretend that if he didn't say it, it wouldn't be real, but now he had admitted it.
He rattled off his cell phone number when the dispatcher prompted him for it, having to place his trust in others to find Daniel if he didn't discover him wandering the darkened streets himself. He glanced at the thermometer above the rear view mirror and felt another flutter of fear for Daniel. Thirty five degrees and Daniel was wearing nothing more than a windbreaker and most likely the sweat pants and T-shirt he wore for his pajamas. His hands shaking, Jack pulled to the side of the street and rested his head on the steering wheel, praying to a God he wasn't sure was listening.
An hour later, his phone calls to Hammond and Carter not giving him any satisfaction, Jack stopped at an all night gas station to buy some coffee. He'd exhausted all his ideas of possible places Daniel might have gone and his thoughts turned morbid, despite his best efforts. Visions of Daniel being lured into a dark alley and assaulted, or worse, made his throat thicken with unshed tears and bile, making the coffee taste even bitterer.
"O'Neill," Jack barked into the ringing cell phone. "Yes, yes, I understand. I'll be there in ten minutes. May I... can I talk to him?"
"Hi Jack." Daniel's voice was suddenly in his ear, but the usual cheerfulness was gone. "Jack? Are you still there?"
"I'm... I'm here, Danny. I'm coming to pick you up, okay?" Jack managed to say. He dialed Carter, letting her know the good news and then reported to Hammond.
"You can give me the details in the morning, Jack," General Hammond said, the relief in his voice evident. "Meanwhile, take him home and see if you can figure out what happened."
"Yes, sir." Jack's relief began turning to anger on the drive to the emergency room--an anger he remembered feeling when Charlie had once wandered away from Sara and he on a trip to a beach. By the time he walked into the hospital, Jack was almost ready to explode, and clenched his fists into his pockets to remove the temptation to throttle his wandering friend.
"Daniel, it looks like your friend is here," a young police officer said as Jack approached. He stepped between Jack and Daniel, who was sitting on a gurney, wrapped in a blanket.
Leaning around the officer, Daniel looked up at Jack, Lumpy clutched under one arm and his face paled. "Uh oh," Jack heard him whisper.
"Colonel O'Neill," the officer, a Lieutenant Wyman Jack noted, motioned for Jack to follow him a short distance away. "We found him sitting outside the public library."
"The library," Jack repeated--a promise to take Daniel there the previous weekend having to be placed on hold because Jack had been called in to the SGC for an emergency. He hadn't even known Daniel still remembered how to get to the library. A small laugh caught Jack's attention and he looked over to see a nurse speaking to Daniel. As if he was aware of Jack's gaze, Daniel glanced their way, the smile on his face fading as he watched him. Geez, Jack thought, next thing they'll be thinking I abuse you or something, his guilt at allowing Daniel to wander off beginning to gnaw at him.
"He came with us willingly--told us that you told him cops were good guys and he should go to them if he needed help," Lieutenant Wyman said with a grin. "I'm glad this worked out, sir." He hesitated a fraction before continuing. "I'm guessing this is a new situation for you, Colonel. You may want to install some locks he can't open."
"Yeah." Jack wiped his face with his hand. The anger was gone, leaving only regret and sadness in its wake. "I'll look into that." He walked over to Daniel's side and reached out to touch Daniel's hair. There was no response, only a tightening of Daniel's arm around Lumpy's neck.
"I'm glad you're safe, Daniel," Jack finally whispered. The head under his hand moved slightly in negation.
"Are you mad at me?" The words were whispered so quietly Jack had to strain to hear them.
Jack sighed. "I was worried. You scared me."
"I wanted to go to the library," Daniel explained. "I didn't want to worry you."
"It's the middle of the night, Daniel." Jack moved his hand to Daniel's shoulder, feeling the slight shivers and wondering if they were from fear or cold. He shifted his glance to Daniel's bare feet, dirty and bruised, and shuddered himself.
"I'm sorry," Daniel said, his head still hanging down. "I didn't want to scare you." A noisy sob escaped him. "Don't get rid of me."
"Ah crap." Jack moved closer. "Ah, Danny. It's okay. Shh... it's okay." He pulled Daniel into a hug and held him tight, not caring that his own tears were dripping into Daniel's hair.
"Jack?" Daniel was looking at him. "I'll stay with you. I promise."
Daniel had cried himself to sleep after Jack had gotten him home from the hospital, Jack's reassurances that no, he didn't have to go live somewhere else unable to be processed. Jack had sat in Daniel's room long after the other man had fallen asleep, realizing that as much as he wanted Daniel to be better, to be able to be his partner again, that dream was lost. Daniel might look like an adult, but his mind was truly that of a child, and he mourned for the loss.
"Yeah, I know, Daniel." He held up the map. "So where do we go first?"
"The train." Daniel smiled. He took a step away from Jack, and then stopped, looking at the crowds. He held out a hand for Jack. Jack took it, smiling at the trust in the habit. Beside him, Fraiser cleared her throat and he saw her digging in her pocket and pulling out a tissue.
"Are we gonna stand here all day?" Daniel finally asked, the impatience sounding exactly like the archaeologist they all used to know.
"Lead on, DanielJackson," Teal'c said, pointing.
Jack watched as Daniel went off with Cassie, Fraiser and Carter. Teal'c was determined to win Daniel one of the large Spongebob Squarepants pillows being offered at one of the game stands. Finding himself alone, Jack searched for a bench and smiled when he spied one in the shade.
He wasn't sure if Daniel would go on the newest roller coaster, but despite his quietness after the water ride, Daniel had seemed willing. Jack moved back on the bench, adjusting his sunglasses and settling back for some people watching.
"DanielJackson and the others approach, O'Neill," Teal'c announced. Jack pushed back the brim of his ball cap, slightly concerned that Daniel appeared to be lagging behind. But he reminded himself, Daniel had been awake way too early this morning. He glanced at his watch, figuring that if the others agreed, they could take a break and eat some lunch. Jack stood, waiting to see Daniel's reaction to the Spongebob pillow Teal'c was holding. Just imagining the big smile he expected to see put a grin on Jack's face.
"I have prevailed in the Whack a Mole contest and procured a large sponge that wears pants for you, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said as he offered the pillow to Daniel.
Jack noticed Carter and Janet hiding smiles behind their hands at Teal'c's formal announcement.
"Thank you." Daniel accepted the pillow but kept his head down, staring at the ground.
"Do you not like it?" Teal'c picked up on Daniel's subdued response as quickly as Jack did.
"I like it." Daniel said. "It's nice." But there was no inflection in his voice.
Placing a hand on Daniel's shoulder, still not sure what was going on, Jack pasted a smile on his face and announced, "What say we chow down?"
The others quickly agreed, except for Daniel. Jack walked by his side, keeping a close eye on him. Daniel looked fine, no trace of the slight fever from last night.
"Did something happen when you were with Carter, Doc Janet, and Cassie?"
Daniel shook his head and continued walking.
"Because you know if something happened, you should tell me," Jack persisted.
"I know." Daniel stopped and handed the pillow to Jack. "I don't want to carry this. It's too heavy."
Jack took the pillow, somehow not surprised when Daniel took off his backpack and pulled out Lumpy. Jack knew something was wrong when he saw Daniel give the stuffed camel a fierce squeeze--a habit of comfort he'd seen more than once since the toy had been given to him. Jack sighed and squeezed Daniel's shoulder, telling himself Daniel always had been a little grumpy when he'd gone without food too long.
Sitting around the picnic table minutes later, Jack watched as Daniel swiped a fry through catsup and took a small bite of it. Daniel's appetite was iffy at times, but hamburgers and French fries were the one thing he always ate with gusto. Carter and Cassie were talking, trying to get Daniel to participate in the conversation, asking him what rides he wanted to go on after their meal, but unlike his earlier excitement, Daniel was using shrugs, head shakes and nods to communicate.
"Daniel, do you feel okay?" Fraiser asked him, her mouth pulled in a frown. Jack shook his head as she reached out to touch his forehead, not surprised in the least when Daniel pulled away from her.
"Daniel, if you don't feel well, you need to let me know," Jack said, hating how gruff he sounded.
"I'm okay." Daniel pushed his hamburger away, clutching Lumpy even tighter. "I don't want any more of this. It doesn't taste good. And I don't like mustard. They put mustard on it."
"I can get you a hamburger without mustard," Carter offered. "Or a hot dog."
"I don't want it," Daniel said, sounding for all the world like a recalcitrant toddler. "I want to go home. I don't like this place."
"We were going to go on the train again, remember? And you said you'd ride the sky ride with me." Cassie leaned forward, trying to soothe Daniel.
"I don't want to go on the train. I want to go home, Jack." Daniel rocked slightly in his seat, stopping the movement when Teal'c put a hand on his shoulder.
"If you wish to go home, DanielJackson, then we shall take you," Teal'c promised. "I am sorry you are not enjoying your time at the park."
Jack didn't miss the look of disappointment on Cassie's face as he began gathering up his and Daniel's things. "Daniel and I will go back to the hotel. Why don't you come back there for supper and if Daniel feels like it, we'll try coming back with you tonight?"
"Going home?" Daniel was up and waiting by the time Jack had extricated himself from the table.
"Not all the way home, buddy, but back to the hotel," Jack assured him. He rested a hand on Daniel's shoulder.
"You mad at me?" Daniel looked at their other friends, his glance darting from Carter, to Teal'c, to Cassie and then to Fraiser.
"Of course not." Carter got up and gave him a hug. "We want you to be happy."
"Okay," Daniel agreed, and then tugged on Jack's arm. "Let's go. Let's go, Jack."
"Coming, Daniel." Jack waved to the others. He held his hand up to his ear, mimicking a cell phone and pointing to Fraiser. She nodded her head in understanding.
Despite the distractions on the way through the park--stores, games, and food stands, Daniel walked by Jack's side silently, radiating tension that Jack couldn't understand. He almost wished they had driven in the Avalanche instead of taking the shuttle bus in the morning. But Daniel said nothing, sitting on the bench at the shuttle stop and petting Lumpy's head. He moved closer to Jack when a family with two boisterous children came to wait at the same stop.
"I want to go home," Daniel whispered, Jack needing to lean close to even hear the words.
"I know, buddy." Jack patted Daniel's knee and sighed in relief when he saw the bus coming. Luckily the only other riders were going to be the family and Jack knew the bus ride wasn't much longer than ten minutes.
Daniel slid into the seat and huddled against the window, all his energy seemingly gone. Jack was sure Daniel didn't have a fever. His skin felt normal where his arm touched Jack's.
By the time they made it back to the hotel, Jack's head was pounding from the two little darlings who thought it was their mission in life to loudly complain that they had the world's meanest parents. Daniel was squinting and pinching his nose, sure sign he had a headache, too.
Reaching their hotel room was a relief. Jack closed the drapes and turned up the air conditioner. He went to the bathroom to get a glass of water for Daniel and smiled as he came back out. Daniel was already stretched out on one of the beds, sound asleep. Jack pulled the comforter out from the side and placed it over his sleeping friend. After carefully removing Daniel's shoes and glasses, Jack stretched out on the other bed, looking over the room service menu, figuring that when Daniel awoke he'd most likely be hungry.
"Mommy! Daddy! No, no, no! Mommy!"
Daniel's hoarse cries woke Jack from his nap. Heart pounding, Jack slid off his bed and sat on the edge of Daniel's. Daniel was sitting up, his eyes fixed on some distant spot, sobbing as if his heart was breaking. Jack extended a hand towards him, unsure if Daniel would respond or not. Hell, he wasn't even sure if Daniel was awake.
"Daniel." Jack spoke in a low voice. "Danny?" His hand was pushed away when he touched Daniel's knee.
"I want my mommy," Daniel gave a hiccupping sob as he looked at Jack.
Okay, definitely awake, but obviously caught up in the aftermath of the dream.
"Your..." Jack paused, rubbing a hand through his hair, having no idea how to handle this, "your mommy isn't here. I'm here to take care of you, remember?"
"I want mommy and daddy." Daniel still cried, pushing Jack away as he tried to move closer. "I want my mommy and daddy!"
"Oh, Danny." Daniel and Jack were matched pretty evenly strengthwise, but Daniel's emotional state put him at a disadvantage, so Jack simply wrapped him in a hug, holding on tightly when Daniel began to squirm. "Calm down. Let's just calm down. It was a bad dream."
"The rocks were falling. All around us." Daniel stopped moving, curling his hand around Jack's forearm. "Mommy and Daddy were in the rocks and then they went away."
"I know, I know," Jack soothed, rocking them both slowly. "I know, Danny. But I'm here and I promise I'll take care of you." He thought back to the water ride, remembering fake rocks seeming to tumble around the boat. Jack cursed himself under his breath for not realizing the possible confused memories that ride could dredge up.
"Promise?" Daniel asked, his fingers digging into Jack's skin and his voice shaky. "Promise?"
"I promise," Jack assured him. "I won't leave. You're safe."
Daniel took a deep breath, pushing at Jack's arms. "You're squishing me."
Jack laughed and released his arms, still keeping Daniel in a light hold. He wasn't sure if it was for Daniel's reassurance or his own.
"I didn't like that roller coaster," Daniel muttered. "But Sam and Cassie said it was a baby ride and laughed when they heard the people screaming. I didn't want to be a baby. I didn't want them to laugh at me."
Daniel looked at Jack, his eyes searching Jack's.
"I know." Jack said. "And you were very brave doing something that scared you." He made a mental note to speak to Carter and Cassie before returning to the park in the evening. He knew they had meant no harm by their comments, but sometimes they seemed to forget that Daniel wasn't the Daniel they had always known. He pulled Daniel close a moment, pressing a kiss on the top of Daniel's head. They both laughed when Daniel's stomach gave a growl.
"Hungry?" Jack asked. "You didn't eat much at lunch. Can you eat something now?"
Daniel nodded his head with enthusiasm. "Chicken fingers and fries with lots of catsup."
"Coming right up, sir." Jack held up the phone with a flourish and dialed room service.
"They bring the food here?" Daniel asked when Jack hung up. "We get to eat in bed?"
"We'll eat at the table," Jack pointed. "I'll get things set up for our food and meanwhile you can go in the bathroom and get cleaned up."
"I'm not dirty," Daniel said. "Look." He held his hands out for Jack to inspect them.
"We got wet on the rides, and your clothes are dirty. I'll start the shower for you and then you can hop in," Jack mentioned.
"You got wet, too," Daniel countered. "I know. We can take a shower together."
Jack stopped mid-step at that suggestion and felt as if he'd been punched in the gut. He looked back at Daniel, schooling a careful smile on his face. "Ah, no, buddy. I think we'd better take our own showers." At Daniel's crestfallen expression, he forced a smile to his lips. "The tub isn't very big." He searched his mind for something to get Daniel's mind off the shower. "And I was thinking we can go swimming after we eat. So why don't you wash off quick and then you can put your swim trunks on right away." He went in the bathroom to turn on the water and adjust it, hoping to God that Daniel remembered the rules about wearing a bathrobe.
Snagging two chaise lounges, Jack threw their towels on them. He motioned for Daniel to sit on one before opening the sunblock.
Daniel looked around the pool area with interest. "This is like the center, but Mitch isn't here."
"Yep, but here you can do whatever you want." Jack squirted some lotion on Daniel's back, imagining himself smearing it on Charlie's back years ago, telling himself he'd been given a strange second chance at fatherhood. At least Daniel liked his therapy sessions in the pool; Tuesdays and Thursdays were days there was rarely a fuss about going to the center.
Giggling, Daniel arched his back. "That tickles."
Jack wiped his hand across Daniel's face. "Rub that in, Daniel. I'm all done with your back." He watched as Daniel dutifully rubbed in the lotion.
"Here," Jack said, squirting sunblock in Daniel's hands. "You can do the rest yourself."
"Okay," Daniel nodded, applying the lotion with enthusiasm. He looked up at Jack when he was done. "Sit down." Taking the bottle from Jack, Daniel stood. "Now I'll do your back."
"Uh, Daniel, I..." Jack clenched his fingers into his knees as Daniel began rubbing the lotion into his back. He forced himself to think of Goa'uld, of Maybourne and Kinsey, anything but the feel of Daniel's fingers gliding over his skin.
"There." Daniel said, leaning forward and wiping his hand over Jack's stomach. "All done."
"Yeah," Jack said, his voice sounding weak. He hoped the pool water was cold, cold enough to shock him back into this reality.
"Can I go in?" Daniel was watching him, his gaze darting between Jack and the pool.
"Go ahead," Jack said, getting to his feet, "but wait for me once you get in the water."
"Okay." Daniel nodded once and walked towards the steps leading into the shallow end of the pool.
Jack knew Daniel was comfortable in the water, but he didn't quite trust Daniel's sometimes impulsive tendencies. Luckily the pool wasn't crowded and he figured he'd be able to keep a close eye on him.
The water was cool and Daniel was happy paddling around, splashing Jack with water and allowing himself to be dunked repeatedly.
"This is fun," Daniel said, throwing his arms around Jack in an impulsive hug at one point. "Really fun."
"Yeah," Jack agreed, hugging him back and not caring who saw. "It really is."
"How about we get out for a little bit?" Jack suggested some time later. It had been the wrong thing to say; Daniel's frown telling exactly what he thought of that idea.
"I like this," Daniel said, and Jack thought a moment. There was a lifeguard, and Jack would be able to see him from the chaise.
"Well, I'll tell you what. I'm gonna get out of the water, but you can stay in the pool." Jack raised a finger. "As long as you promise to stay in this area."
Daniel readily agreed with a heartfelt nod and swam off towards the side. Jack stretched out on his chair, reaching for the cell phone he'd carried down to the pool. He dialed Fraiser's number, all the while keeping an eye on Daniel, who was floating on his back.
"Hey Doc," Jack said when Janet answered her phone.
"Colonel? How's Daniel?" Her voice was filled with concern and Jack could hear Carter asking a question in the background.
"He's fine. We're at the pool now. He had a little nightmare earlier, but he's fine now. I'm going to see if he wants to come back to the park in a few hours." Jack had to smile as he watched Daniel hold his nose before ducking his head under the water.
"What was the problem?" Fraiser asked, and Jack knew she was asking less as a doctor and more as a friend.
"I think the water ride triggered a memory." Jack paused, taking time to wave to Daniel who was motioning for Jack to watch. "That simulated earthquake with the rocks falling..." he trailed off.
"Oh, sir. I didn't stop to think." There was silence on Fraiser's end and Jack got the feeling that she was walking away from the others. "Cassie was upset after you left. She said that Daniel was afraid of the roller coaster but she and Sam kept telling him there was no reason to be, that he loved roller coasters."
Jack closed his eyes. It was true, the old Daniel would have gone on any roller coaster without hesitation, but this Daniel was for all intents and purposes a five year old child with memories of Goa'uld, torture and his parents dying. "Yeah, I know. Look, Doc, I'm going to talk to Daniel. I think we'll be able to come back. Why don't you make reservations at one of the restaurants in the park? I'll call back if I can't get him to agree to give it one more try."
"Understood, Colonel. I'll take care of things on this end," Fraiser said.
Jack glanced at his watch, calculating times. "How about we meet at the big fountain in three hours?"
"Sounds good," Fraiser said. "And tell Daniel we miss him."
"Will do, Doc."
Daniel was getting out of the pool, most likely curious about Jack's phone call. He came over to the chairs, shaking his head and spraying Jack with droplets of water.
"Who were you talking to?"
"Doc Janet." Jack threw a towel at Daniel. He looked at his hands a moment before continuing. "You know, they'd like us to come back the park for the evening."
Daniel paused in rubbing his hair dry. He held out his hand to Jack. "I don't think the mark the lady put on it is there anymore."
It was a good attempt at avoiding, Jack had to give him that. "Don't you want to go back?" Jack asked.
"Go back where?" Daniel began fiddling with the edge of the towel, picking at the hem, until Jack placed a hand over it.
"To the park." Jack gave Daniel's hand a shake. "Why don't we go up to the room and we can talk about it there?" He could see the small shivers coursing Daniel's body and he had the feeling it was more nervousness than cold.
He managed to persuade Daniel to take another shower, despite Daniel's protestations that he was already clean and didn't need to wash yet again. By the time Jack finished with his own shower, Daniel was settled on his bed, Lumpy tucked under one arm and concentrating on his Gameboy.
"Daniel?" Jack spoke quietly. Amazing that Daniel could master a video game but yet had difficulty remembering how to tie his shoes.
"Hi Jack." Daniel put the Gameboy down, smiling at him.
"I thought maybe we could go back to the park in a little bit. You know, meet the others for supper." Jack crossed the room and sat down on the bed next to Daniel.
"Oh," Daniel whispered, looking down at the covers and squeezing Lumpy's neck.
"Don't you want to go back? You were so excited about going to the park this morning." Jack felt out of his element, unable to figure out exactly what was bothering Daniel and pretty sure Daniel wasn't going to be able to articulate it himself.
"If you want to go back, we can go back." Daniel said, drawing out the words, looking at Jack with an expression that was conveying his distress.
"Dan..."Jack reached out to stroke Daniel's hair, and then decided on a new plan of attack. "Listen, buddy, how about I ask you some questions and you answer them. Like a game and all you have to say is yes or no."
"Okay," Daniel said, but he didn't look too sure of Jack's plan.
"Okay." Jack patted Daniel's knee and then took the plunge, figuring to start with an easy one. "Did you want to go to the park this morning?"
Daniel nodded and then at Jack's upraised finger, said, "Yes."
"Did you like the bus ride?" When Jack got an affirmative answer he went further, asking about entering the park and riding the train, not surprised when the answers were all yes.
"What about the water ride?" Jack thought he already knew the answer, but Daniel's body language said far more than the very quiet 'no'.
"Hey, it's okay." Jack pulled Daniel's curled up body into a hug, rubbing his shoulders and his nape. Daniel slowly relaxed, finally looking up at Jack.
"That wasn't fun, not at all." As if a dam had been broken, Daniel went on. "Didn't like the dark and the rocks and all that noise." He shook his head. "But everyone said it's a good ride. I didn't think it was a good ride. No way, Jose." He finished with an emphatic nod.
"You should have told me," Jack said.
"I didn't know it was no good until we were on it. You said we can't get off once we're on."
Well, you couldn't argue with that logic. Jack nodded in agreement and reached for an extra map lying on the bedside table.
"I'll tell you what. Let's look at this map, and then you tell me the rides you want to go on." When Daniel looked at him under his lashes, Jack handed him a pen. "I'll read them to you and tell you where to put the circles, okay?"
"Only the ones I want?" Daniel asked.
"Only the ones you want."
"What if I want to go on the train one million times and no one else does?" Daniel was definitely going to be testing Jack's promise.
"Then you and I will ride it as much as you want, even if no one else does. Just you and me." Jack unfolded the map, spreading it over both of their legs.
There was a little fight when Daniel insisted that he wanted to ride space ships despite the fact that he was about two feet too tall, but by the time they finished, they had a list of ten rides that were definites and three that Daniel wanted to watch before making his decision.
Janet dropped onto a wooden bench that sat under a large shade tree. She stretched her legs and was in full sprawl out mode as Jack and Daniel approached her.
Daniel ripped off his backpack and sat next to her, dropping it between his knees. "Are you okay, Doc Janet?"
Fraiser whimpered, forcing her feet out of her still tied sneakers. She hooked one leg over the other and began to slowly rub her toes. "My feet hurt," she whined.
Daniel looked up at Jack. "I'm hungry." He glanced at the fast food stands in their immediate vicinity and using his fingers, he began to tick off what he didn't want. "No franks or chicken fingers, chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, *or* hamburger."
"Are you sure you're even hungry?" Fraiser asked, grimacing as she switched feet and began to rub her right toes instead of her left ones.
"I wouldn't say I was hungry if I wasn't," Daniel replied indignantly.
"Hey, Jack reprimanded, "watch your tone of voice."
"Sorry." Daniel dropped his head and began to fiddle with the zipper on his backpack.
Fraiser patted Daniel's knee, glowering at Jack over Daniel's bent head. "It's been a long day, it's hot, we're tired, cranky..."
"Hungry?" Jack added and Daniel agreed with a nod. "Okay let's see where the rest of the crew is." Jack was just about to key the mic on the walkie talkies that General Hammond had insisted be part of their trip when Daniel jumped up and began to wave wildly. "There they are."
Jack placed a restraining hand on Daniel's arm pushing him gently back to the bench. "I think they see us."
Impatience was radiating off Daniel, though Jack had to admit he had been very good when Teal'c, Carter and Cassie decided to take another ride on one of the main attractions with a very long line. "Do you think they're hungry?" Daniel asked.
Cassie was the first to reach them and she squeezed between Daniel and her mom. "That was awesome." She caught Daniel's eye and smiled. "Did you like the train ride?"
Daniel pulled the map from his backpack and pointed out to Cassie the exact route the train took as the young girl listened attentively to the man who used to tutor her. Fraiser started to pet Cassandra's hair and she smiled at Jack over her daughter's bent head as she pointed out to Daniel where they had just been.
Cassie's stomach growled loud enough to interrupt their conversation.
"Young lady!" Fraiser said with a laugh.
"Hey, give me a break, I'm starving."
Daniel quickly folded the map, placed it into the open backpack, and struggled to zip it closed. Jack made a step forward to help before he felt a firm grip on his arm. Teal'c pulled him to the side, out of hearing range. "DanielJackson can accomplish this task. You will wait. If he requires help, he must learn to ask."
Jack knew he had been properly chastised and patted Teal'c's upper arm. The man bowed in response. "I know it is hard, O'Neill, I too wish to remove all barriers from DanielJackson, but as DoctorFraiser informed me, that would be incorrect.
"She's right," Jack agreed with a tight smile. "Come on," he said, slapping his friend on the back, "the natives are getting restless, it's time to feed them."
"I'm with Daniel on this one." Cassie stood next to Daniel, her arms folded defiantly across her chest.
"That's two." Daniel reached behind him and pulled Lumpy from the backpack, holding the stuffed toy in front of him. "Does Lumpy get a vote?"
"No, he doesn't." Exasperated, Jack plucked Lumpy from Daniel's arms and tucked him under his armpit. He joined Carter and Fraiser in reading the menu posted in the restaurant's window.
"I'm afraid I have to vote with Daniel also on this one, sir. The mere thought of standing up and eating a hot dog or hamburger..."
Daniel tugged at Lumpy and Jack turned around, surprised at how upset Daniel seemed. "I'm sorry, Jack." Daniel's attempt at whispering still needed some work, and everyone leaned forward to hear. "I didn't know this place was so much money for dinner. Pizza will be fine." Daniel stopped pulling at Lumpy's head and settled for just smoothing down the fur.
"It's not that." Jack placed Lumpy into Daniel's outstretched arms, wrapping his arm around Daniel's shoulder, pulling him to face the menu in the window. "See." Jack pointed out the various headings on the menu. "This place features food from all over the world." Before, this never would have even been a problem because, of the two of them, Daniel had always been willing to try almost anything. Now, his taste buds were those of a normal five year old, geared towards, hamburgers, fries, nuggets, and Jack would count his lucky stars when Daniel would eat either vegetables or a salad served with dinner.
"I like egg rolls." Daniel pointed to one of the pictures adorning the fancy menu. "And I'll behave, I promise." Daniel squirmed out from under Jack's arm and pivoted, making his appeal to the group standing around him "I'll be good and I won't ask when we're leaving."
Cassie breezed right past them and pulled open the door. "While the bunch of you are standing around deciding, I'm going to get us a table." With a waggle of fingers and a tease of air conditioning from inside the restaurant, she disappeared behind the glass door.
"Thanks!" Daniel shouted, flinging his arms around Jack's neck and planting a loud, wet kiss on his cheeks. "You're the bestest. Isn't he the bestest?"
"Indeed," Teal'c agreed with a straight face and a lift of his eyebrows.
"Oh definitely the bestest," Carter said as she walked over to the door and held it open.
Fraiser just snorted as she entered the restaurant.
"Everyone's a critic," Jack complained as he pushed Daniel towards the opened door.
"Aaaaaaah. That feels wonderful." Carter stopped in the foyer and maneuvered her body, lifting her face to the vent in the ceiling.
"Oh yes," Fraiser agreed, picking her hair off the back of her neck and rotating under the venting.
Jack walked through the foyer into the main dining area, smiling at the smattering of overlapping ethnicities of the restaurant's décor. Though garish in appearance, Daniel seemed mesmerized by the various representations of the different cultures.
The place was fairly quiet, the majority of people in the park obviously not having either the patience nor the inclination of a sit down, more expensive restaurant that featured exotic fare. Daniel didn't hesitate and with Lumpy tucked under his arm he took the lead, while Jack and the others followed behind to the table where Cassie was standing.
Daniel was staring so intently at the waiter that Jack was seconds away from kicking him beneath the table to draw his attention away from the young man, who was becoming uncomfortable under his perusal. Slowly, with a wary expression on his young face, the server handed Daniel his menu.
"Yiasou //hello//," Daniel finally said, accepting the menu. "Me léne, Daniel //My name is Daniel//." Daniel smiled hugely at the young man's surprised expression. "Pos se léne //What's your name//?"
The waiter stuttered. "Me léne Nicholas //My name is Nicholas//."
"Yiasou, Nicholas //Hello Nicholas//." Daniel waved his arm the length of the table, totally missing the wide eyed, slack jawed expressions on his friends. "Afti einai i fili mou //These are my friends//.
Shyly, Nicholas waved at everyone and patted Lumpy's head.
"To onoma tou einai Lumpy //His name is Lumpy//," Daniel offered, and gave the waiter one last smile before burying his head in the extensive menu.
Jack watched the waiter leave before leaning over to grab the top of the menu Daniel was studying, forcing it down on the table, exposing a very surprised and annoyed Daniel. "Hey," Daniel whined, "what did you do that for?"
Jack waggled his finger between Daniel and the direction the waiter had just left. "What was that about?"
Daniel looked over his shoulder. "Huh?"
"You and the waiter were talking..."
"Oh, I was just introducing him to everyone." Exasperated Daniel attempted to tug the menu from Jack's hand. "Can I please have the menu back?"
"That was cool," Cassie said over the top of her menu. "How did you know what language he spoke?"
"His ummm..." Daniel tapped his chest.
Daniel nodded enthusiastically, "Yup. The picture on his nametag matched the language."
"I think Daniel means the flag," Cassie interjected. "Remember you told me that the servers in the park were from all over the world, students who spend the summer here in some kinda program."
"Exchange?" Sam supplied.
"Yeah so I spoke the language the matched his flag." Daniel shrugged.
Jack concentrated, trying to picture the nation's flag on Nicholas' nametage. "Ya just spoke Greek to him?"
"Was Greek the wrong language? That flag made those words come into my mind and outta my mouth." Daniel blindly reached towards Lumpy, pulling him into his arms. "Are you mad?"
"No, no," Jack said, mentally kicking himself for allowing his surprise at another one of Daniel's streaks of genius to place a damper on the mood around the table. He patted Daniel's hand. "I'm not mad, you just surprised me."
"Did I do something wrong? He was a stranger, right, you told me I shouldn't talk to-?"
"You have done nothing wrong, DanielJackson. You extended your hand in greeting as you have always done."
"And that's good?"
"Very good." Jack raised Daniel's menu upward. "Enough, let's order."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I want the Hunan Chicken."
"I know... okay, then I'll have the shredded beef."
"That's spicy also."
"I'll drink lotsa water."
"I have an idea, sir. Why don't we all order Chinese and then we can share. Do you like that idea, Daniel? This way we'll all get a mixture of spicy and not spicy dishes." Sam closed her menu.
"I like that idea, Sam."
"Fine by me," Jack said, thinking that Daniel was going to order, eat nothing, and Jack would be calling room service at midnight for chicken nuggets and French fries.
"Hola, me llamo Daniel //Hello my name is Daniel//," he said the woman who came to take their order.
"Hola, Daniel," she answered with a smile. "Me llama Rita."
"Hola, Rita. Estos son mi amigos //These are my friends//." Daniel held Lumpy up for Rita to see. "El se llama Lumpy //His name is Lumpy//."
"Hola, Lumpy." Rita smiled and winked at Daniel. "Can I take your order?"
Jack sat back and allowed Fraiser to order, hoping he'd remembered to throw a package of Rolaids in his suitcase.
"Saki," Daniel blurted out. "Can we get saki?"
"Saki?" Rita asked, looked for guidance.
"Warm saki would be nice."
Jack shook his head as he questioned Rita. "You don't have any saki, do you?"
Rita took a moment to contemplate his question. "No sir, we don't, though I could bring Daniel a Shirley Temple if that would be okay."
Daniel screwed up his face. "A girl's drink?"
"Hey, watch that, buster," Cassie teased good naturedly. "I'd like a Shirley Temple also, two umbrellas please."
Jack waited until Daniel was distracted before he leaned over and whispered a "thank you" in Cassie's ear.
The food was better than Jack ever expected and he smiled, just enjoying watching Daniel instructing Cassie in the use of chopsticks. Little pieces of genius had been peeking out all through dinner and if Jack squinted his eyes, and if the lighting was just right, he could pretend that all was right with his world. But then Daniel would laugh or giggle and Jack would be shoved right back into reality, because the old Daniel had rarely laughed with the intensity or abandon he did now.
Daniel lifted his head from his plate when the girl came to pour the water, and from across the table, Daniel's sharp intake of breath drew Jack's attention away from his own dinner. Daniel was staring, not blinking, and in his widened eyes Jack saw a spark of remembrance and a glimpse of *his* Daniel. The girl turned to Jack, raising the water pitcher, asking silently for permission to refill his glass and he realized what Daniel saw. Whoever this person was, she was the spitting image of Sha're, not as she would look now, but when Jack had first met her on Abydos. Young, innocent, shy and very beautiful.
He stole a glance at Daniel, who sat frozen, his chopsticks lowered onto his plate, the only movement was the slow blinking of his eyes. The din of the restaurant faded into the background, the clatter of plates, their table's conversations became almost nonexistent as Jack focused only on Daniel and this Sha're look-a-like.
Daniel resembled someone who was slowly awakening from a long sleep, his mind unsure in which reality he truly existed. Would this unknown person be able to bring Daniel back, something Jack had been unable to do? In a flash of pain that was almost too quick to latch onto, Jack felt a flush of jealously spread through his body as Daniel reached out to hesitantly touch the young woman's waist length, unruly, dark curly hair.
She started when Daniel tugged at a loose curl, waiting patiently as Daniel fingered the dark strand, examining it as he had his precious artifacts. Jack was almost embarrassed at the intimacy in that one simple gesture, feeling like a voyeur, forgetting for a moment that the woman poised over the table with the water pitcher wasn't Sha're, that Daniel, well, wasn't Daniel, and that he, Jack, wasn't sitting under the double moons of Abydos.
Her smile was gentle, her eyes even gentler when she smiled first at Daniel, then at Jack. She placed the water pitcher on the table. "You are very sweet," she said softly, gazing at Daniel, touching the hand that held her hair.
Daniel looked at Jack in confusion, then at the woman, jerking his arm from under her hand as if he had touched a hot iron. "Jack?" his voice, high pitched and anxious, his hands fumbled around until they found Lumpy. With shaking hands he pulled the toy into his lap, clenching and unclenching the squishy body. Recognition was totally gone, and Jack was left looking at a Daniel who had obviously just awoken from a dream.
"I'm sorry," the young woman said. "I didn't mean to upset you. Your camel is very nice, does he have a name?"
Daniel fidgeted, his gaze flittering around the dining room as if he was unsure of exactly where he was. Jack was very familiar with that haunted expression; it was the one that Daniel wore after he awoke from his all too frequent nightmares.
"Lumpy, his name is Lumpy." He spoke so softly, and his head was bowed, so that even Jack had a hard time hearing him.
"How do you do, Lumpy," she extended her hand and shook one of Lumpy's hooves. "My name is Tina."
"Nice to meet you, Tina," Daniel mumbled into Lumpy's fur. "I'm Daniel."
Tina picked up the water pitcher. "I need to get back to work, but it was a pleasure meeting both you and Lumpy. Hope you enjoy your dinner."
Daniel nodded, watching Tina walk away through hooded eyes, and once she was safely at another table, he put Lumpy back on the table next to his plate and picked up his chopsticks.
Slowly, the sounds of the restaurant began to seep back into Jack's consciousness. Sam's bantering with Cassie, Fraiser's reprimands, a background cacophony signifying the world was righting itself once more. "Are you okay?" Jack asked.
Daniel looked at Jack over the rim of his glasses, a piece of chicken dangling between the chopsticks. "I remember," he said sadly in an adult-timbered Daniel voice.
"Remember what?" Jack hissed, forcing his voice to remain low and steady as he leaned across the table. "What do you remember, Danny?"
"That you promised me ice cream if I finished my dinner? You did promise me that? Why do you look so upset? Did I do something wrong?"
Jack forced out a smile. "No, you didn't do anything wrong and yes, I remember... now are you going to remember to leave room for the dessert?"
Jack didn't have to worry about room for dessert, or even dinner, he realized, as he studied Daniel's bent head. The food's appeal had been lost in the last encounter and he hoped that Daniel would break his promise and beg to leave the restaurant, because he would be the first to volunteer to take Daniel back to the hotel.
"Let me move Daniel over to this bed." Jack slid the blanket off Daniel's slumbering body.
Teal'c placed a protective hand on Daniel's shoulder. "Leave him be, O'Neill. There is no reason to disturb his sleep."
"He sometimes gets restless. I don't want him to disturb you."
Teal'c easily tugged the blanket from Jack's grip and adjusted it around Daniel's shoulders. "Do not fear, O'Neill, I will be here if Daniel Jackson suffers from a nightmare, and you will only be in the next bed if I require aid. Do you not agree that you will get a more restful sleep in a bed rather than the couch?"
Jack nodded. Teal'c was one hundred percent right. Daniel had fallen asleep instructing Teal'c in the fine art of hand-held video games, and was now down for the count, snoring lightly. He was turned on his side, his back pressed up against the length of Teal'c's leg, his head resting on the enormous Sponge Bob pillow, and Lumpy was nose to nose with Daniel, tucked tightly in his grip.
Teal'c grabbed Jack's hand as he went to wipe off a smudge of chocolate in the corner of Daniel's mouth. "Maybe it is you that are restless, O'Neill, and not Daniel Jackson."
"He missed a spot when he washed his face."
"Is not the fact that he is sleeping peacefully more important than a clean face?"
"It is. I guess you're right," Jack reluctantly conceded. He stepped closer and pointed at Daniel's nose. "Look, he's sunburned." Jack grimaced in sympathy, tsk'ing and shaking his head. "That's going to hurt in the morning, let me go get some cream."
"O'Neill!" Teal'c fixed Jack with an angry gaze. "I believe it is in the best interest of everyone in this room if you take a walk. Now, while it is still early."
"Yes, you are still appropriately attired to go down to the coffee shop."
"After that big dinner I'm not in the mood-"
"I did not ask if you were in the mood, I instructed you to take a walk and to allow Daniel Jackson to sleep."
At the exact moment Jack was forming a snappy comeback to Teal'c's argument, Carter stuck her head into the room. "Anyone interested..." she noticed that Daniel was sleeping and lowered her voice to a whisper. "Anyone interested in going down to the coffee shop, I wanted..."
"O'Neill was just expressing an interest in visiting that place, Major Carter."
"Hey!" Jack replied indignantly.
Jack glanced from Teal'c's set expression to Daniel's lax, sleeping one. "Let's go, Major."
The lobby was quiet and peaceful, more so than the bustling coffee shop and Jack cocked his head to one of the leather couches set in the back of the cavernous room. "Care to take a load off?"
Carter smiled, eyeing the couches with relish. She sat with an audible sigh which increased in volume as she took a sip of her coffee purchase. She sipped again and passed it under her nose as if testing the oral perfumes of a fine wine. "Wow." Carter licked her lips. "This is absolutely amazing, I bet Dan... Oh." Clear blue eyes clouded with remembrance, and she leaned forward to place the coffee on the table in front of them.
"Sorry, Colonel... I didn't mean."
"You miss him. Why are you sorry?"
"Because it doesn't seem fair to this Daniel to still mourn the other one. I mean... oh hell, I don't know what I mean." Carter abruptly got up, grabbed her coffee cup and dropped it into the nearest trash can. Jack got up with a sigh and followed her over to where she now stood by the windows overlooking the hotel's gardens. He draped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close.
"I miss him, too," Jack admitted.
"I didn't mean to imply that you didn't... it's just that everyone seems to have an easier time than I do dealing with him."
"Is that the reason for the goody bag you stuck in his suitcase?"
Carter nodded. "I guess I overcompensate."
"Yes, and you spoil him rotten."
"And that's a bad thing... right?"
"Very bad," Jack agreed. "But it's okay. This is new and uncharted territory we're dealing with, Carter, even though it's Daniel. We're all feeling our own way along here, sometimes more blindly than others. Finding out what works and what doesn't."
"Spoiling doesn't work." Jack felt her shoulders sag in defeat.
"Not when you do it out of guilt."
"Do you believe I spoil out of guilt, sir?" Carter slipped from under his arm and turned to face him.
Jack shook his head. "It's not what I believe... what do *you* believe."
She pushed past Jack and walked back to the couch, dropping into the overstuffed cushions, flinging her feet onto the table and crossing them at the ankles. Exasperated, Jack threw up his hands and followed her. He looked around to make sure he wouldn't receive a reprimand from the hotel personnel and sat on the table facing his 2IC.
"He was a genius," Carter said, and her eyes filled with tears.
Jack nodded, patting her ankles. He had a guilt instinct that this conversation was going to destroy him, but he needed his team by his side, all of them united. For strength and guidance, 'cause there were days he wouldn't be able to do it alone. And if Carter, hell, even if Teal'c, wanted to talk, he would sit and listen and die just a little bit more inside. "He was," Jack whispered, the lump in his throat constricting painfully.
"It hurts me to see him have such a hard time with skills..."
"A five year old could easily accomplish?"
"Yes, sir." Carter began to fiddle with a loose string on the hem of her tee shirt. "I guess I spoil him to give him confidence." She snorted and used the tips of her fingers to wipe away escaping tears. "The old Daniel," she gave a little unCarterlike burst of laughter, "never needed confidence when it came to his intelligence. This Daniel..." she looked at her CO, "I don't know what else to call him, sir... this Daniel, that Daniel... god, it sounds so heartless."
Jack gave a little smile of understanding and an empathetic pat to her leg. There was no way he could trust his voice in this very public place.
She answered his smile with a wavering one of her own before continuing. "This Dan... Daniel's good at video games... he doesn't seem to struggle with them like he struggles with everything else, and when he becomes immersed in them, I can almost pretend... Well, I thought he deserved to feel good about something he can accomplish all by himself. I wouldn't call that guilt, would you?" Carter asked hopefully.
"Not at all," Jack said, standing, giving her a moment to compose herself before offering her a hand to stand.
Did Teal'c just sigh? Jack was dumbstruck with disbelief and couldn't resist the urge to call the big guy on it. "Did you just sigh?"
"I did not," Teal'c answered tersely. "It is just that I have reached a level on this game in which it appears I must capture the..." Teal'c clicked the game shut and slammed it down onto the bed. "Daniel Jackson is much more adept at this than am I," Teal'c admitted, gently caressing the sleeping form tucked even closer to his leg than when Jack and Carter had left.
"Frustrated?" Jack shared a smile and a wink with Carter.
Teal'c raised his eyebrows at the mere suggestion that he might be. "I am not."
Teal'c's next statement was interrupted when Daniel threw Lumpy in Teal'c's lap, his hand following to grip the camel's leg tightly.
Jack pointed at Daniel. "I believe Daniel's ..."
"If you were going to say, out for the numbers, I would agree."
"Numbers?" Jack silently mouthed at Carter.
She smiled and began to put up individual fingers.
"Ah." After all these years with Teal'c you'd think... "Out for the count, Daniel's out for the count."
"Is that not what I said?" Teal'c's hand slipped down and he began to slowly pet Lumpy's head.
"Yeah, it's what you said. Sorry, I'm just..."
"Tired," Carter butted in. "The Colonel was just saying that he could go for a good night's sleep." She added a yawn of her own. "Night guys." Carter gave a slight wave and a gentle smile at Daniel, but for the Colonel, her smile was a slight bit broader, and in response, Jack whispered a soft "you're welcome."
Jack waited until the door closed between the adjoining rooms. "Think I'm going to get ready for bed. Are you sure you don't want me to..."
"I consider Daniel Jackson to be a member of my family, as are you and Major Carter. I am honored to spend time with him, protecting him, sharing knowledge of his video games and watching the Sponge that wears Pants. I do not mind that, what I do mind is that you do not allow either Major Carter or myself to be with DanielJackson as much as we wish."
"I'm sorry," Jack stammered. Had he really been doing that, in protecting Daniel, had he cut him off from the people he considered family?
"Do not be. Know that we are there to assist you and help. This is a journey that requires all of our hands and hearts."
Properly reprimanded with almost the same speech he had given Carter, Jack bowed slightly in appreciation. "Daniel snores, T."
"As do you." Teal'c patted the head snuggled against his thigh. "I believe I will feel quite at home."
"Daniel, you need to put the clothes in the suitcase for it to count as packing," Jack said, watching as Daniel wandered away from the open bag for the umpteenth time.
"Uh huh." Daniel was kneeling on the floor, looking under his bed. A heavy sigh came from that direction.
"What's wrong, buddy? Did you lose something?" Jack walked over the bed, but didn't risk his knees by getting in the same position.
"I can't find it." Daniel's voice was muffled and now he was stretched out full length on the floor, one arm under the bed.
"What can't you find?" Jack stood, preparing to get on the floor to help search for the missing item. A quick glance told him that Lumpy was safe at least, propped as he was on top of Jack's suitcase.
Daniel pulled his arm out from under the bed and rolled over to his back, looking up at Jack with an expression that conveyed his disappointment at Jack's apparent inability to understand. "The memory."
"Memory?" Jack frowned.
Daniel got to his knees, placing his hands on Jack's knees and looking at him earnestly. "Last night when we got back here, Doc Janet said we have lots of good memories to take home with us, to carry with us all the time, so I want to find it."
"Ah buddy," Jack leaned forward, hugging Daniel. "The memories are in here." He tapped Daniel's head and then pushed back a little and tapped his heart. "And here."
"Oh." Daniel looked at the floor and Jack wondered if there was a part of him that remembered he used to know things. But then Daniel looked back up, giving Jack a brilliant smile. "I'm glad. Cause I didn't know if it would fit in my suitcase."
"Yeah, that's a good thing," Jack managed to say. "I'm gonna go check the bathroom. Make sure we've got everything out from there. And you finish packing."
He closed the bathroom door behind him and found a towel, burying his face in it as he laughed. Jack wasn't surprised that tears were mixed with the smile. Sometimes life with this new Daniel, even more so than with the older one, was a roller coaster of emotions. Jack took a shaky breath and ran some cold water, wetting his face and then wiping it with the towel. He looked at himself in the mirror, wondering if all those lines had been there before. He tossed the towel in the tub and went back out to Daniel.
"Jack!" Daniel gave him a brilliant smile, grabbing Jack's hand and pulling him towards his suitcase. "Look, I did it. I got everything in there."
"That you did," Jack agreed. He looked around the room, not wanting to burst Daniel's bubble and telling him the suitcase actually needed to be closed, and spied the papers lying scattered on the table. "Hey buddy, why don't you do me a favor and get all the papers together? Then when we get home, we can put them in a scrapbook for you."
"Okay." Daniel went to the table, pulling out the chair and starting to arrange the maps, tickets and various papers from the hotel. Jack knew Daniel had no idea what any of the papers said, although Daniel had liked the pictures on all the pamphlets. At least it would keep him occupied while Jack managed to repack the suitcase and get it to close.
He pulled out the Spongebob pillow that Daniel had placed in the bottom, realizing that it took up the most room. Looking up, Jack saw Daniel talking to Lumpy while he looked at the brochures. Removing the pillow allowed Jack to close the suitcase and he carried it over to rest with his.
He moved closer, listening as Daniel described the adventures of yesterday.
"And see, this is the train. Remember Jack said we could ride it a zillion times if I wanted. And he came with me every time. And there's the Ferris wheel. Teal'c said he'd keep me from falling out and he held onto me the whole time. Remember we could see the whole world from there, way up so high. And Jack let me drive these cars, remember? He said I was a good driver and then he got real quiet." A sigh followed that remark. "I think sometimes he's sad, Lumpy. And I don't know how to make him happy again."
Jack cleared his throat, not wanting to startle Daniel. He smiled and reached out to touch Daniel's head, surprised that when he spoke, his voice was strong. "Hey, you almost done with all this?"
"I was helping Lumpy remember," Daniel said, before looking up at Jack. "We had a good time. Doc Janet was right." Those words were said with a bit of surprise. "I won't forget them? The memories?"
"No. You won't forget. I promise." Jack knew he had a whole lot of happy memories to take home himself.
Jack helped Daniel put the papers in a pile and stuff them in his backpack. He was surprised when he heard a sniffle. "Daniel?"
He looked back to see Daniel biting his lower lip, his eyes filling with tears. "What's wrong, Danny?"
"We have to go home." Daniel started to wipe his nose with his hand, but Jack grabbed a tissue.
"Use this," he instructed, putting an arm over Daniel's shoulders as he blew his nose. "Yeah, buddy, we do." Jack squeezed Daniel's shoulders in reassurance.
"And then I have to go to the center and I want to go with you," Daniel said in a low breathless whisper.
"Hey, remember? That's your job. Remember you told me that you know that's your job?" Jack tried to sound enthusiastic, but he wished they could stay here, pretending things weren't different, too. Pretending that the drive up to the mountain wasn't as lonely as it had become.
Daniel nodded. "I'm trying real hard to be good, Jack."
"I know you are," Jack said, kissing Daniel's temple. "I know." He coughed once. "Now... we have to get going. Okay?"
"Okay," Daniel said, nodding and looking determined to get through this challenge. "Hey, Jack?"
"What?" Jack paused in handing Daniel his suitcase.
"I really really really really had fun."
"Me too, buddy. Me too." Jack said, realizing that he had, and maybe come a step closer to acceptance.
Authors' Comments: For our heartsisters--those who stand by when others abandon. This is our small gift to you. And to Jo who goes above and beyond. We love you all.
See "Goodbye to Dreams" for the original story
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