Wayward Son: In the Pain, there is Healingby devra
Authors' Notes:This is a Teen Daniel story. If this isn't your cup of tea, you may leave now and not say that you weren't warned.
Also, yes, it's AU, so don't rely on canon to keep you on the straight and narrow :) Characters may make cameo appearances in odd places where they didn't normally belong.
With a defiance that only a five year old could muster, Daniel stood before Jack, blocking the door with his body. Blue eyes huge behind his glasses, arms crossed across his chest, he was secure in his righteousness. Pity was that Jack was going to cut him down with just one word. "No."
"Yes." The hands moved to his hips and he spread his legs apart.
This was going to get old faster than the snow piling up on the walk. "Look, you just got over being sick—"
"I'm fine. Doc Janet said I was fine."
"You sound like Elmer Fudd, which in the Jack O'Neill Childrearing Handbook, means you're not fine."
"Huh? Who's Elmer—"
"Forget it. Fine for Fraiser is not the same as fine for me."
Daniel took a quick glance over his shoulder. "It's snowing."
Daniel kept going as if he hadn't even heard Jack. "I wanna build a snowman. Like we saw on TV last night."
Jack inhaled then exhaled. Slowly. Right now he had the horrific urge to take a blowtorch to yesterday's Frosty the Snowman cartoon. "How about a compromise?"
"Does that mean I can go out in the snow?"
"Then I don't wanna compromise."
Jack counted to twenty. "I go out and shovel. You watch from the window. Then—"
"I can build a snowman?"
"I don't like this compromise stuff."
"Let. Me. Finish," Jack hissed through clenched teeth.
Daniel nodded, tears welling, threatening to overflow.
"When I come in we'll have lunch. I'll make us some hot chocolate, then we'll go to Walmart and get you some warmer gloves and a hat for tomorrow. And snow pants so you'll stay dry—"
It was Jack's turn to be confused. "Sled?"
"So you can pull me and we can go sledding down a hill like in the book Teal'c read to me."
"Daniel, I'm not sure..." Jack was nearly bowled over by Daniel's enthusiastic hug to his knees.
"You're the best."
Jack ruffled Daniel's head of curls while Daniel buried his face in his crotch. Parenthood. He mentally filled the Walmart shopping cart. Hat. Gloves. Snow pants. Sled. And a damn huge bottle of Advil to counteract any and all future sledding activity.
"Lumpy and I are going to stand right here." The window in front of Daniel was already foggy from his breathing and he used Lumpy's snout to clean off the glass. "Wave to me when you get out there."
Jack pulled his hat down over his ears. "I will."
Daniel turned and earnest eyes studied Jack with an intensity that caused him to squirm. "Don't be long," he admonished.
"I'll try." Jack made a twirling motion with his fingers. "Find your lookout spot."
Daniel saluted Jack with Lumpy and spun around, once again taking position by the window.
The second Jack stepped out of the garage the wind sucked the air from his lungs. Once upon a time, a storm like this would've had him opening another beer and waiting for either spring or the SGC to dig him out. Not any more. Those days of enjoying the harshness of the Colorado weather from his well-worn recliner were gone. Daniel had seen to that. It had nothing to do with sledding or new winter gear and everything to do with the state of inexplicable panic that had seized him at the first weather forecast.
What if Daniel got sick again and he had to make it to the SGC? Or a hospital? Or they needed milk or bread? Eggs? Or macaroni and cheese? Jack needed easy access to the Avalanche. To the street. To civilization, just in case.
He stopped shoveling, leaned on the handle and stared at the front window where Daniel and Lumpy were standing. Daniel smiled hugely and with his aid, Lumpy waved at Jack.
The snow muted all sound, cocooning Jack who was working with diligent precision, raising his head every few minutes checking on Daniel and Lumpy. The poor kid had been sidelined the past week with a nasty cold and he'd felt horrible bursting his balloon, but as Jack stared upward at the still falling snow, he was pretty damn positive there'd be enough snow left on the ground for the next couple of months.
A gust of wind dislodged his hood, interrupting his wool gathering and for Daniel's entertainment, he shook the snow off his wool hat with exaggerated motions then shoved his hood back on his head.
Daniel giggled, then mouthed something. Jack, unsure of what he wanted, gave a noncommittal shrug. Daniel nodded, gave him a thumbs up and disappeared from the window, leaving Lumpy to watch Jack from his perch on the windowsill.
Jack shook his head and prayed that whatever Daniel had planned wouldn't require the assistance of a general contractor to repair the damage.
The temperatures were below freezing and with wind gusts that brought tears to Jack's eyes. Underneath his abundance of clothes, however, he was sweating like a pig. "Snow blower," he mumbled while tossing a shovelful of the white stuff to the side. "Huge snow blower," Jack added with the next shovelful. "Ride on," he decided, growling in frustration when he realized the pile he'd been constructing wouldn't withstand anymore snow.
So, with a shovelful of snow, he swiveled hard and fast on the slippery ground, the weight of the shovel and the momentum of his body completing the circle.
Jack saw Daniel at the last second and his mind tried to piece together why the five year old was standing outside dressed in a haphazard mishmash of unmatched winter gear with the garden spade's wooden handle clutched in his right hand. Jack registered all that information in a nanosecond but that didn't help him defy scientific law as the edge of the shovel caught Daniel on the side of the face.
If he had to pinpoint what happened next, Jack would say it was a three-way tie between flying kid-sized glasses, Daniel falling ass first into the snow and the eruption of blood. Lots of blood, staining the snow where he'd landed and spreading out, tendrils of red.
Time stood still and the two of them stared at each other. Jack's mind immediately went into reverse to a different time and a different little boy's blood.
He couldn't move. Frozen. Daniel, stunned by the blow and probably by his lack of action, was mustering nothing more than random pathetic whimpers changing only in pitch and tenor, never volume.
It was the sound of a snow plow rumbling up the block that kicked Jack's ass into gear. "Shit." He threw down his shovel, bent until he was face to face with Daniel, tore off his glove and reached out to check out the damage. The hand that came away covered with blood was the trigger.
The scream that had begun in the snow-covered front lawn continued in intensity through the house into the bathroom, the contained sound bouncing and rebounding off the walls. All arms and legs, Daniel was fighting Jack every step of the way, and the two of them, the walls, the floor, the bathmat, and the shower curtain were splattered with blood.
Soothing words of endearment spoken in hushed, calm tones were not working. So Jack kept the sentiment the same but increased the volume.
"Let's get your jacket off." For like the hundredth time, Jack reached forward and tugged on the zipper and with more success than before, he was able to maneuver the zipper halfway before it stuck on Daniel's shirt before he squirmed and Jack lost his grip on the zipper. A wave of frustrated anger tipped him over the edge. "Stop it!" he yelled, his voice overpowering but not silencing Daniel's screams. Angrily, he latched onto Daniel's biceps, picked him up and plopped his ass on the bathroom counter. "Stay there." He pointed at Daniel when he moved to slide off. "I want your bottom on the counter. Do. You. Understand. Me?"
The screaming came to an abrupt stop but not the tears, the moisture mixing with the blood, diluting the redness.
"Don't move." Jack ignored the jacket, it was ruined anyway. "So much for your winter coat. Damn it, the thing wasn't even a month old."
"Sorry." The word was muddled by both tears and the remnants of lingering sickness.
"You should be." One handed, Jack wet a washcloth, squeezed out the extra moisture then gently wiped away the blood on Daniel's face, trying to get to the source. "I told you to stay inside." God, there was so much blood, too much. "None of this would've happened if you'd just listened to me. Stayed inside where you were supposed to be. You and Lumpy—"
"Lumpy!" Panic-stricken, Daniel kicked out in an attempt to scoot off the counter.
Jack caught the flaying feet with his free hand. "Lumpy's fine, I'm sure, because he paid attention."
"I want him."
"Yeah, well too bad, you're going to have to be a little..." A nice sized cut on Daniel's cheekbone was the culprit. Way too big and deep for at home doctoring with a steri strip. "Great, I think the ER's gonna have a gurney with your name on it."
Jack huffed. "Do not move. Do you understand? Not one iota. I'm going to get the phone to call her."
Solemnly, Daniel nodded.
Yeah, that worked. Not. Fraiser had listened to Jack's concerns and agreed with him regarding playing doctor at home but that was it. She was at the SGC and couldn't run to their aid but recommended Jack and Daniel visit the Academy Hospital where she promised to call in more than a few markers and have a plastic surgeon meet them there.
"Fraiser's calling for a special doctor to meet us at the hospital," Jack began, putting up a finger when Daniel went to interrupt. "I need to go start up the car." Jack surveyed the bathroom mess then closed the toilet lid, picked up Daniel and sat him down. He plucked a clean towel off the rack, pressed it into Daniel's hands then guided it up to his face. "Hold that. Right there." He moved it a little higher. "Wait for me, I'll be right back." He strode out of the room then stepped back in. "Stay," he ordered.
"Stay," Daniel repeated.
Jack could only hope that Daniel listened.
The truck was all warmed up and thankfully the snow had dwindled down to a picturesque visual of huge flakes. "We're ready, Daniel," Jack yelled, grabbing the afghan off the couch as better protection against the cold than a half zipped, ruined winter coat.
"What the fuck?" The bathroom was empty. "Daniel," Jack bellowed then looked down and followed a blood trail leading from the living room into the kitchen where he found Daniel sitting on a chair, a melting, blood-stained ice cube clutched in his fingers. Lumpy was perched on the table overseeing the entire operation.
"I told you to stay put," he hissed through gritted teeth.
Hurriedly, Daniel stuck the ice cube to his face. "Ice is for boo boos."
"Who the hell told you that?" Jack stepped over a scattering of escaped cubes from the fridge and descended on Daniel.
"Grandma." There was a definite lack of conviction in his voice as Jack swooped him up and tucked him against his body.
"Drop the cube." He gave Daniel's hand a little shake. "It's going to freeze to your hand when we go outside."
"Lumpy." Daniel leaned over precariously and snatched the stuffie off the table, burying his face against the fur.
"Don't complain to me when he's full of blood, alright?" Jack grabbed a handful of napkins, pushed Lumpy aside and stuck the napkins over the injury. "Use these, Lumpy will thank you in the long run.
Even though the snow had lessened, the going was slow and Jack kept his attention split between the road and checking the rearview mirror. Daniel and Lumpy were watching the winter wonderland through the window. The napkins were pretty much useless at this point but Daniel kept them pressed to his cheek.
Eerily silent, Daniel's quietness was grating on Jack's last nerve. "What possessed you to come outside?" he asked, not even waiting for an answer. "If you'd only stayed inside right about now we'd be on our way to Walmart getting a sled instead of heading to the hospital."
A harsh laugh of disdain burst from Jack's lips. "No sled. Not today, tomorrow or the next day. Heck, I'm not even sure if a sled will be in your future this winter at all."
"You should've thought about that before getting dressed and heading outside." Jack slapped the steering wheel with the palm of his hand. "Bad things happen when you don't listen to the rules."
"I wanted to help."
"Some help, Daniel. Some help," Jack repeated slowly.
Fraiser may have pulled strings to get them into triage, but they weren't getting seen any faster than Joe Schmoe off the street. Okay, they were in a private room, rank and saving the world must have its privileges, but the plastic surgeon was delayed and Jack's frustration level was building with every pace.
He stopped mid-stride and dug his vibrating cell phone out of his pocket, ignoring the warning signs on the wall.
"Where are you?"
"We're at the Academy Hospital Emergency Room—"
"What the hell happened?" His mother's voice was edged in panic. "There's blood throughout the house. Daniel's glasses were on the front lawn—"
Shit. Shit. Shit. "Mom? How do you know that? What are you doing at our house?"
Like Daniel, she had a wonderful ability to ignore him when she didn't want to answer a specific question. "How bad is it?"
"He had a run in with a shovel," Jack began.
"What the hell was he doing outside? He just got over being sick—"
"Don't you think I know that?" For a second, Jack turned his attention to Daniel on the gurney. "He took it upon himself to disobey after what I'd told him and—"
"Is. He. Okay?"
"Yes," he answered begrudgingly.
"Then that's all that matters. It was an accident, Jonathan."
"Yeah, accidents happen, yadda yadda yadda. Been there, done that. I think I've heard those words enough to last a lifetime."
His mother showed up forty minutes later. Jack had moved his pacing to the hallway, glaring at the closed door every time he walked past.
"Well?" she asked breathlessly.
"Doctor's with him now."
She looked at the closed door then at Jack, then at the door. "So why are you out here?"
"Doctor's performing his handiwork. Said I was more of a hindrance than a help." Jack stoically swallowed his emotions.
Not his mother, her emotions were right there, out in the open and her face paled. "So much blood." Gloved fingers reached out and traced the splatters on his shirt. His jacket. His face.
Jack removed her hand and held the fingers in his. "It looks worse than it is. Honest."
There was no way she believed him.
Hell, he didn't believe him either.
Jack folded the discharge instructions, shoved them in his pocket, thanked the nurse then reached out towards Daniel. "Hey buddy, ready to blow this Popsicle stand?"
Daniel watched the nurse leave before answering. "Is grandma coming?"
"She shouldn't have even driven in the snow—"
Daniel bowed his head. "I'm sorry, Grandma."
The daggers flew from his mother's eyes before she settled herself next to Daniel. "I was coming over to surprise you. I made some 'spatini sauce—"
"In the snow, Ma? You spoil him. Driving isn't great and we have more than enough food."
"I'm starving." Daniel crawled into her lap.
"Me, too, mhuirnin."
Hello. Didn't anyone even notice he was in the room? "Come on, Daniel, get off your grandmother before you get blood on her."
"Sorry, sorry, sorry." He flopped back onto the bed, dug Lumpy out from underneath his ass and shoved him into his mother's face. "Lumpy's got blood on him."
"Didn't I tell you that would happen?" Jack asked harshly.
"Don't worry, we'll clean him up. Make him fluffy and clean smelling."
"No," Jack interjected before his mother could give some Disney coated answer. "Baths and showers are prohibited for at least forty-eight hours. Doctor's orders."
"There are ways," she warned, her words geared for him, while keeping a gentle touch on Daniel's shoulder, "to bend the rules without breaking them."
And leave it to his mother, she bent more than a few rules and Daniel and Lumpy were both clean and fluffy. She'd washed the two of them then clothed Daniel with grandma gentleness while he'd scrubbed away the blood splatter and drippings. While bleach and elbow grease had vanished the visuals, the memories of the blood were imbedded in his brain.
He shoved a load of laundry into the washer with more anger than it deserved, tossed in some extra laundry detergent then stood there, eyes closed, hands gripping the machine. Whoever said that parenthood was like riding a bicycle and that you never forgot was one hundred percent correct. Except that maybe, just for once, he wanted to forget days that had begun in laughter and had ended with blood.
Spatini was a strained affair. Daniel was five and curious, two traits that didn't mix well together with stitches. Jack pushed pudgy inquisitive fingers away from the bandage on his face. "I told you, don't touch."
While Jack's voice was harsh and filled with accusatory reprimand, in contrast, his mother’s reprimand was softly gentle. "Mhuirnin, you need to be careful. Don’t touch, remember what the doctor said."
Daniel slid his hand out from under Jack’s and nodded. "I forgot."
"No, it’s not. He can’t forget, he’s five."
"You’re not five, and you never forget anything?"
"We’re not talking about me, are we?" Jack’s voice rose in anger.
His mother’s furtive glance at Daniel, who sat head down, studying his clasped hands, shut him up. With a loud sigh, Jack began to clear the table, placing the dirty dishes on the counter then filled the sink with soapy water.
With more meticulous care than needed, he began to do the dishes, waiting for some conversation or at least a helping hand. Nothing.
Jack gave a sideways glance over his shoulder when he heard the scraping of chair legs on the kitchen floor followed by a shuffle of sock covered feet. "Grandma, can I come sit in your lap?" The tiny voice was hesitant.
"Lap is more than available, honey, but these bones are protesting the lack of cushioning in these chairs. Let’s go sit in the living room."
True to his word, Daniel was curled on his grandmother's lap, his head tucked under her chin, his fingers running along the lines in the opened book. The bruise on his cheek was enhanced by the reading lamp and Jack couldn't help but cringe. He'd done that. Accident or not, he hadn't been fast enough or good enough to protect Daniel.
"Again," Daniel demanded when his mother closed the book around his fingers.
She placed a kiss on the crown of his head. "Once more."
Even from where Jack stood, he watched with more than a tinge of jealousy as Daniel snuggled against her and rubbed Lumpy against her cheek. This time instead of his fingers following her words, his thumb slipped into his mouth.
Jack edged forward, near enough to see Daniel's eyes were now at half mast. "Hey, big guy," he said, stretching out his arms, "how about some shut eye?"
Daniel's eyes flew open and he shrank against his mother. "No!" The thumb slid from his mouth and he wrapped two arms around Lumpy.
"We're just going to finish this book." His mother gazed up at Jack, expecting understanding.
"Yup," Daniel nodded, "what Grandma said."
"Okay, I'll be patient." Jack smiled and was a little surprised when there was no answering emotion, but when the book was finished, Daniel still balked, ignoring Jack's outstretched arms, clinging tightly to his mother.
Jack was hurt. Confused. He offered every known bedtime bribe to get the kid to come with him. Over and over Daniel resisted, until his mother couldn't take the battle of wills anymore.
Gently she shoved Daniel off her lap. "Come on, it's bedtime." With exaggeration she faked a huge yawn. "Grandma's really tired."
"You're not going home?" he asked, panic-stricken.
"No," she answered without even looking at Jack for permission. "That's what extra bedrooms are for."
Jack followed, then stopped when Daniel turned around and glared. "Grandma's tucking me in. I don't need you."
Shocked by the venom coming from the little voice, Jack halted in his tracks. "Okay, if that's what you want."
"Yup," Daniel said, dismissing Jack when he turned his back on him.
Forlornly, Jack watched the two figures and one stuffie walk down the hall.
He paced and waited impatiently through all the nighttime rituals that he heard. Teeth brushing, changing into pj's and a giggle or two over something.
"What was that all about?" Jack hissed at his mother the second she joined him in the living room.
"What was what all about?"
"Suddenly I'm the enemy?"
His mother's eyebrow dance would've made Teal'c jealous. "You're kidding me, right?"
His mother shook her head. "Obviously not kidding. You don't get it."
"Maybe you better sit down." She grabbed his hand, led him to the recliner and Jack allowed her to push him into the seat.
"Good, I'm glad, now you better be listening."
"I'm listening." Jack allowed himself a little internal eye roll then sat back to listen.
"Good, now you better hear me. That five year old child is terrified of you."
"Me?" Suddenly, Jack found himself at the edge of the chair.
"Yes, you. Did you hear yourself today? You berated him every chance you got. You were angry over this injury. You yelled, were short tempered and deserved a kick in the pants because you didn't even see how you failed him."
Jack opened his mouth, rebuttal words at the ready but he paused for probably a millisecond, enough to make a connection. "There was just so much blood."
His mother lowered herself onto the coffee table. "I know. I saw after the fact, so I can just imagine—"
"No. You. Can't," Jack spewed angrily. "You can't imagine what I felt when I saw all that blood."
Her hand flew to her mouth and her eyes grew large and moist. "Oh, God, I didn't..."
"Yeah, I figured you didn't," Jack said, not wanting to let go of his anger. "I guess... I know," he amended, "I saw Charlie lying in a pool of blood and I said," Jack shook his head, "terrible things. I said terrible things to Daniel. All the things I couldn't say to Charlie. About not listening to me. Doing something he wasn't supposed to." Jack sat back in the recliner and covered his eyes with his hands. "I was afraid."
"And angry," his mother said softly, tapping his knee. "You're allowed to be angry at Charlie."
Jack dropped his hand atop his mother's. "But not Daniel?"
"Daniel doesn't understand why you're angry and he's confused."
Jack snorted. "That makes two of us."
"He's five, you're not. You need to make it make sense to Daniel. And maybe," she said, rising up from the coffee table and planting a kiss on his check, "after you're done talking to Daniel, it just might make sense to you as well."
Jack walked into the dimly lit room and sat on the bed, all without waiting for an invitation. "I'm sorry I yelled today, Daniel."
Daniel pretended to be asleep, but Jack caught fingers imperceptibly tightening around Lumpy's neck.
"Adults yell for a lot of reasons. They're angry. Frustrated. Annoyed. But sometimes they yell because they're afraid."
Daniel turned onto his back and stared into Jack's eyes. "I was afraid when you yelled."
"I was afraid when I saw all that blood."
"Blood scares you?"
"Your blood scares me."
Daniel's forehead sprouted furrows. "Only my blood?"
"Well," Jack said, busying his hands with adjusting an already adjusted blanket, "when I see your blood it means you're hurt. And I get scared when you get hurt."
"Scared enough to yell?"
"Yup," Jack answered with a nod.
Ahh, there it was, the question. "Before you... many years before you, I had a little boy—"
"I have a brother?"
Jack patted Lumpy's head. "Yeah, I guess Charlie would be considered your brother."
Daniel sat up in bed. "Where is he?"
"Charlie had an accident and he died."
"Oh." Daniel crawled into his lap and Jack wrapped both arms around him and Lumpy. "You must've been scared."
"Did you yell?"
Jack rubbed his chin into Daniel's head. "I cried but I never yelled."
"Because Charlie wouldn't have been able to hear me."
" 'Cause he was dead."
"You yelled at me because I could hear you?"
"Daniel, Charlie died because he did something he wasn't supposed to. He didn't listen and today when I yelled..."
Daniel twisted from his grip, kneeled on the bed and stared at Jack. "You remembered Charlie."
"I'm not Charlie."
"I know that."
"But you forgot today that I was Daniel."
Gently, Jack touched the bruise on Daniel's face. "I think I did. I'm sorry."
"I heard you today."
Jack gave the tiniest of chuckles. "I expect that you did, I yelled loud enough."
"I bet if Charlie were here he'd tell you that he was sorry. Like I did."
"I'm sure he would." Jack kissed Daniel's nose. "Get under the covers, okay?"
Jack waited while Daniel and Lumpy made themselves comfortable. Then waited a bit longer just because he could.
"Daddy," Daniel said sleepily, "I love you."
"Love you, too, Icky."
Jack took his time, measuring each of Daniel's inhalation and exhalations until they lengthened with sleep.
Today hadn't turned out as expected, but that was parenthood in all its glory. On some days expectations would be shattered in a blink of an eye and on other days expectations, well, they surpassed one's dreams. Maybe in all the pain there was the ability to still heal. Remembering Charlie, facing his own true emotions regarding his son's death might be a step in the right direction and today, thanks to Daniel, it was quite possible that Jack healed a little bit more.
Author's Comments: This fic was written for my beta jo as a Christmas present and a general thank you for always making my words sing. The title of this fic is a line from a song by Lifehouse called Broken.
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DISCLAIMER:The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.