|Friendship:||Gen stories about the friendship between Col. Jack O'Neill and Dr. Daniel Jackson, with a team focus.|
|Season/Spoilers:||Season 4. No particular spoilers.|
|Synopsis:||A series of vignettes; the history of a name.|
|Warnings:||None, nada, zilch.|
She hung the phone up gently, staring blankly out the window. So, they'd finally found him. She'd known the child was only to be with them for a short time; they always stayed for such a short time. But this one was going to be hard to give up.
Out in the chilly yard, Danny was exploring the base of the big oak. Poking sticks in amongst the roots, watching the exposed grubs and insects with those big, solemn eyes. His parents had been dead for a year, now, and he was still so withdrawn and sad.
He never seemed to play the way the other children did. When she could get him to play at all. He hardly seemed to know how to interact with the other little ones, though he was astonishingly at ease and articulate with adults. And books… If she didn't pluck him out from behind the pages, he'd never play at all.
But he was a lovely, affection-starved child. Sweet tempered, polite, well behaved. And for the first time in many years of short-term fostering, she had a strong desire to keep a child forever.
Sighing, Helen walked over and opened the door to the broad porch.
"Danny, honey. You need to come in now."
Blue eyes lifted from their concentration on the wildlife of the tree's personal root-bound community. Obediently, without a word of protest, the little boy stood and brushed the dirt off his knees.
"Come on in, Sweetie. They just called. Your grandfather will be at the office this afternoon. We'll go into the city to meet him."
A parade of emotions swept over his face-hope, fear, anxiety, and a brush of excitement. He scooted quickly up the stairs, over the porch and under her arm into the warm kitchen. She swept her hand affectionately over his fair, tumbled hair as he slipped past her.
"You go wash your hands, then we'll have a bit of lunch. Then it's off to the city, okay?"
He nodded vigorously, his pale, serious little face peeking at her from under that flyaway mop of hair.
"He's really coming?" he asked, voice quiet and tense.
"So they say. Sorry to say, it looks like you're going to be leaving us tonight. I hate to see you go, Danny. You're such a wonderful little boy."
His cheeks pinked and a tiny smile curved his lips. "I like you, too, Mrs. Enris."
Her smile widened, and she stooped to plant a kiss on his cold cheek. "Okay, enough of this. Off to wash all the grubs off, young man."
She could feel the tension rolling off the small body perched close beside her.
"Relax, Danny. It isn't like I'm taking you to the dentist!"
His eyes flickered up to meet hers. He had his teeth clamped onto his lower lip, digging a pair of grooves into the soft tissue.
Helen smiled tenderly down at him. "So, tell me about your grandfather. Your mother's father, right?"
He nodded jerkily. "I d…don't really know him. We went to see him once, when I was little."
Danny shrugged. "He… he didn't pay any attention to me. But my mama… Well, they had a fight. We didn't stay very long."
She thought he was finished. He sat with his head down, contemplating the scuffed toes of his shoes. Then, quietly, "He was… pretty big. Kinda fierce."
A frisson of concern crept down her spine. Not the kind of resume she had hoped for. This little baby needed someone to fold him up and love him, not an old curmudgeon who'd ignore him unless he had something to yell at him about. And somehow she thought little Danny would manage to get himself yelled at a lot. Not that he was naughty-precisely the opposite. But he lived so much of his life tucked up in his own little cocoon. Toeing the line was something he was never going to be good at.
Helen forced her thoughts away from her concerns. She didn't have any voice in this. Danny's grandfather was apparently his only living relative; there really weren't any options.
Danny's tense body jerked as the office door opened.
"Mrs. Enris? Danny? Come on in."
As they stood to follow the aide into the inner office, Helen felt a cold little hand slide into hers. She tightened her fingers slightly, and felt the chilly fingers grip hard. She looked down into Danny's face and smiled, trying to project her affection and encouragement through the growing miasma of nervousness and fear.
"It'll be fine, Danny. Everything will be fine."
His tongue flicked anxiously over his full bottom lip, then his round little chin firmed and tilted up, and he pulled his hand free and led the way through the door, determination eloquent in every line of his body. Helen felt an undeserved wave of pride. This little show of courage wasn't her doing; it was one of the things he carried from those tragically lost parents.
She took a deep breath, metaphorically crossed her fingers, and followed him into the inner office.
This was a nightmare. How could he… Surely they wouldn't… Oh, Danny.
Helen fought against the tears that threatened to escape. For the last twenty minutes, she and Danny had sat and listened to a heartless, self-centered man argue with Danny's case worker and her superior. Back and forth, they'd tossed the fate of one broken-hearted little boy, never looking at the child in question, never speaking to him, never asking him what he wanted.
She'd felt the bravado that had carried Danny through the office door drain out of him, felt him draw into himself, felt the upwelling of sorrow and despair.
Now he sat next to her, head down, hands in his lap clenched into tight little fists.
"It just isn't possible; I travel all over the world; need to be free to depart at a moment's notice. I cannot take on the responsibility of a child!" The powerful, strongly accented voice overrode the more measured tones of the case worker. Helen watched Nicholas Ballard with growing anger. Big? Well, maybe to the three or four-year-old Daniel. Maybe physically. But she saw a very, very small man.
And the two Child and Family Services officers were no match for all that selfish determination. He was going to win the day. Even now, they were giving in.
Helen couldn't help herself; if he didn't want Danny, she certainly did. "What about adoption? Will you let him be adopted?"
Ballard looked at her for the first time, bristling in knee-jerk indignation. "Certainly not! He's my grandson. One day--when he's… bigger… more independent-I'll take him with me." He turned back to the case-worker. "In the meantime, you people take care of him. My life isn't suited to a little boy!"
Helen felt one of those tears escape. So, no adoption. And since she was a short-term foster parent, they'd take him away and place him in a longer term home.
She stiffened as the man finally turned to his grandson, crouching uncomfortably down in front of Danny's chair, trying to meet the child's eyes. Not a man used to children.
"Danny, I know you don't understand. But I can't take you with me."
Danny had kept his gaze firmly fixed on his clenched hands. For a moment, he didn't respond. Then, abruptly, his head jerked up and he stared into his grandfather's eyes.
Oh, my. Sorrow, anguish, devastation-yes. But also fury. Helen had never seen such an expression in the sweet little boy's face.
"I understand. You don't want me. Well, I don't want you, either!" Blue eyes were flooded, but no tear fell.
Ballard flushed, and reached awkwardly for one of those tight little fists. "You heard, Danny. My life…"
Danny whipped his hands behind his back, fiercely avoiding that touch. "My name is Daniel. Daniel. Don't you call me Danny!"
"No! My mama calls me Danny! Not you! Don't ever, ever call me Danny!"
And now the tears fell, silent, unbearably painful. Helen reached for the child, trying to fold him into her arms. For a moment he resisted, body tense and rigid. Then he yielded, sheltering his face against her body.
"Oh, Danny, I'm so sorry," she whispered into his silky hair.
"No. Only my m… mama can call me… Danny."
Helen glanced up quickly, treating Ballard to the hardest look she knew how to produce.
"Get away from him, you selfish old man. Just get away."
And she could still hear the thread of that tiny, devastated voice, muffled against her breast.
"…only my mama…"
Damn. They were at it again.
Marian Kenerley strode rapidly through the door onto the school's grounds, assuming her most authoritative attitude.
"Here! Stop that, all of you!"
The three bigger boys scattered. She allowed herself an inner smile. The old harridan routine still sent them running. Forty years as a teacher, and she still had the pizzazz.
The fourth boy slowly sat up, blood running freely from his nose. He groped over the ground for his lost glasses.
Marian picked up the glasses and tucked them into one of his hands. He solemnly contemplated the broken right lens, then sighed and slid the heavy frames onto his face.
"We'd better get you to the nurse, Daniel. She can help with the bloody nose, and it looks like you're going to have a first class shiner, there."
He avoided her eyes. "I'm fine."
"I'm fine," he insisted. "Bleeding's stopping already."
"I still think…"
"No!" He finally met her gaze. "I… I'm sorry, Miss Kenerley. I just… she'll call my…. She'll just make me go home. I don't want to miss school."
She shook her head. Forty years of intimidating the toughest of students… and along comes this quiet little mouse. This apparently totally oblivious mouse. She didn't scare him a bit.
He began gathering up the scattered papers. She watched him for a moment, then crouched down to help gather the belongings the three bullies had flung about. Pages and pages of his meticulous writing, several books, and a battered journal.
He held the journal for a moment, carefully straightening the crumpled, soiled pages. Then he picked up one of the books-a glossy, beautiful coffee table book about a museum exhibit of Egyptian artifacts. Several of the pages were badly torn; a couple of them had been ripped completely out of the book and suffered the indignity of being tromped on during the scuffle. Daniel's eyes filled with tears as he stroked the cover lovingly. Then he drew a deep breath, picked up the trampled scraps, and tucked them carefully between the intact pages of the book.
"Daniel, you really need to report what those boys are doing to you."
His solemn gaze met hers. As always, she was startled by the mature intellect she could see behind those eyes.
"It wouldn't do any good. Would just make them worse." He sighed. "My foster father says I shouldn't be such a sissy… should just stand up and fight back, but… Well, I just don't like that kind of thing." A flush of embarrassed color swept over his cheeks. "Don't like to fight."
"Not to mention the fact that one of those boys alone is twice your size! What is the man thinking! They're several years older than you as well, despite the fact that they are in your class."
She really didn't like the resignation in his voice. "I'm… different. I'm smaller and younger, I live with foster parents, and I like books better than baseball. They just think I'm weird."
"That's no justification for treating you the way they do!"
Suddenly, he smiled sweetly. "No. But I don't really think they're looking for justification. And it makes them feel, well, as if they're better than me."
"And you? Do you think they're better than you?"
His face closed. "Don't care. They're just different."
She stared at him for a moment, mourning, for possibly the millionth time in her long life with teenagers, for all of the meek little bookworms who'd suffered the fate of this boy.
His head shot up, and his gaze locked fiercely with hers.
"Daniel. Don't call me Danny!"
Surprised, she contemplated the youngster. So, this little mouse had teeth, did he?
"Very well, Daniel. Since you're so sure you don't want to visit the nurse, why don't you come on inside with me. You can spend the rest of the lunch period in my classroom. In fact, I've got a couple of books you might be interested in seeing." 'And I can check out that bloody nose and black eye.'
That caught him. His expression lightened with interest. "What kind of book?"
"Well, my uncle did a lot of traveling, and he published his travel journals. Not too many people were interested, but I've got them."
He stood, dusting off the seat of his pants. She could see the bright intellect pushing his troubles down into whatever box he trapped them in. "Where? Where did he travel?"
"A lot of places; Egypt, for one…"
She was rewarded with another of his rare smiles. "I… My p… parents were Egyptologists. I'm really interested in Egypt."
She recalled his sad contemplation of those glossy, crumpled pages. "Oh? I didn't know. Then you should enjoy these books."
She slipped an arm over his shoulders and gently urged him toward the building.
Sarah contemplated her new colleagues with interest. The three of them, all to work with Dr. Jordan. The chance of her lifetime. So what was it to be? Confidants? Competitors? She was secure in her own abilities, and more than a little ambitious. But she was also a realist. She was good; she was bright. But she was never going to be truly brilliant. If she were ever to achieve what she wanted, it wouldn't be alone. These two men could seriously impact on her professional future.
How different they were! Steven Raynor-dark, intense, confident. And already making his interest obvious. Reputedly a sound, intelligent scholar, with a bit of a flare for the sensational and a liking for the public eye. It hadn't taken her long to recognize his own ambition. How he affected her own progress was going to depend entirely upon whether he decided she was liable to get in his way.
And Daniel Jackson. She was a little surprised. She'd heard a lot about his intelligence, his intuitive brilliance. Of the three of them, he was the touted Golden Boy. She hadn't expected him to be like this. Desperately shy, a bit shabby. Long, badly cut hair that seemed windblown, though there was no breeze here to stir it, drifting constantly over the lenses of his glasses. There were two beautiful blue eyes back there, but the barricade of the glasses combined with the shaggy hair did a good job of concealing them.
If he was all they said he was, he could kill her career by smothering it beneath his own achievements. But if she was reading him right, he could also be the springboard she needed to vault herself to high-profile success. A little TLC, and they could become the team that starred in all of her archaeological fantasies.
And she suspected that behind the bashful, scruffy exterior there was a man she could appreciate in the other ways she desired as well. Much more intriguing than the overt invitation of Raynor.
She could see the realization of her assessment sink through Raynor's self-satisfied attitude. His soft mouth tightened, and his eyes hardened as he addressed Jackson.
"So Danny, what…"
"Daniel. My name is Daniel." His voice was soft and rich. And firm.
"Sure. So, you had a chance to talk to Dr. Jordan yet? Know what the…" his hands waved vaguely, "… long-term plan is?"
"I haven't met him yet."
Raynor's smug smile reflected the control he intended to exert on their partnership. "Oh. He picked me up at the airport last night."
"I took the bus. Walked from the terminal to the Institute."
Raynor's smile widened. She could see him doing the figuring. And she felt a quick stab of revulsion at his increasingly patronizing attitude.
"Well, Danny, the professor and I…"
"My name is Daniel!" Oh, my. Where had he been hiding that? "Do not call me Danny!"
Sarah felt her smile growing. She abruptly doubted that Raynor was going to have things his way after all. There was apparently a fiery little dragon tucked away deep inside the bashful Daniel Jackson.
Laughing to herself, she stepped up and slipped her hand through the arm of a startled Dr. Jackson. This was going to be a wild, exhilarating ride. And she suspected that Steven Raynor wasn't ever going to understand what had rolled over him.
Sam felt the schizophrenic combination of fear and uncontainable excitement bubble up. The first trip had been terrible and wonderful, all at once. She couldn't help but contemplate this second experience through the gate with bouncing eagerness. But despite the wonder of it, her first voyage had also delivered her to violence and tragedy. She had the amorphous feeling that she ought to be experiencing guilt about the degree to which she was anticipating swooping down that incredible multi-dimensional waterslide again. Walking on a third planet within as many days.
She shot a glance at the men with whom she was sharing the gear-up room. Didn't look like any of them were paying any attention, so maybe she'd escape being called on her excitement. They all looked grim and focused.
As she adjusted the straps on her pack, she contemplated the commander of the mission. Colonel Jack O'Neill. They'd had a rocky start-more her fault than his. She still felt a flush of embarrassment at her behavior. She'd walked into that briefing room to the sound of him calmly assuming her masculinity, and had allowed the two years' worth of frustration at being excluded from that first trip through the Stargate to drive her right up into his face, aggressively challenging the chauvinistic attitude she thought she perceived. She wasn't so sure, now. He'd accepted her presence on this second trip without a qualm.
Then she'd compounded her crime by going all dithery female on him the moment she set eyes on the actual wormhole. And again when she found herself face to face with Daniel Jackson.
Now there was an enigma if ever she'd encountered one. Everything she knew about the man attested to his brilliance, to his ability to think beyond the expected, to his intellectual courage. And yet, she'd found herself facing a man surely too young, too mild, too quiet to have dug his heels in, in opposition to the entire body of his professional colleagues, and championed what was to all intents and purposes a wild, impossible contradiction of all they'd spent their lives learning. He'd seemed so… domesticated.
The first hint she'd gotten of what was hidden beneath that shy personality had come in the cartouche room. Then, his quick, agile mind had come out to play with her, and it had been exhilarating. More exciting than the trip through the Gate.
Now he just seemed adrift. Vague and anguished.
She watched the colonel checking over Dr. Jackson's gear, adjusting the several misaligned straps and connections.
"You gonna be okay with this stuff, Danny?"
Dr. Jackson's brows tweaked together in annoyance.
"I'll be fine. And don't call me Danny."
"Fine. Let's go."
The trip through the Gate was just as wild as the first time. Once through, they sorted and organized tasks, set up their retreat, and headed for the nearby woodlands.
"Okay. Let's head out. Danny, you're with me."
Sam's own brows arched in surprise as Dr. Jackson grabbed Colonel O'Neill's sleeve and tugged sharply.
"Daniel! Do not call me Danny!"
O'Neill looked at him for a moment, then nodded. "All right. Daniel, you're with me."
Janet Frasier looked over the top of her clipboard, contemplating the decidedly bedraggled figure currently seeping alien brine onto her examination table.
"Well, Dr. Jackson, you're in pretty good shape, considering."
Colonel O'Neill straightened from his position against the infirmary wall.
She kept her eyes on her patient. "Considering that he's had no food that actually qualifies as nourishment for the last few days. Considering that, despite being very wet on the outside, he's significantly dehydrated. And considering that he's so exhausted he's listing."
Dr. Jackson's mouth twisted slightly. "Couldn't sleep."
She smiled at him. "I understand. But I'm going to keep you under my eye overnight, okay?"
When he opened his mouth to protest, she lifted her finger in admonishment.
"You let the colonel escort you to the showers, get yourself cleaned up. Then you come straight back here and let me put you on a drip. We need to get your body fluids replenished, and I'd like to get some glucose into you as well. Your blood sugar level is pretty low. Food, too, though I doubt you'll stay awake long enough to eat much. We'll take another look tomorrow, and if things look all right, I'll let you go home. As long as you promise me you'll get a couple of days of real rest."
Reluctantly, he nodded. The colonel moved up beside him and urged him to slide off the table.
"C'mon, Dannyboy. Hate to tell you this, but you smell like stale fish."
"Jaaack. Don't call me Danny." Dr. Jackson's exhaustion-roughened voice drifted back through the infirmary door.
She could hear the affectionate smile in the reply. "All right. Hey, don't drip that stuff all over me, okay?"
Janet grinned at the echoes of their bickering. She knew Colonel O'Neill would take good care of the stubborn Dr. Jackson. And, rather surprisingly, the archaeologist would let him.
They'd sort of automatically wound up in their personal team haven… Daniel's cluttered office. The celebration would ring through the SGC hallways for hours, but they needed quiet and shelter; needed time to heal the terrible wounds they'd suffered.
Sam sank down onto Daniel's comfortable couch, and let the panoply of the day's emotional blows sweep over her. She tried not to think too deeply about all the near-miraculous things that had turned impending disaster into overwhelming success.
Most particularly, she tried not to think about having lost, then astonishingly regained, their archaeologist. Looking at him now, she felt tears welling. Oh, god. They'd left him to die, all alone. She could repeat in her brain a thousand times that they'd had no other options, but she couldn't convince herself.
And the survival of the rest of the team had been its own miracle, created by the combination of two radically different military minds, and the astonishing arrival of that shuttle. She'd never forget the throat-catching wonder of seeing the little craft-so prosaic and almost childish compared to the Goa'uld ships they'd just destroyed-drift serenely into view.
But as they returned to Earth it hadn't even occurred to her that she'd at last fulfilled a life's treasured ambition. She'd stared out at the incredible sight of their beautiful planet, seeing only a beloved face twisted in imagined agony.
That beloved face was gazing at her now, offering gentle, silent absolution for that abandonment. The colonel's arm was draped over Daniel's shoulders, the two of them leaning against the paper-strewn work table. O'Neill looked simultaneously older and younger than his forty-odd years. Old with the burdens placed on his shoulders, young with the joy of the last hour.
Sam leaned forward, putting her hand on Daniel's thigh.
"Are you really all right? Do you need to see Janet?"
He favored her with his little self-deprecating smile.
"I'm just fine, Sam. I'm probably better than the three of you, thanks to the sarcophagus. Much as I hate those things, I have to admit that I'm really glad this one was there."
"Christ!" The colonel swiped his free hand down over his face. "God, Daniel. Why didn't any of us think of that sarcophagus?"
Daniel's blue eyes searched the colonel's face. "Jack, you… If you'd… There just wasn't time, Jack. If you'd taken the time to put me in there, and wait for it to heal me, there would have been no chance to beat Apophis and Klorel. Please… Don't go guilt-trippy over this. It all worked out."
The colonel stared down at the floor, then turned to meet Daniel's gaze. A somewhat forced smile gradually curved his lips.
"Yeah. I guess I can go with that. Eventually."
Sam sat back. "You'll have to give us some leeway, Daniel. It may take us a while to get used to you coming back from the dead."
"I think not, Major Carter. Daniel Jackson has rather made a habit of dying and being resurrected."
Was that a joke? From Teal'c?
The colonel's smile was no longer forced.
"Well, Danny, I'm as used to it as I want to get, all right? No more. You've exceeded your quota, okay?"
Sam waited for the usual objection. But Daniel just smiled softly at the colonel, then leaned slightly against that cradling arm.
"You're in charge, Jack."
O'Neill rolled his eyes. "Yeah, like anyone believes that!"
Their soft laughter wrapped around her, soothing the jagged edges of distress, assuring her that her family was still intact. For a moment, she basked in the glow of contentment, then added her own laughter to theirs.
As long as they held on to this, she figured there was nothing in the universe that could beat them.
On to Journal: A Life