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Hazardous Duty Pay by iiiionly

 

Here we are again. 

I sigh, scrunch up my eyebrows, and impale the accounting types across the table with the Colonel O'Neill look I've perfected over twenty-five plus years in this man's Air Force. 

"Look, I can't tell you whether or not Dr. Jackson is going to be resized to normal again any time soon.  It doesn't matter.  What matters is this happened to him in-the-line-of-duty and therefore you have to keep paying him."

"We're not debating whether or not we're keeping him on the payroll, Colonel," Tweedle Dee says, deadpan.  "We're debating whether we should place Dr. Jackson on full disability since it appears he will not be working again any time soon, sir."

I'd like to smack both Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum Dum; instead, I smack my hand on the table and lean across it.  "We have six months to rehab an employee before they're placed on disability!  You'll give us the six months, and then some, if I have to go to Washington to get it." 

It helps being 2IC of the Mountain in these situations; I know damn well how much time we have.  And this is Daniel we’re discussing; I will go to the depths of hell itself, even Washington, if necessary.

"Sir, this is not the first time Dr. Jackson has encountered --”

"Exactly," I interrupt forcibly.  "This isn't the first time Dr. Jackson has been the victim of alien technology.  And we won't go into why it always seems to be Dr. Jackson, gentlemen.  I myself was cloned by a rogue Asgard and I believe my clone is still on our payroll?  Yes, I thought so.  Thank you for making my point for me."

"Sir, if Dr. Jackson cannot work indefinitely, we cannot continue to pay his . . ."

"Exorbitant, inflated, civilian salary, Twee . . .” I clear my throat and try again.  “Captain?"

"Plus the differential for hazardous duty pay, sir." 

Okay, that's it.  I've had it with the bean counter mentality and their stupid number crunching machines. 

"Do you have any, and I mean any, conception of how many times Dr. Jackson has laid his life on the line for this planet?  Are you aware he’s been officially dead more times than you have fingers on your right hand?  Are you aware without Dr. Jackson's single-minded refusal to take no for an answer, when no one else believed Apophis was steaming directly for Earth with a couple of Goa'uld mother ships, you'd be frigging dead right now?"

Tweedle Dum Dum backs up a little, Tweedle Dee has the nerve to sigh and roll his eyes, and I realize I’m on my feet, halfway across the conference table.

"Colonel." 

Ahhhh, the voice of reason. 

Thank you, General, I might have had to leap over the table and break their necks in the next instant.

The sound of footsteps clattering up the stairs from the control room breaks the tension almost comically.  Small, distinctive footsteps, at least to those of us who work here. 

As he reaches the stairs that allow him see into the board room, Daniel stands on tiptoe to peer through the stair railing.  “There you are,” he announces.

I sink back down in my chair as he clatters the rest of the way up the stairs.

"I've been looking everywhere for you, Jack."  He huffs his way over to my chair, pats the arm imperiously, and climbs into my lap when I scoot back from the table. 

He pretty much has the run of the place. 

"What's going on?" he wants to know, still huffing as he picks up the yellow legal pad in front of me. 

We're having difficulty getting a handle on his allergy meds.  Too much, which is usually the point at which he can breathe easily, and he's like a little hornet on speed.  Not enough and he's chuffing and wheezing constantly.  Today he's chuffing and wheezing.

"We're discussing how you're going to get paid, Dr. Jackson," Tweedle Dee pipes up. 

Kicking a fellow officer, even under the table, is usually frowned on.  I’m sorely tempted to do it anyway.

"Oh, I don't need money.  Jack's taking care of me, just like my mom and dad," he says brightly, if still breathlessly, tracing the numbers on the legal pad with his finger.  He holds the pad up to me.  "Is this a lot of money?"

Actually, this could be fun.  I lean an elbow on the arm of my chair and prop my chin in my hand. 

"Yes, Daniel, it is a lot of money.  We're discussing how much you're going to get paid because some day you're going to want to go to college again and college costs a lot of money, especially the way you go through college."

"Oh," he says, a frown of concentration furrowing between his eyebrows.  "What do you mean the way I go through college?" 

He sucks in air as though there's really not enough left in the room to go around.  Think I'd rather have the hornet on speed.

"Well, the first time around you earned three doctorates."

"Is that a lot?"

"Ahhh, yes, Daniel, that's a lot.  Most people don't even get one, let alone three."

"Oh," he says again, like I've just unlocked the mysteries of the Universe for him.  "And do those . . .” he pauses to recall the word, “doc-trines cost a lot of money?"

"Yeah, they do.  So we need to put away money in the bank for you, so when you get to be a little older, you can go back and get a few more . . .  doctrines."

"So what's the big deal?" he wants to know next.  "You've been in here for hours and hours.  I looked every place I could think of because I was sure you weren't in here anymore.  Have you been here all this time?"

"Yes, I have, I'm sorry you couldn't find me."

"That's okay.  Teal'c took me to the gym and let me put on those big gloves and hit the bag, but the gloves kept sliding off.  Then we went to lunch with Sam.  Are you ready to go yet?" 

He drops the legal pad back on the table and leans back against me.

"Not quite, Sport.  You want to go find Carter again, or do you want to stay here?  If you stay, you'll have to be quiet until we finish."

"How long's that going to be?" he asks, with a much put upon sigh.

"Based on how long it's taken so far, it might be awhile yet."

"Okay, I'll be quiet."  He scooches around so he can nestle into the crook of my arm, slides that ring finger in his mouth, and gives the guys across the table another once over.  "Do they work for the Air Force, too, Jack?" he stage whispers, tilting his head back to look up at me.

"Yeah, they do, just a different part," I whisper back.

"Do they have top secret clearance like you and me?" he whispers again, shooting a glance at Hammond to see if he's going to get in trouble.

George is grinning to beat the band.  "How 'bout you come sit with me, son?" 

He holds out his hands and Daniel takes the quickest route to him, climbing up on the table and crawling the few feet to slide off and snuggle down in George's lap. 

I'm constantly amazed at the way he's taken to our SGC personnel.  Obviously this is a child who's never known fear.  And never will, if I have anything to say about it.

While the news of his parents’ deaths rocked him to the core, the grief did not consume him like it might have.  He still comes out with questions now and then, so it's obviously still very much on his mind, but his natural curiosity hasn't taken the blow this time around it seems like it did the first time. 

"Gentlemen, this is who you're depriving of what's due him.  He is a bright, inquisitive child, with a long and prosperous future ahead of him.  Would you rob him of that future?  Rather, I believe our country should consider it a privilege to share in the upbringing and education of this young man.  I have a feeling he's going to do very important things when he grows up again."

I couldn't have said it better myself.  And I'll have to remember to congratulate Daniel on his perfect timing, though I wonder if Carter had something to do with sending him up here at just the right time."

"The final decision isn’t ours, sirs.  We will, however, take back your concerns and your proposals to the Appropriations Committee.  Perhaps you should make arrangements for Dr. Jackson, himself, to meet with the Appropriations Committee, sirs."  Tweedle Dum Dum shoves back his chair. 

As does Tweedle Dee.  "I'm sure we can come to some kind of an equitable agreement so all parties are . . ." he clears his throat, "being fairly compensated for past and future accomplishments."

Can it really have been this simple?  Bring on the adorable, chuffing, wheezing kid and let him work his magic. 

Daniel has that finger in his mouth and he's making elf locks, twirling and twisting a strand of his hair around a finger on his other hand.  Put a pair of pointy ears on this kid and he'd look like he just stepped off the pages of a Tolkein novel.  He senses the tension in the air and it's made him slightly nervous, so he keeps darting glances at me, but he doesn't want to loose track of the Tweedle's since they're obviously the enemy. 

"Exactly how long will this process take?"  I drawl, leaning back in my chair as they gather their papers and climb cumbersomely to their feet, loaded down with briefcases and excess folders.

"At least another six weeks, Colonel.  In the meantime, Dr. Jackson will continue to receive his regular paycheck.  Will there be anything else, sir?" 

This last is to General Hammond who is now in the middle of a battle of thumb wars with Daniel.

"Nothing, Captain.  Please advise us of the outcome of these hearings as soon as possible.  We need to get his future squared away.  There also may be private school expenses that will have to be considered, you might want to include that in your reports." 

Always gracious, our Texas General lets Daniel pin his thumb before he stands and shifts his armload so he can says his farewells to the departing officers. 

"Thank you for your time, gentlemen.  Please do your best for Dr. Jackson, if not for his sake, for the sake of our country."

"Yes, sir," the Tweedles echo in sync, causing Daniel to giggle and clap a hand over his mouth. 

Hammond and I exchange a smile over his head and watch our guests exit the board room with more speed than grace. 

Defeat at the hands of a six-year-old can be pretty disheartening, unless you know Dr. Jackson like we do.

There's another full-fledged battle going on and this time Daniel lets the General win, grinning mischievously at me as the General crows his triumph. 

"Are you ready to go home, Dr. Jackson?" the General inquires.

"Yes, sir.  I'm hungry," Daniel announces.  "Can we go home now, Jack?"

"Sure you don't want to go eat in the Mess tonight?"

"Are we having leftovers?" he asks dubiously.

"Hey, it's been awhile since I've needed to cook anything other than MREs.  We could do pizza, or what about Habibi’s Mediterranean tonight?"

He lights up like a Christmas tree.  Daniel hasn't particularly taken to good old American food.  He says his mother told him he should try everything at least once, just to see if he likes it or not, and, he says, she told him some things need a second taste before they hit your taste buds right, so you should always try something at least twice before you decide you don't like it.  I know our adult Daniel wasn't much into American cuisine either, but I hadn't realize how imprinted he was with Mediterranean. 

I'm learning lots of things about Daniel Jackson that really never came out in day to day conversation when he was thirty-something and I was forty-something.  It's been an interesting journey and we're only a few weeks into it. 

I wonder every day how long this is going to last.

"Take out?  Or eat in?" 

Daniel has learned those terms quickly.  That would be because supper for us is usually one or the other.  Keeping up with a six-year-old Dr. Jackson is almost as wearing as our daily trips through the Gate. 

"Can Sam and Teal'c come too?  General George, would you like to come to supper with us?  Jack told me you live in big, old house all alone up on the side of a mountain.  Do you ever worry the house will slide off?  Do you get lonely up there all by yourself?  Jack said Grandma George died like my parents did.  Well, not like my parents, just she's dead like them.  Do you miss her a lot?  Like I miss my mom and dad?"  Daniel pats the General's cheek in sympathy as he rattles off these questions one after another with hardly any breathing space. 

At least he's finally caught his breath.  We have so got to get his meds straightened out.

General George, who has two granddaughters of his own, answers very patiently.   "You know, sometimes I do get lonely in that big, old house way up there on the side of that mountain.  But I've never been worried it would slide off.  And yes, I do miss Grandma George.  A lot.  Maybe not as much as you miss your mom and dad, because Grandma George died a few years ago."

"Oh, just like my mom and dad.  Jack says they died a long time ago.  Sometimes it feels like a long time ago in here," he pats over George's heart now, "and sometimes it feels like it just happened yesterday.  Jack says I probably shouldn't de-well on it, but sometimes I just can't help it." 

He slides an arm around the General's neck and puts his head down on the blue-clad shoulder.  The finger sneaks back up to his mouth, getting a thorough chew. 

When he's anxious, he chews; when he's tired, he sucks; and when he can't breathe, the finger just kind of hangs out to keep his mouth open so he can breathe through his mouth.  I can't take the credit for breaking the code; that was Carter, our other resident genius.

I'm wondering what he's anxious about as I take him from the General and second his invitation to supper. 

"Come on along, sir.  The more the merrier.  I imagine Carter and Teal'c will come as well."

"That was very thoughtful of you, Daniel, to invite me. Thank you, both of you.  But tonight I'm having dinner with my granddaughters and they're cooking."

"Cooking, sir?  Sure you don’t want to come with us?"

"The girls tell me they call it Creative FACS now days, something to do with family and consumer science.  In my day it was just plain Home Ec and only the girls took it.  The boys had Shop."

"I remember those days, sir.  Daniel," I pull the finger out of his mouth before he chews off the end.  "What's wrong?"

He frowns.  "Do I cost a lot of money?"

"What? . . . Why?"

"I don't know a lot about money," he confides, as though he knows a lot about everything else, which he does, for a six-year-old.  "But if you don't have enough money for me, will I have to go somewhere else?"

Gut freeze here. 

"No.  Absolutely not.  You will never have to go anywhere else no matter how much you cost, okay?  We clear on that?  And Daniel?"  I wait until he's looking at me again.  "I will never not be able to afford you."

"You're positive?"

"Positive, absolutely certain, perfectly sure, and I'm running out of synonyms here.  Do you understand you will never, ever, ever have to go anywhere else?"

"Okay.  But what if a cover stone falls on you and you die too?"

"Wow.  You’ve been thinking about this for awhile, huh?"

George gives me a sympathetic smile and nods towards his office.  "I'm going to leave the two of you to have this conversation alone.  Colonel, make sure he understands, no matter what happens, Daniel will always have a home with someone here."

"Yes, sir." 

I take us back over to the table, sit Daniel down on the end, and take Hammond's chair. 

"What made you think something might happen to me like happened to your parents?"

He shrugs, drops his chin, and twists his chewed finger in his other hand. 

"Daniel," I raise his chin to meet his gaze levelly.  "I work at a dangerous job and there is a chance I might not come home some day, but even before you came to live with me, I always tried to minimize any risk there is in going through the Gate.  We take lots and lots of precautions; even more now that you're little, because we want to be sure we're around to see you grow up.  Carter, Teal'c and me?  Sometimes we just walk away if we think there might be trouble.  When you were big and traveled through the Gate with us, we never turned back.  We know we can't do that any more because you're not going through the Gate with us and we have to come back home to you."

"What will happen to me if you don't come back?"

I close my eyes, pull him a little roughly off the table onto my lap and squeeze him just a little too tightly because he squeaks sorta like a pet chew toy. 

"Sorry."  I palm his head and kiss his hair.  "I will make absolutely certain you're taken care of if anything ever happens to me.  We should talk about who you might want to live with if I'm not around, okay?  So you'll always know who's going to take care of you.  I don't want you to ever be left with strangers again.  Would knowing that help?"

"I don't want to live with anybody else, Jack."  He wants very badly to chew on that finger again, but he's making a valiant effort not to.

"This would only be in case of an emergency, Daniel.  And I don't expect that to happen.  I expect to live a long time yet, at least until you're happily married with kids of your own.  But we should choose someone and ask them.  And if you pick Carter, or Teal'c, you'll need a back-up person, because if something happens to me, it's likely Carter and Teal'c could be involved as well.  That's how it works when we're off world.  We're a team."
 
"So then it would be General George or Doc Janet?"

"Yes, they'd both be good choices and I know either of them would take you in a heartbeat."

"Okay.  I'm really hungry now, can we go eat?"

"Sure, let's go find Carter and Teal'c and see if they want to go with us."  I ruffle his hair, squeeze him one last time just to hear him squeak again, and laugh as he slides off my lap and runs to the door.
 
Except he runs about three steps and has to stop because his chest tightens on him and he can't breathe again, dammit. 

Instead of lecturing about running, I scoop him back up, swing him up on my shoulders, and tell him to duck as we pass through the door.  It's not like it's his fault he can't breathe and it’s imperative we do something about this, especially if Hammond's thinking we need to get him into school.

I've already given that some thought and over dinner, Habibi's take out we take back to my house, I raise the subject with Carter and Teal'c. 

"So, the General brought up the subject of school with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum Dum this afternoon."

Daniel's lying on the sofa with his head in Carter's lap, absorbed in something on the Discovery Channel.  Cartoons leave him cold, as does sports still, though he'll sit through a game with me for the price of a cuddle.   

Carter rolls her eyes.  I made this announcement just as she was trying to take a bite of some slippery, sloshy stuff wrapped in pita bread.

"Sorry, Daniel." 

She picks a piece of spinach out of his ear when he swats at it irritatedly and slides his hand back between his knees. 

"Are you cold, kiddo?"  One-handed, Carter gives the afghan on the back of the sofa a tug, so it puddles on top of Daniel. 

She spreads it over him, tucking it around his sock-clad feet and snugging it over his shoulders, receiving in response the full force of one of his rare, sweet smiles. 

"School, sir?"

"Yeah, Hammond mentioned private school."

"I've been thinking about our dilemma with school; I think I might have a solution."

"Me too.  What are you thinking?"

"How about home schooling?"

"Yep, exactly what I was thinking.  Teal'c?"

Carter does a double take with raised eyebrows.  "You were thinking Teal'c too?"

"Actually I was thinking the two of you.  Of the three of us, Teal'c has the most time and, I think, probably the most patience.  You know your way around the internet so well, T, I figure this will be right up your alley."

"Home schooling Danieljackson?"  Teal'c turns to us with that signature eyebrow lift.  "Exactly what would that entail, O'Neill?"

"I'm guessing not much effort, given the way he absorbs stuff like a sponge.  We'd have to find out what the requirements are, get it approved, I'm sure.  Carter, you could do the math and science with him, I'd certainly pitch in wherever I could, but the bulk of this project would fall to you guys."

"You could do astronomy with him, sir."

"Yeah, I could do that.  We need to look over programs and have a plan mapped out before we take this to Hammond.  What do you think, T?  Really, the main bulk of this would fall to you.  I have several reasons for suggesting this option, the first being I don't like the idea of putting Daniel into any kind of traditional classroom."

"Sir, he's already reading on a college level.  He had one of my Chemistry textbooks out the other day, reading it out loud in my lab."

"Why?"

"I was curious to see at what level he could read.  He didn't understand what he was reading, but he could sound out the words he didn't know and even translate some of them into other languages.  I also counted his languages, sir.  He already speaks sixteen fluently and he can communicate on a limited basis in several others.  Curiously enough, when I showed him a written Goa'uld text, he was able to translate it as well.  It took quite a bit of time, but he puzzled at it until he had the whole thing right.  And I know its right because I have the original translation he did six months ago.  When I asked him how he could read it, he said it followed a pattern similar to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs."

"Major?"

"Well, sir, it occurs to me maybe it isn't that Daniel's memory has disappeared, along with his age, maybe it's just that he doesn't really need it so it's sort of . . . dormant right now?"

"Indeed, Majorcarter.  Perhaps it needs only the correct stimulation to reawaken those memories."

"Yes, like a seed needs water and sunlight."

"Are you suggesting we plant him, Major?  Water him and turn him regularly so all sides get the same amount of sun."

"Jaaaccck!" Daniel says, from inside his little cocoon.

"I thought you were watching TV."

He sits up, huddling inside the afghan.  "What's a tradish . . . tradishonal classroom?" 

There are bright spots of color on his cheeks, never a good sign on Daniel, and his eyelids are drooping heavily. 

I think we'll skip bath time and head straight for bed tonight.

"A traditional classroom is one where there are lots of kids all studying the same subject at once, with a teacher."

"Would I like school?" 

"You didn't the first time around and I don’t have any reason to believe you'd like it much better now."

"What about peer groups, sir?  He needs to be around kids his own age."

"Why?"

"Uh . . . motor skills development, socialization, self-discovery, sir, just to name a few."

"Why can't he get all that hanging around with us, Carter?"

"O'Neill, children need to play," Teal'c puts in, before Carter starts in on me.

"Lots of kids are home schooled.  Maybe we can connect with other parents who are home schooling their kids, form a play group or something."

"That might be feasible."  Carter mulls it over as she gathers up trash from the coffee table, then sweeps the room collecting everyone else's as she heads for the kitchen trash can.

"I would have done that, Carter."

"Habit.  I'm thinking, sir," she sits back down, reaches for Daniel, and feels his forehead as he cuddles against her.  "He's running a fever, sir."

"Yeah, I was afraid of that.  Come on, Sport.  Let's get you to bed.  I'd like to finish this discussion, if you guys don't mind, before you leave tonight.  At least have a preliminary plan in place so if Hammond brings up school again, I can tell him we've got it covered."

"Sure," Carter agrees immediately.  "Pete’s back in Denver.  I don't have any other plans this evening.  Teal'c?"

"I have none either, O'Neill.  Do you require our assistance in readying Danieljackson for bed?"

"Thanks, T, I can handle it."

This is our downtime together.  On one hand, I don't really want to share it.  On the other, I do want to make sure Carter and Teal'c are as much a part of Daniel's family as I am. 

This is the time Daniel is the most relaxed.  It’s been during this hour of our day he shares the things I'm discovering are important to him now.  If I hadn't pressed earlier this afternoon, because he was mangling his finger, it probably would have come out during our ritual bedtime activities. 

"Bath?" he asks wearily, latching onto my hand as he follows me up the stairs. 

There's enough weight hanging on my hand that I scoop him up.  "You want to get in the bathtub?" 

Maybe the heat will open up some of those clogged sinus passages. 

"Sure, we can do bath if you want, I thought maybe you'd rather go straight to bed if you're not feeling well again."

"I'm cold."

"Okay, bath it is."  I run the water and wait until he's gotten undressed and in the tub before scrounging in the medicine cabinet for the kid's Motrin.  

We're nearly out of Children’s Motrin and I make a mental note.  We've been doing this for three weeks now, with Daniel fighting secondary issues like ear infections as an added bonus to this whole allergy thing. 

Frasier says antibiotics are useless for a viral infection like the ear thingy he's got going; that those will clear up if we can get the sinus issues under control.  She's sent us to an allergist, but he's kind of working blind because I can't say to him, this six-year-old child is really a thirty-nine -year-old man whose physical body, and physical body memory, have regressed to a time when he knew only the hot, dry climate of the desert.  I did tell the guy Daniel's only recently moved here from Egypt, thinking that might speed things up.  However, I think the only thing it did was add to the list of things he's testing Daniel for. 

So far, the kid's allergic to just about everything, including the detergent I've used since I got divorced; anything new in terms of clothing; and several food groups, including many nuts and grains. 

OTC stuff minimally controlled the sneezing and itchy, watery eyes, but wasn't strong enough to combat the double and sometimes triple whammy he was getting when he'd put on new clothes, washed in my detergent -- hey, grown-up Daniel never wears anything new until he's washed it several times, I was making a concession washing it at least once -- and eating cereal for breakfast.

When he got up chuffing and wheezing this morning, I suppose I should have expected this tonight.  I'm still getting used to this parenting thing, even though it's my second time around, too. 

I have to admit, I'm only just realizing what a job Sara had raising Charlie mostly on her own. When I look back, I have to admire the way she handled it.  She was an awesome lady; I wish her every happiness in her new marriage.

I run a glass of water, glance at Daniel, who has his head down on the side of the tub and scrounge for antihistamines too. 

"Hey, Sport, how 'bout you take a couple of these?" 

My knees protest loudly as I hunker down beside the tub.  The aspirin is chewable, the antihistamine is not and it was that or shots.  I couldn't see subjecting the kid to shots every day for six weeks that maybe won’t work, so we're trying the pills first. 

I realize, as I take back the glass, there are tears streaking his cheeks.  "Daniel?"

He just shakes his head and won't look at me.

"Daniel, what's wrong?" 

Not only is he crying, he's sobbing.  When I put my hand on his back, his whole body is quivering, but there's no sound. 

"Daniel," I put a little more Colonel into my voice, "what's wrong?" 

"I don't feel good," he hitches out finally, around the still silent, wrenching sobs.  "I . . . want . . .  my mom-ah-my."

He lets me pluck him out of the water but slumps in a heap on the rug the minute I put him down to dry him off.  The heat is radiating off him like he's a little Coleman stove.  I snatch him up, take him across the hall, dry him off, and stuff him into pj's as quickly as possible. 

As soon as I put him down on the bed he curls into a tight little ball, pulling away every time I try to touch him. 

He's so congested he can hardly breathe, but the tears don't stop and with every other hard won breath he whimpers, barely above a whisper, "I want my mommy."

I’m clueless.  Do I pick him up?  Do I sit and wait?  Should I call Frasier?  He's never done this before. 

“Danny, I know I’m not your mommy, but will you please let me hold you?” 

Oh. My. God.  What the hell do I do?  I’d rather face a hundred armed Jaffa, alone, than this.  I stroke a hand down his spine and he rolls away from me, curling up even tighter if such a thing is possible. Panicking, I push off the bed and start to pace.  I have no idea what do.

"Sir?  Everything okay?”  Carter appears in the door with a puzzled frown. 

Because she’s a great 2IC, she immediately does a sit rep and takes command. 

"Sir, go call Janet."  She’s already bending over unlacing her boots. 

Toeing them off, she approaches the bed, sits, and scoots back so she's behind Daniel, then pulls her feet up and curls around our little isopod. 

Now why didn't I think of that? 

"Sir, I think it's really important you call Janet," she looks up at me long enough to make certain her message has been clearly conveyed, then focuses all her attention on Daniel. 

She puts an arm around him, pulls the small resisting body back against her and begins to run her hand over and over through his hair, whispering shushing noises. 

"I know, sweetie, I know.  It's okay . . . it's okay."  She rocks them both, eyes closed, totally in that space with Daniel now.

I go for the phone; argue with Frasier about taking him to the base hospital over at Peterson, and finally just pull rank. 

"I know you're not a kid med facility, Doc, but I don't think he's that sick.  It's a combination of things tonight and I want him at the base where I can stay with him.  I'll ask the General to bring in a pediatrician if it makes you feel better, but I'm bringing him in to the Mountain." 

She says she'll meet us there and I go back down the hall, only to find Daniel's asleep. 

I'm sure I wasn't gone more than five minutes, but Carter's worked a miracle.  The tears haven't dried on his face, but his breathing has evened out a little, his eyes are closed, and the tight fists are lax, fingers slightly curled on the hand lying next to his face. 

As if it has a will of its own, that ring finger creeps into his mouth.  For just a couple of seconds he chews vigorously, then on a sigh, sucks away the small pain he's self-inflicted and sinks deeper into sleep, soothing himself with a few deep pulls on that finger.

A final, small whimper as he turns on his stomach, loosing Carter's warmth, and he's out totally.  I recognize this stage; not even firing a P-90 at close range would wake him now.

"Thanks," I say, realizing as I run my hands over my face, they're shaking.  "I don’t mind admitting that scared the shit out of me.  How the hell did you know what to do, Carter?"

Carter stretches an arm out and lays her head down on it.  "I didn't.  That was purely instinctive.  You forget sometimes I think, sir, Daniel's my best friend too.  He may be little, but he's still our Daniel."

Daniel hunches a shoulder and Carter lays her hand in the middle of his back, pats soothingly until he calms again, then begins a gentle massage.

“Maybe you should call Janet back, sir.  I think he’ll be all right now.”

“What about the fever?”

Carter lays the back of her hand against his cheek.  “You gave him some aspirin?”

“Yeah, and the antihistamine.”

“Well, they both seem to be working.  When does he see the allergist again?”

“Not for another week.”

“Something’s got to give, sir.  He can’t go on like this indefinitely.  Have you thought about seeing someone else?”

“We’re not going to the base hospital as it is because Janet says this guy’s the best.”

Carter sighs.  “I’d give him a call, sir.  See if he can’t fit you in again before next week.  Daniel’s exhausted with this.  He barely touched his lunch today and you saw how much he ate this evening.”

“Right.  And he was starving before we left the base.  If you think we’re okay, I’ll go call Frasier again.” 

Should have brought the phone in here with me.

“Why don’t you see if she’ll detour by here, sir?  I doubt she’d mind.”

“I’ll ask.”

Teal’c, who’s come in silently behind me, steps aside to let me past. 

“T?  Warn a guy?” 

I knock him lightly on the shoulder and he does that eyebrow and head tilt thing that’s both question and response. 

“O’Neill, I am behind you.”

“Thanks.”  I hear part of their conversation as I head down the hall in search of where I left the phone.

“Is everything under control here, Majorcarter?”

“For now, at least, Teal’c.  We had a mini crisis, but it’s been averted for the time being.”

“Mini crisis?” the Jaffa inquires.  “Is Danieljackson unwell again?”

The phone, of course, is exactly where I left it - on the kitchen counter - and I only hear the hum of their voices now. 

“Doc?  Sorry to bother you again, but I think Carter’s got the situation under control here . . . Actually, no, she doesn’t think it’s necessary to haul him in to the Mountain after all . . . I am aware of that this is not your department, Major, I apologize . . . Yes, ma’am . . . Yes, ma’am.  Carter told me to ask if you’d mind detouring by here?  . . . Yeah, I get it; she just said the same thing.  I’ll make sure Daniel gets to see him in the next couple of days, even if it means postponing a mission . . . Yes, he’s absolutely more important than any mission, but I might need that in writing from you when the Appropriations Committee gets my request for hazardous duty pay as well . . . Right, thanks.  See you in a few.” 

I hang up and go unlock the front door before returning to Daniel’s room.

Teal’c’s sitting at the foot of the bed, Carter’s still wrapped around Daniel, and the two adults are talking quietly over his head as Carter continues to rub his back.

“Doc’s on her way.”

“Do you have any Vick’s, sir?” Carter breaks off the conversation with Teal’c to ask.

“Yeah, there’s some in the medicine cabinet.”

“That might help keep his sinuses clear a little longer, sir.”

“I’ll get it.  And Carter, lose the sir thing around here.”

“Yes, sir,” she answers automatically, adding a rueful, “Sorry, Sssss . . .” which she cuts off.  “Habit.  Not sure I can just drop it.”

“Work at it . . . Ahhht,” I put up a finger, “thank you.”

“O’Neill,” Teal’c says as I come back into the room, feeling my own sinuses opening as I inhale essence of Vick’s. 

“Yeah?”

“You mentioned earlier you had several reasons you felt it would be good to home school Danieljackson.  What are your other concerns?”

“My other big concern, T, is NID.  I’m a little surprised we haven’t heard from them already.  Am I just being paranoid, or does it seem unusual to either of you?”

“Hadn’t really thought about it, sir.”

“Carter.”

“Oops.  Are you thinking their silence could have sinister overtones, . . .?” she manages to bite it back this time.

“The thought had occurred to me.  I’d be a lot more comfortable if he’s under our noses all day, rather than off somewhere where we have absolutely no control of the situation.  Or at the very least under someone’s nose at the SGC.  Obviously when we’re off world, we’ll have to make some of kind of arrangements.  Hammond’s been good about keeping us on stand down to this point, but I know he’s getting pressure from upstairs.  I’d like to have a plan in place --”

“Hello?  Anybody home?”  Doc’s voice, from the entryway.

“Come on in, Janet, we’re all back here in Daniel’s room.”

The doc comes in shedding a BDU field jacket.  She sets her little black bag on the dresser and surveys us, hands on hips.  

“Well, if this isn’t the cozy little domestic scene,” she says, motioning Teal’c up from his spot.  “How is he, Sam?”

“Much better.  Did the Colonel tell you what happened?”

“Briefly.”  Frasier pulls a stethoscope from her bag, sits as she plugs it into her ears and warms the bell in her hands before sliding it up under Daniel’s pajama top.  “Can you turn him over?  Without waking him?”

“He’s out now, the only thing that wakes him out of this sleep is a nightmare,” I offer from the doorjamb.

Carter turns the small, pliant body easily, running a hand over his hair again as he stirs just a little. 

We’re silent as Janet does a quick exam, takes his temperature, and checks pulse and respiration. 

“His temps up a little still, I assume you gave him some aspirin?”

“A regular dose.”

“Any idea what triggered the hysterical thing?”

“I think Carter’s right.  He’s exhausted with this whole business of not being able to breathe and he’s hardly eating.  I think it just got too overwhelming.”

“He’s coped really well with the loss of his parents, don’t you think?” Carter says to the room at large.  “I don’t know, it doesn’t seem particularly unusual to me a kid would have a meltdown like this under the circumstances.”

“You’re right, Sam.  He has coped incredibly well, but that may have something to do with being six and the fact that though his world has changed dramatically, it’s still rock solid.  You’ve all done a marvelous job of making sure he’s aware of that.”

“Carter mentioned earlier this evening she thinks Daniel’s memories may still be there, just dormant.  You think that’s possible, Doc?”

“We’re dealing with alien technology here, Colonel.  You know as well as I do, anything’s possible.”

“I guess I was wondering if Daniel’s coped so well because on some level he’s aware that we really are his family.”

Frasier looks over at me with a shrug.  “Does it matter?”

“Okay, you’re right.” I shove off the doorjamb. “So, anybody up for coffee?”

“Doctorfrasier, would you be amenable to dropping off Majorcarter so I may return with her vehicle to the SGC?  O’Neill has tasked us with a project I would like to begin gathering data on this evening if possible.”

“Sure, Teal’c,” the doc responds, rising and turning to give Carter a pull up off the bed.  “What project?”

“I think we’re going to home school Daniel,” I offer, testing the waters. 

“That’s great!” the Doc exclaims and I breathe a sigh of relief.  “Whose brilliant idea was that?”

Carter and I exchange a glance, grin, and point at each other. 

“His.”

“Hers.”

“Actually, we both came up with the idea independently.  And the Colonel suggested we try to connect with other parents who are home schooling, maybe set up or join a group so Daniel still gets to socialize with kids his own age.”

“I think it’s a marvelous idea,” Frasier enthuses.  “Let me know what I can do.  I can take Sam home, no problem.” 

She turns and scoops up Daniel while Carter turns down the covers, tucks him in and taps the lamp base to lower the light.

“This is exactly why he knows his world is still rock solid,” she says as we all stoop over the small form and kiss him goodnight on our way out. 

Even Teal’c cradles the small blond head for a moment and drops a kiss on the still warm forehead.

“We can pick you up in the morning, Carter,” I offer, heading for the kitchen and the coffee maker.

Teal’c bids his adieu’s as the doc and Carter settle in at the kitchen table. 

I let my mind wander as my hands automatically begin the mundane task of making coffee.

Hazardous duty pay?   They damn well better continue to pay Daniel the differential.

As for me, yeah, occasionally in the heat of the moment it feels like hazardous duty.

What if I do something wrong?  What if I screw this up for him?  What if I’m not cut out to be a parent at all?

What if . . .

On the other hand, what if I can give him the security he missed the first time around?  What if we can plug some of those holes life drilled into him from the time he was eight?  What if this is a second chance for both of us?

Hazardous duty pay?

I chuckle, which garners strange looks from the women at the table.

“Just thinking about hazardous duty pay,” I offer, handing over mugs before setting crème and sugar on the table.  “I figure I’ll apply for it about the time he hits sixteen.  Whatta’ ya think?”

~*~

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