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Special Ops III – Pre-mission Jitters by iiiionly

Daniel’s POV

Call me crazy, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why Jack said yes to this.

Furthermore, I have no idea how to slow down this train-wreck-waiting-to-happen, much less stop it.

I’m beginning to think this is something I have to be drunk for – I would never suggest such lunacy otherwise.

But then, maybe it’s just this manifestation.  Janet keeps telling me the brain chemistry in a six-year-old is vastly different from the brain chemistry in a thirty-four-year old. 

Its times like this I gain a little better understanding of what she’s trying to impart. 

I’m terrified we’re going to get caught.  My heart is pounding so hard I think it’s going to jump right out of my throat – that’s how scared I am – but I can’t tell Jack, especially not after he’s gone to all the trouble to enlist Sam and Teal’c in this operation, too.  I just have to suck it up and go through with this.

General Hammond will have a conniption fit if we get caught, especially since there’s not even a vaguely legitimate excuse for three adults and one midget to be pulling a stunt like this.

No Anise, no alien contraptions, not even an Urgo in sight we can shift blame too.  We’re gonna be soooooo in trouble before this night is over.

But I guess I’m as ready as I’m going to be. 

I stretch my legs out on the bed I’ve occupied so often over the last four years, clasp my hands behind my head, and lean back against the desert sand drifting on the wall behind me.

The last time we did this I was trying to outrun demons, with the help of a bottle and constant activity.  It was just after we got home from the Gamekeeper’s planet.

Experiencing those emotions again at thirty-three – the horror of seeing my parents die over and over again; the terrifying inability to do anything; the whole recognition that my entire world had just been crushed, not to mention the added-value memories of the intervening twenty-five years – made the whole thing seem surreal.  Like it was really all just a horrific nightmare I was bound to wake up from, even though it was twenty-give years later.

Sam got me through the initial debrief and then Jack dragged all of us to his place for the team debrief, which turned out to be more cathartic, but no less traumatizing. 

If it hadn’t been for Jack and Sam and Teal’c, MacKenzie would have had legitimate reasons to lock me up in that little white room again.  

But especially if it hadn’t been for Jack.  On the surface we’re so disastrously different, most people can’t fathom how we’ve managed to become such good friends, let alone stay friends the way we bicker and fight.

I pull an arm down to run a hand over the flannel pillowcase covering the pillow I’m sitting on.

Its little things like this that have informed my opinion of Jack O’Neill more than anything I’ve gleaned from listening to him. 

Behind the wise-cracking, cliché-spouting exterior, lives a man who ‘sees’ everything and feels and cares deeply.  Nothing escapes his attention, though to watch him bulldoze his way through life you’d think he’s oblivious to everything but thermonuclear blasts.

Perhaps only Sam and Teal’c and I are privileged to know the man who came home with flannel sheets the other night because he knows I hate the cold, and he quickly realized, in this manifestation, I’m even more susceptible to it. 

He never said a word; they were just on the bed when I crawled in that night. 

When I thanked him, he tousled my hair, smiled that enigmatic little smile of his, and wished me warm dreams. 

Manifestation.  That would be Jack’s word for this hideously objectionable body I’m inhabiting, though I suppose it works as well as any.

This is just another manifestation of the Daniel Jackson we all know and love, he says.

Yeah, right.

Though I have to admit, in this manifestation, acts of kindness translate much more readily into the language of love. 

Without making a big deal out of it – which is so not Jack’s usual way – he turned his life upside down and inside out to make a home for us. 

While things have moved around to accommodate my change in stature, hardly anything’s physically changed in the house in the way of furniture, etc., but the atmosphere certainly has.

Jack has deliberately, and with an élan I would never have imagined him capable of, set about creating a sanctuary that so far eclipses anything I ever knew as a child, it’s occasionally intoxicating.  I find myself, once in awhile, reveling in this madness.

Color me crazy, but there have been days when entire twenty-four hour periods have passed without a single thought of the thirty-four-year-old passing through my head.  Usually because Jack’s packed the twelve hours preceding the twelve hours this body needs to sleep so full of six-year-old fun, I’m exhausted and often asleep, before we get home. 

The thirty-four-year-old recognizes the contentment this has afforded one surly Colonel.  There are regrets Jack will never be able to lay down, guilt feelings he may never be fully free of, but this – situation – has renewed something in him, fanned to life the spark not even the Stargate program could ignite to full-burn.

I know he feels guilty about it and is trying to keep it discreetly under cover, but if there’s one reason I’m can be thankful for this transformation, that would be it.  It makes it easier to bear knowing someone I care a great deal about is benefiting from it. 

“Hey, whatcha doin’?”  Jack steps through the doorway that - because of the three dimensional faux-painting on the wall - looks like an ancient Egyptian entrance into the tomb of Cheops. 

“Waiting.”

“You could come out into the living room and keep me company while we’re waiting,” he suggests.

We went away for a long weekend and came home to this room transformed into an incredible three-dimensional portal to the Giza plateau.  It’s more than a sanctuary, it’s the kind of dream-room every kid imagines and every adult envies because they never had it. 

It was another one of those things Jack shrugged off with, “glad you like it.  I was worried this could go either way.”

And that was the end of it.

“Unless you want to take a nap,” he says now, leering at me comically.  “It could be a long night, ya know.”

It took us about six hours when we did this previously, but then, there were only two of us.  With four of us – well, three and a midget – it should go a lot faster, though I could very well be more of hindrance than a help in this manifestation.

Which cycles my thinking back around to the terror beating in my throat. 

“Jack?”  I slide off the bed and walk, on not-so-steady legs, over to take his hand.

He immediately bends his creaking knees and squats so we’re on eye level. 

“What?”

“What if we get caught?”

He doesn’t automatically diss my terror, and I suspect he can see it clearly, he’s good like that, too.

“We didn’t before.  Why do you think we might now?”

I shrug.  “Well, there will be four of us this time, which exponentially increases the odds of getting caught.”

Jack frowns as though giving this serious thought.  “Are you forgetting it also exponentially decreases the amount of time we’ll be out, which proportionately decreases the odds of getting caught?  Besides, Carter and Teal’c are old hands at this kind of operation.”

“But what if I get caught alone?”

“Ahhhh,” he says knowingly, “that’s not going to happen.  First of all, we’re not going to leave you alone.  Second, you were great at this before, and now that you’re smaller, you can melt that much easier into the shadows and disappear if the rest of us get caught.  And I want you to promise you’ll do that, Daniel.  So, if, God forbid, something does happen, someone can get in touch with the General to bail us out.  Make sure your cell is charged and in your pocket, please.”  He stops and considers for a moment.  “I suspect being drunk off your ass might have helped these pre-mission jitters as well.  Come on, let’s go find the scotch.”

Only Jack is allowed to pick me up without explicit permission and he never does it when anyone else is around.  But I have to say, it feels kind of – good, I guess – when he does it.

It’s been a very long time since I experienced the safe, warm feelings engendered when he does that.

“Are you really going to let me have scotch?”

“Sure, a teaspoonful, with lots of ice and water,” Jack chuckles.  “We’ve got to have you prepared for this mission, Dr. Jackson.  I can’t be dragging a whiny kid around tonight and if you breathe one word of this to Frasier, you can kiss your drinking days goodbye, my friend, until you’re eighteen again.  Even teaspoonfuls.  Got that?”

See, Jack gets it.  Not only that, he understands far more than I ever gave him credit for when I was all adult.

It’s curious to me that the meshing of child and adult has opened my eyes in so many unexpected ways.

Prior to this experience I would have argued vehemently that I’ve put a lot of effort into holding onto curiosity and openness – some call it innocence, though I beg to differ – I’ve always been willing to try it another way, to accept alternatives, to think creatively rather than traditionally.

I was clueless, though, about how much life’s experiences have colored how I see things now.

When I observe in this manifestation, everything seems brighter and clearer, less tarnished by my past life experiences.  Whereas, when I revert to the thirty-four-year-old thinking it’s as though someone’s left a dull coat of silver polish over the tarnish and not bothered to rub it off.

I don’t want to lose my thirty-four-year-old memories.  I don’t want to give up the life experience I’ve already worked my way through.  Most of all I don’t want to give up being thirty-four.  But it appears I may not have much choice in the matter.

Tonight is both a gift and a bribe all wrapped up in the bright packaging of being with SG-1.  It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten to do anything with my whole team and I’m looking forward to this, even though I’m terrified.

When this is over, I know Jack’s going to insist we get in touch with Thor and the Teprins and I know he’s right, but that terrifies me even more.

It occurs to me, though, whatever happens - tonight or over the next few days and weeks - I’ll have Jack and Sam and Teal’c on my six.  And maybe, a teaspoon of scotch to ward off the chill that’s lodged itself in my stomach.

Not everybody is lucky enough to have friends like that.  I’ve very thankful I do.

~*~

 

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