"I'm sorry to have disturbed you, Lisa." Sandra Riley apologizes when I enter the Mountain daycare. "But General Hammond suggested you might be the best person."
"That's okay." I tell her, kicking snow off my boots. "How is he?"
"Well. He's calmed down. We've kept him in the office." Sandra leads me down the bright corridor to a small office. "He's usually such a well-behaved little boy."
I glance at her. My lips suppress a smirk. "He's a smart-ass."
"But a really cute smart ass." Sandra grins.
"Which is probably why no one has killed him yet."
"You want me to get Cherie?"
"I think I want to get him home and settled; Mark's going to pick up Cherie."
Sandra nods, opens the door to her office.
Daniel is sitting in a chair, reading from a journal in what looks like a Romance language. I know enough Italian, Spanish, and French to know it's not one of those, so I'm guessing Portuguese. His eyes are still puffy and red.
"Hey." I put one hand on his ruffled blonde hair.
"Hi. Sorry." He apologizes, rubbing his nose with the sleeve of his rugby.
"Daniel, I expect you to be better behaved when you come back, and I want a written apology to Miss Aimes." Sandra tells him sternly.
"Yes ma'am." Daniel sniffs.
"All right." Sandra smiles at him, hugs him. "I know it's hard when your da. . .when Jack's gone. You just do your best. Okay?"
He swallows. Nods, picks up his backpack.
Someone has brought in Daniel's booster seat, which I pick up. "Come on." I tell my borrowed miscreant, leading him down the hallway. "See you later, Sandy."
"See you." Sandra says, going back to her office. "Take care of the little shit."
"I'm sorry they called you." Daniel tells me in the cloakroom as he puts on his parka, scarf, and knit cap
"That's okay. I imagine it's pretty tough. Jack'll be back soon."
"I know. I feel dumb. I shouldn't. . .I mean. . .He'll be home in 3 more days. . .but."
"It's okay. Just because you know something in your head doesn't mean your heart always gets it." I smile at him. "This is the first time Jack, Sam and Teal'c have all been gone. It's tough."
Daniel shrugs. "You gonna tell him?"
"About this? No. I think you should."
Daniel sighs. "I knew you'd say that. But it would worry him. It'd be better if we just didn't bother him, you know? He's got. . ."
"Daniel. My bullshit meter has a low threshold." I warn. "Would you like to know what I discussed with Mrs. Riley and General Hammond?"
He gives me a look, "I'm not sure." He mumbles.
"I agreed to let you stay at my house until Jack comes back from his meeting."
"Oh." Daniel sniffs. "What about my work?"
"Doctor St. Clair thinks maybe you're too stressed while they're gone. Chris Marcantel said he'll get someone to send some stuff, some backlog things. But I think they want you to just relax and de-stress a little."
"Don't you have work with your. . .stuff?" Daniel looks at me.
"If you aren't a hooligan, I can work. I used to when Cherie was little."
Daniel blinks. He's about to start crying again. I decide to use the distraction ploy and lead him out of Daycare. "I thought we'd get take out from Le Med for supper? That okay?"
"Mhm. Can we stop by Starbuck's too?"
I roll my eyes heavenward, pray for strength. "Yes. We can. After we pick up dinner."
Daniel makes a face as I put his booster in the back seat. It's nicer than the one Cherie used to use. Much nicer in fact. "Recaro. Top of the line." Daniel informs me as he gets in grumpily. "Sam had the leather cover made."
"That figures." I mutter, looking in disbelief at what has got to be the only Harley-Davidson booster seat on the planet.
"Can we get Precious?"
"Dr. Fraiser is having him sent home with Mark." I watch him buckle in, then get in the driver seat and pop in a Bach CD that Daniel likes. I already know from dealing with Cherie an elegant equation: A+B+C+D=E
B=Thrum of a combustion Engine,
C=movement of vehicle through town, and
D=favorite music, then
Daniel digs through his backpack, gets out what I have been informed by Cherie is a Cuthulu to play with, and hums along to the 2nd Brandenburg Suite as I drive down the freshly snow-cleared streets of Colorado Springs, content to watch the world go by.
By the time we hit the take-out window at Le Med his head is drooped against the seat and he's dead to the world. Score one for the equations of motherhood
"Hey. Come on. You can sleep in the house."
"Huh?" Daniel opens bleary eyes as I rub his leg and unbuckle the seat belt that holds him in.
"Come on. We're home."
Daniel looks at me from half-lidded, still-sleeping eyes, holds out an arm to be carried. He's used to Jack, a 6'2" Special Ops Colonel who carries him everywhere. I'm Lisa. A 5'3" Quilt Appraiser and Restorer.
Daniel's the recipient of 3 PhD's, two terminal masters and several awards for bravery in battle and courage under fire.
He probably knows more than any three other Archeologists at the SGC and makes more than Mark and I do put together.
Cherie's too big and has absolutely refused to be carried anymore for at least 2 years. I'm gonna throw my back out; I just know I am.
The kitchen door gusts open, and feet tromp through, then down the stairs to my office. Cherie has all the grace of a rhinocerus in mating season. I sigh, pause, await the coming interruption as my door swings open.
"Hey! Mrs. Riley said. . ." Cherie trails as she sees me holding a finger before my lips as I stare up at her from the couch where I'm working. Daniel is still sleeping, his head on a throw pillow next to my lap, slurping on a finger as he sleeps, his Cthulhu squirreled away under the covers with him.
I've got a quilt I'm restoring spread over me. Right now I'm basting pieces of period fabric to replace tiny hexagonal pieces that have worn through over the years.
"Oh." Cherie looks at her boyfriend. Wrinkles her nose. "He looks. . .little."
"So do you when you're upset." I tell her. Cherie's also at least 2 years older than he is, despite fake birth certificates to the contrary. "This is the first time Jack's had to leave him since. . ." I trail, sotto voce. "What would you do if your dad and I were out of country and both sets of grams were gone?"
Cherie frowns; she's never thought of it. The Mountain kids all know that Daniel's parents were tortured and killed, that he was smuggled out of a foreign country, that he's some kind of hero. The fact that he might not be Daniel the wunderkind all the time doesn't occur to them. I hope she's big enough and old enough to understand that.
Mark trails her in. "How long he been asleep?" He asks.
"Since we got in." I turn my magnifying light off, shove the thing away. "Dinner's in the fridge." I take off my wrist pin cushion, tack my needle into the quilt, and get up. Cherie helps me put the quilt on my work table. I take off my cotton gloves, send Mark and Cherie into the kitchen to get dinner together, then address my charge.
"Hey. Time to wake up." I sit on the edge of the couch.
Daniel yawns. Blinks.
"Hi." he says finally, rubbing his eyes.
"Hi. You got a good two hour nap."
"Oh." He smacks his lips. "I wanna go to bed."
"If you go to sleep now, you'll get up too early tomorrow, and you'll disappoint Cherie tonight." I tell him, tugging on his arms as I stand. "Cherie and Mark are putting dinner on the table. You go join them while I put the cover over my quilt, okay?"
He yawns again. "Okay." He finally agrees. "I'm sorry they made you come get me."
His apology takes me by surprise. I watch him sit up, push off the coverlet I threw over him. "Thank you, but don't worry about it, Daniel. I'm just glad I can help."
When I get down to the kitchen, they've got ice in the glasses; the table is set, and the hot stuff is heating while the cold stuff is already set out. There's a smell wafting up from under the kitchen table that I can't quite describe. I look down.
A single green eye, almost buried in sasquatch-like fur, peers up at me. I sniff again. The odor isn't really unpleasant. Sort of like tuna salad.
"That's Presh." Daniel explains. "He burps. A lot. If we don't feed him real tuna you don't wanna know what it smells like."
I straighten, look at the fosterling I've agreed to keep in my nest for three days. "Daniel, are they sure that that cat isn't. . .a throwback to the Neanderthals or something?"
Daniel blinks at me. "Well. The vet thinks maybe he's got some exotic in him."
"How much does he weigh?"
Cherie answers as she puts the glasses on the table. "He weighed 21 pounds when they got him from the shelter."
"And now he weighs significantly more." Mark finishes, joining me in looking under the table.
Daniel shrugs. Grins. "Teal'c says he's my battle beast."
"Is that some kind of Jaffa thing?" Mark asks as we sit down.
"I think so." Daniel knows enough to wait. Cherie says the blessing like the good little American Catholic I'm raising her to be, then we dig in.
Before Daniel, you couldn't get Cherie to eat anything even remotely weird. Now she's munching down on Baba Gnoush with the rest of us and trying to steal extra pita chips.
"So what did you do at school?" I ask Cherie, who's been trained up to this one.
She frowns in thought. The rule is you have to tell us 3 things you did. "We made silhouettes of Lincoln to match ones we made of Washington last week and of Reverend King the week before that. We started multiplying fractions." She pauses, frowns. "And we're going to start the Egypt unit when we finish the one on Japan."
Her school, for reasons that still mystify me, has adopted a "unit" approach to learning. They pick themes and everything the kids do for 2 months at a time revolves around the theme. The only two that happen every year are Pioneer and Egypt. (Before the SGC, I'm told, only the Pioneer unit reoccurred.)
"Multiplying fractions. Pretty cool." Mark tells her.
Cherie flushes at her dad's praise. "It's okay."
"And what did Mommy do?" Mark asks.
"I kept working on that quilt. And I went and got Daniel. Not very exciting." I give him the eyebrow then glance at Daniel. "Just so everyone knows, Dr. Marcantel and General Hammond hired me as contract labor for the SGC."
Daniel blinks at this. Frowns. "Are they paying you to baby-sit, or did they suddenly pull their heads out of their asses and adopt my recommendation to bring you on as a textile expert?"
"Both. I report to Jack when I baby-sit you and to Marcantel when they need to preserve fibers."
"Soooooo. . .when are they sending you off to Advanced Survival School?" Mark asks, grinning at both Daniel and Cherie.
"I think they figure that I should be able to just test out of all those pansy special forces schools after surviving both Cherie AND Daniel."
"Uhhhhh." Cherie retorts at this teasing.
Daniel just grins at Mark and me while he licks tabouleh off his fingers.
"Okay. Cherie, after supper, I want you in your bathroom. Daniel, you get ours. Any homework?"
"I did it at daycare. Why didn't you come get me when you got Daniel?"
Mark rolls his eyes. I know he tried to explain it to Cherie on the ride home at least 4 or 5 times.
"Because Daniel was being a hellion and I didn't want you to have to listen to me rant."
"Did you smack his fanny like Jack does?" Cherie chortles.
Daniel flushes. "Shut up!"
"Cherie. Stop embarrassing your boyfriend. They tend not to remain your boyfriends if you embarrass them in front of your parents." I lecture before Daniel can open his mouth. "Daniel, don't say anything you'll regret later. Now finish up eating. I want baths and squeaky clean children in sleep sweats in 30 minutes."
They finish dinner quickly, put their plates by the dishwasher and scurry off. Finally it's just Mark and me. For a whole 30 minutes.
"Are you sure you want to do this?"
"What, consult on textiles" I'm going to have to drop a couple of clients, but that's okay. The money's wayyyy more than I'm getting now."
"No. The whole Daniel thing."
"Oh. That." I pause. "What am I supposed to do? Janet Fraiser was at her wit's end, and I don't mind."
"Yeah, and now there are guys in a white panel van outside making sure no one from the NID decides to drop by for coffee and cookies tonight." Mark replies.
I sigh, irritated with my husband. "I want to do this. He needs us."
Mark takes my hand and kisses it. "He's a little shit who gives Cherie bad ideas."
I grin. "Yeah. I know."
They're in Cherie's room, playing on her Xbox, gossiping. "He's gonna' be like Carson Kessler." Daniel says, fingers flying.
"Daniel! You cheated!"
"Did not. Lt. Yeager showed me. It's a trick. Trick. T-R-I-C-K. Not a cheat."
"Hmph. Andy isn't gay. He's got a girlfriend."
"Yeah. Sure. Believe what you want. Andy's so fey his mom has to put weights in his jeans to keep him from floating off."
"I thought Andy was one of your buddies."
"He is." Daniel pauses, face a study of concentration on the game. "I like Andy a lot. You're the kewlest person my age that I know and the kewlest girl. Andy's the kewlest guy. But Andy is gay."
"You're not. . .you know. . ."
"Me?" Daniel's eyes don't leave the screen. "Guys are okay. But they just don't. . .you know. . .I don't get. . .I don't. . ." He flushes. "I like girls. Girls are pretty and they smell good and. . .you know. " He's bright pink, bordering on red. "But guys are okay. If you have. . .like. . .an itch. . ."
"An itch?" Cherie says doubtfully.
"Never mind. I'm straight. I like girls."
"Okay." I decide to enter the room now before I start laughing and can't stop. "It is now 8:30. I've made up a pallet in our bedroom for Daniel."
"I'm not a baby. I can sleep on the couch."
"I'm sure you can. But you're sleeping on a pallet in our bedroom. Non-negotiable."
Cherie frowns. "Why?"
"Because Daniel has nightmares." I say, deciding not to make a deal of it. "If you had nightmares you'd sleep in our room too."
"Oh." Cherie pauses, looks at Daniel.
"And if your dad and I were ever off saving the world, I bet you'd have plenty of nightmares." I continue.
"Is that what Jack's doing?" Cherie asks.
Daniel makes a face. "Nah. He's just talking to some people and being bored a lot."
"He's saving the world." I reply. "I want you both off the computer and tucked in, reading, in 10 minutes."
Deep, exasperated sighs emanate from the two self-confessed bibliophiles as they contemplate my vast cruelty at making them curl up in bed with books.
It's 5AM when Mark comes into my sewing room in BDU's. I'm mostly done with the basting part of the Gated Flower Garden quilt I've been working on. Daniel is curled up under a coverlet, slurping on his fingers, the well-worn elder god next to his head. It was somewhere between the third and fifth nightmare that I finally gave in and brought him down here so that at least Mark, who's going on a mission today, could sleep.
"Wow. Sleeping instead of screaming, that's. . ." Mark trails as I give him the evil eye.
"Yeah. Well. I think he knows he's keeping me awake; that's why he's able to sleep so well."
Mark snorts. "Knowing the little shit, I wouldn't put it past him." Mark cocks his head, looking the little wretch. "He's kind of cute when he's asleep."
I glance over at the monster Jack is raising. Mark's right. Cherie's right. He looks like an adorable little kid when asleep.
"What are you going to do today?" Mark asks as I put the needle in my quilt and tuck the quilt and my fabrics into a chair.
"Hopefully he'll sleep all day. He hasn't slept since Jack left."
Mark blinks at that. "You're kidding."
I shake my head. "I told you Fraiser was at wit's end. He did the same routine at her house that he did for the first few hours here."
"Jeesh. Poor kid. Poor Major Fraiser." Mark shakes his head. He draws me up against him, gives me a long, lingering kiss. "They're saying 72 hours and I'll be back."
"Bring back everything in working order." I tell him a slipping a cool hand under his black t-shirt.
Mark growls at me.
An hour later, I go rouse Cherie, the slug-a-bed. It takes forever to get her going in the morning. She whines, she pleads, she grumps. She's just like her grandmother and her Aunt Patrice.
Finally, I get her awake enough that she's dressing herself. She just sort of pours when she's half-asleep. I can't explain it. It makes me want to prop her up with a frame or something, like a doll in a stand. But finally, finally, she's awake and getting dressed and I can go downstairs.
Daniel's asleep where I left him. Presh, of course, has settled in on top of my quilt and is looking quite pleased with himself. I shoo. . .excuse me, I try to shoo the damn thing off my quilt. He is distinctly unimpressed with my shooing. Finally I pick up the beast and drop him on the floor. He lands with a "roh" and flicks his tail in my direction, before hopping back up. We eye each other a moment before he decides to curl up beside Daniel on top of the quilt I've put Daniel under a half-sized Stack-and-Whack that I made when I taught a class on quilting a couple of years ago.
I consider waking him so I can shovel food down both the kids' gullets at the same time, then decide to let sleeping archaeologists lie.
By the time my first pot of coffee is made Cherie tromps down the stairs. I've got her instant oatmeal ready and sit down with my coffee and toast while she eats.
"Where's Daniel?" She asks.
"Oh." Cherie pours some milk into her oatmeal, stirs it around. "What're you going to do today?"
"Finish my basteing and start on the re-quilting." I tell her honestly.
"I could stay home and play with Daniel so he doesn't bother you." She says as though it doesn't matter, focuses on her oatmeal innocently.
"Nice try." I tell her with a grin.
She looks up, under her wild tangle of curls. "Daniel doesn't have to go to work." She tells me.
"But you do have to go to school. Just remember that all this summer when he goes to work and you get to stay home."
She sighs heavily. "I could work on a paper on Egypt if I stayed home."
"Give it up Cherie. I'm pretty set on this one."
Another sigh. "Okay. But when Daniel gets bored. . ." She pauses significantly, eats her oatmeal.
I'm not letting Cherie out of school, but this last does give me pause for thought.
Around 9ish, the UPS guy stops by with a quilt from a shop in Maine for conservation. The doorbell doesn't wake Daniel. My chatting with the UPS guy doesn't wake Daniel.
My sitting on the floor with a box cutter, opening everything. That wakes him. Fookin' Archaeologist, that's what he is.
His eyes flutter for a moment, then open. He stares at me for a moment, finger in his mouth. "Wha's tha?" He asks, finally.
"Quilt. Mixed Textiles. Silk and Wool. Mid 19th Century. I'm going to do conservation on it." I tell him, cutting through a plastic bag.
"I thought you weren't supposed to use plastic on old textiles."
"You aren't. But this is the safest way to get it through the mail. You double wrap it in plastic bags and use next day delivery. The person on the other end takes it out of the bag as soon as it gets there. No harm no foul." I smile as I lift out an unbleached muslin bag full of quilt, set it off to one side. The quilt shop 'Stitches in Time' has included, as always, what they know about the quilt on a couple of Xeroxed pages in the owner's jangled script.
"Oh." Daniel yawns. Says something in another language, closes his eyes, goes back to sleep, fingers buried in Presh's mottled fur. I'm left staring at the two odd little creatures I've let into my home.
The day starts in a pretty boring fashion. I turn on Court TV for background noise as I work on the Gated Flower Garden. Daniel sleeps. Presh sits cryptically beside his owner and gives me filthy looks.
At 11, I get up to make sandwiches for lunch. The phone rings while I'm in the kitchen, trying to decide on Rye or Sourdough for the monster. "Lisa Morgan."
"Ms. Morgan, this is Sergeant Willis from the SGC." A pleasant female voice informs me. "I'm General Hammond's Admin."
"Ahh. You're the one Jack's always saying he wants to build a shrine to."
A chuckle. "I guess so, ma'am. I just do my job."
"I hear you keep up with O'Neill and Hammond, which is something I wouldn't do if you gave me a new Mercedes every year."
"I try. SG-1's supposed to be doing a call-in this afternoon around 1400 hours. General Hammond was hoping that you could bring Daniel up so that he could talk to Colonel O'Neill."
"Sure. We can do that. Daniel will be delighted." I tell her, getting out Swiss and salami.
"Good. Uhmm. . .Major Fraiser has also made a tentative appointment with the Children's Clinic for Daniel to see Major St. Clair or one of his associates today. She said she'd let you get with them to make the arrangements. I have the number if you need it."
"That's the number to the health clinic, right? It's already on my 'fridge." I glance over at a cheap magnet with important mountain and local numbers printed on it that comes with every SGC welcome-wagon packet. "I'll give them a call."
"Good. Uhmm. . .Dr. Fraiser also said I should ask you to remind Daniel that he's due to get a booster sometime this week."
This sounds a little bit odd, but I make a mental note to tell the shiest. "So, that's about it?"
"I think so."
"Hey." I rub my hand along his flannel covered arm as I crouch beside the couch. Daniel's befuddled eyes open at half-mast. He yawns until I can see all the way to his toes, smacks his lips again.
"Hi." He mutters and yawns again.
"You wanna' get up?"
"Well, you're gonna have to if you want to talk to the other members of SG-1."
"Jack?" Daniel's face lights up.
"Yep. He's doing a call in this afternoon. We're going to have to get a move on if you want to be there."
Daniel sits up finally. "SGC does call-ins every 36 hours." He tells me, letting me help pull him up.
"I made sandwiches. Swiss and Salami with brown mustard on pumpernickel."
"We also have some kidmed stuff, apparently. I'm told you have a booster due this week. And Dr. St. Clair wants to see you."
Daniel wrinkles up his nose, makes hairballing noises.
"Is that for the booster or the Doctor?"
"The doctor. The boosters aren't bad. Jack lets me have a Latte after every shot."
Daniel follows me up the half-flight of stairs from my study to the kitchen. Precious is on the counter with the remains of our sandwiches.
He brrups at us, takes a final gulp of salami and hops down from the counter at a dead run.
I turn to glare at Daniel. Who is grinning.
"Go get dressed. I'll clean up and we'll get Scottish."
"Aye, me' laddie."
"This is the best part about being a kid." Daniel tells me, inhaling his french fries. "I never ate at McDonalds. And if I even thought about it. . . Salad. Only salads." He looks at my greenery, chomps with satisfaction on his deep fat fried and sugar drenched pieces of potato. "Fried foods. I can eat fried foods. French fries. Milkshakes. Hamburgers." He sighs blissfully.
I give him the evil eye, swirl my lettuce around in vinegar. "You are a wicked, wicked child."
"Which booster are you getting?"
"God only. I have to do the entire series. It's like being a goddamn pincushion." He gives me a concerned look. "I bet Janet didn't think about that when she handed you off. Some of them make me sick."
"Yeah. I've gotten a fever twice and I puked in Hammond's wastebasket once."
"A mild fever and a little puking I can handle. I am a mom, after all."
Daniel smiles. "I know why kids cry about those things now. They hurt a lot more when you're little."
"Uh-huh. And shit that didn't bother me when I was big, like people crunching ice, bugs me now." He wrinkles his nose. "Did you know I'm getting a medal?"
"I had heard. We got an invite to the ball and to your ceremonies."
"Oh, that's right. Can Cherie come to the ceremony? I know she can't for the ball. I wish I wasn't." He sighs dramatically. "Jack got the Academy to assign Cassie's squad to work the ball. She is soooo ticked off at him, but her squad won't let her say anything."
I work through this one. "He wants her to baby-sit you, huh?"
Daniel grins. "I think so."
"Why's she ticked?"
Daniel shrugs, peels the coating off a chicken nugget then eats the breading alone, covered in hot mustard sauce. "I think she wanted to get through the Academy on her own merit. Having people like Jack and Hammond requesting her services doesn't give her much anonymity." He tears his denuded chicken nugget into halves, dunks one half into his mustard. He wrinkles his nose. "Her squad mates ate Thanksgiving with us. Kept sputtering when Jack made rude jokes."
I snort. "Did Hammond come over that evening?"
"Oh yeah. And they were there. This tall kid from Minnesota, I think Cassie called him Scooter, he must've peed in his uniform."
"I don't know how we'll work the ceremony though, if Cherie goes."
"Oh we're having two. One for people with clearance for. . .you know, people like Kasuf. And one for people with clearance to NORAD or limited SG access. Davis said he'd send you two invitations. One with Cherie's name on it for the one at NORAD and one without for you. Mark's required to be there."
"That's why I got two?" It suddenly makes sense.
"Mark didn't explain it?"
I shrug. "I don't think I asked him. He asked if I'd gotten them and I said I had."
"Oh. So, can Cherie come?" Daniel polishes off his chicken nuggets.
"I think I can check her out of school for this one."
"What about the ball?"
"Yeah, Mark and I will be there. Not much choice."
Daniel makes a face. "Tell me about it. I'd tons rather be left out." He heaves a sigh. "At least I get to see Jack in Mess Dress. That's worth months of teasing."
"I always thought Mess Dress looked nice."
"Maybe it does on Mark. Jack just looks like he's infiltrated a marching band."
It takes me a moment to get the diet coke I've inhaled out of my nose. "Speaking of looking at guys. What was that about who's gay in the 4th grade?"
Daniel blinks at me. Slurps on his drink. "You heard that, huh?"
"Yep You think Andy is flaming?"
"Well. Not flaming. Just very, very light." Daniel replies seriously. "Or he will be."
"What if he wants to go military like his dad?"
"Hopefully it won't be like it is now when Andy gets big enough." He replies, swirling a french fry through his ketchup.
"So, I take it you're straight through and through."
"I wouldn't say through and through but given my druthers, I like girls. . ." Daniel wrinkles his nose. "I remember it felt really good. Sex I mean. But it just seems, you know. . .gross now."
I have to grin at that.
"You're not upset that Cherie's my girlfriend, are you?"
"Nope. I figure Cherie's the predator in this relationship."
"That's the truth." He replies. "Not that it bothers me, mind you."
This gets him the laugh he was hoping for. "Finish up and we'll go down to the clinic."
Daniel makes a face. St. Clair said he could see Daniel at 12:30, which leaves us just enough time to make it into the Mountain for Jack's call in. Daniel's not thrilled. "This isn't even testing. They'll wanna taallllkkkkk about how I'm feeeellllinnnggggg." He groans, putting his happy meal remains on my tray.
"Such agony." I tsk.
The clinic is full of sick kids, no surprises there. Daniel threads the waiting area, bypasses the counter and leads me down a hallway.
"Shouldn't we check in?" I ask, hesitantly.
Daniel shrugs. "I wait for St. Clair in the break room, usually." He smiles at a woman in scrubs who smiles back. "Here." He opens a non-descript door into a little lounge with a very sad couch with a badly fitting slipcover and even sadder indoor-outdoor carpeting.
Daniel takes off his parka with my help, fixes us cups of coffee. I sit very gingerly on the couch with Daniel curled up against me and look through a book of photos taken at Mesa Verde that was sitting on the floor when we came in. He holds pages open with his little grubby fingers, eyes flickering over the images with non-child-like intensity.
We're gazing at pictures of a kiva when the door opens. "Hey Daniel." A tallish, aging geek says.
"Hey." Daniel tells the guy. "Lisa Morgan, this is Caleb St. Clair. Caleb St. Clair, Lisa Morgan. Lisa's Cherie's mom. She's babysitting me."
"Don't get up," the geek tells me with a smile. Under a badly receding hairline, he's got a gentle face and kind eyes. "It's nice to meet you. You"re the one I talked with over the phone yesterday?"
"One and the same. So you'll have Danny for about 30 minutes then send him to the mountain?"
"Something like that."
"Okay. I'll be at the employment office, filling out paperwork, if anyone needs me. You're gonna behave for the driver?"
Daniel rolls his eyes, sighs.
"That's not an answer."
"I'll behave." He agrees. Dr. St. Clair snorts.
Daniel gives him a look.
45 minutes later, Daniel and I meet at the SCG elevators. I'm sporting a badge that's still warm from the laminating machine when he tromps up, boots clattering on concrete.
"Hey. How was Dr. St. Clair?"
"Well. You know. He's okay for someone who watches Wormhole Extreme." He smiles, even though his eyes are still puffy and he's pulled the Cthulhu out of his backpack.
It gets him a grin. I sign the log book, give the Sergeant my badge for a quick purview, then step behind the yellow-black safety line as Daniel signs in. There's another Sergeant on the elevator and we're whizzing down floors to the SGC. My only regret is that on my first visit to the SGC, Mark and his team of miscreants aren't here.
Finally we're at level 32. The doors open on a smiling General Hammond. "Ms. Morgan." He greets me rather graciously. Somehow, I don't think it's my textile expertise that got me a personal visit from the General. "Daniel." He adds.
"Hi." Daniel is almost shy at this point. Considering the tantrums he pulled this week, I'd be shy too.
"I thought you might like a brief tour before SG-1 has its call in."
"That would be lovely. Daniel wanted to apologize. . ." I trail, putting a hand on his shoulder, shoving him forward. Daniel gives me a frantic look backwards. I smile warmly, cluelessly.
"I'm. . .I'm sorry I was a brat. I was just missing them." Daniel tells him, using his eyelashes for full effect.
"That's all right." Hammond pulls Daniel tight against his hip with one arm, ruffles his hair. "I know it's hard for you." He smiles at me over Daniel's head. "I'm glad we've got Lisa to help out."
"I'm glad to help. Now I want to see everything. This will be a treat."
I'm quite certain I like the status that being Daniel's babysitter brings me by the time we've gone to the ready room that SG-9 uses and I've stuck a post-it in Mark's locker with a message on it that isn't fit for small pitchers with big ears, then gone by Daniel's office, visited the labs where I'll do textile work and met for a moment with Chris Marcantel.
We visit the gate room, which is supposed to fill me with unspeakable awe.
Okay, the idea of gate travel. That's a whole "wow" thing. The reality that my husband is several million miles away, standing on another planet, conducting a geo-sensing follow up survey looking for trinium to fuel giant spaceships that we stole from our enemies. Okay, now, that's a major "ohmygod". But the gate? It's a big round circle with a metal ramp.
Still, we stand around, staring through plexi-shields at this big round circle and people keep glancing covertly at me, sure that I'm in awe of their wonderful secret. I try to oblige with a pasted-on smile, drink my coffee and let some clueless captain prattle on about how a MALP works.
Finally it happens. There's a sound. A huge "whoosh" followed by what looks like a geyser in the gate room, then it settles into a vertical pond that shimmers blue.
A moment later there's a beep and a monitor transmits first static, then the face of Jack O'Neill.
"Colonel O'Neill here." He tells us, tugging on his cap for a minute.
"Colonel. Good to hear from you. How are negotiations?"
"They're fine." O'Neill winces the way he does when he's pretty sure a parent at Chuck E. Cheese is coming up to complain about Daniel's latest antics. "Well. Actually. Major Coburn says we're pretty close to a treaty. I'm getting hemorrhoids from sitting on my ass all day, but you know."
"I'm sure, Colonel. Are there any special requests?"
"Not at this time. How's Daniel?"
"I'm here." Daniel goes to his knees in his chair, gets where a little camera lens can see him, grinning from earlobe to earlobe. "How's the evening feasting?"
This earns a look of disgust from O'Neill. "I know you said we should expect them to throw bones to the floor, but you'd think they'd clean up the next day. . ."
Daniel chortles at this.
"Other than that it's good. Teal'c and Sam miss you. Wish you'd been here last night. Cuer'ta told this really foul joke but Lt. Simms wouldn't translate it. Kept blushing bright red."
"Get her to tell you the one about the Linguist and the baseball team." Daniel suggests.
"Why do I think. . ?"
". . .It's a filthy linguist joke" You wanna see her blush red? Just ask." Daniel says confidently.
O'Neill smiles. "You okay?"
"I'm fine. It's kinda nice not having you around. I might forget how to count to three."
"I just bet. Probably got everyone bringing you espresso shots and letting you stay up late."
"Hey! I deserve it!"
"Uh-huh. You're going to be spoiled all to hell when I get home, aren't you?"
"Maybe. . ." Daniel looks heavenward and achieves a mischievous grin.
"Okay. Okay. Well. We better go. You behave, understood?"
"I AM behaving. . .kinda'."
Jack goes on to speak again to Hammond then signs out. Daniel keeps his bright grin on until the camera goes gray.
Then he just sits there a moment. Swallowing hard.
I reach out, grab him to me, pull him off his chair, bury his face against my stomach. I feel the tears a moment later. He wraps his arm around my waist, tries to bury his sobs. I sway with him for a little while, then Hammond bends down, takes him by the waist. "Why don't we go to my office?" He asks gently. Daniel turns, arms going around the General's neck, lets himself be picked up and carried by the head of the SGC.
He cries for a few minutes, ensconced in Hammond's lap. Hammond doesn't shush him, doesn't tell him to be big or brave or any of the inexcusable shit that people sometimes tell boys. Hammond just lets him cry for a while.
Finally, he's just curled up in Hammond's lap, sniffing. "You were very brave." Hammond tells him. "It's okay that this is hard."
"I know. It's stupid."
"No. It's not." Hammond replies, leaning forward to get a box of candy out of his drawer. Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans. "Here." He glances at me.
Daniel looks up from his confection. "Don't tell Jack." He says.
Hammond's smile makes his eyes twinkle. "This is our little secret. Jack would kill me if he knew."
I can well imagine. It's a grandpa trick if I ever heard of one"give the kid massive doses of sugar and caffeine before you give him back to his parents. I roll my eyes. "Just one." I tell him. "And I won't blab."
Daniel grins, scoops out what is likely the biggest bean in the box and offers the box to Hammond and me. Hammond begs off, but I take one, enjoy the quiet munching for a moment.
"Tell you what, I'll take you out to Lisa's car." Hammond says, going into doting grandfather overdrive.
"I'm not a little kid."
"I know you're not. Let me escort you at least."
"Don't tell Jack I cried." He asks.
Hammond and I exchange glances. Hammond pauses. "I will make sure to tell him that you were brave and did your best in his absence."
Daniel looks at him for a moment. "That's not the same as not telling Jack I cried."
"No. But you're doing your best. That's all Jack would want."
"I don't him to worry if he has to go again."
"If he'd ever get to work on his PhD and let me retire, he wouldn't have to go again." Hammond harrumphs. This is news to me. I didn't think they let guys like Jack become administrators. My eyes widen as I try to imagine Jack as commander of the SGC.
Hammond smiles. "They've made good commanders out of looser cannons than Jack." He assures me.
Daniel snorts rudely. "He says he's going to start on the degree this fall."
"Jack? PhD?" I can't imagine Jack settling down to do a dissertation without being under gunpoint.
"Jack's smart. He just doesn't like to admit it to anyone." Daniel assures me. "I figure if we start doctoring his coffee with Ritalin, he'll manage it in a year."
This gets a laugh out of Hammond. "Come on. Time for you to go home with Lisa." He tells Daniel.
"Yeah. We'll go to Chuck E. Cheese when Cherie gets in, since Mark's gone." I tell Daniel. "I'll call Andy's mom, see if he can come."
"That the one you think is gay?" Hammond asks.
Daniel rolls his eyes. "Maybe. Just don't tell the recruitment board. He wants to fly jets." He grins as we laugh. "Thank you." He tells us both, arms going around Hammond's neck for a quick hug and a peck on Hammond's surprised cheek. The General looks flummoxed for a half-second. "You're welcome. It's my pleasure, son."
I can't help agreeing with the General.
|Genres:||Angst, Drama, Humor|
|Series:||The Furling's Gift|
|Summary:||You asked, Amp gave. Jack and Co. are off world. So what's a Little Monster to do when the grown-ups are away?