Pneumonia by Amperage
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Category: General
Genres: Alternate Universe, Angst, Drama, Humor, Hurt/Comfort
Rated: Pre-Teen
Warnings: None
Series: The Furling's Gift
Summary: The Furlings give a gift to Earth. Of course, childhood has its down sides . . . childhood diseases visit Daniel and Jack.

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It's exactly 7:05AM when I step into the kitchen to get some coffee. It's always exactly 7:05AM when I get to the kitchen. There's always about a half-pot of coffee left in the coffeemaker at that point in the morning. Not this morning.

I stare at the brimful coffee pot. Daniel's insulated travel mug is still in the drying rack beside the sink. Uh-huh.

This is not good.

He's in his bedroom, dressed, curled up on the covers, wearing a wool sweater and shivering. My little monster is the color of a sheet of copier paper except for the bright red apples of his cheeks. Before I even put my hand on his forehead, I know what to expect.

"Hey." Fever. Great.

Daniel looks at me. "I feel bad." He announces.

"Yeah. You look pretty rough." I agree and rub my eyes.

"My head hurts and my chest hurts." He says dully. "I'm cold. I ache."

"Yeah." I sit on the bed, trying to figure out my next move. If I had something pressing or urgent, I could take him into the mountain and dump. . .let Janet take over. But I don't. And I happen to know Janet has all of SG-5 in the infirmiry with varying degrees of some kind of allergic reaction. Rashes in unmentionable places.

But I don't know anything about sick kids. Sara always took care of Charlie. "Let's get your clothes off, get you back into your pajamas." I say, reaching for Daniel's shoes.

It's a sign of how bad he does feel that Daniel lets me do most of the undressing with only desulatory efforts.

Finally he's under the covers, electric blanket turned up and I can call Janet.

"Daniel's sick." I say without greeting when I finally get Janet on the phone, while I'm rooting around in the bathroom for stuff to give him.

"Sick?"

"Looks like the flu or something. He's got a fever. and he says his head and chest hurt and that he aches."

"Have you taken his temperature?"

"I'd need a thermometer for that, right?" I ask, finally coming to the realization that we have corn pads and muscle creams and aleve and a plethora of prescription allergy medicines but very little else.

A long-suffering sigh.

"I can bring him in. . ." I trail hopefully.

"I'm not a Kid Med facility." Janet retorts. "You'll get through this like every other parent of a sick 9 year old. You need to take his temperature. Give him children's tylenol and make sure he gets fluids. I'll tell Hammond you won't be in."

"Isn't his system all wonky from the you know. . ." I gesture wildly, even though I know she can't see me. She'll understand.

"Not that wonky." Janet replies. "There's a Walgreen's about 3 minutes away from you."

There is, damnit.

"Get a thermometer, children's Tylenol, and lay in a stock of juices and gatorade. Enjoy your day off." She hangs up.

I'm tempted to call her back, but don't.

Daniel is curled up under his covers when I go back to his room. He's got the TV turned onto the History Channel, but he's just sort of listening to it in a dull way. "Janet said you have the flu."

"Duh." Daniel says as I sit down on the edge of the bed. "Wouldn't let you palm me off, huh?"

I smile, but don't answer that one. "I'm supposed to feed you juices and gatorade and take your temperature."

"Oh." He coughs. He sounds horrible.

"Any particular juice?"

"Grape." Daniel thinks for a moment. "And the lemon-lime gatorade."

"Done. Now go to sleep. I'll be back in a minute." I call security at the gate to the housing development before I leave--let them know to watch the house. It doesn't hurt that the suburban gate staszi include Air Force MP's.

He's still asleep when I get back, and sleeps through me putting batteries in the thermometer. He wakes and gives me an evil eye when I put the little probe in his ear. "You have to hold it straight." He says when I glare at the device because it reads 98.

"I can read the box."

"Did you?" He asks, not moving.

That would be beside the point. I try again. Am rewarded with an LED that reads 102.8.

Daniel coughs, doubling over. "Hurts." He says when he can draw breath. The sad thing is that he looks even cuter now than he ever has. Kids are not supposed to look this cute. Especially not when they're sick. Pathetic maybe. Not cute.

But he is, hair spikey, glasses askew, eyes big and fever-bright.

He watches without comment as I read the bottle of children's tylenol and pour liquid into a cup.

"Eww. Gross. No pills?"

"Not for 9 year olds. Chewables and liquid. I was told by the pharmacists's assistant told this is the least nasty. Sit up."

Daniel struggles up, shivering.

"Still cold?"

He nods and takes the cup. Holds his nose and swallows.

"You want some juice?"

Daniel hands me the cup back, face still scrunched up in disgust, shakes his head. "Gun." He says.

"Gun?" I echo dumbly.

"Put me out of my misery." He slips back down under his covers.

"I'll get you some grape juice. You can drink it when you feel like it."

Janet is less than impressed with a nearly 103 degree fever. "It's probably a 24 hour bug. Little kids get high fevers."

"So this is normal?"

"Essentially. Any new symptoms?"

"He's got a cough."

"Flu. He'll be miserable, then start feeling better and make you miserable."

"Great."

"Oh. General Hammond sends his best."

"He would. He doesn't have to stay home with his granddaughters."

"Welcome to the world of single-parenting." Janet lilts too godamn cheerfully for my comfort.

"Uh-huh." I sigh.

I call Hammond's gunney, arrange to have non-classified work couriered over. The gunney is sympathetic. I'm 2IC to one of the most top-secret, important projects in the Air Force.

And all of that means absolutely nothing when Daniel Jackson get sick.

Kinda' puts me in my place.

Daniel sleeps until noon, and then will only drink half a glass of gatorade. "It hurts to breathe." He complains when I wake him. "Is Janet sure I don't have the plague?"

"She said flu." I stick the thermometer in his ear.

"What's it read?" Daniel holds his glass with both hands.

"One oh three point four." I say. We exchange looks. "Janet said kids got high fevers."

"Little kids do." Daniel says, handing me back the glass. I hand him his Tylenol, which he takes with exagerated disgust.

103.4 is high. Even for a little kid. I sit in the rocker with performance reviews and watch Daniel drowse in and out of sleep. The TV stays on the History Channel, but neither one of us could tell you what's on it. An hour slips by and I can't stand it. I get the thermometer.

"Isn't this obsessive?" Daniel whines.

103.5. Daniel isn't breathing well now. He sits up against a nest of pillows, looking miserable, because he says it's easier to breathe that way--when he isn't coughing.

I call Janet, one eye on my wretch, but she isn't in.

103.9. At 1:45PM I leave ANOTHER message for Janet. I get the impression that she thinks I'm either griping or panicking. Well duh, I'm not griping.

At 3PM, when Janet finally gets around to calling us back, I've got Daniel in my lap--at his request--rocking him, listening to him huff because he can't breathe. I know his fever is higher, but I don't think either one of us wants to find out how high it is exactly. Daniel's electric blanket is curled around us and I'm sweating like a pig, but Daniel swears he's still cold.

"How is he?" Janet sounds impatient.

"His temp's above 103.9, he's panting and coughing."

"Tell 'er can't breath." Daniel huffs in quick little pants.

"And he can't breath." I snap. "He's turning grey."

"Grey?" Janet asks, sincerely shocked.

"Grey. He's beginning to look a lot like Thor. Okay?"

"What color are his lips?"

I glance. "Blue."

"His nails?"

I wrestle my way through the electric blanket, pick up a tiny hand. "Blue too." I confirm.

"Jack. I'm calling an ambulance. They'll take you to the Base Hospital."

"Ambulance?" I echo. "I can just drive. . ."

"If his lips and nails are blue, he needs oxygen." Janet's voice is subdued. "It's a 45 minute drive out there. He needs the oxygen now."

Which shuts me up. Janet keeps me on the line while I hold my shivering wretch, my anger at her suddenly transmuted into guttwisting fear. In the meantime, Daniel has another coughing fit. All I can do is hold him, and rub his back and feel helpless. Fuck. Finally, he leans against me, eyes closed in exhaustion. I'm fucking terrified now.

"Okay. They're on their way. I think we're dealing with bacterial pnuemonia. It can come on very fast in small children."

"We're only 10 minutes from the mountain." I interupt, well on my way to full fledged panic.

"If Daniel were an adult that'd be fine. But we've already discussed this." And we have, actually. Contingency plan for a sick Daniel is the base where there's a pediatric ward.

Daniel can hear Fraiser perfectly well from the cordless phone's speaker. When I finally hang up he looks at me reproachfully. "Janet pays." He huffs, which certainly puts things in their proper perspective. I get Daniel as ready as I can for the trip to the base, put his feet in slipper socks, pack up some spare underwear and pajamas and then go downstairs with Daniel swaddled in a blanket, legs around my waist, head on my shoulder.

"Colonel O'Neill?" The EMTs don't look much older than Daniel, but I let them in. Daniel's almost out of it, doesn't want to let me go. I don't want to let him go, but we disentangle him carefully, They've already got an oxygen bottle and mask ready, fit it over his face. He doesn't move as they begin poking and proding.

Some security people from the mountain show up as the EMTs start calling in Daniel's condition, including the fact that he's hypoxic, which scares the shit out of me. They'll follow the ambulance.

"Does he have a stuffed animal or a blanket he'll want?" The female EMT asks as her partner continues feeding information to a doc at Colorado Springs General. "We let parents ride with us." She adds.

"How is he?" I can't believe how little he is on the stretcher, eyes half-lidded.

"He's a very sick little boy." The woman says gently. "But that's kids."

The ride is surreal. Daniel has an IV and monitors hooked up to him and when he's aware enough, he presses the oxygen mask against his face as though terrified someone's going to take it away. "Does this make me Newt?" He hisses at one point.

The EMTs even snort over this one.

"Sir." The driver calls back while we sway over the autumn roads. "Call from your command." The EMT beside me grabs a handset for me. It's Hammond.

"I've authorized SG-4 and 12 to be security for Daniel." He tells me. Great. Marines. The same Marines who took Daniel with them to Fort Polk this past weekend. Good. Payback won't be pretty, but then they're the ones who got Daniel wet, cold, and muddy so he could get pnuemonia. "We should have the hospital secured when you arrive." Hammond is all business for this part. "How is he?" His voice becomes, quite suddenly, that of a grandfather's.

"He's. . .got color again. Well. More than he had."

"Tell him I asked about him. Major Carter and Teal'c are en route as well."

"And will have broken several land speed records in the process."

"Very likely, Colonel. Take care of him."

"I do try, sir."

"So this is the celebrity. Or is it reprobate?" The ER pediatrician asks cheerily, breezing into the exam room.

"Monster." I tell him. Daniel gives me a filthy look.

"I don't know that the President has security as good as this." Yeah well. The President's term is 4 years, 8 if he re-ups and he doesn't know half the shit Daniel does. "I'm Major Hastings, by the way." He smiles at us both. "Head of Pedatric Services here. So." Hastings puts down the chart. "I understand from Dr. Fraiser that you woke up not feeling so hot this morning?"

Daniel swallows and nods as Hastings begins his exam by warming the stethescope bell with his hands.

"She said that from your dad's description it sounded like the flu."

"He's Jack." Daniel manages under the mask. Then coughs.

Hastings glances at me, helping Daniel sit up to cough.

"Guardian." I explain, when the drama is over and Daniel is back under his mask.

"Ah." Hastings puts the earpieces in, slips the bell under the covers. "Okay. how deep can you breathe right now?"

Daniel does his best, breaking down hacking as soon as he draws much breath.

Hastings sighs, helps again. When it's over, Daniel looks like he just spent his last iota of energy.

"Okay. Well. I'm going to get an x-ray of your lungs and get a culture of whatever nasty thing's hanging out in there." He pauses. "Do you know what's happening?"

Daniel nods. "Pneumonia."

"Do you know what that means?" Hastings asks. I'm beginning to like this guy.

Daniel nods again. Looks at me, too tired to tell Hastings anything.

"He knows." I tell the doc.

Hastings looks up at me. "Sometimes we forget to explain things." He says gently, then looks back at Daniel. "Well, this is bacterial pneumonia, which can be kinda scary because you can be fine in the morning and really sick by the evening. But we give you some drugs in an IV--so we won't have to keep sticking you. And we'll keep giving you that good air. And every so often this Captain will come by and you'll have to huff on a peace pipe for her, and she'll play drums on your back to get the gross stuff in your lungs to come up. But you'll get better soon. Probably be feeling okay by Halloween." He grins at Daniel. "The Marines say they're buddies of yours. They've commandeered the best room in the pediatric ward for you."

Daniel smiles back at that.

"I'm going to have Sargeants Williams and Prater come in and watch you while I talk to your dad. . .to Jack. Is that okay?"

Daniel adores Williams and Prater, the overqualified grunts. He nods.

"Baby Doc!" Williams and Prater don't even bother saluting me as we exchange places, they're too intent on Daniel.

"So I take it he's. . ." Hastings asks outside the room.

"Classified."

"Ah." Hastings nods. "Where are his parents?"

"Dead."

"Jeez. I'm sorry. Poor little guy."

"Major, I hope that's not a comment on my parenting." I grin and he smiles back.

"He obviously loves you." Hastings says, leaning against a wall. "Okay. It looks like bacterial pneumonia, which can be scary as hell for a parent. The good news is that he'll be just fine in a couple of weeks. We'll do exactly what I told Daniel. He'll stay on oxygen until he doesn't need it, have anti-biotics in an IV, and treatment with a respiratory therapist. Pretty standard stuff."

"Doc Fraiser told you about. . ." I wave vaguely.

"That he may have some unusual reactions?" Hastings nods. "And I wasn't joking about the room. A Colonel Higgins came in and took over the room right next to the nurse's station. The whole ward now has guards on all the entrances and exits."

"Securing the perimeter."

"Well. It's secure. I'm worried they'll scare the kids."

I wince. "I'll make sure they know to be extra friendly. They're great guys, made Daniel an honorary member of their company."

Hastings smiles. "So what's a bunch of Marines doing guarding the ward of an Air Force Colonel?"

"Well. I could tell you, but then I'd have to chain you up 30 floors under the Mountain and feed you nothing but Mac and Cheese MRE's."

Hastings shudders. "Forget I asked."

Daniel is curled up in my lap under multiple blankets, his wrist tethered to a splint that holds his arm steady for the IV, still wearing an oxygen mask. I bitched to Higgins who sent some men out on a search and recover mission and now an empty labor and delivery room is short one rocker. Sam's drinking coffee, trying not to look worried and Teal'c is being stoic There's a travel chess board between them, and they're sort of playing. Sort of.

I know Daniel's sick now. Normally he pretends that the rocker is a kindness to my getting old and being paranoid--I need someplace comfortable to sit while I over-protect him. He won't crawl into my lap in the rocker with witnesses--even Sam and Teal'c, much less the entire complement of the SGC's rock-em-sock-em jarheads.

He stirs in my arms, opens his eyes sluggishly. "The tombstone read 'I told you I was sick.'" He whispers.

This gets a snort out of me. "How you feeling?"

He shrugs, looks over and smiles at Sam and Teal'c. Teal'c almost smiles. "We were worried you might harbor thought of becoming an Asgard." Which is what Teal'c considers teasing, in case you were wondering.

Daniel gives him a filthy look, opens his mouth and starts coughing.

The coughing fit lasts forever and I'm terrorized, especially when he hacks up goobers that smell like something crawled down his lungs and died. It lasts long enough for a nurse to come in and help us out.

"I think maybe we'd better lie in our bed." The nurse says when the drama is over.

"Why? You sleepy?" Daniel huffs crossly. Normally, I'd be saying a one, but right now I can't help the snort of laughter that escapes me.

The nurse frowns at me. "Isn't your dad tired?"

"My dad's dead." Daniel replies, fingers clutching my shirt, digging in. He's used this poor-pitiful-orphan routine so often, I'm surprised he hasn't worn it out. It's obviously one of the more manipulative moves he remembers from his first childhood.

It gets him the pity look. I sigh inwardly. "I'm fine." I tell the nurse. I want to tell her to mind her own biz, but this is her business. "I'll put him back in bed later." I promise.

The nurse has this look. "So, you're his mom?" She glances at Carter, who is certainly old enough and blonde enough to be his mother.

"Me? No." Carter shakes her head, looking horrified at the thought.

"I'm his guardian." I say, trying to forstall the inevitable conversation about parentage and the god-forbid question asking if I'm his grandfather.

"The details are classified." Teal'c informs her in sonorous tones.

"Ah-hah. " She pauses a split second. Daniel is still clutching at my shirt and looking cute enough for any three kids. It's disgusting, really. "Okkkaaay." She sighs, obviously deciding to give up and give in.

Once she's gone, Daniel looks over at Teal'c and Samantha, gives them a sly grin. "Does Janet" huff "feel guilty?" He asks.

Teal'c gives him that look that means he's smiling. "I suspect you shall have no trouble in manipulating her for at least a month, possibly two."

"Kewl." Daniel's hand goes to the mask; he fingers it a moment. "Sleepy." He tells me. "No monsters."

I lean in and kiss his hot, sweaty forhead. "No monsters." One of our rituals. We tell each other there will be no monsters in sleep. We lie, of course, but the chant makes us both feel better.

"This sucks." Daniel rasps as I come back from my run to Aladdin's Med. Takeout, loaded for bear.

"Hmm?" He looks better today; he's got a cannula under his nose that he fiddles with constantly--the nurses keep threatening to put the mask back on him. And he's awake more often.

The hospital food was. . .I don't think it was food, just some facsimile thereof. Being sick means a little spoiling. So I drove into Colorado Springs for takeout.

"Only get kid's channels." He tells me.

"Well, we are in a pediatric ward."

"Bored."

I get out falafel, hummus, pita chips, stuffed grape leaves, and some eggplanty thing in a pita pocket that Daniel swears by. I unwrap the eggplanty thing for him, put a towel down so he won't spill onto the sheets.

"And a bored Daniel is a scary Daniel." I agree, sitting down to eat beside him.

He nibbles at the pita, gnoshes on hummus and pita chips. "Laptop?" He asks.

"How about a DVD player?" I parry.

"Books?"

"Or a Sega? You can play DVD's on those too."

He gives me a look.

"There's a library here. I'll go see what they've got. Eat some more."

"Not hungry."

"Two more bites."

Daniel gives me another look, but manages to eat a pita chip covered in hummus, before succumbing to another round of the dreaded hacking coughs. I help him sit up, hold him while he brings up gross smelling wads of phlegm. When we're done, he coils up in the bed, fiddles with the cannula and falls asleep. Oh yeah right, he's bored. He's only managed to stay awake 15 minutes at a stretch.

I eat, looking through the cards and gifts Daniel's gotten. The gift basket of candy from Janet is impressive. A couple of flower arrangements. Several balloon bouquets. Cards from everywhere, every division and department of the SGC.

"Hi." The voice is soft. A face peeks around the door. One of the Grey Ladies.

"Hey." I wave tiredly, finish off the eggplant pita.

"I'm the playroom manager." She tells me, coming into the room with a large denim bag over her shoulder. "Sally Whittaker."

"General Whittaker's wife?"

She smiles. "We've met, haven't we?"

"At some function or other. I'm Colonel O'Neill." The good general keeled over in his sleep a year or so ago, as I recall. Neither of us mention it.

"We like to give the little ones too sick to leave their rooms some toys they can play with in bed." She explains, handing me the bag. It's heavy.

"There's a peg board with patterns." She counts on her fingers. "Washable markers and paper. Uhm. . .a couple of paperbacks and some legos."

Good choices, actually. I peer in.

"The Marines helped me pick." She confesses. "How is he?"

"Better than yesterday. He got sick fast."

"Little ones can do that." She agrees. "When he's feeling better, bring him down."

I consider for a moment whether or not I want Daniel corrupting yet another group of Air Force brats. He's thoroughly ruined the Cheyenne Mountain bunch. Then I decide it'll be good for their parents. "I will. Thanks."

She glances at the tray table. Sniffs the air. Smiles. "Children sometimes choose the strangest foods to like." She comments. "We were in Lebanon in the 70's. My oldest daughter still thinks not having hummus in the house should be a court-martial offense."

"I think he'd agree with her."

"If there's anything you need, just come down to the playroom. It's open from 7 to 7; after hours you can get the key from the nurse's station. We also have coffee for parents in the nurse's breakroom."

I glance at the wretch, make sure he's still asleep. "Thanks."

"We do sno-cones for the kids around 3."

"I think he'll be more interested in the coffee."

She smiles, grin actually. "I've been hearing he's a handful."

"That's not quite the word I'd use." I allow.

A bigger grin. "Well. I've got to go. But if you need anything, I'm here from 7 to 2 Mondays through Fridays."

"Thanks."

She departs and I rifle through the bag; the peg board is actually pretty cool.

I can hear Daniel's giggles from the hallway. The respiratory therapist, a long-suffering Captain, is putting away the oxygen tent. Sam is standing beside the bed, looking harried. Daniel, apparently, is on the cusp between being big enough to use an inhaler and small enough to require using the oxygen tent.

Daniel is lying on his back laughing as the Captain tries to get the cannula back on.

"Why am I not sorry I missed this?"

Sam finally bends down to help the Captain get him still, but not before they both shoot me positively evil looks.

"Jack!" Daniel snorts. "Check it out!" He's got the TV on; it's blaring Blazing Saddles. Blazing Saddles? When did I miss this becoming children's fare? Black cables snake out the back of the TV and down to an X-Box. Ah-hah.

X-Box? Where did he get. . . I glance at Sam, who rolls her eyes. "The Marines thought it would be a good idea." She says.

On screen, Cleavon Little is riding into town with his Gucci Saddlebags. I know Daniel's seen this any number of times. Apparently, it's much better when you're stoned.

"Captain Montegomery will be by tonight." The therapist tells us, pocketing some supplies, putting others into the trash. She surprises me by smiling at Daniel. "He's doing really well."

"I haven't been this stoned since. . ." Daniel singsongs. "Since. . I don't remember being this stoned." He giggles at this. "Egypt. I was this stoned on a dig in. . ."

"Watch your movie." I inform him.

The Captain gives me a funny look at Daniel's revelation but doesn't say anything--she's been briefed that most of Daniel's life until now is Classified.

Daniel finds even my terse order funny. Sam collapses on the uncomfortable couch. "You planned this, didn't you, sir?" She accuses.

"Actually, no. He wasn't. . .strong enough to act like this last time."

Daniel's watching the movie again.

Sam snorts. I sock my gym bag into a little closet-like nook, take a seat in the rocker.

"The doctor came by while you were gone. Oxygen saturation levels up, fever down, congestion less. All good."

"So. . ."I'm already thinking about home.

"But not that good." Sam shakes her head. "He'll need to be off oxygen for at least a day or two before they even consider sending him home."

Daniel sits up, hacking his lungs up. I'm there immediately, letting him cling to me. Sam's got tissues ready for the phlegm.

"I thought the respiratory. . ." I trail. Sam shrugs, gives Daniel water when he gestures for it.

Finally we're done, Daniel's exhausted and there's more nasty smelling, wadded up tissues in the trash. "Lap." He demands. Which means he wants me to sit with him, but the rocker isn't necessary, though appreciated.

Whatthehell. With Carter moving tubing, we get him situated in the rocker. "I forgot. The team for XP7-3G8. . ." Daniel tells us. "I told them I'd give them a cheat sheet for some phrases."

"They're fine."

Daniel gives me a look. Yeah right.

"We sent Lt. Leger with them. He speaks Hebrew."

"So do most 12 year old Jewish kids. Doesn't mean they speak it conversationally."

"They'll do fine." It's a recon mission; nice planet, nice enough people; not much naquada.

Daniel is unconvinced, but way too sick to do anything about it.

Teal'c stops by the children's gameroom that evening and comes back with a big, round, white plastic table cloth, a handful of permanant markers and a box of little toys. "The children are drawing supernatural figures with which to disgust cafeteria visitors tomorrow." He informs us.

The hallway outside is laden with Halloween decorations. Daniel was planning to go trick-or-treating in the subdivision with Cherie. He was going as a Mummy and Cherie was going to be an Egyptian Priestess. I'd forgotten until this moment.

"I percieved that this would be better than sand for undertaking a theoretical strategy."

"Hello." I perk up immediately.

Daniel looks between the two of us with some slight interest. About a month before Daniel got shrunk, we were on a mission and got stuck waiting for a herd of what looked kinda like buffalo to pass through the field where the Gate sat. Teal'c and I started discussing great battle strategies and wound up playing a kind of war game in the sand. Carter and Daniel eventually got into it with us, and a fine, if weird, time was had by all.

I grab the box. Teal'c acquired a box full of toy military vehicles and soldiers as well as some legos. "Sweet!"

Teal'c looks smug.

Daniel's room is bigger than average--I think that at one time it was a double--and has room, so we spread the tablecloth down on the floor.

"What kind of place?" I ask, juggling markers.

"I thought that perhaps Daniel would make that decision."

Daniel considers for a moment, rolling to lie on his belly and peer at the table cloth from the edge of his bed. "Forest and hills with some rocks at one end. Flat land with a couple of ridges in the middle. A tidal pond and beach at the other end."

This makes good sense to both Teal'c and I. Typical of a lot of places and you get a good assortment of terrain, which makes it more difficult for vehicles. We draw a crude overview of our chosen battlefield. Teal'c decides he wants to be defense--apparently in Aphosis's army you didn't do a lot of that--so that leaves me with assault. Daniel gets to decide what technology we can use and after some debate, we decide to make this one fair on both sides--nobody's stuck using musket loaders and horses against zat guns and death gliders, although I can tell the idea appeals to all of us.

We limit ourselves to 1940's technology. Teal'c fortifies his coast while Daniel and I make up cards to pick from for things like the weather. We decide to use 5 coins for chance--heads is a plus, tails a minus, the combination of heads and tails equalling how successful an operation is, divided by the original likelyhood of it succeeding. Daniel tries to hack up a lung a couple of times and doesn't drift off immediately, but eventually he slips into sleep, still lying on his stomach while Teal'c has the most incredible luck keeping me bogged down by his lake.

What can I say--we're military. So sue us.

"Had you thought about Halloween?" The voice startles me as I'm getting coffee for Daniel and myself.

I spin. General Whittaker's wife. She's standing there in those upper-middle-class-old-lady-casual clothes that show that anyone born after 1939 has no taste, smiling at me.

"Halloween?" I question, taking a sip of my coffee.

"And costumes." She adds, obviously hinting.

"Ah-hah. Daniel was going as a mummy, but I'm not sure what he'll do now." I tell her. His costume, made with Cherie's mom's help, is a bundle of big cotton strips sewn onto white long johns.

"One of the local churches is going to buy all the kids costumes." She springs on me. "Luckily, not one of the ones who won't buy mummy costumes. Episcopals."

"He's got a mummy costume. His best friend's mom helped them make costumes. Cherie's going as an Egyptian Priestess. . . " I trail. "But it's going to be complicated to get into and isn't it a little morbid to dess as a mummy in a hospital?"

Mrs. Whittaker considers this for a moment. "Well, then, I'll just go pop the question to Daniel and see what answer we get."

Which strikes me as entirely suitable.

Daniel surprises the hell out of me by asking if they make costumes for Wormhole Extreme characters. "Jack's done advising for the show." He says slyly to Mrs. Whittaker, who seems surprised and pleased.

"So let me see." I ask, from my rocker when she's gone, and Daniel's gone back to his book. "You're going as Dr. Levant, who is actually you."

Daniel blinks at me, grins. "Kewl, huh?"

He's got an evil sense of humor, that kid.

Hospital couch beds have improved, at least a little, in the past few years. That or they know that parents are going to spend the night and have finally decided not to make us throw our backs out. For the third night in a row, I sprawl out, and try to get some sleep with Daniel beside me. The Marines outside walk back and forth, and occasionally one will look in on us. Daniel's off oxygen, finally, although the cannula and tubing is still coiled up behind the bed.

The close proximity gives me an excuse to indulge in Daniel watching. He's still pale and I can see the blue and red of his blood vessels under pallid skin. Impossibly long eyelashes and soft honey blonde hair that will darken as he gets older. His favorite tee rides up against his chin as he burrows in sleep. I have to wonder where Major Davis found a CSI t-shirt in a medium child's size, but maybe he had it made for the monster. Daniel certainly engenders that kind of spoiling. The fact that Davis had a crush on grown-up Daniel non-withstanding.

I smooth hair away from his brow from a sudden, intense desire to touch his skin, to reassure myself that Daniel is real, is here, is going to be fine in a few days. That tomorrow he'll dress us in a fakey Wormhole Extreme costume and get a hell of a laugh from everyone related to the SGC. That particular photo will probably stay up for years in the commisary. I grin, realize that my eyes are leaking.

Thor told me the Furlings had given us a great gift in Daniel. I don't know about that in terms of the Taur'i, but I know they gave me the best of all possible gifts. I kiss his forehead, then go and curl up under the cheap polyester blanket and try to get some sleep.
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