Rebirth #5 - Day Old Hate by Alanna
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Category: General
Genres: Alternate Universe, Angst, Drama, Friendship, Hurt/Comfort, Smarm
Rated: Pre-Teen
Warnings: None
Series: Rebirth
Summary: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. SG-1 are about to find that out the hard way.

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Daniel rolled over in his bed in Sam's spare room, sparing a glance at the clock on the bedside table. 9:43. If he lay there quietly, on his back, not breathing, not making a sound, he could hear Sam down the hall, puttering about the kitchen, running water, clinking dishes. For the past few days those sounds had meant home to Daniel, had been safe and familiar, but after the night of sleep - or rather, no sleep--he'd had the night before, they weren't the welcoming sounds of a home, but the oppressive ruckus that had chased him out of his nightmares.

Daniel had never had many nightmares--a few on the nights his daddy told him stories about haunted tombs and evil mummies, but his mommy always made him feel better; checking under his bed, in all the dark corners, and leaving the small lamp on by Daniel's bed. She always knew how to chase the bad things away.

Here, though, he'd startled himself awake to find himself alone in the spare room at Sam's house, surrounded by the new toys and furniture Sam had bought him, the sunlight streaming in through the partially open curtains. As his breathing returned to normal, Daniel didn't want to stay in bed anymore. He wanted to get up, he wanted a hug--and he wanted one now.

He pushed back the light sheet covering him--even early in the morning it was warm; August was always one of the hottest months, even back in Egypt--and slipped out of bed, adjusting the right leg of his thin pajamas, which had ridden up as he'd twisted and turned to escape the dream. 'Just a dream,' he reminded himself, repeating the mantra mommy and daddy had taught him. 'Dreams can't follow you when you're awake; they're only strong when it's dark and when you let them in.' Daniel pulled open the bedroom door and padded down the hall, poking his head around the corner to see Sam walk between the living room and the kitchen. Something inside him deflated, and he was surprised at himself. He'd been living at Sam's for days now; he was used to waking up to finding her doing chores, and the like...but today he wanted something different. He wrapped his arms around his own chest and squeezed, remembering how good it had felt when Jack had picked him up when he was sleepy yesterday. He hadn't said anything when Daniel had hung on and tucked his head under Jack's chin; he just carried him and carried him, and then he had shaken Daniel awake hours later when supper was ready.

Daniel had felt safe, but then Jack had gotten angry; really angry, at Sam and at him--he'd yelled. Mommy and daddy only ever yelled when they were really angry, and that didn't happen very often. To be honest, Jack had scared him, and then Sam had pulled him out of Jack's house and into the car, and now Daniel didn't think he'd ever see Jack again.

Not that Jack would care now, Daniel thought miserably, because he'd told Sam that Daniel couldn't come back to visit. The boy at the park had been right; Jack was only a babysitter, doing what he had to do and then sending Daniel home when he'd gotten tired of him.

Daniel sniffled back the burning feeling that was spreading from the backs of his eyes down the bridge of his nose, rubbing a fist hastily under his nose to quell the itchy discomfort. "Hey, good morning. You're up early."

Daniel looked up to find Sam coming toward him, a small smile on her face, and he braved a tiny smile for her. "Yeah," he said.

"I'm making bacon and eggs--you wanna try 'em?" she cajoled.

He didn't, really. He didn't feel very hungry this morning; the very thought of bacon and eggs was making his stomach turn. But he didn't want Sam to know he was sad - she'd be angry at him if she found out why he hadn't come out to the kitchen on his own yet--so he smiled a little wider and nodded. "Okay."

With shame, though, Daniel thought meanly that he'd bet Sam's bacon and eggs weren't as good as Jack's bacon and eggs.

=====

"Hey; aren't you hungry?"

Daniel stared into his breakfast, the bacon and eggs arranged in a smiley face, and shook his head mutely, feeling his eyes unexpectedly start to burn again. "What's wrong?" Sam asked, one hand automatically pressing against Daniel's forehead.

Unable to stop himself, Daniel blurted out the truth, the question that had been plaguing his mind since he'd started thinking when they'd come home the night before. "Did you tell me a fib, Sam?" he whispered plaintively.

"No, of course not!" Sam leaned toward him and turned his stool so she could look in his eyes. "I would never fib to you, Daniel; never. Where's this coming from?"

"You said Jack loves me," was the heartbroken whisper; Daniel stared down into the plate of breakfast that was mocking him, smiling when he was so sad, and he jabbed his fork into the bacon smile, breaking it in half and pushing both pieces to opposite sides of the plate. "He doesn't."

'Oh no.' Sam reached out and gently removed the fork from Daniel's clenched fist, setting it on the counter beside his plate. "Sweetie, Jack's just...upset. He didn't mean what he said."

Daniel carefully put down his fork, face scrunched up. "Yes he did, I know he did. You said you'n'Jack'n'everyone'll always tell me the truth. He's mad at me. He hates me."

Sam pulled up another stool and sat close to Daniel, a little panicky as she noticed a few tears start trickling from his eyes only to be hastily wiped away before they could make it down the flushed, round cheeks. "Daniel--"

The boy jerked when Sam tried to reach for his shoulder, hopping off the opposite side of the stool and ambling to the entrance to the hallway. "Why won't he like me anymore, Sam?" he asked, desperately trying to keep the tears from coming faster. "Did I do something bad?"

"No. No, honey, of course you didn't." Sam paused, realizing that for every step she took forward, Daniel took one backwards.

"I...I wanted to make Jack like me even though I'm not big anymore. He liked me when I was big, didn't he?" Daniel scrubbed a fist futilely against his wet cheeks again, almost hyperventilating as he tried to breathe, to speak past the threatening sobs. "But I don' know how to make him like me if I don't 'member what I did to make him m-mad at me! I tried to be good, I did everything you told me to do--I said 'please' and 'thank you', 'cept when we were gonna go home 'cause I didn't know we were leaving and then we weren't in the house anymore and I didn't say 'thank you' and Jack's gonna think I don't have any man..manners."

Sam couldn't even speak in the face of that desolation. Daniel's unflagging, persistent optimism and faith in the man he identified only as a best friend was finally eroding, unable to keep the child going in the face of such irrefutable evidence of rejection. She could only watch helplessly as Daniel stuffed his fists to his mouth to stifle his cries, a gesture that nearly tore Sam's fragile composure to shreds. She'd only seen it once before--when Daniel had finally broken down in the padded cell nearly four years ago. She knew Daniel resorted to that action when he was breaking down, unable to keep the dam from breaking loose, when things looked bleakest. To have that same habit ingrained in a five year old was deeply disturbing and more than a little disgusting to her. Sam stood and stepped toward Daniel again, unable to keep herself from trying to hold him, but Daniel turned and fled, running to spare room and slamming the door behind him. "Daniel," she called pleadingly, following him.

"Go 'way," he sobbed as fiercely as possible through the door.

"Sweetheart, let me in; I'll--"

"Go! Go!" he wailed.

What should she do? Should she call Janet? Should she go in there, force her way in against Daniel's wishes? Sam paused, and shook herself, reminding herself how old this Daniel was. She did open the doorthen, slowly, peeking in where Daniel was face-down on his bed. "Go!" he shrieked. "Get...get out! I want Jack! I want J..Jack!"

Okay, that did it. "Hang on a minute, honey," Sam said as calmly as possible through her own tears, leaving the bedroom door open and backing out. "I'll be right back."

She had to call Janet.

=====

**Dr. Fraiser.**

"Janet." Sam's voice caught on a near sob of relief as she leaned against the wall just outside Daniel's room, hearing the relentless sobs being directed into a stifling pillow from the interior of the bedroom.

**Sam? What's wrong?**

"It's Daniel...I think you have to come over, Janet; he's...he's hysterical; I can't make him stop crying."

**Okay. Okay. What happened, Sam?**

Janet's tone was calm, soothing, and Sam quickly summarized what had happened the night before, detailing the heated argument before she'd stormed out of the Colonel's house, and Janet promised she was on her way with a hissed, "That son of a bitch." Sam's relief was short-lived, as she was summoned back into Daniel's room by the sudden sound of retching. Disconnecting but carrying the phone with her, she entered the warzone.

"Daniel?"

Daniel was leaning over the side of his bed, still sobbing, clutching the bedclothes to prevent himself from falling face-first into the puddle of vomit on the floor. Sam noticed that the floor wasn't the only place it had landed; both Daniel's shirt and comforter had obviously been targets for the round of illness as well. Daniel was staring down at the mess, crying harder when he realized Sam knew what he'd done, and slithered off the bed to jam himself up against the wall. "Ggggo 'way," he sobbed.

Sam crouched in front of him, not touching him, but held a hand toward him only to pull it back when he cringed further into the wall and ignored it. "Sweetie, we have to get you cleaned up, okay? Why don't you let me get a bath started for you and you can get nice and freshened up, I'll change the sheets, and then you can have a lay down for a while. That sound okay?"

Daniel's chest hitched violently, repeatedly, and he shook his head adamantly, sobs no longer audible, but equally as heart-wrenching to see. Sam frowned slightly, then stood slowly and moving to the bed to peel the soiled comforter and damp sheet from it. She tossed them in the hamper by the door and opened the closet for a couple of new blankets, quickly spreading them over the bed and tucking them in. That done, she pulled out a new t-shirt and pair of shorts for Daniel, deciding against the whole 'give him some space' thing and reached for him, ignoring (with difficulty) the escalation in his cries when she picked him up and quickly but gently stripped him of his soiled clothing. He beat ineffectually at her shoulders when she tried to put the new shirt on him but she persevered and managed, with shaky breathing and putty arms, to get him dressed again. Daniel had had enough of her ministrations and virtually dove from her arms to curl into as tight a ball as possible, pouring more sobs into the blankets and pillows, clutching a little stuffed, oversized Beanie Baby to his chest.

Sam picked up the phone again as she headed out of the room to retrieve the wet-vac, dialing Teal'c's cell phone under the assumption that the Jaffa would be on his way with Janet.

**Greetings.**

Sam had to smile a little at that; Teal'c still didn't really sound natural when he picked up the phone. "Hi Teal'c."

**MajorCarter--DoctorFraiser informed me she was leaving for your home; something is wrong with DanielJackson?**

Sam sighed, glancing at the shuddering little body on the bed. "Yeah..." For the second time that day she launched into the whole story of the disaster of the day before, filling Teal'c on every detail. His voice was cold when she finished.

**I am accompanying DoctorFraiser,** he informed her, confirming her suspicion, **but I believe I shall pay O'Neill a visit before I come to your home.**

"Really?" Sam asked, grateful for her friend's interference. "That would be great, Teal'c - this has to stop, and the Colonel has made it clear that he won't listen to me anymore."

**I shall endeavor to make O'Neill see our point of view,** Teal'c swore.

With smug satisfaction, Sam hung up and got to cleaning, silently wishing the colonel the best of luck.

=====

Jack allowed himself to list to the right until he hit cushion, stretching himself out on the couch with the remote in hand, flicking through the sports highlights with vague interest, keeping the TV on more out of distraction than out of any desire to see the scores scroll by on the bottom of the screen.

He'd certainly put his foot in it this time...and then some. He knew nothing excused him from losing it like that in front of Daniel...and, while he was willing to think about his actions, nothing excused him from losing it in front of Carter, either. She was being her usual, irritatingly determined self, and he'd let it completely get to him. He'd have to...he shuddered...apologize. To both of them.

"Later," he said aloud, pausing briefly when he caught a glimpse of a batter fling his bat toward the pitcher. "Psychos," he muttered. He spared a glance at his watch. 10:53. Carter was probably out of bed already, but he didn't know how late Daniel slept in, and they were both probably still a bit irked over his 'temper' the night before. He'd sleep on it for a day or two, and make amends; try his best to politely explain to Carter that he wasn't interested in her interfering with his surprisingly complex thought processes.

"O'Neill."

Lizard brain kicked in again, and Jack was sitting up before he even realized it. "Teal'c," he said in surprise. He hadn't even heard the door open...and since when did he just leave his door unlocked? "What--"

"MajorCarter has informed me what transpired when she retrieved DanielJackson last night."

Jack rolled his eyes and stood, flicking off the TV and facing his teammate. "Oh, so what--instead of trying herself, she's going to start sending missionaries to my door?"

Teal'c's brow furrowed. "I only half believed MajorCarter's insistence that you are being so stubborn, but I now see that she was indeed not exaggerating. I do not understand this continued hesitation, O'Neill," he admitted, "but I care even less for the effect your stubbornness has had on DanielJackson. He is but a child."

"What are you talking about, Teal'c?" Jack asked resignedly, washing a weary hand over his face.

"DanielJackson refuses to emerge from his bedroom and has been physically ill as a result of his emotional state."

'Cried until he threw up,' Jack automatically translated, and blinked, shocked. "Why...when did that start?"

"Early this morning. DanielJackson became extremely upset during breakfast and refused all of MajorCarter's attempts to console him."

A raw wave of guilt swamped Jack, his throat closing over. He'd done that, and he'd known the moment the harsh words to Daniel had left his mouth that they'd have affected him so deeply. And here he was, lounging on the couch toying with the idea to wait a few days before apologizing? Christ; the kid had made himself sick--when the hell did he start getting his kicks from hurting innocent children?

Jack stood up and grabbed his keys. "Where are you going, O'Neill?" Teal'c asked, and Jack could swear he heard more than a hint of smugness in the tone. He turned to his friend, shaking his head slightly.

"I've gotta go fix this, T," was all he said, and then he was gone, not even checking to make sure the door had closed behind him.

Okay, this was exactly why he hadn't gone near Daniel--he had too much shit to work out, and he didn't want any of his unaddressed frustrations to spill out and allow the kid to take the brunt of it. 'Too late now.' Now all he could do was go over there, face the music, and hope it wasn't too late to patch a five year old child back together.

Jack climbed into his truck and took off on autopilot, head spinning. He'd never wanted anything like this to happen, and he realized just how hard it was to keep up the front that it was, to keep the blank stares and empty threats to his 2IC his primary means of communication. He knew that if he didn't clear this up now, it would drown him...and the innate, protective instincts he had for Daniel told him that stilted, awkward conversation was a much better fate than So, either drown him if he could, or he could just have stilted, awkward conversation.

He'd been safe, Jack realized. Keeping Daniel away since the transformation kept him feeling safe, as if it this were only temporary and soon everything would be back to normal. In the process he'd made Daniel feel like he wasn't worth a thing, and instead of letting his issues work themselves out over time he would have to force them.

As he drove silently, not even in the mood for the radio, as he usually was, Jack realized there had been no other cars in or around his driveway. He blinked. How the hell had Teal'c gotten there, anyway?

=====

"How is he?" Sam whispered anxiously as Janet quietly closed the bedroom door. She craned her neck to catch a glimpse of Daniel and spotted him curled up on his bed, breath still hitching and ragged.

"I gave him a mild sedative," Janet admitted, not meeting Sam's eyes.

"You've got to be kidding. Janet, he's five."

"I know, Sam," she replied sadly. "But I didn't have a choice. He isn't responsive to either of us or any of our attempts to calm him, he was hyperventilating, he would have made himself sick again...he's having a serious emotional breakdown."

"Oh my God..." A five year old having a breakdown; how twisted was that?

"You said he was crying for Colonel O'Neill?"

Sam rubbed at her forehead wearily. "Yeah."

"He's relatively calm now, but I will not give him more drugs if he wakes up in the same state. This situation has to be resolved the old-fashioned way."

"I know, Janet, but how? The Colonel won't come near Daniel unless we drag him into it, and if we do that he gets completely pissed off and takes it out on Daniel himself."

Janet shook her head slowly. "I don't know, Sam, but that little boy in there can't take much more of this. He needs security and stability, and as long as things are this rocky, he's not going to get it."

The two women were interrupted by a quiet, nearly reluctant knock on the front door, and Sam knew without going to the door just who it would be. Her jaw firmed, and she glanced at Janet. "I'll get it," she said evenly. She turned and headed down for the door, counting to three before yanking it open, revealing O'Neill standing on the porch, looking extremely uncomfortable and ready to bolt, face drawn and concerned. "Sir, what are you doing here?" she asked coolly. 'Give me the right answer, you sonuvabitch.'

Jack half-avoided her eyes, standing there meekly, hands flexing and unflexing as though he was unsure what to do with them. "Hey Carter...Teal'c, uh...Teal'c told me what happened to--to Daniel. Can I...can I see Daniel for a minute? I have a lot of things to say to him...to apologize for."

Sam studied him for a a long moment before reluctantly stepping back, tilting her head in invitation. "It's the least you can do," she couldn't resist telling him.

Jack nodded wordlessly. He deserved that, but he couldn't help but let the lizard brain take over for a minute, the thick-headed side of himself not allowing him to take all of the blame. "Carter, what have you been telling him?" he asked as he stepped past her and into the front hall. "He wasn't this upset when he left my place last night."

He mentally kicked himself--'You stupid bastard'--and the major turned on him, face aflame with anger. "Well, sir, I've had to tell him some reason why you don't seem to want anything to do with him--and there's only so many times I can tell him you have reports to finish and still have him believe me. He isn't stupid, and I'm more than a little surprised that you seem to think he is."

"Major...." Jack warned, tone low and even.

"No, Jack. we're off-duty, we're in my home, and you need to hear this because you're the cause of this. I know I've told you earlier that Daniel's been asking about you non-stop, but apparently you need to hear it again. I don't understand you--how can you just shrug him off like you don't even care? As much as your ego may be hurting, you know that this is Daniel--your best friend, the man I would have thought by now you'd have pushed away enough to know that it doesn't do either of you any good. He's unhappy, Jack," she hissed, waving an arm in the direction of Daniel's room. "Sure, he keeps a smile on his face for me, but he wants to be with you. Right there, plain as day, that connection with you still exists--and there you were, acting like it's never even existed. Tell me--what did you two do yesterday?"

Thrown by the sudden turn of conversation, Jack floundered for a moment before regaining his footing. "We went for ice cream and I took him to the park," he said shortly. "He told you that. Normal, kiddie stuff."

"Did you have fun?" Carter asked, and there was no sarcasm, no anger in her voice now, only weary resignation and a faint glimmer of hope. "Did you enjoy yourself; let him enjoy himself? Because I know this Daniel now, sir, and I know he would have enjoyed himself. He lets go. Did you?"

Jack thought over the previous afternoon more carefully than he would think about anything. Watching Daniel on the swings, braving the 'giant' slide and turning that bright, proud smile on Jack when he made it to the bottom all on his own, the delighted look on the small face when he discovered the 'secret tunnel'...those things had brought back some painful memories and some painful reminders that Daniel wasn't who he used to be. But Jack had to admit, that, yes--he'd laughed along with Daniel, had participated in the ice cream race, with barely a second thought.

"Yeah," he said quietly. "I guess I did."

Carter looked immensely relieved, as though he'd proven something to her she feared she wouldn't find. "Then give him a chance," she pleaded. "Don't shut him out--don't you see how hard he's trying? In the past few days, he hasn't worried at all about taking up 'too much room' at my place--he wants you to let him in, he wants to show you that he won't be any trouble, but he needs you to accept him. Didn't you get enough of a clue yesterday when he got sick?"

Jack winced. All he'd thought of when Daniel had thrown up after his second breakfast was that Carter had wanted to dump the flu-ridden kid off on him while she spent her Saturday the way she always had. She seemed to read his mind, and shook her head sadly. "He'll do anything for you," she informed him, "but I think you already know that, don't you?"

Jack let his gaze fall away from Sam's as he mulled over what she was saying - what she had been saying, like a very persistent, very annoying, but very right broken record. "I do now," he said simply.

=====

"Hey...Daniel?"

"What." The response was muffled and toneless, and the little shape on the bed didn't move a muscle.

"Umm...can I come in?"

"Why."

That surprised Jack, he had to admit. He'd been greeted with this side of Daniel a few times over the years--withdrawn, sullen, shutting others out because he was hurting more than he cared to let on. It was always hard to see him like that as an adult, but that same attitude ingrained into a five year old was a level of disconcertation Jack couldn't take. He could see now what his thick-headedness was doing. This was beyond disappointment on Daniel's part--Jack had effectively shut Daniel out, and it had worked. The child didn't have the resources or the iron will to take the knocks in a persistent attempt to win his way back into Jack's good graces, and Jack realized with a breaking heart that he was single-handedly sending Daniel to the place the eight year old had gone after his parents had died. Decision made, Jack opened the bedroom door all the way and walked in, heading directly for the bundle on the bed. "Because I have to apologize to you," he said quietly, sitting on the edge of the mattress. "I know I have no right to ask, but will you please listen to me?"

Daniel rolled over to his back and stared wearily up at Jack, face still damp with leaking tears and pupils dilated from Janet's sedative. "you don't hafto," he said tonelessly. "Babysitters aren't s'posed to wanna keep the kid or r-really like the kid."

The words bit into Jack like knives. "Who--who said that?" he asked hoarsely. There was no way Daniel could have come up with that on his own.

"A boy at the park," Daniel said dully. "I said you were my daddy 'cause he was makin' fun of me, but then you told that man you weren't and the boy said babysitters never want the kids to be theirs. Then you got mad at me and said I had to go home, so that boy was right."

Jack swallowed hard. He didn't know that; that Daniel told the kids at the park Jack was his father...or that Daniel had heard his pathetic attempt at escaping responsibility for him. "I...I'm sorry," he said, trying to read the wounded eyes. "There's, um...there's no excuse for the way I've been acting, Daniel. I've been acting like a grade-A aaa...idiot--times a million," he added, hoping to inject a bit of levity into the situation, to lift some of that terrible darkness from the normally vibrant face. "I was...angry, and it wasn't your fault. I was stupid to take it out on you. I can't say it enough, but I'm sorry." He paused, finding with a stab of cowardice that he could barely meet Daniel's eyes. Simply apologizing wasn't enough - Daniel was five years old; at the moment a very confused, hurt five year old, and Jack knew from experience that he needed all the reassurance he could get. "Sam said...Sam said you don't think I li--love you," he said, stumbling a little. He reached out to Daniel, tilting the stubbornly set, quivering chin up and leaning in to capture Daniel's complete attention. "I do," he enunciated clearly. "I do, Daniel. You were--are--my best friend, and you mean so much to me. I thought when you chose to...do this it was the end of all that. but it's not, it's just...really different. I'm so sorry it took me so long to realize that but, and I'm sure you know, I'm really slow sometimes...and I'm so sorry I made you think I didn't care. I do, more than anything--and I hope I haven't ff--fudged...up your faith in me. I'm sorry." God, he couldn't say it enough; it would never be enough. "I love you, Daniel."

Daniel's eyes were still locked on his, dissecting Jack as only a child could for what seemed like an eternity. Then a few tears broke free and Daniel sniffled loudly, worming his way across the bed to Jack's side, holding one arm up. Without even hesitating now, Jack pulled Daniel into his lap and wrapped the little body into the tightest hug he could manage. Not a hold to facilitate the necessity of moving him, as he'd done when Daniel had thrown up the day before, but a reaffirming promise not to leave him. Daniel sighed shakily into Jack's neck and clung to him, shivering and crying, bunching the material of Jack's shirt in two tight little fists. Jack was stunned; he knew Daniel as a man who didn't seek or readily welcome physical comfort, but as a child he seemed so tactile, almost skin-starved without some kind of physical closeness. His parents must have showered him with these kinds of affection when he was small, and Jack began to get a niggling feeling of just how much Daniel had lost when those steady presences in his life had been torn away. "I'm sorry," he whispered into the soft hair. "Christ, I'm so sorry."

=====

Outside Daniel's room, Sam felt tears of her own break free as she watched the Colonel carefully maneuver himself so he was half-lying on his side, facing the door, curling around Daniel as the child pressed himself as close to Jack as he could. Sam felt her heart rate return to normal and sagged a little against the wall. It was things like this that scared the hell out of her--intense emotional outbursts, Sam had no idea how to handle; her attempts to hold and comfort rejected, leaving her feeling helpless and superfluous. Then the Colonel walks in and takes over and already Daniel's cries were quieting, the gasps for air calming as Jack stroked a hand hypnotically over the heaving little back, still murmuring in Daniel's ear, nonsense that, whatever the content, was working.

This was how it should be--Daniel and Jack had relied on one another so much, it shouldn't be any different now. Daniel was already giving them so much; Sam's underlying sense of inadequacy had been exposed--at least to herself--and acknowledged, but Daniel's unconditional trust and love had opened her to the reality of what could be. Motherhood. That concussed hallucination of her father was just that, but Sam could see the grains of truth behind the imagining. She knew now that the chance existed, and realized now she had all the time she needed to find it.

If Daniel was doing this for her...Sam backed away from the door quietly, allowing the pair in the room their privacy. They'd be out when they were ready, and Sam had the feeling that more than a few walls were going to be breaking down and bridges repaired.

'Better late than never,' she thought with satisfaction. She walked out to the kitchen where Janet was pouring a few cups of coffee, and smiled tiredly. Her friend returned it and lifted her mug in a little toast.

"It's about time," Janet said, echoing Sam's thoughts.

"I know."

Janet studied Sam closely for a minute, then set the mug down, clearing her throat. "Well, I guess I'd better go pick up Teal'c. He's already missed the action, and I don't want to leave him stranded at the Colonel's house."

Sam chuckled softly, feeling much better than she'd felt in days. "You actually just dropped him off?"

"Indeed," Janet boomed, laughing a little herself. "He insisted, and when Teal'c's on a rampage..."

"Don't get in his way," Sam finished, nodding. "Right. Yeah, we'd better get him; he'll kill us if we keep him out of the loop."

Janet started for the door, picking up her keys, and turned halfway down the hall. "Are you coming?"

Sam hesitated. Should she leave Jack and Daniel alone; give them a little time to get things settled down? But if Daniel decided he didn't want Jack there...she shook her head. This was one of those head-to-head times, it seemed. She nodded. "Yeah, let's go."

=====

Jack emerged from Daniel's room hours later, looking quite worse for wear and more than a little dazed. He paused in the entryway of Sam's living room when he saw the hostess herself, Fraiser and Teal'c sitting, silently waiting. "He's, uh...he's asleep," he ventured finally.

"So the sedative finally kicked in completely," Janet said in relief, but Jack winced at the intended barb. 'Yes sir, you royally screwed up, and we're not about to let you forget it.'

"He...he asked me to stay," Jack said apologetically, directing the conversation to Sam. "Do you mind....?"

"No, of course not," Sam replied. A half-smile lifted the corners of Jack's mouth, but Sam wiped it out by adding, "For Daniel's sake, of course. Right now I'd let the NID at him if he asked me to."

Jack backed out of the doorway. "Right," was barely more than a whisper.

'Holy shit.' He hadn't encountered this kind of hostility from his kids since that whole NID undercover fiasco, and even that had been more pleasant than this. He had some serious making-up to do. As he settled himself back on the edge of Daniel's mattress, he just hoped it wasn't too late.

=====

"What do we do now?" Sam asked when the Colonel was gone.

Janet blinked. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, what do we do about Daniel now? The Colonel's obviously coming around, so when it comes down to custody..." She trailed off uncertainly. "Nothing here is finalized yet."

"You took it upon yourself to be DanielJackson's guardian, MajorCarter," Teal'c pointed out. "In fairness, you should continue to provide care for him....if you so desire."

"Of course I 'so desire'," Sam said, "but this...situation is just so screwed up. I won't keep Daniel here if he wants to go with the Colonel; I don't know if I can deal with many more of these...adventures."

Janet smiled sympathetically. "You didn't expect motherhood to be easy, did you Sam?" she pointed out.

"Indeed, children are not always the joy they are made out to be," Teal'c agreed. Both women slid him sidelong glances and he cocked an eyebrow. "Or so I have heard."

Sam laughed a little despite herself. "No, I didn't think it would be easy, but I guess I thought I'd be dealing with a Daniel with some...I don't know, Daniel-ness in the area of mental and emotional control." She shivered, remembering Daniel's heart-wrenching cries for Jack. "This blew that theory out the window...and what if this happens again? Daniel wouldn't let me touch him; am I supposed to call the Colonel, let him handle it when this happens?"

"Perhaps it will not happen again once O'Neill has accepted DanielJackson as he is," Teal'c pointed out.

"Maybe..." Sam murmured.

"Either way, we should wait and see," Janet said. "Let's take this one step at a time, all right? Wait until Daniel wakes up and we'll take it from there. For all we know, this outburst could be related to the fatigue and weakness Daniel's feeling from the transformation. When he's back to his old self and everything is sorted out here, he may be fine."

"I hope so," Sam said with a sigh.

=====

The house was silent at 11:25 that night when Daniel stirred and rolled over slightly, stopping when he bumped Jack's leg. Jack started out of a light doze and looked down to see Daniel's eyes blink open sleepily in the dim light of the nightlight beside his bed. A slight smile quirked the boy's lips. "Here?" he asked drowsily.

"Yup," Jack said softly. "Yup; still here, kiddo."

Daniel sighed and rolled over the rest of the way, left arm landing heavily on Jack's lap. "C'n I g'home with you?"

'What?!' "Uh...I dunno, Daniel. You're happy here with Sam, aren't you? I know Sam's happy to have you here."

"Mhm, but wanna go with you."

Jack was silent for a long moment, finally coming up with a lame, "Go back to sleep; we'll talk in the morning."

"Please?" Daniel persisted, voice sounding shaky again. Jack let his head fall back until it hit the headboard. 'Oh no; please don't start up the waterworks again...'
"We'll see," was all Jack would give him, but placed a hand on Daniel's back and began rubbing gently to soften the apparent rejection. "Go back to sleep."

He was surprised when Daniel didn't respond; the little guy had already obeyed. The sedative must still have a bit of a pull on him, because Daniel, in any form, was never one to obey orders so readily.

Jack sighed a little shakily as he watched Daniel sleep, still rubbing the boy's back. This had just gotten a lot more complicated.

'What the hell are we supposed to do now?'
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