NEVER SAW THAT COMING
By Lorraine Anderson
Jack never saw it coming.
As he fell, he wondered where in the hell the blood was coming from. Looking down, he saw a hole in his chest the size of - well, maybe not his fist, but Carter's fist. He wondered how he could live with the hole in his chest, then he was down on the ground. Teal'c picked him up. He peered up.
No. They should go without him. He was already dead. And there was no sarcophagus on this planet to dunk him into and none back at Stargate command. He tried to open his mouth to tell them to leave him, he'd only slow them down, but he choked on his own blood. With the last breath, he accepted his fate...
And he was stationary, in midair, watching Teal'c and Daniel and Carter run off toward the DHD, Daniel punching the keys as fast as his arms would move, shots ringing around them. Teal'c was just realizing that he was toting around a gun and a bunch of empty clothes, and he looked back, as if he had dropped Jack. Then the Stargate was open, and Daniel rushed through, followed by Carter, not turning around to make sure Teal'c was behind them. Teal'c hesitated for a second, looking back, his eyes widening, then he rushed through the gate, holding on to the clothing and guns carefully. Jack turned around. The natives, who seemed to be just in the age of an industrial revolution – or maybe the American Revolution – were carrying something that looked to be a cross between a blunderbuss and a flintlock. Jack was surprised that they had even hit him.
They had stopped, looking up, then he realized that they were looking at him. He looked down. He was all glowy. Really?
"OMA!" he tried to shout.
"Yes?" Oma Desala said. "You don't need to shout."
He turned around again. They were in a bowling alley. He relaxed, then tensed up again.
"What did you do?!" He looked at himself. "I told Daniel I never wanted to be Ascended, and look what you did!"
Oma looked at him calmly. He noticed that she was wearing a bowling shirt that said "Holy Rollers." She hefted a bowling ball and threw it down the lane for a strike before she came back. "I did nothing. You did this by yourself."
He looked at her. "Naw. Daniel is worth ascending. I have too much stain on my soul."
"The wise man knows his own worth."
He snorted. "And you know that I'm not a wise man."
"You undervalue yourself."
"I'm a Colonel in the Air Force. We are trained to never undervalue ourselves."
"Only in the physical realm."
He turned and looked at the bowling lanes. Picking up a ball, he rolled it down the alley. A split, of course. "I'm getting a headache."
"You can't," Oma said calmly, as she sat, waiting for her turn. "You are Ascended, and the Ascended don't get headaches."
"Yeah, well," Jack said. "I never asked to be Ascended, and I'm getting a headache."
"You couldn't have Ascended," Oma said, "if you hadn't wanted to be Ascended. It's not a matter of asking. I help people to Ascend, I do not cause them to Ascend."
"Would I have been Ascended," Jack asked, "if I had not realized that people could be Ascended, like Daniel was? Or would I just go straight to heaven?"
Oma stared at him. "We are here to observe, to learn, but never to interfere. But in your case, I did not help you Ascend," she said, turning away.
AHA, Jack thought, she didn't like the question about Heaven.
"So, why are you observing? What's the point if you don't do anything with the observations?"
"Personal enlightenment, ultimately," she said, peering back at him, "almost all beings will live, die, or be Ascended."
"Did it ever occur to you that there might be a Heaven?" He looked around at the bowling alley. "Although this could be close."
He looked around. "On the other hand, my idea of heaven didn't have a bunch of bored people in it." The alley was full of people, but no one looked like they were having fun. He watched a middle-aged man get a strike, then turn around, little emotion on his face. "I have more fun listening to Carter explain something scientific."
Oma looked disapprovingly at him. "Then why did you Ascend yourself?"
"I didn't do it. I had resigned myself to die."
"You were once gifted with the knowledge of the Ancients, knowledge that the Asgard suppressed. I suspect that some of that knowledge remains in your subconscious."
Jack shivered. "I'll make that my thought for today."
Oma just smiled at him, then she looked around. "If you want to stay here, though, you need to follow the rules."
Jack snorted. "I've never been one to follow the rules."
"He's never going to learn, Oma," the middle aged man said. "You have to let him go."
Oma's eyes went wide. "Oh," she said. "I think he'll learn. He shall have to learn to remain here."
"I've always had a hard time learning," Jack said. "I would rather either die or, if you can do it, de-ascend me.
A small smile came to her face. "That is an idea. Perhaps you need to start over again."
"Oh, no," Jack said. "Please don't wipe my memories. And if you're going to send me back nude, at least give me a towel."
She looked at him speculatively. "Perhaps, as your Christian Bible says, you should be born again."
He stared at her.
"But not literally," she mused. "You need to learn a few things. Perhaps if you were helpless, you would learn…"
"Wait a minute, what are you..."
He found himself lying on the ground. Before getting up, he looked around. He seemed to be at the Emergency room at a Hospital. He blinked. Why would Oma send him to a hospital?
He threw his arms backwards, trying to push himself up. But he couldn't get any leverage, and his arms waved around, useless. He laid his arms down. He seemed to be lying on a blanket. He tried to grasp the blanket, but his hands wouldn't work. He waved his legs around, but nothing coordinated. He tried to yell out, but the only thing that came out was a wordless cry - and it was higher than usual. Had he had a stroke? What was going on?
His hand waved in front of his eyes, and his eyes widened. No. He hadn't had a stroke.
He was a baby.
He cried out in frustration. Oma had taken the Biblical verse literally, and had de-ascended him as a baby. "Damn it, Oma!" he tried to call out, but his voice just came out as a wordless cry.
"What's this?" The door opened, and a nurse looked down. "Well, hi there, honey. Who left you here?"
He tried to answer, but he couldn't voice the words. He cried in frustration.
"I bet you're hungry..." she looked under a fold in a blanket, "little man. Let's bring you inside."
She lifted him up. In his mind, he cursed Oma, and he was certain that the kind lady who was bringing him inside the hospital would be shocked with his un-babyish language.
"What's this?" another voice said. A young man stepped into view.
What do you think, doc, he thought. It's a baby. A small noise escaped from him involuntarily, and he waved his arms and legs.
"It seems to be an abandoned newborn," the nurse - Jack crossed his eyes to see the tag on her shirt - Jenna, said.
"Well," the Doctor said, "call the police, but we'll check him out to see if he's all right."
He better like hell be all right, Jack thought, waving his arms and legs. They placed him on a small examination table on top of a blanket, then unfolded the one around him.
"There's a note," the nurse said, read it, and handed it to the Doctor.
He read it and sighed. "Well, we'll definitely have to give this one to the police."
What does it say? Jack thought.
"Oma - that's an unusual name," the Doctor said. "Well, the police will contact this Dr. Jackson." He looked down at Jack. "Jack O'Neill, huh? How could somebody abandon a sweetie like you?"
I'll get sweet right on your ass if you don't stop talking down at me. He looked at the doctor. When did they start giving degrees to children, Doogie?
"And since when do they have children at Cheyenne Mountain?" the nurse said.
"Cheyenne Mountain?" said the Doctor, distracted.
"NORAD?" the nurse said. "Defense? Army base?"
Air Force, Jack tried to say, but just made a noise.
"Oh. Yeah." the Doctor said. "Well, this Jackson must just work at NORAD."
Oh, great, Jack flushed. He was going to be taken back to Stargate Command. This was a good thing? What had Oma said - something about learning some humility? Hadn't that happened a few years ago, when he had that disease that had aged him? Well, at least there was nothing wrong with his prostate this time.
The doctor and the nurse checked him expertly - his temp, his reactions - and took a small blood sample, to which he objected. They just smiled at him. At the end, the nurse took him, expertly put a diaper on him - to which he objected again, loudly, and then cuddled him. Well, that wasn't so bad - he didn't mind looking at breasts. "I wonder," she said. "If you're hungry?"
No, not really, Jack grumped, but I don't suppose I have a choice. To belie his thoughts, his stomach growled.
"Yeah, I think you're hungry. Well, you're going to need something to eat before this Jackson gets here."
She got him a bottle. Milk, of course, but it really was quite tasty. He drank the bottle down, then burped before the woman could put him up to her shoulder. He smiled, or tried to.
She grinned down at him, then sighed. "Oh, you do so remind me of my Mikey when he was a baby."
He smiled at her again, then realized that he had no teeth. He closed his mouth, self-conscious. How had he not noticed that?
He yawned, then jerked his eyes open. He couldn't go to sleep now. He had to wait for Daniel...
He woke up with a start. He had been dreaming that he was being chasing by Goa'uld, but he had fallen down and couldn't move anything.
He started to turn over to check his clock, then realized that he was on his back and couldn't move. A chubby fist floated into his line-of-sight. He closed his eyes again. He had hoped that that part was a nightmare.
Why couldn't Oma just have sent him back to his team? Even naked would be an improvement over this. Or, perhaps, on to the world after death? It occurred to him that since none of them had actually died, just ascended, they were probably afraid to chance life after death, figuring that death was non-existence. Well, he wasn't sure what would happen, either, but he knew he was going to die someday.
He supposed he should be grateful to Oma. After seeing that hole in his chest, he was lucky to be alive, even in this state.
"He's this way," another voice said. "Doctor Lee and Jenna found him last night outside the door. I don't suppose you can enlighten us as to where we can find this Oma? She's the mother, I presume?"
"No," Daniel said. "She's not. And I can't really reveal who Oma is."
"That's classified," Carter said. "If we could see Jack?"
"Right over here." A strange face floated into view. "Oh! He's awake." She smiled down at him. "Odd that he's not crying."
Carter came into view, looking down at him, nonplussed. Odd that he had never realized how tall Carter actually was. He tried to say hi to her, but it came out as a coo.
"That's Jack?" Daniel looked down at him, and Jack tried to glare back. "Yeah, that's Jack. I recognize that look in his eyes."
"He looks like he understands you," said the nurse.
"Possibly he does," Carter said, staring at the nurse, "but that would be classified."
"He is very bright for his age," Daniel chipped in. "Aren't you, Jack?"
He continued to glare at Daniel.
"Well, he slept through the night," the nurse said. "I'm sure he needs a change and a bottle. I will change him, but I'll give you a couple of bottles of formula for you to..."
Daniel's eyes went wide, and he backed off. "I don't..."
"Not me," Carter said. "I don't want..."
"I shall take care of Jack O'Neill," said a new voice.
T - Murray," Daniel said. "Are you sure?"
"I have had a son, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said. "And, if O'Neill..." His voice dropped off.
"Of course," Carter said.
"I'm surprised you didn't bring someone along who could take care of a child," the nurse said.
"We did," Daniel said. "We brought Murray."
The nurse stared across the bassinet to Teal'c. Jack turned his head, and he smiled to see Teal'c staring dispassionately back at her. "Ah," the nurse said, backing off.
"Why are you taking him back to Cheyenne Mountain...?"
"And that would be classified," Carter said, not unkindly. "I can assure you that Jack will be taken care of well there. I can't tell you anything more."
"Ah." She picked Jack up. "Well, let me get him ready to go."
She took him, and changed him efficiently, all the time looking over her shoulder at Teal'c. He hated being lifted up by his feet for the powder, but he supposed that, in this state, it was wise, so he endured it without a peep. He only objected when he saw the jumper the woman was going to put him in. Ducks? Really?
"What's the matter?" Carter said, with alarm.
"I didn't do anything. He hadn't said a word until he saw this outfit."
Daniel grinned. "Oh, I think you should put him in that," he said.
Carter gave him a warning look. "Do you have anything plain?"
"What difference does it make to a baby?" the nurse said.
"Humor me," she said, without humor.
"Well, we do have this blue jumper."
"That'll work," she said.
"And I'll get you a blanket."
"We'll make sure the hospital is compensated," Daniel said. "I'm sure the Air Force will give a gift, under the circumstances."
"Thanks. Well, I'll get the doctor to check Jack out." She laid Jack back down in the bassinet and left the room, not without a nervous look at Teal'c. Teal'c smiled at her, and she gulped and left the room.
Carter stared down at him. "Sir?"
Jack tried to make his right arm go in the general direction of his forehead, then dropped it.
Jack turned and stared at Daniel. "Well, those are Jack's eyes," Daniel said.
Jack concentrated, trying to fold his fingers down and leaving his middle finger up. He waved it at Daniel.
Daniel snorted. "Yeah, that's Jack."
"Sir, if you understand me, can you blink twice for yes?"
Twice? He obliged.
"Oh, my God, sir. We thought we had lost you."
"We had lost him," Teal'c said. "He could not have survived that wound."
Jack's chest hurt at the thought.
"Did Oma save you?"
Jack blinked twice for yes, then deliberately once more.
"No and yes?"
"But you Ascended?" Daniel said.
He blinked twice.
"Yes," Carter said.
Jack stared at Daniel. Like I can tell you?
"He doesn't know," Carter said. Jack smiled and waved his arms and legs at her. She smiled back automatically. "I must admit, you make a cute baby... sir," she added.
His stomach rumbled. "Are you hungry?" Teal'c said.
He blinked twice.
"The nurse should be back soon," Carter said.
So, Jack wanted to say, did you have my funeral yet?
"Well," Daniel said, "at least we haven't had your funeral yet."
Jack looked at him, startled, and a chirp escaped from him involuntarily.
"What did I say?"
"We may not find out," Carter said, "until he's able to speak. I'm surprised that he has his memories."
"Yeah, well," Daniel said. "I'm not. Oma sent me back with no memories because she wanted me to forget about being Ascended. She wanted me to learn a lesson." He looked down at Jack. "That's probably what she's doing here."
He blinked twice.
Daniel rolled his eyes. "I had a feeling."
The nurse walked in, holding a bottle. "Here's a bottle. I'll..."
"No," Teal'c said. "I will feed him."
The nurse stared at him. "I suppose that will be..."
"I shall feed him," Teal'c appeared over the bassinet and picked Jack up expertly, making sure to support his head. He put him in the crook of one arm, then held his hand out for the bottle. The nurse gave it to him, unquestioningly.
He had been hungry. Well, milk wasn't much to eat. He ate it, gulping, burped, and then tried to look at the bottle, then at Teal'c. "I believe he needs more," Teal'c said, calmly.
"That's quite enough..."
Teal'c stared at her.
She left the room, swiftly. Carter and Daniel chuckled at Teal'c. "They'll be glad to see us go, won't they?"
"Indeed," Teal'c said, then cuddled Jack.
The nurse hurried in with another bottle. "Here," she said, almost tossing it at Teal'c.
"Thank you," Teal'c said, turning it over and sticking it in Jack's mouth. He drank it hungrily.
"Is the doctor coming soon?" Carter said.
"I believe so," the nurse said. Her expression said that he had better.
"Can you indulge me in a request?" Daniel said.
"Depends on what it is," the nurse said.
"Check Jack's weight."
"But that's right in his chart."
"As soon..." Just then, the bottle was emptied, and Jack burped, satisfied. Teal'c handed him over without a sound, and the nurse put him on the scale.
The nurse stared. "That can't be right."
"They must have put it down wrong last night."
"What?" Carter said.
"This says that he's three and a half pounds heavier than he was last night."
Daniel nodded. "Thank you."
"Classified," Carter said. "In fact, we had better not hear that you've talked to anybody about this."
She gulped. "I won't even write that down."
"Good," Teal'c said.
The doctor came in and looked at the tableau. "Is everything all right?"
"Fine," the nurse said.
"Just dandy," Daniel smiled.
Teal'c looked down at Jack, then faced him outwards so that he could see everybody.
"Then we should check you out with no trouble."
"Thank you, Doctor," Carter said.
He signed the paperwork. "May I ask if you have suitable attire for the trip back to Cheyenne Mountain?"
The four of them looked at each other. "I... uh," Carter said.
"Do you happen to have a store close?" Daniel said.
"I thought not," the Doctor said. "There's a Target around the corner. Who drove?"
Carter stepped forward, once again looking nonplussed. While the doctor gave her directions, Daniel looked at Jack. "Don't get me wrong, Jack," Daniel whispered. "I'm astounded that you ascended."
"Indeed," Teal'c rumbled. Jack marveled at how deep Teal'c's voice was at close range. "Although you must remember, Daniel Jackson, that O'Neill had the Ancient knowledge in his brain. Perhaps that knowledge still lies within him."
Jack blinked twice, astounded at Teal'c's guess. How had he guessed?
"I thought the Asgard purged all of that knowledge."
"Well, he certainly couldn't use that knowledge in everyday life."
"These are not normal circumstances."
"Ascended, huh," Daniel said. "How many times can a person be Ascended?"
You mean that every time I die, I'm going to Ascend and get kicked out? That was a horrible thought. Suddenly, he felt something, and he made a noise of dismay. He tried to hold it in, but his face screwed up.
"Uh, oh," Daniel said.
Teal'c turned him around. "Doctor," he said, sniffing at Jack. "May I have a diaper?"
"Of course," the doctor said, and he gestured to the nurse.
Teal'c changed Jack's diaper expertly, while Carter turned the other direction and Daniel looked on gleefully. Jack attempted to glare at him. Jackson, you're going to pay for this.
Finally, they were all ready to go. "Do you have a car seat?"
"Um... no?" Carter said.
"Just a second," the nurse said, and she went down the hall. "We keep one around, just in case."
"We will make sure that everything gets replaced," Carter assured her.
They walked swiftly to the car, Jack being carried carefully by Teal'c. The Target was literally just around the corner. "Sam," Daniel said. "You and Teal'c go in. I'll call Janet."
"I'd love to hear her reaction," Carter said.
"I'll let you know." Daniel assured her.
"I'll be sure to buy plain clothing when I can, sir. No duckies or trains."
Jack tried to grin at her, and she grinned back. "Although if the only color I can get is pink, sir..." her voice trailed off, as his smile faded. "Kidding, sir. Daniel, I'm going to leave the car running. It's getting a little chilly"
"Okay," Daniel said, distracted.
"Did you see that look, Teal'c?" she said as she walked away. She retreated with Teal'c. "I think I just got demoted."
"Indeed," Teal'c said. "I would be careful as to what you might say." Their voices faded.
"Well, Jack," Daniel said. "I'm going to call Janet and tell her of the situation." He opened his cell phone and dialed. "This is Daniel Jackson. I need to be put through to Janet..." He got an annoyed look on his face, then looked at Jack. "They can't hear me. Don't you just love cell phones?"
Jack tried to make a sympathetic tone.
"I'll just be over there." He got out of the car, heading for an open area. Jack looked up - it was the only thing he could do. He supposed it was a good time to take a nap - certainly, he had learned to take a nap on down times, and he supposed that this counted. Besides, he couldn't seem to stop waving his arms and legs, and it was making him tired.
He was just about ready to go to sleep when he heard a car door slam, and he woke up with a jerk. Were they back already? Then the second door slammed, and he realized that none of his team was beside him.
"Move it, move it!" said a rough voice, high in timber. It was a teenager. "Let's get this fu..." The rest of the phrase was lost in the roar of the engine, and Jack jerked against the restraints of the car seat. He could hear Daniel yell after the car.
Ah, shit, he thought. We're getting carjacked. For the first time in a very long time, he felt real fear. He was defenseless.
What was better to do, remain quiet and hopefully keep out of sight, or...?
He screamed, loudly. "What the hell?"
"There's a baby in here."
"No shit, Sherlock!"
God, they sounded young. He kept on screaming, managing to get some genuine tears. He remembered the scream that his son, Charlie, used to use to get attention, and pitched his voice accordingly.
"JESUS," the one boy yelled. "That's going to fetch the cops!"
"Not if we..."
"Are you chicken?"
"I am not going to kill a baby."
"Who said anything about killing a baby?"
Jack stretched, all the while yelling, and suddenly the jumper seat seemed to squeeze him. He looked down at himself. Still little, but his arms and legs seemed longer and the jumper seemed a lot smaller. He screamed. Definitely, he sounded older. And, closing his mouth for a second, he realized that he had teeth. He never thought he'd be thankful for teeth. He kept screaming, but tried to reach around for the seat belt. He supposed that this was supposed to be child-proofed, but he slipped the restraint off with ease. Rolling over the edge of the restraint, he dropped to the car seat. Yes, they were young. Very young. Well, hopefully, what he was planning would scare them straight.
Screaming like a banshee, he launched to the back of the passenger's head. He wrapped his little arms around the kid's throat, and bit down on his shoulder, hard. The kid screamed.
The driver screamed and jerked. Jack slipped to the front seat and jerked the steering wheel to the side of the road. The boy, fortunately, let his foot off of the gas, and they coasted to a stop. He screamed loudly at them, then lunged towards the driver.
The boy shouted, and lunged towards the door. His companion screamed louder, and dumped out of the other door. A police car, passing by, slammed to a stop, and the officer stepped out of his car, staring after the boys, who were running as fast as they could away from the car. Then he looked in the car.
Jack looked up at him with an innocent expression and said "Hi!"
The policeman looked at him, then looked at the boys, then looked at Jack again.
"What's your name?"
"Jack O'Neill." At the difficulty he had getting that out, he thought he had better not force the issue.
"Well, what happened here, Jack O'Neill?"
"Jack!" someone yelled. "Jack!"
Racing down the street was Daniel. Jack smiled broader and held out his arms, so the policeman would realize that he belonged, so to speak, with Daniel.
"Is this boy yours?" the policeman said.
"I'm one of his… guardians," Daniel said.
The man looked suspiciously at him. Jack resolved to have a talk with Daniel if... when... he went back to normal. The answer to that was a resounding "Yes!"
"He's a ward of the United States Air Force," Daniel added.
"Really," the policeman looked suspicious. "Do you have any proof of that?"
"Um..." Daniel waved back. "My proof is in the store at Target. I'm a civilian contractor for the Air Force." He held up his phone. "May I call them?"
The policeman inclined his head. Daniel raised the phone and punched the buttons, rapidly. "Sam? I'm out here with the toddler. He's fine, but the car was hijacked." He looked at Jack. "Apparently, they abandoned the car."
He listened. "Yes. Yes, I would grab more than what we were thinking. Sam, I'm down the road to the East with a policeman. Yes, I'll ask." He turned to the policeman. "Major Carter asks whether you could give us a ride back to Target."
The policeman nodded his head. "I shouldn't," he said. "But your guy is awfully cute."
Jack could see Daniel trying not to snort. He lifted his arms to Daniel, and Daniel picked him up. "Thank you."
"Dank you!" Jack chirped.
"Don't force it, Jack," Daniel said into his ear.
"I have a boy around that size," the policeman commented, as he opened the door to the cruiser. "Cute at that age, aren't they?"
"Yes, they are," Daniel said.
"Ward of the Air Force, huh?"
"Yeah. He has an adoptive family waiting for him in Cheyenne Mountain."
"In NORAD?" The man looked incredulous.
"Well," Daniel said. "Obviously not in NORAD..."
Jack poked at him. Quit while you're behind, Daniel.
Daniel got the message. "Where he's going is classified," Daniel nodded, "but he'll be well taken care of."
"Right," the policeman said. He drove quietly to the Target.
Carter and Teal'c were waiting outside the store, with a couple of large bags. As the cruiser approached, Carter started to look more anxious. Jack thanked his stars, again, the Carter was wearing her formal uniform. "I believe," the policeman said, getting out of the car, "that these are yours?"
"Did you catch the thieves?" Carter asked.
"I didn't even know they were thieves until Mr..."
"Doctor Jackson told me." He stared at her suspiciously. "May I see some identification?"
"Of course," Carter said. She drew out her ID. "However, if you have an idea of detaining us further, I should let you know that we are on a top secret mission."
The policeman blinked. "A top secret mission?"
"Well," Daniel said, "consider why two car thieves ran away from a year and a half old toddler."
Jack tried to smile innocently at the policeman.
"Jack," Carter said, "did you scare the poor car thieves?"
"Yes," Jack lisped.
She raised her eyebrows.
"What is he? Superbaby?"
The policeman looked at Jack. "Tell you what," he said slowly. "Unless you want to find the car thieves and press charges, how about if I give you a ride to the car and then forget about this whole thing?"
"That is wise," Teal'c said. The policeman looked up at him, then at Jack.
"Murray is the only one who can control him," Daniel whispered.
"Daniel!" Carter admonished. "Top Secret."
They piled back into the police cruiser and traveled quietly back to the car. It was still sitting there - Jack was half afraid that someone would steal it again. They got out, and thanked the officer, who drove off without a backward look. Carter, Daniel, and Jack looked at each other and grinned. Even Teal'c looked amused.
"Colonel," Carter said. "You can talk?"
Jack tried to form some words, then shook his head. "No." He reached for the bag, then looked up at Carter questioning.
"There's some bigger clothes in there." she said. She pulled out some jeans and a dark blue shirt. "I got them bigger. Hopefully, you won't have another growth spurt before we get back to Stargate command."
"Can you say anything more than yes and no?" Daniel said, curiously.
Jack considered it. "Daddy. Doggy, Mommy."
"No more than you would expect someone of that age to say," Daniel said.
"Yeah," Daniel said. "We still have to figure out why Oma sent you back this way."
"You know for certain?" he said.
Jack nodded, then looked at the car seat. "Sorry, sir," Carter said. "We have to put you back in there."
"It's too small," Daniel said.
"I don't want to get pulled over before we get back on the plane."
Jack sighed and climbed back into the seat, waiting to be strapped in. Daniel sat down beside him. "Do you mean that you know why Oma sent you back this way?"
"Okay." Daniel said. "We'll have to talk when you get a little older." He looked at Jack sideways, as the car pulled away from the curb. "Unless you want to play twenty questions."
"No." Jack yawned. Why was he so tired?
He woke up, being carried by Teal'c onto the plane. "I thought, ma'am," said the airman, "that you had found Colonel O'Neill." He said, looking at the baby in Teal'c's arms. Jack recognized him as being one of their usual pilots stateside. He also knew that he had top clearance.
"This is Colonel O'Neill," Carter said.
Jack sat up straight and tried to sketch a salute. The airman's eyes opened wide, then he grinned, but his grin faded as he glanced at Carter. He saluted. "Sir."
Jack nodded. Teal'c, without another word, carried him aboard the plane.
"Down," Jack commanded. He looked down at himself. He hadn't remembered changing, but he had a fresh outfit on. Suddenly, he realized something, toddled over to the bag, grabbing Teal'c. He pointed.
"Yes, O'Neill," Teal'c rumbled. "I shall help."
"What?" Carter said.
"His diaper needs changing," Teal'c said.
Jack rolled his eyes and blushed. He slapped at Teal'c's leg.
Carter's eyes danced. "Teal'c," she said. "I think he would've rather I not know that." She looked down at Jack, who glared at her. "Yes, sir. I understand, sir."
As Teal'c took him away, he could hear Daniel try to suppress a laugh. He ignored it.
Plane rides always put him to sleep. He was having a dream - Oma was standing beside him, asking whether he had learned to be humble yet, when his eyes popped open. He realized that they had landed, and he looked down at himself. Darn... it was just a dream, he was still under - oh, he didn't know - three feet tall. Were his clothes a bit tight? He looked around. His companions were just stirring - they had fallen asleep themselves. "Hey, campers," he piped, then looked surprised. Was he able to talk?
"Jack?" Daniel said.
Daniel's eyes popped open. "Jack!" You've grown."
"A little," he said. "I…" He couldn't get the "I've" out. "I grow," he nodded.
Carter looked at him critically. "You look maybe two, two and a half. Janet will know when she sees you."
"Janet." He rolled his eyes. "Poke. Not like."
"Yes, sir," she nodded. "I know." She looked around. "We've landed?"
She pulled out a camera. He stared at her. "No."
"I have my orders," she said, seriously. "Janet wants me to take a picture each time you change. And she wanted the time noted. Last time, you were asleep." She patted her pocket. "I have the 'baby' pictures here, sir."
"Doctor's orders, sir."
Jack sighed, loudly. Daniel laughed. He glared back at Daniel. "Daniel?"
Jack pointed to his eye, then at Daniel.
"What was that?" Carter said.
"He'll be watching me," Daniel said.
Teal'c came awake. "Our car is here."
It was a short ride to Stargate Command. Teal'c carried Jack through the guard stations, and, if the guards looked at him funny, none of them said anything. They emerged from the bottom elevator to find General Hammond waiting. "SG-1," he said.
"Sir," Carter said.
"Sir," Jack said, and saluted.
"Jack?" Hammond peered at Jack. "I must admit, Colonel, I found the reports hard to believe." He looked at Carter. "He can understand me, can't he?"
"Yes, sir." Carter said. "All indications are that he's an adult in a child's body. We believe that Oma Desala, for whatever reason, sent him back like this."
"Yes, sir." Jack said.
"Do you know why?" the General asked him.
"Yes, sir," Jack nodded.
"Can you explain it to me?"
"Yes," Jack said. "No."
The general looked startled.
"We believe," Daniel said. "That he means that he doesn't have the language capacity to explain it. It's somewhat akin to having an aphasic stroke. He knows the words, but he can't get them out yet."
"Yes," Jack said. "Dank you."
"Well," General Hammond said. "Let's take him to Janet and see if she can hurry up the process."
They walked to the infirmary. Various personnel smiled at him, obviously not knowing who he was. He stared back at them, not responding, and, fortunately, the company he was with kept the personnel from trying to play with him.
Thank heavens for small favors.
Janet turned around. "Sam. Daniel. Teal'c." She peered closer. "Colonel."
"I'll need to examine you," she said. "And it looks like SG-1 needs some down time."
"I would like to stay," Teal'c said. The other two nodded.
Jack caught Janet's eye and shook his head. She nodded. "I would prefer that you leave," Janet said. "Doctor/patient confidentiality."
"But," Daniel said.
"Do you think I can't take care of a baby - or a colonel?" She smiled. "Same difference, really."
They left reluctantly. "Now, Colonel, let's take a look at you. I'm going to have to have you strip." She looked closely at him. "Will you need help?"
"Yes." he said. "Help. Pease."
"So. It's true. You have the vocabulary of the average two to three year old. And you understand everything I say?"
"Yes." He set his lips and started to fumble at his shirt.
"No." He blushed.
"Nothing wrong with that," she said, efficiently. "Mind if we leave the diaper on, then?"
"No." Better that than pee in Janet's face, he thought.
"I'm going to have to take a little of your DNA, though," she said. "Just to make sure. You do remember your clone?"
His eyes got wide.
"Not that I think you're a clone, Colonel."
No, he thought.
"Open your mouth," she said. She took a swab. "I'm going to assume that you are you, however."
Efficiently, she stripped him down to his diaper. "Now," she said, "I'm going to have to take the diaper off, just to make observations. Joe?" she called out. "Can you come in here?"
"Yes, Doctor," a man said. He came in.
"This is Colonel O'Neill. Colonel, you remember Joe?"
"I'm going take off his diaper, but I'll need you here to witness everything." She held up her hand. "It'll take too long to explain right now how he ended up this way."
Joe's eyes got big, but he nodded. "Yes, Doctor."
"Could you please hold him upright?"
Efficiently, she stripped off his diaper. The cold air of the infirmary hit his cold skin.
She turned him around and nodded. "Consistent with the age you appear to be. I will have to take pictures."
Jack rolled his eyes.
"For scientific purposes only," she said, but her eyes danced.
"Yes," he said, with as much irony as he could muster. He frowned.
"Remember, I was hired by General Hammond," she said.
She took pictures from all angles, while Jack was being held by Joe. She looked at him speculatively. "I should also take an MRI."
"We'll make sure your ears are covered."
She laid him back down and efficiently diapered him, then wrapped a blanket around him. Warmed up, he started to fall asleep, and barely noticed as Janet blocked his ears and laid him in the MRI.
He woke up in a bed in the infirmary and stretched. The lights were low, so he checked his arms and legs. Still small and still in a diaper.
He sighed, and was about to drop back to sleep when the alarm went off. "Incoming Wormhole," Walter yelled - did that man ever go off duty? "Unscheduled off world activation."
Okay, that wasn't good. He sat up in bed, throwing the cover off. He didn't care if he looked like a three year old or a fifty-three year old, he needed to see what was going on. He looked around for a nurse - she was over at the desk, doing some paperwork. What was her name? He couldn't remember. "Nurse. Here."
"Yes, Colonel?" She looked up. "Do you need changing?"
Well, quite possible, but that wasn't his concern right now. He pointed upwards at the loudspeaker.
"Yes. I heard."
She gaped at him. "I can't take a patient to the control room, especially with you in your condition."
He looked at her, steely eyed. "Orders."
"My orders," she said, "from Dr. Frasier was to not let you leave this room."
"Colonel, I cannot follow your orders. I have to follow Doctor Frasier's orders, and her orders indicated that your judgment may be affected by your condition."
"But," he said. "But, but but!"
"I will contact SG-1 to give you an update..." She turned to go to the telephone...
Just then, she heard gunshots. Her eyes widened, and she ran for Jack, picking him and going into the other room. "Gun?" he said.
"No, I don't have a gun."
Well. This was an oversight. He didn't suppose that the infirmary normally needed a gun - after all, the base was crawling with armed guards. Still, he would love to have a gun right now.
He heard the door open, and someone get pushed in. "Where is Jack O'Neill? I was told he was in the infirmary."
Jack rolled his eyes. "Ba'al," he muttered. The nurse looked strangely at him. He pointed at the man. "Ba'al."
"That's not a ball."
Oh, brother. He shut up and peered through the crack in the door.
"I was told that O'Neill was in here," he repeated to one of his henchmen.
By who? Jack thought. Of course, Ba'al would be expecting a man, not a child.
How did he get on the base?
Well, the question was academic. He supposed that Ba'al's men were holding hostages, or else he wouldn't have gotten this far. Or - they were dead.
He had to keep them from going any further.
He ran out of the closet. "Daddy!"
"What," said Ba'al, looking down at Jack, "is this?"
"I Jackie," he said. "Where Daddy?"
He reached down and picked Jack up. "Is your Daddy Jack O'Neill?"
"Yes," he frowned. "Daddy gone."
"Gone." He rubbed his eyes. "Gone. Heaven."
"What's this heaven?"
The nurse was pulled out of the other room. "He's dead," the nurse said, "killed last week." Jack looked gratefully at the nurse.
Ba'al laughed. "Well, well, well. Someone else did it for me."
Ba'al, you have a wretched sense of humor.
"Daddy gone." he repeated.
"But," Ba'al said. "I do have his son, don't I? I think it would be only fair if I raise him as my son."
In a rat's ass.
"Mommy." He wiggled around. "Want Mommy."
The nurse looked rebellious at him. Well, at least she didn't say that she didn't know.
"Academic," Ba'al said. "We shall take him anyway."
They retreated to the control center. On the floor was Hammond, Walter, Teal'c, Carter, and Daniel – and the rest of the control room staff - but, as he watched, they started to stir. He tried not to visibly sigh and wriggled to get down. "Mommy!" he yelled at Sam.
He saw Sam blink, look up at him, and get up rapidly. "What are you doing with Jack?"
Ba'al smiled. "Ah," he said. "So that's Mommy. Well, my dear, I've always wanted a son, and now that O'Neill is dead, I think O'Neill's son will just fit the bill."
Jack saw Sam's eyes widen. Play along, Carter, play along.
Her face was furious. "My husband was killed," she spat, "and now you want to take my son?"
"Fitting, don't you think?"
"Well," Daniel said, rubbing his head, "I suppose in a twisted sort of way." He got off the ground. Teal'c was already up and glaring at Ba'al.
Jack bent over, seemingly struggling to get down. Carter lunged toward Ba'al, and the guards moved closer to their master. Perfect. Reaching down, Jack picked a zat off of one of the guard's and tossed it to Teal'c, who rapidly zatted the two guards. Ba'al dropped Jack, who landed on his bottom. He made a small noise - that hurt! - then attempted to crawl behind Ba'al to, perhaps, trip him.
Ba'al grabbed the nurse in a chokehold and Jack retreated rapidly.
Hammond had gotten up by this time, and Ba'al turned toward him. "Let me go, or I'll kill her."
Teal'c, covering him with the zat, raised the pistol.
"Do you see my hold, Teal'c?"
"I do." He lowered the zat. He looked to Hammond. "If I shoot him, his convulsions will kill the nurse."
"I see." Hammond turned toward Ba'al. "And how do I know that you won't kill her, anyway?"
Jack saw the nurse's eyes widen as she realized what danger she was in.
Ba'al smiled. "General Hammond, you don't. Except for my word."
"A Goa'uld has no honor," Teal'c growled.
"No." Jack said, staring up at Ba'al steadily. This seemed to unnerve Ba'al slightly, and Jack grinned.
More guards were coming up to the control room, their guns aimed at Ba'al.
"Well," the General said. "It seems to me that if you do try anything, you'll be dead before you hit the event horizon."
Ba'al smiled, sarcastically. "Agreed. So, in this case, you can take me at my word."
"What about them?" Hammond said, pointing at the guards.
"Keep them, shoot them," Ba'al shrugged. "That's nothing to me. I am their God. There are more where they come from."
"Walter, dial up..."
"I'll pick my planet," Ba'al said. "I don't trust you not to put me on a safe planet." Jerking the nurse around, he moved so that he could see the computer and told Walter the address. Jack knew that he wasn't going to be there when they could follow, so he doubted that they could trace him.
Carter reached down to pick Jack up, putting him on her hip. Ba'al turned back at him.
"A pity," Ba'al said. "Jack's son would have been..." he stared, and Carter almost dropped him. He had grown three inches suddenly. "I take it that's not Jack's son," Ba'al commented.
"No," Jack said. "I told you. I'm... Kernal Jack O'Neill."
Jack gave him the finger.
"What in the hell did you run into now?" Ba'al said.
Jack just smiled.
"Get him down to the gate," Hammond growled.
"I would suggest," Ba'al said calmly to the nurse, "that you try not to move your head."
Herding the nurse ahead of him, they exited the control room, followed by the guards. They appeared seconds later on the floor below. "Walter," Hammond said quietly, "start the dialing sequence."
Walter punched the button. "Chevron one locked."
Hammond placed a hand on his shoulder. "Not this time, Walter."
The chevrons locked, and the event horizon swished out, then settled. Ba'al pushed the nurse towards the guards, running for the Stargate. He disappeared through the event horizon. "Walter," Hammond said. "Shut it down." He turned toward Jack and Carter. "Thank you, Colonel O'Neill," he said, "even though I believe you had orders to be kept in the infirmary."
Jack ignored that. "How..." Jack closed his eyes, trying to phrase it property. "How did he get here?"
Hammond looked grave. "SG-20. We got the authorization from them, but instead of SG-20, Ba'al came through. We think they were killed just after they gave the code."
Sam put him down. "Sorry, sir," she said. "You're getting heavy."
"We... go," he pointed at the Stargate.
"To find them?" Hammond said. He shook his head. "Not now. And you're in no condition..." He looked down at Jack and shook his head. "Right now, you look younger than my grandchildren."
Jack frowned. He hated to admit it, but the General was right. There was nothing he could do at the moment.
"We will sit with him at the infirmary," Teal'c said, "and make sure that he will not move."
Jack stuck his tongue out at Teal'c.
"Really mature, Jack," Daniel said.
Jack grinned at him.
"My conclusion," Janet said, "is that he definitely is Colonel Jack O'Neill."
Jack, sitting on a couple of boxes on a chair in the briefing room, breathed a sigh of relief. Not that he thought that he was anything but himself, but now he understood the pressures that his clone went through.
"Two?" he piped up.
"And, number two," she said, glancing at him, "that his cells are in a case of constant flux. She sighed. "I've taken samples, but I suspect that they will be useless when the Colonel reaches his proper age."
"But he will grow up, so to speak," Hammond said.
So to speak, General? Jack thought.
Dr. Fraiser shrugged. "I think we've seen that he will. The colonel has communicated that Oma Desala sent him back. I'm not entirely sure why she chose to send him back as a baby, but I suspect that when he comes back, he'll be back all at once."
"But you're not sure," Hammond persisted.
"No, General, I'm not sure. I don't know how the Ancients bring people back to life, especially those as damaged as Daniel Jackson. And the Colonel died in Teal'c's arms." She sat back and folded her arms. "It may as well be magic, as far as I'm concerned."
"We'll just have to keep him in diapers for a while," Daniel said.
Jack hit him in the arm.
"Of course, I have been taking photographic evidence," she said.
Jack glared at her.
"Which the Colonel doesn't appreciate," she added.
"Yes," Jack said.
"I think he's cute, sir," Carter said.
"So do I," Janet said.
Daniel smirked. Teal'c sat back and tried to look stoic, but a small smile came to the corner of his lips.
Jack sat back...
...and felt funny. "Uh-oh," he chirped.
"Diaper change?" Daniel said
Jack felt himself wink out for a moment, then he was back at the table. Naked, except for the diaper, who still seemed to be under him on the box, and some shreds of his former clothing, which seemed to be on the floor. He was back - all six foot one of him. With a smooth motion, he knocked the boxes onto the floor and scooted his chair under the table.
Everybody in the briefing room was staring at him. "Pardon me, General, if I don't get up."
"Please remain seated, Jack."
"Doctor," he said, "you were saying something about me coming back all at once."
"Um, Janet said, "that point seems to be moot, now." She looked at him speculatively. "Colonel, I'll need you back at the infirmary," she grinned, "as soon as we get you a blanket. Better yet, I think I want you on a stretcher."
"I can walk myself..." Jack said.
"I will determine that," Janet said. She glanced at the General, who nodded. She left the briefing room.
"You will follow the Doctor's orders, Jack," Hammond sat back. "Now that you can answer my question, why did Oma send you back as a baby?"
"Permission to tell you privately, sir?"
"Oma wished... to teach me a lesson." He looked Hammond in the eye. "She seemed to think I was stubborn."
"Perish the thought," Daniel said.
Jack ignored him. "Something about being born again." He yawned. "Growing seems to have taken something out of me, sir."
"We will talk about this later," General Hammond said.
Jack sighed. "Yes, sir." He glanced at his teammates. "I'd like to commend my team for going beyond the call of duty in taking care of me."
"Sir," Carter said. "I'm glad to have you back."
"As am I, O'Neill." Teal'c said.
Daniel was still grinning. "I bet Oma told you about not interfering. You wouldn't promise not to interfere, would you?"
A couple of nurses, including Joe, came in with the stretcher. He grinned, and handed the Colonel a blanket.
"Later, Daniel," Jack said, as he wrapped the blanket around himself and laid down on the stretcher.
Daniel grinned ruefully. "Yep," he said. "That's our Jack."
Jack looked at the ceiling and smiled. Oma, he thought. I will never stop interfering. You may as well give up on me now.
You may have a point, said a whisper of her voice.
Jack smiled. You just wait, he said. You just wait.