Jack O'Neill, though that name was no longer his...had never really been his, stood in the doorway of the school and watched his other self, the real Jack O'Neill, drive away. It had only taken about two weeks from the time Thor returned him to the SGC for him to reach this point. Doc Frasier had insisted on what seemed to him like every medical test he'd ever been subjected to, in triplicate, over the first seventy two hours after his return. It had given him time to think about what he wanted to do now that he was a healthy fifteen year old again. He suspected that was half the reason for Frasier keeping him confined to the infirmary with those tests. The other half being her own curiosity.
During that time he'd thought a lot about what Carter had said, about having fun living his life over again. He had to admit it had been nice to climb up to that mountain stream to fish without the normal pain in his knees. He did miss the beer though. He consoled himself with the fact that he wouldn't always be underage, but even if he injured himself again, because of the advances in medical technology the problems with his knees could be gone forever. Gone too was his past and the future he'd planned for himself. Being Samantha Carter's CO and a dozen years her senior had been one thing, but now he was more than twenty years her junior and jail bait besides. So his past and future were gone, but he also knew that so was his present. There was no place for a fifteen year old kid at the SGC despite the eventual acceptance of those fighter jocks. For hours after that realization had hit, he lay in the infirmary bed in the deepest depression he'd felt since Charlie died. A quick visit from Daniel reminded him that he was falling back into that place he'd sworn he would never go to again. After Daniel left he'd realized there was nothing he could do about the past and present, but his future was still in his control. He could have gone with the Tok'ra. Jacob had made the offer. It had been tempting to continue the fight against the goa'uld while he waited to grow up. There was no question in his mind what he wanted for his future. He wanted back here. He wanted the SGC, but not yet nor any time in the near future. General Hammond, of course, thought he was crazy when they met to discuss his future.
"You want to WHAT!?" Hammond had exclaimed when he first told the older man his intentions.
"I want to go back to high school," he had repeated.
"Why?" the general had asked with genuine confusion in his expression.
"Because I can't stay here," he'd answered. The general had sighed in such a way that he had known his commanding officer, O'Neill's commanding officer he reminded himself, had already come to the same conclusion. "Sir, eventually I want to be able to come back here," he had explained. Pointing out the observation window to the embarkation room below them, he'd continued, "Back out there. Before that can happen though, I need to finish growing. It's tempting to take Jacob up on his offer. But if I went to the Tok'ra with Jacob, I'd go as Jack O'Neill's clone. He's Jack O'Neill. Not me. I need to learn to be someone other than Jack O'Neill. I can't do that here or with the Tok'ra. School's a good place to learn and grow."
"How long do you think it will take you to learn and grow enough to get back here?" Hammond had asked out of curiosity.
"Five to ten years," he had answered honestly. "I'm not interested in coming back as a grunt. I'm coming back as an officer with some letter soup after my name."
There had been a layer of steel in his voice that Hammond had easily recognized and acknowledged with a nod. "Well, the first thing you're going to need is a new name," he had suggested.
"Jacob Charles Lazarus at your service, General Hammond," he had informed the man seated across the conference room table from him having already thought about that particular issue quite a lot. "Call me Jake."
"Jake Lazarus?" Hammond had asked.
"Apropos don't you think?" he had asked. " I think Lazarus has a ring to it, too, and Jake is close enough to Jack that it shouldn't take me too long to get used to it."
And that had been that. He and General Hammond had spent the next few hours fleshing out his fictitious past. Jacob Charles Lazarus was the son of Joseph Lazarus and his wife Megan, Peace Corp volunteers, who recently died in a particularly bloody uprising in Africa leaving him alone in the world. With the details of his new past added to all of the pertinent computer databases thanks to Major Davis, Generals Hammond and Carter arranged for various trusted connections to remember Joe Lazarus and his family if asked. To explain his familiarity with the Air Force, and why they were paying his bills, his fictitious father had a career in the Air Force quite similar to one Jonathon O'Neill. Joseph Lazarus had met his wife Megan on a rescue mission to rescue a group of Peace Corp volunteers whose plane had been shot down in some very unfriendly skies over South America. The young Peace Corp volunteer had fallen in love with her rescuer, and he with her or so their fictitious story went. Joe was older than his bride and nearing retirement so Megan put her plans to return to the Peace Corp on hold for several years to follow her husband around the world with the Air Force. Soon after the birth of their only child, Jake, Joe had retired and the Lazarus family had followed Megan's dream.
Major Davis had also been called upon to arrange for his status as an emancipated minor. With some negotiation, Davis had even arranged for him to receive a fairly generous monthly stipend until he officially turned twenty-one along with a large cash settlement supposedly from his parents' life insurance. The "insurance" money was intended to cover his college costs so that he could "re-train" for a new career. Jake had snorted derisively when informed about that. He fully intended for Uncle Sam to pick up the costs of his college education through ROTC. As for a new career, he liked the old one just fine, thank you very much. He intended to come back more prepared though. The money would no doubt come in handy. Along with his new name had come a new date of birth. Jacob Charles Lazarus had turned sixteen the day Loki had cloned Jack O'Neill. Jake could deal with being thought of as a skinny undersized sixteen year old, but there was no way in Hell he was going to leave himself at the mercy of public transportation for over a year. It had taken some convincing, but General Hammond had eventually agreed. A few more months, and he'd be eligible to get his driver's license.
'Now I just need some new wheels,' he thought as he regretfully watched O'Neill's black truck pull around the corner. He loved that truck. Jake sighed knowing there was no way his new vehicle, whatever it ended up being, would measure up to that black beauty. Until he got a driver's license he'd have to make do with public transportation and a bicycle or maybe a scooter. That was already on his shopping list for this afternoon after school along with furniture, some more clothes, and some household items. Takeout was fine for awhile, but eventually Jake knew he'd want to be able to cook in the kitchen of his brand new apartment. Daniel had taken him along two days ago when the newly resurrected archaeologist finally got around to looking for an apartment for himself. He, or the real Jack O'Neill rather, had put Daniel's things in storage a year ago when he had ascended, but the apartment had been let go. Daniel had been content for the past few weeks to remain in the quarters on base that had been provided for him so it wasn't hard to imagine his sudden interest in apartment hunting had more to do with wanting to help Jake than any real need on Daniel's part. After a few hours looking at apartments, he and Daniel had both signed leases on apartments in the same complex. It also wasn't hard for him to figure out that Daniel took that apartment to let him have some connection with his past, and more importantly, a willing ear to listen when he needed to talk about what everyone knew would be a difficult transition for him. The archaeologist's brain may have been still a little Swiss cheesed like that guy on that television show Carter loved to watch, but he still recognized Jack, and by extension Jake, as his friend. It wasn't just the real Jack O'Neill that was having a hard time interacting with Jake. Carter and Teal'c were avoiding him as well. He didn't even try to figure out the jaffa's reasons, but Carter's were pretty obvious. He couldn't say he blamed her either. Daniel at least tried to treat him like a normal human being.
As soon as the tail lights disappeared, Jake turned to weave his way through the teeming mass of students loitering in the halls before the bell rang. As he wove between the groups of students he searched for where he had been told to go. His eyes finally found the small sign over the door at the end of the hall that read 'Administration.' He sidestepped a couple locking lips in the center of the hall just before a teacher appeared from one of the classrooms to break them apart. Jake opened the door to the office closing it as soon as he'd stepped inside. In comparison to the hallway outside, the office was blessedly quiet. A dozen students stood impatiently in line in front of the counter behind which the school's middle aged secretary stood filling out a piece of paper which she handed to the first student in line before moving on to the next. Jake spent the next few minutes waiting in line observing the other students and the secretary as she accepted medications and filled out tardy and pre-arranged absence slips for the various students.
"I need to register for classes," Jake informed her when he finally reached the front of the line. From his backpack, he withdrew the manila folder Hammond had given him containing all the papers he would need.
"Your parent or guardian needs to come in to enroll you," the woman began to explain to him.
"I'm an emancipated minor," Jake quickly interjected before she could make the embarrassing offer to call his mother for him.
"Oh," she exclaimed softly. "Well then...you have proof?"
Jake handed her the folder then waited as she examined the legal documents inside. He could tell the exact instant she decided to take this up the proverbial ladder. She grabbed a clipboard from under the counter and piled various forms on top of it before handing it to him. "Why don't you start filling those out while I see about these?" she suggested handing him the clipboard and a pen and pointing to the battered seating arrangement in the corner with one hand. Jake pointedly ignored the curious looks he was getting from the other students as he took the offered seat and dropped his backpack on the floor at his feet. The secretary sent a page out across the PA then returned to dealing with the line of students while she waited for the person she had summoned to appear.
Jake was just completing the forms when a tall man in dress slacks and a business shirt entered the office. After a hurried consultation with the secretary, he approached Jake. Consulting the papers she had handed him, the man said, "Jacob Lazarus. I'm Principal Sumner. Mrs. Terrance says you're here to enroll?"
"Yes, sir" Jake confirmed holding out the clipboard with the completed papers attached to it.
"Why don't we go into my office and talk," Sumner suggested pointing the way behind the counter with the clipboard.