I Was Twelve Years Old
"Do you want something, Daniel?" Jack said in a voice that indicated his irritation at being interrupted, his eyes never leaving the report he was reading. Once he finally started doing his paperwork, he hated to stop until the torture was finished. Daniel had been hovering in the doorway to his office for at least five minutes now. He had contemplated seeing how long Daniel would stand there before either coming in or leaving, but had decided against it.
"Actually, yes. I do want something," Daniel said as he entered the office and sat down opposite his friend and commanding officer. It still felt strange sometimes to see Jack behind the desk instead of General Hammond. It usually worked to his advantage. He wasn't so sure about that this time. It probably would have been easier to lie to General Hammond. Jack knew him too well.
When Daniel didn't continue speaking, Jack put down his pen with a huff. Daniel smiled. "If you're not ready, I can wait."
"Is this going to be quick, or should I go to the bathroom first?" Jack said sarcastically.
"Funny. Jack, I would like to request some time off," Daniel said.
"Time off? You? That's almost like Carter asking for time off. Doesn't happen. What's going on?" Jack said suspiciously, leaning forward to study his friend's face for any clues. His need to complete his reports was all but forgotten now.
"I have been uh..." Daniel paused. His prepared lie had sounded perfect in his head from rehearsing it so many times, but now he found himself stumbling over the words. Jack had that affect on people, including him. "I was invited to join an archeology dig by some friends of mine and I would really like the opportunity to go. I haven't seen them in awhile, and this is a chance of a lifetime. We will be excavating the remains of the lost civilization of-"
"No," Jack said, cutting him off, not taking his eyes off of Daniel.
"No? Why not? Not enough notice? Because we have a mission coming up? It's not for a week, so I'm sure we could find a replacement for me-"
"No," Jack answered again.
"Then why not?" Daniel asked with a sigh.
"Because you're lying. And I hate lying," Jack said. "Tell me the real reason you want time off and I'll consider it," Jack said. After about thirty seconds of this uncomfortable scrutiny, Daniel looked away. Big mistake, Daniel silently cursed himself. Jack would surely know he was lying now.
Daniel opened his mouth to speak, desperately thinking of something plausible to say. He was saved by the bell, or rather by the ring. The telephone on Jack's desk rang loudly, and Jack held up his finger to silence Daniel.
"General O'Neill," Jack answered. "Good morning, Mr. President," Jack answered after pausing for a moment. He mouthed, "This isn't over," to Daniel before swinging around in his chair to face the wall. "I'd be happy to tell you all about it, Sir,"
Daniel walked out of the office, not daring to sigh with relief until he was in the hall. Time for plan B, Daniel said to himself as he headed for the parking lot. Once in his SUV, he stared at his overnight bag for a moment before turning his key in the ignition. He would tell Jack all about it when it was over. Well, probably anyway.
Daniel tried to ignore his cell as it rang for the millionth time. He looked at the screen. Jack. Just like all the other times. He turned off his phone and put it back into his pocket as he approached the counter.
"Round trip ticket, please," Daniel told the young woman as he took out his credit card.
"Where to, sir?" The woman asked. Minutes later, after the reservation was complete, the woman handed Daniel his credit card and ticket.
"Okay, sir. You're all set. Your flight boards in a half an hour. While you wait, please feel free to browse our shops or have some breakfast at any of our fine restaurants."
"Thank you," Daniel said as he took his ticket and walked away from the counter. Taking his seat he rubbed the ticket between his fingers. He was going through with it. He was going back. Breakfast, Daniel thought. He hadn't eaten since yesterday. It was the only way he could keep from throwing up.
Daniel was startled awake by a pounding on his hotel room door. He put on his glasses and glanced at the digital clock between the two beds. Midnight.
"Daniel!" Daniel was momentarily paralyzed. How did he find him? What would he say to Jack? He walked to the door, knowing full well that if he didn't let him in, Jack would wake up the whole hotel and get them both thrown out. He unlocked the door and squinted from the bright light of the hallway.
"What do you want, Jack?" Daniel asked as Jack followed him back into the room.
"I said it wasn't over and I meant it. Usually I don't have to get on a plane to finish a conversation." Jack said as he sat in one of the chairs by the small wooden table.
"How did you find me?" Daniel asked as he sat down in the other chair.
"Your credit card. Being a General does have its perks,"
"Aren't you needed at the SGC?" Daniel asked.
"Yes, and so are you. So obviously, why you went awol must be important. And now, I am ready to listen. No reports, no phones," Jack said.
"Look, Jack. As much as I enjoy talking to you, I have to get some sleep. I have an early day tomorrow," Daniel said as he stood.
"Daniel, what is going on? Are you in trouble?" Jack asked.
"Jack, not now," Daniel said as he climbed back into bed. "There's another bed if you want it," Daniel clicked off the light, leaving Jack sitting in the dark.
Curiouser and Curiouser, Jack thought as he took off his jacket and shoes and layed down on the other bed. They say that things always looked better in the morning. Jack hoped they were right.
Daniel straightened his tie again as he tried to keep his mind off of where they were going. He told Jack to drive him to the courthouse, and how to get there. He didn't tell Jack why, and he was relieved when Jack didn't ask. Jack would find out soon enough anyway. Daniel's shoulders felt tight, and his stomach was in knots. Goodie, just like old times. Soon they would be there. Soon he would see him.
Daniel walked into the courtroom and walked half-way up the aisle between the rows of wooden benches. Jack took a seat in one in the back. Daniel was glad when Jack didn't follow him, but he was glad that he was there. Jack was a reminder of who Daniel was now, and that gave him strength.
"Daniel!" A woman in her early thirties said as she rushed towards him and gave him a hug. Daniel slowly put his arms around her as he struggled to remember her name. Could it be Char?
"Charlotte?" Daniel asked.
"Yes! I am so glad that you are here Daniel. I wasn't sure who would show up to testify." Daniel didn't want to be rude, but he didn't want to talk anymore right now. It was a lot to take in. A court official announced for everyone to take their seats. "I'll talk with you more later, Daniel," she said before walking away and taking a seat in the back.
Daniel sat down a few rows from the front. The room silenced as an old man in handcuffs was lead to his seat. Was that Johnson? He looked nothing like Daniel remembered. This man was thin and frail, with little hair and sunken eyes. Maybe Johnson was sorry. Maybe Johnson was no longer the man he was. Maybe he shouldn't testify against him….Daniel's thoughts were interrupted by an older woman crying on the other side of the aisle. A man, that Daniel assumed was her husband, was attempting to comfort her. Yes, Daniel remembered them too. They were his parents. Adam's. A woman at the front of the room in a red suit began to speak, but Daniel heard nothing. His mind flashed on Charlotte's broken arm, John's bloody lip, Linda's red marks on her back, his own black eye looking back at him in the mirror, Adam's contorted body at the bottom of the stairs... There were so many kids, so many times. Five years they had been punished. Five long years. Daniel looked back at Jack, who smiled faintly at him. Daniel swallowed and formed his hands into fists. No, he would testify. He would tell his story. They should have been safe at that boys and girls club. Johnson would not get his parole. When Daniel's name was called, he took the seat at the front of the room. He looked at Jack again, and without taking his eyes off of him, began to speak in a strong voice.
"My name is Dr. Daniel Jackson. I was twelve years old."
Thank you for reading my short story. I may do a follow-up piece or add another chapter if there is interest.