Chapter 1: A Typical Day
Oh, he really didn't feel so good.
Daniel rolled over on the sand dune he had evidently been deposited on and coughed, groaning. His head pounded, and he slit his eyes open only to press them shut again against the blinding light. Ugh, what was that . . . ? He hurt all over.
Where was he? What was going on? He pressed a hand to the side of his head and tried to remember. Ah yes . . . he remembered ruins, runes that weren't quite like runes, and goa'uld text . . . he'd touched something he shouldn't. Something had flashed, and now here he was, on the dunes and in agony. Flashes were never good.
This wasn't going to get him anywhere. He had to get up – hadn't heard any voices yet, so had the flash hit the rest of SG-1 as well? Not good. Where was Teal'c? Teal'c always recovered first. Where was he?
He had to sit up and look around. Assess the situation. That's what Jack would do, right? He was better for distress situations. Daniel rolled onto his back again and flung his arm over his eyes, catching his breath. Yes, the pain was fading. Okay, he could do this. He curled forward, drawing his legs up to sit, and waited for the dizziness to fade before opening his eyes again.
The light was still almost blinding, the sun glittering off the dunes as a million glinting points, and Daniel had to squint to see. His glasses were falling off his nose, so he reached up to push them back.
Woah, was that his hand?
Daniel jumped at the sight of his hand. It seemed proportionate, but it wasn't his hand; the fingers were short and round, and the bones weren't prominent. Sarah had always thought he had delicate hands. These were . . . child hands.
And his glasses were slipping down his nose again already, and suddenly Daniel realized with growing horror that his BDUs were much, much too big for his body, his shoes large and oafish over his feet. What was going on . . . ? He pushed up his sleeves, patting down his body in bewilderment.
Oh no. Oh nonono. This had to be him dreaming.
His glasses fell off his nose and landed in his lap, and Daniel came to the irrefutable conclusion that his body was that of a child.
This nearly ignited a panic attack, but Daniel grit his teeth and drew a deep breath, willing himself to stay calm. All right, this was hardly the worse possible outcome from a blinding flash from some ancient ruins. He just had to make some clothing adjustments for the moment and find the rest of SG-1. He lifted his head and looked around, orienting himself as he replaced his glasses tentatively on his nose. They were hopelessly large for his face, but they'd have to do.
He was at the top of a dune, and the ruins were some one hundred feet off; Daniel didn't have the faintest clue how he'd gotten so far from what he'd been working on. He rolled to his knees and scrambled over the crest of the dune to look down into the valley behind it and found the body of a young girl on the verge of her adolescence. Her hair was short and blonde, and Daniel realized with a start that she was also wearing oversized BDUs.
So. This was Sam, also reduced in age.
Daniel's first instinct was to slide down the side of the dune immediately, but his pants were coming off, so first he quickly cinched his belt in place before pelting down the dune to her side. She didn't appear to be hurt; she was breathing evenly, curled halfway on her side, the only sign of any real distress her furrowed brow. "Sam?" he asked breathlessly, then jumped a little at his own voice – he recognized it as his own, but it was unbroken. "Sam, wake up. It's Daniel," he said, gently shaking her shoulder with a hand completely hidden by his sleeve.
"Huh . . . ?" Sam groaned softly, then reached up to her head, nearly knocking Daniel's knee with her elbow. "Ugh, I've got such a headache."
"It's okay, it goes away," Daniel urged, his own having faded to a bearable throb at the nape of his neck. "You've got to get up, Sam. We need to find Jack and Teal'c and make sure they're okay."
"Why? What's happened . . . ? Wait, is that you, Daniel?" Sam was blinking, wincing at the brightness just as Daniel had. "You sound really different."
"Er, that's because I am different," Daniel confessed. "Uh . . . we both seem to have lost a few years."
"What?" Sam rubbed her eyes with her outstretched fingers, and pushed herself onto her elbow. She rubbed her hand down her face, looking up at Daniel, and her eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Daniel?"
"Yeah, uh, I know." Daniel glanced sideways, scrunching his lips together a little. "You too, actually," he warned, even as Sam looked down at herself, patting herself down.
"Oh my goodness." She blinked at Daniel, then at her hands. "I-I think . . . I think I'm twelve again."
Daniel licked his lips and glanced back up the dune he had come down. "I think it was that device that did it to us," he confessed. "I haven't found Jack and Teal'c yet, but they've probably also been, er … regressed."
"Then I guess we'd better find them." Sam reached down and cinched her belt as well; her hands were thin, and she shoved back her sleeves, but her BDUs didn't drown her quite as much as they did Daniel. Daniel fumbled with his sleeves, rolling them back, then stuffed his pants into the top of his boots, hoping they'd help insure that his boots would stay on.
"Okay, um . . . I found you on my left, and you were standing on my left when I accidentally activated the device, so . . ."
"The Colonel was on your right, and Teal'c was standing right behind him," Carter recalled. Her voice was a little higher-pitched than it once had been.
"So let's check that way," Daniel pointed up the dune he had just come down.
The pair of children scrambled up the sandy slope.
Oh, this was not Jack O'Neill's favorite way to wake up. His head pounded, his limbs ached, and damn Teal'c was speaking unnecessarily loudly. "Teal'c, shush," he groaned, squeezing his eyes shut. Had he been drinking? He didn't remember drinking. Usually when he woke up with a pounding headache he remembered the first six or seven beers at least.
"O'Neill, it is best that you get up." Teal'c refused to leave him alone.
Jack sighed, and threw his arm over his eyes, cracking them open. He could just see Teal'c. "What?" he demanded. His bed shifted like sand under his head.
"It would appear that we have all become significantly younger," Teal'c said.
"Huh?" Jack squeezed his eyes shut then opened them again, blinking against his arm before sitting up. "Whoa."
He was sitting on the edge of a sand dune, and suddenly he remembered everything – the ruins, Daniel running his fingers over the writing, the flash – and now here he was, at least a hundred feet from the ruins with a pounding headache (which was thankfully beginning to fade). "What do you mean, we've gotten younger?" he looked down at himself, then up at Teal'c again.
Teal'c didn't appear any different, except that his tattoo seemed to be almost pinching on a forehead slightly too small for it. Jack looked back down at himself, lifting a knee to get to his feet.
It was then that he realized the near-constant ache in his bad knee was gone. He blinked and patted himself down. His body was thinner and wirier.
It was a child's voice and someone that sounded quite similar to Carter, and Jack looked over to see a young boy with cropped blond hair and a young woman with a similar hairstyle starting down the dune to his left. "Who?" he called back, unable to make out more details in the glittering light.
"Sir, it's us!" the girl waved.
"Major Carter and Daniel!" the boy added, catching himself on his hands at the valley of the dune. "We've been turned into kids!"
"I, too, have become younger," Teal'c rumbled beside him. "I feel as I did some years ago, before I became the First Prime of Apophis."
"Which would explain your tattoo," the boy offered, coming to their side and panting a little. He raised his eyebrows at Jack behind oversized glasses, who stared at the boy non-plussed, hardly able to believe this was Daniel he was looking at. "Hey, Jack, you're hair's blond again."
"Really?" Jack ran a hand through his hair. "How old do I look?"
"Er … about 19, sir, maybe 20," the girl offered.
"… Okay, this is all some crazy dream, right?" Jack asked, getting to his feet and dusting himself off. His pants slipped down around his slimmed hips, and he hitched them up, reaching for his belt.
"Then it's a crazy dream we're all sharing," the boy claiming to be Daniel said woefully, shoving his glasses back up his nose again with an almost vicious movement that bespoke frustration. "What I understood of the text did speak of eternal youth and such, but I didn't expect . . ." he trailed off, crossing his arms over himself with a frown of concentration that Jack recognized instantly as an exclusively Daniel-esque posture. "Huh. I'll bet if I just read a little further—" the boy turned suddenly and started for the ruins.
"No!" the girl – no, that was definitely Carter – shook her head sharply, drawing Daniel up short.
"What? We need to find out how to reverse this!" Daniel spun around indignantly, his shoes flapping a little in the sand as he looked up at Jack expectantly.
Jack had to bite back a laugh at the sight. Daniel could have been Carter's younger brother, they were so alike in their features; both shared blue eyes and blond hair, and, amusingly, similar face shapes. Carter's sleeves and pants bunched at her wrists and ankles, and she had lost several inches of height. Daniel looked like a kid who had been caught playing dress-up in his father's clothes, and it didn't help that he was using his patented 'what the hell?' look on them both. "Daniel, no," he said after he'd gotten control of himself. This whole situation was just … so unbelievable, and yet so believable in that they'd been in equally insane situations on far too many counts. "Look at us. We've all regressed, what, 25 years? A little more than that? If you accidentally trigger that thing again, what'll happen? Will we all just pop out of existence except for Teal'c? I, for one, am not eager to find out."
"But, Jack—" Daniel was winding up for an argument – one that would likely be long, irritable, and unavoidably delivered in the voice of a whiny child.
"Ah!" Jack held up a finger; the admonition had the usual effect – a sullen glare. "You got footage of the ruins, right? You can take it back to the SGC and look at it there." Jack lifted his head and addressed the whole team. "All right, let's pack it up and head back to the 'gate so we can get poked with needles for a while, kids."
Three sets of eyebrows rose, and three sets of eyes settled on their suddenly youthful CO.
"Er . . . bad choice of words."
tbc . . .