This story was written strictly for the purpose of entertainment. No attempt has been made to copyright any characters which may not have been originally created by the author, and no profit is made from this work of fiction. Any original characters and the stories themselves are the property of the author.
Thanks to my wonderful betas, Jess and Monica, and to anyone who provides feedback but not sufficient information to thank you one-to-one.
The two girls were eating their lunches, sitting on a wall next to the parking lot when he drove up. If he had a daughter, she definitely wouldn't have been allowed out of the house in either of their outfits. They ignored him as he got out of his car and started to walk towards the school. When he heard his son's name, he kept his eyes straight ahead but he slowed down a little.
"Danny Jackson is absolutely hot," the blonde said. "He can really play the guitar too. His band played at that party I went to at Jenny Meyer's last Friday and it was unbelievable. I can hardly pay attention in Civics with him two rows over from me."
Her friend agreed. "He's got to be the only boy I've ever seen who manages attitude and bad boy charm with glasses. I mean not dark glasses but like real glasses."
"Could you talk to him for me?" the blonde asked, "You know, see if he's noticed me?"
At this point, he had to drop the envelope he was carrying to manufacture an excuse to keep from walking out of earshot.
Her friend snorted. "No offense, Meagan, but you're in AP classes. Danny likes them dumb. Besides, he's a pothead. I heard the coach is threatening to kick him off the soccer team, even though he's one of the best players, over his party hearty act and his crappy grades. You don't need that kind of trouble."
He couldn't believably delay in their vicinity any longer and, at this point, he didn't really want to hear any more anyway. He climbed the short flight of concrete steps and walked through a crowd of teens on their lunch break to enter the front doors. Immediately inside the door, he almost ran into a group of boys swaggering along the hallway, his son the clear leader.
"Hey, Dad, am I in trouble?" Danny asked his father, not sounding at all concerned.
Jack O'Neill grabbed his son's shoulder and steered him away from his friends. He handed the enveloped to him and said, "What do you think, Danny?"
"You want I should like read this?" Danny asked, playing dumb. He had learned this deliberately thick routine from his father and the student had far surpassed the master.
"Maybe you don't need to. You can probably guess why I'd be asked to come in and talk to the guidance counselor."
"Actually, Dad, there are so many possibilities that it would be a crapshoot trying to pick the right one," Danny said, defiance in his eyes. "Is Mom coming in too?"
"You'd know better than I would," Jack said bitterly. The only thing in worse shape than his kid was his marriage. Samantha Carter-O'Neill had moved out six months before and filed for a divorce that would be final in a matter of weeks. Practically the only communication he had with her was through her attorney or relayed through Danny.
They stared at each other for a moment. Usually when Jack looked at Danny, he didn't see the boy's biological father at all, even though the physical resemblance, if you corrected for the piercing and the sneer, was uncanny. But right now, under all the cockiness, he saw, just for a moment, the shadow of the man he had loved like a brother. The loss still had the power to feel a little like a mule kick. It took the fight out of him and he said, very flatly and unemotionally, "Just come straight home after practice and don't plan on leaving again until you go to school in the morning." He started to walk away but turned back toward Danny to make eye contact. He sounded like the general he had once been when he said, "Do I have your word on that?"
Danny couldn't help feeling a twinge of pain seeing his father pull into himself and thinking he was the cause. It showed fleetingly in his eyes and he said, the attitude temporarily gone, "Yes, sir."
Jack nodded and walked off. Danny stood looking after him until he rounded the corner and then smashed his fist into the locker bank next to him.
Jack was on his way back to the car, passing the spot where his son's admirers had been sitting, when his cell rang. "O'Neill," he answered economically.
"General O'Neill, it's General Talbot at Cheyenne Mountain."
Jack was frankly astonished. Against all odds the Stargate Program was still a secret from the general public. He and his wife were both retired from active duty and the Stargate just wasn't part of his life. When it intruded like this, it seemed vaguely unreal. "What can I do you for?" he asked.
"I understand that you and your wife adopted Dr. Daniel Jackson's son when he was a baby."
"Yes. Danny was just a few months old when Teal'c found him on P2H997." Jack wasn't getting good vibes. "General, what is this about?"
"I'll get right to the point then. Dr. Jackson came through the gate last week. We're sure it's him. We did a DNA test."
"Was there a question as to his identity?" Jack asked too stunned at this point to feel elated at the return of the prodigal. An immediate DNA test seemed extreme.
"Yes, actually there was. You see, General, Dr. Jackson hasn't aged. At all. Not only that, as far as his memories go, he thinks he's only been gone a week. It's as if he's been in suspended animation somewhere."
Jack said, "There's no explanation?"
General Talbot laughed ruefully. "We've done every test we can think of. Dr. Jackson has been cross-examined more than OJ Simpson. I've had a room full of my best and brightest brainstorming this for days. We are coming up empty. I'll be honest with you, General. I don't trust Dr. Jackson to really be what he seems to be. But I have no grounds for keeping him here. My thought is that if he really is who he appears to be, he has every right to see his son. If he isn't, you may be able to get enough information to figure out what's going on."
Jack interjected while Talbot was finishing his last sentence. "Wait. Wait just one minute. My kid is not going to be put at risk to support some government spook activity."
"General, you have no choice. Dr. Jackson is within his legal rights to want to see a son he never surrendered for adoption. One of my officers will be bringing him to your home this evening at 1900 hours."
When Danny came home, he found his father sitting in a chair in the living room. The TV wasn't on, he wasn't reading the paper, and he didn't even have a beer in his hand. He was just sitting. "Dad, the guidance counselor couldn't have said anything that bad," Danny said, feeling really uneasy. Had something happened to his Mom?
"Danny, sit down," Jack said coming to life, or a semblance of it. "Sit," he repeated more emphatically.
"I had a call from the Air Force today," Jack began.
Danny looked at his vigorous but undeniably elderly father. "They can't be recalling you to active duty," he said incredulously. "You're like WAY too old. WAY, WAY too old. I mean, that's crazy."
"Danny," Jack said, "Your father could really run on at the worst times. Daniel just didn't have the sense God gave a crawdad about when to shut up. As much as I miss him, he was actually a royal pain in the ass. I haven't seen that much of him in you up to now but maybe I wasn't looking hard enough. Now, please be quiet and listen to me."
Danny's mouth was hanging open. His parents never talked about his real father and he never asked, although they continued to use the last name of Jackson for him. As far as the name went, his mother said once that she felt like Daniel Jackson had a right to leave something behind. But the name was almost all he knew.
"Dad, what's going on?"
"We thought your real father was dead. But it turns out he was only missing. Danny, he's coming here in, oh," Jack looked at his watch, "an hour and a half."
Danny, for once, had nothing to say. He tried a couple of times but couldn't get a sentence out. Jack said, "I know. It's a lot to process. You've got to have questions though and I have more to tell you." Jack was being pushed way out of his comfort zone for the touchy feely but giving it an honest try. "Let's talk about it." Danny just shook his head and almost ran up the stairs to his room.
Jack heard the door slam and could bet that the boy had immediately picked up the phone to call almost anyone. It seemed that everyone in the world was easier to talk to these days than his father. And how much longer would he even be that?
He continued to sit in the chair. It made as much sense as anything else he could think of to do. Sometime later he heard the front door open. Surely Daniel would knock? That question was answered immediately when Sam came into the living room. She said fairly calmly, "Jack, Danny called me. He asked me to be here when Daniel came." But then she couldn't contain it any more. "Oh Jack, isn't it wonderful! After all this time, he's alive! I can't wait to see him. Can you?"
Jack looked at her with narrowed eyes and his mouth set in a hard line. "All of a sudden you're a regular Chatty Kathy. We have hardly talked since you loaded your wagons and headed out. And here you are, bubbling over like a cheerleader, because the man you DIDN'T marry is coming back."
Sam just looked at Jack, then sighed and went to the foot of the stairs. She didn't need to call Danny because he was already on his way down. She hugged him fiercely and then pulled him into the living room. "Danny, your dad and I have done you a real disservice by not telling you much about Daniel. It's complicated but we were wrong and we owe you an apology." She looked at Jack, sprawled in the armchair.
"Hey, there is no 'we' any more. You just keep going. I'll say my piece when you get done."
Sam bit her lip but went on. "Daniel Jackson was," she stopped and laughed happily, "IS the most brilliant man I've ever known. You do know he has two Ph.D.s and some miscellaneous Masters degrees but it isn't just academic brilliance. And that isn't what made us care so much about him anyway. He was, is, so compassionate and caring. It makes so much difference to him that people's rights and feelings be considered." Her voice was getting softer and she seemed to be talking as much to herself as to Danny. "He is, damn it, I don't know a better word, really sweet. Kind and gentle but at the same time, he learned to be a really fine soldier. This slightly geeky guy who got very buff and learned to kick ass with the best of them."
Danny was dumbfounded. The expression on his mother's face was almost dreamy. "My real dad was 'buff?' Mom, were you like, involved, with him before you married Dad?"
Jack sat up abruptly. "When I think about the crap you've given me for insensitivity and not being in touch with my feelings, Sam." He let a silence stretch out for a moment. "Let's hear the answer to the boy's question."
With exquisite timing, the doorbell rang. They all froze in place. Sam was the first to recover. She ran to the door and pulled it open. Daniel Jackson stood uncertainly on the threshold. He smiled tentatively when he saw Sam and she suddenly felt very unsure. Did he even recognize her? Her hair didn't have any grey in it and she had kept herself trim through diet and working out but she was still, undeniably, a fiftyish woman and when last he had seen her, she had been in her late thirties. She was struck by the fact that he didn't look a day older. They must have incredible gyms wherever he had been. "Oh, Danny," she said, on the edge of tears, "it's so good to see you."
A beautiful smile broke over his handsome face and they reached for each other for a hug at the same time. "It feels like I just saw you a couple of weeks ago but I know it isn't the same for you. They told me you and Jack were married. Wow. I was afraid you didn't really remember me any more," he said. He saw her uncomprehending expression. "They told you, right, that for me, that's all the time that has elapsed, a couple of weeks? The doctors say that physically I don't seem to have aged much either."
She looked towards the curb where an Air Force officer was leaning against a car. "They didn't tell me anything." She pulled him into the house. "First, there's someone you need to meet."
He resisted going any further than the hall. "My son, right? I couldn't believe it but they said after Teal'c found him when he was looking for me, they did DNA testing. Sam, what should I know? I mean, how…" he trailed off, at a loss.
Sam said, "Jack and I have raised him as our own. We love him with all our hearts. He's a great kid but he's going through a difficult phase right now. The divorce has been hard on him and he and Jack were having typical teenager father-son conflicts before that."
Daniel said, "The divorce?"
Sam brushed it aside, "Daniel, be patient with him. This has all just been dumped on him, on all of us. But we'll get through it. Come on." And she led the way into the living room.
Danny and Jack were standing facing the door. Danny made a sort of strangled sound when he saw the man with his mother. He had the heavier frame of a mature man, the hair was different, but it was a little like looking in a mirror. A huge smile broke over Jack's face. Regardless of the strains with Sam, this was Daniel after all. A man who had been a close friend, younger brother, almost a son and he was found. No matter what General Talbot thought, this was Daniel just as he had kept him in his heart. Jack came forward and said, "God Daniel, where have you been keeping yourself," grabbed his proffered hand, and pulled him into a brief hug. The three adults now turned toward Danny.
"Danny," Jack said, "this is your father, Dr. Daniel Jackson. Daniel, your son. We named him after you."