Younger than a Dinosaur
Chapter Fourteen: Learning To Fit In
by Leanne Scott
Summary: What does mini Jack do over summer vacation?
Disclaimer: I don't own him or the other Stargate characters, yada, yada. But all the rest of the characters were given to me by the writing muse fairy.
Sorry once again for the long delay between chapters. I really appreciate the encouragement to continue writing. Thank you to all of you who took the time to review and for putting me on your favorites…it's an honor. Finally, I know the body switch is confusing, but I have Jack and Jon identified as such when they are thinking, but the other characters in the story will address them as the opposite, ie what their body age makes them look like. And now back to our story…
Jack stared down at the phone in his hand stymied. He'd finally managed to borrow a cell phone from one of the boys he was sharing a room with, and had walked outside for some privacy. He had just spent the last half hour pacing around the parking lot in the warm afternoon sun trying to get a hold of someone who could help.
He tried General Hammond's home first. The message said he was out of town for a few days. He wanted to call George's cell phone but didn't remember the number. He had all kinds of numbers programmed into his own phone, but this was Robert's phone, not his. Racking his brain for phone numbers he actually knew, he realized he only knew those of his old team.
So he tried Daniel's number. The machine answered with an ancient message telling the caller that Daniel might be traveling for his research and not to be offended if he didn't return the call anytime soon. Jack shook his head ruefully. He'd actually been in the room when Daniel had recorded it years ago. Again he didn't know the archeologist's cell phone number. Daniel was renown for losing or breaking his phones and having to get new ones.
Next, he called Sam's home and her machine answered too. So far he hadn't left any messages. Some how he felt it would be more believable if delivered in person. Finally, he decided to dial the SGC directly and ask for her, sure that she was distracting herself with some gizmo or another.
"Good Evening. United States Air Force, Cheyenne Mountain. How may I direct your call?" the voice answered.
"Hi, Colonel Samantha Carter, please."
"I'm sorry, sir, she's not currently on base. I'll connect you to her voice mail." Clicks followed and he found himself in the automated voice mail system.
Running out of options, he decided to leave a message after all. "Sam, I need your help. I'm not myself. I'm mini-me. Well, that is, he's in my body and I'm in his. I know this sounds crazy, but I'm trapped on an archeology dig. Jeez, this isn't coming out right. I wish I knew where you were…wait, are you still in D.C.? Right! I'll just call…" and he flipped the phone closed as he finished the sentence, "myself."
Quickly, he dialed his own home number and waited impatiently as it rang. Why hadn't he thought of it earlier? They'd come to visit him, of course no one was home. When his phone machine picked up he called out, "Hey! Pick up the phone! Daniel? Sam? Teal'c?" but just the hiss of the open line came through the phone.
Starting to get mad now, he redialed the SGC. "Good Evening. United States Air Force, Cheyenne Mountain. How may I direct your call?" the voice answered.
"Dr. Daniel Jackson, please," Jack asked and listened as the phone rang over and over.
The operator's voice came back efficiently, "I'm sorry. He's away from his desk. I'll connect you to voicemail," two clicks followed, and he found himself in the automated system again.
"Jeez," Jack sighed as he snapped the phone shut in frustration, and stared down at the phone in his hand. It promptly chirped back at him as if indignant to be treated roughly. Opening the cover, he stared in horror at the icon on the top of the screen. Low Battery and a single bar blinked back.
Once again he dialed the SGC main number. "Good Evening. United…" Jack didn't let the man finish.
"Connect me with General Landry," he demanded in his best command voice.
"Who may I say is calling?"
"General Jack O'Neill," he literally growled.
"One moment, please," the voice put him on hold and classical music filled his ear.
"For crying out loud!" Jack exclaimed as the phone chirped its impending lack of energy once again.
"Landry," the current head of the SGC answered.
"Hank, thank god! Listen, I need your help," Jack began.
"Who is this?" Landry asked suspiciously.
"It's me, Jack," he replied and then an unfortunate thing happened. Just as he added, "Jack O'Neill," the youthful body he was trapped in betrayed him and his voice cracked.
"Ahh, Jonathan," Hank replied with an emphasis on his full first name. "I thought you might be calling. You've been experiencing connections to Jack and want them to stop."
"Yes, but it more complicated…" Jack tried to explain.
But Landry interrupted, "We know all about it and have brought the General," he emphasized the rank, "here and have the best minds working on it."
"I need to get there too. I'm stuck in some podunk town 60 miles west of Craig and need help getting back to Colorado Springs."
"That will raise too many questions. Look, you agreed to your semi-undercover status. Let us work the problem and just enjoy your life," Landry replied condescendingly. "If we need you, we will find you."
"Hank, will you just listen!" Jack exclaimed as the phone chirped once more in his ear. "Hank? Hank?" He lowered the phone from his ear and stared at the dark, powerless screen. "Oh crap."
"Hey, Jon, is everything okay?" a soft voice asked behind him. He whirled around to see Susan looking concerned. "Were you able to get a hold of your uncle?"
"Huh, Uncle?" he asked stupidly.
"Your uncle in the Air Force," she eyed him worriedly.
"Oh, me," said Jack as realization dawned, "I mean, oh HIM. Yeah, 'Uncle Sam' wants Me to stay put," he added bitterly.
"Good," she smiled and linked her arm with his pulling him around to the front of the building.
"Wait, where are we going?"
"It's over an hour back to camp and the Professor wants to leave now so we don't have to navigate that dirt road in the dark."
"But I thought…" he began to protest.
"There you are!" exclaimed Professor Moore as they rounded the corner.
"I've got your back pack, Jon," called Robert from the back of the suburban where he was arranging duffels and bags. "You got my phone?"
"Sure," Jack said as he handed the device over, "it just ran out of power."
"Oh well," shrugged Robert, "no service out there anyway."
"No service," echoed Jack. He turned to the Professor, "Dr. Moore, I really think I should stay here, maybe look into getting a bus ticket back to the Springs."
"But you just said your uncle said to stay here," piped in Susan at his side.
"Ahhhh!" he exclaimed shaking his pointer finger at her, an expression which had always worked on Carter in the past when she prattled too much science at him.
"Jon, Jon," placated Moore, "We've been through all of this already. It'll all work out. Trust me."
"But," Jack barely uttered the word.
"Get in the car!" Moore ordered him sternly.
And so Jack found himself crammed in the backseat with Susan and Robert, and trapped in a life that his other self had somehow resigned himself to. His ire at Jon was partially reduced as he realized just how frustrating it must have been the last few years for the cloned teen to cope while he had gone on nearly forgetting about Jon's existence altogether. Suddenly, the events of the day caught up to him and a wave of exhaustion, perhaps aided by the lingering effects of anesthetic, swept through his body. So Jack leaned his head on the window and fell asleep.
Jon scrolled the screen down to the bottom of the text and eagerly read the ending of the mission report. Daniel had always written the best narratives, if you ignored all the boring archeology parts that is. He had to admit his style had been overly simple bullet reporting, and Sam's had been too scientific half the time to follow, while Teal'c had not been required to write reports.
After checking out his old quarters and finding them otherwise unchanged except for a new sign that read 'VIP Quarters / General Jack O'Neill', he realized that hiding out in the boring room was the last thing he wanted to do. So he had wandered the halls of the SGC noting the few things that had changed, but mostly how much it was the same. Sam's lab was dark and quiet, but Daniel's office still had the lights on. So he found himself ensconced at Daniel's desk, slouched back in the chair with his feet up on the corner of the desk and a mouse in his hand as he nosed around through the files Daniel had saved on his desktop. Most of them were rather boring research files, but when he found the mission reports, he knew he'd hit pay dirt. At last, all the fun he'd missed out on.
A couple of hours later he was realizing how much Jack had missed out on too, although this Mitchell fellow sounded like a capable enough officer. Jon scrunched up his eyes a moment trying to dredge up a vague memory. There had been a Major Cameron Mitchell on the list of pilots for the first round of 302 training that he had okayed long ago. He wondered what had prompted Mitchell's promotion to Colonel and command of SG1, and that was his down fall. Without realizing what he was doing, he left the friendly and isolated desktop of Daniel's laptop, and began querying the base server and downloading service files which prompted the automatic alerts by the system. Daniel Jackson had been marked as logged out and away from the base.
Master Sergeant Walter Harriman was looking forward to a nice dinner off base. As soon as his shift ended at six o'clock, he planned to go to a nice little mom and pop diner that served food that always reminded him of his own mother's Sunday dinners. Unfortunately, as he did his close down routines in preparation of transferring controls to the next shift's gate technician, he noticed one of the automatic flag alerts blinking a warning. He was too experienced to over-react. After surviving various out-right base attacks, a computer alert was relatively insignificant. But he hadn't risen in rank by ignoring things, no matter how small, so he clicked on the icon and scanned the automatically generated report.
"Oh, Dr. Jackson left his computer on again," he muttered to himself, about to toggle off the alert. Then the report skipped to a screen showing current activity and he saw the list update with two more files being sent by the server. "Colonel Mitchell's service and medical records?" he wondered aloud. While he watched, it updated again with Vala Mal Doran's file. He snatched up the phone and dialed security, "Suspicious computer activity in Dr. Jackson's office," he reported, "Possible intruder; use stealth to approach so as not to alert them," he added, "General Landry and I will meet you there."
Quickly, he pushed away from his console and ran up the stairs to the General's office just above the control room. The door was ajar and he could hear the General on the phone, "If we need you, we will find you," Landry was saying.
Harriman pushed the door open all the way and could see the General looking down sourly at the phone, "Sir?" he asked.
"Punk hung up on me," complained Landry as he placed the receiver back on the cradle.
"I don't want to alarm you, but we might have a security breech," reported the Sergeant.
"Where?" demanded Landry moving to join him at the door.
Harriman led the way out into the hall, "Dr. Jackson's lab, sir. I thought at first it was another false alarm, but sensitive files are being downloaded from his computer."
"What types?" snapped Landry.
"Personnel files," Walter replied. The General glanced sideways at him. "SG-1"s" he added responding before the question was even asked.
"They cause trouble even when they're not here," Landry grumbled fondly.
"Yes, sir," replied the dutiful sergeant.
Jon heard the soft snick of the gun safety being moved and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. It had been a long time since he'd been in battle, if indeed you could say he'd ever been under fire, but there were certain sounds one just didn't forget. Faster than the two security guards could come through the door, Jon rolled out of the chair and under the desk and was prepared to tip it over if needed for a shield.
The guards filled the doorway, taking high and low stances with their arms locked out in front of them to steady their service revolvers. "Come out with your hands up," demanded one.
Holding his hands just barely over his head, Jon peeked over the edge of the desk, "Hi fellas, it's just little old me," he said casually.
The sound of running footsteps grew louder from the hallway and General Landry's voice commanded loudly, "Report."
The crouching security guard straightened and took a step back turning to answer the voice, "It's General O'Neill, sir."
Landry's face appeared in the door, "Jack?"
Jon slowly straightened from behind the desk giving a sheepish shrug, "Hi Hank."
"What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"Catching up on some reading," Jon answered lamely.
"Base and computer security orders are still from your recommendations. You should know better than to open files under someone else's password," Landry admonished him.
"Part of the amnesia?" Jon offered hopefully.
"Hmpmf!" Hank snorted. "Good work Andrews, Wilson," he nodded at the guards, "You're dismissed."
Landry walked fully into Daniel's office trailed by the owl-eyed Sergeant Harriman, "Sir? You used to make me come turn off Dr. Jackson's computer whenever he'd forget to before leaving on a mission."
"Just keeping you on your toes," Jon replied bouncing on his own feet with a big grin. "Wow, I didn't realize it was getting so late. Have you had dinner yet, Hank?" he asked trying to change the subject.
"Actually, no. Let's wander to the mess hall," Landry turned to Harriman, "Walter, would you shut everything down here before you go for the night?"
"No problem, Sir."
"Thanks, sergeant, good night," called Jon as he and Landry walked out into the hall.
Harriman bent over the desk, reaching for the mouse to shut down the computer when it hit him. Sergeant. All day long General O'Neill had called him Sergeant. Not once had he called him by his first name, Walter. He had served as the General's aide for almost two years. And Jack O'Neill had never been a patient man when it came to protocol. The General had called him Walter almost from the start. By the time O'Neill had been promoted to Washington, Walter had felt like he had become part of the man's inner team. Not like SG1, of course, but an important part of the new administration team. The man who had just left was acting like he hardly knew, let alone trusted him.
Walter frowned as he looked back out the door where they had just exited. Should he raise an alarm? What were his charges? That he hadn't been called by his first name? He resolved to find more evidence tomorrow. There was something definitely off about Jack O'Neill.
Jack had been awake for some time, but had played possum while the car bumped along the dirt road because he wanted to avoid conversation for as long as possible. He ran through his decisions and options, but kept coming up with the same answer. He was stuck as the teenaged Jon O'Neill. Claiming to be the adult General Jack O'Neill trapped in a clone's body would not only make him sound insane, but expose a national secret he had sworn not to reveal. He was well and rightly stuck, until Jon playing as the adult General, messed up. He was certain it would happen sooner or later, and when someone at the SGC caught on, well then, he'd be rescued. He knew it would happen because, well, to entertain any other thought was unthinkable.
An insistent patting on his arm forced him to open his eyes. Susan was leaning forward and studying him with a worried expression, "We're here," she announced unnecessarily.
Jack watched as the car turned off the dirt road and pulled up to the enclave of tents nestled up against the hillside. Everyone piled out of the car, gathering their things and suddenly all talking at once about what should be prepared for dinner and whose turn it was to cook. He followed slowly taking a long look around to get his bearings, suddenly wishing he'd paid attention to how they had gotten there. The random placement of the mismatched tents looked slovenly compared to the military precision he was used to for encampments. He turned slowly surveying the broad river and darkening sky. A pile of dark clouds filled the Western sky, blotting out what should have been a nice sunset, but instead produced a foreboding atmosphere. "Just great," he muttered gloomily to himself, "Rain."
Susan came out of her tent as he completed his turn, "No sleeping under the stars tonight, eh?" she asked rhetorically. He shrugged. "Let's ask the Professor if you can store your telescope in the car to protect it," she suggested.
"Telescope?" he echoed with raised eyebrows.
"Yah, come on, I'll help you," she said in a motherly voice and linked her arm around his elbow so she could pull him along into camp.
Everyone else was still in their tents putting away their packs and clean clothes from the trip to town. They stopped by a big tent next to the dining canopy and Susan pretend knocked at the flap, "Knock, knock," she called out flashing a grin at Jack.
Dr. Moore poked his head out, "Yes?"
"Can Jon put his telescope in the car to protect it from the rain?" Susan asked.
"Actually, Sir, I'd advise putting as much as you can in the cars," Jack added looking back at the gathering sky.
Moore stepped out of the tent completely and studied the Western sky as well, "Hmm, it does look like it will rain tonight."
"It has all the hallmarks of a significant weather system," observed Jack wisely, having been out in the field under such conditions before. "It's going to be a real frog choker!"
"Look who's talking," said a snide voice behind them.
Jack turned quickly and swept an angry look up and down the haughty figure of Neil the graduate student.
" 'Hallmarks of a significant weather system,'" repeated Neil. "What? You're a meteorology expert now too?"
Jack drew himself up to his full height and bored one of his best commanding general glares at the young man who dared to disrespect him so badly. "Who do you think you are?" he demanded.
"I'm the senior Graduate student, not the newbie High School student," replied Neil putting emphasis on their levels. "I've been participating on these digs for over seven years now and I know Dr. Moore and I have far more experience in these matters," Neil continued, giving a slight acknowledgement to the Professor standing right there.
"Seven years," snorted Jack, "and you're still a graduate student? You clearly aren't learning anything from your so called experience. My friend, Daniel, got two PhD's in less time than that."
"Ya? What in? Babysitting and diaper changing?"
Jack clenched his fists and glared.
"Gentlemen, gentlemen," placated Dr. Moore stepping between them, "fighting accomplishes nothing." He gestured at the gathering students coming out of their tents after hearing the loud voices. "We're a team here. We have a common goal."
"He started it," Jack complained.
"You're always giving 'suggestions'," Neal said the word giving air quotations with his fingers, "but expecting us to follow them like orders."
"Well, they're usually good ideas," retorted Susan defensively.
"Oh, you like how he barks commands at you when you to that silly taichi dance every morning?" Neal asked sarcastically.
The other students stepped closer. "He's teaching us," explained Mindy, "his comments are always about how to move correctly."
"Yah, and whenever he gives suggestions, he throws himself into making them work," Robert stepped up to Jack's side and patted him on the shoulder.
The two big, burly jocks moved behind Jack and Robert and added their glares. "And he doesn't try to take credit for other people's work," growled Derrick. Dwain nodded in agreement.
"He has a good sense of humor and doesn't take himself so seriously," added Stan.
"He's not a self-absorbed, selfish prig," Ashley chimed in shrilly.
Neal took a step back in surprise as the rest of the group rallied on Jack's side.
"Everyone stop this right now!" a firm voice ordered.
Jack found himself turning in unison with his newfound friends. A tall, thin Japanese woman was throwing back tent flaps and stepping out of a dome tent behind them. He had not seen her before and realized she must have been the driver of the other car. Although her features were plain, her regal posture and stern look commanded instant respect.
"Dr. Brown," Neal straightened and smiled smugly, "I know you will agree that…:
"Shut up, Neal," Keiko Brown snapped, "don't be so pompous." He visibly deflated. She gestured to the darkening sky and back to their little camp. "You all are wasting time. I believe Jon's original suggestion was a good one. The weather is going to be bad tonight and we need to secure the camp as well as possible before it gets too dark and rainy." Raising her eyebrows, she leaned her head towards Dr. Moore, "Gil?"
Moore shook his head slightly as he realized he had allowed this confrontation to go on a little too long. He cleared his throat. "Jon. Neal. You both have to admit you can be bossy and attention seeking. For the good of our group, you need to learn to work together. So I want you two to pack up the kitchen tent together."
Jack scanned the faces of his fellow students as he slowly turned back around. They all smiled and nodded encouragingly at him. He felt both a little jealous and proud of the loyalty his clone had generated among these people in a short period of time. He glanced at Neal, who was staring past him at Dr. Brown, still in shock at her reprimand. Then he looked over at Dr. Moore who was in turn looking expectantly at him. Realizing he was the random factor, that once again, it fell upon him to control the mood of a situation, he drew himself into attention and nodded at he professor, "Yes, Sir."
Stepping out towards Neal, he held out his right hand and flashed one of his rare full smiles, "I think we both can admit we're not perfect and can learn to act in a more adult manner. What do you say we start over?"
Neal shifted his attention and looked rather blankly at Jack.
"Nice to meet ya," Jack drawled, "My name's Ja—Jon O'Neill," he stuttered.
Neal swallowed and took a deep breath, then held out his own hand, "Neal.Holz."
"Excellent!" Brown pronounced loudly and clapped her hands twice, "Now let's all get to work."
One more chapter to come…thanks again for taking the time to review and encourage me to finish.