I'm a little bit late, but I thought I would post a chapter for my birthday (September 2) as a present for all my readers. Thanks for sticking with me on this long journey. I appreciate it more than you know!
As the time got close to five o'clock, Sam found herself getting nervous. She'd agreed with Sabrina that it might be time to expose Danny to some different social situations; a quick grocery run after work sounded like a good idea. Or did when Sam discussed it with the raven-haired psychologist that morning. With her teammates, Sabrina, Janet, and Cassie coming over for a late supper in a couple hours, she wasn't a hundred percent sure of that anymore.
Sighing, Sam gave up on her current project for the night. "Why don't you go ahead and shut everything down, Danny?" she told her ward. "We can head out a little early and pick up some things from the grocery store before getting ready for supper."
Danny turned his head to look at her, his eyes wide. "Grocery store?" he asked. Then his brows creased in confusion. "What's a grocery store?"
It was Sam's turn to stare at him with confusion. It suddenly occurred to her that this was a topic that had never come up before. In fact, she herself hadn't been grocery shopping since before Danny had come home with her. Janet, Jonas, and Teal'c had been kind enough to pick up things for her before coming over for visits. She'd even laughed to herself over the variety and amounts of food her two teammates in particular had provided. She supposed it was about time she got back to providing for her household herself.
"That's where we go to buy food," she answered after a moment. She smiled. "We shouldn't be too long."
"Oh," Danny said quietly, then returned his attention to his computer to shut it down.
"It'll be all right," Sam reassured the boy, noticing the sudden tenseness in his body. "You'll be with me the whole time. We'll keep it short, and then we'll go home and have dinner with our friends."
Danny finished what he was doing and closed the laptop, then turned to face Sam fully. "You'll be right there? All the time?" he asked anxiously.
Sam smiled. "All the time. We'll grab some food, I'll pay for it, and we'll go home. Simple as that."
The young boy took a deep breath and released it. "Okay."
"Oh, Danny," Sam said softly as she took him into a warm embrace. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you about this sooner. But this is an errand that's going to end up coming up pretty regularly, so we'll both have to get used to doing it." She pulled back slightly and gave him a little grin. "We have to get our food somehow, right?"
"Yeah," Danny whispered, returning the expression a bit shakily.
"So let's go. We have a dinner party to get ready for." Sam lifted him off his stool and set him down onto the floor. Once Danny nodded, the two of them were off.
Sam sighed as she looked at all the choices in front of her. Who would have imagined there were that many varieties of juice? A quick glance at Danny standing a few steps away from the end of her cart said she wouldn't be getting any help from that quarter, not that she ever expected any. He was still getting used to choosing an outfit from amongst five choices; this wall of juice-filled shelves would probably set his progress back weeks.
She sighed again. Okay, that was an exaggeration. But she was sure Sabrina would advise her against even asking him to help her narrow it down. Considering her head was spinning, she had to agree.
Danny really was making progress, though. Sam was pretty sure he was showing signs of having a favorite pair of tennis shoes, and there seemed to be a distinct preference for the color red. When they got to the store, it somehow didn't surprise her that he wanted to walk instead of sitting in the cart; a tiny seed of independence was apparently taking root, at least as far as being "coddled" - the description being taken from a harried mother responding to her young child's demand for a cart when she only needed to grab a few items as Sam and Danny walked in. Then again, considering the source of her ward's DNA, Sam was sure that seed would some day grow deep roots. Very deep.
The blonde physicist was pondering a grape/pomegranate/cranberry blend and asking herself when pomegranate had become so popular when a woman's shout caught her attention.
"Boys! Watch where you're going!"
The sound and sensation of another shopping cart hitting her own completed the distraction.
After a quick check on Danny, Sam turned her head to see a red-haired lady somewhat younger than herself hurry over and crouch down next to a pair of little boys around Danny's age who had apparently been pushing the cart. They seemed a little shaken up by the incident.
"Are you two all right?" the redhead asked as she gathered them into a gentle embrace.
"I think so, Mommy," one of the boys, a redhead with hair a couple of shades darker than his mother's, said, blinking. The other boy just nodded, his black hair flopping around a bit at the motion.
The woman looked up at Sam with a rueful smile. "I'm so sorry. I hope you weren't hurt. The boys are a little… enthusiastic."
Sam's lips had been twitching upward, and now she let the wide smile form. "Don't worry about it; accidents happen. We're both fine."
"Both?" The other woman looked in the direction Sam had gestured and saw a wide-eyed Danny staring at the spectacle from a few steps down the aisle. She stood up as she cringed. "Oh, I'm even more sorry. Boys, I think you owe this nice lady and her son an apology. You could have hurt them."
The little redhead turned his blue-eyed gaze up to Sam. "Sorry my brother and me crashed your cart, Ma'am," he said contritely.
"And we're happy you and your boy didn't get hurt," the other boy added softly. Sam blinked at his British accent; neither of the other two had one.
Then she put aside her curiosity and gave them an understanding smile. "You're forgiven, boys. No harm done. Just remember to watch where you're going next time." She gave them a wink and the red-haired boy giggled while his brother smiled.
"We'll say sorry to your boy now, too," the first boy declared. "What's his name?"
"Daniel," Sam replied, squashing her concern over her ward's potential reaction to two such lively children. That's what bringing him along to the grocery store had been all about, after all - introducing him to the real world.
"I'm Phineas," the redhead said. "This is my brother Ferb." The black-haired boy gave her a small wave.
Sam couldn't help but give a little laugh. "And I'm Sam. It's a pleasure to meet you."
Phineas grinned while Ferb considered her. Then the black-haired child gave a nod. "I like you," he declared, and was promptly dragged away by his brother.
Sam shook her head and gave the two boys' mother a smile. "You must have your hands full."
"You have no idea." The other woman offered her hand. "My name's Linda Flynn-Fletcher, by the way. I wouldn't want to be left out of the introductions."
"Sam Carter," Sam said as she shook the offered appendage. "It really is a pleasure to meet you."
"Same here." Linda looked over at Danny, smiling when she saw her sons trying to engage him in friendly conversation. Well, Phineas was at any rate. "Your son seems like the quiet type," she noted.
"Definitely," Sam agreed, also looking in her ward's direction. She fought back a start of surprise when she saw him shyly smiling at the stream of words spilling out of Phineas' mouth, not that she could make many of them out. Maybe this had been the right call after all. "And your boys seem to balance each other out."
Linda nodded. "That they do. My husband and I agreed soon after they met that they completed each other in a way we mere mortals just weren't meant to understand." She chuckled.
Sam blinked. "After they met? Aren't they fraternal twins?" The blonde called herself up short, mentally berating herself. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to pry…"
"It's no problem," Linda said with ease, obviously used to the question. "Phineas and my older daughter Candace - she decided to stay home today - were born during my first marriage. And Lawrence had Ferb with his first wife. But after the two of us got married we all just jelled into a family without even trying. It's like this is the way it's always been." Her smile grew soft. "That's how I know I'm exactly where I'm meant to be."
"That's great," Sam said. "But I'll admit I'm still getting used to being a parent. Danny's not actually my son. I took him in a couple of months ago after his father died." She didn't know why, but she felt the need to be honest with this woman she'd just met. Well, as honest as she could be.
"Oh, that's so sad," Linda said with true compassion. "But it's wonderful that you were so willing to take him into your home. What does your husband think of all this?"
Sam shook her head. "I'm not married. Actually, I'm a major in the Air Force. I work at Cheyenne Mountain. That's where I met Danny's father; we worked together there before his accident. Danny's mother died soon after he was born."
Linda's eyes widened in surprise. "You work at the mountain? I always wondered what went on there." She looked at Sam shrewdly. "But I have a feeling you can't tell me."
How in the world had she guessed that? "No, I'm afraid I can't. It's classified."
Linda nodded. "That's what I figured. The couple of other people I've run into that work up there avoided any questions about their jobs, so it wasn't a difficult conclusion to come to. But that's fine; those kinds of things are out there. Is Daniel handling daycare all right?"
"Um, he doesn't go to daycare yet," Sam answered a bit blankly, surprised at the easy acceptance and quick change of subject. "His psychologist doesn't recommend it until he's a little more over his grief."
"Perfectly understandable. Candace was a bit of a handful in that regard for a while after my first husband and I split up. Not exactly the same situation, I know…"
"I understand what you mean," Sam told her with a smile. She found herself really liking this upbeat, understanding woman.
They chit-chatted for a while longer until Sam remembered the frozen food in her cart. She had originally decided to grab some juice on the way to the check-outs. "I'm sorry," she said, the regret in her tone genuine. "I have to get going. Aside from my frozen dinners, I just remembered I have company coming over for supper and I have some things at home to get ready. But it really was a pleasure to meet you, Linda."
Linda smiled. "It was a pleasure for me, too, Sam. Maybe the next time we run into each other it won't be literally."
Sam laughed. "Hopefully." She turned to Danny. "Danny, sweetie, I'm afraid we have to get going. Say goodbye to your new friends."
Danny blinked at her in surprise then gave the other two boys another shy smile. "Goodbye, Phineas. Goodbye, Ferb."
"Bye, Daniel," Phineas said cheerfully. "Maybe next time we can find some fun things to do together." Ferb nodded his agreement with the idea.
"I… I think I'd like that," Danny murmured.
"It'll be lots of fun," Ferb said simply.
Phineas nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah, lots. And maybe you can meet our sister Candace."
Linda sighed. "Boys, you have to let Daniel go now. We still have to pick out cereal."
"Cereal! Great!" Phineas enthused. "Bye, Daniel!" He grabbed Ferb and dashed off, the other boy giving one last wave before disappearing from sight.
"I'd better hurry after them," Linda said, shaking her head. "Have fun at your dinner tonight." She turned her cart around and left the aisle. But just before Sam could start moving herself, the redhead stuck her head back around the corner. "Oh, and keep it simple. The blends only confuse the issue if he doesn't like it." And she was off again.
Sam chuckled to herself and shook her head. Linda Flynn-Fletcher and her boys were quite the characters, that was for sure. The blonde grabbed a bottle of grape juice and another of apple juice and moved out.
"So, did you like Phineas and Ferb?" Sam asked once the two of them were on the road back home, their check-out thankfully not taking long.
"They're not like the people at the mountain," Danny said.
"No, they're not," Sam agreed, fighting back the urge to laugh. "Then again, not many people are."
Danny nodded thoughtfully. "They're not like the other kids at the first place I lived."
Sam paused at that observation, not sure how to respond. "I guess they wouldn't be," she said finally, figuring she should say something.
There was another long pause before Danny spoke again. "I like them," he declared quietly. "They were nice."
"I'm glad," Sam said, meaning it with all her heart. It would be wonderful if he could make some friends his own age. Then she sighed to herself. She hadn't exchanged any information with Linda, so she didn't know when Danny would get to see the boys again.
"I like you more, though," Danny quickly reassured her as they pulled into their driveway. "I like you best."
The smile the boy's comment inspired was one that couldn't be suppressed. "Thank you, Danny," Sam said gently, turning around to face him once she stopped the car and turned it off. "I like you best, too. I love you. But it's okay if you like other people. It's good to have friends, to have lots of people to care about and who care about you right back."
Danny frowned in consideration. "Like SG-1?" he asked.
Sam nodded. "Definitely like SG-1. And Janet, Cassie, and Sabrina… even the general and a whole bunch of others at the SGC."
"Doctor MacDonald told me to only trust SG-1," Danny said doubtfully.
"I know he did." Sam took a deep breath to try to give herself time to come up with an appropriate response. Nothing was coming, at least nothing she thought was good enough. "You don't have to trust everyone, especially not right away," she began finally, deciding to wing it. "But you should try to keep an open mind, let people earn your trust."
"What's an open mind?"
"Um, well…" Sam bit her lower lip as she tried to figure out a way to explain. She couldn't help but wish Daniel was there for this one. Words were his specialty. "Keeping an open mind means you don't just think one thought and stick with it. It means you can change what you think."
The look on Danny's face said he wasn't completely sure he understood although he was trying. "Change what you think?" he asked. "Like what?"
Sam's eyes dropped for a moment, still trying to come up with an understandable explanation. "Well, it's like food… I guess. Like raspberries."
Now she'd lost him. Danny's expression became completely bewildered. "Raspberries?"
"When you had raspberries for the first time, you didn't know if you'd like how they taste. You might have really not liked them. But you tried them anyway. That was having an open mind about raspberries." Sam mentally crossed her fingers and hoped this would be good enough. She didn't think she could come up with another one.
"So an open mind is trying something when you don't know if it'll be good?" Danny asked after a long moment of thought.
"Yes!" Sam said with a smile. It was good enough. Danny didn't need the definition to be any more complicated than that, not now. It could wait until he was older… or had a chance to talk with his older counterpart.
Danny returned the smile. "So I should see if I can trust people, not just not trust them."
Sam froze in surprise at the incredible added insight for a moment, then let her smile widen with enormous pride. "That's it exactly, Danny," she said gently, the pride from her expression infusing her tone. "That's it exactly." She gave a soft laugh. "Now we better get this food inside and get supper started."
Danny giggled and nodded. "Okay, Sam."
The two of them got out of the car and did just that.
The dinner went well enough, even with Jack and Janet avoiding each other for the most part. Only Sabrina knew why they were acting that way aside from the two of them, and since she thought she saw flashes of remorse from the Air Force colonel she decided not to interfere. Instead she offered to help Sam clean up after the meal, inspiring Cassie to take Danny outside to the back deck while the other adults rearranged the living room for some post-supper conversation.
The two kids sat on the top step of the small deck, a light, cool breeze making their hair flutter. After a few moments, Cassie noticed that Danny wasn't very relaxed, his posture stiff as he stared out into the yard. She bit her lower lip.
"Um, I'm sorry if I was a bit pushy in bringing you out here," the teenager said contritely, turning her head slightly to look a little more directly at her companion. "I thought it might be easier for everybody if we were out of the way, and I really liked the idea of spending some time with you. We, uh, we can go back inside if you'd rather."
Danny looked at her wide-eyed, surprised by the concern. He swallowed nervously and chewed at the inside of his cheek for a moment, then gathered his courage to speak. "We can stay here," he said softly.
Cassie smiled at him gratefully. "Good. Thanks." She turned her gaze back up to the sky and simply let her thoughts drift in the more companionable silence. A couple of minutes later, those thoughts grew sad, and the young woman was forced to blink away tears as she swallowed a hard lump in her throat.
Danny heard the sound and twisted his head to look at her once again. He frowned when he saw the gloomy expression she wore and realized she was struggling not to cry. "What… what's wrong?" he asked after a long moment of hesitation.
"Oh!" Cassie exclaimed in surprise, immediately wiping away the welling tears that had yet to fall. "I'm sorry. I was just… I didn't mean… I'll be fine in just a minute."
"But why are you crying?" Danny asked, suddenly concerned for this eager young lady who had accepted him from the first time they met and been nothing but kind. Maybe it was time to try out the advice Sam had given him just a couple hours before. "I don't want you to be sad."
"That's so sweet," Cassie murmured. She sighed. "It's just that, sometimes when things get quiet, I… well… I can't help but wish that my mom and dad could have been here to see all this, to know how good I'm doing. I'm pretty sure they would have been proud." She gave Danny a shaky smile.
"Doctor Fraiser is proud of you," the blond boy said.
Cassie nodded. "I know, and that means more than you can know. But I wish my birth mom and dad could be here, too. Or at least let me know they could see me from wherever they are." She shook her head. "Childish thought, I suppose, but I think it's pretty natural to want your parents near you."
Danny paused and frowned. "What's a parent?" he asked after a long moment, a bit scared the question would make the girl even more sad.
Cassie gazed at him, her eyes widening. "You don't know what a parent is?"
"No." Danny bit his lower lip nervously. "Am I supposed to know?"
"Well, I…" Cassie let her sentence trail off as she thought about the situation. Considering where he came from and how he was raised, maybe it wasn't such a shock that the boy didn't understand the concept of parents. But he seemed to know about a mom and a dad… "Um, do you know what a mom and a dad are?" she asked hesitantly, unsure if she should really take on this conversation, but equally unsure of how she would get herself out of it otherwise.
"It's a special title for people who are in charge of other people who are younger." The statement was just as much a question as it was an answer.
Cassie blew out a small breath to cover her mental scramble to come up with a good response. "In a way… I guess…" The young lady sighed and started over. "Mom and dad are another way of saying mother and father, the words we use in English for parents." She waited for Danny's slow nod of understanding before continuing. "Parents are two people, usually a man and a woman, who come together and create a child, the woman giving birth to a baby. If they're good parents, they raise the child, teach him or her the things he or she needs to know, and love him or her."
Danny considered the new information. "So parents create babies?" he asked.
"Yeah," Cassie said.
"You had parents on Hanka, but you call Doctor Fraiser 'mom'," Danny pointed out, a look of confusion beginning to form on his face.
Cassie paused, surprised at how quickly the boy had connected those dots. "Well, yeah, that's true," she answered finally. "But sometimes, if the parents who created you can't or won't take care of you, another person steps in and does it. So, when my parents died, Janet took me in and adopted me. She became my new mother."
Danny's frown grew a little deeper. "So you can be a parent even if you don't create a baby?"
Cassie swallowed nervously. How did she get involved in this conversation again? "That's right. And I got lucky that Janet was willing to do it. She's loved me like she did… create me, and raised me just as well as my original parents."
"Do you love Doctor Fraiser like a mom?"
"Yes," Cassie replied immediately, smiling fondly. "It wasn't right away or anything, but I grew to love her. And when I realized that, I called her mom for the first time."
"You didn't call her mom right away?" Danny asked, shocked.
Cassie nodded. "That's right. I was grateful she took me in, of course, but I needed to get to know her and get used to the situation. On top of that I was disappointed that Sam couldn't adopt me. Janet told me from the beginning that I didn't have to call her mom until I was ready, if I ever was. It was one of the things that convinced me that she wasn't trying to replace my original mom, and let me start to love her on my own."
Danny's gaze dropped, the child trying to work everything out. "So you called Doctor Fraiser mom when you figured out you loved her," he said eventually.
"That's right," Cassie agreed softly.
"And that's when you knew you wanted her to be your mom," Danny guessed.
"Well… yeah, I guess," Cassie said, thinking about it for the first time. The kid was good.
Danny chewed on the inside of his cheek for a long moment. "But how did you know you loved her?" he finally asked quietly, still not raising his eyes from his feet.
Cassie watched the young boy for a moment, a suspicion growing that she wasn't ready to verbalize quite yet. "Love feels different for everyone," she began. "But I think you just know when you love someone. I know the idea of love is one you're not used to, but you'll get the hang of it. You already know Sam loves you, and I can tell you the rest of us do, too. You're part of this big, weird family. You'll figure out how you feel about us sooner or later."
Danny finally looked up and earnestly met the young lady's gaze. "I hope so," he whispered.
"Hey, you two," Sam said as she stuck her head out the back door. "We've got everything cleaned up and organized, so you can come back in if you want. It's kind of chilly out here." She smiled.
"That sounds good," Cassie said, sharing one last warm look with Danny. She helped him to his feet once she pushed herself to her own, then went inside, Danny right behind her.
The next day about mid-morning Sam was once again immersed in the project she had shut down early, and Danny was working on his Greek language program on her laptop, when Jack came sauntering into her lab, a stack of papers tucked under his arm. "Hey, Carter," he greeted her as he came to a stop beside her work table. "You too, kiddo," he added when Danny looked up from his monitor.
"Hello, sir," Sam replied with a small smile, then saved the calculations she was in the middle of. "Thanks again for coming over last night," she said once she was finished. "It was a good time."
"It was," Jack agreed, covering up an uncomfortable flinch. "I'll have to put together a barbecue at my place one of these days, get the grill fired up."
"Sounds like fun, sir. I'm sure Danny and I would both enjoy it."
Jack nodded his agreement and took a deep breath. "Well, it won't be for a while. I talked with Hammond earlier, and we both decided SG-1 should get back out into the field. We're scheduled to go to P3C-716 on Thursday." He handed his 2IC a folder. "Here's the preliminary information we got from the MALP."
Sam blinked as she took the folder and did a cursory exam of the contents. "Two days?" she asked.
"Yep. That won't be a problem, will it?" Jack asked, glancing over at the little boy sitting across the table. Danny was listening intently, his language lesson ignored.
"It shouldn't be," Sam replied, also glancing at her ward. She relaxed a bit when she saw that he didn't seem distressed by the news. "I'll talk with Janet about arrangements. When is the initial briefing scheduled?"
"Tomorrow morning, 0900. That should give you, Daniel, and Jonas time to put together any summary reports."
Sam nodded. "That should be more than enough time. I'll get right on it, sir."
Jack grinned. "I knew you'd say that. Now I suppose I should get the rest of these folders to the others. Meet you two in the commissary around noon for lunch?"
Sam returned the smile. "Sounds good, sir. We'll be there." She looked at Danny, who nodded with a shy smile of his own.
"Then I'm off. Later, Carter. Later, Squirt." Jack sauntered out as loosely as he'd entered.
"I guess it's time I got back to work," Sam said to Danny once her team leader was gone.
"I guess so," Danny agreed, his smile not fading.
Sam considered the child. "Are you going to be okay with that? Staying with Janet while I go off-world?"
Danny nodded. "I'll be okay. SG-1 still has to find a way to stop Anubis, right?"
"Yeah," Sam said with a sigh, doing her best to keep her expression bright. They hadn't heard a lot about the half-ascended goa'uld lately, but everyone was sure he was still plotting and scheming - and would make his next appearance in a surprising and horrifying way. The blonde astrophysicist wasn't looking forward to it. "Well, I'm going to go through this folder, then. Are you finished with your language lesson?"
"No," Danny admitted, immediately flinching and looking incredibly guilty.
"I guess I can't blame you," Sam said with a laugh in an attempt to assuage some of the boy's guilt. "Colonel O'Neill always distracts me when he comes in here unannounced. Just go ahead and finish your lesson, and then we can set you up with your art supplies."
Danny relaxed somewhat, realizing he wasn't in trouble for neglecting his lessons. "Okay, Sam." He returned his attention to the laptop.
The rest of the morning went smoothly, as did lunch with the rest of SG-1. Soon after, Sam put Danny down for his nap then headed to Janet's office to iron out the details of watching the little boy while SG-1 was on their mission at the end of the week. She really hoped this wouldn't inconvenience her friend too much.
After pausing for a brief conversation with Sergeant Siler who had once again been injured in the line of base maintenance, Sam knocked on Janet's office door, going in when she was bid entrance. "Hey, Janet," she greeted the physician with a smile.
"Oh, hi, Sam," Janet replied, returning the expression. "What can I do for you?"
"I don't know if you've talked with Colonel O'Neill," Sam missed a beat when she saw a shadow of anger flicker across the other woman's face for a moment, "um, but it looks like SG-1 has been scheduled for a mission this Thursday and Friday. Would you be able to watch Danny for me?"
"A new mission, huh?" a new voice from the still-open doorway said curiously.
The two women shifted their attention to the newcomer and saw Jon O'Neill standing there with a half-smile and a handful of papers. "I take it you finished filling out everything I gave you yesterday," Janet commented, her eyebrows rising.
Jon nodded. "Wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be, actually. I just got back from going over everything with the general, and he's agreed to set everything up for us. Apparently the Air Force was planning on giving me a stipend to use for living expenses, so I'll be able to pay you rent and help out with groceries and other bills."
Janet smiled. "That's fine, Jon. I can recruit Cassie and use tonight and tomorrow night to clear out the spare room for you. Then you can make the move anytime you'd like."
"Wait a minute," Sam interrupted, looking back and forth between the doctor and teenager. "Jack is…"
"Jon," the teenager immediately corrected her. "I've decided to keep the name Jonathan O'Neill and go by Jon. And yes, I'm moving in with the doc here. Apparently relatively quickly." He smiled to take the sting out the ironic tone he'd used.
Janet gave a short laugh. "Well, the sooner we get this done, the sooner you can start school." She looked at Sam. "And I asked him yesterday when I gave him the information Cassie's principal emailed me. I didn't think he should have to live alone."
Sam blinked for a moment then slowly nodded. "Okay, that makes sense." She smiled at Jon. "I'm glad you won't have to go this alone, Jon."
Jon looked a little surprised. "You're okay with this?"
"Of course. Besides, it's not my choice. This is between you and Janet."
Sam's smile grew impish. "Don't you think you should call me Sam? You're not my superior officer anymore."
The teenager let out a short bark of laughter. "Sure, throw that in my face." He chuckled and shook his head. "I'll do my best, Sam, but I don't guarantee I'll always get it right."
"So what's this about a mission, Sam?" Janet asked as Jon walked further into the room and leaned up against the side of her desk. "On Thursday and Friday you said?"
"Yeah, to P3C-716," Sam confirmed. "I've been looking over the preliminary information this morning and it looks like a relatively easy run. Uninhabited, a few ruins, and a few possible signs of technology. I'm guessing the colonel picked this one to ease Daniel back into the field and to get us all used to working as a five-man team."
Jon nodded. "That's definitely it," he said confidently. "Not to mention getting back his own equilibrium after our last little adventure."
The two women stared at him. "I suppose you would know, wouldn't you?" Sam murmured.
The young man's eyebrows rose. "Don't expect me to talk every time, but you'd already guessed. It's not like I was giving anything away."
"Wouldn't dream of it," Janet said softly. Her eyes dropped down to the top of her desk momentarily, and so she missed the others sharing a glance as they noticed the note of disappointment in her tone. "Anyway," she continued as she brought her head back up, "I'll have to have him stay here in my office, but I'd be happy to watch Danny. He can warm up the spare room bed for Jon."
"Uh, wait a minute," Jon said, raising his right hand with his index finger extended. "Why should you trap the kid in your office when I'm still staying here on base? I'll watch Danny, and we'll stay out of your way in case an emergency comes up. Even if he's in your office, I bet that kind of chaos would kind of freak him out." He dropped his arm back to his side and blinked. "I know it would freak the hell out of me."
Janet and Sam shared a stunned look, neither one of them having considered that possibility. "Actually, that would be perfect," Janet said. "He's right; this place is completely chaotic when emergencies come up, and I'd hate for Danny to be in the middle of it. On top of that, I wouldn't be able to give him much attention while he'd be trapped in here to keep him from accidentally ending up underfoot."
Sam sighed. "We really didn't think this out when we arranged for you to watch him in the first place, did we?" she asked dejectedly.
"That doesn't matter anymore," Jon said dismissively, rolling his eyes. "I'm here now. I have absolutely no problem watching over Danny any time you need it, Sam. Even in the future. I have no problem skipping school."
"That won't go over well," Janet said.
"Not to mention it might not be necessary," Sam added. "The idea is that we get Danny ready to start going to daycare when I come to work. Then Janet can just pick him up after her shifts when I'm off-world."
Jon waved all that off. "Yeah, but you don't know when the squirt's going to be ready for that. I don't think Sabrina even has a timeline for that. In the meantime, I'm available. Danny shouldn't be trapped under the mountain all the time anyway. Once I'm set up at Janet's, he can stay with me there."
Sam looked at the teenager carefully. She could hear how sincere he was about the offer. In fact, it seemed pretty important to him that she agree to the arrangement. Apparently a connection had formed between the two clones as strong as the one between the originals, at least on Jon's side. The astrophysicist finally smiled and nodded. "All right, Jon," she said. "We'll do it your way. For now. But I have a feeling you're going to be stuck in the mountain Thursday and Friday."
"The spare room won't be ready until Thursday night at the earliest," Janet agreed. "You can both come home with me then. And maybe we'll leave a little early. I think you're going to need some clothes."
"Oh, man, not shopping!" Jon moaned, letting his head flop backward. He brought it back to its original position almost immediately. "At least tell me Cassie won't be coming along," he pleaded.
Janet and Sam laughed at the horrified expression the young man wore. "It would probably be best if she just stayed home with Danny," Sam told him. "He wouldn't be comfortable spending that much time in a public place, especially without me. He had a hard enough time in the grocery store yesterday."
Jon and Janet instantly became more serious. "Did he do okay?" Jon asked, concerned.
"He seemed all right at dinner," Janet added, equally troubled.
"He's fine," Sam reassured them. "In fact, he did better than I thought he would." She told them about their run-in with Linda and her two boys. "Danny told me on the way home that he liked them," she concluded. "I really think he's going to be okay with some more time. I really do."
"Sounds like it," Janet said, smiling softly.
Jon nodded. "He's a strong kid, we have to remember that. Look at the source material."
Sam grinned. "I thought the same thing last night."
"Well, looks like everything's settled then," Jon said in a tone of satisfaction. He pushed himself up to his full height. "The doc can talk to Hammond and turn in my school paperwork, I can do a little online home-schooling to start getting ready for the big high school plunge, and Carter here can get herself prepped for the next big mission. I'd say things are going quite well, wouldn't you?" He gazed expectantly at the other two.
"Yes, Jon," Sam replied, also rising to her feet. "Things are definitely going well. But let's not push our luck too much by going on about it."
"You should know better than that," Janet added, smirking.
Jon blinked. "You're right, I should." He pointed at the exit. "I think I'll just go before I jinx things." He turned and did just that.
Sam and Janet shared a look and a laugh as the teenager disappeared from sight. "Are you really okay with him watching Danny?" Janet asked with a twinkle in her eyes. "Think of the influence…"
"Oh, Danny will be fine. It's his influence on Jon that should be interesting to see." Sam let her smile turn wicked for a moment, then laughed again. "I'm going to get a little more research done before Danny's nap is over. I'll talk to you later." She gave Janet a friendly nod then left. Janet just watched her go with a wide smile and returned to her paperwork.