"Okay, obviously you're not getting this." Daniel sighed. "I'm only going to show you this once. Are you even paying attention?"
Daniel's new canine companion titled his head and stared at him some what vacantly.
"I can't believe I'm doing this." Daniel grumbled.
Using the trick Alaria had taught him he switched places with the wayward mutt. Jackson always seemed thrilled to be human. He looked around and smiled brightly. Daniel growled at him menacingly and he instantly put a more serious expression on his borrowed face.
Once Daniel was sure that Jackson was at least looking at him he turned and faced the obstacles before him. With a grace that people didn't usually associate with him Daniel took off running. The first thing in his way was a horizontal bar about five feet off the ground. He launched himself over it and turned sharply when he hit the ground.
The A-framed ladder was more of a challenge, but he easily scaled it and ran down the other side. After weaving through the line of white poles set in the ground he picked up speed and leapt through the tire that was suspended in the air by two heavy chains.
Daniel raced back around the perimeter of the obstacle course and came to a skidding stop in front of Jackson. Daniel quickly switched places once more and looked down at the mutt. Jackson looked over at the course and just wagged.
"That was incredible, Dr. Jackson!"
Daniel jolted at the unexpected voice. He had thought that he had the course to himself. Turning around he discovered, to his horror, that it was the Lead Trainer for the USAF's Service Dog program. Major Simmons did not know about Jackson's true nature.
"Oh...um...it was nothing really." Daniel said uncomfortably.
"Doc, I have seen hundreds of dogs go through this program and I have never once witnessed one do the entire course flawlessly without instruction. You know when I first met you two I was worried that you weren't going to make it through the program."
"Yeah, I kind of get that feeling myself."
"Well, from what I just saw you two are going to end up star pupils. I don't think I could have run that course better myself."
"You don't say." Daniel muttered.
"I swear if I didn't know any better I'd say you had a telepathic link with Jackson here."
Major Simmons knelt down and rubbed between Jackson's ears affectionately. Always pleased to get attention Jackson wagged his tail. Unable to control himself Jackson licked the Major's face.
"Although you really need to work on the licking." Simmons grumbled as he wiped off his face. "He too well trained for such things, it's embarrassing."
"Tell me about it." Daniel sighed.
"I know this is a little short notice, but I was wondering if I could beg a favour of you two?"
"A favour?" Daniel asked nervously.
"Tomorrow the Air Force is having a Demo day for the public. I was going to run my own dog, but she's in heat. I would be thrilled if you and Jackson would do the Agility Demo for us at the AF fair."
"Oh...I...uh...don't know. I'm not..."
"I know, you're not actually in the Air Force. But officially Jackson is, and the crowd won't know the difference."
"Perfect, thanks! We'll see you two tomorrow bright eyed and bushy tailed."
The Major didn't give Daniel enough time to argue further. He gave Jackson one last affectionate pet and left. Looking down at Jackson Daniel dragged his hands through his hair.
"What are the chances that you can learn to do this course before tomorrow?" Daniel asked.
Jackson stood up and trotted over to the first obstacle which was the high jump. For a brief moment Daniel actually thought that he might run the course. However he closed his eyes in frustration as Jackson lifted his leg to pee on the post of the jump.
"This is a nightmare." Daniel sighed. "How am I supposed to trust you off world when you can't even jump over a simple bar?"
The next day Daniel found himself at the Air Force Demo in sunny California, which also happened to be where he and Jackson were going through the three month training program. There was always a large crowd at the Demo and today was no exception. As much as Daniel hated doing it he was not about to let Jackson embarrass both himself and the Air Force. He was going to have to run the course himself.
Daniel sat in the grass with Jackson watching the aerial acrobatics of the Air Force's Thunderbirds. Much like the Navy's Blue Angles the Thunderbirds tore through the sky with amazing precision. Flying mere inches from one another they rolled and dove to the crowd's delight.
As the show ended Daniel's stomach started to knot up, the Agility run was next. Gritting his teeth he got up and wandered over to the obstacle course that had been set up for the event. There were other things going on now that the Thunderbirds had strut their stuff, however there was still a large crowd of people interested in seeing what the Air Force was doing with canines.
"You two ready?" Major Simmons asked cheerfully.
"As we'll ever be." Daniel replied morosely.
"Don't worry if he isn't flawless, we're going to explain to the crowd that he's still in training and that this is his first big show."
"And mine." Daniel sighed to himself.
"Don't worry about that, Dr. Jackson. No one ever really pays attention to us humans during these shows. Their eyes are always fixed on the dog. And Jackson here is such a handsome creature that they'd probably enjoy it even if he just pranced about."
"Come on, Dr. Jackson, it'll be fun...for both of you."
Daniel walked out onto the Agility course with Jackson following loyally at his side. The crowd did seemed impressed by Jackson's very presence. Finding himself the center of attention the wolf mutt held his head up higher and took on an air of dignity that Daniel hadn't seen from him before.
Daniel gave the crowd a hesitant wave. While Major Simmons gave his little speech Daniel knelt down in front of Jackson. Wagging his tail Jackson gave Daniel his full attention.
"You stay right here." Daniel ordered sternly. "Do you understand me? Stay."
Jackson gave no hint as to whether or not he understood the simple command. Daniel stood back up and took a deep breath. Switching places with Jackson he bolted into a run. This course was a bit more complicated than the one that Daniel had run earlier, but it wasn't anything that he couldn't handle.
Daniel made it through the course in what was probably record time. His heart was racing when he was done, but he was glad to have it over with. Jackson had followed the order and was still standing in the middle of the course. Daniel sat next to him in a 'finish' position.
He quickly switched places and gave the excited crowed another half hearted wave. Daniel started to purposefully walk off the course but came to a dead stop suddenly. His heart dropped into his stomach causing it to knot once more.
Although Jackson stayed at Daniel's side he wagged his tail violently at the appearance of Jack, Sam, and Teal'c. They were waiting on the sidelines with uncontainable grins. Daniel sighed heavily and walked up to them.
"That was spectacular." Jack chuckled.
"What are you guys doing here?" Daniel asked annoyed.
Major Simmons came up after a quick salute he grasped Jack's hand in a vigorous handshake.
"General O'Neill!" The Major exclaimed. "I'm so glad you could make it."
"Wouldn't have missed it for the world, Major. Thanks for the call."
"Well I just wanted you to see what your boys here were capable of."
"Jackson did a fantastic job." Sam beamed with a giggle.
"Yes, a world class performance." Jack agreed. "Although, Daniel, you need to work on your showman ship. Jackson seemed to be doing all the work, while you kind of just stood there."
"Jack," Daniel growled "can we talk somewhere else...now."
Jack threw his arm over Daniel's shoulder and started to lead him off to a less crowed area. He simply couldn't keep the smile off his face despite the annoyed worried look on Daniel's face.
"Jack this isn't working."
"I thought you did a fine job running the course."
"Jack, I'm serious. Jackson isn't going to make it through this program. He can't be trusted off world."
"Are you trying to tell me that a dog that can switch into human form and learn how to use a door all by himself isn't smart enough to learn to guard the team?"
"It's not a question of how smart he is. He has moments of brilliance, but he has absolutely no interest in following orders."
"Gee...who do I know like that?" Jack mocked.
Daniel made a noise of frustration.
"Maybe Jackson doesn't see the point of jumping over things for the amusement of others." Jack suggested.
"Daniel, you have always refused to follow the countless rules and regulations of the Air Force because you see no point in them. I can't tell you how many times I came close to shooting you out of frustration."
"Jack, I'm not going to take this dog off world if he's going to endanger the team. If I can't trust him to do this, how can I trust him with our lives?"
"Have you tried explaining to him why this is important?"
"Of course not."
Daniel glared at Jack for a moment, but realized that this was a battle that he wasn't going to win. Sighing heavily Daniel knelt down in front of his Partner. Jackson gave Daniel his full and undivided attention, as he always did.
"Jackson..." Daniel stopped, feeling silly. "Jackson, if I am ever going to trust you...I have to know that you're listening to me, and that you'll follow my orders when I need you to. Do you understand?"
Jackson tilted his head to the side and stared at Daniel for a moment. He looked over at the obstacle course and without warning he took off after it like a shot. He not only completed every obstacle of the course, but he managed it with far more grace and precision than Daniel had.
"See?" Jack chuckled. "You two are going to pass with flying colours."
"I hate it when you're right." Daniel smiled.
"That was a nice little speech."
"You wrote it." Daniel admited.
"Jack, don't you remember? You said those exact words to me...seven years ago."
NOTE from Phoenix: Eventually there will be another story staring 'Jackson' on the team.