"There you go, just like that," Sam said as Einarr carefully stacked the items in front of him. "Now you have one of the favorite dishes where I come from—the sandwich!" Sam thanked all of their lucky stars that the Asgard had taken the hint and had made food that was not only edible, but tasty. She couldn't tell the difference between Asgard food and real Earth food now, and that was all to the good.
Einarr smiled and looked at his creation. "You eat this? How?"
"You pick it up and take a bite," Sam explained, demonstrating. "Mmm."
Einarr copied her and he smiled. "Mmm."
Jack, watching outside Einarr's room, grinned. Carter was such a natural with situations like these. Kids just loved her, and Einarr was a lot like a kid. For the past three days Carter had been working with him, and each time Sam appeared he'd smile and run up to her and start chattering away. Sometimes it was hard for anyone listening to understand him, but his enthusiasm was understandable. Now that he had the word for "lonely" and the understanding that company made that feeling go away, he was always happy to see his friend Sam and have her company for a while.
They'd worked on Einarr's "bored" problem, too. Sam had asked their Asgard hosts for several things and explained why she wanted them, and now, instead of several small breakable items that were intended to decorate a room, Einarr had toys and the materials he could use to make his own decorations. From somewhere in her mind Sam dredged up countless little art projects that Einarr found fascinating. That morning he and Sam had made pinch pots that they'd painted in bright colors and now they had pride of place next to Einarr's bed. A tub of modeling compound always made kids happy, and paint was even better. Once the pots had been finished, Sam suggested something that Einarr immediately loved—making his own lunch. Within minutes of getting the things they'd needed, Sam began to instruct him on the time-honored tradition of sandwich making and Jack could tell that it was a hit.
They'd learned why the Asgard had programmed their Progeny to need to eat and sleep. They'd hoped to use food as a way to bond with their "children" and to keep them under control. If they didn't eat, they lost strength, and only having the food that their caretakers provided would resolve the problem. Even if they did begin replicating later, they would have to stop at some point to eat and then the Asgard could step in and keep them from continuing. Sleep had a simple explanation as well—it gave the new parents a break and would also provide them with a window of opportunity in which to step in and take control if their children began replicating.
The whole plan was ingenious. Well, ingenious and sneaky. Jack knew that kids would respond well if you trusted them, but in this case, he wasn't certain if you could trust these kids.
Mention of his name brought Jack back to the present moment. Sam was telling Einarr about her friend, Colonel Jack O'Neill. That morning Jack had volunteered to meet Einarr and give him someone else to think about as well as give him a male to interact with. According to Daniel and his parents, children often sought out parental figures that were like them when the original ones weren't readily available. That meant that Einarr wanted parental figures that looked like him since he had no Replicator "parents."
Sometimes Jack really felt sorry for the guy. The only violent behavior SG-1 had ever seen from him had been just the one tantrum. The rest of the time he was pretty well-behaved, and his behavior got better the more time he spent with Sam and the more she explained feelings and the words associated with them. Now, instead of exploding or throwing something, he would say, "I'm angry" or "I'm upset." In Jack's book, that was some pretty awesome progress. Despite being a Replicator, there were times when Jack almost forgot that the guy wasn't human.
"I'd like to meet him," Einarr said after finishing his sandwich. "Does he know how to make a sandwich?"
Sam laughed. "Oh, yes, he knows how to make a sandwich."
There was no doubt in Jack's mind that she was thinking of the last get-together he'd had at his place and he'd made a four-foot long and foot-high double-decker sub sandwich for them all to enjoy. Jack felt himself grin again. Oh, yeah, he knew how to make a sandwich. He could make the grand-daddy of all sandwiches!
"How about I go get him and we can make some more sandwiches?" Sam suggested. "I don't know about you, but I think I could eat another one."
Einarr nodded. "I'd like another."
Jack hadn't put 'have some sandwiches with a Replicator' high on his list of things to do today, but in no time at all he was having a sandwich and talking with Einarr. At first, Einarr had been unable to stop staring at him when Sam introduced him—Jack was, after all, the first human male he'd ever seen—but that didn't last long since Einarr started asking questions. One of them made Sam blush and Jack quickly gave Einarr a lesson in acceptable mealtime conversation. Against his better judgment Jack agreed to answer that question and others like them later and in private.
"This seems like a good time to have that conversation with Einarr, sir," Sam said after they finished cleaning up from their lunch.
"What, now?" Jack asked, feeling a little trapped.
"Well, I promised Heimdall that I would stop by and see him this afternoon and my doing that will give you guys a chance to talk those guy things that Einarr asked you about," she said, fighting down a smile. The situation was too funny for words. She had a strong feeling that her CO was going to have to have "the talk" with Einarr! If not "the talk," then it would be "a talk."
"I do have a lot of questions," Einarr admitted. "I asked Heimdall once, but he didn't have any idea what I was talking about. Asgard aren't made the same way, I think."
"Ah, probably not," Sam said quickly, fighting down giggles. "Well, Einarr, I'll be back later, okay? Enjoy yourself, sir." With that, she was out the door.
Cautiously, Jack looked at Einarr and he could tell that the guy was brimful of questions. He had a strong feeling that this conversation would be extremely embarrassing and pretty difficult and he was kind of hoping that Einarr only had a few questions. A very few questions would be great. A number like two would be even better. "Okay, Einarr. Ah, Carter's right, this is a good time to answer your question. Now, about what you asked: yes, it does have a purpose. A very good purpose."
"What purpose is that?" Einarr asked eagerly, happy to be getting answers to questions he'd had for a while.
Jack didn't know how and he didn't know when, but Carter would pay for this someday. She would pay, and she would pay big.
Hathor paced in her bedchamber, fighting down a feeling of panicked worry.
Daniel was not doing well. After an additional week of medicine and meticulous care, the physician told her that the infection in his patient's chest was gone but that his body needed to recover from the strain it had been under. He would be weak for a while until he began to gain strength, but that just wasn't happening. He slept, but he didn't seem rested. He ate, but he only ever swallowed a little of his meals and toyed with the rest. He'd stopped looking at his books and he claimed he didn't feel like playing any games. Whenever she read to him now, he just lay in his bed, listless and quiet. She had a strong feeling that he wasn't taking in a word of what she read.
She tried everything she could think of to get him to take some interest in things and getting well. She ordered his favorite foods prepared and served to him in as pleasing a way as possible. The physician had told her that invalids often felt encouraged to eat when their food was presented to them in an attractive way, so she'd had her cooks arrange and garnish his meals so that they were works of art by the time they reached him. She had her servants bring flowers to his room more often and made sure they had the curtains open whenever he wasn't resting so he would have plenty of sunlight. Sunlight, the physician had said, could boost a person's mood. The windows were open to admit the fresh air and she had him out in the garden as often as she could. The physician had also said that a person's mood rose when they were given friendly or loving touches by another, so she'd ordered Dakarai to give Daniel a twice-daily massage and when she spent time with him, she often patted his hand or shoulder or smoothed his hair.
None of it was doing any good. If anything, he grew even paler and thinnner. He slept even less. When he did sleep, he had nightmares. She knew he did since their bedrooms were right next to each other and she could hear him talking in his sleep at night. She never heard any concrete words, just mumbling. It was the tone of that mumbling that worried her the most. He always sounded upset or frightened. He sounded frightened right now, mumbling in his sleep on the other side of the door in his bedroom. He sounded almost as if he were pleading or begging for something. Carefully, she slipped inside and crept close to his bed, hoping to hear something that would let her know just what it was he feared. If she knew that, then perhaps she could take steps to remedy the problem. She drew closer and cautiously took her seat in the chair next to his bed, determined to wait the dream out.
Daniel moaned, making her jump. This was a very active dream. He threw himself onto his side and muttered something under his breath that she didn't understand. She sighed. Once again, she felt helpless.
Again, he was calling for O'Neill! It just didnt' make sense. During their times together in the past he'd mentioned O'Neill and how he wished he didn't have to work with the man. Granted, he'd been half-asleep at the time, but didn't someone's true feelings come out when they were tired?
Daniel curled into a ball. "Help me..."
That made three words he'd said that she could understand. If he kept talking, that would be perfect.
Now, what did that mean?
"Get me out of here..."
A nasty suspicion took root and began growing in her mind. He didn't-he couldn't mean-her?
Daniel twitched and rolled over, curling up on his other side before suddenly quieting down. His body seemed to relax and he actually smiled in his sleep before uncurling and rolling onto his back.
"Probably be mine," he murmured.
All right, now she had no idea what he was dreaming about.
His face changed and he turned onto his side again. "Don't need to do that, Jack. 'M fine."
From the tone in his voice, it sounded as if he regarded O'Neill as a friend! What was going on here?
"Wouldn't stop and I couldn't stop it," he said, turning over so that he lay on his stomach. "Any beer?"
Deciding that it had been a nightmare that had turned into a typically male dream, Hathor fought down a chuckle. Even though Daniel was a cut above all the other males she'd met, he was still a male! Of course he would dream about beer! She tiptoed out of the room and set off to find the physician. He had to know something-some medicine or herbal tea-that would give him a restful sleep without all of these vivid dreams. He was sleeping, yes, but he didn't look as if he was getting much rest!
She tracked down the physician while Daniel was still napping and made her request.
"I do have something like that, but I doubt he'll take it," the physician told her. "It runs the risk of dependency, and he told me that he's struggled with addiction to different substances on two different occasions."
"I never knew that," she said, thinking about all the conversations they'd had. "Could one of them have been sarcophagus addiction?"
"It was," the physician said. "How did you know that?"
"His reluctance to enter the sarcophagus," she explained. "So, how do we make sure he rests when he sleeps?"
"Right now, we're doing all we can to make that happen," the physician admitted. "Well, we could try burning candles scented with herbs whose scents are said to promote relaxation. That may calm him and help him rest."
"That sounds as if it might be effective," she said, wondering how he would take the candles. Candle-light could be soothing, so hopefully it would work. "Do you have some of those candles?"
For an answer, he went to a cupboard and pulled out three pillar candles. "All of these are supposed to promote relaxation, and there's no possibility of his becoming addicted to their scent."
"Thank you," Hathor said happily, taking the candles he handed her. "I'll see to their being put in his room."
When he woke up to candle-light, Daniel wondered if Hathor was up to something. She was sitting in the chair beside his bed and was watching him very, very carefully.
"Hello," he croaked, his voice still think with sleep. "Did I light that candle? Where did it come from?"
"I thought you might enjoy its scent," she said.
Daniel yawned and he got a good whiff of the scent. It was light and pleasant and not at all cloying. It wasn't anything like nish'ta, thank goodness. If it was nothing like nish'ta, then that meant it was safe, wasn't it? "Um...can I get high off of that? Can it...I don't know...alter my mind and help me transcend this plane?" How could he ask her in a way she could understand that he was wary of getting stoned off of a candle?
She blinked and stared at him before breaking into gales of laughter. She spent a minute or two laughing before regaining control of herself. Her eyes were merry and she was still smiling when she turned to him. "No, beloved. It is just a scented candle, nothing more and nothing less! Did you ever do any plane transcending due to a scented candle?"
Deciding not to tell her about his ascension and subsequent return, he shook his head. "No, not really. It's just that once while I was on a mission the people of the planet burned a bunch of herbs in their oil lamps. The scent made me feel as if I was flying and made me see and hear things. Since then, I've been careful around things that are lit and have a scent."
She leaned back in her chair and tried very hard not to laugh. "Oh, you poor thing! No wonder you were worried! What happened afterward?"
"Well, when I woke up I had a headache that stayed for a couple of days and I was stiff in every joint because I'd slept curled up in a large laundry basket and used someone's house rug for a blanket. Don't ask me how I got there, I don't know and I hope I never know."
Now she did laugh. "I would have liked to have been there to see all of that!"
"Oh, no, you wouldn't," Daniel said hastily. "None of us were a very pretty sight that morning. I know I wasn't."
"You probably looked like you do now," she remarked, looking at him.
"What, pale and shaggy? Most likely." When she joked with him like this, he could almost forget that she was Hathor.
"We can remedy shaggy," she said, scooting to his dressing table and picking something up. She was back at his side in no time and to his great amusement, he felt a comb running through his hair. "Pale, however, will take a little more time. Some food and a hot bath would help, though, I think."
That was a hint if he'd ever heard one. "I could do that."
She took hold of his chin and turned his head to the side so she could reach the other side of his head from where she was sitting. "Let me finish this, first." A few more strokes with the comb and a quick exam of his hair and she pronounced him presentable. "I'll ring for your breakfast and then send Dakarai to you."
"Thank you," Daniel said. "You're very kind."
She smiled, took his hand, and kissed it. "You are welcome, beloved."
He was glad she didn't see the panic in his eyes as she kissed his hand.
Sam stood in the observation room and watched the goings-on, hoping that things were all right. Heimdall had said that there was something he'd wanted her to see, but he hadn't said what it was.
Things were going very well for the Asgard and their Progeny. Heimdall, Alfr, and Gunnarr had all been apt pupils during their lessons on how to handle kids and they even enjoyed watching Daniel and his parents interact so they could see what a good interaction looked like. They'd learned how to talk to their kids in all sorts of situations, how to entertain and play with them, how to settle them down for bed, and how to have meals with them and encourage them to eat. From Daniel and his parents, they learned what a close relationship entailed and how to interact with a child that was adult-sized. (Daniel wasn't a child, but there were times when he was just like a kid. His happiness at having his parents back and at being out from under the government's thumb were probably the reasons why he seemed so child-like lately.) The Asgard observed the Jackson family at meals, while they were working or playing, during the few small conflicts they had, and when Daniel's parents were seeing him to bed at night. When asked why the elder Jacksons were doing so much for Daniel when he was already and adult and capable of caring for himself, Sam said that it seemed as if the Jacksons were making up for lost time by doing things that were familiar to them from Daniel's childhood. "I think they were happiest then, so they may be reliving that happiness a bit by doing those same things."
"Thank you for coming, Major Carter," Heimdall said as he came in, calling her out of her thoughts.
"No problem," Sam said. "What was it you wanted me to see?"
"This way," Heimdall said, sounding very happy. He led the way out of the room and into the Progeny's living area. There were several groups of Progeny and each of them had several Asgard with them, talking with them and some were even deep in games with them.
"Wow," Sam said, watching the nearest group as they played some version of what looked like Twister. From what she could see, they were loving it! "I didn't know the Asgard played Twister!"
"Twister?" Heimdall said, confused. "That is nothing more than a game to test one's flexibility, balance, and endurance."
"Yeah, we call it Twister," Sam elaborated.
Heimdall blinked. "I see."
"When did all of this start happening?"
"Just yesterday," Heimdall said. "We didn't want to show you until we were sure of what we were seeing, but yesterday, they sat down and listened to us when we spoke to them. Today, they sat and ate with us and as you can see, they are playing with us. They are smiling and laughing."
Sam grinned. "This is great!"
"Will it be long before the teaching is complete?" Heimdall asked.
"That I don't know," Sam admitted, turning a little to watch another group working with balls of modeling compound. The Asgard with them sounded like Gunnarr and he seemed to be having a grand time. All of them were making...well, items with assorted shapes. One had rolled his clay into a long snake and was now coiling it around itself, another had rolled her ball of compound into several tiny balls and was stacking them, and the others had constructed cubes, pyramids, and random shapes that looked like the blobs from a little kid's artwork. None of what they were doing could be mistaken for work from Michelangelo, but they were having fun and interacting with their "parent" figures. That was what mattered.
"Is it likely to take a long time?" Heimdall asked uncertainly.
"Well, we don't really know how long the teaching will take," Sam confessed. "Let me ask you something. How will we know when it is done?"
Heimdall thought about that. "I see your point, Major Carter."
"You've made an incredible start, but now, just like human parents, you have to continue as you've begun. You have to keep interacting with them and teaching them. How do their views stand on making their special toys?"
"Today they have not expressed an interest in them," Heimdall informed her. "Do you think that could be because we have given them other things to think about, or because they've chosen not to mention it?"
"It could be either, but I think it's because they're all so busy that they haven't had a chance to think about it," Sam said. "Just keep an eye on them and keep up the interaction if you think they're about to start replicating. That will engage their attention."
"I hope that you are right," Heimdall said. "Now that we have begun with teaching our Progeny, I think it is likely that the Council will agree the time is right to rescue your friend. It will take the Council time to agree on how it should be done, but I can promise it will be."
It's amazing. She looks like Hathor, sounds like Hathor and she IS Hathor in every way, but this one...I don't know what to think. She's kind. I know, no Goa'uld are kind, at least not in my experience, but this one is. I've been ill and she takes care of me the same way she would take care of a child. Today she put some kind of scented candles in my room. The scent isn't unpleasant and it's supposed to soothe you. I'm soothed. Pretty calm. It's either from the candles or from the fact that I just can't summon up the energy to worry anymore. I'm worn out and I can't remember ever being this tired. My body's crying out for rest right now and I woke up from a nap about an hour ago.
None of this situtation makes sense. Then again, it does make some kind of sense, given where I work.
I wonder what everyone's doing. I'm thinking that Sam's working herself into a frenzy, Teal'c is trying to keep everyone calm, General Hammond is checking in with Walter every few minutes, Janet's stockpiling stuff and medicine for my return, and Jack's presenting a calm front while inside he's a worried mess.
If you compared the two of us, it would be hard to tell which person is the worse worried mess. I'm pretty worried right now. I think Hathor's getting inside my defenses. I've been hyper-vigilant ever since I woke up here, and now it's starting to show. I've lost weight and I've been sick, which are sure signs of excessive stress. I also sleep a lot. Dakarai told me that I talk in my sleep. I pray to God that I don't say anything that gets her suspicious.
She was really happy when I asked for a blank book after I woke up from my nap. She sees this as a good thing. This is just a sign that I can't keep my feelings contained anymore. When I was in foster care I kept a journal and put my real feelings into it while I pretended everything was okay. My foster parents didn't want anything unpleasant and I wasn't eager to go bouncing around from home to home again, so I pretended. It was easier than having to deal with homes. Right now I'm writing in a script of my own so she can't read any of this, even by accident. Someday, I might publish all my journals as fiction and I'm pretty sure they'd be bestsellers. I mean, who'd believe half the stuff I've written about?
Another sure sign of stress is how my thoughts keep jumping around. I just read this over and it's pretty disorganized. It's true, too. I can hardly keep my thoughts straight a lot of the time. Ten minutes and that's it-my brain's off on another thought.
Part of me wishes I could just give in and end this awful waiting. I could tell her that I'll stay with her and be her pharoah and that I'll do what she wants. That way I wouldn't have to keep dreading it. Another part of me tells me not to give up and that I'll think of something. Another part has no idea what I can do to make this situation any better.
My head's hurting and I'm tired again. I'll try to get a little rest and try to think a little. I have to think of something to do. I really hope there's divine help out there for this situation, because I really, really need it.