Chapter 18

Daniel woke up early and got himself dressed and ready for the festival. His parents were still asleep so he decided that he would speed things up by getting breakfast ready. He was setting the last of the food on the table when Jack and Sam joined him.

"Wow, someone got up early." Sam said then she turned to Jack and asked, "Is anything special happening today?" The effect was only slightly diminished by the smile on her face.

Jack was able to keep his poker face on when he said, "Uh, not that I know of. Danny, did you have anything you wanted to do?"

Daniel glared at them and sarcastically answered, "Ha ha. Very funny. You know if you two aren't going to be serious about this then I am not going to tell you what I have decided." There! He told them! He had already been up for FOREVER and now they want to play around? Well, if he was being honest, it wasn't them he was upset with. He was worried what they would think about his decision. He needed to have one question answered before he told them, though.

Jack didn't appreciate the comment and said, "If you don't watch it, we won't go to the festival at all." He knew Danny was worried about the day but he wasn't going to allow him to be disrespectful. Sam placed a calming hand on Jack's shoulder before she sat down to the table.

"This looks good Daniel, thank you." She said as she tried to steer the conversation away from the previous one.

Daniel was still blushing from Jack's comment as he sat down at the table and mumbled, "You're welcome."

The three quietly ate breakfast and it took all of Jack's strength not to throttle the kid. He was desperate to know what Daniel had decided but he was trying to play it cool and let Danny decide when to tell them the news. Finally when they had finished Sam started to do the dishes and gave a head nod to Jack indicating he should follow Daniel.

Jack did as he was instructed and followed Daniel outside. Daniel was leaning against a tree lost in thought when Jack walked up to him and asked, "Whatcha thinking?"

Daniel didn't look over at him instead just said, "If… if I decided to stay little… you would… still be my dad right?"

Jack grew concerned with the uncharacteristic stuttering that Daniel was doing and said, "Of course." He was going to ask what all this was about but Daniel spoke before he had the chance.

"And, if I decide to become big again?" Daniel asked with a small voice.

Ah, thought Jack, that is where this is coming from. Jack kneeled down in front of Daniel at eye level and gently took his chin forcing eye contact before he said, "Daniel, I will always be your father. Nothing can change that."

Daniel tried to move but the hand held his head fast. He settled for looking down.

Jack continued, "Daniel look at me." He waited until Daniel had raised his eyes again. "Even before we had proof that you were my son, to me you always were. This just forced me to deal with the feelings that we never talked about." He pulled Daniel into a hug and whispered, "I love you, Danny. No matter what you will always be my son."

Daniel held onto the hug tightly and with a voice that was consistent with his size he asked, "Promise?"

Jack smiled and pulled out of the hug far enough so he could see Daniel's eyes again and said, "Promise. Now come on, tell me. What did you decide?"

Daniel knew he had made the right decision now. "I want to be big again." He said. While being young had its advantages, so did being grown and he had already experienced childhood twice now.

Jack nodded and pushed down the sadness he had for the decision that was made. He said, "Then that is what you will be." He stood up and held a hand out to Daniel. "We need to tell your mom and then get ready for the festival." Daniel took his hand and the two walked towards the house.

One look on Jack's face and she knew the answer. She plastered her brightest smile on, ignoring her own sadness at the loss of her little boy and said, "So… Big again, huh?"

Daniel was relieved that Sam was taking his news so well, "Yep! I will go get my notebooks and then we can go." He looked back up and saw the tears gathering in Sam's eyes and ran forward to give her a hug.

More tears rolled down her cheeks and she again chided herself for the damn pregnancy hormones. She squeezed Daniel tight before she said softly, "It's ok."

Daniel felt the tightening and heard her whisper. He spoke in the same quiet voice, "You'll still be my mom though, right?"

Sam held the hug longer. Who could have predicted that she would ever feel this way about her teammate? She remembered the sibling like feelings she had before Daniel became downsized but she was no longer surprised by the maternal feelings now. She knew in her heart that she would always consider Daniel her son no matter what his age was. She didn't whisper, in a clear voice she said, "Always. I will always be your mom, no matter what." And she knew she would be.

Daniel smiled wide after receiving the answer he had wanted. That was the hardest part of making the decision. He finally had the family he had been looking for. Giving up playtime was one thing, giving up his parents would be completely different. He let go of the hug smiled at Sam before running off to his room to gather his paperwork.

Jack walked over to Sam and drew her into a hug. She sniffled and quietly said to him, "I think I was afraid of the same thing. I was afraid he wouldn't want us as parents if he grew up again."

Jack held her tight. He actually had the same thoughts but he wasn't willing to admit them. Should have known his boy would be worried about that. Daniel had been abandoned too many times to think they would stick around if they didn't have to. He didn't say anything to Sam, he didn't have to. She knew he felt the same way. They would never stop being this boy's parents!

Daniel came running out of the room with his stack of notebooks and a big smile. His grin was contagious and the adults in the room soon joined him. The trio left the house and headed towards the festival. They were ready for whatever it could throw at them. At least they thought they were ready…

oOo

Jack, Sam and Daniel entered the already very crowded temple. Daniel looked around mesmerized. This was just like his vision! The only difference was this time he actually understood the people in the room. Weird.

It didn't take long for the festivities to start. The trio watched the scene repeat over and over again as older men and women took a chance at being young again. Daniel slowly was edging closer to the small room. Jack wondered why they were actually calling it "taking a chance" when the only outcome was to be younger or for it not to happen at all. Why wouldn't you risk trying it if being younger was what you really wanted to do? Jack was still lost in thought when he heard a gasp throughout the room. Jack's head popped up and followed the gaze in the room and saw that the old woman that went into the small compartment had exited but she wasn't a child. She was still an old woman but now was crying and looked terrified.

Jack saw the man to the left of him shake his head and say, "Alieno panton," and turn away.

Jack grabbed the man's shoulder and turned him around and said, "Alien what?"

The man looked up at him solemnly and said "Alieno panton – to forget everything. It is the risk we take to regain our youth."

The man was about to turn around again when Jack yelled, "What? You mean they risk permanent amnesia for this?" The man didn't answer and suddenly Jack had a horrible understanding. Now he knew why Daniel was afraid that Jack wouldn't let him go in. Daniel knew this was a risk and he was well aware that Jack would never let him take that kind of chance. He looked back to where Daniel had been standing but he was gone.

Jack searched the crowd quickly and found Daniel had snuck up to the chamber and was pushing buttons. Jack forced his way through the crowd to get to his son yelling, "No! Daniel don't you dare!" He shoved people harder screaming for them to "Move - get outta my way!"

Before he could get through Daniel had the doorway open again and he stepped through only turning when he heard, "Damn it, Daniel!" and the doorway closed again.

Jack pushed the final distance through the crowd and banged on the door with his fists. The festival behind him faded away and he was left with only his hands beating on stone and words that came from his own lips as he tried to claw the doorway open.

Suddenly the ground beneath him shook and nearly threw him to the floor. He regained his balance as the doorway opened again. Looking back at Jack was a grown up Daniel Jackson, dressed in military fatigues and wearing his glasses. Daniel looked at Jack. There was a long pause before Daniel asked, "Jack?"

Just then a squawk from a radio was heard and Jack looked down and noticed that he was wearing his own military issue clothes. The radio sounded again then the voice that came across was Teal'c's deep baritone stating, "O'Neill, MajorCarter is injured."

Jack wheeled around to view the room he was standing in and saw that it was empty. He spun back to Daniel and realized they were the only two left standing in the dilapidated temple. This was not the room he had been standing in when Daniel entered the doorway. This is what the room looked like the first time. Neither Jack nor Daniel said anything before the radio sounded off again. Teal'c said, "O'Neill, are you there?"

Jack grabbed his own radio and asked, "What happened, T?"

Teal'c's reply was, "That last tremor caused MajorCarter lose her footing. She fell hitting her head on a rock. She is unconscious. I am going to carry her back to the gate."

Jack pressed the radio button and said, "Copy that, Teal'c. We will meet you there, O'Neill out."

Jack looked back at Daniel and felt that he was as confused as ever. It seemed they were back on planet PX3-466 and this time Daniel didn't get downsized. Just thinking these thoughts made him think he was crazy. He thought back to Daniel's first words coming out of the small room and remembered that Daniel had called him Jack, not Dad. He shook his head. Now was not the time to dwell on his own sanity. He fell back on his military training and yelled to Daniel, "Grab your pack, Carter is hurt. We need to get off this rock!" And he turned on his heel and headed back towards the door.

Daniel stood there for a moment longer before following the order just given. He quickly looked around the temple ruins in wonder. What had just happened? The last thing he remembered was entering the sequence to make himself big again and then suddenly he was facing Jack. A Jack that was wearing military BDU's and standing in an empty temple room. Did he imagine all of this? Was there something in that room that caused him to hallucinate? He decided that he was going to hold off telling anyone what he was remembering. He had no desire to end up back in MacKenzie's little white room again!

Daniel forced back his own tears as he picked up his bag and followed after Jack. All he could think was, what about the rest? He had a dad and a mom and a little sister on the way. He shook his head; of course it was a hallucination. How many times did he wish this scenario? Well, maybe not this exact situation but with Jack as his dad, that much was certain! He sighed as he thought about all he just lost. It was just a dream; something in that chamber caused his wildest wish to come true in the most unusual way. He gave a sideways glance at Jack and again pushed back the tears. He was a grown man for crying out loud! There is no way he was going to cry over this. There was also no way he was going to tell anyone about it. Jack gave no indication that he thought Daniel was his son. Nope! No way was Daniel going to start talking crazy.

Sam was sitting on the ground holding her head wondering what the hell was going on. She woke up to Teal'c talking to her asking her if she was ok. She glanced around at the barren planet and back to Teal'c before asking what had happened. He explained that they were returning to the gate when a quake dropped her causing her to hit her head and knocking her out. She and Teal'c were currently waiting for Jack and Daniel to meet them at the gate.

Teal'c saw them first and called out to them causing Sam to look up. Both men were in their usual military garb but the good news was that there were two MEN coming towards them. Apparently whatever happened, it hadn't hurt Daniel this time.

When Jack got close enough he called out, "Carter? You alright?"

And that was when Sam knew that she had imagined the entire thing. There was no way HER Jack would be calling her "Carter"! She inwardly sighed and pushed down the tears threatening to fall. No little Daniel, no marriage with Jack and no little Grace on the way. She put her head back down as she said, "Fine, Sir. Just a headache." And she started to rise as Teal'c dialed home. She covertly wiped a tear that had escaped before taking a sideways look at her family. She shook her head at the thought and immediately regretted it. Apparently on top of the hallucination she had a concussion to deal with.

The four SG-1 members entered the event horizon and exited onto the platform. General Hammond called over the speaker asking them if everything was ok since they were returning early. Jack's response was uncharacteristically hesitant as he said, "Major seismic activity, Sir, it wasn't safe to stay any longer."

General Hammond replied, "Alright, head to the infirmary. It's late, though, we will debrief tomorrow at 0800."

Jack gave the General a relieved nod and headed to the infirmary with the rest of the team.

Each team member had gone through the usual testing; only Sam was being held overnight to monitor her head injury. Teal'c had already left to perform kel'nor'reem. Daniel left the infirmary saying he had to grab some stuff from his office. That left only Sam and Jack. Sam was lying in the hospital bed; Jack was standing at her side.

"You don't need to stay here, Sir, I'll be fine. Janet just wants to be cautious since I blacked out for a few minutes," Sam said. She wondered why she was babbling now. Nothing had happened! She just imagined a different life. It didn't matter that it felt like months had passed during that time. She just needed to focus and maybe get a little sleep and everything would go back to the way it was.

Jack reached out and took Sam's hand, realizing that it would probably be the last time he could do so. He stroked his thumb across her wrist and tried to deny the feelings he had for her. Why was this so hard now? He had been denying his feelings for his 2IC for years. So what that he had a flash of insight to what his life would be like; to be a husband and father again. He shuddered inwardly, he needed to get outta here and get his head back on straight.

"Ok, Carter," he began as he placed her hand back on the sheets. "Listen to the doc and we will see you tomorrow." He finished lamely. He stood there a bit longer wishing he had something to say, something that was going to make all of this right again. He inwardly sighed, gave Sam a small smile and headed out of the infirmary.

Sam watched Jack as he left her side. What was she expecting? Was he going to suddenly pull her into a hug and remind her that she had promised to marry him? She scrunched her eyes closed as the tears welled up in them. She again reminded herself that nothing had happened. She opened her eyes and looked longingly towards the door but there was no one there. She sighed and closed her eyes allowing the steady beep of the heart monitor to lull her to sleep.

oOo

Daniel wandered around his office aimlessly. He finally settled at looking at an old team picture. This had to have been taken at one of their team get togethers. Daniel could almost smell the barbeque and the summer air as he thought back to the time and place the picture was taken.

He breathed in deeply as he reminded himself that everything he 'remembered' had been a hallucination. Sam hadn't mentioned it and Jack sure wasn't acting like he remembered anything. This was just something that was brought about by insatiable curiosity. He should have never entered that room! He paused for a moment at that thought. "Why didn't Jack say anything about him entering that room when the door reopened?" he asked himself out loud. There was no one there to answer him but himself. Suddenly he remembered that the first thing they both heard after the door opened was Teal'c. Jack had just been preoccupied by the news that Sam had been injured. He cocked his head to the side and joked to himself that it was probably for the best. He would be in enough trouble explaining why he deemed it necessary to leave his pack by the front of the hall; leaving him with no radio. He didn't need to add entering an unstable room during an earthquake. He shook his head, picked up his jacket and headed out to his car. He would deal with this all tomorrow. Nothing special had happened. Everything would go back to being the same. And he was fine with that. Really. He was fine with it all. He forced down the tears and headed up to ground level, hoping to leave the rest of his worries behind him.

oOo

Jack changed back into his civilian clothes and headed to Daniel's office. He was disappointed to find the room dark and no sign of Daniel Jackson. Hear that he told himself, Daniel JACKSON, not Daniel O' Neill. There would never be a Daniel O'Neill. There had never been a Daniel O'Neill. Apparently his wishful thinking combined with the worry about Daniel being stuck in that room had spurred his mind to come up with… whatever that was. Yes. That is all that was, wishful thinking! Nothing had happened. Daniel had already left. He would be lingering around if he had something to ask Jack, right? Right! And Sam hadn't said anything at all. Of course she didn't protest to him rubbing his thumb against her wrist. But that was just due to the concussion. She wasn't thinking about his marriage proposal. She wasn't thinking about it because nothing had happened!

With that last thought he strode to the elevator and headed towards ground level. He would deal with this mess tomorrow. Not that there was anything unusual to deal with. It was a routine mission and nothing was out of the ordinary with the exception of earth quakes. There was no downsizing of a certain archeologist, there was no baby on the way and there was most certainly no marriage plans being made. He forcefully shoved his sadness down and drove home telling himself that if he just got a good night's sleep that everything would look fine in the morning. Really…