Ch 17

"Dinner's ready!" Jack yelled out the back door. "Wish I had a cowbell or something," he added to himself as the kids failed to respond, too wrapped up in their game.

Apparently Sam and Daniel's version of monkey in the middle meant that whoever was in the middle had to actually act like a monkey, loud noises and all.

"OY! I said DINNER'S READY!" Jack called again.

Finally, Teal'c lobbed the ball to Daniel, who was in the middle, to end the game, and they all came running in, talking loudly about what they'd been doing.

As Jack surveyed the new assortment of dirt and grass stains, he had to admit Fraiser had a point earlier. They definitely needed baths tonight. Or he at least needed to hose them off like elephants, or something. "Go wash your hands," he told them, steering them towards the bathroom first.

"Have fun?" Jack asked Teal'c with a knowing smile.

"They appear to have much more energy at this age than they did previously. It seems disproportionate to their size."

"Yeah, parents have been trying to wrap their heads around that one for years. Hungry?"


Teal'c and Daniel sat down at the table and started helping themselves while they waited for the kids. Jack had made a crock pot casserole-style dish of chicken, noodles, vegetables, and cheese, figuring it would be a good way to get the kids to eat some healthy food without complaint. He had made dinner rolls (from a can, but still…) and salad too.

The kids climbed into their chairs and held up their hands to show they were clean. "Good job," he said, spooning helpings onto their plates.

"Wow, who cooked this?" Sam asked innocently.

"Hey! I cooked it, thank you very much, princess. What'd you think I was doing in here?"

She shrugged. "Ordering pizza?"

Jack rolled his eyes and pointed his fork at her. "No dessert for you, young lady."

She giggled and picked up her fork, clearly unconcerned by the threat, knowing it to be completely empty.

"It's yummy," Daniel said solemnly after carefully nibbling his first bite. "Even the peas," he added thoughtfully, as though pondering how this could possibly be true.

Jack laughed. "Good. Eat up then."

After dinner was done (the kids had seconds, Teal'c had fourths), Sam said, "Can we color now?"

"No," Jack said. "You two need baths."

They looked at each other and then back at him.

"I don't need a bath," Daniel said, scooting his chair back from the table and pulling his foot up to his face to smell it. He tried hard not to react to the smell, but failed. "Okay, it's a little stinky," he admitted.

"Do you have bubble bath?" Sam asked warily.

"I will find something that will make bubbles, yes."

"All right," she agreed after giving the matter a ridiculous amount of thought. She stood up. "Come on, Daniel, let's go take a bath."

Daniel shrugged, got to his feet, and started taking his clothes off in the kitchen.

"Whoa, whoa, stop," Jack objected, when Sam sat down on the floor and started to do the same. "Let's do this in an orderly fashion, please. Go… play in your room for a few minutes, while I get everything ready."

They shrugged and went off to their room.

Muttering to himself, Jack grabbed two big plastic cups from the kitchen before going to his bathroom. He started filling the tub with warm water and added a liberal amount of the tear free shampoo Fraiser had sent home with them days ago, smiling in satisfaction when it started bubbling and foaming. He got towels and wash cloths ready and went to get the kids, noticing that Teal'c was taking his sweet time cleaning up the dinner mess to avoid having to help him with bath time.

The kids were sitting on the floor in their underwear, playing with Daniel's plastic dinosaurs.

"Forcryinoutloud," he muttered, going over to the dresser and rummaging through it. "Some things you just don't sign up for when you join the Air Force. Bathing your teammates… when they're kids…"

"What, Colonel?" Sam called.

"Nothing!" He pulled the items he was looking for out of the drawer triumphantly, glad he'd bought them 'just in case.' "Put these on," he instructed, tossing a swimsuit to each child.

They looked at him like he was completely insane.

"You want us to wear out swimsuits in the tub?" Daniel asked incredulously.

"Why?" Sam asked.

"Just… because. You're just going to, that's all. Consider it an order."

They looked at each other and shrugged. "We can pretend it's the beach," Sam suggested, wriggling her arms through the top of her suit.

"Great idea," Jack called, leaving the room. "Come to the bathroom when you're both ready."

Two minutes later, they came into the bathroom. Daniel was wearing trunks with alligators on them, and Sam was wearing a very flowery and ruffly two-piece that she would probably kill him for picking out when she was herself again. They were carrying every toy they owned that could get wet without being ruined.

Jack helped them into the tub and let them play for a while, stopped two water fights before they got totally out of hand, carefully washed their hair, and helped make sure they didn't miss any spots with the soap. The kids had a great time, despite their earlier reservations about taking the bath in the first place. Finally, when their fingers and toes were sufficiently raisin-like and the water was getting chilly, he helped them out, wrapping them up in big towels and sending them off to get dressed for bed while he cleaned up the bathroom.

"Bring your wet suits back in here when you're dressed and we'll hang them up for tomorrow," he said.

Their eyes widened. "We gotta take a bath every day now? Come on!"

Laughing, he shooed them out of the bathroom by pretending to flick them with a towel, then went to mopping up all the puddles they'd splashed everywhere.

He hadn't even finished with the first one when there was a crashing sound followed by someone crying, then Teal'c bellowing, "O'Neill! Come!"

Jack hurried towards the commotion and found everyone in the hallway. Daniel was now completely naked, holding a towel under his chin like a security blanket and shivering with the cold. Sam was latched onto Teal'c, still in her wet swimsuit, wailing like a banshee while he attempted, futilely, to comfort her with a large hand on her back.

"What happened?" Jack asked.

"We were having a race to get to our room and she slipped."

"Racing, while wet, on a hardwood floor. Forcryingoutloud, you guys. You're trying to kill me, aren't you?" he asked, stepping next to Teal'c and putting a hand on Sam's back. "Where does it hurt, Sam?"

"Ev-e-r-y-where," she sobbed, leaning off of Teal'c to grab him round the neck instead. Before he knew what was happening, she was latched onto him just as tightly as she'd been to Teal'c.

"Okay, let's all try to calm down. Teal'c, can you help get some clothes on the boy turning blue?"

Teal'c nodded and guided Daniel off to the kids' room. Jack looked around and shrugged, figuring this was as good a spot as any. He sank to the floor, back against the wall, and dragged the discarded towel lying nearby towards him with his foot, so he could keep her somewhat warm. He wrapped the towel around her like a blanket and rubbed her back through it, trying to get her to calm down enough to tell him where she was hurt.

It seemed like forever before her crying had slowed down to a quiet enough whimper and she had caught her breath enough to answer. "M-m-my face is hurted and my shoulder and my knee."

He peeled her off of him enough to check and groaned. "Hammond's gonna kill me."

She had a cut on her forehead and it was bleeding. A lot. He knew head wounds bled, but still… he was unprepared for the sight of so much blood coming from such a small person. He had felt his shirt getting wet but thought it was all just water from her wet hair, and tears. Not wanting to scare her, he tried to stay calm, and smiled. "Okay, back to the bathroom. We'll just clean you up again, okay?"

"It's hurting!"

Her hand moved to her forehead but Jack grabbed it, getting to his feet quickly with a groan for his poor knee. "Don't touch it, you'll make it worse."

"Don't call Dr. Janet!"

"Let me see how bad it looks first, Sam. Here." He set her down on the counter in the bathroom next to the sink and grabbed his first aid kit from underneath it. He cleaned all the blood away before she could see it, ignoring the fact that Teal'c and Daniel reappeared halfway through the process and were standing in the doorway, Teal'c with a hand clamped over Daniel's mouth to prevent him from saying something to scare Sam.

He was busy finding a new pad of gauze to press to the still oozing wound when Sam turned enough to catch sight of herself in the mirror, at which point she wailed, "My brains are coming out!" and promptly started screaming again.

"Shhh, shhh, your brains aren't coming out, honey," Jack promised. "If your brains were coming out I'd be taking you to the hospital. Calm down, Sam, it's okay…"

Teal'c wordlessly took Daniel away. Jack tried to comfort her again but she was so distraught he figured it would be best to just hurry up and finish the first aid so he could then spend as much time as needed calming her down. He settled for talking encouragingly while he worked, but couldn't help adding in the occasional remark to himself.

"You know, this is a lot easier when the patient isn't wriggling around and screaming…"

He couldn't help but think about all the times she'd been injured in the line of duty, and how almost every time she'd stubbornly insisted she was "Fine, Colonel" and shaken off injuries that would have sidelined any normal human being. Seeing her carrying on and on about the relatively minor injury made him wonder when the change had occurred. Probably the Academy, or maybe when her mother had died and there hadn't been anyone around to baby her when she was hurt… wondering all these things helped him ignore the distraction of her woeful wailing to concentrate on working as fast as possible.

Finally, he was done. The cut on her forehead turned out to be not too deep, once it had stopped bleeding enough for him to examine properly. It was just bleeding because it was a head wound, and that's what they did. He felt confident that the little, one-inch scratch didn't need stitches. If there'd been a doubt in his mind he would have been calling Fraiser, despite Sam's pleas that he not. All traces of blood gone, all that remained was a carefully disinfected scratch with a band-aid now plastered over it, off-centered but across a good portion of her little forehead. Her shoulder was starting to bruise already, but gentle probing had assured him it wasn't dislocated or otherwise damaged, only bruised. Her knee had a fresh strawberry on it, which he'd also cleaned out and covered with band-aids.

Satisfied with the patch-up job, he quickly helped her into a clean nightgown, knowing she must be freezing after spending so long in a wet swimsuit. She hadn't complained of the cold only because she was so focused on her injuries. He quickly gathered her stuffed unicorn and hairbrush and went in search of Teal'c and Daniel, assuming they were in the living room.

He found them around the coffee table, making something with construction paper and crayons. They smiled at Sam when they saw her, and he shifted her over in one arm so she could see them.

"The patient will survive," he declared, rubbing her back while she whimpered and hugged her unicorn with one arm, his neck with the other. He tried to set her down but she whined louder, clutching his neck tighter, so he gave up and sat down on the couch with her sideways in his lap.

"Sam, look, we're making you get well cards," Daniel said eagerly, holding up a half-finished project. "Mine's not done yet though so don't look, okay?"

"Are you all right, Samantha Carter?" Teal'c asked gently, handing her a piece of construction paper, folded in half.

Jack knew that Daniel must have insisted Teal'c make his own card, but he couldn't help the gleeful grin on his face as he saw the card the tough warrior had made. It had a simple heart on the front, and on the inside, he had written neatly in crayon, "Feel better, Samantha. From Teal'c."

As far as Jack was concerned, he was going to make certain that card never got lost. It was priceless. And he knew Carter would get a kick out of it too, when she was an adult again.

"Why don't you put in a movie, Uncle Teal'c," Jack suggested. "I think these kids are going to be up for a while."

Teal'c hurriedly complied, and as the screen filled with a familiar message and an unmistakable score, Jack groaned. "Seriously? You're exposing them to Star Wars tonight?"

The movie did do one good thing though: it distracted Sam from her "harrowing ordeal," as Teal'c was now referring to it. (Jack wasn't entirely sure he wasn't talking about having to listen to all the screaming that had occurred when he called it that, but still…) The special effects in the movie quickly fascinated Sam and also Daniel, once he had finished making the card. He climbed on the couch between Jack and Teal'c and presented it to his friend, who took it appreciatively.

Daniel had spent a lot of time drawing, apparently, everything he knew Sam liked on the card. From all four people in the room, to puppies and kittens, to General Hammond, to hot chocolate and blue jello and pizza and unicorns, it was all on the card somewhere. Stars decorated the border and there was a smiling Jeep dominating the inside. "Get well Sam I love you yur my best frend" was written on the inside, with a heart and a carefully written "Daniel Jackson." In case, you know, they weren't sure which Daniel it was from, apparently.

"Thanks, Daniel. You're my best friend too." She leaned out of Jack's lap to hug Daniel round the neck and kissed him noisily on the cheek. Daniel tried hard to look disgusted, but he was smiling sheepishly nonetheless.

Between the cards and the movie, Sam was doing much better, although she was still much more clingy than ever, clearly still needing some comfort. She refused to budge from Jack's lap, but did let him shift her to a position that didn't hurt his recovering knee. Daniel cuddled into Jack's side so he and Sam could hold hands while they watched the movie, and halfway through it Jack realized it was probably the longest the two of them had ever been still while awake. Teal'c was, as usual, enthralled with the movie, but did give Daniel an amused raised eyebrow when the little boy cautiously stretched his legs out over Teal'c's lap.

All in all, Jack decided, as he surveyed his crowded couch, it wasn't a bad way to end a rather eventful day.