Daniel sat frozen in utter shock, his mind numb with the words the man before him had just spoken.
"I never knew, Daniel," Hammond continued. "I just glanced at the names of your parents in your file, and I only knew your mother by her first name when I met her, so even if I'd seen her maiden name, I still wouldn't have known it was her. She always called her ex-fiance 'Mel', never 'Melburn', so I didn't see the connection there either. Perhaps I should have, but it's been so many years." The man leaned forward, an earnest look in his eyes. "Daniel, if I'd known, if I'd had any idea that you might possibly be my son, I would have told you."
"Oh, God," Daniel finally gasped. General Hammond was his father? It seemed so unreal, so unbelievable. "I-I-I can't believe this. How can this be real?"
Hammond laid a gentle hand on Daniel's arm. "I understand how you feel, Daniel. When I read what you'd written on that sheet and suddenly realized that the man it was talking about was me, I couldn't believe it either. I don't know how long it was that I just sat there in shock."
"W-what does this mean? What do we do? What do I do?"
"You do what your heart tells you to, Daniel. I may have been the man who fathered you, but I would never expect you to look upon me as a father. Your father was Melburn Jackson. That hasn't changed." George looked deep into Daniel's eyes. "But now that I know that you are my son, I cannot ignore it. My wife and I never had a son. I love my daughters dearly, but I always wished that I could have had a son to raise, to take that special kind of pride in that a man can only feel for a son." He smiled softly, cupping Daniel's cheek. "And I could not possibly have wished for a finer son than you."
Suddenly, tears flooded Daniel's eyes as his emotions spilled over. In the next moment, he was pulled into the arms of the man who was his father. George Hammond held Daniel close, feeling his heart open wide for this brilliant, courageous, selfless young man whom he had long deeply admired, liked and respected, but who was now something so much more to him. This was his son, his flesh and blood, and it filled him with joy to know that. He didn't care what this would mean in regards to the SGC. He didn't care how people would talk if they learned about it. He just knew that he wanted to have a bigger part in Daniel's life, to truly be his father in all ways.
Daniel finally drew away from him, looking embarrassed and almost shy. He still didn't know what to do about this. A part of him was saying that it would be best if they told no one and just carried on like before. But another part of him, the deeper part, yearned for what fully embracing this man as his father would mean. He longed to have someone in his life who really was family, someone tied to him not only by blood, but also by love. He had the first with Nick, but the second had always been in short supply, at least on Nick's end. With General Hammond. . . . God, should he still be thinking of the man by his title? This was his father! That thought whirled through Daniel's mind again.
He gave a tiny, choked laugh. "I . . . I don't know what to call you now."
The general smiled. "Well, you could try 'George' on for size."
"George. That feels . . . weird."
The general chuckled. "I can imagine it does." He sobered. "Like I said, Daniel. I don't expect anything from you. If you want to leave our relationship like it is, I'll understand."
Daniel met his eyes. "What do you want? If people found out about this. . . ."
"They'd talk. Yes, I am very aware of that. I've already thought of all the comments that would be made, most of them behind my back, of course."
"Wouldn't that make it hard for you? I mean, you're the base commander, and being respected by the personnel would be important."
George gave Daniel a gentle smile. "Daniel, it was over thirty-six years ago, and I was a young airman in the Armed Forces who was on leave. I'm certain that I am not the only man back then who fathered a child out of wedlock under similar circumstances."
Daniel's lips curved upward. "No, you probably weren't."
"Now, if I or your mother had been married at the time, then it would be a different story. But then, it would never have happened at all, if that had been the case." George looked into his son's eyes. "What I would like, Daniel, is to someday be a father to you in more ways than just by blood. I want to bring you into my family. You have two half-sisters and two nieces whom I know would all love you."
Daniel smiled a bit more broadly. "I didn't even think about that. Growing up, I always wanted a brother or sister, and, after Mom and Dad died, having a sibling would have made things so much less lonely for me, although I don't know if Social Services would have kept us together. Some of the families I stayed with had other kids, but it wasn't the same as having a real brother or sister."
The statement saddened George. If he had only known about Daniel back then, he'd have taken the boy into his home and given Daniel all the love he deserved. But there was no sense in having such regrets. What was important was that he knew now.
George touched his son's arm. "Think about it, Daniel. I won't pressure you. In fact, I won't even talk to you again about this until you decide what you want to do. Take all the time you need."
"Um . . . George, what would this mean in regards to the SGC, having your own son under your command?"
"There are no regulations against it, and the fact that you're a civilian makes it even easier. That shouldn't be an issue."
Daniel nodded. "Okay."
George got to his feet, as did Daniel.
"Well, I'll let you get to bed," the general said. "Would you like tomorrow off? I know that you'll be off this weekend, but I figured you might want some extra time to think about things, get it all settled in your mind."
Daniel's first instinct was to say no, that he'd rather work, but how much work would he really get done? Then there was the fact that if Sam saw him, she'd know something was up. Jack would probably see it, too. Daniel knew that, sooner or later, he'd have to tell his teammates about this, but he wasn't quite ready for that yet. Perhaps it would be better to take the day off.
"Thanks. I think I'll take you up on that," he said.
George nodded. "Then I'll see you on Monday."
By the time Friday evening arrived, Daniel's apartment was cleaner than it had been since the day he moved in. Unable to sit still, the archeologist had cleaned, cleaned, and cleaned some more, doing even nasty chores that he'd been putting off, like clearing out the ash in his fireplace. He'd have cleaned the chimney, too, if it wasn't in the lease that it had to be done by a professional chimney sweep service.
As he cleaned, he also thought. In the space of one day, a major part of his life had changed. He'd gone from being an orphan with only an absentee grandfather to being a man with a father, two half-sisters and two nieces. It would be enough to overwhelm anyone. What's more, the man who hadn't even known about their relationship until yesterday wanted to really be his father, to be his family. Deep down inside Daniel, a voice was crying out in joy at the thought of having a father again, having a real family.
Though he cared about Kasuf and Skaara a great deal, Daniel had never felt the deep connection with them that he'd felt with his own parents. He had always been Kasuf's "Good Son", a title bestowed on a son-in-law. He'd never been "Son" to the man. To Skaara, he had always been "the husband of my sister", never truly a brother. Not that Kasuf and Skaara hadn't cared about him. There had just been that bit of distance between them, the difference between a connection by blood and a connection by marriage. And, now that Sha're was dead, even that connection no longer really existed.
During that year he'd had with Sha're, Daniel had discovered that he liked being part of a family. It had been so very long since he'd had that, never finding it in the foster homes he'd lived in. To have that again would be wonderful.
But would welcoming Hammond as his father mean that Daniel was belittling what the man who raised him had been to him? Even knowing what he did, Daniel still thought of Melburn Jackson as his father. Would it be possible to give those feelings to a second man?
Daniel was in the midst of fixing his dinner when there was a knock on the door. It turned out to be his teammates. Sam was carrying a pizza, and Jack had a six-pack of beer.
"Hey, there," the colonel greeted. "I see that you're not sick or anything."
Daniel stepped aside to let them in. "Um, no. Why would you think I was sick?"
"Because you weren't at work today," Sam replied. "General Hammond told us that he gave you the day off, but he didn't say why."
"Oh. Uh . . . I had a lot to think about."
"About this stuff with your father?" Jack asked. He saw Daniel's eyes glance at Teal'c. "He knows. I told him. I hope you don't mind."
Daniel wasn't surprised. "No, it's okay."
"It is understandable that learning the truth of your parentage would prey heavily on your mind," Teal'c said. "If I had learned that I was sired by a man other than the one whom I believed to be my father, it would greatly disturb me."
"Me, too," Sam said. "I honestly don't know what I'd do."
Jack took the pizza into the dining room. "Come on. Let's eat this before it gets cold."
"Um, actually, I have something on the stove that I was fixing," Daniel told him.
"Stick it in the fridge. You can eat it tomorrow."
Daniel shrugged and did as the man asked.
They were over halfway through the pizza when Jack finally asked the question Daniel had been waiting for.
"So, did Hammond say he'd help find your father?"
Daniel stared at his pizza. "Um . . . yeah."
"Daniel, what's wrong?" Sam asked. "Have you changed your mind?"
"No. It's, uh. . . ." He took a deep breath. "We . . . already know who it is."
Jack's eyebrows lifted. "Already? Wow, that was fast." He studied the way Daniel was staring at his food. "Daniel, please, please tell me it isn't someone really detestable, like Kinsey."
Daniel's head shot up. "God, Jack. That wouldn't be funny even on my best day."
"It couldn't be Senator Kinsey, sir," Sam said. "He never served in the military."
"Thank God for that," Jack muttered. "Okay, so then who is it?"
Daniel looked at him. "You might want a few more beers in you before I answer that, Jack."
"That big, huh?" Jack grinned. "Is it the president? Now, that would be pretty darn cool. Just think of what a familial connection to the presidency could get us. I'm thinking a bigger budget for starters, more visits to the White House, perhaps weekends at Camp David."
"No, it's not the president, Jack. It's bigger than that."
Sam eyebrows rose. "Bigger than the president?"
"What could be bigger than the president?" Jack wanted to know.
"Well, on a global scale, no, it's not bigger, but, on a personal scale, I'd say it is."
Jack picked up his slice of pizza. "Daniel, just spit it out, will you? You're confusing the hell out of me."
Daniel looked at his friends, his eyes coming to rest on the leader of SG-1. "It's General Hammond, Jack. General Hammond is my father."
Three pieces of pizza that had been on their way to three mouths stopped dead, those three mouths hanging open as if permanently frozen in the act of waiting to take a bite.
"G-General Hammond is your father?" Sam squeaked.
Daniel nodded. "He figured it out as soon as I gave him what little information I had."
Jack's pizza fell back on his plate. "Holy crap! Never in a million years would I have seen this coming."
"It is, indeed, most surprising," Teal'c said.
"Holy Hannah," murmured Sam. "Daniel, I can't even imagine how you must have felt when you found out."
"It was . . . pretty shocking."
"So, what does this mean? I mean, what does the general want to do about it?"
Daniel's gaze fell to the table. "He . . . he wants to be my father, really my father. He wants me to be part of his family."
Sam laid her hand on his arm. "Oh, Daniel. That has to make you happy . . . doesn't it?"
"A big part of me, yes. It's just so overwhelming, Sam. In some ways, I still can't believe it."
"Well, I will say one thing," Jack said. "I don't think you could have a better father than Hammond. He's a great man."
Daniel nodded. "Yes, he is. A lot of guys in his position would prefer to ignore the whole thing. They certainly wouldn't be happy about it. But he was happy. He was honestly, genuinely happy."
Sam smiled and hugged him. "How could he not be happy to have you for a son, Daniel?" she said softly.
"Yeah, you may be a pain in the ass, but you're a good guy," Jack remarked. "He could definitely do worse."
"Indeed," Teal'c agreed. "If you were my son, I would have great pride in you, Daniel Jackson."
Startled and embarrassed, Daniel stammered his thanks.
"And you know what's scary?" Jack asked. "Teal'c's actually old enough to be your father, your grandfather, in fact. Heck, he could even be your great grand. . . ." Jack's voice came to a halt when he noticed the way Teal'c was looking at him.
"What are you going to do about this, Daniel?" Sam asked.
"I haven't made up my mind. There are just so many things to consider. If we make this public knowledge, it will change my life at the SGC. I'll be the base commander's illegitimate son. You know that's going to change the way everyone acts around me."
"Boy howdy, will it ever," Jack agreed, "at least for a while. In time, people will get used to it, and you'll go back to just being Doctor Jackson."
Sam gazed into her best friend's eyes. "Daniel, what do you want, really want?"
"I . . . I don't know. I've been thinking about it all day. In my heart, Melburn Jackson will always be my father. I keep thinking about that, wondering how it would seem for me to let another man take that place in my life. It would almost be like I was cheating on Dad."
"Daniel, you can't look at it like that. Letting General Hammond be your father in every way doesn't mean that you love your other father any less. If you'd been adopted as a child, don't you think that you would have come to love your adoptive parents and thought of them as your family?"
"Yes, I guess I would have."
"Then this is no different."
Daniel stared at the table. "I just keep wondering what my dad would think."
Jack was the one who responded. "Well, Daniel, speaking as a father, if I was in Melburn Jackson's position – putting aside the fact that I'd be dead – I would probably be jealous at first, but then I'd think about what it would mean for my son to have a father again, to have a family again. Any man who truly loved his child would want that for them."
Daniel's gaze went off to a spot across the room. "When I was married to Sha're, it was the first time I'd felt like I was part of a family since my parents died, and it . . . it felt good, even if it was only by marriage. When she was taken, I lost all that."
Sam gazed at him with deep sympathy. "It would feel good to have it back, wouldn't it."
Daniel sighed. "Yes. Yes, it would."
"Then it seems to me, Daniel Jackson, that there is only one correct decision that you can make," Teal'c stated.
The next morning, Daniel called the base to speak to General Hammond. He learned that it was the general's day off. After thinking about it for a while, he decided to go over to the man's house. George smiled brightly upon seeing him.
"Daniel. What a wonderful surprise. Come in."
Daniel entered the house, wandering around to look at things. George remained silent, figuring that the archeologist had something to say and needed to be given the space and time to say it.
"I, um . . . have been thinking a lot about this whole thing," Daniel finally said. "There have been just so many things to think about, what it all means, how things are going to change, and. . . ." He turned to George. "Melburn Jackson will always be my father. That will never change. But I finally came to the conclusion that I . . . that I really want this. I want . . ." his voice quavered, "I want you to be my dad."
With a joyful smile, George came forward and pulled his son into a long, tight hug. Daniel hugged him right back. There were tears in more than one pair of eyes by the time they drew apart.
George laughed, holding Daniel at arms' length. "I'm glad, Son."
That last word made Daniel's chest tighten. It wasn't the first time the general had called him that, but, this time, it was more than just a form of address.
"Come on. Let's go sit down," George said. They both took a seat on the sofa.
"How are we going to tell everyone at the base about this?" Daniel asked. "I mean, I don't think you're going to want to announce it over the P.A. system."
George smiled. "No, that was not my intention. There is actually something that needs to be done first. Though I am certain that you are my son, others may want proof. We will need to get tests done to confirm it. We could go outside the base for that or have Doctor Fraiser do it confidentially."
"I think I'd rather have Janet do it, if that's okay with you."
George nodded. "I agree. Once that proof is in hand, you and I will have to talk about how we want to announce this. I'd let the base grapevine spread the news, but that would most likely lead to a great deal of misconceptions and faulty assumptions. I will have to inform the president and several others personally."
"Oh boy. I can just imagine what Senator Kinsey is going to say."
George frowned. He didn't much care for the man who had nearly shut down the program for good. "To be blunt, Daniel, I don't give a damn what the senator says." He grasped Daniel's upper arm. "You are my son, and nothing anyone says is going to lessen the joy I have in that fact."
Daniel smiled, feeling a bubble of happiness burst inside him. "Dad," he murmured, finding the word coming to his lips with surprising ease. And it felt really good to say it. He watched his father's eyes alight with joy upon hearing the word.
"I want you to meet Kate and Veronica as soon as possible," the man said, "Kayla and Tessa, too."
Daniel began getting nervous. "Um . . . how are they going to react to the news? I know that you didn't really cheat on their mother since you two were broken up at the time, but still. . . ."
"They'll be surprised, of course, but I'm sure they'll warm up to the idea. And, once they get to know you, I know that they'll come to love you."
Daniel stayed for lunch. The two men talked throughout the meal and for well over half the afternoon, getting to know each other much better, revealing private things that they rarely talked about to others. Daniel told his father all that Claire had said in her diary about him and Daniel's parentage.
As the time passed, Daniel found himself relaxing, his spirit lightening. He'd always liked and respected the general, seeing in the man qualities that were rare in the military, especially in someone of such high rank. But, now, knowing that this man was his father, Daniel was feeling so much more. It seemed strange that just the knowledge that Hammond was his father would make him feel so much closer to the man, yet it was. He wanted to spend more time with him, do the kind of things that a father and son did together.
"You look pensive, Son," George asked.
"Do I? I was just thinking."
"I've always liked and respected you a great deal. You're a good man, someone who almost never lets his military side overrule his morality and humanity. When I heard you talking to your granddaughter, telling Kayla that you couldn't come to her school play because a very close friend of yours was lost, it . . . it really affected me. It felt good to know that you cared about me like that."
George laid a hand upon Daniel's forearm, squeezing it gently. "Yes, I did care, Daniel. I care about all the men and women under my command, but there has been a special place in my heart for you almost from the beginning. I now think that something deep inside me knew even then that you were my child."
"You did? I-I mean you do?" Daniel said in surprise.
George smiled. "Yes, I do. There are things the heart senses that we cannot hope to explain."
The archeologist's gaze dropped to the floor. "I've been thinking about how knowing you're my father changes things, how much I feel."
George nodded in understanding. "It's the same way for me, Daniel. I think it's only natural for us to feel that way. It is nothing to be embarrassed or uncomfortable about." He smiled. "In fact, I have every intention of reveling in it."
The statement surprised Daniel a bit, and he looked at the man. George looked back at him with warmth and tenderness. Daniel felt himself relax again and returned his father's smile.
They went back to their previous discussion, chatting for another half-hour. Finally, Daniel decided that it was time for him to go home. George accompanied him to the door.
Before going through, Daniel turned back to the general. "Um . . . Dad?"
George hid a secret smile at hearing Daniel call him 'Dad' again. "Yes, Daniel?"
"I'm glad that I read Mom's diary."
This time, George didn't hide his smile. "I am, too, Son."
The next day, father and son went to the infirmary together.
"Doctor Fraiser, we need to speak to you in private," the general said.
"Of course, sir," Janet responded.
"So, what is this about?" she asked once they were all in her office and the door closed.
"Daniel and I need you to perform a test," George replied.
Janet frowned. "Sir, do you have reason to believe that the two of you were exposed to something?"
George shook his head. "No, it's nothing like that, Janet. The test we need you to perform is one for paternity."
Janet's large brown eyes got even bigger. "P-paternity, sir?"
"Yes. Daniel discovered something that led to me realizing that he is my son."
Janet sat down behind her desk rather abruptly. "Your . . . your son?"
"The child born of a single night with the woman who was his mother."
"Oh . . . my goodness," Janet breathed. She looked back and forth between them. "And neither of you suspected this before now?"
"No," Daniel replied. "We'd never have known about it if my mom's diary hadn't been in with my grandfather's things."
"This had to be a big shock to both of you."
"That's putting it mildly."
Janet stared at them more closely. "How certain are you of this?"
"I am quite positive that Daniel is my son," George replied. "The only reason for this test is so that there will be medical proof of it."
Janet nodded. "All right. I can do the test myself. I assume that you want to keep this confidential."
"For now. Once the results are back and I have more than my word for this, I do not intend to keep it a secret. I have no shame for what happened all those years ago," George's eyes went to Daniel, "and I feel nothing but pride and joy that Daniel is my son."
Janet smiled, seeing the look that passed between the two men. She was totally blown away by this, but it certainly was not a bad thing. In fact, it could be a very good thing. It would be wonderful for Daniel to have a real family, people bonded to him by blood ties.
The doctor got two cotton swabs and took DNA samples from inside each of their mouths.
"I'll have to wait to process these, so I probably won't have the results back until tomorrow morning," she said. "I'll contact both of you when the results are in."
For the rest of the day, Daniel was on pins and needles. A little fear deep inside him was whispering that maybe it was a mistake, that his mother had been wrong about Daniel's parentage, and the test would show that there was no relationship between him and General Hammond. That thought hurt, way more than Daniel could have believed it would. He didn't realize until right then how desperately he wanted this, how much it meant to him.
The next morning, Janet called Daniel and George to her office.
"I've gotten the test results back," she said.
"And?" Daniel inquired, his stomach tightening.
The doctor smiled. "The test confirmed it. General Hammond is your father."
A wave of relief swept through Daniel. He looked at George, and the two men shared a smile.
Janet turned to her C.O. "Sir, how do you intend to announce this? If you'll forgive me for saying so, it's quite a bombshell."
"Yes, it is that, Doctor. Daniel and I need to discuss it, decide what the best way will be. In the meantime, we would appreciate it if you would keep this to yourself."
"Of course, sir."
Daniel and his father went to the archeologist's office. To make sure no one overheard their conversation, the door was closed.
"Okay, I have to admit that I've been worried about the test. I kept thinking that Mom might have been wrong, and I wasn't your son after all."
"I can understand that, Daniel. It's only natural."
"Were . . . you worried?"
"No, I wasn't. I had no doubt that you were my son."
Daniel took a seat behind his desk. "What was my mom like back when you met her?"
George sat down, a soft smile of remembrance on his face. "Ah, she was a lovely, brilliant, charming woman. I was quite taken with her almost immediately. I was in a lot of pain over my breakup with Margaret. Claire made me feel better. She made me laugh. I am not normally the kind of man who would have a one-night-stand with a woman, but that night I felt so drawn to her, and I needed something to take the pain away. Claire took it away. I do believe that, if circumstances had been different, I'd have chosen to continue our relationship." He met Daniel's eyes. "But then, she was still in love with Melburn, and I still loved Margaret, so it probably wouldn't have worked out. She and I were . . . ships that passed in the night." He smiled. "Two people who came together in a single night and created something wonderful."
Daniel dropped his gaze to the floor, not knowing what to say in response to that.
"So, shall we discuss how we're going to tell the news?" George asked.
"I should tell you that Jack, Sam and Teal'c already know."
"Yes, I assumed that. I figured you wouldn't keep it a secret from them for long."
"So, as for the rest of the base, um. . . . It sounds weird, but how about an email? That would be way better than an announcement over the P.A."
George thought about it. Announcing his relationship to Daniel via a base-wide memo might seem pretty odd, but it would certainly do the job, and it would make it possible for him to explain things in more detail. The last thing he wanted anyone to believe was that Daniel was the result of an extramarital affair.
"All right," the general said with a nod. "That's how we'll do it."
"After I've called the president and several others. Tomorrow?"
"Okay." Daniel began fidgeting with a pen on his desk.
George gave him a look of sympathy and understanding. "Daniel, I know how hard this is probably going to be on you. I have the advantage that no one here will dare make an off-color remark around me, much less to my face. You don't have that advantage. People will say things, some of them not exactly polite. It's possible that, in the future, people will think that I'm showing favoritism to you. You need to be prepared for all that."
"I know. When I decided to give that symposium in Los Angeles, I knew that I was leaving myself open for a lot of remarks, insults and snide comments, but it didn't stop me from doing it. That lecture destroyed my standing in the archeological community, but it led to me joining the program and changing my life. What we're going to tell everyone will make it so that I can publicly be your son." Daniel looked straight into his father's eyes. "Any downside to that is worth it to me."
George smiled at him gently. "I feel the same way, Daniel."