Incidents Series Part 16: The SG-13 Incident
by Maureen Thayer
Categories: Action/Adventure, Drama
Content Warning: Mild Profanity, Violence
Spoilers: Spirits, Watergate, Heroes
Author's Note: This is the 16th fanfic in the Incidents Series. I would highly recommend that you read the previous parts before this one, if you have not already done so, in order to understand the plot.
This story switches between Daniel's and Colonel Dixon's points of view.
No one would ever mistake me for the touchy-feely kind of guy who's in touch with his feminine side. What feminine side? Every last molecule of me is male. I have also made no secret of the fact that I would rather be slogging through alien mud, facing death around every bush and tree, than be at home with the brat pack I fathered.
You might be wondering why I even have kids at all. Well, it was my wife who wanted them. I'd have been perfectly happy without them. Don't get me wrong. I don't hate kids. They're all right when they're not screaming, and yelling, and running around out of control, which seems to be the continual state of affairs with my brood. If it wasn't for the fact that my sex life would instantly cease to exist, I'd ship them all off to military school. Since I really like sex, I guess the brats will have to stay, at least until they all go off to college, which ain't gonna happen any time soon unless you know of a university that will accept six-year-old twins.
But then there's Daniel Jackson. When he was an adult, I didn't have much contact with him. I knew his story, and I knew he was one smart cookie who also had a lot of courage and fortitude – and who seemed to die an awful lot – but he was seldom on my radar . . . that is until he got turned into a little kid. Then everything changed.
Now he was the perfect kid, bright, well-mannered, and relatively quiet most of the time. Even at four years old he was saying please and thank you. And, okay, I admit it. He was a cute little guy, too . . . and if you tell anyone I said that, I will snap your neck like a toothpick.
It's strange how I avoid spending much time at home because of the kids that live there, yet, during the time that Daniel was a child, I'd come to work and end up spending a lot of my break time playing with him. There was one time when he was around six-years-old, and I sprained a finger while playing with him. When he realized that I'd gotten hurt, he was so concerned. Afterwards, seeing the finger splint, he gave me a big hug. Yes, I hugged him back, and if you tell anyone that I enjoyed it, I will first torture you and then snap your neck like a toothpick.
Daniel is no longer a child, but I still have a soft spot for him. He is quite the kid. How many people would do what he did when he was only sixteen? Damn, that took guts, going alone to an alien planet full of hostile natives to rescue two of his teammates and SG-17. Afterwards, I told him that he'd make one hell of a Marine, and I meant it. I'd have him on my team any day of the week.
Daniel is twenty-two now, and he is officially back to being a full active duty member of SG-1. I know he's excited about that. He and I talked about it over lunch yesterday. SG-1 is scheduled to go on a mission tomorrow. I heard it'll be an easy one, no confrontations with Jaffa . . . or at least that's the plan. You never know when a mission is suddenly going to turn out to be a whole lot more than you thought it would be.
Today's mission with my team should be an easy one, too, first contact with what looks like a bunch of farmers. I'll let Balinsky make nice with them. He's SG-13's archeologist and geologist, and, though he's not the skilled diplomat that Daniel is, he does a halfway decent job of assuring native populations that we're not out to kill them, probably because he's so harmless. He's about as civilian as a civilian can get. Not that he's helpless in a battle. I made sure that he could shoot straight and would have our backs when there was trouble. But he's a scientist through and through, loves his rocks and his artifacts. He was crushed when we couldn't go on the mission to P3X-666 because of my sprained finger. There were signs of ruins on the planet, and he was all set to go exploring. When he found out, though, that a whole lot of Jaffa showed up on the planet shortly after SG-11 left, he wasn't so sorry that we didn't go.
"Hi, Dave," said a voice behind me. I turned to see Daniel smiling at me.
"Hey, Daniel. How's it going?"
"Pretty good. Looking forward to tomorrow."
I chuckled. "Yes, you made no secret of that when we talked yesterday. Your first official mission since being turned into a kid."
"Well, no, not really. There was that mission to P7W-986 when we went there to reverse the, uh, effects of that device on everyone."
I preferred not to dwell on the "effects" Daniel was talking about. Though I didn't remember any of it, just the thought of what I did while my brain was the mental equivalent of a baby's makes me squirm.
"Okay, so it's your first scheduled mission, then," I said.
Daniel grinned brightly. "Yeah. I do wish, though, that we'd have more to do than just recon in a forest."
"Well, maybe you'll get lucky and find something interesting there." I glanced at my watch. "Well, I gotta get going to the briefing for our mission. I'll see you when we get back."
Daniel nodded. "Okay." He paused. "Oh, um, I was kind of wondering if. . . ."
"Well, um . . . .Christmas is in three days, and I kind of . . . wanted to get you something, but I don't know what you like." He shoved his hands in his pockets and dropped his gaze to the floor.
Dammit. My heart is not going all soft and mushy! Colonel Dave Dixon's heart does not turn to mush over anything!
"You don't have to get me a Christmas present, Daniel," I told him.
"I know, but I want to. I want to get presents for everyone here, but that's obviously not possible. Everybody has been so great to me during these months, and I want to say thank you."
"No thanks needed, Daniel. We've enjoyed the experience." I studied his expression. "I'll tell you what. After I get back from the mission this afternoon, we can go out for burgers, and I'll tell you about the things I like. Okay?"
Daniel's smile returned. "Okay. That would be great."
Giving him a pat on the shoulder, I headed off to the briefing room.
An hour later, my team and I were exiting the Stargate on P5K-323. In the distance lay acres and acres of farmland, people in homespun clothing tending to the fields.
"Okay, boys," I said, "I doubt we're going to have trouble we these people, but keep your guard up anyway."
We struck out across the field, aiming toward the farmland. On the way, we passed the crumbling remains of what may have been a small town a few centuries ago. I could tell that Balinsky wanted to explore the ruins.
"Cool your jets, Balinsky," I told him. "You'll get your chance to go play later on."
He let out a sigh. "Yes, sir."
We'd almost reached the first farm when, without any warning, we were being shot at by crossbows from the forest off to the right.
"Fall back!" I yelled as we returned fire. Our supposedly peaceful mission had just turned deadly, and I needed to get us to some cover before we all got turned into pincushions. The problem was that there was no cover, just a lot of open ground. The only place of safety was back toward the Stargate.
We ran toward the gate, firing over our shoulders. We could now see our attackers, around thirty men in the same homespun clothing as the farmers.
We were getting close to the ruins when Wells got hit in the shoulder. He stumbled and almost fell. Bosworth grabbed him and helped to support him as we kept running. And then an agonizing pain in my thigh told me that I'd been hit. I went down, thinking that this was a lousy, stupid way for a Marine to die, slaughtered by a bunch of hick farmers.
When the announcement came over the P.A. of an unscheduled off-world activation, I got a bad feeling. We had three teams out, all of which were on first contact missions. Jack had told me that even the most seemingly mundane first contact mission could go sour in a hurry, just like what happened on the mission Sam, Teal'c and SG-17 went on.
I wasn't far from the gate room, so I broke into a jog and hurried down the last two flights of stairs. I entered the control room just as the gate connected. When Walter announced that it was SG-13's IDC coming through, my stomach tightened. They weren't due back for another five hours, and they were way too early for their scheduled check-in.
When a bloodied Cameron Balinsky came stumbling through the gate, my concern transformed to dread. I immediately dashed down to the gate room, General Hammond on my heels. I ran up to my fellow archeologist, seeing that he was clutching his wounded arm.
"Cameron, what happened?" I asked.
"We were attacked. I-it was the farmers! They started shooting at us with crossbows for no reason at all. We didn't even get a chance to talk to them."
"Where's the rest of your team?" the general asked.
"Wells and the colonel were both hit, sir. The colonel took one in the leg and couldn't make it to the gate. They were going to try and get to the ruins near the gate, but I don't know if they made it. Colonel Dixon told me to get help. They covered me, but I got clipped as I was dialing." There was fear in Cameron's eyes. "Sir, you have to send help! They're not going to be able to hold out for long."
Jack had just arrived, as had a medical team. While Cameron's arm was being examined, Hammond stepped off to the side with me and Jack.
"Carter, Teal'c and I can be ready in twenty minutes, sir," Jack stated.
"Me too," I said.
Jack turned to me. "No, Daniel. This is too dangerous."
I started to get angry. "Jack, don't you dare pull me off of this. If I'm a member of SG-1, then I'm going to be on every one of our missions, regardless of how dangerous. You can't let me go only on the safe ones. Besides, you know that my abilities will come in handy there. I can disarm the natives."
Jack hesitated, then sighed. "You're right, Daniel. I'm sorry." He turned back to the general. "Do we have a go?"
"We'll have to look at the MALP video feed first to assess the situation. Go get suited up. SG-5 will go with you."
Twenty minutes to the second, we were in the control room, all ready to go. As soon as the wormhole connected, Walter sent a command to the MALP, and the video camera came on. It showed a deceptively peaceful pastoral setting. Not a soul was in sight. I was terribly worried that the reason for this was that Dixon, Wells and Bosworth were all dead, and the natives had gone home to celebrate their victory.
"Looks all quiet," Jack remarked, "which has me worried. We could step through that gate and have a couple dozen crossbow bolts suddenly coming at us."
"But we have to go through," I said. "We can't just abandon them."
"We're not going to abandon them, Daniel. We don't leave people behind. We'll get them out."
"Try to contact them, Sergeant," Hammond ordered.
A call went out to SG-13, asking for a response. The seconds of silence that followed were awful. Then we heard a voice that I recognized as Jake Bosworth's.
"This is SG-13, Stargate Command."
"What is your situation?" the general asked.
"We're hiding out in the ruins, sir. The natives haven't tried to get at us yet, maybe because we took out a few of them. Colonel Dixon and Wells are both injured, though I don't think it's serious. But the colonel's not going to be able to walk very far. Is Cameron all right? We saw him get hit."
"He'll be just fine, Son. We've got a team assembled, and they're going to get all of you out of there."
"They need to be careful, sir. The natives are hiding in the forest and will probably fire on anyone who comes through the gate. We're pretty sure that they've gotten reinforcements. We don't know how many there are now."
"All right. We'll keep the gate connected so that you can contact us in case your situation changes. Hammond out."
"Sir, I recommend that we take the riot shields," Jack said.
The riot shields were a new addition to the armory, added after I made the comment that, if we'd had some kind of shields to use when things turned bad for Sam, Teal'c and SG-17, a rescue team could have protected itself from the natives' arrows long enough to reach cover. The riot shields, the same kind that riot police use, were a temporary measure. They weren't strong enough to completely stop an arrow, much less a crossbow bolt, but they'd help. The scientists were working on coming up with a stronger substance that would still be lightweight and transparent, yet would protect the user against weapons fire, something that was presently only possible with much heavier, opaque shields, which couldn't be used when you had to move fast and wield a P-90.
Hammond nodded sharply. "Do it. Bring our men home, Jack."
As we got the shields, I felt the eyes of my teammates going to me more than once.
"I'll be fine, guys," I finally said. "It's not like this will be the first time I've gone into a situation like this."
"We know, Daniel," Sam assured me. "We just can't help but worry."
I gave her a little smile. "I know. I promise I'll be careful."
We hurried to the gate room with SG-5, the wormhole, which had been kept open, waiting for us to enter it.
"All right, everyone. Listen up," Jack called out. "We've got hostile natives armed with some kind of crossbow. These shields will help slow down the projectiles, but they won't stop them, so try your best to avoid getting hit. We're going to hit the gate at a run and get off the dais as fast as possible, then take shelter behind the gate. SG-13 is holed up in the ruins two hundred yards from the gate. We all know what our goal is: to get them out of there and back home. SG-5, you'll stay at the gate. Your job is to keep those natives busy and off our asses. If you have to take some of them out, you are cleared to do so."
Everyone turned to face the Stargate. I braced myself, preparing to use my telekinetic abilities in whatever way was necessary.
With a command from Jack, we dashed up the ramp, passing through the event horizon at a full run. We shot out the other side and leapt off the dais. In the next second, crossbow bolts were whizzing by us. Using the gate for cover, SG-5 and my teammates returned fire as I sought out the men who were firing at us. The problem was that I couldn't see them. They were hidden in the trees, which meant that I couldn't use my telekinesis to take any of them out.
"I can't see them, Jack!" I cried. "I've got to try something else."
Closing my eyes, I mentally reached out to any animals in the area. After a few moments, I felt a response, but I could tell that nothing larger than a rabbit was in the area. It would be pointless to make them attack the men firing at us.
I shook my head. "It's no use, Jack. There are no large animals in the area, nothing that's big enough to help us."
"All right, then we'll have to do this without help. Can you deflect those bolts?"
"Some of them, but not all."
"That'll have to do." Jack turned to our other team members. "Teal'c, take point. We're moving out."
Keeping our shields between us and the natives, we ran, SG-5 keeping up a steady barrage of gunfire to cover us. With my mind, I struck at the crossbow bolts that were attempting to hit us, shattering many of them. Some got through, however, and my heart went up into my throat when Sam's shield was hit. The bolt lodged halfway through at an angle. If she hadn't had the shield, it would have hit her in the chest. My will power hardening, I tried with all my might to stop every bolt. So focused was I on that task that I wasn't even aware that we'd made it to the ruins until I nearly ran right into a wall.
We ducked behind the crumbling structures. A few more bolts were fired at us, their wooden shafts smashing harmlessly against the stone, then the firing stopped. Jack got on the radio and told SG-5 that we'd made it with no injuries.
I looked over at Sam, who was yanking at the bolt stuck in her shield, trying to get it out. It came free, and she stared at it.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
"Yeah. I'm sure glad I had this shield, though."
"Colonel O'Neill, this is Bosworth," said a voice from our radios. "What's your position, sir?"
"We're at the south edge of the ruins. Where are you?"
"About forty yards to the north. We're in one of the only structures that still has a roof."
I looked to the north and saw what I believed was the building he was talking about. I pointed it out to the others.
"All right," Jack said to Bosworth. "Sit tight. We're on our way."
Using the ruins for cover, we made our way to the building. As we slipped inside, we saw the three members of SG-13. Dixon and Wells were both on the floor, the colonel's right thigh and the Senior Airman's left shoulder covered in blood. I ran up to Dixon and knelt beside him.
"Hey, kid," he said. "Looks like we're going to have to go out for those burgers another night."
"Yeah. That's disappointing. I was looking forward to our talk."
"Hey, we can still have it. You come to the infirmary, and I'll give you Dave Dixon 101."
I smiled. "It's a deal."
Jack came up to us, squatting beside me. He studied Dixon's wound. "How bad is it?"
"I've had worse," his fellow colonel replied. "Hurt's like hell, though."
"Yep. I know that from experience."
I knew that Jack was talking about when he was hit in the shoulder by an arrow forged from trinium by the Salish Indians on PXY-887.
"So, what's the plan to get us out of here, Jack?" Dixon asked.
"Well, considering that you're not going to be able to move very fast, I'm thinking that I'll have Teal'c toss you over his shoulder and carry you out."
It was obvious from Dixon's expression that he wasn't too keen on that idea.
"Jack, Teal'c won't be able to cover both himself and Dave with his shield," I pointed out.
"I know, which is why I'll be giving my shield to Dixon."
The leader of SG-13 shook his head. "Not a chance, Jack. I'll take my chances without one."
Jack stared at him. "This is not up for discussion, Dixon. You'll be a sitting duck. I can take cover with Daniel behind his shield."
I frowned, knowing that Jack wouldn't be protected nearly enough. There had to be something else we could do.
I looked around at the stone walls that were presently protecting us. I got up and went to the doorway. Amidst the tall grass and other weeds were the broken remains of other walls, some no more than piles of rubble. An idea began to form in my head. I turned back to the others.
"I've got an idea."
I stared at the field that separated us from the Stargate, then my gaze went to the person who had given himself the job of safely getting us across that field. Though I'd heard plenty of stories about Daniel's telekinetic abilities, I'd never seen them in action, and I was looking forward to it.
Jack turned to Daniel. "Are you sure you can do this? That's going to be an awful lot of weight."
"I've lifted up to three tons without any problem, Jack. I'll try to keep it under that."
Jack gave him a nod. "All right, then let's get this show on the road."
We all kept our eyes on Daniel, who focused his gaze on the ruins behind us. I watched as a big chunk of stone lifted into the air and sailed over our head to settle in the grass a few feet from us, beyond the wall we were sheltering behind. It was joined by two more, then four, six, nine, and so on. Soon, Daniel was lifting five and six stones at a time, gradually building a seven-foot-high wall. I was damn impressed.
As the final stone settled into place, Daniel got to his feet, as did everyone else. I was being supported on my left by Bosworth and my right by Teal'c. Carter was helping Wells.
"All right," Jack said. "Let's move out."
We stepped out from behind the ruins and into the shelter of the wall that was being held together by Daniel's psychic ability. I watched as that wall lifted up off the ground, every last stone of it, and slowly began to move across the field, the seven of us staying behind it. We made our slow way toward the gate, our moving barricade keeping us safe. I smiled on the inside, picturing the look that must be on the faces of those trigger-happy farm boys. I'd pay a lot to see it for real.
We were about halfway there when Jack suddenly grabbed Daniel's arm. Pulling my attention from the wall, I looked at the kid and saw that his face was pale and beaded with sweat, pain furrowing his forehead.
"Daniel?" Jack asked anxiously.
"I'm okay," Daniel grated out.
"Like hell you are. Put it down and rest for a while."
Daniel looked like he was going to object, but then the wall started to come apart. He hastily set it down and put all the stones back in place. As Jack helped him take a seat on the ground I saw that his hands were shaking. Wells and I were also lowered to the ground.
"You said you were going to keep it under three tons, Daniel," Jack said accusingly.
"I did . . . or I think I did. I couldn't actually weigh it, you know. That's not the problem. I've never kept that much weight airborne for that long."
"Crap. I'm sorry, Daniel." Jack looked toward the Stargate. "I think we can make it the rest of the way without the wall."
"Daniel, you're in pain. You look like you're about half a minute from collapsing."
"I can make it, Jack. I just need to rest for a few minutes."
"Just let me try, Jack. If I see that I can't make it all the way, I'll stop."
"Let the kid try, Jack," I said.
Jack appeared to think about it for several seconds, then nodded. "All right, but if your headache gets too bad or you feel like you might pass out, you stop and put that wall down. You got it?"
Daniel agreed. He laid down in the grass and closed his eyes. I motioned for Jack to come closer. He left Daniel's side and sat in the grass beside me. I studied his face, seeing a lot of worry in his eyes.
"What could happen to him if he pushes himself too far?" I asked in a low voice.
"We don't know for sure, but Fraiser was pretty adamant that he never be allowed to do it. She worries that it could cause brain damage."
"Damn. I had no idea."
Jack shook his head. "I shouldn't allow him to keep going. We'll just have to take the chance and go the rest of the way without the wall."
I looked over at Daniel, who appeared to have fallen asleep . . . or lost consciousness. I really hoped it was the former. "Jack, I realize that I don't know Daniel nearly as well as you do, but I've come to know him well enough that I'd be willing to bet he won't stand for that. He's going to keep moving that wall no matter what you tell him."
Jack stared at me. "Yeah, you've gotten to know him, all right."
I let out a little chuckle. "Stubborn as a mule, huh."
"Hah! Mules have nothing on him. He is a major pain in the ass half the time," he looked over at the guy who was presently the youngest member of his team, "but I wouldn't trade him for a hundred Marines or airman."
"Neither would I, if he was on my team."
Jack looked at me, surprise on his face.
I shrugged. "Hey. What can I say? The kid grew on me."
Jack smiled slightly. "Yeah, he has a penchant for that, too."
"Sir, I'm seeing movement in the trees," Sam Carter announced.
Jack joined her to peek around the wall. "Looks like the natives are getting restless. They might try to rush us, though I don't know how far they'd get once SG-5 opens up on them. All the same, we need to get going." He went to Daniel and gently shook the kid awake. He explained what was going on, and Daniel sat up.
"How are you feeling," Jack asked.
"I'll be all right."
"That's not an answer, Daniel."
Daniel paused, then sighed. "My head still hurts quite a bit." He quickly held up a finger. "Don't say it, Jack. Our chances of making it the rest of the way without the wall are not good. We can't move fast enough, and, with this headache, I don't think I'll be able to concentrate well enough to stop very many of those crossbow bolts."
Now it was Jack who sighed. "Yeah, you're right. I hate it that you are, but you're right."
Daniel got to his feet. "Then let's go."
Once everyone was back on their feet, Daniel stared at the wall, which slowly lifted several inches into the air. We all began to move forward again. I kept my eyes on Daniel, clearly seeing the pain etched on his face. By the time we'd made it another hundred feet, his face was nearly white, and he was breathing hard. Jack grabbed hold of him, clearly sick with worry. I saw the same worry on the faces of Carter and Teal'c.
We'd managed to cover around another fifty feet when, quite suddenly, Daniel dropped like a stone, Jack barely managing to catch him before he hit the ground. Our barricade crumbled. We hit the dirt, and I felt pain lance up and down my leg.
"Sir!" Carter cried, frightened eyes on Daniel's still body.
Jack felt for a pulse. "He's alive, Carter."
At that moment, the natives started firing on us. We all huddled behind the pile of stones that had made up our protective wall.
Jack got on the radio. "Harper! We're going to make a run for it. I need you to get that gate dialed. Empty your clips at those natives. Give them everything you've got."
As SG-5 began firing at the natives, Jack lifted Daniel up onto his shoulders. Ignoring my objections, Teal'c did the same thing to me. And then we were running, Bosworth and Carter helping to cover us with their P-90s. A crossbow bolt whizzed by me close enough that I felt it stir the air near my head. Shortly after that, I heard the roar of the Stargate opening.
"Go, go, go!" Jack yelled. And then we were ascending the steps of the dais, and I felt us enter the wormhole, my ass starting the journey first.
We rushed out the other side, Jack yelling for a medic. Once I was deposited on the floor of the gate room, I saw that Daniel was on the floor as well, lying way too still, his face ghost white.
Fraiser and her medical team were in the gate room within minutes. As nurses attended to me and Wells, the doctor was bent over Daniel, shooting off question to Jack. Three gurneys were wheeled in, and Daniel was lifted up onto one of them. The sight of him limp as a rag doll and not looking like he was even breathing made my gut clench. He was hurried out of the room, his three teammates going with him. I was helped up onto a gurney, and it hurt like crazy, but I didn't care. All I was thinking about was Daniel.
As my leg was being treated, I asked more than once how the kid was doing, but no one seemed to know. The second my wound was all stitched up, I was demanding a wheelchair. The doctor who'd treated me didn't want to give me one, so I started getting out of bed, intending to walk. Seeing that I wasn't going to stay put, he got the wheelchair for me.
I went in search of Daniel's teammates and found them, Bosworth and Balinsky all in the area that was the unofficial waiting room. Actually, it was the corridor outside the infirmary, but chairs had been placed there for people to sit in. Jack was not occupying one of the chairs. Instead, he was pacing like a caged tiger. Teal'c was also on his feet, standing still against one wall. Carter was in a chair, and she looked like she'd been crying.
Balinsky saw me and got to his feet, as did Bosworth.
"Sir, how are you?" my archeologist asked.
"I'll be fine." I turned to Jack. "How is he?"
"We don't know yet. He's been taken for an MRI. Fraiser's afraid that he might—"
Seeing the look on his face, I knew that whatever it was that he was unable to finish saying, it was really bad.
I suddenly felt guilt come crashing down on me. If I'd been able to get my team off that planet, SG-1 wouldn't have had to come rescue us, and Daniel would be okay. Damn.
Jack suddenly walked away down the hall several yards. He came to a stop and braced his hands flat against the wall, head bowed low. I waited a few seconds before following him. When he became aware of my presence, he straightened up and turned around, putting his back against the wall, arms crossed over his chest.
"I'm sorry, Jack."
"This isn't your fault, Dave."
"I failed to get my team out of there, making it necessary for you to come get us."
Jack shook his head, eyes staring at the floor. "Another team would have done no better."
Jack lifted his gaze to mine.
"With Daniel, you'd have made it out," I said, knowing it was true.
Jack closed his eyes and turned his face away. "Yeah," he whispered. "Yeah, we would have." He pushed off from the wall and walked away a few feet. "Dammit. I should have insisted that he not lift that wall again."
"And then maybe none of us would have made it. We could never have covered those three hundred feet without at least some of us getting hit, Jack. You did what you had to . . . and so did Daniel."
There was a long moment of silence. "He . . . means a lot to me, Dave," Jack finally said in a very low voice.
"I know, Jack. He's a tough kid. He'll make it through."
The sound of the infirmary doors opening made us turn to see Doctor Fraiser coming out. We quickly headed over there.
"How is he, Janet?" Carter asked in a scared voice.
"I can't give any guarantees yet, but I'm hoping that he's going to be all right. It was a close one, though. He pushed himself way over the edge."
"Is there any brain damage?" Jack asked.
"I'm afraid so, but, thankfully, it isn't extensive, and, amazingly, it appears to be healing, the cells actually regenerating. It's quite extraordinary. If it maintains its present rate, he should be fully healed sometime tomorrow."
"But you're not certain that he is going to fully heal," Carter said.
"I'm sorry, Sam, but, no, there is no way that I can be sure of that, at least not yet. We'll do periodic scans to keep track of his progress, but there's really nothing more we can do than that."
"May we go to him?" Teal'c asked.
The doctor nodded. "We have him in the ICU."
Daniel's teammates disappeared through the doors. Fraiser turned to me.
"How are you feeling, Colonel? From what Doctor Leeds told me, it was a pretty nasty wound, but mostly soft tissue damage."
"I've had way worse. How's Wells?"
"He's going to be fine, though it'll be a few weeks before he has full use of that arm."
I nodded. "Give it to me straight, Doc. What are Daniel's chances?"
"If it was anyone else, someone without Daniel's healing capacity, they would likely never fully recover. They would be left with permanent brain damage. I truly can't say with Daniel. What's happening inside his brain shouldn't be possible. Damaged brain cells do not regenerate like that. I don't know how or why, but whatever was done to Daniel when he was turned into a child has changed him even more than we had believed." The doc glanced at her watch. "I need to get back in there." She looked down at my leg. "And you should be in a bed, recuperating."
"I can recuperate in the wheelchair."
The doctor sighed and shook her head. "You're as bad as Colonel O'Neill. Fine. Have one of the nurses elevate that foot to reduce the stress on your thigh muscles. And don't you dare get out of that chair. If you have to urinate, use a urinal."
I heard Balinsky snicker, and I subjected him to a glare, which shut him up.
We all went to visit Wells, who immediately asked how Daniel was. While we were there, a nurse raised the right footrest of my wheelchair and gave me some painkillers. We stayed with Wells for around twenty minutes, then Bosworth went off to take a shower, and Balinsky went off to the Archeology Department. I wasn't sure when Hammond would be having the post-mission debriefing.
I thought about going to my quarters. Instead, I went to the ICU. From a spot near the entrance I watched SG-1. Carter was in a chair at the head of Daniel's bed. She had his hand in one of hers and was stroking his hair with the other. Jack was sitting on the other side, his hand resting on Daniel's shoulder. Teal'c stood beside Jack.
My thoughts went to who these people were. SG-1 had become a legend at the SGC. They'd accomplished things, survived things, that sometimes seemed impossible. I'd heard the members of other teams talk about the bond that existed between Jack, Daniel, Carter and Teal'c, how they all seemed to understand each other so well that they could almost read each other's minds.
When Daniel did the ascension thing, everything changed. We all saw it. He may have been just one fourth of the team, but it was like he took three-quarters of the team's heart with him. Yeah, I know that doesn't sound like something I'd say, but I understand what it's like when a really close-knit team loses a member. It throws the rest of the team off-balance.
I never much cared for Jonas Quinn. I thought he was kind of weird, especially his obsession with the Weather Channel and bananas, and I never got the impression that he fit on the team like Daniel did. After Daniel descended and regained his memories, SG-1 was like its old self again. What would happen to the team if he never fully recovered from this?
I heard someone come up beside me and looked up to see Ferretti.
"Hey," he said. "How is he?"
"Hanging on. The doc's not sure of he's going to be all right."
"He'll be all right. There's no way that he won't be. He's too stubborn to let this keep him down."
I nodded slightly, hoping he was right.
Ferretti stayed for a few minutes. Not long after he'd left, Sergeant Siler showed up, followed by Walter Harriman. They had no sooner left than all four members of SG-5 came in.
And that's how it went. Over the hour that passed as I sat there, a total of twenty-one people stopped by. None of them disturbed the members of SG-1, respecting Jack, Teal'c and Carter's desire to be alone with their ill teammate.
At the end of the hour, the request for our presence in the briefing room came. Bosworth, Balinsky and I joined the three conscious members of SG-1 there. We told Hammond everything, including how Daniel saved us all, nearly killing himself in the process.
"Doctor Fraiser has filled me in on Daniel's condition," the general said. "I'm sure I don't have to tell you that my prayers are with him. Yet again, he demonstrated the courage and selflessness that we have all come to know so well." He looked around at all of us. "You all look tired. You should get something to eat and some rest." He focused upon the three members of SG-1. "It being Christmas Eve day after tomorrow, you'll have it and the next day off, but I want you to take tomorrow off as well, although I'm not going to tell any of you to go home since I know that you'd refuse."
"Yes, sir," Jack confirmed.
Hammond looked at me. "Would you like me to have someone drive you home, Colonel Dixon?"
"Nah, I think I'll be sticking around here for a while. It's more restful."
I went off to get something to eat. It didn't surprise me that Daniel's teammates never showed up while I was there. They probably went straight back to the infirmary.
After I was finished eating, I went to my quarters on base, intending to get some shut-eye. I completely ignored Fraiser's orders and took a leak in the john, though it hurt like a son of a bitch to stand up. I then laid down, but I couldn't relax, the image of Daniel collapsing to the ground like he was dead refusing to leave my mind. I finally gave up and turned on the TV, but that didn't help either.
"Dammit," I cursed.
I got back in the wheelchair and returned to the ICU. When I got there, I saw that Daniel was alone. Knowing Fraiser, she probably ordered his teammates to go get something to eat, refusing to let them back in until they had.
I wheeled up to the bed and stared down at Daniel's face. It was still pale.
"Hey, kid," I said. "I don't know if you can hear me or if I'm just talking to myself, but you need to beat this. We're all waiting for you to get back to your real age so that you can remember what made you into a kid. There's a lot of bets going around about that, you know. Some of the theories are really wild. Most of them involve aliens, of course, which, in this line of work, isn't a crazy idea. In fact, odds are that aliens are involved. The real question is why it happened. Some people think it was an accident, that you stumbled into something. But you know what I think? I think it was done on purpose. There was a reason for it. Maybe whoever did this thought that it would be a good thing. And you know what? If that's what they thought, then they were right. You getting turned into a kid was a good thing, and not just because you got all those freaky mind powers. So, don't you ruin it all by not getting better. You hear me, Jackson? You're going to wake up with all your brain cells intact."
Just then, Fraiser came in and spotted me. She came over with a frown.
"You should be resting."
"I'll rest later. I couldn't sleep."
Her face softened, and her gaze went to Daniel. "He's had a lot of visitors. A lot of people here have come to care about him a great deal. He already had a special place in the hearts of some of us, but being turned into a child put him into the hearts of nearly everyone else." She met my eyes. "If prayers have any power, he's going to be just fine."
I was caught in this thick white fog with no sense of direction. It was strange, but I wasn't worried. I could sense a presence nearby, more than one, actually, the feeling that people who loved me very much were right there beside me and would never leave me alone.
I heard a voice, one that I knew so well. "We're all right here, Daniel," said Sam. "It's time for you to wake up now. We've been so worried about you. But Janet says that she's pretty sure you're going to be all right. You just need to wake up."
Another voice came to my ears, the one belonging to Jack. "You heard her, Daniel. You've been sleeping long enough. Tomorrow's Christmas Eve. You don't want to miss that, do you? And then there's the Christmas dinner at Fraiser the next day. I know that Cassie is looking forward to seeing you, and it's not gonna be here in an infirmary with you sleeping away. She's coming all the way from UCLA, after all."
I then heard the baritone voice of my third teammate. "You must awaken so that we can all sing yuletide carols and drink eggnog."
"And play in the snow," Jack added. "We'll definitely be having a white Christmas this year, Danny. There's about six inches on the ground, and more is scheduled to fall this evening. We're just hoping that it doesn't delay Cassie's flight. But don't you worry. I'll go pick her up myself from Peterson, if I have to. They might shut down the regular airports, but the United States Air Force never lets a little thing like snow keep us from flying."
"Or from jumping out of planes," I whispered.
There were several seconds of complete silence, then both Sam and Jack blurted out, "Daniel?"
I opened my eyes and looked at the three people hovering over me. "Hi."
Gigantic smiles lit the faces of Jack and Sam, a smaller one coming to Teal'c's.
"Daniel!" Sam cried, grabbing my hand. "Oh, we have been so worried about you. How are you feeling."
"Kind of . . . fuzzy." I tried to recall what happened. "What happened to me? The last thing I remember is heading toward the gate."
"What happened is that you pushed yourself way too far in spite of our agreement," Jack answered disapprovingly.
I tried to remember more, and vague memories came to me of my brain feeling like it was on fire, being slammed by a wave of dizziness . . . then nothing.
"I passed out?"
"No, you dropped in your tracks like you'd been shot. Nearly gave me heart failure."
"You suffered brain damage, Daniel," Sam told me, her eyes full of remembered pain. "For a while, we didn't know if you were going to be all right."
Brain damage? That was a scary thought. Was I okay?
"Am I all right?" I asked.
"Yes, thanks to whatever wackiness was done to you when you de-aged," Jack replied. "Fraiser's in awe of you. I guess your brain cells all healed themselves. You're pretty much back to one hundred percent."
I was immensely relieved that I was going to be okay. "I heard you say that tomorrow is Christmas Eve. So, I've been lying here for a full day?"
"Not quite. Twenty and a half hours, to be precise. And a busy twenty and a half hours it has been."
"What do you mean?"
"Nearly half the base personnel have come to see you, Daniel," Sam explained. "Most of them stayed for only a few minutes, but they all came because they care."
I was deeply touched by the fact that so many people had visited me.
"Can I get out of here?"
"Oh, not so fast, mister," said a new voice, one belonging to Janet Fraiser. She came up to the bed. "You will be staying in that bed until I say otherwise, and that won't be until your scans come back clean."
"But what about Christmas?"
The look in Janet's eyes softened. "Don't worry, Daniel. Based upon the last scan I did, you'll be out of here today, so our plans for Christmas are still on."
I thought about the teenaged girl who'd be coming for Christmas, a girl I'd heard so much about but had no memory of. I was a little nervous about meeting her.
That's when I suddenly thought of something. "Is everyone else okay? SG-13?"
"They're fine," Janet assured me. "Colonel Dixon will be on medical leave for a couple of weeks, and Airman Wells for a bit longer, but they should both heal fully."
"They have you to thank for getting them off that planet," Jack said, "we all do."
I shook my head. "We were all part of the rescue mission. SG-5, too."
"Yes, and I'm not saying that we didn't play our part, but that moving wall of yours is what got us safely back to the gate . . . well, that is until you keeled over, and it went with you. We had to run like crazy the rest of the way." Jack studied my face, no doubt making note of the fact that I was struggling to keep my eyes open. "We'll let you get some sleep."
"I thought you said that I'd been sleeping long enough."
"Sleeping is one thing; being unconscious is quite another. I have no problem with you sleeping. Just don't do any more of that unconscious stuff. It's hell on my nerves."
"Mine, too," Sam added.
I smiled. "I'll try not to." I closed my eyes with a sigh.
"Oh. One question, Daniel," Jack said.
I looked at him. "What?"
"Jumping out of planes in the snow? Now, I know that you don't remember that mission, and you're not allowed to read any of our mission reports yet, so would you care to tell me how you know about that?"
"Oh. Um, Ferretti was telling me about all the different alien species we've met. When he told me about the ones on that world where the gate was under the ocean, I was really curious and asked him to tell me about the mission."
Jack's eyes narrowed. "Ferretti's got a big mouth."
"It's cool, Jack. It's not like it really matters that I know. And he didn't tell me all the details, although what little he said about that Colonel Maybourne leads me to believe that he isn't a very nice person."
Jack frowned angrily. "Maybourne is a snake, and you'd be much better off if you never regained any memories of him. There have been many, many times when I've wished that I could blot him from my memory. And that's all I'm going to say about him."
Sam gave me a kiss on the cheek and told me to sleep well, then she and the others left, Janet saying that she'd check in on me later. I closed my eyes again and succumbed to sleep.
When I woke up three hours later, I was still alone. I was the only one in the ICU, so I had the place to myself. I felt completely normal, my mind crystal clear. I considered buzzing for Janet and asking her if I could get out of there, but I knew that she'd just tell me that she'd let me leave when she was good and ready.
I ran a hand over my face and found that I had a beard. Judging by its length, I'd say that someone must have been using the depilatory cream on me while I was unconscious since three month's worth of growth would be a whole heck of a lot longer. I felt my head and came to the conclusion that, though they'd taken care of the whiskers, they hadn't done anything about the hair. I'd have to ask Sam to cut it after I got out of here.
I buzzed for a nurse and asked her if I could get a shave and some more of the cream put on, and she took care doing both things.
Shortly after she'd left, a sound from the doorway drew my gaze over to it, and I saw Colonel Dixon enter in a wheelchair.
"Well, awake at last, I see," he remarked as he came to a stop at my bed.
"Yes, and ready to get out of here."
The man chuckled. "Yeah, I was lucky. The doc didn't make me stay. Wells is out now, too. He's home with his wife and daughter."
"And you're not home because. . . ."
"Do you really need to ask?"
I smiled. "It's more peaceful here?"
"You got it. See? You already know plenty about me."
That made me recall what our plans had been. "Yeah, you didn't get to give me Dave Dixon 101. I guess that won't be happening now."
"Who says? Yes, it's true that you were the one who was supposed to be coming to me in the infirmary, but this will work, too."
"But I don't know when I'll be able to get your present. I was going to go shopping for it last night."
"Hey, you already gave me a present. You got me and my team off that planet. Not being dead is a plenty big enough Christmas present."
I didn't respond, thinking that I still wanted to figure out a way to get him a gift, even if I had to brave the insanity of the last minute shoppers tomorrow.
"Before I get started," the leader of SG-13 said, "I want to say that, after seeing what you did on that planet, you really rock."
I got the play on words right away and grinned. "Stone, Dave, not rock."
Dixon frowned. "What's the difference?"
"Rocks are on or in the ground. A structure is made of stone."
"Whatever." He clapped his hands and rubbed them together with a gleam in his eyes. "So, shall I get started?"
I nodded and raised the head of my bed. As Dixon began to tell me about himself, my thoughts strayed for a moment to what my teammates told me about all the visitors I got. I had a feeling that a lot of those people, including this man before me, were no more than acquaintances before the day I was reduced to the age of four. Because of that event, I'd really come to know personally a lot of the people here, many of whom I considered good friends now.
In another two months I'd regain the memory of the day I was de-aged and, hopefully, find out how and why it happened. Whatever I learned on that day, I no longer have any regrets about it. Yes, it's caused problems, and, yes, it's been frustrating and even dangerous at times, but I think that the good things that happened because of it have outweighed the bad. People are alive because of it, maybe even more people than I'm aware of. Who knows how different some things would be if it hadn't happened.
Who knows how different things will be in the future because of it.
THE END . . . until Part 17.