Incidents Series Part 4: The Bathtub Incident
by Maureen Thayer
Categories: Friendship, Drama, Angst
Content Warning: None
Spoilers: Rite of Passage
Author's Note: This is the 4th 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 is told from Janet's point of view.
It was the giggling that drew me to the bathroom.
This was my first time in the role of Daniel's babysitter. Since he was transformed into a child, SG-1 had not gone on any missions, but something had come up off-world that needed both Sam's and Teal'c's expertise and would require that they stay overnight, so it was necessary for them and Colonel O'Neill to leave their young teammate in the care of others. It was my day off, so I volunteered to stay on base and watch him.
As a physician, I found this situation with Daniel to be quite extraordinary. How could a human body be "de-aged" from an adult to that of a young child? It would seem to be impossible. I remember thinking that very thing when we believed that Colonel O'Neill had been turned into a teenager. And yet Daniel was living, breathing proof that it was possible.
Of course, we did consider the possibility that the four-year-old child Colonel O'Neill, Sam and Teal'c brought back from that mission was a clone, just as the fifteen-year-old Jack O'Neill turned out to be, and that the real Daniel Jackson was still on that planet somewhere. Teams were sent back to search, but they didn't find anything. The question was resolved once and for all by Thor, who confirmed that the child was the real Daniel.
The rapid aging was another issue. The first thing I did was check for the presence of a nano-virus in Daniel's body, which would explain the speed of his aging, but he was clean. I was worried that the aging would not slow down once Daniel had reached the age he was supposed to be, but Thor assured us that, once Daniel was back to being thirty-eight, his aging would return to a normal rate. Just like with the Asgard clones, Daniel's DNA had been "programmed" for rapid aging and development until he'd reached a certain age, which, according to Thor's scans, would be right around the age he was before he was made into a child. This news made us wonder even more who or what had done this to him.
There was one interesting thing that I'd noted. Though Daniel was growing and aging rapidly, his circadian rhythm and at least some bodily functions appeared to be set to normal time, including his metabolism. He only had to eat three times a day, and he had a regular sleep cycle. Since, in regards to his rate of aging, every nights' asleep was equivalent to several weeks, you could expect to see some muscle weakness through lack of use, yet such was not the case. I'd concluded that his accelerated aging only affected his physical and mental development and, as we now knew, the speed that his body healed.
How his body managed to function and keep everything in perfect balance was something that I hadn't been able to figure out. Whenever Daniel ate, he did tend to consume more food than the average child his age, but his caloric intake still wouldn't seem to be enough to keep pace with the demands of his rapidly growing body. Obviously, something else was at work here, but it was still a mystery to me.
As a doctor, these were the things foremost in my mind. As a friend, however, what I thought about most was how this was affecting Daniel emotionally. The first day was hard on him as he was subjected to test after test. He was scared and confused and cried for his parents more than once. My instincts as a mother wanted to shelter and protect him, keep away the bad things. I know it was hard on Sam and the colonel as well, who, more than once, looked like they wanted to snatch Daniel up and carry him away someplace safe. Teal'c also looked unhappy about how scared and upset the whole thing was making Daniel.
After that, everything settled down, especially after Thor arrived and put our minds at ease. Since then, Daniel has been like a breath of fresh air in this place. Every one of my nurses has volunteered to babysit him, and I know for a fact that he receives visits from quite a few of the personnel, who often bring him toys and games. There was one time that I was in the commissary at the same time as SG-1, and I didn't fail to notice the smiles that came to the faces of quite a few people there as they watched that little boy laughing and chatting away with the energy and enthusiasm of the very young.
I suppose that having any child here would lightened the atmosphere to some extent, but it seemed particularly true with Daniel, who is so bright and loving. This is Daniel before the loss of his parents. I dread the upcoming day when that will change. It won't be long now. Physically, Daniel is now seven years old. In another three days, he'll be eight. Less than a day after reaching that age, the memories of that terrible moment in the New York Museum of Art will come back to him. Everyone in the infirmary is prepared for it, ready to do everything in their power to help him.
Hearing more laughter, I opened the bathroom door a crack. Daniel was in the makeshift bathtub Colonel O'Neill had gotten for him because the private quarters on base were equipped with only shower stalls. Daniel was old enough and responsible enough now to bathe without supervision, so I'd left him to it.
Seeing that he appeared to be fine and not getting into any mischief, I began to close the door. That's when I saw what he was doing. He was playing with a toy boat, spinning it around in the water. There was just one problem. He wasn't touching it. The boat appeared to be moving under its own power, though I knew it wasn't motorized.
The sight made fear build in the pit of my stomach, my mind going back to what happened with Cassie when she was sixteen years old. She began developing psychic abilities due to Nirrti's genetic manipulations, and it almost killed her. Dear God. Please not that again.
"Daniel? What are you doing?" I asked, trying to keep the fear out of my voice.
"I can make it move without touching it!" he exclaimed excitedly. He demonstrated his ability by psychically lifting the boat into the air.
I came all the way into the room. "Yes, I can see that. Did you just find out you could do that?"
"Do you feel okay?"
I felt his face and was relieved upon not finding a fever. He did not appear to be suffering from the same symptoms Cassie did, but that didn't mean that he was all right.
"Um, Daniel, why don't you get out of the tub now and get dressed for bed. It's bedtime."
As I waited for Daniel to come out, I turned down his bed. He now had quarters of his own, which were the same quarters he had when he was an adult. Under normal circumstances, he would have had his own room much sooner than this, but with this being a military base, it was decided that it would be best to wait until he was at least six. After the scare Daniel had at the zoo, Colonel O'Neill insisted on delaying it for a couple more days in case there were any nightmares. Then Emmett Bregman arrived, and we were all concerned that the man would bother Daniel in his quarters if he had his own room. The journalist now, so it was safe to let Daniel sleep in his own room. Since he had memories from his previous childhood that included sleeping alone, I didn't worry about him getting scared. In fact, he was pretty excited about having his very own quarters and had talked about decorating it with pictures and posters of Egypt. Of course, it also meant that the huge collection of toys, games, puzzles and stuffed animals that he was amassing – thanks to his teammates and everyone else on base – would have a place where they could be kept out of the way.
Once Daniel was out of the bathroom, I tucked him in, checking him a second time for fever.
"If you wake up in the night and you feel at all sick, I want you to come to my quarters right away," I told him. "Okay?"
"Okay. Why do you think I'm going to be sick?"
I hesitated, wondering how I could answer. The truth? He was too young to be told the whole truth.
"Um . . . Daniel, do you realize that what you could do with that boat isn't something that ordinary people can do?"
Daniel played with a button on his pajamas. "I kind of figured that. I don't remember being able to do that when I was a kid the first time." He looked at me. "Is it because I was made little again, like the stuff with the animals?"
"Yes, I think maybe it is. I'm sorry, but I'm afraid that we're going to have to run some more tests tomorrow."
Daniel frowned. "I hate tests."
"I know, but I have to be sure you're okay. When my daughter Cassie was sixteen, something happened that gave her special abilities, like being able to move things without touching them. It made her pretty sick, which is why I want you to tell me if you don't feel well."
A pair of curious blue eyes gazed up at me. "Can she still do those things?"
"No, she was cured of the sickness, and the abilities went away."
"Are . . . are the things I can do a . . . a sickness, too?"
The tone of Daniel's voice made me wish I'd phrased things differently. He looked scared now.
I took hold of his hands. "No, Daniel. This isn't the same thing at all. I think that, when you were made into a child, something inside your brain got changed. But you're okay. You'll be fine."
"But you still want to do the tests."
"Yes, just to make sure there aren't any problems." I stroked his brow. "Now, go to sleep. Sam, Teal'c and Colonel O'Neill will be back tomorrow morning. I bet you can't wait for them to return."
Daniel nodded. "I miss them a lot."
I smiled at him. "I bet they miss you, too."
I gave Daniel a kiss on the forehead and went to the door. With a last look at Daniel, I turned the light off and shut the door, the room now lit only by a nightlight in the bathroom.
I did not sleep well that night, my worry keeping me from falling into a deep sleep. I got up and checked on Daniel twice. Both times, he was sleeping soundly, his temperature normal.
The moment General Hammond arrived the next morning, I told him about the latest development. He was concerned and told me to report the results of the tests to him immediately.
We were about an hour into the tests when SG-1 got back from their mission. Minutes later, they were in the infirmary, more interested in knowing what was going on with Daniel than with getting their post-mission exams.
"What's wrong with Danny?" Colonel O'Neill demanded to know.
"Let's go to my office," I responded, not wanting to take the chance that Daniel would overhear.
In the office, I told them what happened. I saw fear spring into Sam's eyes.
"You think it's like what happened with Cassie?" she asked.
The colonel cursed, now also looking worried.
"So far, Daniel has not exhibited any of the symptoms Cassie did," I replied. "He doesn't have a fever, and there have been no seizures. The first tests I ran were to see if there was any increased brain activity and if his cells were generating the same kind of electromagnetic field Cassie's did. The latter test came out negative."
"What of the former?" Teal'c asked.
"There is an increase in synaptic activity, but it's not the same as what we saw with Cassie."
"Yeah, except that he's moving stuff just by thinking about it like she could," the colonel responded.
"I have no explanation for this, Colonel. Obviously, it's linked to what happened to him. We already knew that there was some unusual activity going on in certain areas of his brain. The condition appears to have advanced further now."
"What does this mean?" Sam questioned. "What's going to happen to him?"
I sighed. "I wish I knew. There are three possibilities. He could reach a plateau and stay there, this could reverse course and eventually disappear, or we could continue to see further changes. I honestly don't know what would ultimately happen in that case."
The colonel frowned. "We need to get Thor here again."
I nodded. "I agree. He has the ability to perform scans that we can't."
Though they wanted to go see Daniel, it was necessary for the colonel, Sam and Teal'c to get their exams, then take care of the debriefing. They were right back in the infirmary the moment the debriefing was over. Daniel was in a bed when they arrived, looking small and more than a little miserable. His face brightened upon seeing his teammates.
"Jack, Sam, Teal'c!" he cried, scrambling out of the bed and running up to them. The colonel lifted him up into his arms.
"Hey there, kiddo. How are you doing?" he asked.
Daniel pouted. "I have to get a whole bunch of tests, and I hate it."
"It's for your own good, Danny," Sam told him, stroking his hair.
"Did you hear about what I did with the boat?"
"Yes, we did. That's really something else. I sure wish I could do that."
I could see the forced quality of Sam's smile, and I hoped that Daniel didn't pick up on it.
"Doctor Janet thinks I might be sick, but I don't feel sick at all," Daniel announced.
His teammates exchanged a brief glance with me, the same look in all their eyes.
"Well, I'm afraid that we have to take you off for another test, Daniel," I said. "There are just a couple more to do. Then you can go have fun with Sam, Teal'c and the colonel."
The little boy let out a put-upon sigh that almost made me smile. The colonel put him down, and he went off with a nurse. I looked at the concerned faces of the three people who cared so much about him.
"I do think that Daniel is going to be all right," I told them. "If this was a case like Cassie's, we'd know by now."
"The Asgard are being contacted," Sam said.
"Let's just hope that one of them will get here soon," the colonel responded.
Except for the increased brain activity, all of the tests showed no changes from the last one I'd given him, which put my mind a bit more at ease.
Daniel was very excited about this new ability of his and, as we waited for the final results, showed his teammates what he could do, making small objects float about. At one point, he managed to keep three airborne at the same time. Though they pretended to be very impressed, I could tell that the other members of SG-1 were worried.
Leaving Daniel in the care of a nurse, I joined them and General Hammond in the briefing room.
"The tests do not indicate any medical problems?" the general asked after I gave my report.
"None, sir. From what I can see, Daniel is completely healthy. Whatever caused all of this to happen, it's not like the genetic manipulations that Nirrti performed."
"Then he's going to be all right?" Colonel O'Neill asked.
"As far as I can tell. But, as I said before, we don't know what the future will bring, if this will continue to develop, reverse course, or reach a certain level and go no further."
The colonel turned to General Hammond. "Sir, how much you wanna bet that, as soon as they find out about this, those guys at Area 51 are going to start making noises again about examining Daniel?"
I had no doubt that he was right. Within a day of Daniel being turned into a child, some individuals had expressed a strong desire to run him through some of their own tests. General Hammond refused to allow it and wasted no time in getting the backing of the president. We did, however, send off a sample of Daniel's DNA to them, which did not reveal anything useful.
General Hammond nodded. "I've thought of that already, Colonel. Rest assured that we are not going to allow him to be taken there. He will be remaining right here with us."
"So, what now?" Sam asked. "What are we going to do?"
"Carry on as usual," I replied, "as if nothing is wrong. If Daniel senses that we're worried, he'll get scared. There is one thing, though. We need to impress upon him that this newfound ability of his is not a toy. He must understand that it is potentially dangerous."
After leaving the briefing room, the three members of SG-1 and I returned to the infirmary. We then took Daniel to the commissary.
When Colonel O'Neill reached for his spoon, it slid away from him several inches. He looked at Daniel to see the boy grinning, eyes bright with mischief.
"Daniel," he said in that tone of voice I'd heard him use many times when the archeologist was an adult.
The boy's grin immediately disappeared. "Sorry. It's fun."
The rest of us shared a look. The time had come for that little talk.
"Daniel, this ability to move things with your mind isn't a toy," Sam said. That made the boy's eyes drop to the table. "It's a serious thing, and you have to be careful with it. It could be dangerous and even hurt somebody, if you weren't careful."
"We understand that it's fun to move things around like that," I told him. "But you can't play with it anymore."
"I can't use it ever?" Daniel asked in a sad voice.
"No, we're not saying that, Danny," the colonel replied. "There may be times when you'll need to use it or when it'll help you. You just have to act responsibly with it. Do you know what that word means?"
Daniel nodded. "Whenever I held artifacts, Mom and Dad said that it was my responsibility to keep it safe."
"That's right. You have this ability, so it's your responsibility to use it in the right way and not as a toy."
"So, if somebody was in trouble and needed help, and I could help with what I can do, then I can use it?"
Jack smiled and tousled his hair. "You bet. That would be a good way to use it."
"But, Danny, you can't use it anywhere but here," Sam quickly interjected. "Eventually, you'll be allowed to go off base again, and, when you're in public, you have to keep what you can do a secret."
"What would happen if somebody found out?" he asked.
"It would cause a lot of attention. You know that the Stargate Program is a secret, that most people don't know about it. If they found out about you, what you can do, the secret about the Stargate could come out, too, and that would be very bad."
"I won't tell anybody, and I won't make anything move by itself when I'm someplace else," Daniel promised.
We were all relieved when Thor arrived the next day. I have to admit that I almost lost it upon witnessing Daniel greeting the Asgard.
"Thor!" the boy cried excitedly. He ran over and hugged the alien, whose enormous eyes appeared to get even bigger. I briefly glanced at Daniel's teammates and saw that every one of them appeared to be struggling not to laugh.
"Can we go up on your spaceship again?" Daniel asked, his eyes glowing brightly. From what I'd been told, he hadn't wanted to leave the ship when he was on it before, especially after he found out that it had been named after him. Only four years old then, he'd run around looking at everything and was especially fascinated by the view out the windows.
"It will most likely be necessary to take you onboard my vessel," the Asgard replied.
Thor turned to the rest of us. "We received your message regarding the new development. Fortunately, I was available to come quickly, though the battle with the Replicators is proving to be increasingly difficult."
"What's a Replicator?" Daniel asked.
"A mechanical lifeform whose primary purpose is the replication of its own kind."
Daniel turned questioning eyes to his teammates.
"Evil robot bugs that make lots more robot bugs," the colonel explained.
"They are the greatest enemy of my people," Thor said.
Colonel O'Neill stepped forward. "Okay, enough about that. Let's take that trip up to Thor's ship."
"I would like to come along, if I may," I said.
"I'm sure we can do without you for a few minutes, Doctor," General Hammond responded.
Beaming up to Thor's ship was quite an experience. It was my first time in space, and my breath was taken away by the view of Earth.
Thor performed his scans. As he analyzed the data, Daniel wandered all around the bridge, his eyes shining with wonder. He finally settled at the window and pressed his face up against it to gaze down at Earth.
"I have completed my analysis of the data," Thor announced.
"Wait," Colonel O'Neill said. He glanced at Daniel and lowered his voice. "I think it would be best if Danny wasn't around to hear this.
"I can return him to Earth."
"No, don't do that. He'll be disappointed. Do you have a room with lots of windows he can look out?"
"Okay, he can go there. Danny? Come over here." The boy came running over. "Thor says there's a cool room on the ship that has lots of windows. Would you like to see it?"
Daniel smiled brightly. "Yeah!"
"Daniel Jackson should not go to the room alone," Teal'c stated. "I will accompany him."
He and Daniel were beamed directly to the room.
"Okay, so what have you got, Thor?" the colonel asked.
"My scans indicate that there have been significant developments in Doctor Jackson's brain from his previous scan," the Asgard announced.
"What kind of developments?"
"Areas of the brain that are underdeveloped in your species at its present stage of evolution appear now to be more fully developed within Doctor Jackson's brain."
I was stunned by the news, and I could tell that Daniel's teammates were as well.
"Thor, are you saying that Daniel is . . . is evolving right before our eyes?" Sam asked.
"It is not a true case of evolution. In all other ways, Doctor Jackson is no farther along on the evolutionary chain than others of your species. It is merely that something is causing certain areas of his brain to become more fully developed."
"How far will it go?" I asked.
"I am unsure. I do not have sufficient data from these scans to determine that. It would be necessary for me to do periodic scans over the course of several weeks to see if any further changes take place."
"Is this dangerous?" the colonel asked.
"There is no evidence that these developments will cause harm to Doctor Jackson."
That made me breathe a sigh of relief, and I should imagine that Sam and Colonel O'Neill did likewise.
"Okay. Then here's another question," the colonel said. "Once he's back to his full age, will it go back to the way it was before he got downsized to a kid?"
"That is unlikely, though I cannot be certain."
I shared a look with Sam. "Then you're saying that this is permanent?" I said.
"I have no reason to believe otherwise, although, as I said, I cannot be certain. I am afraid that I still do not know what has caused these things to occur."
"So, basically, you're saying that we have to just wait and see what happens," Colonel O'Neill remarked.
That evening, as I ate dinner, I thought about this newest development in Daniel's life, a life that has been far from normal since the day he was recruited by Catherine Langford and seemed to get even farther from normal every year. He had been through so much, experienced things that no other human being on Earth has, survived things that would have killed most people. I had to wonder what this development would mean for his future, how much more his life would be changed and shaped by it. It was going to be up to all of us to look out for him, to support and help him however we could.
In the end, it could turn out that, whatever mysterious force or person was responsible for this, they'd done us all a big favor. There could come a day when these abilities of Daniel's would save a lot of lives, perhaps even save us all.
Only time would tell.
THE END . . . until Part 5.