Sam Carter hesitantly poked her head into Jack O'Neill's office. He appeared to be unhappily involved in sorting through a stack of paperwork. Knowing her former CO, one pile was the 'Have to do it' pile and the other was the 'Throw it away and pretend I never got it' pile. Her friend and mentor was not the same man he'd been before Daniel had left them six months earlier, but some things hadn't changed.
"Hey, Carter! How ya doing?" Jack said enthusiastically, obviously grateful for the interruption. "Come on in and pull up a chair." Sam complied with a bemused smile.
"How are you, sir?"
"Great. Fine. Up to my mikta in memos but that's nothing new," Jack responded. "So…what's new with you?"
"Nothing really," Sam admitted.
"Those SG-6 pinheads giving you any trouble?" Jack sounded like he wished they were, if only to give him a chance to get out of the office and kick some butt.
"I'm one of the SG-6 pinheads now, sir," Sam pointed out.
"No, you're the SG-6 team commander," Jack corrected her. "Besides, you'll always be a founding member of SG-1"
"There is no SG-1 anymore," Sam said rather sharply. Jack grimaced in response. "I'm not blaming you, sir," she continued more gently. "You felt it was time to retire from field duty. I don't agree but I understand."
"I don't think you do, Carter," Jack said gruffly. "I don't think you could."
"So explain it to me," Sam pleaded.
"I can't," Jack said firmly. "Not now. Maybe…maybe after I retire completely." He gave Sam a wry smile. "Just know that it doesn't have anything to do with you. Or Teal'c." Jack's expression brightened. "He sends his regards, by the way. He and Bratac are slowly building up that jaffa army."
"Good. Tell him I said 'hi' next time you hear from him," Sam said briskly. "But back to the subject." Jack grimaced. "Sir, I know this was about Daniel. You have to know you weren't responsible for what happened to him."
"I was," Jack insisted. "But that's not why I took a desk job."
"Then you're right," Sam admitted. "I don't understand."
"I know," Jack said wearily. "Look, Carter, there are certain military policies that won't let me explain just yet." Jack gave her a look that was both studying and sly. "Policies like don't ask…." Just then a brilliant white light filled Jack's senses and Sam, the memos, and his office disappeared from view. When the light subsided Jack found himself inside a room that gave him a spectacular view of Earth. "Damn it," he muttered looking around.
"You know, you really should give a guy some warning," Jack grumbled as he followed his favorite little gray butt down a long corridor. "You guys got all this advanced technology. I don't see why you couldn't give me some kind of intergalactic pager to let me know you're coming."
"My apologies, O'Neill," Thor said in a tone that Jack didn't feel was particularly apologetic.
"I could've been sitting on the john reading the sports section, for crying out loud," Jack continued.
"We always perform a scan to ascertain your location," Thor explained. "Had you been engaged in activities of a personal nature, we would have waited before summoning you." Jack was speechless, completely disconcerted by the thought of a bunch of Asgaard peeking in on his 'personal activities'. Thor led him into a small windowless chamber deep within the Asgaard ship. As with many alien ships, the room gave no obvious clue as to its purpose. Well, no clue that was obvious to Jack. He supposed that Carter or Daniel….
"So, what's up," Jack said abruptly.
"There is a matter of some importance which I must discuss with you," Thor answered. Jack waved a hand to encourage the Asgaard commander to continue. "You are aware that in the past we have visited your planet on a number of occasions, and have at times taken human subjects for study."
"Yeah," Jack said uneasily. "And to tell the truth, the idea gives me the creeps."
"In some instances, we manipulated human reproductive functions," Thor continued. Jack's mouth moved soundlessly as he tried to work out exactly what Thor was telling him. "Specifically, we used human DNA in cloning experiments. The viable fetuses were placed in human females to proceed through natural development."
"Shit! You mean the X-files has been right all this time?" Jack exclaimed incredulously. "We've got all kinds of alien hybrid babies running around?"
"No," Thor said calmly. "The fetuses were all entirely human."
"Just clones," Jack said.
"In most cases," Thor acknowledged. "Some were the result of selective genetic mixing." Jack muttered a disbelieving oath. "In our defense, O'Neill, you must realize that while we knew that humans were a sentient species we considered your race to be extremely primitive."
"Well, you go picking up any Billy Joe Bob off of some dirt back road you're bound to get that impression," Jack snapped. Thor blinked, which was as the strongest expression of surprise he ever showed.
"You are offended," Thor commented.
"A little," Jack said bluntly.
"Then you will be pleased to know that we ceased human cloning several years ago," Thor offered. "And most of the humans we created are living happily on Earth with no idea of their origins. Indeed, there is no reason for them to know. However not all were returned to Earth."
"No. Some…very special individuals were raised among the Asgaard. We believed these particular humans had the potential to expand our own knowledge and understanding, or to learn from us and eventually return to Earth to teach your people," Thor explained.
"I see," Jack said, although he didn't really.
"Considering recent events I thought it was time that you became aware of this. Of one individual in particular." Thor hesitated. "There is someone I would like you to meet. Would you be willing, O'Neill?"
"Sure," Jack said, slightly bewildered by the whole exchange. He gestured broadly. "Send in the clones." Thor turned without reacting and activated some device. "Tough crowd," Jack muttered. A moment later the door opened and a teen aged boy entered. Jack literally staggered as he took in the long brown hair and piercing blue eyes. "Jesus fucking Christ!"
"Daniel, meet Colonel Jack O'Neill," Thor said to the young man. The boy turned to Jack and smiled, the full lips Jack remembered so well curving in genuine happiness.
"I ask your forgiveness, O'Neill." Jack just waved a hand at Thor.
"Where is he?"
"In another chamber," Thor answered. The little alien seemed genuinely perturbed. "I am sorry, O'Neill. I had not expected your reaction would be so strong."
"Yeah, well, that happens when you see someone come back from the dead," Jack said, still feeling a little off kilter.
"This is not your Daniel Jackson," Thor pointed out. Jack grimaced, closing his eyes and fighting down the memory of HIS Daniel Jackson.
"When…when did you do this?" Jack asked.
"Nearly five years ago. As you have noticed we can accelerate the process of maturation. We do not do so at such a rapid rate as the goa'uld, though. Our scientists have found that humans need to develop more slowly in early childhood so we keep the process very slow during the first few years. We also slow the process at the time of sexual maturation." Thor looked almost discomfited. "Humans seem to become very…irrational at that time and hastening the process only exacerbates the problem."
"Puberty will do that to you," Jack agreed with a weak chuckle. "Holy shit," he muttered. "Thor, buddy, this is a real kick in the ass." Thor waited silently as Jack paced the room.
"Physically this Daniel Jackson is approximately 15 to 16 Earth years of age," Thor finally continued when Jack seemed unable or unwilling to comment further. "He is old enough to know who and what he is, to have learned much from us and to be able to share that knowledge. At the same time he is young enough to still be able to adapt fairly easily to change and to learn from his fellow humans."
"Whoa! Wait a minute-what are you saying?" Jack asked suspiciously.
"We are returning Daniel Jackson to Earth," Thor said. "Returning him to you."
Jack pulled a beer from the fridge, closed the door and proceeded to bang his head lightly against the smooth surface. It had been two weeks since he'd brought the Daniel clone back to Earth and Jack honestly didn't know how or if he was going to survive another two weeks. At his insistence, Thor had returned the two of them to Jack's house rather than the SGC. Jack's phoned in resignation had been accepted rather easily by Hammond, who, in truth, had been expecting it for months. Jack had glibly explained away his visit with Thor as a 'just in the neighborhood, thought I'd say hi' kind of thing. Everyone had respected Jack's need for privacy and had left him alone. Or so they thought.
Jack sighed and opened the bottle he'd been clutching. Two weeks alone with…the clone. He'd been apprehensive about bringing it…him back to Earth but hadn't fully realized just how difficult it would be to live with a duplicate of the man Jack had loved passionately. It…he…the clone was Daniel and yet not Daniel. He looked like Daniel. A much younger and not fully physically matured Daniel but those eyes…God, Jack would know those eyes anywhere. He was as inquisitive and passionate as the real Daniel, but his language was more like the Asgaard who'd raised him. He tended to take everything literally and his speech patterns sounded slightly stilted to Earth ears.
"Jack, I need more books." Jack groaned and turned to face his house guest. The…Danieloid was standing in the doorway, watching. He was dressed in jeans, t-shirt, and sneakers. And he'd had a decent haircut. Jack snorted. The Asgaard might be able to clone human beings but they didn't know shit about style. "Jack?"
"Yeah, I heard," Jack said gruffly. "You can't be done with all of…all of the ones we've got."
"No, of course not," the clone agreed readily. "But I need other books to explain what's in this one," he said, gesturing at the book clutched in one hand.
"You need to go to college," Jack said, faintly amused at such a Danielesque thirst for knowledge.
"Your highest institution of learning?" the clone asked. Jack nodded. "When will that be possible?"
"I'm working on it. I need to get some documentation for you," Jack said.
"Couldn't the SGC do that?"
"Yeah," Jack said slowly. "But I'm not sure it's safe. There are people who might want to 'study' you if they knew the truth about you."
"Because I am a clone?"
"Yeah," Jack admitted. "But I know some other people. People who know how to create identities. We'll get you fixed up." The clone sat down at the table, apparently deep in thought. Jack watched him quietly until he started to be overwhelmed by that 'it's Daniel/it's not Daniel' frustration he'd been feeling all too often the last two weeks. Jack started to move when the clone looked up and fixed him with a piercing gaze.
"Do you wish to have sex with me?" he asked.
"Fuck no!" Jack yelped, nearly dropping the beer bottle. "Why the fuck would you ask something like that?"
"You and Daniel had a sexual relationship," the clone pointed out. "I thought perhaps some of your unease over my presence was the lack of sexual release…."
"Stop right there!" Jack took a moment to try to gather his scattered wits. "First of all, my relationship with Daniel is none of your god-damned business. Second, there are many-SO many reasons why I don't want to have sex with you but the main one is you are NOT Daniel," Jack yelled angrily. The clone regarded him warily for a moment.
"I'm sorry," he said. "Thor sent me to you because of your position in the SGC and because he knew you held Daniel in high regard. He did not, however, realize how deep your relationship was." The boy shrugged. "And I've been clumsy in my attempt to make it easier for you to accept my presence."
"It's not your fault," Jack said grudgingly. "You didn't know. No one knew about Daniel and me. It had to be a secret."
"That must have been difficult," the boy said sympathetically.
"When Daniel…when he was still here it was just a minor annoyance," Jack explained. "Something we had to be aware of but it didn't affect us. But when he…left…."
"No one knew the depth of your loss," the boy said understandingly. "You could not share the true nature of your grief."
"No," Jack agreed hoarsely. "He was…well, it's a corny cliché, but he was my soul mate. And despite the fact that you have the same genes you're not him. I need a little time to adjust to that."
"Do you want me to leave?"
"No," Jack said gruffly. "You're my responsibility."
"I don't need to be taken care of," the boy said, bristling angrily. "Provide me with proper documentation and I'll take care of myself." Jack laughed. "I can," the boy insisted. "There is much to be learned and experienced on this planet and I'm going to experience it all."
"You're as reckless and stubborn as Daniel was, I'll give you that," Jack said.
"I'm not stubborn," the boy said sullenly. "I'm tenacious."
"Stubborn as a mule," Jack retorted.
"That's a clear cut case of pot and kettle if I ever heard one," the boy riposted. Jack stared in disbelief for a moment then burst out laughing.
"You're going to be a handful, aren't you," Jack said with bemusement. "This, of course, should not be news considering your heritage." The boy continued to glare challengingly at Jack. Jack gave him the first truly affectionate smile he'd had since the boy's arrival. "Can you live with me thinking of you as sort of a Danny, Jr.? As Daniel's son?"
"It's a fair approximation of my relationship to the original Daniel," the boy agreed. "I can live with that…if you can."
"It's still going to take some time to adjust but, yeah, I can live with that," Jack said warmly. "So, Danny, what do you say we go get you some more books?"
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