"So, is he a baby-bomb?" Jack asked, watching Janet rewrap the tiny boy in a small blue blanket.
Janet winced, knowing Jack was often inappropriately jovial when he was nervous about something. "Not as far as I can tell Colonel, but then Cassie didn't...activate until she was near the `gate." Janet winced when referring to her daughter.
The Goa'uld had tried to use Cassie as a weapon. They had killed off a whole people and then as a last ditch evil had created a walking, talking bomb, knowing the Tau'ri wouldn't be able to resist taking her back with them. She was amazed that to the Goa'uld, mercy and compassion were simply ideals to be taken advantage of. Bile rose in the back of Janet's throat just thinking about it.
She looked down at the little boy who was now sucking on the corner of her lab coat with that little line between his brows and smiled.
There was still some good in the world, in all of the worlds.
Jack took up the baby and cradled him with practiced ease, his callused fingers gently knuckling the tiny forehead. "I never realized that the damn worry line of Daniel's was genetic. I'd always thought I had soul responsibility for it." Jack said, his voice even and gentle and Janet realized that Jack was using his voice to soothe the baby while carrying on a conversation with her.
With a pang Janet mourned a world where Jack was no longer a father.
"Don't feel bad, maybe you worried Daniel so much in imprinted on his child." Janet smiled when Jack chuckled.
"We don't know if there even is a me to worry Daniel in that other place." He said, a strange tightness in his voice.
"I'm pretty sure there was. Sam said Sha're recognized her and referred to an O'Neill." Janet tilted her head and watched Jack for a time, lulled by how gentle he was with the baby. "How do you think Daniel's coping with this?" She asked, knowing of all the people Jack was the best of all of them at Daniel-reading.
Jack looked at her, his face serious. "He's hurting." He said simply.
"Hey." They both looked up and saw Daniel at the doorway. Jack automatically went over to him and offered the baby. Daniel hesitated for a second before taking him.
"Does he have a name?" Jack asked, stepping back when he'd relieved himself of the tiny figure.
"Sha're called him Elliot." Daniel said, his eyes on the peaceful face.
"Saddling him with a geek name. That's just cruel." Jack snorted.
"It's not a geek name." Daniel sighed, exasperation in his tone. "I can only assume we... I mean they named him after my first archeology professor. He gave me a summer job at a dig in Alexandria. Elliot Foster."
"Should've named him Jack. Much more manly." Jack said, smiling.
"Too many things rhyme with Jack. Now that's being cruel to a kid."
"Hey! What about Elliot. School kids will call him... smelliot." Jack finished lamely and Daniel sighed by then chuckled.
"I think he'll get passed it."
"Hammond doesn't want you to take Elliot off base but you can stay in one of the VIP rooms. One of the nurses just had a baby so I'll see if she has some spare formula and we'll see if we can rassle something up for him to sleep in." Janet said, steering both Daniel and Jack out of her infirmary.
"Thanks Janet." Daniel said. He stopped and wrinkled his nose. "Spare nappy wouldn't go astray either."
"Sure thing. I'll see what I can find."
"No worries. Till then we can just use one of Jack's shirts." Daniel said with a parting grin.
"Hey!" Janet heard him protest loudly as they disappeared towards the elevators.
An hour later Janet rapped softly on the VIP room doorway. "Come in." A sleepy voice invited and Janet pushed the door open with an elbow, her arms laden. Daniel rose from the bed to help her and she smiled at him. He was sleep rumpled with only his t-shirt and fatigue pants on. Elliot was gurgling good-naturedly on the bed, surrounded by a wall of four pillows so he couldn't roll anywhere.
"Has he cried yet, other than when you tried to put him down that first time?" Janet asked, amazed at the apparent placidity of the baby.
"No, he hasn't." Daniel's brow furrowed. "Is that bad?"
Janet smiled and dropped her load on the single desk in the room so she could squeeze Daniel's arm. "Unusual but not bad. Some kids just don't cry that much." She said, shrugging.
"What have you got?" Daniel asked, reaching a hand into her pile and coming up with a pack of disposable nappies. "Aha, first order of business methinks." He said, tapping his nose and grinning.
"I think I've got everything. I can leave you guys to it." Janet said.
"Wait, are you still on duty?" Daniel asked, snagging Janet's sleeve as she turned to go.
"I've been off for about two hours." Janet confessed.
"Oh, you should get home to Cassie." Daniel said, waving a hand.
"She's staying at a friend's tonight, actually." Janet shrugged, knowing that Daniel was working up to something and too fascinated to watch the process to actually help him out. She was amused by the male species and their inability to ask for help when they needed it.
"Oh, right. I mean, if you have plans then... but if you don't... it would..." Daniel looked toward the pile of baby things, back to the bed and then to Janet. There was panic emerging on his face and Janet laughed.
"Do you want me to stay?" She asked, deciding to let Daniel off the hook.
"God yes." Daniel sighed, grinning broadly. "I mean, I'd ask Sam but I'm sure she's as clueless about kids as..." Daniel trailed off when he saw Janet's face fall and he realized that the tried and true Jackson foot in mouth disease had struck once again. "Oh, no, I didn't mean... I wanted you to... not that you're my last resort... oh geez." Daniel sighed, knowing he was digging a deeper hole.
Janet smiled, amused at his flustered back peddling. "It's fine, Daniel. I know what you meant. Your first instinct is to go to one of the guys when you need help. I understand that." She shrugged; not wanting to show Daniel that she had actually been a little hurt. He blushed furiously.
"Looking after the kids was a fairly communal thing back on Abydos." Daniel said, desperately trying to jump conversation topics as the two of them sorted the varied baby items Janet had been able to procure at short notice. There were nappies, formulae and a spare bottle. There was also a little jumpsuit of the fatigue green that had been a joke gift for one of the new recruits who had gladly given it to Janet when she had been asking around.
"The culture was fairly different though. The women mostly looked after the kids. I got some mighty strange looks when I offered to help Sha're baby-sit her cousins. She laughed at me and told me to go drink with the other men." Daniel shrugged, a little lost in his memories.
"Would've driven me crazy, being repressed like that." Janet said, stripping Elliot of his dirty diaper with an expert swiftness and swaddling him in a clean one. The baby watched her intently and Janet almost laughed at his serious expression.
"Their culture was different and there were certain things the men did and certain things the women did. It was just accepted. Don't get me wrong though, the women were seen as strong and wise and the men teased for being dense. It was pretty much like being here."
Janet smiled, pulling the green jumpsuit onto Elliot. Daniel used the small hot plate in the room to prepare the formulae and tested in on his wrist as Janet instructed. When it was ready he brought it over to the much sweeter smelling baby. "How old do you think he is?" Daniel asked, sitting on the bed.
"I'd say about nine months although he's little. He seems to have good neck control and sat for a while when I was examining him. He should be able to handle a little food but we'll get some milk into him for now. It's probably best not to feed him solids till I get the tests back in the morning."
Daniel lay down on the bed and propped himself up with one elbow. Janet smiled. "You look all set. I'll leave you guys to sleep."
"Janet?" Daniel's voice stopped her and she looked back. He was holding out the bottle. "Can you stay with us?"
Janet hesitated for a few moments. She knew she was getting into dangerous territory and at that moment Daniel may have needed someone to lean on but she wasn't sure if she could do that and then revert to the gentle distance they had when he recovered. As he looked up at her though, his brow creased and held tilted slightly while he regarded her with his impossibly blue eyes; Janet knew she couldn't deny him anything.
She knew she was liable to get her heart broken by an unavailable man but common sense was completely overruled.
"Sure." She said, stripping off her lab coat and lying on the other side of Elliot. They both curled around the baby and Janet held the bottle to the baby's mouth. Small hands came up to grasp it and Janet watched the baby suckling contentedly for a while before her eyes strayed up to Daniel.
He had dropped his head to the mattress and his eyes were closed and breathing even. Janet reached down and awkwardly pulled the blanket at the end of the bed with her non-bottle hand over all three of them. Daniel sighed a little and his legs curled around the end of the makeshift pillow cot and pressed against Janet's.
She knew it had been a very emotional day and so fought the little thrill that sparked in her chest as Daniel insinuated an ankle between hers so that their legs were entwined. She was tempted to extricate herself because she was becoming too damn comfortable but when she moved a little Elliot let out a little disgruntled sigh, looking at her with accusing blue eyes. Only when she settled back did Elliot's eyes droop closed.
God help all women, Janet thought wryly, Elliot has inherited his dad's eyes.
"This is adorable and all, but I think you were meant to be in the infirmary about half an hour ago." A gruff voice jolted Janet out of sleep as surely as a poke in the ribs. She looked up blearily to see Jack's face hovering above her own. Janet looked sideways and could see Daniel was still dead to the world, on his back with one arm thrown over his eyes and the other across the back of Elliot's pillows. His fingers had curled in Janet's hair as they slept and Janet was sure she flushed neon red as she carefully pulled herself free.
Elliot was awake and happily munching on his own sleeve. He must have been at it for a while as his sleeve was half soaked with baby drool.
"Crap." Janet grumbled. "Ever heard of knocking."
"Ever heard of knocking, Sir." Jack corrected, grinning evilly. Janet gave him a look filled with daggers and rolled from the bed, trying to straighten her clothes as she awkwardly scrambled to her feet.
"Did you need something, Sir?" Janet asked, inserting authority into her tone but knowing it would not detract from her very sleep rumpled state totally negating any professionalism she might've mustered.
"Hammond wants the results of the tests. I tried your house and then found out you hadn't signed out of the base last night. I figured you were here, probably baby sitting both of them." Jack inclined his head.
"Can you tell him I'll be there in ten? I need to freshen up and actually get the results."
"Sure thing, Doc." Jack nodded. Before he disappeared he stuck his head back through the doorway. "Thanks for staying with them." He said, his light tone gone.
"Nothing that any of our tests can detect." Janet closed the file before her with a snap. She had changed clothes quickly, brushed her teeth and hair and then had raced to the infirmary, Daniel sleeping and oblivious through it all. She had finally relented and shook him awake on her way to Hammond as Elliot was very obviously growing bored and restless. She'd caught Sam heading for Daniel's room and had been grateful that there would be someone to look after Elliot while Daniel pulled himself out of his morning zombie state.
"That's good news." Jack supplied, looking from Janet to Hammond and drumming the table lightly. "Our luck was bound to change though. Not every kid that comes here can be a human weapon or have some creepy invisible alien with them. We were bound to find a normal one sooner or later."
"I'm relieved to hear it too, Colonel, but as Doctor Frasier herself said, we've had a case before where the weapon was not visible to any of our scans until it became active. I'm just finding it very hard to believe that a mother would hand her baby over, no matter what the circumstance."
"I can." Janet said, her voice low. Both men looked at her and Janet firmed her jaw. "If I was in a situation like that and the only way to save Cassie would be to give her over to people I knew I could trust, I would in a heart beat."
"What are you suggesting Doctor?" Hammond's brow furrowed in concern.
"Nothing, General. We should give Sha're the forty-eight hours we promised Daniel and then we can take it from there. I agree we should be cautious but we haven't seen anything to indicate that this is nothing but what it seems, a mother was trying to save her child."
On to Part 3