“Yes, Thor?” Carter asked distractedly as she moved crystals along the Asgard control panel, intently studying the next wall of information that appeared before her. There didn’t seem to be any replicators onboard Thor’s ship, but after their recent encounter they were performing ship-wide checks regularly for any unusual activity.
“We have encountered a problem with O’Neill’s healing process.”
“What?” Sam exclaimed, abandoning the console and joining Thor by the command room’s door.
“O’Neill’s injuries from your recent battle were severe, but the cerebellar lesion has been repaired successfully.”
She couldn’t completely mask the revulsion and fear she felt remembering the replicator attached to the colonel’s head and the long, pointed limb that forced its way into the back of his skull. He had turned his head as it happened, and she could see both the blood covered appendage of the replicator as it jumped off and moved toward Teal’c and the glassy look in the colonel’s eyes just before he vanished. Were it not for Thor’s quick beaming, the colonel would surely have died.
Carter waited in silence for Thor to continue as they made their way toward the medical bay. If the colonel’s brain had been healed, which was nothing short of a miracle in itself considering the damage that had been done to it, something else must have gone wrong.
“To repair the injury, We had to remove Colonel O’Neill’s consciousness as the Asgard do with ourselves when it is time to be transferred to a new body,” Thor explained. “However, there has been a ‘glitch’ in the reintegration process.”
“How bad is it?” she asked, knowing that a ‘glitch’ for the Asgard could be monumentally bad.
“We are uncertain. Though memory recollection is not a linear process, we break it down into such for the transfer process. There is enough of a difference between the ways our brains function that modifications were needed in our transfer technology. A corruption occurred while returning O’Neill’s memories after his injury was repaired, and only approximately the first quarter of his life was successfully returned to him.”
“You mean he has his childhood memories but nothing else?” Sam considered the ramifications of this.
“Yes. We are attempting to correct the problem, but I am told that this will take time,” Thor apologized.
“Whoa,” Jack said as he sat up. His whole body felt tingly. Weird.
“Where am I?” Jack mumbled, nervously looking around. He was in what looked like some kind of smooth, rounded, metal coffin with no lid. What on Earth?
He continued his examination of his surroundings uncertainly, trying to figure out what was going on. Wherever he was, he was pretty sure he wasn’t supposed to be here.
A blond woman, a brown-haired man with glasses, and a big black man with some weird gold thing on his forehead were staring at him from across the room. Jack started slightly and scrambled to get down from this thing he was in.
Suddenly he stopped dead and felt his eyes widen in fear. A light grey thing with a big head and a little body was standing next to the group of people. Its large black eyes blinked at him slowly.
“What’s going on? Where am I? Who are you?” Jack asked in a near panic, his voice not quite his own, as he edged backward.
“Do not be alarmed, O’Neill,” the alien responded.
Jack screamed, alarmed that not only was there an alien in the room, but it was talking to him and knew his name. Oh, my God, it’s an alien, he thought with fright, thinking that the thing in front of him looked eerily like a drawing he’d seen in a magazine once of Roswell aliens. His head whipped around, his eyes frantically searching the rest of the room for more of these creatures.
“Jack.” The man with glasses slowly walked toward him. “It’s okay. No one here is going to hurt you.” He gestured to the others. “We’re your friends.”
“I don’t know any of you. What’s happened to me?” Jack asked, still trembling slightly on the other side of the thing he’d woken up in. “I’m friends with that? An alien?” he squeaked, pointing shakily at the alien. This is not happening. This is not happening, he chanted silently, sure that he would wake up at any moment.
“Indeed, O’Neill,” the large man intoned.
Jack looked cautiously in the large black man’s direction but quickly turned his attention back to the younger man, who didn’t seem as frightening. He studiously refused to look at the little grey…person standing only a few feet to his left.
“I know this might be a bit much to take in, but I’ll try to explain if you’ll let me. It’s okay.” The man continued to move closer and extended his hand to Jack as he came to stand in front of him. “My name is Daniel.”
Jack looked at Daniel’s hand briefly before straightening up and extending his own. “Jack,” he said, “but I guess you already know that.” A quirky smile started to tug at his lips, and he shifted his gaze downward while scuffing the floor with the toe of his boot. He let out another yell and stepped backwards, holding his large hands out in front of him and turning them over repeatedly, as if by moving them enough times they might return to what he considered normal. He looked down at the rest of his body, realizing that he looked distinctly different from how he should, with hair on his arms and feet that were several sizes too big.
“It’s okay, Jack,” Daniel started again.
“What’s okay?” Jack yelled. “You keep saying ‘it’s okay,’ but this doesn’t look okay! WHAT’S WRONG WITH MY HANDS? WHAT’S HAPPENING?” Jack’s voice cracked as it reached a crescendo, fear and confusion warring for dominance. He felt tears prickle his eyes and fought to regain control of himself.
“Okay, okay, calm down.” Daniel approached Jack and lay a calming hand on his shoulder. “These are Sam, Teal’c, and Thor,” he introduced, gesturing to each in turn. Daniel nodded to the woman, who flanked Jack on the other side.
Jack, shell-shocked, allowed himself to be led toward the door but balked at the threshold. “What’s out there?” he whispered.
“We’re just going to the other room, sir,” Sam answered.
Why is she calling me ‘sir?’ he wondered.
Jack nodded slowly and accompanied the two strangers through the door and down the hallway. He was somewhat taken aback when the wall opened to his right, but he took it in stride since no one else seemed to think this was abnormal. He entered the next room followed by the others. The alien, Thor, was trailing some distance behind, entering only after Jack had crossed the room.
A long, low bench rose out of the floor next to them. Jack clenched and unclenched his fists, trying to remain calm. That – Is – Not –Normal, he thought frantically. What’s going on here?
Daniel and Sam sat down, and Jack cautiously followed their lead and took a seat toward the end of the bench.
Jack stared at Thor. Thor stared back.
“Was I abducted by aliens?” Jack asked. “Was I abducted like those people on TV last month, and I’m not being returned for years and years?”
“Sir,” The woman started then stopped, looking somewhat confused herself. “What’s the last thing you remember?”
“I was fishing in the lake by my granddad’s cabin.” His eyes opened wider in fright. “Granddad’s gonna freak if I’m not in by dark!” He looked at Sam pleadingly, “Please bring me back, ma’am. He’s liable to think I’ve drowned.”
“Your grandfather’s not worried about you, Jack.” Daniel started.
“What do you mean he’s not worried about me? He’s always worried when I come back late.” Jack paused for a second. “Do you mean he knows where I am? He knows I was abducted? No way.” He shook his head emphatically. “He’d be more worried!”
Daniel and Sam exchanged looks. Daniel took a deep breath, gently grasped Jack’s shoulders, and made sure he had the man’s attention. “You were not abducted by aliens.”
“Aht!” Daniel shook his head once and raised his hand. “You had an injury recently, a head injury, and, um, now –”
“You have selective amnesia,” Sam interjected. “You lost part of your memory.”
“Uh, yeah. So it’s very important that you just stay calm and believe what we’re telling you. We’re your friends. We’re trying to help you,” Daniel explained.
Jack didn’t know what to think.
“And I’m friends with an alien,” Jack said as his gaze rested on Thor. “I don’t think I’d forget something like that, even with abneesha.” He looked at Sam skeptically. “If I hurt my head, isn’t it more likely that I’m dreaming all of this?”
“I’m sorry, sir – Jack. This isn’t a hallucination,” Sam said gently.
“But if I were dreaming, and you were in my dream, wouldn’t you have to say you were real? I mean you wouldn’t know you were just something I made up.”
“Well, that might be true,” Sam agreed, smiling, “but let’s just go along with assuming we’re real for a while. Besides, I’ve had dreams that I thought were real that told me they weren’t really there, so it could go either way.”
Jack continued to stare at Thor. “Aliens are real, then.”
“Yes, O’Neill, we are real.” Thor left the doorway and moved closer to where the others were seated.
“Cool.” Jack actually smiled. “Wait until I tell my dad. He’s always telling me how aliens and spaceships and going to other planets are all just made up by movie people and that I shouldn’t waste my time on all that ‘science fiction garbage’.” For some reason, Jack was starting to feel more comfortable around these strangers and was forgetting his earlier fears in the face of this new discovery. “Granddad doesn’t think it’s all make-believe, though, and he really won’t once I tell him I’ve been abducted and if you go back with me to show him you’re real. He bought me a telescope, so I could look at the stars, and maybe we can look through it and show him which one you’re from.” He looked at Thor hopefully. “Which one are you from?”
“I’m sorry to burst your bubble, Jack, but you can’t tell anyone about this. And you couldn’t go home to tell your parents or grandparents anyway.” Sam took a deep breath and continued, “Remember how I said you have selective amnesia?” she asked, walking over to a large backpack propped against the wall.
“Well, you’re all grown up now and live on your own.” Sam pursed her lips and pulled a survival mirror out of the pack. She went back and handed him the mirror. “You’re not 12 years old any more.”
“I’m 10,” Jack said, taking the mirror from her.
His eyes went wide as he stared at his reflection. He brought a hand up to his face and probed at his nose and mouth, unable to believe it was actually him he was seeing. He ran his hand back and forth through his silver-grey hair and exclaimed in horror, “I’m old.”
“You’re not old, sir, you’re –”
“What did you do to me? How long have you kept me here?” Jack asked Thor, not giving up on the ‘abducted by aliens’ idea yet.
“Thor has healed you, O’Neill,” Teal’c answered. “You were gravely injured in our recent battle with the replicators.”
“I was in a battle?” he repeated, looking at the others. He felt like a parrot, but there was only so much he could take in at once. “Like fighting?”
“You’re a colonel in the United States Air Force,” Sam explained. “You lead our team,” she said, pointing to herself, Daniel, and Teal’c.
Jack could see why he’d want Teal’c on his team, whatever his team might be. That man was huge. And scary.
“What do I fly?” Jack asked, picturing himself flying some top-secret jet.
“Well, you don’t fly much anymore,” Sam answered slowly, and Jack was disappointed by this. “But when you do it’s usually alien aircraft.”
“Really?” Jack asked incredulously. Whaddya know? he thought smugly.
“What’re replicators?” he asked after taking a moment to digest the facts that he was grown up (and old), he was a leader (Cool!), he was in the Air Force (kind of like granddad, he thought with pride), and he had been injured in battle.
“Um, they’re kind of like big metal bugs,” Daniel described. “From another planet,” he added.
“We were fighting giant, alien, metal bugs?” Jack repeated, looking skeptically at Daniel, though why this should surprise him considering everything else he’d just been told was beyond him. “You’re all crazy.” As much as he knew he should respect his elders, he felt he really had to tell them this. No one contradicted him.
He looked at Thor again. Their insanity wouldn’t make up the tiny alien standing before him. That meant he must be the crazy one. Maybe he’d fallen out of his boat and hit his head. Maybe this was all a dream. Maybe…He looked around the room at the people claiming to be his friends. Maybe this is really real, he thought with amazement and a little apprehension.
Daniel was staring at him earnestly, his face friendly and open. Sam looked a little worried but very kind; Jack had the sudden, inexplicable feeling that she would fix everything and make it right again. Teal’c was standing expressionless by the door with his hands clasped behind his back, appearing relaxed but ready for action at any moment. He’s probably there to catch me if I run screaming from the room, he thought wryly. He sat up and straightened his shoulders. Okay, he thought, if I’m supposed to be their leader, I will not scream like a little girl again. He slid his eyes sideways to Thor. Even if another alien walks in.
“So, what do we do now?” Jack asked, still nervous but a little excited about what he might see next. After all, he apparently fought alien bugs for a living. How much cooler could you get?
“Well, sir, we’d like to get you back to Earth and have Dr. Fraiser check you out. We need to make sure you don’t have any other problems besides the memory loss.” Sam glanced at Thor. “Thor is going to see what he can come up with here that might help you get your memory back.” Thor inclined his head in assent.
“Back to Earth? So where are we now?” Jack asked. “How long will it take to get home?”
“We are currently in orbit around Earth. I can transport you to the SGC at any time.” The alien looked at Sam; it seemed that it was waiting for her to give it orders.
So she’s in charge here, Jack concluded. It was hard to take in so many details at once, and he still had a lot of questions he wanted to ask, but it was good to know that at least someone seemed to know what was going on and would get him home.
“In just a minute, Thor,” Sam replied. “May I?” She gestured to the ship’s control console.
But this is Thor’s ship, he added mentally. Little by little he thought he might be getting all of this strange new stuff straight in his head.
Receiving permission, she walked over to the console and began moving some of the stones. Suddenly, the wall in front of them no longer appeared to be a wall. Instead, all that Jack could see was the vastness of space with one beautiful planet filling over half the visible area.
Jack stood slowly, in awe, and took a few tentative steps toward the most amazing sight he’d ever seen. It was breathtaking. Literally. He remembered to breathe again after a few seconds and turned a wondering look back toward the others.
“Yes, sir, it’s real,” Sam answered his non-verbal query.
Jack gazed at the planet before him for a while then asked, “How do we get down there? Are we going to land?” He was looking forward to the ride down in the spaceship . If they left this window open, he’d watch their approach the whole way. Wait until I tell Dad, he thought again, momentarily forgetting that that wouldn’t be an option.
“Thor will beam us directly into the SGC,” Sam replied. “That’s the military base that you work at.”
“Beam us? Like on Star Trek?”
“Sort of,” Daniel smiled.
“I believe this technology is far superior to that of the Enterprise,” Teal’c added, seriously.
“Well, as Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet, Thor commands the very best,” Sam joined in, chuckling.
It seemed to Jack that they were talking about something they’d discussed before, almost like reciting lines in a skit.
“Supreme Command hath its privileges,” Thor announced, to Jack’s surprise. It appeared the others were surprised as well, and soon everyone was laughing to some extent, even though Jack didn’t really knew what for. Thor joined in with an odd twittering sound that made him laugh even harder.
The Supreme Commander took his place in front of the control console. Jack’s human companions on the ship vanished before his very eyes in a twinkling of lights right before he himself felt all tingly.
General Hammond was more than surprised when his leading team was deposited, with Colonel O’Neill laughing and the other members of SG-1 smiling indulgently, into the conference room in the middle of his mission briefing with SG-20. The SFs standing unobtrusively in the corners had their weapons trained on the intruders in a heartbeat, only lowering them when he gave them the signal.
The marines at the table, who had also arisen in reactive alarm and were ready for action, now re-seated themselves and looked somewhat disdainfully at SG-1. It was well known to the general that the marines on base felt that some teams, namely SG-1, just had no sense of decorum and respect for command.
“Major Bryant, I believe we were almost finished,” General Hammond said as the members of SG-1 composed themselves. “You and your team have a go for P2C-910 tomorrow morning at 0900. Dismissed.”
SG-20 greeted SG-1 briefly before exiting the room.
“Colonel, would you care to share the joke?” Hammond asked, trying to inject some measure of gruff authority into his voice.. He was glad to see that his premier team had returned safely. The last time they had been able to communicate, things had been going pretty rough in the war against the replicators. Major Carter’s transmission had indicated that the colonel was badly injured but was being treated on Thor’s ship while she, Daniel, and Teal’c were left to try to rid the vessel they were on of the remaining bugs.
All the general knew now was that SG-1 was back intact, and that’s all that really mattered. He would learn about the rest during their debriefing. “Colonel?” he repeated.
“Um, Jack?” Daniel said, touching the colonel’s arm to get his attention.
“Sir,” Carter stepped forward. “We need to get the colonel to the infirmary. I’ll explain everything while Daniel takes him to see Dr. Fraiser if you don’t mind, sir.” The major looked entreatingly at her commander, and he could tell that there was more going on here than was immediately apparent.
“Certainly, Major,” Hammond assented. “Dr. Jackson, if you and Teal’c will escort Colonel O’Neill to the infirmary, Major Carter will be along shortly for her post-mission physical.”
Daniel took Jack’s elbow and began to lead him toward the stairs when the base’s lights started flashing. “Off-world activation,” came a voice from the base’s PA system.
Jack’s head whipped around to the observation window. Down in the gate room the Stargate was spinning, and the chevrons were locking loudly.
“Can I go see?” Jack asked Daniel as if he were the one with authority over him instead of Hammond.
Jack virtually bounded across the room and made it to the window just as the gate kawooshed. He took a step back as the event horizon stabilized.
General Hammond crossed the room to stand next to his oddly-behaving 2IC. He looked back and forth from the giant, shimmery, blue circle to the awed expression on Jack’s face, wondering what the devil was going on.
“Receiving SG-6 IDC.” Walter’s voice came through the speakers as well as up the stairs from the control room below.
“What is it?” Jack asked.
“That is the Stargate,” General Hammond answered, now positive that Colonel O’Neill was not himself. He was more than just a little worried about what might be wrong this time – alien possession, infectious agent, injury; the list was endless.
Hammond saw the look in Jack’s eyes, similar to Captain Carter’s when she first saw an active Stargate all those years ago. He smiled to himself when he thought about her pushing him through the event horizon this time to pay him back for shoving her through on her first trip. He had been told that the captain had tumbled out the other side, disoriented, overcome with nausea, and not a little embarrassed. She’d been followed by a self-confident, grinning Colonel O’Neill who had virtually strolled out of the gate onto Abydos.
“That is the event horizon of a wormhole that connects two planets,” Carter explained. “It’s how we usually travel from one world to another.”
Judging from his expression, Jack obviously didn’t have a clue as to what the major had just said, but to his credit he was raptly attentive. As opposed to the normal Colonel O’Neill, this Jack seemed to allow himself to show the interest everyone knew he had in how the Stargate works.
Down below, SG-6 exited the wormhole and tromped down the ramp, soaking wet and trailing mud behind them. They were scheduled to return today after two days of trade negotiations on a very wet planet.
Hammond watched Jack watch with interest as the Stargate shut down. The back of the gateroom was once again visible through the now quiescent gate. The gateroom door slid closed behind the last of SG-6 as they made their way through the base to what were surely long-awaited showers.
“Dr. Jackson.” General Hammond gestured toward Jack with a nod, and Daniel once again took the colonel’s arm.
“Come on, Jack. Let me show you more of the base.”
“Are there more of those?”
“No,” Daniel answered, leading him down the stairs. “That’s the only one. You see –” Daniel launched into an explanation of how the Stargate was originally found in Egypt and was in the process of describing some of the military’s earlier attempts to get the gate to work when they were finally out of hearing. He could trust Daniel to keep Jack occupied.
“So, Major,” General Hammond began, “care to tell me what’s going on? What’s wrong with Colonel O’Neill? Is that Colonel O’Neill?” Considering the sensitive nature of the information Dr. Jackson had been giving out as they left the room, that had better have been Colonel O’Neill he was talking to.
“Yes, sir.” Sam began her explanation in the logical and concise way that he’d come to expect, “As I stated in my transmission to the SGC yesterday, Colonel O’Neill had received a grave head injury during our attempt to eradicate the replicators from one of the Asgard ships. I’m sorry to say, sir, that both the ship and the planet it was orbiting were already too overrun with replicators, and we were forced to destroy the ship. Currently, the replicators have no other means of leaving the planet, and the Asgard are working on new containment strategies. We don’t know if the bugs were being controlled by the new generation of humanoid replicators, but we saw no indication of the involvement of First and his group while we were there.”
Hammond nodded, considering again what an enormous threat the replicators were, humanoid or not. They needed to continue to do everything in their (admittedly limited) power to help the Asgard eliminate this problem.
“And Colonel O’Neill?” he prompted.
“Thor was monitoring our situation from onboard his ship and beamed the colonel to the medical bay almost immediately after he was injured. Thor took a great risk, sir, in that he might have also transported one of the attacking replicators, but from what we saw just before the colonel disappeared, if Thor hadn’t acted as swiftly as he did, Colonel O’Neill wouldn’t have made it.” Sam’s face betrayed her concern.
Carter straightened up and continued. “The Asgard medical team was able to repair the physical damage, but there was a problem when they tried to reintegrate the colonel’s consciousness.”
“How did this happen, Major?”
“Think of it like a computer, sir,” she explained. “Basically, Thor downloaded all of Colonel O’Neill’s memories to save them before repairing his brain, as we would information from a computer before reformatting the hard drive. All of the colonel’s basic programs were successfully reinstalled – walking, talking, eating, and so on. But when Thor tried to upload memories back into the colonel’s brain there was a corruption in the data.”
“What’re you saying, Major?” General Hammond demanded.
“Colonel O’Neill currently has all of the memories and experience of his 10-year-old self.” Carter stated.
The general contemplated the many implications of this. “Is the situation permanent?” he asked, deeply worried about one of his finest officers.
“We don’t know, sir,” Sam admitted uneasily. “Thor and the other Asgard are trying to determine what exactly went wrong in the hope that they can correct the problem.”
“Do they know how long that’s going to take?”
“No, sir, I’m afraid not.”
Jack followed Daniel into the infirmary. Daniel had kept up a running commentary about the Stargate program as they’d wandered the halls, and Jack wished that he could go back to explore some more instead of coming here to see the doctor.
“Jack, this is Dr. Fraiser,” Daniel introduced. “She needs to take a look at you and make sure everything’s okay.”
”So, Colonel,” Janet stopped, seeing Daniel shake his head. Jack had heard parts of their brief, whispered conversation about his situation while Teal’c had led him to one of the beds. He guessed that Daniel had told her that he wasn’t used to being called ‘colonel’ or ‘sir’ yet. He had failed to realize that several people were talking to him in the hallway on the way to the infirmary until Daniel had advised him to be polite and say ‘hello’ back.
“Jack, how are you feeling?” Janet asked, her fingers probing underneath his chin before working their way down his neck and to his arms. Her hands were cold.
“Um, okay, I guess,” Jack answered timidly, glancing at Daniel and Teal’c. “But they say I lost my memory, and that’s why I’m old now,” he said, disgusted.
Janet nodded as she continued her examination. “And what’s the last thing you remember before you found out you were old?” She had a hard time concealing her amusement, and Jack wondered what was so funny about him being old. He didn’t think it was very funny at all.
“I was fishing on the lake by my granddad’s cabin when – WHAM! I was abducted by aliens,” he replied, whining just a little but mostly still in awe of the whole alien thing.
“Mm-hmm.” Janet failed to control her chuckle at his answer, but politely feigned a cough as she turned to the instrument tray at Jack’s side and put on a pair of gloves.
Dr. Fraiser turned around with a needle and Vacutainer tube in her hands. Jack saw what was coming and reacted quickly. He hastily tucked his arms and legs in and sat almost curled up on the infirmary bed, looking at the petite doctor distrustfully.
“C’mon, Jack, it won’t hurt,” Daniel coaxed.
“Indeed, O’Neill, you have commented many times that there is little pain associated with this procedure,” Teal’c added.
“I just need a small blood sample for some routine tests,” Janet explained, reaching out for his arm slowly, tentatively.
Jack flinched as her hand touched his arm, and he scooted further back on the bed. “Please, no,” he whispered, tears springing into his eyes and breathing rapidly. He could handle the aliens; he could handle being old; but please not the needles. Please, please not the needles. “Please,” he whimpered again entreatingly.
“O-kay,” Janet drawled, and he saw that she replaced the needle on the tray. “We’ll just check some other things right now, then.”
Janet stood next to him for a minute with her arms crossed before saying, “We have this machine that lets us take pictures of a person’s brain. Have you ever seen a picture of your brain?”
Jack shook his head.
“Well, all you have to do to get the picture is lie really still while a machine puts a light all around your head. It doesn’t hurt a bit, and there are no needles. Do you want to try it?”
Jack was interested but skeptical and remained quiet.
“I can give you your very own picture to put in your room,” the doctor cajoled.
Jack gave one short nod and unfurled himself, extending his too-long legs until they again reached the floor. He still wasn’t entirely sure about all of this, but the doctor was no longer coming at him with that huge, honkin’, horse needle, and having a picture of his own brain would be neat. He didn’t think any of his friends had had pictures taken of their brains before. They’d definitely think he was the coolest when he showed them.
Jack paused in his musings as the gut-wrenching truth hit him. He couldn’t show his friends. What had happened to all of his friends? Billy and Todd, and his neighbor Allen? Were they old now, too? They had to be. Where were they?
He’d heard his mom and dad complaining about not talking to their old friends as much as they should anymore. Did he not talk to his friends because they were all old now? He’d never thought about it before. We were supposed to be friends forever, he thought gloomily.
“Jack. Hello, Jack.”
Jack was startled by Dr. Fraiser calling his name and gently shaking his arm.
“Daniel and Teal’c are going to help you get changed before we do the MRI,” Janet repeated. He vaguely remembered that she’d said this before, but he didn’t really hear her the first time. “You can’t have any metal on since there’s a giant magnet inside the machine that helps us get a good picture. We don’t want bits of metal flying about the room, okay?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Jack replied, still thinking about his friends. Daniel and Teal’c were his friends now, or so they’d said. He watched as a curtain was pulled around the bed to hide it from the rest of the room.
“You need to change into this,” Daniel said, unfolding an open-backed gown and holding it out to Jack.
Jack stared at Daniel’s outstretched hand for a moment then took the proffered item. It looked more like a dress or smock than real clothes, but he’d seen people on TV wearing them and knew that if you were going to have a medical procedure done (which he assumed included getting a picture of your brain) you had to wear one. It was a rule or something. Knowing that people wore them all the time, though, didn’t make him feel any better about having to put it on. He knew his butt would hang out the back, and he wasn’t entirely comfortable with that idea.
I hope I’ve got on clean underwear, he thought. His mother had always warned him to wear clean underwear, and now he knew why. It wasn’t just that you might get hit by a car. You never knew when you were going to get abducted by aliens and be made to wear a hospital gown to get a picture taken of your brain.
Jack removed his socks, shoes, and pants, noting how long and hairy his legs were. Freaky. When he took off his shirt he examined his chest with interest. He had always wanted hair on his chest, like Allen’s older brother, but he was hardly sure this wiry grey stuff qualified. It certainly wasn’t what he had imagined it would be like.
He was thankful to see that he was wearing blue boxers that at least looked clean. He decided things weren’t so bad when he was told that he could keep them on. They were a lot more like shorts than underwear, and he didn’t feel so exposed.
Daniel tied the back of the gown for him, and Teal’c drew the curtain back from around the bed.
“Ready to go?” Daniel asked.
Jack nodded and followed Daniel from the room.
“Is that your brain, O’Neill?” Teal’c inquired.
Jack was sitting in the middle of an infirmary bed with several small MRI pictures spread out around him.
“Mm-hmm,” he answered, curiously picking up first one then another of the pictures. “But my brain’s really bigger than this,” he explained.
“Wanna see ‘em?” Jack offered, holding out the one he’d most recently been examining. “Dr. Fraiser’s getting me a book that will tell me what all the different parts of my brain are and what they do.” He was very excited at this prospect.
“And see here?” Jack pointed to a circled area of the brain on the bottom right of one picture and in the bottom center of another. “That’s my cerbelim. It’s what lets me stand and walk and move around and stuff,” he explained. “That’s what Sam says got hurt, but Thor fixed it, because I can still move, and it’s still there in the picture.”
Teal’c nodded solemnly. “It was an injury even my symbiote could not have repaired. You were indeed fortunate that Thor could heal you.”
“Symbiote?” Jack asked, confused.
Teal’c raised his shirt to reveal the x-shaped slit in his abdomen. “I once carried within me an alien parasite that allowed me to heal at an accelerated pace, even as it enslaved me.”
“Wow. Can I see it?”
Teal’c retracted one side of the pouch opening, but all he could see was a thick, snot-like goo in the dark interior. Whatever had lived there was obviously no longer at home.
“Does it hurt?” Jack asked, a little ashamed of the disgust he was displaying. He really would have to start acting more grown up now, and he supposed that included not running away every time a new alien showed its face, or pouch, even if it was really ugly. He shivered.
“It does not.”
“So does that mean you’re an alien, too?” Jack asked. He’d never seen anyone with a pouch for a thing like that before. Teal’c must be alien. “You look human,” he added, noticeably baffled. “Well, except for the forehead thing.”
“I am. I was First Prime to Apophis, a Goa’uld system lord, a false god among many false gods whom we fight. I will tell you of how this came to be if you desire,” Teal’c offered.
Jack nodded eagerly. Thor apparently wasn’t the only alien he was friends with. Cool.
Teal’c reached into his pocket and pulled out a yo-yo and handed it to him.
“Thanks. I’ve got one just like it at home,” Jack said. “I’ll show you some tricks after you tell me about the false gods,” he offered. He settled back to hear about the adventures he’d once had and fiddled with the string on his yo-yo to get the proper fit on his finger.
Janet and Dr. MacKenzie had been running Jack through a series of examinations and evaluations for the past three days, and she was now giving Hammond her final assessment. The results weren’t necessarily good, but they weren’t as bad as they could’ve been, either.
“Dr. Fraiser,” General Hammond greeted. “What’re we looking at here?”
“Well, sir, there appears to be nothing physically wrong with Colonel O’Neill. The Asgard medical technology has again apparently worked wonders. If the colonel sustained the types of injuries that Major Carter has detailed, I can find no trace of them.” Though a part of her felt that it was somewhat akin to cheating to just put someone in a bubble and have whatever was wrong with them fixed, for the most part Dr. Fraiser wished that they had ready access to that technology. With the numerous, often severe, injuries that the SG teams habitually returned with, the Asgard technology would be a lifesaver. Literally.
“However,” she continued, “the colonel has no apparent memories past the age of ten and a half or so. He can answer any basic question you’d expect a child to know at that age about the late 1960s, but everything after that is just gone. He’s fascinated by computers and actually convinced Major Carter to lend him her laptop for a while. Jack doesn’t have the aversion to computers that Colonel O’Neill had,” Janet smiled, knowing that most of the colonel’s griping about computers was just talk. “He’s quickly taken to the ‘wonders of the modern world’,” she said sarcastically, “including becoming reacquainted with his game-boy. Daniel and Teal’c found it somewhere in the colonel’s desk and brought it to him yesterday.”
“Jack’s MRI and CT scans are normal. His psychological profile is that of a confused and traumatized boy, and he’s become prone to bouts of repressed anger and depression. He misses his parents and grandparents, and his mood swings are quite unpredictable. I’m afraid, sir, that all I can do is confirm that he is experiencing great memory loss for no physical reason and that it looks like we’re going to have to trust that the Asgard can fix this. If Major Carter’s computer analogy is correct, there really isn’t much we can do on this end.”
“What do you suggest, Doctor?” Hammond asked.
“For now all we can do is wait. And find some way to entertain him. Essentially, sir, he’s a child trapped inside a man’s body, and he’s bored. Keeping Colonel O’Neill, the usually responsible adult, in the infirmary for an extended period of time is difficult. Keeping Jack, the somewhat scared but irrepressibly curious 10-year-old, confined is bordering on impossible,” Janet groused. “He has no qualms about giving my nurses a hard time and letting everyone know how much he does not want to be here. Dr. MacKenzie says it’s healthy for him to express himself like this, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.”
General Hammond nodded. “I’ll send an SF to act as his escort. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to allow him to leave the base, but he can at least leave the infirmary and go to the commissary and the recreation room for a while. I’m sure his team will help to occupy his time, also.”
“Yes, sir. They’ve been stopping by regularly to amuse Jack with some of his past exploits,” she smiled. “Showing him what his adult life has been like isn’t going to trigger his memories, as it might if he were a typical amnesia patient, since those memories were never replaced in his brain for him to find. In spite of that, their stories have served to keep him busy for a while. He’s quite interested in all of the things he’s done, and truly doesn’t believe most of it, but it also seems to upset him and lead to his next fit of irritation since he so obviously wants to remember these things and not just hear about them.”
One truly great thing about being grown up, Jack thought, is that no one can tell you what you can and can’t eat for breakfast.
An SF had brought Jack to the commissary after Dr. Fraiser had explained that they were done with their testing and he would no longer have to remain in the infirmary. His cheeks almost hurt from grinning so much since he left.
The airman, Rhodes, had shown him where to get breakfast, whatever he wanted, and was now watching him finish his third glass of red jello and second piece of cake. Rhodes had told Jack that he had two young children at home, ages 10 and 12, and Jack figured that was one reason he was chosen as escort.
Jack couldn’t wait to go explore the base and see the Stargate again, and Airman Rhodes had promised him that later they could go to the control room for a little while. A couple of people had stopped him on their way to the commissary to ask how he was doing (he assumed they’d heard what happened), and that made him a little nervous. Dr. MacKenzie had told him that he needed more social interaction to help him adjust, even though he felt nervous talking to people who knew him but he didn’t know, so he vowed to put up with that as much as necessary to get to see the gate in action again. Maybe he could even sneak through if no one was looking…
“So, what do you want to do when you’ve finished eating?” Rhodes asked.
“Can I go outside?” He’d been stuck inside forever.
“Not yet. Maybe tomorrow,” Rhodes answered, seeming truly sorry. “Do you want to go see Daniel? He said he wanted to visit with you today if you got a chance. I can drop you off at his lab for a while, and he can show you what he does every day when you all aren’t going through the gate.”
Jack shrugged noncommittally. “Sure. I guess.” Anywhere has to be better than the infirmary.
Jack finished the last of his jello and stared at his reflection in the back of his spoon. His tongue was now stained a nice, bright red.
He followed Rhodes to Daniel’s office. He hoped that someone would be around to show him how to get back to the commissary for lunch (the airman serving food had promised him pie) because Rhodes had taken him through so many twists, turns, and an elevator that he was now thoroughly lost. All of the grey halls looked the same.
“Hi, Jack,” Daniel greeted. “Thank you,” he told Airman Rhodes. “I’ll let you know when he wants to leave.”
“Bye, Jack. Have fun.” Rhodes turned to leave. “I’ll see about getting you permission to go outside for a while, okay?”
“Thanks,” Jack replied, grateful.
Jack looked around Daniel’s office with mild curiosity. There were old books and rocks and papers stacked everywhere. It looked sort of like the back room at his school library that contained all of the stuff that the librarian hadn’t gotten to yet. Except the rocks. He didn’t think his library had rocks.
He walked over to one of the piles of rocks and picked one up as Daniel was talking.
“So, how’re you doing today?” Daniel asked, glancing up from a translation he was finishing. “Uh, don’t touch that.” Daniel stepped quickly around the desk, gently lifting the fragile artifact from Jack’s curious hands.
“What is that?” Jack asked Daniel, who was carefully replacing the object where it had been. Jack reached for something next to the pile he’d just been examining but pulled his hand back when he saw Daniel’s disapproving look.
“That is part of an Ancient device that I’m working on translating to help Sam figure out how it works.”
“How old is ancient?”
“Uh, no, by ‘Ancient’ I meant that it was made by the Ancients, not that it was old. Of course, it is old; it was probably made thousands of years ago, but – ” Jack was becoming distracted again, looking closely at the artifact while Daniel rambled on. “– This was made by the same people who made the Stargate.”
Jack nodded. He remembered Daniel telling him something about these ancient aliens after he’d seen the Stargate the day he arrived.
The rock in front of him really was kind of interesting, in an odd sort of way. Jack peered at it closely. His nose was almost touching the device, but his hands were clasped firmly behind his back lest Daniel get upset with him again.
“What does it do?” he asked.
“Well, I don’t know yet. You see these symbols here, they mean –” and off he went again, explaining in detail the meanings, alternate meanings, and relative contexts of each of the little sticks and dots he pointed out.
Jack quickly tuned out, as he sometimes did in class when his teacher was giving a lecture. He reached his hand out again and pushed his finger into an indentation near the bottom of one of the stones. It made a deep humming sound, and soon the whole object glowed with a reddish light.
“It glows,” Jack pronounced, smiling, thinking that he had solved the mystery of the device’s function. I can show Sam what I did, then she won’t have to listen to Daniel’s translations, he thought happily. She can just press the button like I did.
“Whoa. Um, Jack, you might want to back up.” Daniel gestured toward the door and reached for the phone. “Sam? I need you to come to my office. Jack touched the Ancient device from P8C-642, and it’s glowing now.” He paused to listen. “No, I don’t think so. Just glowing.”
Daniel hung up and ushered Jack out the door and into the hallway. “We’ll just wait outside until she gets here.”
Airman Michael Rhodes watched the pouting man in front of him with interest.
“How was I supposed to know it was an energy trans-emitter thingy?” Jack complained. “I mean, they said they wanted to know what it did, right? And I found out how to make it do it. So you’d think they’d be glad, right?” Jack stabbed angrily at his mashed potatoes.
“I mean, they’re supposed to be my friends, aren’t they? But do they let me stay and see the cool stuff that thing does?” A glob of mashed potatoes landed on the table next to his plate.
“No,” Jack answered himself, not waiting for Rhodes to do so. “They send me off to the gym with Teal’c like I’m still some little kid or somethin’. I’m grown up now.”
Rhodes smiled indulgently and chastised him gently, “Eat your food; don’t play with it.” He handed a napkin to the man-child in front of him to clean up the mess he was making.
Not five minutes ago Jack had been telling him about the ‘keen time’ he’d had sparring with Teal’c in the gym. Teal’c had obviously gone easy on him. Jack had also found out that he could bench press a lot of weight and was quite impressed by his own strength. That is, he’d said, that’s what he’d thought until he saw the amount of weight Teal’c had had on the machine.
Listening to him now you’d think that being sent off with Teal’c was some kind of punishment instead of the great time he was going on about just a few minutes ago. Rhodes should’ve known not to ask about how things had gone with Daniel when he’d gotten the call. Daniel had said that Jack was with Teal’c in the gym because he and Sam were busy with some kind of accident. Rhodes didn’t think anything of it at the time, since it was common knowledge around base that when something went wrong it was Major Carter who would most likely have to fix it. He hadn’t known that Jack had been the instigator of the current problem. Daniel had said that in some ways dealing with 10-year-old Jack wasn’t very different from dealing with 50-year-old Jack. It seemed some things never changed, Jack’s tendency to pick things up and fiddle with them being one of them. Rhodes felt he should have put two and two together and just not asked.
“Hey, I’ve got some good news for you,” the airman interjected in an attempt to cheer Jack up. “I talked to General Hammond, and you can go to the top of the mountain tomorrow.”
The scowl on Jack’s face cleared slightly, and he began to smile. “Really?”
“Yep. We might even get to go to town for a while. Go to the park or the zoo or something.”
He and General Hammond had discussed this earlier. They felt that since tomorrow was a weekday and most people would either be at work or at school, the zoo and botanical gardens shouldn’t be too crowded. Still, one or more of Jack’s team members would have to go with them. It was doubtful that they would meet up with anyone who knew the colonel, but his team would be better suited to run interference should anyone ask any probing questions. It was decided that if any such problems arose, they’d fall back on the ‘selective amnesia’ explanation for the colonel’s condition.
“Really?” Jack asked again. You could see the eagerness in his eyes. Rhodes hoped they didn’t have to disappoint him.
Rhodes chatted amiably with Jack as he finished his lunch. He had told Jack that he could call him Michael if he wanted; Jack smiled at this nervously but didn’t immediately jump at the opportunity. Rhodes thought it might take him a while to warm up to the idea. He’d been told by the colonel’s teammates that it had taken them a while to get Jack to drop the ‘Mister’ or ‘Missus.’ that he’d automatically put in front of their names when first addressing them.
“No news yet from the Asgard,” Carter updated Hammond the next morning. “But we’ve come up with a possible solution.”
General Hammond looked surprised but pleased. “I thought you said there was nothing we could do?”
“That’s still true, sir. We’d need the Asgard’s help, but it might be possible to copy the memories from the young clone of Colonel O’Neill that Loki made and give those memories back to the colonel. That is if young Jack is willing and if the Asgard even think this is possible. There must be a way for them to copy a person’s memories and not just completely remove them for reinstallation into another body, or we wouldn’t even have this option available to us right now. We know that the cloned Jack had all of the memories of the original; that’s why we all initially assumed that he was the original Colonel O’Neill made younger somehow. It’s not a perfect solution, but this way the colonel would have all of his memories up until a few months ago, plus some of the new clone’s more recent experiences, instead of completely missing the last 35 years or so.”
“Have you contacted the other Jack about this yet?”
“No, sir. And he should be in class most of today, so I’m planning on checking with the Asgard first. Thor said he’d be in touch in about an hour.” Sam glanced at her watch.
“I still can’t believe he decided to go back to high school,” the general mused.
“Me neither, sir.”
“Ready to go?” Airman Rhodes asked Jack as he ate the last of his fruit loops.
Daniel, Sam, and Teal’c had met up with him and Airman Rhodes for breakfast, and now they were all planning an excursion into Colorado Springs for a few hours. Jack was very excited and couldn’t stop himself from talking non-stop about everything he wanted to see and do. He really wanted to go to the zoo, and Sam suggested going to the ice cream parlor afterward. Daniel recommended the botanical gardens, but that wasn’t nearly as interesting. Since they said it was his choice, Jack decided the zoo was up first on their list.
“Absholutely,” Jack mumbled around his final spoonful of cereal.
“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” Rhodes admonished.
Jack nodded in acknowledgement, chewed, and swallowed before replying. “Yes, sir.”
Rhodes almost laughed, and Jack knew why. He had told him yesterday that this was probably going to be the only time in his career that he would be ‘sir’d’ so much by a colonel. Jack just couldn’t help himself; the response was automatic.
“Let’s go then.” Daniel stood and brought his tray over to the trash receptacle.
They exited the commissary and boarded the elevator as a group, talking about how much they were looking forward to the day out. Jack signed his name with a flourish before they left the mountain, feeling very important.
Jack smiled as he handed the clipboard back to the airman. “Bye,” he beamed, itching to be outdoors again.
“Can I drive?” Jack asked Daniel as they approached the Air Force mini-van they would be using for the day.
“You know how to drive?” Daniel asked, surprised.
“Well, no,” Jack admitted. “But I’m old enough now, right?”
Sam laughed at this and said indulgently, “Maybe on the way back we can teach you. Right now you want to get to the zoo, don’t you? We need to hurry if we’re going to be in time to watch the mid-morning feedings.”
“Where to next?” Jack asked. They were sitting on a park bench outside the zoo while Jack threw his remaining peanuts to a nearby squirrel.
“I believe we are to go to the ice cream parlor,” Teal’c replied. He had told Jack earlier of his intention to get a large waffle cone full of butter pecan ice cream topped with whipped cream, caramel sauce, and a cherry.
They piled back into the mini-van and headed to an old-fashioned ice cream parlor downtown. Jack learned that they were regular patrons of the establishment when they were on down time owing to Teal’c’s great love of ice cream. They didn’t have ice cream where he’d come from. Teal’c had tried every flavor possible at the 31 flavors ice-cream stores, and he said that his personal refrigerator in his quarters on base was stocked with Ben & Jerry’s. Jack could still hardly believe that the man sitting next to him wasn’t from this planet.
A woman in her early 40’s was leaving with three children as SG-1 and Airman Rhodes were entering the ice cream shop. She stopped Jack with her hand on his arm
“Jack, it’s so good to see you,” she greeted congenially. “It’s been too long since we’ve seen you at the ice rink. Justin here was wondering if you were going to make it to any of their games this season?” The woman gestured to the oldest child, a tall blond boy in his mid-teens. “The referee they have now just isn’t the same.”
“Uh, hi,” Jack looked at Sam, worried. He had been warned before they left the mountain that if they met up with anyone who knew him he shouldn’t say much, pretend that everything was fine, and leave any explanations up to Sam and Daniel. “It’s been, um, a long time since I’ve been skating, yeah.”
“Hi, I’m Samantha Carter.” Sam stepped up and shook the woman’s hand. “And these are Daniel, Murray, and Michael. Your son’s on the city league, is he? The colonel’s been telling us how upset he is that he hasn’t been able to make it to the games lately, haven’t you, colonel?” Sam prompted Jack with her eyes.
“Oh, yes, definitely.” Jack nodded emphatically, trying to act subtle and normal but fearing he was failing. “We’ve just been so busy saving the planet –”
“What the colonel means, of course,” Sam interrupted smoothly, “is that we’ve been awfully busy at work lately. Our department is on a deadline to finish a lot of projects, some of which have rather far-reaching implications. Are you interested in Deep Space Radar Telemetry?” she asked, her voice sickly sweet. “We may be able to get a tour set up for you and the kids if you’re interested.”
“Oh, that would be lovely,” the woman answered and turned back to Jack. “You’ll have to let us know when we can go the next time you make it down to the rink.”
Jack nodded but didn’t dare say anything else. He’d forgotten that no one was supposed to know about aliens and other planets and all of the wonderful and dangerous stuff he did for a living. It was a shame he couldn’t tell them. They were great stories.
The family left the parlor and Jack’s group went to the counter to make their selections. Jack sighed with relief and hoped that he didn’t have to go through that again.
General Hammond watched as Jack followed Sam, Teal’c, Daniel, and Rhodes into the briefing room. Jack was clutching a souvenir bag and was sporting a new baseball cap with a picture of a wallaby on it.
“You asked to see us, sir?” Carter asked.
“Yes. Everyone have a seat,” Hammond gestured to the chairs around the conference table. “Did you have a nice time today?” he asked Jack.
“Yes, sir.” Jack reached into his souvenir bag and pulled out a small stuffed bear in a military uniform and handed it to the general. “Thank you for letting us go today,” he added respectfully.
“It was in the zoo’s gift shop,” Daniel explained.
“Thank you, Jack,” Hammond said as he made a show of studying the bear’s uniform. “I know just where to put this in my office.”
Jack beamed at the older man.
“I asked you all to come here because the Asgard think they have found a way to correct the error in Jack’s memory download. If this works, we may not need the assistance of our other young friend,” he added to Major Carter cryptically. There was no reason to tell this Jack that there was another physically younger, mentally older copy of him running around. The irony of the situation did not escape him.
“I asked Thor to wait until you returned since I don’t think it would’ve been a good idea for several people to suddenly vanish from the primate exhibit.” Hammond smiled. Thank goodness Thor now (usually) asked before beaming up his personnel. Covering up for their disappearance in a flash of light from a public place, especially one that might have security cameras, would be a PR nightmare.
“So I get my memory back? And then I get to go through the Stargate?” Jack asked hopefully.
“I sure hope so, son,” Hammond answered him honestly.
Thor’s hologram appeared at the end of the conference table.
“I can see through you!” Jack exclaimed.
“Greetings, O’Neill. We are ready, General Hammond,” Thor intoned.
General Hammond nodded. “The rest of SG-1 will accompany Colonel O’Neill if you don’t mind, Commander.”
“What about Michael? Can he come, too?” Jack looked back and forth between Hammond, Rhodes, and Thor expectantly.
Jack felt the same tingly sensation he’d experienced just a week before and suddenly the view of the conference room disappeared and was replaced by the bridge of Thor’s ship.
I’m back on the spaceship! Jack thought with glee. It’s almost like a mission!
His team was off the mission rotation while he was like this. Jack thought he was the only one truly upset by this. The rest of the team just took it in stride as something that happened every couple of months when one of them was injured. They told him that the downtime gave them a chance to catch up on the work that inevitably piled up on base, and they could be available for whichever team member was injured. Jack interpreted it as being grounded. He’d been very disappointed when he was told that since he didn’t remember his training it wouldn’t be safe to let him go through the gate. He soaked up all of the information that he could from teams arriving from off-world, desperately wishing he could be out there with them. It was every kid’s dream to travel to another planet, and he was so close. It looked like right now he’d have to settle for being back on Thor’s space ship, which didn’t seem like settling at all now that he was here. I’m in space again!
Jack looked at Thor now, no longer frightened. He had decided during his long stay in the infirmary that Thor really wasn’t that scary. The alien was small and kind of skinny, and besides being alien, Jack really didn’t know why he had been afraid of him. He had a lot of questions he wanted to ask Thor, and right now he really wanted to know why he had been able to see part of the Stargate through Thor’s body. That question would have to wait a minute; there was something even better he wanted to do.
“You’re gonna love the view,” Jack told Rhodes, excitedly leading him over to the wall that he had seen Earth through last time he was on the ship. “Can we see it again?” Jack asked Thor.
Thor obliged, and Rhodes’ sharp intake of breath confirmed to Jack that he, too, had never seen such a sight.
“Isn’t it great?” Jack whispered, still enthralled.
“Thank you,” Airman Rhodes whispered back. The airman had told Jack that he had never been off-world before, had never been on any of their allies’ spaceships, had never even actually met any of their alien allies, and had truly never expected to be anything more than one of the many, disposable SFs at the SGC. Jack was happy that he could show something like this to his new friend.
“It is time,” Thor announced, having moved from the console to the door.
“Whoa,” Jack said as he sat up. His whole body felt tingly. Weird.
Jack looked around the ship’s version of an infirmary and scrambled out of the medipod when he noticed Daniel, Sam, Teal’c, and an airman on the other side of the room. His feet found the floor quickly, and he strolled toward his teammates. His gaze then fell on Thor, and he grinned.
“Thor, buddy.” Jack gestured toward the medipod. “Thanks for fixing me up. Again.” He looked at the rest of them. “What happened?” The last thing he remembered was fighting against the replicators on the ship orbiting one of the Asgard planets. He did not remember an airman being on his team, and he shot a curious look in Rhodes’ direction.
“What’s the last thing you remember, sir?” Carter asked warily.
“A damn bug jumping on my head,” the colonel answered, wincing slightly. “Tell me you blew them up,” he pleaded.
“Yes, sir,” Carter replied, grinning.
“Uh, Jack,” Daniel interrupted. “So you, um, you don’t remember anything else? Anything more recent?”
Jack looked at him quizzically. “Well, Daniel, I just got out of the magic box…”
“The consciousness replaced contained O’Neill’s original memories up to the time of the initial injury,” Thor explained.
“Original memories? Carter?” Jack queried, awaiting an explanation. “And what about Airman –”
“Rhodes, sir,” Michael Rhodes supplied.
“Rhodes. Right. So, what’s going on?”
“It’s a long story, sir.”
“If you do not mind, Major Carter, O’Neill, I must return with my ship to Allana. Our assistance is needed.”
“Sure, Thor. We’ll finish this back at the SGC. You just look us up next time you’re in the neighborhood,” O’Neill replied before the bridge of the Asgard ship twinkled out of sight.
Daniel ran his hand through his hair habitually when he rematerialized and watched as Jack did the same. It would be good to have things back to normal again.
“Colonel O’Neill,” General Hammond greeted when Jack reappeared in the SGC briefing room.
“How are you feeling?”
“Peachy. Would someone mind explaining what’s going on? Because it seems I’ve missed something…” This sounded more like the Jack they all knew and loved.
“Certainly, colonel. We’ll discuss your recent adventures on the way to the infirmary,” Hammond offered, walking out with the rest of the team. The Asgard medical technicians had assured them that everything should be back to normal when the colonel awoke this time, but Daniel knew that the general would not be satisfied until Dr. Fraiser came to the same conclusion.
“He doesn’t need his more recent memories,” Daniel said in an aside to Rhodes as they left the room, thinking of Jack being spit on by a llama at the petting zoo. “We have pictures.”
A/N: I’m going with Jack’s birthday being in 1957 if he was 40 years old in Brief Candle. For various reasons I like this better than going with 1952, as was written in Fragile Balance. The only way this even has bearing on this fic is that he makes a reference to Star Trek : TOS which wouldn’t have aired yet when he was 10 if I went with the earlier birth year.
Time frame: Seasons 1-5, and Season Seven up to Heroes
Plot: On a mission (or on Earth if you can come up with a plot that fits) something happens to Jack so that he mentally regresses. Instead of a kiddie fic, Jack needs to still be a man physically, but mentally he is a child. Either he's been made to have the mind of a child or something has happened to him psychologically‹but make sure that it can be fixed at the end if it's a psychological thing...Show how everyone at the SGC deals with Jack being this way and how his team helps him and how they cope with it. Also, Jack has to be back to being himself by the end. It'd also be nice to see what happens if they take Jack out into the world and what would happen in public.