Jack woke at the touch of lips on his forehead. "Hey, you're late," he mumbled, still half-asleep. "Everything okay?"
Daniel crawled under the comforter and into his arms. "I'm fine," he said around a yawn, stretching within Jack's embrace. "Had to shake off the entourage first."
"Ah," Jack replied knowingly. "Carter and Teal'c?"
"And Janet." Daniel snuggled his face into Jack's shoulder. "They all kept asking if I was sure I didn't want them to stay over for the night."
"Guess they wondered where I was," Jack said, rubbing a hand up and down Daniel's back.
"I told them you were really tired." Daniel yawned again. "They bought it. After all, we were both knocked out by that stun grenade."
"Yeah, but you were closer to it than I was, which explains," Jack leaned up on an elbow and bent to kiss the bruise on Daniel's cheek, "your entourage being more concerned about you."
"Yeah, well, finally I got Janet to admit that if I was still concussed she wouldn't have let me out of the infirmary, told them all I was exhausted and just needed a decent night's sleep and they left. I waited twenty minutes to be sure they'd really gone, then took the longest, most circuitous route over here to make sure I wasn't followed. You know," Daniel raised himself up on an elbow as well and looked into Jack's face, "being your lover can be very exhausting."
"Yeah?" Jack stared him down. "Wanna quit?"
Daniel stared back for a minute then broke the contest with a kiss. "Nope. Not getting rid of me that easy."
"Good," Jack murmured into his ear as he pushed him over onto his back and rolled on top of him. "I'd hunt you down if you did."
"Kidnap me, take me away somewhere where I could never escape?" Daniel murmured, wriggling pleasurably against him.
"Sure, why not?" Jack kissed him deeply, passionately. "So, wanna mess around?"
"Mess around?" Daniel laughed. "God, Jack, I haven't heard that expression since I was eighteen."
"Huh." Jack frowned. "You saying I'm old-fashioned, Daniel?"
"Well, yeeeah," Daniel drawled. "But," he looped an arm around Jack's neck and pulled him in for another kiss, "I like old-fashioned," he said as he released him, "and I'd love to mess around."
He gave another wriggle to prove his point and Jack sighed in pleasure as Daniel's hardness pressed against his own.
Jack rolled to his side and ran a hand down Daniel's chest, tracing the muscles, rubbing his nipples, feeling them harden beneath his touch. He kept his hand skimming down till he could palm Daniel's erection, sliding his hand up to brush his thumb over the already-weeping tip.
Daniel arched at the touch, his hips pumping up and down. "Oh God, Jack, slow, okay."
Jack kissed his neck. "Whatever you want, Daniel," he whispered.
He firmed his grip but kept his strokes slow and steady till Daniel was writhing against his side, his head moving feverishly on the pillow. "Jack, I'm gonna-" he groaned and then he climaxed, semen pumping out over Jack's welcoming hand as Jack leaned forward and took his mouth in a deep kiss amid an explosion of flaring light.
"Jack?" Daniel mumbled against his mouth.
"Yeah?" Jack replied, unsealing his lips from Daniel's.
"I know we have mind-blowing sex but-"
Jack looked around the room then flopped over onto his back, an arm across his eyes. "Thor, buddy," he said, "you really need to do something about your timing."
"Greetings, O'Neill. Greetings, Doctor Jackson," the little grey alien said.
"Thor, I'm naked here. You could probably just call me Daniel."
"Very well. Greetings, Daniel," Thor replied equably.
"So… buddy," Jack pulled the covers up to his waist and leaned up on his elbows, "what brings you to our neck of the woods?"
"If you are asking why I am here, O'Neill, it is to present you with a gift," Thor said.
"A gift?" Jack glanced quickly over at Daniel and grinned. "For what? Helping you guys out the last time we… um, helped you out?"
"In a way. However, it is more than that," Thor replied, his large eyes regarding them unblinkingly. "We have observed your growing fondness for each other and were confused at first by your new relationship. We could not understand why you would choose to mate with someone who cannot give you offspring. However, on further research about your people, we discovered that such relationships are not uncommon. That humans do not choose their mates solely to procreate."
"And?" Jack prompted.
"Loki has been working on his cloning technology-"
"Wait a minute!" Jack sat bolt upright, feeling Daniel do the same next to him. "Loki? That useless little grey-"
"Jack, settle down. Let's hear what Thor has to say," Daniel advised, though Jack could hear the concern in his voice.
"During our research on human relationships, we discovered that most humans feel their mating is enriched by the bearing of a child," Thor went on. "We also discovered that two males in a relationship cannot fulfil this desire. In recognition of all that you, O'Neill, and Daniel have done for us, we have brought you the fruition of your relationship."
"Oh God, please tell me he's brought us a puppy," Jack muttered.
"Thor," Daniel said, "we don't believe in having children just because we're in a relationship with someone."
"I understand," Thor replied a little ascerbically. "However, we wanted to gift you with what most human pairs desire when they mate." He passed his long grey fingers over a device he held in the palm of his outstretched hand.
There was another flash of light and then Daniel felt a small, squirming bundle drop onto his lap. Looking down, he felt his jaw literally drop as he saw a naked male baby resting across his knees. Acting quickly as the child began to scream, he gathered it into his arms and held it cradled against his chest, rubbing the small back soothingly.
"Thor," Jack asked, almost calmly, "what the hell's going on?"
"This is your child, O'Neill, yours and Daniel's. He was cloned from Daniel's DNA. Loki felt, although his cloning technique is now without failure, that perhaps you would feel uncomfortable with another clone of yourself after the last…" Thor stopped momentarily then continued, "problem. This child is perfectly healthy and will live a normal human life."
Jack turned to look at Daniel and the baby draped over his shoulder. "Thor, really, you shouldn't have… I mean, you *really* shouldn't have." He watched as Daniel grabbed a tshirt from beside the bed and wrapped the baby in it, then returned him to his shoulder and resumed patting his back.
"You do not wish to keep the clone?" Thor asked. "I apologize, O'Neill. The Asgard believed this would be some recompense for all you have done for us." He held out his skinny arms. "I will return the clone to Loki."
"Wait a minute," Daniel said, finally speaking up. "What will happen to him?"
Thor gave what Jack figured was the equivalent of an Asgard shrug. "I am not sure. We did not expect that you would not want it. Perhaps an Asgard can raise it."
"Jack, no." Daniel turned pleading eyes on his lover. "Hey, I know they're good guys and all but there's no way I'm letting this… our baby be raised by the Asgard."
"Daniel, for crying out loud, do you know what you're asking? How the hell are we going to explain him? We're already having enough trouble keeping our relationship quiet. How do we explain how we suddenly ended up with a newborn? I don't think 'we're babysitting for a friend' is gonna cut it," Jack said, reaching out instinctively to stroke a hand down the crying baby's back.
Thor held out his arms again. "Return the clone to me. I will make sure it is cared for. I apologize for any discomfort I have caused you, O'Neill."
"No!" Jack's voice echoed Daniel's. He looked at his lover. "Jesus, you sure about this, Danny?"
"It'll affect you more than me, Jack. I'm not military," Daniel replied. He lifted the now quiet child away from his shoulder and handed him to Jack.
Jack cradled the infant gently in his arms. "Ah, to hell with it," he said. "Thor, the kid stays here. And thanks, I guess, for the thought. Hey, what's his name?"
"That is for his parents to decide," Thor replied, fading from view.
Jack looked over at Daniel. "So, any ideas?"
"Let's worry about a name later and organize essentials first," Daniel replied with a grin as the baby hit Jack full in the face with a perfectly aimed stream of urine.
Jack grabbed for a tissue from the box on the bedside table and wiped his face. "Diapers," he said firmly. "Definitely an essential. A name can wait."
Jack looked askance at the overflowing shopping cart then at his wallet. He pulled out a couple of twenties then shook his head and took out his credit card instead. "You sure a baby needs all this shi-stuff?" he amended as Daniel made a show of placing one hand over one of the baby's ears and pressing the other against his shoulder.
"Oh, babies need lots of things," interjected the bright, bubbly young thing behind the register. "He's just adorable," she added, and Jack had a momentary flash of jealousy till he realized she was talking about the baby, not Daniel. If the girl thought it odd that the infant was wrapped in nothing but an oversized camouflage t-shirt, she was polite enough not to say so. "Can I hold him?"
"No!" Jack and Daniel blurted out simultaneously.
Daniel smiled apologetically. "Sorry. We're just babysitting for a friend and he's a little jumpy around strangers."
"She didn't leave you any clothes for him or bottles or anything?" The girl looked shocked and Jack wondered if she'd call the authorities the minute they left the store and report them as kidnappers.
"It was a family emergency," he jumped in quickly, handing her his card in the hope it would distract her. He began piling the shopping up on the sliding belt. "Her husband was kidnapped by urban guerillas in Los Angeles. She had to leave in a hurry."
"Oh my," the girl said, scanning their purchases through. "You know, I could never live somewhere like that. It's just too dangerous. I hope he's okay."
"He'll be fine," Jack said, shuddering when he saw the total on the screen.
The girl bagged everything up except the portacrib and its mattress which was in a large packing box that Jack stowed under the cart. "So, what's his name?"
"George," Jack replied, glaring at Daniel and daring him to say any different.
"Oh that's… nice," the girl replied. "Well, bye now. Hope everything goes okay."
Daniel shot her one of his most dazzling smiles, Jack noticed. He grabbed his archeologist by the arm and ushered him ahead of the shopping cart and out to the car.
Jack loaded up the trunk while Daniel rocked the baby in his arms then climbed up into the passenger seat, the child on his lap. "We should put the infant seat in before we drive home," he said.
Jack muttered imprecations under his breath but hauled out the seat and his toolbox. Ten minutes later they were ready to head for home.
The baby lay in the seat, looking around calmly as if being deposited on an unknown planet with complete strangers was an everyday occurrence.
Jack climbed into the driver's seat and started the engine then tooled the car out of the parking lot, feeling Daniel's eyes on him. "What?" he asked as he stopped for the first set of traffic lights.
"You really want to call our son George?" Daniel asked innocently.
"Oh for crying out loud," Jack said, stamping his foot down on the gas pedal as the light went green. "He's bald, isn't he? Sounded like a perfectly good name to give the kid. Besides, we might need to make points with Hammond."
Daniel laughed and turned to address the baby. "Don't worry. I won't let him call you George."
The baby grinned back toothlessly at him and gurgled.
Daniel felt warm lips on the back of his neck and a soft voice in his ear.
"Let me try," Jack said. "You're exhausted. Go to bed."
Daniel looked up as Jack moved in front of him and took the squirming baby from his arms. "I've tried everything," he said apologetically. "I'm sorry if he kept you awake. I've fed him, burped him, changed his diaper, changed his clothes because I thought maybe he was too hot, then changed him back again in case he was cold-"
A finger on his lips shushed him.
"Sometimes babies just cry," Jack said, "for no reason. Sometimes they just want to be held or they just want to cry. Go to bed. We'll be fine."
Daniel stood up and relinquished his seat in the rocking chair to Jack. "You sure?" he asked hesitantly. "I know this must be a little uncomfortable for you. And I should be the one taking care of him. He's-"
Jack sat down in the rocker and cradled the infant on his shoulder, jiggling him gently. "He's your clone," he said. "but he's *our* son."
"I just thought it might bring back memories of Charlie," Daniel replied quietly.
"I wasn't really around much when Charlie was this age," Jack said, patting the crying baby's back rhythmically. "This is kinda nice. Have you decided what we're going to name him?"
Daniel settled himself on the coffee table across from the rocking chair. "There's a Jewish tradition," he said. He held up a hand. "I know neither of us are Jewish but I think it's a really nice tradition. I know you wouldn't want to name him Charlie but I'd like to honor your son in some way. The tradition is that you choose a name that begins with the first letter of the name of the person you're honoring."
Jack nodded. "So…"
"Caiden," Daniel replied. "It was the name of my foster brother. He died when I was about 7 and he was 13. He was like a real big brother to me," Daniel explained softly.
"Caiden." Jack lifted the baby and held him up so he was looking into his face. "What do you think, Caiden? You like that?"
Caiden burped loudly then gave a slow, milk-drunk smile. Jack lowered him and cradled him across his lap, cuddling him close to his chest. "He likes it," he said. He held up a finger and beckoned Daniel close.
Daniel leaned in and Jack captured his mouth in a sweet, loving kiss. "Your work here is done, young Jackson," he said as he pulled back. "Caiden it is. Now go to bed. You've got the early shift in the morning."
Daniel stood up and started to head for the bedroom, then stopped, turning back to Jack. "We've got the team and Janet and the General coming over for a barbecue tomorrow," he said flatly.
Jack placed a hand over Caiden's exposed ear. "Crap," he muttered. He gave Daniel a waggle of fingers. "Go. Get some sleep. We'll sort it out in the morning."
Raising Caiden part two
Jack stumbled from bed at the first plaintive wail and headed, still half-asleep for the spare room that he and Daniel had begun to turn into Caiden's room the evening before.
Leaning over the side of the crib, he pulled the crying infant up into his arms, wrinkling his nose and closing his eyes at the smell that emanated from the drooping diaper beneath Caiden's sleepsuit. "Whew, buddy. Whatever you took in last night you sure put out this morning." He stumbled tiredly over to the changetable and put the infant down, turning to grab a fresh diaper, wipes and a clean suit from the stack piled up on the dresser.
Caiden stopped crying and Jack heard an unmistakable gurgle. He opened his eyes completely and leaned forward, despite the odor, to see the baby grinning gummily up at him. "I didn't know newborns smiled so much."
Something wasn't right, Jack realized belatedly as his half-sleep state fled and complete awareness took its place. He looked at the baby again. "Oh shit," he muttered as his eyes saw the sleepsuit riding halfway up the infant's legs and arms, the suit torn open at the waist and the diaper… Jack gagged as he realized the diaper had come loose of its adhesive bearings and was mostly open, the contents leaking messily over the baby's belly and chest. "This is not a good sign, kiddo." He dropped a quick kiss on Caiden's forehead, "It'll be okay though. Your daddy and I will take care of you." He closed his eyes for a moment, remembering his own clone, swallowed down a hard lump of emotion at the memory of being told the boy would die because of the cloning technique Loki had used. That had been bad enough, but this child was part of Daniel, was Daniel in a sense, and Jack knew he couldn't bear to lose him. "It'll be okay," he said again.
Quickly and efficiently he cleaned the child up, using up almost an entire box of wipes in his effort to ensure none of the mess was left on the delicate skin. He looked askance at the diapers. They'd only bought the newborn size. Sighing in resignation, he pulled his tshirt over his head and wrapped the baby in it. "This is starting to be a regular look for you," he told Caiden, who just batted at his face with his hands and snuffled. "New fashion trend maybe? Camowear for infants?" He shifted the baby more comfortably onto his hip. "Let's go see Daddy," he said. "Won't he be surprised?"
Daniel had his head buried under the pillows when Jack entered the bedroom and sat on the bed, Caiden perched on his knees. "Daniel?" Jack sing-songed.
"It's your turn to get up to him," Daniel mumbled. "I fed him last time."
"What did you feed him, Daniel?" Jack asked. "Similac Supagrow?"
"What?" Daniel tossed the pillows aside and sat up as Jack dangled the baby in front of his face.
"He made like Topsy and growed," Jack said.
Daniel reached out and placed both hands over Caiden's ears. "Oh shit," he whispered in a horrified voice. "They're not supposed to do this, are they? Grow this big overnight?"
"No, Daniel, they're not." Jack's voice was tense as he resettled Caiden on his knee.
"Jack, remember what happened with your clone. You don't think… Thor seemed so sure that there'd be no problems with Caiden but-"
"I know. We need to take him into the SGC, see Fraiser."
"Jack, if we do that we're going to have to tell her, and probably the General as well, about us," Daniel replied.
Jack shrugged. "C'est la vie," he responded. "I'm not taking any chances with Caiden," he said firmly.
"We could contact Thor," Daniel suggested, climbing out of bed and almost falling over in his haste to pull on his jeans.
Jack shook his head. "We'd still have to go into the SGC to do that and I'd have to come up with a reason why I need to contact him." He looked up at Daniel and smiled. "Maybe it's just time we came out of the closet anyway, Daniel. Don't you ever wish we didn't have to hide and sneak around?"
"Of course, but like I keep telling you, I'm not military, and my reputation in archeological circles wasn't exactly pristine before anyway. For you, it'd mean court martial-"
"C'est la vie," Jack repeated. He wasn't sure he wanted to share their secret. He'd always liked the fact that there was a part of him that was his alone, the part that loved Daniel, that he never had to have out there in the open to be discussed and criticized. He also knew that if anyone besides Thor could help Caiden, it was a diminutive, doe-eyed Napoleonic powermonger named Janet Fraiser. He'd do whatever it took to give him that chance.
Jack stood and handed Caiden to Daniel once his lover was dressed. "We'll need to stop for more diapers and clothes on the way," he said, heading to his own side of the bed to get dressed. "This time your credit card can take the beating. And we're going to a different store. God forbid that woman from last night sees us with what she thinks is a different kid."
"Good point," Daniel said. "Next thing you know we'll be on the FBI's most wanted list. I gotta hand it to Thor, he really knows how to give the gift that keeps on giving."
Raising Caiden part three
By the time they made it to the Mountain, Caiden was once again decked out in properly fitting clothes and Daniel's wallet was substantially lighter than it had been before he'd become a father.
He handed Caiden out to Jack and followed behind as they walked across to the checkpoint to sign in, tension keeping him from speaking any more. He felt as if he was treading a tightrope; one wrong step and he, Jack and Caiden would all topple into an unforeseeable void.
Jack sketched a salute at the airman manning the checkpoint. Tucking Caiden onto his hip, he signed his name and flashed his ID then waited while Daniel followed suit.
"Um, sir, I'm not sure that you're allowed to bring babies into the SGC," the airman said nervously.
"Who, him?" Jack held Caiden up and waggled the baby's hand in the man's face. "Caiden, say hello to Airman Drake. Airman Drake, this is Caiden. Caiden's a new recruit. We filched him from the Russians. He's absolutely brilliant but he doesn't speak or write a word of English yet and he hasn't got his ID, but I'll vouch for him."
"Right, sir. Um, I guess it'll be okay seeing it's you, sir," Drake replied. He reached out hesitantly and patted Caiden's soft, downy hair. "Nice to meet you, Caiden."
Caiden grinned delightedly and kicked his legs.
"He likes you," Jack said, adding a smile of his own. "He doesn't smile for just anyone. Very unsmiling usually, these Russians."
The airman grinned back weakly and let them through.
They were almost at the infirmary doors when a familiar voice brought them to a grinding halt.
"Colonel? Daniel? I thought you were on medical leave."
Jack darted a quick glance at Daniel then pivoted. "Hey, Carter," he said as his 2-I-C walked towards them.
"Um, that's a baby," Sam said, reaching out a finger to stroke Caiden's arm.
"Yep," Jack agreed.
Daniel contented himself with wrapping his arms around his torso and looking everywhere but into Sam's curious eyes.
"Oh, so whose is it?" Carter asked.
"A friend gave him…um, loaned him… We're babysitting him," Jack stuttered out. "But he's got a fever, might be contagious, so we thought we'd bring him down to have Doc Fraiser check him out."
"Oh, he's adorable," Sam said. "What's his name?"
"Caiden," Jack and Daniel parroted together.
"Hey, Caiden." Sam tickled the baby under the chin. "So whose baby is he?" she asked again. She grinned. "No offence, but I'm surprised someone would ask you two to babysit. They must have been short on babysitters, huh?"
"Hey," Jack said, offended. "I can babysit. Daniel too. Anyway, it was an emergency. A neighbor-" He nudged Daniel with his shoulder. "Let's go see if Fraiser's here."
"Husband got kidnapped by urban guerillas in LA," Daniel murmured, opening the infirmary doors for Jack to pass through.
"You're kidding me?" Sam replied.
Daniel shrugged. "LA's a dangerous place," he said, following Jack through.
Sam was hot on their heels. "Come on, Daniel, what's really going on?"
"Oh, Doctor Fraiser," Jack called, spotting the doctor just about to enter her office. "We have patient for you." He turned to Sam, an apologetic smile on his face. "Sorry, Carter, the kid insists on strict doctor-patient confidentiality."
"Fine," Sam said with a look directed at Daniel that said he *was* going to tell her what the hell was going on sooner rather than later. "Bye, Caiden," she said sweetly. "Hope you get better soon."
Jack watched with narrowed eyes as she left the infirmary and sat down on a chair in the waiting area just outside the door. "Oy," he muttered. "Daniel, I think we've got some 'splaining to do."
Janet joined them in one of the cubicles. Jack sat Caiden on the bed and anchored him there with one hand on a chubby leg.
"Colonel, Daniel," Janet said. She looked down at her putative patient. "That's a baby," she said, arching an eyebrow.
"Yeah, we know," Daniel replied flatly. "Sam just told us that."
Janet flashed him an almost-glare. "Okay," she said, "why do I have a baby in my infirmary?"
"Long story," Daniel replied. "Can we get to that part after you've checked him out?"
Janet placed a hand on Caiden's forehead. "He doesn't feel feverish. What's the problem?"
"How old would you say he is?" Jack asked, deciding to get to the crux of the problem immediately.
"Well, I'm not a pediatrician but I'd say around six months. Why? How old is he?"
"Would you believe it if I told you that yesterday he was a newborn?" Jack asked.
"He's pretty big for a newborn," Janet said, obviously not getting it.
"That's the problem," Daniel interjected. "Yesterday he was a newborn in size and everything else. This morning he's six months old-"
"Well, that's just not possible…" Janet picked Caiden up and patted his back gently. "You're going to have to tell me more before I examine him. I need a full history. Where are his parents?"
"Oh boy," Daniel whispered. He looked at Jack who shrugged and nodded back at him. "We're his parents, me and Jack. Well, strictly speaking mostly me because he's my clone but-"
"He's ours," Jack cut in firmly. "Mine and Daniel's. He was a gift… from Thor."
If he hadn't been so worried, Jack would have laughed at the stunned expression on the doctor's face. He reached out and closed her mouth with a finger under her chin. "I know," he said. "Freaked me out at first too."
"Loki?" Janet asked. "If he was cloned by Loki then there's a chance he could have the same problem your clone did, Colonel." She rocked the baby gently in her arms.
"Thor said he was perfectly healthy and would develop normally," Daniel said.
"Well, going from newborn to six months overnight isn't normal," Janet replied ascerbically. She handed Caiden over to Daniel, smiling as the baby snuggled against his shoulder. Caiden's thumb found its way unerringly to his mouth and he began to suck, his eyes drooping closed. "I'll need to take some blood and run some other tests. Colonel, I think we need to inform General Hammond of what's going on."
Jack nodded. "I know. I just wanted to get you to look Caiden over quickly first." He stopped and looked at her, unable to help the worried frown creasing his forehead. "I mean, right now he seems okay to you, doesn't he?"
Janet patted his shoulder reassuringly. "He looks like a normal, healthy baby," she said. "By the way, congratulations on becoming parents."
"Thanks," Jack said. "Sorry we didn't get time to do the baby shower. Look, Doc, I need to try to contact Thor. Plus we need to get General Hammond up to speed *and* there's a very curious Major out there who's not going to give up till she finds out what's going on. I'm going to go down to get the Asgard communication device while Daniel stays here with Caiden. Can you call the General and let him know there's a situation that we need his input on?"
"What about Sam?" Daniel asked quietly.
Jack sighed and rubbed his hand through his hair. "Tell her to meet us in the briefing room in thirty minutes. Tell her to bring Teal'c." He smiled at Daniel's anxious expression. "I think we're about to be found out, Danny boy. It might just as well be our friends to be the first to know."
"Mind if I sit in?" Janet asked.
"You're one of those friends, Doc," Jack replied. "We wouldn't have it any other way."
Jack watched as General Hammond stopped at the door of the briefing room, his mouth dropping open comically as he saw the baby on Daniel's lap.
"What the heck is going on?" Hammond asked, entering the room and taking his customary seat. "That's a baby, Doctor Jackson."
"Why is that the first thing everyone says?" Jack asked. "It's obvious it's a baby. It's not like we started out carrying something else and it morphed into a kid without us noticing."
"Us?" Hammond asked, raising an eyebrow. He sighed. "I think you'd better fill us in, Colonel."
"Well, it seems Thor was really grateful for the help we've given the Asgard recently and he wanted to give us a gift," Jack began.
"Why the Sam Hill would he give us a child?" Hammond asked.
"Not us - you, sir," Jack replied. "Us - we, as in Daniel and me - we, sir." He grimaced at the awkward phrasing and shrugged at Daniel. "Maybe Daniel should explain. He's a linguist. He's bound to be better with words than I am."
"You and Daniel?" Carter said suddenly. "Oh my God! I can't believe I didn't see it before." She bowed her head and covered her face with her hands.
"Carter? Look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean you to think that you and I… I mean, I do care about you more than I'm supposed to but just not exactly like that-"
Jack winced as Daniel's foot connected with his shin. He swallowed hard as he saw Carter's shoulder's begin to shake. "Ah crap, Carter… Sam, listen. Okay, I did feel like that back then but we decided to keep it to ourselves and then every time I turned around you were involved with someone… Okay, okay, I know most of those guys didn't make it but-"
Sam lifted her face from her hands, tears streaming down her face. "Oh, stop, please, it hurts," she said, grasping at her ribs with her hands. A broad grin creased her face.
"You're laughing," Jack said accusingly. "Daniel, she's laughing."
"Sam, do you know how often we worried about you finding out about us?" Daniel said, reaching out with a free hand to pat her back.
"I'm sorry. I'm not laughing at you, I swear. I'm laughing at me. I've wondered so many times how to tell you, sir," she looked at Jack, "that I'm pretty much over my crush on you. I was worried I'd hurt your feelings. I mean, you haven't been involved with anyone that I knew of and I thought…" She sobered and wiped the tears from her face. "Sorry," she said. "We can discuss this later. We need to talk about Caiden. What's going on, sir?"
Jack looked at Teal'c, who sat silently up till now. "Anything you want to say, big guy?" he asked. "Any recriminations, tears…" he shot a mock-frown at Carter, "… laughter to share?"
Teal'c simply shook his head and said, "As MajorCarter has already said what is of prime importance here is the welfare of the child."
Jack turned finally to look at Hammond, his heart in his throat. His and Daniel's relationship was grounds for court martial, he knew that, and yet all he could think of right now was that if the Air Force wanted to court martial him for loving Daniel, they could go right ahead, but not until he'd had a chance to get his hands on the communication device and contact Thor. "Sir?"
Hammond shook his head. "I wish you'd come to me, either of you." He stood up and walked around to Daniel's chair where he placed a hand on Caiden's head.
Caiden looked up and grinned at him and Hammond smiled back. "Hey there, little fella," he said. He looked back at Jack. "What do we need to do for him?" he asked.
"I need to contact Thor," Jack said immediately. "Sir, I know this is a huge problem for you, and I'm sorry-"
"This isn't the first time I've had to keep a secret, Jack," Hammond said. "Go. Get the device, get in touch with Thor, if you can." He looked at Daniel. "May I?" he asked, holding out his arms and smiling as Daniel lifted Caiden into his arms. He rocked the baby gently to and fro. "No matter where he came from, he's here now," he said. "And I'll do whatever it takes to keep him here with you."
"Thank you, sir." Jack was on his feet, sketching a hasty salute. "I'll meet you in the infirmary," he told Daniel. "Let the doc run some tests while we're waiting, make sure he's okay for now."
Daniel nodded and held his arms out for the baby, planting a brief kiss on the downy head as Caiden was passed back into his care.
Janet stood as well. "Let's get moving," she said, leading the way from the room.
Raising Caiden part four
Daniel winced and tightened his arms around Caiden as a needle was slipped into the baby's tiny vein and he began to scream.
"Oh, I know, I know," Janet crooned. "It's okay, Caiden. It's tough being a baby, huh? Nothing to do but lie around and eat and sleep all day-"
"And get stuck with needles," Daniel said more sharply than he'd intended.
Janet pulled the needle out and labeled the vial, handing it off to the nurse. "I know how hard it is to watch your child go through this, Daniel," she said softly. "I'm sorry." She patted a small bandaid over the puncture mark in Caiden's arm.
Daniel lifted Caiden so he was resting against his chest and patted his back rhythmically. "It's not your fault, Janet. And I know you know. All that stuff with Cassie, when she first came to Earth and then just recently, with the virus from Nirrti." He nuzzled the top of Caiden's head. "Sssh," he whispered in the baby's ear, smiling up at Janet as Caiden stopped crying. "Did you know that babies don't cry if they can't hear themselves doing it?" he asked. "I read it on the net the first night we had him with us, and it works-" Caiden began wailing again. "Most of the time," he added.
The nurse came back and handed Daniel a warmed bottle of formula and Caiden calmed down and sucked hungrily as Daniel fed him.
"Daniel, do you remember when Cassie was so sick and you told me I didn't have to do it alone, that you were there for me?" Janet asked. "Well, you and Jack don't have to do this alone either. We're all here for you, for all of you."
"You didn't seem surprised to hear about me and Jack," Daniel observed, watching Caiden drink.
"I wasn't," Janet replied. "I think I knew you two loved each other almost before you realized it yourselves. I was just hoping you'd get a clue before I had to play matchmaker." She grinned as Caiden burped around the nipple. "Look, Daniel, I can get a pediatrician here to oversee Caiden's care-"
"No!" Daniel shook his head firmly. "There's no doctor better than you to look after our son."
"Thanks. I want to do a CAT scan but I'm going to give him a mild sedative for that. Is that okay with you?"
Daniel nodded. "Do you want to put it in his bottle?"
Janet shook her head. "Nope. It's too difficult to quantify exactly how much sedative he gets that way, and if he spits up at all-"
"Oh, he does that, all right," Daniel said with a smile. "So, how do we get him to take it?" His eyes widened. "Not another needle?"
"No, no more needles. We'll swaddle him and you can hold him while I tip it into his mouth. It's not bad-tasting. Let him finish his feed and then we'll do it. Hopefully by the time we're ready to start, the Colonel will be back with some news from Thor."
Jack palmed the small device Thor had given them to use to contact him several months before. He pressed the required crystals then glanced over at Teal'c who looked as concerned as the stoic Jaffa had ever looked.
"So, T," Jack said, wanting to fill the silence with something besides the pounding of his own nervous heart, "you really weren't surprised to find out about Daniel and me?"
Teal'c raised an eyebrow. "I was not," he said imperturbably. "I have observed your growing closeness for some time now."
"It doesn't bother you. I mean, the fact we're both guys and I'm supposed to be the big macho Air Force colonel…"
"I do not believe one's sexuality defines one's masculinity," Teal'c replied gravely. "On Chulak it is not unknown for warriors to take a compatriot as a lover in times of battle."
"Daniel says the Romans did that too," Jack mused. "Mind you, most of them probably went back to sleeping with their wives once they got back home."
"If they had wives," Teal'c said. "Which neither you nor DanielJackson have. Do you believe this relationship you have is for life, O'Neill?"
"What? Of course. I wouldn't have even started it if I hadn't believed that. Daniel's lost too many people in his life already-"
"As have you." Teal'c reached out and patted Jack's shoulder. "You have a new family and we must do all we can to ensure that your son lives to be a strong, healthy warrior like both his fathers."
"Thanks, buddy." Jack looked down at the device and punched harder at the crystals. "Come on, Thor. This is kinda urgent."
He was about to put the communication module back on the shelf when a sudden narrow beam of light illuminated the room and Thor's small, grey figure appeared.
"It's about time," Jack muttered. "Hey, Thor, ole pal, we've got a problem with the kid."
"I apologize for my tardiness, O'Neill. I was in a galaxy-"
"Far, far away," Jack dead-panned. He waved away Thor's look of confusion, if that was what that look on the Asgard's face meant, that is. "Never mind, old Earth reference. Listen, there's something wrong with Caiden." At Thor's tilted head, which he took to be interrogatory, he added, "the kid, the baby, Daniel's clone."
"The clone was certified as healthy by our top scientists." Thor paused and Jack swore he could see the hamsters getting a workout as wheels turned in the little alien's brain. "As I told you, O'Neill, if you and Daniel do not wish to keep the child I can take him back and find some other use for him."
"Easy, big guy," Jack murmured as he literally felt Teal'c bristle with aggression next to him. "The Asgard don't have the same appreciation for kids as we do. They clone themselves, remember?"
Teal'c subsided but it was with an effort, Jack thought. He turned his attention back to Thor. "We want him," he said earnestly. "He grows on you. In fact, that's the problem. The growing part, not the growing *on* you part," he clarified. "Long story short, when you gave him to us, he was a newborn, now he's already the size of a six month old. What gives?"
"Ah." Thor nodded gravely. "I was remiss in not explaining that to you. Having done some research on the care needed for an infant, we realized that such care would necessitate in you spending a great amount of time with the child, nurturing him until he became relatively independent."
"What did you do? Google caring for kids on the Internet?" Jack asked. "Never mind," he said as Thor simply gazed patiently back at him.
"As I was saying," Thor went on, "we decided to accelerate the boy's growth so that he would reach a reasonably independent age within a matter of days and then, having done so, would continue to mature at a normal rate."
"What do you call a reasonably independent age?" Jack asked.
"Two of your years," Thor replied.
"Oh great," Jack muttered, shooting Teal'c a dark look over his shoulder. "The terrible twos."
Teal'c's big hand patted his shoulder. "You have my sympathy, O'Neill," the Jaffa said.
Jack narrowed his eyes. Was that a smile he saw twitching at Teal'c's lips? "So," he looked back at Thor, "Caiden's healthy, right?"
"Caiden is indeed healthy, O'Neill." Thor nodded and gave what seemed to be an Asgard version of a broad grin. "Interesting name. I believe it is Celtic in origin. I must leave now. Be well, O'Neill."
With that, the Asgard shimmered and then disappeared.
"Yeah, yeah, live well and prosper and all that," Jack said, turning in time to see Teal'c giving a perfect Vulcan salute. "Ya know, T," he said as they headed back to the infirmary, "we have got to get you a real life."
Caiden was sleepily resting on Daniel's lap when they got there, a somewhat goofy grin on his face as Daniel played peekaboo with him. Jack stopped just inside the door, watching silently. He remembered seeing Charlie smile like that when he was a baby - milk-drunk, Sara had called it. He shook his head, wondering what Sara would think of all this if she knew.
He hadn't been around much when Charlie was a baby, snatching a week here, a couple of days there on R&R and leave while his son grew. Until one day Jack came home for good to find a three year old in place of the infant he'd held in his arms what seemed like only weeks before. He shoved those memories back. Those years were ones he didn't like to think about, preferring to pretend that his life had only really begun once he'd come home from Iraq and he, Sara and Charlie had become a family again. Of course, that hadn't lasted nearly long enough. In a few too-short years, Charlie and Sara were both gone, and Jack had given up any hope of ever having a family or someone to really love in that special way again.
Then Daniel had come into his life and Jack had fought his growing attraction and deep feeling for the man who'd become his best friend for as long as he could, while Daniel insistently burrowed beneath his skin, inside his defences and finally into his heart.
He watched as Daniel looked over and saw him standing there and that familiar loved smile tilted his lips, the dimple Jack loved to kiss denting his stubbled cheek.
"Thor came?" Daniel asked.
"Yep," Jack said, crossing the room. He bent and kissed Caiden's warm head, and then, just because he could, kissed that dimple in Daniel's cheek too.
"And?" Daniel was looking at him, worry evident in the blue eyes.
"They manipulated his growth so he'd reach a more independent age faster," Jack replied.
Janet had joined them now and she shook her head as if in disbelief. "Don't they realize you can't just mess around with human DNA like that?" she asked sharply.
"We can't," Jack replied, "but they seem to think they can. Thor reckons Caiden will continue to grow at this rate till he's a two year old then grow at a normal rate after that. He swears the kid's healthy though. Your tests show up anything we should worry about?"
Janet shook her head. "Not so far. I'm just waiting on the CAT scan and MRI results now. Ah," she turned toward the nurse who'd entered the room, a file folder in her hand. "Here we go. Let's see what we have here."
She took a while perusing the sheaf of papers while Jack fidgeted impatiently and Daniel sat as if frozen, a now-sleeping Caiden still on his lap.
"Well?" Jack asked finally, his patience exhausted.
"It looks fine," she replied. She looked into his eyes, and then gave Daniel's shoulder a small squeeze. "Caiden seems to be one hundred per cent healthy and as normal as a clone with manipulated DNA and accelerated growth can be."
Jack felt as if his legs had turned to rubber. As sure as he'd been that Thor wouldn't have lied to him, he'd been unable to ignore the small tickling of doubt in the back of his mind.
Daniel heaved a sigh of relief. "So we can take him home?" he asked.
Janet nodded. "Sure, but you call me the minute there's the slightest problem, all right? Take his temperature before you put him to bed tonight and again in the morning. If he's feverish or seems unwell at all, let me know. I'll call and check on him after my hospital rounds tomorrow around lunchtime."
"Okay." Jack took the baby from Daniel's arms and waited while Janet wrapped a soft blanket around the small body. "Tell the General and Carter I'll call them once we've got Caiden settled for the night," he said, leading the way out of the infirmary.
"Thank you, Janet," Daniel said, giving her a quick hug and following Jack out.
"Yeah, thanks, Doc," Jack called as he disappeared from view.
Jack rolled over in bed as dawn sent the first chilly fingers of light into the room. He stretched luxuriously, then turned and pulled Daniel's unresisting, sleep-warmed body into his arms, burying his face in his neck, waking his lover with gentle nips and licks along his shoulder.
"Mmm," Daniel murmured as he woke. He looked blearily around the room. "Morning already?"
"Yep," Jack said softly, his hand sneaking down to find and encircle Daniel's morning erection. "Caiden slept all night. I checked on him a couple of times but he was out like a top so I didn't disturb him. Figured we should get all the sleep we could while we had the chance."
Daniel bucked his hips, rocking into Jack's hand and closed his eyes in pleasure.
Jack loved these early morning interludes, those quiet times before the rush of the world and the need to go fight evil was upon them, these times when there was just him and Daniel, no one else.
Daniel's hand was holding Jack's penis now and Jack groaned with the pleasure of it, letting the sensation grow slowly.
They rocked together, a little faster now, the urgency to finish almost overtaking them.
"Hi," said a small voice from the doorway.
Jack's head snapped around and he pulled his hand away from Daniel's cock as if he'd been burnt.
A small boy stood in the doorway, his blond, wavy hair tousled. His face was tearstained and his pajamas rode halfway up his arms and legs, the top showing his rounded belly.
Daniel's head popped up alongside Jack's, the hand that had been giving Jack so much pleasure moments before now fumbling for his glasses on the bedside table.
"Congratulations," Jack murmured, "it's a toddler."