SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT
Annie & Lyn
Jack O’Neill sighed heavily as he watched Sam Carter slump morosely down in the chair at the dining room table. “Breakfast?” he asked in as cheerful a tone as he could muster under the circumstances.
Sam shook her head, her blonde locks flopping over her forehead. “On a diet,” she muttered. “I’ll just have coffee.” One finger traced over her face and she sat bolt upright, horror dawning in her expressive blue eyes. “Oh my God! I don’t believe it!” Pushing back the chair so suddenly it toppled over, she ran from the room and Jack saw her head into the bathroom, a worried Daniel on her heels.
‘Damn!” Sam was saying as she peered into the mirror.
“What? What’s wrong?” Daniel asked as Jack crowded into the bathroom with them.
“A zit! I’ve got a freaking zit the size of the Grand Canyon on my face!” Sam yelled.
Daniel and Jack both leaned forward and squinted into the mirror. “I can’t see anything,” Jack said.
“There! Right there!” Sam pointed at a microscopic mark on her face and Daniel patted her shoulder commiseratingly.
“I can hardly see it, even with my glasses on, Sam,” he said comfortingly. “I don’t think anyone will even notice.”
“What would you know, four-eyes? You can barely see past the end of your own nose even with those glasses on,” Sam snapped back. She turned from the mirror and pushed past Jack, out the door, muttering as she went, “This is all your fault. Couldn’t keep your hands to yourself, could you?”
“Hey!” Jack followed her to the door of her room, wedging it open with one foot as she went to slam it. “How was I supposed to know that little button was gonna aim a beam your’s and Daniel’s way?”
“Get out of my room!” Sam shrieked.
Daniel crept up to stand beside Jack and smiled sadly at Sam. “It wasn’t Jack’s fault, Sammy. I’m sure he would have preferred it if he’d been the one downsized to a teenager, wouldn’t you, Jack?”
Jack started to shake his head, thought better of it and nodded vigorously.
Sam snorted unattractively, placed a small hand with black-painted fingernails in the middle of Jack’s chest and shoved him – hard.
Jack hit the wall behind him and watched as the door to Sam’s room slammed loudly shut then a wailing crescendo of music battered through the barrier, hammering at Jack’s ears.
“Poor Sammy,” Daniel yelled, his tones still dulcet over the din. “She’s playing her Closed Casket CD. She must be feeling bad.”
“She’s feeling bad?” Jack muttered. Daniel cupped a hand behind his ear and raised an eyebrow. Jack sighed and dragged him down the hallway and into the living room where Sam’s music was more muted and bearable. “How does she think I feel?” he asked in an aggrieved tone. “How come I got babysitting duty?”
“Well, it was you who touched the wrong thing... for a change,” Daniel said candidly. “I know it was just an accident,” he rushed on when Jack opened his mouth to protest. “Totally not your fault.”
“You’re handling this remarkably well,” Jack said. He sat down on the couch and studied Daniel’s face. He could still see Daniel in the teenaged version... just younger, fresher... Was there a trace of fuzzy hair on the kid’s chin? He glanced away quickly before it became obvious he was staring. “I mean, you’ve joined the X generation too.”
Daniel shrugged and pushed his glasses up his nose. “I’ve always believed in making the best of a bad situation,” he replied with a small smile. “At least now I’ll have all the time in the world to catch up on all those archeological articles I’ve been wanting to write. Anyway, we have to go see Janet today, don’t we?”
Jack nodded. “Let’s hope she’s come up with something overnight.”
“I’m sure she’s been working on it nonstop. In the meantime, why don’t we give Sam a chance to regain her equilibrium? Give her some space.” He gave Jack a bright smile. “I hope you were planning on pancakes for breakfast. You know how much I love your pancakes.”
“You do?” Jack stood and led the way into the kitchen.
“Best in the world,” Daniel declared. He sat down at the table and filled a tumbler with juice, shaking his head when Jack held up the coffee pot. “No coffee for me. Probably not good for fifteen year old boys, or girls, for that matter.”
Jack walked up the hall and paused in front of the closed door to Sam’s room. At least the music had been turned off. In fact, it was ominously silent. “How long can it take to get dressed?” he griped, then stopped and stared in shock as Daniel walked out of his room, brushing a hand along one sleeve of his navy blue sweater. His chinos were spotless and neatly pressed. “Well, don’t you look... umm... respectable.”
“My body was downsized, Jack, it didn’t change my personality,” Daniel replied reasonably.
“Oh yeah? Well, what happened to Miss Sweetness and Light then?” Jack asked.
“She’s a girl,” Daniel said as if that explained everything.
Jack gave up trying to figure it out and rapped on the door. “Carter?” He sighed. “Sam? Get the lead out! We’re leaving in five minutes.”
The door was yanked open and Sam stepped out. At least Jack thought it was Sam. He bent his knees, peering up into the face below the now purple hair.
“I’m ready,” Sam snapped. “Can we just go and get this over with? I’ve got a heap of new friends on MySpace I promised to chat with later.”
“You’re not going to the Mountain dressed like that!” Jack said flatly.
“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?” Sam asked defiantly.
Jack let his eyes travel over her, from the spiked and gelled within an inch of its life, purple hair, down to the low-cut, see-through blouse, the skin tight skirt that Jack thought wasn’t even big enough to be called a belt and the fishnet black stockings, artfully torn in just the right (or wrong) places. Topping off the ensemble were a pair of the highest heeled shoes Jack had ever seen. “Where did you get that outfit?” he asked suspiciously.
“Cassie sent it over hidden under the boring Little Miss Teen stuff Janet brought over last night,” Sam said with a shrug, her blood-red lips curling into a pout. “You’re not my father. You can’t tell me what to do.”
“Well, Jack is your commanding officer,” Daniel said diplomatically, stepping into the breach. “It’s just that I think Janet would be very hurt if you didn’t wear something she bought for you so why not wear one of those outfits for now and you can change again when we get back. Right, Jack?”
“Yeah, sure,” Jack agreed none too happily, praying that Janet would have found the answer by now and that when they did come back from the Mountain, it’d be with the old Carter in tow, the one who liked wearing BDUs and didn’t know a curling iron from a welding iron. He headed back to the kitchen to grab his keys. “And wash that crap off your face too,” he said over his shoulder.
Sam muttered something that sounded exactly like, “Boring old fart,” but Jack let it slide for now, giving thanks to whatever Gods loved Jack O’Neill that at least Daniel was acting normal.
“Well, you both look very nice,” Janet said with a bright smile as she led Daniel and Sam into the infirmary. “I knew that pink sweater would look great on you, Sam.”
Daniel grinned back, showing twin dimples in his youthful cheeks. “Thanks, Janet. You’re looking your usual lovely self.”
“Oh god.” Sam made a gagging sound. “Think I might throw up. She’s like twice your age, Bookboy.”
Daniel looked affronted and straightened his sweater. “Nothing wrong with manners, Sammy.”
“Don’t call me Sammy,” Sam hissed.
“Don’t call me Bookboy,” Daniel responded calmly.
“Right!” Janet turned to them. “Who’s going first?”
“I will,” they both said at once.
Daniel waved a hand at Sam. “Ladies first.”
“Don’t want me to watch you pass out?” Sam sniped as she climbed up onto the bed and examined her nails.
Daniel, for once, seemed at a loss for words and merely pulled the screens closed behind him as he left.
“Just a small stick,” Janet said briskly, “then we’ll do an MRI and a CT scan. See what’s happening inside you both.”
Sam cut her a petulant look from beneath ridiculously long eyelashes. “Found a cure yet?”
“Working on it.”
“Not hard enough apparently.”
Janet froze in shock. “What did you say?”
Sam’s gaze fixed on the curtain. “You heard me,” she said. “Geez, when Colonel o’Neill got aged, you worked around the clock to find a cure.”
“What makes you think I haven’t been doing just that for you and Daniel?” Janet asked.
“Hello?” Sam waved a hand over her lithe teenage body. “How long’s all this going to take anyway? I’ve got plans for this afternoon.”
“We’ll get through this faster if you lose the attitude, young lady,” Janet said stiffly.
“That’s okay. I know this has been really tough on you.”
“You do, do you?” Tears dribbled down Sam’s cheeks, smearing her mascara. “How would you know?” Rolling to her side, she buried her face in the pillow and wailed… loudly. “Leave me alone, okay? I wish I was dead!”
Janet reached out a hand then withdrew it just as quickly. “Maybe I’ll do Daniel’s exam first.”
Walking out to her office, Janet lowered herself into the chair behind her desk and stared at Jack and Daniel. “I know this has been hard on both you and Sam, Daniel, but who the heck is that and where did you hide the real Samantha Carter?”
“Umm.” Daniel gave another of his small apologetic smiles that for some reason were beginning to grate on Jack’s nerves. “Hormones,” Daniel said softly. He gave a small chuckle. “I think it might be that time of the month.”
Janet’s cheeks pinked slightly at that but she simply said, “Well, I guess the poor girl has reason to feel hard done by, hormones or not. So, Daniel, you going to give me a hard time over your exam?”
Daniel leapt to his feet, that now rather annoyingly ingratiating smile on his face. “I wouldn’t dream of it, Janet. After all, you’re only trying to help.”
“Oy,” Jack muttered quietly under his breath as they left the room. He was beginning to wonder who was worse, Sam ‘Wicked Teenage Queen Of The West’ Carter or Daniel ‘Just Call Me Andy Hardy’ Jackson. He got up and poured himself of a mug of Janet’s strong coffee then sat down to wait.
“Well, sirs,” Janet began, looking apologetically at Jack and General Hammond, “the good news is they’re both as healthy as any other 15 year olds I’ve known. The bad news is that while I may have a slight lead on what caused this and therefore how to eventually reverse it, I can’t do anything about it right now. I will keep working on it, round the clock,” she said pointedly, glaring at Sam who poked out her tongue in response, “but in the meantime, I suggest you take them home and I’ll call the minute I have news.”
“Why do we have to go home with him?” Sam whined. “Why can’t we stay with Teal’c? Even the Jaffa’d be more fun than him.”
“Sam,” Daniel intervened sweetly, that cloying smile beaming in Jack’s direction, “you know Teal’c’s gone to see Ishta. They get so little time together. I think it’s rather romantic.”
Sam stuck her finger in her mouth and pretended to gag and Jack almost joined her. Mr. Sweetness and Light Jackson was really starting to wear thin now.
“I don’t have a problem with them staying here on the base, sir,” Jack said, turning to Hammond and fixing him with a look of sheer desperation.
“Sorry, Colonel, I do. They shouldn’t be here unless the doctor feels they need to be. Take them home and let them enjoy being young while they can.” A wistful look came into his eyes. “I remember when I was fifteen and the most important thing in my life was playing baseball and going on my first date.”
Sam snorted, Daniel whispered sternly to her, and Jack sighed heavily. “Let’s go, kids,” he said. “We’ll go to the mall on the way home.”
“Really?” Sam hurried up to walk beside him, tucking her arm through his. “You know I didn’t mean what I said before, you know, the boring old fart thing,” she whispered coyly.
“Yeah, yeah, it’s fine,” Jack replied, “no hard feelings.”
“Oh good. So,” Sam fluttered those ridiculously long eyelashes up at him and gave a dimpled smile, “do you have a gold Mastercard or a platinum?”
Jack pushed Daniel through the door and followed his science twins out to the elevator, resolutely tuning out the sound of Janet’s laughter.
“I’m sorry… I thought you said you were starving,” Jack said.
“I am,” Sam replied, pulling her I-pod from her pocket and unwinding her earphones, “but I’m not eating here, in front of everybody.”
Jack reached out and pulled the I-pod from her hands, holding it away from her grasping fingers. “Why not?” he asked in exasperation. He watched as Daniel tucked into his hamburger with relish. “If you’re starving—“
“It’s embarrassing,” Sam cut in, successfully snagging her precious I-pod. “What if some cute boy comes along and I’m sitting here with a mouthful of food. I’ll look like a pig.”
“No, you’ll look like you’re hungry.” Jack sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “So, we’ll get you a doggie bag.”
“You carry it,” Sam said quickly. “Can we go to the music store now?”
“How about Borders?” Daniel suggested. “They have a really amazing history section, and I’m sure we’ll find something you like too, Sammy… Sam.”
Sam rolled her eyes. “As if. And you promised I could buy some new clothes, Jack. I am not coming to the mall dressed like this again!” She planted her hands on her hips and glared at Jack. “Is he going to get his way again, because if he is, I’m—“
“Enough!” Jack held up a hand, feeling his headache building to a crescendo.
Daniel put a solicitous hand over Jack’s. “Headache, Jack? Perhaps we should stop at the drugstore and get you something for it.”
Jack barely resisted pulling his hand away. “I’m fine, Daniel.” He forced a smile though it made his cheeks ache. “Tell you what.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out some banknotes, holding them out. “How about you split up, go buy what you want and you can meet me back here in thirty minutes?”
“Thirty minutes?” Sam stared down at the bills Daniel shoved into her hand. “Fifty bucks? What am I going to be able to buy with fifty bucks?”
“Or we could just go home,” Jack said through clenched teeth. He tried to remember if he had any scotch left in the liquor cabinet. Maybe he should pick up another bottle anyway. He doubted one shot was going to cut it.
Sam opened her mouth then closed it again and nodded. “Sure, Jack, okay. Fifty bucks is great.” She turned and walked off and Jack couldn’t stop his grin when Daniel trotted along behind her like a little lost puppy. “Want me to come with you, Sam?”
Sam turned and flashed Daniel a feral glare. “Back off, Bookboy! I mean it!”
Jack waited for the explosion but Daniel simply nodded. “Sure, it’s a girl thing. Right. I get it.”
One shot of scotch was definitely not going to be enough.
Jack sat back in his chair and watched in awe as the plate of food in front of Sam disappeared in record time. “Hungry much?” he asked.
“Well, to be fair, poor Sam didn’t eat much at the mall-“ Daniel seemed to suddenly become aware of the twin glares directed at him and held his hands up defensively. “Sorry. I really need to stop over-explaining everything. I mean, Sam’s quite an intelligent girl and more than capable of explaining her feelings and motivations.”
Enough was more than enough, Jack decided. He looked at his watch – 9PM and heaved a sigh of anticipatory relief. “Bed!” he announced in a tone that brooked no argument. He grabbed the scraped clean plate from under Sam’s nose and carried it out to the kitchen, noticing Daniel was already on his feet and heading obediently to his room. Sam got up reluctantly and opened her mouth but snapped it shut at Jack’s upraised finger. She gave a surly grimace and followed Daniel up the hallway, slamming her bedroom door on her way through.
Jack waited at least five minutes before hauling out the Scotch and pouring a healthy swig into a tumbler. He’d always thought those little shot glasses were way too small for a guy to drink out of anyway. He sat down in his recliner and listened to the silence for a while then turned on the hockey and watched the game, in blissful, uninterrupted solitude.
Morning came way too soon as far as Jack was concerned but he let his military discipline take over, rolled out of bed, stumbled to the bathroom and peed then brushed the morning after cotton wool feeling out of his mouth. A shower and shave could wait till after breakfast, he decided. Time to rally the troops.
Standing outside Sam’s door, he took a deep breath then tapped lightly, and when he heard a muffled ‘come in’ pushed the door open, stiffening his resolve as he went. “Now, look, Sam,” he began, “I know you were having a bad day yesterday and I’m prepared to overlook it-“
Sam turned over and gave him a sweetly sleepy smile. “Morning,” she said. “Did I sleep in? I’m sorry.” She sat up and rubbed a hand over her face then looked at her fingernails. “Ick!” she said. “I’m just going to see if Janet put any nail polish remover in that bag she was nice enough to drop over the other night, then I’ll get dressed and be right out.”
Jack squinted suspiciously at her. She still looked fifteen. No miracle cure appeared to have happened overnight.
“Sir? Are you okay?”
‘Sir?’ Jack coughed, nodded quickly and backed out of the room, giving fervent thanks as he went that, although Sam might still be downsized, somehow her temperament had done a complete turnaround overnight. Grinning broadly, he walked down to Daniel’s room and pushed open the door. “Up and at ‘em, DannyBoy.”
Daniel lifted his head from the pillow and fixed Jack with a glare. “How many times have I told you not to call me DannyBoy,” he grunted. “Jeez, it’s still practically dark. We’re not all born with a stick up our ass, Mr. Straightarrow. I’m going back to sleep. Call me at noon.”
Jack stood stunned, staring in horror at what had once been his pristine guest room. Clothes seemed to have multiplied on every surface, chocolate bar wrappers and empty chip packets littered the floor. Jack cringed as Daniel snaked a hand out from under the covers and switched on his CD player and the loud raucous beat of Nirvana filled the room. “Oh shit,” Jack muttered, backing out of the room. He wondered if he’d left any Scotch in that bottle the night before. After all, the sun was over the yardarm somewhere in the world.
As he turned back toward the kitchen his cell phone rang and he pulled it from his pocket and flipped it open. “O’Neill,” he said tonelessly.
“Colonel,” Janet greeted him excitedly. “I’ve found a cure!”