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bookcover In answer to the LD List Ficathon challenge: "Jack as the caregiver and a downsized Daniel. How you downsize him is up to you. And whatever age you want him downsized to is also up to you. But when Daniel gets downsized, whatever does it - malfunctions and he ends up with some sort of disability which is also up to you. Story plot will be how Jack cares for Daniel with his disability till he gets up-sized."

A/N: Limiting myself to fifteen pages here was the real challenge! (LOL!) My muse doesn't do short stories! Needless to say, there are parts of this that seem very condensed and rushed to me, but I hope you enjoy it anyway. Thanks for reading and letting me play. There will be no sequel until after I am done with the 'Life's Little Problems' series - sorry!

The Silent Lion
by Maj. Cliffhanger
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Jack hated this. Hated the waiting and not knowing. Hated the worrying and pacing and glancing at the clock and.... It just sucked. Waiting to find out if his best friend would be alright - again - sucked: a big fat lemon.

It had been a simple mission: gate to P2R-551, check out the ruins and decide if they were actually Ancient or not, take pictures of the interesting bits and gate home again. Simple. Only simple never seemed to exist where SG-1 was concerned.

As it turned out, the old half-collapsed building was indeed Ancient. Daniel had been like a kid in a candy store running around with his video recorder; of course, that meant he was focused on what he could see through the view finder and not paying attention to where he was walking. 'Never a good idea when there was more than even a little debris on the floor and this place had been littered with it.

If anyone was to blame for what happened, it was Jack. The trip and stumble had been inevitable. He'd watched Daniel moving around and purposely not told him to be more careful, knowing it would merely go in one ear and out the other. A little trip might be a more effective deterrent. Jack had just hoped the guy didn't break his ankle.

Now, he was wishing a broken ankle was all Daniel had suffered. Actually, Jack was wishing he hadn't been such an egotistical bastard and kept his mouth shut. That had been stupid. Utterly and totally stupid!

Daniel had tripped alright, right into some sort of contraption that swallowed him whole and started to hum. Jack had immediately raced for the thing, yelling for Carter even as he frantically searched for anything that might resemble an 'off' switch. Damn! He should have paid more attention a few years back when Daniel had been busy teaching him and Teal'c Latin and Ancient, helping them translate the stupid glyphs on that time loop machine. Ancient tech was not something you wanted to mess with. It tended to do nasty things, like grab your head and scramble your brains.

Jack had really started to panic when whatever Daniel had fallen into began to spark and put on a fireworks show. He was pretty sure it wasn't supposed to do that. Carter and Teal'c had both arrived on the fly and, learning that Daniel was trapped in the slowly exploding device, had frantically worked with Jack to get him out. When the device suddenly shut down, Jack didn't know if it was because it was done with whatever it was doing or because one of them hit something - and frankly, he didn't care. The door of the damn thing popped open and, together, he and Teal'c bent to grab their teammate out of the smoking depths. They'd both gotten a handful of cloth and pulled, surprised when their burden was too light.

Surprise had become shock when they saw what the device had done....

That was more than six hours ago. Now, Jack glanced up from his vigil in the hard plastic chair as he heard the distinct sound of Janet's oh-so-impractical heels clicking across the linoleum floor. He rose along with the rest of SG-1 even as she rounded the corner and came to a stop. Only Sam's face betrayed the concern and anxiety they were all feeling.

"He's alive," was the first much needed reassurance out of her mouth. They'd had to stop more than once on the way back to the gate to perform CPR. "I'm pretty sure the neural pathways of his brain were basically going haywire ... and sending conflicting signals to his heart and lungs when you brought him in. We're still getting occasional spikes in his EEG but it's much closer to normal now than when we first hooked him up. Given the extreme nature of his physical transformation, I'd have to say this should almost be expected - except that I doubt the Ancients ever meant to nearly kill someone with the device. You say it short circuited?"

"Well, it's crystal technology so I'm not sure that 'short circuit' really applies," Sam answered before Jack could do more than open his mouth. "But from a visual point of view, that's certainly what it looked like. Something definitely disrupted the normal functioning of the device."

"And do we have any idea what that normal function might have been?" Janet asked.

"Daniel said something about the place being a laboratory, and that the Ancients had apparently been trying to find a cure for that plague of theirs," Jack supplied, dredging the information from the memory of half-heard ramblings as Daniel darted about the room. "I assume the device had something to do with that."

"Maybe children were immune to the disease," Sam postulated.

Janet nodded pensively. "It's possible. There are many kinds of diseases that affect children differently than they do adults. By turning themselves into children, they might have hoped to buy a bit more time to work on the problem."

"Whatever," Jack dismissed the speculation and turned to Carter with a frown. "What are the chances of fixing the thing and getting it to reverse what it did to Danny?"

Carter could only shake her head. He knew she'd gotten no more than a glimpse at the device before they'd high-tailed it back to the SGC, fighting to keep an unconscious ten year old Daniel alive until they got there. "We'll have to take a team back to assess the damage and see if there's anything we can do."

"Yes, you should definitely do that," Janet agreed with a worried note in her voice, "but, unfortunately, even if you can reverse the de-aging process, we may still have a problem."

Jack felt a frisson a fear trace down his spine. "Why don't I like the sound of that..." he offered with a sudden frown.

Jack hadn't been happy to leave Daniel alone in the infirmary before they had all the answers as to what had or hadn't happened to him, but there was no way he could get out of the post-mission debriefing. The review of the mission itself hadn't taken long, but the discussion and plans for the follow-up mission, to assess both the Ancient technology already discovered and to check for any other technologies they might be able to recover, had been another matter. The General didn't want a repeat of this incident.

Or worse.

There was also always the danger of running afoul of a Jaffa scouting party or such. They couldn't be sure a Goa'uld hadn't been there before them. The planet might not be on the Abydos cartouche but that wouldn't stop Anubis.

They were debating support options when MSgt. Harriman interrupted them. "Sir," he nodded his apology. "There's a problem in the infirmary. Dr. Fraiser is requesting Col. O'Neill come down as soon as possible."

A glance between the two men was all that was necessary. "I think we can manage without you, Colonel," Hammond allowed, nodding a dismissal. "Keep me appraised."

Jack was already moving. "Yes, sir," he called back even as he headed for the door. Less than three minutes later, he was striding into the infirmary. The shouting of a very angry child, followed by the sound of a metal bedpan being thrown against the wall, directed Jack unerringly to the far corner of the room. There he saw several people gathered around a hospital bed, apparently trying to calm someone who most definitely did not want to be calmed.

"Daniel!" he snapped sharply, even before he saw the occupant of said bed. He had very little doubt who it was.

The nurses and orderlies jumped, automatically parting before Jack's command voice. Yes, there in the middle of the hated hospital bed was his downsized archaeologist looking none too happy. The shaggy light-brown hair was mussed, his scrubs rumpled and his bedclothes askew. It didn't take much to see he'd been putting up one hell of a fight, but he'd stopped the moment he heard Jack's voice and now stared at the older man in something very akin to desperation.

And recognition.

To the right, Janet Fraiser sighed. "Oh, thank god."

Jack didn't even spare her a glance as he moved forward to enfold the panicked boy in his arms. "It's okay, Danny. I'm here," he assured the frightened boy. "I'm here."

The boy shuddered in his arms and clung to him like a leech. A glance at Janet revealed she was holding a hypodermic and apparently debating whether she needed to use it or not. The fact that she was even hesitating told Jack it was a sedative. He caught her eye and shook his head slightly. He didn't think sedating Daniel out of his gourd would exactly help matters. Instead, Jack simply held and reassured the boy for several long moments until at last he felt Daniel loosen his grip and move away.

Releasing him to arms-length and staring into intelligent blue eyes, Jack felt the knot in his gut loosen just a bit. Janet had warned them earlier that Daniel's EEG indicated possible brain damage, but Jack didn't see any evidence of it. A hand came up to cup the much younger face housing the unmistakable eyes of Dr. Daniel Jackson; recognition, cognition, pain and embarrassment were all mixed up in that frightened gaze. "You okay there, buddy?" Jack asked quietly, watching as his friend struggled to regain his composure.

Daniel closed his eyes for a second but forced himself to nod. He didn't say anything, but then he didn't need too.

Jack straightened beside him, leaving a hand on his shoulder, and turned to face Dr. Fraiser. The nurses and orderlies were quickly dispersing back to their duties. "Hey, Doc," he greeted her with a relaxed nod that chose to ignore everything which had just happened. "You wanted to see me?"

"Yes, Colonel." She offered a rather exhausted sigh. "Daniel was getting a bit stressed by everything and I rather thought he could use to see a friendly face for a while."

"As opposed to your lovely but most decidedly not-so-friendly needle-waving super-doc face?"

A slight smile tugged at her lips. "Something like that," she agreed.

Jack turned his attention back to the bed. "I take it you didn't much like the idea of waking up to find yourself turned into a kid."

Those blue eyes opened and held his as the young man swallowed convulsively before shaking his head. Something else in that gaze, however, had snagged Jack's attention. There was something else going on here; something else that had his friend looking incredibly hurt and lost.... Jack frowned in confusion.

"He can't speak," Janet explained gently.

Jack's surprised gaze shot up to capture hers. "What do you mean, 'he can't speak?' I heard him yelling his head off when I came in here!"

"Yes, you did," Janet confirmed, turning a sympathetic gaze on Daniel who'd merely closed his eyes and tossed an arm over them. Jack suspected he was fighting very hard not to cry. "His vocal cords are working fine," she continued. "Unfortunately, his mouth isn't. What you heard was a scream of pure and utter frustration."

That knot in Jack's gut had managed to tie itself back into a nice tight snarl again. He forced himself to meet Janet's eyes. "Brain damage?" he asked bluntly, remembering her earlier warning.

Sadly, she nodded. "It's looking that way," she answered. "I was trying to more fully assess his condition when he basically lost patience with me - not that I blame him. I kept asking him to do things he couldn't do. From what little we've seen so far, I don't think he can write either. However, he does seem to be fully cognizant and capable of reading, which - under the circumstances - is unusual. Damage to the speech centers of the brain almost always results in impairment to both the interpretive as well as expressive modalities." Seeing Jack's confused and worried frown, she simplified her statement. "It's a good sign," she assured him and turned to offer Daniel a reassuring smile as well. His arm was still locked over his eyes but she just ignored it. "I know you're scared and confused, Daniel, but we're not going to leave you like this. You just need to give us a little time to figure it all out, okay?"

The boy offered a tight nod without removing the arm from his face.

Jack frowned pensively as he rode the elevator downward. It had been two weeks since Daniel had stumbled into the Ancient's kidification device - childifier - de-ager ray box - or whatever-the-hell they were calling it. Carter had it in a hazardous materials lab they'd rigged up on seventeen for her. As of yesterday, she and her team were still trying to figure out how to replace a large number of burnt-out and fried crystals, while Nyan and Daniel's linguistics team was pouring over video footage of every little scribble on the thing.

Sam was anything but happy with the results, and admitted to fearing they might never be able to reverse the de-aging. All their research so far pointed to the fact that it was never meant to be reversed!

Meanwhile, Daniel was still stuck in the infirmary. Two weeks of near non-stop tests, and poking and prodding by various specialists, had done very little to help him. So what if they now had fancy names for what was wrong - something called 'apraxia' and 'dysgraphia' - it just meant he couldn't talk!

They knew that two weeks ago!

Jack had tried to sit through Dr. Fraiser's formal medical-ese laden explanation of things yesterday, only to be forced to ask to be excused after an hour with a serious headache. He'd gone down to the infirmary and not liked what he'd found. Daniel might look like a ten year old, but his mind definitely wasn't. He'd moved swiftly from frightened confusion and frustration, through irritated determination, to out-and-out depression. He sat amidst the bedding, staring at nothing and hugging himself.

Jack had decided right then and there that things needed to change! He'd marched back into the debriefing and quickly laid out his arguments.

Surprisingly, no one had offered any resistance. Janet had given him a bit of a lecture about Daniel's needs as a child - an interactive stable environment with set boundaries and rules, emotional reassurance, physical activity, healthy food and 'no coffee!' - and then asked when he wanted to take the boy home?

He, Sam and Teal'c had spent the evening doing some frantic shopping. Clothing and food had been number one priorities, but they'd also debated such things as toys and games and various devices that might help Daniel communicate.

One of the good things Fraiser had discovered with all her testing was that Daniel could write. It was a slow and laborious process, but he could do it. Typing was only a little easier, but she was already in the process of trying to get him some kind of voice generation technology which could be programed with symbols as well as the traditional keyboard input. Once he learned to use it, she'd assured them, he'd be able to do a lot more than just answer yes/no questions. She had also told Sam there was a good chance that both issues could be resolved over time with the proper therapies, at least partially. She wasn't guaranteeing a full recovery, but she wasn't ruling it out either - stating that Daniel's younger age was actually a bonus in this case.

It was the first good news that Jack had heard since this all started.

It had taken the team until almost midnight to get everything they felt was needed, but Jack was now confident he was capable of taking care of a ten year old Daniel Jackson, speech problem and all. He certainly wasn't going to let anyone else do it!

Now, to convince Daniel....

It wasn't hard to get Daniel to agree to the plan. Of course, it probably helped that Jack didn't bother to tell him what the 'plan' was at all! He'd simply handed the boy a bag with a complete change of clothes and asked him if he was 'ready to get out of here?'

Being Daniel, he glanced at Janet.

"Go! Shoo!" she answered his silent question. "You're far too healthy to be taking up room in my infirmary."

He didn't questioned it further but immediately delved into the bag to change. Fifteen minutes later, they were in Jack's truck heading home. The trip back was a little strange to Jack. It was odd enough seeing a littlefied Daniel in the rear view mirror, but a silent Daniel was always disconcerting. The only time the guy generally stopped talking was when he was hurt, angry or his nose was buried in some text or other - and sometimes not even then.

Jack sighed, forcing his eyes back to the road and trying to ignore the angry pout that still marred the strangely familiar young face. Speech disability or not, Jack suspected he'd be pretty silent at the moment even if he could talk.

"Come on, Daniel," Jack muttered, "Janet would rip my heart out and feed it to me if I let you ride without a booster seat, let alone upfront!"

Chances were they wouldn't have gotten a second look from any cops, but Janet had been insistant. Danny was that little bit too small by Colorado state law to ride without a booster seat. There was no answer forthcoming from in back. Naturally. A glance in the rear view again saw a pouting Daniel staring out at the passing scenery while hugging himself.

Jack shook his head and concentrated on driving.

Sam and Teal'c were at the house to greet them; and, for a few all-too-fleeting moments, they actually saw their young friend smile. Sadly, it vanished the minute he saw the toys piled on the coffee table in Jack's living room. Sam didn't help by eagerly dragging him over to show off their choices. Daniel cast Jack a hurt and angry look even as she started to explain how she'd wanted to get him a trail bike - because Janet said he needed lots of exercise - but that Jack had nixed it as the trails around his place weren't really suited for it. "I think it's more a case of he doesn't like bikes, than--"

Daniel's fist shot into the air in the military silent signal for 'freeze'. Sam's training kicked in before her brain did and she actually obeyed. Glancing up, she realized Daniel was staring at her with a rather sad look on his face.

"Danny?" she asked, confused.

He winced slightly at the diminutive but ignored it as he bowed his head for a moment. Frowning pensively, he motioned for her to step away from the pile of toys and games. Then - very deliberately and unmistakably - he awarded said pile a rather enthusiastic one-fingered 'bird'.

Three sets of eyebrows rose in surprise as he offered them each a silent glare before marching past Jack into the kitchen. They followed him a few moments later, watching in silence as he unerringly retrieved his usual coffee mug and slammed it down on the counter. Jack was a bit surprised the poor cup didn't break under the unexpected abuse!

"Easy there, Daniel," Jack interrupted him, even as the boy turned to again offer them a pained and more than slightly frustrated visage. "We get it," he claimed. "You're not a kid and don't want to be treated like one."

Daniel folded his arms, glanced at the cup and lifted an eloquent eyebrow.

"You may not be a kid mentally, but you are physically," Jack replied. "No coffee. Doc's orders."

A soft, painful chuckle rumbled in the young chest. There was nothing amused about the sound.

"Daniel?" It was Sam who tentatively broke the tense atmosphere. "I want to show you something. Will you let me?"

His eyes narrowed momentary at her tone, but only for a moment. The stress and frustration of everything was getting to him. With a sigh, he took her pro-offered hand and followed - until he realized she was leading him over to the toys. He suddenly stopped, awarding her an even more frustrated frown.

"Trust me," she asked.

Jack held his breath as he watched Daniel struggle with his emotions, finally giving in and reluctantly allowing Sam to tug him forward. Teal'c merely stood back and watched with infinite patience as though already assured of the outcome.

Jack wished he was as confident.

"I have to admit that some of this stuff was bought as a gag," she explained as she drew him to a halt beside the coffee table. "We were hoping you could laugh at the situation with us - but we were wrong to assume you'd feel like laughing about anything. Nothing about this is funny and I'm sorry if we hurt you." She then turned and moved a stuffed lion wearing a desert boonie aside to pick up what looked like an over-sized deck of cards. She popped them open and handed them over. "We know you're not a child, Daniel."

He looked down and frowned pensively as he found himself holding a set of flashcards with spelling words labeled for forth and fifth graders.

"They don't really make spelling cards for older kids, but I figured the colonel and I could use some index cards to make up more for you to use." She gestured at the deck he held. "That's just to get you started, until we can fix everything or Janet can set you up with a speech generation device."

Daniel blinked in surprise and regarded the pile of toys and games in a new light. Scrabble. Word magnets for the frig. More flashcards. A sketch pad and colored pencils. A tape recorder and mirror for his mouth exercises ... An X-Box with video games. A CD Walkman and a bunch of CDs....

Obviously, not all of it was intended to be used for communication.

At first glance, a lot of what he saw might appear to be 'toys', like the stuffed lion and most definitely the large red yo-yo; but viewing it all again, he realized belatedly that a lot of time and effort had been put into making these selections. A smile tugged at his mouth. He knew without being told the 'giant soaker' water gun had to be from Teal'c! He also knew who had picked out most of the books. Jack just didn't understand his tastes.

Cocking an eyebrow and swallowing the temptation of tears, he bent to lift one of the items. He turned to regard Jack with it in his hand.

"A fishing rod is most definitely not a toy," Jack informed him firmly.

Danny shook his head again and grinned.

Later that night, Daniel lay in his usual bed at Jack's house thinking about the twisted sense of humor fate seemed to have sometimes and the true meaning of friendship. He'd cottoned to the 'plan' when he had to go to the bathroom. Jack was not in the habit of keeping a foot stool in there for the sink, let alone a child's tooth brush. A peek into the guest room he occasionally used had confirmed his suspicions. The bedding and drapes were still the same, but the dresser and side table by the window had been replaced. The drawers of the old dresser had always had a tendency to stick whenever it rained. He'd nearly knocked the mirror over once when he was struggling with it a year ago. Definitely not kid friendly. The side table had been replaced with a student desk and appropriately sized chair.

The guest room had become 'his' room.

He'd returned to the living room and his friends - who were trying so hard to act like this was just another 'team night'; that nothing had changed and everything was normal. It was ... but it wasn't. The 'wasn't' was his fault.

He walked back to the coffee table and started sorting through the refrigerator magnets. He'd already discovered they were a lot more versatile than the flashcards. They were actually designed as a novelty item for adults as well as kids covering various subjects including poetry, romance, movie quotes and even Shakespeare. It was just a matter of finding what he needed. They weren't as easily sorted and organized as the flashcards.

"More popcorn?" Jack called from the kitchen. Daniel merely shook his head trusting Sam to relay his answer and kept searching.

"I think we're full up, Colonel," she called back. Five bags, even with Teal'c, was definitely enough. The Jaffa concentrated on the movie 'Gone in Sixty Seconds' and contentedly munched on the last bowl while Sam moved over to join Daniel. "Something you want to say?"

He nodded, finally finding the small tiles he was looking for and clearing a space to display them. Teal'c had paused the movie to come see as well. Daniel placed two tiles on the table. "Thank you" they said simply.

Sam smiled and shrugged. "What are friends for?" she offered easily, but Daniel would have none of it.

He gestured at the words again, then at himself, then outward to both of them - a very sincere and earnest look on his face. Then he reached up and embraced Sam. She returned his fierce hug and, when he released her, they both had tears in their eyes.

"We'll fix this, Daniel," she promised him just as fiercely. "I don't know if the Ancient device can do it, but we'll find a way. I promise."

He nodded and turned to hug Teal'c. Sam was not surprised to see tears in his dark eyes as well when the two finally parted.

"What's wrong?" Jack asked in instantly concern as he finally came back from the kitchen.

"Nothing," Sam answered and pointed to the coffee table. "Daniel has something he wants to say."

Jack's frown cleared as he read the short sentiment and then found himself being crushed by his miniaturized team mate. Danny wasn't surprised when Carter and Teal'c joined in again as well.

It had been a moment of healing and affirmation which Daniel had needed more than just about anything else he could have thought of at that moment.

Now, he stared up at the ceiling in the dark and silent house, accepting without words or argument that this would be his home for the foreseeable future. Jack hadn't said a word about it and Daniel hadn't tried. It simply was. When the others had left, Daniel had merely gone about getting ready for bed without a word - er, without an attempt at a word or two. He simply recognized the situation for what it was and, together, he and Jack moved on without so much as a blink.

Oh, he was perfectly sure there would be problems in the future. His world had been turned upside down and inside out whether he wanted it to be or not. He was stuck in the body of a ten year old; and, when in public, he'd have to act like it. More than that, he was effectively mute. There would be problems trying to fit into a normal social environment - just trying to discover what that was now would be a challenge - and he suspected he'd have a fight on his hands about staying on at the SGC. Obviously, he couldn't remain part of SG-1.

He frowned and dismissed the thought. Sam wasn't giving up yet and neither would he. There were other things he could do to help in the fight against Anubis and finding the Lost City of the Ancients. He still had a part to play.

He didn't know what grand purpose his downsizing might have in whatever cosmic plan which seemed to be steering his life of late - but he was beginning to accept that it might not be all that horrible a thing as he'd thought. Yes, fate seemed to have it in for him sometimes, but it was amazing to him how many times those hardships and obstacles tended to pay unforeseen dividends. He suspected this would be no different. Deciding there was no use fighting it in any case, he rose and retrieved the stuffed lion Sam had bought him.

As a child in the foster care system, he hadn't gotten a lot of toys. Most of the few he remembered were hand-me-downs or shared between several kids. The only stuffed animal he'd had which he could truly call his own had been a small teddy bear his mother had given him - which had gotten lost somewhere along the line shortly after his parents were killed.

He crawled back into bed with the lion and studied it. Sam had chosen much better than she probably knew. He already had a name for it, but it would take him some effort to be able to convey it to anyone. He'd have to write it out, one laborious letter at a time. He seriously doubted 'Sphinx' was amongst the flashcards or magnets. Most people thought of the Great Sphinx in Giza when they heard the name, but there were others, and not all had a human head. All were silent protectors, however, which was pretty much what he was now: a silent protector who needed to be protected.

With a sigh, and a wry smile on his lips he knew none of his team would ever understand, Daniel dared cuddle the plush toy and embraced the unknown future as he let himself drift off to sleep once more.

The end

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