It's a Clone's Life
Category: Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: S10 - February 22-28, 2006
Spoilers: Fragile Balance
Size: 38kb, short story
Written: February 19-21,23,27, March 1,3-4, 2010
Summary: General Jack decides it's time to make a move where his youthful clone is concerned.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically. Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s): Between Two Worlds
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Irina, Navi!
It's a Clone's Life
Outside, it was clear and brisk, and inside the secure walls of the
Cheyenne Mountain Complex, it was warm and crispy. After a quick
oatmeal breakfast, General Jack O'Neill was in his office, having just
reviewed a mission report from SG-9. His fingers tapped on the
closed folder as he contemplated what he'd read.
~I really don't like thinking about this.~
Still, Jack couldn't help it. For the past several months, there had been regular reports coming in from Altair, the planet occupied by a synthetic being named Harlan, a dog named Samantha, and a teenager named Jack O'Neill. The teenager was a clone created by Loki, a reckless Asgard scientist who had violated the wishes of his peers and conducted an experiment that resulted in the existence of the young Jack.
The big problem for the United States government had been that the teenage clone had all of Jack's knowledge. While security codes and such had been easily changed, there was still a lot of classified memories within his brain. For Jack and Daniel, much of the problem had been with the personal side of the clone's existence. Preferably, a teenager should only have to worry about adolescence and first experiences. The clone, however, had to deal with a failed marriage, a perceived homosexual relationship, and a dead son. It was a lot to process and leave behind.
~I'm lucky I understand my life. Sara -- does that kid understand how she fits into my life now and how we've worked through Charlie's death? He's me, but does he really get it in that mini-me body of his?~
It was obvious Clone Jack had the same feelings for Daniel. It had been a little awkward between them all.
~I couldn't survive without Danny. I wouldn't want to, and if he's me, then he must feel the same way. In a way, my heart goes out to him.~ Jack paused and then smirked, ~I sound like one of those pathetic soap operas.~
For a couple of years, Clone Jack had attempted to live as a normal teenager and had even attended high school under the guise of being an emancipated youth. He'd been given a new last name and cover story for his existence. Daniel had been against the plan, concerned about a man in a teenager's body having to grow up all over again.
Then one day, the clone had showed up on Jack and Daniel's doorstep. He wanted, even demanded, help. He just couldn't handle the memories churning within him. That's when Daniel had come up with a solution that was agreeable for everyone.
~Months. It's been months. Prison. He's in prison.~
The youthful Jack wasn't actually in a prison, but was on Altair, living with Harlan. All reports indicated that he was cooperative, though Harlan half-teased about having to deal with the mischievous pranks of the juvenile human. To try and make things easier on the lad, General Jack had surprised the boy with a dog which he claimed had already been named Samantha.
The general stared down at the latest report from SG-9 and, after another moment's consideration, stood up and walked purposefully out of his office.
~Years with Harlan would drive him ... me wack-o. We have an option now.~
“Casey, I'd like you to ...” Janet Fraiser began, her eyes focused on the nurse as she intended to pass on instructions about the patient whose bedside they were standing near.
“Doc, I need to talk to you,” Jack commanded, walking by the petite physician and heading for her office. He paused a few feet beyond the doctor and turned back to add, “Now would be good.”
“For you, maybe,” Janet groused. “Casey, watch the lieutenant's reaction to the medication closely for the next hour, and let me know if there are any changes.”
Casey nodded as he took possession of the patient's chart. His eyes followed Janet as she headed for her office. He was curious about the general's presence in the infirmary. He usually wasn't so stiff and brusque unless a certain archaeologist was involved.
~Hope Daniel is okay,~ the nurse thought as he went about his medical duties.
“General, let me remind you that this is my playground,” Janet stated in reprimand as she closed the door to her office.
“I'm reminded,” Jack conceded without apology, using his finger to wipe off the dust from his stars, though there wasn't any dust on them.
“I'm aware of your rank, General,” the petite physician snapped, really not in the mood for Jack's antics.
Jack let out a sigh as he sat down and finally exculpated, “Doc, I know I shouldn't have barged in here like that, so I'm sorry, but I need to ask about you something.”
“I didn't think you wanted to have a tea party,” Janet countered. “What's going on with Daniel?”
“Daniel?” Jack asked in surprise.
“This isn't about Daniel?” the shocked redhead inquired.
“No,” Jack answered, his head jutting back slightly as he responded.
“Oh, well, how can I help you, General?”
“That memory thingy we got from the Galarans and used on Mal Doran to trick her little b...” Jack paused, seeing Janet's eyes widening at what she knew he was about to say, and realized he needed to use a different word, “baby girl.” He smiled mockingly as the woman simply shook her head. “How reliable is it?”
“Reliable?” Janet echoed. “Sir, the origins of the device are with the Goa'uld. It served them for hundreds of years. Since updating its technological reach, it's worked successfully on Galaria. We've modified it ourselves and have experimented with it several times without incident.”
Janet bowed her head briefly while deciding how much information she wanted to disclose and then looked the general in the eyes while answering, “We've taken some personnel who have been through some ... harsh, excessively harsh situations and used the memory implant device to override the memories that had prevented them from moving forward and living a productive life. In all cases, the personnel are once again active and living without any hindrances from the past events.”
“You just blocked it out?”
“What we've done has depended on the situation. In some cases, we've simply altered the traumatic emotion of the event.” Janet observed the man carefully, noting that he was mulling over her remarks. “General, what's on your mind?”
“Being a kid, for real.”
“Jack, what's happening?” Daniel asked as he, Sam, and Teal'c entered the conference room an hour or so later. He looked over and saw Janet in General Hammond's office, the two discussing something. ~Interesting.~
Seconds later, Hammond and Janet entered the room and took their seats.
Still intrigued about the unscheduled meeting, Daniel glanced across the table at his lover while silently pondering, ~Sam and Teal'c don't have a clue, either, but Jack does. I see it in his eyes.~
“General,” Hammond stated expectantly as he, too, looked Jack.
Hammond had just confirmed the archaeologist's suspicions. Whatever the reason for the briefing, Jack was behind it.
Jack cleared his voice, feeling a tad uneasy, and then cocked his head slightly as he began, “I want to get the kid out of prison, so I'm suggesting that we use that implant thing to let him live his own life.”
“Prison?” Daniel questioned. **Jack?**
“Implant thing?” Sam asked at the same time.
“Jack,” Hammond stated in a firm request that was really an order to get his act together and be more clear and precise with those assembled in the room.
“Yes, Sir,” Jack acknowledged. “SG-9 returned from Altair yesterday.”
“That's where your ... clone is,” Sam pointed out.
“Look, regardless of my feelings for Harlan, a lifeless planet is no place for a seventeen-year-old boy to live and grow up. It's not healthy. Doc says that memory implant thing works like a charm.”
“You're suggesting we create a ... a new history for your clone,” Daniel surmised, piecing together his husband's intent.
“And then he can live, like any kid. No memories of ... things a boy shouldn't have to deal with yet,” Jack elaborated. “Doc says it's worked on people already, so why not give the kid a life. It's his only shot.”
“It would seem to be a logical choice, O'Neill,” Teal'c put forth.
“Do you think he'll go for it?” Sam queried. She saw the questioning stares and explained, “We can't force it on him.”
“He'll do it,” Jack stated a bit tentatively, staring hard at the table.
Looking at Jack, Hammond ordered, “You have a 'go' to Altair. Meet with the boy and give him the option. If he agrees, bring him back here and,” he looked over at Janet, “Doctor, you'll be prepared to use the device.”
“Yes, General, but,” Janet began hesitantly. She sighed, “We have to create a history, and what about family? Do we just turn him loose, with no one or ... nothing to fall back on?”
The major general looked at his Chief of Medicine, nodded in agreement, and amended his order slightly.
“Get the boy's new life history together first. I suggest that a contact be added to his memory so that we can keep tabs on him. Considering who he is, that would be prudent. Keep me advised,” Hammond stated, standing. “Doctor, a moment, please.”
Jack and Sam stood immediately, as did Janet, who advised SG-1, “Let me know when you have the background, and we can get to work on programming the device,” before following SGC's commander to his office.
Still seated, Daniel sat back in his chair and asked, “Does this mean we're about to create an entire life for ... mini-you?”
“That's exactly what it means,” Jack answered, leading the way towards the door.
Daniel watched Jack and Sam exit, his mind still processing the meeting. Once Teal'c had walked out the door, the archaeologist finally stood up, quickening his pace to catch up with his teammates. He missed part of their conversation from his slow response to the conference room exit.
“... so we'll have to create a completely new identity,” Sam stated.
“He already has a new identity, Carter,” Jack countered.
For SG-1, the discussion continued all the way to Daniel's office, where the teammates settled in to create a fictional life for Jack's clone.
“I'm not sure it's a good idea for him to be such a hockey nut ... Sir,” Sam stated hesitantly sometime later as SGC's flagship team continued to develop a life for Clone Jack.
“Is it not ill-advised to allow the boy to have memories of Minnesota?” Teal'c added a second later.
Even though he wanted a complete disconnect with the youth that shared his DNA, Jack was having problems getting away from his upbringing and interests, continuing to suggest experiences and memories that were too similar to his own.
“Uh, would you excuse us for a minute,” Daniel requested, getting off his seat and tugging on Jack's arm to follow him.
“Where exactly are we going? You don't have a closet, you know,” Jack pointed out, reluctantly following his Love into the hallway.
His arms folded across his chest, Daniel quietly but forcefully spoke, “Jack, the whole idea of letting your ... clone use the memory implant device is so that he can have his *own* life and *not* a carbon copy of yours.”
“Yeah, so, I get that,” Jack responded a tad defensively, shoving his hands into his pockets.
“So stop trying to give him signs that there's more to his life than what we're giving him,” Daniel stated strongly. “You didn't want him around, so why are you trying to hang on to him now?”
“I'm *not* ...” Realizing he was about to get too loud for the passing personnel, Jack lowered his voice and waited for an airman to get several yards away before continuing to speak. “Daniel, I know what he likes.”
“Used to like.” Daniel looked away for a moment and then gazed into his husband's eyes. “If he likes planes, he could join the Air Force, and that could lead him right back here. If he's from Minnesota and loves hockey like you, then that could lead him back to you. He has to have a completely separate life, Jack. It's the only way this has a chance to work.”
Jack let out a breath, nodded, and returned to the archaeologist's office, resigned to the fact that his clone's life would need to be full of memories that had nothing to do truth.
As the brainstorming session continued, Sam opined, “By the way, Sir, I've been thinking about it, and I'm not sure it's advisable for SG-1 to return to Altair.”
“Why?” Daniel asked innocently.
“Well, we know what Harlan's capable of, and he might take action if he thinks he'll be alone again.”
“We'll send another SG team,” Jack agreed.
“About Harlan,” the archaeologist stated. “We can't abandon him.”
“He's a synthetic, like those copies he made of us,” Jack groaned.
“He's alive, regardless of how or why,” Daniel argued. “All I'm saying is that we need to make sure Harlan can continue to support Altair, and that he's not ... lonely.”
“Well, maybe we can assign science teams to serve there, on a rotating basis,” Sam suggested.
“Do you think General Hammond will agree?” Daniel queried eagerly.
“It's possible,” Sam answered. “Actually, there's a lot about Altair that could help some of our new engineers.”
“I suppose we can say it's a good introduction to alien life,” Jack groused lightly.
“Perhaps you should get Harlan his own dog, O'Neill,” Teal'c suggested.
Jack cocked his head and then responded, “It wouldn't be fair to the dog.”
“Well, whatever we do, we have to consider Harlan's feelings,” Daniel asserted.
“He has them, Jack, and you know that.”
“We'll get him a cat,” Jack spat, using his purported dislike for felines to solve the problem.
“That might actually be a good idea,” Sam replied brightly.
“But he needs human contact, too,” Daniel insisted. “Sam, do you really think we can set up a rotation.”
“DanielJackson, could we not invite some of our allies to assist Harlan on Altair?”
“Okay, look,” Jack interrupted. “You guys can figure that out later. I'll try to convince Hammond to go along, but can we *please* get back to this figment we're creating?”
Sam and Daniel shared a smile, each also glancing at Teal'c. It was a silent agreement that they'd come up with a solid plan that would ensure Harlan would not be forgotten or alone. With that issue handled, the group continued to invent Clone Jack's new life.
Daniel awoke, immediately realizing he was sleeping on a pillow, only it wasn't his much loved Jack pillow, but just a normal feather-filled one from the department store. He glanced at the clock and saw that it was fifteen after eleven.
~Man, I was out like a light, and we've only been in bed an hour,~ the archaeologist thought. ~We? What am I saying, er, thinking? I'm alone here. He knows how much I hate it when he does this.~
With a groan, Daniel sat up. He yawned and reached up to stretch. Then he put on his glasses and gave his eyes a chance to adjust.
~I want my pillow.~
Standing, the weary scientist put on his blue robe and went in search of his lover, a bit surprised when both the backyard and the roof deck were empty. He scratched his head and let out another yawn. Looking around, another question popped into his head.
~Where are Bij and Katie?~ Daniel looked around, knowing they'd been in their beanbag in the living room just a couple of hours ago. ~They must be with Jack.~
With the kitchen light off and no sound coming from that direction, Daniel decided to check out the study. He knew as soon as he turned down the hallway that he was right. There was a tiny light visible, which he knew was the light from Jack's desk.
Walking into the study, Daniel smiled. He couldn't help it. His husband was lying on the old sofa with both Bijou and Katie atop him. He was getting lots of dog kisses as he played with the girls. It was a sight that warmed the archaeologist's heart.
Jack looked over, stopping his playfulness at the moment, and returned, “I didn't think you'd wake up until 1000 hours.”
“It was my pillow; it was too soft.”
“Feathers are like that.”
“Peacocks aren't,” Daniel teased.
“Are you saying I'm a peacock?”
“Half of one,” Daniel jested suggestively, smiling when Jack figured out the tease and grinned.
Still smiling, Jack looked up at the girls and suggested, “How about you two enjoying those bones by your beanbag so Danny and I can cuddle?”
“Woof!” Bijou responded, jumping off Jack, as did Katie.
The beagles paused for several seconds to get some loving by Daniel before leaving the lovers alone in the study.
Daniel sauntered over to the sofa and leaned over to give his husband a kiss. He knelt down and took Jack's hand in his, kissing it gently.
“Jack, what's bothering you?”
“Okay, well ... what exactly?”
“Not me, me, mini me.”
“Oh, your clone,” Daniel returned, finally figuring out the topic. “Have you changed your mind about using the memory implant device?”
“Jack, if you don't talk, I can't help.”
With a smile and a squeeze of his lover's hand, Jack refuted, “Yes, you can, and you do, just by being right here.”
“Well, that's nice, Babe, and thank you, but that's not exactly what I meant.”
Jack sighed and sat up, giving Daniel room to sit on the sofa. Then the older man leaned his head back onto his husband's lap.
Daniel raised his hand and began to gently massage the top of his soulmate's head, his fingers reaching over to press lightly against Jack's forehead and down alongside the face to his ears.
“Talk to me, Jack.”
“I don't hate the kid, or even Harlan, Danny. In a couple of days, we're starting the baby thing,” Jack stated, thinking about the sperm donations they'd be making on Friday.
A light bulb went off in Daniel's mind, prompting him to surmise, “That's what started this -- us having a baby.”
“Kids are special. They're what life is about.” Jack paused and let out a sigh. “You were right a couple of years ago about letting mini me try to go to high school. He was down for the count before he even got out of my truck that first day at the school.”
“He wasn't really a teenager, Jack. That was the problem all along.”
“Yeah, so he deserves a shot now.”
“So, what's bothering you?” Daniel asked, repeating his original question.
Jack let out a tiny laugh and then answered, “I know he's not, but it's a little like he's ...”
“Charlie,” Daniel sighed in realization, blinking a few times as he finally got it. “You lost a son, and then you've said goodbye to him twice more,” he spoke in a near whisper, referring to the crystal life form that had appeared in the boy's image and then to the Reetou-created child who had taken Charlie's name. “Now you're saying goodbye to him again.”
“Something like that.”
“But he's not Charlie, Jack. He's you.”
“Charlie was me, half of him anyway,” the general responded. “Danny, I'm okay, but when I see him, I wonder if that's what Charlie would look like now. There's no Sara in him, but I ... wonder.”
“I understand,” Daniel assured, a thousand thoughts running wild in his head.
“I wish I did.”
With a soft smile, the younger man averred, “You do understand. You've understood all the time. You just couldn't put it into words.”
“Words are your thing.”
“It's human nature, Jack. The last time you looked at a child and saw yourself, it was Charlie. When you look at your clone, you can't help but to see yourself in him. So it's not really a stretch to deduce that your psyche is taking over, which means that when you look at your clone, you're not seeing yourself, you're seeing your son.”
“What would he have looked like at 17?” Jack questioned more rhetorically than not.
Though well aware by the tone that the query wasn't meant to be answered, Daniel followed through anyway, opining, “He'd look like you and Sara.”
“That dang clone looks like I did at 17.”
“That's because he's you.”
“What if he looks like me in ten years?”
“He will, but we can ... suggest some alterations,” Daniel replied.
“We can't change his DNA.”
“Of course not,” Daniel returned, still caressing his husband tenderly. “But ... he's young. Maybe he'll want longer hair.”
“They were hot in the eighties,” Jack noted.
“I didn't notice.” Silence fell for a bit as the couple contemplated life as a clone before the archaeologist spoke again. “We'll just have to see how he develops. He'll be living a different life, Jack. He might choose a different image and style than you.”
Daniel looked down at his husband and saw the grin and shining brown eyes gazing up at him.
“I love you, Jack.”
“Love you, too, Angel.”
After SG-1 had devised a basic history for the clone, one that would differ from almost anything having to do with the real Jack O'Neill, Janet's team took over. Psychologists reviewed the history that had been given to the clone while he had lived in his own apartment and gone to high school. Then they helped to shape the new history even further, attempting to ensure the teenager's emotional wellbeing was properly considered.
Then on Saturday afternoon, SG-3 went to Altair and surprised the clone by asking him to come to Earth for a visit.
With Samantha in his arms, Clone Jack, now a tall, lanky seventeen-year-old, walked down the ramp towards General Hammond.
“I hope this is important. I was doing something very important,” Clone Jack stated, absently scratching Samantha's head.
“If Harlan needed your help ...”
“Nah. Harlan's a whiz on his metallic world.” Seeing Hammond's quizzical look about what could be so important if it didn't relate to Altair, the teenage clone expounded, “I was setting a personal best for grand theft.”
Hammond stared, the added remark not clearing up his confusion.
Looking away in frustration and watching SG-3 depart the gate room, Clone Jack explained, “It's a video game, Sir -- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.”
“I see,” Hammond returned dubiously. “Son, we need to talk.”
“I didn't think I was here for ice cream,” the clone retorted lightly. “But some homemade ice cream would be nice -- strawberry, or maybe chocolate; both even.”
“I know where it is,” Clone Jack sighed.
“I'm not going to like this, am I?” Clone Jack inquired as he encountered SG-1 and Janet in the briefing room.
“Actually, we're hoping you will like it,” Daniel replied from his seat.
“Daniel,” Clone Jack greeted warmly while petting Samantha's fur. “Me,” he added, addressing the real Jack O'Neill.
~Cut that smile, kid. You can't look at Danny like that.~ Jack just nodded, raising his eyebrows in response to the quip. ~He's not happy on Altair. Too much kumbaya time with Harlan.~
“General,” Hammond ordered with the single spoken word of rank.
“Carter,” Jack ordered with a little less conviction, trying to pass the buck.
“I think you can handle this,” Hammond chimed, squelching the blonde from taking over Jack's job.
With a reluctant sigh, Jack leaned forward and stated, “We want you to come back to Earth and live your own life.”
Suspect of the remark, the clone challenged accusingly, “How much lying are you doing this time?”
“I am *not* lying,” Jack barked. “Look, we have a way to alter your memories. We can make you your own person and not a ... mini-me.”
“The technology would allow us to eliminate your memories of General O'Neill,” Janet told the younger Jack.
“How?” Clone Jack queried hesitantly. ~I don't believe them as far as I can throw them.~
“Some time back, we met a race known as the Galarans,” Janet began. “They shared with us a memory implant device.”
“Shock therapy?” the clone snarked, not looking at anyone as he played with Samantha.
“It's derived from the Goa'uld memory device,” Daniel added.
“Oh, that's a convincer,” Clone Jack replied glibly.
“Kid, shut up and listen,” Jack ordered. ~It's annoying being on the receiving end of my annoying self. Wait, does that make sense?~
“Jack,” Sam spoke up, speaking to the clone. “The Galarans have had this device for a very long time, but it took their scientists a century to understand and develop it. When they shared ...”
“Shared,” Jack mused in a negative tone, referring to how the technology was first discovered by SGC personnel although not elaborating on it.
Sam took a breath and continued, “When they shared it with us, we began working on alterations ourselves. The device is capable of copying a memory from a person and implanting ...”
“I *hate* that word,” Jack interjected.
“General, how about we get on with this without interruption,” Hammond suggested with a stronger tone than normal.
“Sorry ... Sir,” Jack responded with a nod as he tapped his pencil onto the notepad in front of him.
“It's like an organ transplant,” Janet related to the clone. “The new memory becomes one with your own mind. We've not only seen it at work, but we've used it with complete success.”
“You want to give me new memories?” the clone inquired, not sure what to think about the plan. “Like changing the oil in a car?”
“You got it,” Jack acknowledged.
“I don't think you understand,” Sam argued lightly.
“Sure I do. You want to mess with my mind. No way!” the clone replied in a near-shout, his eyes confronting everyone in the room.
“That's a very ... non-technical way of putting it,” Daniel acknowledged, “but how we describe it isn't the point.”
“The point is you want to suck my head ...” the clone accused loudly.
Daniel stared, his mouth agape and eyes wide as quarters, while Sam quickly looked down at the table. Teal'c didn't react at all, though he kept his eyes focused on the large glass opposite him which revealed the Stargate in the gate room. Janet brought her hand to the side of her face, covering it from the sight of Clone Jack and urgently wrote a shopping list that included soap. As for the two generals, Hammond never lost his focus, keeping a stoic expression while looking at the clone, but Jack let out a cough and looked over at his husband.
**Daniel, close your mouth,** Jack communicated.
“... like that Asgard head sucker,” Clone Jack concluded after a dramatic pause. “No one is touching my head!”
“Can we *stop* talking about your head?” Jack barked, his harsh words earning him looks from everyone sitting around the table. He faced Hammond and requested, “General, permission to speak to ... me ... alone.”
Hammond considered the request for a moment and then responded, “Very well. You can use my office.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
Jack motioned for the boy to follow. Sensing rebellion, he communicated with his eyes that he'd drag his copy to Hammond's office by force, if necessary.
Getting the message, Clone Jack stood up, carrying Samantha into the office and sitting down. His attention, however, was all on the dog, until suddenly he felt a force hovering over him.
Jack's hands gripped the chair as he leaned into the boy's personal space, though making sure not to interfere with Samantha's position, while he gruffly ordered, “Listen to me, punk.”
“Punk?” Clone Jack asked incredulously, glaring at the older O'Neill.
“Yeah, I'm not lying to myself right now. You're acting like a punk,” Jack blasted vocally. “I know what we're asking, but this is your ticket off Harlan's playground. Take it, and you get life. Pass it up, and you'll never out of that place.”
“What do you care?”
“I said, stop being a punk.”
“No,” the clone argued. “You told me I was a punk.”
Jack stood up straight and walked away, throwing his head back in frustration.
“I don't want to lose my memories,” the clone admitted quietly, showing a crack of vulnerability. “You know what I mean.”
Jack looked back in time to see the boy turn and look into the conference room, his eyes focused on Daniel. The general sighed, understanding not just the boy's feelings but also what was at stake. He returned to his original position, leaning down over the boy. When he spoke, it was with quiet firmness.
“Yes, I *know* what I'm asking. I know *exactly* what you're going through, and that's why I want you to do this. You're not living, you're existing. I did that for a couple of years; it didn't work out.”
“You'd never agree to this,” the teenage clone countered.
“Maybe not, but I know this. There's no future for you as it is now. There's no ... Sara, no SG-1, no Daniel, and no Charlie. All you have are empty recollections. Do you really want to live like that for the next few decades?”
The clone looked down, immersing himself in his dog. He just didn't know how to respond to this proposition.
“Jack, you can have a life; find someone to love; find a career; be happy. You're not now,” the general saw his youthful mirror look over at him about to object, “and don't *you* start lying to yourself.”
“I wouldn't be me anymore.”
“Wrong,” Jack negated. “You wouldn't be *me* anymore. You'd be you, someone with his own past and a future that isn't going to be like mine.”
Staring at the human and older version of himself, the clone quietly argued, “A 'you' that you guys made up in a lab, a fabricated history.”
The general beseeched, “What do you want to do?” He paused and advised with a hint of energetic enthusiasm, “Try not to think like an Air Force officer. You were out there for two years, mixing it up with kids your own age. There had to be something new that you picked up; something that really excited you that wasn't hockey and 'The Simpsons'. Tell me.”
Looking down, the clone reflected back on those miserable two years in high school when he'd tried to live a teen's life while still having all the thoughts and emotions of a grown man. Had there been something, anything that was his own and not part of General Jack O'Neill?
“I wanna make video games.”
“Video games?” Jack echoed in surprise.
“Do you know how corny and predictable those things are? They lack imagination and freedom. I have this idea for a new game where users can create their own content; you know, alter the game as it goes along and make our environment.”
“Sounds just peachy,” Jack cut in, knowing the telltale beginnings of a full blown prattle session a mile away.
“Look, you asked me, and that's the only answer I have to give. Does it matter if you like my choice?” Clone Jack griped interrogatively.
“No, it doesn't.”
As Jack headed for the door, the clone called out, “Wait.” He paused, waiting for the man to look at him. “I want one memory. I don't care exactly of what, but something good.”
“A memory of ...”
Jack opened his mouth as if to say something, but then just nodded and motioned for the door.
“We'll send word when we're ready for you,” Janet told the clone, giving the boy a smile and then walking out of the gate room.
Hammond had already gone on to other matters that required his attention, so it was Jack, with Daniel at his side, who looked up at Sergeant Davis and gave the order to dial the Gate.
“Listen, uh, when this happens, I won't be around,” Jack told his youthful image.
“I figured,” the clone replied.
“Sure. It'll give you the heebie-jeebies,” the teenage copy stated. “And it's better that I don't see you again.”
“Yeah,” Jack agreed, having as hard of a time right now as he'd had a couple years ago when dropping the boy off for his first day of high school. “Good luck,” he offered, extending his hand.
Careful to keep a supportive grip on Samantha, Clone Jack shook the hand of the original and stated a sincere, “Thanks. Maybe this time I'll really have a chance.”
“No need to thank me. I was just looking out for ... me,” Jack returned with a light faux smile.
Clone Jack looked over at Daniel, having a lot he wanted to say and yet knowing there was nothing he could say. He settled for a veiled copy of his request to Jack earlier that day.
“All I ask is that you give me that one thing,” the teenager stated.
“What ... thing?” Daniel queried with a hint of concern and a whole lot of curiosity.
“I'll tell you later,” Jack told his lover.
Confused but letting it go for the moment, Daniel looked over at the clone and wished, “Good luck.”
For a moment, the clone stared at Daniel and then he looked over at Jack and said, “You know.”
“It's covered, and that's not a lie,” Jack assured, referring to the unspoken request to always take care of Daniel and make him happy.
Jack and Daniel watched the teenager and his dog walk up the ramp and disappear into the event horizon.
“Your office,” Jack interrupted, walking swiftly away from his Love and heading towards Level 18.
“What do you think?” Jack asked his husband after explaining about Clone Jack's request.
“It's dangerous, Jack,” Daniel opined. “I mean, what if it triggers something in the future?”
“Danny, it's all he wants, that and the dog. He's letting us rewrite everything about him. Can't we give him just one little thing?”
“That little thing is a memory of me.”
“Just a meeting, at a library or something. He wants a smile. Danny, I know how much that smile means. He just wants to see it. He doesn't need to understand it. You meet at a library, prattle a little, and that's that.”
“Prattle?” Daniel questioned pointedly.
“Prattling is the appropriate term.”
“I don't think so, but I'll let you off the hook,” Daniel stated, adding a quick, “for now.”
“So how about it?” Jack sought hopefully. “We can make it a childhood memory; second grade. He doesn't even have to know your name.”
Daniel let out a sigh and acquiesced, “Okay, but how are we can going to manufacture that reality?”
“By having you prattle at some poor second grader.”
“Oh,” Daniel expressed uncertainly.
The process of giving Clone Jack a new life wasn't easy. For the first time ever, the memory implant device was being used to create not just a lone recollection, but seventeen years worth of history. Bits and pieces of carefully screened memories were being collected from personnel and shaped to fit the new existence.
In addition, updated documents such as a birth certificate and school records, had to be created. It would take some time to get everything together and in place. When the new Jack was essentially born, it would be away from Colorado Springs and carefully staged by hand-selected personnel.
On this night, Daniel had just arrived home from completing a special project.
The soulmates shared a kiss and then Daniel melted into his Heart's arms, seeking their warmth.
“How'd it go?” Jack inquired gently, basking in the reassuring weight of his husband.
“I smiled as much as I could and ... prattled on about ... Nintendo 64.”
“It is now, but not in second grade of your clone. Of course, the little boy they hired thought we were shooting some retro commercial,” Daniel stated.
“Maybe they could have created the memory,” Jack sighed as the embrace ended and the couple settled down on the sofa.
“The memories created from scratch are effective, but this makes it a little more authentic. They could take it from me and, I don't know, it's not much, but it's something.”
“What do you know about Nintendo 64 anyway?”
“Nothing,” Daniel admitted. “Sam gave me a crash course this morning.”
Chuckling mildly, Jack put his arm around Daniel and tugged him close to him as he replied, “Thanks, Danny. I know you weren't sure about doing that.”
“He didn't asked to be created. That was Loki's doing.”
“The kid made some interesting choices,” Jack mused. “Video games and Europe.”
“We don't know that he'll get to Europe, but the interest is there.”
“Wonder why he picked Guildford,” the older man pondered about the location Clone Jack had picked to have a fascination for.
“He said he liked the sound of the name; it was playful,” Daniel chuckled.
“At least he won't be in prison anymore, not physically or emotionally,” Jack sighed.
“I hope he's happy.”
“He will be ... now,” Jack insisted. Then he turned his head and leaned around to kiss his husband. “Speaking of happy, how about you?”
“Very happy,” Daniel responded, adding a sweet kiss to his answer. “You?”
“Happier than ever. I love you, Angel.”
“I love you, too.”
Daniel's grin indicated an affirmative answer, and both knew that food had nothing to do with the inquiry or its response. With tenderness and passion, the soulmates expressed their happiness with their bodies, once again leaving behind any thoughts of video games and mini-mes.
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