Storm Shoes
(#16 in Shoelaces LD universe)

SUMMARY: Daniel and Jack try to deal with Daniel being little Daniel. Inspired by the DJsSG-1Lverse yahoo list.


DISCLAIMER: The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.

No matter how much time passed or how hard he tried, there were still a few things Daniel couldn't adjust to.

Thunderstorms were one of them.

They never used to bother him. It was quite the opposite, in fact. The first time around, he'd spent many a gloomy, rainy day by the window, gazing at the sky, watching the clouds and the streaks of light as they flashed above. It was a time of reflection and an easy distraction from yet another foster home, another set of foster parents that either tried too hard or not hard enough.

It was a coping mechanism, one he had continued to use right up to the day he transformed. Jack, in fact, had more often than not, found him gazing through a window staring at the angry sky.

Daniel would use the quiet, reflective time when the turbulent sky seemed so furious at the ground below to push aside all of his own anger and instead watched it play out in the clouds. He would allow Mother Nature to fight the battle for him, his gaze locked on the space between Heaven and Earth.

It vanished the first time the thunder clapped over Jack's house.

He was standing in the middle of the living room, running a car across the coffee table, the adult Daniel was half watching a Mayan special on the Discovery channel while the young Daniel was drawn to maneuvering the car around the mountain of magazines when a sound resounded across the sky and sent him running into the kitchen to clutch Jack's legs as he made dinner.

Daniel was petrified.

He'd dealt with newfound fears before. His six-year-old brain hated needles now, but loved heights. He was scared of social interaction and constantly worried every time Jack went on a mission through the Stargate. He craved hugs and feared rejection even more than he had the first time around.

He apparently also feared thunder.

And lighting.

And darkness.

Obviously the majority of storms that had occurred since Daniel had shrunk must have happened while he was tucked under the safety of Cheyenne Mountain.

Today, however, was not one of those times. Today was another storm he could witness during his second childhood and today he was cuddled on the couch, one hand clutching a blanket and the other up at his face, the thumb planted directly in his mouth, his teeth clenched around its flesh. Dannie, who had seemed to sense his anxiety, had curled up next to his feet on the couch, her long doggy head planted on top his ankles, as if that would protect him. Daniel appreciated the sentiment, but it wasn't what he wanted.

Just like every previous storm, he wanted Jack.

But Jack was off world again, another event Daniel was still getting used to, and Janet was on babysitting duty. She'd patiently sat with him for the last hour, rubbing his back as the thunder rumbled and the lightning flashed across the windows. It helped, but not enough to penetrate his growing panic and his thumb was feeling the abuse as he ignored the slight metallic taste of blood in his mouth when he'd broken the skin. Janet realized the unwanted attention his thumb had been getting and had been trying to coax him to release the digit.

He had been contemplating caving, since the taste of blood was making him nauseous, when the lights flickered and then went out completely.

He bit down harder then curled himself into an incredibly, sight, small ball of arms and legs, blanket and injured thumb.

With a pat on a the head and empty words of comfort, Janet left Daniel alone in the mind numbing darkness and went to locate either a flashlight or candles. Dannie bumped her nose in search of Daniel's feet, then licked them until he finally relinquished his thumb when he could no longer fight the urge to giggle. He reached blindly for Dannie's head, patting it and saying "don't worry, Dannie, it will be all right" and wishing he could believe his own words.

A beam of light shot out from the kitchen and Janet returned, flashlight in hand. She directed it at his face and frowned when the light hit his thumb.

"Daniel," she said.

"Sorry," he mumbled. Another crash of thunder sounded and he jumped. The living room lit up for a split second as even more flashes of lightning filled the sky before the singular sound of the pounding rain returned.

He let Janet wrap his finger, shaking slightly as more thunder hit.

Damnit, why was he so scared? This wasn't the way it was supposed to work. Thunder storms were supposed to be a sanctuary, not a time to spend whimpering in the dark, praying that Jack would come home, praying the rain would stop, praying he was thirty-nine again and watching the storm play out from the comfort of his own living room window.

Even though Janet was sitting beside him, he suddenly felt alone. Alone and scared.

He wanted his parents.

They'd know what to do.

No, wait, that wasn't right. He'd never sat through a storm with his parents, at least not one he could remember. The desert had storms sure, but his parents were busy and he only remembered pounding rain producing very wet sand. The first thunder and lightning storm he'd seen and could actually remember, believe it or not, was the day of their funeral, when the social worker took his hand and he walked away from the freshly dug graves with only one small photo to remember them by.

He wasn't even sure they'd know what to do. And they were dead, long buried, and long past any miracle that no alien technology in the galaxy could provide.

No, Jack would know what to do.

Jack would pick him up and plop him in his lap and they'd sit on the couch buried in blankets. If they had power, they'd watch TV; if not, Jack would pull out an old book of Egyptian tales and let Daniel read aloud, distracting him from the noise of the rain, the thunder, and the bursts of lightning.

And if the storm managed to settle early enough, Jack would lift him up and they'd go outside and see if Mother Nature had left a rainbow behind the storm's wrath. She always seemed too, and Jack could always find it.

Jack could find many things.

Daniel considered himself very lucky to have Jack O'Neill for a friend, despite all the arguments they had or hardships they suffered. They always managed to make things right, to keep a foundation hidden somewhere, even when it took some time and effort to find it.

It was always there.

Best friends.

That hadn't changed. Jack was still his best friend.

But there was more. Somewhere along the line, Jack had become more than a friend caring for him, taking him in because that's what friends do. After all, his parents had friends. Lots of them, many of them quite close and dear. Yet, not one of them stepped forward and offered to take Daniel in. They gave him pity and hugs, yet no true comfort for the offspring of their friends.

More thunder sounded and Janet rubbed his back again. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the slow circles her hands were making on his back. Tried to concentrate on anything but the storm that wouldn't abate, and the fact that Jack was literally a universe away from him.

He truly felt six-years-old.

The rain pelted the roof and more thunder sounded. Daniel curled into himself and he felt Janet stop rubbing and Dannie lift her head from his feet. Further thunder came, more streaks of light as the storm gave its very all and Daniel shut his eyes tighter as if that act alone could make the clouds part and the sun enter and create yet another perfect early August evening. He heard Dannie scratching at the front door, something she only did when she needed to go out.

From what seemed a great distance, he heard the front door open and dismissed it as Janet letting Dannie out to do her thing, but he heard paws moving and felt a wet nose press itself into his uninjured hand. His eyes snapped open and Dannie nudged his hand. Daniel looked up.

Jack stood in the doorway, soaked to the skin and still wearing his
work clothes.


Jack smiled.

"I got home early. Saw it was raining, thought I'd come home."

Janet was prying his wet jacket off. "The roads are slippery, Colonel. You could have gotten yourself killed."

Jack shrugged it off. "Nah. I never went above thirty the whole time. That's why it took so long. I got in hours ago. Besides," a still damp hand touched the top of Daniel's head, "I wanted to go home." He looked down at Daniel, at the flashlight, and the empty coffee. "You didn't think about reading without me, did ya?"

Daniel shook his head. "Not the same without you."

"Damn right, it's not," Jack agreed. "Although," he touched Daniel's injured thumb, "I see you've been busy." He turned to Janet. "The whole neighborhood's out, it looks like."

Above, the thunder clapped and Daniel jumped. Jack dropped his hand.

"Flashlight?" he asked and Janet made her way to him, said object in hand and gave it to him. Jack carefully headed to the bookshelf and shined the beam across a shelf, before settling it on a large volume. He dragged it out and made his way to the couch, placing the text on the coffee table.

"I need to change and take a quick shower. But I bet Fraiser wouldn't mind hearing a story." He opened the book and skimmed across the pages. "She'd like this one, I bet. But don't read any further, okay? We haven't gotten that far and I don't like anyone else having the inside track. Could spoil my ending and all." He ruffled Daniel's hair. "I'll grab some more candles and another flashlight from the linen closet. Okay, kiddo?"

"Okay," Daniel agreed and wriggled out of the blanket just enough to reach the text. Jack nodded to Janet, and she positioned the flashlight over the pages.

Outside, the lightning sparked across the sky and the thunder rolled across the hills, but, for the first time since the storm had started, Daniel didn't even notice.

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