By Carlyn


Daniel snuggled closer to the man who cradled him, wrapping his short arms as far around the broad neck as he could reach. Fresh from his bath, the only thing covering his water warmed skin a fluffy-soft towel wrapped around his waist, Daniel turned his face and burrowed into the man’s shoulder.

“Come on, buddy. She doesn’t bite. Not any more.”

This last was said with such an odd mixture of sadness and humor that Daniel lifted his head and peered into the fathomless brown eyes not six inches from his own.

The eyes looked back, unblinking. His gaze wandered to the dent between the man’s eyes. Instinctively, Daniel knew the line meant the man was concerned or angry, but he couldn’t remember why he would be either.

As the firm but gentle pat on his backside offered comfort, not censure, Daniel guessed the man felt anxious about something.

The brown eyes shifted and Daniel followed the dark gaze down to the bed. The pretty bright lady who had brought him the sweet, crunchy treat that the man had said ended up ‘more on him than in him’ – thus necessitating the bath – tilted her head in their direction. Daniel’s little forehead scrunched at the wetness collected in her clear blue eyes.

The bright lady returned her attention to the pink, wriggling bundle resting against her leg. Daniel gazed down, too, at the tiny figure nestled on the dark blue sheets.

The being – for surely it was a live thing – kicked powerfully with its short legs, the tiny fists on the end of its stubby arms swinging in counterpoint in some sort of odd, unintentional dance. Daniel felt his eyes widen in wonder.

A soft poke in his side brought his head around to face the man.

“You wanna see?”

Daniel’s head swiveled between the man’s face and the still gyrating figure on the bed. Though he hadn’t felt his head bob in assent, the man shifted his grip and Daniel found himself slowly descending towards the creature. His hand automatically came to his waist, keeping his towel in place.

“Daniel, this is Janet,” the man rumbled softly as Daniel’s bare feet made contact with the bedding. His legs gave way and Daniel came softly on his knees beside the ‘Janet,’ his fall controlled by the secure grip on his arm. Once his position was stable, the man let him go.

The bright lady shifted, giving Daniel clearer access. He watched her carefully; fearful of bringing her more tears, and was surprised to see that his closeness to the tiny being named Janet appeared to make her happy. She fingered the moisture from her eyes and her sad face lifted into a tranquil smile.

Something bumped him and Daniel looked down, his pale eyebrows raised inquiringly. He watched, mesmerized, as the small fist again impacted his leg. Janet’s movements intensified and her face took on a reddish cast, her lips opening and closing around discontented grunts and peeps.

Suddenly, nothing was more important to Daniel than calming her, and he quickly spread his body next to hers, offering the warmth and comfort of his presence. He reached across her body to hug her, his small hand gently gripping the arm that threatened to take another swing at him.

Leaning closer, he placed a comforting kiss on her brow, pressing his lips to her head until she lifted a tiny hand and tenderly grazed his cheek with her knuckles. When she stilled, Daniel pulled back, the corners of his soft lips tilted upward at the sight of the now sleeping Janet. Watching her serene face briefly, he squirmed in next to her, his arm still draped protectively over her chest, and sighing happily, he closed his eyes and joined her in slumber.


Sam took the hand Jack held out to her and pulled herself to her feet, careful to jostle the bed as little as possible. They stood together, side by side, arms barely touching and aimed twin smiles at their sleeping charges.

“Think he remembers?”

Jack glanced at her briefly then looked back down at the child his best friend had recently become.

“What? That Janet crawled through the tiny space left after that cave-in to calm his panic attack, only to be caught up with him in the effects of that device he’d gone into the temple to study?”

Sam acknowledged his question with a blink in his direction, before she too refocused on the babes cuddled together on the bed.

“I don’t know,” Jack shrugged. “But didn’t that seem as though he was acting out of gratitude for some earlier kindness offered to him?”

Sam turned her bright smile on Jack. “That’s an uncharacteristically karmic attitude, sir.”

Jack sighed. “Yeah. Guess Daniel was bound to rub off on me sometime.” He pulled the comforter from the bottom of the bed, gently settling the cover over the snuggling pair. He leaned down and placed a soft kiss on each precious head. “Sleep tight, kids,” he whispered.

The End

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