Summary: Jack gets a permanent gift.
NOTE: This is chapter 1 of a 5-part storyline. The over-arching theme will be joining the Tok’ra on a mission to kill a System Lord named Seti Ptah.
Jack set the trash bags into the dumpster, a grin on his face. Their lovemaking had been a marathon. He no longer felt like an old man when it came to sex. Morrighan’s ‘tea ceremony’ was the gift that kept on giving.
As he turned away from the bin, a movement caught his eye and he turned to the right. A large, white wolf was about fifty feet away, coming toward him at a slanting gait.
“Daniel! Jason!” he half sang, projecting his voice through the open French doors. “We have unexpected company!” He made sure his tone meant business. The wolf stopped no more than forty feet away, stared at him, then sat down, its jaws dropping open in a lolling grin. Daniel came to the door first.
“What—” he began to say, then spied the wolf. “Oh.”
Jason appeared behind him, craned his neck, then nudged Daniel to the side to make room. Daniel complied and they exchanged matched looks of suspicion. “What the hell, Jack,” Jason said.
“Right?” Jack replied. “I thought that creature went with Adriann.”
“He did,” Daniel said, staring. “That’s not him.”
“In fact,” Daniel went on, narrowing his eyes as he focused on the wolf’s face. “It’s her, Jack. Look at its eyes.”
Jack did and his brows went up. The wolf’s were rainbow-colored. “Couldn’t you just come to the door like a normal person?” he asked the wolf.
“Maybe she doesn’t know about that part of our culture,” Daniel suggested.
“A being that old and intelligent who surveils everything? She knows, Daniel.” He then pondered for a moment just how arrogant and unwise it was to snap at a being like Morrighan, then ditched the second-guessing. “It’s only polite,” he said, half-directing his comments to the wolf. “Given who she is, who they were, they might just react as badly as Odin was said to have acted when guest rights were violated.”
Daniel smirked. “Somebody’s been doing some reading.”
Jack backhanded him across the shoulder just as the wolf interrupted their banter with three sharp barks, each sounding oddly like a musical tone. It then spun around in a whirl then disappeared in a cloud of gold sparkles that rose in the air like fire sparks. The sparks themselves didn’t dissipate but spiraled toward and past them into the house.
Jack led the way into the house and caution had Jason’s intuition pinging over his skin as goosebumps. He held up his hand as he stepped in front of Jack. “Careful.”
“Your spidey-sense pinging?” Jack asked.
They looked around. “You see anything?” Jason asked.
Jack sighed irritably. “This is getting old.” They entered the kitchen and spied the little sparks that had floated into the house. They were sitting in a circle atop the breakfast bar.
Jack nodded. “So now what?” he asked loudly, speaking to the Queen.
Sparks rose from the countertop and a small rectangular object appeared from the center. It was the size of an iPad Mini or Kindle. It floated toward Jack and hovered in midair until he took hold of it.
“Write your questions on this device,” came Morrighan’s disembodied voice. A stylus was attached to the pad and Jack picked it up and wrote, “Thanks.”
His word disappeared and in response, words appeared at the same speed as someone typing rapidly on a keyboard. “To make it a level playing field with your husbands, here is my second gift, kinsman. Fare thee well.” The sparks on the countertop rose, then sped across the short distance and into Jack’s forehead. His skin glowed as Jack himself went boneless and collapsed. He was aware of Daniel and Jason catching him, but he didn’t feel alarmed. He felt giddy. And a sense of euphoria flooded him. “Better than a joint,” he said.
Daniel and Jason were bending over him. Their faces were twisted in panic. “Guys, I’m fine.” They didn’t hear him. Jason was on the phone. Daniel moved out of his line of sight. “What the hell is happening?” he asked. Again, he could swear he was talking out loud. It sounded normal. But they couldn’t hear him.
Weariness flooded his mind then and Jack closed his eyes – or thought he did. Hadn’t they already been closed? He didn’t care. It was time for a nap, it seemed. And when he woke, he’d have a few choice … words … for Morrighan.
“Goddammit,” Jason breathed, taking out his phone. He dialed the infirmary. Janet answered. “We need to get Jack to the infirmary,” he said, and quickly outlined what had happened. He listened to her instructions and hung up. “Corpsmen are on the way.”
Daniel and Jason entered the infirmary right behind the corpsmen wheeling Jack in on a gurney. Beads of perspiration had appeared on Jack’s forehead and his skin had become shiny with what was obviously a fever.
Janet aimed a gun thermometer at Jack’s forehead. “104. And you say this is from a spell from Morrighan?”
Daniel waggled his hand. “It’s from Morrighan. Whether it was a spell, I don’t know. She sent a light into his head.” He touched the center of his forehead.
A loud high-pitched beep from his jacket’s pocket made everyone around them twitch and Daniel pulled out the tablet.
“What was that?” Janet asked.
Daniel waggled the tablet. “Her other present. A messaging tablet.”
On the surface, it read:
“The effects from the orb are temporary.”
Daniel wrote on the tablet, “Define temporary.”
“Less than an hour. He will have a headache when he awakes. Treat it like you would for any headache.”
Daniel showed the slate to Janet. She sighed. “I hope she’s correct and this passes.” She had Jack’s bed wheeled into the fourth spot in the ward as the other beds were already occupied by members of SG-4. “Call Sam and Teal’c.”
“We already did,” Jason said.
“I am here,” Teal’c said, walking into the ward. “What has happened?” He was quickly told and he frowned. “One would assume that she would take great care not to injure a member of her family.”
“One would assume,” Jason nodded. “Maybe it’s a fairy thing.”
“Or a goddess thing,” Daniel added.
Teal’c’s brow rose. Behind him, Sam came running in. “What’s happened? How is he?” She too was given the low down. “Goddammit. Couldn’t she just give him a box of chocolates or something?”
“Then he could share,” Jason quipped and he looked around for a stool or a chair no one was using so he could sit next to Jack. Daniel sat down on an empty gurney across from Jack and Jason went to join him but Sam pulled his sleeve.
“I’m gonna get a round of coffee. Help me carry it down?”
“Good idea.” Jason touched Daniel’s elbow. “Getting coffee. Back in a few.”
Daniel nodded while he stared at Jack’s feverish face. He went to an infirmary sink and wet a washcloth, then went over to smooth it over Jack’s brow, over his ears, and around his neck. He looked up, sensing that he was being watched, and found Janet’s eyes on him. “What?”
“Nothing,” she said, shaking her head.
“Don’t do that. What is it?”
“I’m just surprised he accepted the gift.”
Daniel grimaced. “He wasn’t consulted.”
She made a derisive snort. “Why’d she do this in the first place?”
Daniel gave her a wan smile. “Jason and I have enhanced perceptions. She wanted to level the field.”
“She didn’t explain what the gift would be?” she asked. Daniel shook his head. “Did you ask before accepting?”
“Uh, no, because we had no idea what she was up to. First, this appeared,” and he held up the tablet. “Then this set of lights small enough to be sparks just gathered together and shot into his head.”
“That’s not a gift. That’s assault,” Janet said, scowling. She took the cloth from Daniel and rinsed it in cold water then rested it on Jack’s forehead, leaving it there.”
Daniel looked across the room and in the first two beds were members of SG-4 and they didn’t look well. “What happened?” he asked, jerking his chin in their direction.
Janet frowned worriedly. “Ran into some sort of pollen that’s created massive headaches. Their two other members haven’t come back yet, but they’re on their way. SG-3 had to assist.” She took Jack’s pulse. “It’s slower than it was when he came in here.”
Daniel was surprised but wary. “I hope that’s good news.”
“Me, too,” she said. “Generally, it’s a stabilization of the system.” She suddenly frowned as she noticed the sheen on Jack’s face had dried. “Temp’s going down, I think.” She aimed the gun thermometer and measured it again. “101,” she sighed. “He’s coming out of … whatever it is.”
Daniel sighed and ran a hand over Jack’s head, threading through his hair. “Time to wake up, oh Anointed One.” Janet snorted, making them both smile.
Ten minutes went by and Jason and Sam returned from the mess hall and passed out Styrofoam cups, including giving one to Janet, but she demurred.
“I’ll take it,” Daniel said and he drank it down in four long gulps, then sighed. “Nectar of the gods.” He burped but had his mouth closed in anticipation.
“So any news?” Jason asked Janet.
“Temp’s gone down, along with his pulse,” she said.
Jason heaved a sigh of relief. “Thank god.”
“We’ll see,” Janet said cautiously.
“You’ll see what?” Jack asked, mumbling the words. He reached up to remove the damp cloth but he put it over his eyes instead.
“Jack,” said both Daniel and Jason with relief.
“That’s me,” Jack said. “Lights, Doc?”
Janet went to a wall panel that held three dimmer switches and pressed the bottom one. The lights lowered. “Thanks.”
“You scared the crap out of us,” Daniel said, frowning.
“You’re not alone, Daniel,” Jack complained, still grimacing. “Doc?”
“I’m here,” Janet said, placing a hand on his shoulder after coming up beside him.
“Painkillers?” His head wasn’t pounding like before, but it still didn’t feel good and he was growing a bit queasy. “And a bucket. I think I’m gonna throw up.”
“Hold on,” Janet said and left the ward.
Everyone stood still and waited. When she returned, she held a hypodermic packet and a tiny medicine jar. Opening the packet, she removed the syringe, bit the cap between her teeth, and stuck the needle in the jar to remove a small amount of medicine that barely registered on the syringe.
“A form of Dramamine,” she said, and after swabbing his arm with an alcohol pad, injected it into his arm. “Sudden pain can cause nausea and dizziness. Your sudden fainting—”
“I passed out,” he corrected her with a sniff.
“—might also be a symptom of whatever it was Morrighan did to you,” she finished.
He raised his hand and stared at it, his frown deepening. “What is this?” There was a bright yellow-orange halo around his right hand that spread up to his elbow. He frowned in confusion as he sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed.
“Go slowly,” Janet said as she assisted him. She gave him a packet of Tylenol after retrieving it from the side table’s top drawer.
Jack tore it open and tossed the pills in his mouth. “Water?” Jason was closer and he handed Jack his coffee. Jack downed it while Janet asked, “What was what?”
Jack waved his hand. “This.” It was clear that no one else saw the halo. “I have an orange halo around my hand. Man, I need water.”
Janet grimaced. “Of course. It’s the fever,” she said and took his pulse again. “Slowing down. Do you have the halo elsewhere?”
Jason passed Jack a plastic cup and Jack gulped down. With a burp, he passed it back to Jason with a jerk of his chin. Jason refilled the cup and Jack drank it more slowly.
Janet held up the digital gun thermometer for Jack to see before she aimed it at his forehead. “99 and change,” she said, nodding. “Good.”
“I’m fine,” he said grouchily. “Ish.” He emptied the cup and handed it back to Jason. “More.”
Jason gave him more. “It’s the cold temperature, isn’t it?”
Jack lifted his eyebrows and sort of nodded while he drank.
“Yeah, I was just thinking that,” Daniel said.
“High fevers take out more of the body’s moisture than we realize,” Janet said.
“So?” Jack asked, waving his hand, anger and panic rising. “What about this? Who gives a shit about the damn fever? I’ve got this hallucination thing going on since apparently none of you sees this damn halo.”
“Colonel,” Janet chided.
“You’d swear too, Doc,” he said.
“Another side effect from whatever Morrighan did,” Jason said, pressing his hand over Jack’s forehead. Jack shied from his touch. “Stop it. I’m testing something.” He jerked his chin at Daniel. “Let’s try something. Put your hand on mine. Close your eyes.”
Daniel reached over and placed his hand over Jason’s. The two of them closed their eyes.
“What are you doing?” Teal’c asked.
“Hmm . . .” Daniel began.
“I don’t know,” Jason said. He and Daniel stared at each other. “It just made sense.”
“What are you doing?” Teal’c repeated. “For what purpose are you both touching his forehead?”
Daniel and Jason shrugged and closed their eyes for only three seconds, then opened them. “Fever’s gone,” Jason said.
“The thermometer told you that, dummy,” Jack said irritably. “Stop being spooky.”
“I just . . .” Jason began. “I don’t know. Sensed it would tell me something but . . .“
Daniel said, “I just wanted to see if I could pick up whatever Jason was feeling when he touched your forehead.”
“And?” Jason asked, eyeing him.
“Only the usual. Nothing extra.”
“The usual?” Sam asked.
“Emotions? Worry, et cetera. Relating to what’s going on right now?”
“Oh,” she drawled. “I’m so used to you doing that silently that I sometimes forget you can do it at all.”
“If only,” Daniel sighed. “It’s only strong emotions. But I can pick up a person’s state of mind if I touch them. Jason and Jack especially since we share deep emotional ties.”
“Oh, I guess that makes sense,” she said.
“Is anyone even remotely concerned that I’m hallucinating?” Jack asked, raising his voice.
The next thing that hit him felt both real and dreamlike. Everything on the periphery of his vision became blurred, almost like a blurred version of a photographic vignette. “What the . . .”
“What’s wrong?” he heard Daniel ask, but it came from far away.
Voices from the hall, getting louder. They increased to signal someone yelling. Then someone rushed into the ward wearing a dirty BDU uniform. It was Franklin, the head of SG-4. He was agitated, sweating, wide-eyed. Corpsmen and SFs were right behind him, clearly intent on subduing him.
“Colonel!” Janet said, trying to get Franklin’s attention. “Colonel Franklin! Calm down! What’s the matter?”
Franklin pulled his sidearm and without a pause put a bullet into Janet’s forehead and she dropped. Jason ducked and headed for him, turning sideways and thrusting out a foot to trip the man up. But Franklin hit Daniel in the forehead and then caught Jason in the side of the head before turning to hit his teammates.
“What the fuck!” Jack screamed and launched off the bed, and when his feet hit the floor . . . the room was silent. Franklin was nowhere to be seen. Nothing was wrong. Everyone was still alive. “What the fuck,” he breathed, beginning to panic. He had hallucinated. “Goddamn, what the hell next?”
Jason and Daniel stared back. “What happened?” they asked at the same time.
“You guys didn’t . . .” Jack began. “I have no fucking idea.” He did, actually, but it was too crazy to say out loud. He took a few steps toward SG-4. “Hey, Riley,” he called to the Lieutenant. “Where’s your C.O.?”
“On the way, Colonel,” Riley said. “But something’s seriously wrong with . . .” His words faded and it seemed to Jack that his skin went pale. Riley looked at his teammates. “Oh shit!”
“What’s wrong with you?” Janet asked, frowning.
“Doc, we gotta-“ Riley began but he was cut off by the yelling down the hall that was quickly growing louder. Running bootsteps indicated danger or panic and Jason and Teal’c immediately tried to put themselves in front of Jack.
“Jason, T, the door,” Jack signaled, pushing the bed beside him out of his way. Jason went to one side of the entryway as Teal’c took the other while Jack snapped his fingers at Riley, who tossed him the zat gun he hadn’t yet turned in. “Where’s yours?” Jack asked Turner, the other SG-4 teammate.
“I turned it in,” he said, giving Riley a dark look.
“Might just have saved our lives,” Jack said, his tone only slightly admonishing. Jack faced the doorway and readied the weapon. The zat made the familiar whine-snap that was the alien equivalent of pulling back the hammer on an armed sidearm.
“Colonel,” Janet began, but Jack held up his free hand to stall her words.
Franklin appeared, with two corpsmen and an SF right behind, and Jack leveled the zat at him. “Frankin! Stand down!”
“You’re all Goa’ulds!” Franklin hissed, his eyes wide with fear as his hand went to his sidearm. Behind him, Jason grabbed hold of his weapon while Teal’c came from behind and wrapped his arms around him, pinning his arms to his sides. “Let go of me, traitor!” It was useless to resist Teal’c’s strength. Everyone but Franklin knew that and as he still struggled against Teal’c, Jack nodded to him.
Teal’c let him go and he and Jason stood clear as Jack fired the zat. Franklin froze as the blue lightning enveloped him. He crumpled to the floor, unconscious.
“Corpsmen,” Janet said in the same tired tone and gave Jack a worried, perplexed look. The two corpsmen and the SF lifted Franklin off the floor and were prepared to place him on the bed . . . except it was no longer where it had been. Jack had unknowingly shoved the bed across the ward where it had crashed into the other occupied ones.
Jack’s brows rose in surprise.
Everyone exchanged looks of shock between Jack and the bed he’d shoved aside on his way to stop Franklin. There was a deep hand imprint on the bed’s base metal frame.
“Holy Hannah,” Sam said.
“Jack, you okay?” Jason asked.
“Yes,” Jack snapped. “Why?”
“Because . . .” Jason couldn’t finish. There had been nothing wrong with what Jack had done. It was just that he’d unknowingly used force with the bed.
“You . . .” Daniel began. “Look at the bed frame,” he said and pointed.
Jack looked down and frowned. “So? Who made that handprint?”
Jack scowled at him then looked at the print while he replayed what had happened. He stared at his hand. “That makes no sense . . .” He slurred the s in the word just as his legs gave out.
“Whoa!” Jason yelled as he and Teal’c caught Jack before he could hit the floor. Daniel slid a chair behind Jack and the three eased Jack onto it.
Janet swallowed. “Okay.” She gestured at the two members of SG-4 that had arrived just before their commander. “You’re ambulatory. Sit by your teammates. Colonel O’Neill, lie down. Nurse Azir, get a blood kit.” She gestured to Jason, Daniel, Sam, and Teal’c to head to the back of the ward. Jack was wheeled to the farthest bed.
Once settled, Daniel asked, “Jack? What the hell just happened?”
“The sagging bit or before?” Jack asked as he laid back and pinched the bridge of his nose. The room was spinning. “Doc, the room’s spinning. I think I’m gonna throw up.”
Janet pointed Jason to a cabinet drawer and he found vomit bags there. He handed one to Jack. “Jack? What just happened?”
“You’ll all think I’m crazy.”
Daniel eyed him. “You had a premonition, didn’t you?”
“Yeah. I saw him kill Fraiser, you, Jason. Then the . . . sighting or whatever stopped.”
Janet’s eyes went wide and hers weren’t the only ones.
“Prescience,” Daniel said, stunned. “A thirty-second version, anyway. That’s kinda . . .”
“Useless,” Jason said.
Jack glowered at him. “You’re alive so I kinda disagree.”
“Well,” Jason said defensively. “That’s a very narrow window to prepare for what’s coming.”
“Agreed,” Jack said. He sighed and made a ‘gimme’ gesture. “Whoever’s got the damn tablet, hand it over.” Daniel did. Jack wrote, “You gave me a 30-second prescience warning. Take it back.”
I am unable to do so, kinsman. This is your gift.
Jack wrote, “How the hell can I do anything useful in 30 seconds?”
You just did, my kinsman.
Jack wanted to call her a smartass but refrained. Instead, he sighed and wrote, “I lost my legs five minutes later. If this happens all the time, this gift is useless.”
This will pass.
When you have experienced it twice more. Your brain will have been accommodated. Please moderate your tone.”
Jack rolled his eyes at the ceiling. “About this strength I now have . . .”
It will not damage those you love. Goodnight, kinsman.
A clear Fuck Off Now. Only more polite. Jack sighed. He repeated the conversation to his teammates, husbands, and Janet while Nurse Azar set up the blood drawing kit on a rolling table.
“I believe I’ll need to restrict you to base for a while,” Janet said.
“Doc, it’s apparently something that only works during a crisis. Despite our constant exposure to PTSS, we don’t actually have those regularly and it’s a hit-or-miss deal offworld.”
Jason said, “We’ll look after him,” and earned a glower from Jack. He was used to them so Jack’s glower had no effect.
“What did I look like to you guys?” Jack suddenly asked. “While I was experiencing this reverse déjà vu?”
“You appeared to freeze,” Janet said.
“Stared into space,” Jason said.
“Like you sometimes do anyway,” Daniel said drily, earning a glower and like Jason, he was used to it. “You know you do.”
“I don’t freeze when I’m lost in thought, Daniel.”
Daniel frowned, then traded thoughtful looks with Jason. “He’s kinda right.”
“He does not freeze when he is thinking,” Teal’c said. “He is focused.”
“I agree,” Sam said.
“Hmm,” Daniel said, chewing at his lip. “Well, at least we’ll know when you have one of those … spells, I guess.”
“Literally,” Jack snorted. He looked down at the bed frame and winced, then stared at his hand. “I wonder if that glow was part of the warning.” He then said to Janet, “You want me to stick around for observation?” She confirmed it with a nod. “Shit, but, I figured.” He looked at Daniel and Jason, then Sam and Teal’c. “Okay. I’m starving. Somebody grab me some chow. Like maybe pizza.”
“Colonel,” Janet chided from across the ward.
“You’re invited,” Jack sing-songed. The odd looks from his husbands and teammates made him give them a sheepish grin. “Roll with the changes. Nothing else to do, right guys? When New Year’s comes, that’s my motto.”
“Resolutions,” Daniel corrected.
“Motto. I don’t do resolutions.”
“Yeah, because you don’t believe in them,” Jason said, giving Jack a wink.
Jack smirked at him. “Do something useful and get the pizza. Add eggnog.”
“Out of the question,” Janet called to him.
“No alcohol allowed in the infirmary,” Jason said in a tone that said he was quoting a medical regulation.
Jack stared at him. “Don’t make me hurt you.”
Jason grinned and headed out of the ward. “C’mon you,” he said, pulling Daniel with him. “He’s not going anywhere and we need to talk about what just happened.”
“No we don’t,” Daniel said, but he followed Jason out of the ward.
Sam gave Jack a wan smile. “Got ‘em trained, don’tcha, sir?”
Jack sniffed. “Don’t know what you mean.”
Teal’c nodded but he looked more serious. “This Morrighan being does not seem to care about whether her gifts cause harm.”
“She cares,” Jack said tiredly. “She’s just . . .” He wrinkled his nose. “Okay. Miniature model time. We’re a grain of sand.” He held up his thumb and forefinger in a pinching gesture. “She’s Jupiter. I think it’s a reach to believe that she thinks as we do. Can you imagine a long-lived being like that, with millennia’s worth of memory and power? I’m surprised she sees any of us at all. It seems to me that beings that long-lived stopped seeing us as equals a very, very, very long time ago. Look at the Nox. We’re children to them.”
“I didn’t see her that way when we were on Lia Fail, sir,” Sam said. “She was far more personable.”
Jack tipped his head in acknowledgment. “She was and she wasn’t. There were times when her aloofness surfaced. Especially when she took care of the Goa’uld. Now she’s hunting those . . .” He frowned, trying to remember the name of the enemy of the Lia Fail. “Who was that enemy Thor mentioned?”
“The Fomor,” Teal’c recited.
Jack snapped his fingers. “Them. I just wish she would have kept the Goa’uld as her target.”
“She would have,” Sam said. “Except the Fomor attacked Thor and a few others, didn’t they?”
“It’s like ‘somebody else’s war’,” he said and made air quotes. “You only care about it when it concerns you.”
“Point,” she said, sighing.
Jack narrowed his eyes as his stomach growled. “Typical,” he said under his breath.
“What?” Sam asked.
“Hungry.” Jack closed his eyes. The room went quiet. Sam opened her mouth to say something but Teal’c touched her arm and shook his head. Jack had fallen asleep. It always amazed Sam that he could fall asleep that quickly. On the other hand, he had expended a lot of energy. Teal’c motioned and they quietly slipped out of the ward.
Janet ventured over and turned down the lights for that section. She watched Jack breathe for a second, then shook her head and left the ward with Nurse Azar. Jack O’Neill has powers. He would need monitoring to keep him safe.
The storyline will continue in Chapter 2: Old Frenemies.