Trinity 5: Sacrifice
Summary: Jason thwarts an attempt on Jack’s life.
** This is a revised version, different than the one on AO3 **
Notes: Jason’s teammates are finally introduced. They’re viewed negatively at first because they’re overprotective of their leader.
Renamed from, “In Defense of Love, There Are No Rules.”
It had been a few weeks after Jason’s birthday when SG-1 and 2 had completed their first joint mission, returning parched and hungry. The mission had been the first for them, going out as an eight-man team instead of four.
“I’m more inclined to send out two teams for initial recon to new destinations,” Hammond had told them in the briefing. “The reason is because I’m tired of a four-man team not having enough firepower when they get into a nasty situation. Conflict with the Goa’uld is heating up and we can no longer toss a coin on what kind of planet you will arrive onto.”
The planet had reminded Daniel of Abydos, absent its people, but its temperature had steadily climbed past a hundred twenty degrees, to it had to be cut short after only two hours.
“Major Carter,” Hammond addressed. “Is it possible to return to the planet at a later time?”
“Maybe by ship, sir,” Sam told him. “My readings couldn’t detect any mineral signatures past one kilometer and even if we’d been able to tolerate the heat, the equipment would have eventually failed.”
“And us,” Jack added.
Hammond looked at the dried sweat and tired faces. “You hadn’t been gone two hours.”
“When I went through the gate, sir, my readout read one hundred forty-three degrees. It climbed forty-three degrees in two hours. We arrived in one hundred degree heat.”
“And nowhere near enough water and salt,” Jason said. “Frankly, sir, I’d hang a Do Not Disturb sign on this planet and move on.”
“Concur,” Jack nodded.
“Okay. Major, you and your team report to the infirmary for the standard checks. Dismissed.”
“Yes, sir,” Jason said as his team got to their feet.
“SG-1, I need a word in private.”
Jason’s brow went up as he exited the room, looking over his shoulder worriedly. Jack and Daniel gave him a shrug.
“I’ll catch up later,” Daniel called to him.
“Done deal,” Jason said.
Jack, Daniel, Sam, and Teal’c exchanged looks as they followed Hammond into the smaller room. Jack stood, Daniel sat, and Sam took the seat next to him while Teal’c remained standing right behind her. Hammond sat down behind his desk and folded his hands. He didn’t have a stern expression, which was what the team expected. Instead, he looked puzzled, but pleased.
“What’s up, General?” Jack asked.
“Normally, I don’t involve myself in the interpersonal relationships of team members. There are, however, times where strife requires stepping in.” He paused and sighed, then looked at his hands before looking specifically at Jack and Daniel. “Unfortunately, I failed to do that with you two.” He looked at Jack and Daniel. “I should have stepped in before, when I noticed there was something seriously wrong with your friendship, affecting your working relationship, but I kept putting it off, hoping you would work it out. Two years went by, and I was getting ready to intervene, but then came the renovations and the Tok’ra spy mission. Over the last five months, however, things have changed for the better. Would either of you like to explain what happened and how it’s no longer an issue?”
Daniel looked up at Jack. “You wanna take this?”
Jack made a face. “Chicken,” he said.
Daniel smirked. “You’re the leader, Jack.”
“Thanks,” Jack replied sarcastically. He looked at Hammond. “Honestly, sir. I’m not really in a position to explain my actions over the last two and a half years.”
“Why not?” Hammond asked.
“Because …” Jack paused and looked at Sam and Teal’c. “We should have a chance to talk about this, but I’m wondering if it’s time to … you know.”
Sam shrugged and Teal’c just looked stoic. “We’ll back you, no matter what,” she said.
“This sounds ominous,” Hammond said.
“Not intentional, sir,” Jack said. He started to talk, but then he choked up and he couldn’t figure out what to say.
Daniel’s mouth twitched, and he took over. “Sir,” he said to Hammond. “Jack and I were having philosophical differences. You know how I feel about the military-centric mission statement.”
Hammond nodded. “I’m aware. And I’ve told you before, Doctor Jackson—”
“Forgive me, sir,” Daniel interrupted. “I apologize, but I’ve come to realize that you’re right. So’s Jack.” Hammond’s brows went up. Daniel grinned wryly. “I know. And I still believe we have to balance our goals, and I’m not about to stop lobbying for a scientific approach, but …” He looked up at Jack, amused at his look of surprise. “We’ve hashed things out and there’s no longer a problem.”
“Just like that,” Hammond stated, dubious.
“More or less,” Jack said, and Daniel nodded. “It wasn’t easy. We had a near knock-down drag-out over it.”
“I hope that didn’t involve a physical altercation,” Hammond frowned.
“No, sir,” Daniel said. “Just a lot of shouting.”
“Screaming, actually,” Jack said, his expression bland. Daniel snorted.
“So that’s it?” Hammond asked.
“That’s it,” Daniel and Jack said together.
Hammond gave them another puzzled frown as he studied the two men. “I’m very sorry, gentlemen, but I’m not buying it.”
Daniel and Jack stared at him, then each other. “Um,” Jack began. “Why not?”
“’Just like that’” Hammond repeated. “Neither of you are people who will give up your firmly-held positions. You’re very stubborn, to a fault. To tell me that you simply mended fences by having a shouting match doesn’t add up.”
“If I may,” Teal’c said. “Major Coburn was a big influence.”
Hammond raised his brows. So did Daniel and Jack, but their eyes widened with alarm while Sam just looked mildly surprised.
“Explain,” Hammond said.
“You are aware that Major Coburn and Daniel Jackson are close friends?” Teal’c asked.
Hammond nodded. “Obviously, Teal’c. He helped Doctor Jackson through his recovery. As an aside, I have to say that I was rather surprised, Doctor Jackson. I’ve never seen you develop friendships with other team members outside of the archaeological field.”
“He actually initiated the friendship,” Daniel said. “We became friends after that mission to Kheb. He was … just worried about me, after seeing what happened with Oma DeSala.”
“What do you mean?” Hammond asked, even more puzzled.
“He …” Daniel gave Jack an apologetic look. “At first, it was just as a friendly shoulder. He noticed how … we weren’t getting along.” He gestured between himself and Jack. “And he made the effort to get to know me. He has some the same interests, in science. And frankly, we just clicked.”
“Very well,” Hammond said, surprised, but accepting. “How did his friendship help?”
“Five months ago …” Daniel began, his mind rapidly trying to construct the proper scenario. “Jack saw us at a Mexican restaurant. He saw me laughing.”
Hammond blinked. “Laughing?”
“Be honest, sir,” Daniel said. “How often have you seen me laugh? Not smile. Laugh.” Hammond’s brows went up. “I’m serious. None of us ever have a chance to go out and have fun and let our hair down, so to speak. And for me, I’ve sort of had to pull back, emotionally. Jason helped me come back out of my shell. Jack saw me laughing and …”
“Something clicked in my head,” Jack finished. “I couldn’t remember ever seeing him laugh like that.”
“Jason told a joke, was teasing.” Daniel shrugged. “I was relaxed. I laughed.”
“And I went to see Daniel the next day. We had a big fight.”
“Big shouting match. I let loose on him. I wanted to know why he’d distanced himself and cut off our friendship.”
“And?” Hammond asked Jack.
When Jack didn’t answer, Sam said, “If I may, also. It had to do with that Zatarc machine a year ago. Colonel O’Neill started distancing himself from most of us, except for Teal’c.”
“Again, why?” Hammond asked Jack.
“I set off that machine, made it focus on the wrong thing, and get things all screwed up around here. I thought the answer was to cut myself off.”
Daniel rolled his eyes. “I told him it wasn’t. It was the opposite. To be more open and honest. And Jason came over during the shouting match and turned into a diplomat.”
“And after that, we just … moved forward. It’s been working out well since then.”
“You two agree?” Hammond asked Sam and Teal’c.
“Yes, sir,” Sam said, with Teal’c nodding.
“Very well,” Hammond said.
Jack cleared his throat. “And if I may, working with SG-2 is a great idea. Major Coburn and his people are a good fit.”
“Indeed,” Teal’c said, nodding.
“I agree, sir,” Sam said, nodding.
Hammond nodded back. “I’ll keep that in mind. Mind you, your first joint mission didn’t exactly work out, but that was due to the planet, not your people.”
“Very true, sir,” Jack said.
“We’ll find another mission,” Hammond said, standing. “For now, report to the infirmary for the standard checks. And gentlemen, I’m glad things have worked out. Make sure it stays that way.”
“Yes, sir,” Jack and Daniel echoed.
In the elevator by themselves, the four members of SG-1 breathed a huge sigh of relief. Then their current reality came crashing down around their ears.
“Oh crap,” Jack said with disgust. “Reports. I’m gonna be here all night.”
“Translations,” Daniel said in the same tone. “Me, too.”
“Naquada recalibration,” Sam said, sighing. “It’s pissing me off.”
Teal’c just raised an eyebrow. His teammates looked at him, accusingly. “Do not transfer your disappointment to my shoulders. I am not in charge of major departments nor the Second-in-Command of the base. While we are on base, my only tasks are those I have set myself. Such as creating the self-defense classes using the Chulakian forms of what Major Coburn has referred to as Martial Arts.”
Daniel sighed. “I missed my last two classes.”
“Indeed,” Teal’c said. “Perhaps you will have time tomorrow.”
“If you wish to improve your skills, Daniel Jackson—”
“Teal’c, I know,” Daniel said, holding up a hand to stop the nag. “Jason’s already told me. And everything depends on me finishing my own work.”
“You and I will need some time away from it by then,” Jack said. “T, we’ll both be there.”
“Hey!” Sam said, annoyed.
Jack grinned at her. “Sorry, Carter. You, too.”
She mumbled under her breath.
“What was that?” Jack asked.
“Nothing you need to hear, sir. Unfortunately.”
Jack opened his mouth, but Daniel gently backhanded him across the stomach. “Never mind, Jack. Pick your battles. You won’t win this one.”
Jack mumbled under his breath.
A Timely Eavesdropping
In the locker room, Jason was changing into gym shorts and tee, listening to his 2IC, Captain Alex Wagner, and his security-slash-history-slash-munitions man, Lieutenant Al Kaufman, trade some of the weirder rumors back and forth. Meanwhile, Staff Sergeant Connor McCaffrey was staying out of it. Like Jason, he found gossip disgusting. They weren’t doing anything wrong, but it was now getting a little out of hand. Like the weird rumor about Teal’c’s late night excursions to the mess hall for chocolate cake raids.
The moment he heard Hammond’s name, however, Jason had to put his foot down. “Okay, guys, enough gossip. Don’t diss the CO, even out of earshot. If you have to make fun, wait till you get home. No doing that around personnel.”
“Sorry, sir,” they both said. Alex Wagner was already dressed and getting ready to leave when he added, “If you need anything, Major, you know where I am,” and he threw him a single-fingered salute that Jason sometimes thought should have been the middle one.
“Yeah, I know, and whatever you do, don’t make me look bad. See you at 0900 for the briefing.”
“After SG-1’s, I know. Jeez, Major, you’re worse than a girlfriend sometimes,” Wagner snorted as he left. Jason stared after the vacant spot left by Alex, thinking that over, then dismissed it with a smirk as he looked over at McCaffrey, his tracker and amateur language specialist, who suddenly looked busy.
“Do I sound like a girlfriend?” he asked, squinting at both his teammates, daring them to say yes.
Getting ready to leave, Connor looked amused. “In a word, yes.” Kaufman smiled in agreement.
“This is what I get for caring about you ingrates,” Jason growled as he finishing tying his sneakers. “I’m not bailing either one of you out ever again.” He could hear his men snickering as they left the room and it put a grin on his face. They knew he wasn’t serious.
After locking up his things, Jason left for the base’s gym to get his light workout in before going home. It was just after 7 p.m., and this late, he’d normally spend only a half hour on the weights, but tonight, unfortunately, he had time. Daniel was holed up in his office for the evening, working on some translation that was pissing him off, and Jack was in his own office, grumbling at having to catch up on the paperwork he’d been trying to ignore.
Jason went straight for his assigned gym locker to grab his weight belt and tape up his hands. After securing the former, he began to tape up the left hand when he heard voices, their direction indicating that the owners were coming from the exercise room. He paid little heed when their voices moved to the far side of the locker room. Focusing on making a fist as he wound the tape, he thought about the workout routine he’d use. After his right hand was done, he slipped on his fingerless gloves.
When the tone and level of the voices suddenly dropped, sounding secretive, conspiratorial, the hairs on the back of Jason’s neck rose. At first, he told himself to chill out. There were plenty of times and reasons to speak in hushed voices. Being gay, for example. But the hair-raising threat increased. He prided himself on his intuition and he wouldn’t start ignoring it now just because decorum might be violated. Whoever they were, they didn’t know he was there. He needed to find a way to listen without making it look like he was listening, just in case they came down his locker aisle. He chewed at his lip and pulled out the iPod he’d bought and plugged in the ear phones. He put one in his ear and the other he left dangling.
The one thing he didn’t need to discover was who they were. Before the whispering started, he’d recognized their voices, having heard them in the entryway on level 11 that morning. They were members of SG-22. Or rather, the new SG-22. The old guys were dead. He frowned as he adjusted his gloves, walking down the row of lockers toward the weight room. He was trying to remember their names when one of the voices rose a little louder than the others, the tone commanding.
Jason slowed, suddenly remembering the man’s name from the clipboard Jack had of the newbies. Major Hank Rogers. Something had him ticked off and he was getting it out with garbage talk. Well, it was up to Jason, as veteran and leader of SG-2, to set an example and calm things down. Or break bones. Sometimes he preferred the latter. As he approached the end of the locker row, he stopped. What had just come out of Rogers’ mouth was in no way garbage talk.
“You listen to me, Bradley,” Rogers said. “O’Neill is a fag. He’s putting it to that pussy Jackson under everyone’s nose. You can just see it, looking at the two of them.”
“Major, it’s not a good idea to diss the base 2IC,” a man answered. Jason figured it was Bradley. He sounded as if he was trying to speak up for the base’s most respected people, but his voice was filled with fear.
“Sergeant, they’re not worth respecting. I heard a lot about this place and it’s full of bleeding hearts and faggot-lovers. They put a dyke on SG-1, so I rest my case.”
“Sir, she was engaged from what I hear–” another man said. Jason couldn’t identify the voice.
“And she left his ass at the altar and equally left him to rot on some planet. A good, strong man, who didn’t take second billing to no bitch. He gave her everything and she shit on him. She’s a fucking dyke.”
“Just because she doesn’t have a boyfriend, sir–“
“You listen to me, all of you,” and Rogers went on and on, ticking off points that held no truth, never mind ventured near anything like rationality. But then, bigotry was like that. People afraid of their own shadow needed someone to hate, and when they came across something they didn’t understand, it became an immediate scapegoat. As Rogers spoke his lies, Jason could practically hear the members of his team lose their voices as they were held captive by their leader’s anger and position.
Jason, on the other hand, was about to find his voice, trying to control his own anger as it rose. But this had to be done correctly. A fear-based team worked up by their irrational leader would be capable of anything. At the very least, that meant dishonoring themselves to try and protect their own asses. It usually manifested as lying about someone. Jason moved back to his locker, deciding to ditch the belt. It would hinder proper movement in case things came to grips when he straightened out some negativity. After putting it in the locker, he grabbed his phone, prepared to give Jack a call. He should call security, but he’d rather let Jack make that decision. He was about to shut his locker, loudly, to announce his presence when Rogers’ next words, spoken at a normal level, the dumbass, made Jason’s blood run cold.
“You know what happens to a command with faggots in charge? I won’t let that happen to a place that should be a proud command. He has to be fragged.”
A gasp from his team members, then Bradley objecting again. “Maybe he is fucking Jackson, but so what? It don’t hurt us any. He’s a good leader, and I respect him.”
“You don’t even know him, Bradley!”
“Neither do you, sir! O’Neill’s shown his abilities time and again. I don’t believe those rumors, and they only serve–“
There was the tell-tale sound of a punch, paired with a loud grunt and a gasp for air. Rogers had hit the man to shut him up. “You wanna find out what it’s like to get fucked in the ass?” Rogers threatened.
“Hypocrite!” Bradley croaked and there was the sound of a scuffle and Bradley cried out again. “NO!”
“No what? Rape’s not a faggot move, you stupid shit. Unless you’re a fag, too?”
The other members started to object but Rogers yelled at them, threatening them with false rape reports. “Bradley, you answer me!”
“No, I’m not! And you just back off. I ain’t sayin’ a fucking word, alright!”
“That’s better, you fucking little coward.”
From what Jason could hear, Rogers hit him again for good measure and Bradley sounded like he was struggling to catch his breath. He wondered, if Bradley kept fighting, would Rogers actually rape him? Jason wouldn’t let that happen, of course, but the idea turned his stomach. A homophobe and a bigot. Jason hated to admit it, but he half-hoped Rogers would try something, only so he could take the bastard out. Then call Jack. Instead, he waited to hear more about the threat.
“It just so happens I do know him from a long time ago. Bastard robbed me of a promotion. It’s time he earned payback.”
He’d probably fucked up a past mission. Rogers then began to explain his plan about sabotaging Jack’s truck; that he had access to some explosives. It made Jason’s blood freeze. How the fuck did this guy pass the psych eval? He obviously wasn’t stable. He also wasn’t just a threat to Jack. He was a threat to Daniel, Sam, and … well, hell. If you got right down to it, the bastard was a threat to Stargate Command, the service, and the planet.
When Rogers began to outline how he’d sabotage his truck, Jason’s anger began to flame. He wished his cellphone had a way to record audio. He needed proof to take to Security. And then … what would happen? He’d be called in. Then regs and protocol would be observed. He might even be let go because Jason couldn’t flash card this conversation. Yes, he was leader of SG-2, and that gave him clout, but regs were regs. You didn’t go accusing an officer of something nefarious without proof.
As he listened, Rogers’ sabotage would be later that night, rigged so that when Jack drove home, the bomb would go off. If it didn’t kill him right off, the explosion would likely roll the vehicle, so Rogers planned to follow, just in case, and finish the job if he had to.
Jason wanted to kill him then and there, but he had to get rid of him legally. Which meant letting him go through with his plan. Which meant pretending he hadn’t heard. Grimacing, hating that he couldn’t just take the traitorous bastard out, Jason slipped out the main door. As he walked, he removed his gloves and ripped the flash card off his hands, depositing the latter in the nearest waste container. After he’d gone half the length of the short corridor, he turned around and headed back, putting both earphones in, and turning on some Led Zeppelin. He kept the volume low.
He purposely made a lot of noise as he brushed through the double swinging doors. Banging his locker door open, he grabbed the flash card and began to re-flash card his hands as if he’d just shown up. He had no intentions of lifting weights now but it had to look like he was. He needed the protection of his knuckles, just in case. By the end of the night, he planned to kill this sonofabitch. If it was necessary.
No one threatens his boyfriends.
Okay, that was a bit too personal, and an argument could be made for juvenile, but fucking hell.
As he finished one hand and began to flash card the other, the members of SG-22 rounded the end of the locker row, Rogers in the lead. Jason glanced up but ignored them as he bobbed his head to the music and continued to flash card the other hand. SG-22’s team members didn’t move away. They came straight for him. His frowned and took out an earbud, donning a curious expression. Rogers’ expression said he had to find out if he’d heard anything, but then his gaze fell upon the iPod and the earbud in Jason’s left hand.
“Something I can help you gentlemen with?” Jason asked, taking out the other ear piece, shutting off the iPod, and putting the earphones and device on the shelf in his locker. He pulled out the belt as he waited for a response.
“Excuse me,” Rogers said. “I didn’t know anyone else was in here.”
Jason took the two seconds he needed to sear their images in his mind. Rogers was maybe six-two, light brown hair, hazel eyes. Reddish marks on his face, as if he was suffering from alcoholism. Two others were around six feet tall, and the third was maybe five-ten. Dark hair and eyes for two of them. One’s eyes were set too close together. The shortest man had blond hair and blue eyes. Average-looking. Slight. Bradley, Jason guessed. He’d be the one Rogers picked on because he’d see him as weak: the perfect victim for bullying. He was also wincing, a hitch in his side, as if he’d pulled a stomach muscle. Or been hit.
“Just got here,” Jason told him tersely, letting Rogers know in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t there to waste time talking.
“Major Coburn, right?” Rogers asked, stopped about a yard away.
“Yep.” When no one added the obvious, Jason did it for them. “Leader of SG-2.” He peered hard at Rogers, as if he’d only just recognized him. “Rogers. SG-22. Haven’t been here long. Saw you on Level 11 this morning.” At the same time as the words left him, he also remembered the names of his teammates. He waved at the men behind him. “And Bradley, Stokes, and Clark. You folks get yourselves sorted? Quarters, uniforms, keycards?” His questions put Rogers on the defensive immediately, which is exactly what he intended.
“That’s right. Good memory. But we never spoke.” It was like an accusation.
Jason finished putting on the belt, then grabbed his iPod, earphones, and cellphone, and shut his locker. “Nope.” He started to move past, but the man put a hand on his arm. He didn’t grab, but it was an invasion of space anyway. Jason looked down at the hand, then eyed Rogers until he let go.
His manner was bizarre, even considering the planning of a murder. He was taking umbrage where no offense existed and that told Jason everything else he needed to know. The man was a hair trigger. Jason tilted his head back slightly, giving him a cold look. “Stand down, Rogers.”
“Despite your rank, you’re a newbie here, so let me give you a piece of advice.” He made sure that he could ditch the belt in a matter of half a second.
“You got some nerv—” Rogers began.
“I’m not going to ask where your defensive attitude is coming from because it’s probable you’ve had a bad day or maybe dinner hasn’t agreed with you. Either way, I don’t care. What I care about is this, and I’m only going to tell you this once more: Stand down. Is that understood?” He didn’t take his eyes off him. It would’ve been a mistake. Rogers was the type of man who’d blitz attack because he couldn’t take like Jason face-on and win. The moment Jason would turn his back, Rogers would attack because he was that weak.
His commanding words and stance took Rogers by surprise. The man stared at him, fear behind his eyes. And a growing rage.
Jason would’ve asked if the dumbshit understood, but it wasn’t necessary. It was only enough to stand there and wait for him to back down. He was purposely baiting him, wanting the man to take a swing at him. Of course, he could tell now that Rogers wasn’t going to. Instead, Rogers was assessing him. Inwardly, Jason laughed.
Rogers looked him up and down and sneered. “Understood, Major.” He didn’t say anything else and Jason didn’t ask for elaboration of the insinuated slur. Pity. He really wanted to put this man down. He watched the man and his teammates walk back the way they’d come and disappear out of the gym. Bradley was the last to leave and he cast a look back over his shoulder. It was almost a plea for help.
“Don’t worry, Bradley,” Jason murmured to himself. “I’ll get you reassigned.” He opened his phone and grimaced at the fact that he didn’t have any bars. “Fuck.” He put the belt back in the locker and locked up, then left the gym.
Thwarting a Terrorist
Jason made his way to Level 16 Security to check in with one person in particular.
“Hey, Major, what’re you doing here so late?” asked Carmichael, the tall female Sergeant on duty. Jason had liked the woman the moment he’d met her. She presented herself well. Her long blond hair was always up, braided tightly, and the rest of her appearance was always sharp and no-nonsense. She was gorgeous, which is why she refused to wear makeup, and her bearing made her strong. She’d spotted his weights for him on occasion as they’d worked out together in the weight room.
“It’s not that late, Cari,” he said with a grin. “I was going to lift weights but I got distracted. Have those security cameras in the parking level been fixed yet? The ones for the first row?”
She checked her material assignment roster. “Tomorrow, sir. We won’t get the new kits in until tomorrow.”
Jason didn’t bother to hide his noise of disgust. “Fuck. That shit needs to be done now. Will you please see to it that it gets done?”
“What’s going on?” Cari asked. She sensed something was wrong. Smart woman.
Jason had reservations about getting her involved but Security needed to know. It was something he had to report or Hammond would have his ass. However, he wanted to catch the prick before Jack got into his truck. Chewing at his lip, he thought about what actions to take, and it struck him that he’d need proof, not just his word.
Sighing, he said, “I need a camcorder and I won’t ask Daniel. I don’t want him involved.”
“Involved in what, sir?” she asked, becoming serious.
“I have reason to believe Colonel O’Neill’s truck is going to get tampered with, but I need proof.”
Carmichael’s eyes grew wide in disbelief. “What? Where’d you learn this?” She grabbed her report log clipboard.
He placed his hand over the clipboard. “It might have just been grandstanding, Sergeant. I need proof, as I said.”
“Even so, sir, you know the rules. You report anything untoward, so it can be logged in.”
“I just did,” he said, enunciating the words and giving her a smile.
She blinked. “Oh. Yeah. You did.”
“So, now you write it down. Make a note that I’m going to find proof so that it’ll be legit when I bring in whomever it is with charges.”
Carmichael crossed her arms and thought about it, then her face brightened. “A girlfriend in Research, Amanda, is one of Dr. Jackson’s assistants and she has an extra camera. It’s not in use at the moment, since she’s on vacation, but I can leave a note for her that we’ve borrowed it for security purposes.”
“I need it now, Cari.”
“Well, go get it now, Major.”
“You said ‘we’.”
She stood, reminding him that she was his height—another thing that made her unique in his eyes—and with her Security arm badge, she didn’t look like someone to mess with. “Yes, sir. You’ll need a member of Security with you.”
“Understood, but you can’t leave your post. Where’s Lieutenant Pederson?”
“Fixing a Securecam in science lab 4, sir. One of Major Carter’s people accidentally broke it.” Jason snorted and nodded while Carmichael grinned. Just then, Pederson entered and greeted Jason warmly.
“Major Coburn. How nice of you to grace us with your presence,” he said jovially, sticking his big paw out to shake Jason’s hand. Pederson was a bear of a man, and five inches taller. He packed away a great deal of muscle. Jason thought he fit his Northern European heritage rather well as he shook his hand.
“Adam. I need to borrow Sergeant Carmichael. Think you can handle things by yourself for a while?”
As was usual with Pederson, he had to tease Jason. He knew Jason’s orientation, just as Jason knew his, having run into one another in a club in Denver once upon a time … and long before Daniel. Giving a wink at Carmichael, he said, “You bring her back by curfew, sir, and you be a gentlemen, unless she tells you otherwise.”
“Fuck off, both of you. I’m standing right here,” Cari said, earning eyebrows from both officers. “You two started that sexist shit. I’m putting a stop to it. So unless you’d like me to file a different sort of report …?”
Pederson cleared his throat. “So, Major. What’s up? Why do you need to borrow my very capable and mean-ass Sergeant Carmichael?” He gave Cari a warning look and she grinned at him and threw him a salute.
“I overheard someone planning to sabotage Colonel O’Neill’s truck, so I need a camcorder to catch the perps. Cari’s helping, and she knows where to grab a camera.”
Pederson’s eyes went wide as he realized Jason was serious. “What? This needs to be report—” he began, going to grab the phone on the wall. Jason went over and stopped him.
“No, Pederson. Not yet. I need proof. Otherwise, it’s just hearsay bullshit. My word will only go so far and you know it.”
“Fuck me,” Pederson said. “Are you certain you couldn’t have mis-heard?”
Jason shook his head gravely. “And I can’t have it stand as just a standard report.”
Cari grimaced. “Writing it down now, sir,” she said and went to a clipboard to write as fast as she could.
“Fine,” Pederson said. “And I agree. Carmichael should go with you.” He went to a wire-mesh cage on the wall and opened it, taking down three IDF radios. “Tune to channel 24. I’ll monitor from this end. The standard range is thirty miles, even through concrete and steel, so there shouldn’t be any reason you can’t reach me.”
“Unless we get jammed,” Jason said, offhandedly.
Pederson blinked. “Are you serious? That’s professional, sir.”
“This man that I overheard, along with the men he’s bullied into helping him, is off his rails. But he got into this command somehow and I wouldn’t put it past our superiors to have done the favor of a senator or two. People like that tend to know criminal elements.”
“Where’d you work that out?” Cari asked, exchanging her clipboard for a radio.
“Experience,” Jason said. “And I can’t tell you anymore because it’s classified.”
Both Security members raised their brows, but they didn’t continue to ask questions. “Okay,” Pederson said. “Remember, channel 24. Turn them on the second you get to the parking level.”
“Gotcha,” Jason said, and by habit, he started to clip the radio to his uniform … and realized he hadn’t changed. “Shit. I need to stop at the locker room, Cari.”
“Okay. You want me to grab the camera and meet you there?”
“No, because the science lab is on 19. Lockers are on 25. Just stay there at 19 after you’ve grabbed the camera. I’ll ride up and stop to pick you up.”
“Done,” she said.
Jason said to Pederson. “Monitor the other cameras on the garage level in case they pick up anything. If it turns out we need help, you’ll need to notify the rest of the Security Forces, and, very likely, the infirmary.”
Pederson’s gaze narrowed. “No offense, sir, but maybe I should–“
Jason held up his hand and cut him off. “Cari knows where the camcorder is and I’m not risking more time to come back here, grab you, and wait for a replacement. We have to catch them in the act.”
Pederson groaned. “I knew those cameras should’ve been done immediately.”
“Right?” Jason said, as if that was obvious. Because it was.
“Do you expect something bad to happen, Major?” Pederson asked as they started to leave.
“I’m hoping to catch a group of terrorists, Lieutenant. It’s a safe bet something bad will happen. Hopefully, it won’t on me or Cari.”
“Keep your ears on,” Pederson said, waving the radio.
Jason nodded and he and Cari ran for the elevator two hallways away. Jason dropped her off, then went and changed back into his uniform. He still kept his phone with him, despite the radio. Clipping it to his tack vest, he headed back to meet Cari. Thankfully, she was waiting for him. And a little out of breath.
On the way up to Level 11, Cari grimaced. “Should’ve gotten you a sidearm, sir. We’ve only got mine.”
“Had to be a reason,” Jason said. “There isn’t a legit one without involving all of the SFs.”
“Point. We better get through this unscathed? I really don’t like you unarmed. Plus, there’s no telling what they’ll have if they also have a car bomb.” She ground her teeth. “That’s a terrorist’s weapon, sir. We should’ve told—”
“Yes, but after 9/11, exactly how much overkill did the military and the government go into?” Jason asked. “Yes, this kinda qualifies, but I need to make sure of this threat. If it turns into nothing and I’ve wasted time and resources?”
Cari grimaced angrily. “They’d demote you and send you to Siberia.”
“Hammond might not allow that, but I might lose my team. I can’t risk that. And it’s protocol, anyway, Cari.” She nodded. “Uh, by the way, given what we’re doing, and that we’re friends, go ahead and use Jason. We’re not in front of other personnel. Jack, Daniel, and our respective teammates notwithstanding.”
He grinned. She grinned. But inwardly, their nerves were jouncing.
Meanwhile, Jack & Daniel Have No Clue
Jack knocked on Daniel’s office door and entered when he heard Daniel call. He sat down in the chair next to Daniel’s desk, tipped his head back and closed his eyes. “I really hate paperwork,” he said wearily as he scrubbed his face with his hands. He raised his head then, blinked several times, then got up and stood behind Daniel as his lover peered at his computer screen.
He bent down, cheek nearly touching Daniel’s and grinned when he saw his lover’s face twitch. “Anything new?” he asked softly.
“No,” Daniel said in a tone that made his frustration obvious.
Daniel sighed and looked at Jack with the expression that clearly said he couldn’t focus with him right there. He did enjoy the attention and the flirting though, so he wasn’t really annoyed. Except that Jack’s lips were too temptingly close to his own. Jack looked down, at his mouth, and leaned in just a bit.
“Are you nuts?” Daniel asked softly, not moving.
“Obviously,” Jack replied.
“Stop doing that.”
“You don’t want me to kiss you?”
“Yes. But you didn’t lock the door.”
“So … no kiss.”
“What if I did it anyway?” Jack asked and moved so close that his lips were an eyelash away. “It’ll only take a second.”
Daniel opened his mouth. It was so tempting. Jesus. All he had to do was tip his head back. That’s all he had to do. His cock twitched and he groaned.
“You’re a pain in the ass,” he whispered.
“No, I’m not,” Jack told him, an evil grin forming.
“That’s not what I meant.”
“But it’s what I meant.”
“You have a one-track mind.”
“And you love me anyway.”
“Yes, I do, and I need to have my head examined.”
Jack grinned as if he had a secret, and Daniel couldn’t stop grinning back. “So…”
“I’m going up to the mess hall. Wanna come?”
Daniel stared at him, amazed at Jack’s ability to toss innuendo into everything. And he refused to smile about it. Barely. “I’ll assume you mean to eat.”
Jack’s expression turned wicked. “I was actually thinking of lots of slow, deep movements.”
“I hate you,” Daniel groaned.
“Daniel,” Jack whispered, parting his lips.
Daniel inhaled and whispered back, “You bastard.”
Jack kissed him. It was swift, with a tease of tongue. He suddenly stood up. “Hey, where’s Jason?”
“Fuck!” Daniel growled, and he picked up a binder and started hitting Jack with it.
Jack started laughing, grabbing the binder. “Come on. Let’s go get something to eat.”
“Can I start with your kidneys?” Daniel growled.
Daniel sat down with a bowl of cut strawberries and a pint of milk while Jack opted only for coke. Jack grinned at the dish. “I see the red. Don’t know what’s up with the white.”
Daniel ignored him. “Why’d you want to come here if all you wanted was a soda?” he asked as he mixed the milk and strawberries. “There’s a machine in the Officer’s Lounge.”
“Yes, but I needed a change of scenery, Daniel, and so did you.”
Daniel jogged his eyebrows in agreement. “I guess.” Spooning a few cut strawberries and cream into his mouth, Daniel asked, “Have you seen Jason?”
“No, but he wouldn’t leave without letting us know so he’s around somewhere, probably in the gym.”
“I called his office about fifteen minutes before you showed up but he wasn’t there, so you’re probably right.” Daniel had had his mouthful again and Jack was glaring at him. Swallowing, he asked, “What?”
Jack shook his head, giving up. He stole a strawberry and popped it into his mouth. “We can go join him,” he suggested.
“Good idea,” Daniel said. “I need to beat the shit out of something since you’ve wound me up.”
“Sorry,” Jack said, appropriately contrite. “It wasn’t fair. We’re not getting out of here tonight.”
Daniel sighed. “You have reports to do, I have a translation. Business as usual.”
“I didn’t sign on for this,” Jack groused as he stole another berry.
“You did, you just hate paperwork.”
“And you like paperwork?”
“Nope. But it doesn’t bother me as much as you. I’m used to doing it. Or rather, I used to be. What you’re doing is child’s play compared to applying for a research grant.”
Jack snorted. “Point taken.” He stole another strawberry and slowly sucked it into his mouth.
“Stop it,” Daniel said, pulling his dish out of reach. “And go get your own berries.”
Jack sighed. “Can we find a closet somewhere?”
Their conversation wasn’t loud enough to carry but it didn’t matter considering that there weren’t a lot of people around to hear.
“No,” Daniel drawled, sighing. “Unless you wanna visit in my quarters and have Security throw a fit.”
“There are way too many cameras on this base,” Jack grumped.
“And we’ll be glad when something bad happens,” Daniel said, his mouth full again.
“Finish that. Then let’s go harass Jason,” Jack told him, looking delighted at the prospect.
“Don’t even go there, either.”
“What,” Daniel mimicked. “What you’re thinking.”
“I’m not thinking that.”
“Not thinking what?”
Sighing, Jack said, “I can’t help it. I get all worked up when he works out.”
Daniel grinned and ate the last of the strawberries and followed it with the milk. “Let’s go, Jack. And behave yourself.”
Jack didn’t answer and Daniel shot him a warning look. “Jack.”
The Dangerous Foil
In the gym, there was no Jason. Both men frowned. “What the hell is the matter with him? Not telling us what he’s doing?” Jack asked as they left.
“We could go find his teammates, if they’re still here.”
“Maybe,” Jack said, twisting his mouth, thinking. “He might be visiting Security.”
Daniel raised a brow. “Why?”
“He has a friend there. Didn’t you know that?” Jack asked, surprised, as they got into the elevator.
“Oh, Cari?” Daniel asked. “Yeah, I knew that. I just don’t know why he’d be visiting. Besides, I thought … Oh.” He remembered that Security has the keys to the armory. Sometimes Jason went there to run inventory. “Never mind.”
Pederson turned in his chair, then shot out of it to stand at attention when Jack walked in, followed by Daniel.
“At ease, airman. Have you seen Major Coburn?”
Pederson looked them over, slightly alarmed. “There a problem, sir?”
“No,” Jack said, casually. “We needed a break. Thought to join him in the gym. Is he in the armory?”
“Oh,” Pederson said, relaxing. “No, sir. He took Sergeant Carmichael with him to investigate a possible vandalism threat on Garage Level A.”
“Vandalism?” Jack asked.
Pederson nodded. “He heard something but doesn’t want to raise the alarm if it doesn’t pan out. So Cari’s gone with him as a member of Security. Protocol.”
“They have their radios?” Jack asked.
“Yes, sir. Also protocol.”
“How long have they been gone?” Daniel asked.
“No more than ten minutes. They’ve probably just gotten to the garage level. You know how long it takes to get out of here.”
Jack grunted, looking at the security monitors for the enormous garage level that led out of the mountain. He frowned. “Lieutenant, why’s there a blacked-out screen?”
“Broken camera, sir. I asked for a new one, put in a rush order. Haven’t gotten it yet.”
Jack growled. “This is bullshit,” he said, flipping switches on the cameras to bring up areas of the garage.
“Yes, sir, it is.”
“Where were they going?”
Pederson winced. “Where the blacked-out camera is.”
Jack and Daniel exchanged a significant look. “You thinking what I’m thinking?” Daniel asked.
“Yeah, and we’re probably just being paranoid.”
“Probably,” Daniel said, frowning. “Keep looking.” He went to the other monitors, searching for movement. “Jack! There. They’re leaving the elevator.”
Onscreen, Jason and Cari were setting off. Jack frowned and looked at Pederson. “Why isn’t he armed?”
Pederson winced. “Pro—”
Jack held up a hand. “So help me, Pederson. If you say protocol …”
“I didn’t write it!” Pederson said, holding up both hands. “It’s my duty to follow it. If we start bending the rules, one day it’ll bite us on the ass. Sir.”
“And one day, it’ll save someone’s ass,” Jack growled back. “When a threat is investigated, arming yourself is authorized.”
“That’s not in the regs, sir.”
“No, it’s in my regs,” Jack said.
Meanwhile, Daniel followed Jason’s progress from one camera to another. And it suddenly dawned on him where he was going. “Jack?”
“He’s going to the section where we parked.”
Jack frowned even deeper and looked at Pederson. “Where exactly was he going? What exactly was the threat?”
Pederson sighed. “He said he heard someone threaten to place a bomb under your truck.”
“What?” Jack and Daniel said in stereo. “That’s a terror threat!”
“Yes, sir,” Pederson said, startled. “But if he raised the alarm and it didn’t pan out, you know what our over-zealous superiors would’ve done! It’s protocol to investigate first or heads roll!”
“Fuck,” Jack said, grabbing two radios. “Daniel, let’s go. Pederson, call Hammond on my authority.”
They got there just in time to hide behind a concrete column and film Rogers and his team place something underneath Jack’s engine. She’d expected brake tampering or something similar since Jason hadn’t elaborated on the type of threat but now she understood exactly why he’d chosen to call them terrorists.
After the bomb was placed, she and Jason put in the earplugs she carried, then waited a moment as she pressed the button for riot broadcast. The resulting squelch would echo in the garage and god help anyone in there.
The moment it went off, they came out of their hiding place. Approaching the four men holding their hands over their ears, Carmichael pulled out her sidearm and trained it on Rogers.
“Security! Stand to, gentlemen!”
A moment later, actions were blurred. Rogers was armed, and he wasn’t supposed to be. She cursed herself for sticking to the fucking regs. He went for his gun and Jason attacked swiftly, kicking it out of his hand. In the next blur, Clark was down, then Bradley and Stokes. All four men were groaning, half-aware, and Carmichael didn’t think they’d be faking it, which was her mistake when she looked away to watch Jason go for the hidden camera.
Movement from Rogers alerted her and she called out a warning. “Major Coburn, get down!”
Her eyes widened as Rogers’ hand flashed something metal and Jason was taken off guard as the knife was thrown. She fired, too late, and radioed her fellow Security and called for medics. Just when she started toward Jason, she was tackled from behind by Clark. Their weapons went off between them, killing him and wounding her. Stokes was on his feet, lifting his arm and pointing the gun he held, but Carmichael found her aim and fired. She watched him go down and then her vision grew blurry.
Almost to the Garage level, Jack and Daniel heard the emergency call from their radios. Soon after, the alarms went off, then the elevator opened. Their field training automatically kicked in and they bolted toward the sound of shots being fired. Jack had a bad feeling that worsened the moment he saw and recognized Jason’s prone body. “Check him!” he yelled, but he didn’t have to. Daniel was already running.
Letting Daniel see to Jason, Jack took Carmichael’s handcuffs and secured the only man from SG-22 who remained alive. Sergeant Cecil Bradley. He was unconscious, with a nasty boot-sized bruise forming on the side of his face. Jack shook his head grimly. Jason’s foot had connected with the cheek, not the jaw, or he’d have broken the man’s neck. Grabbing Carmichael’s radio, he called in.
“This is Colonel O’Neill. We need a medical team to the parking garage immediately.”
“How serious, Colonel?” came Janet’s voice.
“Carmichael has a thru-and-thru to the stomach. Don’t know about Major Coburn yet.”
“Bradley has a probable concussion, but no apparent internal injuries. There are three others, but they’re dead.”
“Roger that, Colonel,” Janet replied.
“Janet!” Daniel radioed. “Get up here quick! Jason’s got a knife in the back!”
His words sent chill ran down Jack’s spine as he ran over to join him. Jason lay partially on his stomach and there was blood pooling around the knife in his back. The blade wasn’t completely buried, but there was no telling how long the damn thing was. Jack saw, however, why Daniel was panicked. The blood was black.
“Look at the color, Jack.” Jack’s face became grim as they both tried to staunch the flow of dark blood around the blade, neither one attempting to remove it. Liver, Jack thought. Shit. Daniel’s face was a sheet of white and probably matched his own.
“Doc!” Jack called on the radio.
“Almost there, Colonel.”
But it took five minutes that felt like five years. Then there were echoing footfalls and gurney wheels rushing across the concrete. Janet saw to Jason while her Corpsmen saw to Carmichael and Bradley. Securing their patients didn’t take long and they were transported down with alacrity. The bodies of the dead men would be seen to by additional teams.
For a moment, Jason opened his eyes, recognizing the lights of one of the corridors as they whizzed past. “Wha?” he slurred and Janet grabbed his hand.
“We’re on the way to the OR, Jason.”
“Here,” Jack said.
Seeing Jack, Jason grabbed his hand. “Tr…uck… bomb…” was all he could get out before he fell unconscious.
“I’ll be back, Doc. Take care of him.”
“Jack?” Daniel asked, “Do you want–“
“Stay, Daniel. I’ll be back.”
He grabbed a few SF’s and went back to the Garage, checking the vehicles where the fight had taken place. It didn’t take long to find the bomb, set to the bottom of his engine block. A bomb disposal team was sent for and the SFs were forced to evacuate the garage, and that included sending Jack below. He made his way back downstairs, not knowing about the camcorder that had been left behind.
Daniel put on his game face and for the next several hours nothing seemed real for him until Jason came out of surgery. Bradley had made things worse during that waiting time by turning the situation around and placing the blame on Jason and Carmichael. It was worrying because those who didn’t know Jason and Carmichael might believe some of the poison that escaped the traitor’s mouth. It looked very bad.
In the waiting area outside of the OR, Daniel sat with Jack, Sam, Teal’c, and Jason’s teammates, with a few of Carmichael’s fellow SF’s standing nearby. None of them would leave until the surgeries were over. Daniel rubbed his tired eyes, sitting cold and stoned-faced, trying to prepare himself for the worst. Old self-esteem issues cropped up to combine with fatalism; he knew he was in shock, but it didn’t stop him from expecting bad news. Shit like this always ended in bad news.
Jack rubbed his shoulder, not saying anything, but Daniel knew that Jack could tell what was on his mind. At that moment, Hammond came down the hall and gestured Jack to follow him into Janet’s office.
Once inside, Hammond shut the door and took a good look at Jack. “How long has it been since you had any sleep?”
“I’m not tired, sir.”
“One look tells me otherwise, Jack.”
Sighing, Jack said, “Right. I’m not leaving till I find out what Jason’s condition is.”
Hammond gave Jack another long look. “I won’t discourage you or anyone in this command from making close friendships, but you have to step back a moment during the crisis so that Sergeant Bradley’s accusations can be dealt with.”
Jack ground his jaw. “Understood, sir.”
“Now, according to that… Sergeant… he and his team found Major Coburn planting a bomb on your vehicle.”
“You and I both know he’s lying, sir.”
“And you’d be correct, Colonel. I’ve launched a full investigation to get to the heart of the matter.”
“Sir, we know the truth.”
“At present, we don’t know anything, Jack. Major Coburn and Sergeant Carmichael are the only other witnesses and we’ll have to wait until they’re able to give their statements before anything can be corroborated. The investigation team will, in the meantime, go over all other available evidence.”
“Right now, sir, the only evidence is Lieutenant Pederson’s log. It only shows what Carmichael wrote down.”
“Only that they were investigating a possible vandalism threat, Jack, not what the nature of that vandalism was.”
“Sir, I don’t believe for an instant that Major Jason Coburn was planting a bomb on my truck. Carmichael’s presence, as a member of the security detail, was clearly an indication that they were there to catch someone doing something illegal and that something was planting a bomb.”
“Bradley’s statement says otherwise.”
“Which you know is wrong, sir.”
“My personal feelings agree with you, Colonel, but I can’t go by them. I have to follow procedure.”
Jack sighed. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. It was Lieutenant Pederson.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, General. Colonel.”
“What is it, Lieutenant,” Hammond asked.
“Sir, I’ve checked the log and there’s no recovery of the camera.”
Jack and Hammond stared at him in confusion and hope. “What camera?” Jack asked.
“Major Coburn said he wanted to film what was going on for evidence.”
Jack looked down at his feet, grinning. “Bastard was thinking ahead.”
“Lucky for him, Colonel,” Hammond stated. “Where’d he put the camera, Lieutenant?”
“I have no idea. Carmichael borrowed one from a friend in the science division. Security cameras for that row are out of order and I think that’s what the perps were using against us. Major Coburn said he overheard someone plotting to take out Colonel O’Neill. He wanted to film them in the act. He and Carmichael took two radios and headed for the surface. He wanted to make sure he got proof before Cari … er, Carmichael sounded the Security alarm. Which she did. So, in my opinion, they found proof. The fact that Bradley is saying otherwise, and there’s an investigation, says to me that the camera hasn’t been recovered.”
“Did Major Coburn say who the perpetrators were?” Hammond asked.
“No, sir. He wouldn’t make the accusation until he had proof.”
“Smart man,” Hammond said.
“We need that camera,” Jack said. “I’ll need to go up top to search for it.”
“Can’t go up until it’s been cleared, Colonel,” Hammond said.
“Then have the EOD boys look for it,” Jack suggested.
Hammond nodded. “Pederson, pass along the message. I’ll need your written report and statement from you later.”
“Sir, if it helps, I can vouch for Sergeant Carmichael and Major Coburn.”
“Do so in a separate statement, Lieutenant. Make the call.”
“Yes, sir.” He handed Hammond a stack of papers. “As for the report and statement, it’s already done.”
“Thank you, airman.”
“Have you heard anything yet on Sergeant Carmichael or Major Coburn?”
“No word yet, Lieutenant,” Jack answered. “Find that damn camera.”
“Yes, sir.” The man left. The minute that camera was found, Jack planned on shoving a copy of the film down Bradley’s throat.
It took a few more hours of waiting, with a nurse popping out every once in a while to update that things were progressing well. Finally, Janet and Warner emerged, removing their masks, and looking quite tired. Everyone sitting was on their feet except Daniel. Janet looked down at him, noting the redness.
“Doc?” Jack asked.
“He’ll be fine,” she told him. “He’s not out of the woods but he’s stable. The knife nicked his liver. With rest and rehab, he’ll make a full recovery in a month or so.”
“And Cari?” Daniel asked as Jack helped him to his feet.
“Sergeant Carmichael got the worst end of it and she’ll need longer rehabilitation. The bullet perforated her lower intestine and we had to repair a lot of damage. Neither will be in any shape to give their statements for at least forty-eight hours, so I order all of you get some sleep.”
“Goes for you both as well, Doctor,” Jack said. “I’ll tell Hammond.”
If it weren’t for Jason being surrounded by medical personnel over the next ten hours, Daniel would have snuck his way into ICU to be with him, but Janet and Hammond were right. He needed sleep. Trouble was, he didn’t know if he could. In his quarters, he sat on the edge of his bunk, staring at nothing, and absently noted Jack’s presence as he entered and locked the door. He walked tiredly over to the stiff figure of his lover and sat down next to him. Daniel didn’t bother to look up; he stared at his hands hanging limply between his knees and Jack recognized the body language.
“He’ll be fine.”
Daniel nodded, as if expected to. “Did you hear me?”
“C’mere,” Jack said, and Daniel collapsed into him, turning his face to Jack’s chest, his lips brushing Jack’s dog tags. He inhaled deeply but said nothing.
“I feel numb.”
“I’ll have a fit later. They find the camera yet?”
“I don’t know.”
“Go get some sleep,” Daniel said, pulling away. “Thanks for the hug though.”
“Okay but come get me. Or I’ll come get you.”
He left and Daniel found a tiny smile because what Jack said made no sense. Or … did he. Maybe they just needed some slee …
Janet knocked on Daniel’s door and waited. A moment later, Daniel opened the door, sleepy-eyed, but the moment he saw Janet, his heart started to hammer.
“He’s out of ICU, so you can go see him.”
“Is he awake?”
“Isn’t that bad?”
“No. He lost a lot of blood. Even with the transfusions, it’ll take time. He’s basically sleeping off the repair work his body is doing. He’s in rem sleep though, not just unconscious, so relax. He’ll wake up in a few hours.”
Jack found Daniel in Jason’s recovery room, sitting in a chair by the bed, snoozing. He grinned sadly, then tapped him on the arm. “Daniel.”
“Hmm?” Then Daniel sat up straight, alarmed. “What?”
“Shh,” Jack said. He held up the camera. “Let’s go show this to Hammond.”
Daniel got up, wobbled, then got his bearings and followed Jack out of the infirmary. In the elevator, he asked, “You look at it yet?”
“No. Not yet.”
“Because I’m too close to the bastard left alive.”
Jack got on the phone in the elevator. “Sir. I have the camera. Could you meet us in Carter’s lab? She’s got the bigger viewscreen that takes this sort of flash card.” He nodded. “Yes, sir.” He hung up and pressed the Level 19 button.
“Sam’s?” Daniel asked. “Jack, the briefing room—”
“Is public,” Jack said, clenching his jaw. “I don’t want anyone but us, Hammond, Carter, and Teal’c to see this first.”
“Why? Security will need—”
“Yes, but I want us to see it first.”
He had been looking away from Daniel, staring straight ahead, but now he turned his gaze to him. Daniel saw the raw emotion there. “What’re you afraid of seeing?” he asked quietly.
“Everything,” Jack answered just as quietly. “But that isn’t the point. I’ll tell you when we get there.”
Knocking on her lab door, they found Sam tinkering with something she didn’t look particularly interested in. Or more likely it was a case of needing a distraction from her wanting to beat the shit out of Bradley. She’d heard the crap that the Sergeant had been laying on anyone who’d listen.
“Keeping busy?” Jack asked.
“It helps,” she answered, sitting up straighter as he walked over. “How’re you two doing?”
“About as you’d expect,” Daniel said darkly.
She nodded, then her eyes widened when she saw what Jack was holding. “Is that?”
“Yeah. Listen, can you make a quick copy of this flash card?” he asked, ejecting it from the camcorder.
“Oh,” Daniel said. “That’s why Sam’s lab and not the briefing room.” Jack nodded.
“Where do I copy it?” Sam asked, taking the flash card.
“Your computer, and then make several backups.”
“Why copies? Are you afraid this will get tampered with?”
“Those men got on this base with help, Carter. A senator. Someone. We need to make sure whoever did that doesn’t get a hold of the only copy of the incriminating evidence. After you make the copies, we’ll play back the record. The investigations team should be here soon to clear Jason and Carmichael.”
“Has Hammond seen the film?”
“No. He’s on his way here.”
“Crap,” she said.
“You need more time?” he asked.
“No, no.” She pulled up a few windows on the computer, then inserted the card into a slot on a computer peripheral. She pulled up a few windows and began to copy. “We can play it back while it’s copying,” she said, and pulled up the software to hide the copying windows.
Hammond entered. “Okay, Colonel. Major. What’ve we got?”
“Let’s find out,” Jack said. “Carter.”
Sam clicked ‘play’. The camera wobbled as it caught four men by Jack’s truck. Jason’s voice said, “We are watching members of SG-22 by the vehicle of Colonel Jack O’Neill.”
When the object was placed under Jack’s truck, Jason and Carmichael revealed themselves and Cari set off the alarm system for a lockdown. According to the SF, Jason had set it down on the ground by a concrete pillar. What it captured next were the lower halves of the bodies of everyone involved. It caught Jason’s moves, and gunfire. It showed Jason moving to the left and a glint of metal whizzing by.
Jack and Daniel blanched at Jason’s wincing face as the knife pierced his back and he slumped to the ground. Just barely in view, Carmichael was heard dispatching the others before she was taken down.
Silence filled the room as Janet’s team showed up, then left, then more Security showed up, then left. For several minutes, there was nothing, so Sam forwarded over the rest of the recording, showing emergency MOD and then nothing but empty garage.
“That appears to be all of it, sir,” she said as the recording ended. She handed the camera, with digital card, to Hammond. He nodded, still in shock, like everyone else.
So no one, not even Jack, noticed the murderous look in Daniel’s eyes or the fact that he was no longer in the room.
Four days earlier, SG-6 had returned from a mission with an incubator of live Goa’uld symbiote larvae. Daniel knew where they were being kept and he also knew the access code into the room. They were only one connecting corridor away from the infirmary wards. He took one and placed it in specimen jar, then covered it with an insulating sheath meant for cold storage.
Moving with determination, he strode quickly for the ward that Bradley was being held in. The SFs never had reason to suspect him of violence so they didn’t stop him when he came into the room. Before they realized something was up, Daniel jumped onto Bradley’s bed and straddled the man, trapping his arms beneath his knees.
“What the fuck!” Bradley screamed. “Help!”
A millisecond after, the SF’s had their guns on him.
“Get away from him, Doctor Jackson!”
“Shoot him! He’s as crazy as that bastard he’s screwing!”
“Am I?” Daniel asked and uncovered the jar. He reached into it and pulled out the larva, which began screeching. At that moment, Jack and the others came running into the room, sliding to a halt at the sight of guns being trained on Daniel, not the bad guy.
“Stand down, airmen!” Jack yelled. “Daniel, that means you, too!”
“We can’t do that, sir!” one of the airmen said.
Daniel didn’t look at him, but he could just imagine the look on Jack’s face. He knew Jack would be pissed off later, that he was scared as hell now, but Daniel shamelessly didn’t care about either. All he gave a damn about was getting the insufferable bastard in his grasp to tell the goddamned truth. There was the recording, yes. But a confession would work too.
“Neither can I, Jack. Not until this fucker recants the lies.”
Jack stepped forward, nearing the bed. “Daniel, think about what you’re doing.” He dreaded the self-recriminations that would come later, but one thing was for certain. Daniel would get shot. “Stop what you’re doing! Do you want to get shot?” He stepped in front of the SFs, holding out his arms. “Don’t shoot him!”
“Get out of the way, sir!”
“Stand down!” Hammond ordered as he entered the room. The SFs backed off, but they didn’t holster their sidearms. “Doctor Jackson, we have the tape. This action of yours won’t do anyone any good. Right now, I can excuse it. Do anything else, and I won’t be able to.”
To Daniel, their voices were muffled and far away. He glared maliciously down into Bradley’s face as he held the snake over the man’s face. Bradley tried to shriek but nothing came out but gasping air.
“This is the face of your real enemy, Bradley. A Goa’uld symbiote. It’s immature but it will still invade a host. If you don’t tell the truth now, and back up the film we recovered, the next host of a symbiote is going to be you. Now talk!”
Jack looked at Hammond and shook his head. “He won’t,” he mouthed, making sure Bradley couldn’t see him. Just in case he looked over … instead of staring in horror at the symbiote.
Bradley pissed himself, staring at the whitish transparent snake screeching at him with its four-fanged mouth. “Okay! Okay!” It was the scariest thing he’d ever seen. He hadn’t even seen an adult symbiote yet and at that moment, he never wanted to.
“Okay what?” Daniel yelled back.
“It was us!” he screamed. “I tried to talk Major Rogers out of it but he and the others forced me to go along, said I’d end up on the wrong end of a rape if I didn’t! So, I went along! I’m sorry! Rogers did the whole thing! I’m sorry I lied! Please, take that thing away!”
“And what about the other lies?”
“I’m sorry, yes! I made them up! You’d do the same if you were scared!”
“No,” Daniel said calmly. “I’d sooner kill myself.”
“They’re gonna kill me now!” Bradley’s voice sounded almost like the symbiote’s. Harsh and screechy. Not as high-pitched… but damn close.
“Not with the guards you’ll have,” Hammond glowered from the doorway.
Daniel moved carefully off the bed, holding the symbiote away from his body. He put it back into the jar and covered it. Then an SF walked up behind Daniel, pulled his hands behind his back, and cuffed him.
“General! What the he—” Jack said, alarmed.
Hammond gave Jack a stern look. “It’s procedure, Colonel. Don’t waste your breath arguing about it.”
“It’s okay, Jack,” Daniel told him.
“The hell it is,” Jack muttered. He followed Daniel to the holding cell, resisting the urge to growl the whole way. “You didn’t need to do that. We had the video.”
Daniel sat down on the bunk and scooted back to lean against the wall. “Just making sure there would be no doubt,” he said. He then allowed himself to look at Jack.
His eyes were the brightest blue Jack could ever remember seeing. “You dumbshit.”
“No one fucks with my friends.”
Jack sighed, nodding with both understanding and acceptance. He closed the door and sat down in a chair he pulled up next to the bunk, lacing his fingers together as he sat forward. “You gonna be okay in here? It may be a while.”
Daniel closed his eyes. “I’ll be fine, Jack. Go check on Jason for me, okay?”
“Already planned on it,” and Jack paused before getting up to leave. “Daniel, this stunt you pulled is going to haunt you.”
A shadow crossed Daniel’s eyes, but his expression did not change. “No, it won’t. Only my record.”
Jack regarded him carefully, then nodded. “I’ll be back in a while when you’re released. It won’t be too long.”
When Jack opened the door, Daniel stopped him. “Jack?”
He turned to look at him and Daniel’s face softened somewhat but his eyes remained bright.
“I’m not sorry.”
Five hours later, the door to Daniel’s cell was opened and a very irritable, and relieved, Jack walked in. Daniel sat up and blearily looked at his lover.
“How’s Jason?” he asked.
“Come on,” Jack said gruffly. “You’re released. The asshole investigation team finally decided to show up and now this is all quickly put to bed. It’s all over.”
“Jack, how’s Jason?”
“Go see for yourself,” Jack answered crisply.
Daniel sprung to his feet. “Is he awake?”
Jack shrugged. “How the hell would I know? I haven’t been able to see him because I’ve been rather busy trying to get your crazy ass out of lock-up.” Jack didn’t look worried, so that told Daniel that Jason was okay. But he did look rather … pissed off.
“I’m sorry,” he said, coming up to him.
“You’re welcome,” Jack said sarcastically.
“Thank you,” Daniel said dutifully. He gave him grateful look as he walked past but paused to lay a hand on his lover’s arm. “I want to get some of Jason’s things from his apartment first, since he’s not going anywhere for a while.”
“I figured as much. You’re already cleared.”
Jason’s Team Has A Problem
By the time Daniel returned, dressed in his civilian clothes, he found that Jason had already been awake for a while and was talking to Jack and General Hammond, giving his account of what had happened with SG-22. Dropping a few of Jason’s bags on the floor, Daniel leaned against the corridor wall to wait.
Next to him were Jason’s teammates. They stared at the civilian duffle bag and knapsack they recognized as Jason’s and Alex Wagner gave Daniel a scrutinizing look. It didn’t look cordial. Alex was your basic Teutonic type, with blond hair and angular facial features. His eyes were brown instead of blue, but he had a bow-curved upper lip that was almost chiseled, and it let a person know what he was feeling. Daniel read disapproval in the thin line.
“What is it?” Daniel asked.
“Why do you have copies of his keys, Daniel?” Alex asked suspiciously.
Daniel gave Alex an amused look and spoke slowly, as if the information he was giving him were something any idiot would know. “Because he’s my Best Friend, Alex.”
“I thought that was Colonel O’Neill,” Alex stated, his voice getting a bit edgier. Sergeant Connor McCaffrey laid a hand on his arm, silently asking Alex to calm down but the Captain shrugged it off. Connor was fully Irish and had the Celtic strain from Northern Scotland instead of an Ionic strain from western Europe: reddish-brown hair, very fair skin, and a muddy green for eye color. There weren’t any freckles, but Daniel would lay a bet they’d been there when he was a kid.
Daniel didn’t miss the protective stance. He understood, but it gave him no right to take it out on others, especially Jason’s best friend. And Daniel was in no mood for coddling this behavior. “Haven’t you ever had two best friends, Alex?” he asked, attempting to keep this civil.
“Maybe,” Alex replied evasively.
“Maybe,” Daniel repeated as his anger rose. “Well, maybe you want to back off. Maybe there’s absolutely no reason for you to be judging Jason’s friendships.” He walked up to stand confrontationally in front of the man. “If you don’t approve, I suggest you deal with it.”
“Maybe we should discuss this with Major Coburn,” Alex threatened.
Daniel raised his chin. “Okay.”
Alex’s brows knotted and he was literally startled when Al Kaufman laid a hand on his shoulder. The dark-haired man cocked an eyebrow. “You might wanna take a deep breath,” he advised.
Daniel noticed the squeeze of his fingers on Alex’s shoulder. A warning. Maybe Al was telling Alex he wasn’t going to win the argument. The man had dark brown hair and eyes, tanned easily, but his skin was pale. He wasn’t a sun lover. Al’s Jewish heritage said he should have been—in Daniel’s anthro-tinged opinion. Coming from an arid region, his ancestors should have been darker complexioned. And they weren’t. It told Daniel that he was from the European strain of Jews.
Lieutenant Al Kaufman, the guy usually in charge of security as well as combat tactics, had been assigned to SG-2 because Jason knew him as someone with a binary mind. He saw patterns in everything. Useful when helping Connor with an attempt at deciphering a code or a language they’d never seen. Although most of the time, they’d just film it and hand it off to Daniel—who’d then do it himself or hand it off to support staff.
Despite the tension currently, Daniel rather liked Jason’s teammates. He just didn’t like Alex’s attitude at the moment. It was highly likely, if his intuition was right, that Alex didn’t like the rumors that Bradley had spread about Daniel and Jason. The fact that the rumor was true was beside the point. What was pertinent, to Daniel, was that the rumor was being used as a slur, and it pissed Daniel off. He knew it made Jack just as angry, but the man was more used to the auto-reflex of denial and to go along with the sneers and jeers. Daniel couldn’t wait for the fucking laws to change. Sooner or later, they would. But would they still be at the SGC when they did?
His thoughts were interrupted when Jason’s infirmary door opened and Jack and Hammond exited. “He wants to see you,” Jack told him as Hammond disappeared with several papers in hand.
“He give his statement?” Daniel asked.
“Yep. All stuff’s settled,” Jack said happily.
“Not quite,” Daniel said, his tone made of steel.
Jack arched a brow. “What’s up?”
“Daniel?” Jason called. “Get in here!”
Daniel gave Jack one of those looks that said, ‘Just a sec.’ “Hang on, Jace,” Daniel called back, looking at Jason from the hallway. He turned to Jason’s teammates and gestured that they follow him in the room. As they filed in, Daniel came last, and he paused in the doorway. Jason was giving him that “What the hell?” face. Daniel grabbed the door handle and said, “You need to have a talk with your boys. I’ll wait out here.”
“What?” Jason asked.
Daniel shut the door.
“Okay, what’s going on?” Jack demanded, but quietly.
“It seems that Alex doesn’t like that I have Jason’s keys. That I can freely come and go in his apartment. He particularly hated that I brought Jason a duffle filled with clothes and stuff to keep him occupied while he’s stuck here.”
Jack frowned. “So … what? He hates that Jason has a best friend?”
“Apparently,” Daniel said, “Alex thinks it should be him. At least, that’s the vibe I got. I hope he figured that out and gives them, him, a boot in the ass.”
Jack grunted and said nothing.
“Not to mention the fact that they’re viewing that rumor Bradley is spreading about me and Jason.” Daniel growled deep in his throat and he gave Jack a warning glare.
“What’s with the look?” Jack asked.
“Making our relationship into a negative, as if it’s perverted or a crime.” Daniel’s lip curled. “Fucking homophobic people around here, man. I am so goddamn sick of this DADT and other horseshit! When the fuck are they going to accept that—”
“Daniel!” Jack interrupted.
Daniel realized he was yelling and that anyone within hearing distance will have just assumed he was confirming the slur report from Bradley. “Fuck,” he said under his breath, enunciating the F and K.
Jack sighed and leaned against the wall, crossing his arms. “I know. But until those regs are changed …”
Daniel made fists. “I need to go hit something.” He crossed his arms instead and leaned against the wall next to Jack. But his hands were still balled into fists. All he needed was one asshole to make a nasty comment and he’d earn a reprimand or worse because he’d deck that person.
After the door closed, Jason considered the look in Daniel’s eyes. The slow blink meant “I love you.” A secret message to each other. Jack hadn’t done it, but that was only because it wasn’t his way. But what Daniel’s blink had also meant was no matter what Jason chose to say or do, he had his back. Which also meant that there was something seriously wrong with his team.
So, it was time for a process of elimination. First, they were worried. Not a problem there. Second, they were overprotective. Not exactly a problem there, but it was probably a correlation. Third, they’d actually listened to the stuff Bradley was saying, turning a non-situation into a threatening accusation: being gay equals bad and a crime, so if what he said was true, they wouldn’t like their commander anymore and they’d just as soon frag him. Or on a lesser charge, they’d be disappointed and lose their commander.
Of all the things to consider, Jason would have chosen the second option. But. Daniel had given him a look. Which meant it was the third option. So which part of the third option was he facing here? Hatred or disappointment? Either one was sickening. It meant they were afraid of gay men. Threatened by gay men. It was irrational, dysfunctional, and professionally, it created a life-threatening situation and could not be tolerated. But the level of that bigotry depended on whether they would turn their back on him or they would be willing to have their minds changed.
But. That depended on whether or not Jason would tell them that the “accusation” was true. Right now, he couldn’t. He didn’t like having to make that choice. It was heinous, that order. The entire basis of DADT: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, was to force men to lie. To dishonor themselves. Those who demanded strict adherence to DADT were therefore untrustworthy to a point—depending on the person. Hammond, for example. He was trustworthy, but only to a point, and Jason hated that Hammond too was forced into that position. So. It was one of two options, and either way, he had to lie. Well, not lie. He would neither confirm nor deny. Which was the cheater’s version of a lie. Another dishonor. What he had to discover right now which way his men were going to be: one said to give them a bit of trust and hoped they earned it. The other was to issue transfer requests for these men he thought he could trust.
Jason had been thinking all of this while studying these three people. McCaffrey looked worried. Al looked guilty. And Alex looked … belligerent. And accusatory. Fuck.
“Okay,” Jason said. “We don’t need to have a conversation about why you’re in here. Or rather, why Daniel made a point of having me talk to you.”
“It’s not a big—” Alex began.
“Shut. Up.” Jason said it simply, stoically, and raised his voice just a tiny bit. They way you would when you needed to talk over someone as you interrupted them. The response was a mutinous look from his 2IC. Not argumentative. Mutinous. Jason narrowed his eyes. “Do you want to be busted down to Second Lieutenant, Captain Wagner?”
Alex blanched. “What? No, sir.”
“Then get that treasonous look off your face. I tell you to shut up, you shut the fuck up. Do you understand, or do you want me to say it louder, for everyone outside that door to hear?” One thing Jason had made clear a long time ago was that whatever strife was had between team members, they would keep it in-house. Now he was threatening to violate that agreement, which meant he was fucking serious.
“I understand,” Alex said, looking aggrieved and properly chastised. It was plain that he didn’t like it, but the mutinous look was off his face.
“The next thing on the agenda here,” Jason went on, keeping his tone no-nonsense but mild in volume, “is to tackle the gay rumor that Bradley has been spreading. So, I have a question. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell be damned. Do I need to tell you whether or not I’m gay, and if I’m fucking Doctor Daniel Jackson?” The blatant, in-your-face question startled his teammates, which is what he wanted. Jason waited a few heartbeats, then said, “Or, do I need to tell you that I’m straight and fucking a bunch of whores in Nevada?”
Again, they were startled. To Jason, that second question was less of a shock. Or rather, it had less impact. He was saddened to see it on the faces of the men he trusted to have his back. “I don’t want an answer,” he told them. He waited, watching them for two seconds, before saying, “I need an answer.”
“No matter how our answer is phrased?” Connor asked.
Jason nodded. “I don’t care what you say. I want you to be honest with me.”
“Then, no,” Connor said, raising his chin. “I don’t want or need you to answer either question. You’re my commander and my friend. We have a bond. I watch your back, you watch mine. We have our opinions, we have our own minds. But we keep each other safe. So, with that out of the way, who you love, or fuck, is none of my business, just as it’s none of yours about my relationship with my wife. What I don’t like is Bradley trying to get you into trouble.”
Jason nodded, giving him a tight smile. “Appreciated.” He looked at Al and Alex and waited.
Al twisted his mouth in thought as he looked at the floor. “I agree with Connor. He said it well. I have a religion which says being gay is a sin, but I’ve come to the conclusion that those so-called abominations in the Old Testament are antiquated and obsolete. All but one are ignored by every single Jew and Christian, so to bring it up as an excuse to hate is offensive to me.” He paused, then looked Jason in the eye. “I don’t like DADT. It’s a dishonorable thing to force people to lie because of some outdated bullshit belief. We live in a secular country. Or we’re supposed to live in one. To place a bigoted rule based on the Old Testament in our UCMJ is sickening. And …” He frowned. “If you are gay …” He shrugged. “No need for me to be a dick about it. I don’t care. However, I’m wondering if it’s something we should know in order to protect you.”
Jason stared at them both, and his worry about their faith in him made him feel ashamed. But when someone found out that someone else was gay, normally upstanding men and women could turn into monsters. The shame didn’t last long because his worry was justified. “Appreciated,” he repeated to Al. Now, it was Alex’s turn. He seemed to dig his heels in, metaphorically speaking. His jaw was stubborn. “Okay, Alex. Captain Wagner. Are you going to have my back, or will you turn on me? And get that look of outrage off your face right now. I know that family of yours taught you a lot of bad thinking, and you never bought into any of it. But there are still some knee-jerk reactions you have yet to conquer.”
“I won’t turn on you,” Alex said after a silent minute. He kept grinding his jaw. “But … can we drop the ranks?”
“For fuck’s sake, Jason,” Alex said quietly. “If you’re gay, why the fuck don’t you tell us so that when some dumbfuck comes along to threaten you, we can easily and quickly make sure you’re safe?”
“By cow towing to the weak-minded who’ll believe anything anyone says the moment ‘gay’ or ‘fag’ is in the rumor?” Jason asked, sarcastically.
“We have no fucking choice, and you know it. My sister’s girlfriend got booted because she turned down the wrong guy and he went around telling people she was a lesbian. Hearsay gets people canned. It ain’t fair, but that’s the world we work and live in. So, if you’re gay, fucking tell us.”
“Jason, don’t say a word,” Connor said. To Alex, he went on and said, “He doesn’t have to.” He scowling at him ferociously. “For the same reason you don’t have to tell him who you’re fucking.”
“Are you into golden showers?” Al asked, abruptly shocking everyone by the suddenness. “Have a penchant for BDSM? Like to get spanked?”
“Exactly,” Connor said, nodding a thank you at Al. “Alex, we don’t need to know. He doesn’t need to know. Period.”
Alex frowned back. It was clear to Jason that he’d started to get angry, but then that umbrage had cooled the moment Al made his point. Now the frown denoted thoughtfulness. “Okay. I see what you’re saying.” He gave Jason a pleading look, however. “But, fuck. I can’t get it out of my head that you should’ve told us. If you are, I mean. I think we need to have all the info we need in order to … have each other’s backs.” He glanced at Connor and Al and cleared his throat before turning back to Jason. “For example, if one of us decided to smoke some pot, we’d have to tell you, wouldn’t we? Just to make sure our asses were covered and you wouldn’t be hit with a shock?”
“Frankly, I don’t give a shit if you smoke pot. Crack, I have a problem. Coke and heroine, I have a problem. Those three things are addictive. Pot isn’t. Addiction causes problems with the dynamic of the team. If a craving causes someone’s reflexes to slow down. Or if taking a bunch of amphetamines makes you jumpy and you shoot a friendly. Those are things I can’t condone. And smoking pot on duty. We have dangerous jobs and our ability to do them can’t be compromised. Regardless, Alex, I see your point. Now you know mine, where drugs are concerned.”
“Point,” Alex said with a nod.
The group was quiet for a very long half-minute. “All that said,” Jason began. “I will say that Daniel and I have a close friendship. Been that way since Kheb. He also has a close friendship with Colonel O’Neill, and I’m coming to know him well, too. Does having a close friendship mean we’re all sleeping together?” To his relief, and slight guilt, his teammates snorted with incredulity. “So. We good?” He received nods. “Okay. Now, send my boyfriends in here.” That made them laugh.
“Heads up,” Jack said as Jason’s team emerged from his hospital room. They seemed … upbeat. Alex walked over to Daniel as Al and Connor kept going down the hall.
“I’m sorry, Daniel. I didn’t mean any disrespect. Neither did Al and Connor. We were just upset about his attack.” He nodded to Jack, then hurried off to join his teammates.
Daniel chewed at his lip. “Maybe Jason pulled a Psych 101 number on them.” Jack snorted as the both of them entered the infirmary room.
Jason was feeling a bit of pain as Daniel and Jack walked in. They came to the bed and wanted very much to grab their hands and absorb their strength.
Jack cleared his throat and spoke first. “How’d you straighten out your team?”
Jason sighed and closed his eyes. “I explained that being gay didn’t mean shit. And I don’t owe them an answer. I said if they couldn’t handle that, then I couldn’t trust them to have my back.”
“Just like that?” Daniel asked.
“Just like that.”
“Seriously?” Jack added.
Jason grimaced and nodded. “You’re in pain,” Daniel said, going to the door.
“Hang on,” Jason said. “I only just pushed the pain button. But I think I need an added dose of Tylenol, so yeah, Daniel. Go see a nurse and ask?”
“But how’d it go with them?” Daniel asked, staying put. “Alex seemed to be offended by the accusation, and it really pisses me off that it’s called an accusation.”
“I know. Alex tends to shoot from the hip. React first, think later. He doesn’t really have a phobic bone in his body and he’s like the others who’re fairly decent guys. It’s that phobic shit drilled into him and he needed to be educated. I didn’t confirm, nor did I deny. DADT. But I didn’t mention that. They just needed to judge me by my actions, not by what a terrorist wants them to think. And I told them you’re my friends. If they think that means ‘boyfriends,’ that’s their problem.” He sighed heavily. “I’m sick and tired of this shit.”
Jack snorted quietly, but it wasn’t in fun. “Tell me about it.”
“Alex apologized,” Daniel told him.
“I heard, and I’m glad.”
“Now all you need to worry about is healing,” Daniel said. He leaned over, brushing Jason’s hair out of his eyes, using it as an excuse to touch his face. He blinked slowly and Jason blinked back. “Would it be too much if I said I love you right now?” he whispered.
“No. Because I love you back, both of you,” Jason whispered in return, then coughed and winced in pain. “Shit.” Jack handed Daniel the water cup filled with ice chips and Daniel gave Jason a few. “Dammit. I was hungry, but now my stomach has taken a backseat. I need Janet.
Oh, and Jack … about Rogers … I saw his name on your clipboard when I saw them checking in on Level 11. There was something about him I did not like but I let it go, telling myself I was probably being resistant. You know how we get about newbies. Whoever sent him here used whatever it was that prick had against you as a means to an end. I don’t know what it is but it’s bad. We need to tighten up security and triple-check the psych evals. Hell, I’d just as soon have the FBI send us a profiler.”
Daniel snorted, but Jack was absently nodding. “Listen. I’ve pissed off a lot of people in my time in the service. I saw his name on the roster and I set it aside to keep an eye on him. I was surprised he was given a waiver to be here.”
“A waiver?” Daniel asked.
“I knew that rat bastard knew people,” Jason seethed.
“He must’ve sucked off the right people,” Jack said.
“Jack,” Daniel said, eyes wide.
“What? Oh, sorry, Daniel. Paid off the right people.”
“I didn’t mind what you said,” Daniel told him. “I was just surprised, that’s all.”
“So what happened between you two?” Jason asked.
“He’s a self-hating homophobe,” Jack said. Their eyes widened. “Yeah. We had a covert mission several years ago. He came on to me. I rejected him. He had a hissy fit and threatened me. Said sooner or later I would get my payback. I told him …” Jack paused. “I wasn’t very nice.”
Daniel snorted and looked at Jason. “That’s Jack-Speak for ‘I was a total dick’.”
“You know me so well,” Jack said sarcastically.
“What’d you say?” Jason asked.
“Told him to go kill himself.”
Daniel’s mouth dropped open. “I didn’t see that coming.”
“I can imagine saying the same thing,” Jason nodded.
Daniel turned to him. “Jason.”
“What?” Jason asked. “The man’s a liability to anyone in the field. That reaction to getting dumped means he’d be like that to other slights or imagined slights. He’d get people killed. Better to kill himself off first. A man like that wouldn’t quit the service.” He gave Jack a look. “Didn’t end there, did it?”
“Nope. I said that after he threw a punch and I put him on his ass, embarrassing him in front of a few of the locals. When we finally went out on the Op, he didn’t do what I told him to do and as a result that put our lives in danger and one man died. I wrote him up and he was reprimanded and sent somewhere. Before he left, I said … what I said.”
Jack paused, taking a sip of Jason’s water, then put his hands in his pockets and stared down at the bed. “Anyway, I called Major Davis, as our Pentagon Liaison, to find out who sent that shithead here but he couldn’t dig up anything. Whoever sent Rogers and that team here faked the psych evals, I’m sure of it. What that means is that yours truly gets to screen all newbie files from now on. Won’t that be fun.”
“A resident profiler would be handy then,” Jason said with a smirk. “They’d love that because they’d be so mad.”
“So what that means is that you should bone up on your psych courses,” Daniel told him.
“Probably, but it won’t mean anything if I’m not the screener. And actually, I don’t want the job. I’m happy where I am.” He eyed Jack. “If you need help, however, just ask.”
“I plan to,” Jack answered through a grin.
“One more problem, Jack.”
“Rogers knew things. Which meant he was informed, whether by sources here or from visitors.”
“I figured, Jace, but it also could have been Kinsey using his nifty imagination. The bastard thinks he knows everything after a few visits.”
“True.” Jason then added, “Jack, Bradley did try to defend you but his fear made him do stupid things.”
“Aiding in the commission of a terrorist act isn’t a ‘stupid thing,’ Jason.”
“But you should know. He wasn’t lying about one thing. Rogers threatened him with rape if he didn’t do what he was told.”
Daniel grimaced. “I thought he was just making shit up.”
“Started singing a different tune after what you did,” Jack said, sniggering. Then he and Daniel realized that Jason didn’t know. Uh oh.
“What’d you do?” Jason asked, eyes narrowing. When Daniel didn’t answer, he asked again. “What did you do, Daniel?”
“Only what I would have done if I’d thought of it first, Jason,” Jack said, defending him. “The guy wasn’t ‘fessing up so… Daniel persuaded him.”
“And just how in the hell did he do that?” Jason drawled, looking them both.
Jack pressed his lips tightly. “You know that batch of larvae that SG-6 brought back?”
“Yeah,” Jason said, confused. “So?”
“I threatened Bradley with one of them,” Daniel said.
Jason stared hard at him as he froze up, like a statue. “And then?” he asked. Only his mouth moved.
Daniel folded his arms in a stubborn manner well familiar to both of them and described what he did. Jack added, “Bastard spilled under that threat.”
“Hammond heard?” Jason asked, still not moving anything but his mouth. His eyes never left Daniel’s—and they never moved either. He wasn’t even blinking.
“Yep,” Jack said. “And several SFs. The truth is out, aside from that recording.”
Jason finally moved as he closed his eyes. “And then?”
“That little stunt got him locked up for several hours,” Jack said.
Opening his eyes and glaring at his lover, Jason ground out, “What in the hell am I going to do with you?”
Daniel returned a stubborn expression. “I’m thinking the same thing about you.”
“What are talking about?” Jason asked, confused.
“You almost died, Jason,” Daniel told him calmly, though he wanted to scream it. “You should have had more backup. What the hell—”
At that moment, Hammond opened the door and gestured to Jack. “Colonel, the NID are here. They need to see the recording.”
“They’re not coming in here,” Jack said. “I’ll sick Fraiser on them.”
Hammond gave him a look. “Not necessary. She has already told them they aren’t allowed to interrogate him while he’s recovering from surgery. I told them they can use Major Coburn’s statement.”
“They need yours, I’m afraid. In person.”
“Can I shoot them instead?”
Hammond smirked. “My office.” Hammond closed the door and Jack squeezed Jason’s foot, eyeing both him and Daniel. “Back later.”
As soon as he left, Daniel opened his mouth and Jason cut him off. “Not now, Daniel. Besides, I agree with all of your arguments, so unless you feel it’s necessary to vent, just wait until I’m not in pain anymore, okay?”
Daniel sighed. “Okay.” He picked up the ice chips pitcher. “I’ll see if I can get you some fresh ones and some water.”
“Not now,” Jason said, closing his eyes. “I think … just wait for …”
The morphine knocked him out.
Jack rolled his eyes as he lounged back in the chair before Hammond’s desk. The spook sitting next to him was past getting on his nerves. Besides, the fun time had been over five minutes after walking in the Old Man’s office. He slowly got to his feet. “Sir, I’ve got some paperwork to finish.”
Hammond nodded and gestured at the door. “Leave it and get some rest, Colonel.”
“Here or at home?” Jack asked.
“Here,” Hammond said. “Until we’ve closed the investigation.”
“Yes, sir,” Jack nodded, and left. He slowly relaxed as he walked down the stairs and into the corridor, somehow making it to his quarters without too much thinking involved. He simply put himself on auto-pilot as he closed the door and began to strip down to his t-shirt and boxers. He was very tired, very cranky, and wished he could legally kill a few people. Lying down, he laced his fingers over his chest and closed his eyes.
Sometime later, he woke up to the sound of knocking and he went to the door and opened it while staying behind it. It was Daniel and he let him in, then shut the door. “What’s up?” he asked sleepily.
“Base is cleared. We can go home.”
“What time is it?” Jack asked, his brain trying to catch up.
“Four a.m. Sergeant Davis gave me a message from Hammond. We have the day off. So let’s go home and get some real sleep.”
Jack groaned. “I’ll just stay here, Daniel. I’m not up to driving.”
“You can’t drive anyway,” Daniel said, grimacing. “Your truck is impounded.”
“What?” Jack asked, waking up a little. “Why the fuck—”
“It’ll be released in twenty-four hours, Davis said.”
“I can drive us home.”
Jack woke up a bit more to study Daniel and his tone. “What’s up?”
“I …” Daniel fidgeted and smoothed twitchy hands over his thighs. “Guess I’ll go sleep in my quarters.”
“Daniel?” Jack asked, touching his arm.
“I need … you. Need to be … held. I need something in place of going outside and screaming for a while. Which’ll hurt my throat and then people will wonder why I sound hoarse. The last thing we need is more stupid-ass gossip flying around.” He paused and tried to figure out a way to look enticing without resorting to some flirtatious nonsense. He wasn’t in the mood for flirty. He wanted Jack inside him. “I’d rather have something else that’s sore, if you catch my meaning.”
Jack could understand. He’d like that too. But. He closed his eyes for a second, hating the weakness of needing sleep. He opened them and looked Daniel over. He stood there in a green t-shirt, fatigue trousers, and boots. He looked like a soldier but he wasn’t a soldier. Jack liked the dichotomy. And despite his tiredness, looking at him made him hungry. “What time is it?”
“A little after four in the morning.”
Jack gave him half a smile. “After all this time, you still can’t say 0400.”
Daniel grinned back. His hands twitched as he started to put them in his pockets, out of habit. He didn’t want them in his pockets. He wanted them elsewhere. He didn’t know where. They just needed to be clutching something. “Well, you’ve been saying it for over twenty years. I’ve been saying it for less than six.”
Jack looked puzzled. “That makes no sense. I had it memorized by the time I was out of Basic.”
“Whereas I’ve been in academia for the last thirty years. You were in Basic at eighteen.”
Jack frowned, partly amused. “Okay. We’re arguing over time.”
“Um … okay. 0400. Four a.m. Four o’clock. Oh-dark thirty.” He grinned. “So.”
“So.” Jack swallowed and pulled Daniel into a hug. “At least I can do this.”
Daniel put his arms around him and the smell of him was intoxicating. He let out a quiet moan and snuffled the side of his neck, then moved back to get at the front.
“Daniel,” Jack said chidingly. He meant to push him away. He ordered himself to do it. But he didn’t. He loved the feel of him in his arms. He loved the touch of his lips against his skin.
“Jack,” Daniel murmured, grazing his teeth over the Adam’s Apple before he stuck out his tongue to give a quick lick with the tip, dragging it over the skin to end at the chin, raspy with whisker growth. It only turned him on and he made a whispery groan and bit his throat harder.
“Fuck,” Jack said under his breath, hard and crisp. His arms tightened around Daniel, as if it was an order for him to stop, but Daniel kept going, and his hands began to roam, winding Jack up; pushing his buttons. Jack grew hard, despite his tired body. “Damn you.”
“Against the wall,” Daniel whispered into his ear before nipping the lobe. “Please.”
By the foot of the bed, Jack turned him around, rushing him toward the wall. The excitement skyrocketed in Daniel’s body and his cock hardened. He had his trousers opened and pushed down with his briefs by the time Jack pinned him face-first. He grabbed his hips and with the severe erection pointing in the right direction, he pushed in between his cheeks, found the puckered entrance, and pushed in.
Daniel sucked in a breath and spread his feet wider apart to accommodate him. Jack’s arms went around his waist and he buried himself to the root, then used their bodies to move in a synchronized thrust that was hard, deep, and gave zero space. No sound. Just the rustle of clothing and their harsh breathing that they struggled to keep quiet.
“Yes,” Daniel whispered. “Do it. Hard. Fast. Please, Jack.” He was jerked forward repeatedly and he held his hands flat against the wall to keep from being shoved into it. The man was huge inside him. In this way. Jack wasn’t big compared to other men he’d been with, but he was large. Right now, he was perfect. The way he was in him was perfect. No lube. And the movement could’ve been called rutting if there had only been space between their bodies for slapping. But that couldn’t be risked. And it was heavenly because of that.
Suddenly Daniel wondered what he was going to use for a rag or a towel. He hadn’t thought, and if he came against the wall, the scent would linger. “Jack, I need a towel or—”
Jack reached down and yanked the blanket and sheet up from the foot of the bed, threw the blanket aside, and pulled up the sheet. “Here.” When Daniel had the end of the sheet wadded up in front of him, Jack whispered, “Damn you.”
“What?” Daniel asked, beaded sweat forming on his brow and upper lip.
Jack spun them to the left and shoved Daniel over, bending him so his upper half was pressed onto the mattress.
“Sound!” Daniel protested, but he bit into the dark olive wool blanket as Jack continued to fuck him the way he had. But it was a lot deeper. He nodded vigorously and clutched the blanket and sheet with white-knuckled fists. With tiny moans of encouragement, he was taken roughly, temporarily removing all thought from his mind. Just like he wanted. Then the movements became frantic and since Jack couldn’t speed up in the normal way, he grabbed his hips and made long, lunging thrusts. It was unusual. And hot. And Daniel’s balls drew up and he grabbed the sheet and covered his cock as he came.
“Fuck!” Jack said, the F and K mere sharp sounds while the rest was silent. He moved faster, damn near making them both lose their balance, but he came soon after Daniel did. He pushed them both onto the bed and he lay over him for … a while. A dangerous while. Panic set in after the short afterglow nap, but it felt longer. He glanced at his watch, left on his wrist. It was … only 0432. He breathed out a snort. He pulled out and placed the sheet over Daniel’s rear end, letting him take care of the post-coital mess.
When Daniel was finally put back together, and the sheet was balled up and placed in a spare pillowcase, like the old days when they served as laundry bags, Jack took him back into his arms. He sniffed. Very little scent. “Get what you wanted?” he asked.
Daniel rubbed their noses together, then rested his dried-sweat forehead against Jack’s. “Yes, but not completely. The rest will have to wait until we get home.”
“Looking forward to that.” He hugged Daniel for a bit. “I wish Jason wasn’t in so much pain. I’d go up there and give him a hand job or something.”
Daniel let out a short bark of laughter. “You would not.”
Jack grinned as he let go. “No. But it’s a lovely thought.” He sighed, his smile turning wistful. “It’s going to be a while before he can do anything. It’s not like a broken ankle.”
Daniel groaned. “No. But blow jobs don’t require much movement on his part.”
“Back muscles, Daniel.”
Daniel grimaced. “Fuck.”
“Yeah.” He went to the door. “But the silver lining here is that he’s alive and you’re alive. I think we can handle everything else.”
Continued in Trinity 6