Inquisitions

by

Jaclyn Horrod


TITLE: Inquisitions
AUTHOR: Jaclyn Horrod
EMAIL: Jaclyn@thefifthrace.net
CATEGORY: Action, Drama
SPOILERS : Set in Season 3 - spoilers for Into The Fire, Shades of Grey.
SEASON / SEQUEL : Season 3.  If you haven't read Jaclyn's stories : Sacrifices, The Rescue and Deception's Kiss, Interactions, you might want to read them first.  Continued in Beyond.
RATING : 15 /  Mature.
CONTENT WARNINGS : Mature subject matter (non-consensual sex) - though not graphic.
SUMMARY : O'Neill and Jackson return home to an inquisition after their time with Nyerti and Heru’ur.  But everything is not as it should be with Colonel O'Neill.
STATUS : Complete.  Continued in 'Beyond'.
ARCHIVE : Rabelais,
Heliopolis.
DISCLAIMER : Stargate SG-1 and its characters belong to MGM, Gekko Film Corp and Double Secret Productions. This fan fiction was created solely for entertainment purposes and no money exchanged hands. No copyright or trademark infringement was intended. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
AUTHOR'S NOTES : Thanks, as always, go to mbb and beta-reader extraordinaire, Rach.  
FEEDBACK : Most definitely!


 

Inquisitions I

Jack O'Neill stood motionless as the SF's applied the plastic restraints. His awareness of the other Special forces trained enlisted men, who loomed in the background, their M90's poised, only served as a reminder of what he now faced.

Even the fact that they were behaving just as he expected didn't make it any easier to take.

He and Daniel had spent over a month with the enemy.  Yet somehow, even feeling the constant threat of being killed, or made into a host, didn't even measure up to what he felt now!
 
Being treated as hostiles, amongst their own, made the Colonel feel angry. Reason didn't cut it - even if he understood, he still didn't like it.

"Is this strictly necessary?" Daniel Jackson questioned, as his hands were fastened behind his back. "Ow!" exclaimed with venom toward the SF, who was perhaps a little over zealous in his attentions to securing Daniel's hands.

"I'm sorry Dr. Jackson, but under the circumstances we can't be too careful!" General Hammond told him, his tone openly apologetic, yet still offering no solace.

Daniel's face screwed up in frustration now.

"Well I'm sorry too - but if we had some other agenda, we'd probably have done better using the glider to wreak havoc!"

Hammond regarded him with an air of disdain then, shaking his head. The archaeologist was obviously in no mood to mince words!

"Sorry Sir," the SF who bound O'Neill whispered.

"You're just doing your job Lieutenant, don't worry about it," O'Neill responded, with very little conviction.

"Alright, let's get them inside. Straight to the infirmary."
Hammond ordered.

Jackson raised his eyes heavenwards. "Jack, are you okay with this?" he asked.

"No Daniel, not exactly. Not much choice in the matter though hah!" he retorted.

The elevator ride was made in silence.
Hammond feeling uncomfortable with the procedures he was forced to implement, whilst O'Neill and Jackson felt a degree of bitterness about the whole situation.

*****

Dr. Frasier smiled at them as they were led into the infirmary.

"Welcome back Colonel, Dr. Jackson," she greeted. "Not much of home coming."

O'Neill attempted to return the smile, but merely managed a grimace of disdain.

"We're just going to run all the normal tests," Frasier told them, "which will hopefully be clear.  Then we can at least rule out any biological problems!"

"Sweet. Run, test - you're not gonna find anything!" Jack responded, his delivery clipped and cynical!

"Really!" Colonel Ian Short remarked, making his presence known. "Sounds just like someone who has something to hide talking!"

"Okay General, who's the goon?" O'Neill enquired.

"Colonel Ian Short, NID," Short cut in. "You're in my charge now Colonel O'Neill, we'll be handling
your interrogation from here!"

"Interrogation?"
Jackson queried. "I'm sorry, I thought it was a de-briefing?"

"Which is precisely what it is!" General Hammond corrected, his frown directed toward the NID officer.

"General, with all due respect, NID has jurisdiction here.  Colonel O'Neill and Dr. Jackson have been consorting with the enemy.  It's my job to discover whatever they know, by whatever means necessary!" Short insisted.

"Consorting?" Jack echoed. "Daniel, were you consorting?"

Jackson looked slightly bemused for a moment. "Oh, consorting? Me? No!"

"Whatever it is that happened, rest assured we'll get to the truth!" Short threatened.

"Oh! The truth? I doubt you'd want that Colonel," Daniel quipped.

"Well Doctor Jackson, I'm sorry to disappoint you but that's exactly what I intend to extract!" Colonel Short retorted, abrasively.

"Sounds a little like an orthodontist. Torture, my favourite!" Daniel intoned acerbically.

O'Neill smiled at
Jackson. "Daniel, I never knew you were into that?" he replied, mockingly.

Sam Carter and Teal'c entered now.  "Colonel, are you okay?" Carter asked immediately.

"Well I've been better, maybe if they decide to take the cuffs off?" he pointed out.

"I'm sorry, we can't allow that Colonel!" The NID man told him.

"I knew you were gonna say that!" Jack responded, a grin sweeping over his face that was intended to irritate the NID man.

"Predictable, these NID types!" Daniel concurred.

"Oh yeah!" Jack continued. "Right down to the threats, the small weasel eyes and that slicked back 'I mean business' hair!"

"You know you've got a point!" Daniel agreed. "I never noticed the hair thing before."

"Hey, what can I say. I'm observant," Jack said, giving the Colonel a sardonic glare.

"I'm sure you impress everyone with your acumen Colonel, such a display of acuity. I'm gonna
enjoy this!" Short replied, attempting to mirror the expression cast upon him and only succeeding
in leering.

"Acumen and acuity in one sentence," Daniel mocked, "we may be in trouble here!"

"If he keeps talking like that, I might need a linguist. Daniel, you up to that?" Jack parodied.

Hammond attempted to keep his amusement in check.  O'Neill had always been a handful, difficult to read at the best of times - but now his particular brand of humour appeared to be attaching itself to Daniel Jackson too.   He pitied the NID man then, and the thought of that finally allowed a glimmer of a smile to emerge on his well-rounded features.

"Colonel O'Neill - Daniel Jackson. It is good to see you safe and well," Teal'c stated, ignoring the
NID men and the SF's and getting closer to them both.

"Er, thanks Teal'c, you're looking the same as always!" Jack replied, offering the
Jaffa a warm smile.

"Really? He looks a little peaked to me?" Daniel said, regarding the
Jaffa too now.

"Ya think?" Jack quizzed, his address now intensified toward the
Jaffa, features drawing into a
frown. "Yeah maybe you're right."

Hammond, now in full control of his amusement, interrupted the flow then.  "Colonel, would you and Dr. Jackson be so kind as to comply with Dr. Frasier's instructions so we can get on with this,"  General Hammond ordered.

"Certainly Sir!" O'Neill chimed.

*****

Colonel Ian Short wasn't a patient man.  He'd read O'Neill's file several times over.  Now standing
in front of General Hammond to be lectured on his attitude, only served to make him resent Colonel
Jack O'Neill more.

"Now I've spoken with the President, Colonel, and he's given me the authority to keep the Colonel
and Dr. Jackson here on the base for the time being.  So you'll be conducting your interrogations
here.  Colonel Makepeace will be joining you, no sense in putting the two of them through any more
than is strictly necessary,"
Hammond told him.

"Sir I would prefer to conduct NID interrogations at the
Groom Lake facility," Short protested.

"I'm sure you would Colonel, but that decision isn't yours to make!"

"Yes Sir!" Colonel Short conceded.

Colonel Makepeace knocked and entered through the open door at that moment.

"I thought you two should meet.  Colonel Makepeace, SG3, this is Colonel Short, NID. You'll be conducting the debrief together,"
Hammond stated. "Dismissed."

"Thank you Sir!" Makepeace said, saluting the general, Short doing like wise.
As the two men left his office,
Hammond took a deep breath.  If anyone could watch the two SG1
men's six, it was the marine who had so successfully taken down a rogue unit.

"Colonel Makepeace," Short snapped, "I've heard all about you!"

Makepeace regarded the man, "Is that a fact. I've heard absolutely nothing about you Colonel –
shall we?"  He indicated for the Colonel to lead on, towards the two holding cells where they
intended to question O'Neill and Jackson.

*****

Dr. Frasier shone her small pencil light torch into O'Neill's eyes.

"Let me know if my eyes start glowing Doc!" He joked.

"You'll be the first to know Colonel," Janet replied. "Alright, we'll run these samples through the lab
and let you know what we turn up!"

"So we're done?"
Jackson enquired. "And now we can go and get some coffee?" he ventured, somewhat optimistically.

O'Neill's eyebrows climbed his forehead. "Yes Daniel, I'm sure these nice NID people will just let us mosey on off for a coffee, whilst they sit and come up with really meaningful questions!" Jack quipped. "In fact they're probably buried in a dictionary right now!"

O'Neill's beaming features denoted his own pleasure at this comment.

"Oh, and there was me thinking it was innocent until proven guilty?" Daniel retorted.

"Or human until proven Goa'uld?" Jack offered.

"Major?" Daniel queried, toward the NID officer who had quietly slipped into the infirmary whilst the
two men had been swapping banter.

"
Yes Dr. Jackson?"

"Is it possible that my colleague and I could possibly take a shower and get some coffee. These are basic human rights you know!"
Jackson lectured.

"Yeah, but this is the military Daniel. Go ask your boss on the double Major!" O'Neill ordered.

"Sorry Colonel O'Neill my instructions were to remain with you at all times," Major Newman replied.

"Now unless I'm mistaken, MAJOR, I'm still a Colonel in the United States Air Force, which means
I outrank you! Now move your ass and ask Colonel Shaw if we can have a shower and a coffee
airman!" Jack O'Neill wasn't in the mood to take flack from subordinates.

"Short!" Daniel corrected.

"Yeah, a little," Jack replied. "Patience is wearing a bit thin here."

"No, it's er, Colonel Short," Daniel persisted, unsure if O'Neill was being intentionally obtuse.

"Sir, I mean no disrespect I just can't...." Major Newman began.

"Major!" Colonel Robert Makepeace barked in his best marine tone. "Since Colonel O'Neill is merely being debriefed after being held by hostiles for well over a month, I suggest you follow his order. Or I'll have some of my marines here, take you there!"

"Hello Makepeace. I see you haven't lost any of your charm!" Jack smiled.

"What can I say Jack. It's one of my greatest skills, communication that is!" Makepeace responded, looking back then at Major Newman, who seemed in two minds.  "Major Collins, Sgt. Rawlings, will you assist Major Newman with my order!"

"Yes Sir!" Both men barked.

Newman conceded, turning away from the approaching marines. "Under protest Sir!" he snapped.

"So noted airman. Shame his boss is such an asshole!" Makepeace commented. "So I guess my accompanying you to the shower counts for something.  Afraid it will have to be done in the open boys!"

Daniel looked slightly horrified at that suggestion. "Excuse me?" he asked.

"Standard procedure Daniel, you just lost your life!" Jack told him. "Which basically means every
single function has to be watched."

"What?"
Jackson snapped. "Oh I'm sorry this isn't happening at all!"

"Hey! You think I want to have this jarhead gawking at me? Relax Daniel, I'm sure Colonel
Makepeace will be his usual subtle self!"

Daniel still looked mortified as he followed Jack O'Neill and Colonel Makepeace toward the locker room.

"Basic human dignity! That's what I expect," Daniel continued. "I mean, it's not as if we've even got anything to hide and I feel like a mass murderer or something."

"Daniel stop your yapping and just get undressed," Jack told him. "Er, Makepeace, the cuffs?
Unless you wanna do the honours!"

"No I think I'll leave that particular job to you Jack!" Makepeace replied.

O'Neill threw his clothes off, checking the water temperature before slipping under the steaming hot shower.

Daniel stood considering the options.  He thought he'd been defiled enough by the 6 week excursion with the Goa'ulds.  Finally, succumbing to his personal hygiene needs over his dignity, he stripped off and climbed inside the small shower cubicle Makepeace had allocated to him, averting his eyes from the ever present contingent of SF's and Colonel Makepeace, who although maintaining a presence, afforded Jackson as much respect and privacy as they could.

*****

Carter looked angry as she strode into General Hammond's office.  "Sir, do you have a minute?" she asked.

"Come in Major, what is it?" Hammond enquired, gesturing for her to take a seat.

"I'm just a little concerned with these NID people sir. The Colonel and Daniel have been through enough. Don't they at least deserve some time to readjust to freedom?"

"Afraid not Major, you know the rules!" Hammond told her.

"If we were talking about anyone else sir, I'd agree," she argued.

"Major I appreciate your concerns, but we have no idea what the Goa'ulds were up to. Either one of them could be infected with a disease, or had their minds altered," Hammond explained.

"Yes Sir. Is my dad coming?" she asked, sounding a little downtrodden now.

"The Tok'ra are sending some people, I'm not altogether sure that Colonel O'Neill, or Dr. Jackson
for that matter, will be very cooperative with them!"

"The Colonel's not exactly very trusting, I guess," Carter agreed. "With pretty good reason!"

"I agree. Now if that's all Major?" Hammond asked.

"Yes, Sir. Thank you."

*****

Jack O'Neill heard the door of his new quarters close behind him.  He took a deep breath, closing
his eyes and exhaling slowly.

"Gonna be a long night!" he muttered, turning out of curiosity then and seeing the SF peering in
through the glass, he gestured at him to return to his post.

"Yep! Goldfish time."

*****

Jack O'Neill sat on the uncomfortable plastic chair opposite Colonel Ian Short, playing nonchalantly with his wristwatch. Short held a file in his hands, apparently consumed with studying it's contents.  Jack knew exactly what the files were, but maintained an air of disinterest, whilst Short kept up the pretence of actually reading the contents.  Both men knew it was a game of cat and mouse, the trick was, which was playing the role of the cat!

If Short's intention had been to faze the colonel, he was losing the battle.  Jack had been in these situations many times before and found the whole process amusing.  Not so Colonel Robert Makepeace, who sat to Jack's right.  His face contorting into various states of boredom, bemusement and grimaces, that amused O'Neill almost as much as the attempts of Colonel Short to make him feel isolated.

"Most of the information on your past appears to be missing," Short said finally, closing the file and laying it on the table in front of him. "Care to elaborate a little for me?"

O'Neill regarded him as if intrigued, then shook his head slowly. "Nope!"

"Oh come on now Jack, can't be anything in your past that I don't have clearance for?" Short prompted.

Makepeace was about to object to the relevance of the question, when O'Neill interrupted him.
"It's Colonel O'Neill, Short," Jack stated flatly. "And, the answer's still no!"

Short stared across the table at O'Neill then. "I will break you," A sneer crossing his
features as he put emphasis into adding. "Colonel O'Neill."

"Shaking in my boots," Jack retorted.

"Let's keep to the point shall we!" Makepeace insisted, finally able to intervene.

"Alright Colonel, let's start at the beginning, shall we?" Short prompted.

O'Neill considered the question for a moment, a smile covering his handsome features. He disliked NID people; found them a curious breed without principles or scruples.  Colonel Maybourne had only strengthened O'Neill's resolve when he had almost caused Teal'c's demise, over two years earlier.

He considered the events that led to them being captured.

"The mission was a search and rescue. Teal'c reported back after we'd established
contact with the planet.  We extracted Teal'c - then took a team back, together with the
Tok'ra, to attempt the rescue of the remaining expedition members," Jack told him.

"Okay. I know that part let's skip to the Goa'ulds shall we," Short interrupted.

O'Neill looked at Makepeace then. "Can I get a coffee, and one of them doughnut things with the sprinkles on the top?"

Robert Makepeace tried to hide his amusement.  "Yeah, I think we can do that. Major Newman, why don't you see to that"

*****

Daniel took off his glasses, using a tissue to clean them, regarding the Colonel with one of his not too impressed expressions.

"Colonel O'Neill, Jack, managed to convince Heru'ur that both their interests would be served if they cooperated," he answered slowly. "But if you're implying that Jack did anything other than sell out Nyerti then you're wrong!"

His glasses pushed firmly back in place now. "Next question?"

"So Colonel O'Neill colluded with Heru'ur in order to enable your eventual freedom?"

"Well, the circumstances being pretty extenuating, Jack did what he had to do, wouldn't you say?" Daniel retorted.

"I'm not sure Dr. Jackson.  I doubt there would be any circumstance extreme enough to make me bargain with a Goa'uld!" Short told him, an emphasis put into the words that made them sound like an accusation.

"Really?" Daniel observed. "I guess had it been you, then we'd both be dead, or Goa'ulds right now!"

Short looked perplexed, a heavy sigh.

*****

"I told you. It was the only way to prevent Apophis from kicking the crap out of Earth," Jack protested.  "I guess I could have ignored the fact that the SGC and the President might have been a little concerned with a dozen or more Goa'uld motherships floating above the planet...but hey!"

Jack O'Neill regarded Short with one of those cynical expressions, so easily recognisable by his colleagues.

"Are you being deliberately evasive Colonel?" Short demanded.

O'Neill's eyes narrowed,  he looked across at Makepeace now. "Did I leave something out?"

"No I thought that pretty much covered it!" he confirmed.

"It doesn't cover the fact, Colonel, that you appeared to be extremely friendly with one of our greatest
foes!" Short snapped.

"Hey! You don't like the fact that I managed to save the Earth, a quartet of successes I might add, that's tough!" Jack retorted.

Makepeace grinned then, unable to contain himself, at the extremely peeved look that now rested on Colonel Short's features!

*****

Daniel looked slightly irritated by the statement. "No, it never entered my mind to question Jack's loyalty!" he repeated. "Since I've known him, Jack's been the most honourable man I've ever met.  Being subjected to what he's been through, I think he's come out pretty well, don't you?"

"Yes, let's get to that. Exactly what was Colonel O'Neill subjected to?" Short asked.

"In what sense?" Daniel enquired, deliberately avoiding the answer.

"Nyerti wanted the Colonel, are we talking in the biblical sense here?" Short was right to the point, sensing immediately that he'd found a way under Jackson's skin.

"Yes!" Daniel replied. "In every sense!"

"So the Colonel obliged?" he pushed.

"No, he never obliged, he was forced to make choices. I guess you'd have been back to being dead or a Goa'uld?" Daniel inferred.

"How did it affect him?" Short asked.

Daniel took a deep breath. "Ask Jack!" he said.

"I'm asking you Dr. Jackson. You see, let me make something very clear to you here, you face some pretty serious charges, if I find that any secrets were exchanged for your freedom. So I think it's time for a little honesty here," Short intoned.

Daniel looked surprised then, a hint of mockery entering his eyes. "I'm astonished you knew that word without having to resort to a dictionary, Colonel" he quipped.

"The Jack O'Neill routine doesn't fit you very well Dr. Jackson.  Now, like I told you earlier, there are consequences here.  So let's cut the witty recourse and stick to the facts shall we?"

"What are you going to do Colonel, court martial me? Take me in front of a firing squad? I'm a civilian, which might have slipped your mind, such as it is!" Daniel told him succinctly.

"Being deliberately evasive will only serve to prolong this Daniel. It's my job to find out everything you know, and put that knowledge to good use!" Short argued.

"But that isn't what you're doing here. I mean, so far you've threatened me, questioned my integrity, thrown wild accusatory statements around like confetti, and insulted my intelligence with your absurd mind games!" Daniel lectured, almost in his element now.

"Tactics, Dr. Jackson, nothing personal!" Short remarked, taken aback with Jackson's grasp of the situation.

Daniel observed him more closely now, able to discern something he had missed. "This is personal to you isn't it?"

Short began collecting his papers. "I have no idea what you're talking about!"

"Jack screwed the NID when he uncovered the rogue teams, a revenge mission?" Daniel implied more emphatically.

"That's absurd. We're finished, for now!" Short replied, his eyes avoiding
Jackson's now and falling on Colonel Makepeace, whose expression glowered with controlled anger.

*****

"Dr. Jackson told me all about your little romps with Nyerti, Colonel," Short stated, a smug look resting on his face now.

Jack maintained his air of calm, his expression unchanged. "I'll just bet that was the highlight of your day too!" he remarked.

"Sleeping with the enemy, Colonel?" Short accused.

"Saw that too! Great film," Jack opined, "gotta love that whole Julia Roberts thing!"

Short's composure was beginning to break down once more, faced with the endless stream of one-liners that Jack O'Neill seemed to possess.

"One way or another Colonel O'Neill, we're going to get to the bottom of your collusion with the enemy. I'm gonna expose you for what you are!" Short berated.

"Still shaking!" Jack retorted dryly.

"You should be Colonel, I've almost obtained permission to have this little fiasco moved onto my turf," Short snapped. "No SGC personnel to watch your back O'Neill.  We're gonna get every last piece of information you gleaned from the Goa'uld - feel like signing a confession?"

Jack shook his head. "What do you people want from me?" he enquired, the cool demeanour he'd kept departing now as the rage took hold.

"The truth!" Short responded. "You didn't get out of that situation Colonel with a pact for Goa'uld technology. You've got some kind of secret agenda here, and I aim to find out exactly what that is!"

"You know something?" Jack replied, "You wouldn't know the truth if it knocked and introduced itself.  So do whatever you have to do Colonel, but let's get one thing straight shall we - your version of events and mine aren't gonna tally up. So whatever it is that your bosses want, they're not gonna find it here!"

"We'll find it Colonel, make no mistake about that. Our lab people are a lot more thorough than yours!"

Short turned, walking toward the door, pausing for a moment. "I look forward to beginning this in the morning Colonel," he said.

"Yeah, it'll be fun, can't wait!" Jack retorted, a smile sweeping across his features.

"What an asshole!" Makepeace noted.

"Can't say it's the first one I've met that spoke either!" Jack replied. "So, he gonna get his wish?"

"First I'd heard of it Jack, General Hammond seems to have the President's ear on this one!"

"Yeah, well excuse me if I sound a little unpatriotic at this point, but that's meant squat in the past," Jack's tone acerbic now.

"You okay?" Makepeace enquired, a genuine sound of concern in his tone.

"Hey! What can I tell you, I'm having a trying life right now," Jack opined. "But it could be worse."

"How'd you figure?" Makepeace asked.

"I could be wearing that aftershave of his - where does somebody buy something that bad?" Jack enquired, the very nature of this enquiry seemed to vex him slightly.

"Is kinda potent isn't it!" Makepeace agreed, his face screwing up.

"Think women like that?" Jack asked, as the two men left the room.  Makepeace shrugged as he closed the door behind them.

 *****

The commissary was all but deserted, Colonel Short sat two tables away from Jack and Daniel.

"He's on some personal vendetta if you ask me!" Daniel asserted. "He really doesn't like you very much."

"What can I say, must be an NID requirement," Jack agreed. "How's he treating you?"

"Well, I've been threatened, insulted and oh, did I mention threatened?" Daniel replied, with a sense of devilment in his voice.

"Yeah, he's going for a medal in obnoxious alright." O'Neill concurred. "And, I thought we weren't going to mention the, Nyerti thing!"

"Oh, yeah. Well I couldn't exactly lie, that would have been playing right into his hands. Did he give you a hard time?" Daniel sounded concerned.

"Oh please, I had a harder time playing in little league. It's just uncomfortable to think about it.  Oh, by the way, General Hammond has us roomed together now," Jack told him.

"He does? Great, patience isn't my forte," Daniel confessed, "and I hate playing chess against myself – always comes out in a stalemate!"

Jack regarded him with a grin then. "Hey, I asked for some beer too," his face quickly forming into a grimace. "They said, wine or nothing. I ask you, wine?"

There was a bemused look on
Jackson's face then. "Wine?" he asked incredulously. "Um, why wine?"

"Beats me, can you handle wine?" Jack enquired. "I mean, if you can't handle beer or brandy, wine's gonna be a problem!"

Short had anticipated the two men's seating arrangement and was slightly perplexed about the conversation, as it was fed back through his earpiece from the microphone he'd planted close by.

"I think I can handle wine, are you saying I'm useless at handling my alcohol?" Daniel asked.

"Well not useless, just maybe a little out of practice!"

The tacit understanding between the two men baffled Short, who, deciding that they obviously had very little of interest to impart, left the commissary and headed back for his own quarters.

"Bugs!" Daniel whispered.

Jack smiled. "You're too quick for me Dr. Jackson!"

"So what's he really trying to achieve here?" Daniel asked, as Jack poured the contents of his coffee cup over the device.

Jack O'Neill took a deep breath, his deep brown eyes suddenly filled with purpose.

"I get a feeling there are some pretty powerful people pulling the strings here Daniel, and I sense maybe they're just using me to get at Hammond - once he's out of the way they can pretty much put whoever they like in his place!" There was an ominous sound to those words, and the tone in which O'Neill used to express them.

"You're kidding right?" Daniel sounded flabbergasted.

"Daniel, there are two things I rarely kid about. Snakes, and .....snakes!" Jack replied pointedly.

"Yeah, I think I get your meaning - what can we do?" Daniel implored. "I mean whatever we say, he's
going to twist it."

"I say, we tell
Hammond to back off and let this guy do whatever he intends. That'll kinda take away the ammunition," Jack told him.

Jackson's face drained of colour. "Well, if you think it's the only way," he replied, unsure of the wisdom of such a move, but trusting his friend.

"If they want to hang
Hammond out to dry, they've got him over a barrel if he continues to stick his neck out for us.  I'm thinking, take away the carrot, and the donkey won't stick around!"

Daniel stared at O'Neill then. "I see the...so, what do we do exactly," still considering the dubious adage O'Neill used to illustrate his viewpoint.

"We go to
Hammond and tell him exactly what I just told you Danny boy!" Jack imparted.

"And, he'll just what? Back off, I can't see that Jack - he's not going to turn us over to NID without a fight!" Daniel argued.

"Daniel, he's no choice in the matter. Turning us over maybe the only way he has of actually protecting us!"

Daniel shook his head quickly, as if trying to shake loose an idea. "I'm guessing that makes sense in another reality?" he quizzed.

"If they find a way of getting
Hammond out, we're in more trouble. The SGC could be used by exactly the kind of people we've been trying to keep out!" Jack stressed.

Daniel took a deep breath. "Why do things always get so complicated?" he enquired, a tone of resignation entering into the question.

"Well, this is the Government Daniel. It's written into the constitution," O'Neill told him, adding a smile almost if this might ease
Jackson's mind. "Anyway, how bad can it be?"

"How bad can it be? Now I know you're kidding!" Daniel retorted.

"Well, you maybe right about that. Although on the other hand, I'd say it's preferable to spending
a night in bed with a snake!"

"I guess that depends on the snake?" Daniel offered, a smile lighting up his own expression now.

"You've got a point, but I'll tell you one thing, if he doesn't lay off of that aftershave, I might have to confess to preferring the snakes!" Jack added, a grimace spreading across his features.

Daniel screwed up his face, his nose twitching. "Oh, you noticed that too? I thought it was just me."

"Kinda gives the whole chemical warfare thing a fresh outlook though doesn't it?" Jack quipped, as the two men, having barely eaten their food, left the table.

The SF's, who had kept a discreet distance, now able to hear the conversation.

"I was trying to work out where I've smelt that before?" Daniel persisted.

Jack stopped then, looking at him, a prod into his shoulder. "Cats!" he exclaimed.

Daniel considered that for a moment, "Oh, yeah!" he agreed. "Yeah!"

*****

At
07:30 Hammond finally had the two men escorted to his office, dismissing the guards.

"Alright Colonel, what was so damned important that made you get me out of bed this early for?" he demanded.

"Sir, this is gonna sound a little odd," Jack began.

Hammond raised his eyebrows. "I hope not Jack, you can be a little too abstruse for my liking sometimes!"

Daniel and Jack exchanged glances. "That's a nice word Sir,  kinda leads me into the point."

"Good Colonel, I haven't had breakfast yet!"

"Sir, request permission to be cut loose!" Jack stated, in his best military voice.

"Me too sir!" Daniel repeated, attempting to sound as adamant as his colleague.

"What? You're kidding?"
Hammond insisted.

Jack pointed at Daniel. "You know, that's exactly what he said. Sir, let me bottom line it here.  I don't think NID has the slightest interest in obtaining my status! I think it's yours they're after."

"Colonel I thought I asked you not to be abstruse?"
Hammond snapped.

Jack looked at Daniel now. "Was that abstruse?"

"No, I thought it was pretty succinct actually. General, look, Jack's right - for once.  If you reason it out the way he has, it makes sense. Ok, maybe that was putting it a little too abstract," Daniel conceded.

Hammond's eyebrows seemed to be permanently fixed to his upper forehead now.

"Neither of you is making any sense at all?"

"Thank you Sir," Jack remarked, "but I think you know exactly what we're saying."

"No Jack, I don't!"
Hammond retorted. "Have you two been drinking?"

"Just, um, coffee sir!" Daniel answered, now looking slightly bemused himself.

"If you don't cut us loose, the people pulling the strings are gonna find a way to turn this around on you Sir," Jack stated.

"You'll just have to trust us on this Sir. We think we may be the bait on the trap!" Daniel added.

"Sir, look," Jack was emphatic now, "turn us over to NID, because neither of us is gonna be working here for much longer, if they find a way to you!"

Hammond took a deep breath, exhaling slowly.

"I can see I'm not going to talk you out of this?" he asked.

"No Sir!" Daniel and Jack said in unison.

Hammond regarded the two men with a degree of pride, tinged with sadness.  He'd already felt negligent in agreeing to allow O'Neill to undertake the role the Tok'ra had suggested, now it almost felt like he was throwing them into the lion's den for dessert!

Both men stood now. "Colonel, Dr. Jackson?"
Hammond said.

"No, thank you Sir!" Jack intoned.

"Me too, again!" Daniel added.

A nod from
Hammond told them he appreciated their support.  As they stepped out into the hallway, Jack took a deep breath, turning to Daniel now.  "What do you mean 'for once'?" he demanded,

Daniel looked at the Colonel sheepishly.  "Well, it was one of your more abstruse theories!"

"Yeah, I guess and where'd he get that from so early in the morning?" O'Neill remarked, almost in awe. "I was having trouble with good morning!"

The two SF's that followed them back to their quarters exchanged bemused glances.

"Beats the hell out of me!" One said to the other.


End of Part One


Inquisitions II

Departing from the SGC in cuffs, and under armed guard, Daniel took a long, almost doleful, glance back toward Teal'c and Sam.

Jack O'Neill deliberately averted his gaze away from the forlorn looking SGC personnel.  He was taking another calculated risk, one that fortunately didn't involve a loss of life risk - but he knew it might have some kind of unpleasant result.  Given his recent track record, expecting anything else would have been foolhardy.

"You know, I'd kinda hoped we wouldn't be facing this again," Daniel remarked, as the two men were assisted into the rear of the prisoner transport van.

"Taking unplanned journeys with goons, ya mean?" O'Neill asked.

Daniel nodded. "Exactly! At least with the Goa'uld you know where you stand. This has the feeling of leaping out of an aeroplane, and hoping the parachute works."

Jack's features contorted, he sympathised with
Jackson. Five years at the SGC couldn't have prepared him for dealing with the US military's internal politics.

"Yeah, it kinda makes you wonder doesn't it!" he remarked.

"It's not that I mind the whole paranoia thing, I mean, I accept that we've been exposed to the Goa'uld for the past six and a half weeks. It's just that I hate being treated like a criminal," Daniel persisted bitterly. "And, having my word doubted."

"Hey! Don't take it personally Daniel, that's just what they want you to do.  And could we use another term? Exposed brings back some damn distasteful memories!" Jack pointed out, with that maligned expression decorating his face.

Daniel's eyebrows lowered, his features concentrated and pensive. "Oh yeah - um sorry," he offered. "Bad chooice of words."

"Sir, Dr. Jackson. I'm Lt. Colonel Robert Lincoln."

Jack O'Neill regarded the officer as he climbed into the rear of the van with them.

"Good for you!" he snapped caustically.

Lincoln, sensing the obvious hostility might have been due in part to his temporary commander Colonel Short, decided to spit out as much information as possible.

"I'm Air Force special operations, assigned to NID on attachment. I'll be your escorting officer to Nellis, Sir," he blurted.

"Really? Why?" Jack enquired sarcastically.

"Why am I escorting you, Sir?"
Lincoln replied.

Daniel and Jack exchanged glances, both raising their eyes heavenwards in unison.

"Spec Ops? Do something drastically wrong, LT?" Jack enquired.

"Sir?"
Lincoln was now slightly bemused.

"I think what the Colonel is trying to say is, who did you upset to get into the bowels of hell?" Daniel explained.

"Nicely put!" Jack praised.

"Thank you!" Daniel looked suitably happy, that well practised ironic expression mockingly crossing his features. The joke shared between the two SGC men, as O'Neill beamed broadly too!

Lincoln felt a little left out, unable to decide if the two men were amusing themselves at his expense, or if this was their natural state.

"Okay. Um, Sir, Dr. Jackson, look, let me level with you here, I work for General Vidrine.  When information was handed to his office regarding NID's interest in de-briefing you both, the General thought, like you probably already guessed, that there's a hidden agenda here!"
Lincoln told them.

Jack looked intrigued now. "Go on LT, you've got my attention!" he urged.

"Well Sir, let's just say there are certain elements within the Government, that want to push the SGC more toward obtaining weapons that might prove useful against domestic hostiles. By domestic I mean....."

"Yeah, we get what you mean," Jack interrupted. "So?"

"So General Vidrine suspects that those elements might attempt to use both you and Dr. Jackson as a means to persuade the President that General Hammond is putting personal interests over those of the nation's security,"
Lincoln continued. "If the General were to be too protective, it could be cited as negligence, thus undermining his command of the SGC."

"Smart these Government types, hah!" Jack intoned.

"I'd actually call it something else," Daniel commented. "But since it's inappropriate and possibly offensive, I'll just keep it to myself."

Jack nodded, "Yeah. Sounds like a good idea to me. I might get offended!"

Daniel regarded the Colonel for a moment, taking him seriously. The slight glint in his eyes exposing yet another moment of Jack O'Neill humour.

"So, LT. What's the plan?" The Colonel asked.

"The plan sir?"
Lincoln looked confused.

"Well I assume that since General Vidrine has thought it through, that he has some strategy in mind?" Jack enquired, a little less than enthused by the blank expression now sitting uncomfortably on the Lt. Colonel's face. "Ah! No plan," he concluded.

"Well, that sounds familiar!" Daniel remarked, his features contorting into a grimace.

Jack looked resigned for a moment, then a glimmer of amusement entered his eyes.

"Which usually works well for me, I might add.  But, then I usually have a gun, and an enemy more or less out in the open."

"Er, yeah. So, what's the new 'no plan' plan?" Daniel enquired, cringing slightly as he said it.

"Oh, well it's the usual one," Jack enlightened, "I'll um, let you know when I've worked it out, kinda thing!"

Daniel nodded, a heavy sigh. "Love those ones Jack," he agreed.

"Good, glad that's settled," Jack acknowledged. "So LT, you're watching our six right?"

"I'll do my best Sir,"
Lincoln told him, his expression looking less than convincing.

Jack's features lit up, "Ah, good, confidence!" he exclaimed. "Just what I like to see!"

*****

Selmak seemed somewhat taken aback, his confusion etched into the face of his host.

"I don't understand, why would your people treat the Colonel and Daniel Jackson in such a way?"

"It's a little difficult to explain. I realise you wanted to de-brief Colonel O'Neill and Dr. Jackson about their recent mission, but things are a little complicated right now," General Hammond explained.

Jacob Carter surfaced now, regarding General Hammond with an air of trepidation.

"What's going on George?"

"The usual under the table dealings with politicians! Jack and Daniel are unfortunately being used as pawns.  I get the feeling the right wing politicians may be making a play to get me out, and their people in!"

Jacob shook his head. "Is there anything I can do?" he asked.

"No, I don't suppose there is. The funny part about it was, even with all my experience it never dawned on me,"
Hammond confessed. "Jack O'Neill is one very shrewd officer!"

"I've always found him to be a little abstruse actually," Jacob noted.

"Oh he's that alright, but alarmingly perceptive!"
Hammond admitted.

"Well Sam seems very fond of him, and that's always been a reliable barometer!"

*****

"Colonel O'Neill, Dr. Jackson, I'm Major Rawlings, I'll be in charge of making sure your stay with us is as comfortable as possible!"

The short Southern-accented officer greeted them curtly as they stepped from the helicopter.

Daniel regarded the Major with a sense of apathy. "You know, I'm sure I speak for the Colonel as well, when I say it's not a pleasure to be here!"

"He does!" Jack stated at the askant expression on the Major's face. "In fact, I think that's a little too understated."

"You um, think so?" Daniel asked. "I thought it summed it up quite nicely.  I mean, is there a more apt expression than it not being a pleasure?"

"Gimme long enough, no you know what? I don't need that long. You might as well take me straight to the altar! I've got one or two confessions to make!" Jack intoned.

Daniel raised his eyebrows. "At the altar?" he asked. "I would have thought the confession box?"

"Didn't think it was appropriate for a sacrifice Daniel!" Jack replied.

Lt. Colonel Lincoln shrugged at his colleague. "They've pretty much been like this the whole journey," he explained.

"Tension breaker?" Major Rawlings enquired.

"Beats me, they should probably be on TV with the repartee they have!"

"So is it a cell each, or do we get to be roomies again?" Daniel asked, his words generously laced with an acerbic tone that suited, and best expressed, his present state of disillusionment.

"If you'd like to follow me, Sir and Dr. Jackson, we have quarters for you," Major Rawlings told them.

"Quarters?" Daniel said, attempting to lift his tone to a measured excitement. "Not cells?" he queried, an element of chagrin now creeping into his attitude.

"Ah, come on Daniel, you gotta love this. I gave up being a system lord for this you know!" Jack pointed out. "Kind of puts the whole thing into perspective right?"

"So you did, my lord!" Daniel remarked, a smile accessing his face now.

"Ah, I've missed that," Jack replied jovially.

The living quarters were located on level 22, adjoining most of the recreational facilities housed within the base.

"Major General Masterson, our CO here at Nellis, thought you'd be more comfortable sharing, however if that's a problem?" Major Rawlings told them, opening the door to reveal a large room.

"How considerate," Daniel remarked.

"You're merely here to ascertain that both of you are free of any tampering, and to tell us whatever information about the Goa'uld that you might think useful!" Lt. Colonel Lincoln added.

"That sounds almost civilised, doesn't it?" Jack commented. "Yeah, look we've had a bit of a bumpy journey here, any chance of getting us some coffee, maybe letting us relax for a while before you start attaching electrodes to our brains and pulling out our fingernails?"

Major Rawlings looked completely taken aback now, puffing up to respond.

Lt. Colonel Lincoln smiled. "I'm sure we can manage that Colonel," he replied, beaming more broadly now, "the torture we can leave until later, Sir!"

O'Neill's mouth lopsidedly returning the smile, without it ever reaching his eyes. "Great! Does this temporary vicissitude include un-cuffing us?"

"Yes, Sir. You'll have guards posted outside, so if you need anything just holler!" the Lt. Colonel told them both as he and Major Rawlings un-cuffed them.

"I think I'll save my voice for the torture, might need to scream a little," Jack retorted.

Daniel looked around as the door closed behind them.  "Well, a television, and a laptop," he noted.

"Sweet we can watch Oprah whilst you write our biographies," Jack quipped. "Suntas hec locos cimexum!"

"Um, yeah I thought so!" Daniel responded, still slightly in awe of the Colonel's ability to communicate in the language of the Ancients, and grasping from the relative closeness of this language to Latin, that he alluded to the room being bugged.

*****

Major Rawlings stood beside Colonel Short, observing the camera and listening to the feed from the room.

"What did he just say?" Short asked, turning to Lt. Colonel Lincoln who had just joined them.

"I have no idea Sir, it's not a language I've ever heard before,"
Lincoln confessed.

"Colonel, you speak Latin, which is why I had you assigned to this.  I knew O'Neill would pull this stunt," Short complained.

"The words are similar Sir, but they could mean a myriad of different things.  Dr. Jackson is the only one who could give you an accurate account!"
Lincoln replied.

"Well, if he keeps that up we might have to induce
Jackson into doing just that," Short stated. "I have my orders here, Colonel O'Neill has become too great a risk to have walking around.  If he's compromised, we need to find out right away."

"All the SGC's tests came up negative Sir," Rawlings told him.

"Ours won't!" Short asserted. "And then the Colonel might just have a small accident!"

Lincoln took a deep breath. "An accident?"

"Have the doctors standing by with the Sodium Pentothal. I'd like to get this over with as soon as possible," Short intoned. "But let them have their coffee first, I want Dr. Jackson very relaxed, he'll talk a lot easier!"

"Yes Sir," Rawlings answered.

The two officers left the room, leaving
Lincoln to observe Daniel and Jack, who had both sprawled out onto the beds provided for them.

He'd need to get a message to them, but with the surveillance equipment that wasn't going to be easy - his first point of contact however, would be an urgent sat-com with General Vidrine.

*****

Teal'c had been difficult to awaken from his deep state of Keel No Reem, even so Carter had persisted, she needed to speak to someone who would understand the anxiety she felt.

"I feel pretty much left in the dark actually!" she told him. "General Hammond wouldn't tell me anything when I asked him, and the Colonel just kept on about the military being what it is. I just don't know what's worse - our Government, or the Goa'uld."

Teal'c raised an eyebrow then, slowly allowing the alarm he felt at that last statement to wash over his face.

"Indeed," the
Jaffa agreed, "since you are never certain of the intentions of this Government I share your concern, Major Carter."

"It's all so cloak and dagger all of a sudden. Damn it Teal'c, let's go and speak to General Hammond." Carter was already taking off out of the room when she bumped into Colonel Makepeace. "Sir?"

"Heading to see
Hammond?" Makepeace enquired.

"Yes Sir. How did you know?" she asked, a bemused, yet pleased, expression crossing her features.

"Had a hunch. I've been doing some checking with my contacts. I don't like what I'm hearing about Colonel Short.  Black ops doesn't cover his work description!" Makepeace told her.  "So I'm thinking it's about time we had that talk with the General!"

*****

Lincoln passed the coffee to O'Neill, managing to slip the piece of paper he had written on under the handle, ensuring that O'Neill was aware of its presence.

"Sugar in this?" Jack enquired, his eyes meeting
Lincoln's as he did so.

"One Sir, I was told that's how you drank it?"
Lincoln responded.

"And you'd be right!  Thank you LT."

"Ah, they put two in mine!" Daniel spat, disgusted at the taste.

O'Neill watched Lt. Colonel Lincoln leave the room, smiling ruefully to himself at the screwed up features of his colleague.

"Wanna swap?" he asked, standing and walking over to
Jackson.

"Really? Thanks," Daniel acknowledged, Jack deliberately blocking the camera view and allowing the note to fall into
Jackson's lap.

Daniel looked up at him, taking the coffee and handing his cup to O'Neill.

"Praecaveo! Sciretis velim et pertractalim - destruere!" O'Neill said slowly, to enable
Jackson to make out the adages he used.

Daniel mapped the words quickly in his mind, 'Beware, wonder and investigate - destroy.'

"Actually Jack I think I agree. Which is a little off-putting to say the least," Daniel replied, an indication that he understood, as near as possible, the intention behind the words.

"Your Ancient is really coming along nicely.  Since we have all this time on our hands, maybe we should consider taking the lessons further?" Jack told him, wandering towards the TV area, leaning back against the wall.

"You know, I didn't really want this coffee," he said, his eyes focussed intently on the camera that watched his every move. "Hey Short? You want it?" he yelled, throwing the coffee cup and it's contents at the camera.

Daniel took the opportunity to open the note out on his lap. "Er, Jack, they'll probably make you pay for that cup!" he said, as the pieces fell to the carpet.

"Yeah, you're probably right about that Daniel, ooh-oh here come the goons," Jack alerting Daniel to the SF's who were now opening the door.

Daniel read the note quickly, his mind thrown into a state of panic and anger. He turned to see the SF's advancing on Jack O'Neill.

"Ah, taking this a little personally fellas?" Jack joked, although noticing the menace in the eyes of the smaller guard, he paid closer attention to him.

"If you're about to assault an officer, I er, think you might be looking at a court martial!" Daniel snapped, moving around beside his colleague.

"I don't think they care about my rank Daniel!" Jack said. "Not after the stuff you just relayed to me!"

Jackson turned sharply toward his friend. "What? how did you..." Daniel stopped in mid flow then. "Jack, you can't?" he asked.

"Not the time Daniel, move!" Jack spat, pushing his colleague aside quickly and dealing with the first SF, his hand under gripping the right wrist of the guard and spinning him around with a force that stopped the second in his tracks.

Daniel stood amazed, turning his head to the right, looking in utter disbelief at the crumpled heap who was attempting to sit up and catch his breath.

"Don't make me do that again," Jack warned the second man. "I'm gonna overlook this when I put my report in, on account of your being upset about the decor and the cup, but that's about where my patience runs out."

Daniel was still in a state of shock, his jaw dropping slightly.

Jack regarded him askant. "Hey! Come on, even my sense of humour has it's limits!"

*****

Colonel Short stood silently, watching the scene played back to him.

The speed and power Colonel O'Neill displayed, awesome in it's effectiveness.

"The lab tests were clean?" he asked.

"Yes Sir,"
Lincoln replied. "How in the hell did he do that?"

"Looks like we've got a lot more than the interaction with the Goa'ulds to find out about here!" Short remarked.

*****

Major Rawlings entered the room. "What the hell do you men think you're doing?" he demanded. "Assaulting an officer?"

The two men were silently staring back at the Major.

"Assault?" Jack O'Neill asked, looking sheepishly toward Daniel, then back at Rawlings. "Er, yeah, sorry about that, needed a work out. Listen, thanks guys!" he persisted, patting them both on the back. "I'll go a little easier next time."

Rawlings glared at the Colonel. "If you say so Sir!"

O'Neill stared back, the smile slowly erased from his face. "Oh yeah, I do Major.  Let your boss know I'm ready whenever he is," Jack's tone and expression were a direct challenge.

Major Rawlings nodded, unable to keep eye contact with this dogmatic SGC Colonel, who didn't appear to be what any of them had thought.

As soon as the door closed, Jack turned to Daniel. "Meus Amicus," he said, "I guess I should explain hah?"

"Um, no. I think we're on the same page here, how do I resist?" Daniel asked.

"SP? It takes a lot of will power Danny boy - pain helps. Focus on something painful, something that hurts so much, nothing else can come close.  After that, it's down to you!" Jack told him.

"Great! Is this legal?" Daniel asked, concerned now that his rights were about to be completely violated.

"You'll do fine Daniel, you've got nothing to hide. And yeah, we'll talk more about the secondary consideration later!" Jack replied, attempting to be as supportive as he could.

The door opened then, Short and three heavily armed SF's entering the room.

"Colonel O'Neill, since you're so eager to get started, no point in delaying is there?" Short said

"I guess not, see you later Danny boy!" Jack said.

"Vale meus amicus," Daniel replied, sitting back on his bed, a heavy sigh. "They have no idea what they're letting themselves in for!" he opined, a smile crossing his face then.

*****

"So tell me Jack, the language you were speaking - Ancients right?" Colonel Short asked.

"It's still Colonel O'Neill," Jack told him defiantly. "And, as for the language, you figure it out - you've got the files!"

Short shook his head.  "Your dogmatic attitude won't suffice with me Colonel, I've got Sodium Pentothal, but I'm sure you realised that from your little pep talk with Daniel Jackson!"

"Go ahead, make my day," Jack told him, a smile breaking out across his face now.

Short looked less than impressed. "Clint Eastwood right?"

"Yeah, he had some great lines. Hey! Maybe you should go watch a couple of those, see if your threat technique improves?" Jack suggested. "I'd recommend the one where he says a man's got to know his limitations.  Kind of succinct don't ya think?"

Short nodded. "Very Jack," he rasped, turning to Lincoln who was doing his best to conceal his mirth. "Bring the Doctor in, it's about time we got some answers here."

"Well, this is gonna be fun!" Jack observed, folding his arms and sitting back.

"More so for me I suspect!" Short gloated.

"Ya Think?" Jack responded, a confidence glowing in his eyes that instantly wiped the smirk from Short's face.

"If there's one thing I've come to know about people like you Jack, it's that they always think they're smarter than the next guy," Short opined, "but I've come to learn that even the hardest and sharpest of them all, can't overcome good interrogation techniques."

O'Neill unfolded his arms, leaning forward and resting them on the table, his confident expression emanating into an almost overwhelming aura that permeated the entire room.

"Short, let me tell you something, I have never been considered smart, or sharp. In fact, dense is a word most people use to describe me, but I have to admit next to you - I'm bordering on genius," he intoned. "So I'm gonna do you a little favour here, save your truth serum for someone it might work on, because it's only gonna piss me off."

Short walked closer to the table now, leaning on it, facing the Colonel.

"You don't scare me O'Neill, your special forces training won't help you here. I haven't even begun to piss you off, so sit back and be patient. It's coming!" Short threatened.

Jack looked at him,  lowering his eyes away from the stony face gaze of his adversary, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms once more.  "Hope you packed your toothbrush!" He replied. "Gonna be a long one!"

The doctor entered the room then. He looked at Jack O'Neill, sitting there smugly with a huge grin still adorning his face.

"Colonel O'Neill?" he enquired.

"None other," O'Neill replied.

"Colonel Short, are you thinking of injecting this man?" he asked.

"Well I didn't have you bring that in here for me!" Short snapped. "Now just get on with it."

Major John Lynch approached the Colonel now, reticent about applying a drug to a man of O'Neill's reputation and capabilities.

"You don't remember me Colonel," he said, in almost a whisper. "I was in your command during the Gulf war Sir."

"I remember you John, damn fine medical officer. Do your job," Jack told him.

"Yes Sir," Lynch responded, raising the syringe now and checking that no air bubbles remained. "Could I have your right arm please Colonel?" he asked.

Jack turned slightly in his chair, making it easier to present his right arm to Lynch.

"Once the drug begins to take," Lynch began, immediately pausing when O'Neill nodded.

"I know all about this one Doc, trust me on that," he reassured.

"Yes, of course," Lynch responded,  preparing the syringe now, tapping the colonel's skin to expose the vein. "I guess this is where I say, this won't hurt?" he offered.

"Yep I guess," Jack replied, watching the tip of the needle penetrate his skin, the stinging sensation as the fluid travelled into his arm, causing him to flinch slightly.  "Haven't lost your touch!" he quipped.

"He'll need about thirty minutes or so before the drug takes effect," Lynch told Colonel Short.

"Yes, I know the routine Major. Prepare another one of those for Dr. Jackson, might as well kill two birds with one stone!" he mused.

Jack watched Lynch exit the room, waiting for the drug to kick in. He knew the feeling well, the light-headiness that overwhelmed and controlled your thought process, making it impossible to gather reason, before blurting out whatever information was demanded.  He felt abnormally strong now though, almost as if his system was reacting to the chemical and fighting it, without need of employing the skills he'd learnt all those years before.

He took a deep breath, wondering if perhaps they'd altered the make-up of the drug, but nothing was happening.  Half an hour seemed like a long time, yet he still felt remarkably alert.

"Jack, how are you feeling?" Colonel Short enquired.

"It's still Colonel O'Neill, Short," Jack retorted, "but I'm feeling pretty good. How about you?"

Colonel Short moved closer to him, checking his watch. "We'll give him another twenty minutes or so, then I think we'll find him a lot more responsive," he told Lt. Colonel Lincoln.

"Yes Sir, would you like me to remain with him?"

"Yeah - do that. I'm going to have a little chat with Dr. Jackson, see if he wants to talk without needing to resort to drugs!"

*****

Daniel heard the footsteps a long time before the door opened, Colonel Short closing it after him as he entered.

"Daniel, I trust you're in a more talkative mood than Colonel O'Neill?" Short asked.

Daniel considered that for a moment, his eyebrows drew down into a frown, eyes focussing on the Colonel.

"Um, no I don't think so," he replied, folding his arms sternly across his chest.

"Daniel, I've heard you're an educated man. Do you really think that playing games is worthy of you? Colonel O'Neill's in trouble, why let him drag you down too?"

Daniel stood up now, feeling directly challenged.

"Colonel? Whilst I appreciate your natural proclivity toward conspiracy, or infiltration. I have to say that you're taking paranoia to a new and insidious level, which given your job probably shouldn't surprise me, but then again," he began, "whilst I can generally overlook the insinuations of the obviously challenged, attempting to coax, or threaten me with such transparent tactics is an insult.  But as I said, I can overlook that."

Daniel lectured, moving toward the man now. "What I can't overlook, is the disproportionate, and frankly absurd, depths to which you're willing to go in order to apparently take some kind of personal vendetta against Colonel O'Neill."

"You're wrong Dr. Jackson, there's nothing personal in it!" Short retorted.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I'll just have to doubt that, I guess you're so used to disseminating propaganda that it doesn't really register as a falsehood," Daniel paused just long enough for his words to sink in, then continued.

"I'm telling you, Colonel, you'd better think long and hard about where you're going with this.  Because I'll venture the consequences will ultimately bite you on the ass!"

"Have you finished with the sermon for the terminally challenged Dr. Jackson?" Short demanded.

"Oh, I haven't even begun!" Daniel replied. "You can force me to tell you things using mind altering drugs, I know there's nothing I can do to prevent that, but you're messing with a civilian here Colonel Short, one who has first amendment rights, and I'm not afraid to use whatever means necessary to have you brought up on charges for trashing those rights!"

Daniel turned away from him now, shutting him out.

"A pretty little speech. Your rights went out of the window when you colluded with the enemy!"

"I'm sorry Colonel, but the practise of prevarication appears more in keeping with you than it does with either Jack, or myself.  My natural propensity is more toward honesty and freedom," Daniel stated. "The same freedom that's been provided for you, thanks to someone who you now feel perfectly 'free' to persecute!"

"Fond of that aren't you?" Short asked.

"Of what?" Jackson enquired.

"Making speeches.  I guess it's the whole educational thing," Short spat.

"Um, no, it's actually communication. But I guess most words containing five or more letters might be a challenge for you!  But in case you are in any doubt, let me put it in terminology that probably sums it up quite succinctly.  No!" Jackson's tone raised slightly to impress the last word, his expression loathing, a tool to leave the Colonel in little doubt about his refusal to comply.

"Just remember Dr. Jackson, we're on the same side!" Short said, turning as if to leave.

"I'll remember that Colonel, right before you infringe on my civil and human rights," Daniel opined.

*****

"With all due respect Sir, I think we're being totally shut out here," Sam remonstrated. "Daniel and Colonel O'Neill had negative test results, from our own experience we would have been a whole lot safer if the Tok'ra had used their technology to ascertain if there were any mind altering techniques used!"

"I fully understand your apprehension here Major, however NID does have jurisdiction over developing possible leads to assist in the fight against the Goa'uld. Colonel O'Neill's unfortunate behaviour with Colonel Short has made the situation more volatile," Hammond explained.

"Sir, with respect," Colonel Makepeace stated, "that's why the de-brief should have been handled by SGC personnel. My opinion of Colonel Short's behaviour was that it led to the reaction from Jack!"

"That's as maybe," Hammond responded. "But it's out of our hands, and I can't say anymore than that!"

"Sir!" Carter snapped.

"Sam, that's enough," Jacob Carter intervened.

Teal'c looked toward the Tok'ra liaison now, something in his tone indicating to the Jaffa that perhaps things were not as they appeared to be.

*****

"How are you feeling Colonel?" Lincoln asked Jack, leaning closer to him now. He'd watched O'Neill apparently drifting in and out of a state of drowsiness for the past ten minutes.

"Fine Lt. You?" Jack responded.

"What's your name?"
Lincoln enquired.

"Forgotten already eh?" O'Neill chimed, leaning back in his chair.

"No Sir, I am trying to ascertain your state of mind,"
Lincoln replied, sitting in the chair opposite him and looking dubious now.

"Lt, there are people who have been trying to do that for years, still haven't found out yet!"

"Is the drug having an affect sir?"

"Drug?" Jack asked. "Oh, the drug. Yeahsureyabetcha!"

"Well that's not.."
Lincoln stopped in mid-sentence as Short re-entered.

"Well how's our chief protagonist doing?" he enquired brightly, expecting to see Jack O'Neill in a drugged and compliant state.

"Drug seems to be working Sir,"
Lincoln told him.

Short looked triumphant. "Hello Jack, can you tell me your full name?"

"Colonel Jonathon O'Neill, USAF, SGC, SG1," Jack responded.

"Seems good so far Jack.  Where are you stationed?" Short continued.

"
Cheyenne Mountain complex," Jack replied.

"Recently you were held hostage by the Goa'uld Colonel, what can you tell me about that?"

"It was damn unpleasant," he responded, his eyes empty now.

"Did you collude with the Goa'uld Colonel?" Short leant closer now.

"Yes I did," Jack answered.

Lt. Colonel Lincoln's head dropped at that point, he'd hoped against hope that Short and his cohorts could have been wrong.

"There I knew it!" Short gloated. "What secrets did you divulge in order to secure your freedom?"

"Well, I told them your address, your phone number, and mentioned you might be a possible candidate for a host!" Jack retorted, his eyes suddenly beaming. "Although I think they only take intelligent hosts as a rule!"

Short stood up now, the force of his anger throwing the chair back against the wall. "Damn it O'Neill, you think you're clever don't you?"

"Nope!" Jack responded. "I just think you're terminally stupid. Which by the way, might rule out the possibility of being a host, sorry!"

"You're the worst kind of officer O'Neill, you know that?" Short spat. "We know you've been turned, it's just a matter of time before I prove that!"

"Oh you're breaking my heart here," O'Neill replied.

"That's enough Colonel!" General Masterson ordered.

"He won't respond Sir, refuses to tell me anything," Colonel Short told his superior officer.

Masterson nodded, "I'm aware of Colonel O'Neill's stance Ian, perhaps simply asking him to account for his actions and the circumstances under which he took them might suffice?"

"I've tried that Sir!" Short protested.

"Oh please, you haven't once bothered to ask me anything about the damned thing," Jack protested, deciding to see exactly where the General stood.

"Colonel Short?" General Masterson asked. "Have you asked any relevant questions relating to the last six and a half weeks?"

"Yes, Sir I have," he answered, staring bitterly toward O'Neill.

"Colonel O'Neill, I am ordering you to cooperate with this investigation," Masterson snapped.

"Begging your pardon Sir, but this isn't an investigation, it's a witch hunt, and I've got nothing to add to what I wrote in the report Sir," O'Neill responded.

"Are you refusing to obey a direct order Colonel?" Masterson demanded.

"No Sir, I'm just pointing out that the whole episode has been recorded Sir, and that I have absolutely nothing to add!" Jack responded.

"Then I guess we're in for a very long day," Masterson stated, "Carry on Colonel Short."

"Thank you Sir," Short responded.

"So Ian," Jack mocked, "planning on the thumb screws now?"

"No Jack, I have a much better solution," he imparted. "Take Colonel O'Neill back to his quarters and bring Dr. Jackson in here. I'm sick of the sight of his face!"

"Hey who isn't," Jack opined, standing now.

"You're stupid O'Neill, you think you can buck the system?" Short questioned as Jack was being led from the room.

"Your system?" Jack stated. "Or the system?"

He turned then and followed the guards out of the room.

Lincoln looked at Short. "Sir, exactly how long can you hold him here?" he asked.

"As long as it takes, Lieutenant," Short replied.

"It's clear he doesn't want to talk Sir, or has nothing new to say. Isn't this just wasting a lot of valuable time?"
Lincoln persisted.

"No it's exactly what I've been instructed to do, and I'll carry it out to the letter, the longer the better!" Short told him smugly. "So if we can't break a confession out of him, we'll achieve our secondary goal of keeping Colonel Jack O'Neill right where we can see him!"


*****

"Hi Jack," Daniel greeted, the moment he saw the Colonel entering the room, somewhat relieved to see him in one piece.

"Hey! Your turn," Jack told him.

"You okay?" Daniel enquired.

"I've been better, just having a bad life," he opined. "Listen Daniel, before you go. Don't worry about anything you might say under the influence of the drugs.  They can't make you lie, you just won't be able to lie is all!"

"Thanks, I guess," Daniel responded, attempting to smile.

Jack could hear his thoughts as clearly as if they were his own.  The fact that at one time Daniel had doubted him, if only for a moment, weighed heavily on his mind.  Nothing he could do would suppress that feeling, and the guilt he felt about it transmitted loud and clear.

"You'll do fine," Jack encouraged once more, wishing whatever gave him the ability to know exactly what Daniel felt, could be reversed and used to help his friend at that moment.

"Thanks,"
Jackson responded again. "I just wish I had your confidence.  It's like they're trying to bury you here and anything I might of thought at that time might be the last pile of dirt."

"Daniel for crying out loud, will you just stop your worrying. Go on, get out of here," O'Neill told him, "Oh, and Daniel, don't forget the bit about the aftershave!"

Daniel paused for a moment in the doorway then. "Jack?" he called.

"Daniel?"

"I heard that!" he said.

"What?" Jack asked, walking toward him now. "What exactly did you hear?"

"Causa tuus incolunt fidem!" Daniel replied, the very words that Jack had unconsciously thought.

"Yeah, um, right. Sweet!" Jack said, thinking intensely for a moment.  Something in his mind kept telling him he could reach out and control,  but as fast as he consciously accessed it, it seemed to fade into a place he found hard to inhabit.

*****

Daniel walked into the room and scowled at Colonel Short.

"Welcome Daniel, now do we have to resort to drugs?" Short began. "Or are you willing to give us a truthful account of your own accord?"

"I've never declined to give you a factual account Colonel, and frankly I resent the accusatory tone in your voice!" Daniel replied, pulling the seat out and falling into it.

"Good, so shall we start with your own thoughts on Colonel O'Neill's actions?" Short asked, sitting opposite now.

"Well actually, no, that's a bad place to start. You see, most of the time I wasn't aware of Jack's direct actions, as he was often with Nyerti, or Heru'ur," Daniel replied. "In fact he spent a great deal of time attempting to learn about Goa'uld technology, whilst negotiating to get us freed."

Short sat back in his chair now, wondering how he could twist those words.

"So he preferred to spend his time with the Goa'uld?" he ventured.

"Um, no he didn't prefer it, he had no choice in the matter.  I'm sorry could I just make one point," Daniel asked, his face screwing up, almost in O'Neill fashion.

"Yes, Dr. Jackson, please feel free," Short remarked.

"Your aftershave is really bothering my allergies, is there any chance of your taking a shower or something?" Daniel sneezed then, that seemed to be as much as surprise to him as his statement was to Colonel Short, who did his best not to look offended.

"Are you being facetious?" he enquired.

Daniel sneezed again. "Er, no, does sneezing come under that particular umbrella?" he enquired, almost unable to control his thoughts suddenly, feeling almost light-headed.  "May I get some water, or something?" he asked.

Short noticed the reddening in Daniel's cheeks and looked suddenly alarmed at the reaction he appeared to be having.

"Um, perhaps someone should bring Dr. Jackson some water. Lt. Colonel Lincoln, carry on here.  I'm going to take a shower!" Short ordered.

Lincoln moved forward, jumping at the chance to offer Daniel assistance.

"Dr. Jackson, are you alright?" he asked, his tone laced with concern.

Daniel looked at him, "Yeahsureyabetcha!" he replied, looking suddenly surprised, even distressed as he uttered the words. His eyes closing, Jack O'Neill he thought, a heavy sigh escaping his lips. "Oh boy!" he muttered. "Oh crap!" Looking, almost apologetically now at
Lincoln. "I'm er, I'll be alright," he told him. "I just need to clear my head," he added pointedly.

*****

In the solitude of his quarters, Jack's eyes opened, he shook his head. "Whoa!" he exclaimed. "Cool!"


Inquisitions III

Jack O'Neill took a deep breath, closing his eyes now, concentrating his thoughts, he exhaled.  Something inside told him he could reach out, beyond the confines of himself and control something.  He wasn't sure what yet, but something was there, something inside, almost an echo that guided him.

He could feel Daniel's apprehension, almost as surely as if it were his own.  Perhaps he understood his friend's fears more than he'd ever allowed himself to listen or hear his own.

'Daniel, listen to me.  Say your name if you can hear me,' the thoughts projecting speech, he could hear as clearly as if he'd spoken them, silently. Using the connection he perceived, that appeared to flow freely between he and Jackson, since the episode with the Aztec descendants, nearly four or five months ago.  'Daniel?'

'Jack?' Daniel's voice, as clearly as if he had spoken to him. 'Why can I hear Jack?'
Jackson's thought continued, the sudden horrifying sound of someone else in his head intruded once more.

'Whoa! This is cool!' Jack thought.

'Um, not really,' Daniel replied, attempting to remain silent in the interrogation, whilst answering what he now knew to be O'Neill, projecting his thoughts into his consciousness.

'Yeah, well your thoughts aren't exactly inspiring either Daniel.  I mean what the heck...Ah, yeah. Um, never mind that, just wanted to see if this thing worked," Jack told him.

Daniel raised his eyebrows, 'Well I guess we can surmise that it works now, can't we?  Which, as you can imagine, is just a little disconcerting.  It's bad enough listening to you in real life without having you in my head!' Daniel complained.

'Hey! Back at ya,' Jack retorted.

'Yeah, um, I'm a little busy here. Can we do this later?' Daniel asked.

'Yeahsureyabetcha, and Daniel?'

'What?'

'Try not to think too loudly hah?' Jack goaded.

'Sorry,'
Jackson told him, then almost blurting it out to those gathered in the interrogation room.  'Why am I apologising?  Jack, get the hell out of my mind will you?'

Daniel waited for that infamous comeback, but it never came.  Silence at last and a sense of relief ebbing over him.

*****

Jack laid back on the bed, listening to Daniel's thoughts. A smile crossing his face then, when
Jackson enquired if English had become a second language, since Short seemed incapable of understanding much of anything he said.

'That's telling him Danny boy!' Jack said aloud, hoping that this new skill wasn't projecting those words to Daniel. He closed his eyes then, relaxing, allowing the thoughts to penetrate his mind, attempting to gauge Daniel's state of mind.

*****

"No! You're wrong. Never at anytime, did I actually doubt Jack's sincere desire to get us out of that situation," Daniel snapped at Short.

His thoughts then once more exploded into Jack's mind. 'This guy is such an ass!'

'Hey! You're telling me,' Jack concurred.

"Will you stop that!" Daniel vociferated.

Short looked at him curiously now. "Stop what?" he asked.

"Er, sorry. I..." Daniel stuttered. "I, um. Never mind.  I'm just feeling a little...tired," Daniel excused, feeling slightly compromised now.

"Perhaps you'd like a break?" Short enquired, himself confused by the sudden unsolicited outburst.

'Now's he playing good cop!' Jack thought.

Daniel's expression bordered now on embarrassment. It was almost as if the words he could so clearly comprehend in his mind, were being broadcast to all present.  He tried quickly to reassert his thought process.

"Um, yeah. You know that would probably help.  I'm still slightly out of sync from the space travel, or something I guess!"

'Whoa, quick thinking Danny!' Jack imparted. 'Nice catch.'

'Thank you,' Daniel replied in kind, another silent thought quickly following.

*****

As the door closed behind him, Daniel raised his hands gesturing at O'Neill quizzically.

"What in the hell were you doing?" he demanded.

"Daniel, I was attempting to sleep," O'Neill retorted, glowering at
Jackson to think his comments, and the disdain he laced his tone with.

'Ok, how's this!' he remonstrated. "This is ridiculous! You're invading my head Jack, I can't think straight."

"Hey, you're telling me?" Jack said aloud.

Daniel looked like he was fit to burst. "Oh, that's it. Do what you usually do!" he said.

"Me? Hey, I'm not the one that has some pretty interesting thoughts about...well we won't go into that here, but hey! Ice cream?" Jack's eyes glowing with the wicked devilment of a tormenting schoolboy.

'God you can be such an ass!' Daniel thought, his tone almost loathing.

'Ah, come on Daniel for crying out loud. Lighten up will you?' Jack chided.

"That's so easy for you to think!" Daniel said aloud, "You're not the one who's feeling very space lagged, are you?"

Jack's expression fairly exploded into amusement,  his facial muscles contorting as he tried to conceal his delight at Daniel's sudden about turn, realising he was speaking out loud, just in time to save himself once more.

He concentrated now, wearing that scalded child look he was so fond of.

'Yes, um see that's you isn't it?' Daniel thought. 'You find everything amusing. I don't suppose you even stopped to think you were invading my privacy did you? Oh no!'

'Daniel...'

'You've been listening in, prying into my mind, my most...'

'OK, that's it!' Jack vociferated. 'Stop whining. You think I like having you whirring around in my head? No Daniel, I woke up the other night, and what the heck do you think woke me?'

Daniel stared forlornly now. "No, what?" he asked out loud forgetting himself once more.

"You having nightmares Daniel, horrific nightmares!" Jack joined him in voicing his thoughts audibly. "Kinda hard to sleep when I can hear all that pain and hurt in my head."

Daniel took a deep breath now, trying to control the anger that was now tempered with a sense of sadness, recalling the very dream his friend spoke of.

"I was gonna call you," Jack told him. "Maybe see if talking might help."

Daniel looked intrigued then, "Oh, really? Why didn't you?"

Jack looked at him with as much frankness as he could muster. "Nyerti didn't have phones!" he told him.

Closing his eyes, Daniel's head dropped then, slowly moving from side to side.

Jack tried not to smile, unsure if the moment called for solemn.  Daniel finally allowed his head to lift enough to look into his friend's face.  A mildly amused expression harbouring enough resignation, to display a sense of acceptance in
his friend's obvious need for levity.

"Nyerti didn't have phones," he echoed, the smile now steadily overtaking his face. "That's a typical Jack O'Neill moment!"

Jack shrugged. "Hey! It's the truth. I had one of those moments. D'oh no phones!" he imparted.

"Yes, I can just imagine actually!" Daniel smiled.

"Well, I felt a little stupid actually, but that's not exactly a new feeling for me, if you know what I mean!" O'Neill reflected, his face contorting into that boyish repose of self-consciousness.

"So, how do we convince them we're not spies or evil doers, and get the hell out of here?"
Jackson asked, changing the subject almost intentionally.

"Well, now see, that might prove a little difficult," Jack responded, "since they're obviously not concerned with the truth so much as keeping us holed up here, to expedite whatever sinister little plot they're hatching!"

"Isn't there anything we can do?" Daniel implored. "I'm getting a little tired of this!"

Jack regarded him for a moment, his thoughts intentionally flooding into Daniel's mind.

'That's just what they want. You've got to act like you don't care, the more they think, or know they can get to you, the easier it makes it for them to put words in to your mouth.'

Daniel nodded. 'I know you're right. It's just I'm getting a little fed up with my life being dictated by other people.'

'Welcome to the
US military, Dr. Jackson!'

Jackson shuddered then.  'I'm not in the military Jack, and I don't intend to be treated as if my views, my rights don't count!'

O'Neill pulled a face at  him then. 'Think you have a choice?' he thought.  'And, get off my case, it's not my fault.'

Daniel shot him a look then. 'Sorry, no one else here to blame. So I guess you get the job!  Which is actually some form of divine retribution,' he mused.

'Daniel, believe me, there's nothing divine about having you yapping away in my head!'

*****

Janet made her way quickly to level 28, the latest results were in from the PET and MRI scans taken from Colonel O'Neill and Daniel Jackson a day earlier. She'd been focussing on the blood work, and had set them aside.

Now she feared that might have been a mistake. In her hurry she barged into
Hammond's office.  "Sir?" The alarm in her tone, enough to prevent Hammond from asking the obvious question.

"The PET scan showed some anomalies sir, and frankly, I think we're seeing what might possibly be Goa'uld tampering," Janet told him, angst written across her face.

"What? Are you sure?"
Hammond asked, the same concern etched into his features.

"No Sir, not exactly sure. The only other thing I can think of is that Ancients download that affected Colonel O'Neill in much the same way," Janet added, "If this is taking over incrementally Sir, the Colonel maybe in danger."

Hammond frowned. "I'm going to speak to General Vidrine, I want a full work up on those results Doctor, anything that might help!" he ordered.

"Yes Sir."

*****

"I'm getting a little tired of this - Daniel, take off your glasses!" Jack advised.

"Why?"
Jackson asked, somewhat bewildered by the request, a low humming sound beginning to resonate in his mind.  The casual glance at O'Neill suddenly intensifying.

"Just take '‘em off!" Jack snapped, he looked a little concerned now. His eyes were widening, his cheeks flushing.

"Jack are you ok?" Daniel questioned, his glasses discarded he got up almost without thinking about it and walked toward his friend.

Jack's hands raised to his head now, his face creasing with intense pain.

"Somebody, help!" Daniel cried out, as he did so the television screen exploded, throwing shards of glass into the centre of the room, electrical wiring began to heat up and fuse, cameras sparking and shorting out.

Daniel stared horrified, yet fascinated at the same time, his hands reaching up to his ears as if it might stop the intensified sounds that exploded into his mind.

Jack let out a huge gulp of air, his hands dropping from his face, a calm expression restored.

"Whoa!" he gasped.

Daniel knelt in front of him now. "Jack, did you do that, or couldn't you stop it?" he quizzed.

"I ..." Jack looked distant, confused almost. "I, had to do that..." he said slowly.  "Daniel, we've got to get out of here, and I mean now!"

Jackson shook his head, confused now. "How can we?" he asked.

"Oh, that's not going to be a problem!" Jack told him, the doorframe splintering as he looked at it.

"No? I guess not," Daniel opined, following O'Neill as he made his way from the room, the SF's stepping aside, lowering their weapons.

*****


"What the hell happened?" Short demanded.

"I have no idea Sir, the whole base went out. It's like we were hit with a massive electrical surge or something," Major Rawlings told him.

"Get those cameras back on line now, and send a team to holding room 30!" Short barked.

*****

"Well this is intense, are you dangerous to be around at this point?" Daniel enquired, as he followed Jack through the base.

"Nope, not unless you don't stop that yapping and complaining, I'm not!" Jack retorted.

Daniel raised his eyebrows quickly, "Right, yes. I was so surprised by this new O'Neill I forgot the old one was hanging around too!" he mused.

"Hey! Old I might be, but if we don't get out of here...they're not exactly gonna let me get ancient, you know what I mean?"

"Jack you're kidding? They can't...they wouldn't?" Daniel sound amazed as he forced the words out.

"They can, and they intended to. Don't ask me how I know, all this stuff is flying around mixed up with some damn archaeological rhetoric...but, trust me, I just know.  We've got to get back to the SGC Daniel, and I mean quick!"

Daniel looked concerned now, as they emerged from the base and made their way across to the helicopter, still seated on the tarmac.

"I guess we're taking that?" Daniel asked.

"We are, so just hope I don't have any more impulses to throw electrical charges out, or.." Jack told him.

"We might crash, um great. Well try to think calm thoughts," Daniel encouraged.

"Daniel you think 'em, I'll fly!"

*****

The helicopter flew fast and low, Daniel alternating his attention between the perilously close haze of objects that seemed far too close for comfort, and a silent O'Neill.

He couldn't figure out if Jack was concentrating, or simply contemplating where this latest bid for freedom left them on the grand scale of things.  The thought that they had planned his death troubled
Jackson, almost as much
as the whole chain of events that had made them fugitives of sorts.

Finally unable to stand the silence.  "Jack aren't we going to have a slight problem?  We just broke out of custody," Daniel reminded him, speaking into the microphone that he'd pulled into place from the headset O'Neill had presented him with.

"Well, I guess, kinda," Jack replied, checking the radio frequency now, and changing it to one that could easily encode for contact with the SGC.

"Stargate command, come in?" he said, listening intently to the static feedback,  waiting for a response.  "SG command do you read over?"

*****

General Hammond, summoned to the control room, asked immediately about the incoming transmission.

"I couldn't swear to it Sir, but it sounds a lot like Colonel O'Neill," Sergeant Davis told him.

"Respond Sergeant, and request ID confirmation,"
Hammond ordered.

*****

Daniel looked nervous, his gaze from Jack averting now to the empty skies around them, expecting some form of pursuit.

"This is
Cheyenne Mountain complex, you are on a restricted channel.  Please identify, over?"

"Yeah, Stargate command.  This is Colonel Jack O'Neill, SG1, we are currently on route to the complex in a helicopter commandeered from NID SHQ. We had no authorisation to abscond, repeat we are currently considered hostile over!"

The silence seemed to plague both men, awaiting confirmation that Stargate command was indeed prepared to allow them safe passage.

"Colonel?"
Hammond's voice now. "I need you to ground that bird, do you read?"

"Um, reading you Sir," O'Neill answered, looking across at Daniel. "Sounds like we might have a bunch of hostile birds on our six!"
"Oh boy!" Daniel gasped. "Can we elude them?"

"Hey, you tell me. These things aren't that fast Daniel, but they're pretty easy to hide," Jack reassured, his focus now on a wooded area, selecting a clearing to bring the chopper down in.

Daniel pushed himself further back into his seat, as the trees seemed to move way too close to them.

"Now what?" he asked.

"Now we wait for
Hammond to give us instructions," Jack told him, shutting the engine down.

"Great! What if they find us?" Daniel enquired. "We're not exactly going to be very popular.

Jack turned, as much as his harness would allow. "If they find us Daniel, I don't think it's going to be a very long conversation do you?" The frown that now loomed like a black cloud over his face, perfectly illustrated the point.

"No, I er guess not,"
Jackson concurred. "I hate this!" he snapped. "I mean I felt safer with the Goa'uld and that's kind of ironic don't you think?"

"Yeah, I guess," O'Neill replied, sitting back in his seat comfortably. "I just get the feeling we're not out of the woods yet."

The two men looked at each other then, Jack lifting his left hand and indicating to the surrounding trees.

"Why do I do that?" he asked.

"You mean it wasn't one of those well practised O'Neill retorts? Jack I'm shocked," A smile crossed
Jackson's face now, that was mirrored in his colleague's eyes.

"Yep! Not one of those.  So listen, we've got some time on our hands here. Wanna go into this whole deal?" Jack enquired. "Maybe help me figure it out?"

"Er, yes. We should probably do that," Daniel replied.

*****

Carter and Teal'c waited for
Hammond to clear his call. Having been summoned to his office, Carter felt a sense of trepidation.

"I appreciate that Colonel Short, and I can assure you, if Colonel O'Neill comes back to the SGC you'll be informed immediately," Hammond told him, slamming the phone down.

"Sir?" Carter asked anxiously.

"Well it appears that Colonel O'Neill and Dr. Jackson absconded from Nellis about two hours ago - stealing a helicopter in the process!"
Hammond told them.  "Subsequently, several USAF fighters have been launched to intercept and escort them back to Nellis."

"Escaped?" Carter looked surprised now. "How Sir?"

"More importantly Major, it appears that we may have a bigger problem.  Dr. Frasier has presented me with some very disturbing new information on a PET scan taken from Colonel O'Neill,"
Hammond told her. "It appears that either some form of tampering by the Goa'uld has taken place, or...."

"The Ancients knowledge Sir?  That has to be it, we know it still exists.  The Colonel was able to tap into it when we encountered "Onnophris," Carter confirmed.

"Exactly Major, either way, we don't want NID capturing them.  But since we have no way of actually knowing why Colonel O'Neill decided to put them into this position, I'm going to have to be extremely cautious!"
Hammond advised.

"Has Colonel O'Neill made contact General Hammond?" Teal'c enquired.

"Very shrewd Teal'c, he contacted us an hour ago, using a special reserve frequency for emergency communication only,"
Hammond imparted.

Teal'c bowed his head, acknowledging
Hammond's praise.

"Is he able to return here?" Teal'c probed.

"I've already sent Colonel Makepeace and his team to retrieve Colonel O'Neill and Dr. Jackson,"
Hammond told them. "Sergeant Davis is communicating our intentions now, hopefully Colonel O'Neill will be able to give us his location!"

"Permission to accompany Colonel Makepeace Sir?" Carter requested.

"No, I have a feeling that Colonel Short and his cronies will show up here very soon. When they do, I want them to think everything is as normal!"

"But Sir," Carter began.

"That's my final word Major. I need you and Teal'c to run as much interference with Colonel Short as possible,"
Hammond imparted.

"Yes Sir, I'm sure we can manage that," Carter replied, slightly downhearted about her role.

******

"So, I can hear these voices, and I have to tell you Daniel, it freaked me out a little! Jack explained. "At first, I thought it might just be me, you know - ya can hear stuff sometimes.  But then I start getting all this stuff on Greek numerology and I'm kinda thinking, well this isn't good!"

Daniel looked fascinated. "But is it just me? I mean can't you hear Sam, or Teal'c or General Hammond?" he asked.

"Well, no actually, just you, which can be kinda frustrating at times, I have to say!" Jack shuddered slightly then, a smile sweeping his eyes.

"Can we please keep this civilised?" Daniel asked, instantly regretting the choice.

"Now, see that's just how you talk, it throws me right off!" Jack told him. "I mean your whole thought process is so damn complex, it's like spending the day with a library!"

"Thank you!" Daniel remarked, his eyebrows risen now,  pleased with such an obviously complimentary observation.

"If it wasn't so damn fragmented, I might manage a whole nights sleep!" Jack added.  "It's the kind of stuff made to ease insomnia!"

Daniel sighed heavily. "Do you make it your life's work to denigrate me?" he asked. "Feel I need humbling?"

"Okay, keep going you're getting warmer!" Jack jested, a warm smile as
Jackson's face screwed up in displeasure.

"See, this is what I mean. You spend most of your time attempting to make me feel foolish, what's that all about?" Daniel demanded. "Because I can tell you Jack, it's not very comfortable."

"Hey! It keeps you honest, besides you make it so easy!" Jack retorted. "Oh standby."

"SGC advise switch to nominal, nominal switch over?"

"Yeah, received," Jack acknowledged.

"Nominal?" Daniel queried.

"It's a special coded channel Daniel, scrambled to prevent anyone from listening in.  I figure we're getting help!"

"Well it's about time," Daniel replied, sounding relieved.

"SGC one niner, this is SGC 1, over," the radio interrupted.

"SGC one niner reading you, over."

"We require your location, will send extraction team, over."

"Ah, yeah we're about thirty clicks from
Cheyenne complex, North West, small wooded area.  We're the um, helicopter."

"Received, we may have to initiate contact again, keep this frequency open, SGC one out!"

Daniel looked even more relieved now, nodding quietly to himself.

"Yeah know what you mean, problem is, how the hell do I convince anyone that we had to get out of there? Blow a few fuses?" Jack replied to Daniel's thoughts.

"I really wish you'd stop doing that!"
Jackson implored. "It's so disconcerting to have your thoughts answered."

"Hey, doing my best here Danny, I swear, if I could turn you off I'd dance a jig!"

Daniel's eyebrows rose up, amusement spreading across his face. "Really? Now that I would like to see!"

Jack's grimace covering his face looked almost painful. "Don't hold your breath!" he advised.

*****

Colonel Short, as predicted, arrived at the SGC with a contingent of over twenty NID officers.

"Colonel?"
Hammond enquired.

"Just a precaution Sir.  We now believe that Colonel O'Neill is compromised.  He displayed some telepathic abilities, which we believe were responsible for taking out the power in the entire complex!"

"You'd better come to my office Colonel.  There's something your people should know!"
Hammond told him.

Carter and Teal'c looked at each other. "Whoa. The Colonel took out area 51!" Carter laughed. "Now that's an achievement!"

Teal'c lifted his head, tilting it to the left.  "Indeed!" he concurred.

*****

"You know, it really wouldn't be that bad if I wasn't the butt of all your jokes!" Daniel explained, trying to express how easily hurt he could be.

"Daniel, if you'd just lighten up! You take life way too seriously, and I love you for it, don't get me wrong, it's just that you're always so..... well damn serious."  Jack told him, a softer tone.

"I just take what I do seriously," Daniel objected, looking slightly miffed now.

"Exactly!" Jack exclaimed. "You need to lighten up. Just occasionally put the damn education down and have fun once in a while."

"I have fun, studying the cultures and the artefacts we get to see, that's fun to me." Daniel protested.

"No Daniel, that's work. Fun is...it's um, well it's fun!" Jack retorted, a pained expression crossing his features now, almost exasperated that he couldn't find the words to express it.

"Okay, let me help you out here,"
Jackson offered. "Fun is, mocking your team's interests, making fun of their speech or reactions, um, inappropriate sarcasm, how's that?"

"Hey! Pretty concise actually, thanks.  But you left out, one-liners, off the cuff remarks and witty comments!" Jack told him.

"Oh, I give up," Daniel concluded, looking out of the side window, at the trees.

"Now see, this is exactly what I mean.  Defeatist!" Jack snapped, "You give up way too easily! Argue with me, it's..."

"Fun?" Daniel asked.

"Yeah, see!" Jack told him. "Fun! I like that word, it's fun!" he grinned at Jackson now, who replied in kind.

"Wonder whose coming?" Daniel asked then.

Jack shrugged. "Does it matter? Makepeace probably. He's the only one
Hammond could send. Teal'c and Sam will be missed, you can just bet your ass our friend has shown up at the SGC with a platoon!"

"You're joking right?" Daniel sounded concerned now. "I mean he had jurisdiction before, what makes you think he's going to allow
Hammond to keep us now?"

"
Hammond wouldn't have switched frequencies and sent our people after us if he didn't have something up his sleeve Daniel, relax! Fun, remember that?"

"I'm trying so hard to find the reasoning behind all this. I mean, it's not enough that we get dragged all over the galaxy, threatened, beaten up, Goa'uld's breathing down our necks and now NID chasing us like criminals!" Daniel remonstrated.

"Hey! It's fun right? Okay, maybe that's pushing it a little, but it's kind of our job!" Jack told him, offering another reassuring smile. "We'll get out of this.  We got away from Nyerti right? The Replicators? The Unas, and hell, we even escaped the devil right?" O'Neill threw as much conviction and enthusiasm in as he could find.

Daniel took a deep breath. "I guess, just getting a little fed up with fighting on two fronts," he complained.

"You're a smart guy Daniel, it's not like they're gonna get the better of all that stuff you keep conveniently stashed. Have I mentioned, lightening up?"

Daniel looked rueful now. "I think you might have mentioned it, once or twice," he replied. "Must be your age, you've got a nasty habit of repeating yourself."

O'Neill looked askant then. "Oh yeah? Would that be Daniel Jackson humour sneaking up on me?" he enquired.

Daniel nodded. "Or I just think you repeat yourself a lot!"

"Hey, I kind of have to - you never listen!" Jack retorted, nudging
Jackson with his elbow. "Which can be kinda frustrating, and you never do any damn thing I tell you too!"

"Okay, so maybe I'm a little impetuous at times," Daniel agreed.

"Ya think!" Jack retorted. "Hey listen, remember that get together we had, where I beat you at chess?"

"How could I forget, the hangover, the embarrassment, and of course the..."

"Constant reminders of defeat!" Jack enthused. "Oh, yeah gotta admit that was one hell of a match too!"

"Actually, thinking about it," Daniel said sheepishly, "I really only have your word for that!"

Jack looked serious now, a quizzical frown sweeping over his face. "Ah, come on Daniel, you're not suggesting ....."

"Well, you do like to wind me up Jack, I'm starting to think this is just another one of those times," Daniel persisted, a so what expression momentarily on his face now.

"That's low Daniel, I'd never, ever do that," Jack retorted, looking slightly hurt now himself.

"Jack?" Daniel asked, a hint of concern in his tone.

"What?" Jack asked, his haughty tone belaying his apparent discomfort with
Jackson's statement.

"We appear to have a Makepeace approaching."

Jack looked around. Colonel Robert Makepeace, Major Coburn and three other men approached the helicopter, all wearing civilian clothes.

"Hi Jack, spot of bother?" Makepeace asked.

"Ah, it's the Jarheads come to rescue us Daniel, don't we feel good about that!" Jack told him, unstrapping his harness and alighting from the helicopter.

"Well, I owed you a rescue that worked," Makepeace told him.

"Yeah, but let's not get too hasty. We're not out of the woods yet!" Jack retorted.

Daniel cringed. "Okay, we need to leave before he finds anymore puns, the last two have been very painful!"

Jack looked at Makepeace. "He's not taking all this espionage very well. It's an archaeology thing, can't deal with the now."

"Okay. We're headed to my apartment," Makepeace said. "So we can give General Hammond the necessary time he needs to get your ass out of the sling."

"Great. What's with the escort?" Jack enquired.

"General Hammond figured there'd be safety in numbers," Makepeace told him. "We might run into trouble, so he sent our best men!"

"Trouble?" Jack and Daniel said in unison.

Makepeace closed his eyes now, waiting.

"Middle name?" Jack enquired of Daniel.

"Yes actually.  You too?" Daniel replied, following the group now, as they made their way from the wood.

"Nope," Jack told him. "It's my first actually."

"Um, Colonel Makepeace?" Daniel enquired.

"
Yes Dr. Jackson?"

"Do you have a chessboard by any chance?"

"Oh, that's low Danny," Jack complained, "really low."

"Come on Jack, it'll be..."

"Fun?" O'Neill enquired.

"Favourite word?" Daniel asked.

"Oh yeah, right up until now!"

Makepeace looked at Coburn. "I just can't figure them out," he muttered.

"I wouldn't try if I were you Sir, figure they bring back some of the planets with them," Coburn suggested.

*****

General Hammond, smiled now. "Colonel Short, I have had some very disturbing news. I think General Vidrine would like to see you, and your adjutant."

"Sir?" Short replied.

"Apparently some very interesting footage has turned up on his desk!"

Short looked slightly uncomfortable now, nodding. "Yes Sir, I'll make my way immediately, request permission?"

"Dismissed Colonel,"
Hammond spat, a smug look now centring on his face.  "One down!" he remarked.


Inquisitions IV

"So what's the plan?" Jack enquired of Makepeace, who drove the first of the two vehicles that now wound their way toward the Colonel's apartment hide out, travelling down the small roads behind the warehouse district.

"Plan?" Makepeace responded.

"Oh here we go!" Daniel complained. "It's that old feeling of déjà vu again."

"General Hammond has to have something in mind?" O'Neill asked. "Or he wouldn't be sticking his neck out."

"Well if he has one. I don't know about it!" Makepeace imparted. "And something else Jack, we all volunteered for this.  Pretty much every man at the SGC wanted a piece of this mission."

"Sweet, nice to be popular," Jack commented, a heavy sigh. "You know Daniel, I'm beginning to wonder if normality ever existed?"

Daniel, who was now leaning forward between the two front seats in order to join in the conversation, nodded slowly.  "It's looking fairly distant," he concurred. "Like we're stuck in some nightmarish time loop."

"Hey!" Jack warned. "Don't even go there, done that."

"Yeah, sorry. So Colonel Makepeace, what exactly are we meant to do in the mean time?"

"You boys getting sick of each other?" Makepeace enquired, a grin spreading across his broad features.

"Ah, well lets just say we've been cooped up for too long," Daniel replied.

"Yep. Way too long, I'd kinda like to get back to something a little less restrictive," Jack intoned, "like a mineral survey!"

"Oh yes, that would be so nice," Daniel agreed, a rueful smile breaking across his face.

"Christ! You guys are in bad shape. Well, a couple of beers should sort that out," Makepeace told them.

"I don't like beer!" Daniel pointed out.

"He's not normal?" Makepeace told O'Neill.

"You just noticed that?" Jack's retort measured stunningly over his face, with a wince. "He's my project actually!"

"Project?" Daniel enquired, wishing so much that he hadn't, as the word left his lips.

"
F. U. N. Dr. Jackson, you're the linguist. You can tell me what that means right?" Jack asked, glancing over his shoulder at Jackson, who wore that pained expression, his face framed so well.

"Ah, yes, it's next to the dictionary entry of lighten up?" Daniel replied. "Which I would consider, if certain people didn't spend so much of their time denigrating me!"

"Okay, I promise not to denigrate you," Jack said, looking askant at Makepeace now. "What the hell does that mean?"

"Beats the hell out of me?" The Colonel responded.

"Okay. I'll just shut up!" Daniel suggested, sitting back now and folding his arms.

Makepeace looked in his rear view mirror, a smile sweeping over his face once more.

*****

Carter listened intently to
Hammond, feeling more relieved than she dared let on.

"Major Coburn reported back about half an hour ago. Both Colonel O'Neill and Dr. Jackson are in a safe house with Colonel Makepeace," he explained. "We've got precious little time here.  We need to find a way of convincing the Pentagon that the SGC is better equipped to deal with the de-brief than NID."

"Well the Colonel is much more likely to deal with us, than any other department. Especially NID, he has no faith in them at all!" Carter argued.

"I appreciate that Major. I just don't think that NID is going to let go of this one,"
Hammond said.

"General Hammond, would it not perhaps be prudent to suggest that since Colonel O'Neill and Dr. Jackson, are far more likely to cooperate with SGC personnel that NID merely observe. Thus offering some form of information that they might find useful?" Teal'c suggested.

"I agree with you Teal'c, the problem is, most others don't. They don't understand the Colonel's reluctance to cooperate,"
Hammond said.

"Well they should!" Sam remonstrated. "He spends over 9 weeks held hostage, doing things he'd never consider doing, to keep himself and Daniel alive, they treat him like the enemy?  And wonder why?"

"Major, I know. We do have other forces at work here, but I'll keep trying. Major Davis and General Vidrine both share our views. Hopefully that should hold some sway when it comes to making a decision,"
Hammond opined.

*****

Makepeace's apartment spanned the entire top floor of a disused warehouse.   Jack had taken a look around, impressed with it's amenities.

"Spend much time here?" he asked, pushing one of the snooker balls across the huge green table.

"Not much, I tend to get a little bored when I'm on leave," Makepeace explained leaning on the table. "Hence all the toys. Do you play?"

Jack shook his head. "Nope, not my game. Chess board?" he enquired.

Makepeace nodded his head, inclining it towards Daniel. "Dr. Jackson seems to have found that."

"Ah, SG1 the re-match!" Jack intoned. "Okay Daniel, prepare to lose big time," he challenged.

Jackson raised his eyes heavenward. "That's what I admire about you. Modesty!"

"Confidence Daniel," Jack corrected. "Just feeling very confident!"

The two men sat opposite each other now, each studying the board.  Daniel occasionally looking at O'Neill's face to gauge his reaction to the moves he made.

Makepeace had settled down, reading a book on military history, whilst Major Coburn watched in fascination as Jack and Daniel matched their wits.  An hour or so on, O'Neill had won two games in quick succession.  This fact
clearly seemed to vex
Jackson.

"Okay, one more match?" Daniel enquired, although it sounded more like an order.

"Yeah, why not?" O'Neill retorted, stretching his arms up behind him. "Has anyone ever mentioned how your nose twitches when you're losing?"

Daniel looked at him, pushing his glasses back. "It does?" he asked, looking slightly perturbed at this new information.

"Yeah!" Jack told him, beaming back broadly. "Kinda reminds me of Tabitha!"

"Tabitha?"

"It was a show Daniel, Bewitched? Ah, never mind," O'Neill told him as he looked across at
Jackson's expression of bewilderment.

Daniel looked suddenly concentrated then, his face registering the discovery his mind computed.

"No, don't say it!" Jack warned, his face screwing up.

"You're reading my mind aren't you?"
Jackson charged. "I must be the only person stupid enough to play chess with someone who can read his mind!" he opined.

"Daniel, I said don't say it and you went right ahead," Jack groaned. "And how many more times.  I'm not consciously reading your mind, think about something else!" O'Neill offered.

"Which would explain how you're beating me," Daniel continued, looking sharply at Jack now. "What? How can I play this, whilst thinking about something else?" he demanded.

"I'll play you Dr. Jackson?" Coburn offered.

Daniel looked at Jack then, his expression pinched and accusatory. "At least I'll get a fair game!" he stated.

"Yeah, go ahead," he told the archaeologist. "This is too easy!"  A smirk breaking out across his handsome features.

Daniel frowned at him. "Only because you're cheating," he reminded O'Neill.

Jack shrugged. "I can't help hearing it Daniel, maybe you should think quieter hah?"

"Wait? Think quieter?"
Jackson looked stunned. "Yes, um, how exactly do I do that?" Daniel enquired.

"Practise!" O'Neill whispered, as he stood stretching his arms out, offering a smile to Coburn then. "You any good?"

"I was college champion for three years running Sir!" Coburn told him.

Jack looked at Daniel then. "College champion. You think you can beat him?"

"Um?" Daniel pondered.

"I think he can beat you Major, and just to prove it, I'll wager you forty dollars that Daniel beats ya!" Jack challenged.

Coburn looked across at Makepeace, whose head inclined to the right then. "I'll take some of that," he agreed. "My forty says Major Coburn here will win!"

"Daniel, you want some of this?" Jack asked.

Jackson frowned at him. "I don't gamble, but if you want to put you money on it Jack, go ahead."

"Done!" Makepeace said. "Jack want a beer?"

"Yeah. Great. Daniel?" Jack enquired.

"A beer no,"
Jackson focussed on the board already.

Jack's thoughts entering his mind then. 'Didn't need to read your mind Daniel, Ancients' numerology and strategy is far in advance of ours.'

Daniel smiled to himself, or so it appeared to Coburn. 'Thank you, at least I know you didn't beat me!' Daniel replied. 'And I don't want any help, before you ask!' he insisted.

'Hey! Who's asking? You can beat him.'

Coburn looked at
Jackson now. "Ready?" he asked.

"Ah, yeah just about. Can I get a coffee or something?"

"Robert?" Jack yelled loudly to be heard, the kitchen some distance from the huge lounge they inhabited. "You got some coffee?"

"Yeah I'll throw on a pot," Makepeace shouted back.

"Dr. Jackson, you start. You're white," Coburn offered.

"It's um, Daniel, Major," Jack replied, his eyes still focussed on the board.

"James," Coburn said.

Makepeace sat next to O'Neill on the couch, the two men sipping their beers and watching with interest as the tactical battle between the SG units one and two hotted up.

"So Jack, how'd you beat him?" Makepeace asked. "Since you've just cajoled me into wagering forty bucks on someone you beat fairly easily!"

"I'm a good chess player?" Jack offered.

"Yeah, so why are you so confident he can beat Coburn?" Makepeace probed.

O'Neill shrugged. "It wasn't a fair contest, Daniel was playing against a race far more advanced than ours!" he imparted.

"The Ancients? Man, that's so cool the way you've got that in your head.  So, would that knowledge be something the Goa'uld could tap into?"

"Subtle Makepeace,
Hammond put you up to this?" Jack asked.

Makepeace raised his hands in self-defence. "Hell no. I'm just curious. Tell me you wouldn't find it fascinating?"

O'Neill gave him an ironic glance. "I wouldn't find it fascinating," he retorted. "And neither would you if you had all this stuff running about in your head. Being tuned into radio Daniel, isn't exactly a picnic!"

Makepeace stared at him. "Still? I read in the report that those creatures turned off the ability?"

"Yeah, so did I. Right up until I can hear Daniel yapping in my head," he complained.

"So is this what blew the power supply at Nellis?" Makepeace asked.

Jack looked askant at Makepeace then, a feeling of distrust sweeping over him for no apparent reason.

"Makepeace, I know this stuff must be really fascinating for you, but I'm trying to watch this match!" Pointedly.

"That's okay Jack, I guess in your position I'd be the same. But I am just curious, coupled with the small insignificant aspect of security!"

Jack took a deep breath now. "You know everyone is trying to arrogate this damn stuff! It's got a built in mechanism Makepeace, I'm not sure it should even be in here - the Asgard certainly seemed to agree."

Makepeace looked concerned. "Built in mechanism?" he enquired.

"Yeah, that's right. It's called self-preservation!" Jack intoned. "So whatever agenda anyone's got for trying to remove it, they can forget about it."

O'Neill seemed agitated now, Makepeace nodding at him.

"You're an arrogant son of a bitch Jack, I like that about you. You don't trust anyone do you?" Makepeace stated. "I guess in your position that's a smart move. I'd be a little resistant too!"

"Great. Now shut up and let me watch hah?"

*****

Daniel's mastery of anticipation was beginning to show evidence as he accumulated more of Coburn's key pieces.

The Major, finding it difficult to grasp Daniel's strategy, finally conceding once he had lost his Queen.

"Sorry Colonel, I guess Daniel's a lot better than I thought," Coburn apologised.

"It's only money," Makepeace replied, counting out forty dollars and passing it to O'Neill. "Major, you want to check your men?"

Coburn nodded, handing Jack his stake, pulling his jacket on. "You must be some kind of chess player Sir," he told O'Neill.

The Colonel nodded. "Oh yeah. You want a game, right?" he asked.

"If you wouldn't mind Sir, I think I could learn a little," Coburn told him, "Daniel's game is fairly unreadable, just wondered how you could beat him so easily?"

Jackson regarded his colleague now with a degree of interest, wondering if he had any intention of revealing his secret.

"It's a talent!" Jack intoned, smiling. "I'm good at math."

Daniel looked curious now, meeting Major Coburn's glance. "Oh yeah, he's good at math!" he concurred.

Coburn nodded.

Makepeace studied O'Neill closely for a moment, the Colonel's face seemed to crease up with discomfort.

"Jack you alright?" he enquired.

"Headache. Maybe I'll lay down for a while," he suggested "It's getting pretty intense."

"Yeah, sounds like a good idea," Makepeace agreed.

Daniel's concern invaded Jack's thoughts now like a tidal wave.

He looked across at
Jackson, attempting a smile. "I'm okay Daniel, just suffering from a little sleep deprivation!"
 
Jackson nodded. 'If you're sure.'

"Oh I'm sure, this stuff is just taking a while to adjust is all!" Jack reassured.  A smile at
Jackson then. "de profundis!" He whispered.

Daniel nodded. "Yes, from the depths we cry!" he acknowledged.

"Close," O'Neill told him.

Once he'd safely seen O'Neill through to a spare room, Makepeace approached Daniel.

"Colonel, please don't start interrogating me,"
Jackson asked. "I know about as much as you do."

"Look, we've got to convince the powers that be, that he's no threat to security. They think his mind might have been tampered with by the Goa'uld," the colonel told Daniel. "General Hammond is sticking his neck on the line for you both Daniel, so you'd better come up with something to reassure them, and soon!" he warned.

"Colonel, all the threats in the world, good intentions aside, won't make Jack any less reliable. His mind hasn't been tampered with.  I seriously doubt the Goa'uld could get past the Ancients anyway," Daniel explained. "That knowledge
appears to give him some form of protection - I really believe that Heru'ur respects Jack.  He saved his life twice, and mine too!"

"A Goa'uld?" Makepeace seemed shocked. "Saved your lives?"

"I know Colonel, I found it difficult to accept too. Whatever military recognition Heru'ur perceived, he seemed to relate to Jack. He saved our lives even after he got what he wanted,"
Jackson looked almost in awe now, his eyes opening wider a perfect imitation of a wondrous child. "I can't explain it, I didn't understand what they were doing.  Heru'ur made an oath, one, which in the face of it, he could easily have broken.  But he went to great lengths to show Jack that he had no intention of adjuring from that pact!"

"So, what, we have an ally?" Makepeace questioned, a lopsided grimace sweeping his face from even considering calling a Goa'uld an ally.

"No!" Emphatically. "No we don't have an ally.  Jack does!" There was something poignant in that statement.  Though not fully understanding or comprehending what had made him so sure of it, somehow Makepeace wore the same expression of acceptance.

"I just hope the people upstairs can accept it!" Makepeace opined. "For Jack's sake!"

*****

Hammond met Major Davis topside, anxious for any news.

"Well Sir, General Vidrine managed to talk them round. He used the video evidence showing Colonel Short's intentions, which seemed to do the trick."

"Just the news I've been waiting to hear Major, can we bring our people in now?"
Hammond asked.

"Yes Sir, um, we suggest a call from a public phone, from either Dr. Jackson or Colonel O'Neill, through the switchboard asking for extraction?"
Davis told him.

"I'll see what we can do about that Major!"
Hammond agreed.

The two men exchanged a smile. "I would also suggest Sir, that Colonel O'Neill be interrogated by Dr. Jackson - based on the statement from Martouf, and what NID have already obtained, Dr. Jackson is pretty much in the clear," Davis told him. "Colonel O'Neill appears to trust Daniel above anyone else."

"After what they've been through, I'm not surprised about that!"
Hammond agreed.

"It's not just that Sir, when Colonel O'Neill took out the power grid at Area 51 most of the surveillance equipment was also lost. Tapes, fortunately not ours, were completely erased - except one that had been put in a fire safe.  It clearly indicates that Colonel O'Neill was communicating with Daniel using some kind of telepathy. There's barely any speech at all, and yet they both look as if they are responding to conversation.  General Vidrine believes this link will enable Daniel to by-pass the Colonel's resistance,"
Davis imparted. "I have to tell you Sir, they are gonna be a damn cite more respectful of the Colonel over at Nellis in future!"

Hammond looked at him as the elevator stopped. "Major, I think we all are!"

*****

Daniel watched the news on Cable, listening to a reality that he felt almost removed from.  He'd checked his watch several times - checked Jack several more, and had, he believed, managed to convince Makepeace that his friend was, with the exception of the Ancients' knowledge, very much himself.

In spite of this, Daniel wasn't sure whether he felt comfortable.  The shock of what the USAF intelligence arm was capable of, shaking him more than he dared admit.

Major Coburn lurked close by, his continuous attention to security easing some of Daniel's fears.

The telephone interrupted his thoughts then. He peered into the recesses of the spacious apartment, back toward the kitchen, where Colonel Makepeace was accepting the call.

Coburn and Daniel exchanged glances then, as they waited for Makepeace to emerge.

"Could be good news?" Coburn offered, seeing how tense
Jackson appeared.

"Yeah, and it could be bad!"

"Mr. Pessimist!" Jack announced, appearing from the bedroom, his face still showing signs of his long sleep.

"Hi Jack," Daniel greeted, relieved to see that his friend appeared rested.

"Daniel, what's going?" he asked, yawning in mid-sentence. "Sorry, anything going on?" he rephrased.

"Phone rang,"
Jackson told him immediately. "Feeling any better?"

"Yeah. Headache's gone, and quit your worrying," Jack stated. "You worry loud!"

"Sorry," Daniel replied, with a heavy sigh. He'd spent far too long apologising, out of sheer politeness, than he cared for.

"Well you boys get to come home at last!" Makepeace announced, striding purposefully out of the kitchen.

"Well it's about time!" Jack intoned.

"Er, yeah, excuse me if I don't cheer or anything," Daniel told the Colonel.

"We will, I can understand a little of how you feel!" Makepeace told him. "Major alert your men, we're heading back to the SGC!"

*****

Carter fairly jogged towards the elevator, the doors opening as she reached it.

"Colonel, Daniel," A big smile emanating from her relief and pleasure to see them.

"Major!" Jack replied.

"Hi Sam, good to see you!" Daniel replied, returning the warm smile.

"Excuse me Major, I've been ordered to report both these men to General Hammond's office," Makepeace told her.

"Yes Sir," Carter beamed.

Jack stared at her for a moment, finally raising a smile in return that lit up her face once more.

"Major!" he said again, as he turned to follow Makepeace.

Daniel hugged Sam, before doing the same. "I'll fill you in later," he told her, rushing to keep up.

Teal'c appeared at her side.  "Well, we finally got them back," Sam told him.

"So it would appear," the
Jaffa noted. "I am unsure if allowing the Tok'ra to use their devices on Colonel O'Neill will be so welcome!"

Sam turned and regarded Teal'c then. "Why?" she asked. "The Colonel's got to be looking forward to clearing this up?"

"Of this I am in no doubt," Teal'c responded, looking back at Carter now, his eyebrows drawn down low, almost a scowl. "Colonel O'Neill is different," he said then.

"What?" Sam asked.

"I sensed a presence as I entered this corridor, a strong presence," he continued.

"Teal'c?" Sam looked concerned now. "I didn't sense a Goa'uld?"

"I did not say a Goa'uld," Teal'c replied, turning away and proceeding in the direction from which he'd come.

"Teal'c?" Sam called out.

The
Jaffa turned, regarding her. "He will know the motives of the Tok'ra, Major Carter," he said, before continuing back to his quarters.

*****

"It's my understanding that you have been cleared Dr. Jackson. This means that in light of your experience, and of your close relationship with Colonel O'Neill that you'll be taking charge of his de-brief,"
Hammond told them.

Jack looked sourly at Daniel. "Sweet, you almost get a Goa'uld and I'm still the damn one under suspicion?"

"Come on Jack, it'll be fun!" Daniel goaded. "You remember fun?"

"Yeah it's next to lighten up in the dictionary!" O'Neill winced, remembering
Jackson's retort of a previous exchange.

Hammond and Davis swapped confused glances.

"Exactly!" Daniel agreed. "Fun!"

Jack gave him one of those sardonic, patronising looks he portrayed so well.

"I'm not gonna like this am I?" he asked.

Daniel looked the image of innocence then. "Really, why?" he enquired. "I'm not the enemy?"

Jack shook his head slowly. "Oh you're loving this way too much!" he remarked.

Jackson beamed then. "Me?"

"General Sir? Am I still in custody?" Jack enquired, he looked distinctly uncomfortable now toward
Hammond.

"I'm afraid so Jack. I'll put you in Dr. Jackson's care for now, but we will have to have a couple of SF's. Purely for base security Jack. it's not that we doubt you!"

"Hell no, I mean I always have a couple of SF's trailing around after me. Makes me remember I'm in the United States Air Force, Sir!"

Major Davis wondered if General Hammond might take exception to O'Neill's blatant disrespect for a moment, then saw the smile creasing his eyes.

"Jack, get out of my office," he said.

*****

"Well here we are, back in a cell, cunningly disguised as guest quarters," O'Neill remarked, his tone slightly acerbic.  He threw his jacket down on one of the bunks and let out a deep-throated yell.

Daniel sighed heavily, waiting for O'Neill to stop his frustration broadcast, which given a slight headache,
Jackson could have done without.

"Look, at the worst way, we're in a room resembling a cell. No NID, no one who's going to question your loyalty," Daniel told him. "It's probably the best thing you could have hoped for."

Jack stared at him coldly. "No Daniel, the best thing I could have hoped for is that after all the damn tests, needles stuck in me, radioactive waves panning my brain and body, was a little fidem! Kinda hoped I'd be doing my job again
instead of sitting on my ass in a damn cell under house arrest!" he vociferated.

Daniel took a deep breath. "Look! Jack, I know this is hard, believe me, but you above all people understand the stakes here!" Daniel snapped, beginning to worry about his friend's state of mind once more.

"The stakes? Excuse me if I sound a little condescending here!" he intoned. "But I got our butts through possibly the worst situation we've ever been in, saved the Earth again!" His eyes glaring with rage now. "And, managed to possibly make an ally out of one of the most powerful Goa'ulds in the Galaxy.  So don't lecture me about stakes Daniel!"

"Okay.  You're way too angry to be reasonable. Maybe now isn't a good time to debate this," Daniel opined.

Jack sat down on his bunk. "What do they want from me?" he yelled in frustration. "I've done a damn report - passed the tests! Been abused, shot at, threatened, bored, did I mention abused?"

Daniel looked at him, anger beginning to overwhelm him now. "Will you just stop for a minute?" he demanded. "Jack, I know. I'm sorry. I realise how hard this is for you.  In fact it's the psychological damage that worries me!"

"I knew that! I hear it every time I lose it, your thoughts come marching in like a brass band!" Jack retorted. "And what's wrong with my psychological self anyway? I'm still the same sarcastic son of a bitch!"

Daniel looked apprehensive now. "Okay, where shall I start?" he enquired, grabbing a chair and dragging it across to Jack's bunk. "Nyerti, the things you had to do with her, and don't give me a tired old Air Force cliché Jack, I know you better than that!"

O'Neill looked away from his friend now, toward the camera, watching and listening to them.  "I don't want to talk about it Daniel. Not here, not now." His guard immediately raised once more.

Daniel followed his gaze. "I'll get it disconnected," he said, pushing the chair back as he stood. "Jack, think about this, we need to clear the air here!" he said, as the door closed behind him.

*****

General Hammond looked dubious.

"I'm not sure we can comply with that Dr. Jackson," he replied.

Daniel looked perplexed. "General, the only way Jack is going to open up is to feel comfortable, he's not a man that just gushes his emotions. If you don't have that camera taken out, to allow me to get through all the defences, he isn't going to be very forthcoming."

Sam Carter nodded her agreement. "Daniel's right Sir. The Colonel must have some pretty intense emotions about what happened, resolving how he feels might make him more able to work through the answers that both the Tok'ra and NID are looking for."

Hammond looked from Jackson to Carter. "I'll take that under advisement. He'll have to undergo a test using the Tok'ra equipment before we'll be completely satisfied."

"No!" Daniel snapped. "He's been through too much, I honestly don't know how much more he can take General, he's not going to agree to that. Now I know he wants to talk about it, I can almost feel how much pain he's in from the confusion.  Now if you don't let me do this my way, I'm not going to do it at all!"

An intensity etched in Daniel's features now, anger barely concealed behind his fiery blue eyes.

"Dr. Jackson, we're a little pressed for time here!"
Hammond told him.

"He needs to do this! And you need to trust me," he continued. "Or does the Air Force think it equips it's people so well that mental torture isn't an issue?"

Hammond looked a little surprised by the outburst, considering the question.

"Alright Dr. Jackson, I'll concede. Let's hope it achieves the necessary result!"

"Yes, let's hope I can save Jack from diving into that personal hell and staying there!" Daniel retorted, still obviously furious.

*****

O'Neill lay back on the bed. He could hear Daniel's rage, his thoughts as loud as if he were shouting them in his presence.  A smile creased his lips, Daniel's compassion, for aiding those who he discerned to require assistance, never failed to impress him.

The cameras were coming out, he understood that much, now he had to find a way to reach inside and openly expose his true feelings.  That would take a great deal of courage.  He was unaccustomed to allowing anyone to see that side, to know how he felt weakened by such revelations.

Daniel appeared then, looking triumphant. "I got the..."

"Yeah I know. Still think this is a good idea hah?" Jack asked.

"Er, yes. Of course you know. Um, yes actually I do. So once the surveillance goes I guess we're both going to have a headache right?"
Jackson told him.

Jack sighed, his hands placed behind his head now, regarding
Jackson. "If you say so!" he agreed.

"I say so," Daniel replied. "Do you want anything, coffee? Food?"

"Yeah, some coffee and maybe one of those..."

"Doughnuts?" Daniel completed the sentence.

Jack smiled. "We'd better stop doing that, people will talk!" he laughed.

"They do that already," Daniel remarked. "I think our reputations are shot! I married a woman who became a Goa'uld, and you married a Goa'uld - now if that isn't sleeping with the enemy I don't know what is?"

Jack looked slightly stunned then.  He'd never known Daniel to find levity in the tremendous pain, and loss he felt for Sha're.  He nodded at
Jackson then.

"I guess," he agreed. "Reminds me of the old adage actually," Jack continued, sitting up now. "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. I think we may have taken it a little too literally," he cringed as he said it, finally offering Jackson a smile to show he was still very conscious of communicating without throwing up too many barriers.

"So I'll get the coffee," Daniel told him, as Sgt. Siler and his team arrived to remove the surveillance equipment. "You relax, and watch these men at work!"

"Sweet, I'll try not to fall asleep!" Jack retorted, laying back down and relaxing on his bunk.

*****

Carter caught up to Daniel as he made his way towards the commissary.

"How's the Colonel?" she asked.

"Oh, he's pretty angry. I guess I understand that whole deal, not very macho to admit that you hate yourself for being a man!" Daniel replied.

"What does that mean?" Carter asked.

"Um, nothing actually. I'm just thinking out loud.  You know she managed to use Jack's, um, well there are some Goa'uld larvae out there with his code!" Daniel told her, sounding and looking uncomfortable now.

"Oh," Carter gushed. "I see your point. The Colonel has a problem with that?"

"With the Goa'uld larvae?  Yes," Daniel retorted.

"No Daniel, with the being a man part?" Carter corrected, "I assume you mean he didn't want to ..." She stopped then.

Daniel turned and looked at her. "I really shouldn't be discussing this with you," he told her, obviously concerned with his thoughts reverberating back to O'Neill.

Carter looked slightly hurt, unable to meet his gaze. "I'm just concerned Daniel," she told him.

"Ah, yes I know, but it's not something that Jack wants to talk about. I'll see you later," Daniel told her, hurrying off then.

Carter watched him go, shrugging. "Great, I'll just stand here being left out and doing nothing!" she muttered.

*****

"Daniel, you really don't want to go over this again?" Jack remonstrated. "We did this on Nyerti's planet."

"No Jack, you told me how you felt about being forced to have such intimate contact with her, not how you felt about enjoying it!" Daniel pushed now, sensing that without getting O'Neill angry, it was leading nowhere.

"Enjoyed it?" Jack snapped. "Are you out of your mind?" his face contorting with anger and uncertainty.

"I don't mean like that, I mean physically," Daniel continued.

Jack looked quizzically at him. "You're asking me if I performed right?"

"No. I know you did,"
Jackson was more serious now, his tone lower. "I am asking you to realise that you couldn't help that aspect!"

Jack looked away from him once more, finding it harder to avoid his questions.

"I'm fine Daniel. I know about biology," he retorted.

"Ah, yes good point. Now if I can get you to see it, rather than just use it as an illustration - I figure progress!" Daniel quipped.

"Daniel, just tell me what you think I need? I get this stuff in stereo you know!" Jack intoned.

"I think you need to say it. I think you need to forgive yourself, or not. But you need to understand why you did it Jack,"
Jackson told him.

"I know why I did it," O'Neill insisted. "Because I didn't have a damn choice!"

"Stop!" Daniel snapped.

"What?" Jack looked bewildered.

"You had a choice Jack. You choose