"The body came through the Gate almost an hour ago," Hutchins said breathlessly, trotting to keep up.
"Who?" Jack demanded.
"Paretski, SG-5," Hutchins supplied.
Jack knew it was SG-5. That was the reason he wasn't home resting his arm anymore. Getting dressed again in his uniform had been a bitch with the sling, but practice made perfect. SG-5 was escorting SG-1 to that pretty little pastoral planet with the pink flowers with the amazing medicinal applications.
The klaxon started. Walter announced the unscheduled off world activation. This would be whoever it was, delivering their demands. Jack ran flat out for the Gateroom.
"...Major Carter's IDC, sir," Walter said tensely.
"Open the iris," Hammond ordered.
Another body rolled through.
They kept the wormhole open with a communications feed to the MALP, trying to raise the missing team. The only thing coming in from the pretty planet of the pink flowers was static.
Exactly one hour later, the gate activated again.
"Major Carter's IDC, sir," Walter said, his voice cracking.
"The next thing through is gonna be dangerous," Hammond muttered, looking to his 2IC for confirmation. Jack nodded once, eyes glued to the iris.
It stayed closed.
There was a thud against the shield.
Number three, Jack thought.
Four more hours. Four more impacts against the iris. Then the Gate stayed still.
Jack couldn't sleep for days. He couldn't shut down the morbid questions in his head. Were they alive or dead when they were shoved through the event horizon? Were they killed as a group, then sent through one at a time as a message, or did the fuckers slaughter them like lambs just before they pushed them through? And who the hell were they? They certainly didn't act like goa'uld. But the SGC really didn't have that many other galactic enemies. Could something have gone wrong on the planet?
He wondered which thud had been Daniel.
Hammond called in his resignation the next day.
Jack was offered the promotion and the command, and he took them without a second's thought.
He ran the SGC like clockwork. He had a touch for it, despite his complaints about paperwork and meetings.
But he was just killing time. He had one goal now, and sure, it was great if they could make friends in the galaxy and kick some goa'uld ass, but mainly he wanted one thing.
They haunted him.
He missed Carter every single day that he had to deal with Lee and Felger and Coombs. They were competent. Sometimes brilliant. And never, ever as good as she was. Even when he briefly had McKay on staff before he couldn't stand the guy anymore and happily agreed to his transfer to Pegasus. Even McKay never quite met Jack's expectations.
It surprised him how much he missed Teal'c. It was good to work with an equal. Somebody who you could always depend on – who never let you down. Someone who knew better than you did how to handle the tactical issues so that you could focus on the strategic objective. Now Jack turned to Jacob and Bra'tac for tactical assistance. It was good to have motivated tactical staff.
Daniel's group was actually quite good, and during the usual day around the mountain, Jack missed Daniel the least. Nyan stepped up and did a fantastic job.
But alone in their house, Jack missed Daniel the most.
He kept their honeymoon picture by the bed. Sometimes, nights when he was feeling particularly maudlin, he would reach out and touch their kiss with his fingers.
He wished he could just pretend that Daniel wasn't really dead. They had never seen a body, after all. You could really never be sure Daniel would stay dead, even when you had seen the body.
Unfortunately, Jack could always separate fantasy from reality.
Jack hadn't spent years making friends in the Milky Way for nothing.
Boch found them. Not even real bad guys, Jack thought. Just a family of galactic psycho thrill killers who had heard of the SGC and just happened to be massacring the village when the SG teams had arrived.
They weren't even aliens, Jack thought. Just plain old humans.
Later Jacob sanitized the data and returned it to the SGC as "Tokra research."
Jacob and Bra'tac helped out. Boch took a few notes, too. They documented some quite interesting medical data as the virus from the quarantined sample jar Jack had brought with him blasted through Patient A, and quickly spread to Patients B, C and D. The progression of the disease caused the patients to linger painfully at the end.
Jack opened the wormhole and radioed the mountain.
"Sergeant, this is General O'Neill. It is vital that you do not open the iris. Do you understand?"
"Sir, yes, sir!" came the instant response.
"General?" came Reynolds' surprised voice.
"You heard me, Colonel. Some bad people are about to come through the Gate and you are not to let them enter the facility."
"Yes, sir! The iris is closed!"
The younger man had killed Carter. Jacob pitched him through with a few curses for good measure. Selmak, who had made a few t'sking sounds during the course of their medical observations, did nothing to stop him.
Bra'tac and Jack dispatched the old man and the even older woman.
The girl, though. The one who had dreamily and repeatedly described how she had threatened village children to make Daniel walk though the Gate under his own power, and then killed the 'little sweet ones' anyway. Jack buried her alive in a box.
Daniel had been impact seven.
It was storming when he dialed the Gate again. He gave them long enough to realize there was no code transmission. Then he stepped into the wormhole for the last time.
UPDATE: Ahem. Please to follow this link to the happy ending thread. *giggles*