Prologue – All Work and No Play
Jack O’Neill hated his job. He was never meant to be a desk jockey. Heading Homeworld Security was boring to him. Jack was a man of action or at the very least, a man of not sitting indoors at a desk all day.
He could go somewhere… but where?
Sam was busy. Daniel was busy. Teal’c was offworld.
That left him to his own devices.
Which was more often than not a bad thing.
He could visit Harry Maybourne but he’d done that not too long ago. He didn’t want to wear out his welcome. He might need somewhere to retire and Harry might need a military advisor someday. Or maybe just some fly fishing advice.
There was someone he’d not seen in several years, a boy who’d taken the same name as his own son and even wanted to be his son.
Charlie of the Re’tu.
Charlie had been made by the Re’tu as a go between to warn the human race that the rebel Re’tu wanted to exterminate them in a war of attrition to kill off all the host sources for the Goa’uld, thus eventually killing off the Goa’uld themselves. Charlie’s ‘mother’ had given her life to warn them and rid them of unseen Re’tu infiltrators on Earth.
The problem with Charlie had been that his human body was poorly made and he was ill when he first came through the Stargate in his little brown pants and black cowl. Janet had tried to save him but his problems were greater than her technology could mend so Jacob - Selmak - had taken the boy back to the Tok’ra to join him with a host who could help him heal and grow to adulthood.
Jack had seen him every few years and had even gotten to know his symbiote, Telpak. But it had been almost three years since he’d seen Charlie. Charlie should be a grown man by now.
That’s what he’d do. Visit Charlie.
Chapter One – Devil Take the Hindmost
One would think that someone might notice that an important man like the Head of Homeworld Security was not in his office. But no one did.
Jack had gone home at ten in the morning to pack a few things. He’d stopped and gotten some doughnuts to eat on the way home. He got distracted by Spongebob Squarepants on the television in the shop and stayed until almost noon. It wasn’t The Simpsons but it was kind of funny. He arrive at his little apartment at about one and had packed some clothes in his backpack. He drank a couple of beers and debated calling Carter but he decided that she’d try to talk him out of it.
He got in his car and drove all the way to St Louis, stopping only long enough to go to the bathroom, grab some coffee, and gas up until he crashed for the night at some travelers’ lodge right off the interstate, the kind with the forty-nine dollar rooms. His room was clean and all he did was sleep until his alarm woke him at 8 am, shower, then grab some food at a fast food joint and a supersized coffee and head west.
It was about ten at night when he arrived in Colorado Springs. He debated going ahead and going to the SGC but thought he might raise too many alarms if he popped in that late at night so he found a cheap motel and slept until six the next morning.
Jack got into the SGC early, earlier than Landry, for sure, but Walter was there and already in the control room.
“General O’Neill, what are you doing here?”
“I had some time off and thought I’d visit for a day or two. Guess I got here too early for Hank?”
“He’ll be in at nine, always is.”
“Could you run to the mess and get me some coffee? I didn’t have time to get any breakfast this morning.”
Walter nodded and was gone.
Jack turned off the automatic alarms and dialed the gate to a fairly random site, a site that had no real significance except that it had a working Stargate. He made sure no one was about and made his way to the Gate with his backpack and nothing else. He stepped into the gate.
And came out on a pretty green planet with no humanoid population. It had once been teeming with them, until the Goa’uld had killed most and hauled the rest away to mine naquadah on some ugly, cold planet he’d forgotten the name of.
He dialed another gate and went through the same procedure.
Then did it again. And again a few more times simply for good measure.
Finally, he dialed the planet where the Tok’ra were living. They built their homes in underground warrens that they transformed with a device that made tunnels of crystal and even collapsed them when danger was near, so they could evacuate without being followed.
He was met with raised weapons as he stepped out of the Stargate. He didn’t recognize any of the Tok’ra nor they him. It had been a while.
“Who are you?” One of the guards asked him.
“I am O’Neill of the Tau’ri.”
A smile crossed the young guard’s face. “You’re Charlie’s friend.”
“I am that. I actually came here to see Charlie. It’s been a couple of years.”
The guard nodded. “I will take you to the Elder. He will find Charlie for you.”
Jack nodded and followed the young Tok’ra down a long, crystal hallway to a wide open room. This may have been where they brought Ba’al to get his symbiote removed. He sure was glad that Goa’uld was gone, very glad. Ba’al had killed him more times than he could count and had deserved any suffering he was subjected to.
The Elder was one of the Tok’ra he knew from that time, but he was the only one Jack recognized.
“Hello, General O’Neill. Your visit is unexpected. What brings you here?”
Right to the point, wasn’t he? Well, Jack liked that in a man, er, Tok’ra.
“I came to visit the boy, Charlie. Selmak brought him from Earth a long time ago.”
“I wasn’t aware you knew Charlie.”
“He got his name from me, my son, that is.”
“Did you know that he has had his symbiote removed?”
Panic ran through Jack for a moment. Was he all right?
“He is no longer a host but he is well. He still lives among us as do several humans and others who no longer carry symbiotes,” the Elder said, almost as if he’d read Jack’s mind.
“When can I see him?”
“It is almost time for dinner. Join us. Charlie will be there.”
Jack smiled and followed the Elder to the large hall where they all ate together each day. Jack had no trouble spotting Charlie. He looked like a grown up version of the serious little boy who had walked through the Stargate almost fifteen years ago in his ill-fitting robes.
He was short, only about Carter’s height, and he was still as hairless as he’d been as a boy. His dark eyes were intense but Jack watched him until he saw that smile. Charlie’s smile lit up the room. Jack could hardly wait for the boy to see him.
He knew the boy was not his boy, nor was he even related but Jack loved him because he’d touched his heart in a way no one had since his own Charlie. He had wanted to make the world safe for this child, to make his life good, but he’d not been able to do any of those things for the boy. Instead, these people, the Tok’ra, who he barely trusted at all, had had him here for fifteen years. They’d done the things for Charlie that Jack wanted to do.
Back on Earth, in the office of Homeworld Security, something was amiss.
Someone had called for General O’Neill and no one knew where he was. His secretary was sure she’d seem him come in that morning, but the parking lot manager hadn’t seen him in a couple of days.
Ms. Miller got on the phone and things began to get strange. No one, it seemed, could agree on the last time they’d seen General Jack O’Neill. Ms. Miller had no idea whom to call. O’Neill answered directly to the President and the IOA.
She finally called the President’s office and told his secretary about the missing O’Neill and had been assured that the President would be informed as soon as possible.
She sighed and hung up the phone. She had done all she could.