The alarm clock sounded a piercing warning and Jack O'Neill woke with a start. He groaned as a jackhammer throbbed unmercifully in his head and he squeezed his eyes shut in hopes of controlling the pain.
The alarm kept ringing and he knew that the damned thing wasn't going to shut off on its own. He reached over to slam his hand on the button to silence the monster, but missed. Futile searching with his hand for the offending object caused him to open his eyes and raise his body to look for it. Not only was the alarm not on the bedside table where it was supposed to be, but Jack found himself staring into the glassy eyes of a giant teddy bear sitting in a rocking chair that he knew he didn't own.
Crap! He didn't have that good of a time at the party last night, did he? That alarm clock was still screaming at him and he decided he was going to kill it when he found it, then work on finding a whole bottle of aspirin.
He briefly wondered where he was when he heard a very feminine voice grumbling next to him. "I'm up already. Jeez!" just before the alarm shut off.
Jack's whole body tensed and he steeled himself for the inevitable. He didn't remember going to bed with a woman last night and he wasn't sure he wanted to find out who he ended up with. He turned over and saw her looking back at him with a small smile. At least she was pretty, he thought belatedly. Her warm brown eyes were looking at him with anticipation, and he was relieved to find that she was beautiful as she sat there in a white nightgown and mussed up honey brown hair. She appeared to be in her mid-forties, he mused.
"Good morning, sleepy head," she said, then leaned down to kiss him. "Today's the day!" she added still staring at him expectantly.
"Morning," he said, trying to act like nothing was out of place. She wanted something from him, he could tell, he just didn't know what it was. "Um...," he said uncomfortably, "It must have been a great party," pretty lame O'Neill, he thought. "I have such a headache, you wouldn't believe..."
"I'm not surprised," she said sounding a little put off. "Dan and Kevin had to drag you in here and they weren't as lucid as I would like to have seen them. What were you thinking?" she asked placing her hand on his chest. "Didn't any of you want to be the designated driver?" She sighed, "I'm just glad you got home safely."
Okay. He hadn't met this woman at the party, Daniel and some guy named Kevin brought him here and apparently they all had a great time at the party. That information didn't even get him close to understanding what was going on here, especially since he knew Daniel wasn't at that party. Hell he wasn't even in the same galaxy!
"Well?" she said with impatience. "Can I have it now?"
"Huh?" Jack asked, feeling like he was out in left field. He briefly wondered if he would have a better idea of what was going on if the damned headache would go away. "Have what?" Was this woman going to yell at him or what? Damn, Jack did not like this scenario one bit.
"My present," she said exasperated, confusing him once again. "Please??" Oh man, that pout made her even more beautiful in his eyes and he would have said yes to anything she asked him. Well, within reason anyway, he thought with a grin.
She squealed when she saw his grin and jumped out of the bed to run to the dresser on the other side of the room. O'Neill took this opportunity to scout out the territory, to get his bearings and to figure out where the hell he was.
He was in this woman's bedroom.
Okay, so he had that figured out. Now what?
The woman came back to sit on the bed with a small box in her hands and she gave him an excited smile before tearing off the paper.
"Oh," she breathed as she opened the box. "Oh Mac, it's gorgeous!" She held out a necklace that was studded with what looked like diamonds and immediately put it on. "How does it look?" she beamed before leaning down to kiss him again, this time with a little more enthusiasm and Jack found himself getting caught up in her passion.
Not now Jack, he thought to himself, resignedly and pulled back. "Gorgeous!" he said looking into her eyes. Oh was she gorgeous! "But I think you've made a mistake here. My name is not Mac, it's Jack," he said reluctantly.
Her smile turned to a puzzled frown, then back to that smile. "Oh yeah? Since when?"
"Since I was born," he said still trying to understand what was going on. "Well, that's not exactly true, Jack is a nickname."
"Well, that's not what it says on our marriage license or the kid's birth certificates," she said still grinning at him.
Did she say kids?? Oh God, marriage license?? Okay, that's it. "What the hell is going on here?" he asked, belatedly wishing he hadn't jumped out of the bed at that moment. His head was pounding triple time. "Who are you?"
"Stop it Mac, you're scaring me," she said, her face showing her concern. "This is our anniversary; please don't ruin it for me." She was pleading now.
"Look, I was never really a big fan of the `Twilight Zone'," he said, while striving for calm. "In fact, I hated that show, not to mention that it was all a bunch of hooey anyway. I am not Mac, you are not my wife, and I really need to find out what's going on here before I.... Damn," he sighed running his fingers through his hair. "This is not happening," he added with conviction.
The woman's eyes were misting and Jack suddenly wished he was more prepared in the tact department. He knew he had hurt her; he just didn't react very well in situations like this. Hell, he had never been in a situation like this. At least they called him by his name that time in Hathor's cryogenic chamber.
"Just let me think this through, okay?" he added. He could see she was starting to get mad and he marveled that she could be even more beautiful as the anger danced in her eyes.
"Fine," she said. "You think this through. I'm going to go get ready for my interview." With that said she got up off the bed and flounced over to a door that opened into a bathroom.
So much for finding out what was going on, he thought. He decided to look around for some clues to his whereabouts and he turned toward the dresser where he thought he might find his wallet or something to tell him that he really wasn't permanently located in the `Outer Limits'.
He finally found his wallet still in the pocket of his pants and was relieved to see his face and his name on his driver's license. Well that was one worry off his mind, he thought, as he put the pants on.
Then his eyes landed on some pictures arranged on the built-in shelves in the headboard of the bed. He moved closer, fascinated to see his own face staring out at him, as he stared at the pictures - one with his arms around the woman he woke up with, another with her and two children, a boy and a girl, and yet another that looked like a wedding photo of him and the woman smiling out at the photographer. Oh my God, he thought. What the hell is going on here?
Jack was sitting on the bed staring at the wedding picture when she came out of the bathroom. He looked up at her and he saw her anger leave the minute she looked at him. He knew his expression showed the confusion and the terror he was feeling, but for once he didn’t try to hide it.
“Please tell me what is going on,” she said, coming over to sit down next to him. She was still in her nightgown with a towel around her neck, apparently getting ready to take a shower.
He didn’t know what to tell her. The man in the photograph was not him, he knew that for certain. He was Jack O’Neill, divorced from his wife, Sara, and the father of a child who had accidentally killed himself at the age of 11. He was a General in the United States Air Force and in command of a top secret military facility that was fighting a secret war against an enemy that was not of this world. He had never met this woman before in his life, yet there he was standing with her when the photograph was taken. This had to be some kind of trick photography, but deep down he felt the stirring of genuine worry.
He wished the Goa’uld would leave his mind alone and quit playing these games. Or was it the NID?
“My name is not Mac, it’s Jack O’Neill,” he said again. “This is a picture of the two of us, but I swear I have never met you before in my life. I was at a party,” he continued, “one that involved putting up with several politicians, which I hate to do by the way, and woke up here this morning. I did have a fair amount to drink last night, but nothing to cause me to hallucinate like this.”
She was looking at him with concern again and he found he was grateful she didn’t think he was crazy. At least not yet, he groaned inwardly.
“I know that this is not really a hallucination, is it?” he asked her, sighing when she shook her head. “That means someone is messing with my mind,” he continued. “The question is, why?”
“I don’t know what to tell you,” she said. “All I know is that you went out with Dan and Kev for a guy’s night out last night and they brought you home. This is not like you, honey. Please tell me why you are doing this.”
“What am I doing?” Jack asked her, starting to get pissed. “You guys have tried this before, well actually it was Hathor and her goons, but still, what makes you think I am going to fall for it again? You know what?” he said, as his voice grew louder. “The least you could do is make sure you cross all the “t’s” and dot all the “i’s”. Look at this!” he cried showing her his driver’s license and his credentials. “It says Jonathan O’Neill with my address and everything. Christ, I’m dealing with a bunch of amateurs!”
The woman sat there staring at the items he was showing her and he could see the confusion on her face. She looked up at him in fear and this caused him to gloat. Aha, so he was right!!
“Where did you get this?” she asked, her voice trembling. “How can you not be my husband?”
She was pretty good; he had to give her that. “Come off it,” he growled. “You made a mistake, it could have happened to anybody. Give up the game now, you got caught.”
She continued to stare at him with tear-filled eyes, making him feel a little bad for being the one who caused the tears. No he didn’t, he admonished himself. She was Goa’uld, or NID or something like that.
“This says your birthday is October 20th,” she said, looking at the driver’s license again. “That’s the same date as my husband’s birthday,” she accused, as the tears spilled down her face. “Why are you doing this?”
“The question is why are YOU doing this?” Jack retorted, as he stood up to loom over her. “What do you hope to gain?”
She just sat there shaking her head, wiping the tears from her eyes. “It’s our anniversary,” she said with a small sob. “It’s supposed to be a happy day, right?” Her eyes were pleading with him to stop this, as she tried to smile and he wondered why she kept up this charade.
“Who do you work for?” he asked trying to get an idea of what he was up against.
“Nobody yet,” she said. “I haven’t gone to that interview yet. Look Mac… I… I mean Jack, whatever it is you are trying to prove…” She looked at him, then sighed. “Let’s figure this out, okay? Please?”
“What?” Jack asked in surprise. She was going to help him? He really didn’t like these games. “Okay then, let’s figure it out,” he agreed.
“All right,” she said. “You say you are Jack O’Neill and so does this driver’s license,” she admitted, wiping the tears from her face. “But you look exactly like my husband, Angus MacGyver, well except he doesn’t have a scar on his eyebrow…”
“Angus?” Jack said in surprise as he grimaced. “I don’t blame him for wanting to be called Mac,” he said before realizing that he just may be falling for her tall tales. He resolved to keep quiet and keep his disbelief intact. He hated it when he fell for a beautiful face.
She didn’t answer him because there was a knock on the door and a boy’s voice bellowed out, “Mom? Dad? You decent?”
The woman looked at him with fear, “Please don’t upset them with all this,” she pleaded, as she stood up to stand next to him. He hesitated before nodding at her and she looked relieved. “Please,” she whispered, before calling to her son, “Yep, come on in.”
“Happy anniversary,” said the boy when he walked in. He looked like he was around nine or ten years old, with his mother’s honey brown hair and his father’s eyes. Charlie’s eyes, Jack thought with a start.
“Thank you sweetie,” the woman replied giving him a hug. “Where’s your sister?”
“In the bathroom, like where else?” the boy said in a mock Valley Girl accent, as he grinned at Jack. “She’s doing her best to make herself beautiful for the kids at school.”
“Well she won’t have to work too hard at it,” the boy’s mother said, smiling at her offspring. “She is already a beauty as it is.” She then swatted at the kid when he rolled his eyes.
“Whatever!” he exclaimed. “What are you going to be doing today Dad?” he asked, turning to Jack.
“Not much,” Jack replied, as the woman sent him another pleading look. “Gonna do some investigating.” Ain’t that the truth, he thought resignedly.
“Investigating?” the boy asked. “I thought you retired from that kind of stuff. What are you investigating?”
Jack was saved from trying to come up with something when a young girl about 12 years old came in the open door. She was a beauty, he admitted to himself. She had inherited her mother’s good looks.
“Mom,” she complained. “Pete let Herman out of his cage, and now I can’t find him. Pete did it this time,” she repeated, apparently to keep from getting in trouble with her mother. “Morning Dad,” she said to Jack.
“I did not!” the boy cried, his face turning red. “Why are you always trying to blame stuff on me? I didn’t do it Dad!” Pete said coming over to Jack’s side.
“Yes he did!” the girl fired back. “I didn’t do it, so it must have been you!” she yelled, her face turning the same shade as her brothers.
“Alright already,” Jack yelled over the noise. “Everybody out! You,” he said, pointing at the girl, “go find Herman and you,” this time pointing at Pete, “go help her. Your mother and I have something important to discuss and I can’t even think with all this noise. Go on,” he said, shooing them out.
They left grumbling and he distinctly heard Pete say, “At least I had the decency to wish them a happy anniversary,” as he left. Jack turned to the woman, but was interrupted by the girl who came back into the room and threw herself into his arms. “Happy anniversary Dad,” she said smiling, as she reached up to kiss him on the cheek. “Happy anniversary Mom,” she said turning to give her mother a hug. “I didn’t forget,” she continued defensively, “I was just a little upset. Ooh,” she exclaimed, as she touched the necklace around her mother’s neck. “Is that your present? It’s beautiful!! Oh Dad, it’s gorgeous. Will you buy me one?”
Jack found himself smiling indulgently at the girl, then mentally shook himself. This was all a set up, he reminded himself sternly. “Go,” he said to her. She gave her mother another hug before leaving, closing the door behind her.
“Okay now. Let’s start with the basics,” Jack said after the door was closed. “What’s your name?”
“My name is Melanie,” she replied, staring at him, trying to dig deep down into his soul. “Everyone usually calls me Lanie.”
“Lanie,” Jack said, “you do know that I am not your husband, don’t you?” He found himself envying this Mac guy.
She didn’t answer him. Instead she reached up and put her arms around his neck and began to kiss him again. He felt himself giving in to her despite his best intentions, wrapping his arms around her when he felt her tongue take possession of his mouth. She pulled back a few minutes later, dragging her hands down his arms and he let go of her to get his bearings. Whoa!
“There is something different about you,” she said looking deeply into his eyes. “I wanted to make sure.”
“I am not your husband,” he said sadly. For a minute there, he wished he was.
They continued to stare at each other until the door burst open and Jack found himself facing a very irate husband and two wide-eyed children.
MacGyver woke up confused and in pain in a hotel room. His head was pounding and all he could think about was how he got there. The last thing he remembered was going to a bar with his buddies, Dan and Kevin, for a little night of drinking and fun. They had quite a few drinks and he supposed he’d had one too many. He probably should be glad that he didn’t wake up with some woman, he mused as he carefully sat up.
That thought brought to mind another woman, namely his wife Lanie, and he cringed as he thought about what faced him when he finally got home. Oh was she going to be mad, he thought, and he groaned as he remembered that today was their 13th anniversary. Oh man, he was in for it now.
He wondered what happened to his friends as he stood up to head for the bathroom. His eyes landed on a suitcase that was lying open on the other bed and he wondered who it belonged to. He fervently hoped that whoever it was wouldn’t be walking in, ready to beat the crap out of him for falling asleep in his room.
Mac went into the bathroom hoping against hope that he would find some aspirin just lying around, and grumbled when he didn’t find anything. There was nothing even close in the entire room, although he didn’t know if there would be any in the suitcase. Going through someone else’s suitcase just didn’t seem right somehow. He did learn that the person who rented this room was in the Air Force, judging by the uniforms hanging on the clothes rack.
He got dressed after deciding to wait until he got home before taking a shower and left the room as quickly as possible. He realized that the hotel was in the downtown district and he stepped out in the street to hail a cab, as Dan had driven last night.
He cursed his friends as he waited for a cab to come by. Why had they left him there? Why was he there in the first place? He had always avoided drinking anything stronger than orange juice in the past, preferring to keep his wits about him, but last night he had thought, why not have just one drink? Famous last words, he snarled inwardly.
Once he hailed a cab down, Mac gave the address and settled back to decide on how he was going to get back at his friends for abandoning him in a stranger’s hotel room. He was pretty resourceful when it came to getting even and he had come up with several scenarios by the time the cab pulled up into the driveway of his urban castle. Actually, it was more for Melanie that he lived there. She was the one who wanted to have a house where their children could grow up without having to move from one place to another as she had done when she was growing up. Her father was in the Army and she had moved around quite a bit.
If it had been left up to him, he and his family would be living out in the mountains somewhere near forests and rivers. He had owned a houseboat at one time, and although he loved living there, his wife was appalled when he mentioned living in one. He smiled as he remembered the talking to he got for even thinking it. He truly loved that woman!
He had thought that he would never find someone that he would want to spend the rest of his life with. In fact he had avoided commitments with women for most of his life. Then he met Melanie Summerfield two years after he and his son, Sean “Sam” Malloy, took off to explore the United States, and that was all it took. They had spent a lot of time together over the next couple of months and he realized he loved her more than life itself when he almost lost her in a car accident. It was then he knew he couldn’t face life without her and proposed to her in the hospital, actually, he begged her to marry him. He didn’t have to beg too hard, he remembered with a grin.
He pulled some money out of his wallet and paid the driver before walking up to the house. It was still early in the morning and he noticed that his neighbor, Bob Riley, had already set his garbage out by the curb. He grimaced as he thought about his neighbor. That guy can be such a pain, he thought as he turned to take the last few steps up the walk. Always finding something wrong with any of the neighbors, and was only nice to Mac because Lanie and Bob’s wife, Linda, were great friends.
“Jerk,” Mac grumbled as he went to open the front door. He was spared from having to unlock it when it was opened for him and his daughter, Lindsay, bounded out. “Oof. Sorry,” she said when she bumped into him, then gaped at him when she saw who she bumped into. “Dad?”
“Hey babe,” he said, reaching over to give her a hug. He kissed her hair and let go of her to enter the house.
“What are you doing down here?” She asked with a confused look on her face. “I didn’t see you come down.”
“That’s because I wasn’t upstairs in the first place,” he replied, then gave her a wary look. “Is your mom in a good mood?” he asked.
“Hey Dad,” Pete said from behind his sister. “Didn’t see you come down. Ready to go out investigating?” he asked teasingly.
“What? Investigating? Gave that up years ago, remember? I retired, living the grand life of raising two brats and chasing after garbage trucks,” he said, as he heard one coming down the street.
“Dad?” Lindsay’s face had gone pale and Mac suddenly got scared.
“You were upstairs a few minutes ago with Mom,” she said, her eyes wide. “Me and Pete saw you.”
Mac stared at his daughter as he tried to make sense of what she was saying, then looked at his son to verify what she had said. Pete nodded and Mac pushed them aside to run up the stairs to find his wife.
“What the hell is going on here?” the irate husband asked. Jack stood his ground as he watched the man stride further into the room to stand by his wife.
“Oh my God,” Jack said staring at his double. “Who the hell are you?” he asked, all the while wondering if Loki had got a hold of him again. Or was it Harlan playing around again? Damn, he hated having duplicates running around claiming to be him. Or to be precise in this case, claiming not to be him.
“Wow!” Pete said staring at both his father and Jack. “Wow!”
“He’s going to be a linguist,” Lanie said with a shaky laugh. “Mac,” she said turning to the man at her side, “he kept telling me he wasn’t you, but I had a hard time believing him at first. Tell me what’s going on, please?”
“I wish I knew,” Mac said running his fingers through his hair as he stared back at Jack. “This is all too weird for me.”
“Yeah, well it happens to me all the time,” Jack said with disgust. “And believe me, it’s no piece of cake. So tell me,” he said turning to Mac, “what’s up now? Who did this and why?”
“Damned if I know,” Mac said. “What do you mean by ‘it happens all the time’?”
“Uh uh,” Jack countered. “I asked you first, what do you hope to gain? Who do you work for?”
“Daddy?” the girl said, her wide eyes showing her fear.
“It’s me,” Mac said softly, sending a soothing look toward his daughter.
“Lindsay, you are going to be late for school,” Lanie said. “Go on, you’d better hurry.”
“But Mom,” Pete complained, “I want to know who Dad’s twin is.”
“We’re not twins,” both men said in unison. “I don’t have a twin brother,” Jack said. Well, not technically, he thought, as his clone came to mind.
“Neither do I,” said Mac, as Jack’s cell phone rang.
He glared at Mac for a moment before answering it, “O’Neill,” he said, while walking away.
“Sir,” Carter’s voice came from the receiver. “Do you have a minute?”
“Good morning Carter,” Jack said, “I’m fine, thanks for asking.” This was not a good time for chit chat.
“Sorry sir,” she said, “Daniel and SG-5 just got back and they brought back some interesting samples….”
“Carter,” Jack stopped her. “Is this a secure line?”
“Well, no sir, not exactly.”
“Then should we be having this conversation right now?”
“I’m sorry sir,” she said, sounding hurt.
“Look, I’m in the middle of a sticky situation here. Call me if anything horrible happens, alright?”
“Yes sir,” Carter said, deflated. Damn, Jack thought.
“You should know me by now; I can be a jerk sometimes, right?”
She was silent for a moment before saying, “Yes sir… I mean… uh… understood sir.” It was good to hear the smile in her voice. “Are you sure you’re alright?” she asked. “We’d received a…”
“Jack!” Daniel said into the receiver. He must have grabbed the phone from Carter’s hand. “This is fantastic, the writings on the ruins were written by the Ancients and….”
“Daniel,” Jack said to interrupt his friend.
“…there are some references to the races of the universe…”
“Daniel,” Jack tried again, a little louder this time.
“…which includes, of course, the Asgard, but the best part is….”
“I’m hanging up on you now Daniel,” Jack said, as he sent a pained look toward Lanie and her daughter.
“No. No Jack, you don’t understand. We have a reference to the Goa’ulds that…”
Jack pressed the button to end the call and placed the phone back in his pocket. “Sorry about that,” he said wearily. For some reason he didn’t feel threatened by these people and that was worrying him.
“Who are you and why do you look just like me?” Jack asked.
“Maybe you are twins,” Lanie said. “You both have the same birthday. I saw it on your driver’s license.” Her excitement seemed to be rising with every word she spoke.
“I don’t have a twin,” Jack said at the same time as his look alike. They looked at each other and Jack was reminded of his clone who was known to do the same thing. This brought a grin to his face as he thought about his clone. He had grown to like that kid.
“Are you sure?” Lanie asked.
“You could be long lost twins,” Lindsay said excitedly. “That happens all the time in movies.”
“This is not a movie,” Mac said, while watching Jack. “My parents never mentioned that I was a twin, nor anything about me being adopted. My grandfather would have told me if I was,” he said, staring at Jack warily.
“Same thing here,” Jack added uneasily. He did remember his cousin teasing him when they were kids about Jack being adopted. It had bothered him at the time, but his parents never let on, so he had let it go.
“That doesn’t mean a thing, and you both know it,” Lanie insisted. “Jack, where were you born?”
“In Chicago,” he said with a certainty.
“I was born in Minneapolis,” Mac said smugly. “See? We can’t be twins.”
“I was raised in Minnesota,” Jack said quietly, beginning to get a little worried. Could this be true? No, he thought desperately, but the seed of doubt had been planted and he knew deep down he was starting to believe it.
“We can try to find out,” Lanie said, “that is, if you want to.”
“This is so cool,” Pete piped up, grinning broadly. “My Dad has an identical twin brother!”
“Aren’t you supposed to be in school?” Mac asked his son sternly.
“We’re already late,” Lindsay said, “besides, I want to find out if you really are twins.” Her face had gained back some color and her eyes shown with excitement.
“It’s going to take days, maybe weeks to find out that stuff,” Lanie told her children. “In the meantime, go to school.”
The children grumbled as they left the room to leave for school. Mac turned to ask Jack, “You in the Air Force?”
“Yeah,” Jack replied suspiciously. “Why?”
“Well, I woke up in a hotel room full of Air Force uniforms and was wondering how I got there. I figure it must have been your room.”
“Well, don’t feel bad,” Jack told him. “I woke up in bed with a beautiful woman while a humongous teddy bear stared at me.”
“You were in bed with my wife?” Mac asked, his calm voice laced with just a little anger as he looked at his wife for confirmation.
“Dan and Kevin brought him here last night and we put him to bed. He passed out the minute we left him alone,” Lanie said defensively. “I thought he was you!”
“Who is this Dan and Kevin?” Jack asked, “And how did they find me last night?”
“They’re friends of mine and I have no idea how they found you last night,” Mac replied. “They probably don’t know how they found you last night. We were all pretty wasted.” This was said with a guilty look at his wife.
“That reminds me,” she said. “What in the world were you guys thinking? I would have thought that between the three of you, one of you would have enough sense to insist on a designated driver. You could have been killed!” she continued with a glare aimed at her husband.
“I see you opened your gift,” Mac commented, reaching out to touch the necklace. “Do you like it?” he asked with an expectant smile.
“Oh no you don’t,” she exclaimed. “You’re not going to get off that easy.”
Mac just smiled at her and she gave an exasperated sigh before giving in to her own smile. “Well okay, maybe you will this time. Just promise me you won’t do that again,” she pleaded, as her husband pulled her into a hug.
“I promise,” he said and turned to Jack. “Did she give you the same speech?”
Jack had to grin, “Yeah, she did. But she was too excited over the present you bought her, so I didn’t get it as badly as you did.” His grin became wider as she glared at him.
“Let me go give the guys a call to see if any of them remember what happened last night,” Mac said moving toward the phone by the bed. “Were you with anyone last night who could help you to find out what happened?”
“No. I was at a party and only because I was forced to be there,” Jack replied, trying to remember anything that would clear this up. “Oh wait, I ran across an old friend and we decided to check out a neighborhood bar, I don’t remember which one though…” he trailed off as he realized what must have happened. “Oh crap! Randy found you and your friends found me,” he said in shock.
“We must have ended up at the same bar and too plastered to notice anything was wrong,” Mac agreed. “Oh man, now I know I am getting to be too old. I’ve lost the old MacGyver touch,” he said shaking his head.
“Tell me something,” Jack said as he looked into his double’s eyes. “Is this all real? Or are you messing with my mind, ‘cause I really don’t need this right now.”
“I could ask the same thing of you,” Mac said, “my past coming to haunt me, so to speak.”
“You wouldn’t happen to know anybody named Harlan, would you?” Jack asked as he grabbed his phone. Mac shook his head while Jack dialed the SGC, “If someone answers….,” he muttered.
“Cheyenne Mountain,” said a voice after the second ring.
“This is O’Neill. Let me speak with Colonel Carter,” he said, as he felt a stirring of fear rippling through him. He really didn’t want this to be true. He noticed that Mac was talking with someone on his phone as he sat on the bed leaning back against the headboard.
He put as much distance as he could from his audience and waited for the transfer to go through. He noticed that Lanie was sitting on the edge of the bed watching him with compassion. She was worried about him, he thought, as he heard Carter’s voice come through the receiver.
“Carter,” she said.
“Carter, this is O’Neill. Listen, I need you to do me a favor, will you? I met up with an old friend of mine, Colonel Randall Jordan. Could you do some magic and find him for me? I need a phone number.”
“I’ll try sir,” Carter replied. “Was he at that party you were supposed to attend last night? How did it go?” Jack could swear he could hear a grin in that question.
“Yes he was and I am trying to forget that I even attended that damn party, okay?”
“Yes sir,” she said and this time he was positive she was laughing at him.
“I guess I will listen to Daniel tell me all about his new toy while you get that information for me,” Jack said with a sigh. “Is he there?”
“Just a minute sir,” she said before taking the phone from her mouth. He heard her and Daniel talking in the background and knew he was in for it when Daniel told her to tell him to shove it.
“Tell him I heard that,” he shouted into the phone, then grinned when he heard Daniel yell back, “Good, I don’t like being hung up on.”
“Why’d you hang up on me?” Daniel asked, having picked up the receiver.
“It’s pretty early here and you know how I am before my morning coffee,” he replied as he peered through the curtains of a window he was standing near. The MacGyver’s had a pretty big yard, he noticed.
“Well, as I was trying to tell you earlier before you so rudely hung up on me, the writing on the ruins speak of the Goa’ulds, which suggests that the snakes have been on Earth within the last six or seven hundred years.” Daniel said in a rush as if afraid he was going to get cut off again.
“Does it tell you what they did while they were here?” Jack asked, as he watched a neighbor shake a stick angrily at a dog that was hanging around too close to the man’s garden.
“Well, I haven’t actually gotten that far,” Daniel said defensively. “I am still working out the details.”
“This is all really fascinating Daniel, really it is,” Jack said with a sigh. “It’s too bad you haven’t given me anything that I could use. What’d you bring back with you, and Daniel, be a little cryptic if you will, cell phones are not the most secure things in the world, know what I mean?” Trust Daniel to forget even the most important things when he gets caught up in an archeological find.
“Oh sorry Jack. I forgot,” Daniel said guiltily. “We brought back a tablet with writing on it, not to mention enough pictures to fill a hard drive. I’m working on the translations now and hope to have some information within the next couple of days.”
“Good. Keep working on it and keep me informed if anything more exciting comes out of it,” Jack said. “I should be back there tomorrow, barring any more problems.”
“Problems?” Daniel asked. Never let it be said that guy didn’t pick up on the little things.
“Did Carter get that information yet?” Jack asked, ignoring Daniel’s concern.
“What kind of problem? Does it have anything to do with you being AWOL?” Daniel asked nonchalantly.
“What?” Jack yelled, turning back to glare at Mac. “What the hell do you mean I am AWOL?”
“We got a call this morning asking us if we’d heard from you, which by the way, was one of the reasons we called you earlier,” Daniel said pointedly. “You disappeared from the party last night and you weren’t in your hotel room this morning when your ride came to pick you up for your meeting with the Joint Chiefs, so they called and asked us if we knew where you might be.”
“Crap!” Jack said. He had forgotten the meeting.
“So?” Daniel pressed. “Where are you and why did you go AWOL?”
“I did not go AWOL,” Jack insisted. “I just… I just got a little wasted last night and ended up somewhere I shouldn’t have and now I am trying to sort things out.”
“Is she pretty?” Daniel asked with a laugh.
“Shut up Daniel!” Jack growled. “This is not funny. Did Carter get that information for me?” He fumed as he waited for Daniel to ask Carter.
“No. Not yet. She said to give her a little more time.”
“Tell her she has as long as it takes me to grovel to the Joint Chiefs. I’ll call her back in, depending on who will be doing the yelling, say an hour? Sooner if I get someone who is a little understanding.”
“Okay. Good luck!!”
Jack hung up and put the phone to his forehead as he closed his eyes, bracing himself for what he knew was coming next. He opened them to see Mac and Lanie staring at him with concern. He tried to smile at them, but all he really wanted to do was punch a few holes in the walls.
“AWOL?” Mac asked, his face showing his concern and something that looked suspiciously like pity.
“I was supposed to be at a meeting this morning,” he replied, trying to sound as if it wasn’t a big deal. “I guess I forgot, although my escort would have reminded me if I was in my hotel room instead of here,” he accused.
“Well, don’t look at me, I wasn’t the one who brought you here,” Mac said defensively. “Kevin said he doesn’t remember a whole lot, just that he and Dan brought me here before they went home.”
“I suppose Randy will have the same story,” Jack sighed. “You do look a lot like me. You know,” he said thoughtfully, “you never did tell me why.”
“Why what?” Mac asked, looking at Jack as if he had lost his mind.
“Why you look like me,” Jack said calmly.
“I am willing to bet my necklace that you two are twins,” Lanie said, ”it can’t be anything else and I will not give up until I find out for sure. Okay, here’s the plan,” she said. “Jack, you go make your phone call while I get breakfast started and I’ll take down as much information as you can tell me while you eat. Mac,” she said turning to her husband, “you get over here and tell me happy anniversary or I’ll just have to get mad at you all over again.”
“You’d make a great commander,” Jack said with a grin, “and believe me; I’ve seen some of the best.” He turned and headed for the door as Mac pulled his wife into an embrace.
It took quite a bit of groveling, but Jack was able to soothe the ruffled feathers and convince the powers that be that he really wished he hadn’t missed the meeting. They fell for it, or at least pretended to fall for it, and Jack was relieved that it wasn’t worse as he called Carter to get that information he wanted. She gave him the number and he had to ask her to hold on until he found something to write with. He searched the countertops in the kitchen and was going to start digging through drawers when he noticed a dry erase board on the refrigerator. Grabbing the marker, he wrote down the number she gave him and called it after thanking her and jokingly promising her that she didn’t need to worry about getting used to a new commander at the SGC.
He was talking with Randy when Lanie came into the kitchen to start breakfast. Randy told him pretty much the same thing Kevin had told Mac. He’d found Jack in the restroom of the bar, barely able to stand, and dragged him off to his hotel room, leaving him there to sleep it off.
Speaking of the bathroom, Jack thought, as he made his way to the room Lanie had indicated when he asked.
Jack came back into the kitchen to find that Mac had joined his wife and it unnerved him to see how much that guy looked like him, although he should be used to that stuff by now. He had pretty much accepted that he was not being tricked by the Goa’uld, or the Replicators for that matter, remembering Carter’s debriefing as she described Fifth’s attempt to convince her she was on Earth. Now all he had to do was accept the guy for what he was, a replica of himself, and if Lanie had her way, his twin.
“Everything okay?” Mac asked him as he sat down at the table.
“Yeah,” Jack said with a shrug. “All it took was some sincere groveling, mixed with a bunch of ‘yes sirs and no sirs’ and as a bonus I promised them all that I had a fantastic time at that party last night. I’m not sure if they bought it, but I’m not facing a court martial, so I can’t complain.”
“What do you do for the Air Force?” Lanie asked as she flipped some eggs in a pan.
“A desk job,” he said disgustedly. “Not much fun.”
“Are you a General?” she asked him. She was putting bread into a toaster and he thought about asking her for a cup of coffee.
“Yeah, how’d you know?”
“Lanie was a military brat,” Mac said as he got up to grab the coffee pot. “Want some?”
“Yes please,” Jack said relieved.
“You were talking to a Colonel as if you were her commanding officer, which makes you at least a Brigadier General,” Lanie explained.
“She’s a Lieutenant Colonel,” he corrected her, as if that made a difference.
“Oh, well excuse me,” she grinned as she put a plate with eggs and sausages in front of him. She put two more plates filled with food down on the table and Mac grabbed his fork to dig in. She went over to the counter and came back with a pen and some paper and Jack wondered where they came from. “Where exactly were you born?” she asked, expectantly.
“Chicago, and the toast is ready,” he replied.
“Oh,” she said, jumping up to get the toast. “Can you be a little more specific?” she asked as she placed the toast and a tub of margarine on the table.
“This is a waste of time you know,” Jack said, as he took a bite of his eggs. “He is not my twin.”
“How do you explain the fact that he looks exactly like you?” she asked impatiently.
“You’d be surprised,” Jack responded dryly. “Look, I think it’s just a coincidence that he looks just like me, in fact….” he said getting up to see if there were any scars left by plastic surgery on Macs neck, “this all could still be a trick.”
“Why would we want to trick you?” Mac said pulling away from Jack’s searching fingers. “It doesn’t make sense.”
“Sit down Jack and finish your breakfast,” Lanie bossed and Jack did as he was told. “What about your parents, maybe they will be able to shed some light on this.”
“My mother’s dead and I haven’t spoken to my father in years,” he said wearily. This was something he didn’t like to dwell on. “I suppose I could ask my Uncle Henry, that is, of course, if I can find him.” Ah what was he thinking? “Look, it’s not even worth finding out about after all these years. Even if he is my twin, what good does it do either one of us to find out?”
“I would like to know.” Mac said quietly, his eyes boring into Jack’s. “It had always been just me and my grandfather when I was growing up. As a child, I often wished I had a brother.”
“Do you have a copy of your birth certificate?” Lanie asked Jack. “That will give us a clue as to where to start. It’ll be much easier though, if you could speak with your father and ask him outright about your parentage,” she said with some caution.
Wonderful, Jack sighed, she wasn’t going to give up. “Look, my father and I had a falling out years ago and I haven’t seen nor heard from him in years.” The last time had been just after Charlie died. His father had wanted to talk with him, possibly to make amends, but Jack was way too deep into his grief to even give him the time of day.
“Maybe I could talk to him,” Lanie suggested. “I’ll tell him I am with the Department of Social Services or something. Would that work?”
“No, I’ll talk to him,” Jack said decisively. It was time to get back in touch with his old man, he thought, knowing he should try to bridge the gap that was between them.
“I’m sure it will be a good thing,” she said with an encouraging smile.
“Yeah,” Jack said as he finished his breakfast. “Well, I must be getting back to my hotel room to get ready for today’s treat. It seems my punishment has been decided,” he grinned at them. “They postponed the meeting until this afternoon,” the grin turned into a grimace.
“Need a ride?” Mac asked him.
“Don’t you dare go anywhere without leaving me a number to get in touch with you,” Lanie said as she grabbed the pen she had put down earlier.
“Oh man, she’s on a mission,” Mac groaned. “Be prepared for her to pester you to death,” he added, grinning as his wife glared at him.
“I know that you two are twins. All I have to do is prove it,” she said. “I’ll ask some of your old friends to help me out Mac, shouldn’t take me long at all.”
“Lanie,” Mac said quietly. “It’s not that important. Jack’s right. What good will it do to find out this late in the game?”
“He’s your brother Mac,” she said exasperatedly. “How can you say that it’s not important?”
“Oh for crying out loud,” Jack said, interrupting what looked like a promising fight. “Here’s my cell phone number,” he said taking the pen from her hand and writing it down on the paper. “I don’t give it out to everyone and I would appreciate you remembering that, okay? I am not available on it all the time, but just leave a message.”
“Are you going to call your father?” Lanie asked.
“Liar!” she exclaimed. Jack could see she was getting angry.
“Hey, I’ll call him when I get a chance.”
“Call him now,” she insisted.
“I don’t have his phone number on me,” Jack said, trying to control his anger. Who the hell did she think she was?
“Jack…” she began.
“Listen, this is all your idea in the first place!” he raged. “I don’t need another duplicate, okay? One’s enough to…..” Oh crap! Now he’d done it. What was the matter with him, letting something like that slip through? He knew better and was trained to keep secrets to himself, yet here he was giving out classified information.
“What is that supposed to mean?” Mac growled. “That’s the second time you mentioned something about having a duplicate. Listen to me, I retired 15 years ago. You won’t gain a thing from whatever game you are trying to play here.”
“What the hell?” Jack snarled. “You two are the ones trying to mess with my mind. And you’re not doing it very well at all.”
“Both of you just shut up!” Lanie yelled at the top of her voice, causing both men to gape at her. “I truly believe that you two are brothers, long lost at that, and I will prove it. Until then, you both will just have to learn to live with it. Understand?”
“Yes ma’am!” Jack said, giving her his best salute and a grin.
“Loud and clear, Melanie MacGyver,” Mac said and gave her a wink.
Melanie sighed heavily, squared her shoulders and tried to hide her own smile. She then turned to Jack, “Call your father as soon as you get his number and then call me. If you don’t I will be calling your phone on a daily basis leaving 15 minute messages to run up your bill. I swear I will,” she promised as she wrote her own phone number down on a piece of paper.
“Damn,” O’Neill groused. “Spend the night with a woman and she thinks she owns you.”
“Here,” she said as her husband laughed. “And don’t lose it. Now that you are part of the family, you have to come out and visit us more often. Maybe we can come and visit you out in Colorado,” she said. He noticed Mac perk up at that. “Are you married?”
“Not any more,” he replied.
“I’m sorry,” she said with feeling. “Children?”
“It’s getting late,” Jack said, changing the subject. He didn’t think he could face any more of her pity. “I’ll call my Dad and let you know what he says, okay?”
“Jack?” she said and he cursed inwardly.
“What happened? Will you tell us?”
“About what?” he asked trying to play the innocent.
Her face showed her resignation, as she came up to him to give him a hug. “We’re your family now. I hope you’ll remember that.”
“I will,” he said feeling like a fool. “You are a lucky man,” he told Mac, “to have a woman like this.”
“I know,” Mac said looking at his wife and Jack could see the love he had for her.
“I’ll call,” he told her again as he headed for the stairs to go find his shoes. Damn it, he thought as he stopped and turned to the couple. “My son, Charlie, accidentally shot himself with my gun,” he said with a heavy heart. “He was only 11 years old.” He briefly wondered if the pain would ever ease. “I have no other children.” With that, he turned and went up the stairs leaving the pity he knew they must feel for him behind.
Mac pulled his wife into an embrace when Jack had climbed the stairs. He knew she was feeling the same horror he felt at Jack’s loss and he hoped to give her some comfort. God, he couldn’t bear to even think of losing one of his own children.
He held her for a few minutes, kissing her hair and stroking her back, until she pulled back and looked into his eyes. “Are you okay with this brother thing?” she asked.
“Yeah, I think I am. I’m not as positive as you are, but if it is true then…, well; it’ll be nice to have a brother.”
“He lives in Colorado Springs,” she said teasingly. “We could go visit him when we visit Cyndi in Grand Junction. You love visiting my sister, or should I say the mountains, seeing as you leave me on her doorstep and head out to the nearest forest the minute we get there,” she said her eyes sparkling.
“Have I told you lately that I love you?” Mac said, as he hugged her again. He kissed her and she put her arms around his neck, returning the kiss with fervor.
“Mmmm,” she said when the kiss ended. She put her forehead up against his and smiled at him, “Not often enough.”
“I say it at least six times a day,” he said smiling back at her. “You just don’t hear it.”
“Uh huh,” she said sounding totally unconvinced. “Nice come back, though.”
He laughed as he pulled her back into another hug before telling her, “I’ll go take ‘my brother’ to his meeting. You going to be alright?”
“Yes,” she said with a grimace. :”Another day in paradise cleaning the house, picking up the…. Oh my God!” she exclaimed, as her eyes grew wide and her hand flew to her mouth. “My interview! I forgot all about it. Why didn’t you remind me Mac?” she accused as she flew up the stairs to go get ready.
“Relax!” he called up after her. “You still have at least three hours to get there.”
Jack came down a few seconds later and shook his head as he looked back up toward the landing. “She related to a tornado?” he asked. “She damn near knocked me down!”
“She has a job interview today and she just now remembered it,” Mac replied with a grin. “You ready to go?”
“Yeah,” Jack said. “You don’t have to give me a ride you know. I’ll call for one. But thanks anyway.”
“I’ll take you there. We can talk on the way, compare notes and figure out how to get Lanie to back down on this mission she has decided to take on.”
“Do you think you can?” Jack asked perking up.
“Nah, not really. Once she sinks her claws into something, there is no letting up. She would have made a great lawyer,” Mac said with a great deal of pride as he led the way out the door to his car.
The ride wasn’t all that bad, especially since the traffic was light. Mac tried to get Jack to open up about his life, but Jack proved to be a very private person, telling Mac that his job was highly classified and that there was nothing about his personal life to talk about. Boring was the word he used.
Mac didn’t buy most of it, but he still tried to get his companion to open up. He struck pay dirt when Jack talked about his friends.
“I have a few friends whom I work with and we spend some of our off-time together. I will admit that they are almost like family, but will deny it with my dying breath if you tell them I said that,” he said with a grin.
“I know what you mean,” Mac agreed. “I have a few friends that have been inducted into my family whether they wanted to be or not.”
“What about you?” Jack got around to asking. “What did you do before you retired?”
“I worked as an investigator, sort of. I had to go and find people and other objects that needed finding. Actually, I did a lot of odd jobs for my boss, and most of them got me into more trouble than I care to think about.”
“Trouble follows you around too?” Jack asked with a chuckle. “I always thought it came with my job.”
“Yeah, I did too,” Mac said, as he grinned at Jack.
There was silence for a few minutes before Jack said, “My cousin used to tease me about my being adopted. He said his father told him about it, so it had to be true. But I just ignored the taunts for the most part because my parents told me it wasn’t true. Now I wonder if it really was.”
“I don’t know,” Mac said with a frown, “we look so much alike.”
“Yeah,” Jack agreed, and Mac noticed that Jack had this strange look on his face.
“What?” he asked.
“Nothing,” Jack replied, with a shake of his head.
They reached the hotel and Mac let him out at the front door. “Jack,” he said, as his passenger got out. “No matter what, keep in touch. We were thinking of going out to Grand Junction to visit Lanie’s sister. Maybe we’ll stop by to visit you, that is if you would like us to.”
“Yeah, that would be nice,” Jack said and Mac was surprised to hear the conviction in his voice. “You guys would be more than welcome.”
“Really?” Mac couldn’t help but say. “I had the impression you didn’t want anything to do with us.”
“If you really are my twin brother, we have a lot to talk about and catching up to do,” Jack said with a shrug. “Come out and visit me. And yeah, you can even bring the shrew.”
They both laughed at that and Mac said, “I will. She would have a fit if I didn’t.”
“See ya,” Jack said then grimaced as they both heard someone shout, “General O’Neill!”
“Duty calls,” he said with a sigh.
Mac watched as Jack backed away from the car and turned to the three service men that were heading their way. The airmen all came to attention and saluted before following the General as he walked into the hotel.
Mac grinned as he remembered the pained look on Jack’s face as he saw the airmen heading his way, then put the car in drive to make his getaway. He was already making vacation plans in the Colorado Rockies as he pulled away from the curb.
The meeting wasn’t as long as it would have been if Jack had managed to make it there that morning. Most of the original attendees had been unable to make it due to other plans they had made, and those that did make it were there only to get the low down on the Stargate project and to give him the details of next year’s budget, dismal as it was. Jack struggled with the politicians, making a little headway on the budget issue and finally made his escape.
He went back to the hotel and packed his bag to take the next flight out of Washington, hoping to get out before the powers that be changed their minds and decided they needed him there for another day, or worse, another meeting.
He pulled into his own driveway later that night, glad to be home and grabbed his bags from behind the seat. Unlocking the front door, he entered the house and put the bags down by the door. He grabbed a beer from the fridge and had settled in a chair in the living room when the phone rang. He decided to let the answering machine get it and closed his eyes. It had been a long day.
He looked toward the phone when he heard Sam’s voice telling him that she was just checking to make sure he got home okay and that she would see him tomorrow. He smiled as he thought about the Colonel. He refused to think about the deeper feelings he had toward her, but he did dwell on the fact that she was an amazing woman. She was brilliant, beautiful and had a smile that would bring him to his knees if he’d let it. Carter was a permanent fixture in his life, as a colleague and a friend, even if she did marry that creep, he thought uncharitably. He took another drink of the beer and let his thoughts turn to another beautiful woman named Lanie.
He had promised her that he would call his father and he was still trying to get up the nerve to do so. His father was a good man, but the death of Jack’s mother had turned the normally loving father into a monster that Jack didn’t even recognize. It didn’t help when three years later his father married a woman who had promptly seduced the naïve young Jack, then blamed Jack when his father caught them at it. The beating Jack received was the last straw for him and he left home to go live with his grandfather. A few years later he joined the Air Force. He had been determined to show his father that he could be a better person than the bastard who kicked the crap out of him all those years before, but the fallout had been permanent and Jack hadn’t seen him since.
His father had called when Charlie died, but Jack wasn’t interested in anything but his own grief and the conversation was brief. He wondered now what the old man wanted when he’d called.
Sighing, he got up and went to look for his phone book wondering who to start with. He supposed the number he had for his father wouldn’t be any good anymore, but thought maybe his Uncle would have it. Hell, he might be able to avoid talking to his father altogether if his Uncle would tell him what he wanted to know. That’s the ticket, he thought to himself as he went over to the phone.
He dialed the number, but realized that it was much later in his Uncle’s time zone and hung up after the first ring. He would call him tomorrow, all the while knowing that this was just another stall tactic. He finished his beer and headed for his bed to get some sleep.
The klaxons were blaring when Jack stepped out of the elevator on the 28th level of the SGC the next morning. He hurried to the control room to find out what was going on and the technician on duty told him that they were receiving SG-8’s IDC. “Open the iris,” Jack told him.
He watched as the members of SG-8 walked out of the wormhole and down the ramp and nodded when Colonel Bergman gave him a thumbs up. “We’ll debrief in an hour,” he told SG-8 through the microphone then headed for his office to get the day started.
Two hours later, Jack decided to give up on getting anything done. His mind just wasn’t on his work; he was still mulling over the fact that there was another duplicate out there. He was starting to lose count on the number of duplicates he’d encountered, not even remotely flattered that anyone would want to duplicate him in the first place.
He headed toward Daniel’s office to give himself something constructive to do, only to find that his friend was nowhere in sight. “Hey Daniel,” he called out. “Daniel, where are you?”
There was no answer and Jack turned to leave, thinking he would see what Carter was up to, when his eyes landed on the tablet laying on Daniel’s desk. Curiosity overcame him and he walked to the desk to get a better look at the object that held Daniel’s current fascination.
The tablet was made of a substance that looked like stone or concrete with elaborate writings on the front of it. There were several sheets of paper and a notebook next to the tablet where Daniel had made some notes and what looked like doodles. Jack tried to decipher Daniel’s chicken scratches, but decided he would wait for the condensed version. He didn’t want to take away all of Daniel’s glory, he thought with a grin.
Daniel chose that moment to walk into the office with a cup in his hands, gave Jack a quizzical look, then said, “Hey Jack, I see you’ve finally made it here.”
“Daniel,” Jack countered. He picked up the notebook and waved it at the archeologist with determination, “Care to tell me what this is all about?”
“Thought you’d never ask,” Daniel said with a grin. He put the cup down on the desk and picked up the tablet, “This part here tells about the Goa’ulds…”
Jack’s cell phone rang just as he pulled into his driveway later that night. He cringed when he saw who it was, took a deep breath before pressing the ‘talk’ button and said, “O’Neill.”
“Hi Jack,” Lanie’s voice came through the phone. “How are you? I thought I would call to see if you were able to get in touch with your father.”
“Nope. Not yet,” he replied, “I’m still trying to get a number for him.”
“You’re stalling, aren’t you?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said baldly. “I’ll call him Lanie. I just need some time, okay?”
“Jack,” she sighed. “I suppose I can understand that, it’s just that I am so anxious to find out something, anything…”
“I know. I promise I will call him soon. Okay?”
“Okay,” she grumbled. “When is soon?”
“Soon Lanie,” he said forcibly, smiling despite himself.
“Alright,” she gave in. “I’ll call you tomorrow. ‘Night, Jack!”
“Thanks for the warning. I’ll make sure I have the phone turned off,” he replied.
“Can you really afford those 20 minute phone messages?” she asked sweetly.
“Well I have 24 hours to think about it now, don’t I? Sleep tight Lanie.”
Jack got out of the truck and walked into his house. He had just closed the front door when his cell phone rang again. He fumbled for the phone, nearly dropping it, as he reached for the light switch.
“O’Neill,” he growled into the phone.
“Jack! Oh man, you have to get back here now,” Daniel’s excited voice spoke to him through the phone. “We’ve found them Jack! Do you realize what this means? I can’t believe we’ve really found them!”
“Daniel, calm down,” Jack said rubbing the bridge of his nose. He could feel the tension building up and he knew the first signs of a headache when confronted with them. “First things first, who did we find?”
“Well, I have to tell you that I didn’t believe it at first,” Daniel continued. Jack could hear papers being shuffled as Daniel spoke to him. “Where is it? I just had it. Wait, here it is… No, that’s not it. Ah, okay, here it is. The tablet that I’ve been translating spoke of the Ancients, the Goa’ulds and a bunch of other stuff, but it also speaks of a tribe of people that were transplanted to that planet approximately four hundred years ago by the Goa’ulds. We’ve found them Jack!” he said proudly.
“That’s great Daniel. I’ve always wondered where we put those people. Now I can rest easy,” Jack said debating whether he should strangle the archeologist or just pound him into dust.
“I’m telling you, this is the find of the century. We have to go back there to gather more information and determine what happened to them again.”
“What do you mean what happened to them again? Daniel,” he said with a sigh, “I am standing here valiantly reminding myself that you are my friend. It wouldn’t be a good thing for me to kill my friend. Perhaps if you tell me who we lost in the first place, I may have an inkling of what the hell it is you are talking about.” His voice had risen while he was speaking, until he was almost shouting by the end of his speech. “On second thought,” he said trying to calm down, “what have I told you about unsecured lines? Jeez Daniel, what the hell am I going to do with you?”
“Sorry Jack. It’s just that this is so incredible that I…. Well, you know me. I admit that I can get carried away sometimes, but… well…”
“Daniel, don’t worry about it, okay? Tell you what, why don’t you go home, get a good night’s sleep and meet me in the briefing room tomorrow morning first thing. Bring along Sam and Teal’c and whomever else you want to and we’ll talk about it then.”
“Jack, this is important…”
“Daniel, trust me on this. I will be able to better understand you after you have had time to calm down. We’ll talk about this first thing in the morning.”
“Alright,” he gave in. “I’ll call you tomorrow morning to get you out of bed.”
Now that was way too eerie, Jack thought, as he hung up the phone. Didn’t Lanie just say almost the same thing?
He went to the kitchen to scavenge for food, finding leftover spaghetti from the night before. He threw the plate in the microwave, grabbed a beer from the refrigerator and walked over to the window to look out into his backyard. He was going to make that phone call tonight, but he felt like such a weakling because he was standing there working up the nerve to pick up the phone. It was ironic that he was able to stand up to someone who would torment and torture him, without him showing any fear, yet he couldn’t even make a phone call. He finished the beer when the microwave buzzed to tell him his dinner was ready. Taking the plate out of the microwave, he carried it over to the table, sitting down to eat his meal alone and in silence; his mind working on what he would say when he finally did make the call.
Once he had eaten, he’d decided that now was as good a time as any. He sat down on the couch, picked up the phone and dialed his Uncle’s number. “Hello?” a woman’s voice said when it was picked up on the other end.
“Hi. Can I speak to Henry please?” Jack asked, not recognizing the voice on the other end of the line.
“Just a minute,” the woman said. Jack waited, listening to the woman’s voice grow dim as she called to his Uncle.
“Hello?” It was Henry and Jack smiled at the memories the sound of his voice brought to him.
“Hey Uncle Henry. It’s me, Jack. How are you doing?”
“Jack? Oh my God. Jack!” his Uncle’s surprise was evident. “What have you been up to? It’s been forever since I’ve heard from you. You okay?”
“I’m fine, thanks. I was just thinking about getting in touch with my old man and I don’t have his number anymore. I was hoping you might have it?”
“Yeah sure, I have it here somewhere,” his Uncle said. “How’s the family? Well, I mean…”
“Sara’s doing great, last I heard,” Jack said quickly. “I keep in touch with her once in awhile. How about your brood?”
“They are all doing great,” Henry told him. “Joanie just graduated from Law School! Can you imagine? At her age!! Anyway, she and Tom are moving to Texas to build their own law firm, taking the kids with them. I’ll sure miss them,” he said, sadly.
“I’ll bet you will,” Jack agreed. “What about Tina? She still teaching?”
“Yep. Her oldest just made her a Grandma,” he said proudly. “I don’t mind being a Great Grandpa one bit. It’s just another little one to spoil.”
“Yes sir,” Jack laughed, remembering how his Uncle had spoiled him when he was younger.
“How about you? I heard you’d retired. What have you been doing with your life?” his Uncle asked.
“Got pulled back in,” Jack said. “They needed me to do another job and I’m still doing it. On the bright side, I’m a General now.”
“A General? Well, I’ll be damned!” Henry exclaimed proudly. “I’m not the least bit surprised, you know. I always knew you had it in you. You always were a determined young man.”
‘Yeah. Hey Uncle Henry,” Jack said, turning the conversation away from himself. “I ran into someone a couple of days ago who looks so much like me, it’s scary. We compared notes and there are a lot of coincidences. I was just wondering if there is anything about my past that I don’t know about.”
“Like what?” Henry asked after a moment of silence.
“Like whether he could be my twin.”
“Your twin?” Henry asked, surprised.
“Yeah. Same face, same birthday. My twin.”
“Jack…,” his Uncle began.
“Yes?” Jack prodded when he didn’t go on.
“You already know the answer, don’t you?” his Uncle said with a sigh. “I’m sorry, really I am, but it was your parent’s decision to keep it from you. They thought it would be for the best.”
Damn it, Jack groaned inwardly. He did know the answer, he was just hoping that he had the wrong one.
“Look Jack,” his Uncle continued. “Your parents loved you; they only wanted what was best for you. You are their son. It didn’t matter that you were born to someone else. They loved you.”
“I know,” Jack said, trying to ease his Uncle’s worry. “It’s just a shock to know that I had a twin brother out there all these years. A long lost twin brother,” he said, remembering the words of Mac’s daughter.
“A twin!” Henry exclaimed. “You mean to tell me that there is another you running around out there? Lord help us all!” he teased.
“Yep,” Jack laughed, although he was thinking of his clone. “There actually is another me running around out there.”
“Jack, I would love to meet your twin,” Henry said. “Will you bring him around to meet me? I’m thinking this is the only way I’ll get to see you again,” he scolded.
“We are still trying to let this all sink in, Uncle Henry,” Jack said. “I’ll come to see you soon, though. I never realized how much I’ve missed your ugly mug.”
“See that you do,” Henry insisted. “Tina would love to see you again.”
“I will,” Jack promised. “You take care of yourself until I do, hear me?”
“Loud and clear, General Jack,” Henry said with pride. “A General,” he said again and Jack knew his accomplishments were going to be the talk of Henry’s friends, if Henry had anything to do with it.
“It’s been good talking to you, Uncle Henry. And thanks!”
“You’re welcome. You have my number, call me more often.”
“I will. Bye Uncle Henry,” Jack said finally hanging up the phone.
Well that was done, he thought. He had his answer, but for some reason he wasn’t happy about it. He had been adopted. His parents weren’t even his parents. His thoughts moved on to his father who had practically turned on him after his mother’s death. He knew it was grief, knew it even better now because of Charlie’s death, but he couldn’t fathom turning on his own son.
Jack sat on his couch for a long time mulling over the possibilities and wondering what he should do from this point on. He worried that he would be expected to share his life with his brother’s family, at least with his sister-in-law who could be such a pain. From the time he had joined the Special Ops, his work life had been one big secret, one that couldn’t be shared with anyone. He had gotten good at hiding his secret life from the world over the years, but he just knew Lanie was going to want to know everything.
He decided to wait until the next day to break the news to Lanie. He needed some more time to come to terms with this, to sort through his feelings. In the meantime, he needed to find out more information on his brother, so he picked up the phone to make one more phone call. He dialed Carter’s number and she answered on the second ring.
“Carter? You busy? I was wondering if I could come over to talk to you about something?”
The ride to Carter’s house didn’t take long, but Jack still had enough time to figure out just what he would tell her about his special request. It was highly improper to ask her to do a background check on someone for personal reasons, but he figured he had an ace up his sleeve and he planned to use it if he had to.
She had been waiting for him and answered the door on his first knock. He smiled at her and she invited him in with a wave of her hand. Tension filled the room, as it always did when they were alone in each other’s house. There was something between them, no doubt about that, but Jack knew that they had to keep things on a professional level. He went into high alert whenever he was around her in the privacy of their own homes, afraid that one or the other would say or do something that could ruin both their careers. For this reason, he’d clam up and hide behind the mask he had learned to master over the years, knowing that she would take it that he really didn’t want to be around her. He hated that she thought that, but he didn’t know how to deal with it any other way.
“You want something to drink?” she offered as she headed toward her kitchen.
“No thanks. I don’t mean to intrude or anything,” he said tersely.
“You’re not,” she said, smiling at him. Maybe he should have waited until they were in safer territory, he thought.
“Sir? You wanted to talk about something?” she reminded him, bringing him back to his mission.
“Oh yeah. I was wondering if I could get you to do something for me. A little background check on someone.”
“Please, sit down,” she offered. “Who did you have in mind?”
“I met this guy the other day and well… His name is Angus MacGyver and he claims to be my brother,” Jack said in a rush. He sat down on her couch, watching her as she sat down in an overstuffed chair.
“Your brother?” she asked in surprise. He caught himself staring at her and he mentally shook his head to clear the cobwebs that were starting to clutter his mind.
“Yeah, my twin brother,” he said, waiting for her reaction.
“I didn’t know you had a brother,” she said, still looking at him in surprise.
“I didn’t know either,” he said, wondering when she was going to make the connection.
She looked at him in confusion, then he could see the wheels turning in her mind. He knew it wouldn’t take her too long.
“Is it possible?” she asked, as she stared into his eyes. “Did your parents have twins or were you adopted?”
“According to my Uncle, I was adopted,” he said, the mask still in place. “I talked to him just before I came here. Apparently my parents felt it was best that I not be told.”
“I’m sorry,” she said with feeling. “It must be hard to find out after all these years.”
“Will you do your magic and help me find out more about him?” he asked her, knowing full well he was ignoring her statement.
“Yes, I’ll start tomorrow. What information do you have that I can start with?”
Was it going to be that easy? He had expected some hesitation on her part. “I have his name, birth date and where he grew up. Not much other than that. I can always ask him for more if you need me to.”
“I’ll start with that and see what I can come up with. Sir?” she said hesitantly, “You do know that I’ll be using government computers to accomplish a personal objective?”
That’s my girl, he thought proudly. He was glad she brought it up, even if he would rather she hadn’t. “I know Carter, but we are dealing with another possible duplicate. That would make it SGC worthy, dontcha think?”
“Yes sir,” she said before the implication sunk in. “Another duplicate?”
“I did say twin brother, didn’t I?”
She stared at him in shock, before giving him a bright smile, as she laughed.
“What?” he asked a little huffily even as he stared at her smile. She was such a beauty.
“Sorry sir,” she said as she tried to muffle her laughter. “It’s just that if you keep this up, nobody will be able to tell anybody apart.”
“Huh?” he asked, not quite sure he was following her and then smiled back at her as she laughed even harder.
“Sorry sir,” she said again as she wiped her eyes. “I couldn’t help it. So what can you tell me about your twin?” she asked, as she tried to keep her control.
“Like I said, his name is Angus MacGyver, his birth date is October 20, 1952 and he looks just like me. What else do you need?”
“I’ll start with that and go from there,” she said still grinning at him. He steeled his resolve not to kiss her and got up to leave.
“Thank you Colonel,” he said, using her rank to remind himself of the regulations. “I do appreciate this,” he added, as he grinned back at her to let her know he wasn’t angry with her.
“You’re welcome sir,” she replied as she got up to follow him to the door.
They stared at each other for a few minutes before he turned to leave, wishing things could have been different. “See you in the morning, Carter. Daniel tells me he has found some people we didn’t know we lost.”
“I know,” she said, her eyes sparkling with anticipation. “He called me a little while ago talking about a lost civilization, but hung up before he told me which civilization. He can be so spacey when he gets like this,” she added, her voice filled with fondness.
“You noticed that, did you?” Jack said, wondering about the spurt of anger he had just experienced. “Now, if I can only convince him to think about security and other important things like that when he gets spacey, I think I could end up a very happy camper.”
“Good luck. Daniel will always be that way,” she said. Jack had to agree with her. If he were to be truthful with himself, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Thanks, but I think I could spend my time on more productive things like avoiding future duplicates.”
She gave him another smile, as he knew she would and he took it with him when he left her house to head for home.
Jack yawned as he walked down the hall toward his office the next morning. He hadn’t slept well last night and Daniel’s phone call woke him up not long after he had finally fallen into a deep sleep. He headed for his office, but only got as far as the corridor leading to it when Daniel called out to him.
“Jack! There you are. Where have you been?”
‘Well, aside from trying to get some much needed sleep, I was on my way here to hear all about the people we lost. I can’t tell you how relieved I am to know we’ve finally found them.”
“We didn’t lose them Jack,” Daniel said patiently. “They lost themselves. Well that’s not exactly what happened, at least now that we know what really happened to them. I mean, after all these years, we finally found them.”
This guy is dead meat, Jack thought, as he stopped to stare at his friend. I’m going to kick the crap out of him. “Daniel,” he sighed, “You do realize that it is way too early in the morning for me to have to deal with this. Give me a couple more hours, a slide show on whatever you have put together while you should have been sleeping, and a well thought out explanation as to exactly what you have found out, and I’ll be right there on the same level as you,” Jack said, before adding, “Now that’s a scary thought!”
He turned to leave Daniel standing there and grimaced when Daniel followed him down the hall. “Are we going back…?” Daniel began.
“Not… another… word,” Jack said slowly, turning to point his finger at Daniel. “Uh uh,” he insisted, when Daniel opened his mouth to say something else. “Not one word.”
“Fine,” Daniel said sulkily, as Jack turned once again to walk to his office. “See you in an hour.”
Jack stared after his friend for a moment before yelling down the hall, “That was a word Daniel. In fact, that was more than one word!”
Jack entered the briefing room an hour later to find all three members of SG-1 waiting for him. Teal’c nodded in greeting, then sat down at the table as Carter jumped up from her seat. Daniel was working on a computer, apparently getting his presentation ready and smiled at Jack when he saw him come in.
“This is really a fantastic find,” Daniel said, as he punched a few keys on the computer. “I think we’ve finally found the Lost Colony.”
“The Lost Colony?” Carter asked, while she and Jack sat down to get comfortable.
“Yes,” Daniel replied, as he brought up an image on the computer screen. “This is a picture of the writings we found on the ruins on P4X-903. The writings speak of a tribe of people brought to that planet approximately 500 Earth years ago. The people were mostly men, although there were a few woman and children among them. The people were brought here as slaves by a Goa’uld named Maltac, a System Lord wannabe. We’re not sure how Maltac came to be on Earth, but he was here, or so this writing tells us.”
“The fascinating part of this find is the fact that these people apparently came from the North American continent, specifically the southeastern region of this continent,” he continued. His expression telling Jack that Daniel was in his professor mode and Jack vaguely wondered if he was going to miss lunch. Daniel had a tendency to drone on about a subject when he was like this.
The computer screen now had an image of the region Daniel was talking about, and he pointed at it to emphasize the area. “I have reason to believe that the people came from here, which explains why we have never found them until now,” he said proudly.
No one spoke when Daniel finished speaking. They were apparently waiting for Daniel to clue them in to this find of the century. Jack had a nagging thought, however, and he ventured a guess. “Are we talking about the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island?”
“Yes!” Daniel exclaimed, even as he gave Jack a surprised look. “Didn’t I tell you this already?”
“Holy crap,” Carter said in an awed voice, causing her teammates and the General to look at her in shock. This was not something Carter would normally say, Holy Hannah maybe, but not this.
She blushed when she realized that they were all looking at her, then rushed on to sheepishly say, “Guess I’ve been hanging around the General too long. Are you positive about this find Daniel?” she asked, her excitement of the news taking control over her embarrassment.
“Pretty close,” Daniel said with a grin. Jack could see Daniel was enjoying this, probably planned it to end up this way. “There is a reference on the ruins to a village called Croatoan, which was the name of a local Native American tribe living near where the colonists had settled.”
“That word had also been carved into a tree when Governor White came back with supplies from England,” Jack added, his mind whirling with possibilities. “It was supposed to be an indication of where the colonists would be if they weren’t there when he got back.”
“Yeah,” said Daniel, giving Jack a funny look. “I have to admit that I am surprised you know that Jack. You’ve never given us any indication that you know anything beyond fighting. You are good at fighting,” he said as an after thought.
“Gee thanks,” Jack said dryly. “It’s good to know you appreciate some of my skills.”
“Sir?” This time it was Carter looking at him with a mixture of confusion and amazement.
“Oh for crying out loud,” he said grumpily. This is why he rarely let them see his academic side. He hated it when people thought he was better or smarter than he really was. It left him feeling awkward and uncomfortable. “I had to take some history classes in order to get a degree, okay?”
“Really?” Daniel asked, his expression showing his surprise.
“Yes, really,” Jack said glaring at the archeologist. “Will you just get on with it already?”
“Oh. Sure,” Daniel said, pulling himself together. “Teal’c, I guess the rest of this presentation will be for your benefit, as it appears Jack already knows this stuff.” This was said with a glare at Jack, probably mad because he had stolen Daniel’s limelight, Jack thought uncharitably.
“In the late 16th century,” Daniel began, “this continent had been inhabited primarily by natives, with a few European visitors checking it out for possible colonization. In 1584, two men came to Roanoke Island to determine its feasibility for a settlement. They liked what they saw and returned to England to inform their employer, Sir Walter Raleigh, that it was the perfect place to live.”
“The Queen of England named the land Virginia,” Daniel continued, while bringing up more images to spice up his lecture, “and sent out a group of men to get the colony started. Unfortunately, the leader killed one of the native chiefs and a war ensued. A year later, the men abandoned the settlement and returned to England.”
“Raleigh sent out another group of 117 men, women and children in early 1587, including John White, whom Raleigh appointed Governor of the colony. They arrived in July of that year and Governor White returned to England for supplies in late August.”
“He wasn’t able to go back to Roanoke Island until three years later and when he did get there, the colonists had vanished. They searched for the people for some time, but no one ever found them. Their fate remains a mystery to this day,” Daniel concluded.
“Some say that the people went to live with the natives,” Jack added, “while others swear they moved to the mainland and found a life there. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the theory that they were kidnapped by aliens though.”
The atmosphere in the briefing room was filled with excitement, at least on the part of the Tau’ri, as Teal’c was his usual stoic self. Jack, on the other hand, couldn’t help but get caught up in it. Daniel had continued his presentation showing them other examples and evidence of his theory that the people of the Lost Colony had indeed been stolen by the Goa’ulds.
“I would like to go back to P4X-903 to see if we can find more evidence as to what happened to them once they arrived on that planet,” Daniel continued. “The MALP showed no signs of civilization and we didn’t encounter anyone while we were there, which leads me to believe that something happened to them. They may have died out, or rebelled or moved on, but it’s still worth a trip to find out.”
“What good would it do?” Jack asked. “It’s not like you could go out and tell the world of this find. No one believed you when you were spouting off about spaceships landing on pyramids. I’d have a hard time keeping you out of the nuthouse for sure if you went out talking about aliens abducting a whole colony. And Daniel, I don’t ever want to have to visit you in a nuthouse again, you hear me?” he added, remembering a visit to a mental ward where Daniel was curled up in the corner of a padded room talking about seeing ghosts and visitors from other galaxies. No one should ever have to watch one of their best friends go insane.
“Yeah,” Daniel said, his eyes taking on a faraway look. “But think about it Jack,” he continued after shaking off his memories, “we could finally solve one of Earth’s mysteries. And who knows, the world may be told of the Goa’ulds sometime in the future and this information would become invaluable to historians.”
“This would also give us the opportunity to discover how a civilization very much like our own has developed technologically and culturally,” said Carter, staring at Jack with a determined look. She was gearing up for a fight, Jack noticed with a smirk. He briefly wondered if he should give both Daniel and Carter a run for their money, making them work for his approval on a project he had already decided to give a green light to. It would be interesting to see how far they would go to win him over.
He kept his silence though, as he looked at each of his friends in turn. Daniel was about to jump out of his skin, his agitation and anxiety apparent in his posture. Carter sat forward, trying to look nonchalant even as she was silently pleading with him. Teal’c sat in his chair, his hands folded on the table, giving Jack a huge grin. The old Jaffa already knew the answer and was enjoying the show.
“Well, I guess that wraps it up then,” Jack told them, grinning at Teal’c. “If you guys think of anything else you need to tell me, you know where to find me.”
“Wait a minute,” Daniel growled. “Aren’t you even going to consider it? We have to go back there. Aren’t you even just a little curious to find out how far these people have come?”
“Daniel….” Jack began.
“We have an obligation to find out everything we can from the cultures we find on other planets,” Daniel continued. “Who knows what kinds of technologies they may have developed. We owe it to ourselves to find those people.”
“I agree,” Jack said. “I’m sure you’ll….”
Daniel was on a roll though, and showed no signs of stopping. “The samples brought back by SG-8 showed traces… of…. Wait a minute. You agree?” Daniel asked. “Does this mean we have a go?
“Yes,” Jack said with an innocent look on his face as he stood up to leave. “Didn’t I tell you this already?”
Jack hated paperwork. Hated it with a passion, yet here he was again plowing through a mountain of it. Day in and day out, paper and ink melding together until his eyes blurred. He had a hard time concentrating on what he was reading when most of the paperwork consisted of requisitions for everything from oranges to missiles. Requisitions usually required him to make decisions as to whether the facility really needed those items and whether he could squeeze the money out of an already tightened budget. Requisitions had become the bane of his professional life and he wished he could just toss them all in a bucket filled with hot coals. It would keep him warm in the winter, he thought bemusedly.
For the most part he usually bypassed the requisitions to read the mission reports he’d received from various members of SGC teams. Now those things held his interest. He may not be able to go out there and fight the Goa’uld personally, but he could read about the adventures of his cohorts and use what he learned from those reports to Earth’s advantage.
He was immersed in one of those reports when a knock on the door interrupted his reading. He looked up to see Carter at the door and he nodded at her saying, “Come in Carter. Have a seat.”
“I have some information on that matter we discussed last night sir,” she said, as she sat down in a chair facing him. “You weren’t kidding when you said he looked like you.”
“And?” he prompted, wondering about the wicked grin she was giving him.
“Well, from what I could gather in such a short period of time,” she began, “it appears that Angus MacGyver was raised in Mission City, Minnesota by his parents, James and Ellen MacGyver. His father and maternal grandmother were killed in an automobile accident when he was twelve and he was subsequently raised by his mother and her father. He went on to study physics at Western Tech and earned a degree in 1973...”
“Physics?” Jack interrupted with a grimace. “A scientist! Well, that proves it. He’s no relation to me.”
“Yes sir,” Carter grinned before continuing with her findings. “He’s not your typical run of the mill scientist though. After graduation, he worked at several odd jobs, including working with bomb specialists before joining the Department of External Services in 1979…”
“Bombs? You mean like the ones that go kaboom? He must like to live dangerously, ya think? Maybe he is related to me after all,” Jack mused.
“Yes sir,” Carter said again before continuing her report. “He worked there for seven years, then moved to the Phoenix Foundation to work as a Special Field Agent.”
“Finding people and other objects,” Jack said grimly. He was starting to think that this was all a hoax. Special Field Agent sounded like Mac was a spy or something. What were the odds that a twin brother he had never known, had fallen into the same kind of work that he did. Pretty good, he thought, as he tried to grasp the information Carter was feeding him.
“I’m sure there was more to it than that,” Carter replied, “but I haven’t had enough time to really find out what he did for that organization. The weird thing about his record is that he is known for being an anti-gun advocate. He never used a gun or any other kind of weapon the whole time he was employed by the DXS or the Phoenix Foundation. From what I could find out, he got out of situations with his wits and ingenuity.”
“Well, if he is known for his wits and ingenuity, he really must be my twin brother,” Jack said smugly before sending her a half grin. She smiled back at him, causing him to stare at her for a few seconds. “Mac told me that he’s retired,” he continued as he brought himself back to reality. “What’s he up to lately?”
“From what I could determine, he retired 15 years ago to travel around on motorcycles with his son, Sean Malloy, only to settle down a few years later when he married Melanie Summerfield…”
“The shrew,” Jack added with conviction.
“Just kidding Carter. I’ve met her and although she seems to be a really nice person, she could rival any General in the United States military,” he said as he rolled his eyes. “Did you say he has a son named Sean?”
“Yes sir. Apparently he didn’t even know his son existed until they met while MacGyver was on a job in 1991. I think that finding his son after all those years may have been a reason for him to retire, as he left the Phoenix Foundation shortly after they met.”
“A long lost son and now a long lost brother. What is up with that guy?” Jack wondered aloud.
“Are you sure he’s your brother?” Carter asked with some trepidation.
“I have to admit that I don’t know what to believe,” Jack replied with a sigh. “This could all be a trick for nefarious purposes, but deep down, I just have this feeling… Oh forget it,” he said, shaking his head and looking away. He’d almost laid open his soul to her and he really didn’t think he was ready to do something like that. Instead he got up from his chair to pace as he thought about the brother he never knew he had. It was eerie how their lives were similar. They’d both ended up in dangerous jobs, only to retire at a young age. Jack got pulled back in, but Mac was living the grand life… or was he?
“What does he do nowadays?” Jack asked, his curiosity piqued.
“He has a part-time job with a local organization that works with children and occasionally does freelance work for a law firm out of Washington, D.C.,” Carter replied. “Um… sir? I’m still looking into his childhood and his birth, but from what I have gathered so far, he was born in Mission City, Minnesota. Aren’t you from Chicago?”
“Yep. Can’t get around that, can we? I would think that his parents would have mentioned something to him about a twin they had given up at birth, don’t you?” he asked as his gaze drifted past her to see himself as a little boy staring up at his father with love and admiration. His father. The man who had taught him the fine art of fishing, how to catch a fast ball and to change the oil in a ’57 Chevy. The same man who had turned on his own son in his grief and chose his second wife over him.
Jack put a stop to his memories and brought his attention back to the present and to Carter, who was looking at him with concern.
“Are you going to be okay?” she asked, her worry for him clear in her expression. “You took off for a minute there,” she added with a small smile.
“Just remembering,” he told her with a grin. “What’s your theory on all this, Colonel?”
“Theory sir?” she asked, then continued when he nodded at her. “I suppose he could be your twin, I mean he does look like you,” she said as she gave him a secret smile. “I have pictures if you are interested sir.”
“I know what I look like Carter,” Jack said watching her warily. He did not like that grin she had on her face.
She didn’t seem to be paying any attention to him as she reached into the folder, searching for the pictures. “Ah, here they are,” she said as she pulled out a stack of photographs. “Lord, General sir, I’ll bet you had to run from the girls when you were younger.” She handed him the photographs, then pointed at the one on top. “Check out the hair,” she said as she giggled.
“They let him work as a spy looking like that?” Jack asked in surprise. “I suppose it made it easier to blend in with the younger crowd,” he ventured, as he went on to look at the rest of the pictures. “My CO would have had a fit if I so much as thought of letting my hair grow out like that,” he added as he tilted his head to look at a picture sideways.
“Lieutenant Powers wanted me to print out a picture for her to take home with her,” Carter said, grinning like a fool. “She had stopped by my lab to get my signature on a report and happened to notice the picture on my monitor. Don’t worry sir, I told her it was a picture of some cult leader and that I was helping Daniel with his research,” she hastily added. “But I had to insist that she leave without the picture, she was pretty adamant. As she put it, he was ‘one hot babe’.”
Jack stopped looking through the pictures to stare at her with raised eyebrows. She blushed slightly before telling him, “Her words sir, not mine. Although I do have to admit that I agree with her,” she added quietly, as she looked into his eyes.
Jack was at a loss for words. He continued to stare at her, wondering why she did this to him - throwing out off-hand compliments at him, knowing he was totally vulnerable around her. He turned his attention back to the pictures he held in his hand in an effort to gather his wits about him, finally looking up at her with a grin. “His hair is as short as mine is now. Somewhere along the way he must have decided that long hair was out. On the bright side, I guess I can stop wondering what I would look like with long hair, not that I ever did, mind you.” He held up one of the pictures next to his face so that she could make a comparison. “What do you think, should I let my hair grow out?”
“And have half the women on the base chasing after you?” Carter teased. “Although I’ve heard many of them bemoan the fact that you are in their chain of command. The civilian women, on the other hand…”
“What about you?” Jack interrupted, hoping for some revenge.
She stared at him for a moment, debating on what she should say, finally deciding on changing the subject. “When does SG-1 leave for P4X-903?”
“You’re on tomorrow’s schedule,” he replied, giving her a wide smile.
“Thank you sir,” she said, giving him a wary look. She laid the report she had compiled on his desk and stood up to leave. “I’ll leave this here with you. In the meantime, I’ll do a little more digging into the events surrounding his birth to see if I can come up with anything that will help.”
“Sounds like a plan,” he told her. “And Carter… Thanks. I really appreciate your help on this matter.”
“You’re welcome sir. I just hope I get to meet this guy one day,” she said as she walked to the door. “Uh sir?” she added after a slight hesitation. “I’ve been known to bemoan the fact that you’re my commanding officer, as well.” She grinned at him as she walked out the door, and Jack realized that she had gotten the last word in again. His glare turned to a grin and he found himself chuckling as he sat down in his chair to read the report she had prepared for him.
The house was silent when Mac slipped out of bed, careful not to wake his wife. She had been up late the night before making travel arrangements and talking to both of her sisters over the phone, discussing the accident that had nearly taken the life of Lanie’s nephew, Steve. Steve had been out riding around with friends when a drunk driver slammed into their car. He was in critical condition, but the doctors had great hopes for his recovery. In the meantime, Lanie was insistent that they go and stay with her sister to help out, so that Steve’s parents could spend as much time with their son as they could.
Mac had mixed feelings regarding this. On the one hand he would be heading out to Colorado. On the other hand he’d be stuck in Grand Junction, babysitting Cyndi’s other kids. As much as he liked his nephews and nieces, the call of the wild was a much stronger temptation, one that he was going to have to resist on this trip.
This whole thing was giving him fits as it was. News of family members involved in any kind of accident always brought on nightmares and this one was no exception. He would always wake up from the nightmares feeling lost, alone and scared out of his mind. He knew the nightmares stemmed from the memories he had of losing his father and grandmother in a car accident when he was a child and nearly losing Lanie because of another one, but that thought didn’t ease the loneliness he felt upon waking up.
He made his way to the bathroom to splash water on his face, stopping to stare at his reflection in the mirror. The images of the dream that had wakened him came back clearly at that moment, terrifying images that had him trembling all over again. He had been in his backyard flipping hamburgers on the grill when he’d heard the squeal of tires and the sound of metal twisting under the force of a crash. He ran out to the front only to find Jack standing in the middle of the road, holding a limp and bleeding Pete in his arms, while standing over the body of his other son, Sam, who was lying under a motorcycle, his sightless, empty eyes staring at Mac. “No one should know what it’s like to lose a son,” Jack had said.
“God!” Mac groaned, as he turned on the cold water. He filled his cupped hands with the cool liquid and put his face into his hands, hoping to rid himself of the images. He stayed that way for a few minutes, then dried his face before heading quietly to his son’s bedroom. Pete’s soft snores were music to his ears. He stayed there watching him for a few minutes, feeling the love he had for his son flow through him.
He finally moved off toward his own room, wondering if Sam would kill him if he called him right then. The urge to pick up the phone and call him anyway was strong, but Mac knew that it really was just a nightmare. He’d just wait until a more decent hour before calling his son. Come to think of it, Sam lived in Wyoming. Maybe he could take some time off to visit with Mac in Grand Junction or in Colorado Springs, if they got a chance to go there. He got back into bed, putting his arm around his sleeping wife. The images of the nightmare fading away as he fell back to sleep.
Lanie was making breakfast the next morning, ordering the children off to school, while at the same time picking up the phone to call someone. She was a model of efficiency at times like this and he knew better than to get in her way. He smiled at the children as they rushed past him, grabbing Lindsay as she passed by to give her a quick hug. Pete gave his father a grin and a wave before heading out the door and Mac called after them, “Be careful out there.”
He picked up the glass of orange juice that was waiting for him and leaned back against the counter shamelessly eavesdropping on Lanie’s end of the phone conversation. It turned out she was talking to someone at the kid’s school making arrangements for their little trip. That woman didn’t miss a trick, he thought with a grin.
“Morning,” he said when she finally hung up the phone. “Were you able to spring them out?”
“Yes,” Lanie said, smiling at him. “You make it sound like they were in jail or something. Want something to eat?”
“Yeah,” he replied, still leaning against the counter. “What’s the plan for this trip?”
“What am I, your travel agent?” she asked with a grin.
“Yep, so what’s the plan?” he repeated as he reached over and pulled her into a hug.
“We leave for the airport tomorrow morning, arriving in Denver by tomorrow afternoon. I thought we would rent a car and drive to Grand Junction, maybe swinging by to see Jack on the way there, or on the way back, whichever works best for him.”
“Assuming, of course, he’ll be available to see us. Not to mention if he even wants us to ‘swing’ by,” Mac said with a smile.
“You said that he wanted us to come for a visit,” she replied. “Besides, I have to call him today to get a status report. I’ll ask him then.”
“Just make sure you ‘ask’ him. I don’t think he would appreciate you ordering him to be ready for us,” he told her as he hugged her. He let her go so that he could take another drink of the juice before telling her, “You know, I was thinking of calling Sam to see if he could come down for a visit. It’d be nice to see him again.”
“Oh Mac, that’s a great idea!” she said excitedly. “Do you think he’ll be able to make it?”
“Won’t know until I ask,” he replied with a shrug, secretly pleased she was so agreeable with this. She and Sam got along well and for that he was grateful.
“Do you have everything taken care of or do you need any help getting things together?” he asked, even though he already knew the answer.
“All I need to do now is finish the last load of laundry, pack ours and the kid’s bags, make arrangements for someone to take care of Herman and to keep an eye on our house, call the post office to have them hold our mail and … um… oh yeah, I also need to let Linda and Bob know we will be gone for a few weeks. I’m sure Bob will mow our lawn when he does his own…. Mac, stop with the frowns. He really isn’t all that bad… well, maybe he is, but he will help us and that’s going to be a big relief.”
“Whatever,” Mac grumbled. He didn’t like owing that jerk anything. “So you have everything going smoothly. Why am I not surprised?” he teased, trying to lighten his own mood. “Good thing you didn’t get that job after all,” he added with a grin.
“Comes from growing up in a military family, well at least my father’s family,” she replied, grinning back at him. “I pretty much have it all handled. My next order of business, though, is to call Jesse to see what he’s come up with on your birth. He’s been looking into Jack’s background and ‘coming up with squat,’ as he so eloquently puts it. It seems your brother has done a lot more than the military wants the world to know and has decided to keep it all hush-hush.”
“Jack did say his job is highly classified,” Mac reminded her. “It would probably be in our best interest to keep it that way. Tell Jesse to back off on this, okay? We don’t need to know what Jack’s been doing lately. Trust me on this; the government doesn’t play nicely with those who snoop where they shouldn’t be snooping.”
“Okay,” Lanie said, giving him a worried frown, apparently picking up on his thoughts. He had been remembering some jobs he’d been on where the government didn’t take too kindly with his ‘investigating’. “I’ll tell him to stick to details surrounding Jack’s birth, although he seemed pretty excited when I talked with him yesterday. It appears that Jack is into something big….”
“Lanie, I mean it! Tell him to back off,” Mac growled. “I don’t care what he’s found out, we don’t need to know what Jack’s been doing the last 30 years. Let him tell us if it’s important.”
“Okay,” she repeated, her eyes wide as she stared at him. He knew he had scared her with the intensity of his demand, but he also knew first hand the undercurrents in the government and he didn’t want her or the kids to ever find out the hard way.
“Look, I have to go and take care of some things of my own before we leave. I’ll call Sam later today to convince him he should meet with us out in Colorado,” Mac said, as he leaned over to kiss her on the cheek. “Hopefully, he’ll bring along our little grandbaby,” he continued, then grinned at the wide smile she gave him, his apprehension leaving him as he watched the excitement build in her eyes.
“You tell him that he will be facing dire consequences if he even thinks of leaving that little darling at home,” she demanded.
“Will do,” he said, as he headed for the door. He got into the car, but sat there for a minute before starting it up. Something was wrong, he could feel it. He wondered if he was just overreacting to the news of Lanie’s cousin, Jesse, digging in places where he shouldn’t. He shook his head in an attempt to rid himself of his paranoia and started the car.
He had been gone most of the day making arrangements of his own. He pulled into his driveway just as Lindsay came out of the house with one of her friends. The paranoia building inside of him was getting stronger and Mac tried to fight off the fear he was experiencing. “Hey babe,” he called out to his daughter, deliberately keeping his tone light. “Where are you going?”
“Hi Dad,” Lindsay smiled at him. “I’m just going to Gina’s house for a little while. She’s going to take care of Herman for me,” she added, as she held up Herman’s cage for him to see.
He smiled as he nodded at her, but he continued to stand there, watching until both girls entered Gina’s house three houses down. As he turned to enter his own house, he noticed his neighbor, Bob, watching him from his front porch. Mac stared at him for a moment with a mixture of dislike and the fear he was dealing with before turning to enter the house.
The first thing he did when he entered the house was call out for Pete, who answered from the back of the house. He followed his son’s voice and found him in the family room watching TV with one of his friends. Mac waved at them before heading for the kitchen hoping to find Lanie there. She wasn’t. Mac decided at that point to call Gina’s parents to let them know that he would be picking Lindsay up in an hour - to keep her there until he got there.
“What’s wrong?” Lanie asked him as he hung up the phone. She had apparently come into the kitchen and overheard him.
“I don’t know,” he told her truthfully. “I just have this feeling, the kind I rarely ignore,” he smiled at her, but she saw right through it.
“What kind of feeling?” Her eyes were wide as she stared at him, conveying her fear.
“It’s probably nothing,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “Are we ready for our trip?”
“Yes,” she replied. “What kind of feeling?”
She just wasn’t going to let it go, Mac thought with a sigh.
“It’s nothing Lanie,” he insisted. No use worrying her over something that may be nothing, although his instincts had never let him down before. “Have you talked to Jack?”
“Not yet. I did leave him a message, though. I’ll call him later if he doesn’t call us first,” she said, her face still creased with worry. “Mac, please tell me what’s wrong. Please?”
“I’ve told you, I don’t know,” he snapped. He could see the hurt look on her face and he tried to soothe things over. No use taking it out on her. “Look Lanie. I’m sorry. It’s just that I have this feeling that something’s wrong. I can’t explain it, but right now it wouldn’t hurt to be extra careful. Okay?”
She nodded at him, still staring at him with a worried look. He pulled her into a hug, wrapping his arms around her as he held her tightly. “I’m sure it’s just my imagination,” he continued, although in his heart he knew differently. He let her go as he wondered where he’d last seen that roll of duct tape.
Smoke on the water, fire in the sky. Jack didn’t know all the words to the song, but he continued to sing what he knew of it under his breath, as he watched the video footage brought back by SG-11. They had just come back from a planet where the sun was moving closer to the planet’s atmosphere, too close for comfort. One particular image reminded him of the song that was now playing out over and over again in his head. The image was of a river that glowed bright orange as it reflected the sun’s light, giving him the impression that the water was on fire. He continued to watch the video as the scientists in the room were arguing over whether the planet would explode in the near future or down the road, giving them time to study the effects of a dying planet up close. Every one of them suffered severe disappointment when Jack vetoed the idea of anyone going back to the planet. He lost quite a few popularity points that day, but then again, he never was popular among the scientists on base anyway.
The song stayed with him throughout the rest of the day. Playing out over and over again until he wanted to scream with aggravation. He had the radio on as loud as he could stand it on the way home, hoping to chase away the litany that threatened to drive him insane.
Daniel had been no help, in fact he had made things worse. Jack grimaced as he remembered the meeting he’d had with his friend in Daniel’s office. Daniel was immersed in learning all he could about the Lost Colony and Jack had to call out his name twice to get through Daniel’s concentration.
“What?” Daniel had asked, looking up from the book he was reading. He pushed up the glasses that had slipped down his nose and glared at Jack.
“Are you ready for your trip tomorrow?” Jack asked, ignoring the glare.
“Yep, just doing some last minute research,” Daniel replied. “Uh… Was there anything in particular you wanted to see me about?”
“Do I need a reason to come by for a visit with my best friend?” Jack asked, feigning hurt feelings.
“Meaning you don’t have a specific reason for coming here,” Daniel replied, shaking his head.
“I run this place. I don’t need a specific reason for being here.” Jack was starting to get a little angry.
Daniel didn’t reply, as he was already immersed in the book again. This pissed Jack off even more and he picked up a rock that was lying on Daniel’s desk as he began to sing, “Smoke on the water, fire in the sky…”
His singing finally got Daniel’s attention, especially since he was singing the same verse over and over again. Jack was pleased to see a frown on his friend’s face as he started tossing the rock back and forth from one hand to the other.
“Don’t you know the words to that song?” Daniel asked as he snatched the rock in mid air. “This is not a toy Jack,” he added, shaking it in Jack’s face to get his attention.
“Didn’t you hear me singing the words?” Jack asked, as he eyed a statuette that had been sitting on the desk next to the rock he’d picked up.
“I heard you singing the same words over and over again,” Daniel said, grabbing the statuette to move it to a safe distance from Jack. “That is if you want to call that singing.”
“I suppose you think you could do better?” Jack asked, as Daniel moved yet another object away from Jack’s inquisitive grasp.
“At least I know more of the words of the song than you do,” he said, pushing a book of Latin grammar over toward Jack. “Let that thing keep you busy,” he added, nodding at the book.
“This is Latin,” Jack grimaced, holding the book delicately as if afraid it would bite him.
“Latin is good for the soul,” Daniel said.
Jack just stared at his friend incredulously. “Good for the soul?” he asked. “It didn’t help my soul a whole lot when I learned this stuff during that God awful time loop,” he reminded him.
“Oh yeah, I forgot,” Daniel said dismissively. He had gone back to his reading, which really pissed Jack off even more. He didn’t like being ignored.
“Daniel,” he demanded. This guy was really getting on his nerves!
Daniel sighed, then turned to give Jack his full attention. “What?” he snarled.
“Well, uh… I was just checking to see if there was anything I could do to help you out, that’s all,” Jack lied. He didn’t want to admit that he had forgotten what he had come there for in the first place.
“I don’t need your help, but thanks. I appreciate it.” It was apparent Daniel didn’t believe him for a minute.
“Okay,” Jack said, deciding to leave now before things got worse for him. “Call me if you need me,” he added as he got to the door. “I’ll just be in my office,” this was said as he opened the door. “Just pick up the phone….”
“Jack.” Daniel said, finally looking up from the book.
“Yeah?” Jack asked, expectantly.
“Funky broads were running in and out, pulling kids out on the ground,” he sang. “When it all was over, they had to find another place…”
“Shut up Daniel,” Jack ground out. Instead of getting rid of the song in his head, he now had more words to add to the ones already playing out in his head.
He had left Daniel to his reading, much to Daniel’s relief he was sure. Now he was heading home, listening to as many songs as he could find on the radio to rid himself of the one that had taken up residence in his mind. His cell phone rang just as he pulled into the gas station, deciding to let it go to voice mail when he saw it was Lanie’s number. He would call her back when he was home to tell her what he knew would be good news for her.
It was much later before Jack remembered to check his voice mail messages. He listened to both of the messages Lanie had left telling him that she and her brood would be in Colorado for a few weeks and would he be available for them to visit? He wrote down the cell phone number she had left on the last message, then picked up the phone to call the MacGyver’s home number. Mac answered and Jack assured him that a visit from them on the way home from Grand Junction would work out just fine. He should be able to manage some down time by then. Jack then went on to tell Mac what his Uncle had confirmed and smiled when he’d heard Lanie emit a loud, “Yes!! I knew it!” when Mac relayed the message to her. They spent a few more minutes making arrangements before finally ending the call.
It wasn’t until Jack had settled down for the night that he realized what it was that bothered him about the call. Mac had seemed to be on edge and his unease had transferred to Jack as they talked about mundane things. Jack spent the next 30 minutes wondering what it was that was scaring his new found brother.
Despite the annotation the word brings up in the minds of most people, wormholes were not nasty little holes found in apples. At least not all of them were. Jack watched as SG-1 disappeared in the one swirling around in the Stargate. After all this time, it still bothered him to send them off alone. He wanted to go with them, to protect them to the best of his ability and to make sure they got back safely. His job prevented him from doing just that, but he still worried every single time they went on a mission. He had faith in Carter’s leadership capabilities, Teal’c’s warrior skills and even in Daniel, who had come a long way in honing his own survival skills since the early days of the Stargate Program. But Jack knew from experience that things can and will go wrong and he hated the waiting and worrying when they did.
He stayed there watching until the wormhole finally disengaged before heading for his office to tackle the paperwork waiting for him there. He managed to get a full hour and a half of it done before he gave it up to pace his office. He knew something was brewing, he just couldn’t put his finger on it.
Since the members of SG-1 were off-world, there was no one he could really visit with, so he haunted the hallways, the offices of various departments and even spent some time in the infirmary just to get rid of some of the nervous energy he was experiencing.
He was on his way back to his office after creating havoc just about everywhere he went when the klaxons blared and an announcement was made that an off-world activation had been established. He hurried toward the control room, arriving just as Colonel Dixon authorized the opening of the iris. “We’ve received SG-1’s IDC sir,” he informed Jack.
Jack stared at the Stargate in anticipation. SG-1 wasn’t due back for at least two days. “Get some medics in there,” he ordered the technician at the controls. Where was SG-1, he wondered as he continued to stare at the Gate.
“Yes sir,” the technician responded before making the call. The medics showed up and the Marines were waiting in the Gate Room with guns at the ready, but SG-1 didn’t come through the Gate. “Set up a communication link. Let’s make contact with them,” Jack ordered, his anxiety rising as he waited for the communication link to go through.
“SG-1, what is your status?” Jack asked the minute he was able to broadcast. “SG-1, please respond!”
There was no answer, but Jack was not willing to give up. “Colonel Carter, what is your situation?” He knew he was starting to sound desperate, but at this point he didn’t care. “Daniel, Teal’c, please respond!” he said again. “Damn it! What is going on out there?” he asked Dixon, who shrugged his shoulders in response.
The Stargate disengaged at that point, leaving Jack with a sinking feeling in his stomach. “Dial up P4X-903,” he demanded. “Set up a radio link and get a MALP in the Gate Room now!”
“Yes sir!” the technician responded and immediately went to work following the General’s commands. The inner ring of the Stargate began spinning, as the technician placed a call to get a MALP. He called out as each Chevron was encoded, finally announcing that Chevron 7 was locked. The wormhole activated and he nodded at the General when the radio link was ready.
“SG-1, this is General O’Neill. Please respond.” There was still no response. He tried to contact them for several more minutes until the MALP was wheeled into the Gate Room. “Dispatch the MALP,” Jack ordered.
“MALP dispatched,” the technician responded as the vehicle moved up the ramp. The MALP seemed to move at a snail’s pace as far as Jack was concerned. He had an overpowering urge to go and push it along to make it go faster. He resisted that urge and waited impatiently for it to get to its destination.
Once it was on the other side, the technician began moving the mechanisms without being told. He forced the MALP lens to pan the area, while Jack continued to call out over the communication link. He stopped in mid-sentence and felt a deep seated fear come over him when the camera lens caught the image of several Jaffa standing guard over the Gate. When did they get there, he wondered.
Jack had given the order for SG teams 3 and 5 to gear up, when Carter’s voice came over the radio. “SGC, this is Colonel Carter. Do you read?”
“Carter, what the hell is going on?” Jack asked, completely forgetting protocol.
“Sir, we were being chased by an… animal... or something when the Jaffa showed up. We’re secure for the moment, but unable to get to the Gate.”
“Roger that Colonel,” Jack replied, relief flowing through him. “I’ll be sending in reinforcements in an hour. Can you clear a path for them?”
“We can try sir,” Carter said. “There’s this thing that looks like a cross between a boar and a wolf that showed up and tried to eat Daniel. We were dealing with it when the Jaffa showed up. Our help will depend on whether the animal will let us get near enough to clear the path.”
“What happened to your weapons Colonel?” Jack asked with some trepidation. The Jaffa were moving in toward the MALP, and Jack just knew that he was going to have to put in another requisition for a new one. Sure enough, one of the Jaffa aimed a staff weapon at the expensive piece of equipment and fired, causing the picture to go out.
“Our weapons don’t seem to affect this… thing,” Carter said over the radio, proving that the link had not been damaged.
“What?” Jack interrupted. “There’s nothing in your arsenal that will take it out?” he asked incredulously. “What about the Zat?”
“It moves too fast for a…” Carter began. The silence that followed worried Jack more than the news Carter was passing on to him.
“Carter?” Jack said. “Carter please respond. Damn it Carter, don’t you do this to me. SG-1, please respond. What happened?” he asked the technician.
“We still have the radio link,” the technician said, perplexed.
Jack stared at the wormhole, willing it to tell him what was going on. He hated the suspense that went with his job; it seemed to get worse as the days went by. “Have SG-3 and 5 ready to go in one hour,” he commanded. “Keep trying to raise SG-1 through the radio link and get another MALP in there.”
“Yes sir,” half the people in the control room responded. Jack continued to stand there, watching the swirling whirlpool that Carter sometimes called the Event Horizon. He wished she was here right now telling him all about the Event Horizon and the technicalities that went with her lectures. He waited, listening to his people trying to get a response from SG-1 until the Stargate finally shut down.
“I’ll be in my office,” he told the people in the control room. He ended up in the briefing room instead, standing at the window still watching and waiting for his friends to come back through the Gate. Why did Carter just stop talking? Why wouldn’t they respond? The morbid possibilities that were running through his mind had him clenching his fists in anger and in fear. What would he do without them?
He stayed there for a long time, trying to calm his fears. He needed a clear head when it came time to make decisions and he knew better than to make those decisions based on fear or anger. He was interrupted by Colonel Dixon who had come to tell him that the two teams were geared up and ready to go. Jack gave him a nod before following him down to the control room.
Relief washed over Mac as the plane landed in Denver. His anxiety had followed him around throughout the entire trip. Although he was doing a great job of hiding it from his wife and children, it was still there, a tangible breathing fear that had him on edge. He was relieved to have gotten his family away from their home, thinking that the danger, whatever it was, was most prominent there.
He was on his way to the car rental area when his fears were finally realized. He was grabbed from behind, his arm nearly breaking as it was twisted behind his back and he was pushed face first into the nearest wall. He heard Lanie cry out, but couldn’t move to find out what had happened to her and the children.
“What’s going on?” he asked, still trying to see who had grabbed him.
“Be quiet,” a voice told him. “And listen carefully. I’m only going to say this once. We need something from you O’Neill and you’re going to help us out, aren’t you?”
“You have the wrong guy,” Mac began, then groaned when his arm was twisted harder. He heard Lindsay cry out in sympathy for him. At least he hoped it was sympathy for him and not because she was being hurt. That thought caused anger to build up in him and he tried to contain it. Anger didn’t help in situations like this.
“I said to be quiet,” the voice growled. “We need your help in getting some translations, not to mention those handy little devices you all acquired during that ‘foothold’ situation. Imagine the possibilities and the things we can do impersonating someone else.”
“What do you want me to do?” Mac asked, his old instincts and skills coming out during this time of trouble. He wished he could see his family; as his daughter’s heart wrenching sobs were hard to listen to.
“Dr. Jackson will come in handy in translating some Asgard artifacts we have come in contact with and you have the authority to get the alien cloaking devices. That’s all… for now,” the voice told him.
Mac didn’t know what to make of these demands. Alien cloaking devices? Were these guys X-Files fanatics, or what? “I’ll see what I can do,” he said, hoping to buy him some time and his freedom.
“Yes, you will,” the voice told him. “You won’t have a choice,” he continued. Mac’s blood went cold when he heard Lindsay scream, then Lanie’s screams of rage as she tried to protect her daughter.
“Police business,” Mac heard a second voice say. “Move on people, there’s nothing for you to see here.”
Lindsay and Lanie continued to make as much noise as possible, and Mac looked down when he heard a thud and saw that Pete had been thrown up against the wall near his feet. The rage building in him was unfamiliar. He couldn’t remember ever being this angry. He tried one more time to get away from his attackers to help his family, but his arm was held tightly and he cried out when the man holding him punched him in the kidneys. “I’ll let you go when I am ready,” the cruelty in the man’s voice convincing him to still his movements.
“Now listen carefully,” the man demanded once again. “We’ll contact you tomorrow morning to get a status update on the translations and to let you know where we want you to leave the cloaking devices. I know it’ll take a couple of days to get your hands on the devices, but we can wait. The sooner you get the stuff to us, the sooner you will get to see this pretty little girl again.” The little girl in question was pulled into his line of vision, a tall man with dark hair and a black mustache held Lindsay firmly in his grasp with his hand over her mouth.
Mac stared at his daughter, his anger and fear threatening to destroy him. He could hear Lanie crying quietly, probably held just as tightly as he was. Pete was sitting at Mac’s feet, staring at his sister, his sobs breaking Mac’s heart. Mac swore right then and there that he was going to kill Jack. Right after he destroyed the men who were hurting his family.
“One last thing O’Neill,” said the man who was still holding his arm in a vise like grip. “I just thought you might want to know that there is someone looking into your past. Getting too close to your current past, if you know what I mean. But don’t worry,” the man sneered. “He’s being taken care of. It’s just a matter of who gets to him first… us or them. We can’t have anyone finding out the national secret now, can we?”
“Wait,” Mac said, as he remembered the paranoia from the day before. “How’d you know that I would be here?” he asked. Not only did he have his family to worry about, he now had Jesse to worry about.
“We have our ways,” the man said mysteriously. “Hey, I’ll tell you what. Once we get everything we want, I’ll tell you how we knew, along with freeing this little sweetie, of course.”
“You don’t have to take her,” Mac found himself pleading with them. “I’ll get you anything you want. Please,” he begged, “leave her alone.”
“Wish I could trust you O’Neill, really I do. But you and I both know that I will probably have to fight for this stuff as it is, so just save it, okay?” With that said, Lindsay was dragged from his sight and he heard Lanie crying out before she was shoved to the wall next to Pete. Mac was let go at that point and he turned to see where they were going. Lindsay struggled to get out of their grasp and Mac paled as he saw the glint of a knife between her and the man who held her.
Mac didn’t even stop to check on his wife and son, his attention was on his daughter who was being dragged away from him. He started to follow the men, but stopped when Lindsay cried out and the man holding her held up the blade to show him the blood on the blade before quickly hiding it and moving out a door that led to a parking lot. He ran to the door, but couldn’t see where they had gone. He stood there on the pavement, looking in several different directions trying to get a glimpse of anything that would help him locate his daughter before finally giving up.
He went back into the lobby to find his wife on the floor holding Pete tightly, while sobbing and rocking them both back and forth. She looked up when Mac came to stand beside her and she hurriedly got up to look him in the eyes. “Where is she?” she raged. “Why didn’t you bring her back?”
Mac just pulled her into a hug, holding her as she cried, her tears leaving damp trails down his shirt. He knew her fear, but instead of giving into his own fears, he was already working out scenarios to get his daughter back. First things first - he had to call Jack.
“Lanie, where’s the cell phone?” he asked her as calmly as he could. “Lanie,” he said again. “Come on honey, we have to get her back and to do this we need to call Jack. Where’s the cell phone?”
“In my purse,” she said as she wiped the tears on her cheeks. “We’ll get her back, right Mac?”
“We’ll get her back,” Mac said with conviction. He got down on his knees and pulled Pete into an embrace. “It’s going to be okay Pete. I swear it.” He didn’t like the look on his son’s face. Pete seemed to be in shock, staring at him with a dazed look. “Pete, are you going to be okay?” he asked, as he pushed the hair out his son’s eyes. He let out the breath he was holding when Pete nodded.
“What’d your girl do?” asked an old woman who had come up to get the latest gossip.
“Nothing,” Lanie snapped at her. “They weren’t police, they were hoodlums and you let them kidnap my daughter,” she was screaming at the old woman by the end of the sentence. Her face was bright red with anger. “All of you,” she said to the people who were hanging around. “You all let them kidnap my daughter.”
“They had badges,” the old woman said defensively, as she backed up.
“Badges can be faked,” Lanie snarled, tears streaming down her face.
Mac came up to her then and gathered her into his arms again. “Lanie...” he soothed.
“She’s gone Mac!” she cried, her anger at the world spilling out. “Those men took her and these people didn’t even lift a finger to help.” Mac just held her, shushing her, soothing her with soft words of encouragement. “How could they not help?” she sobbed.
“They didn’t know any better,” Mac said, his voice still trying to calm her. “Come on, let’s call Jack. He’ll help us. He has to,” Mac insisted.
Lanie just nodded, as she sat down against the wall pulling Pete over to her so that she could hold him close to her heart. Mac dialed the cell phone number that Lanie had pulled out of her purse along with the phone. He got Jack’s voice mail, so Mac hung up without leaving a message. He needed to talk to Jack now.
“He’s not answering his cell phone,” Mac told his wife. “Do you have a home phone number for him?”
“No,” she said, as she shook her head. “But Jesse told me that Jack works at a facility called Cheyenne Mountain. Maybe we could get a phone number for there,” she said hopefully.
“Yeah, maybe,” Mac replied thoughtfully. He took the phone and dialed a number he knew by heart. If anyone could help them find the number, his friend Theresa Calder could. She worked at a law firm that hired him on occasion to ferret out information that they couldn’t otherwise get their hands on. He was extremely good at what he did, which is why the firm didn’t balk at his exorbitant fees. Mac relied heavily on Theresa’s investigative skills when it came to earning those fees, and the two had become close friends over the years.
She didn’t let him down, calling him back 30 minutes later. This had given him plenty of time to warn Jesse and to get Lanie and Pete settled into some chairs with cups of hot chocolate to calm them. Theresa gave him the number, telling him that if he needed her for anything to just give her a call. He thanked her, then called the number she had given him.
Usually Jack paced when he was nervous or angry. His nervous energy would cause him to wear a hole in the carpet if he didn’t keep busy, but instead of pacing as he waited for a report from Colonel Reynolds, commander of SG-3, he stood riveted to the spot behind the control console, straining with all his might to hear what he’d wanted to hear - that SG-1 was safe and on their way home. The reports he had so far were not encouraging in this respect, but he still held out hope. Times like these had him wishing he was there with them, dragging them all through the mud or the underbrush or whatever they were facing at the moment, pushing them with words and commands to make it to safety.
He found himself worrying about Daniel; he had heard the fear in Carter’s voice as she casually mentioned the incident where some animal had tried to ‘eat’ the Archeologist. He had worked with her for far too long to not hear the emotion behind the words she spoke and he knew that the situation was much worse than she said it was. Daniel had probably tried to feed it a power bar or something, Jack thought disgustedly, remembering a chase through the burning desert of Abydos when Daniel had gotten too friendly with a native animal.
Jack had been concentrating so hard on the Stargate and his fears that he’d jumped when an airman cleared his throat next to him. “Sir, you have an emergency phone call. Shall I have it transferred in here?”
“What?” Jack asked. “What kind of emergency?” He didn’t have time for this, whatever it was.
“He didn’t say sir. Just that it was an emergency,” the airman replied.
“Did you find out who it was?” Jack asked, turning to glare at the airman. The airman, who hadn’t expected the glare, started stuttering. “Yes s..s..ir. He said his name was MacGyver and that he would never have called you at work unless it was a dire emergency sir!”
“MacGyver?” Jack asked in surprise, then sighed when the airman nodded. “Alright, I’ll talk to him,” he said. “Send it in here.”
He turned his attention back to the monitor that was showing the images of the battleground on the other side of the active wormhole. His teams had gone through the Gate shooting their weapons before they had even stepped into the wormhole, hoping to get a healthy start on the inevitable battle they would be forced to fight. The second MALP was sent through along with the teams and had survived this time, allowing those in the control room an opportunity to view the scene playing out on the battlefield.
The phone rang and he answered it, never taking his eyes off of the monitor. “O’Neill,” he said into the receiver. The camera showed that the Tau’ri had been victorious in this skirmish, but no sign of SG-1, just the members of SG-5 who had been left behind to secure the Gate while SG-3 went out to find their comrades. The wormhole would shut down soon and Jack briefly wondered if all this stress was good for his heart.
“Jack,” Mac replied, the coldness of his voice surprising Jack. “We’re in trouble and we need your help.”
“What kind of trouble?” Jack asked with a frown. This had better be good, he thought menacingly.
“Some men who thought I was you kidnapped Lindsay. I need you to help me get her back,” the calmness in his voice was laced with fear and Jack heard it loud and clear. In fact, it had captured his full attention.
“What?” Jack exclaimed with shock as the implications of what Mac said seeped through. “They thought you were me?” He was sure that this added stress was going to kill him.
“They said that in order to get my daughter back, I would need to do a couple of things for them,” Mac continued as if he was telling Jack the sky was blue.
“What kind of things,” Jack asked with trepidation. He just knew he wasn’t going to like the answer.
“They want something translated and for you to get them some alien devices,” Mac growled, apparently deciding to drop the calm, cool and collected act. “What the hell are you into?” he added as his anger took over.
“Where are you?” Jack responded.
“In Denver, at the airport,” Mac said. “We had just arrived when your friends tried to break my arm and grabbed Lindsay. We have to get her back Jack. You’re going to tell me where to start.”
“Alright,” Jack said, as he was thinking through possible suspects. “Tell me who they were, what they looked like, anything that could tell me who we are dealing with.”
“I didn’t get a good look at my attackers, except for the guy who was sticking a knife into my daughter’s ribs,” Mac replied, the fear creeping back into his voice. He cleared his throat then continued, “That guy was fairly tall with dark hair and a mustache. I think he may have had a scar on his neck, but not positive on that. Hang on,” he said and Jack heard him confer with Lanie and Pete. “Lanie says one of the guys was short with balding dark hair and the other was a tall blond man with a long nose.”
“Did they say anything to you to give us a hint as to who they were,” Jack asked. The descriptions didn’t help him much.
“I was just told what they wanted and that they would contact me in the morning to get the status on the translations and the devices.”
“Jesus,” Jack said under his breath. He tried to think of who had attacked Mac and his family, then realized that every one in the control room was watching him with concern. He glared at the intruders, who all looked away guiltily, before bringing his attention to the monitors and noticed some movement at the edge of the picture. He nudged Walter, who had just begun his shift, and pointed at the monitor – telling him with his gestures that he wanted to see what it was that was moving out there.
Walter nodded, and Jack jumped again when Mac shouted into the phone that was still held against his ear. “Jack?” Mac yelled. “Are you still there? We have to get Lindsay back.”
“Come to Colorado Springs,” Jack said, having made a decision on that issue. “I’ll make room for you at the house…. What the hell is that?” he asked Walter, as he tried to get closer to the monitor.
“I don’t know sir,” Walter responded at the same time as Mac said, “What the hell is what?” Jack watched the monitor closely as the object in question, an animal that looked like it could destroy a large bear with one swipe of its paw ran across the field, stopping momentarily as it saw a possible victim. The members of SG-5 apparently saw it as well, as they began to shoot at it to chase it away from one of their teammates.
“SG-5 report!” Jack yelled into the radio having dropped the phone in his concern over his people. He barely registered that the airman had picked up the phone and spoke into it before hanging it up. “What was that thing?”
“It has to be the animal that Colonel Carter mentioned earlier,” Colonel Dixon said as he stepped back from the monitor he was studying. “That thing was huge!” he added with enthusiasm.
“SG-5 is secure for the moment,” came the response from P4X-903. “The animal seems to have been scared off sir.”
“Stay alert,” Jack ordered. Where the hell was SG-3, he wondered. How was he going to explain losing two teams?
“Sir, the Gate will be shutting down in two minutes,” Walter told him.
“SG-5, the Gate will be shutting down. We will re-establish a wormhole in one hour if you haven’t done so yourself before then. Stay alert and contact us the minute you hear from either SG-1 or 3.”
“Yes sir,” came the response. Jack waited until the wormhole disengaged before heading out of the control room, signaling for the airman to follow him. He led the airman into his office, sitting down in his chair before turning his full attention on the nervous young man.
“Thank you for taking care of that phone call for me,” Jack began, shocking the man standing in front of him. He must have been expecting a thorough reaming, Jack thought.
“You’re welcome sir.”
“Did you get a number for me to call him back?” Jack asked.
“Yes sir,” the airman replied, relaxing a little. “Shall I call him for you?”
“No, I can do it,” Jack replied. “What did you tell him was going on?”
“Just that there was a crisis here and that you needed to take care of it. He was very understanding, telling me to have you call him the first chance you got. Here’s the number,” he said, putting a slip of paper on the desk.
“Thanks again,” Jack said, giving the airman a small grin as he nodded his dismissal.
The grin disappeared when the airman shut the door behind him. He stared at the phone on his desk, wondering which one of at least three organizations had taken Lindsay. He didn’t need this on top of his worry for his friends, but he knew he couldn’t let anything bad happen to the little girl who had begged him for a necklace that matched her mother’s.
He sighed as he picked up the phone to call the number the airman had given him. Mac answered on the first ring, “Everything alright?” he asked with concern.
“Yeah, sorry about that,” Jack said sheepishly. “You caught me at a bad time.”
“Apparently,” Mac said dryly. “What do we do about Lindsay?”
“They won’t hurt her,” Jack said with a certainty. “If they know me, they’ll know I will not negotiate over a dead hostage. We just have to find her before the deadline.”
“Do you know where she is?”
“Somewhere near Colorado Springs,” Jack responded. “They said they would contact me tomorrow? The only way they could contact me is through my home phone or my office phone. Very few people know my cell phone number. And if they want to contact me in person, they will have to come here to find me, which means they will be here by tomorrow.”
“What if they want to contact me here?” Mac asked. Jack was impressed with the coolness Mac relayed in the face of this mess.
“They will follow you to Colorado Springs if they really want the information they are looking for. Do you have a car or do you want me to arrange for a ride for you?” Jack asked, almost as an after thought.
“We were going to rent a car to drive to Grand Junction,” Mac said. “Where do we meet you?”
Jack was at a crossroads here. He wasn’t about to leave the Mountain until all three of his teams came home from that God forsaken planet, but he knew deep down he had to help Mac find his daughter. He tried to come up with a logical solution, but the only thing that came to mind was probably not a good idea.
“Go to my house,” Jack said, deciding on the second most logical solution. He didn’t think it would be a great idea to bring them to the Mountain complex. “I can’t leave here until this present situation is settled, and I have to tell you that I don’t know when that will be, but you and Lanie can make yourselves at home there. I’ll try to get away later tonight so that we can discuss this in more detail and come up with a plan.”
“You sure they will come to Colorado Springs?”
“Yes Mac, I’m sure.” Jack assured him, then proceeded to give him the directions to his house and told him where he could find the spare key. “The house is yours while you are there. Just make yourselves at home,” he insisted.
“Will do,” Mac replied before hanging up the phone.
Jack sat at his desk after hanging up the phone, staring at nothing. What was it about this day that everything had to come down on his head at once, he thought. He rested his elbows on the desk and put his head into his hands, closing his eyes tight as he tried to ease the tension running through him. He stayed in that position until a knock on the door interrupted the temporary peace he had found. Walter opened the door and told Jack that the video of the beast from the planet was ready to be studied and had been set up in the briefing room. Jack nodded, then got up to go see what was terrorizing his people.
Dr. Elizabeth Braden was the zoological equivalent to Daniel’s archeological/linguistics academic background. She was an expert on exotic animals that lived on this planet and after four years at the SGC, she was the world’s only expert on alien animal life. Jack sat back in his chair waiting for a simple answer to the question he had asked at least a dozen times in the last two hours. What the hell was that thing?
The good Doctor was doing her best to explain her theories and ideas based on what she had gleaned from the video, but someone had forgotten to tell her that she needed to use non-scientific words when talking to him. Jack had tried to stop her, but the doctor apparently wasn’t as perceptive as Carter was; who knew just by the look on his face when to stop the techno-babble. He was far too polite to come right out and tell Dr. Braden to shut up, so he sat there, spinning a pen between his fingers waiting impatiently for her to stop talking so that he could ask questions to get the answers he needed in plain English.
It took awhile, but the Doctor finally stopped talking and sat back in her chair with a pleased look on her face. Jack hated to burst her bubble, but he needed to find out exactly what his people were dealing with. “Thank you doctor,” he said politely. “Now if you would be so kind as to translate that into plain English?”
Dixon gave Jack a relieved look, while Dr. Braden glared at him. “It’s a carnivore,” she began again, stopping when Jack held up his hand.
“In English,” he reminded her.
“A meat eater,” she amended. “From what I could see on the monitor, it looks like an extremely large boar, but the length of the legs and the size of the jaws indicate that it’s definitely canine. Dr. Carter was very astute in her description of the animal,” she added.
“The speed in which the animal moved supports the canine theory. It also seems to be an intelligent being - notice how it lowered its head as it decided on its prey,” she continued, pointing to the monitor. “It appears to be debating on who would be the best target. And it chose the man on the edge of the group, the one that was farthest away from the rest.”
“How do we stop it from targeting my people?” Jack asked. “Colonel Carter said it was too fast for our weapons.”
“I have no idea,” the good Doctor told him. “That’s your department.”
It was Jack’s turn to glare at her. “I see,” he said quietly. He stared at her in silence, wondering if he would be justified in firing her based on the fact that he had decided he didn’t like her. “Let me rephrase my question,” he continued, his voice reflecting the cold anger that had taken over. “What characteristics or traits does the animal have that we could use against it in order to protect ourselves?”
“I would have to study the animal to get a better understanding of its traits and characteristics,” she said. “As I mentioned, it appears to be canine and very intelligent. That’s about all we know of the animal right now.”
Jack turned his attention back to the monitor to get a better look at the beast that was causing him fits as he worried about his friends. He could see why both Carter and Dr. Braden compared it to a wolf. Its jaws and legs were long and lean, the tail hanging low. The body, however, was stout with short, bristly hair. Whatever it was, it posed a danger to his teams and Jack was determined to find out how to help his people deal with it.
“Tranquilizers may prove effective if we can get them into the animal,” Dr. Braden told him, apparently deciding to try to be helpful.
“It’s worth a try sir,” said Dixon.
“Perhaps you could use someone as bait to have the animal come near enough to inject the tranquilizer into it,” Dr. Braden added.
“Sure,” Jack said calmly, despite the anger that was surging through him. “Perhaps you would like to be the bait?”
The Doctor stared back at Jack, her anger finally showing through the façade she had been keeping up. “General O’Neill, I’m sure you realize that I am at a disadvantage here in determining anything of value about that animal. I can only speculate on its tendencies and vulnerabilities at this point in time. You are asking me to make a judgment on an animal that I have only just become aware even existed.”
“I am asking you to help me save those people out there!” Jack fired back at her. “You’re supposed to be the expert on wildlife, are you telling me that with the vast amount of knowledge you claim to have on this subject you can’t even come up with even a morsel of advice? What good are you to us?” This last question was asked out of pure frustration on his part and Jack wished he could recall the words the moment they were spoken.
Dr. Braden didn’t respond right away. The look on her face indicated the intense anger she was experiencing. She brought herself up to her full height and threw her shoulders back before saying, “I am the best in my field, General O’Neill. But if you think you can do better, than by all means…” She stopped, glared at Jack, then picked up her reports and left the room.
Jack sat there in the stunned silence, feeling extremely guilty. The others were staring at him and he shrugged his shoulders before saying, “Was it something I said?”
Jack stared at the scenery on the other side of the wormhole through the monitor. All was quiet, too quiet for his tastes. He wanted to see people out there, SG-1 in particular. Where are they, he worried as he continued to watch the monitor.
He had gotten reports from the team that was left behind to secure the Gate that they had received radio messages from both SG-1 and SG-3, but those messages were sporadic and often interrupted by God only knows what. At least they were alive and able to try to communicate, Jack told himself to calm his anxiety.
The waiting was getting to him, with nothing to do but to stand there and worry. He had just about decided on what he was going to do to his friends as retaliation for all this worry, when he heard a message coming through the link.
“SG-5, this is Colonel Carter. Do you copy?
“Carter, this is Stargate Command. What is your position?’ Jack asked before anyone else could say a thing.
“Sir, I will have to speak quickly to get this message through,” Carter said. There is something in this atmosphere that is hampering our communication efforts. I haven’t quite figured out exactly what it is, but it appears that there are sound waves that are interfering with our radio transmissions. Daniel keeps telling me that it has something to do with smoke on the water, but we can’t be sure what he is trying to tell us. He’s not doing too well sir,” she added quietly.
“Can you get back to the Gate?” Jack asked, as memories of his conversation with Daniel just the day before floated through his mind. They had talked about that song…
“We must be close sir,” Carter replied. “This is the longest conversation we’ve had via the radio since we arrived here. It’s hard to tell, as we keep running into batches of thick fog.”
“Get yourselves back here,” Jack demanded. He’d had enough of this crap. He didn’t have this much trouble when SG-5 had gone to the planet earlier, why is it when SG-1 goes there as a team that everything goes to hell in a hand basket? “Any more Bigfoot sightings?” he asked.
“By Bigfoot, I take it you mean the animal that attacked Daniel?” Carter responded. “We’ve only seen it once since then and by chance we’ve discovered that it is afraid of the fog.”
Ha, take that Dr. Braden! Jack thought viciously. The victorious feeling faded away though, as he realized something. “Carter, there’s no fog by the Stargate, at least none that I can see. Harper,” he called out to the leader of SG-5, “how far away is the fog from the Gate?”
“There is no fog sir,” Harper replied. “It’s still daylight here sir and there is none whatsoever.”
Damn, that means they were still a long way from the Gate. “Carter, get your ass to the Gate. Now Colonel,” he commanded, resorting to demands in hopes of gaining control of the situation.
“Yes sir,” she said. “Are the Jaf…”
Jack was getting used to the silence that followed. “She did it again!” he exclaimed when he realized the communication was cut short. “She did it again,” he repeated, turning to Dixon, who was standing next to him. The worry and aggravation was getting to Jack and he really wanted to find something to punch. Too bad Teal’c wasn’t here to become his sparring partner.
Instead, he turned back to the monitor hoping, by some miracle, to see every member of the three teams standing in front of the MALP cheerily waving at him. “Any signs from SG-3?” he asked Harper.
“None sir,” came the response.
“Here sir,” Reynolds voice said over the communication link. “Do you copy?” he asked almost as an after thought.
“We copy,” Jack replied. “We’ve made contact with SG-1 and they are attempting to return to the Gate. I want you to do the same Colonel,” he added.
“Roger that,” Reynolds said. “Although the fog is….”
Jack didn’t dare say anything at that point. The irritation brought on by the continued interruptions of the communication between him and his teams brought back the anger he had felt earlier, only this time it was ten times worse. He stood there with clenched fists, trying desperately to calm himself, to not take his anger and frustration out on the people in the control room, but it was extremely hard.
He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, struggling valiantly to calm himself. It took a moment for him to realize that the silence in the room meant that his people were all trying to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible, and this eased his tension somewhat. They knew him all too well and the look on his face must have been thunderous.
“Colonel Harper,” Jack said, having calmed down quite a bit. “I want those teams back at the Gate as soon as possible before any more Jaffa show up. Bring them home Harper.” He turned to Dixon and said, “I am going to go make a visit to the gym and beat the crap out of the punching bag. Keep me informed the minute any of those teams show up at the Gate.”
“Yes sir,” Dixon said with a grin. “Better that bag than me,” he added. Jack found himself smiling as he walked out of the control room.
The foothills of the Rocky Mountains can be almost as impressive as the mountains they guarded. Mac never tired of looking at them and he enjoyed the view as he traveled south from Denver. To him the foothills and the mountains offered a chance to get out there and commune with nature and he felt the familiar pull these mountains had on his soul. Yes, he loved the rivers and lakes in his home state of Minnesota, but whenever he found himself near these mountains in particular, he felt like he was home.
The sun was low in the sky, casting shadows across the highway as he and his family made their way to Colorado Springs. It would be dark soon and Mac would be glad when they reached their destination. He looked back at his son to find him asleep in the back seat of the rental car they were in. Mac hoped this nap would help Pete recover from the shock mode he seemed to be in. Pete hadn’t said more than three words since Lindsay was kidnapped.
Lanie, on the other hand, had gone past shock and was in complete anger mode. She was staring out the window toward the mountains and Mac decided to let her work out the anger on her own. He’d had to practically force her to come with him to Colorado Springs as it was, and he figured it would be easier for her to calm down if he left her alone. She had been determined to stay in Denver as that is where Lindsay had been taken. She was not leaving her daughter in a strange city with strange captors, and that was final. He’d finally got her to realize that they needed to get to Colorado Springs where Jack was. It was when Jack had told him, “If they know me, they’ll know I will not negotiate over a dead hostage,” that had finally convinced Mac to trust in Jack’s judgment. Those words almost mirrored the ones spoken by the man who had him pinned to the wall at the airport, “…you and I both know that I will probably have to fight for this stuff as it is,” the man had said. The message from both men was loud and clear: Jack was going to be in charge of the whole matter and everything was going to go his way, which is why Mac was on his way to his brother’s house instead of waiting by a phone in some hotel.
Mac knew from experience how to deal with these people. He’d had to use his wits to get away from more than his share of them. He had no doubts that he would get his daughter back, he just didn’t quite know how he was going to accomplish it. One thing for sure, though, Jack was going to have to tell him everything. Mac was not going to settle for ‘classified’, or any other excuse Jack could come up with. He felt a measure of trust for Jack, but he still planned to be right there in the thick of things when it came time to get Lindsay back, and to do this he needed to know exactly what he was up against.
He heard Lanie sigh and he glanced over at his wife as she turned to check on Pete. “He’s asleep,” she said, turning to look at Mac. “Do you think he’ll be alright?”
“I hope so,” Mac responded. “Probably will,” he corrected with a small smile at her. “He’s a MacGyver after all.”
‘Like father, like son?” she asked, as she reached over to smooth his hair. He glanced at her again, realizing that she had finally calmed down.
She turned her attention to the scenery passing by the windows, her hand still absently smoothing his hair. He had gone back to thinking about the problem at hand and was brought back out of his musing when Lanie spoke up again. “What do you think they will do to her?”
He looked over at her for a moment, trying to come up with an answer that wouldn’t cause her nightmares. She turned in the seat so that she was almost facing him, putting both hands in her lap, watching him. He turned his attention back to his driving, before finally telling her what he thought might happen. “I don’t think they will hurt her,” he began. “But I don’t think they will be gentle with her either. They will have to keep her tied up and gagged in order to keep her quiet. They will be moving her to Colorado Springs which means she’ll be hidden in a vehicle. Personally, I hope it’s a van,” he added, almost as a whisper.
“Once they get to where they are going, they’ll probably keep her tied up in a bed or on a cot. Other than that, she’ll be fed and kept alive and unhurt until they have what they want or we get her out of there, whichever comes first. My money is on getting her out of there first,” he said with conviction.
She didn’t say anything after that, just turned toward the front so that she could go back to staring out the window. Mac wished he could ease her fears, but he knew that sugar coating the situation was not going to help his wife get through this.
They drove in silence again, both lost in their own thoughts. The cell phone rang and Lanie gasped when she saw who it was. “Oh my gosh! I forgot to let Cyndi know what’s going on,” she said with a guilty look on her face. Mac smiled as she answered the phone, knowing that her sister would help her with sympathy and whatever else it was that women did when faced with suffering and distress.
Pete woke up as his mother and her sister were commiserating over and dealing with their separate problems. Mac turned and gave his son a quick smile before asking, “Do you feel better?”
“Yeah,” Pete responded sleepily. “Where are we?”
“We’re almost there,” Mac told him.
“I tried to help,” Pete said quietly. “They were too strong for me.” Mac heard the tears in Pete’s voice and he closed his eyes for a few seconds to fight off his own emotions.
“You did great,” Mac assured him.
“You should have seen him Mac,” Lanie said, having told her sister that she would call her back. “He jumped on that guy’s back, hanging on like a monkey,” she teased, as she grinned at her son.
Mac smiled at her, then glanced back at his son. “I’m proud of you, Pete. No matter what, you tried.”
“Is Lindsay going to die?” Pete asked after a few seconds of silence.
“No,” Mac replied. “She’s not going to die. We’ll get her back, you’ll see.”
There were a few more minutes of silence before Pete said, “Dad?”
“When are we going to eat? I’m hungry.”
Mac couldn’t help the smile that came to his face at his son’s complaint. He looked over at his wife and felt the warmth as she smiled back at him. “Pizza!” they both said at the same time.
Darkness had settled over the yard when they’d finally arrived at Jack’s house. There were no lights on inside the house and Mac grumbled when he tripped over a hedge as he looked for the key Jack had hidden. He found it and headed back to the front door to let his family in.
They entered the house and Mac found the light switch after some more grumbling. There was a large envelope on the floor just inside the door and Lanie picked it up to lay it down on the table that was next to the door.
Jack’s tastes were simple, Mac noticed as they walked into the living room. He immediately felt comfortable in this room and that said a lot. He walked over to where Lanie was standing, holding a picture frame in her hand. He looked at the picture over her shoulder and saw it was a picture of Jack along with a woman and little boy. Mac knew he was looking at Jack’s family before it was torn apart by a tragedy, and he felt sadness for the brother he never knew he had until a week ago.
He turned away, looking for the phone. He wanted to let Jack know they were there. Pete had found a Play Station 2 and was settling in to play one of Jack’s games. Lanie took it upon herself to see if there was anything edible in the man’s kitchen, and if he knew her, she was already creating a grocery list.
He called Jack’s office and was told that the General had just left. He then tried Jack’s cell phone and was glad when it was answered. Jack was going to make a stop at the store on his way home and Mac had to relay the items Lanie insisted Jack pick up while he was there.
After he’d hung up the phone, Mac sat down on the couch, leaning back until he was staring at the ceiling. He ran his hands through his hair while still staring at the ceiling, wondering what Lindsay was going through right then. He was glad for the interruption when Lanie sat down next to him and leaned up against him.
“We’ll get her back,” he insisted, knowing where her thoughts were taking her.
“I believe you Mac,” she said, as she curled her legs up under her. “Earlier, in the car, I was remembering the stories Pete Thornton used to tell me. You know, the adventures you had when you worked with him. He said you had never failed to get people out of the situations they found themselves in.” She grinned at him then and continued, “I have to tell you that if I hadn’t seen you repairing machines and things that broke down around the house, I would never have believed him about that stuff where you deactivated bombs with paper clips.”
“Not paper clips,” he said, shaking his head. “Although, I suppose I could….,” he stopped as he realized she had been teasing him. “Not nice, Lanie,” he said as he smiled back at her.
They sat on the couch in silence as Pete played his video game. The only thing missing from this family picture was Lindsay. It wouldn’t be long before he had her back, Mac swore to himself, as he reached into his pocket to pull out his Swiss Army Knife.
The groceries had been put away and Jack was sitting on the chair facing the couch. He had eaten the leftover pizza the MacGyver’s had brought with them, and now it was time to get down to business. The first thing he did was to make Mac tell him exactly what had happened at the airport.
He was impressed by the thoroughness of Mac’s memory of the incident. He had told Jack what the man had said, with Jack being very interested in hearing the demands. He smirked when Mac related the words the man had said about having to fight for what they wanted, those words telling him what he wanted to know. It had to be the NID that they were dealing with. They were the only ones who knew how he operated. His reputation for not giving into terrorists, Earthbound or alien, was widely known to that organization, thanks in part to his old nemesis, Harry Mayborne.
“The only thing I can’t figure out is what they want you to have translated,” Mac said after he finished with his narration of what had happened. “They said they would ‘check on the status of the translation’ tomorrow morning, but they didn’t leave anything with us.”
Jack didn’t say anything, he was too busy mulling over the information he had been given, what he knew of the NID and the suspicions that were screaming at him in his mind. “What’s in the envelope?” he asked.
“What envelope?” Mac responded, his face registering his surprise. Melanie just looked at him as if he was on the brink of insanity.
“The one on the table next to the door,” Jack said, as he stared at his visitors. Everything seemed to be falling into place so neatly. Why had he believed in these people? They could be NID, trying to get information from him by posing as his long lost brother. This all could be an elaborate hoax cooked up to have him telling them everything he knew. He watched as Lanie looked over at the table then back at him with recognition in her eyes. God, she was either a great actress or he was being an idiot.
“Oh,” she said, “That was lying on the floor when we walked in. I put it on the table for you.”
“What’s in it?” he asked again, making no move to go get it. He continued to watch them, as they looked at each other in bewilderment.
“I have no idea,” Mac said, as he shrugged his shoulders. “We don’t make it a habit of reading other people’s mail.” This was said with a little heat.
“I’ll just go get it,” Lanie said, getting up from the couch. “You’ll see that we didn’t open it,” she insisted as she walked over to the table. She picked it up and brought it over to Jack, holding it out to him. He stared at it for a moment before taking it from her. He already knew what the envelope held.
“The translations,” he stated, still watching them. Mac sat up then, the anger that had started to swell in his eyes was now replaced by curiosity and anxiety.
“Let me see,” he demanded, reaching over to take the envelope from Jack. Jack was too quick, however, as he yanked it back out of Mac’s reach.
Mac sat back down on the couch, staring at Jack warily. “Open it,” he said.
The envelope was sealed, Jack noticed, but that didn’t mean anything. His visitors could have sealed it before they brought it here. He looked up from the envelope to see that Pete had come over to sit on the couch with his parents, his eyes wide as he stared at Jack. He apparently had picked up on the bad vibes that had suddenly developed in the room and moved to sit next to his father for protection. Jack stared at the boy, feeling a tug on his heart as he stared into eyes that were so much like his son’s. He had to be wrong about his suspicions.
He looked down at the envelope he held in his hands mainly to hide the tears that had pooled up in his eyes. He blinked hard, then tore open one end of the envelope and pulled out the contents - some photographs and a typed letter. How original, he thought sarcastically.
“What is it?” Mac asked, getting up once again to grab the photographs. And once again, Jack yanked them back out of Mac’s reach.
“Just some pictures and a letter,” he said. “I’ll take them with me to have them analyzed and translated.”
“What language is it in?” Mac asked, still trying to see what Jack was hiding from him. “I’m fluent in a couple of them.”
“You wouldn’t know this one,” Jack replied, as he read the letter that came with the photographs.
“Try me,” Mac said menacingly. Jack looked up from the letter to find Mac looming over him, while Lanie and Pete were still sitting on the couch watching the whole scene. It was Lanie’s expression that convinced him to trust them. She was thinking about her daughter, he could tell. He had seen the same look on Sara’s face as they sat in the hospital waiting while the doctors tried to revive Charlie’s heart.
Damn it! The memories just would not go away. Not while he was here with these people. He stood up suddenly, almost knocking Mac over as he rushed out of the room, heading for the door. He just needed to get away for a few minutes. He heard Mac call after him, but he ignored it striding purposely toward his sanctuary. He climbed the steps that led to his own personal observation deck and paced back and forth across the narrow platform. What the hell happened down there, he wondered. Losing control like that was not something he liked to deal with and definitely not something that happened often.
He stopped pacing to stare up at the night sky, the stars looking down at him sending soothing waves toward him. He could feel himself calming down and he sat down on the chair he had placed next to the telescope. “Charlie,” he whispered as he put his head in his hands.
“Jack?” Mac’s voice was soft, causing him to look up. He didn’t look toward Mac, though. He stared out at the stars, grateful for a clear night.
“Everything okay?” Mac asked, as he came up to squat down next to Jack.
“Yeah,” Jack said, still not looking at the man who claimed to be his brother.
The two men were silent for a few minutes. Jack, still trying to quiet the pain in his soul, continued to stare out at the stars. Seeing Mac with his family had reminded him of his own family, the one he’d lost and would never get back. He missed his family, he thought sadly.
“Nice telescope,” Mac said, trying to break the silence.
“Look Jack,” Mac said, “I’m sorry about Charlie. I know you must really miss him.” He sighed then said, “We can go stay at a motel.”
“No,” Jack said, as he now stared at his hands. “You’re welcome to stay here. Someone has to be here in case they call me at home.”
“You’re not going to be here?”
“We’re still dealing with a crisis at the base,” Jack said, gaining some of his composure back. “I only came home to find out exactly what is going on and to bring you guys some food. I have to get back.”
Jack looked over at Mac at that moment and saw him nod his head. Mac stood up then, turning his eyes toward the sky. “It’s very peaceful up here,” he said.
“My favorite spot in the whole world,” Jack admitted, as he looked back up toward the heavens. “Next to the fishing hole at my cabin, that is.”
“I like to fish too,” Mac said, conspiratorially. “Along with anything else that involves being outdoors. Have you ever been ice fishing?”
“Yeah,” Jack said, feeling a lot calmer now that they were discussing a topic close to his heart. “I grew up in Minnesota, even spent a few years at my Grandfather’s house up in Northern Minnesota. I don’t know what’s worse,” he said with a grin at Mac, “the mosquitoes in the summer or the freezing cold in the winter.”
“The freezing cold,” both men said in unison. Jack laughed along with his companion, feeling a camaraderie building up between them.
Mac’s smile dimmed and Jack knew that it was back to business as usual. “Jack, will you let me see the pictures and the letter?” Mac asked, as he pointed to the evidence in Jack’s hands.
“It’s better that you don’t,” Jack answered, putting the pictures and the letter back into the envelope he still held in his hands. “The pictures are of some artifacts that have writing on them. I’ll take them to someone who can translate them. The letter just tells me what they want to know and how they’ll hurt me, as well as Lindsay if they don’t get what they want. The usual stuff.”
“You’re asking me to put all my faith in you, a total stranger,” Mac said. “I have to be a part of this Jack. I have to. Please don’t keep me out of the loop.”
“You don’t know who we are dealing with,” Jack told him. “These people would just as soon kill you as to look at you. Trust me on this, it’s better that you stay out of it from now on. Let me and my people handle it.”
“I can take care of myself,” Mac replied quietly. “I used to do this stuff for a living.
“As a Special Field Agent?” Jack asked.
Mac stared at him for a moment before saying, “You’ve been checking into my past.” The half grin on his face telling Jack that he had expected as much.
Jack just shrugged, not sure what to say at that point. He was in control of his emotions again, ready to make the decisions that needed attention. He knew now that the suspicions he’d harbored earlier were borne out of the anxiety and sadness he was dealing with, transferring the anger at the loss of his family onto the very people who most resembled them.
He got up from the chair and started down the steps that led to his yard, “I’ll get these analyzed and translated,” he promised. “Let’s go get your daughter back.”
Mac nearly attacked the phone when it rang the next morning. He was ready for the call, had been for at least an hour before it actually rang, but he still felt the anxiety racing through him as he picked up the receiver.
“O’Neill,” he said.
“Do you have the translations?” asked the voice on the other end.
“Yeah, they’re being worked on even as we speak.”
“Good,” the man said. “What about the alien devices?”
“I’m working on it,” Mac replied. “I want to speak with the girl.”
“Not until I get the translations and the devices. She is alright. For now, that is. You have 24 hours to get those devices and the translations ready for the drop off. I will contact you to give you the location and the drop off time.”
“You won’t get anything if I don’t talk to her right now,” Mac insisted. “You may have already killed her for all I know.” He glared at Lanie when she gasped at his words. He put his finger to his lips to remind her to be quiet.
“She’s not dead, O’Neill,” the man replied. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“No deal,” Mac said, closing his eyes as he waited for the response. He opened them after a few seconds of silence to stare at his wife, her fear evident in the tears that were spilling down her cheeks.
The silence on the other end of the line scared Mac. Would he get to hear Lindsay’s voice? What if the man didn’t buy his bluff? He was playing with Lindsay’s life and he couldn’t bear to lose his daughter, but he knew he had to convince these people that he was serious about this game they wanted him to play.
“You’d risk this little girl’s life?” the man finally asked. “We were told that she was your niece. I have to tell you that I’d thought you’d have at least a little concern for your own niece.”
Mac’s mind was racing, trying to think who would have told anybody that he and Jack were brothers. The only people who were aware of the possibility were the people he and Lanie had contacted to do some digging into their births. Mac trusted those people with his life; they wouldn’t have sold him out.
“Whoever told you that lied to you,” Mac growled.
“I don’t think so, O’Neill,” the man said with confidence. “You have twenty-four hours.”
“I’ve told you, no deal,” Mac said again. “Prove to me the girl is still alive and unhurt.”
A few more seconds of silence, then Mac heard some scuffling and his daughter crying through the receiver. “Hello?” she said through her tears.
“Lindsay,” Mac said into the phone, relief surging through him at the sound of his daughter’s voice. “Are you okay? Did they hurt you?” he asked, as he pulled away from Lanie, who was trying to grab the phone away from him.
“Daddy? I want to come home,” she cried. “Please…”
“Are you satisfied?” asked the guy who was going to get his face smashed in when Mac got his hands on him.
“It’s going to take more than 24 hours to get the devices. I’m going to need more time,” Mac said.
“We’ll talk tomorrow,” the man insisted. “Have a great day!” he added pleasantly before hanging up.
“Yeah, you do the same,” Mac snarled at the phone in his hands. He looked up to see his wife leaning against the wall, her arms hugging herself as the tears streamed down her face. He went to her and pulled her into his own arms, hugging her tightly. “She’s fine,” he assured her, as he stared into her eyes, willing her to believe him. She nodded and he let her go to look at the laptop computer he had sitting on the table the phone was on. The phone call came from the southern part of Colorado Springs, he noted, although the tracer he had put on Jack’s phone line didn’t tell him exactly where the call came from. This was a start, he thought.
He looked over at Lanie when he heard her sob, and was shocked to see that she had slid down the wall and was sitting on the floor sobbing into her arms. He went over to her and sat down beside her to pull her back into his arms, trying to soothe her with his words and caresses. He had never seen her like this, although he should have expected it. The stress, worry and the fact that she hadn’t slept well the night before, all factored into this breakdown and he wasn’t sure if he would be able to help her through it. But he tried anyway, holding her while she cried, talking to her softly, telling her of his love for her and that everything was going to work out. She hugged him back with her face buried in his shirt, taking what comfort she could get from him. They sat there for a long time, Lanie crying and Mac talking to her. Pete came over and tried to help Mac in comforting his mother, but ended up sitting next to her rubbing her back.
She finally sat up and looked at Mac, her eyes red and puffy, and she smiled at him through the few remaining tears to let him know she was back to being the brave, hardy soul she always had appeared to be. “Go get my baby back,” she said to him.
‘I will,” Mac assured her, looking deep into her eyes trying to see the depth of her anguish. “Are you going to be okay?” he asked, as he wiped a stray tear from her cheek.
She nodded, staring back at him. Mac gave her a small smile, then brought up the subject that had been troubling him. “They knew that Lindsay was Jack’s niece,” he said. “Who knows that Jack and I may be brothers, and more importantly, that we were heading for Colorado?”
“The only people that I mentioned it to were Jesse, Theresa and my family,” she said, scrunching up her face as she tried to think who else. “Oh, and I did mention it to Linda when I asked her to keep an eye on our house.”
Mac felt the anger rising in him as he thought about Linda’s husband, Bob. He now knew why he had been dealing with the paranoia the other day, why it had been so strong when his neighbor stood there on the porch, staring at him. That jerk had handed Lindsay over on a silver platter! Mac got up and walked over to the fireplace, putting his hands on the mantle as he lowered his head, then kicked the wall of the hearth as hard as he could, while at the same time uttering an oath that was normally a foreign word to him.
“Son of a bitch!” he growled, adding to the word he had already used before turning to face his family. It wasn’t until that moment that he realized how strange he had been acting, as Lanie and Pete both stared at him with wide eyes and fear evident on their faces. He turned away, running his hands through his hair before looking sheepishly at them, still breathing hard from his efforts of trying to destroy Jack’s fireplace.
“Look, I’m sorry …,” he said just as Lanie said, “Mac, I’m sorry.”
They both stopped and stared at each other. Mac shook his head at her, then told her, “Don’t worry about it. I couldn’t stand that guy from the minute he first moved in next door. I should have known not to trust him.”
He watched the guilt settle in on her face as the implications of what he’d said sank in. “Oh my God!” she said, tears welling back up into her eyes. “I gave her to them…”
“No! Lanie, this is not your fault. None of it is,” Mac rushed to tell her. He went to her then and grabbed her by the shoulders to give her a little shake, to make her hear his words. “You couldn’t have known they would do this. How could you have known?”
“How can you be sure Linda and Bob even know the people who took Lindsay?” she asked, her eyes pleading with him, for what he wasn’t sure.
“I’m not,” he told her truthfully. “It makes sense, though,” he continued as memories of the past few years passed through his mind. “I’ve learned over the years to rely on my instincts and Bob just brought out the worst of them. He’s a part of this Lanie, I know he is. I just can’t figure out why.”
“I should have listened to you when you were telling me what a jerk he was. All these years, I just thought you were being… well, you know, a snob,” she said.
“A snob?” he asked her, then smiled broadly at her. “I’ll have you know that I am not a snob,” he said with false indignity. He winked at her, then walked over to pick up the phone. “I guess I’d better let Jack know what’s going on,” he said.
A half hour later, Mac was on Jack’s roof looking out over the neighborhood. The view was definitely different in the daylight, he thought, as he stared out at the mountains in the distance. He had come up here to find peace and quiet, to think and to plan. His first order of business was to find Lindsay, to get her back safe and sound. Despite Jack’s insistence that she wouldn’t be harmed, Mac couldn’t help but worry about his daughter’s safety.
He found himself sorting through everything that had happened and that he’d been told, trying to develop a scenario to follow. Things were not progressing fast enough for him and he wasn’t used to being dependent on anyone, yet here he was sitting back waiting for Jack to make a move. Mac wasn’t the type to let someone else do his dirty work. It was time for him to take action.
He thought back to the phone call with Jack. It had not been very productive, at least not as far as he was concerned. Jack didn’t shed much in terms of information. Because of this, Mac only told Jack the bare details of his conversation with the kidnapper. If Jack wasn’t going to cooperate with him, he would just have to take matters into his own hands.
His options were thin at this point, though. He thought about going to the area where the phone call came from to see if he could find anything, but he worried that if he did that without the information and ‘devices’ the kidnapper wanted, he could inadvertently cause his daughter to get hurt. Or he could leave it all up to Jack and sit back and wait until he gets Lindsay back, if he gets her back. This was definitely not something Mac was going to settle for - he needed to be a part of the solution.
No, he was going to have to figure out a way to get the translations from Jack and Dr. Jackson. That shouldn’t be too hard, though. After all, he was the man’s identical twin, he thought with a grin as a plan began to formulate in his head.
Nightmares came with the territory when your job required you to go out and face the enemy on a regular basis. Jack sometimes wondered why he never got used to them, having dealt with so many of them over the years. But he hadn’t and he found himself sitting on the edge of his bed in a darkened room, trying to rid himself of the memories of the one that he’d just had.
He knew what had brought on this one. The stress and the worry of the three teams facing problems on that planet, along with the worry over Daniel’s medical condition and Mac’s kidnapped daughter. He had a lot on his mind, what with everyone expecting him to pull a rabbit out of his hat to make things better.
He sighed as he checked his watch for the second time since he woke up. It was only four-thirty, 0430 he corrected himself wryly. He decided to get up and go see if anything had happened in the Gate room during the last six hours.
He arrived in the control room 25 minutes later and was surprised to see Dixon sitting in one of the chairs reading what looked like a mission report. “Colonel,” he said in greeting.
“Good morning sir,” Dixon replied, trying to hide his own surprise as he got up out of the chair. “I couldn’t sleep,” he said in anticipation of Jack’s unasked question. “So I thought I would come here in case something came up.”
Jack nodded in understanding. He knew that Dixon was feeling the same frustrations that he felt at not being out there with those teams. If Dixon’s team hadn’t been out enjoying some much deserved down time, they would have joined SG-3 and 5 on their rescue mission. “Any news?” he asked.
“Nothing yet sir,” the technician on duty replied.
“They’re probably getting some sleep,” Dixon said.
Jack nodded in agreement. It would be what he would have done if he had been in charge of one of those teams, as there was no use trying to find anything in the dark, assuming, of course, that it’s dark on the planet right that moment. He hoped that this was the case, because the alternative was something he refused to think about, especially when the alternative involved Jaffa and Bigfoot.
He glared at the Stargate before going over to the coffee pot to fill a cup with the dark liquid. It was too early for breakfast so Jack decided to tackle the pile of paperwork waiting patiently for him in his office. It should keep him busy for a little while, maybe even take his mind off his worries. Fat chance, he thought to himself.
Two hours, a stack of completed requisitions and a warm breakfast later the klaxons blared, alerting the base that the Stargate was being activated. Jack jumped out of his chair and flew out of his office the moment they sounded, running down the stairs to find out what was going on. The technician had just announced an off-world activation when Jack came up to stand behind him. “SG-3’s IDC sir,” the technician said.
“Yes!” Jack shouted. That meant that at least one of his missing teams was no longer missing. “Open the iris,” he told the technician. “Get a medical team down there just in case.”
“Yes sir,” said the technician.
Jack waited tensely, his attention solely on the wormhole. He had just decided to order the technician to activate the MALPs camera, when the MALP in question came through the Gate followed by Colonel Reynolds and the rest of the people who had gone to that planet. Jack breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Carter come through the Gate, followed closely by Daniel who was being supported by Teal’c and Harper. His relief was short lived, though, seeing how pale Daniel looked. He turned and practically ran toward the Gate room to greet his friends and to find out what happened.
“Hey guys!” he greeted them. “What took you so long? All present and accounted for?”
“Yes sir,” Reynolds said. “Even those that got lost.” He actually looked sheepish, Jack thought with a grin, the relief he felt flowing through him. He looked over at Carter as the medics moved in on Daniel, who was now sitting on the ramp.
“Carter?” he asked.
“We had moved away from the ruins and Daniel was dragging behind, looking at an artifact that he had picked up,” she began, knowing exactly what he was asking, “when all of a sudden we heard this deep growl and Daniel yelling. We used our weapons against the animal, but nothing seemed to stop it. We kept shooting anyway and it finally left. Daniel has several deep scratches on his arm and a few on his back.”
“They’re there Jack,” Daniel said triumphantly. “I saw them, we saw them. We just had to look past the smoke on the water.” Daniel’s face was flushed and Jack’s worry for his friend increased tenfold.
“I did see a man while I was there, O’Neill,” Teal’c said in Daniel’s defense. “He was not near the water, though. It would appear that Daniel Jackson is correct in his assumption that humans dwell there.”
“We’ll talk about this later,” Jack said. “We’ll debrief at 0830,” he told the three team leaders as he and SG-1 followed Daniel and the medics to the infirmary.
Daniel was going to live, according to the doctor who had cleaned and bandaged the scratches and injected some antibiotics into Daniel’s IV to help battle the infection that had set in. She insisted that Daniel stay in the infirmary for a few days so that she and her staff could keep an eye on the infection, as well as watch for any side effects that could appear due to the alien environment the animal lived in. They were all well aware of what that meant, and the only one who argued with the doctor was Daniel. He was insisting on going back to the planet and Jack had to finally order him to shut up about it. Of course, Daniel being Daniel, only kept his silence for about five minutes before he started up on the subject again. Jack decided at that point that he really needed to get some work done and left Daniel to the tender mercies of the doctor and her nurses. Sometimes it was just easier to walk away, he thought with a grin.
He headed for the briefing room hoping to find someone there who could fill him in on what went down on that planet. No such luck, though. Jack settled for waiting in his office, where he had several projects that could help him pass the time. It was all a matter of choosing which project he should work on: requisitions, correspondence or that ever-elusive trick he was trying to master with his yo-yo. Considering the relief and the good mood he was experiencing, he decided on the yo-yo.
The time passed quickly, which was good because Jack was about to go crazy with the waiting and wondering. Yet he was destined to wait even longer, as Carter was the only one, besides Daniel, who wasn’t there yet. He understood why she was late. She probably wanted to get cleaned up after her ordeal on that planet and she had stayed with Daniel until he was settled in, but the suspense was really getting to him.
She finally showed up ten minutes late, with her hair still wet from her shower and mumbling her apologies. Jack just nodded and began asking questions to find out what the hell happened out there.
“I wasn’t able to gather enough information to determine what caused the communication blackouts,” Carter said in response to Jack’s first question. “Although I do think it had something to do with the fog. The communication problem began when we moved farther away from the Stargate, which coincides with the appearance of the fog. It’s strange that the fog covers a good portion of the area away from the Stargate and the ruins, but not in that area at all,” she mused.
“Since when does fog affect radio signals?” Jack asked, bringing the topic back to the communication problem.
“I’m sure that there is more involved than just the fog,” Carter replied. “We would need to go back there with specialized equipment to conduct some tests to find out exactly what the problem is.”
“Like that’s going to happen,” Jack snarled. “What exactly happened out there Carter?”
“Well sir, once we got to the planet, we immediately headed toward the ruins,” she began. “Daniel found something he wanted to study and we brought it along with us. We had gone maybe two clicks when an animal attacked him. Teal’c and I shot at it, but nothing seemed to stop it. I tried the zat, but that didn’t work either, although we were finally able to get it away from Daniel.”
“Once we were able to distract the animal,” Teal’c continued for her, “we came back to the Stargate. Colonel Carter dialed out, but Jaffa came out from behind the trees that flanked the Stargate, cutting off our escape route. Several Jaffa ran after us and we escaped by running into the fog.”
“The fog provided adequate cover, but it resulted in us getting lost,” Carter took up the story. “The planet is a fascinating place, though. The plants changed their appearances with the weather. One species in particular changed colors depended on whether it was in daylight or fog. It was Daniel who finally suggested that we mark the trees to help us determine if we were walking around in circles.”
“What about these people Daniel insists are out there?” Jack asked.
“We saw someone out there,” Carter said. “He was there one minute and gone the next. It was very creepy. Whoever lives on that planet learned a thing or two from the plant life. This ability to disappear may be a potential asset to us sir.”
This might be something the Tau’ri could put to good use, Jack thought, provided whatever it was didn’t kill them in the process. “Relatives of the Nox?” he asked.
“Well, he didn’t look like the Nox, other than that, I don’t know,” Carter replied. “I would like to make another visit to that planet to find out more about the plants, the communications problem and the disappearing people.”
“And the Jaffa. Let’s not forget the Jaffa,” Jack added sarcastically.
“But sir, there is so much we could learn from that place. If we could just spend some time there, I know…”
“Carter,” Jack interrupted, his tone telling her the subject was closed.
“Yes sir,” she said as calmly as possible, although Jack could tell she wanted to argue the point. They both knew that she wouldn’t have to. Daniel had already made it his mission in life to go back, and Jack did not look forward to dealing with Daniel when he wanted something.
“Colonel Reynolds,” he said, “What’s your story?”
Getting into the Cheyenne Mountain complex was surprisingly easy for Mac. He supposed the fact that he’d timed his arrival with the changing of the guards helped. One look at his face and guards either saluted him or waved him on in. Nobody questioned him or stopped him. One soldier in particular, became so agitated that Mac actually felt sorry for him.
Once inside, Mac walked determinedly down a corridor. He knew he didn’t belong there, in fact would probably face jail time if he was caught, and if he knew Jack, he was going to get caught, but he had to find out what was going on. He got on the first elevator he came across and pressed the button to take him to the 12th level. It was the lowest he could go on this elevator, so it was his current destination.
“General O’Neill!” someone called out just as he got on the elevator. He turned to see a woman heading his way and he put his hand out to hold open the doors.
“Thank you,” said the woman as she got on. “I was running a little late. Not anymore!” she continued as she smiled at him.
He smiled back at her and nodded his head. He wasn’t sure what Jack would say in this situation, so he kept his silence. The woman apparently was used to this, because she just stood there watching the numbers decrease on the display panel. She was getting a little agitated though, which he tried not to notice. Did Jack cause this reaction in everybody he knew?
“Look General, I want to apologize for the other day,” the woman said. “I realize that I was a little abrupt with you, but I… well,… I’m sorry,” she finished with a sigh.
Mac was starting to wonder about the wisdom of trying to impersonate the General. “It’s okay,” he said, hoping they were the right words. He went back to staring at the numbers as they continued to increase, wishing they would go faster.
The elevator continued to move lower into the mountain while its occupants remained silent. Still the woman was getting more agitated by the minute. Finally, just as the display panel turned to 11, she spoke up abruptly, “I’ve spent some more time studying the animal on P4X-903 and I think I may be able to help you and your people if they have to go back there.”
Mac didn’t know how to respond to this, but thought he would give it a try. “That’s great. Why don’t we discuss this later?” He really hoped this was the right answer.
Her reaction told him it was. “Yes, I’ll come by later,” she said as the elevator reached its destination.
The doors opened and Mac waited until the woman got off before following her out. He found himself in yet another corridor and facing a man who was waiting to get on the elevator. The man did not look good. His face was pale and drawn and his left arm was in a sling. He lurched to stand straighter when he saw Mac. “Jack!” the man said, trying to act like he was feeling great. “I’ve been waiting here forever for you to show up. Where’ve you been?”
“I had to take care of something,” Mac replied, concern for the other man running through him. “Are you alright?”
“Dr. Jackson, shouldn’t you be in the infirmary?” the woman from the elevator asked. This was Dr. Jackson? Mac wasn’t sure who to thank for this, but he wasn’t about to let the man who could help him get his daughter back get away.
“I’m fine,” Jackson hurried to tell them. “Don’t start on me, Jack. I’m fine.”
“Why don’t we head back to the infirmary anyway?” Mac said. This guy really didn’t look like he was going to survive another minute.
“It’s all an illusion,” Jackson said, as he led the way. “There are people living on that planet, Jack. But like the Nox, they’ve created an illusion to hide from the Goa’uld.”
Mac felt his hopes slide down the drain. The one man who could help him find Lindsay was a raving lunatic. People living on another planet? He continued to walk with Jackson, feeling a heaviness settle in his heart. God knows what Lindsay was going through right now and he had pinned his hopes on a mad man.
“Jack?” Dr. Jackson asked, his expression showing his agitation. “We need to go back,” he continued when Mac looked up.
“You don’t seem to be well enough to go anywhere,” Mac said, as they reached another set of elevators. Jackson pulled a card out of his pocket, which he used to activate the elevator, and Mac knew he had reached the top security section of the facility. He could feel his heart pounding with excitement as the doors opened and he stepped into the elevator. This is it, he thought. He was about to find out what it was the men who had taken Lindsay wanted. He watched as Jackson pushed the button for the 28th level.
“I realized it was an illusion when I tripped and fell,” Jackson continued, determined to convince ‘Jack’ of the need to go back to a planet populated by people. Mac suppressed a sigh and went back to watching the numbers on the display panel as the elevator took him nearer to the heartbeat of the facility.
“What looked like fog on the water from a distance were really plants that grew tall enough to be seen above water. The silver leaves that were above the water line made it look like fog.”
“Have you made any headway with the translations,” Mac took the opportunity to ask.
“What translations?” Jackson asked, his blue eyes were feverishly bright behind the glasses.
“The translations I asked you to work on,” Mac said, knowing at that moment that Jack hadn’t given the envelope to the linguist. Anger built up in him, which he tried to hide from the poor demented man standing next to him. It wasn’t his fault that Jack was a lying son of a bitch!
“What translations?” Jackson asked again. “What language was it in?”
Mac wasn’t sure what to say to this. It would probably have to be in a language that wasn’t that well known to many people; otherwise Jack could have gotten someone else to translate it. No, it had to be a language that was older than dirt or so obscure that only a handful of people would know it. “You’ve been sick,” he said instead, hoping to stall the inevitable. “You probably just forgot.”
“I just got back this morning,” Jackson said, giving Mac a wary look. “I wouldn’t have forgotten something that quickly. Besides, it was just a slight infection from the scratch,” he continued, pointing to the arm that was in a sling.
Mac was saved from having to answer him when the elevator stopped on the 25th level and two Marines stepped into the elevator after saluting the General. Mac found himself swearing that this was the last time he would impersonate a General, then grinned as he remembered the last time he had told himself that.
“Jack?” Jackson said to gain his attention. “What language was it in?” Mac started to sweat as he realized that Jackson was staring at him with an intense look. He knew with a certainty that the Doctor suspected something, and he racked his brain trying to come up with something to keep up his own illusion. “Goa’uld,” he said, remembering Jackson telling him the people on another planet were hiding from them.
“Teal’c could translate that as well as I could,” Jackson said, still watching Mac intently.
“I wanted you to do it,” Mac said, hoping desperately that Jackson wouldn’t push it. “Are you sure you’re alright?” he asked, trying to change the subject.
“I’m fine,” Jackson insisted, standing up straighter in order to convince him it was true. The elevator stopped just then and the doors opened as Jackson told him, “It was just a scratch.”
“It was more than ‘just a scratch’ Daniel Jackson,” a man said having overheard Jackson’s statement. Mac looked in surprise at the man’s appearance as he stepped out of the elevator. He was tall and burly, but the most surprising feature was a gold emblem smack in the middle of the man’s forehead. He nodded at the man when he’d bowed his head in greeting. “O’Neill,” the man said, then turned to Jackson, “The doctor is extremely angry to find that you had left the infirmary against her wishes.”
“I’m fine, Teal’c. Really I am,” Jackson insisted as he led the way down the hallway.
“Doctor Brightman disagrees with you and I am here to take you back to the infirmary,” Teal’c said with aplomb.
“After I convince this guy of the need to go back to the planet,” Jackson said stubbornly. “Talk to him Teal’c. Those people were there, you saw them.”
“The planet is also infested with Jaffa,” Teal’c said. “Those people are safe there, if we could not see them, the Jaffa will not see them.”
“So what are you saying? We wait for the Jaffa to leave before we go back to study their cultural and technological advances?” Jackson asked. “And I did find them, what makes you think the Goa’uld won’t?” His eyes seemed to be even brighter in his anger and Mac was really starting to worry about the poor man. He was also starting to wonder about his own beliefs as the two men argued amongst themselves. Teal’c was talking to Jackson as if there really was life on another planet. No wonder this place was top secret.
“You are extremely intelligent,” Teal’c said matter-of-factly. “The Goa’uld do not possess your knowledge or your intelligence. They will not find those people.”
Jackson apparently didn’t know what to say to this. He stopped to stare at Teal’c for a few seconds before saying, “Thanks Teal’c, but I still think we should go back.”
They moved on until they were in a large conference room with a window gracing one wall, an office situated at one end and a long table in the middle of the room. Mac took all this in as he moved toward the window, fascinated by an object that caught his eye. It was a huge metal circle standing at one end of a ramp in the room beyond the window. There were men and women working on and around the object and Mac could see that there was writing or pictures on the inner ring of the wheel.
“O’Neill,” Teal’c said, bringing Mac out of the trance he was in. “You seem preoccupied. Do you require anything before I take Daniel Jackson back to the infirmary?”
“How about getting some SFs in here,” a voice Mac knew all too well said from the door. He turned to face Jack, and glared back at the man who had lied through his teeth. He was surprised at the anger he felt toward the man who had promised to help him get his daughter back. The intensity of it fueled his wrath.
“Well, if it isn’t the son of a bitch who told me everything was being taken care of,” Mac snarled, as he pushed past Teal’c. “Who’s doing the translations?” he asked.
“O’Neill?” Teal’c asked. Mac looked back at the man and saw he was standing in anticipation of attacking something. His body was tense and his dark eyes promised bodily harm. Mac didn’t think he wanted to face this guy in anger, ever.
“You had no right coming here,” Jack snarled back at Mac, totally ignoring Teal’c. “This is a top secret facility; you don’t have the clearance to be here. Yet here you are, walking in here as if you own the place,” Jack yelled. “What the fuck do you think you are doing?”
“I’m here to find a way to get my daughter back,” Mac yelled right back at him. His anger was at an all time high, and he was not going to let Jack get the best of him. “I will get her back, Jack. No matter what stands in my way, including a lying, scum sucking General who swears he’s going to help.”
“I didn’t lie to you,” Jack roared. “I will handle this my way, and my way does not include you coming in here to impersonate me and to screw things up.”
“Who’s doing the translations?” Mac asked. He had come up and was standing nose to nose with Jack daring him to lie to him again.
“Like I’ve told you before, it’s being taken care of. You…”
By Dr. Jackson?” Mac interrupted angrily, pointing to the man in question who was standing there gaping at the two men. “He didn’t even know what I was talking about when I asked him how it was going.”
“I didn’t say I was going to have him working on it,” Jack said defensively. “I just said the translations were being worked on.”
“By who?” Mac asked him, his voice still betraying his anger, although it had quieted down a little.
“Look Mac, you are going to have to trust me on this. We’ll get Lindsay back, I swear it.”
“Why won’t you answer my question?” Mac was not going to let Jack whitewash his way out of involving him in this operation. “Let’s go talk to the people you have working on the translations.”
“No. You’re not supposed to even know this facility exists. There is no way in hell I’m going to give you a grand tour.”
“Bring whoever it is here to this room,” Mac insisted. “You’ve lied to me once, Jack. I can’t afford to have you lie to me again. That’s my daughter out there,” he said, his voice filled with emotion. He looked away for a second, trying to rid himself of the fear and the pain he was experiencing, then looked back at Jack. “I will be a part of this operation, whether you want me to or not. And if it means impersonating a General, then so be it.”
“What’s going on here Jack?” Dr. Jackson asked, as he came up to the two men.
“Why aren’t you in the infirmary Daniel?” Jack countered. “You don’t look so good.”
So this is Daniel, Mac thought to himself. He knew from the phone conversations he had overheard that Jack and Daniel were good friends. He wondered if he could use their friendship to get Daniel to help him. “What about the translations?” he asked before Daniel could answer Jack.
“They’re being translated even as we speak,” Jack insisted. “We’ll get her back, Mac, I promise.”
“What is going on?” Daniel asked again.
“My daughter’s been kidnapped by some men who thought I was Jack,” Mac told him. “They said they’d let her go when Jack turned over some alien devices and had some stuff translated. They specifically mentioned you, Dr. Jackson, for the translations.”
“Call me Daniel. And you are?”
“MacGyver,” Mac said.
“He’s not using your name?” Daniel asked Jack with surprise.
“Nope,” Jack said with a grin. “Unusual, ain’t it?”
“Indeed,” Teal’c said, as he came up to give Mac a thorough looking over. “Who is he O’Neill?”
“Well, from what we can gather, it appears that he may be my twin brother,” Jack said. “We’re still checking into it.” Mac was starting to feel like a freak of nature. Teal’c was still checking for some deformity and Daniel was staring at him with a thoughtful look on his face.
“You sure it’s not a trick?” Daniel asked, still staring at Mac. “It wouldn’t be the first time.”
“Daniel,” Jack warned. Daniel looked at Jack for a second, then turned back to Mac. “Why didn’t you tell me who you were in the first place?”
“I needed to find out what I was up against and I didn’t know if I could trust you,” Mac said truthfully. “Who am I up against?”
“NID?” Teal’c asked Jack, as he had finally finished his scrutiny.
‘It appears to be,” Jack agreed.
“What’d they want translated?” Daniel asked
“They had pictures of artifacts with Asgard words on them. At least I am told it is from the Asgard,” Jack said, knowing full well Mac was listening in. “I gave the pictures to Lieberman to work on.”
“Lieberman,” Daniel groaned.
“What’s wrong with Lieberman?” Jack demanded. “You yourself told me he was one of your best students in that language.”
“I’ve only just started teaching it to him,” Daniel countered. “Yes, he’s picking it up fast, but I’ve only just started with him.”
“Could you just go get Lieberman and the pictures so that you can get started doing your own translations?” Mac interrupted, getting just a little aggravated here. They didn’t have time for this.
Jack turned on him, looking for all the world as if he was going to pound Mac into the ground. He stopped himself, but continued to glare as he said, “We will. In the meantime you are leaving this base…”
“Who are these NID people?” Mac asked, not even listening to Jack. “Sounds like a government agency. What are they capable of?”
“The people we are dealing with are rogue government agents,” Jack said. “And they are very dangerous, which is why you are no longer involved. We’ve handled them before,” he continued when Mac started sputtering his protest, “we know how to stop them.”
“I have dealt with some pretty rough characters in my life time,” Mac said, as visions of Murdoc, a very dangerous nemesis of his past, came to mind. “I’ve been shot, poisoned, tortured and left for dead and I am still here to tell you about it. I can take care of myself, Jack, and I will not stay out of this just because you think I’m a wimp. If I have to go out there and do it myself, I will, but I would much rather have the help. That’s my little girl out there and I won’t leave her rescue up to you just because you tell me to. I will be involved, so you might as well get used to it.”
The three men stared at Mac, not saying anything. Mac didn’t care though. It was Jack he needed to reach and he stared at his twin, telling him with his eyes and his posture that he wasn’t going to back down.
“All at the same time?” Jack asked.
“Shot, poisoned, tortured. Separate incidents?”
“Yeah,” Mac said, wondering where this was going.
Apparently nowhere, as Jack took Daniel’s good arm and led him to a chair. “Sit,” he told his friend. “Teal’c, would you call Lieberman and ask him to bring us the translations? You thirsty, Daniel?”
“I’m fine,” Daniel said for what seemed like the thousandth time.
“I’m going to call the Doc and let her know you’re here,” Jack said. “What do you wanna bet she’ll be here within five minutes with an army of nurses?” he grinned.
Daniel rolled his eyes heavenward, while Mac just stood there, not sure what to expect at this point. He had made his stand, but whether or not he was going to have to go it alone or with Jack, was left to be seen. He decided to go with the flow and sat down at the table next to Daniel.
Lieberman really was an idiot, Jack thought as he sat at the table listening to him ramble on about what he had come up with. Daniel spent most of the time correcting the man as Lieberman told them what he had translated.
They were all sitting around the briefing room table, Teal’c and Dr. Brightman on one side, Daniel and Mac on the other, with Lieberman holding court at the front of the room. One of the pictures to be translated was up on a screen for them all to see.
He found himself watching Mac as Lieberman and Daniel argued over one of the symbols in the picture. He had to admit that he was proud of the man who was sitting there facing the fact that his entire belief system was totally upended and he still took it all in stride. He grinned to himself, remembering the look on Mac’s face when he and Daniel explained the fact that they were not alone in the universe and that they had traveled across the galaxy via the Stargate. He had gone from disbelief to acceptance in the space of a few minutes, and it wasn’t until the Stargate activated to allow SG-13 to come back from their mission that Mac finally started to get into the spirit of things.
The memory of Mac’s excitement at seeing the event horizon of a wormhole caused Jack to grimace. He would be the first to admit that all the physics and scientific theories went over his head, but to be shown up by his own brother… well, it just didn’t seem right. Mac had asked a thousand and one questions regarding the Stargate and all the science that went with it and Jack finally had to remind him of Lindsay’s predicament to bring him back to Earth.
He had called Carter, asking her to come back to the base knowing full well that the two scientists would have a field day, but he also knew that she had handled the NID rogue agents before and she would be a major asset to this operation.
Jack stared at the pad of paper that was on the table in front of him, wondering if he’d done the right thing in telling Mac about the Stargate program. He had deliberately left out a great deal of details, telling Mac only what he needed to know to accomplish their efforts of saving Lindsay. To that end, Mac was only told about the Gate, planetary travel and the Asgard. Jack sighed when he thought of the paperwork he was going to have to process to have Mac sign in order to keep him quiet.
“Are we boring you, Jack?” Daniel asked.
Jack looked up at him and gave him a small smile before saying, “Huh? Oh. No, I was just wondering who was going to win this year’s hockey championship.”
“You would do well to believe that the Bruins will be victorious in this endeavor,” Teal’c spoke up surprising Jack.
“What makes you think they will win?” Jack asked, intrigued that Teal’c had even paid attention to the sport.
“Captain Bertelli spoke of this to his companion the other day as he was eating lunch,” Teal’c responded. “He had made a very convincing argument.”
Jack was just about to inform Teal’c that Bertelli was wrong and why he thought so when Carter walked in. “Sorry I’m late. What’d I miss?” she asked Jack. She did a double take when she saw Mac, then turned to Jack with a look of shock. “Uh sir?” she asked as she looked back at Mac.
“Carter,” Jack said, taking pity on her. As comical as this was becoming, he hated to see her look so distressed. He pointed at himself when she looked at him and he grinned at her.
“Colonel Carter,” Mac said getting up to go over to her. “I’ve heard a lot about you, or at least that you are the one I can talk to about the Stargate. My name is MacGyver, but you can call me Mac.” His smile was warm when he made the introductions and Jack ignored the urge to wipe the smile off of his face with a swift punch.
“Oh my God,” Carter exclaimed. “Oh… um… I’m pleased to meet you sir… I mean Mac.” Her face had turned red with embarrassment, although she was trying hard to hide it.
“Carter,” Jack said a little forcibly, “we’re facing a problem with rogue NID and we need your help.”
“What sort of problem?” she asked, visibly pulling herself together.
“Mac’s daughter has been kidnapped by the NID and they want to trade her safety for the mimic devices and these translations,” Jack told her.
“Why your daughter?” she asked Mac, then walked over to stand behind Daniel. “Aren’t you supposed to be in bed?” she scolded.
“Yes,” Dr. Brightman said, scowling at Daniel. “He’s almost as bad as the General when it comes to keeping him down.”
“I’m fine, really I am,” Daniel insisted. “I promise, once we get this stuff translated and Jack swears that we can go back to that planet, I’ll go back to the infirmary to sleep for a week.”
“What planet?” Jack asked. “Oh no. You are not thinking of going back to feed Bigfoot. It’s not happening, Daniel, so forget it.”
“Those people are there, Jack. We all saw them. They’ve just created an illusion to hide themselves from the Goa’uld. Besides,” he said, “Bigfoot is afraid of the fog.”
“Well in that case, by all means, go out there and get yourselves killed,” Jack said sarcastically.
“As much as I am enjoying this little argument, I would much rather we get this stuff translated so that we can get my daughter back,” Mac interrupted, his anger apparent in his posture.
“We’ll get her back,” Carter told him. “And don’t worry about her, they won’t hurt her.”
“How can you know this?” Mac asked.
“We’ve handled these people before,” she told him. “They won’t hurt her. Do you know why they chose your daughter?”
“They knew that she was Jack’s niece,” Mac told her.
“How did they find that out?” Jack asked. “We’ve only just become aware of the possibility a week ago.”
“I have my suspicions,” Mac answered cryptically. “I’ll take care of it.”
Jack just nodded. “Carter,” he said, “I need you to find out who took her and where they took her. What’s that guy’s name? Barrett? In the meantime, Daniel will get those things translated…, in the infirmary Doc, calm down…, while Teal’c and I do some scouting in the neighborhood…”
“I’ll go with you,” Mac insisted. “We can start on the south end of town. That’s where the phone call came from.”
“What are you talking about?” Jack asked. “How do you know that?”
“Wire trace on your phone,” Mac replied.
“You had someone put a trace on my phone?” Jack asked, seriously considering shooting Mac right between the eyes.
“Well, you weren’t exactly being cooperative in clueing me in on this whole thing. So I rigged it to try to trace the call…“
“You rigged it!” Jack said incredulously.
“Yeah,” Mac replied. “It’s not that hard. All I did was hook up my laptop to a converter that I spliced into your phone line, and voila, a phone trace. Well, okay so it involved a little more than that,” he added as everyone in the room was staring at him, “but you get the idea.”
“You rigged it,” Jack said again. This guy was a freaking genius. Jack was starting to develop a serious inferiority complex here.
“A friend taught me how to do it,” Mac said defensively. “Look, can we just get this show on the road?”
“Yeah,” Jack said, eyeing the man warily. What else was he going to pull out of his sleeve?
“I hate coincidences.”
“What?” Jack asked as he looked over at Mac. They were riding in Mac’s rental car, looking for anything that could give them a clue as to where Lindsay could be held. They all knew it was a long shot, but at this point they had run out of anything else to do and both men hated to sit around waiting for anything.
“Did I say that out loud?” Mac asked. He was driving the car, with Jack riding shotgun and Teal’c in the back seat. Their ride had been silent up to that point, each lost in their own thoughts.
“Yeah,” Jack responded. He had been running through scenarios of actions they could take against the kidnappers, while at the same time worrying about them finding out that he hadn’t done anything about getting the cloaking devices. Hell, he was more worried about what Mac would do to him.
“Well?” Jack prompted when Mac didn’t elaborate.
“It’s just that we’ve only met less than a week ago, and here I am in Colorado looking for my daughter who was kidnapped because she is your niece - just days after we find out, by the way. Do you think this is all part of an elaborate plan?”
Jack just stared out at the buildings they were passing. He had harbored the same thoughts and he still hadn’t come up with any answers. “I don’t know,” he finally replied. “It seems that would be a lot of work just to get some translations and alien devices.”
“It would appear that they have not been able to learn the Asgard language on their own,” Teal’c spoke up from the back seat.
“Thor is well aware of these people. He and his friends are not going to be too receptive in helping them learn their language,” Jack said with confidence.
“Thor?” Mac asked, looking at Jack in surprise.
“The Supreme Commander of the Asgard,” Jack told him. “He’s a good friend of mine.”
“Why am I not surprised that you are ‘good friends’ with an alien?” Mac asked with a grin. “It’s getting so I’m not surprised by anything that goes on in that place,” he added.
“I’m good friends with a lot of aliens,” Jack said, giving Teal’c a meaningful look before turning back to look out the window.
“Teal’c?” Mac said, his surprise was evident in his features and the tone of his voice. Jack had to grin as he realized what Mac was thinking. “He’s an alien?” Mac asked Jack, while staring at Teal’c through the rear view mirror.
Teal’c bowed his head in acknowledgement before responding, “Indeed, I am. I am a Jaffa from a planet called Chulak.”
“Thought nothing surprised you about that place anymore,” Jack said, grinning at Mac’s expression.
“Well there goes the theory that aliens are little green men,” Mac said trying to grasp everything he was taking in.
“Gray,” Jack corrected him. “The Asgard are little gray men.”
‘Oh, well excuse me,” Mac said with a grin at Jack. His gaze went back to Teal’c, “You’re not gray nor are you little. Am I wrong in assuming that you are human?”
“I am Jaffa,” Teal’c responded. “The Tau’ri – humans - were taken from your world thousands of years ago and brought to several planets throughout the galaxy to become slaves to the Goa’uld. My people were chosen to become warriors and to protect the infant symbiotes.”
“Daniel mentioned the Goa’uld,” Mac said. Jack could see he was struggling to make some sense out of what he was being told. “He said that the people on some planet were hiding from them,” Mac added. “Are they still holding people as slaves?”
“They are evil, malevolent worms that control their subjects with fear. They pretend to be Gods to keep the people in line,” Jack spat out.
“I take it you don’t like them,” Mac said, stating the obvious. Jack stared at him for a moment before turning back to the scenery outside the window.
“I can’t stand those snake heads,” he said matter-of-factly. “They’re one of the reasons the SGC exists. We are at war with them and we will do everything it takes to keep them from taking over Earth.”
“I suppose I can understand why I’ve never heard about all this,” Mac said. “Tell me; is there really an Area 51?”
“Yep,” Jack said with a grin. He could tell Mac was contemplating everything he’d ever heard about aliens, probably wondering what else was true.
“These Goa’uld,” Mac said. “Are they little gray men, too?”
The grin left Jack’s face abruptly. He felt the anger and the hatred swell up in him as he stared out at nothing. He hated those slimy bastards.
Teal’c answered Mac’s question instead. “They are snakelike in appearance and can only survive inside a human or similar being. A Goa’uld will burrow its way into a human and wrap itself around the spinal cord in the neck, taking over the human’s actions. The host has no control over his or her own actions, although they are aware of what the Goa’uld does on their behalf.”
“Burrow their way in?” Mac asked with a grimace. “Can’t be a pleasant experience.”
Jack grunted in response and went back to looking for anything that would help them find Lindsay. He didn’t know what he was looking for, but anything was better than dwelling on the memories of his own personal encounters with Goa’uld symbiotes, even if one of them did happen to be a Tok’ra.
“You know,” Mac said, breaking into Jack’s thoughts, “I’ve long ago learned to read people through their expressions and by what they aren’t saying. Take you for instance,” he continued pointing at Jack. “You are hiding a lot behind that façade. There’s a lot of anger and pain behind that mask and the humor. You use those techniques to keep the world from knowing that you aren’t as emotionally well off as you seem to be.”
Jack turned to stare at Mac wondering what else he could see, then decided to throw him off the track. “You are so full of shit,” he snarled.
Mac just laughed at that, grinning at Jack before telling him, “If you say so.”
Jack continued to glare at the jerk before turning back to look out the window. It unnerved him that Mac was so astute in assessing him. That incident with the sarcophagus withdrawal had changed him in more ways than one, and he knew he would never be the same man he was before Ba’al had gotten hold of him. So he tried to hide his fears and insecurities from the rest of the world by resorting to humor and a quiet demeanor that he hoped would throw off suspicions of his inability to cope with certain memories. He hated this weakness within himself and he was determined no one else would ever see it.
He was grateful that his friends accepted this change in him, never mentioning it although he knew they had their suspicions. He had caught Carter staring at him with concern on several occasions, her eyes reflecting her worry at times when they would just be sitting there talking about mundane things. And now here was Mac laying it all down on the table. Maybe he wasn’t as good at hiding things as he thought he was.
He was so caught up in his own musing that he jumped when Mac slapped him on the arm. “That’s him!” Mac exclaimed, pointing toward a tall man that was walking toward a car parked in front of a grocery store.
“Who is he?” Jack asked, watching the man as he switched the plastic grocery bag he was carrying from one hand to the other, then reaching into his pocket for something.
“The bastard who took Lindsay,” Mac snarled, as he pulled the car over to stop next to the curb. The fact that he’d stopped right in front of a driveway, only barely registered with Jack.
“You sure?” Jack asked. The man had pulled his keys out of his pocket and unlocked the car door, throwing the bag in before getting in himself.
“I’m sure,” Mac growled. He waited until the car pulled out before discretely pulling away from the curb in an effort to follow it.
Jack pulled out his cell phone and dialed the SGC to let Carter know that they were on the trail of Lindsay’s kidnapper. She was in and told him that she had not been able to get in contact with Agent Barrett, but she would come out to meet them with some back up. Jack agreed that would be a great idea and told her he would call her when they got to where they were going and hung up.
They followed the car until it turned down a dirt road just outside of town. Mac continued to drive straight through when he got to the intersection, hoping to throw off any suspicions. As it was, they had stayed back behind another car when they’d followed Lindsay’s kidnapper through town.
Mac turned the car around about a quarter mile down then drove back to the dirt road. He turned down the road and slowed down while they all looked for the car the kidnapper drove. It was Teal’c who told Mac to turn down another dirt road because he saw that the dust on the road had been kicked up.
“Way to go Teal’c,” Jack said with a grin as he saw that the dust had been kicked up by the vehicle they were following. The car turned right again and Mac slowed down to a stop when he realized that the car had stopped in a driveway of a house. Jack pulled out his binoculars and began scouting the area, watching as the man got out of the car and entered the house.
“I do believe we’ve found Lindsay,” he told Mac with a grin.
Mac knew without a doubt that they had found his daughter. His mind was already going through different scenarios to follow up on in order to get her out of there safe and sound. The first thing he needed to do, though, was to find out exactly where in the house she was being held.
He took the binoculars from Jack and began a meticulous search of the entire building, taking in every little detail – details such as the rake leaning against the side of the house, the types of windows, even the fact that there was a rolled up newspaper lying on the picnic table. He left nothing untouched as he scanned the exterior of the building. He couldn’t tell from his viewpoint where his daughter was located, but he knew the best way to find out was to get closer to the house.
He reached into the back seat to grab his knapsack from the floor behind Jack and started to get out. Jack grabbed his arm to stop him, saying, “Where do you think you’re going?”
“I’m going to see if I can find Lindsay and hopefully get her out of there,” Mac replied as he looked back at the house.
“We’re going to wait until dark,” Jack insisted. “Then we move in when I say we move in, not before.”
“C’mon Jack. I’ve told you, this is my forte. Getting people out of situations like this is what I used to do. Trust me on this, I know what I’m doing,” he said, not wanting to rehash his expertise with Jack.
He got out of the car and hefted the bag onto his shoulder, then turned toward the ditch on the side of the road. There was a cornfield on the other side of the ditch and Mac sent up silent thanks for this cover, then smiled when he heard Jack following him. He would have been thoroughly disappointed if Jack had stayed at the car. Mac just knew that Jack wasn’t the type to stay in the background for long.
“At least give me a minute to call Carter for backup,” Jack grumbled as he pulled on Mac’s arm to stop him. Mac waited while Jack made the call, working on ideas in his mind as to how he could create a diversion that would enable him to rescue his daughter. He ended up discarding a few, and was thinking about the possible pitfalls of the ones he kept when Jack interrupted him.
“Carter’s on her way,” he said while staring at Mac with a calculating look. “Do you have a gun?” Jack asked, as he pulled one out to hand to Mac.
“Don’t need one,” Mac answered with a big grin. “I have all I need in here,” he continued pointing at the bag. “Tools of the trade.”
“Dare I ask what’s in there?” Jack asked warily, as Teal’c joined them.
“Just some duct tape, rope, paper clips – things like that. I usually find what I need at the site,” Mac replied with a shrug, then blurting out, “It’s a house Jack! It can’t get any better than this.”
“Right,” Jack said, obviously thinking Mac had lost it. “You sure you don’t want this?”
Mac just shook his head. “Never did have much use for those things. Thanks anyway.” He debated on how to say what he knew he had to say, finally deciding on just getting it out there and over with. “Jack… I know this is your territory, so to speak, but can we do this my way? I mean, if we go in there with guns blazing, Lindsay could get hurt. Let me see if I can get her out of there before you shoot them down, okay?”
“You don’t know these people…”
“Yes I do. I’ve dealt with people just like them and I know what to expect. Besides, I have an advantage over them that I hope will help me get in,” he said smugly. “They will think I am you and will expect me to barge in there shooting up the place. What they won’t realize is that I am going to steal Lindsay out from under their noses without them even knowing it.”
“How will you accomplish that?” Teal’c asked curiously.
“Distractions,” Mac responded. “They work almost every single time.” Jack was still giving him a skeptical look, so Mac tried again. “You’ve done your research Jack. You know my background. Let me do this my way, okay?”
“Alright,” Jack gave in. “But I will not hesitate to shoot if the situation arises, you got that?”
“Yep,” Mac replied, grateful for whatever he could get. Jack seemed to be pretty stubborn.
They made a beeline for the house through the cornfield, with Jack in the front. Mac grabbed a few ears of corn as they passed through the stalks and put them into his bag thinking that they might come in handy. They stopped at the edge of the field and surveyed the area with their eyes, Mac looking for the best route to take. He knew that Jack was looking for possible dangers as well as alternative escape routes. Even though it had been a long time since he had been in the military, Mac still knew the drill.
“Okay, here’s the deal,” Mac said before Jack could speak. “I’m going over to the back yard to set up the distraction. Once those guys come out of the house, you and Teal’c can take care of them while I go in to find…What?” he asked as he noticed the look on Jack’s face.
“Who died and put you in charge?” Jack asked indignantly.
“C’mon Jack, you said we could do this my way, remember?”
“Oh yeah, I forgot,” Jack said grumpily. “It’s just that I’m not used to taking orders from anyone anymore, especially a wimpy civilian.”
Mac immediately took offense to that. “Wimpy?” he asked, anger surging through him. He considered hitting the jerk until he realized that Jack was grinning at him. The anger disappeared as quickly as it had come and he grinned back at his twin.
“Get going,” Jack said with a jerk of his head. “We’ll back you up.” Mac nodded, then made a run for it. He ran toward the garage, hoping to get there before anyone saw him. He did, and he crouched near the wall while glancing back toward the cornfield. He felt a small comfort in seeing Jack and Teal’c kneeling in the dirt, their guns aimed at the back door. Mac was suddenly glad they had come with him.
He worked his way toward the open door of the garage and leaned around to look inside. Oh yeah, he thought, as he saw a tool bench loaded with tools, a stack of wood in one corner, wire casings piled up next to the wood, and best of all, a freestanding car battery by the door. It never failed to amaze him what kidnappers left lying around for him to find.
He slipped in through the door and made his way along the wall, still hoping to elude the kidnappers. He set his bag down next to the wood and got to work. Mac knew that the kidnapper’s first instinct would be to investigate any loud noises, so he intended to make plenty of noise in order to get them out of the house. With that in mind, he grabbed the car battery and dragged it over to the stack of wood.
Working swiftly, he grabbed several pieces of wood and laid them on the floor, then with his Swiss Army Knife proceeded to cut off a piece of the rope he had brought with him to tie the wood together. He then went over to the workbench hoping to find something that was combustible and smiled triumphantly when he saw some lighter fluid sitting on the end of a shelf. A nice bonfire should make a great distraction, he figured, all the while remembering the bonfires of his childhood.
Bonfires used to be one of his father’s favorite things and Mac recalled many nights sitting out in the back yard with friends and relatives talking and laughing and generally having a great time. The kids would roast marshmallows and make popcorn, while the adults enjoyed their alcohol and coffee, as well as the jokes and stories told by those who could really spin a tale. It didn’t even matter what the weather was like, the huge bonfires would keep them warm in the Fall and Winter while the party expanded beyond the fire’s warmth in the Spring and Summer. It was unfortunate that the bonfires died out when Mac’s father passed away, though. Mac missed those events for months after his father had died.
He continued to dwell on the memories of his youth as he toiled on his work of art. He really didn’t want to burn the garage down, so he looked around for something to contain the fire in. He ended up looking outside of the garage and was pleased to find a metal garbage can sitting alongside the garage wall opposite the one with the door. Of course it had to be full of garbage and Mac grimaced as he dumped half of the contents out on the ground. Disgusting, he thought as he dragged the can back toward the door. Once he got the can situated, he went to the pile of wire casings, sorting through them to find what he needed.
Mac’s heart nearly stopped and he looked up when he heard a noise outside the door. He waited silently, listening hard for anything to tell him what had caused the noise. Panic built up in him and he had to remind himself that Jack was out there ready and willing to destroy anything that would cause him harm.
He let go of the breath he was holding when a cat strolled in. Damned feline, he thought with a sense of relief. The cat stopped suddenly and stared at Mac, who had apparently passed muster because the cat came over and brushed past his leg. He reached over to scratch its ears then went back to work, vowing to keep his guard up, all the while wondering if these people had a dog.
Mac continued to work on the distraction, finding everything he needed to create a contraption that would make enough noise to wake the dead once it was set off. He put the final touches on his masterpiece, then went to the door and peeked outside to see if the coast was clear. He saw that Jack and Teal’c had made their way to the house and were waiting, half hidden, next to the stairs that led to the back door. Both men had their guns at the ready, and Mac decided that now was the time to make his move before all hell broke loose.
He took one last look at the house, then ran toward it, crouching down next to Jack when he got there. He turned toward the garage, still hoping his plan would work. A few seconds later, several loud explosions were heard. All three men crouched down even further when the door opened and two men hurried out of the house, running toward the garage. Mac took that opportunity to make his move, as he ran up the stairs and into the house.
The house was quiet, although he could hear the racket in the yard as the two men were yelling at each other along with the noise of Mac’s distraction. He found that he was in the kitchen and he moved stealthily toward the door to the dining room. He wanted to find Lindsay and to find out whoever else might be there before making any more plans.
He crept into the dining room, then stopped as he heard gunshots from the yard. Damn it, he cursed, feeling the situation slip out of his hands. This was not good and finding Lindsay now became his top priority. He would worry about any other kidnappers if he ran into them.
Moving quickly and silently, Mac found himself in a hallway. He stopped halfway down it as someone came barreling out of one of the rooms with a gun in his hand. Mac felt like a deer caught in the headlights as he stared in shock at the man, who was doing the same thing. Both men pulled themselves together at the same time, with Mac ducking as the gun was fired, the bullet barely missing him. The gun went flying as he tackled the man, knocking him onto his back. He sat up to smash his fist into the man’s face only to stop and stare at the man once more, as a spasm of pain made itself known. He stared at his attacker’s face just as the man yanked the knife out of his stomach. “Welcome to my humble abode, O’Neill,” the man said with a sneer on his face.
Jack couldn’t believe his luck. He was sure that things couldn’t get any worse. He and Teal’c had waited while the fireworks went off in the garage and Mac went into the house. They had slipped into the space beneath the stairs and watched quietly from their hiding place as the two men went to work stopping the fireworks, with one of them racing back to the house to grab the hose to douse it with water. Their hiding place was discovered though, when a cat came up to them demanding their attention. Both men steadfastly ignored the cat, hoping it would go away, but it turned out the cat wasn’t going to settle for being ignored. It set off a racket that surprised Jack in its intensity. He didn’t think cats could be so loud and he found himself worrying that maybe the people who owned the house might have a dog, as well. The cat continued its yowling as Jack tried to shoo it away, while at the same time thinking about just shooting it and getting it over with. He stopped when one of the men decided to investigate the cat’s find.
Great, Jack thought, as he tightened his grip on the gun. “Perhaps the cat is looking for this,” Teal’c said quietly into Jack’s ear as he held up a mouse by its tail so close to Jack’s face that he pulled back from it with a strangled sound.
“Give it to him,” Jack hissed, his heart still racing from the shock of having a rodent dangling two inches from his nose. He turned his attention back to the man who had stopped and was peering at the stairs, trying to see what had caught the cat’s attention. Teal’c laid the mouse down on the step next to the cat, who promptly took off after the scampering rodent. The man stared at the disappearing cat for a few seconds, then turned his attention back toward the stairs. Jack knew they were in trouble when the man started toward them.
The man came closer and Jack was damned if he was going to die hiding out under the stairs. He scooted out from his hiding place, surprised to see that the man had pulled out a gun. The man’s gun went off just as Jack rolled away to avoid the bullet, his own gun coming up in mid roll as he fired back, hitting the man in the arm.
The other man came running and Jack recognized him as the one they had seen in town. Teal’c came out on the other side of the stairs and shot the man with his Zat, causing him to fall. The man Jack had shot was on his knees, his blood seeping through his fingers as he pressed his hand to his wounded arm. He looked up at Jack, and Jack could see he was debating whether to make a move toward the gun he had dropped. “You won’t make it,” Jack said with a shake of his head. The man wisely decided to believe him and sat back on his heels.
A gunshot in the house brought Jack’s thoughts to Mac. Fear raced through him as he remembered that Mac didn’t have a gun. “Take care of them, Teal’c,” he demanded as he headed for the house at a dead run. He entered the kitchen, his gun at the ready. He moved quietly into the dining room, scanning the room and listening for any noise that would tell him that Mac was all right. He kept moving throughout the house, looking into rooms that he passed and finding nothing. He knew that Mac was in serious trouble, possibly dead, and he also knew that the kidnappers would expect him to come in there with backup. Because of this, he kept silent, hoping to gain some element of surprise on his part. They were expecting others to show up, just not another O’Neill.
He stopped next to a closed door at the end of the hall when he heard what sounded like muffled crying. He stood there trying to decide if he should just barge in or wait for the backup the kidnappers were expecting. It was a trap, of that he was certain, but he had to act quickly.
He turned toward another noise that was coming from the front room, realizing that it was Carter before he even saw her. She moved into the hallway while pointing her gun at him, then lowering it when she saw who it was she was aiming at. He held his hand up to silence her and the men who came in with her, then indicated with his head that he intended to make his move into the room behind him. She nodded at him as she walked silently down the hall toward him. He put one hand on the door handle and nodded at Carter when he was ready to open the door. She went in first, aiming her gun first to the left, then to the right. Jack followed her in and joined her in staring at the scene in front of them, not for a minute letting go of their intentions to shoot if they had to.
Lindsay was sitting on the bed, her hands tied behind her back and a gag in her mouth. Her wide eyes were filled with tears and she tried to talk when she saw Jack. He only spared her a glance though, as his attention was brought to the man who was standing by the window staring at Jack in shock. Jack took advantage of the man’s shock by pulling the trigger. The bullet hit the man in the shoulder, causing him to drop his gun as he fell back.
“You shot me!” the man exclaimed from his position on the floor. “No warning or nothing,” he complained as he stared at Jack. He then got off track as he asked, “There are two of you?”
“You’re lucky I didn’t kill you,” Jack said, concern for Mac overriding everything else. Mac was lying on his back on the floor, his eyes closed and one hand covering what looked like a very nasty wound in his stomach. Jack went over to him, pulling the hand away from the wound to see if he could do anything for him, then moved back to let Carter take over. She seemed to have a knack for this kind of thing. He still hovered over them both, though, as she made her assessments.
“Dad!” Lindsay yelled and Jack looked over at her to see that a Marine had taken the gag from her mouth and was working on freeing her hands and feet. Her kidnapper was already bound with two Marines standing guard over him, but Jack was more worried about Mac.
He looked back at Lindsay when she called for her father again. She ran over to Jack and stopped just before she reached him. “Daddy?” she asked, the hopefulness clear in her tone. Jack stared at her, wondering if he had the strength to tell her that he was not her father, that her father was the one with the blood smeared all over his stomach. Instead he reached out for her, pulling her into a hug when she came to him. She hugged him back tightly, refusing to let go when he tried to pull back.
“Lindsay,” he said quietly, forcing her to let go, then looking into her eyes. He tried, but couldn’t find the right words to tell her that her father was the one lying on the floor, possibly dying. He cupped her face in his hand, staring at her, willing her to know that everything was going to be all right, that he would do whatever was necessary to make everything right for her.
She understood what he was telling her, he could tell because the tears now flowed freely down her cheeks. She went over to her father, but didn’t touch him, her eyes filled with fresh tears as she took in all the blood. Jack pulled her back into his arms and hugged her, determined to make things easier for her. He held her as Carter did what she could do for Mac while they waited for an ambulance. He hugged her tightly as Teal’c came in and informed them that the two men in the yard were being transported to the base, along with the guy who had tried to kill Mac. He didn’t let her go until it was finally time to go to the hospital with Mac, and even then she held onto his hand the whole time, refusing to let go. She finally released her hold on him when her mother and brother came rushing into the Emergency Room, having been picked up by an airman per Jack’s request. It was Lanie’s turn to hold her daughter tightly.
They waited for what seemed like an eternity for the doctors to make their assessments on Mac’s injuries. Lindsay was checked over and released to her mother, but still they waited for the doctor to tell them Mac’s fate. Carter came in, smiling at Lanie when the introductions were made and sat next to Jack, giving him the emotional support he needed to get through this.
He appreciated Carter’s presence as it helped him to remember that there would always be casualties, something he had learned almost from the very beginning of his career. He just didn’t want those casualties to be anyone he was close to. Of course, what he wanted and what he got were two different things, he thought wryly. The memories of all his friends who had died while fighting along side him began to roll out in his mind and he got up to pace in an effort to eliminate them.
“Sir?” Carter said, standing up to come over to him, putting herself in front of him to stop his pacing. “He’s going to be alright.”
“I hope so Carter,” he replied, giving her a small smile.
“Want some coffee?” she asked, smiling back at him.
“You want me to stop pacing?”
“You have a point,” she replied, then took his arm and pulled him back to the sofa he had been sitting on.
He went willingly and was surprised when Lindsay came over to him and sat down next to him. “I was hoping that you were my Dad,” she said looking so forlorn that Jack’s heart went out to her.
“I know,” he said, feeling lost and totally clueless as to what to say to her. He smiled at her instead hoping it was enough, knowing that it probably wouldn’t be.
Carter sat down next to him on his other side and leaned over to take Lindsay’s hand. “Your father will be okay, Lindsay,” she said softly. “The doctors here are really good at what they do.”
Lindsay nodded bravely at her, then laid her head on Jack’s arm, entwining her arms around his. He looked down at her, then over to Lanie, hoping she would come to his rescue. Lanie just stared at him with a small smile as she reached over to smooth her son’s hair. No help was going to come from that quarter, he realized. He sighed, then pulled his arm out of Lindsay’s grasp to put it around her shoulders and pull her in closer.
Silence had taken over and was finally interrupted when a doctor came into the room, looked around, then walked over toward them. Lanie and Jack both stood up, waiting to hear the news with Lanie grabbing Jack’s hand as the doctor spoke up.
“Mrs. MacGyver?” he asked, then proceeded when Lanie nodded her head. “I’m Doctor Gardner. I must tell you that your husband is seriously wounded. From what I can determine, he received a single knife wound in the stomach, which has caused considerable damage. He also has some bruises, suggesting that he may have been kicked or beaten. I won’t know the full extent of the damage or if there is any internal bleeding until we get him into surgery. We are prepping him now.”
“Is he going to live?” Lanie asked, fear for her husband causing her to grip Jack’s hand painfully.
“I can’t make any guarantees at this time, but I would say his chances are pretty good. I’ll come and give you an update the minute he is out of surgery, okay?” he said kindly.
Lanie nodded and Jack pulled her back to the couch and sat down with her next to Lindsay. Lanie stared at the floor in front of her, then put her face into Jack’s shirt when he put his arm around her to comfort her while Pete came to sit on the arm of the couch next to his mother to help comfort her. Jack realized that he was surrounded by Mac’s family and he felt a tinge of panic overcome him as his emotions threatened to take over. He wished Charlie was there with him.
He turned to Carter, giving her a hopeless look, but she just smiled at him with an ‘Awww:’ look on her face. She wasn’t going to be any help either, he realized with a grimace. When did he become the champion of the females of the world, he snarled inwardly, as he settled in for the long haul.
Hospitals had never been on Jack’s list of great places to visit. The reason for being in one was more than enough to make him avoid them at all costs. But circumstances in life didn’t care what he thought, so here he was making his way down the hallway toward Mac’s room. He was glad that this particular visit was going to end happily. The doctor’s initial prognosis was correct and Mac was making a speedy recovery.
Carter had insisted on coming with him to visit with the MacGyvers and Jack was secretly glad she did. He knew that she really wanted to talk with Lanie in order to compare notes on their separate findings in terms of the details surrounding Jack’s birth, but he was hoping that she would be a help to him in case the women in Mac’s family got emotional. He definitely did not want to have to go through that again.
“Carter,” he said, as they walked down the corridor, “Could you find it in your heart to be a little supportive of me if those females turn into faucets again?” he said, hoping it didn’t sound like he was begging.
“Sir?” she asked, trying to hide her smile. She knew exactly what he was talking about, he thought, as he stared at the traitor in his midst.
“You know better than anyone that I am not capable of dealing with emotional women,” he growled. “You may not have to help me, as the Doc says Mac’s going to be okay, but just in case,” he continued, then stopped and looked around when he realized that someone was watching him.
“What is it?” Carter asked, her suspicions coming into play. She knew him too well.
Jack didn’t respond, instead he put his hand out to stop a man who was coming toward him at full force. The man had been smiling as he’d approached Jack, but the smile disappeared when Jack’s hand hit him in the chest, causing him to fall back on the floor.
Jack was ready for the guy if he came back up swinging, but was totally surprised when the man just stayed where he was, staring at him with a confused look. “Dad?” the man said.
Jack looked over at Carter to see that she had been ready to do battle as well, but had been just as surprised by the man’s question, judging by the look on her face.
“Lanie said that you’d been badly hurt,” the man accused as he got up off the floor. He rubbed the place on his chest where Jack’s hand had effectively stopped him, while asking, “What’s going on? Why’d you do that?”
“Sam!!” Pete shouted, barreling past Jack to throw himself into the man’s arms.
“Hey kiddo,” Sam said, peeling Pete off to get a good look at him. “You’ve grown at least a foot since I’ve last seen you,” he added with a smile. “Where’s your mother?”
“She’s in there,” Pete said pointing down the hall. “Lindsay is too. I’m glad you’re here. Are you going to stay for awhile? I see that you’ve met Uncle Jack. Where’s Trish?”
“Calm down,” Sam said with a laugh, then looked up at Jack with a quizzical look and said, “Uncle Jack?”
“Yeah,” Pete said, apparently still excited about seeing Sam. “He’s Dad’s twin brother. Didn’t anybody tell you about him?”
“Not really,” Sam replied, still looking at Jack. “Dad just said that he may have found a long lost brother, but he didn’t mention a twin.” He looked down at Pete then back up at Jack, “He sure does look like him, doesn’t he?”
“Jack O’Neill,” Jack said, holding out his hand to Sam. “And you are?”
“Sam Malloy,” came the response as Sam accepted the handshake.
“Nice meeting you, Sam,” Jack replied. “I take it you’re Mac’s other son?” Sam nodded, while at the same time giving Jack a thorough going over. “Sorry about that...” Jack added, as he waved his hand absently toward Sam’s chest. “Reflexes. You know.”
Sam nodded again, rubbing at the ache in his chest, even as he continued to stare at Jack. Jack was becoming uncomfortable under such scrutiny and was glad when Carter brought Sam’s attention to her.
“I’m Samantha Carter,” she said with a warm smile. “I normally go by Sam, but under the circumstances…”
Sam smiled back at her, “It could get very confusing,” he agreed. “It’s nice to meet you, Sam,” he added.
“C’mon,” Pete said, interrupting what could be the start of a beautiful friendship, Jack thought sarcastically. “Dad is awake or at least he was a few minutes ago.”
“How bad is he?” Sam asked as he followed his little brother down the hallway, with Jack and Carter close behind.
“It was touch and go for awhile there,” Jack answered, “But he’s going to make a full recovery.”
Pete and Sam entered first when they got to Mac’s room and Jack heard both Lanie and Lindsay squeal with delight when they saw Sam. He rolled his eyes and gave Carter a meaningful look before going in to join them in celebrating Mac’s recovery.
Sam was in the process of trying to extract himself from the arms of the ladies in the room, while Mac lay there in his bed with a huge grin on his face. Jack and Carter stayed by the door, unwilling to be a part of the reunion and Jack had just decided to leave and come back later, when Lanie came over and grabbed his arm to drag him over to make the “official” introductions.
“Glad to see that you are doing better,” Jack said when he could finally speak to Mac. “We were worried for awhile there.”
“I’m going to make it,” Mac said. “Of course, if someone had listened to me about not using guns in the first place,” he said with a grin.
“I suppose I should have just let them kill me,” Jack snarled in defense of his actions. The smile faded from Mac’s face, but Jack was too busy dealing with the anger and the guilt Mac’s statement brought up to even care. “If you had listened to me, we would have waited for the backup.”
“You saved my life Jack. I am grateful,” Mac said quietly. “What did happen out there?” he asked.
“Carter’s the one who saved your life,” Jack said humbly, feeling a little foolish for getting angry. “She takes her first aid training very seriously.”
“Thanks Sam,” Mac said with a smile at Carter, who had been glaring at Jack. “You know, maybe I should call you Samantha to keep things simple.”
“Samantha is better than Carter,” she responded with a smile, causing Jack to send her a shocked look. He had personally never thought about it, but then again, he really didn’t like the fact that she calls him Sir, either. “Um… No offense sir,” she amended.
Jack didn’t respond. He just looked at her with narrowed eyes, wondering if he should believe her, when Mac spoke up. “I vaguely remember something about that guy being mad at you for shooting him. Right after he kicked the crap out of me for ruining his well-laid out plans.” This was said with a smile, and Jack just shrugged, having decided that Mac didn’t blame him for what happened.
“It seemed like the right thing to do at the time,” Jack said.
“Sounds like you had an eventful time here in Colorado,” Sam spoke up, as he sat down in the chair next to his father. “I thought you were just coming here to babysit some brats.” He then had to duck when Lanie came to hit him on the arm.
“They are not brats,” she said indignantly. “Well, maybe they are, but just a little.” Typical Lanie, Jack thought, as he joined the other men in smiling fondly at her. “Steve’s going to be fine, by the way,” she added as she glared at Sam. “Thanks for asking.”
“Sorry gorgeous,” Sam said getting up to give her a kiss on the cheek. “Trish and Katie are in the waiting room down the hall. We weren’t sure if they’d let a baby come in here, so they stayed there. I’ll just go give Trish a chance to come visit.”
“I’ll go with you,” Lanie said as Lindsay and Pete took off out the door. “Will you be here when I get back Sam?” she said to Carter. “I’m anxious to hear all about what you’ve found out.”
“Samantha and I have to get back to interrogate the bad guys,” Jack said, putting extra emphasis on her name. “Besides, I’m sure you would rather be visiting,” he added as he took Carter’s arm.
“You’ll have to meet my wife,” Sam said to Jack, as Carter gave Lanie an apologetic look. “She’ll be upset if she doesn’t get to meet my Dad’s twin and I am here to tell you that she can be as bad as Lanie when it comes to nagging.”
“Why is it that I miss you when you are not around?” Lanie asked sarcastically, taking him by the arm to drag him out the door.
“Must be my charming personality,” Sam said as he followed her out. “I’ll be back in a little while, Dad,” he added as he looked at Mac. “You going to be okay?” he asked, concern written all over his face.
“Yeah,” Mac replied with a grin at his son. “I’m glad you came.” Sam smiled back at his father, then followed his step-mother out the door.
“Well, we are out of here,” Jack announced, as he nodded at Carter. He felt like an intruder and the best thing for him at this point was to just leave.
Mac had other ideas though, “Wait,” he said, “You haven’t told me what went down out there.” He tried to sit up, but thought better of it and lay back down with a grimace. “That was not so smart,” he admitted.
“Hey, take it easy there,” Jack scolded, as he came up to the bed intending to force Mac to stay put if he had to. From the look of pain on Mac’s face, Jack didn’t think he was going to have to.
“Yeah,” Mac said. His face had paled considerably and Jack began to really get worried. Apparently Carter was worried, as well, because she sat down in the chair Sam had vacated and took Mac’s hand in hers.
“I’m okay,” Mac said with a small nod. “That just hurt. A lot. So what happened out there?”
“We got caught by a cat, of all things. Of course, the cat was looking for a mouse that was hiding out under the stairs with us, but that cat told them we were there, I swear it did!” Jack said, only half kidding. He had some definite issues with that cat.
Mac smiled at that. “Thanks again for helping me get Lindsay back,” he said as his expression sobered. “I couldn’t have done it without you.”
“You’re welcome,” Jack replied. “Although I think you would have done just fine without me.”
“I know,” Mac said smugly, “but I also know that we made a great team.”
“Will Lindsay be okay?” Carter took the opportunity to ask.
Mac turned to her, worry taking over his features. “This all was pretty traumatic for her and I’m told that she’s been having nightmares. We’ll take care of her,” he said.
“If you need anything, just ask,” Jack told him.
“I will, thanks. Hey, how’s Daniel doing?”
“He’s much better,” Carter answered. “And the best news of all is that he’s convinced the General of the need to go back to P4X-903. We go back tomorrow,” she added, as she tried to hide her enthusiasm.
Jack knew better though and successfully resisted the urge to tell her to shove it. Instead he said, “I figured it was in our best interest to find out the secrets of that place,” he said gruffly.
“P4… Is that the planet Daniel wanted to go back to so badly that he almost risked a court martial to do it?” Mac asked with a grin. He was looking a lot better, Jack noticed with relief.
“Daniel’s not military,” Jack said with a pained look. “He’d have been long gone by now, if he was.”
“Well that explains a lot,” Mac said. “When will you be back?” This was said to Carter and Jack watched as she dropped all pretenses.
“A few days at the most,” she said. “Now that we know where to look, we should be able to find those people and make arrangements for negotiations to trade our resources for their own.”
“And to find out who those people really are,” Jack added, trying to hide his own eagerness. All he needed was for Carter to tell Daniel that Jack had wanted this all along. He’d never live it down.
“Do you think I could go through the Stargate?” Mac asked then. “You need help finding people, and that’s my specialty. I found Lindsay, didn’t I? Yeah, I could be a big help in finding them if you’d…”
“Oh for crying out loud,” Jack cut in.
“I’ll be out of here in a couple days,” Mac wheedled, “I know I could help. Just get me one of those cool jackets and I’ll be all set.”
The door opened at that point and Jack was relieved to see Sam and his wife walk in. He wasn’t up to arguing with a sick man.
“You were not kidding!” were the first words out of the woman’s mouth as she stared at Jack. She was a striking woman with dark hair and blue eyes, and Jack had the distinct feeling that she was sizing him up. “Hi Dad,” she added going over to the bed to kiss Mac on the cheek. “What did you get yourself into this time?”
“Hey babe,” Mac answered, smiling at her. “Same old, same old. You know how that stuff goes,” he said with a shrug.
“Defusing bombs with paper clips?” she teased.
“Paper clips?” Jack asked, worried that this was one of those tricks Mac had up his sleeve.
“You’ve been conspiring with Lanie, haven’t you?” Mac asked his daughter-in-law suspiciously. She smiled broadly as she nodded, then turned her attention to Jack.
“I can’t believe how much you two look alike!” she exclaimed. Jack smiled at her as he nodded, deciding that now was the perfect time to leave.
“It was nice to meet you, uh…”
“Trish,” she supplied.
“Trish. Well, it’s been great, but we really do have to go,” Jack continued. “I’ll try to get back to see you tomorrow,” he said to Mac.
“Samantha,” Mac said, “You promised to tell me everything there is to know about the Gate.”
Carter nodded her head, “I will,” she promised. “I’ll be back in a couple of days.”
Jack followed her out, feeling a sense of relief on many levels. One being that he was away from the staring eyes and another being that he was worried Mac might let some classified information slip out. He’d almost had a heart attack when Mac mentioned the Gate.
“Sir?” Carter said, breaking the silence they had lapsed into. “About calling me Carter…”
“It’s a military thing, Carter,” he said abruptly, cutting her off.
“Exactly,” she said in a relieved tone. It’s strange that they had gotten to the point where they didn’t even need to say anything, he thought as he led the way. He decided not to dwell on this fact; it was way too personal for his blood.
Fading into the background is not a pleasant experience when one was used to being in the spotlight, but Jack knew that even spotlights dimmed and eventually went out. The spotlight had been on him for the first nine years of his involvement with the Stargate program, starting from when he’d first gone through it to Abydos, all the way through the subsequent years leading up to his promotion to Brigadier General. He and his team had conquered Goa’uld System Lords and had saved the world single-handedly many times, making it appear as if they were legends in their own time.
But the spotlight had dimmed when he had been promoted to a desk job running the SGC. He was no longer out there fighting Goa’ulds and saving the day with last minute heroics. He was no longer stepping through the Gate to go on fact-finding and rescue missions. His expertise these days was needed to make decisions on which team would go where and when they would go. Growing old sucks, he thought as he stood in the Gate room with his hands in his pockets waiting for Daniel to show up. His team was leaving without him again and Jack wondered if all this was worth it.
“Sir?” Carter asked. She was standing next to him and was watching him carefully, as if he would break. She had no idea how close she was to being right, he thought, even as he made a conscious effort to smile at her.
“Carter?” he replied, smiling at her through his sadness. He wanted to go out there with them; he needed to get back into the action. This staying behind stuff was for the birds, but he knew it couldn’t be helped. His job as the commander of Stargate Command was just as important, but that thought didn’t help him in controlling the depression that was starting to wash over him.
“What’s wrong?” she asked him outright. Jack just shrugged; there was no use in even trying to explain it to her. He knew from experience that he would just bungle up the words, making him appear to be dumb. Words just didn’t come easy for him.
Carter didn’t push it, although he could tell she wanted to. Instead she gave him an encouraging smile that did nothing to ease his mental anguish. Jack turned to stare at the Stargate, the fact that it was standing there silently beckoning to him deepened his depression and he decided to alleviate the tension that seemed to be building among them. “Reardon is just about to crack, I can tell,” he said to Carter. “What with Teal’c giving him the evil eye and you smiling at him making him think he’s the luckiest guy on Earth, and my imposing character scaring him into an early grave, I think he’s going to tell us everything any time now.”
“I’m really interested in finding out how he knew Lindsay was your niece,” Carter spoke up, her smile widening at his analogy of the situation. “I mean he knew she was your niece, but had no idea that you and Mac were identical.
“I got the impression that he’s not the brightest light bulb in the package,” Jack said, “And now that we know that he had been working outside of the rogue unit of the NID, it makes more sense…”
“He would have been better informed if he’d had the help and the resources of the NID or the rogue faction,” Teal’c finished for him.
“Things are pretty bad when rogue NID have rogue agents working out of their organization,” Daniel said, as he walked up to them.
“Nice to see some things haven’t changed,” Jack told his friends as he pointedly looked at his watch, but directed his next question at Daniel, “Where have you been?”
“My watch must be slow,” Daniel replied without even looking at his watch. He smiled at Jack and asked, “Did I miss anything?”
“Not much seeing as we had to wait for you to even show up,” Jack said. Ah well, might as well get this over with. He turned to the window that served as a barrier between the control room and the Gate room and nodded at Walter, alerting the Sergeant to go ahead with the dialing sequence.
The klaxons sounded, while the inner wheel of the Stargate began turning and Jack turned to watch it in action. The wheels of fate had taken him away from the action he had been used to when off-world, leaving him here to deal with the constant decisions of running a military base.
This was not good, he decided, mentally shaking off the feelings of gloom. He turned toward Carter just in time to see her glance at Daniel with a questioning look and Daniel shrugging his shoulders. They knew something was wrong and Jack hoped they wouldn’t push the subject.
“So,” he said as he clapped his hands together, “Are you all set? Did you remember to pack your suntan lotion? Now I want you to watch out for each other… Carter, keep an eye on Daniel. You know how he has a tendency to wander off. And make sure you all look both ways before crossing the street.” His ruse worked, he realized with relief, as Carter was now smiling at him and Daniel rolled his eyes.
“Yes Dad,” Daniel said sarcastically.
“We will be careful O’Neill,” Teal’c said with a slight bow of his head. The Jaffa was staring at him with a concerned look, Jack noticed, and he realized that his ruse hadn’t worked after all.
“Go,” Jack said when Walter announced that the seventh chevron was locked and the Stargate came to life. “Have fun and bring back some goodies. Daniel, I mean it, no feeding Bigfoot. You hear me?”
“Bigfoot starves, got it,” Daniel acknowledged, as he walked up the ramp and through the Stargate. Jack stood there watching them leave, waiting until the Stargate disengaged, before heading off to spend more time trying to get his prisoner to talk.
His prisoner was still being very uncooperative and Jack was starting to really get pissed. What was the big secret anyway? All he wanted from this guy were the names of his contacts and how he got his hands on the pictures. Getting the answer to Carter’s questions would be a definite plus, as well, but Reardon was being stubborn - in a polite way. The cheerful politeness was also getting to Jack, although he was able to keep that fact from the man.
“Could I get some water?” Reardon asked, as he leaned back in his chair. They were in the interrogation room several levels above the Gate room and Jack was sitting in a chair on the opposite side of the table, trying his best not to show his irritation.
“After you tell me what I want to know,” Jack responded. “The shoulder still hurt?”
“Yes, it does. You had no right to shoot me,” Reardon said, the polite smile evaporating.
Interesting, Jack thought. “I’m thinking about shooting you again,” he told his prisoner. “I’ll swear that you tried to attack me.”
Reardon pulled himself together and put on the polite smile again, but Jack had figured out his weakness. “It would be good to see you rotting in jail, O’Neill,” Reardon said.
“There are no witnesses Reardon,” Jack replied. “Who do you think they’ll believe - a kidnapper and a thief or an Air Force General?”
“Is that what you told them had happened? That I attacked you?” Reardon asked, all pretenses of being polite dropped, as his anger took over.
“Where did you get the pictures?” Jack asked, hoping to take advantage of Reardon’s anger.
“None of your fucking business,” Reardon snarled. Jack stood up at that point and went to the door, knocking on it to alert the guards that he was ready to leave. He turned toward his prisoner and saw that Reardon had a confused look on his face, not quite sure what was happening. Jack turned back toward the door when it opened and quietly asked the guard for his gun.
“Sir?” the guard asked with concern.
“This guy is threatening to strangle me,” Jack lied, knowing full well the guard would give him the gun no matter what. He wanted Reardon to think seriously about giving up the goods.
“That’s a lie!” Reardon shouted, while Jack took the gun the guard offered and turned back toward his prisoner.
“That’ll be all Captain,” Jack said to dismiss the guard.
“Are you sure sir?” the Captain said, eyeing Reardon warily.
“Yes, I’ve handled worse than this scum before,” Jack said to reassure him.
The guard left, closing the door behind him while Jack moved to sit in the chair opposite Reardon and put the gun down on the table. He put his hands on the table next to the gun and waited for Reardon to say something.
Reardon kept his silence as he eyed Jack and the gun. “Who gave you the pictures?” Jack asked again, picking up the gun. He was pleased to see the color drain from Reardon’s face.
”You won’t shoot me O’Neill,” Reardon said. “I have nothing to say to you.”
Jack didn’t respond, he just got up and walked around the table, tugging on Reardon’s good arm to force him to stand.
“What are you doing?” Reardon asked, his apprehension apparent in his voice.
“I want to make sure there will be no doubt in the minds of others that you tried to attack me,” Jack replied innocently. “I have to make it look good.”
“You’re crazy,” Reardon said as he backed away. He looked toward the door, then back at Jack, a glimmer of fear showing in his eyes.
“Don’t worry about the camera,” Jack made sure to tell him. “The film in it will disappear within an hour after I leave here. Give me a reason to pull the trigger,” he begged.
Reardon took a full minute in debating his options before deciding to believe Jack. The fact that Jack was seriously considering shooting him anyway probably showed in his attitude and was what convinced Reardon to do the right thing. He told Jack everything, including the fact that the pictures came from a prominent businessman who had ties with the Trust. Jack was amazed and incensed on Mac’s behalf when Reardon told him that it was Mac’s neighbor who had given him the flight information, telling him that Jack’s brother and his family would be arriving in Denver. Mac’s neighbor, it seems had been working for the prominent businessman for some time.
From what Reardon had told him, and this was all based on second-hand observations, Robert Riley had been asked to keep an eye on a former Phoenix Foundation employee, just in case Mac’s talents could be recruited for the cause. Red flags went up when Jack disappeared in Washington, only to be dropped off at his hotel the next day in a car owned by the former Phoenix Foundation employee. Riley had been contacted and his story of a long lost brother showing up on Mac’s doorstep put the wheels in motion to getting the pictures translated. Mac was right about this whole thing being part of an elaborate plan, and Jack briefly wondered if Steve’s accident had really been an accident. At this point, nothing would surprise him.
Jack put the gun away reluctantly, telling Reardon that he’d done the right thing. Reardon just looked relieved that he was going to live another day.
The phone was ringing when Jack got home that night. He grabbed the phone off of the table, pressing the button to turn it on as he walked back through the room heading for his kitchen. He was starving and he wondered if Lanie had left anything for him from the day before. “O’Neill,” he said into the receiver just as he reached the kitchen table.
“Jack?” came a voice from his past. Jack stopped walking and stared numbly at the refrigerator he was heading for. It couldn’t be him, he thought, his mind suddenly kicking into gear as he realized that it probably was. Oh man, now what?
“Jack? Are you there?” his father’s voice spoke out through the receiver that Jack held tightly in his hand.
“Yeah,” Jack responded. His mouth had suddenly gone dry and he decided that he really did need to sit down. “How are you Dad?” he asked as he sat down at the table.
“I’m fine boyo,” his father responded and Jack wondered why Thomas O’Neill felt the need to call him by a name only his grandfather had ever used. “Henry called to tell me that you were looking for me,” his father rushed on to tell him. “I just thought I would follow up to see what it was you wanted.” Jack thought he detected a slight pleading in his father’s voice.
“Didn’t Henry tell you what I wanted?” Jack asked, deliberately keeping his tone light. The anger that was racing through his veins surprised him.
“Yes, he did. But I was hoping that maybe you wanted to talk to me about something else.” There it was again, the pleading. Jack now knew what it was his father wanted, the man just didn’t know how to pose his feelings to the son he’d practically disowned all those years before. They were so much alike, Jack realized. Neither one was able to express themselves or their desires, choosing instead to hide behind a quiet demeanor, hoping no one would find out that they were totally inept at this kind of thing. He may not be the man’s natural son, but Jack had learned a lot from him.
That last thought brought the anger back into the forefront and Jack stared at his clenched fist. They had kept their secret from him all these years, leaving him to believe that he was their flesh and blood, only to find out 50 years later that they had lied to him.
“Jack?” his father said again. “Can we talk about this, please?” The guy was definitely begging now, Jack thought with a grimace.
“Yeah sure, why not?” he replied, not quite able to keep the anger out of his response. This was the son of a bitch who had lied to him, turned on him and beat the shit out of him, before dropping out of sight for thirty years. Now he wanted to make amends?
“We loved you Jack – your mother and I. You were our son and we were happy. Nothing can change that, even the last thirty years.”
“You turned on me,” Jack snapped at him. Breathe O’Neill, he told himself to make another attempt at calming down.
“Yes I did,” his father responded. “It was the stupidest thing I have ever done and you have no idea how much I regretted it years later.”
Jack didn’t respond; he was too busy working on calming himself. All those years of wondering what it was he had done to make his father hate him. He had worked hard to become the better man, working his way up to Colonel, just to prove to his father that he wasn’t whatever the man had deemed him to be. The fact that he’d made it to General was just the icing on the cake. Of course, Jack had given up proving anything to his father a long time ago.
“Jack?” his father tried again. “We are a lot alike, you know. Neither one of us is very good at talking about our feelings,” he admitted. Jack just stared at the table - he had already come to that conclusion. “It was your mother who had me hating you,” he continued, causing Jack’s head to come up and his hackles to rise.
“Excuse me?” Jack snarled, no longer trying to control anything. “What the hell is that supposed to mean? She’s dead. What did she do to cause you to hate me?”
“Even though she loved you more than life itself, she never forgave me for bringing you into this world,” his father said wearily. “Don’t get me wrong, we had a happy life - the three of us, but her dying words to me told me that you were the one who brought on her happiness, not me.”
Jack knew of his mother’s love for him. He remembered her smiles, her pride in his accomplishments and her fears and concern when he was sick. He had been devastated when she had died, taking her love with her. She had left him alone to deal with a grieving father, a man who had no feelings for the son that was left behind.
“I couldn’t believe it at the time,” his father continued. “I loved her, yet she had been harboring a hatred for me because of one little mistake, even if that mistake did bring on her happiness.”
“You hated me because she never forgave you?” This guy was definitely on the senile side of the tracks, Jack thought. “What the hell did you do to her?”
“It’s not as simple as that. I had an affair with another woman,” his father explained, completely shocking Jack into numbness. An affair? His father? His life had turned into a soap opera and he wasn’t sure he wanted it to continue.
“It happened a couple of years after your mother and I were married. We were living in Chicago then, but we had been visiting with Henry in Minneapolis. Your mother and I had a major fight one night and I went out for a walk to think things over. I met Ellen in a neighborhood park, and well… we just seemed to hit it off right away. The funny thing is – she was having problems with her husband, who was away for a few weeks. We got to talking and I ended up making excuses to go for a walk every single day I was there.”
“So you had an affair with another woman,” Jack said, “What does that have to do with me?”
“I’m getting to that,” his father said impatiently. “Anyway, Ellen and I ended up going to her place a couple of times and…,” his father stopped to clear his throat, but Jack didn’t need to hear the rest of the sentence. He was pretty good at filling in the blanks most of the time. “Our relationship only lasted for a few weeks,” his father continued, a little defensively. “Your mother and I headed back to Chicago and Ellen’s husband returned from his trip. I didn’t think I would ever hear from her again.”
“I repeat, what does this have to do with me?” Jack snarled. He wanted the condensed version, not this long drawn out history book.
“Jack, do you want to hear the story or not?” his father asked, frustration making an appearance.
“You are going to get to the point eventually?” Jack asked bemusedly. This was almost like old times, before his mother’s death.
“Yes Jack, have patience,” his father responded. Jack could hear the smile in his father’s voice and knew that he was remembering too.
“About four months later, Ellen contacted me and told me that she was pregnant,” his father continued. “She was terrified that her husband would find out that the baby was not his. According to her, the baby had to be mine because of her husband’s absence and the fact that they weren’t… well, you know.” It was fill in the blank time again, Jack thought with a smile.
“I have to tell you that I was at a total loss for words, which is not unusual at the best of times, but this had me stumped. We finally worked it out that she would somehow convince her husband that the child was his and we would go on as if nothing had happened.”
“Dad, I hate to jump in and ruin what could be a fantastic story for Jerry Springer, but could you get to the part where it’s my fault?”
“Ellen called me several months later,” his father continued, ignoring Jack’s interruption. “She was hysterical. Her husband had found out about us and had left her. She didn’t know what to do. I tried to calm her down, but your mother walked in as I was talking to her and my secret was out.”
He had stopped talking and Jack could sympathize with what his father was remembering at that point. He had been on the receiving end of his mother’s temper many times himself. “Dad?” he prompted, hoping to get the story moving. He was now anxious to hear the ending.
“Well, as you know, your mother’s temper could stop a tornado from hitting our house,” his father teased. “But she eventually calmed down and decided that we should adopt the baby. We had been trying, but our own child was not to be. So I called Ellen and arranged for her to come to Chicago to give birth.”
Jack now knew where this was heading. He was his father’s biological child. But did that mean that Mac…? Jack didn’t dare interrupt now. He was hanging on to the edge of his seat wanting to know the whole story.
“But she didn’t make it. She called me the next day to say that she was heading for the hospital. Your mother had gotten her hopes up that she was going to have a baby in her life, so she practically dragged me to Minneapolis to go get that baby.“
“When we got there, Ellen’s husband was already there and he and I almost came to blows, but your mother stepped in and set us both straight. I really did love your mother, Jack,” he said fondly. Jack knew it was his adoptive mother his father was pining over.
“Anyway, we got the news that Ellen gave birth to twins. Shocked all three of us, I’ll tell you. Your mother was ecstatic, and she was determined to take those babies home. But Ellen couldn’t part with them. She loved both of her babies. Her husband, on the other hand, talked her into giving Kathryn and I one of them. Your mother had a good deal to say about that, as well. We took you home and we were one happy family, or so I thought.”
Both men were silent at that point, lost in their own thoughts. Jack was trying to take in everything he had been told and still managed to get some of it mangled in this thoughts. According to his father, he and Mac really were identical twin brothers, a by-product of an affair that never should have happened. He wondered if Mac’s father ever treated him badly because of his parentage. He had never thought to ask him.
“So Mom never forgave you for the affair?” Jack asked, breaking the silence that had been building up.
“I thought she did. She never mentioned it after that. Not until that day in the hospital when she was dying. She didn’t want to take her sin of not forgiving me for all those years to the grave with her. She said that you were a constant reminder of my betrayal. You, the one thing she loved more than life itself…,” his father sighed, then continued, “I was devastated that she didn’t love me as much as I loved her. All I could think about was the fact that you were the one who had taken her love from me. If it hadn’t been for you…”
Silence took over once again, as both men dwelled on the memories that were piling up on them. They both had loved Kathryn O’Neill with all their hearts. Jack remembered how he’d wished she could have met Charlie. She would have doted on him completely, he thought sadly.
“Dad, is this what you wanted to talk to me about when you called me several years ago?” Jack asked.
“I had heard that your son… my grandson had died. I had realized my mistake by that time, son. I just couldn’t get up the nerve to contact you, thinking you would just spit in my face. You were pretty angry that day you left. Anyway, I wanted to be there for you if you wanted to talk, but his death had hit you hard. Your wife told me that you weren’t even talking to her about it. I think you were still in shock, though because it seemed like you were there, but not there when we talked. I could tell you were still angry with me, and I left it at that, hoping that you would come around one of these days.”
Jack couldn’t respond. Dark memories were now swirling about in his mind, threatening to bring back the depression he was able to chase away just that morning. He was determined to not get bogged down in that stuff, so he turned his thoughts to the mystery of twins born in different cities.
“Did you say I was born in Minneapolis? How can that be? I thought I was born in Chicago.”
“Oh that,” his father said, sounding relieved to come out of his own thoughts. “Your mother was in such a hurry to take you home, we left without even thinking of a birth certificate. Actually, I think she wanted to get you out of there before Ellen changed her mind and not let you go. Anyway, we thought about the birth certificate issue on the way home and we decided to just say that she gave birth to you at home and the people at the County office believed us. So, by all intents and purposes, you were born in Chicago. This was fifty years ago Jack. We wouldn’t have gotten away with it nowadays.”
“Henry was surprised that I had a twin brother,” Jack mused out loud, then asked his father, “What did you tell the family?”
“That we had adopted a baby boy. They didn’t question the details and your mother just told them that we wanted to keep it quiet until we knew for sure. They bought it, especially since I am not one for telling anybody anything.”
Jack had to smile at that. He was known for the same thing. Like father, like son, he thought wryly.
“Can we put all this behind us Jack?” his father asked tentatively. “I know that what happened between you and your step-mother wasn’t your fault. I divorced her a couple years after you left when I found her with a neighbor. They were… well, you know.”
“I’d like that Dad,” Jack said, smiling at his father’s refusal to actually say the words to describe what they were doing. He smiled as he wondered how his father and step-mother argued over her being caught with Jack when Dad couldn’t even bring himself to say the words.
“Henry tells me that you’ve met your twin brother. What’s he like? Have you met your real mother?”
“He looks just like me, although I think I am the one with all the charm,” Jack said smugly. “From what I gather he is really smart – he’s a scientist, studied Physics in college. I’m really just getting to know him, Dad, but he is married and has three children. I don’t know anything beyond that.”
“A scientist, eh? Yeah, but you are a General in the Air Force,” his father said proudly. “I can’t tell you how proud that makes me Jack. You always were strong-willed. You always had to have things go your way. Your mother told me once that she was sure you were going to be the President of the United States because you were too bossy for your own good.”
“Thanks Dad,” Jack said, feeling a tightness in his chest. Knowing that his father was proud of him was something that he had wanted for a long time, and here it was given freely. It meant a great deal to Jack.
“What about Ellen?” his father asked, trying to sound nonchalant. “Your real mother.”
“She died quite a few years ago. Her heart gave out on her. Her husband had died in a car accident when Mac was young.”
“Mac? Is that what he likes to be called? I’d like to meet him Jack. Do you think you two could come visit some day?” The hopefulness in his father’s voice went straight to Jack’s heart.
“I don’t know Dad. I’ll ask him and see if he’d be interested. Hey, I’ll ask him when his wife is around. That woman will make sure he does even if she has to drag him all the way there.”
“I’d like that Jack. I’ve missed you, son.”
“Same here,” Jack said. “I’ll call you and let you know what he decides,” he added, thinking that he needed to see his father again. He had to be nearing eighty, and there may not be a whole lot of years left in the old man.
They said their good-byes and Jack stared at the phone after he had pressed the button to end the call. His thoughts were in a jumble, a myriad of feelings and thoughts swirling around in his mind and he made a conscious effort to focus so that he could make sense of all that he had been told. He was going to be the one who had to relay all this to Mac and Lanie and he didn’t want to screw it up. He figured it would be best to tell Mac while Lanie was around so that she could harass Jack about all the details and get it over with. This way he wouldn’t have to deal with telling the story twice.
With that decided, he took the phone and dialed the number to Mac’s room in the hospital. Lindsay answered and Jack had to smile when she enthusiastically said, “Hi Uncle Jack,” when he’d asked for Mac. Lindsay had become a member of his own personal fan club ever since he had helped rescue her from those idiots.
“I’ve just talked to my father,” he told his brother after asking about his health and getting an affirmative answer. “He confirms the fact that we are twins and the circumstances surrounding our birth. Why don’t I come down there to give you the low-down?”
“I’ve known all along that you two were twins,” Lanie said when Jack finished explaining the story.
“Just like in the movies,” Lindsay added, her eyes sparkling with excitement.
“Oh brother,” Pete said, as he rolled his eyes. Lindsay just glared at her brother.
Mac, on the other hand, was in a total state of shock. He just couldn’t make sense of it all. “My mother had an affair?”
“Yep,” Jack said sympathetically. “I know how you feel, believe me.”
“But my mother… All those years… Oh God, she must have been devastated.” Mac said, as he remembered the years of his youth. His mother had never said, or even hinted at the fact that she had given birth to twins. How could she have kept that to herself all those years?
“From what my father tells me she wanted to keep both babies,” Jack said, probably hoping to help Mac get through this. “But your father and my mother were determined to talk her out of it. My mother usually got her way,” he told them with a grimace.
“She was that bad?” Mac asked, still trying to figure out exactly who was who.
“Not really,” Jack responded thoughtfully. “She was the type of person who protected her loved ones with all her might. I just happened to be one of her loved ones. What about you? Did your father ever treat you badly because of who you were?”
“No,” Mac said, remembering all the good times he shared with his parents. “We got along great. I was lucky, I guess, that he didn’t blame me for not being his own flesh and blood.”
“Yeah, my mother was the same way. She did, however, hold a grudge against my father right on up to her dying day,” Jack said.
“I’ll never know what my father thought, or my mother, for that matter,” Mac said sadly. He missed his parents. Lindsay got into the bed and snuggled up to him at that point and Mac was grateful for her presence. He had his own family now, including a brother he never knew he had. “I guess this explains why my Grandfather never told me that I had a twin brother,” he continued, as he tried to make sense of the whole thing. “He probably didn’t even know I had a twin brother. My parents didn’t move back to Mission City until I was a year old.”
Lanie took Mac’s hand in hers and gave him an encouraging smile. She was his lifeline now, he thought. No matter what, he could count on her to help him get through anything. He was suddenly glad that he had gotten past his aversion to commitments and married her.
“I’m glad that you got to talk to your father Jack,” Lanie said, to help alleviate the sadness cloaking the room. “I know it has to be a relief to be talking to him again.”
“I suppose,” Jack replied with a shrug. “He wants to meet you Mac. I told him I would ask.”
“Why?” Mac said, anger surging up in him. “Why now? I mean, he knew I was out there. Now he wants to meet me?”
“I told him I would ask,” Jack said, backing down. “I’m not here to force you to do anything.”
“Mac,” Lanie said, quietly. “He is your biological father…”
“Shove it Lanie,” Mac snarled, anger making him lash out. He could tell that he had shocked everyone in the room into silence, including his children, but he didn’t care. God, the whole thing was crashing down on his head and he felt like he was drowning.
“Well, that was uncalled for,” Lanie finally spoke up, making Mac feel guilty when he saw tears welling up in her eyes. “I was just going to mention that he may not have wanted to ruin your parent’s marriage by showing up years later to see you.”
“I don’t think that’s the reason,” Jack spoke up, as he glared at Mac. He came over and put his arm around Lanie’s shoulders and hugged her to him. She let him, but continued to look at Mac. ‘He probably just wanted to put all that behind him,” he added.
“You’re not helping,” Lanie said to her brother-in-law as she went to sit on Mac’s bed.
Jack shrugged his shoulders. “I’m just saying it like it is.”
Mac reached out to grab Lanie’s hand, squeezing it apologetically. She smiled at him again and Mac had an overpowering urge to kick everyone but Lanie out of the room so that he could apologize properly. He turned his attention on his brother instead, “I appreciate it Jack. I’ll think about the visit, okay? Just give me some time.”
“You got it,” Jack replied. “I have some other news I think you guys might be interested in,” he added before turning to Pete and Lindsay, “Would you guys go get me something to eat? I’m starving.”
“It involves the kidnappers, doesn’t it?” Lindsay asked. Jack stared at her in surprise. He obviously didn’t know Lindsay like Mac did.
“Yes, it does,” Jack responded before giving Mac a questioning look. Mac didn’t know what to think at that point, but worry for Lindsay took priority over his own emotional upheaval.
“Lindsay, why don’t you go on ahead and find something edible for your Uncle Jack. I hear he can be as ferocious as a bear when his stomach is empty,” Mac told her. Lindsay and Pete smiled at that, while Jack put on an indignant look.
“Excuse me? A bear?” Jack asked, trying to sound hurt. “Don’t listen to him Lindsay. I only growl at people who compare me to a bear.”
“You’re not a bear,” Lindsay said, smiling broadly at Jack. Mac had to laugh when Jack turned to him with a smug look. His expression mirrored Pete’s whenever he got something over Lindsay.
“C’mon Lindsay,” Pete said resignedly. “They won’t say anything until we’re out of here.” This was said with a glare at Mac. “Let’s go see if we can find something that won’t totally gross us all out.”
“Mom?” Lindsay said, her fear apparent in her expression.
“You’ll be fine,” Lanie said soothingly pulling her daughter into a hug. “I promise.”
“You might even run into Sam and Trish,” Mac said. “They said they would be coming by later.”
“Here,” Jack said, handing Pete some money. “They won’t give it to you for free. A cheeseburger sounds good.”
“It’ll gross you out, Uncle Jack,” Pete said knowingly. “Trust me on this.”
“That bad, huh?” Jack asked. Pete nodded and Jack amended his order, “How are the desserts? Just bring me a piece of cake or some pie. I’ll get something on the way home.”
“Smart move,” Pete said approvingly. “Hospital food really isn’t all that good, especially this late at night.”
Lindsay followed her brother out, both of them arguing over what kind of dessert their Uncle would like. Mac couldn’t help the smile that came over him. His daughter was going to be just fine.
“What is it?” Lanie asked Jack, the minute the children had left. “What did you find out?”
“I was able to get Reardon, the leader of the kidnappers, to talk,” Jack replied. “He told us how he knew Lindsay was my niece. It seems your neighbor sold you out.”
“I knew it!” Mac exclaimed, while Lanie put her head in her hands. Mac immediately tried to sit up to comfort her, only to slow down his movements when the pain came at him in waves. “Oh man,” he groaned.
“Are you going to be okay?” Jack asked. Mac nodded, then made another attempt to comfort his wife.
Jack beat him to it, though. “What’s wrong?” he asked her as he pulled the chair close to Lanie so that he could sit down next to her. “Lanie?” He took her hands into his.
“I was the one who told Linda that we would be going to Colorado and that you and Mac were brothers,” Lanie responded disheartened. “I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I… I mean Mac didn’t get along with Bob, but Linda seemed so nice, so…,” she stopped, her voice breaking.
“It’s not your fault,” Mac insisted. “You couldn’t have known.” He forced himself to ignore the pain as he sat up to comfort her, needing to hold her. “It’s not your fault,” he continued when he finally got his arms around her.
“I’m making inquiries into who this guy is,” Jack told them. “But I have to tell you that we may never know the whole story.”
“I’ve already asked an old friend to look into it,” Mac said, “Just in case my suspicions were correct. She may find out something that will shed some light on why Bob did it, but at this point, I’ll take what I can get. Any ideas on why he did it? How did he know those people?”
“He probably did it for the money. There’s an organization called The Trust that is made up of a group of wealthy businessmen who have inside contacts with the NID. Their main concern is stealing artifacts that are technologically advanced so that they can manufacture similar technologies to sell to the public. They’ve been a pain in our side for years.”
“That explains why they wanted the translations so badly,” Mac said, his mind one step ahead of Jack’s explanations. “Did Daniel finally get them translated?”
“Yep,” Jack responded uncomfortably.
Mac took the hint and decided not to pursue this while Lanie was around. “Where does Bob Riley fit into all this?”
“It seems the Trust has been very interested in your background,” Jack responded with a relieved look. “They were keeping you in mind in case they needed your skills, so they stationed Riley next door and had him keep an eye on you. Then I showed up... next thing we know, you’ve become extremely valuable to their cause, especially in getting those translations. The Trust found out that you were my brother and they figured kidnapping your daughter was just the ticket they needed to get the ball rolling in getting those translations.”
“Steve’s accident?” Lanie asked, as she stared at Jack. “We wouldn’t have come to Colorado at all if it hadn’t been for that accident.”
“That seems farfetched, even for these people,” Jack responded. “It was probably an accident.”
“Linda knew that my sister and her family lived in Grand Junction,” she whispered.
“Lanie, stop it!” Mac told her as he hugged her tighter. “Please honey, just stop it. You had nothing to do with this. I mean it. Jack, talk to her,” he pleaded, as he looked toward his brother.
“Me?” Jack asked with a surprised look on his face. “What makes you think she’ll listen to me?”
“She likes you. Or was that me she was talking about?” Mac mused, looking at his wife thoughtfully. “Come to think of it, she did mention the words ‘good looking’. Yep,” he added as he nodded his head. “She was talking about me.”
“If you say so,” Jack said, as he smiled at Lanie. Mac was pleased to see his wife smiling back. He watched as Jack took her hands in his and told her, “Mac’s right. Don’t blame yourself for something that you had no control over. Go home, kick Linda’s butt and move on. Okay?”
“That is if they even live there anymore,” Mac spoke up. He so hoped they had moved out. “I need more information on this organization Jack. I know some people who are very influential in the business world. I want to make sure something like this never happens again.”
“Can you do that?” Jack asked.
“Yes.” Mac responded in all seriousness. He looked at Lanie, while hugging her tighter to him, “They will never bother us again,” he promised.
There were no problems for SG-1 this time around and Jack was relieved when their IDC showed up on the computer monitors in the control room. They had been gone three days and he was starting to get worried about them, considering what had happened to them the last time they were there. “Open the iris,” he told the technician on duty.
The iris opened and Jack decided to go down to the Gate room to meet his friends. He was anxious to find out about the important stuff, like what they had learned from the people on that planet, such as their origins and how they were able to disappear into thin air.
He walked into the Gate room just as Teal’c and Carter walked out of the wormhole. His heart skipped a beat when Daniel didn’t show up immediately behind them, but calmed down when the archeologist meandered through the event horizon a minute later.
“Well, it’s about time!” Jack said in greeting. “I was starting to get a little worried about you. Did you bring me back a t-shirt?”
“Glad to be back sir,” Carter replied, her eyes lighting up with her smile. “I was able to procure some soil samples and some preliminary data regarding the communications problem. I believe I may have an answer for you in that regard once I input the data into the base’s mainframe. We’ve also determined…”
“It’s them Jack!” Daniel interrupted with an ‘I told you so’ look on his face. “We were able to meet with several of the people living there and they’ve confirmed that they are descendants of the people that disappeared from Roanoke Island four hundred years ago.”
This news had Jack grinning, as well. History had been one of his favorite subjects throughout his lifetime, although his academic studies tended to concentrate on the military aspects of the world’s historical events. That didn’t curb his fascination with other historical events though, and he’d spent many hours reading and learning everything he could get his hands on. He knew better than to let his friends in on this secret, though. He’d learned a long time ago that the less people knew about him, the better off he was.
“I can’t wait to hear all the details,” Jack told him. “Any problems I need to be aware of?” he asked. It didn’t hurt to be cautious.
“No sir,” Carter responded, “Nothing major to speak of.”
“Something minor then?” he asked, intrigued by what she wasn’t saying. He should have known that something would happen. The members of SG-1 had a tendency to get into trouble in even the most routine mundane missions.
“Permission to get cleaned up and checked out by the Doc before we get into this sir?” Carter asked, causing Jack to get a little nervous.
“Colonel,” Jack said, almost as a question. She didn’t answer and Jack tried one more time, “Avoiding the question?”
“No sir,” she said with a sigh. “It’s just that we’ve been out there for three days and I’d like nothing better than a hot shower. It’s all I’ve been thinking about since yesterday.” She gave him a pleading look and he gave in.
“Well now that you mention it, I have been meaning to talk to you about that,” he said with a small smile.
“That bad huh?” Daniel asked, grinning back at him.
“To what are you referring O’Neill,” Teal’c asked as he handed his weapon to an SF.
“Just go,” Jack said, using his hands to shoo them out the door. “The sooner you guys get checked out and cleaned up, the sooner I get to hear all about your little adventure and minor problems.”
“Major problems Jack,” Daniel said before turning to walk away, leaving Jack wondering what was going on.
“Wait,” he said turning to follow Daniel out, “Major problems? Daniel? What’d you mean by major problems?” Daniel kept on going, looking back to smile at Jack who was seriously considering hurting his friend. He hurried to catch up, fully intending to bug them all to death until he got an answer.
Jack knew he could get really annoying if he put his mind to it and had started in on his old teammates while they were being checked out in the infirmary, but the doctor kicked him out telling him that he was interfering with her staff. He knew that it was really because she had a thing for Daniel and had picked up that Daniel was clearly aggravated. Jack decided to wait until he was in his own territory before taking up the battle again.
“So tell me, what happened on that planet this time around?” Jack asked when he had finally gathered all the members of SG-1 together in the briefing room.
“The people living on that planet are the descendants of the Lost Colony,” Daniel said, launching immediately into what fascinated him the most. “We were able to talk to them and they told us their story. According to Martin, the leader of the civilization we found on P4X-903, the story passed down from his ancestors tells of strangers coming to their village with strange weapons. They were forced to travel a great distance over land and water to a craft that resembled a large pyramid. The strangers, whom we now know as Jaffa, had no qualms in killing those who struggled or were too weak to make the trip, mainly because they were able to gather more slaves as the journey progressed.”
“The people were herded onto the mother ship and were treated as animals for months until they were finally told they could leave the ship,” he continued. “They were still slaves though, and were forced to build a new settlement and to worship Maltac, the God that had brought them to their new home. They lived as slaves for many years before the residents took up a rebellion led by a man named White Wolf. It seems that the colonists and the Indians that had been taken hostage on the trip to the mother ship had banded together to fight for their freedom.”
“White Wolf?” Jack asked, thinking of the animal that had attacked Daniel.
“Apparently the Native American word was too hard for the English speakers to pronounce, so they anglicized it,” Daniel responded. “In fact, the language the people now speak is a mixture of English, Native American and Goa’uld, while the original languages were preserved through those who were taught to speak them.”
“So what happened during the rebellion?” Jack asked, trying to steer the conversation back toward the history of these people. Daniel would be more than willing to ruminate on the subject of the linguistic accomplishments of these people for hours if Jack let him.
“They succeeded,” Daniel replied with a frown, apparently annoyed that he didn’t get to elaborate further on that subject. “It took several years, but they were able to overthrow the Jaffa. Maltac knew when he was beaten and left them to their own defenses. By this time, though, the people had learned a lot from what the environment had to offer and they rebuilt their lives. Of course, they continued to live in fear that Maltac or one of his kind would come back, so they built their homes along the banks of the river where the fog completely hid them from view. Check this out,” he said as he slid a tape into the video slot and turning on the monitor.
Jack watched as the camera panned the landscape. A forest of trees gave way to a river that flowed through it, the fog swirling around and on top of it creating an illusion of smoke rolling across the water. “There!” Daniel exclaimed, stopping the video. “See it?” he asked, gleeful anticipation dancing in his eyes.
“Smoke on the water,” Jack said as he stared at the screen. The whole scene had an eerie feeling to it and Jack wondered if he would be seeing specters coming out of it.
“Yeah,” Daniel said with a smile. “Look closer Jack, toward the right side of the screen.”
Jack forced himself to look away from the mesmerizing movement of the fog and took a closer look at the area Daniel wanted him to look at. It took him a moment of really studying the monitor before he saw it. A man stood there in plain sight, staring at the visitors. Jack had to squint to really see him, but he was there in all his glory.
“They are only invisible because they are camouflaged,” Jack commented, still staring at the monitor. “They dress in the colors of their surroundings.”
“The fog makes it even easier for them to hide,” Carter spoke up. “They just blend right in. This is why we couldn’t see them when we first went there.”
“Their homes are built along the banks of the river and covered with the leaves of the plants that grow in it,” Daniel added. “Most of the fog you see on that river is really the leafy part of a plant. I mean even the plants blend in!”
“The recent arrival of the Jaffa have made the natives restless,” Teal’c said. “They know who they were and what they represented. The Jaffa’s arrival on the planet not long after SG-5 arrived only caused them to be more suspicious of us.”
“Did you encounter any stray Jaffa?” Jack asked.
“We were told that they had left,” Carter replied. She looked so tired, Jack thought as he stared at his former second in command. He planned to send her home the minute he got all his answers. From the look on her face, he didn’t think she would put up too much of fight.
“The Jaffa did indeed leave,” Teal’c said. “I believe that once they realized that there were no people there and that the living conditions were not favorable, they left to find a better planet to claim for their God.”
“Didn’t get a chance to do any recruiting, did you?” Jack asked.
“I did not,” Teal’c responded with a small smile.
“We found a dead Jaffa while we were there,” Carter added. “Apparently they were not able to chase away the locairn either.”
The what? “Locairn?” Jack asked.
“Bigfoot,” Daniel translated.
“Oh. I knew that,” Jack said.
“Um, yeah,” Daniel said. “Anyway, we think that with the combined factors of the fog and the animal that is hard to kill, the Goa’uld gave up on that planet, deciding to try his luck elsewhere. Martin and his people are not going to let down their guards, though. They’ve learned from their ancestors that it wouldn’t be in their best interest to do so.”
”Their ancestors were the members of the Lost Colony?” Jack asked. It still boggled his mind that those people were descendants of the English settlers of Roanoke Island.
“Yes,” Daniel said with a smile. “According to Martin, the story goes that the very first village built in their new location was called Croatoan, named after the island their Governor would find them had they stayed on Earth. The thing that clinches it though, is the fact that a girl born in every generation of Martin’s family is named Virginia, after the very first settler born in the new country, as Martin had called it.”
“Virginia Dare,” Jack supplied, having realized it before Daniel finished speaking. He hated to admit it, but he was just as fascinated with this subject as Daniel was and his mind was full of questions that begged to be answered. The trick was to act cool so that Daniel wouldn’t realize it.
“Virginia Dare,” Daniel repeated smugly. “The first white child born in America. The fact that she was Governor White’s granddaughter and the wife of White Wolf guaranteed their descendants would be the leaders of their new home.”
“They are not as technologically advanced as we have become,” Carter said, before Jack could even ask one of the questions on his mind. “They still cling to the old ways of their ancestors, with evidence of both English and Native American cultures showing up everywhere. It’s pretty interesting to see how they combined their traditions and learned to live as one group, while the two cultures here on Earth are separated and distrustful of each other.”
“Were there any doohickeys for you to bring back to study?” Jack asked, knowing Carter would have begged to bring it back if she had to.
“No,” she said with a grimace and a shake of her head. “I did try to get them to let me study a weapon they’ve devised that actually kills the locairn, but Martin insisted that they needed it for protection. “
“Bummer,” Jack said, feeling her disappointment. Weapons were on the top of his ‘gaining new technologies’ list.
“Yes sir,” she replied, trying to stifle a yawn. “My thoughts exactly.”
“What about the communications problem,” Jack asked, deciding to speed things up so that he could send Carter home to sleep for a week, knowing full well she’ll be back in her lab by tomorrow, come hell or high water.
“I’ve not been able to analyze the data that we’ve collected sir,” she responded. “I’ll work on that this afternoon and let you know…”
“No you won’t Colonel,” Jack interrupted. “You and the rest of your team are going to get some much needed rest. That information will be here when you get back.”
“But sir…” Jack just stared at her with determination and she backed down. “Yes sir,” she said reluctantly.
“Go home and sleep,” he told them, but aimed his words at Carter. “I’ll see you in a couple of days.”
Carter nodded while Daniel opened his mouth to protest, but Jack was having none of it. “Go,” he demanded, and was pleased to see them finally give in and leave the room. He didn’t know for how long, but at least he’d won for the time being.
It wasn’t until he was settled back in his office that he realized he hadn’t gotten an answer to what the minor problem had been. He supposed he would have to wait for the written reports to find out. It couldn’t have been too bad, he rationalized, otherwise they would have surely told him about it. At least he hoped that was the case.
The Stargate stood at the top of the ramp, like a sentry watching over the goings on in the Gate room, control room, and even the briefing room where Mac stood watching that particular piece of technology spring into life. He wanted to be down in the control room with Jack, but his presence was so distracting to the personnel there that Jack finally sent him up to the briefing room to watch the show.
He watched in awe as the wormhole activated. He had a rudimentary idea of what made it work, as Jack had given him the basics and Mac’s educational background filled in a lot of holes. He was looking forward to talking with Sam Carter to get the full story.
He watched as the members of SG-1 stepped out of the wormhole and walked down the ramp. Mac was still amazed at the thought that they were coming back from a mission on another planet. What he wouldn’t give to go on one of those missions.
Mac smiled as he saw Jack enter the Gate room and greet Sam, Daniel and Teal’c. They apparently had a successful mission, as Daniel suddenly smiled at Jack and handed him something. Jack took the object, then put his hand on Daniel’s shoulder to lead him out of the room. Mac could see the smile on Jack’s face when he’d turned toward the door.
He continued to stare out of the window, his attention drawn back to the Stargate. He’d had to call in all kinds of markers and pulled a lot of strings to get back into this facility. Jack was being a stubborn ass and Mac finally got tired of begging and started calling on old friends and acquaintances to get the permission. Mac personally couldn’t see what the problem was with him being there, he had signed all the necessary paperwork the day he had snuck in there impersonating General O’Neill. He’d already had a high security clearance before he even heard of the Stargate program, it was just a minor technicality that the clearance had been given to him years before and may not be valid since he had quit the Phoenix Foundation. He was determined that this little fact wouldn’t deter him in gaining access to Cheyenne Mountain.
It was Jack who had insisted that Mac didn’t need to be there, his reasoning being that he didn’t want to publicize his private life. This caused Mac to remember Jack’s reluctance to talk about himself that very first day they had met, but finding out about the Stargate and the multitude of planets that these people visited on a daily basis was way too fascinating and had Mac’s curious nature humming. So here he was, almost two weeks after that little excursion of rescuing Lindsay, standing in the briefing room at the SGC waiting for Jack to find the time to give him the grand tour.
The grand tour was going to include a trip to the Alpha site. Mac was looking forward to going through the Gate and he found himself remembering the look on Jack’s face when he was told by the President of the United States that Mac was authorized to make the trip. Jack may have the upper hand here at Stargate Command, but he clearly underestimated Mac’s wield in Washington. All those years of helping Congressmen and Senators with their individual problems had certainly paid off.
Mac grimaced as he remembered the events leading up to that call. Jack had met him at the entrance to personally take him down to Level 28. He’d wanted to make sure that the personnel at the various checkpoints throughout the facility saw that there were two of them and to make sure that they never allowed Mac to sneak in there again. Mac was pissed when he’d found out that the guards who had let the wrong man go through had been reprimanded for their misdeeds. “How were they supposed to know I wasn’t you when your own best friends couldn’t tell the difference?” he had snarled at Jack. “Are they supposed to scrutinize your signature every time you sign something?”
“That’s beside the point,” Jack responded defensively. “These checkpoints were set up for a reason and they know better than to let their guard down, considering what goes on in this place.”
“I see,” Mac said. “I suppose they all know that an alien could walk in anytime. Does that happen a lot?”
“You are not an alien,” Jack said, as if that was the end of the subject.
Mac was not military though and Jack’s dismissal had no affect on him. “It was not their fault Jack,” he insisted, trying to get through Jack’s thick skull. “We look exactly alike and I was wearing your clothes. How could you expect them to know the difference?”
Jack stopped to stare at him at that point. “I thought I had recognized that shirt!” he exclaimed, pointing a finger at Mac, then gave him a calculating look before turning to continue walking down the corridor.
“Look Mac. It’s not worth arguing over. I had to do something to make sure that never happens again. End of story.”
“What makes you think it will happen again? I have full clearance, thanks to some old friends. I don’t need to impersonate you.”
“First of all, I didn’t know you were going to get full clearance and secondly, you’re not the only…” Jack stopped himself, apparently to keep from saying too much.
“I’m not the only what?” Mac asked him, intrigued.
Jack just shook his head. “Nothing,” he muttered.
“C’mon Jack. You might as well tell me. I’m not the only what?” Jack stared at him and Mac could see he was debating whether he should finish his sentence. “Well?” Mac prompted.
“You hungry?” Jack asked, deciding to act like he hadn’t said anything. “We can stop at the commissary to see what they have cooked up.”
“You’re not going to answer me are you?” Mac asked suspiciously.
Jack shrugged his shoulders and pulled his security card out of his pocket to access the elevator. “You’d better sign the visitor’s roster,” he said, pointing to the clipboard sitting on the desk next to the elevator. “Your own name,” he insisted as an afterthought.
“General Jonathan O’Neill,” Mac said slowly, as he signed his own name onto the roster. He looked up at Jack to see him scowling at his joke. Mac gave him a broad smile before stepping into the elevator. Two can play at this game, he thought.
“Very funny,” Jack said dryly, as he pushed the button for the 28th level.
“I thought so,” Mac replied. They rode down through the facility in silence for a while. Mac was waiting for Jack to say something and decided to speak up when he didn’t. “I’m really anxious to see the Alpha site,” he said nonchalantly. “I can’t believe that I’m actually going to get to go through the Stargate.”
“You’re not going to go through the Stargate,” Jack said, trying to hide his surprise. Mac saw it clearly and realized that he had found some more ammunition for this game.
“Yes I am,” he declared with a smile. “Didn’t they tell you?”
“Nobody told me anything and how is it you know about the Alpha site?”
Mac just shrugged and looked toward the elevator doors as they opened. They got out and Jack led the way toward his office. “You must know a lot of people in high places,” Jack said as they walked down the hallway.
“Yeah,” Mac replied. “From what I hear, your contacts go even higher. I mean, an impromptu barbecue at the White House?”
“Well, you know how it is,” Jack said, looking a little embarrassed. “The President and I were discussing the finer points of cooking over a grill, and well… you know.”
“No I don’t,” Mac said, staring at Jack. He had heard rumors about Jack from a few of the people he had gone to for help in getting back into the SGC. Saving Earth from an alien enemy seemed like a good enough reason to be barbecuing with the President.
Jack just shrugged and led the way into his office, gesturing for Mac to take a seat. “So when do I get to go to the Alpha site?” Mac asked, wanting to get the important stuff rolling.
“Well, let me see,” Jack said impatiently. “The next train to the Alpha site leaves in about… oh, twenty years. Come back then.”
“I’m going to the Alpha site Jack,” Mac insisted with a knowing look on his face.
“Why do you want to go to the Alpha site?” Jack asked. “There’s nothing there, but buildings and soldiers. Nothing exciting. Really.”
“I want to go through the Stargate and I was told that the Alpha site would be my best bet, not to mention easier to get permission to go to. So I’m going to the Alpha site.”
“Who’s been feeding you all this information?” Jack asked, as the phone rang. He stared at the phone for a few seconds, then turned to Mac who shrugged and grinned at his brother, not bothering to speak.
Jack picked up the phone and said, “O’Neill.” He listened for a second, then said, “Hey Mr. President. Long time, no hear. How are things in your neck of the woods?” He turned to stare at Mac, his features set in a wooden mask as he listened to the President. “I told you it would work. The fish love that kind of stuff.” Mac was starting to feel a little uncomfortable with Jack staring at him like that, no expression showing through at all. “He’s sitting in my office right now,” Jack admitted and Mac suddenly found the pictures and certificates on the wall fascinating. “The Alpha site,” Jack said, in a voice that had Mac worrying for his own safety. He glanced back at Jack to find that his twin was still looking at him with that indecipherable look on his face. “Yes sir, I understand.” More silence then Jack said, “I will, just as soon as he shows his face back in this galaxy.” Thor? Mac wondered. “Yes sir. Goodbye sir.”
Mac waited for Jack to say something after he’d hung up the phone, anything. Jack just sat there, not saying a thing and Mac had the sudden urge to get up and run. This was a new side to the brother he never knew he had, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to get to know this part of Jack’s personality.
“The President?” Mac asked, then realized how lame that sounded. Jack nodded, still staring at him and Mac realized that Jack was planning on killing him. At least that was what it seemed like. The silence was getting to him, though. “Can I assume that I’ll be going through the Gate?”
“Let’s get this tour underway, shall we?” Jack said, getting up from his chair and walking around the desk to stand next to the door. “There really isn’t that much to see, but I’ll make an effort to spice it up a little. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see the isolation rooms in the infirmary.”
Mac stood up, but stayed where he was. He wanted to push the subject, but something told him to back off on this topic, so he stood there, watching Jack warily.
“Well? What’s the hold up?” Jack asked, “You obviously know some pretty important people just to get back in here, now you don’t want the tour?”
“I want the tour,” Mac said quietly. He was determined to stand his ground. Jack was going to try intimidation, he saw that clearly, but he wasn’t about to let the General get away with it. “The full tour, which includes a trip through the Stargate.”
“Who did you have to go through to get the permission?” Jack asked.
“I was very good at what I did for a living,” Mac replied. “Still am, by the way. Senators, judges and other powerful people in Washington were prime targets for kidnappers, terrorists and other groups, and they called on me to help them with their problems. I only had to call in about half the markers I have out there for this.”
“It pays to have friends in high places?”
“Well, I’ve yet to help out an alien supreme commander,” Mac said with a smile, hoping to ease the tension that had been building between them.
“They named a ship after me,” Jack said smugly. Mac was glad that Jack seemed to be calming down, but he wondered how long this would last.
“Sweet!” Mac said, impressed. “Thor must like you a lot to do that.”
“Yeah,” Jack responded.
The two men stood in silence for a few minutes and Mac wondered if he should approach the subject now or wait until later. He was too anxious to wait until later, so he mentally gathered the strength and courage he needed to just get it out there. “What about the Stargate and the Alpha site?” he asked.
“I’ll arrange it,” Jack said, then walked out the door leaving Mac standing there.
“When?” Mac asked, deciding to follow his twin out of the office. He didn’t get an answer as the base klaxons blared and an announcement was made that an off-world activation had been established. Mac knew this meant that someone was trying to contact the SGC and he followed Jack to the control room.
They got there just as the third chevron lit up and the iris was closed to keep out any unwanted visitors. Mac tried to stay in the background while Jack waited for the IDC code to come through, but the others kept staring at him and Jack finally sent him to the briefing room to watch the show from there, which is why Mac was still standing at the window in the briefing room waiting for his brother to make his appearance.
He wondered what was keeping Jack, knowing that SG-1 had to make the obligatory trip to the infirmary. According to Jack, all teams had to visit that place when they got back from a mission. Mac decided to sit it out and wait a little longer for Jack before going off to look for him.
Jack finally made an appearance almost an hour later with the announcement that he was ready to get on with the tour. It was about time as far as Mac was concerned. He didn’t “do” frustration very well and Jack was about to see Mac’s dark side. Well, as dark as he could get, he thought with a grin, knowing that he didn’t “do” mean and nasty too well either.
The tour ended in the Gate room and Mac wondered if this meant that Jack was going to give him the go ahead to walk through the Stargate. He looked over at his brother, who was staring at him expectantly. “What?” he asked, wondering what was going through Jack’s mind.
“Why do you really want to go through that thing?” Jack asked, as he indicated the Stargate with a wave of his hand.
Mac turned to stare at the Gate as he thought about what really motivated him into stepping through it. He had a hundred reasons for wanting to go, but he knew the main reason was that he had been, and always would be, a man of action. He loved the adventure and the danger that had come with his job as a Special Field Agent with both the DXS and the Phoenix Foundation. Even now, he had to get himself out of one problem or another as he put his skills to use for the people who hired him on occasion.
There was also the chance of actually going somewhere he had never dreamed of going to. He had traveled all over the world twice over, and here was the opportunity to visit a whole new world, a whole new planet. It was the trip of a lifetime and he was determined to make it, even if it meant alienating his new-found brother.
The trip to the Alpha site would probably be tame compared to some of the other planets the Stargate went to, but Mac figured he’d be happy with whatever he could get. “I have traveled all over this world,” he said. “I’ve seen things and met people in places most people only dream of. Now I have the chance to go to a place that I’ve only just recently found out existed - a place that I could only imagine is out there." He sighed, realizing that he wasn’t being very articulate in expressing his desires. “I have to do this Jack.”
“Will tomorrow morning be soon enough for you?” Jack asked. Mac grinned and nodded his head. “Good,” Jack continued. “Carter said she’d be happy to go with you so that you two can talk Wormhole Physics to your hearts content, but she just got back. She needs some downtime before she heads back out there.”
“Thanks Jack,” he said, trying to tamp down his excitement. He was actually going to go off-world! “I really appreciate this.”
“Just do me a favor and don’t get yourself killed,” Jack said as he turned to lead the way out. “I’d have a hell of a time trying to convince the President that I wasn’t the one to do the honors.”
“Not to mention having to explain it to Lanie,” Mac said, then laughed when Jack rolled his eyes heavenward.
“God forbid!” Jack said sarcastically, although his grin matched his brother’s. They continued to walk out of the room and Mac couldn’t resist taking a last look at the Stargate standing there in all its glory. He was so ready to go.
Mac stepped out of the Stargate the next morning to find himself in another room. This room was different from the one he’d just left at the SGC, although the soldiers who were aiming their weapons at him was his first clue that he was in American occupied territory, even if he was on another planet. He stood there, trying to orient himself to his new surroundings and to get his bearings. The commander of the Alpha site came up to him and gave him a salute. “Good to see you again, General O’Neill,” he said. “To what do we owe this honor?”
“Uh… I’m not the General,” Mac said, holding out his hand in greeting. “My name’s MacGyver. Glad to meet you… I’m sorry, I didn’t catch the name.”
“Colonel Pierce,” Sam said. “This is the General’s brother. You were informed that he would be coming here today, weren’t you?”
“Yes of course,” Pierce replied. “I just didn’t realize that he would look just like the General. Welcome Mr. MacGyver,” he finally said, giving up on trying to fix his mistake. “I hope you enjoy your visit.”
“I’m sure I will,” Mac said. He turned to Sam and saw her smiling at him.
“Are you ready?” she asked.
“You’d better believe it,” he said, smiling back at her. “I want to see everything.”
Mac followed her as she took him through the building, showing him the labs and the rest of the facility. But the best part of the tour, in Mac’s eyes, was when they went outside to tour the outlying buildings. The first thing he noticed was the sky. The color rivaling that of the sky on Earth, but the fact that he could see the moon above the treetops even in broad daylight, told him he was definitely on another planet.
This was what life was all about, experiencing new things, taking chances and visiting new places. Mac knew that there would always be something new for him to tackle, but for now, he was content to have visited a different planet, walked along the man-made paths and met people who were natives of a place he could never have imagined if it weren’t for a new-found brother. He knew that this was probably his last visit to an off-world station, but he figured this trip was well worth it. Nothing was ever going to top this.
The afternoon sun cast a golden tint to the landscape when Jack pulled into the parking lot of a motel in Mission City, Minnesota. He had arranged to meet Mac and his family there so that they could visit the grave of his biological mother and her husband before traveling on to Jack’s cabin which was still over a hundred miles away.
Jack was so looking forward to a hot shower and a comfortable bed after two days of driving. He had taken a few weeks off in order to make this trip, knowing he needed the vacation more to relax and get away from the demands of his job than to meet up with Mac. But he also relished the thought of seeing his brother again. There was still a lot of catching up to do and Jack was looking forward to seeing his brother and to visit with their father for the first time in over thirty years.
He got out of the truck and grabbed his bags. The motel had a homey feel to it and Jack appreciated the atmosphere as he walked into the office.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” the clerk behind the counter said before Jack could utter a word. “Angus MacGyver. How in the world are you?”
“It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?” the clerk continued, then proceeded to share memories of incidents Jack couldn’t possibly remember. Jack tried unsuccessfully to stop him several times, then had to smile when the clerk finally stopped in mid-memory to gape at Mac, who had stepped inside the motel office to get a room for his family. Mac took it all in with just a glance then smiled at his old friend before saying, “Hey Johnny, you still here? I figured you’d be long gone by now, maybe living in Florida or something. Where’s Lisa?”
The clerk continued to gape and Jack wanted to congratulate Mac on actually being able to stop the guy’s prattle. From the moment he had stepped into the office, Jack hadn’t been able to get a word in edgewise. Mac was enjoying himself immensely though and he turned to Jack to say, “You look familiar. Do I know you?”
It was Jack’s turn to gape at Mac before grinning evilly at his brother when he realized what Mac was doing. “Not that I know of,” he replied as he turned to the clerk. “Do you have a room?”
“Holy cow!” Johnny exclaimed, as he stared at the twins standing in front of him. “MacGyver? Is that you?”
“Yep,” Mac confirmed, as he reached out a hand toward his old friend. “How are you doing Johnny?”
“Fine, just fine,” Johnny said absently. He was still staring at the two of them and he almost choked when both men asked, “What about a room?” at the exact same time.
Jack turned to grin at Mac, who in turn smiled back at him before saying, “You sure I don’t know you?”
“Ever been to Colorado?” Jack asked, knowing that Johnny was hanging onto every word.
“I was there just a few months ago,” Mac replied. “Oh I remember now, you were the one who helped me get my daughter back. How could I forget?”
“You were the one who tried to impersonate me.”
“And did a damned good job of it too,” Mac insisted.
“What are you talking about? You got caught!”
“Only because you showed up. I had them all thinking I was you.”
“They would have caught on soon enough.”
“No they wouldn’t.”
“Yes they would.”
“Daniel was already suspicious.”
“Daniel was sick.”
“Gentlemen,” Johnny finally found his voice and the ability to figure out that the two men standing in front of him knew each other. “I hate to break up this reunion, but will one of you tell me what the hell is going on here?”
“I’m here to get a room,” Jack replied with a trace of anger. Mac could be so aggravating.
“Me too,” Mac said, as he smiled at Johnny. “How have you been old man?”
“Who you calling an old man?” asked Johnny, having apparently collected his wits and was gearing up to go into another long-winded memory. “I’m a year younger than you and still managed to show you up at the hockey rink. Remember that time…”
“Do you have a room or not?” Jack interrupted, getting more aggravated by the minute. “I’ve been on the road for two days now and all I want to do is find some food and a hot shower. Is that too much to ask?” he asked the clerk.
“Well no,” the clerk admitted, his expression still showing his confusion. “I was hoping one of you would tell me about the resemblance, though. How come you guys look alike?”
“Long lost twin brother,” Mac answered, surprising Jack so much that he was back to gaping at his twin again. This was yet another thing that was so different about the two men. Jack was an intensely private man. He would never have thought to voluntarily give out that information to anyone, yet here was Mac telling the world as if it were a natural event.
“Seriously?” asked Johnny, his eyes wide as he took in both men. “How did that happen?”
“Do you really want him to go into detail about how twins are genetically formed?” Jack asked, his anger growing by leaps and bounds.
“No, I meant…”
Jack was saved from punching Johnny in the face at that moment when a woman came into the office from the back room and let out a squeal that hurt his ears. She continued the squealing as she came around the counter, her arms spread wide and heading straight for Jack, causing him to step back in panic before she spotted Mac and stopped in her tracks, confusion taking the place of her smile.
“Lisa!” Mac exclaimed with a wide smile, as he went up to the woman and put his arms around her to give her a hug. “Just as beautiful as ever. How are you?” he asked, as he let her go to get a better look at her.
“Mac? Is it you?” Lisa asked, as she turned to look at Jack.
Jack felt a chill go down his spine at her words, but refused to dwell on the reason for it. “What about that room?” he asked Johnny, as Mac nodded at Lisa.
“It’s me. I’m the handsome one,” Mac insisted as he pulled her into another hug. “It’s good to see you two again.”
“Smoking or non-smoking?” Johnny asked, just as Lanie and the kids walked into the office.
“That’d better be Jack hugging another woman,” Lanie said as she glared at her husband. Jack was more than happy to tell her that it wasn’t although he figured she already knew the answer, but Mac beat him to it.
“Lanie, come meet some old friends of mine,” he said, as he turned to his wife. “This is Lisa and Johnny Barrington…”
“They went to school together,” Jack added, hoping they would notice that he was still standing there without a key to a room.
“This is my wife, Melanie,” Mac continued, totally ignoring Jack. “And these two here are our children, Lindsay and Pete.”
“Non-smoking,” Jack said to Johnny. “Although I would take anything you have right now. I’m really, really tired.” He smiled when Johnny nodded at him and punched some keys on the computer.
“Nice to meet you all,” Lisa said, while her husband typed away on a keyboard. Jack knew total frustration at that point when Johnny stopped typing to smile at Lanie.
“Nice to meet you Lanie,” Johnny said. “Your husband and I go way back. Why, I remember a time when…”
“Will you just give me the key to a room already?” Jack demanded, having reached the end of what little patience he harbored. “You guys can reminisce to your heart’s content after I leave.”
Johnny glared at Jack before going back to the computer keyboard, while Lisa stared at him in shock and Lanie and the kids rolled their eyes. Jack didn’t care at that point; all he wanted was to get settled in for the night. He looked over at Mac who was grinning at him, but turned his attention back to Lanie when she said apologetically, “He’s a General. He’s used to people dropping everything to do what he says the minute he says it.”
What is with these people, Jack thought as he stared at his sister-in-law in amazement. Between her and Mac, the Barrington’s will know every little detail in Jack’s whole life before they leave town tomorrow. He was starting to appreciate the fact that he’d been an only child all these years. At least he’d never had someone broadcasting his entire life story to the world when it was just him.
He turned his attention back to Johnny wondering whether he was going to get a room or not, then stiffened when Lanie came up to him and put her hand on his arm. “I’m sorry Jack,” she said quietly. “I didn’t mean anything bad by that remark.”
“I’m just tired,” he said, wondering if he would screw it up if he tried to explain to her what was really bothering him. “It was a long trip and we still have a long way to go before we get to my cabin.”
Lanie continued to watch him, giving him a small smile to let him know that she could relate, even though he could tell she didn’t understand. Johnny handed him a printout for him to sign, which Jack was glad to do. It was one step closer to getting a key.
“Hey Uncle Jack,” Lindsay said as she came up to him to give him a hug.
He smiled at her as he hugged her back. “Hey back atcha,” he said.
“Here’s your key,” Johnny said, as he handed a card to Jack. “You’re in room 130. It’s the one at the end of the hallway, there on your left.”
“Thanks,” Jack said, as he reached down to pick up his bag. “See you guys later,” he said as he hurried out of the room, intending to make his getaway as fast as possible. He didn’t relax until he was in his room with the door closed, and even then he worried his family would show up to keep him company. All he really needed was some sleep. He lay down on the bed intending to try to relax, only to fall asleep within minutes.
The cemetery was quiet, being that it was situated just outside of town. The fact that it was the middle of a week guaranteed they would be there by themselves. The townspeople were busy with their weekly routines and no one seemed to notice the little group standing around the gravesite of a few of their own. This was good as far as Jack was concerned. He’d had to endure several instances where people thought he was Mac and insisted on reminiscing about old times.
A marble headstone marked the spot where James and Ellen MacGyver were buried and Jack found himself wondering what they were like as he stood looking down at the gravesite. Although Ellen was his biological mother, she and her husband were complete strangers as far as he was concerned. The only thing he shared in common with them was the fact that they could claim Mac as a close relative.
Jack knew that there really wasn’t anything to be gained from coming here, but he was here anyway. He watched as Lanie stooped down to brush the leaves and grass away, while Mac stood next to Jack, his face showing no emotions whatsoever. Jack was here to pay his respects to a mother he never knew, while his brother battled whatever demons had brought him there in the first place.
Mac stooped down by the headstone and reached out to trace the letters of the names etched into it. Jack knew the grief Mac was dealing with over the death of his parents, even though it had been several decades after their deaths. His own grief over the death of his mother had diminished over the years, but he still experienced the sadness of losing the one person who had loved him unconditionally and left him alone and scared with a father who hated him. At least Mac had a parent who continued to love him long after his father had died.
Thoughts of his father were still bittersweet for Jack. He was glad that they had reunited, but he still harbored anger toward the old man for all the lost years when they could have been closer. His father had never known Charlie, or Sara, for that matter. It was the old man’s loss, Jack figured, but it still bothered him that he never spent any time with Charlie as Jack did with his own grandfather.
A smile graced his features as he thought about Lanie’s view on his grandfather. She was the one who thought it was ironic that the brothers ended up spending the most time with their biological grandfathers, Mac being raised by his mother’s father and Jack spending a lot of time with his paternal grandfather. The fact that their biological parents were both widowed had her practically bouncing off the walls with excitement, claiming that fate had made it clear that Thomas O’Neill and Ellen MacGyver were destined to be together. This, of course, made absolutely no sense to Jack, Mac and everyone else who had the misfortune of hearing it, but Lanie didn’t seem to care. Jack could see where Lindsay got the romanticism from.
Lanie stood up at that moment and smiled at Jack as she wiped the dirt from her hands. Jack smiled back at her, thinking that she was so beautiful. The sun lit up the highlights in her hair while her eyes glistened with tears and he silently congratulated Mac on snagging her. He certainly didn’t envy his brother though. That woman could be such a pain in the ass when she wanted to be. That didn’t matter though because Jack wouldn’t want her to be any other way. He loved her just the way she was, beautiful, bossy, and not the least bit intimidated by her brother-in-law, who had been known to get his way in many situations using the best intimidation techniques in his armory.
Lanie gave him a quizzical look, clearly trying to figure out what he was smiling about in such a cynical way. Let her wonder, he thought as his smile grew wider and he reached out to pull her into a hug. Her efforts at intimidating him didn’t work any more than his did on her. Mac had laughed at them one day when they were at odds with each other, claiming that they had both met their match. Jack silently agreed with him at the time, but he’d be damned if he’d let Lanie know it.
Mac finally stood up and stared out over the cemetery, seeming to be lost in thought. Jack stood there awkwardly, wondering if he should say something. He was never very good at expressing himself in these situations, although he had often tried to in his efforts to help his friends.
“All those years,” Mac said quietly. Jack was saved from having to come up with something in response when Lanie went up to Mac and put her arms around his waist as she buried her face in his shirt. Mac returned the embrace, leaving Jack to definitely feel like the odd man out. He ended up looking back down at the grave and he realized what it was Mac was saying. This woman had probably spent the last years of her life wondering if she had done the right thing in letting her baby go. And more than likely grieving for the child she had given birth to, only to lose him before he was even a few days old.
“I had a good life with my father and adoptive mother,” he said, as he stooped down to touch the headstone. “We were a happy family and my mother loved me as if I were her own.” He stopped then, wondering if he needed to go on, knowing his words were probably falling on deaf ears, literally. “You made the right decision,” he continued, deciding that it needed to be said. “Never think otherwise.”
He stopped at that point, words failing him once again. What could he say to a woman who had given birth to him, only to let him go based on the whims of her husband and the wife of her lover? He could only imagine her loss, as well as her doubts and fears as she wondered if the people who took him would love him and make him happy.
“I had a good life,” he repeated, as he stood up hoping his words helped, if only a little. He looked up from the grave to find both Mac and Lanie watching him, although they were still wrapped around each other. Lanie was smiling at him again, while Mac stared at him with appreciation.
“Thanks,” Mac said with a great deal of feeling. “I know it means a lot to her hearing it from the horse’s mouth.”
Jack nodded, then snarled good-naturedly as he grinned at his brother. “Hey! Who you calling a horse?”
“If the shoe fits,” Mac implied, grinning like a fool.
“Now boys,” Lanie broke in before things really heated up. “This is hardly the time to get into a fight…”
“What’s she talking about?” Jack asked his twin with the most innocent look he could muster up at a moment’s notice.
“Dunno,” Mac responded, trying on his own little halo.
Lanie just glared at them both before giving into her own smile. “See what I have to put up with?” she said to the headstone, as she gestured toward the men wearing identical expressions on their faces. “They’re impossible. Come on you two,” she added. “Are you ready to go?”
“Yes ma’am,” Jack replied.
“Ready when you are,” Mac added. His smile dimmed as he turned toward his parent’s grave. “See you soon,” he told them with a little wave of his hand, then turned to lead the way out of the cemetery.
“Me too,” Jack added before following Mac and Lanie to the road. He stopped at one point and turned back toward the gravesite, wondering if his mind was playing tricks on him. He could have sworn he heard something… He shook his head then and turned back toward his brother and his family, anxious to get started on the drive to his cabin.
Jack loved being at his cabin - he loved the woods, the pond and even the house that could use a lot of work in sprucing it up. But most of all, he loved to sit on the dock at the edge of his pond and spend the day fishing. Nothing was better, in his opinion except of course looking for constellations and stars through his telescopes. He had bought one to use at his cabin so that he wouldn’t have to transport the one he kept at his house when he came to Minnesota.
He was firmly settled into his chair on the dock, flat out refusing to even think about getting up despite the fact that he had a houseful of people staying with him for a few days. They would just have to fend for themselves. He was not going to cater to anyone but himself. This was his vacation, for crying out loud.
He knew that he was setting himself up for some deep disappointment if he believed any of that crap. He had arranged for his father to come to his cabin to meet with Mac and his family, figuring things would go much smoother if the meeting was held in neutral territory. But this meant that his little cabin was overrun with people, while peace and quiet went running into the woods in order to find themselves.
At the moment, peace and quiet had returned – Lanie and her children had gone to town to do some shopping. Jack savored the silence as he cast his line into the pond and began reeling it back in again. It was a monotonous routine, cast and reel, cast and reel, but Jack found serenity in it. It was a soothing routine and he had gotten to the point where his movements were automatic.
He looked up when he heard someone walk up to him. His father looked so old, although he still had a full head of hair. Jack so hoped he had inherited this attribute from his father.
“Pull up a chair old man,” Jack told him. “There’s another fishing pole around here somewhere.”
“I brought my own,” his father said, as he eased himself down into the chair next to Jack’s. “Nice little place you have here,” he added appreciatively.
“Yep,” Jack agreed.
“Any fish in there?”
“That’s my boy,” Tom O’Neill said, with a great deal of pride. “There’s more to fishing than catching something.”
Jack just turned and grinned at his father. He remembered his father saying those very same words to him all those years ago when Jack had caught a whopper of a fish, five times bigger than the one his Dad had caught. At that time though, the words were used to hide his jealousy.
“Words to live by,” Jack said, still grinning at the memory.
“Mind if I join you?” Mac asked, as he walked up behind them.
“Grab a chair,” Jack replied. “There’s another pole around here somewhere.”
“Found it,” Mac said, pulling up a chair and setting it down next to his father. It was a tight squeeze on the dock with the three chairs sitting in a row, but they somehow managed it.
The three sat in silence, casting their lines and reeling them in, enjoying the quiet. Mac, however, wasn’t the type to keep silent for too long, proving once again that twin brothers were never exactly the same.
“I used to go fishing with my grandfather when I was younger,” he said, as he cast his line back into the pond. ”I learned a lot from that old man. Before he left, that is.”
“What about your father?” Tom asked.
“My father loved to fish as well as the next man,” Mac responded. “But it was my grandfather who always seemed to have the time to take me out on the lake.”
“Did your father treat you well?” Tom asked with an intensity that caused both Jack and Mac to stare at him.
“Yeah,” Mac finally said, his emotions firmly tucked behind a mask that Jack had been accused of wearing way too much. Jack tried, but couldn’t determine if Mac was mad or what. “He was a great father,” Mac added with a great deal of enthusiasm. “He loved me and my mother very much.”
“Good,” Tom said with relief. “I have to admit I had worried about that over the years.”
Mac didn’t respond, he just sat there casting out his line again and reeling it back in. He was definitely angry, Jack decided, as he watched Mac reel the line back in. He kept his silence though, hoping things wouldn’t deteriorate between the three of them - or at least between Mac and his father. Jack knew from experience how that would turn out.
Silence has been known to heal scarred emotions, and this time was no exception. Apparently Mac used the silence to think through their words and come to the realization that Tom O’Neill meant no disrespect toward the man who had raised one of his sons. He had just worried about that son, based on a preconception that most people harbored when it came to men raising a son from a wife’s liaison with another man. It was common knowledge that most men would hate the child.
“My father was a free-spirited man,” Mac told them. “My grandfather used to compare him to the hippies, although my father never really joined up with that group of people. But he believed in the ‘make love, not war’ issues and I think that is why he accepted me for who I was, an innocent child who had no say so in who fathered me. He was a good man,” he continued, his features finally softening as he thought about his father, “And I loved him dearly.”
“For what it’s worth,” Tom said, “I am glad that you and your mother had him there with you.”
“Yeah, me too,” Mac agreed, as he turned toward the water and threw his line back out into it.
“So,” Tom said as he reeled his line in, “What do you do for a living Mac?”
“He was a spy,” Jack jumped in with a half truth, hoping to ease some of the tension between them.
“I was not a spy,” Mac declared defensively. “I just went in and got people out of whatever predicament they found themselves in.”
“Did you have to sneak in to get those people out of ‘whatever predicament they found themselves in’?” Jack asked in an effort to prove his point.
“If it was just a matter of walking in and taking them home, they wouldn’t have needed me,” Mac said in exasperation.
“He had to sneak in,” Jack nodded conspiratorially to his father. “He was a spy.”
“I was not a spy,” Mac insisted, as he glared at Jack. “Other people did the spying, I just took the information they gave me and went in to get the job done.”
“At the risk of getting yourself killed,” Jack continued with a grin.
“Okay, I get the idea,” Tom said to put a stop to the bickering. “I feel like I’m at a tennis match. You know, the ones they show on TV. All those people with their heads going back and forth, it’s a wonder they don’t get headaches.”
“You watch those things?” Jack asked in surprise, as he wondered just what his father had been up to all those years.
“Hell no!” his father answered emphatically. “The second wife did. Never did see what all the fuss was about.”
“Not much action going on,” Mac agreed, staring at Jack with a puzzled look. Jack had been thinking about the beating he got because of his step-mother and the anger must have showed in his features.
His father noticed it as well, “Hockey was always my sport,” he said in an obvious attempt at changing the subject. “I used to play when I was a kid.”
“Taught me everything I know,” Jack said, as he pushed the memories aside. No use rehashing the old stuff.
“I was pretty good at it myself,” Mac said smugly. “Just one more thing we have in common.”
“What other things do you have in common?” Tom asked.
“We both fell into the same line of work, even if my job was outside the military,” Mac replied. “Most of my work was highly classified and I know for a fact that Jack’s whole career was deemed highly classified.” This was said with a smirk sent toward Jack, who squelched a desire to wipe that smirk off his twin’s face.
“You don’t know anything,” Jack snarled. “I have a whole file of information on this guy,” he told his father. “I’ll send it to you when I get back.”
“A General and a spy,” Tom said, grinning at Jack. “Who would have thought it?”
“Oh for crying out loud,” Mac groused, causing Jack to stare at Mac in surprise. “For the last time, I wasn’t a spy.” Both Jack and his father were staring at Mac with huge grins on their faces and Mac finally figured out that they were both kidding around. He smiled back at them and went back to the task of reeling in his line.
“You should ask him how he put his scientific degree to work on rescuing those people,” Jack said to his father. “I’m sure he’ll be more than happy to tell you all about setting up a laptop computer to ‘rig’ a phone trace, using a car battery to set off a distraction for the bad guys and defusing bombs with paper clips.”
“Paper clips,” Mac repeated. “Between you and Lanie… You know, I can always tell him about using chocolate bars to stop a toxic leak,” Mac added spitefully.
“Chocolate?” Jack asked, suddenly wishing he hadn’t brought this subject up. His thoughts went back to a conversation he’d had with Carter the day after Mac got back from the Alpha site. She had been impressed with Mac’s knowledge of wormhole physics and how he was able to temporarily fix a generator using some duct tape and a few odds and ends that were lying around. Jack had immediately went in search of the requisition for the new part needed to permanently fix that generator just so that he could put an expedite stamp on it.
“Chocolate?” Tom asked his long-lost son. “Really?” Jack could see pride swelling in his father’s eyes and he had to smile. His father had not only gained another son, but he had someone else to brag about to his friends, if he had any, that is.
“Really,” Mac responded humbly, as he turned back to stare out at the pond.
The three men sat in silence again and Jack realized that there was a feeling of contentment among them. It was nice sitting there with his father and his brother, fishing in a pond that hadn’t spawned a fish in God knows how many years, and relaxing as they listened to the occasional splash when their bobbers hit the water. Jack was suddenly glad that he had a houseful of people because it meant that his family was slowly, but surely bonding together. He wished that his mother and Charlie could be there, along with Mac’s parents, and if he was honest with himself, Sara. But he knew that time moved on no matter what, taking relationships and tragedies right along with it and he’ll just be grateful for whatever he could get.
For now, he had his father and his twin brother sitting on the dock at his cabin. All three of them had a lot of catching up to do and a whole week to do it. Things could get very interesting, Jack thought, as he cast his line toward the water. Very interesting.