Major General George Hammond hurried towards the tunnel entrance into the SGC. He hadn't been back here since he'd been recalled to Washington DC and that seemed a decade ago. The last thing he knew was that Doctor Weir had replaced him, Jack O'Neill, his second in command had the knowledge of the Ancients downloaded into his brain, Vice President Kinsey was on his way here and Anubis was hovering over the Earth. He'd been ordered to DC then on to the Prometheus as its Commander. He was anxious to get back to check on his friends and his family...both of them.
As soon as he hit the door, George knew there was something wrong. The S.F.s at the gate were subdued and the halls were almost vacant. The one person that he'd expected to meet him with open arms and a shit-eating grin was not there. He had a really bad feeling well up from his belly.
As he strode through the familiar hallways, people quietly welcomed him. He forced a smile and nodded congenially to everyone who called out a greeting to him. But there was something missing. SG-1 was nowhere to be seen.
Master Sergeant Siler was hurrying down the hall but he stopped immediately upon seeing his General. "Sir! Welcome back!"
"Thank you, Sergeant." George stopped and shook his hand. "Can you tell me what's going on?"
Siler looked down at him unhappily. "I guess you haven't heard...."
"No, son. I just got back." He sighed and bit the bullet. "What's happened?"
"It's SG-1, Sir."
"I know they were involved in the fighting in a Gould Teltac...."
"Yes, Sir." Siler nodded. "Doctor Jackson found the place they were looking for...in Antarctica. From what I've heard, the Colonel was able to activate the defense mechanism that was there and he was responsible for blowing them up."
Hammond nodded. "Yes, I know that part, we were covering their ship until he got that done. But I don't know what happened next."
Siler looked uncomfortable, like he knew that he shouldn't be the one telling the General this ...someone else higher up should be doing it; but no one else had. "Uh, well, Sir..."
"Spit it out, son. It won't get any easier for hemming and hawing."
"No, Sir...well, you see, uh, the Colonel didn't make it back."
"What?" Though he wasn't surprised exactly, it still seemed unimaginable.
"Colonel O'Neill, he's still there...in Antarctica. He's in some sort of stasis field." Siler shook his head miserably. "They had to leave him there."
"But he's not dead?" George sucked in his breath. "God damn it to hell, man!"
"No, Sir. They think...well, they hope they can find a way to bring him back."
"Where are they...the rest of SG-1?"
"Mister Teal'c is in his quarters right now. He`s been everywhere the past couple of days, helping fix things, training, teaching. He's been a huge help...without the Colonel around. " The Sergeant shook his head. "Major Carter's gone home. Doctor Fraiser's daughter is staying with her, so..."
George nodded slowly. He knew that Cassie would need Sam now too. Jack was the closest thing the girl had to a father. Then he asked the next obvious question. "Where's Doctor Jackson?"
Siler looked at the General thoughtfully. "You know, Sir, I can't say." He replied softly. "I haven't seen him since they got back from Antarctica."
Crap! George knew...he knew right where Daniel was. "Thank you, Sergeant. I know you're busy with repairs. Keep up the good work."
"Yes, sir. Thank you. It's good to see you again." Siler nodded and hurried off to finish his errands.
George Hammond headed to his old office for a meeting with Doctor Weir. Then he had another office to visit. He knew that Daniel Jackson had only listened to four people in the time he'd known him. His father-in-law Kasuf was gone, Janet Fraiser was dead, Jack was in suspended animation and then there was him.
George made his way down the level 17. There just as he suspected, Doctor Jackson's office cum library had its door closed. But, there was a light seeping through the crack at the bottom of it. He knocked firmly on the door's gray metal surface so he couldn't be ignored. After a long minute, it opened.
Daniel Jackson looked bad. His hair was unkempt, his skin pasty, his eyes bleary and he smell of sweat and neglect. He looked at Hammond as if it took a moment to place his face.
"Oh, General, I'm sorry...come on in." Daniel stepped back out of the way so his old commander could come in.
Hammond entered the room, taking in its untidiness. There were books strewn about randomly, lying open on the desk, piled on the floor and stacked haphazardly on the couch and chair. There were old dining hall trays lying around with stale half-eaten sandwiches and candy bar wrappers...lots of candy bar wrappers. There was also the smell of coffee in the air, very strong coffee.
"How are you doing, Doctor Jackson?"
"Fine, I'm fine." Daniel answered much too quickly for George's satisfaction. "I'm, uh a little tired but busy...you know... really busy."
"What are you working on?" The General pressed.
"Uh, well, you know about Jack..." Hammond nodded on cue. "Well, uh, actually, I...I'm working on a translation of the symbols that we found at the Ancient's cave, you see." Daniel went to his desk and sorted maniacally through some papers and notebooks finally pulling up a legal sized pad of yellow paper. "You see, if I can get this translation I think I can read the inscription that will tell us...uh, what to do about Jack."
Hammond nodded, gently encouraging the younger man.
"I know that with the proper information that I can determine what is needed to reactivate the stasis chamber. Once we figure that out, then we can contact the Asgard. Once we do that, well, then we can start to uh, get Jack out and Thor, or maybe...well, someone can tell us what to do." He looked pleadingly at Hammond. "So you can see, um, where I'm going with this."
"Yes, Doctor Jackson, I think I do."
Daniel flashed a quick unguarded smile at the older man. "Oh, well, I'm glad you do...cause, uh, I really think that it's important...you know, to do this." His expression changed to one of worry. "I'm just afraid that if we leave him, uh, too long...in there...you see...that we might not be able to, hum, uh, get him back...to normal, I mean."
"I understand, son." Hammond walked over to stand next to the archaeologist. "I know you're the best man for this job."
"Uh, thank you, General."
"I remember when you found Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter in Antarctica the first time." he patted Daniel on the shoulder, finally leaving his hand there. "I also know that you worked tirelessly to get him back from Edora. So, Doctor Jackson, you've got my vote of confidence." He looked critically up and down the young man. "But...we do have to make a little change here, I think."
Daniel looked up at him in surprise. "A...a ch..change?"
"Yes, son. A change." George still had his hand on Daniel and he slipped it down over the young man's opposite shoulder. "You see, son, I know you pretty well by now. Wouldn't you say?"
Daniel had turned his head to the side to look at Hammond. "Yeeeaas."
"Well, I know that you kinda forget things when you're really working hard." He continued kindly. "Don't you?"
"I'm not sure what you mean." Daniel was beginning to look a little suspicious.
George smiled gently. "Come on, son. You do know...cause I know Jack's told you a hundred times...you have to take care of yourself."
He finally turned Jackson to face him. "Doctor Jackson, you and I both know that you'll work yourself to death to get the Colonel back. I know that, you know that, Major Carter and Teal'c know that...hell, son, Jack knows it too." He locked eyes with Daniel and nodded.
Daniel paused a moment, bowed his head and nodded in return.
"But what happens is you get so wrapped up in your work that you don't do for yourself. Right?" Another nod. "Now, listen to me son. This is important...you need to do that, you need to eat and sleep so you can figure this out quick, right?"
Daniel looked up again, "But General...."
"No, you listen to me now. This sounds mean but it's the truth." George spoke in a firm voice. "You know that Jack O'Neill isn't dead, right?"
"He's safe. They've got all kinds of S.F.s down there guarding his six, right?"
"Well, then. The next thing is for you to work to get him out, right?"
A third nod.
"For that to happen as quickly and as efficiently as possible, you need to get yourself right so you can concentrate."
"But General...I've got to..."
Hammond shook his head and pushed a little vibration through his hands that gripped Jackson's shoulders in their firm grip. "First, you've got to go and get a shower and get cleaned up." Hammond said slowly and calmly. "Then we'll get you something to eat."
"Daniel...you know I'm right." He smiled kindly at the younger man. "Jack would say I'm right, wouldn't he?"
Daniel's face flushed pink as he nodded. He finally looked up at his friend with eyes that were suspiciously moist.
"Here, now you go on down and get a shower. You got me, young man?"
Daniel nodded, there may have been a sniff involved too. "Okay."
"You'll be all right?'
He managed a wan smile in return. "Yes, I'll be all right."
"Go on then, I'll be here when you get back."
Thirty minutes later a much cleaner and sweeter smelling Jackson reentered his office to find the General had carefully stacked his paperwork on the corner of his desk. There were now only two food trays sitting on it, one empty and one full. Hammond was sitting on the couch thumbing through a large book on Egyptology finishing a glass of iced tea. "There you are, son. I must say you do look better." the older man got up from the couch. "I had them bring you up some sandwiches and pie so you could sit in here and eat"
"Thank you, General...you didn't have to..."
"I know, but I also know that it's awfully crowded down in the chow hall now." George smiled. There was no one in the dining hall, it was two thirty in the afternoon but he didn't think Daniel knew what day it was, much less what time.
George sat with him while he ate the two sandwiches and questioned him about the events that had transpired while he had been away in Washington and then on board the Prometheus. He harrumphed at the fanatic actions of Jack as he packed everything in sight and frowned unhappily at O'Neill's loss of language skills. Then when he heard how this friend had for all intents and purposes sacrificed himself again for the success of the battle and the safety of their world; he vowed to move heaven and earth to get his friend his General's star. God knows the man had earned it many times over.
Daniel had finished his sandwiches and had grown quiet. Hammond looked over at him and saw he was staring at the piece of cherry pie.
"What's wrong son?" He asked the younger man softly.
"Nothing. It's just, well, this is Jack's favorite. Before we went to P3X-439, Jack had given Mrs. Johannes's this recipe." He cut a piece of the pie off with the edge of his fork. "It's got a little bit of cinnamon..." Daniel sighed, then looked miserably at his plate."I'm sorry." He finished in a soft voice.
"Daniel, look son, I know this is hard." Hammond laid his hand over Daniel's. "We kinda went through the same sort of thing two years ago when you left us." He sighed deeply. "Jack is such an integral part of the SGC that he leaves a hell of a hole. I could tell something was wrong as soon as I got in the Mountain."
Daniel nodded. "We've lost so much lately."
George knew what the young man was talking about. "You've lost more than most, son. I know that, and I'm sorry. That's the hard part about thisthe loss of good people."
"Sam's been with Cassie since we got back. She's really taking this hard." He looked up at George. "Losing one parent is bad enough but Janet, and now Jack, so close together."
"I know, and I know you had a special relationship with Doctor Fraiser too." He patted the younger man on the back again then allowed it to segue into a loose hug. "Neither of these were your fault. Don't shoulder that burden either. Too much of weight like that will drag you down."
"I just know that I can find a way to fix this to get him back. I can't just leave him there."
"You won't, son. You'll find a way; I know you will, just like you did before. Only take it easy on yourself, okay? We need you, hell, Jack O'Neill needs you to take care of yourself so you can figure this thing out." Hammond released him from his hold and watched Daniel finish the pie then pushed the glass of milk towards him.
Daniel grinned a lopsided grin at him and obediently finished the drink. Hammond stood up to take his leave then looked meaningfully at the couch up against the wall. "Don't forget to get some sleep too, son."
Daniel shook his head. "General, I'm nearly forty years old. I've been taking care of myself for over twenty years."
"Yeah, and Jack O'Neill's been worrying about you for the last eight." Hammond smiled. "And you need to be at your sharpest so you can work it out for Jack." He nodded towards the divan. "We need him back; we need him badly. Get some sleep, Doctor. It'll do you good and when you wake up things will be a lot clearer."
Daniel looked at him for a moment, and then finally nodded. "Okay, if you think it will help. I need him back a lot worse than you know."
George picked up the two now empty trays in preparation to leave. "If you say so, Doctor Jackson, and I know Jack needs you too." He cocked an eyebrow. "Bring him home to us, we're counting on you."
Daniel got up from the desk and was headed for the couch. He turned and looked at the General who had been his Commander and his friend for seven long years of tragedy and occasional triumph. "I will, General Hammond, I will."