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The Whole Rhubarb

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"I'm repressing what?" Jack sputtered.

Dr. MacKenzie looked at him calmly, fingers steepled. "You heard me, General."

Jack whirled around to the chair to his left. "Daniel," he said, eyes narrowing. "Did you put him up to this? Not funny."

"Oh," Daniel wheezed, trying not to laugh, but threatening to blow at any moment, "I don't know. And really, it's an interesting spin to our whole, um...thing. Friendship. Whatever."

"I assure you, General, I am quite serious," Dr. MacKenzie said, in what Jack thought of as his "practicing to be a Goa'uld" voice. MacKenzie sounded a lot like Ra, sometimes, and that was one of the many, many things Jack never mentioned to anyone, especially anyone connected with the SGC medical staff.

"This is not a joke," MacKenzie was saying when Jack tuned in again. "It's not even a far reach. This is a fairly classic situation. And, I might add, a fairly overt one. I've observed this situation first-hand. I believe it's been affecting your working relationship with Dr. Jackson, and your ability to handle your duties at the SGC. And we will be discussing this further, right here, right now."

"Me," Jack said slowly. "Repressing." He didn't look at Daniel. "No," he said, shaking his head. "No, no, no, no, no."

"Yes," MacKenzie said.

"Um, the thing where you keep repeating 'no'?" Daniel added in a stage whisper. "You're kind of making his case for him. About being repressed."

Jack looked imploringly at his dearest friend. His dearest friend raised his eyebrows and shrugged, so Jack went on the attack. "Wait," he said to the not-so-good doctor. "How come you're not accusing Rock Boy here of being repressed?"

"Rock Boy?" Daniel mouthed.

Dr. MacKenzie made a notation on his pad before looking up at Jack. "Dr. Jackson is a very open-minded individual," he pointed out, as though this were a perfectly rational conversation they were all having, right there in Medical Office 2 in the infirmary of the SGC. "Not always open; Dr. Jackson frequently is not forthcoming about his feelings regarding his offworld experiences. He is, however, demonstrably open-minded--"

"Demonstrably?" Jack asked.

"I married an alien," Daniel said with an almost straight face. "And I'm friends with an Unas."

"And has generally passed every mental health assessment with flying colors."

Jack didn't ask about the "generally".

"He has none of your anger management issues, General, nor your blood pressure problems," the doctor continued, unperturbed by the mounting tension in the room. Jack thought that wasn't quite normal. He grabbed a pad and a pen from the doctor's desk and began making his own notations. Hell, he was the general in charge of the SGC -- couldn't he fire MacKenzie's ass if he wanted to?

"Do you have anything to say, General?"

"Yes, Jack," Daniel added, radiating friendly concern. "Is there something you want to say?"

I can fire you, too, Jack thought. He didn't say it, because MacKenzie would just say something about anger, though how the hell he was supposed to--

Wait. That could be it. This could be one of those stress tests the Air Force, in its infinite wisdom, sometimes sprang on its officers.

Or, on the up side, the whole situation could all be an alien-induced hallucination. Not that he'd been having a lot of those, lately, but still, that would explain a lot.

"General?" he heard MacKenzie say. "Is there some reason you're smiling?"

Or...damn. What if he was in a time loop again? He couldn't do this over and over. He wasn't so sure he could do it once.

Without thinking, he launched himself to his feet. "I...I..." he began.

"General--" Dr. MacKenzie countered sternly, and suddenly Jack knew it wasn't an hallucination; knew even Ba'al couldn't come up with this.

And then Daniel, bless him, once again dove in and took the blast meant for Jack. "Doctor, I think you've given the General a lot of think about," he said smoothly. "Given that your interpretation of the situation involves me, maybe it would be better...maybe it would be more productive...if the General and I tried to sort through some of what you've said in a...in a more neutral environment. On our own."

He had MacKenzie with "productive"; Jack could see the shrink caving. Daniel was turning into a hell of a tactician. And Jack could have kissed him for getting them both out of there. Not that that meant...

"I need a drink," he said as Daniel steered him out of the infirmary.

"We're on duty," Daniel said. "You'll have to settle for coffee in the commissary."

And Jack would have settled for anything right then, so he agreed. Not that he would have settled for anything, or that it would, necessarily, be settling, but...

"Uh...no offense, Sir, but you don't look well," Sam observed as Daniel settled Jack and two trays at SG-1's usual table.

"Dr. MacKenzie called the General and Daniel Jackson in for a special psychiatric consultation," Teal'c said.

"Ah," Sam said, poking at her meatloaf as though she suspected it of harboring malign intentions against her team. "I guess the pressures of command are--"

"Nothing, compared to the pressures of being Jack O'Neill," Daniel said, grinning.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Sam asked.

"Daniel..." Jack warned.

But Daniel was well aware he'd just saved Jack's life, and that Jack had seen him do it. "MacKenzie thinks Jack's little bursts of temper, not to mention his rocketing blood pressure, aren't just due to the stresses of running the SGC," Daniel confided.

"Oh?" Sam asked.

"Dr. MacKenzie believes the General is harboring inappropriate feelings for a member of SG-1," Teal'c said. "He believes the conflict engendered by these feelings creates a stressful atmosphere for both the General and the members of SG-1, and that it has done so for some time."

Sam blushed and said, "Oh."

"Dr. MacKenzie has harbored these suspicions since the rhubarb incident," Teal'c went on.

"The rhubarb...?" Sam repeated, looking from one teammate to the other.

Teal'c turned to her. "Dr. MacKenzie was in the commissary one evening when the General was arguing with Dr. Jackson."

Sam frowned. "You're going to have to narrow it down, Teal'c. That could describe almost any evening we've been on base since..." She paused, counting. "Well, forever."

"Indeed," Teal'c said. Jack had already settled his head in his hands, but it wasn't helping. He could hear the squealing tires; knew the wreck was only moments away. Daniel patted his arm consolingly. It helped, which Jack found highly alarming. He kicked Daniel under the table, hard. Daniel yelped and shot back in his chair, sending the luckily-empty coffee cup he'd been holding into a lovely arcing trajectory across the room. It landed with a satisfying crash in front of a Pentagon paper-pusher, who immediately demonstrated that he had brilliant career prospects as a high-jumper, if not as an SGC liaison.

That helped, too, at least until Jack heard Teal'c take up his explanation again.

"The General," Teal'c began.

"The recently-appointed General," Daniel added.

"The recently-appointed General," Teal'c repeated, "told Daniel Jackson..."

"Shouted at Daniel Jackson," Daniel amended.

"Loudly," Teal'c agreed.

"I have to be somewhere in three hours," Sam said.

"Never rub another man's rhubarb," Teal'c said.

Unfortunately, Sam had been drinking a Diet Coke. "What? That's--That's a..." she said after she finished choking. She looked around wildly, before settling her gaze on Daniel. "Oh, uh, sorry."

"It's okay," Daniel said, ineffectually trying to dry his shirt with a few skimpy paper napkins. "Though how you can drink that stuff, I'll never understand."

Jack helpfully provided Daniel with another napkin, only slightly used. His day was taking a real turn for the better. He smiled at Sam. "I was in the right, too," he said.

"About--?" Sam's eyes got impossibly round. "Sir, I had no idea...and I...you must know, you can't...and then, you know, here! In front of Marines!"

"There were no Marines present at the time, Colonel Carter," Teal'c said. "Only General O'Neill, Daniel Jackson, Dr. MacKenzie, and myself. And Dr. MacKenzie had only just entered the room."

"The Marines would have agreed with me, if they'd been there," Jack said.

Daniel had given up on his shirt, and was looking mournfully at his tray, which hosted a puddle of spewed Diet Coke, but no coffee cup. "Well, they're Marines," he said.

"Which means what?' Sam asked. "No, wait. I don't want to ask. I don't want to know." She eyed them all suspiciously. "And I definitely don't want you to tell." She chewed the inside of her lip for a minute. "Well, no, I do. Just...not here."

"Hey, I'm not ashamed," Jack said. "I was right, damn it, and I'll say it anywhere I want."

"Blood pressure, Jack," Daniel cautioned.

"Permanent assignment to the team that digs latrines for our long-term off-world camps, Daniel," Jack said. He was feeling a lot better. Hell, he wouldn't even mind repeating the day. More than once, if it turned out the commissary had some pie left. He smiled at Daniel, who smiled back. "Jack Nicholson," he said to Sam, as though that explained everything.

Sam frowned. "Well, I guess he's attractive, Sir..." she began doubtfully.

"The Joker, Carter," Jack said patiently. "It was a line he said. To Batman."

Sam looked at him as though he'd just suggested the current occupant of the Oval Office had been a Goa'uld since 1998.

"In the movie," Jack said. "The movie, 'Batman'. Daniel thought the line was 'you can't touch another guy's rutabaga.'" He snorted. "Rutabaga! I ask you."

Daniel rolled his eyes. "Excuse me for remembering more about ancient texts than I do about modern American movies. Especially since knowing those texts sometimes saves our lives. Or, you know, the world."

"Hey, you took the bet, fair and square." Jack turned to Teal'c. "And the bet was clearly mentioned during the, um, rhubarb incident. You heard it. You were there."

"It is regrettable that Dr. MacKenzie did not hear the entire discussion," Teal'c said. "And that he was not apprised of its full content prior to drawing his conclusions as to its meaning." And there was no way Jack could call him on it, though he was pretty sure Teal'c was laughing. Or saying "Nyah, nyah!"

"So...a movie," Sam said thoughtfully.

"A movie I believe Dr. MacKenzie has never seen," Teal'c observed.

"A movie is...well...good," Sam said. She looked down at her plate, lining up her fries in what Jack recognized as a classic offensive posture against her poor, unsuspecting meatloaf. "Because, you know," she went on, "that is...well, sex never solved anything."

"You thought we were talking about sex?" Daniel squeaked. It would have been a credible impression of a man shocked to his core, had he not immediately continued, in a voice several tones lower, "You're not going to eat that cake, are you, Sam?"

"Get your own," Sam said, cupping protective hands around her dessert plate.

"I would," Daniel said, "but I had Diet Coke sprayed all over me."

"I fail to see how that would affect your ability to navigate the serving line, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said.

"He's got you there," Jack said.

"Please?" Daniel wheedled. "Pleeease?"

Sam sighed and handed the plate over. Poor Carter, Jack thought. "It could," he said.

"The cake?" Sam asked, trying to figure out where the hell to plug that bit of information into this latest General O'Neill equation.

"Or the rhubarb?" That was Teal'c, who looked as serious about the question as he did about defeating the Goa'uld.

"Depends on...well, who," Jack said. "And where, obviously. But given some of the things we've seen, and some of the reports from...well, never mind."

"Sir...?" Of course, Sam didn't let it go.

"Sex," Daniel interpreted around a mouthful of cake. "Jack apparently feels it can solve some things." He smiled at them all, pleased at being, once again, the brightest boy in the class, and took another bite.

"Sir?" Sam repeated.

"Never mind," Jack said, standing. He waved them off. "Secrets of command, and all that."

"Too bad you can't brush off MacKenzie so easily," Daniel said, licking his fork.

"Oh, I have an idea about him," Jack said. "I'm going to have him spend a day with each of you. See what you go through. What you make me go through. And then I'm going to invite him to team night."

"Our team night?" Sam was aghast. "Well, won't that be fun."

"Let me guess," Daniel said. "We're going to watch a movie."

"I could watch Jack Nicholson anytime," Jack said. "And you could make a case for Michael Keaton as the definitive Batman."

"Jack!"  Having finished his cake, Daniel was ready to chew on something else. "How can you say that?  I'd bet you nine out of ten people-- even Marines--would say--"

"You're on," Jack said. "T.?"

"Indeed," Teal'c said, with a formal tilt of his head. "I would be honored to participate. And to bring the popcorn."

"I could bring pie," Sam conceded. "From that little place on Glenwood."

"Excellent, Colonel," Jack said. "I'd make it--"

"Chocolate pecan," Daniel said, licking his lips.

"Ooh, yeah," Sam said. "Or cherry. The cherry's always good."

"Those would both be acceptable," Teal'c said. "Though I might also suggest the banana cream."

"Not this time," Jack said. "This time, I think definitely rhubarb."

END