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Hooyah

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"How can it be so hard? Just freakin tell me why." Reason was gone, only the
desire to win remained. So typical of his fights with Daniel, they started out
reasonable, sensible conversations and ended in chest beating testosterone
matches. But this time... this time everything unraveled. He saw Daniel's
shoulders square, saw him turn from the sink, close the distance between them
till he was way inside Jack's personal space, backed him against the counter and
kissed him. Hard. On the mouth. Jack felt Daniel's hand on his waist, the other
cupped his cheek. It was a good kiss. All things considered, and later, he'd
consider it a lot. One long minute later, Daniel released him.

"That's why, Jack." Daniel looked, angry. And Jack's knee jerk response was to
punch him. Hard. In the mouth. The blow sent Daniel to the floor, his face
turned away from Jack.

"Jesus, Daniel." Jack's voice was raspy and hard. He watched Daniel wipe his
mouth with the back of his hand, saw the blood trail and he instinctively
reached down to help. Daniel must have been ready for that cause he stood
suddenly and with his rising momentum swung a hard right hook at Jack's jaw.
Jack's eyes widened, but it was too late, he took the punch hard and it knocked
him flat on his ass.

"Shit, Jack. Why d'you have to be such a guy." Daniel turned to the sink as he
spoke, spitting blood and cradling his throbbing wrist. Jack, breathing heavy,
tasted the metallic tang of adrenalin in his mouth; felt it surge through his
veins, utterly familiar, yet completely out of control. He was shaking, his
mind unable or unwilling to grasp just how fucked up the scene had become. His
wrist and knuckles were shot with pain. He pushed himself up, backing slightly.
Leaning against the wall opposite Daniel, he tried to catch his breath, to think
something, anything but the obvious.

Daniel went to the freezer for ice packs and trays. He tossed a pack to Jack and
put his own pack and the trays on the counter. Jack watched him open the
cabinet, set out glasses and whiskey, plunked ice in the two glasses, pour two
fingers of single malt and calmly hand him one. He then watched Daniel's back
as he walked out into Jack's living room and sat on the sofa.

He felt Daniel's punch to his face but he also felt sucker punched in his gut.
He looked down at his hands, whisky in one and ice on the other. He knocked back
the whisky, went to the counter, poured two more fingers and drank it. Hands on
the counter, he dropped his head down, gulping air, trying not to feel the sense
memory of Daniel's mouth on his.

He began mouthing obscenities silently:

shitfuckpissgoddammitnofuckingwayjesuschristwhatthefuckisgoingonanyway?

And he was hard, achingly hard. He couldn't remember the last time his was this
hard, but Daniel? FUCKING DANIEL?

 

The memory began looping back on its self as it had for the past three weeks.
Rewound to Jack yelling at Daniel's back, the bloody smear on Daniel's hand, the
aching throb of his dick and the sense memory of Daniel's mouth on his. He
didn't want it to, didn't think he could think it through clearly no matter how
any times it played across his mind's eye. Yet here he was again, dick in hand,
fisting himself to another sharp fast climax, cursing as pearls of come
spattered his shirt, belly and hand. Cursing Daniel. Cursing his damn memory.
Cursing his dick for its betrayal. Gasping, limp, glad for the solitude of his
empty house, draped across the sofa, amazed again how good it felt. He was so
fucked.

Jack about jumped out of his skin when the phone rang, eliciting a loud
"Jesus" out of him as he picked it up. He hit the talk button and yelled into
the receiver.

"WHAT?" His response a mixture of anger and embarrassment.

"Colonel O'Neill? I hope I'm not interrupting anything?" General Hammond, great.

"Sorry, Sir." He said in a much milder tone, though he didn't feel mild.

"That's okay, Jack. I know you're on leave, but I need you to come back to the
base." Jack had a bad feeling about this. Being called off leave was not good
news.

"Of course, General." Jack frowned.

"I appreciate it, Jack. I'll expect you at 1600 in my office."

"See you then, Sir." He hung up and plopped the phone onto the couch next to
him, sank back with a heavy sigh and looked at his watch. 1530. Great, no time
for a shower. Lugging himself off the couch, he stripped his shirt off and went
down the hall to change.

 

=====

 

June 24, 2003 1600 hours. Cheyenne Mountain Complex

 

Jack paused outside General Hammond's door, took a deep breath and knocked.

"Come." He heard Hammond's voice muffled through the door and opened it.

"Jack. Have a seat." Jack dropped into the chair facing Hammond's desk.

"Thank you, Sir." Hammond was busy shifting folders, not listening. He opened a
fat one in the middle of his desk and handed Jack a magazine. Newsweek, June 26,
1995. There was a woman on the cover in uniform and the caption below read. "GI
Jane". Jack raised his eyebrows and looked at Hammond.

"Remember that, Jack? We all thought it was some kind of joke at the time. Turns
out it's real. Jordan O'Neil has been on active duty with the SEALs for six
years, her last two were Joint Operations with Delta." Hammond paused. Jack's
eyebrows raised in shock. Delta Force? Jesus H.

Hammond continued. "Her service record is exemplary including several awards for bravery."

"Let me guess, Sir, you want her for the SGC." Jack looked at the magazine again. "She'd be one helluv an addition, Sir. Wait, why ask me? Why don't you just have her transferred?"

"Well, that's a good question." Hammond looked at his folded hands. "I just got
a call from a friend at the Pentagon. She's decided to retire and I want you to
go and convince her not to." Hammond stood and walked around his desk to stand
in front of Jack.

"You mean you want me to use my powers of persuasion to lure a SEAL to go where
no man has gone before?" Jack smiled his lopsided smile.

Hammond snorted, "Don't give yourself too much credit, Colonel. I want you to
talk to her one special ops to another. She's hard and tired. Her last two
mission records are so secret, even I can't read them. She's looking for an out
and I want you to give her one."
Hammond turned back to grab the file behind him, flipping the top closed he
handed it to Jack.

"All the arrangements have been made, the details are in here. You leave
immediately." He started to walk back to his desk as Jack rose from his seat,
but turned half way. "And, Jack..."

"Sir?"

"Try not to scare her away. Dismissed." Hammond finished.

"I won't let you down, Sir."

"I know you won't Colonel." Hammond turned back to his desk and Jack left
the office, closing the door gently.

 

=====

 

June 28, 2003 0800, Coronado, California

Fourteen hours later, Jack was parking his rented car at Peet's Coffee a mile or
so from Jordan O'Neil's house. He ordered coffee, paid and took it to a table
outside, away from the other guests so he could open the file on Jordan. He
didn't need to read it, he'd memorized most of it on the plane to California,
but it gave him something to look at while he thought about how to woo a tired,
war hardened SEAL.

 

======

June 28, 2003 1300 hours, Coronado, California

Jordan O'Neil, Captain, sat on the veranda of her house on the beach looking
across the bay at the SEAL training course. In one hand she held a cigar, a
glass of bourbon with ice sat on the table in front of her next to an open file
folder. She took a slow drag of the cigar without taking her eyes off the course
and blew it out gently.

She thought of the time, six years before when she had gone through the course.
The images paled in comparison to her combat experience, though she did savor
the memory of breaking the Master Chief's nose. That was a good day. Six years,
a long time by most anyone's standards. Not long enough by others.

She leaned forward, picked up the bourbon and took a long sip. She was
considering her next step, the next evolution, as the MC would say. She was
nearly forty and half those years were spent in the Navy, now more her family
than her real family.

The phone rang. She let it ring three times then picked up the handset, hit talk
and held it to her ear.

"O'Neil." She said, eyes never leaving the course.

"Captain O'Neil, Colonel Jack O'Neill." Said a man's voice.

Her mind clicked on and she began ticking info off: Colonel, unknown, calling
her private number. This reeked. "How did you get this number? It's unlisted."
The answer to that should be good.

"Well, let's just say, I pulled a few strings. I'd like to come by, if that's
okay." There was a sort of sarcastic tone in his voice, very like a certain
Sergeant she'd served with. The kind of tone one didn't find often outside the
service.

"Colonel, no offence, but what the hell is this about?" She'd had enough of
covert ops, in fact never wanted to be a part of one again. And this guy was an
operator.

"I have a proposition to make, but I'd like to make it in person." He waited a
beat then added, "I won't disappoint you, I promise."

She let her head fall back on the cushion of the sofa and knew she'd be sorry
for it but said, "You know were I live." He was probably line of sight. She
would've been.

"I'm just around the corner." He said.

"I can't wait." She replied and hung up.

 

=====

 

Ninety seconds later, Jordan watched the tall, lean, silver haired man walk up her driveway. He stopped at the bottom of the steps.

"O'Neil." He said quietly.

"O'Neill." She said back.

Ah, the beginning of a beautiful friendship, she thought. She nodded and he walked up the steps. Dropped into one of her deck chairs, sat back and took off his aviators. His eyes were dark and he moved and sat with quiet strength. She smiled inwardly; they were the same. Of the same cloth. She knew she'd never have to explain to him or justify, he wasn't a talker. He smiled a little smile.

"So," he said, "do I pass?" His smile became a smirk.

"Huh," she snorted, tilting her head. "What are you doing here, Colonel?"

"I want you to transfer to a new unit." He said it like; I want you to pick up some milk on the way home, that simple. She was looking in his eyes; they never moved from her and gave nothing away.

"What unit?" She brought her cigar up, drawing on it, letting the smoke drift out of her mouth and nose. Give nothing, get nothing and she wanted him to give first. She was angry at his intrusion into her refuge and wanted a damn good reason for it.

"The position is tactical officer for a scientific recon unit." he paused, "with a program at Cheyenne Mountain."

"Uh, huh." She was nonplused.

Tactical officer at CMC. That was military speak for foot soldier.

"You need a Ranger for that, Colonel, not a SEAL." This was only the first layer of conversation. She knew he'd tell her and he knew she knew it. His oblique description was about security. She quirked an eyebrow at him, nodding slightly. He smiled back.

"Ah, c'mon, O'Neil, aren't you even gonna ask?" He was giving her the okay.

"What's the program?" she said. I'll bite, you asshole. But she was smiling at him. This was the little game they would play until she said yes. Tactical officer at CMC was like a provision officer at the Ritz Hotel...holy shit! CMC housed secret programs; now her interest was being pricked.

"SGC." He baited.

"Uh, huh." O-kay. "Cut the crap, Colonel. What is it?"

"It's a Stargate. We need a tactical officer for a team going to another world through a controlled wormhole. The program is called Stargate Command. And I want you to transfer to it." He said all this without raising his voice or moving in his chair.

She let out a rich, velvety laugh. After a minute she settled back in her chair and asked him again.

"No, really. What's the position?" She watched him not move.

"That's the position, Captain." His face was straight now, completely still. She felt a clunk in her chest all the way down to the pit of her stomach. Shit, he's telling the truth. She went back over the info, asking herself, do I really believe this? And the answer was yes, because O'Neill was sitting across from her, no bullshit, and telling her there was a gate to other worlds. Well, I'll be damned.

"Have you been through it?" She put her cigar down and sat up straight.

"Oh, yeah." He said with a rueful smile. "Do it, O'Neil." And that was it. No 'please' or 'it'll be the thrill of a lifetime' or any crap.

"When do we go?" She asked. She was rewarded with a Jack "I-knew-you-couldn't-refuse" smirk.

"Right now."

 

=====

The locker room at SGC smelled like every other damn one in the world. Sweat, steam, soap. God she love that smell. It was the mission-complete-take-a-hot-shower smell. The newly re-instated Captain Jordan O'Neil threw her bag on the bench and began arranging its contents into the long, black locker. Senses always alert, she knew there were others in the room. She marked the noises, assessed the threat, correlating her surroundings to the maps she'd downloaded and memorized.

Gear unloaded, she folded the bag. Stowing it neatly in the bottom of the locker, she checked her appearance in the mirror and mentally shifted herself to the next task. Meeting SG-5. Five military, one civilian. Fucking stupid if you asked her.

She snorted. Civilians on missions meant trouble on missions. That's why they were gonna pay her a lot of money. Hoo-fucking-yah. She slammed the locker shut and retraced her steps out of the locker room and down the hall, two flights up, a right, a left and she was there.
0852. Not bad, O'Neil, she though looking at her watch. She lounged on the wall outside the door and watched personnel walk by marking ranks, weapons and genders.

The door next to her opened and people streamed out. Had to be the rest of SG-1, she thought. O'Neill caught her eye and nodded. She measured the others in her head quickly, nodded to the Major, Carter was her name, tried really hard not to stare at the gold thing in the middle of the black guy's forehead, that would be Teal'c and one other, civilian, maybe thirty or thirty-five, tallish with glasses. Process of elimination made this Doctor Daniel Jackson. Well, she thought, not exactly the Poindexter she'd thought he'd be.

She watched them walk down the hall and turn the corner before she went through the door to the now empty conference room. Going over the mission notes for the fourth time, she hoped that maybe, this time, they'd make sense.

 

=====

 

0910
"That's it? That's the intel?" O'Neil looked again at the grainy, indistinct photos of PX3-899. "With all due respect, Sir, this isn't intel, it's crap. I'd have to be crazy to try it with my best team but it's insane to do it with a civilian." She gestured towards Dr. Tom Moore, the team archeologist and civilian then put both hands on the table and fixed Colonel Barker with an appraising look. Dr. Moore pointedly studied the papers in front of him.

"Sir, I'll go in with RT and do some additional recon. We can be back in one hour with a lot better intel than this so we won't be so vulnerable when we go back." It sounded reasonable. Fuck reasonable, she just wanted to get back alive. Walk through a fucking Stargate to fucking who knew where with no more intel than a grainy photo? Wasn't gonna happen.

The rest of the team looked at each other and then to Colonel Barker.

"With all due respect to you, Captain, it's been done dozens of times with minimal loss of life. Civilian or otherwise. You read the protocol, that's how we do it. I suggest you talk to another tactical officer and find a way to make it work. And you will make it work. Do I make myself clear, Captain?"

Hooyah, Sir.

"Crystal, Sir."

"And Captain," he added after a beat. "Make it fast. We leave at 1800." He snapped the folder shut which signaled the end of the briefing.

"That's it people. Dismissed." Col. Barker shuffled his folders into his bag and said, without looking up,

"O'Neil. A word please." Jordan stopped at the door letting the six other team members slip by with sidelong glances. She moved back into the room, stopping at the end of the table, but didn't say anything.

"The Colonel recommended you very highly for this job. I read your file, you've pulled several missions out of the shitter and frankly that's why you're here." He kept his voice low but made eye contact the whole time he spoke. "Time to pull your head out and do some soldiering." He saw the arrogant look on her face, she wasn't buying it.

"Sir, permission to speak freely." Her tone was equally low.

"Granted."

"That intel is shit, Sir. I'm amazed your attrition isn't higher." The rigid set of her shoulders never changed.

"Thank you, Captain. That's all." The contact broke and she backed towards the door. Dismissed. This whole freakin' mountain was nuts. She stepped out the door and turned immediately when she sensed someone there. Colonel Jack O'Neill leaning against the wall.

"O'Neil." He said, easily.

"O'Neill." She replied.

"Take a walk?" He pointed down the hall, inviting her to follow.

"Sure. So why didn't you tell me the whole story? Why the bullshit?" Combat didn't scare her, even the whole alien thing she could handle. "Intel is crucial O'Neill and you know it. Why didn't you tell me I'd be flying blind?"

"What, and spoil the surprise? So, you want to see the 'Gate?" Jack nudged her with his elbow. "C'mon, I know you do."

Jordan let out a short bark of laughter, her anger easing. She looked more directly at him.

"I'm not sure I want to see anything of yours." She was thinking hell yeah; if it's true it'll be a hell of a ride. Hmmm, you might be a hell of a ride too.

"That's my girl" Her comfort level went up a few pegs as she fell into the easy comradeship that only seasoned soldiers shared.

"Your girl? I'm gonna have to take you down for that one, O'Neill." She laughed
"Hey, that's O'Neill. With two LLs." He held up two fingers and she hit him in the arm as they turned the corner toward the 'Gate room.

 

======

 

Daniel juggled his journal, book and new archaeology magazine to free one hand for his coffee. Turning, he spotted Sam and Teal'c two tables away and began to walk toward them.

"Hey, Sam. Teal'c." When he got no response, he set his books down and waved a hand in front of Sam's face.

"Yo.... Sam?" She and Teal'c were looking across the commissary at something fascinating, apparently. He followed their gaze and did a double take.

"Hey." Jack sat across the commissary listening with evident pleasure to a female soldier. She was, maybe late thirties, five six and built. As in, muscular. Daniel had the impression she was military, not the least of which was her hair, which was about one eighth of an inch long. But it was how she sat in her chair and held herself, coiled but lazy that really gave it away. And Jack, he noticed was, entranced, for lack of a better word. He felt the slow burn and tried to keep it off his face.

"Yeah." said Carter.

"Who's that? Why's she with Jack? And where is her hair?" Daniel's words just tumbled out.

The 'she' in question was pointing out positions on the table in front of Jack, very intent, very serious. Then her finger arced around joining the salt and pepper and Jack burst into a big, uncontrolled laugh. She was leaning towards him, said a few more words and they both dissolved into laughter again. The sound of her deep, whiskey voice joining his prompting several men in the commissary to cast quick, envious looks at Jack.

"He's laughing." Daniel sank into his chair, coffee, books and magazine forgotten.

"Yeah." Sam said. Again.

Daniel turned back to the table, exchanging quick glances with Sam and Teal'c, as Jack and the woman stood up, still laughing, made their way out of the commissary.

"Wow," said Daniel. "So do we know who that is?" He had a queasy feeling somewhere around his solar plexus and his breath felt strained.

"If I'm not mistaken," Sam returned his look, "that would be Jordan O'Neil. The Navy's first woman SEAL."

"She does not appear to be a seal, SamanthaCarter." Daniel looked at Teal'c.

"Not a seal as in animal, Teal'c, SEAL as in specially trained soldier ...sea, air, land." He answered Teal'c absently, his thoughts swirling and looked again at Sam.

"Hang on, her name's O'Neill?" Had he heard that right? He thought.

Sam quirked a smile at him, the sudden humor showing openly on her face.

"Yeah only it's O'Neil with one L." Said Sam holding up one finger.

The image...two O'Neill's on one base, one a man and one a woman, working closely together suddenly seemed ridiculous and he felt the urge to laugh. He looked at Sam and before he could think about it too much, blurted out,

"It's a female Jack!" That put them over the top and he and Sam erupted into laughter. He could barely breathe; the thought of Jack dating himself was just too funny. Any shred of jealousy was obliterated by the images cascading through his mind. Sam had turned in her chair and was bent over holding her ribs and that just sent him into another gale. He took his glasses off, set them on the table and wiped the tears from his eyes. He couldn't remember when he'd last laughed this hard.

"I do not see the humor in this." said Teal'c 'Oh God, leave it to Teal'c.' he thought as he laughed helplessly. He tried to regain control of himself, tried to straighten his face but his cheeks hurt from laughing and the idea of explaining it brought the images back and he laughed again.

"I believe it is disrespectful to laugh at O'Neill's expense." Teal'c looked from Sam to him and back to Sam, disapproval clearly written on his face. Daniel made another attempt at self-control, forced his face to relax and turned to his friend to explain.

"Well, it's like this. If this woman is who Sam thinks she is, and there's no reason to think she's not, then she's a special ops soldier like Jack. She trained like Jack. And she's a woman. And her name is O'Neil...." Laughter over took him again as he imagined what they'd talk about over dinner.

 

=====

 

"How long have they been in there?" Sam said to Daniel as they stood outside the gear up room, looking in at Jack and Jordan, heads bent together over open files and notebooks.

"Two hours, apparently." Daniel smiled wanly. "But who's counting?" After a fidgety morning writing the report for PX4-199, a distinctly uninteresting world, Daniel found himself walking the facility aimlessly. He'd gotten coffee, dropped in on Teal'c and met up with Sam in the corridor outside the room in question.

Daniel watched Sam cross her arms. Maybe he wasn't the only one feeling anxiety about Jack's new friend. And it occurred to him that Jordan was probably at least equal to Sam in training and experience, if not in science than surely in tactical.

"Have you met her yet?" He asked softly, not looking at Sam.

Sam raised her eyebrows and blew out a breath that ruffled her bangs,
"No." So did that mean she hadn't or didn't want to?

"How, exactly, did she get this transfer? She's Navy." Daniel asked.

"Apparently, Jack recruited her just before she was going to retire. That's the scuttle butt anyway." Sam spoke without turning from the window. "She re-upped."

"He recruited her? You make it sound like he knew what was going to happen."

That jealousy thing did its slither in his solar plexus. Jack recruited her. Sam shrugged.

"She was the first woman SEAL, went active for six years, two of those with Delta Force. Her experience more than makes her a good candidate." Sam looked at him.

"Daniel. Are you and Jack okay? You've been, well, it's none of my business, but you're my friend. What's up?" Sam's tone was quiet, but the hall outside the gear up room was definitely not the place for this conversation. He wasn't ready for it anyway.

Daniel gave her strained smile.

"We're okay." He was aware of how shallow that sounded, knew she deserved more than that, but just didn't have it to give. She nodded, but he could see she didn't buy it for a second. Well, it had been lame.

"Okay." She patted him on the arm and, backing away, went down the hall.
He watched till she'd turned the corner, then looked back through the small window, leaning closer to see them working at the far end of the table. They looked comfortable, companionable as though they'd known each other for a long time.

He looked at his watch. 1230. So SG-5 would leave in five and a half hours. He turned from the window and began the long walk back to his office where he could distract himself from all this with work. At least until 1800 when they'd get Jack back.

 

======

 

Jack tugged the last strap into place on Jordan's pack and gave it a slap.

"You're good to go." And when she looked over her shoulder, he gave her a thumbs up.

"Piece o' cake, O'Neil." He saw her put her game face on and gave her a little nod jamming his hands in his pockets.

"Hooyah, O'Neill."

Jack watched her turn and walk up the ramp with her team, watched her stop when the event horizon coalesced beautifully before her, watched her disappear without hesitation through its liquid surface, watched 'till the shimmering surface dissipated.

He felt a presence at his shoulder and turned to see Hammond looking at him.

"Quite a soldier," was Hammond's quiet assessment.

"Yes, sir. Quite a soldier." They both turned to look at the empty gate.

 

=====

 

This particular transcription looked rather like a cross between Anglo-Saxon and hieratic, if that was possible. Well, anything was possible, apparently. This one, however, was taking longer than he'd expected. Seven hours. His stomach rumbled. Daniel looked at his watch, 1900, and blew out a breath. Time to go. Home. Alone. He stacked his most recent books into a pile, took the backup CD out of the drive and packed his bag.

Topside, the weather was nice. June in the Rockies. Daniel dropped his loaded bag on the hood of the car and, hands in pockets, looked up at the stars. From where he stood, high on the mountain, a million points of light shimmered. He tried to remember what ascending felt like, tried to feel the flowing, expansive, aliveness he imagined it to have been, but nothing was there.

He thought about Jack. Watching him with the new Captain was difficult. He tried to pinpoint why. It wasn't that he was spending that much time with her or that she was a woman. It was more the way he appeared comfortable, even happy in her presence. He supposed they had a lot in common, both long time soldiers. Both highly trained for secret operations. He couldn't explain it intellectually, but intuitively, he felt uneasy.

The wheel of the sky overhead drew his attention, never failing to put life in perspective; all of this was small, what was above him now that was big. Simple really. Since his return, simplicity had become a big part of his life. Not being able to remember was a good thing. It made things less complicated, feelings less complex, like his feelings for Jack.

He touched his fingers to his lips, remembering the pressure of Jack's mouth that one time. No words had passed between them about it. No re-hashing or sorting out. It was a moment. It was a moment that Daniel wanted to happen again, longer, slower with a lot more groping and preferably without the punching. Yeah, we could loose the punching. That punch had about said it all. Whatever hot response he'd started between him and Jack, in that one minute was well and truly squashed by Jack's knuckles.

So was this a small thing or a big thing? Looking at the sky, well, that made the kiss thing a small thing. But in his heart, yeah, that kiss was a big thing. And it begged the question: What now? All that happened that night was clearly locked away in Jack's tightly closed heart and by all evidence, Jack wasn't eager to open it up again.
What he needed now was the key.

 

=====

 

PX4-525

 

Rolling ridges and gullies ran roughly north south with an incredible expanse of trees bordering the whole southern rim of the valley before the 'Gate and flowing as far as the eye could see south. Jordan oriented herself to the MALP photos, plotting the distance to the huge stones on the far southeastern rim of the valley just inside the trees. If this intel was right, and she personally had her doubts, the stones ran in a perfect line away from the 'Gate south, south-east. She looked through her field glasses towards the forest line. Good cover, bad protection.

"Okay, guys. Let's make this fast." She picked up her bag and the team of seven began the walk toward the forest.

There wasn't any pleasant chat, no soldier banter. No smack talk. They were all on high alert.

Once inside the canopy of sequoia-like trees, she motioned them to skirt the edge for cover and moved them toward their goal of the huge standing stones. Shady patches, combined with camo made them nearly invisible as they moved east and south. Jordan's MP5 carried a thermal scope that she used every few steps. They kept line of sight for five hundred yards, then the ground began to climb as they reached the eastern rim of the valley.

Near the crest, a line of huge, square stones came into view, lined up running away from the gate. Jordan could see Kovach two trees away. He looked at her; she put two fingers towards her eyes then pointed with a flat hand down the line of stones. Kovach nodded and moved silently towards the stones. Adams was one tree back and to her left, she motioned to him and herself then towards the northern most stone. He nodded and they moved forward.

Jordan looked through the scope, sweeping it slowly as she crept toward the first stone. She caught a blip, just a blur and she swept the scope back to catch the movement.

"I got movement, my eleven." She clicked the radio.

Keeping her rifle up, she motioned Adams to stop then pointed in the direction of the blur. She knew he'd sweep around, flanking the object. She crept forward, listening.

"O'Neil." The radio made her jump. It was Kovach.

"Copy Kovach," Her scope was still trained on the area she'd seen the blur. It annoyed her that she was so jumpy.

"Captain. Three stones south, south side. Doctor Moore is just finishing up the transcriptions." She looked again through her scope but saw nothing. They'd been in the canopy for about an hour, way more than she was comfortable with.

"Copy that Kovach. Pack'em up and hump it back to the gate. We got your six."
She looked away from the scope, slightly left and saw Adams ahead of her.

"Adams, take my flank, I'll move south. Sweep down and we'll follow them up." She released the radio button and began run-walking south.

"Copy, that." Adams disappeared in the brush as they moved past the stones. She could hear Kovach now, arguing with Dr. Moore. Her scope swept left, caught Adams and further left she caught another blur.

"Adams, movement, your eight." She kept the scope on him and walked his way.

"Roger, that. I don't see anything, Captain." She couldn't hear arguing and she hoped Kovach was finally on the move. She crept closer to Adams. This was seriously freaking her out.

"Adams, back your way toward me. I've got you in the scope." The stones where behind them now and she saw his wildly colored form backing towards her.

"There's something here, damn it. It's just a fucking blur. Watch it, okay?" He was in talking distance now.

"I still don't see it, Jordan." He backed toward her, twenty feet, eighteen, ten. She began backing toward the stones.

"Just keep watchin'" she hit the radio. "Kovach, please tell me you're outta here?" Nothing. "Kovach, answer, damn it." The radio made no sound. "Shit, Adams, c'mon." They turned and ran between the first and second stone, Jordan looking frantically up and down the line for any sight of her team. She turned right, going north, thinking Adams was right behind her. She felt a sharp sting in her left thigh.

"ShitGoddamnit, unnhhh...." She never even felt the ground.

 

=====

 

It was dark, hot and dry. She smelled that goat smell and her stomach lurched and she tried to vomit. Iraq. The realization sent a shock through her and she tried to get up. Her mind was screaming at her, FUCKING GET UP JORDAN, GET THE FUCK UP. GOD DAMN IT. O'NEIL, GET YOUR ASS OFF THE GROUND. She was trying to but something round and heavy pinned her down across her chest. She put two shaky hands under the thing and pushed with every fiber of her being but it didn't budge. Too weak. She inhaled a deep breath and screamed at the top of her lungs out of fear and horror.

The scream tore her throat and she opened her eyes to blue sky, her heart thudding in her chest and the shock of adrenalin coursing through her veins. Nausea hit her again; she choked it back, knowing how dangerous it was to vomit on her back. That thing across her chest, she saw, was Dr. Moore's leg. Gaining some strength, she rolled away from him, pushing his leg off and quickly vomited the contents of her stomach on to the dry grass.

Wiping her mouth, she reached for water and rinsed, spit the water, then drank more, swallowing hard. Turning back to Dr. Moore, she saw a pile of tangled arms and legs, heads and torsos. Shaky legs carried her to the pile. She began rolling him over and checked for his pulse, it was there. He must have been having a dream too because he screamed a horrible scream, woke and vomited on the ground next to Jordan.

"Doctor, you okay?" She had him by the shoulders, examining his head looking for shock or injury.

"I've just been sick, Captain, I'm not okay...and call me Tom." He was wiping his mouth and gratefully accepted her canteen.

"I meant are you injured?" She felt the nausea rising again and turned to vomit, dropping to her hands and knees. She knew there wasn't much left in there. If this kept up, she'd go into dry heaves and be no damned good to anyone. She turned back to Tom.

"Okay, Tom, you have to help me. Do you understand?" She held her hand up in front of Tom's face, making sure he was tracking, and thought again what a fucking problem it was to have civilians on missions this dangerous. She forcibly ignored what her stomach said and shook Tom, trying to make eye contact.

"Tom, look at me." He swung his head towards her. "Tom, we have to do two things, okay. You with me?" she held up two fingers. He appeared to stare at her finger.

"Two things." He said. But his eyes began to focus on her. "Yeah, okay."

She pulled him to his feet.

"We've gotta see if we have any injuries and we have to get a message back to the SGC. We need medical and tactical back up. Now." She held him by the shoulders. "Still with me Tom?" He nodded and she continued, "Help me get these guys untangled."

They began slowly rolling the team away from each other. They looked like they'd been picked up in a big hand and piled rudely at the edge of the forest, below the eastern ridge. 'Well, fuck off to you too.' She thought.

"C'mon Adams, wake up." She rolled him off McKenzie and he coughed, blinked and began vomiting.

This was gonna be a big, fat mess in a hurry. She grabbed Adams' arm, dragging him to his feet and walked him ten feet away. Tom had Meany sitting up, the soldier looked very green. Must've been a poison dart. She remembered being shot in the leg and felt the place. Sure enough, it was sore and there seemed to be something like a stinger in the wound. That left Kovach and Rodriquez, waking, rolling away and vomiting.

Assessing the situation, she saw the packs piled in heaps, apparently in tact. She had to get them moving, get back to the gate. McKenzie, still green but standing looked in the best shape.

"McKenzie, take Tom and the GDO, hump it back to the 'Gate and dial home. Let'm know we need medical and possible tactical backup." She began picking up packs, but McKenzie didn't move.

"Captain..." He was looking at her, a question in his eyes. He didn't want to leave her.

"Get the fuck outta here Sergeant, that's an order." She felt the nausea again and clamped her mouth shut. McKenzie turned, took Tom by the arm and began walking then trotting towards the gate. She could see the gate maybe a klick and a half away and fixed it in her mind. Her only goal now...all of them, back through the 'Gate, safe.

McKenzie and Tom disappeared over a ridge to the north, but Jordan wasn't watching anymore. She began gathering equipment and jamming it into packs. Adams, Meany and Kovach followed her actions wordlessly, but Rodriquez was still vomiting.

"Okay, leave that Adams and help me with Rodriquez. Kovach just pack the Doctor's notebooks and science stuff, the rest just fuck it. We gotta get outta here." She looked at the tree line again. They shouldered Rodriquez between them and began the walk back to the gate. The sting in her leg throbbed making her grit her teeth.

Five minutes later, she commanded them to change, so they could rest and Kovach and Meany took Rodriquez between them. Jordan shouldered one pack and held the other as they again began to walk towards the 'Gate. She knew it wasn't far, the undulating hills temporarily blocked it from view, but she knew it was there.
They came up out of the gully to the crest of the hill and onto the plain where the 'Gate stood.

"Okay, guys. Last leg." Her voice was dry, craggy. They were a rag tag bunch by now. Hot and sweaty, smelling of vomit.

The gate inched closer, the wound in her leg was getting more painful. They were maybe, a hundred feet when she saw the event horizon gush, flooding the gate, then stabilize. Soldiers began streaming from it.

Hooyah.

 

=====

 

Jack pecked out the last of his report on PX4-199, hit the print option and pushing away from the computer, looked at his watch. 2013. He thought about SG-5, well to be honest, he thought about Jordan on her first command. He wished there'd been more time, for preparation, for support. Hell, he wished there'd been more time to just talk. He'd forgotten how damn good it felt to talk and somehow, with Jordan, talking was easier. She'd been there, both in battle conditions and other places. Iraq for one. But there was something else. She didn't push or dig. She just absorbed and responded.

He felt the twist of that thought, how it made him think of Daniel. He missed that 'ease' with Daniel. It'd all become difficult now that everything was on the table. And somehow, knowing Daniel felt that way toward him and more remarkably, that he felt that way back, just made the whole 'hanging out and talking thing' uncomfortable. They didn't shower at the same time, didn't leave at the same time though they ate and worked together. And he just was not going to go there.

Beyond what it would do to his command, it was seriously dangerous for his career. Court martial was not something to take lightly, not after what he'd been through. And yet...and yet. Thinking about that moment...that one minute...well it had been...overwhelming. His response, that was hindbrain taking over, he'd just reacted, not to the warm, sweetness that was Daniel's mouth, but the programming. His old wiring, crossing and shorting out had made him strike without thinking and now, with that between them, what chance did he have?

He shook himself out of his thoughts. This day'd been way too long and it was now time for home and beer. He had just laid his hand on his jacket when the incoming traveler alert sounded in the hall. How did it do that? Where they watching him? Was it a conspiracy to keep him at work? He reversed and reached for the phone, which rang just as he touched it.

"O'Neill." He said. He wanted to say, WHAT?

"Jack, it's SG-5." Hammond kept his words to a minimum. Jack really liked that about the General. But this time, the terse message didn't keep his stomach from flopping when he heard the words.

"On my way." He said and hung up, glancing at his watch. They were way too early.

 

=====

 

Soldiers were streaming back through the 'Gate. In the control room, Jack and Hammond watched as SG-2 came through. Jack counted them; two, five, six.

"C'mon, c'mon." He whispered under his breath. Two medics came through with Rodriquez on a stretcher and two more SG-2. Adams, Meany and Kovach came through together. He felt a knot of tension coil in his belly. Then one more SG-2 and another medic with Jordan - barely able to stand, hanging from his shoulder, finally appeared. His breath left him in a whoosh and he was running to the door, down the stairs and through the huge metal doors to the 'Gate room.
The medic was kneeling next to Jordan when Jack came running up the ramp. He looked at the medic.

"She alive?" Jack felt the coil of tension tighten then subside when the medic nodded.

"O'Neil?" He said gently. She opened her eyes and gave him a weak smile.

"Piece of cake, O'Neill?" Her voice cracked and she coughed. "Remind me to kick your ass when I get up." She managed a wobbly laugh and coughed again.

He smiled his relief at her, patted her shoulder and signaled the medical crew to take her.

"You know where to find me." He used humor to deflect and knew it, but knew Jordan knew it too. She gave him a funny look.

"Yeah, O'Neill, I know where to find you." She fell silent as the medical personnel took over and carried her from the 'Gate room.

 

=====

 

"As far as I can tell, it's some kind of powerful hallucinogen that's affecting their neurotransmitters. The delivery method was this little dart." Frazier held up a small glass vial with a thin, metal dart in it.

"The whole team experienced powerful hallucinations, but the toxin seems to be wearing off. The vomiting is probably from the dosage. That's all I have for now. Though I doubt it's contagious, the labs will be back in a few hours and we'll have a better idea what we're dealing with."

"What's the chance of permanent damage?" Jack asked.

"Well, if this toxin follows the symptoms of other known hallucinogens, the effects may be short term. We'll know more when the labs come back." Janet could see the concern in Jack's face.

"Can I see her?" Jack asked.

"Yes, but make it brief." She gave him her warning look, one he knew too well. He nodded and went around the curtain to Jordan's bed. She lay on her side, opposite hand under her cheek. She appeared to be sleeping but when he got close and sat down, she opened her eyes. He was relieved to see them much clearer than a few hours ago when she came through the 'Gate.

"Hey," he rested his elbow on his knees and leaned forward so his face was closer to hers.

"When do I get outta here?" She asked.

"Geez, you sound like me." Jack said, smiling.

"Lucky I don't look like you." She said smiling back.

"I'm gonna have to take you down for that one, O'Neil." He said, smile widening.

"Hey, that's O'Neil with one L." And she held up a finger.

Jack sobered, watching her expression. Banter over, he wanted to get some idea what happened.

"So, what happened?" He knew she wouldn't beat around the bush.

She recounted the mission in a quick, dry voice. Years of mission reports lay behind her quiet story; its outline hitting all the information without frill or unnecessary words. He missed this kind of exchange, felt himself drinking it in and wishing he had more of this. The quiet confidence of long soldiering. How much more smoother his command would be. Well, she wasn't exactly hard on the eyes either.

"Seemed like we weren't meant to die, just fuck off. If you know what I mean. All our stuff was there and beside the freakin' nightmare, I'm no worse for it." She shrugged.

"Nightmare?" Jack kept looking at her face, trying to read her. Looking pretty hard, actually. She was good.

"Yeah." She swallowed. "I dreamed it was night, in Iraq and I was pinned and couldn't get up. Scared the shit outta me. Turns out, it was Moore's leg pinning me." She shrugged again.

"Any sign of Goa'uld technology or symbols?" He asked.

"You'd have to talk to Moore. He did the transcription in record time, but I'm not sure what, if anything, it said." Her voice grew a little stronger and she leaned towards him.

"So when do I get outta here? I'm fine, I just need a little sleep." She was as uncomfortable in the infirmary as he was. He sympathized but doubted Janet would let them out till tomorrow.

"Probably tomorrow. They're still waiting to get the tox screen back." Jack watched her fall back on the pillow. "You got somewhere to stay, yet?" He asked coolly, surprised as the words tripped easily off his tongue, out of his mouth, not to be retrieved. What the hell was he thinking? Okay, he was thinking, but with the wrong head.

She looked at him without moving her head, her look appraising.

"Not yet. I'll get a room on base." She held his gaze as he stood up.

"I've got room. I'll pick you up tomorrow, once the Doc gives you the okay." He smiled at her and walked towards the end of the bed.

"Jack." She said before he disappeared. "Thanks." Jack looked back at her, put his hands in his pockets, nodded and left the infirmary.

 

=====

 

As expected, Janet kept SG-5 in the infirmary for twenty-four hours, just to be safe. To Jordan, it was a long, long twenty-four. She wanted out, now. Her bag packed, she leaned on the bed, one hand on a crutch for her leg, waiting for Jack to arrive. She looked at her watch again, sighed and grabbed her bag in the other hand. She made three steps before Jack came through the infirmary doors, in civvies.

"Going somewhere, O'Neil?" He swooped in to catch her bag and turned to put a hand under her elbow.

"Fuck off, O'Neill. I'm fine." She shook him off.

"O-kay. Let's get the hell out of dodge." He took the blow-off in stride and they left the infirmary.

 

=====

 

"Nice place, O'Neill. You ever stay here?" Jordan hobbled from the dining room to the kitchen.

"Very funny. Yes I do stay here, as a matter of fact." Jack's voice receded as he went down the hall to put her bag in the guest room.

"Could've fooled me." She opened the fridge, surveying the old Chinese food cartons and pizza. Only the beer looked edible. She grabbed two and closed the door.

"Think that's a good idea?" Jack motioned to the two beers as he walked back into the kitchen.

"Fuck off Jack." Her deep, throaty laugh washed over him doing something really pleasant to the cochlear part of his ear and sending that feeling straight to his dick.

Warning bells tripped in his mind, you are on a runaway train, time to get off. Hell yeah, get off. He went to open the back door and she followed more slowly out onto the deck. They plunked down in two chairs, Jordan's crutches thrown gratefully onto the deck. Jack silently thanked the great whatever that the night was black and the deck light was off. He swallowed his beer and tried not to think about what he was doing. Thinking was what had gotten him in trouble with Daniel and he didn't want to make that mistake again.

 

====

 

The evening was mild and full of stars, the silence broken only by the hooting of an owl. Jordan felt a nice buzz from the beer and pain meds.

"You don't much like being fussed over, do you?" Jack's voice drifted quietly in the night.

"Ya know, Jack, I don't know who you're dealing with, but I haven't needed a mom since I was twelve. Must be your team. Can't be Carter and no way it's Teal'c. Must be your civilian. What's his name?" Jordan knew exactly what his name was but her curiosity had her in knots and she was dying to hear his explanation for "all the care taking".

"Daniel. Doctor Jackson." Jack added clumsily.

"Right. Doctor Jackson." She tried keeping the amusement out of her voice and failed utterly. "He must be some kind of troublemaker. Not hard when you're taking civilians off world. Jesus, I can't believe I'm talking about off world. If you told me I'd be saying that line a week ago, I would've punched you." She shook her head.

"Oh, yeah. It's been a while, but I still have those, 'I can't believe I'm talking about this' moments." Jack's snarky voice made her smile. Boy, she liked him. He was one in a million.

"Daniel is...yeah...some kind of troublemaker." Jack finished.

Jordan nodded, taking another swallow of her beer, trying to decipher his tone. Neither angry nor sad. Something else she couldn't pin down. Maybe a little clarification was called for.

"Some guys are just like that. I had a sergeant, couldn't keep his face off the ground. Don't know how he made it through S.E.R.E but he did." Jordan tried chumming the water with a little personal revelation, hoping to draw Jack out. He was quiet for a while and she began to think her ploy hadn't worked.

"Daniel is...well...he's just Daniel. We wouldn't have the SGC without him. He opened the 'Gate." Jordan listened to Jack struggle for words to describe his team's archaeologist, thinking it was such a guy answer.

"So he's compromised your command?" Jordan was fishing, clearly looking for the definitive response from him that would allow her to put the good Doctor in a neatly labeled box. She was not surprised when he laughed.

"Every mission." He laughed again. "Daniel excels at compromising my command." She could see his profile moving as he shook his head.

"Doesn't seem to upset you much. Why don't you sideline him and put someone safer in? You have a good list of personnel, why don't you make him an Earth based consultant?" How far was he willing to go for this guy? She felt uneasy at the shifting structure of the SGC. Military structure existed for a reason, anyone threatening that structure threatened the safety of all the soldiers involved. He was allowing this civilian to put them in danger.

"Yeah, I'd love to sideline Daniel. It would make my job so much easier." He snorted. "Getting Daniel to step aside? That's a whole other problem. This is as much his work as anyone's."

Jordan listened to him, listened to the affection, bingo-that was it, in his voice. Seemed to her there might be a whole other level to this conversation. She knew then that his command had been more than compromised, it had been hijacked. Whatever illusion he had of controlling events was just that, an illusion.

 

====

 

Jack followed Jordan back through the kitchen, directing her down the hall towards the spare bedroom. Crutches seemed second nature to her he noticed, smiling inwardly. Yeah, don't get where we are and not know crutches. Several steps into the hall he saw her slow and then sway. She pitched sideways grabbing for the wall and fell in a tangled mass of limbs and wood. Jack was there instantly, trying to catch her but she pushed wildly at his arms, screaming. She wasn't seeing him. God, he didn't want to know what she saw but he had to get her up and onto the bed so he could call Janet. Heart pounding in his chest, he tried again, his hand reaching out but her recoil was lightening quick as she scrabbled backwards across the hall, back to the wall. She began speaking in Arabic. Short, pleading sentences.

"Amol maarouf, ma tuagini." (Please, don't hurt me.) "Ma andi slah." (I'm unarmed.) She held her hands up, empty and shaking. The pupils of her eyes where wide and dark and he could see the whites all around them. Her breath came in quick gasps.

"Amol maarouf..." (please) She was muttering it now, over and over, eyes drilling into his, her fear palpable and thick between them.

Jack's stomach lurched. He knew what she was seeing now. He'd seen it himself. Had said the same words, the same way. It hadn't helped. He held both hands up, palms towards her and spoke quietly.

"Ma bawajiek." (I won't hurt you.) "Tai, khalini asaadek." (Come, let me help you.)" "Ana houn." (I'm here.)

His voice low, his movements achingly slow. He reached his hand out towards her, palm up in a non-threatening, helping gesture. She watched it come towards her, breath quickening. He hated to think what she was seeing, how he might look in her hallucination.

"Amol maarouf, amol maarouf, amol maarouf." (please, please, please...)

"Ana houn." (I'm here)

He gently laid his hand on her. At the instant of contact she jumped, muscles tightening. He could see the pulse jump in her neck and she was covered in sweat though the house was cool.

"Tai,inti daia. Khalini asaadek." (Come, you are lost. Let me help you.)

His eyes never left hers as he moved slowly towards her, sliding his hand up her arm. Slipping an arm over her shoulder, he grabbed her upper arms and began helping her up.

"Ana houn." (I'm here.) He kept up his slow assurances and once they were standing, he put an arm around her waist and began to move toward the bedroom. No more words came from her, just quiet gasping. Past the door to the room, Jordan pitched forward again, this time vomiting on the floor.

"Damn..." Jack let her slide down and leaned her against the bed.

"Khaliki houn. Ma tuhurki." (Stay here. Don't move.) She met his eye, but wasn't tracking.

Jack stood and backed out of the room. He made a quick circuit of the house, grabbing towels, water and the phone. He hit speed dial two for Janet as he walked back to Jordan's room. Holding the phone to his ear, he dropped the towel to clean the mess and saw Jordan was gone.

"Jordan." The bedroom yielded nothing and his panic rose. The phone picked up.

"Frazier"

"Janet, we have a problem. A BIG honkin' problem." Jack spoke quietly into the phone as he edged down the hall.

"Colonel, I can barely hear you. What happened?" Janet's voice drifted out.

"Just get to my house and bring back up. Jordan's had a relapse. She thinks she's in Iraq. Started pleading with me in Arabic. Get here fast." Jack hit the end call and tucked the phone in a pocket.

His biggest concern, as he looked quickly down the hall, was getting Jordan back in bed safely. A side issue was keeping himself safe from a deranged, hallucinating SEAL who thought he was an Iraqi.

He picked a direction and moved silently down the hall, hoping the vomiting would slow her down and that his sidearm was still in the locked box under the bed. He crept toward his room, glancing back over his shoulder at his six. Stopping at the door of his room, he quieted his breathing, listening for movement.

A hush had settled over the house, all he heard was his heart pounding. He risked a look around the doorframe. No Jordan. He edged around the door, glancing again at his six, no Jordan there either.

He padded towards the bed and mouthed a silent epithet. His sidearm case lay open and empty next to the bed.

So the vomiting wasn't slowing her down and his chance of sneaking up on her was now blown. Time for a shift in tactics. He walked back to the bedroom door, into the hallway and began talking.

"Jordan, it's me, Jack." He switched to English trying not to add to the hallucination. "Jordan, you're safe here. Come out so I can help you."

He walked down the hallway toward the living room, moving in slow, gliding steps, knees bent ready to fight. He reached the door of the kitchen and paused again, listening. He wondered suddenly if she were still in the house? On the floor in the doorway was a bloody knot of gauzy cloth. Jordan's leg bandage. Jack swallowed loudly, eyes fixed on it. He almost missed the hiss of cloth in movement. He started moving and froze when he felt the barrel of his own gun just bellow his ear.

"Wakfi, ma hat." (Stop, don't move.)

"Jordan, you are not in Iraq. It's a dream. Jordan, wake up!" Jack felt the gun press into his skin.

"Uskuti! Udi al ard, rasek al ard." (Shut up! Get on the floor, face down.) Her voice was tight, controlled. Whatever she was living, her training had kicked in and she was fighting for her freedom. Jack bent his knees, hands out and knelt on the floor, lowering himself slowly.

"Ideki wara rasek" (Hands behind your head.) she hissed.

"Oh, yeah. Been here before." Jack muttered to himself as his hands met behind his neck, fingers interlacing.

He listened to Jordan's ragged breathing, knowing his chances would improve if she'd just throw up again. He tried calculating the time since his call to Janet and estimated it at ten minutes, fifteen at most. Not enough time to rely on them for help. C'mon Jordan, vomit already.

"Saadini ma baetoulek." (Help me and I won't kill you.) She was straining for control now. He heard her gasp and from the corner of his eye, saw her foot disappear as her weight shifted over him. He heard a hiss of fabric, a thump and then saw black boots coming out from the kitchen.

"Colonel, we have her." Hands grabbed his arm helping him up, the house suddenly full of marines.

"About time."

 

=====

 

Daniel's planned evening of quiet reading took a turn when he popped the CD of Tom Moore's transcription into the laptop for a quick review. Here again were the Anglo-Hieratic symbols of 199. Perhaps a little more flowing, deliberate and delicate. Angle-Saxon was one of his languages, but the structure and pictographic influences was really throwing him off. He opened his browser to an online Anglo-Saxon site and browsed the pictograms and figures, looking for...inspiration. He was on his sixth site before he found a small abstract on a paper being given at Dublin University by Seamus Heaney. It was on website that called for papers with an emphasis in re-examination of early Celtic language structure; Heaney's abstract hinted at pictographic characters in early Anglo-Saxon. He looked at his watch, only midnight here but eight in Dublin. Using the author's biblio section, he managed to get Heaney's number from the international directory.

Twenty minutes later, his fax machine hummed with activity as it eagerly spit out Heaney's paper on Pictograms in Early Writing. The Irishman had been quite friendly and frankly grateful for Daniel's interest as his paper had received mediocre acceptance at the conference. After a brief conversation, Daniel thanked him, leaving the man happy that he was able to help, but confused as to how the paper was to be utilized.

Not for the first time did he wish he could just get on a plane and go to Ireland, or England or anywhere on Earth as long as it was not Cheyenne Mountain. Perhaps soon, he'd ask for sabbatical and spend some quality time far away from this lump of rock, studying who-knows-what-or-where, just so it wasn't underground and the food was decent. Well, he'd settle for above ground, food was negotiable.

He took the page of illustrations back to the laptop and began cross-referencing them with the 199 data and Tom's transcription.

Two hours later, he was throwing the fax copy against the wall across from him. This should not be so hard, this was one of HIS languages, why the fuck couldn't he see what it was saying? His mind felt tight, too focused. He was trying too hard. He stood up, flexing his shoulders and rolling his neck, trying to let go. This was not working.

He needed books in his office. He packed quickly, gathering the scattered fax pages, books and CDs and shoving them into his battered case. Grabbing his keys, he swung out the door and headed for the pile of rock.

 

=====

 

Jack stood outside the infirmary window looking at Jordan and waiting for Janet's report. Hammond appeared next to him, arms crossed.

"How's she doing, Colonel?"

"Don't know, Sir. We're still waiting for the Doc. Lab tests or brain scans or something." Jack waved his hand, gesturing helplessly towards the window.

"What I want to know is how did this get by Dr. Fraser in the first place? Captain O'Neil should never have been discharged if there was a problem."

"I don't think it was detectable, Sir. She seemed normal right up until she fazed out. One minute we're walking down the hall and the next she's trying to kill me with my own gun." Jack felt a cold lump in his stomach, a remnant of the evening's events, of his failure to get hold of the situation before she'd gotten his gun. Now she was sedated, tied to the bed and looking...fragile. If a SEAL could look fragile. Hell, yeah, she looked fragile. He remembered the terrified look, the shaking and sweating, all too close to his own memories.
Janet walked through the ward and came out the glass doors next to the two men.

"Well, Major?" Hammond's voice was short.

"She's been sedated."