The Coldest of Hearts...
* * *
Once again I
must thank Neet for all her encouragement and the marvellous beta – she’s an
absolute star! not to mention I drove her to utter distraction with the use of
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! too many of these !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Warnings: violence, attempted non-con, language ...lots of blood and character
I feel the
relationship of Jack and Cassie hasn’t really been explored in the show to its
potential and I just adore the interaction that has been explored by one or two
excellent writers ... Inspiration for this fic was from Rocky Top Wine by
Gallagater and Charli and if you haven’t read this you should (and part two) –
it’s excellent – but other than that it bears no relation to what you are about
* * *
Have you read
the warnings? If so please begin!
“He shoots, he
scores!” yelled Jack as he swept the puck into the hurriedly contrived goal, his
victory twirl short lived as a figure crashed into him and he went down with a
knocked out of him, he lay dazed and sweaty on the ice as the figure half on top
of him struggled to rise.
eating too much of your mom’s cooking,” he complained as he held out a hand to
be tugged up.
“And you don’t
eat enough!” retorted Cassie, her pretty face frowning as she helped him stand.
“Sorry Jack, the brakes weren’t quick enough then,” she apologised.
“Well, at least
you didn’t get me with the stick,” he grinned and tapped her on the helmet she
“Damn, I knew
I’d forgotten something,” said Cassie grinning, the snapping of her fingers not
having quite the effect she was looking for under the thick gloves.
“Oh … you’re
sure taking after your mom, she’s always jabbing me too!”
“She just likes
looking at your butt,” said Cassie with an evil grin and hurriedly she skated
after the puck that had shot off the ice.
after her, his mouth open for a moment, before shaking his head ruefully.
He took off his
helmet to rub his hand through his sweat matted hair and skated slowly across
He breathed the
clean sharp air in deeply, the cold pushing through his lungs, his energy
revitalised by the rush from the cold sweet air as he gazed across the
The beauty of
the lake and the surrounding area never failed to capture him. Its stunning
beauty in winter gave him strong reminders of the thrill of youth - never
forgotten moments of chasing across the first ice of winter. Fishing in summer
held a certain appeal, but nothing to compare to the sharp blue of the ice, the
sun’s weak winter rays reflecting from its surface, as well as the added bonus
that very few people dared to venture here in winter.
was he in the view, he was only partially aware of Cassandra Fraiser skating to
a halt besides him, his attention only claimed when she linked his arm and
leaned into his shoulder.
beautiful here, thanks for bringing me. When you said skating I thought you’d be
taking me to another rink.”
“I haven’t been
here for a while, but it’s not changed,” he admitted, his eyes scanning the
breathtaking view again.
his arm again. “Thanks,” she whispered.
you away from the Saturday gang at the mall then?” he teased.
Cassie seemed to pick a lot up from him … and Doc didn’t seem to think any of it
good from the way she lectured him.
“Cassie …” he
began with a sigh, then paused with a smile as he looked down and saw her face
beaming with mischief back up at him.
punched him playfully on the chest, skating off.
and gave chase.
It turned into
a game of tag on the ice. Cassie eventually surrendered breathlessly, holding
her hands up in submission, laughing.
definitely gotta keep fitter, it’s not fair an old guy beating me.”
and grabbed at her jacket, panting heavily himself. “Less of the old, kiddo!” he
complained. “Come on, I’ve got a flask of chocolate in the truck, let’s get
happily. “Mmm, chocolate.”
“Huh, what is
it with chocolate and women, eh?”
at being called a woman. At fourteen she considered herself very grown up … that
was until she was with Jack … then age usually had no meaning for her … she just
enjoyed every minute too much, but the mischief reared its head again.
it’s a substitute for sex,” she said, trying to look innocent.
The squawk of
embarrassment he began to utter turned into a coughing fit, Jack going quite red
in the face and not just from the coughing.
his back with enthusiasm; it was nice to know she could still wind him up … with
managed to resume normal breathing and shook his head, giving her a ‘You wait’
They moved to
the bank, took off their skates and replaced their boots, both of them grimacing
at the coldness of their boots’ interiors.
As Jack slung
the skates and helmets over his shoulder, Cassie picked up the sticks for the
journey back to the truck.
The snow wasn’t
particularly deep, nicely crisp and they crunched their way across it to the
vehicle, leaving clear footprints behind them.
practically inhaled the cup of chocolate, reminding him of a certain
archaeologist that he knew and his relationship with coffee. She cocked her head
at his grin and demanded “What?”
responded with a shrug.
me, Jack O’Neill!” she retorted with a swing of her hair.
narrowed on the vision of Janet that appeared before him. “Don’t do that!” he
“Do what?” she
mind,” he finished lamely.
to be content finishing her chocolate off and Jack tidied up the cab in his
truck before neatly capping the flask and putting it away.
“Do you think
we could visit that cool shop we saw on the way up?” begged Cassie.
the truck up, giving her a headshake as he did so.
“Your Mom said
to have you back by 1800 hours at the latest.”
“Oh, she won’t
mind if we’re late a little bit anyway, it’s only ‘cause one of Mom’s old
friends is stopping by.”
“Then we had so
better not be late,” said Jack as he swung the truck around and began the slow
journey over the narrow snow covered road.
great gadgetry-type shop next to it … pleeease?” she begged.
“Uh … that
would still be a nooo!” he responded with a grin.
you who I can dump off soon, than face your Mom on Monday morning for a
physical!” he retorted.
“Dump off?” she
echoed. “I’m bitterly wounded,” she announced and clutched at her young bosom.
should get better grades at your drama class,” he grinned and despite herself,
Cassie grinned back.
She could never
stay annoyed at him for long!
fiddling with the radio, switching stations looking for music she liked when she
felt the truck slowing and looked up.
down?” she asked as she saw the truck to the side of the road. It was an army
type truck, the ones with a canvassed back and tailgate, but it bore no military
Jack as he slowed right down and took the precaution of popping the central
stepped out into the road from the truck and waved at them to stop.
the truck to a halt just behind the truck, but still on the road.
“Hi there, can
you give me a hand?” called the man. He was bundled up against the cold, with
only a beard and glasses showing from beneath his hood.
Jack wound his
window down a little, he felt somewhat uncomfortable, something seemed … well
off somehow. “Want me to call you a tow truck?”
could take a look?” asked the man stepping closer to Jack’s side of the truck.
“Well, I’m no
mechanic,” said Jack with a shrug.
what Sam told me, she said you kept that old bus running when you all went back
to …” blurted Cassie. Jack’s eyes widened and he shook his head and Cassie
stopped realising what she had been about to say. She blushed and gave a hurried
apology. Damn, why was her mouth running today? It didn’t usually.
call you a …” began Jack, then stopped dead as he turned back to the window to
find the man had a gun trained on him. The eyes that stared back at him were a
killer’s eyes and he knew the man would have no qualms using the weapon.
muttered. “Look, if its valuables you want, I’ve not got much. Take my wallet,”
he said, raising his hands from the wheel. If the man had been a little bit
further away he could have risked pushing Cassie down and gunning the truck
away, but where the man was the gun was practically at the window, no way could
he miss such an easy shot.
Cassie sat on
the seat completely still. Jack heard her take a gulped breath.
narrowed as another figure stepped out from the other truck and moved around to
Cassie’s side, also brandishing a gun.
everything up quickly and came to the conclusion that there was nothing he could
do at the moment – on his own it might have been different, but with Cassie
“Okay, take it
easy,” said Jack quietly and popped the central locking open. The man stepped
back, the gun still pointing at Jack’s head, as he opened the door.
“And the girl!”
barked the man.
and easy, come on,” urged Jack, motioning her to follow him out on his side.
pale, but she obeyed Jack, sliding over the seat and down to stand beside him at
the side of the truck.
their coats when they’d got in the truck and the cold wind made them shiver.
Jack pulled her closer to his side. “How about we get our coats?” he asked.
The man shook
his head. “Uh, you won’t need them.” He backed away slightly and called into the
back of the other truck. “Okay!”
Two more men
appeared and the canvas was thrown back. Jack couldn’t see into the back of the
truck from where he stood.
motioned them with the gun to the side of the road. “We’re taking your truck.”
we won’t be causing you any trouble. Just take it and go,” said Jack quietly,
but his words were ignored.
The man stood
guard over them while boxes were being unloaded from back of the other truck.
Jack shielded Cassie the best he could from the bite of the wind, keeping her
wrapped in his arms. He could feel her trembling slightly, but whether it was
from the cold or nerves, he wasn’t sure. He watched the men carefully, tucking
away in his memory everything he could about them, but they were well cocooned
in their clothing, not giving much away.
The other three
men kept moving the boxes and then called for assistance with something.
the man with the gun. “Any funny business and the girl gets it!” he warned,
gesturing Jack over to the others.
reluctantly moved over and what he saw made his eyes widen. A missile gleamed
wickedly in the truck’s dim interior. He realised that this was no ordinary
liquor warehouse robbery or something and it stunned him for a moment.
Two of the men
climbed into the truck and Jack stood at the back with the other man, waiting as
the long, thin body of the missile was slid towards them. “Make sure you get a
proper hold,” warned the man beside him with a glare.
Jack took hold
and grunted a little with the weight. The markings on the missile told Jack all
he wanted to know … and all he wanted for the moment was to ensure that Cassie
wouldn’t be harmed.
staggered over to Jack’s truck and carefully loaded it. Two of the men secured
The man with
the gun pushed Cassie over to them and she shot forward to hug Jack. He
enveloped her shivering body in his arms, wondering what was next.
One of the men
had been rummaging around in Jack’s truck and he came over, throwing Jack’s
wallet to the man with the gun.
demanded the man irately as he caught the wallet with one hand, the gun
“Check it out …
he’s Air Force!” growled the man. “*Colonel* O’Neill!” he stressed the
“So?” said one
of the other men as they moved over.
“So … should
they catch us up, what better hostages than an Air Force officer and his
Jack winced, he
had been hoping they would just be abandoned with the broken down truck, maybe
even hog tied, he could have done something about that … but as hostages…
expecting us home real soon,” announced Cassie.
“Yeah and when
they start looking for them it won’t be just a quick nosey around by the local
sheriff,” added one of the others.
“No, but you
know we need two days before we get picked up, and the army is hot on our trail.
This could just be the leverage we need. They’ll think twice about coming in
with guns blazing if one of their own is in the firing line,” said the man with
heavily. He *so* knew it wasn’t going to be a simple robbery, things were never
*that* simple for him!
almost retired, I fly a desk, they’re not gonna be screaming for me. Besides
that I am *not* army. They won’t be too bothered about saving my ass from being
shot,” he urged quietly.
with us. Any smart stuff and the girl gets it, okay?” snapped the gunman, his
mind obviously made up. “Get in,” he ordered. “In fact, you can drive, you
obviously can handle it in the snow,” he said, with a sly dig at the man who was
about to get behind the wheel. The would-be driver scowled and moved over,
allowing Jack to get in.
behind the wheel with two of the men beside him. Cassie was pushed into the
back, sandwiched between the other two. The gun dug into her ribs, making her
no need for that,” snarled Jack, turning on the seat.
The gun was
suddenly jammed against his throat. “Just drive where I tell you. Any sudden
moves and your daughter is history, got that?” The gun barrel was jabbed,
punctuating each word as the man spoke.
slowly and turned back around.
follow the road up to the crossroads, then right on up to the old fort.”
Jack nodded and
put the truck into gear, making a smooth start. He kept the truck going
steadily, well accomplished at driving in snow; it held no fear for him. He knew
they were heading up to the old army base. It had been abandoned some ten years
ago, but there were still buildings, and, Jack remembered, a landing field.
seemed to take forever, yet was only a little over three hours. They’d made good
progress over the higher road where the snow was heavier still, even though it
was treacherous, steep, and narrow. The high cliff on the left ensured the road
was always scattered with loose rocks just waiting to snare the unwary. The base
had been primarily built as a training camp, but its inaccessibility for part of
the year and the inability of the road to cope with the traffic it necessitated,
were just a couple of the reasons it was abandoned Jack recollected, not alone
that its small landing field was unsuitable for anything except helicopters.
glancing in his rear view mirror to watch Cassie, proud to note that although
pale and obviously frightened, she held still and kept her head up.
The light was
beginning to fade as they made their way to the camp gates. Jack saw that there
had been some traffic up there recently; the tracks in the snow seemed quite
fresh. The warning notices reflecting in the headlights, the ‘keep out
government property’ signs … blatantly ignored as one of the men jumped out and
removed the chain and heaved the gates open. Jack drove through and halted the
vehicle as the man fastened the gates again, before jumping back into the truck,
“Damn it’s cold
out there,” he complained, gesturing Jack on.
“It’s gonna be
a damn sight colder later,” said the man beside Jack as he nodded towards the
huts. He motioned to Jack to pull up in front of a warehouse and two of the men
jumped out to open the doors before waving him to drive in.
the gunman as he slid across the seat, pulling Cassie with him.
Jack turned off
the ignition, but left the keys in. Wordlessly he climbed out and stood waiting.
Everyone’s breath was marking the air and the cold stung.
“At least let
us get our coats,” he asked quietly.
considered it for a second or two, and then nodded. Jack went to the back of the
truck and rummaged behind the rear seat where the men had thrown their stuff.
slid into his coat pocket and found his cell phone still there. Obviously the
man who had found his wallet hadn’t checked further. He slipped it out of the
pocket and after switching it off, put it down beneath the seats. He didn’t
think the man with the gun was dumb enough not to search him properly. He
retrieved Cassie’s coat, hat and gloves as well as his own and climbed back out.
He held the coat out to Cassie, but the man with the gun stopped him and
throwing the gun to one of the others, searched the coat thoroughly and then
pushed Cassie up against the truck before doing the same to her.
He repeated the
actions with Jack, kicking his legs open wider, making him stand palms down
against the bonnet of the truck. Jack wondered at the man’s efficiency and
thought he might be ex-army or police.
there was nothing, the man allowed them to don their coats. “We’ll unload in the
morning,” he said taking his gun back from the other.
Jack was pushed
roughly out of the warehouse. He kept Cassie close to his side, his arm around
The gun poking
into his back kept him steady as they approached the barrack block. The building
looked dark as they walked towards it, but the door opened to show the lighting
was on and the heat from the wood burning stove greeted them kindly.
complained one of the two men sitting close to the stove. He stood up quickly as
he saw Jack and Cassie. “Who the hell are they?” he demanded.
shoved Jack forward into the room. “We had a little bit of trouble with the
the consignment?” growled the man who had risen. He was well built, face rough
with stubble and his blond hair was dark with grease.
Jack noted the
rifle he had slung in his arms, held lightly and easily.
Thankfully the Colonel here had a nice truck we could use,” laughed the gunman.
queried the blond.
“Want to off
them now?” asked the other man who now rose. He was massive, his bulk reminded
Jack of Teal’c, but the man’s face showed none of their alien friend’s
intelligence, he looked at them with an expression that Jack couldn’t quite pin
make hostages for now … maybe later,” he grinned in response, laughing when
Cassie’s gasp of fear reached his ears.
stow them in the back room. Think you’d better tie them up.”
blond man nodded. “Come on, Si,” he motioned the huge man beside him.
Si bent and
retrieved some rope from the backpacks that were heaped in a corner, before
walking to the back of the room and opening another door.
with his rifle for Jack to follow.
Si flicked the
switch on the wall and the dim lighting showed them a dusty corridor. The cold
outside the room hit them, making them shiver slightly. Si pushed open another
door just a little way down.
The room was
bare and dusty, the single lit bulb showing the cobwebs hanging from the low
ceiling, and Cassie shivered again. Jack squeezed her shoulder comfortingly.
Si threw some
of the rope at Jack. “Tie her up,” he ordered.
took the rope. He motioned Cassie to sit down and she put her hands in front and
held them up to Jack.
he gave her a tight smile.
“Less talk and
more action, old man,” threatened Si.
completed his task. He wasn’t foolish enough to leave the ropes lose, but made
them only as tight as was necessary.
“She’s just a
kid for crying out loud,” complained Jack, as he straightened a little.
The blow from
the rifle butt connected with him even as he saw it coming and it dropped him in
screamed Cassie as Jack went down like a lead balloon across her legs.
“Chicken shit officers!” He put the rifle down and dragged the unconscious man
off Cassie, tying the Colonel up proficiently, and making sure that the ropes
were good and tight.
quietly while they tied her ankles up after they had trussed Jack up well,
viciously pulling on the ropes until they dug into his skin.
She was afraid
that if she said anything they would hit out again, so she kept quiet.
“Don’t try and
untie him if you know what’s good for you!” threatened Brinks.
left the light on when they left. Cassie shivered, whether from fear or cold she
couldn’t have said, maybe both.
whispered as she shuffled herself closer to the prone man.
herself awkwardly to her knees and leaned over the still figure. They’d trussed
him tight, his hands were behind his back, and he was face down on the cold
She shook his
shoulder anxiously. “Jack please wake up,” she begged.
slightly. “Jack,” she urged.
One eye opened
and peered at her blearily. “Cass?” he whispered.
with relief. “Are you okay?”
“Um, think so,
gah!” Jack groaned as he tried to lift his head up.
begged Cassie when she saw the flicker of pain cross what she could see of his
flickered shut for a moment and he swallowed harshly before he struggled, and
with Cassie’s aid, flipped over onto his back. “Crap!” he muttered as the room
swam for a moment and he fought the nausea that threatened.
stopped, but you’re gonna be awfully bruised,” said Cassie as she eyed the wound
on the side of his face.
“It’ll be okay.
A few bruises won’t matter,” Jack said with a grimace as the room spun again.
frightened face pulled him out of it, and he eased himself up and shuffled back
to prop himself up against the wall. “Come here,” he whispered and Cassie
crawled close to lie against him.
“Yeah I know,”
Jack responded, watching their breath making puffs of clouds in the dim light.
“What time is it?”
struggled, pulling at her sleeve with her teeth to check her watch. “Almost
eight,” she sighed.
“Damn, your Mom
will be having kittens right about now” Jack winced with feeling.
send a rescue team out soon?” asked Cassie with a sigh.
promised. He knew although the alarm would be raised when they didn’t return to
Janet, nothing much would happen until he failed to report in to the SGC, and
that wouldn’t be until 2200 hours, having drawn a late shift to cover Hammond
while he was on leave. The search would commence, but Jack realised they would
have no idea where to begin as Janet had probably thought, like Cassie had, that
they were merely going to another rink.
“They won’t be
looking just yet, will they?”
“Not for a
while yet,” Jack answered honestly.
“What do you
think they’re going to do with us?”
they’ll just leave us tied up while they do what they have to and then leave.”
hide their faces … and we know two of their names,” said Cassie in a whisper.
For a moment
Jack wasn’t sure how to answer her on this. He thought rapidly, not wanting to
distress her any further - for now at least.
“They said they
were waiting to be picked up. Maybe they’re leaving the country and it won’t
matter if anyone can identify them.”
“Oh … maybe,”
said Cassie, her voice a tiny whisper as she huddled closer to him.
hat?” asked Jack suddenly, glad to have a change of topic.
“In my pocket,”
have put it on,” accused Jack. “See if you can get it out and on. It’ll help
keep you warm.”
Cassie sat up
and struggled to get her bound hands near her pocket. After fumbling a little
she managed to snare her hat and began to pull it on clumsily.
your fingers, it’ll help,” Jack suggested.
her fingers and gave him a grin from beneath the lopsided hat.
let’s try and get some rest for now.”
quietly while Cassie huddled into him. He was stiff and cold, aching, but held
still while Cassie fell into a light sleep, murmuring occasionally, but still
worrying about just how long their captors would keep them alive. He had huge
doubts that a rescue team would find them in time. Eventually the cold and the
quietness lulled him and his head dropped onto his chest.
The door opened
with a bang. Jack’s head shot up from the doze he’d fallen into.
with a start and gave a small cry as the pain from her bound wrists made itself
The man called
Si entered with a tray, putting it down on the floor quite near to them.
her hands. Just for a little while,” Jack pleaded.
“I uh, I need a
bathroom,” said Cassie in an embarrassed whisper.
The big man
gave a roll of his eyes. “Hostages are more trouble than they’re worth!” he
growled. “You too?” he asked Jack.
Jack nodded. He
didn’t feel the need urgently, but who knew when he’d get the chance again.
“Okay, one at a
time. You first,” he said to Cassie.
Cassie to her feet roughly by her hands and she cried out in pain at his grasp.
protested, “Go easy, she’s only a kid.”
Si growled, but
let go of Cassie’s hands. He pulled a large knife from his belt and held it up
to her face, laughing as she showed fear and then with a quick movement slit the
ropes on her wrists. He bent and did the same with the rope around her ankles.
way!” he snarled as he grabbed at Cassie’s jacket roughly, and hauled her
hobbling out of the room, the door closing behind them with a bang.
It felt like an
eternity before they returned and Jack only relaxed when he saw that Cassie was
Si bent and
slit the rope around Jack’s ankles, hauling him up. “While we’re gone you get
some of that down you, girl,” he nodded towards the tray that held water and
some chunks of bread.
He didn’t cut
the ropes that bound Jack’s wrists, but propelled him towards the door. Jack
staggered as the blood began returning to his feet. His head swam from the
combined effects of getting up too quickly and the blow to his head before they
tied him up, but the man didn’t give him chance to rest and pushed him forwards.
smell the latrines before he saw them as they turned the corner.
Si then slit
the ropes from Jack’s wrists and roughly pushed him towards the urinal.
Jack bit down
as the blood returned to his fingers with a rush of pain and he flexed them
trying to get them working properly.
snarled the big man impatiently.
“Uh yeah, just
a moment, my fingers are a bit numb,” said Jack as he tried to get his zipper
down. With the second fumble he managed it and at last he managed to pee. Jack’s
brain was frantically working while about his business, using the time to check
out the room.
All too soon Si
was manhandling him back down the corridor, but Jack had weighed up the best
time to make his move.
As soon as Si
pushed him into the room he feigned stumbling forward, and with a quick movement
turned and let fly, knocking the man down. He knew he wouldn’t get a second
chance, so he made sure his punches counted, smashing into the man’s face a
couple of times with all his strength.
Making sure the
man was out for the count, he grabbed the knife from the limp man’s hand and
ordered Cassie to get him the ropes. He quickly bound the man, and grabbing
Cassie’s hand, pulled her out of the room. He shut the door behind them and
dragged her back towards the latrines.
Once there he
quickly moved to the boarded up windows and used the knife to begin prying the
boards loose. He knew they wouldn’t have much time; it might only be minutes
before someone went looking for Si.
Soon Jack had
cleared enough wood from the window to get through.
“Just in case,
you remember where the truck is?” he whispered hurriedly.
listen carefully. I’ve hidden my cell phone in the truck under the back seat, on
the floor. If it’s clear, we are going to get to the phone and get some help. If
not then plan B, get the hell out of here, okay?”
“Good girl, hup,”
said Jack and boosted Cassie up to the window. He followed her closely and they
crouched in the darkness for a moment to let their eyes adjust.
They made their
way across the open ground as quietly as they could with the snow crunching
beneath their feet.
the warehouse in a few minutes. Jack listened hard for a moment in the stillness
of the night, and only when he was convinced nothing was stirring, did he let
the warehouse, the noise of the door opening seeming awfully loud in the night
air. Jack’s truck stood silently, its bonnet open and Jack quickly ascertained
that whoever had disabled it, knew their stuff.
Cassie gently towards the truck’s rear door, while he quickly checked the back
of the vehicle. He shook the fact from his mind that these men were somehow in
possession of the latest proto-type of a missile – one that was quite capable of
taking out a large city all by itself! He hauled himself up and ran his fingers
over the missile head, checking for the panel he knew was there. Using the
knife, he quickly removed the screws and lifted the panel.
He drew a quick
breath as he realised the missile was actually set, ready for firing and all but
armed, and quickly cut into the wiring, removing a small, but vital box, without
which the missile was doing nothing and going nowhere.
box, he jumped down from his truck and checked around the warehouse. He noticed
the small door at the rear and hurried back to Cassie. She’d retrieved his phone
and switched it on and was frantically trying to dial.
she hissed at him.
He had wondered
why the men hadn’t contacted their base when their truck had broken down – now
he knew. “Okay, we need to get further from here. The signal’s being blocked by
the last ridge.”
“Can’t you make
the truck work?” she asked.
they’ve disabled it, we need to hoof it out of here, I know they’ve got other
vehicles, but we can’t hang around.” Jack shoved the cell phone deep into her
pocked as he heard a door banging and shouting from the barrack block. He pulled
Cassie towards the back of the warehouse and through the rear door he had
He knew that
someone would already be heading for the main gates, so he took off in the other
direction, holding back his pace so that Cassie could keep up with him.
All too soon
Cassie was gazing up at the wire fence that loomed before them.
“I can’t climb
that,” she squawked.
“Yes you can.”
Jack hurriedly snatched off his jacket, and holding it by one sleeve, slung it
above them so that it lay over the top of the barbed wire on the top of the
“Come on,” he
urged. Cupping his hands together, he waited while Cassie put her foot into the
cradle he made, and as she pushed up he used the momentum to boost her higher.
She found she could just get her hands to the top of the fence and as Jack
pushed harder, she heaved herself up, using Jack’s jacket squirmed uncomfortably
on to her belly on the fencing.
over feet first and let yourself down by your arms before you let go,” whispered
Jack as he backed up from the fence.
Nerves swam in
her stomach, but Cassie followed his directions and let herself drop to the
floor. The thump that resounded through her feet and to her knees as she hit the
ground wasn’t too bad, and she stood panting, wondering how Jack was going to
She watched as
Jack backed up and then moved away a little as he came running at the fence. He
launched himself up and managed to grasp the top of the fencing, hauling himself
up and over with grace, and had silently landed beside Cassie before she knew
that a few times,” she accused.
“Came in handy
sneaking out of boot camp,” he confessed, giving her a quick grin as he snagged
his jacket back off the wire. The rips in it didn’t matter for now, as long as
it could keep him warm.
put on his jacket and grabbed Cassie’s hand, and together they made for the tree
line. The moon was shining quite brightly, which made the going easier for them;
on the other hand it would also make it easier on their captors to follow them.
forest, Jack heard the gunning of a truck in the distance and knew their
pursuers were already out on the road. The high-pitched engine noise that
followed gave him extra worry as he recognised the sound of motorbikes.
Jack pushed the
pace as hard as he could until Cassie began slowing and gasping, and he stopped,
leaning over slightly to recover himself. The night air was cold and their lungs
ached as they tried to draw breath.
“Check the phone again.”
in her pocket and checked the phone, shaking her head in disappointment.
again after the ridge,” said Jack, keeping his expression carefully neutral.
After a few
minutes they resumed the fast pace the best they could. Cassie’s heart was
thumping madly and she longed for a proper rest, but she fought along valiantly,
not wanting to let Jack down.
Jack knew the
lie of the land and his main worry was to get past the ridge. He knew the road
was more or less the only way down; the alternative was too steep, and too hard,
especially at night. On his own he knew he might have made it, but he couldn’t
risk Cassie’s life that way.
The thick trees
gave them cover, but it also made the going more difficult in the darkness.
Cassie’s stumbling tore at Jack, but she never complained and he felt immensely
proud of her valiant effort. He just hoped she could keep going, if not neither
of them would be going anywhere.
Jack knew the
ridge wasn’t far away. They’d heard the high pitch of the motorbikes, possibly
two from what he could judge, and he knew the men were searching the roadside.
around for a sheltered spot and picked a large outcrop of rocks. He drew Cassie
over to it with him and knelt down, making Cassie sit.
“I need you to
stay put a little while,” he whispered.
lit with fear. “No, please …” she beseeched him.
“It’s the best
way. I need to scout out where they are. Once we get by that ridge we’ll get a
signal and help will be on its way.” He squeezed her shoulders comfortingly.
“You’ve been so brave Cass, just a little longer now.”
lit with a tremulous smile and she sniffed, rubbing a dirty hand across her
face, smearing the dirt already there. She was still holding back the tears and
Jack drew her into a quick hug.
“The road is
the only way down.” Jack pointed out the direction of it. “As soon as you get
the chance to make that call, speed dial 1 first, you’ll get General Hammond, if
not 2, okay? That’s Carter. Tell them you’re on the old Fort Johnson road, close
to Almond Ridge. Cass hon, tell them six men, that we know of, and that they
have a NEM 303 and to get in touch with Peterson, okay.
went wide at that. “A what?”
they have. It’s very important. Now repeat it to me.”
Cassie repeat the information and he knew she would remember it. “One other
thing, just in case, don’t let *them* find the cell phone on you, okay?”
need him to expand on that. She nodded in swift acceptance of his warning. He
gave her a quick hug and his parting shot was to wait one hour only and then get
to the road and sneak on down!
back!” she demanded.
“Course I am,
that’s just in case I get, erm, well stuck, okay?”
and checked her watch. Jack smiled at her and moved off quietly.
shivering lightly, now that the adrenalin and the heat from running were
dissipating. The night suddenly seemed filled with noise, twigs crackling and
trees groaning. Checking her watch once again showed her that time was almost
standing still. “Please hurry back Jack,” she whispered into the night.
forward, his pace slowing and getting quieter as he approached the road. He
hadn’t heard the sound from the motorbikes for a little while now and it made
him even more cautious to think they might be checking on foot.
He held the
knife ready in his hand. If the only way to get Cassie safe was to take out each
and every one of them, then he would do it. None of these men were innocents
here and he had no qualms about killing them if he had to.
The road was a
little down from his current position and he moved stealthily amongst the trees
and rocks. He heard the whine of a motorbike in the distance – just one – and
The road began
to grow further away from him, the bank down to it steep, now almost a ten to
twelve foot drop. He knew the further down he went the drop would become worse
and Cassie wouldn’t be able to climb down it in the dark without ropes. He
weighed up whether he could go just a little further and then crawling on his
belly to the edge, he scanned the scene in front of him. The moon was hovering
in and out of cloud, making it easier to see the road, but also easier for him
to be spotted.
The road bent
around out of sight and he sighed silently and squirmed further along until he
had an unobstructed view.
Sure enough the
truck was sitting on the road, dark and silent - waiting.
crawled a little closer. He could now make out hushed tones, no words, just two
men whispering something. The loud sudden burst of static from a radio
interrupted them and he heard the radio break into speech.
it down,” squawked one of the men, his words clear in the night air.
“Si, you spot
them?” asked the other man, obviously ignoring the plea from his companion.
“No sign of
them down here. I’m coming up to join you. Did Brinks spot anything?”
“Nah, he’s on
foot above us, but nothing yet.”
“Okay – be with
you shortly. Out.”
thumped with the words he’d overheard. That meant Brinks was somewhere behind
him … somewhere near Cassie possibly. He quickly weighed up his options. He
needed to clear the road and get back to Cassie … he just wasn’t sure how much
time he had. He opted for getting back to Cassie first. He wasn’t going to take
any chances he didn’t have to with her life.
the twigs snapping again. It wasn’t far away from her and she raised herself
slightly, trying to peer around the rocks.
The moon’s rays
didn’t give her much light because of the trees, the shadows very dark and
The noise came
from behind her now and she spun around in the dark. Her heart was beating
painfully and her mouth felt so dry she found it hard to swallow.
She felt so
close to tears. It had been easy to keep them at bay while Jack was with her.
Despite their situation, as long as Jack was close by she had still felt safe,
protected. Alone and in the dark she was very afraid.
came from close by and she stood in alarm, ready to bolt.
She backed away
from the noise slowly, heart hammering madly, threatening to burst and she
suddenly felt herself being snatched backwards. The scream she uttered was
stemmed in mid flow by a hand jammed viciously across her face and as she felt
it make contact she bit hard.
bitch!” snarled a voice in her ear. The hand withdrew suddenly and landed back
on her face with a slap that made her teeth rattle. Her right arm was drawn up
behind her back in a painful grasp, snagging her hair along with it as she
herself turned around and the smell of grease and body odour made her want to
bitch. Where is he?” the man shook her viciously and when she didn’t answer he
slapped her across the face again.
Tears and rage
boiled within her. She didn’t have the distance to use a knee, so she used her
feet to lash out as she struggled. She drew her head back, just as Jack had
taught her - when you couldn’t use your knees, use your head!
screamed in pain as she connected with his face. Finding herself free, Cassie
ran stumbling into the dark.
The man’s angry
shout from close behind made her gasp for breath. Within seconds of freeing
herself she was tackled and thrown full length on the ground.
She fought like
a wild cat, but the man’s strength overpowered her and despite her efforts, she
was turned and pinned beneath him, his breath so close to her face she wanted to
The moon chose
the worse time it could to appear in full strength and she saw her attacker’s
face clearly, the rage in it showing even in the dim moonlight.
snarled. “Fuckin’ officer’s brat!” He slapped her across the face before swiping
at the blood that ran down from his nose.
He grimaced in
pain. “You broke it!” he howled in rage and pain and slapped her again.
suddenly lit and he licked his lips. “I ain’t ever screwed an officer’s daughter
… and a Colonel at that … would have been better a General’s but …” he laughed
as her eyes widened in terror.
whispered from her painfully dry throat.
“I’ll teach you a lesson you won’t forget.” Pinning her wrists above her head
with one hand, he pulled at her coat with the other.
struggled, but her attempts only seemed to fuel his ardour. He laughed and
grabbed at her breasts painfully. “Jack,” she whispered as tears crept down her
“Jack? He ain’t
your daddy then? Don’t tell me the old bastard’s knocking you off? Even better
…” he grunted and moved back from her a little, fumbling at his waist.
The terror she
felt rose in her and she put her head back and screamed.
cautious on his way back to Cassie. He knew he would be of no use to her if he
was caught. The moonlight wasn’t helping much and its sudden appearances would
only help to light him up for anyone in the vicinity.
He judged he
wasn’t far from where he’d left Cassie when he spotted tracks in the snow. His
instincts were urging him forwards, his military mind urging caution … and as he
moved his pace began increasing as his senses raged.
The scream that
broke the silence of the night was suddenly cut off. His heart leapt into his
throat. “Cass,” he whispered hoarsely hurrying even more.
arrived at the spot where he’d left her. The snow showed signs of a struggle and
dark patches of blood were scattered on its surface, frighteningly vivid against
“Oh God … no
please not Cassie,” he moaned quietly, instinct pulling him forwards, following
the blood splatters and imprints in the snow.
child, please God,” he prayed.
scream flared his rage. He shot forwards, knife brandished, no coherent thought
other than she was alive and being hurt …
Cassie felt the
man’s hands at her neck in a bid to cut her scream. She choked and the scream
died in her throat. She felt his full body weight on her, his arousal pressing
against her thighs, and she bile as she sobbed, fighting to breathe.
A buzzing sound
grew in her ears, and just as she felt herself beginning to slip into darkness,
the pressure on her throat was suddenly released. Drawing a heaving choking
breath she opened her eyes as her attacker was suddenly pulled from her.
mesmerized as he was pulled up, saw the terror in his eyes as he realised just
what was going to happen as the strong hand clamped over his mouth. His eyes
widened and Cassie watched in horror as the knife slid across the man’s throat,
the dark blood spurting, spattering her face and clothes, as the blade completed
its deadly task and yet she continue to stare, as if in deadly fascination as
the light went from his eyes before he slumped and was released, his body
falling as if in slow motion.
scrambled to prop herself up, her feet finding no purchase to push her away from
the body at her feet. The moonlight hideously lit on the bloodied knife in her
rescuer’s hand and she sobbed wildly.
“Cass … oh God,
Cass, are you okay?” Jack threw the bloodied knife as far as he could from them
as he saw her terror. He launched himself beside her onto his knees, blocking
her sight of the body.
“Cass, hon, are
you okay, talk to me? Did he … did he touch you?”
up to see Jack’s face. The anguish on it shocked her. All she wanted was to feel
his arms around her, to feel safe and she held her arms out to him.
Jack’s rage at
seeing the man on Cassie knew no bounds. He knew what the man was attempting to
do and his guts twisted with such hatred he wanted to kill the man … not stop
him, but kill him! He acted on sheer instinct and despatched the man in the
efficient way he was trained.
Only as he let
the body drop did he realise just what he had further exposed Cassie to and the
shame rose in him like bile … another young life he had contaminated with
horrors … forgetting for the moment that in her young life she had seen much
horror … the shame rose in him vying for attention with the rage against their
He wanted more
than anything to hold her, comfort her, take that look of horror from her face,
but he couldn’t. It seemed as though her terror was directed at him and when she
scrambled to get away his heart began to shatter.
Still trying to
offer comfort he knelt beside her, frightened to touch, to hold …
When her face
turned to him, shock clearly written on it, it nearly undid him. Then when she
held her arms open to him, silently begging to be held – he crushed her to him,
rocking her close, the trembling rising until he wasn’t sure just exactly who
was trembling the most.
The damn broke
from her and her heart wrenching sobs rose and she shook and sobbed in his arms
paced the corridor outside General Hammond’s office impatiently. The time had
long since past for anger. At first she’d been annoyed when 1800 hours had
arrived … and no sign of the wayward pair she’d waved off early that morning.
Her friend had
arrived and she was distracted for a couple of hours and her anger rose. She
excused herself and tried ringing the Colonel’s cell phone – only to find it
“If you’ve gone
to the movies Jack O’Neill, your butt will be black and blue come Monday!” she
spat into the automated voice mail. Then she cringed when she realised she’d
just physically threatened a superior officer … She could only hope the officer
in question feared her needles enough to not report it … and take it in the
light of a mother’s frustration.
departed shortly before 2200 hours and there was still no sign of her daughter.
She called a couple of the rinks she knew the Colonel frequented and drew a
blank. Most of the staff knew the Colonel and reported they hadn’t seen him at
all - now she was very worried! She knew Jack wouldn’t be so irresponsible to be
so late without word. She sat and began dialing the base. She knew if there had
been an accident his dog tags, which he never removed, would ensure the base
drew a negative response. She began pacing restlessly, wondering where to try
next … it was 2230 hours …. The phone’s ringing made her grab for it
breathlessly and she was disappointed to find it was Colonel Harrison from the
SGC – surely they weren’t calling her on duty …
I understand that Colonel O’Neill is with your daughter. Do you know where they
“Sir, no … I
expected them back by 1800 hours and I’ve had no word.”
O’Neill failed to report for duty at 2200 hours and we haven’t had any luck
contacting him either. Do you know where he was heading?”
for a moment. “Not really,” she winced, gee that sounded like so bad a mom …
“Colonel O’Neill made arrangements with Cassie to take her skating. I’ve called
where he usually goes and nothing … they’ve not seen him at all today.”
“I see. I’ll
call the rest of his team and see if they can shed any light on his whereabouts.
Are you staying at home?”
up here if everything’s okay, so yes I’ll be here.”
“I’ll be in
the receiver and continued pacing. If the Colonel hadn’t reported for duty then
there was something serious preventing him … “So help me Jack O’Neill …” she
threatened. She sat down and began dialing the hospitals and used her influence
to get any admissions that day checked out …
Jack was aware
of Cassie’s sobbing drying to hiccoughs. The trembling in his limbs was dying
down and he drew back slightly from her. “Cassie, we’ve got to go. Can you
not trusting herself to speak just yet. Gently Jack drew her to her feet. Rather
belatedly he realised that he no longer had the knife and he cursed his lapse.
He knelt down beside the body to search for a weapon and found only another
knife ... quickly he pocketed it and rose to urge Cassie to come. He kept
himself between her and the body and guided her away from it … taking a slightly
circular route to get them back on track.
When they had
put a little distance between the dead man and them, he stopped. “They’re
waiting on the road. We need to get past them somehow and then you’ll be able to
make that call. Do you remember what you need to say?”
and brushed the hair from her face, grimacing as she realised the matting in it
was probably blood. In fact, as she looked up at the man next to her, she
realised that they were both covered in splatters of thick, red blood. Her coat,
where Jack had held her, was the worst, blood from his hands staining the pale
blue surface. She flinched, nausea almost overwhelming her for a moment.
Jack saw the
action and pulled her closer. “Are you hurt?” he whispered.
her head, swallowing and pushing down her revulsion.
Jack heaved a
sigh of relief. She wasn’t ready to speak yet and he could understand that - he
just hoped she wouldn’t go into shock …
enquiries drew a blank. Her cell phone ringing dragged her from her latest
enquiry and she answered it quickly.
I need you to report to base. I’m sending two SF’s over to your house in case
there’s any contact made there. We need to consider the fact that the Colonel
has been compromised and a situation has occurred.”
thumped at his words, but at least now a proper enquiry would be started. She
knew the civil police would take no action for at least twenty-four hours from
1800 hours and that might just be too late.
sank when he saw that the men had converged at the truck. Five of them were
pacing on the road, guns at the ready. He felt Cassie squeeze him arm tightly.
make it,” she whispered.
this was as far as they could go if Cassie was to make it down to the road
safely. Even just a few feet further on the sides fell away too steeply, too
long a drop.
Gently he drew
her back from the edge to where they could talk in safety for the moment.
“Cass, we need
a distraction to get them from their position. When they move you get down and
run as fast as you can down the road and make that call okay?”
widened as she took in his words. She shook her head, tears already beginning to
form once more.
“Cassie, I need
you to be brave. You can have help on its way within an hour, maybe less. The
longer we stay here, the more chance we have of being caught, and I don’t think
they’re going to leave us alive now.” Jack held onto her shoulders, his eyes
locked onto hers as he spoke.
leave you,” she whispered tearfully.
you’re the only hope we’ve got of getting a team in here, our only chance of
rescue.” ‘Way to go O’Neill … no pressure huh!’
“I don’t want
to leave you.”
“You won’t be
that far and maybe I can double round and get down. Look, it’s really important
that that missile doesn’t leave this country.”
He took the
small box from his pocket, turning it over in his hands, and as if reaching a
decision, suddenly scraped some of the snow from under a nearby tree and buried
the box. Turning back to face her, he continued.
it and for the moment it’s useless, but given the time they can fix it. Chances
are it’s being sold overseas and it’s going to end up killing thousands of
innocents. I know you can do this Cass, I’m counting on you. Get down that road
as fast you can and make that call. Keep to the side of the road and keep
at him mutely, the tears tracking down her face, through the dirt. “Jack …”
Jack saw her
waging the battle with her conscience. He watched her eyes and knew she’d
decided … “Good girl. Now let’s get you back there … stay down until they move.”
“What if they
“They will,” he
promised … ‘if I have to dance on the road naked they’ll move,’ he vowed
He guided her
back to the road and gave her a hug. “See you later kiddo,” he whispered, and
disappeared into the trees before she could object.
at her face, trying to dry the tears that continued to fall silently. She was
cold, frightened … she wanted her Mom, but most of all at that moment, she
wanted Jack safely at her side …
thoughts were wrenched to the present as Sam and Daniel hurried down the
corridor towards her.
“Janet … any
word yet?” asked Sam as she drew next to her friend.
Janet shook her
head. “Colonel Harrison is trying to get hold of General Hammond now. The police
have been notified and an APB has been put out.”
“That’s a good
start at least,” said Daniel, trying to offer comfort.
Harrison came out of the General’s office. “The General’s on his way in. We’ll
wait in the briefing room, Teal’c’s already there.”
Teal’c stood by
the window overlooking the gate room, waiting for them to arrive.
“Is there still
no word?” he asked as they entered.
the Colonel replied, taking his seat, leaving the head of the table free for the
General when he arrived.
Sam gave a
start as she realised with a pang just how odd it was to see someone else in the
Colonel’s usual seat.
ordered back to base and questioned to see if she knew anything she’d had the a
feeling of dread. It was bad enough the Colonel, but Cassie as well …
be checking out Jack’s place?” asked Daniel suddenly. He’d been unusually quiet
since he’d heard the news.
sent Major Reynolds and his team. Jack’s place is locked up tight and sound, no
sign of anything amiss. His neighbours reported he left early morning and hadn’t
seen him return,” said Colonel Harrison. “Also I’ve got the switchboard
repeatedly trying his cell phone.”
Daniel. “I take it then that the rinks he’d normally take Cassie to have been
“I rang those
first and all the others in town after that. No sign of them – nothing,”
“So, he either
took Cassie out of town or they didn’t go skating at all … any hockey matches in
state … anything?” questioned Sam.
“There are none
this weekend,” commented Teal’c. “O’Neill was quite specific about his plans
when he spoke to me yesterday evening. He did in fact ask if I wanted to join
them as he was taking Cassandra to skate. It is with the utmost regret that I
have known that something would happen Teal’c,” said Daniel. “Did Jack mention
for a moment. His Tauri friend suffered from verbal profusion when discussing
something unrelated to himself on a personal matter, and he was greatly confused
at times with O’Neill’s phrasing, something he was sure that the man did on
purpose to keep him on his toes.
that it was going to be good weather for it,” he remembered.
“Good weather …
he wouldn’t need to bother about that indoors,” said Janet.
anywhere?” asked Colonel Harrison.
Sam shook her
any that I know of within easy travelling distance.”
Colonel’s truck is in town the police will find it. All the hospitals have been
notified and checked and we’re monitoring the airwaves,” offered Colonel
Harrison, trying to give some measure of reassurance.
wandered over to the clock. It was 0100 hours and the strain was already
showing. Everyone was tired from an already long day.
Hammond’s sudden arrival, in civvies, brought them all to attention.
people, now tell me what the hell is going on … just where is Colonel O’Neill?”
still. It seemed an age since Jack had left her and her breathing seemed very
loud in the night. She could hear the quiet murmurings and the pacing from the
men just a little way down the road and occasionally she heard the door opening
and closing on the truck.
Jack had warned
her to keep her head back from the edge so that the clouds her breath made
wouldn’t alert anyone, so she
hadn’t even tried to look, staying as still as possible.
noise from the road further up startled her and she sat up with a jerk as she
wondered what it was. The continued rattle of stone made her realise that Jack
had started his distraction and she crouched back down, waiting silently.
She heard the
footsteps below her and the urgent whisper of the men as they moved closer to
investigate. If she had leaned over she would have been right on top of two of
Jack cursed as
he realised they weren’t moving yet. He’d started the small rockslide and hoped
it would be enough to draw them from the vehicle … obviously not!
inwardly as he realised he was going to have to put a lot more effort into it.
Moving further back up the roadside he smacked a branch against a tree trunk,
the crack it made sounding like gunfire, and he heard one of the men shouting.
The trucks lights were suddenly switched on and the engine started. He’d been
hoping they might have left the truck and come running, but it seemed they
weren’t complete idiots …
reflected a long way on the snow covered road and Jack moved quickly, trying to
draw them back towards the base.
The sound of
the motorbike made him run just a little faster. He wanted to make sure that
Cassie’s route down would be clear, but hopefully not get caught … at least just
as two of the men darted further up the road. They were calling to the others
behind them. When the sharp banging noise reached their ears the truck’s lights
came on and the engine was started. The truck pulled up to allow the two men to
grab on to the running board. She could see their guns held out, ready to fire
and her heart leapt with fear for Jack.
started up and overtook the truck, its narrow beam casting its light along the
hoping and praying that all the men had left. Her arms and legs shook slightly
as she rolled on her belly and she let herself drop down onto the hard surface.
drop was around ten feet, the snow cushioned her fall and within seconds she was
up and moving. The quaking fear that someone was waiting to grab at her wound
its tendrils around her and she began to run, tears running freely. She ran as
fast as she could, the light from the moon making the road clear enough, but the
shadows from the cliff at her right and the trees on her left were long … and
She wasn’t sure
how long she ran … she was gasping for breath, her heart thudding so madly she
thought it would burst.
her hand on the cell phone in her pocket as she ran. That phone was their
lifeline … she began to slow down, trying to get her breath and moved to the
side of the road, squatting down as she turned on the phone.
It seemed an
age before it lit and she confirmed the switch on … the signal wasn’t full
strength … but enough!
fear and relief, she began to speed dial …
aide came running up the briefing room stairs. “Call on the outside line Sir …
Cassandra Fraiser!” He didn’t apologise for the interruption, knowing the
importance of the matter in hand.
moved with a speed that belied his bulk and years, and he snatched up the phone
and punched the line in button.
toned down his usual bark to speak softly.
Janet had moved
over to him and was almost on his elbow, her eyes wide and questioning.
The General hit
another button on the phone and put it on speaker.
At first they
could only hear someone gasping for breath and Janet’s knees almost folded. Just
in time Sam pushed a chair behind her and she sat down with a thump.
is that you?” she managed to speak.
Cassie’s voice broke with a sob.
“Yes, it’s me,
we’re all here,” responded Janet.
are you? Tell us and we can come and get you,” said the General calmly.
“We’re on the
Fort Johnson Road …” she gasped again, trying to even out her breathing to
continue speaking. “Almond Ridge … I’m just below it.”
O’Neill with you?” asked the General.
“He’s … oh … he
told me to tell you six men …” she panted heavily.
have to hurry. He said they’ve got a NEM303. Jack’s back there on his own so I
could …” she gasped again.
“Take it easy
Cassie, just try and catch your breath,” said Janet with a calmness she didn’t
“Jack said to
tell you contact Peterson … the army … they’re after the men … they’re waiting
for pick up …” she broke off with a sob. “No, not six, oh God, Jack …” She
sobbed again, clearly trying to control the panic that was there. “Please
“Cassie are you
on the road? Are they chasing you?” asked Sam, drawing closer to the General,
her voice full of concern for the obviously frightened girl on the other end of
“Yes … I’m on
the road, but they’ve gone after Jack … you’ve got to hurry, please …”
“Cassie, I want
you to keep talking to us,” said Sam as the General waved at her to signal he
was going to use another phone. “Is the battery okay?”
“Yes … Jack
kept it shut off till we got a signal.”
“Cassie, I want
you to get off the road and get down … is there a ditch or something at the
There was a few
seconds silence, then the trembling voice answered. “Trees … cliff on the other
“Okay, can you
get into the trees? We’re going to get help to you. It won’t be long. You can
keep talking to us.”
“I … it’s
darker under the trees.”
sounded so lost and alone it made Sam almost weep. She was anxious for the
Colonel as well and she didn’t dare risk another glance at Janet’s frightened
face, fearing it would undo her.
“Mom, are you
Janet bit down
a sob and cleared her throat. “Yes hon, I’m here.”
“Mom … I …”
there was a moment’s silence and then rustling. “Oh God, I can hear gunshots.”
in the briefing room could also hear the shots faintly over the phone and Sam’s
heart did a flip.
Cassie, they sound far away,” said Daniel as he realised Sam couldn’t speak for
“Jack … Jack’s
back there … Oh God, they’ve shot him…” Cassie’s voice choked off with a huge
filled with unshed tears, the anguish in the young girl’s voice almost too much
to stand. “No …” she said shakily. “They’re just trying to scare you. Keep
“No … I can’t
leave him … send help! Hurry!” screamed Cassie into the phone.
screamed back as she rose, getting closer to the receiver. “Listen to me!”
The line went
They stayed in
stunned silence for several seconds before Sam grabbed the phone and began
dialing the Colonel’s cell.
It rang for a
second then was cut off. The second dialing gave them the switched off message…
running back up the road before she realised she left the cell switched on and
she still had hold of it. The shrill tone as it rang startled her and she
quickly switched it off. Remembering what Jack had said about not being found
with it she threw it onto the roadside and ran on. The thought that she had cut
off her contact with the outside world didn’t occur, only the thought that Jack
was captured and hurt kept her going … maybe she could help him … maybe they
wouldn’t kill him if they thought they had them both safely locked up again …
going back up,” moaned Janet.
came back in and Sam quickly filled him in.
exploded the General.
“We think she’s
going back to Jack … or at least trying to,” said Daniel.
them!” sighed the General. “I’ve spoken to Peterson and General Marsh, the army
commander in charge and I have made him aware of the situation with Colonel
O’Neill. Apparently the theft of the missile occurred from the laboratory
transport on its way to its new location.”
“NEM … a
missile?” asked Daniel, his eyes widening.
“Naquadah Enhanced Missile. I didn’t know we’d actually produced any yet
General,” she said with a slightly accusing tone.
“The Chief of
Staffs authorised it and the army was taking delivery of the proto-type. It’s
one of its kind at the moment …”
power to take out a large city and …”
“And it’s now
in the hands of … what? Terrorists? … Mercenaries?” asked Daniel bitterly.
knew about this?” asked Janet, somewhat dazed. If she thought for one moment
that Jack O’Neill had taken her daughter into danger deliberately …
would recognize it for what it was,” admitted the General. “He’s acknowledged as
an arms specialist and particularly with the SGC’s role in fulfilling our
weapons!” cried Daniel bitterly.
“To keep Earth
free from the Goa’uld, Doctor Jackson!” barked the General, then he paused,
visibly reining in his temper before speaking again. “But back to the matter in
hand. Colonel O’Neill would not be aware of the theft as it only occurred
yesterday and he certainly would not take such irresponsible action as to drag
Cassie along. I think it’s a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong
“What are the
army doing? Are they able to help?” asked Teal’c.
sending specialist teams in and have another helicopter standing by for SG1
along with an officer to brief you.”
“And me,” said
daughter, General and if either of them are hurt I need to be there,” she said
quietly, coming to attention.
gazed at her for a moment before responding. “Very well Doctor, get yourself and
two medics ready. Major Carter, you are in command of our side of the rescue.
Bring them back.”
threw the General a quick salute and along with her team and Janet Fraiser, they
made a hasty retreat to change and get to the transport.
diversion had worked … but the trouble was he couldn’t actually be assured that
all the men were following him.
He knew there
were at least two with the truck earlier and the man called Si on the bike, he
could here, the bike was not far behind him … but there was still two unknowns.
They could be anywhere … he just hoped for Cassie’s sake they hadn’t stayed
He had to stay
close to the road to keep them moving, at least a little while, giving them a
shadowy figure to chase.
When he could
see the bike’s headlight reflecting the road at the side of him he dived off
into the trees. Crashing his way through, the more noise at this stage the
better … the thwack of a bullet as it hit the tree ahead of him made him change
direction suddenly and he decided that it was time to head further into the
running, her breath coming in gasps now, the road seeming much steeper going up
than it had going down. She could hear the vehicle ahead and see the lights
flickering ahead of her, wavering to and fro in their search.
hadn’t got him … maybe he was okay … maybe … Cassie screamed as a strong pair of
arms grabbed her and lifted her up. The scream died in her throat and suddenly
the world crashed sideways and blackness overtook her …
direction again as another bullet whizzed by into the night. He knew it was too
far away from him to be a danger and must have been a lucky shot. He realised he
had to rest soon, his lungs and limbs burned with running. He also had to try
and find out where the men were and see if he could get back down the road.
Failing that he decided his best move was to hide in plain sight … back at the
heavily, his chest heaving, he concealed himself under a large fallen tree, the
hollow beneath its huge trunk giving him shelter and a place to hide. He slowed
his breathing down and gradually got it back under full control, listening to
the sounds in the night air.
decided it was co-operating and stayed hidden behind the clouds. Jack strained
to hear past the normal sounds of the forest and its inhabitants going about
their usual nightly business. The comparative silence edged on his nerves a
little as he waited. He knew he should have been able to hear the engines of the
vehicles chasing him, if nothing else … unless they were now all on foot.
The crack of
three shots, close together, some distance from his current position he judged,
brought him to a crouching alert. He recognised it as a signal - ‘Oh Christ …
Cassie!’ was the sole thought in his head.
automatically, yet cautiously, in the direction of the gunfire, praying that he
were thoroughly frayed by the time they arrived at Peterson. The fresh faced
officer that joined them in their vehicle at the gates of the base to brief them
on their way to the waiting helicopters and the army team annoyed her beyond
reason when he picked up her surname.
child’s mother … they’ve allowed you …” he blustered.
sucked a sharp breath in and drawing herself straight on her seat, gave him an
icy glare, the one that worked on hard assed Air Force Colonel’s. “Although it
doesn’t say it on my uniform,” she almost growled as her hand swept over the
black outfit, “I am Major Fraiser, Lieutenant,” she announced scathingly. “I am
the CMO of the SGC.”
cringed and gave her a quick salute. “Sorry, Sir. You’re the doctor I was told
Sam nodded and
put a hand out to touch Janet gently on the shoulder. “I’m Major Carter. I’m in
command of our team. You need to fill us in as fast as you and get us under
give him his due, spoke quickly and to the point, giving them all the
information he had, which wasn’t actually a lot, but more than they’d known a
few minutes ago.
“The man we
think is in charge is Carl Mayer. He is a known arms dealer, clever and
ruthless, we’ve been after him for a long time. We know just two of the other
men involved, Brinks and Carconi – known as Si – short for psychopath to his
friends. They are very dangerous. Eight men were killed in their raid and we
followed their trail to the national park where we lost them. We found their
abandoned truck a little more than an hour ago.”
then filled them in on the disused army base and what they knew.
“What is to
prevent them from escaping when they hear us coming?” asked Teal’c.
stealth helicopters. Unless they are watching the field we should catch them by
surprise. We think they already have a buyer for the NEM lined up and are
waiting pick up.”
Sam felt her
heart sinking the more she heard about the men that had taken the Colonel and
Cassie. She knew the Colonel was more than capable of looking after himself, but
against those odds and with Cassie … she knew he would put Cassie’s safety to
the forefront, against everything … even his own life.
Jack used the
shadows and kept low as he neared the road. Another shot sounded, followed by
what he recognised as the leader’s voice.
know you aren’t too far away. We have your daughter,” he shouted.
recoiled in horror. He had been praying that Cassie was well on her way to
safety or at the very worst, still hidden where he had left her. He leaned back
against the trunk of the tree, letting his head fall back and closed his eyes
for a moment.
yourself up and she won’t be harmed.”
moving closer, he had to see, make sure …
her head hurt so much and she was cold, very cold. She moved her head slightly
and the movement caused the nausea to rise. She drew herself up slightly and
began to heave. The little of what remained in her stomach evacuated itself.
The grunt of
disgust from above her made her open her eyes. The dim world tilted and the dark
legs beside her had her straining her neck to look up.
called the man standing above her and she found herself being snatched up by her
jacket. Her legs wobbled and threatened to collapse and the tears began to track
silently down her face as she was unceremoniously dragged from the truck’s
wooden floor and manhandled off the tailgate.
that without the strong hold the man had on her she would have floundered on the
floor, and she didn’t struggle – she just didn’t have the strength.
The light that
shone in her face suddenly blinded her and she blinked as more tears tracked
down her cheeks, her vision swimming with orange dots.
“Where is he
heading to?” asked the voice behind the light.
her head a little, regretting it as the world tilted again, and she found
herself being shaken hard. Her teeth rattled, but just as suddenly as it had
started the shaking stopped and she began to retch. The heaves were dry, just
the bitter taste in her mouth to remind her.
Hardly able to
see, she was dragged forwards. The retort of a gun beside her made her jump
violently, forcing a snigger from the man holding her.
stiffened when she heard the man calling out to Jack. She just hoped and prayed
he couldn’t hear. The thought that it was herself that would lead to Jack’s
capture appalled her and the guilt began eating at her.
The second shot
made her jump just as much and she bit down a sobbed breath.
finished speaking and a deathly silence drew over them. She waited, listening …
She knew she
couldn’t let Jack give himself up. It was only a matter of time now before they
were rescued, he had to hold on a while longer – she had to hold on!
Drawing a deep
breath she screamed out - “Jack, hold out … don’t …” she didn’t finish as a hand
slammed across her face. It would have knocked her to the floor if she hadn’t
been held up already. Her lips split against her teeth and bright spots danced
in her vision.
Jack was close
enough to see … Two men were standing with Cassie in the light from the truck’s
He saw the blow
and his whole body screamed with rage. The fury in him was burning and yet he
knew there was absolutely nothing he could do except give himself up and take
their attention from her.
Drawing a deep
breath to try and calm himself, forcing himself to think rationally and box the
rage, he rose silently.
He was out of
the trees and stepping down onto the road before they saw him, arms raised in
surrender. The leader whistled and Si and the two missing men stepped from the
trees further up the road and began to move towards them.
Jack kept on
steadily walking towards the leader. Cassie looked to be deathly still in the
man’s arms and he prayed she was still alive. So help them, if she was dead … he
would kill them … each and every one of them – slowly and painfully!
eyes lit up as he approached. “Your daughter is alive, Colonel. That is if she
is your daughter?”
daughter!” growled Jack, the only excuse he could think of for Cassie screaming
his first name. They had to believe she was important to him, keep her alive.
The man nodded,
and using the rifle’s barrel, motioned Jack to stand against the truck.
“Search him Si,”
he called stepping back, the rifle trained on Jack’s back.
slightly from the force of the kick that spread his legs. A large hand in his
back slammed him against the truck and he felt the heavy hands frisking him
thoroughly. The knife he taken from Brinks was withdrawn from its hiding place.
Brinks’s!” snarled the man and flipped Jack around to face him.
The knife was
raised threateningly to his face and Si got up close and real personal with him,
the large man’s eyes widening at the sight of the blood splattered across his
clothes and hands.
the gunman warningly.
“Stay out of it
Mayer!” growled Si. “Where is he?” he spat at Jack, grabbing him by the throat,
his immense strength choking him.
still. He knew the man could snap his neck easily.
“Si, let go,”
ordered the man Jack knew now to be called Mayer.
him?” snarled Si. His grip tightened alarmingly on Jack’s throat as he struggled
“Si, let go or
I will personally shoot you. If Brinks is dead, then he is dead because he was
careless, as were you when you let them escape before.” Mayer’s words were calm,
but none the less deadly and no one had any doubt whatsoever that the threat
would be carried out.
believed it and with a final squeeze he let go. Jack’s hands went to his throat
automatically and he began to cough as he fought to draw air in.
glinted coldly behind his glasses. The deadly calm Jack had heard in his voice
bore witness in his face and Jack, for one of the few times in his life, felt in
actual fear of someone. Jack had done things in his life he was not proud of,
things he could never justify to himself, things done in his darkest moments,
but he knew without a shadow of a doubt, that the man standing before him held
no conscience and no fear of anything.
“Take them back
and lock them up,” said Mayer calmly.
“I want to take
him apart!” growled Si. The huge man’s bulk moved towards Jack again and it took
everything Jack had to stay still.
“Do what I say.
Brinks couldn’t have failed to hear those shots. He hasn’t answered his radio
for over two hours. Forget him.”
Si grabbed at
Jack again, but this time dragged him away from the truck’s side and towards the
back. He found himself facing the tailgate with a punch to his right kidney that
almost folded him. He gasped as the pain tore through him and the huge man
literally threw him into the back of the truck. He slid several feet in a tangle
of limbs before coming up hard against the side.
“Move and she’s
dead!” threatened Si as he mounted the tailgate and was passed Cassie’s prone
figure up by the other man before joining them.
perfectly still as Si settled down with a limp Cassie across his legs, one huge
hand gripping her jacket, the other Brinks’s knife.
was put into place and a thud at the side of the truck signalled its driver to
go. The truck lurched into gear and up the road so roughly that Jack was glad
the knife wasn’t actually any closer to Cassie than it was.
back to the camp felt like it lasted a lifetime, during which Jack had time to
wonder if Cassie still had the cell phone in her possession. She’d possibly been
caught sneaking down the road and if they discovered the phone and thought
rescue was underway he knew their lives wouldn’t be worth much at all.
jarred to a halt and Jack sat up slowly.
“Let me carry
her,” he begged.
Si rolled the
unconscious girl towards him with a nod.
Jack drew her
into his arms and held a finger to her pulse. He found it strong and steady and
sighed with relief. The few seconds while they lowered the tailgate gave Jack
enough time to search Cassie’s pockets. He didn’t find the phone and this gave
him hope that she had managed to ditch it in time … to hope that she had managed
to make the call was too much at this moment, his only thoughts were to keep her
rose from the airfield. Sam’s eyes caught Daniel’s and she nodded reassuringly
to him before reaching out and giving Janet’s arm a firm squeeze. She tried to
blot out her fears, focussing on the mission, focussing on the rescue.
Jack was shut
back in the same room with Cassie. This time they weren’t tied up, but he could
hear the pacing from the man on guard.
He’d been a
little worried that Si would be left with them and he fought down the sigh of
relief when they were thrown into the room alone.
He dragged off
his coat and wrapped Cassie in it, supporting her against him as he ripped some
of his shirttail to wet it down in the mug of water still on the tray in the
room. He snatched a mouthful of water for himself before proceeding to gently
wipe at Cassie’s bloody face. Her mouth was cut and bruised, but there seemed
nothing drastically wrong, although he did find a lump on the side of her head.
There was always a risk with head wounds, but her pulse was strong and steady
and provided she awoke soon, he didn’t think she was hurt too badly.
Jack judged it
wasn’t too far off dawn. He was tired and aching. The day had been long and
punishing, his body crying for rest, but he couldn’t … he held her close in his
arms, rocking gently, his chin on her head and he said a silent prayer for her,
this time he hoped it would be heard … ‘keep her safe, I don’t care about
anything else, keep her safe!’
with a sigh. Jack ceased the rocking, waiting for her to wake.
When it seemed
she wasn’t going to, he spoke. “Cass hon, can you hear me?”
“Uh, mmm,” she
sighed without opening her eyes.
on open those peeps for me, please,” he whispered to her.
slightly in his arms. Her eyes opened just a little, very slowly and she raised
her head. “Jack … Oh God!” she moaned suddenly and tried to sit up, her eyes
widening in horror as the memories hit her.
“Jack are you
okay?” she spoke in a rush, straining to see his face, her hand coming up to
touch him gently, as if not believing he was actually there.
“I’m fine,” he
“Oh … urghhh,”
she moaned and sank down against him as her head obviously made itself felt.
“Take it easy
Cass, try and stay still, you’ve taken quite a thump.”
She raised her
hand to her mouth. “Ouch, what the shit …” she moaned.
I’m in enough trouble when I get you back!” he warned jokingly.
at him wide eyed for a moment.
“You won’t be
kissing any boys for a while,” he gave her a grin.
back at him until the pull on her sore mouth made her wince again.
“Where are we?”
“Do not pass
go, do not collect $200, go …”
jail … we’re back where we started aren’t we?”
Jack nodded and
couldn’t help the shiver of cold that betrayed him.
straightened and pulled at his coat that she was huddled in. “Here,” she said
quietly, but when Jack looked as if to object she resolutely pulled it off,
trying to awkwardly put it around him. Seeing her determination, Jack gave in
and put the coat on, but left it open and pulled her gently against him,
engulfing her in it with him.
She pulled away
slightly after a moment and strained to see his face. “I made it down the road …
I made the call, I got through!” she began yelling excitedly and Jack
frantically shushed her. “Sorry,” she continued in a whisper. “I spoke to
General Hammond and Mom and Sam …”
“Then what the
hell were you doing when you got caught? You should have been halfway home by
now!” hissed Jack.
down suddenly. “I heard shooting,” her voice was barely a whisper now and he had
to strain to hear.
shooting in front of you?” asked Jack suddenly, the anger building up as a
sneaking feeling began to set in.
her head slowly, very slowly, not daring to look up at him.
Jack through clenched teeth. “Please tell me what happened.”
deeply. She knew she was for it now. The fact that she was solely responsible
for them being recaptured hit her hard. If she’d kept going she would have been
safe and Jack would have probably been giving the men the run around in the
“I …” she
faltered. Jack’s gentle but firm squeeze on her shoulder prodded her to speak.
you’d been shot,” she began.
after you made the call?”
Jack closed his
eyes. The anger in him rose then fizzled down to an absolute nothing. “And?” he
“I told them
what you said, switched the cell off, ditched it and ran back up. I thought
somehow that if I showed up they wouldn’t kill you.”
out harshly. ‘God what a mess!’
“Then I got
caught and they knocked me out and next thing I knew was when he was shouting to
you to give yourself up …” Cassie faltered. She looked up at his face and the
stillness of him, his eyes closed made her shudder. “Please Jack, I didn’t mean
to … I am so sorry …” her voice wobbled hoarsely, the unshed tears thick in her
Jack took a
deep breath in. “It’s okay Cassie, it’s okay.” He hugged her tighter to him and
began rocking her slowly. She sank thankfully into his embrace, taking comfort
from him, feeling the security of love and protection … letting it wash over her
like a warm blanket, soothing and warming like nothing else in her entire life
ever did. She would rather have only one other person hug her at this moment,
her mom, but Jack was close behind her in second place … and the security she
cherished in his love for her was second to none!
quietly for a while and gradually Cassie fell asleep again, her lucidity
convinced Jack that it was safe to let her rest. He was almost asleep himself
when the door opened with a bang …
Si. He pointed the rifle at Jack and motioned to the door. The other man stood
back a little out of the way, waiting.
“Just you!” he
yelled as Jack began to help Cassie up.
Jack nodded. He
gave Cassie’s hand a squeeze before he let go. “Won’t be long,” he whispered and
he gave her a wink before walking stiffly to the door.
Si didn’t give
him chance to turn back to her; as soon as Jack came within range he grabbed a
handful of Jack’s coat and threw him from the room. Jack bounced into the wall
of the corridor and was gripped in an arm lock, the rifle barrel grinding into
the base of his skull, and marched out into the cold … the other man resuming
his guard outside the room that held Cassie.
The dawn was
beginning to break, but the sky was a peculiar shade and Jack recognised the
signs of a heavy snow storm building, odd flakes already drifting down from the
laden sky, the wind cold and gusting.
that they were making their way to the warehouse where they’d left his truck …
and the missile.
He drew a sharp
breath when he rationalized that it was a certainty they weren’t going to use
him for unloading anything!
waiting to greet him was Mayer and two of the others. Si released his arm,
keeping behind him. Jack fought the urge to rub the life back into his numb
limb, and remained still.
The missile was
now unloaded. Its dull steel gray body looked ungainly from where Jack stood.
The tail had been built up and attached and it now resided on stands, obviously
unpacked from the nearby empty cases, and the small panel on the head of the
missile was open …
over a small metal hinged case. Jack recognised the arming and guiding control
and he knew the odds on him making it out of this alive had just fallen
“Where is it?”
demanded Mayer calmly. His eyes were chipped ice.
“Where is the
“The … what
box? I thought this was a missile not an interpreter,” said Jack stalling.
“Do not try my
patience, Colonel. The box translates the signals and impulses … without it this
is useless.” He waved his hand over the control case. “Now where is it? I know
it is not in here, we have searched thoroughly. You had the opportunity to hide
it in any considerable number of places last night.”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about, wasn’t me.”
He felt the
rifle barrel grind against the base of his skull warningly.
was intact when we … acquired it,” Mayer said calmly. He moved towards Jack
slowly, his lips parting in a grim smile.
“You id shows
you are based in Cheyenne Mountain. I know the base was involved in the
missile’s development. You recognise the missile, Colonel. I know you know
exactly what this is capable of.”
registered the barest flash of surprise, though concealed immediately he knew
Mayer had spotted his lapse. “We are involved in deep space telemetry there. I
get to do a lot of paperwork, not work with missiles,” said Jack calmly.
ground against his skull, sending a tendril of pain through him. Jack allowed
the wince to be visible to Mayer. “Look, I’m telling the truth. I’m just a desk
the box. Where did you hide it?”
“I …” Jack
didn’t finish speaking. At a nod from Mayer, Si used the rifle butt squarely
between Jack’s shoulders and downed him.
Jack hit the
floor on his knees, winded from the pain.
“I have a great
deal of patience and quite a lot of time to spare. Now you can tell me where it
is, and I might just let you off with a beating and leave you both tied up here
when we leave, or you can do it the hard way. Believe me, Colonel, either way
does not matter to me. You will talk in the end.”
to give Mayer the box was strong. He so badly wanted Cassie to be safe. ‘Give
him the box… take the beating or whatever … but Cassie would be safe … yeah she
would … but what about the innocents when that missile is used … what about the
hundreds … maybe thousands …’ Jack was torn. He wondered how long he could
keep them from touching Cassie. He knew rescue was under way, he just prayed the
storm wouldn’t blow before it arrived.
himself. He could lead them out through the woods. Hopefully rescue would come
and Cassie wouldn’t be hurt.
He blew out a
breath. He allowed himself to visibly sag, trying to show that his resolve had
“Okay,” he said
quietly, “I’ll lead you to it.”
“Get the girl,”
said Mayer to one of the men.
thought frantically. “You whacked her pretty good. She’s hurt. I hid the box up
in the woods, you haul her around and she dies and you’ve lost that box for
good, no matter what you do!”
into his eyes and Jack straightened his back, giving the man the same steady
once. “You have a deal. I will not harm the girl, but we have radios and should
I feel you are not doing your best then I will give instructions to the men
harshly, but nodded his agreement. Exhaustion he certainly wouldn’t need to
feign and that could work in his favour. He just hoped the rescue would happen
soon … like now would be good!
you, I am not totally sure of exactly where I hid it, but I’ll know when we hit
the area. We covered a lot of ground last night in the dark and got a bit lost
at times. We’ll need to retrace our route.”
“Remember, I have time, but do not try my patience too long!” he warned.
He gave orders
to Si and another man he called Cannon to get kitted up for a walk.
He threw open
the warehouse door and looked at the snow-laden sky. “Maybe we do not have as
much time as we think. You had better remember where you hid it quickly,
seven minutes, Major,” came the co-pilot’s voice over the radio. Sam responded
and gave her team their final briefing.
“I hope they’re
not too trigger happy,” said Daniel, motioning with his head in the general
direction of where he thought the other helicopter would be.
“They have the
Colonel’s description and know there is a child in there. Janet, you and your
team are to wait at the landing site until we call you in when it’s clear.” Sam
spoke quickly, highlighting the main areas once again.
give them the chance to surrender?” pushed Daniel.
warned Sam. Daniel had been quite vocal in his objections to the plan the army
had and Sam’s additions to it. It had never bothered her when Daniel had
questioned the Colonel, sometimes it had even amused her, a fact that now made
her cringe a little, but somehow now she was in the Colonel’s shoes relatively
speaking, it seemed to annoy her and she wondered at her CO’s patience at times
with the man. “These men are killers and will not hesitate to shoot to kill.
We’re working on the premise that the Colonel and Cassie were re-captured and
therefore these men are going to be on their toes. There’s another unit working
its way up from the road, but it’ll be slow going for them.”
even more reason to suppose that Jack and Cassie might be …”
admonished Sam firmly with a quick look at Janet’s face. None of them needed to
be reminded just how this could play out. “The army team are the best at what
they do. Let them do their job and let’s make sure we’re there to back them up,
and had the grace to look apologetic. “I’m sorry I argued with you, Sam. Can we
blame it on the fact that I’m missing Jack and have no one to nag?” he sighed.
“But if you let on to him I’ll disown you!” he added, bringing a smile to them
went into stealth mode, sounding eerie in the gray light that was beginning to
a storm warning, heavy snow and blizzards on their way,” called the pilot.
“Will it stop
us landing?” asked Sam, keeping outwardly calm.
confirmed the Pilot.
Jack led the
way from the base. He was cold and tired, but continual prodding from Si’s rifle
kept him moving. He wondered just how long he could stall them before things got
Mayer kept in
close contact with the base, obviously reminding Jack as to just how easy it
would be for Cassie to get hurt.
moving slowly. The wind was building in strength and the snow falling more
heavily, which made the going even more difficult. His pace began waning
slightly as his exhaustion started to overtake him, and when he finally fell, he
found it a huge struggle to get up again. He spat a mouthful of snow out and the
ground seemed to tilt as he was hauled up and his vision swam slightly.
Mayer seemed to
sense he wasn’t acting and made Si back off a little, giving Jack time to rest a
Soon they were
back under way. Jack stumbled along. His only plan at the moment was to delay
things until a rescue team intervened … His senses were wandering slightly,
cold, fatigue and hunger all vying for the same attention in his body, when they
suddenly came upon the area where Cassie had been grabbed by Brinks.
Si spotted the
blood and scuffed snow before Jack’s dulled senses realised exactly where they
were and the man rushed ahead, following the trail …
him forwards to follow faster and Jack upped the pace a little, not keen to see
the evidence of his actions from the previous night’s work.
The bellow of
rage from Si, showed that he had spotted Brinks’s body and he turned and ran at
the exhausted Colonel.
even have time to bring an arm up in defence, he was flung flat onto his back
and Si began pounding into him. The blows rained hard and fast on his face and
when he managed to raise his arms for some protection, the huge man began
pounding on his chest.
bastard!” screamed Si in rage. “You- killed- my- buddy!” Every word was
punctuated by a hard fist pounding into Jack.
her, the bastard was trying to rape her!” spat Jack.
He fought to
dislodge the heavy man, but every blow was counting against his already weakened
state. A low cry of pain was forced from him when one of the blows snapped a
rib, the next fist hit him in the same place and he cried out in agony. The
world seemed to grow distant, the buzzing rose in his head … the final blow
before Si was bodily dragged off sent the Colonel into oblivion.
Mayer used the
butt of his gun twice on the enraged man, then Cannon assisted in dragging the
heavy man off the Colonel.
around,” he ordered, throwing his canteen at Cannon.
Mayer held the
gun in the now conscious Si’s face. “I warned you to follow orders. We need him
alive until we have the box. When I have the box, he is yours and not before, or
I will kill you!”
Si’s dull eyes
showed no fear at the man’s words. Instead he nodded and rolled away from the
gun as he got up … He could wait a while longer to finish him …
and coughed, his body jerking in agony as he jarred his broken rib … Jack’s eyes
clenched shut again … make that ribs!
“Colonel, we do
not have much time now, the storm is building and unless you want me to start
harming the girl I suggest you get to your feet.”
Jack heard the
words and knew it was no threat – it was a promise. He forced his eyes to open
and although dawn was well under way, the storm made it look much earlier. The
snow was falling faster now and to his swimming vision it looked even worse.
A boot prodded
his hip none too gently and he groaned and rolled, bringing his knees up, and
got unsteadily to his feet. The sharp agony in his chest tilted his world again
and he fought to retain a gasped breath. The arms that gripped him and kept him
upright gave him a moment to try and clear his head, before pushing him
forwards. He almost stumbled and fell again, but found the strong grip keeping
shouted Mayer over the gusting of the wind that blew around them now.
to hesitate. “Not too sure,” he panted.
the radio from his pocket …
road … I think we head towards the road,” said Jack, panting. He knew Mayer’s
patience had gone and he was treading on very thin ice with Cassie’s life now …
on. Jack’s disorientation wasn’t really an act now. The biting cold and
exhaustion combined with his latest injury was doing the job very well for him.
The falling snow had already obliterated any tracks they’d made the previous
night and only when they reached the shelter of thicker trees did he begin to
spot signs of their movements.
“Did you bury
the box?” asked Mayer. The trees gave them a little more protection from the
wearily. “Near the road,” he panted.
“We could have
driven down!” growled Cannon.
“No matter, we
can radio later for a ride back,” said Mayer calmly.
Jack knew there
was no way he was going to give up the box, but time was running out for them …
for Cassie. He led them beyond where he had travelled with Cassie. The steep
drop had become a cliff and when he got to the edge he stopped. He’d been
coughing badly for the last couple of kilometres and the taint of copper was in
his mouth. He doubled over, giving a hacking cough and didn’t need to watch the
spittle as it landed to know it was red.
“I buried it
somewhere round here,” said Jack suddenly, straightening up. He wavered in
complete exhaustion ... end of the line for him.
“The side is
too steep for her to have gotten down this way.”
“I know. We had
to double back, but we stopped for a rest, that’s when I buried it.” Jack lied
calmly, thankful that the snowfall had been deep enough to obliterate any lack
calmly surveying the area. He obviously wasn’t convinced, but also wasn’t
prepared to totally doubt … just yet.
“Find it!” he
wearily but didn’t move for a moment.
“I’ll make him
find it!” snarled Si, stepping closer to him.
Mayer raised a
hand. “No need,” he smirked and pulled out the radio.
skipped a beat. “No, I’ll find it … just … it’s somewhere around here …”
scrambling on his knees around the snow and rocks. Mayer sat down on a large
upright boulder, the gun never wavering from its target. “You have ten minutes
to remember Colonel.”
and gagged a little before managing to spit the blood out. He pretended to look
around more, thinking hard whilst he did. He knew that he couldn’t stall much
longer now … he prayed that a rescue team had gotten in … prayed that Cassie was
Jack got up and
moved a little way down the trail again, very close to the edge of the cliff.
Si’s impatient growl followed him.
intention of finding it,” he yelled to Mayer.
calmly. He pulled the radio out once again and Jack fell to his knees coughing …
chance before we start hurting the girl, Colonel … last chance.”
shook his head. ‘Forgive me Cassie, please forgive me …’ he prayed
Jack closed his
eyes, his heart thumping, praying for the strength to keep quiet … the strength
to do what was right … just two lives again the possible hundreds, thousands …
just two lives …
the switch on the radio. “Palmer, do you copy?”
Jack bowed his
head in shame … there was nothing he could do now … nothing …
… they all listened … static was their only reply.
Sharpe, do you copy? Over!” His voice rose a little.
taking off again made Daniel turn around to Sam, his eyes wide and questioning.
“It’s SOP,” she
explained, speaking close to his ear as they moved to the edge of the landing
strip. They’d barely had enough room to set down the two helicopters and the
storm raging in the open made it all the more difficult.
was in full swing now, the wind cutting. The dawn wasn’t brightening at all and
its eerie gray light wasn’t helping. The army team moved ahead of them silently,
fanning out, keeping low, moving in harmony through years of hard training and
Sam held her
team back for a count of four minutes. The soldiers had been quickly lost from
her sight in the blizzard as they moved towards the buildings.
building they came to, she downed Janet and her medics. She gave them the silent
signal to stay put and moved out with Daniel and Teal’c.
and gave her staff a reassuring smile, which she simply did not feel at heart.
She was in full black, earpiece; radio … the works for the first time in her
career. Her stomach was twisted in knots of agony … she’d exhausted her prayers
for Cassie and the Colonel and she tried focussing on her part in the operation.
She knew though that by the time she was called in, it would be all over … and
the worse possible scenario was playing out in her head!
The units CO’s
voice came over Sam’s ear piece. “All clear so far, no signs of targets. Moving
to warehouse buildings and barracks. Over.”
moved her team forwards. She’d blocked out from her mind the worse case scenario
and she concentrated on the fact they were doing something … and they would be
truck is in the first warehouse.” The CO’s voice betrayed no excitement, just a
stating of fact. “Goal One is here. Repeat Goal One is here.”
Daniel’s hand on her shoulder and she turned to look at him, his eyes
questioning her. “They’ve found the missile,” she mouthed back at him.
She could see
his anger building. “Goal One? Goal One,” he repeated in disgust. His voice was
a fierce whisper. She shook her head warningly. “Focus Daniel,” she hissed.
didn’t abate, but he nodded and once more gave his attention to the whirling
landscape around them.
is showing signs of life. Possible targets inside. Hold your position SG1.”
Sam downed her
team and they waited.
Jack waited …
the hiss of the radio broke into voice.
the girl.” Mayer ordered abruptly and cut the radio off.
Jack, scrabbling to his feet.
Si moved close
and pulled the Colonel’s arms behind him in a tight grip. Jack gasped as the
manoeuvre pulled on his chest painfully, making him gasp for breath, hot stars
of agony shooting in his vision.
clicked and Mayer gave Jack a cold smile. “The Colonel isn’t being very
co-operative Palmer. Leave the radio open, I want him to hear her pain.”
Jack pulled as
hard as he could and twisted, but Si’s mocking laugh behind him showed how
ineffective his struggling was.
The fury rose
in Jack and he threw his head back hard, smashing into Si’s face. The huge man
howled as Jack’s head broke his nose and blood spurted. Si didn’t let go, but it
was enough to loosen his grip and Jack used the advantage to break free.
Cannon made a
move towards him. Jack used his training to side step the man and with a sweep
of his foot, used the momentum to send him flailing over the side of the cliff.
Jack felt a
bullet tear into his shoulder, but despite the pain and exhaustion he somehow
kept his feet, the adrenalin pumped furiously and leant him badly needed energy
as he launched himself at Mayer, his aim to stop him … somehow!
attack resulted in the radio flying from Mayer’s grip but Mayer managed to throw
him and his arm smashed across Jack’s throat. As Jack rolled he brought his legs
up and across and kicked out with all his strength. His boots made contact with
Mayer’s head and the man grunted and flopped. Jack rolled to his knees,
A searing agony
in Jack’s back dropped him and he flopped like a rag doll to the ground. A kick
turned him over and he rolled helplessly, trying to bring his knees up and arms
down for protection.
The next kick
caught him full in the groin and Jack howled in pain, retching and coughing as
“I’m going to
kill you!” snarled Si, bringing his leg back, this time connecting with Jack’s
back. Jack cried out as the pain rocked through him and he arched against it,
struggling to breathe through the coppery mass that filled his mouth.
helplessly as Si loomed over him, massive hands grabbing him around the neck.
The grip on his throat was crushing and there was nothing he could do … his
limbs weren’t responding too well, he thrashed weakly, stars exploding in his
head, the blackness was tunnelling up fast…
The grip on his
throat diminished suddenly and Jack’s brain barely registered the sound of the
single shot that dropped the man. He was gasping trying to get air into his
lungs, desperate to breathe. His vision was graying, the buzzing loud in his
barely see, he was dimly aware of Mayer standing over him, the gun in his hand,
the barrel pointing straight at his head.
“You don’t have
much time left, Colonel,” said Mayer. “Tell me now and I will spare the child.”
closed in around him. He saw Mayer raising the radio toward him as he thumbed
the switch. “Say goodbye to her, Colonel.”
watched as the radio came closer to him. The gray buzzed viciously into black
and he felt himself falling …
pity was that Jack wasn’t able to hear the words that flicked out from the radio
got company. We’re surrounded.”
lit with rage, then calmness overtook him. The black iciness that settled over
him would have even the strongest of men quail.
He wondered how
they had been found so quickly, but no matter. He calmly gave the order for them
to kill the girl and make good an escape.
He frowned down
at the unconscious man. This Colonel had caused him so much trouble; he’d blown
his mission open and the chance for him to retire overseas, somewhere warm for
the rest of his days … the bitter taste of retribution rang through him and his
finger tightened on the trigger.
The ice flowed
back into his blood - no - not yet, not while the Colonel could not be aware of
Colonel would perish here in the snow … maybe not … but it was enough for Mayer
to feed on, enough – for now!
spotted us. There’s movement,” warned the CO.
SG1 moved in
closer. The CO had his team spread out, surrounding the barrack block that
showed signs of life.
beside the CO. “We want their hostages alive, Sir,” she reminded him.
The CO nodded.
“I know Major. Believe me when I say that I want Jack O’Neill alive as well!”
in the man’s voice threw Sam for a brief moment. She knew that although every
effort would be made to protect the hostages, at the end of the day they were
expendable and Goal One had been met, to secure the NEM. Goal Two was to secure
the men, dead or alive!
The opening of
the door to the barracks made everyone drop and still.
positions!” called the CO.
last call on the radio Palmer and Sharpe had been arguing. Cassie had been flung
across the room and she lay shivering in a corner, waiting for her fate.
“He said to off
her!” spat Sharpe.
“We do that and
we ain’t walking out of here alive!” retorted Palmer.
dead. How many times can they kill us for murder?! We killed a lot of men at the
“You wanna die
now? Mayer’s free and Si … there’s a chance they can get us out if we give up
narrowed as he thought hard. “Maybe we can deal. Mayer’s much more of value to
“Are you crazy?
Give Mayer up?” snorted Palmer. “We’d be dead men walking, just a question of
who would do us first.”
yourself!” he spat. He grabbed Cassie up and dragged her in front of
holding her shaking body firmly against him, an arm locked around her throat.
He hefted the gun in his other hand and swung the door open.
fire. I’m coming out …”
real bone chilling fear when she heard the radio message. The cold voice
ordering her death, calmly, so matter of fact, sent tendrils of sheer terror
coursing through her young body. She felt so alone … She’d held onto the hope
that Jack would be coming back for her, for what seemed to her to be so long
now, that the final nail driving home shattered her resolve. She crept silently
into the darkness of her mind, the world around her winking out …
wetness between her legs as she was dragged to her feet didn’t even register for
what it was… Jack was dead, nothing else mattered now … nothing … the fact that
the next few minutes would decide her fate didn’t matter… nothing mattered now.
Sam thought her
heart would burst when the door opened to reveal Cassie. Dirty and dishevelled,
but it was Cassie and she was alive!
pointing at her head, the strong arm around her throat didn’t waver as the
gunman made his demands.
information to trade. We deal and the girl lives!” called the man into the
from the buildings kept the worse of the wind from them and his words were
shouted the CO calmly. “Surrender yourselves and your weapons and let the girl
go. You are surrounded.”
Mayer,” called the man. “I can give you him, he’s not here!”
The man moved
forward slightly. Cassie didn’t struggle in his arms, nor did she strain to see
who was out there. She was very still, her gaze seemingly fixed on nothing.
The CO gave Sam
a sharp look. “Where is Mayer?” he called.
there. He killed your Colonel by the way – I didn’t have anything to do with
plummeted to its deepest depth when the words smashed into her head. The single
shot that rang out from behind the man holding Cassie brought her up, breaking
her cover and she raised her weapon immediately.
The man holding
Cassie staggered forwards, his eyes showed his surprise, his mouth opened in a
was pinned beneath the dead man. The man that came running from the barrack
door, gun blazing, was taken down by Sam Carter.
shouted the CO over his radio and his unit converged on the building at a run,
moving quickly to search it.
Sam stood still
for a heartbeat. The split second shock broke when Daniel and Teal’c both broke
cover to run to free Cassie from the body.
checked the man to ascertain he was indeed dead as he rolled the weight from the
still form of the teenager.
was bursting from the words the man had shouted … a jumble of thoughts racing
and diving around, nothing making sense. He thought Cassie was unconscious at
first, she was so still, so it was a shock to find her eyes open, eyes dark and
beside him and quickly drew the unresponsive girl into a hug, checking her with
her free hand the best she could.
announced the radio. “All clear. Continuing search of the other buildings and
setting perimeter guard.”
said Sam into her radio. “Doctor, area is secured. Move up. Cassie is alive.”
can you hear me?” called Sam to the girl. “Shit, I think she’s in shock,” she
cried to Daniel, not allowing herself to focus on anything else for the moment.
Major Carter,” said Teal’c and he gently drew the girl into his arms and carried
her into the barrack room.
He placed her
on one of the several sleeping bags lain out in the room and then placed another
one over her, before drawing Daniel back to give them some privacy, claiming to
need assistance with the removal of the body from just outside the door. Daniel
helped, functioning on autopilot, as they placed the body next to the other one.
The CO of the
army unit, Colonel Draper, joined them and knelt over the bodies to search them.
“Bastards,” he spat as he straightened. “Stay alert. We still don’t know the
whereabouts of Mayer and Carconi. There’s also Brinks and one other to find
according to the information we have,” he warned them.
Jack … where …”
him, Doctor Jackson.” Colonel Michael Draper straightened his back. “If they’ve
made an escape down the road then they’ll run into our other units out there.
There’s a chance that he was bluffing when he said Jack’s dead, he could still
be a hostage. Mayer is clever, totally insane but very clever.”
sure if the words comforted him or not … held hostage by an insane man wasn’t
comforting … on the other hand, a chance of Jack being alive was …
channels on his radio. “November Lima three, this is November Lima One Leader,
do you copy?”
out loudly and he winced and tried again. This time he was successful. “Con,
Mayer is not here, I repeat Mayer and three others are missing. We have area
secured. Two targets are down. Goal one is secured and the girl is alive.
Colonel O’Neill is still unaccounted for.” He listened briefly then signed off.
and the two medics ran as fast as they could with all their equipment as
directed. They were met by Teal’c who showed them the rest of the way. Janet’s
heart nearly stopped when she saw the dirty still form of her daughter laid on
the floor covered by a sleeping bag.
moved out of the way. “I think she’s gone into shock. Pulse erratic, but strong.
Other than bruising and cuts I haven’t yet found other injuries, conscious but
shook slightly as she quickly pulled the bag back to begin checking her
daughter. Cassie’s dark eyes didn’t falter from their gaze at nothingness. As
much as Janet wanted to sedate her, she couldn’t just yet until she was assured
of her condition. Janet gave the order for fluids to be started and she
concentrated on her search. The dirt warred with the cuts and bruises to
Cassie’s face. The sticky dark patches of blood on her clothing made Janet’s
heart beat faster until she ascertained that it was only blood stains. She just
hoped to God it wasn’t the Colonel’s blood!
the wood into the burner and shut the doors to keep the heat in. He stood guard.
Although a perimeter guard had been set, he was leaving nothing to chance.
beside him, a feeling of helplessness seeping from him and Teal’c could offer
nothing to help in that respect.
“They could be
long gone, Jack’s body dumped … long gone,” said Daniel miserably, his eyes
bright, and he pushed his glasses up to rub them.
Draper moved to
watch the small Doctor working on her daughter. He was at a loss as to how she
had been allowed on this mission, but then again, nothing in her behaviour so
far had given him reason to doubt her worthiness.
doing, Doc?” he enquired gently. “Do we need to get her out or can it wait?”
and rubbed frantically at her neck as it cricked when she looked up to him from
her seat on the floor. He crouched down to her to listen.
“I can’t sedate
her, she’s unresponsive, shocked. Other than cuts and bruising, she’s dehydrated
and weak. I’ve started fluids. Yes I would like to get her back as soon as we
can, but I don’t think she’s in any immediate danger, in fact the journey might
just make things a little harder on her. Keeping her calm and warm and getting
fluids in is the best thing for her at the moment.”
He gave the Doctor a reassuring touch on her shoulder before resuming his
position at the window.
eyelids dropped and for a heartbeat Janet felt a thread of panic. She quickly
checked her vitals and let go a sigh of relief when she found the girl to be
Sam had dropped
to her knees close to her when Janet pulled at the sleeping bag checking vitals.
She watched Janet breathe out heavily.
guessed, at the relief on Janet’s face.
and relaxed a little. “Sound asleep,” she agreed.
stood looking through the window, his back to the room. He listened to the quiet
voices, feeling somewhat at a loss himself. His radio burst into life.
One Leader, a body has found us.”
straightened abruptly. “Say again – found? November Lima Three, any id?”
it’s not the Colonel.”
“On the road,
still a couple of clicks below the ridge. You won’t believe this, but the guy
literally hit us. He came over the cliff, and bounced on us so hard he smashed
the screen. We’re proceeding up until we can climb off the road.”
Don’t take any chances, this is Mayer we’ve got out there!” warned Draper.
“I won’t forget
that Mike. I owe that bastard big time!”
“Be careful. Oh
and Con …”
Jack if he’s out there Mike. I promise.”
Draper smiled a
little. He had every faith in NL3’s team leader. Con was a good man to have
around … almost as good as the man that helped to train him … one Colonel Jack
in SG1 quietly, after briefing his own team. “It’s giving us hope that Jack is
alive,” he finished.
puzzled look made him tut with impatience. “Men don’t take hikes over drops like
that on their own, Doctor and certainly not these men. Hey … what’s a doctor
doing on Jack’s team? You’re not a medical doctor are you?” Daniel Jackson was
something of an enigma to him. The big guy, Teal’c, although he didn’t come
across as Air Force, certainly showed his value to a team, but Jackson puzzled
him. Although the man certainly handled a weapon and could move, his mouth ran
away too much for him to be military.
“Well, no … I’m
errm, a linguist. We err, travel a lot,” he said knowing how weak that sounded
to someone like this Colonel, who actually reminded him of Jack … in a strange
drawled the Colonel.
“You seem to
know Jack, right?” asked Daniel, hoping to turn the talk away from himself.
with interest to the conversation. She too liked this Colonel – not as much as
her own of course, that went without saying, but she found him a comforting
“Oh Jack and I
go waaaay back,” drawled Draper, sensing the fascination on the subject of their
leader that Jack’s team held.
said Daniel, his tone not just a little accusing.
“You would be
right there Doctor,” bit out Draper sarcastically giving the younger man a hard
his shoulders. He’d faced Jack O’Neill on a bad day and lived, this Army Colonel
held no fears for him!
“Yep. I owe
Jack big time, more than once I might add, and without his help I would be stuck
at Captain still.” He stretched and changed his position a little. “Yeah, I
hated the extra work we had to get through and without Jack’s coaching I would
have chucked it!” he smiled, thinking back over the years.
“Coaching?” he choked out. “You mean ahem, drill, weapons and such?”
Jackson, weapons and such like are second nature to me, just like Jack. It was
the paper assignments I hated. You got degrees right?” he continued, unaware of
the bomb he was building. He didn’t wait for the Doctor to agree with him.
“Well, to say I was struggling was an understatement and if Jack hadn’t helped
me out, given me the extra coaching, I would have blown it big time!”
again. Sam had moved closer to them, her head cocked as her brain began ticking
“Let’s get this
straight, sir, just for the record. Colonel Jack O’Neill coached you through
your degree? In what subject?” asked Sam.
looked a little uncomfortable as the three members of SG1 were staring at him
waiting. Even the big guy, who’s face gave nothing away, was interested … he
talk much does he, huh?” he asked, suddenly grinning. “Oh I know he says an
awful lot at things, but you get to the end of it and find out you don’t know
anything more about him than when you started it.”
The looks on
the faces of SG1 confirmed this. He gave them a small laugh. “’Well Jack, I hope
you’re around to kick my ass - well sort of - here goes. Colonel Jack O’Neill
has three degrees. He walked through them. His master’s thesis was in military
I met Jack as a
Lieutenant seconded into Special Operations and we and five others were a
training unit. I served with Jack for almost five years before I joined a new
branch of Special Forces, where I am now the first unit’s leader. He’s a good
man to have on your side and saved my ass on more than one occasion. I’ve
returned the favour a couple of times, but I still owe him big time. I managed
to keep abreast of his career until ’97 then I lost track of him. I have good
security clearance Major, but whatever you guys do goes way beyond that! He
contacted me a year or so ago and I helped out with a favour and another mutual
contact. Then that’s it. Now care to fill me in on the last couple of years or
so? Deep space radar telemetry is a bag of crap, even if he does have a degree
Daniel’s mouths were hanging slightly. The look of surprise on their faces had
him chuckling. “Jack can play dumb real good can’t he? Even when faced with his
record I know of one General who made the mistake of believing it!” His chuckle
froze as his radio burst into life.
NL3 found a
place to climb the cliff and quickly half the unit were despatched up. Con sent
the rest of his men to walk slowly up the road, searching for signs of life.
At the top of
the climb, Con ordered two men to the right, to move towards the camp. The other
two he kept with him and headed for the point from which the body had taken a
The snow was
heavy, their visibility severely compromised, and they made a slow journey,
battling against the cold and wind as well.
They found the
place the body had apparently fallen from. There weren’t many tracks, but signs
on the very edge, where the snow didn’t settle properly, pointed to the evidence
of the fall. The heavy fall of snow covering everything as it settled, the
drifts piling deeper, hid everything else.
He gave the
signal to spread out and one of his men stumbled against a drift not far from
okay?” he used the microphone and still had to shout to make himself heard above
Sir … it’s a body!” exclaimed Stu, as he brushed at some of the snow.
uncovered the body, while the other man stood guard. “Carconi!” he breathed in
relief as he double-checked the man was actually dead, although having the back
of one’s head blown away was usually a reliable sign. Quickly he spread his men
out and they began to check the other drifts.
Stu, as he scrabbled to uncover another body.
They found Jack
O’Neill on his side. One arm laid across his face protectively. Lt. Colonel Con
Rhease quickly removed his glove and pulled at the Colonel’s arm so that he
could check for a pulse. The fact that arm moved easily gave him a little hope,
in these conditions bodies tended to stiffen pretty quickly. At first he
couldn’t feel anything and disappointment sickened him. He looked up to shake
his head at his men and stopped when he felt the slight tremble beneath his cold
fingers. He pressed harder and waited.
dead slow, weak, but he’s alive”. He scrambled in his pocket and withdrew the
small mirror he carried. He watched carefully as tiny puffs of mists formed on
it, confirming that the man was breathing. His head dropped in silent relief and
he fingered the button on his radio.
Carconi. He’s dead. We have Colonel O’Neill. He’s unconscious and bleeding, but
alive, barely. No sign yet of Mayer or the other one. Conditions are bad out
“Can you get
him here?” asked Draper, oblivious to the stares of SG1 as he concentrated on
ETA approximately forty-five minutes. Mike, he’s hurt bad. I’ve applied field
aid, but ...”
“Okay Con, get
him back, we have a great medical team waiting. Recall the rest of your unit to
had come to stand with SG1, waiting.
gave them a grim smile. “Jack’s alive. He’s hurt pretty bad, but alive.”
“I can meet
them on the road,” said Janet at once.
the wind’s blowing and the snow’s getting deeper. Visibility is poor out there.
I’m recalling all my men to base. There’s no way they’re going to find Mayer and
the other one out there in this, and they’re the only ones unaccounted for now.
The safety of the rescue unit and the survivors is now my prime concern.”
“Then I need
more information on Colonel O’Neill’s condition, Colonel.”
nodded. He knew she needed to get prepared and he needed to check on the
happy. The little information she got as to the Colonel’s injuries did nothing
to belie the worry she had building that it was only a matter of time before the
radio gave them the message the Colonel had expired.
The news that
the transport was grounded due to the storms gave her a pit of cold dread, the
shocked silence that followed the Colonel’s announcement showing how much the
others were affected by it as well.
gave the order for everyone to lock into the same channel and stay alert. He
began organising a meal and watch rotation, roping in Daniel and Teal’c to help.
prepared what she could and then made her medics rest. She wasn’t sure just how
long the Colonel had lain in the snow, and hypothermia was certainly on the
cards. On the other hand, the cold might have been the only thing slowing the
blood loss enough to keep him from bleeding to death. She organised the blood
warming, thankful that she had plenty of fluids and the Colonel’s blood group.
It was the same as Cassie’s and she had brought along a more than adequate
pacing drew her attention. She called out to her friend and
Sam came over
and squatted on the floor beside Janet as she sat with Cassie.
Sam, not meeting her friend’s eyes. “Shouldn’t be too long now,” she said,
checking her watch, for what must have been the third time in the last minute
whispered Janet, knowing just how worried Sam must be, now that she had heard
the condition of her CO.
“I’m okay. Any
change?” she nodded towards the sleeping girl.
she seems to be resting more easily now.”
sparked into life, announcing the truck was coming through the gates.
Janet leapt to
her feet, her medics not far behind her and they were already on the way to the
door, beating the Colonel who was surprised at the speed of the diminutive
everyone else to stay put and ran out to stand by the doctor and her team as the
truck slowed to a halt. The men in the truck were quick and efficient. Drawing
out the stretcher that held a heavily covered body from the back, they allowed
Janet and her staff to take over. Janet’s medics easily carried the Colonel
while she grabbed and held onto the Colonel’s wrist that she had prised from
beneath the covers.
Within a couple
of minutes they had the stretcher inside and the Colonel down. Extra torches Sam
had turned on while waiting for the Colonel to be brought inside, supplemented
the dim lighting.
gasped himself when he saw O’Neill’s battered face and body. The heavy field
dressings Con had applied were already soaked with blood. He drew back and
gathered Con and his unit to one side to report, leaving the Doctor to get on
began her assessment. Ordering a transfusion and fluids to be started she began
to cut the clothes from the Colonel’s body. Sam averted her eyes and sat down,
close, but facing away to preserve the dignity of her CO, while Daniel looked on
in horrified fascination.
from the bullet wound to his shoulder was profuse, but it didn’t unduly worry
her. The thin trickle of blood from his mouth and nose however, was a different
matter. She realised the bleeding was due to a punctured lung, the mass of
bruises covering his body and in particular, the ones that were darker and
concentrated over an uneven section of ribs helped her to identify the probable
His vitals were
too low and erratic to administer any sedative. His body temperature, although
down, was not the problem at the moment. His blood pressure was extremely low,
showing that his blood loss and the internal bleeding were the crisis.
She readied the
needle to release the pressure in his chest, to drain the blood, and he stirred
faintly. ‘Oh God, don’t wake now, Colonel,’ she prayed.
He coughed and
moaned, the trickle of blood from his mouth flowing a little stronger.
flickered and he groaned again.
Colonel, you’re safe,” said Janet, her hand touching his shoulder.
He drew a
gasped breath and his eyes opened more, trying to focus.
“Cass …” he
Colonel. She’s okay.”
His eyes closed
and he gave a tiny nod.
“Tell Cass …”
he gasped in pain and Janet leaned closer.
try and speak,” she warned.
“Tell … I’m …
so sorry …” he panted.
down at the Colonel, frowning as she listened. “Col …” she began and then as his
head lolled she quickly checked for a pulse.
she shouted and whipped the roll of sleeping bag they had him propped on from
beneath his head. “Bag him,” she called to her staff as she began to administer
Sam knelt up in
alarm as Janet snatched the roll from beneath the Colonel’s head. She watched
Janet battling to bring him back. Her heart thumped painfully as she waited, the
seconds folding by … slowly …
The entire room
had gone quiet. Not a sound was heard except for Janet’s occasional instruction
to her staff as she fought against her biggest enemy – death.
“I’m not going
to let you do this, Colonel!” called Janet as she worked.
“Got a pulse,”
called one of the medics. Janet stopped working as she checked and suddenly the
Colonel heaved a breath and coughed. The blood from his airway splattered the
inside of the mask on his face and Janet quickly snatched it away. She tilted
his head and immediately began to insert the chest drain – it was now or never!
tear his eyes away as he watched in fascinated horror, wincing as the needle
pierced his friend’s chest. Janet taped it into place, withdrawing the seal and
almost at once the blood began to flow.
Janet heaved a
sigh of relief. Feeling the Colonel’s pulse with one hand, she placed her
stethoscope on his chest. “That should help reduce the pressure,” she murmured
as she listened.
The whole room
seemed to sigh as one as the Doctor visibly relaxed, if just for a moment.
“Help me roll
him,” she ordered. Her staff helped her to place the Colonel into the recovery
position gently while she checked his back. The puncture wound on his back told
her tales of a stabbing, but it was barely bleeding now and she quickly cleaned
and dressed it. The horrific bruises on his back, and especially over his
kidneys, bore the semblance of a boot shape. She continued to check him gently
and methodically. His whole body was bruised and battered, but she did her best
to keep him covered as much as possible, knowing that dignity was something
vital to the Colonel.
was much easier now that the blood was draining freely from his lung. She added
anther bag of fluids, this time antibiotics, and re-checked his vitals again.
another rolled bag behind him to keep him in the recovery position if he should
wake. As soon as the blood bag was on its last few drops, Janet ordered it
replaced, the fluids bag not far behind it …
Janet stood and
stretched. Her eyes sought out Colonel Draper and she moved away from her
patient towards him.
“Any idea how
long before we get picked up?” she asked.
his head. “Sorry Doc, it depends on the storm. Nothing’s going to be in the air
for a while. How’s he doing?”
and rubbed her neck. “He’s stable, but how long for is another matter. I need to
get him scanned and he needs surgery. He’s taken a bullet in the shoulder, a
knife wound in the back and he’s had one hell of a beating, broken ribs … he’s
bleeding into a lung and we need to get him to the nearest hospital asap.”
The whole room
listened, they couldn’t help it.
using a truck?” asked Draper.
Janet shook her
head. “He probably wouldn’t last half way down to the nearest town.”
“Doc, keep him
alive. As soon as those birds can lift they will,” he urged.
wearily. She just hoped Colonel O’Neill would cooperate …
the guard frequently. He wasn’t going to give Mayer and the other one, Brinks,
any chance of taking them unawares. Personally he just hoped they would freeze
to death or fall down the cliff… anything. Those bastards didn’t deserve to
live. God knows what they’d done to Jack … and that kid … Cassie … he reckoned
she’d be having nightmares about this for a long time.
squatted beside Daniel and Sam. Teal’c was never far away, his arms folded
across his massive chest, almost as if standing guard over O’Neill.
okay?” he enquired, looking from one to the other. He’d seen their reactions to
their CO’s injuries, in particular the Major’s. He reckoned Jack was one luck
SOB to get a 2IC like that … but then again would he trade his 2IC for her? …
dang right he would! But then again … he reckoned Jack would have something to
say on that!
nodded at him and gave him a tight smile. Daniel just shrugged, his eyes turning
back to watch Jack.
“Any ideas how
they got into this? Cassie isn’t Jack’s is she?” he asked suddenly, as the
thought occurred. He hadn’t gotten any history with the briefing.
“No, she isn’t.
Cassie is Janet’s adopted daughter and she sort of adopted SG1 too,” confessed
Sam with a smile.
with kids. He used to make such a fuss of mine when he was little, sheesh, he’s
in California now with a kid of his own on the way,” said Draper, his eyes
closing slightly as he remembered, then his face clouded slightly as he
remembered Jack’s son. “It nearly killed him when he lost Charlie,” he
took Cassie skating … we’re not sure exactly what happened after that,” said Sam
sighing deeply, her gaze wandering back to Jack. She leaned further back as one
of Janet’s staff blocked her view for the moment as she checked him and Sam
reflectively stiffened until the medic moved away.
miss her reaction. “Ah, then I can tell you where they probably were. Jack used
to take Charlie up to Lynette’s Lake when it froze. It’s not far from where they
found Mayer’s truck, so I guess maybe he took Cassie there too.”
his throat and hung his head a little. “God, why the hell does something like
this have to happen?” he said wearily. “When you think of what we do out there
and then this happens on our doorstep!” he said, before stopping as he caught
the quick warning shake of Sam’s head.
it,” stated Draper firmly and was rewarded by a two pairs of blue eyes gazing at
him earnestly, hope yearning within them. He gripped the major’s shoulder
gently, and patted Daniel on his back, offering a grain of comfort before he
rose to check on his men.
back against the wall, his head drooping to his chest. “God, what a mess,” he
said, sighing heavily.
“Try and get
some sleep,” advised Sam.
“I will if you
will,” commented Daniel, already knowing the answer.
respond, knowing that he knew.
“I can’t help
thinking that maybe those two bastards are out there waiting …” said Daniel
“I hope they freeze in hell,” she commented acidly.
Janet kept a
close eye on both her patients. She settled down close to Cassie in case she
should awake, trusting that Colonel Draper would advise them as soon as the
helicopters were on their way.
splitting scream roused everyone with a jerk and Janet almost fell as she
scrambled to Cassie.
The girl had
woken suddenly and began screaming, her eyes still closed as she sat up, trying
to scramble away, her fingers clawing at the sleeping bag beneath her.
called Janet as she dived beside her. She tried to take the girl in her arms,
but Cassie began to struggle more.
“NO … NO… GOD
NO!” she screamed and began kicking out.
“GET HIM OFF ME
… DON’T … DON’T TOUCH ME!” Cassie was sobbing hysterically, her hands
frantically wiping at her face, as if to get something off her skin.
Janet took hold
of Cassie by her shoulders and shook her, gently at first.
okay, you’re safe!” she called loudly, trying to get through to her. “Cassie,
it’s Mom and Sam’s here … so is Daniel!”
opened and she stopped screaming for a moment. Her eyes were wide with terror
and she fastened them onto her Mom’s face frantically as though she might just
whispered, the fight going from her.
Cassie …” began Janet.
“NO … NO … NO
HE’S DEAD! JACK’S DEAD!” Cassie began screaming again and fighting Janet’s hold.
Janet took a
breath and slapped her daughter’s face, using just enough force to quell the
screaming, her mouth opened and closed with no sound and the tears tracked down
her face as she allowed herself to be gathered into her Mom’s arms.
exhausted body dragged her back into thankful oblivion again and Janet continued
to rock her gently in her arms for a little while until finally laying her down
gently and covering her up.
beside Janet and gave her a hug.
“God, Sam, what
did they do to her?” asked Janet, her eyes lit with unshed tears.
fine, Janet, it’ll just take a while. She’s strong. Remember what she’s been
through and recovered from before.”
“But that’s what frightens me Sam, what if this time … if this time it’s too
respond, she just hugged her friend tighter.
The day passed slowly, the
blizzard whipping around the old buildings, setting the cobwebs jiggling and the
Draper’s restless energy
kept him moving, keeping his men on their toes, but even he couldn’t help
feeling frustrated. It felt like the storm would never let up, despite reports
that it was leaving the area.
When the call came that
the helicopters were finally under way, he breathed a deep sigh of relief.
The girl, Cassie, hadn’t
stirred again and the Doctor hovered anxiously between her daughter and Jack.
“Colonel, where will we be
landing?” asked Janet as she began to instruct her medics to pack.
“Looks like it’s going to
be the Academy hospital. The storm’s moving east and the sky to the west is
clearing. We can keep low. I know there’s nearer, but for reasons of security
the order has come in for the Academy … unless that is …?” He didn’t finish
speaking and Janet shook her head, knowing what he was asking.
“The Colonel appears to be
stable enough for the moment,” she responded, “and he’ll not have finer
treatment anywhere else.”
Draper nodded and began
preparations to leave. He instructed that the area and the path to the fields be
thoroughly swept. There was no sign of anything moving. The snow continued to
fall, but more softly now that the wind was letting up.
Teal’c volunteered to
carry Cassie and Janet approved of this. If there was any further trouble, she
knew the Jaffa would keep her daughter safe and she felt she was better able to
give the Colonel her full attention.
Janet’s tired mind was
flowing with questions … just what had happened to Cassie … damn the man! Why
… oh god, just why couldn’t trouble leave them alone … damn Jack O’Neill, why
did he always have to get involved in things like this … and this time her
daughter was dragged along for the ride!
The signal came in and
they made their way to the landing field. Everyone was tense, knowing that if
someone were planning to strike, this would be an ideal time …
They took off without a
hitch and were soon landing at the hospital. There was a veritable tempest of
white coats and security waiting and the Colonel and Cassie were whisked away,
Janet disappearing with them into the domain of the white coats.
Draper sent all of his
team off with the helicopters, except for two men.
“You’re not reporting
back?” asked Sam as they made their way to the waiting area.
“Later. I need to find out
when I can de-brief Jack and Cassie and also I need to make sure that security
is fully briefed.” With a polite nod, Draper left them to carry out his tasks.
It was almost an hour
before he rejoined SG1 in the waiting area and they shook their heads to his
enquiry for news.
“I’ve been in touch with
General Hammond and SG1 are staying for the time being. He’s already assigned
some SF’s, they’re on their way.” Sam paused and looked him straight in the
eyes. “You really think that Mayer will attempt something, especially here?” she
asked, a little incredulous.
“Never underestimate the
enemy, Major. I really don’t know what Mayer will or won’t do. He may just leave
the country. That’s what most people would do, but Mayer isn’t predictable and
he’s good, make no mistake about that. If it wasn’t for Jack’s involvement and
your call, that missile would be on its way out of the country by now.”
“It would have been better
never being built in the first place!” interrupted Daniel scathingly.
Draper turned to face
Daniel. “Well Doctor Jackson, that isn’t something that I can do anything about.
My job is to follow orders and keep my teams functioning, to show them how to be
the best they can at what they do.”
Daniel snorted a little
and went to turn away, but was forestalled by Draper’s hand on his shoulder. “My
job is to pick up pieces, Doctor Jackson, when the shit hits the fan, not
“Those pieces are human
beings …” began Daniel.
“Yes, sometimes they are …
and sometimes those pieces get hurt. We do what we have to do and we go on and
try and learn from it.” Draper shook his head despairingly at Daniel. “Jack must
have gone soft in his old age,” he commented suddenly.
“If you were on my team,
Doctor Jackson, you would be wearing a permanent gag!”
Sam fought valiantly not
to giggle, but straightened her face when Daniel threw her an indignant look.
“Or do you just reserve
this shit for other people?” enquired Draper, quite exasperated.
“Oh, no, no he doesn’t.
The Colonel gets it too, even worse,” confessed Sam, relaxing a little more.
Draper’s eyes met hers,
both brows lifting incredulously. “Oh man, that’s bad. Jack O’Neill gone soft.”
“I’m very good at what I
do,” said Daniel haughtily, giving a little sniff as he folded his arms
“I’m sure you are Doctor
Jackson, there has to be a very, very good reason why Jack would let you stay on
his team,” said Draper dryly.
Daniel’s pursed his lips
and frowned at the Colonel, but was forestalled from any reply by the appearance
They all moved towards her
and the diminutive doctor held her hands up to still them.
“Cassie’s being made
comfortable and is being checked over. The Colonel is in surgery now. It’ll be a
while before we know anything further, but I have made arrangements for a room
and showers and a change of uniform.” She grimaced at the clothing she was
wearing before continuing. “So I suggest we take advantage of this and get some
food and rest.”
“Yes ma-am, anything else
ma-am?” queried Draper dryly, causing Janet to give him a questioning glance.
“Nothing Colonel,” she
responded just as dryly, wondering if all of Colonel’s O’Neill acquaintances
were as sarcastic as the Colonel himself. She rolled her eyes and sighed as she
led the way to the rooms they would be using for the time being.
Janet made use of the
facilities quickly before disappearing again, promising that as soon as she knew
anything she would be back.
SG1, along with Draper and
his two men, showered, changed, and ate, before they left to brief the security
team that had just arrived.
They were back just over
an hour later, reporting that everything seemed okay and security were fully
briefed, along with a guard posted on Cassie’s room.
Janet appeared a few hours
later with the news that the Colonel was out of surgery, that everything went as
well as could be expected, and as soon as she could she would arrange a quick
visit for them. Cassie was sedated and resting peacefully.
The day wore on to evening
and the General joined SG1 at the hospital, just as soon as he had his duties
covered at the mountain.
He acknowledged Draper and
his team, before asking for a quiet word with SG1 alone.
Sam quickly filled the
General in on the Colonel’s condition and what they knew and he sat and waited
with them. Draper joined them again and he was soon talking to the General like
a long lost friend.
“Jack told me he had a
great CO, Sir,” said Draper suddenly.
“He did, did he?” said
Hammond, a brief flash of humour lighting his face.
“Yep, and that you’ve got
him pegged alright,” laughed Draper.
“Pegged isn’t a word I
could use to describe Jack.” Hammond responded dryly. “Latitude and
understanding …” he murmured suddenly, his face taking on a little far away
“Pardon, Sir?” asked
“Ahem, nothing, just
something Jack said once …”
Draper nodded solemnly. He
liked this General. He was of much the same school as Jack as regards to the
majority of ‘ass-holes’ that gave the orders they had to follow, but he could
see why Jack liked and respected this man, and that the feeling was returned by
They were eventually
allowed in to see Jack, just a short visit, a couple at a time. Teal’c deposited
himself inside the room near the door and made like a statue. They all knew that
nothing but nothing, was now going to move the Jaffa from that room – and that
was alright, it was welcomed, giving them all just a little piece of reassurance
for their CO’s and friend’s well being.
Daniel and Sam went in
together. Jack’s face was pale, his cuts and bruises standing out darkly from
the whiteness. His chest and shoulder were heavily bandaged and he was wired up
to various machines. There was a spaghetti of tubes from under the sheets that
were attached to various drips.
The steady beep from the
machines and his quiet breathing had given them a little reassurance. Janet
promised them he was doing okay, but the next twenty-four hours would be the
Cassie on the other hand
was … well, physically the girl wasn’t too bad. Her examination had been
thorough, very. Janet had insisted on that after finding evidence of blood and
tissue under the girl’s fingernails and the telltale bruising on her body. Her
scans had shown that there was nothing wrong except for a few cuts and bruises,
but mentally - that was another matter.
The General left shortly
after he had visited Jack, asking to be kept apprised of any developments, and
he put SG1 on stand down until further notice.
Sam spent some time with
Cassie, just sitting quietly with Janet in the room. Janet’s quietness made her
a little uneasy.
Cassie was only lightly
sedated and it was beginning to wear off. Colonel Draper had respectfully
informed them, that as soon as it was possible, he would need to talk with
Cassie. Janet wanted as much as anyone to hear what had happened, but at the
same time, based on Cassie’s previous hysterics, she dreaded it. Just what
terrible things she and her daughter would have to cope with churned her insides
and made her curse Colonel O’Neill … despite the sensible side of her telling
herself the Colonel would never hurt her… her mothers’ voice of non-reasoning
and alarms were taking over. The presence of the guard outside the room offered
a little comfort, but worse was the thought that it was necessary. The fact that
some of the people who had hurt her daughter were still out there, perhaps
waiting for a chance to silence her, filled her with dread.
When Cassie suddenly began
moaning and calling out, both women were on their feet quickly, trying to soothe
“No … no … please don’t …
Jack …” cried Cassie pitifully. Janet’s alarm soared and she fought down her
anger, her eyes flashing to Sam’s distressed face briefly, before she focussed
on her daughter.
“Cassie, honey I’m here,
shush, it’s alright, you’re safe.” Janet perched herself on the bed and held her
daughter in her arms.
“Mom,” said Cassie, her
voice just a whisper as she opened her eyes. “Oh god, make them stop,” she
begged. A sudden cough turned into a gag reflex and Sam grabbed the kidney bowl
quickly. Cassie heaved, but it was dry, just a reaction to everything and the
“It’s okay baby, it’s
okay. You’re safe.”
followed her into consciousness …
“No – leave me alone!”
she spat as she struggled to free herself of the arms that engulfed her. The
smell of Brinks, his breath, his body odour, filled her nostrils and she gagged
again. The knife loomed in her distant vision and her eyes widened in horror as
her heart pounded painfully, the terror drying her throat. “Jack no please …
don’t let him … don’t… you can stop him – don’t …” she mewed, the tears
falling down her face as she saw the knife rise higher … she saw the face of her
protector and her eyes snapped further open as she recognised the cold face of a
killer … no longer just Jack – but a killer and her mouth opened to emit a harsh
high pitched wailing … “Jack, oh god … don’t kill me!”
Janet stared at her
daughter in alarm as the words hit her. She flicked a glance to Sam and took a
deep breath before she managed to utter some comfort to the girl. “Shush Cassie,
it’s okay, it’s me, Cassie, honey,” called Janet soothingly as she cast a
helpless look to Sam. The words Cassie were wailing bit into her deeply,
embedding themselves into her subconscious … ‘why was Cassie begging the
Colonel not to kill her? Why didn’t the son of a bitch help her … he’d left her
to die … he had obviously been out there trying to save himself and her daughter
was left alone with those killers …’ She knew, deep down inside, that she
was being irrational, but she couldn’t help it, swept up as she was in the surge
of emotion. Then it was as if a dam had burst – she just couldn’t watch her
daughter’s anguish any longer, and she rushed out of the room, her hand over her
mouth to hold back the scream that she couldn’t allow an escape.
Sam pressed the buzzer to
get someone in as Cassie continued to make the awful wailing, and it was only
minutes before the attending nurse had called a doctor and Cassie was gently
disappearance from the room had caught Sam by surprise and she hurried out to
find Janet in the corridor, her head leant back against the wall, her fists
clenched in anger.
“Janet?” she asked
“Why, Sam?” asked Janet
tightly, the question obviously surprising her friend by the resounding silence
that followed. “I mean, you and SG1, you bound across the galaxy, that’s your
job – but why this? Why Cassie? She shouldn’t have to face anymore suffering,
hasn’t she gone through enough already?”
Sam reached out to touch
Janet on the shoulder. Words failed her for the moment, knowing that it was
anger and stress making Janet react like this, at least she thought it was. Her
friend’s next words stunned her.
“Damn him, damn Jack
O’Neill – this is all his fault!”
“Damn him to hell! Just
what did he do out there? He almost got her killed … and where was he? Just who
attacked her? You heard her?”
“Janet, the Colonel would
never hurt Cassie …” began Sam, moving closer to her.
Janet let her head fall
back again, making a thump against the wall. “Oh yes, big brave Colonel … well
he didn’t protect her this time did he? Why did he leave her there? Those
killers are still loose – what if they ...” Janet broke off with a sobbed
Sam couldn’t find the
words to comfort Janet, hoping that it really was hurt and anger fuelling her
statement, and that when it calmed down, everything would be okay ... she hoped!
Sam drew Janet to one of
the room that had been made available to them and ordered her to lie down,
insisting that if she didn’t rest she would have no alternative but to bring it
to the attention of General Hammond.
Grudgingly the doctor
admitted defeat, but only when she was reassured again that she would be woken
when Cassie did, did she finally close her eyes.
Sam closed the door behind
her with a sigh. Her name being whispered loudly almost made her jump and she
turned quickly to find Daniel staring at her questioningly.
“Is she okay?” he asked.
Sam nodded. “She’s just a
understatement,” sighed Daniel. “How’s Cassie?”
“She woke up a little, but
she wasn’t making too much sense, still shocked. They’ve sedated her again.” Sam
looked at Daniel, a question forming on the tip of her tongue … “Daniel, do you
…” she hesitated then stopped speaking.
“What?” queried Daniel.
“Oh … it’s nothing really,
Janet’s just very upset and …”
“And?” he prompted.
“She’s blaming the Colonel
for all this and some of what Cassie has said has kind of ...”
“It’s only natural that
Janet is lashing out with anger at someone. It will be okay Sam, I mean, I’ve
felt like that a time or too myself, so have you.”
Sam nodded, not entirely
sure what Daniel had said was comforting, true – but not comforting at all.
The next day saw a quiet,
but outwardly calm, Janet Fraiser taking a seat in Cassie’s room. The spirits of
SG1 were raised considerably with the news that the Colonel was off the danger
list and was improving all the time.
Colonel Draper and his men
were re-called to base for the time being, the SF’s from Hammond’s command had
the hospital sewn up as tightly as possible.
The Colonel promised to be
back as soon as they had any news, or when the hospital confirmed that Jack was
fit to be questioned. As yet, nothing new had come to light and no trace of
Mayer or Brinks had been found.
Although she had woken
earlier, Cassie remained quiet, refusing to speak, despite Janet’s pleas for her
to tell what had happened.
The Colonel brushed away
Janet’s apologies, giving the doctor the reassurance that he fully understood
and that when Cassie was ready, she would talk.
Cassie seemed very
withdrawn, not responding very much, in fact the only reaction she showed was
when Colonel Draper entered her room. She had clutched hard at Janet’s hand and
moved closer to her. The doctor in Janet automatically checked her daughter’s
pulse and found it racing. The Colonel was a stranger to her and her reaction
was certainly normal in the circumstances, but when she showed a similar
reaction to Daniel, Janet’s worry soared to alarm.
Daniel watched his friend
as he began to wake and was peripherally aware of Teal’c stepping closer to the
bed. Jack’s eyes opened slowly, obviously not fully aware yet.
Daniel cleared his throat
softly before speaking, Jack’s continuing silence unnerving him a little as he
reached for the buzzer to let the staff know the Colonel had woken.
“Hey, Jack, it’s okay,
you’re in hospital,” he offered.
Jack’s eyes closed a
little as he tried to digest Daniel’s words. The buzzing in his ears made
Daniel’s voice seem far away and hard to distinguish.
“What?” he whispered, his
tongue feeling thick and large in his dry mouth. He felt the touch of a glass
against his lips and the welcome wetness that followed helped to ease some of
“Thanks,” he murmured as
he fought to open his eyes more as the buzzing receded slightly.
The white coat that
suddenly appeared in his vision with the command to ‘hold still’ followed by the
flash of a light in his eyes, causing his vision to dance with orange spots,
made him curse.
“Dammit!” He closed his
watering eyes against the assault.
“Nice normal reaction
Colonel,” said the white coat. After a few seconds, the white coat obviously
took the Colonel’s silence as a signal to carry on talking. “Do you know where
Jack risked squinting one
eye open at the faceless man. He caught sight of Daniel hovering over the
doctor’s shoulder and shot him an accusing glance.
“Yeah – he told me.”
The doctor tutted and cast
Daniel a look that said ‘back off and leave it to me,’ which Daniel ignored.
“I meant Colonel, what do
“Then freakin well say
so,” rasped Jack. He ignored the doctor’s annoyed look and raised the arm that
had an IV attached to it. He squinted down at it, checking which lines were
there. He hurt all over and his thoughts were tumbling around, even as the
doctor spoke again.
“Cassie ... how’s Cassie?”
he asked suddenly as his memory hit one particular point - he ignored the doctor
and stared straight at Daniel.
“Cassie’s okay, a little
shook up,” responded Daniel.
“But she’s okay?”
questioned Jack. He was weighing up if Daniel was speaking the truth and
breathed a sigh of relief when his friend nodded, deciding that Daniel was being
mostly honest with him.
His head sank back against
the pillows. He felt so tired ... and hurting ... did he mention the hurting ...
every damn bone ached and his chest felt like someone had stomped on him – a lot
... Mayer! He jerked up reactively and cried out in pain as his injuries made
themselves felt even more.
He didn’t see the doctor
move to his IV and inject something into it. He felt the burning as the warmth
hit his veins and the heated rush that followed it was welcomed, bringing relief
from the pain. As his thoughts chased around he once again focussed on Mayer and
he saw him raise the radio to his mouth. ‘Say goodbye to her Colonel ... you
could have saved her ... it’s your fault ... say goodbye ...’
“No ...” murmured Jack, as
he fought against the haze of the drug. “Please ... don’t ...” he begged. He
could see Cassie’s frightened face in his mind’s eye as he begged for
forgiveness ... forgiveness for killing her...
Daniel and Teal’c watched
as the doctor injected the pain relief into the IV. Jack’s face bore witness to
the pain he was in. His words as he succumbed to the drug made Daniel flick a
look to Teal’c, but the Jaffa’s face gave nothing away. Jack’s demeanour
certainly worried Daniel, but he pushed the thoughts to the back of his mind and
blamed it on the drugs.
They were finally ushered
out of the room by the doctor so that he could complete a thorough examination
of the now sleeping Colonel. After a short time they were allowed back in with
the affirmation that the Colonel was doing well, all things considered.
When Jack woke again
sometime later Daniel, who had been waiting patiently, eagerly pounced, glad to
see him awake.
“Whoa!” cried Jack, as he
fought off the verbal assault from Daniel. His ears were ringing with the
questions Daniel was firing off. “Slow down, breathe,” he ordered, his voice
Daniel gave him an
apologetic smile. “Sorry. It’s just so much happened and we really thought we’d
lost you this time ... I mean Cassie cutting us off and racing back up there and
then Colonel Draper and his team ...”
“Draper?” queried Jack. He
pinched at the bridge of his nose trying to quell the huge headache that was
beginning to make itself felt.
enthusiastically and launched into his tale.
Jack lay quietly as he
took in Daniel’s enthusiastic report of the events that he had missed by being
unconscious - blessedly so, he thought...
He half listened to
Daniel’s tidal flood of words, his mind filling with the memories of what had
happened, so strongly that he wasn’t aware that Daniel had stopped speaking.
The harsh throat clearing
cough brought him back to the present and he regarded Daniel with a puzzled
“Have you just heard
*anything* I said?” asked Daniel, his expression showing a slightly hurt look.
“Sorry.” Jack gave him a
slightly apologetic look, which made Daniel give him a ‘what’s up’ look.
Then a sudden flood of
enlightenment brought a rush of shame to Daniel’s face. “Ah, no, I’m sorry Jack,
you just woke up, ahem, been shot and ... well, I errm, you ought to rest,”
Jack’s eyes showed just
how tired he was and Daniel felt so guilty at jumping on him as soon as he woke
... after he’d been so close to death. The list of injuries the doctor had given
them made him pale in remembrance.
Jack watched the younger
man’s face through his half shut eyes. “You okay?” he asked in concern.
Daniel smiled a little
self-consciously. “Yes, Jack, I’m fine. You get some rest okay?”
Jack could barely nod and
his eyes slid shut...
Daniel quietly closed the
door behind him. “Idiot,” he cursed himself softly.
“To whom are you referring
Daniel Jackson?” Teal’c’s voice came from behind him.
Daniel jumped a little,
blushing. “Me ... I ... um never mind, Teal’c.”
“Is O’Neill still
“He woke up for a little
while, but he’s sleeping again.”
“Then I shall return
later. You have eaten?”
Daniel shook his head
absently and found himself propelled by Teal’c to the staff canteen. The staff
were gradually becoming used to seeing Teal’c, but he still drew strange looks
and he kept away from the visitor’s areas as much as possible. The baseball cap
that someone had provided him with hid his tattoo and as yet, no one had
outwardly commented on his refusal to take it off.
Daniel watched helplessly
as Teal’c piled a tray high with food and a coffee and escorted him to a table,
whereupon the Jaffa bid him to ‘chow up’
Daniel had the coffee half
way to his lips when he stopped and gave the Jaffa a questioning look. “Chow
up?” he asked with a quiver of amusement.
Teal’c nodded. “Or is it
down? I confess that I was not paying O’Neill close attention at the time.”
Teal’c took a huge bite
out of a bread roll and began to shovel the pasta in behind it. Daniel covered
his amusement by taking a sip from his coffee, shaking his head ruefully as he
The conversation, or lack
of, was saved by the appearance of Sam. She sat down and began picking
half-heartedly at the sandwich she’d bought.
“Janet not joining us?”
“No, she’s having
something with Cassie,” responded Sam.
“Has Cassie said anything
Sam shook her head and let
the sandwich fall back onto the plate before she pushed it away, giving up the
pretence of eating. “Not really and so far as we know there’s no sign of Mayer
or Brinks. It’s like they’ve disappeared off the face of the earth. Colonel
Draper is coming back tomorrow, the hospital has advised him that the Colonel
might feel like talking a little.”
Daniel shook his head.
“They obviously don’t know Jack if they think we’ll get some of the gaps filled
Sam gave a shrug. “You
know the Colonel, he’ll only tell the bare minimum, but he may be able to shed
some light on Mayer and Brinks’s whereabouts.”
“I do not think a man such
as Mayer would have revealed his plans.” Teal’c spoke between mouthfuls, barely
pausing before putting the next forkful in.
Daniel watched the vast
amount of pasta reducing rapidly. He’d always been amazed at just how much Jack
could eat and yet remained trim, but the Jaffa had the Colonel beaten three
“No, I don’t think he
would have said outright, but maybe he let something slip ...” began Daniel.
“Or maybe he thought it
wouldn’t have mattered to say at the time ... given that the Colonel was left
for dead.” Sam acknowledged sadly, her gaze lifting from the table as she spoke.
Neither of her companions
were inclined to comment further on that and they resumed their meal in silence.
General Hammond knew just
how much Colonel O’Neill would hate this particular de-briefing, but he
acknowledged the necessity of it and Colonel Draper’s presence.
He had limited it to just
himself, SG1 and Draper, but even so the small room felt crowded and he knew his
2IC was extremely uncomfortable and not just on a physical level.
Jack seemed happy to greet
Colonel Draper and shook hands with the man, giving him quiet thanks for the
timely rescue. He seemed resigned to the de-briefing, speaking quietly and to
the point. He told them the facts as much as he knew. Draper prompted him for
more details at certain points and as much as the story unfolded, they each knew
they only had got the bare bones of the story ... right up until Jack spoke of
leaving Cassie hiding when he went to scout out the road ahead. His voice died
to a sudden halt as he spoke of retracing his steps to get back to Cassie.
“Jack?” prompted Draper.
Jack sank deeper into his
pillows. His eyes closed for a moment, before flicking a quick glance at them
all, his eyes giving nothing away ... before they closed again.
“Colonel, are you able to
continue?” asked Hammond gently.
Jack nodded as he opened
his eyes, this time fastening them down, his gaze intent on the bed linen that
covered his chest.
“Sir,” he acknowledge
quietly. “I ...” he hesitated once again, drawing curious looks from his team.
His eyes closed, almost as if against his will and his respiration began to
increase. “I ...”
“I think you need to rest
a little Jack, we can continue this later.”
Hammond spoke softly, yet
with full authority that no one would dispute. He nodded towards the door and
everyone followed his silent request. Even the chairs rasping on the cold floor
didn’t cause Jack to open his eyes again and one by one they all filed quietly
out of the room.
As Major Carter left,
Hammond asked her to find a nurse and send her in. He then turned back to the
“Jack, take it easy. I
know you’ve been through quite an ordeal. We’ll continue this later, if you feel
able to that is.” Hammond didn’t expect a response, so he wasn’t disappointed.
When the nurse entered, he rose quietly and left.
SG1 and Draper were waiting in their rest room for the General to appear and
their conversation died as he approached.
“Sir, I would like a
chance to speak with Cassie,” requested Draper.
Hammond seemed to consider
it for a moment. “Although I would like to know what went on as well, in this
case I must defer to the mother’s wishes. Doctor Fraiser has reported how upset
Cassie was by the earlier attempt to question her and her continued distress
when approached by any male.”
“Maybe Cassie would talk
to me Sir?”
The General gave Sam a
slight nod. “Perhaps. Ask Doctor Fraiser if she is agreeable. The rest of us
will wait here.”
Sam nodded and excused
herself, leaving the others to settle down and to wait.
Sam sat beside Cassie,
stroking her hand gently. Janet had moved herself to the other side of the bed,
not too close, but ready in case her daughter showed distress.
“Take your time Cassie,
just tell me what you can,” coaxed Sam gently. The bruises on the girl’s face
were dark, her eyes still shadowed ... her face showed a slightly haunted
expression and Sam’s heart bled for the girl, but they had to know what had
happened and it would be good for Cassie to unburden herself ... at least that’s
what she kept telling herself.
“All?” whispered Cassie.
Sam nodded encouragingly,
“Yes, start from when the Colonel picked you up.”
Cassie nodded. “He called
Friday and told me to be ready earlier than usual, said he had a surprise and to
wrap up.” As Cassie continued to speak, her voice grew a little stronger ...
“He’d hidden the sticks in the back of the truck, so I didn’t catch on until we
were heading right out of town ...
It’s beautiful up there
... Lynette’s Lake ... he used to take Charlie there ...”
Sam listened as Cassie
continued. The girl’s enthusiasm for the trip was clear ... the light that lit
her eyes as she spoke of their happy antics on the ice showed how much she had
enjoyed it ... right up until the moment the broken down truck appeared ...
Cassie’s voice wavered as
she told them what she could. Tears ran down her face as she revealed how Jack
had been hit ... then their escape...
Sam listened carefully,
keeping her emotions hidden the best she could as she passed Cassie a
handkerchief to wipe her tears and then a drink of water. She stroked the girl’s
hand gently, encouraging her to continue.
She felt the trembling
growing worse as Cassie got to the point where Jack had left her to scout ahead,
then suddenly the girl stopped speaking.
Sam hesitated for a
moment, but her curiosity got the better of her and she pushed the girl to speak
a little more. “What happened after that, Cassie? Did the Colonel come back for
“He ... he ...” Cassie’s
tears flowed and she drew a snuffled breath.
Sam was aware of Janet
edging closer, but she put out a hand to forestall her. “It’s okay honey, go
“He grabbed me ... I tried
to fight him ... I really did ... I was so afraid ... Jack left me ... and ...”
“That’s okay Cassie,
you’re safe, it’s okay ... what happened next?” Sam drew closer to the trembling
“I saw the knife ... oh
god ... Jack ...”
“Who had the knife
“I’m glad he’s dead!”
burst out Cassie.
“Who died Cassie? What
happened?” Sam fought to keep her voice calm, despite her distress for the
obviously upset girl.
“He’s dead and I’m glad
... you hear! Glad!” Cassie broke free from Sam’s hand and drew her knees up,
rocking and sobbing.
“Jack killed him with
that knife and I’m glad ... he ... he ...” she mimicked her fingers drawing
across her throat, “There was a lot of blood, but I’m glad!”
“That’s enough!” burst out
Janet and climbed onto the bed, trying to calm her daughter. She encircled the
sobbing girl in her arms, holding her tightly.
“It’s okay Cassie. You did
well. It’s okay,” whispered Sam, feeling very emotional herself.
Janet eventually managed
to calm Cassie down and the girl’s tears subsided to hiccoughs.
Sam reported what she had
learned to the others. Draper immediately went to order a search with dogs to be
carried out in the vicinity where they thought it was likely to have happened
... they needed to know just who else was out there ... dead or alive.
The doctor attending Jack
had refused to let them continue the de-briefing and had sedated the Colonel.
The elevated readings he’d seen had shown clearly that his patient was under
stress and he blocked any further chance of interview and visitors until at
least the next day.
Cassie settled for the
night with Janet lying beside her. Sam disturbed the woman in the early hours,
urging her out into the corridor so that she could speak to her without waking
“Janet, they’ve located a
body. They’re bringing it in.”
Janet felt the last
ravages of sleep leaving her. “And ... do they know who it is?”
“They’ve identified it as
“How long before it
“Thirty minutes ... Janet,
the General has requested you assist at the autopsy.”
Janet nodded. “That’s okay
Sam, don’t worry. Will you stay with Cassie in case she wakes ... I don’t want
her to be alone just yet?”
“Of course I will,” said
Sam at once, feeling pleased that Janet had asked her.
Janet went to freshen
herself up and Sam took her place in Cassie’s room, watching the girl sleeping.
Cassie’s face didn’t seem relaxed even in sleep, and Sam wondered what horrors
the child had had to face over the last days.
The hospital mortuary had
a well equipped lab. Nothing but the finest equipment ... with the SGC just a
little way a way, it needed it. The hospital had been home to more than one
refugee from another world, not that most of the staff were aware of it...
The soldiers that laid the
body on the slab quickly helped the Doctor assigned to do the autopsy and Janet
to debag it before leaving at their request. The cause of death was quickly
apparent to both doctors as they looked down in horror at the man’s throat. The
body had barely suffered any decomposition, the cold keeping it more or less as
the life had left it ... the moment that the Colonel’s knife had ended it
Almost on autopilot, Janet
helped record their findings. A bloodied and broken nose ... bruising to the
immediate area ... disarranged clothing ... “He grabbed me ... I tried to
fight him ... I really did ... I was so afraid ... Jack left me ... and ...”
her daughter’s terrified speech bleached out further thoughts ... there wasn’t
much point in taking it any further ... the body had bled out quickly, the man
dying instantly from the well placed blade.
Janet thanked the doctor
and excused herself, leaving the doctor and his assistant to clear up, and
pulled the gloves from her hands. She hurried through to the washroom, barely
making it to the sink before losing the scant remains of the last meal she’d
eaten. If she’d asked for a painted picture of that scene she would have fared
no better ... her mind’s eye could clearly see the man looming over her daughter
... Cassie fighting him ... all alone...
As the heaving settled
Janet felt the anger and fear building more...
Janet was a soldier true,
but first and foremost she was a doctor, and in her heart she just couldn’t find
any pity for the man killed by the hand of the Colonel. She’d seen some horrors
over her time at the SGC, and even before her posting there the brutal acts of
mankind had always sickened her, but the fear that Mayer hadn’t finished with
them, that he was lurking somewhere waiting to take revenge chilled her.
She set out at a good pace
to the Colonel’s room, the guards letting her enter without contest.
Janet felt quite calm,
She’d spoken to the
Colonel’s doctor earlier and he’d reassured her, that all things considered, he
was doing quite well, and if he’d thought it odd that she’d taken a back seat in
the Colonel’s care the doctor certainly hadn’t mentioned it, thankfully,
Cassie’s well-being was accepted as her first priority.
She stood in the open
doorway for a moment, staring at the pale imitation of the Colonel that she knew
... correction – she thought she knew, as much as anyone was allowed to...
He seemed to sense her
presence and stirred, his eyes opening slowly from slumber.
Taking a slightly deeper
breath than usual, she stepped in, allowing the door to close behind her.
“Colonel,” she said
stiffly, by way of greeting as she approached the bed.
“Doc?” he queried, his
voice quite low and raspy, his tongue flicked out to moisten dry lips as he
struggled to sit more upright, the aftermath of sleep leaving him.
“I need to know what
happened out there.”
The Colonel’s face showed
a flicker of surprise before he recovered his composure, but he remained silent.
“Cassie isn’t saying much
at all, she’s still ...” Janet cleared her throat. “Tell me what happened.”
Jack’s eyes slid down to
the sheet covering him. “I ...” he stopped speaking abruptly, his eyes remaining
“Why?” she asked suddenly,
the word bursting out before she could stop it.
He looked up startled. His
eyes narrowed briefly and he shifted his weight in the bed again.
“Why is it you can protect
your team so well, but not Cassie?” Her voice rose higher as she spoke.
He looked taken aback for
a moment by her question, but feeling nothing but a buzzing anger building,
Janet stormed on.
“Can you answer me that,
Jack? The heroic Colonel O’Neill, decorated for bravery ... how many times? But
you couldn’t help Cassie ... you abandoned her to those men ...”
“Janet, what ... it wasn’t
like that ... I ...”
“I trusted you, Colonel.
Just like your team trust you out there.”
His eyes opened wider, a
slightly shocked expression lit them. “God Janet, I did everything I could to
...” his voice broke a little and he paused for breath.
“I shouldn’t have trusted
you with her, I shouldn’t have expected her to be safe with you ... you couldn’t
keep your own son safe.”
Jack stared at the petite
bundle of seething hurt that stood before him ... except that he didn’t see the
hurt ... he only felt his own. Her words sliced through him like the cruellest
of knives and when she mentioned Charlie, the knife swept back through him,
cutting him to the very core. The ice that crept down through his veins began to
mesh with the anger that surged as he snapped. He only felt the need to return
the hurt, to slash back at the woman that was cutting through him.
“You were willing enough
to use me as a convenient babysitter when you had better things to do!” He
pushed himself more upright to face her, oblivious of the pull on his injuries.
“Bastard!” snarled Janet
and her hand struck out at him.
The resounding slap echoed
in the room, but he barely flinched. The ice in his veins and in his heart
didn’t acknowledge it. “Get out!” His voice was cold and calm. “Get out,” he
repeated when she didn’t move at first.
“Oh I’m going Colonel,”
she spat at him. “But before I do you need to know that I won’t make the same
mistake again – I’m not going to give Mayer or anyone another chance at her.”
Janet turned abruptly as
she spoke the last word. Jack barely saw her leaving ... the ice settling down
... the numbness began to take over ... shutting him down.
Jack let his head fall
back with a thump. His heart was thudding painfully in his chest, the pain he
was in was nothing to the overwhelming sense of shame he felt. He knew he
shouldn’t have retaliated the way he had, but he had been taken by surprise by
the whole episode and had lashed out without thinking. It seemed to his tired
and drugged mind that Janet had discovered that he had been prepared to
sacrifice her daughter’s life ... that must have been what it seemed to Cassie,
that was what it was – he left her ... he did nothing to save her - was that
what he was good at? Killing children?
General Hammond was
happily oblivious to his CMO’s actions. He’d finally returned to base to grab a
few hours sleep before resuming his command at the SGC. He was a little
perturbed by the body that had been discovered. The report from the search team
had left him no illusion as to the cause of death, but as to the motive for his
2IC’s actions, he had no doubts that the man had had reasonable justification at
Some twenty-four hours
later Jack’s continued reticence to talk was a worry to the General. He’d spoken
at length with the army’s CO at Peterson, who felt that any further action
resulting from the incident was entirely in Hammond’s hands – as far as the army
were concerned, except for Mayer’s escape, it was mission accomplished.
He steeled himself outside
his 2IC’s room before entering. Jack certainly looked better than when he was
first brought in, but only just ... the lack of light in his 2IC’s eyes gave
George the shivers.
He sat down without
speaking at first, giving Jack time to focus his attention on him. “How are you
feeling son?” he asked kindly.
Jack turned his head
towards him, his eyes a little unfocused as if he had just woken. “Not too bad,
sir,” he responded quietly.
Hammond nodded. “Do you
think you can tell me what happened out there Jack?”
Jack nodded slowly in
return. He knew it would have to come out in the end and although he had done
nothing that he would not do again given the same choices, it still shamed him
that he had made the choices he had.
He spoke. His tone was
flat ... completely lifeless. He told of ‘despatching’ Brinks in the briefest
way possible and continued on to tell the General as much of the story as he
Hammond realised that Jack
hadn’t told him the full depth of it all. When he back-tracked Jack to the
killing, goading Jack into telling more of it, he saw the man’s eyes flash for a
split second with absolute hatred ... his flat tone lit with a spark of anger as
he let slip just what he hadn’t intended to say.
The General winced and his
eyes closed in reaction as he realised with a sudden jolt just what Jack had
implied, more from what he hadn’t said, than from what he had ... just how close
Cassie had come to being raped and that Jack was blaming himself for the
George Hammond sat and
digested the full extent of what had happened. Under the circumstances Brinks
was lucky to have died a quick death. The General adored Cassandra Fraiser, and
his stomach churned with the thought that if it had been one of his
granddaughters in that situation, he knew with crystal clarity that he would
have done no less than Jack had.
“You couldn’t have known
Jack, don’t blame yourself. You acted in time.”
Jack’s eyes lit briefly on
the General’s face. “Yeah, I showed her another way to kill ... you should have
seen her George – she was terrified.”
“You’d rather he’d
“NO!” Jack spat
“You did what you had to,
son, your training kicked in, took over ... Cassie’s strong, she’ll get over
that a hell of a lot easier than ...” George’s voice faded to a halt.
“It doesn’t alter the fact
that I ...” Jack’s voice broke. “I had to make a choice and I let her down
George leaned closer to
Jack. “Son, we all have to make choices we don’t like, you know that as much as
I do ... if not better.”
“Mayer was going to kill
her and I put the missile and complete strangers above her life ... how do I
look her in the face again? How do I justify that to her? Sorry Cass, but a
hundred nameless people just took on more importance than you ...”
George saw the stone wall
the man had built crumbling slowly. Cracks had opened as the years had piled on
the stress and although he always knew Jack had tremendous heart and soul, he
hadn’t realised until now just what his service to his country had cost...
“You did what was right
son and what Cassie would have told you to do. If that missile had left this
country it would have most likely been the ultimate cause of death to not just
hundreds, but thousands of lives.”
“Most likely ... ultimate
cause ... yeah sounds good doesn’t it – but how do you do that to a child and
expect them to trust you ever again?”
Jack’s dark eyes fixed
Hammond’s with such a desolate plea that General George Hammond almost felt he
could cry for him. Trust was so hard won with this man, so important ... love
and respect ... goddamn the world at times...
“Cassie will, you’ll see.”
Jack shook his head sadly,
his eyes closing, almost as if against his will. “I don’t think so George, not
George was about to speak
when there was a sharp knock at the door and a SF entered.
“Sorry Sirs,” he
apologised quickly, “but I have an urgent call for you General.”
Hammond nodded and got to
his feet. “I’ll see you later Jack. Get some rest. It’ll work out okay son.” He
gently squeezed the Colonel’s good shoulder and left, cursing the untimely call.
The General didn’t in fact
get to see Jack later – he was too busy dealing with an off-world incident at
the SGC. He briefly spoke to Major Carter and asked her to pass on his apologies
to the Colonel and without giving anything away he pointedly ordered SG1 to stay
on stand down at the hospital until further notice.
The next few days at the
SGC were hectic and the General was kept updated on his 2IC’s continual physical
improvement, but the nagging worry that all was not well would just not leave
Cassie continued to
improve, bouncing back with a ferocity that surprised Janet. The question that
she was not prepared for so soon however, was launched...
“When can I see Jack?”
Janet stopped in mid flow,
her hands stilling on the cards she’d been shuffling. Her heart hammered in her
throat. Cassie had been repeatedly asking how Jack was, but had accepted Janet’s
brief automatic responses up until now.
Cassie waited. “Mom?” she
asked eventually when Janet seemed as if she would ignore her by beginning to
deal the cards.
“What?” asked Janet
absently, concentrating on the cards with undue care.
“When can I see Jack?”
“I though you said he was
“So why can’t I see him?”
“I ... He’s not having
“Sam’s visiting ...
Daniel, Teal’c ...” said Cassie, rising up on the bed slightly.
“You’re a patient.”
“That means you can’t
“I’m okay Mom, when do I
get to go home then?”
“You said that yesterday.”
“The doctors said a couple
of days,” responded Janet vaguely.
“Why can’t I see Jack?”
Cassie continued to whine. It was so unlike her Mom that Cassie was beginning to
wonder. “I’m not frightened,” she said suddenly.
Janet’s eyes flew up to
regard her daughter. “You need to speak to Colonel Draper yet,” she said,
deliberately changing the subject.
Cassie’s eyes dimmed with
the reminder. She wanted to forget it all, put it behind her ... somehow she
felt that if she spoke about it, it made it seem too real – to raw. Her
nightmares had started to recede and instead of the knife and Brinks she had
begun to remember just how safe she had felt with Jack, and she wanted that back
... more than anything, and she wanted to make sure that he was alright. She was
old enough to realise just what Jack had gone through and what he had done to
protect her – putting himself in danger – ready to sacrifice himself for her.
She knew that Jack couldn’t have done anything else. The last couple of days she
had gotten a little more information from Sam about the missile and she
understood just what Jack had had to do...
Cassie felt her mom’s eyes
on her as she thought. Her mother suddenly looked older and tired ... very
tired. She drew herself up on the bed and engulfed a surprised Janet in her
Janet gave a startled gasp
before responding by putting her own arms around the girl. “Hey, it’s okay.”
“I know, it’s just that
... I want to go home, be normal ... why can’t things just not happen?”
“There’s no answer to
that, I wish there was.”
“Things get pretty weird
don’t they?” asked Cassie, suddenly sitting back, but keeping hold of her mom’s
Janet’s mouth broke into
the first glimmer of a smile that Cassie had seen in days. “They sure do honey.”
“But you know what Mom?”
Janet gave her a
“I wouldn’t trade any of
the people in my life for anything!”
Janet felt the tears
pricking and she pulled her daughter close again to hold her even more tightly.
Worry about what she had
not only thought, but done to Colonel O’Neill had begun to surface in Janet’s
mind, but the overwhelming fear of Mayer being loose out there chased away the
doubts that kept on flickering. She managed to sway away Cassie’s demands by
promising that once she was home and the Colonel was fit she would see what she
The Colonel continued to
ask Sam and Daniel how Cassie was, and Sam had actually commented to Janet about
Cassie seeing the still very sick man, but Janet had conveyed the impression
that Cassie didn’t wish to and then changed the subject. Sam had felt reluctant
to pursue the issue. She had also noticed Janet’s avoidance of the Colonel’s
care - but he never asked about the doctor.
She knew that the Colonel
wasn’t himself and despite physically continuing to improve, his usual buoyancy
wasn’t there ... his whole manner was repressed.
Daniel had tried to draw
the man from the low spirits he seemed to be in and gotten short shrift, but
even that reaction had no fire ... just a flat request to get out.
When Sam had revealed to
him that Cassie had gone home with Janet he seemed to sag and withdraw even
Recent multiple injuries
sustained by off-world teams meant that Sam and Daniel were recalled to the SGC
and that General Hammond was kept even busier. He’d returned to see his 2IC
briefly, but was unable to engage him in conversation.
Though Teal’c’s services
could have been readily utilised, he was adamant that he would be staying put
and for once the General was in complete agreement with the Jaffa. He felt bad
enough withdrawing the rest of SG1 – feeling like he was withdrawing the support
his 2IC sorely needed, but the galaxy wasn’t waiting...
Jack lay on his bed. It
was late afternoon and he’d been allowed out of bed for the last couple of days
under supervision. He was slowly going nuts he realised, the walls closing in on
him along with his guilt and self hatred. He squinted out of the window; the
afternoon’s sun lazily glanced through the trees that were dotted across the
hospital lawns. His gaze lit briefly on the hospital wing opposite his window,
wondering perhaps if somewhere, someone was laying there feeling the same
despondency that he was. He gave a rueful shake of his head. ‘Nah – there
couldn’t be another bastard like me – the world’s just too small for that!’
The envelope on his
bedside table addressed to General Hammond had finally been sealed. He’d dated
and signed his resignation – it only remained to be delivered.
Bleakly he wondered just
what the future held. He had no doubts that he would retreat to his cabin ...
maybe get a dog – yeah a dog would be good. Maybe he wouldn’t have to let the
animal down. Fed, walked and loved – dogs were simple – not like people.
Janet was extremely tired,
the sleepless nights were long, and every creak in the house had her wide-awake
listening, despite locking the house up like Fort Knox. During the day it wasn’t
as bad, but every time there was a knock at the door her heart hammered, despite
telling herself she was being stupid.
Cassie had finally been
released from the hospital and her continued requests to visit Jack wore at
Janet’s nerves. She’d tried avoidance and all the usual excuses and Cassie had
started to get angry. Janet finally snapped.
“Why can’t I?” argued
Cassie for what felt like the millionth time that day.
“Because,” snapped Janet.
“That’s not an answer,”
snapped back an equally angry Cassie. She hadn’t even seen Sam and Daniel for
over three days. She hadn’t felt like seeing her school friends, she didn’t
think she could gloss over what had happened – just yet.
Janet’s frayed nerves
finally tore apart. “Because he doesn’t want to see you!” she yelled.
Cassie’s stunned face
almost undid her. The girl’s eyes widened and her mouth quivered and, as the
first shocked tears began to fall, she turned away and ran up the stairs...
“Cassie, I ...” The door
to her bedroom slammed shut. “I didn’t mean it ...” finished Janet with a
whisper. The house ached with an eerie quiet that made the woman shiver as she
stood, her hand falling uselessly to her side, her throat aching with unshed
The phone’s ringing
brought her out of her stupor and she brushed at her eyes trying to clear them
while snatching it up.
“Doctor Fraiser,” she
snapped briefly, trying to keep her voice steady.
The operator from the SGC
rapidly gave her Hammond’s directive to report in. Janet wondered momentarily at
refusing and asking to speak to Hammond direct before the doctor in her
responded to the emergency – Hammond wouldn’t have called her in if it weren’t
Hanging up the phone after
giving her acquiescence, Janet began to gather her belongings, purse and keys
before running upstairs to come to a halt outside Cassie’s door. The bolt that
was rarely used was in place and she gave the knob a quick shake before
“Cassie, I’ve been called
in – medical emergency. I’ll speak to Mrs Byrne next door to keep an eye out and
if I can’t get back I’ll ask if you can stay over.” The only response from the
room was complete silence. “Cassie, I’m sorry, look we’ll talk later. Will you
be okay? If you don’t want to stop alone you can come with me.” She tried for
one last time, hoping Cassie would chose the safety of the SGC, but to no avail.
“I’ll stay.” The reply was
slightly muffled, but sounded quite calm, considering.
“That’s fine,” lied Janet,
thoroughly dismayed at the response. “If you want anything just call, okay? I’ll
be as quick as I can.”
Janet shook her head as
she made her way downstairs. The lousy timing some things had ... but then again
a little breathing space wouldn’t hurt. She called at the neighbour’s house
before leaving and Mrs Byrne was more than willing to keep an eye out – saying
she would call over in a couple of hours anyway.
Janet pulled her seat belt
on before starting the car and for a moment she glanced up to the bedroom window
– a niggle of worry etching at her ... sighing deeply, realising there was
nothing she could do for the moment, she started the car and began her journey
Cassie peered through the
curtain and watched her Mom’s car moving off. She gave it a count of five
minutes before gathering some things in her bag and picked up the phone to call
for a cab, giving an address that wasn’t her own. Quietly she let herself out of
the house and made her way down the street. Safely out of the view of the nosy
neighbours, she stood outside the house she’d given the address of to the cab
company and waited...
Jack had begun to settle
back a little again on the bed, feeling drained by the not so quick trip to the
bathroom, but he was thankful that at last they let him have that privilege.
Bedpans and bottles were something he particularly hated and would never get
used to, despite the practice he got.
The swathe of bandages on
his chest had been reduced to lighter dressings and he felt considerably better
for it. Thankfully they’d allowed him to don the sweat pants Teal’c had procured
for him and although he didn’t think that yellow was a particularly good colour,
he was too grateful to grouse at the Jaffa – well not much anyway. The hospital
dressing gown hung loosely across his shoulders, it was much too much of a
bother to fasten it...
He was avidly fascinated,
in a tired and totally depressed way, by his bare toes on the bed. He squinted
one eye at his right toe and began to draw the outline of the door it ...
circling the frame twice before realising the door was open just a little. He
stopped in mid-trace and watched as the door opened a little further...
Once safely in the cab
Cassie relaxed a little. She gave the driver her destination address and settled
back. The journey was only a little over twenty minutes and she began to
rehearse what she was going to say – if Jack didn’t want to see her ever again
he would have to tell her face to face!
The hospital staff didn’t
stop her, quite used to seeing the young girl who had over the years visited her
Mom frequently, usually calling after school to wait for the end of shift to go
shopping. Some just nodding to her, others smiling and asked how she was, to
which she briefly smiled in reply and nodded as she continued on her way.
The SF’s who were still
patrolling the wing where the Colonel was were also familiar with Doctor
Fraiser’s daughter - they were pleased to see the brave young lady and waved her
Still more than just a
little worried about Jack’s possible reaction to her presence she paused at the
end of the quiet corridor, lost in thought. She was startled by a firm hand on
her shoulder and yelped as she swung around in fear to face the person who had
“Teal’c!” Cassie berated,
as the thudding fear in her heart left her.
His face immediately
showed his contrition. “I did not mean to scare you, please forgive me,” he said
She drew a deep breath,
calming herself down. “That’s okay Teal’c, just I’m a little err ... jumpy ...”
“As is understandable,
Cassandra. Are you going to visit O’Neill?”
Cassie nodded. “I think
Teal’c regarded her with a
raised eyebrow and he inclined his head to one side. “Think? Do you not know
what you are doing here?”
“Well, what I am trying to
do is the right thing ... but I don’t know for sure that it is.”
“You must do as you think
is right. I am sure of that. Also that if you have come so far, you must not now
Cassie gave the
man-mountain a tremulous smile, realising he was not talking about the length of
the journey from the house. “Were you always this wise, Teal’c?”
“Indeed not. Wisdom cannot
be taught. Like experience, it can only be attained through living and learning.
I have just lived a little longer than most people you know.”
“Indeed,” said Cassie,
giving the surprised Jaffa a quick hug; however he only smiled and nodded.
Cassie felt a little
better ... a little braver ... and carried on resolutely, only to stop a bit
further down the corridor, suddenly realising that she actually had no idea
which room she needed. Then Teal’c’s deep voice issued clear instructions. She
didn’t turn her head, merely waving a hand in thanks as she followed his
For some reason as the
door was in sight, she felt the need to tiptoe the last few feet. Taking a deep
breath she raised her fist to knock, then changed her mind and instead began to
push the door open – slowly.
Heart in mouth she peered
around the door to see Jack on the bed facing her. His eyes were alert and
watching and the foot he had raised slightly flopped to the bed’s surface as she
bravely stepped further into the room.
For a few heart hammering
seconds she wasn’t sure of his response, his face showing just a little shock,
until the smile that began tugging at his mouth lit his dark eyes and the last
few feet to the bed were covered in a remarkably short space of time.
Jack wasn’t sure at first
if he was seeing things when Cassie’s face appeared around the door. When she
stepped in, the uncertainty her face held tugged at his heart. His first and
most immediate thought was that she was frightened of him, until the love he
felt for her surged up and for one of the few times in his life, he let his
heart dictate his expression and he didn’t hold back from showing just how glad
he was to see her.
He bit down the gasp of
pain as Cassie quite literally flung herself on the bed at him, his arms opened
wide, hugging her fiercely. His eyes filled with what felt suspiciously like
salty moisture as he squeezed them shut, not able to hide the trembling in his
The tears that shook her
young body bled a few of his own.
Cassie’s sudden tears made
her entire body tremble as she cried. She cried her heart out, letting go of the
pent up fears and threads of self doubt, and the guilt she had trapped inside of
her. She cried for everything and everyone ... without quite knowing exactly for
what... but most of all she cried for the man holding her, the man who had
become so much more than a father to her. He held a very, very special place in
her heart and in her life and she was no way in hell going to lose him,
regardless of what *he* or her mother thought!
“Cass,” his voice
whispered as she began to calm down. His lips touched the top of her head in a
kiss and she clung to him harder than ever.
She felt him stiffen
slightly and draw a sharp breath and she immediately released him with a
“Jack ... sor hic...
sorry... I forgot hic...”
“Sokay, honey, honestly.
“Now I am.” Cassie spoke
resolutely and sat up, scrubbing at her eyes and snotty nose with her sleeve
until Jack pressed a handful of wipes into her hand.
“Yew gross!” he whined
with a smile as she made as if to rub her nose on him instead of the wipe.
Cassie grinned and blew
her nose and then lifted her face to him to accept his touch as he gently
cleaned her face with the fresh wet wipe he had snagged from his bedside table.
He then passed her a drink
and eased back on the bed against the headboard. She snuggled on the narrow bed
beside him, his arm cocooning her safely to prevent her tumbling off.
They both began to speak
at the same time and then grinned at each other stupidly.
“You first,” she demanded.
“Uh, ah ... Cass...”
They laughed, then Jack
gave her shoulder a squeeze and a hand signal to carry on.
“Why didn’t you want to
“Uh? I thought ... oh.”
The light dawned on him as Janet’s last conversation with him – or rather at him
– came back to him. “Cassie I...” he hesitated, loath to shift any blame onto
Janet because, no matter how he felt, he could see her point of view in wanting
to protect her child. In fact if Cassie had decided she didn’t want to see him,
he would honour that regardless of his own feelings...
“I was a bit ... well out
of it, I think your Mom thought it best, especially with Mayer still on the run
Cassie frowned at him. It
wasn’t as if her Mom hadn’t tried that same tactic on her as well ... and it
didn’t wash. Her Mom’s final words to her were what counted.
“No. Mom said that *you*
didn’t want to see me.”
Jack shifted a little
uncomfortable. He didn’t want to blame anyone, but he also didn’t want Cassie to
think that was what *he* had wanted.
“Mom lied.” Cassie spoke
quietly and she turned her face to regard him seriously.
“Well, maybe not exactly
...” he began.
“She did,” said Cassie
firmly. “She shouldn’t have.”
“Cassie, one day you’ll
have a child of your own and then...”
“What? I’ll turn into a
liar?” she asked quite seriously.
Jack couldn’t help the
grin. “Cass when you’re a parent things are kinda cut and dried in your head
when you protect your kids, and it doesn’t matter at the time if it’s wrong -
you do just it.”
“You love me, don’t you?”
asked Cassie suddenly, her expression daring him to deny it.
Jack couldn’t - he nodded
“Yet you managed to do the
right thing out there, didn’t you?”
The guilt and shame
flooded Jack so hard he almost gasped. He couldn’t respond to that – didn’t want
to. His eyes slid down to regard his chest before he closed them.
“Jack,” she said quietly,
then a little nudge and his name again until he managed to look at her.
“You did the right thing.
You knew that rescue couldn’t have been long coming. You gave me a chance by
holding them off for as long as you did.”
“Cass, don’t I...”
“You think I would want to
live knowing that my life was traded for even one innocent? I think my natural
parents taught me better than that, and you and Janet have carried on teaching
me the same way.”
Jack did a slight double
take at that. Cassie rarely referred to her natural parents nowadays, but it
didn’t mean she’d forgotten them. It was also just as rare that Cassie referred
to Janet as anything other than ‘mom’ ... the way she phrased ‘natural parents’
gave him a glimmer of just how she felt towards him and Janet – parents – and it
warmed his worn soul.
“Cassie, I’m honoured that
you think that way, but I ... what about Brinks? I saw how you ... when I ...”
Cassie put a finger up to
his lips. “Shush. You did what you had to and I am so glad you were there. I
don’t care about him. It doesn’t matter, just that you were there and that you
stopped him is enough for me. When Mom calms down and I can talk to her
properly, and tell her everything that happened, she’ll understand. I know it’s
been hard for her and I think she feels she wasn’t being a good mother by not
being able to protect me and she’s taken her guilt and anger out on you too.”
Jack’s eyes widened, then
he poked her suddenly on her arm. “Are you sure you’re *our* Cassandra Fraiser
... some alien didn’t beam you up and clone you did they?” he asked
Cassie laughed and swotted
his fingers away. “Jack, don’t be an ass!” she berated, giggling.
“Hey!” he mock growled
pretending to be hurt. “Gonna stop you hangin’ around our space monkey!”
Cassie giggled harder and
leaned into his shoulder until the giggling subsided and she sobered slightly,
sitting up a little straighter.
“I couldn’t ... I... well
I haven’t actually told anyone what happened out there properly.”
“When you’re ready you
“Huh, like I bet you told
anyone properly. A factual report, Colonel?” cracked Cassie.
Jack nudged her head with
his shoulder. “Ah, but I’m sort of allowed to, well, gloss some of the details
now I’m soooo much older,” he teased.
“Ack,” grimaced Cassie.
“Sam says you box it down.”
Jack’s eyes widened a
little in surprise. “She did, did she?”
Cassie nodded and carried
on. “Yep, that you keep too much inside of you and that it’s not good for you. I
mean, how would you feel if I did the same thing?”
Jack shrugged a little.
“Depends on how you handle the ‘boxing’. I don’t do emotion, Cass, you know
“You’re doing it now.”
Jack gave her a mock glare
and then a rueful grin. “That’s doing it? Now that’s amazing – see – Sam’s wrong
Cassie gave him a scowl
and a thump on his good arm.
“We ... err, we’re okay
then?” he asked hesitantly.
“Yes Jack,” sighed Cassie
with all the attitude of a twenty-year plus, woman – “We’re okay.”
“I mean Cass...”
“Shuttup now you’re ahead,
“Women!” he scorned.
Janet Fraiser sighed as
she scrubbed up. She’d had to carry out two operations – one after the other due
to the injuries SG12 and 14 had received off world and she was tired. The
General had been down quickly to ascertain how things were and apologised at
having called her, cancelling her leave. She accepted his apologies with good
grace and was thankful that the personnel although needing a lot of care, would
certainly be okay. The nursing staff had been running at full stretch for the
last five hours and at long last she could now afford to take a break.
Lt. McPhee however
disturbed her with apologies. “There’s been two calls while you were in surgery
Ma-am, both from your neighbour, Mrs. Byrne.”
Janet’s heart jumped a
little. “Tricia? Did she say what it was?”
The Lt. shook her head. “I
told her you were in the OR and would call as soon as you could.”
“Thanks, I will.”
Janet quickly made her way
to the nearest phone and dialed the number she knew by heart, having frequently
had to use it when delayed at the base.
“Hi Janet, sorry I had to
call you in work, but I’ve been over to check on Cassie and didn’t get an
“She’s probably still
sulking, we ... ahem, well we had a few words before I left,” confessed Janet.
“I left it a while in case
she was in the shower or something, but when I went back I took the spare key
and let myself in. Janet, she’s not at home. Did she have to go anywhere?”
Janet’s heart took a dip
into her stomach and her stomach shot down to her shoes, before lurching back up
with an essence of nausea.
“No ... I ... she
shouldn’t have gone anywhere ...” Janet’s mouth ran with moisture and she gulped
hastily as the bile fought to rise.
“Janet?” questioned Tricia
at the sudden silence.
“Sorry, yes ... look I’m
coming home. If she shows will you call my cell phone?”
“Sure thing. Be careful
Janet made a quick call to
the General to advise him she was heading home and why.
“Are you sure you don’t
need help?” he enquired gently. “There might be...”
Janet considered what he
was saying. “Sir, I don’t think it’s so much trouble as perhaps she was just a
little upset at something I said before I left.”
“Will you let me know when
you find her, and Doctor - don’t hesitate to call if there’s anything I can do.”
“I promise sir.”
Janet left the mountain in
record time. She felt the anxiety melting, only for it to be replaced by anger
as she suddenly realised just where her errant daughter might be.
Janet parked her car in
one of the on call doctors’ spaces without care and practically ran into the
hospital. She was seething by the time she reached the wing where the Colonel
was. As she entered the corridor leading to his room, she saw Teal’c and Colonel
Draper coming towards her and put her hands up to stop them.
“Have you seen Cassie?”
Teal’c inclined his head
towards her. “Is something distressing you Doctor Fraiser?”
Teal’c’s eyes widened
slightly at her manner, but he inclined his head down towards the Colonel’s
Janet didn’t acknowledge
them further, but stormed off in that direction.
“What’s got up her ass?”
asked Draper, a little surprised.
“If you mean what is
bothering the Doctor, then I believe that she has discovered that Cassandra is
visiting when she is not supposed to.”
“Ouch,” said Draper with
“Indeed. I suggest we wait
“Uh, no sh... kidding
Teal’c. That woman scares the pants off me,” confessed the army Colonel.
“You are not alone in that
feeling Colonel Draper.”
Draper winced “No doubt.
Janet pushed the half open
door wide. She stood with her hands on her hips and glared at the bed...
The Colonel sat up with a
start as Janet entered and took in her stern demeanour as she glared at him. If
looks could have killed – he’d have died instantly.
“Doc, I ...”
Cassie stirred from the
doze she’d fallen into and her eyes opened to find her Mom glaring at Jack.
“Mom?” she asked a little
dazed and not just a little shocked at the expression she saw written there.
“Cassandra, get your
things, you’re coming home!” snapped Janet, her eyes not leaving Jack’s face.
“Janet, look ...” began
Jack, his voice taking on a pleading tone. He didn’t want to lose Cassie, nor
his friendship with the doctor.
“Don’t! Just don’t!
Cassie!” she snapped impatiently, stepping closer to the foot of the bed.
Cassie sat up and
scrambled forwards over the blankets, looking from her mom to Jack.
Jack heaved himself off
the bed, holding a hand out to Janet. “Please, just give me a chance to...”
The flicker of light from
the window caught in his peripheral vision and even as he turned to utter a
warning he saw the red dot flashing onto to Cassie’s head ... right between her
Janet saw everything as if
in slow motion ... she watched as Jack turned, his mouth opening as if to speak,
but nothing but a startled gasp erupted as he flung himself bodily onto the bed,
knocking Cassie down – pinning her beneath him...
The crack as the window
broke drew her eyes, but before she could even comprehend just what had happened
she became aware of Cassie screaming...
Her hands flew up in
horror as she watched the explosion of blood that splattered the white sheets
... the redness stark and terrifying ... and the screaming ... her daughter
pinned to the bed – screaming hysterically as Jack O’Neill’s blood covered
Janet was frozen to the
spot in absolute horror for what felt an age, but in reality was only seconds.
She watched as the body covering her daughter rolled suddenly and brought them
both crashing to the floor, rolling to keep himself between Cassie and the
window. The cry of pain from the Colonel brought Janet to her senses.
Cassie’s screams cut off
suddenly, the sounds of her gulping for breath, beginning to hyperventilate,
rent the air.
Janet’s instincts clicked
in and she dropped low, even though the angle she stood at shielded her from the
The Colonel put out an
arm, rolling back from Cassie slightly just as a second shot rent the air. Janet
screamed out as she watched the Colonel jerk in agony as it hit him in the back.
Cassie’s screams echoed through the room again and Janet shot forwards grabbing
at her daughter’s outstretched arms, pulling with all her might, sliding the
helpless girl across the floor to safety. As soon as Cassie was within her reach
Janet scrambled against the wall, hauling her daughter with her.
Cassie struggled against
her, her breath beginning to whoop again as she fought to speak. “Noooooo!” she
screamed and struggled to be free of her mom’s arms.
Jack’s slight movement
drew Janet’s eyes to him. “No... Cass... stay...” he gasped, one arm extended
towards the crying child, then his head lolled and he stilled.
Cassie’s struggling ceased
as the door slammed fully open and Teal’c’s huge outline appeared.
Janet screamed a warning
to the Jaffa who dived to the floor, followed rapidly by an SF, rifle at the
“The window!” shouted
A third shot rang out,
hitting its target with deadly accuracy and the Colonel’s body reacted, his head
snapping back with the force of the bullet. Janet realised the jerk was purely a
reflex – the Colonel was already dead.
The SF snapped a couple of
quick shots through the window as soon as the third shot had given him a line to
“Gunman on the east wing
roof,” he shouted and fired again.
Teal’c looked down at his
friend’s body, instinctively knowing the Colonel was no longer alive. The
resounding silence since the SF had fired told him that the gunman was fleeing
and he burst into action. He almost knocked the crouching figure of Colonel
Draper off his feet as he ran at top speed out of the room.
Draper got to his feet
from his position in the doorway, and gave a shocked glance at the body on the
floor, however one look at the murderous expression on Teal’c’s face as he
barrelled past him, told him to follow the man.
Teal’c’s fast pace took
him by surprise and he had to push hard to keep the man in sight. More SF’s were
beginning to converge on the scene and he shouted hasty instructions at them to
get security out into the grounds, not daring to stop.
Mike Draper ran as though
his life depended on it, hot on Teal’c’s trail.
For just a couple of
minutes he thought he’d taken a wrong turn, then the sound of gunfire drew him a
little way up a flight of stairs. Panting, he came to a halt as he saw that
Teal’c had cornered a man on the landing above him. Teal’c was clutching one
hand to his side, the other held the man by the throat.
“Teal’c?” called Mike as
he neared them. The rifle that had killed his friend and colleague Jack O’Neill,
lay on the floor, obviously cast to one side in the struggle that had ended when
Teal’c caught up with a man he recognised as Mayer.
“Do not attempt to
interfere,” spat Teal’c. His voice was low, a dangerous tone to it, one that
Draper recognised as very serious.
Mayer uttered a choked
cough as the Jaffa’s huge hand tightened on his throat.
Mike Draper eased himself
carefully up the last of the steps. “Oh, I have no intentions of that Teal’c.”
His voice was low, and just as dangerous, and his words deadly serious. “In
fact, if you don’t do it ... I damn well will.”
Cassie fought free of
Janet’s arms and scrambled over to Jack’s body, kneeling heedlessly in the pools
of blood. “No ... no .... mom help him, help him!” she begged, pulling at his
arm to turn him.
Janet seemed to wake up as
if from a sleep of horror and she helped Cassie to turn the Colonel over. Janet
had seen death too often to not recognise it and she knew the Colonel was gone,
but something in Cassie’s eyes made her begin CPR. She could hear the commotion
outside in the corridor and then a doctor slid into the room on his knees and
joined her beside the Colonel. His questioning look made her shake her head
briefly, but he nodded and began to try and give the Colonel air.
Janet kept up the
compressions for a while, much longer than she would have normally before, with
a sinking feeling of despair, stopping and sitting back, a sob rising in her
throat as she watched the blood still pooling from the bullet wound to his head.
Her daughter’s heart
rendering scream of denial shot through her.
“No Mom, help him ... you
can help him ... don’t stop... he can’t die ... he can’t!” begged the hysterical
girl, her hands clawing at Janet, trying to shake her arm as she screamed.
“Cassie he’s gone...”
began Janet quietly.
“NO!” Cassie grabbed her
Mom’s hands, slicking the blood that covered them over her. Her strength
startled Janet as she forced them back into place over Jack’s heart.
Janet felt the tears
running down her own face and Cassie’s features began to blur. She turned back
to the prone figure of the Colonel.
“Again!” she ordered the
doctor who sat waiting for her call. God help her, but she knew if she didn’t
try again, her daughter would never forgive her.
As soon as the SF’s were
sure the room was safe, they permitted more staff in. Their soft whispers as
they watched a hopeless battle were muted to Janet ... only her harsh breathing
and Cassie’s sobs were real.
“Christ!” exclaimed the
doctor trying to force air into the Colonel’s lungs with the ambu bag that had
been passed to him. “I’ve got a pulse.”
There was a sudden flurry
of action and the machines that had stood silent and been deemed unnecessary
were rapidly put to use.
Janet’s ears buzzed and as
her vision began to tunnel and gray she reached out blindly for assistance.
Strong arms pulled her back from the body and another took her place ... as
Janet sank into oblivion.
Janet felt oddly calm as
she resurfaced. Her eyes flickered open to find the pale face of her daughter
regarding her with something akin to panic.
“Oh hon,” whispered Janet
and raised a weak hand to her.
Cassie grasped it in a
fierce grip. “Mom,” she whispered tearfully.
The last thing Janet
remembered before sliding into oblivion was the bloodied body of the Colonel
beneath her ... “Cassie?” she murmured questioningly, not sure what to expect
from her daughter’s expression.
“Jack’s ...” Cassie’s
voice cracked and she began again. “Jack’s ... oh Mom ... he’s ...” she broke
down, her breath racked with sobs.
Janet felt the tears begin
to well in her own eyes, some for her daughter’s sorrow certainly, but most of
her tears were for the Colonel.
“Cassie, I am sorry,
really, I tried.”
“He’s alive Mom, they
won’t tell us anything else yet, but he’s ...” Cassie took a gulped breath.
“He’s really sick Mom.”
Janet couldn’t respond,
she merely hugged her daughter tightly, trying to comfort her, trying to steal
some comfort herself.
Draper was pacing the
small room. Next to him, Teal’c was standing unmoving, his face unreadable. One
of the doctors had seen to the wound Teal’c had sustained in his brief fight
with Mayer, but surprisingly the huge man was back on his feet, dismissing the
injury as nothing in a remarkably short space of time. The sound of the door
opening caused them to face it expectantly for the news they dreaded, only to
find Sam and Daniel entering, their faces clearly showing their distress and
“We got here as fast as we
could,” panted Daniel slightly. “How’s Jack?”
“O’Neill is in the
theatre, Daniel Jackson. They are operating,” Teal’c replied, his voice worried.
The rare show of emotion had his two team mates casting concerned glances at
“What happened? Are Cassie
and Janet here as well? Are they hurt too?” asked Sam, her eyes admitting a
slightly panicked expression. They had been told very few details – only that
the missing fugitive had attacked the Colonel in his hospital room.
“Mayer did it? Where the
hell were security?” admonished Daniel.
Draper shook his head. He
felt so guilty that he hadn’t stopped Mayer from carrying out the attack on his
friend that he was unable to speak.
Teal’c inclined his head
towards Draper, as if sensing his discomfort.
“Mayer will be of no
further trouble to anyone now. It is with great sorrow that I failed in my duty
to protect O’Neill and he was shot. They are operating as we speak, but I must
warn you that it does not look well for him.”
Draper watched the sadness
that passed over the man’s face as he spoke. It seemed he was not the only one
with the huge attack of guilt. He put a hand out to the big man’s shoulder,
quite unsure if the man would shake it off or not.
Teal’c however, did
nothing; he merely bowed his head slightly, acknowledging Draper’s touch.
“I’m just as much to
blame, Teal’c. I should have insisted on more security.” Draper let his hand
drop from the shoulder of the man he had stood beside on that staircase, and had
watched, with something akin to gloating, as the huge dark man slowly choked the
life out of Mayer.
“What happened?” asked
Sam, her eyes flitting from one man to the other, as if trying to gleam some
knowledge from their faces.
Draper gently informed
them of what he knew of Jack’s condition, which, he admitted, wasn’t much. He
carried on explaining about Cassie and Janet, then Janet’s collapse after she
had resuscitated Jack.
“Oh God, what a ...” Sam’s
voice dried. She cleared her throat a little, before asking if she could see
Draper nodded, eager to
escape the room. He felt a little awkward standing there, as if intruding on
this tight knit team. Their loyalty and affection for their leader and friend
was something he understood, if not felt himself towards Jack, but he also knew
that he was really an outsider here...
Sam’s heart ached for the
two favourite females in her life. Janet waved away her concerned glance and sat
up on the bed, while Cassie flung her arms around Sam, the most open display
towards her yet since her rescue, and hugged her tightly, demanding to know if
there was any more news.
Sam shook her head as she
sat down, still holding onto the young girl.
“Mayer’s dead,” announced
Cassie, almost calmly.
Janet felt as if a huge
mantle of darkness had lifted from her, yet she had to ask... “Are you sure?”
Cassie nodded. “I heard
Teal’c tell where his body was.”
Janet felt so relieved
tears began to fall, and Cassie at once began to hug her.
“It’s okay mom, he can’t
hurt us anymore.”
Janet sniffed and wiped at
her eyes with shaking hands. She realised that everything she’d done ... said
... to Jack O’Neill had stemmed from letting her fears overwhelm her. The
thought that she had slapped him – not only a sick man, but a superior officer –
god, he could have had her court-martialled. But she knew he never would, he was
too honorable a man to do that. The remorse she felt at betraying such a man
hit her hard, the sudden remembrance of the words accusing him of being
incapable of saving his son’s life launched in her gut and she began to heave.
Sam calmly grabbed a bowl
from the bedside table and held her friend until the heaving subsided.
Cassie sat quietly,
waiting and watching.
Janet eventually joined
the others waiting for news after showering and changing. She felt wretched with
guilt and shame at how she had treated the Colonel. After Sam had left them,
Cassie had sat and talked to her, letting it all out and the actions of Jack,
not only back at the abandoned base, but at the shooting, had left no doubt now
in her mind that he had done his utmost to protect her, even to the point of
dying. She felt too weak to pace the room as she would have normally done and
Cassie sat beside her, waiting...
The surgeon that finally
dared to greet the mass of people that were waiting for news had done his best.
The operation had been long and very difficult and even now he had nothing good
to give to those that waited.
“The operation was
successful and we’ve removed all the bullets, including the one in the head, but
I’m sorry to say that Colonel O’Neill lapsed into a coma. The prognosis isn’t
very promising, I’m sorry.” The surgeon departed quietly, leaving the stunned
people in the room to gather their thoughts.
“Coma?” asked Daniel,
somewhat dazed. “Surely that doesn’t mean ... I mean he could just wake up?”
“Why can’t they do
something?” asked Cassie.
Janet shook her head.
“They’ll do everything they can, but with a head injury like that it’s ...”
“Unlikely! Shot in the
head doesn’t leave a lot of survivors does it?” finished Daniel bleakly.
Janet begged first chance
to see the Colonel. She needed to say so much and say it quickly. She was never
sure if a comatose person could actually hear what was going on around them, but
she felt sure that they could sense things.
She took the cold limp
hand in hers and gazed down at his pale face. The swathe of bandages, along with
the ventilator tubes, hid half his face. Her eyes automatically took in the
machines readings and what she saw gave her no glimmer of hope.
“Colonel, I don’t know if
you can hear me or not, I hope you can and that you can forgive me. I know I
must have hurt you with what I said, but please believe me it was because I was
frightened and angry. I didn’t mean it. I want you to know that I always thought
what a brilliant father you must have been and ...” she choked down a sob before
continuing, “and *are* to Cassie. Hurry up and get better Jack, she needs you
... we all need you.” The tears were running fast now and she gave his hand a
final squeeze before leaving the room.
Sam tried to comfort her
outside in the corridor, but Janet shook her off, begging to be alone for just a
little while. She turned on her heels and escaped, rapidly exiting the hospital
and out into the bright sunshine. She needed to get away, if only for a few
minutes – needed to deal with her emotions in private.
Everyone was allowed in
for a short while to see the Colonel and one by one they joined the others in
the waiting room. Cassie had gone in with Sam and they had both come out
The silence that descended
on the room was heavy and morbid and Daniel could stand it no longer. “For God’s
sake he’s not dead yet!” he berated them all, including himself.
“The life support is
keeping him going at the moment Daniel,” said Janet quietly. She had come back,
determined to do her best for her friend, and now stood, her arm around her
daughter’s shoulders. She took a deep breath before continuing. “In forty-eight
hours if there is no sign of improvement, it will be turned off.”
“Turned off?” asked Daniel
incredulously. “They can’t just ....”
Sam squeezed Daniel’s
shoulder warningly. “Daniel, it’s the Colonel’s orders.”
“A living will?” Daniel’s
voice cracked a little and he turned away from them as Cassie buried her face in
her mom’s shoulders, the tears racking her body.
“I’ll be back later,” said
Draper quietly. He left giving no-one the chance to say anything else and the
door shut behind him.
The next forty-eight hours
were painfully slow ... or incredibly fast... slow as in another hour brought
the thought Jack could wake up ... fast as in his time was running out ...
General Hammond had
received the news and came to see his 2IC. He was pale and his gait was slow and
lacking in spirit, his very being emitting the shroud of hopelessness that he
was feeling. Upon his arrival he had been handed the envelope bearing his name
that had been found by the hospital staff. After reading the resignation, he’d
torn it up and said nothing – the Colonel was going to be buried with full
He joined them again
shortly before the forty-eight hours were up. The faces that greeted him showed
that there was no change.
Jack’s living will decreed
that he wanted no-one to be present while the ‘plug was pulled’ and his wishes
were respected. The time came and only the doctor and two nurses were present,
ready to witness the time of death.
Everyone had bid him their
final farewells in their own way and they were now waiting quietly together for
General Hammond stood to
attention, feeling every one of his birthdays ... feeling remorse at the loss of
not only a friend, but a son, a hero ... a brave man who had given literally
everything to serve and protect.
The door opened to reveal
the doctor and he stepped quietly into the waiting room. It had seemed to take
an age and bitterly Daniel wondered at how long it took to ‘pull a plug’.
Cassie’s wail at the sight
of the doctor brought all of them tears, some hidden, some not so hidden and Sam
wiped at her face quickly, trying uselessly to stem the flow.
Daniel could barely see
the doctor as his glasses misted with his own tears. The emptiness of his life
without his good friend ... and sometimes foe, clutched ice fingers around his
Janet held Cassie tightly,
her own eyes surprisingly dry, her nerves calm as she waited for the doctor’s
speech she knew so well...
The doctor looked around
the room, clearing his throat, obviously uncomfortable. “The ventilator was
switched off as the patient requested, however he is still alive. I honestly
don’t expect him to continue to survive, but there is now nothing we can or will
do to accelerate his demise and we will continue with his care to the best of
The resounding silence
that greeted the speech was more shocking than the barrage of questions he had
“You can see him whenever
you like, but please, I warn you not to expect anything but the inevitable now.
It might be only a matter of hours, but it could be days.”
General Hammond was the
first to recover. “Thank you doctor.”
The doctor nodded and was
clearly relieved to leave them.
“I knew he couldn’t leave
us,” said Cassie as she wiped her face with her sleeve.
“Cassie, honey, it’s just
a matter of time now. He can’t recover from being injured that badly,” said
Janet quietly. As much as she believed in hope, she didn’t want her daughter
holding out for a miracle ... they just didn’t happen.
“He won’t leave us!”
declared Cassie firmly. She stood up and looked around at the adults. She saw
the pity on their faces for her, their own sorrows laid bare for her to see as
“I’m going to talk to him,
he won’t be alone.” With determination she moved to the door and opened it
“Cassie,” called Janet as
the door closed behind her.
“It’s okay, let her go to
him. She just needs a little time, like we all do,” said Sam.
Janet nodded. Time ...
time was all they all had, just how much nobody knew....
The hours passed into days
... the days into weeks and still Colonel Jack O’Neill stubbornly clung to life.
He continued to breathe unaided, lying pale and so very still that each visitor
wondered at how he could possible be holding back death this long.
The visitors had begun to
slow down, spending less time there, all except one ... Cassie.
She came by each afternoon
after her last class and stayed until Janet picked her up.
The cold nights were
drawing in, and the glaring lights in his room seemed harsh, so Cassie bought a
lamp and kept its soft light glowing beside his bed.
“He’ll hate the bright
lights when he wakes up,” she told her mom.
Janet agreed with her
distractedly. She found her daughter’s courage and determination worthy of much
praise, but also it worried her greatly that the end when it came, and surely it
would soon, would be hard on her.
The Colonel’s team
continued to visit when they could, but their duties were long and arduous and
each time they returned from a prolonged mission they expected to be greeted
with the news of his death.
The month rolled on
Houses were being
decorated for the holidays. Everywhere you turned there were plastic Santas and
masses of tinsel and a dazzling display of lights.
Cassie didn’t take much
interest in her mom’s efforts for the holidays at home, but she did find a small
tree. It stood at just over a foot high and she planted it in a small pot. She
lovingly wrapped the pot in fancy foil paper and decorated the tree with tiny
baubles and lights that ran on batteries.
Janet watched her daughter
set the tree beside the Colonel’s bed on the side table. Her daughter’s chatter,
telling him of the day’s activities, what had happened in school, brought an
ache to her heart. When she was there it was the most she heard Cassie speak; at
home she was quiet, forlorn.
Cassie bent to kiss the
Colonel’s forehead. His cheeks were sunken from the weight loss, his lanky frame
looking impossibly fragile, his pale skin almost translucent in the lamp light.
The bandages had long ago shrunk to a dressing, his hair had grown back again
from where it had been shaved for the operation, and Cassie teased the shorter
patches, telling him it might go curly ... he’d better watch out.
“He needs a hair cut mom,
then this patch wouldn’t show at all,” she complained.
Janet smiled at her
daughter, promising that she’d look into it before calling goodnight to the
Colonel as she usually did.
Christmas Eve arrived and
Janet had invited SG1 over to the house. She had hoped that everyone being there
would help. She was well aware that they were all missing the Colonel. Daniel
went about his work, but his usual enthusiasm had gone. Sam seemed pale and a
little distant. Even Teal’c’s face seemed devoid of his usual good humor and
The tree in the house was
surrounded by parcels and normally Cassie would be so excited about the holiday,
badgering Janet to be allowed to open just one ... but this time her attention
was on one little box that was wrapped up, devoid of bow or tinsel and label, it
held her daughter’s fascination.
Janet didn’t need to ask
who it was for. She didn’t know what was in it. Cassie wasn’t being open about
it and for some reason she felt reluctant to ask.
Janet had prepared a meal
for everyone and as soon as the table was cleared Cassie asked what time they
were going to visit Jack.
“Not tonight, hon,” called
Janet as she put the last of the dishes in the dishwasher.
“Why?” demanded Cassie.
“We saw Jack yesterday,”
said Daniel quietly. He felt guilty at wishing his friend was dead, but anything
was better than watching the remembrance of a man lingering on.
“But not today?” asked
“Cassie, everyone’s tired.
You know they’ve just got back from a mission. Now let’s have a nice quiet
Cassie glared at her
mother. “An evening where we sit and pretend everything’s alright? That Jack’s
Janet shook her head
warningly at the girl. “You’ve been every single day and you know Jack will
forgive you if just this once you have some time off.”
“I want to be there. I
don’t want him to be alone.”
Sam stood and moved to put
an arm around her. “We know you do. We don’t want him to be alone either, but
“But you don’t want to see
him all the time either!” responded Cassie miserably. “He knows when you’re
there you know, he does!” she cried. “Please, it’s Christmas Eve, I need to see
him just for a little while.”
Daniel gazed around the
room at his friends. It hurt him so much to watch his friend lying there,
knowing there was nothing he could do, but he also understood Cassie’s need to
be there, because it was what he really wanted too.
“I’ll take you,” he said
“And me,” said Sam.
Teal’c inclined his head.
“As will I.”
“Okay, looks like we’re
all going,” said Janet.
They sat together in the
hospital room, chattering quietly, if not a little awkwardly at first, but
Cassie’s calm and matter of fact way of including Jack in the conversation soon
had them all at ease - well as much as was possible under the circumstances.
Cassie solemnly placed the
little parcel under the tree and told Jack not to open it before Christmas Day.
The soft twinkling lights lit the room gently.
Sam gazed at her CO. It
almost seemed as if he was sleeping. His hair was a little grayer, the lights
glinting off the silver in it, his tan had paled and his cheeks were drawn, but
even like this, he was a remarkably handsome man. She realised she’d never seen
him so still. He was always bursting with energy, his hands always busy
twiddling with something ... or breaking it. The number of pens he had
dismantled at briefings escaped her count and a brief smile lit her face as she
thought of the boundless energy of the man.
It was Cassie herself who
brought the evening to a close.
“Goodnight Jack, sleep
well, but please wake in the morning,” she whispered and bent to kiss his
forehead. “Merry Christmas,” she sniffled and turned away, wiping the tears that
sprang from her eyes with her hand, before Daniel pressed a clean tissue into
it. She left the others to say goodnight, waiting for them in the corridor.
The huge lump in their
throats threatened them all as they each bid the Colonel a Merry Christmas.
Daniel was the last one
out and he stood looking at his friend for a few seconds. “We are missing you
Jack, stubborn jerk that you are, we’re missing you.”
He utilised the remaining
tissue in his pocket before joining the others in the corridor and they made
their way quietly to the car.
Christmas came and went.
Cassie’s tree still stood there beside Jack, the present waiting for him.
Two days after New Year,
Janet had been called into the SGC and SG1 were already off on a mission. Cassie
sat on the chair beside Jack’s bed. She was talking to him as usual, holding the
present in her hands, begging him to wake.
She suddenly stopped
talking, her gaze taking in the gauntness of his face. The reality of him never
wakening suddenly leapt up at her and she ripped the parcel open. Taking the
gift from the box, she held it to the light, begging him to open his eyes to see
it. He didn’t stir and Cassie’s tears began to fall. Sobbing heavily she pushed
the gift into Jack’s hand and laid her head down on the bed and cried ... she
wept for him, for herself, for the others...
Eventually her sobs began
to lessen and she gave in to the overwhelming tiredness that shadowed her. Her
head lay on the bed, her hand clutching his arm. The gift lay in his fingers
The empty blackness began
to recede. He felt as if he was floating through gray, tired ... he was so very
He tried to open his eyes,
he wanted to see where he was floating, but it was hard...
The warmth of the depths
kept pulling at him, lulling him, but he didn’t want to stay there, he needed to
see what was going on ... where was everyone? Was everyone okay?
Opening his eyes was one
of the hardest things he felt he’d ever achieved. The blurred mass that swam in
front of him didn’t reveal anything for a while until it settled and his eyes
began to slowly focus. The bland colors of his surroundings began to seep into
his vision and gradually he realised he was in a hospital room. There was a
noise that drew his attention and he tilted his head slightly to the right to
see the mass of hair over his arm. The snuffled breathing from the figure that
was beside him was responsible for the noise and gradually he realised the
figure was Cassie.
He flexed his hands. His
right hand didn’t seem to want to close much and until he realised there was
actually something in his grasp, he was a little alarmed by it.
Jack was loathe to disturb
the sleeping girl and he used his left hand to take what it was that his right
hand had been holding and hold it up to his line of vision.
The snow globe glistened
in the soft lights that bathed the room. As Jack’s focus became sharper he could
see the two tiny figures in the globe, a man and a child, skating ... the little
trees in the background were full of snow and Jack gave the globe a slight shake
and watched as the swirl of white took to the globe’s skies, before descending
once more on the scene.
Mike Draper was tired.
He’d just got back from the mission from hell and his first action was to call
the hospital. He’d been given the usual spiel, but just had to call in and see
When he pushed open the
door, he thought at first he was in the wrong room and was about to utter a
brief apology, when he looked at the man in the bed properly.
Jack O’Neill put his
shaking fingers to his lips, and in a faint raspy voice, told him not to wake
the sleeping girl.
Mike managed to stagger in
and sat down heavily in a chair before his legs gave way.
“Good God Jack, I thought
you’d had it!” he managed to utter. “When did you ...”
The door opened and a
nurse walked in and all but shrieked in excitement as she saw her patient awake.
“Guess it was just now?”
said Mike with a huge grin.
The weeks of physical
therapy had paid off and Jack felt better than he had in a long while. The sharp
clean air stung a little as he breathed deeply, but he was so glad to be alive
that it didn’t matter.
He stood, taking in the
view from the lake. The ice was still there, would be for another month or so
yet, spring thaw was late so high up.
He felt lonely as he stood
there. The vastness of his surroundings chilled him a little, making him seem
small and insignificant.
Daniel had offered to
accompany him, but he had shaken him off gently. He wanted to come to think, to
escape the well meaning flurry of concern from his team. He’d not seen much of
the doc, she’d been quiet and only visited him with Cassie and then it wasn’t
He’d been told how Cassie
had visited him every day and that it was Cassie who had steadfastly refused to
believe he wouldn’t wake, but he was sad to think that he had lost not only the
friendship of the doctor, but her respect and trust.
He’d briefly mentioned
going skating again soon on one of Cassie’s visits, but Cassie had changed the
subject and had become a little subdued after that, so he never mentioned it
again. The thought that her terrible experience had spoilt her love of skating,
filled him with sadness.
Coming back to the
present, he sat down on a snow covered stump to pull on his skates. Slowly and
just a little painfully he stood up. He wasn’t back to full fitness yet, that
would take a while, but he was getting there.
He skated slowly to the
middle of the lake and did a gentle spin to take in the view of the mountains in
the distance. He wasn’t sure how long he stood there, but gradually he became
aware of a voice calling him from the memories he became lost in.
At first he thought he was
hallucinating, hearing Charlie’s voice from years ago, but as he tuned into the
here and now he realised it was a girl’s voice calling across the lake.
Jack turned slowly.
Another vehicle had joined his and a figure was running down to the lake.
Jack skated slowly across
the icy surface towards the racing figure.
As he reached the edge he
realised the bundled up figure was Cassie, and before he knew it she was
flinging herself into his arms.
He caught her and held her
tightly, squeezing his eyes closed at the rush of emotion as he held her.
After a moment or two,
Jack raised his head and opened his eyes. He locked eyes with the petite doctor
who stood patiently, half way between the lake and the vehicles.
Janet smiled at him and
“Can we skate?” asked
Cassie’s muffled voice from where it was buried in his coat.
Jack looked down at her
head, ruffling her hair with his hand. “We sure can.” He looked up again to
mouth a silent “Thank you,” to Janet, who raised a hand in acknowledgement,
before making her way back to the vehicle she’d arrived in.
“Mom’s made hot chocolate
and we’ve got chocolate cookies for later,” said Cassie looking up at him with a
Jack grinned at her. The
cold and loneliness that had crept around his heart lifted...
“Sweet,” he said and
ruffled her hair again.
* * * * *
Thanks for reading.