Discordant Humming – General Jack Year Three - Part Eight
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
We were several miles from Peterson when I broke the somewhat oppressive silence.
"How about we stop at the store and get some groceries on the way home. I'm happy
to cook if I have some help."
"Thanks for the offer, Daniel, but I feel like getting out." I looked at my watch,
surprised at how late it was. "Drop me off, then head home and change. Meet back at
my place in two hours, okay?"
Teal'c turned and stared over his shoulder at me from his position in the front
passenger seat. "Do you think this is a wise plan, O'Neill?"
"I don't really feel like a night out, sir." Carter said, shifting uncomfortably and
cradling her broken wrist with her other hand.
"Aw, come on, Carter. A good meal you don't need to cook yourself. It'll make you
feel better. I'm starving."
There was another long silence. I stared out the window at the scenery, tapping my
fingers on my thigh, humming the damn tune I couldn't get out of my head - some
asinine 70s pop song I could only remember a couple of lines of. "Woke up this
morning and my mama was gone, Ooh-We, Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep, Cheep, Chirpy,
Chirpy, Cheep, Cheep, Chirp"
"You're singing. At least I think that's what you're doing."
"Yes - your point?" I grinned and hummed another couple of bars, before turning
back and giving my companions a pointed look. "Well? Come on, guys! Do I have to
Daniel turned the truck into my street, bumping the corner of the curb slightly as he
maneuvered up my drive. I winced but didn't complain. He came to a stop, switched
off the engine, and twisted around, handing me the keys. "Teal'c's right, Jack. I don't
think it's a good idea to go out. How about we order takeout?"
I shook my head, pulling the door handle up and jumping down as I spoke. "Nah -
you can stay in if you want. I'm in the mood for a decent dinner and some scenery
other than my four walls. You're welcome to come with, but I'll understand if you
don't feel up to it." My gaze shifted to Carter and I smiled. "Really, I understand. How
about anyone who wants to join me meets back here in a couple of hours? Okay?"
They all looked rather confused and uncomfortable for some reason, so I gave them a
cheery wave and left them standing on my drive. I went inside, shutting the front
door. "Ooh-We, Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep, Cheep, Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep, Cheep,
Chirp" Stupid song! I started shedding clothes before I even reached my bathroom,
dropping them as I walked.
Showered, dried, and changed into fresh slacks and shirt I stared in the mirror as I
combed my hair.
Not too bad. A bit tired looking around the eyes, but otherwise presentable.
Still over an hour to go before it was time to leave. What to do? I wasn't in the mood
for TV so I rifled through my CDs until I found an old Beatles collection and happily
and loudly sang my way through the playlist, sipping on a beer to ease my dry throat.
It was ten minutes before the agreed time when the doorbell rang. Sweet - I wouldn't
be going out alone after all. Who was it? Who? I flung the door wide and was
somewhat surprised to find both Carter and Teal'c on the doorstep. I beamed in
welcome. I hadn't expected Carter, not with her bum arm.
"Hey, kids, come in. We'll give Daniel five then I'll call for a cab - save us worrying
about driving home."
The colonel shook her head. "Don't bother about a cab, sir. I won't be drinking."
Oh, yeah - she was probably taking pain killers or something. That was great - a
designated driver without even a discussion. "Thanks - okay, Daniel gets five minutes
then we head out." I waved them inside and finished up my beer in three large
"Should you be drinking, O'Neill? Are you not also on medication?"
"Just sleeping tablets, T, and I haven't had one since last night."
"You haven't had much of anything to eat for a few days, sir. Perhaps it would be
better if you didn't drink on an empty stomach?"
I clapped my hands and spun on my heels, grabbing my leather jacket from the
armchair. "Exactly. Empty stomach. Need food. Let's go."
I didn't wait, even though the five minutes wasn't up. I pulled my house keys from my
jacket pocket and waited for them to exit before shutting and locking the door.
Carter's sports car was a tight squeeze but I didn't care, commandeering the front
passenger seat with a happy disregard for Teal'c's glare of displeasure. Rank did have
"Where to, sir? O'Malley's?"
"Nah, somewhere different for a change. There's a steak place a few blocks down
from O'Malley's I heard is good. Let's try there, and if we don't like it we can move
Carter nodded in agreement and reached for the key in the ignition, stopping as the
distinctive rattle of Daniel's engine sounded loud in the otherwise quiet street. He
pulled up and jumped out, looking flustered.
"Sorry. I lost track of time."
I got out and let him slide into the back next to Teal'c. "No problem. We were just
leaving." I hopped back in, anxious to get going. "The gangs all here, Carter, so what
are we waiting for?"
She gave a slight smile, the first since she had arrived at my house. "Nothing,
The engine purred and I started singing again. "Ooh-We, Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep,
Cheep, Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep, Cheep, Chirp."
Sometimes life just feels good.
The steak house was crowded and noisy, the food plentiful and good, and the music
loud. I loved every minute of it, but trying to have a conversation with my friends was
like getting blood out of a stone. They gave monosyllabic answers to all my
comments and picked at their food. Daniel had a wild look in his eyes every time he
glanced at me, and had twice almost knocked his glass over when I reached across the
table for the salt. I didn't know what his problem was and wasn't going to spoil my
good mood by asking.
I raised my hand to the waitress, watching appreciatively as she sashayed across to us,
giving me an inviting smile, which I returned. At least someone was being kind to me.
"What can I do for you, sugar?"
"Three more beers and a lemonade will do for now." My hand landed on her tight
little butt and I lowered my voice. "We'll talk about what else you can do for me
She bent down, giving me an eyeful of her generous cleavage and whispered into my
ear. "I get off at one." Her tongue flicked out, licking swiftly around the inside of my
ear then she straightened. "I'll get those drinks for you, sir."
"Um, Jack, what's going on?"
My attention swung back to my companions. "I'm having a good time, is all.
Something you three should learn to do."
Teal'c looked even more depressing than usual as he leaned forward and spoke as if
his words were was the most important he'd ever had to impart. "We are concerned by
your behavior, O'Neill. Perhaps it would be best if we returned to your home."
I couldn't help laughing at the suggestion. "As if! I'll go home when I'm good and
ready and it sure won't be with you lot. Bunch of wet blankets." I looked over at the
pretty young waitress and gave her a quick smile.
"Sir, we don't understand why you're acting like this."
"Did something happen when you talked to Doctor Kasanji?"
Ah - now they wanted to talk. I downed the fourth beer of the evening in one long
gulp and waved the empty at another waitress who was just as attractive as the first. I
wondered what time she got off work.
"Haven't you had enough?"
I didn't even bother dignifying Daniel's comment with an answer. I gave the girl a
smile filled with invitation as she placed the bottle on the table and then sat back in
my chair, surveying the room. The crowd was growing and there were several groups
standing, waiting for tables. A few couples were on the small dance floor, with more
joining them as a slow love song wafted from the jukebox. I gave Carter a speculative
look but decided not to ask her for a dance when I saw her sour expression. There was
a group of women who had been drinking together several tables over for as long as
we had been in the joint. Maybe one of them. . . I began to stand.
A hand landed hard on my arm, gripping it with some force. "O'Neill, you are not
I had no choice but to sit back down. "Of course I am, T. Never better. Happy as a pig
"What transpired during your visit was Doctor Kasjani?"
Why not tell them? It was good news - wasn't it?
"Nothing much. I figured out it was all my imagination playing tricks." My smile was
wide and I looked each of them in the eye. "Thanks for your help, guys, but it's over.
Everything is back to normal. Fries are all back in the Happy Meal. You don't need to
worry about me - I'll be back to work tomorrow. In fact..." I looked at my watch. "I'll
give Hammond a call now. Let him know."
I started to rise again. This time it was Daniel that stopped me.
"Jack - wait. What do you mean? What happened?"
"That's just it. Nothing. I had an accident years ago, ended up with a concussion, and
didn't remember a thing about it. The memories came back all jumbled and I blew it
up out of proportion - seeing things that weren't there. Now I've got it all straight in
my head again and no more problem."
Their faces showed mixed reactions, but not the pleasure I was expecting. For some
reason they didn't share my delight at the solution being found.
Damn it! It was as if they didn't want me to get better, get back to work. Did they
want to keep me from the SGC for some reason? Maybe having me depend on them
these last few days had been a power trip for them? Carter was giving me that same
look she gave one of her experiments - as if I was something to be pulled apart and
analyzed. Well, I had had quite enough of being analyzed, thank you very much. And
Teal'c - bet he got off on pushing me around like I was some sort of trainee Jaffa.
Making me eat, ordering me to bed. And then there was Daniel. Huh! Some friend he
turned out to be. I told him stuff in confidence, bared my soul to him, and he couldn't
wait to go running to the others. Bet he'd laughed when he gave them all the gory
They were all laughing at me. No matter how hard they tried to hide it, I could tell.
I pushed my chair back and stood. This time they weren't going to stop me. I could get
a cab and be back at the SGC in half an hour. They wouldn't be able to get to me
No one could.
I turned - straight into the chest of a man walking by the table. Beer went everywhere.
"Hey, look out!" Hands pushed me away and I just managed to stop myself from
falling as I bumped backwards into my abandoned chair. He gave me another shove.
His face was red with anger and liquor.
Bastard - didn't even give me time to apologize.
I squared up to him. He may be younger than me and built like a quarterback, but I
was damned if I was going to be pushed around by anyone. I could take him - no
problem. No one was going to get the better of Jack O'Neill again. I wasn't going to
just take it. Not this time.
This time I was fighting back.
"Hey, I don't want any trouble." He put his hands up, palms out. "Just buy another
beer for me and my buddies and we'll call it even, okay?"
It wasn't okay. He had pushed me. The anger built in me.
I took a step forward, and he took one back, his eyes shifting as if looking for support.
I took in the two men standing behind him, watching, and sized them up in one quick
glance. They were ready to come to their friend's defense.
It wouldn't make any difference if they did.
I stepped forward again, anticipation building.
My opponent stepped back again, almost into his friends.
"O'Neill - enough! It is finished." I stopped, Teal'c's hand wrapped around my arm.
"We are leaving."
"Sorry about that. Let us get you some more drinks." Daniel gave the man one of his
most friendly smiles and moved away, heading for the bar.
Tension kept me rooted to the spot. I kept my stare fixed on the man in front of me.
Teal'c's grip got tighter.
"Can we go now, sir? My wrist is starting to ache."
She could go. I wouldn't stop her going. But I had unfinished business.
Unexpectedly, my enemy smiled at her words. "Sir? You military? We're navy. My
buddy there..." He gestured to the shorter, dark haired man behind him. "His family
lives here in the Springs. We had two weeks leave and decided to visit his new
Carter smiled back. "Air Force. Colonel Samantha Carter." For some reason she
seemed to now think these men were her best friends. I shifted, flexing my hands,
looking for my chance. Carter was still talking, but I didn't let her distract me.
"Colonel? And you called him 'sir'?" Three pairs of anxious eyes fixed on me and
skittered hurriedly away.
"This is Major General O'Neill," Teal'c intoned. "I offer apologies on his behalf for
his behavior. Our companion will arrive with replacement drinks for you shortly. We
are leaving." And, like a force of nature, he pulled me with him to the exit and across
the parking lot to Carter's car.
They had no right to take over my life like that. No right at all.
I paced across my living room, the events of the evening circling in a continuous loop
in my head.
They were all sitting there, watching me, like vultures waiting for the carrion to stop
moving. Smug self-satisfied bastards.
They hadn't spoken a word to me on the way home. No explanations of their actions.
No apologies. I wasn't worth the effort.
I didn't need them.
Stopping for a moment, I spat the words I had wanted to say for days into the frigid
atmosphere. "Get the hell out of my house."
"No - that's not going to happen. You need us."
I almost had my hands around the geek's neck when Teal'c yanked me back. I shook
him off and resumed my pacing. "Woke up this morning and my mama was gone,
Ooh-We, Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep, Cheep, Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep, Cheep, Chirp"
Where had it all gone - my life? Down the toilet - flushed away like so much sewage.
It wasn't worth shit.
"Last night I heard my mama singing this song, Ooh-We, Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep,
Cheep, Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep, Cheep, Chirp"
And they still watched me.
I changed direction and headed for the bedroom, slamming the door. They could rot in
I woke up screaming - fighting with everything I had to escape. Ramsey leered down
at me, lowered his mouth to mine, his hands everywhere. I fought, but I couldn't move
- a frozen struggle of terror and pain. And they watched. My friends watched. Faces I
knew - all laughing, smirking, taking pleasure in my loss of control. I struggled until
there was no fight left in me, but there was nothing I could do to stop it - nothing. The
nightmare went on and on, endlessly as he took enjoyment from me and left me
And I woke, quivering against my bedroom wall, hacking sobs shaking my body, with
hands still holding me.
God - to have them see me like this. . .
Dreams had become reality and it was all falling and dragging me down into the
deepest black hole imaginable.
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