Jackfic Archive Story

 

Exposed To View General Jack Year Three - Part Nine

by Flatkatsi

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).




My eyes were open, but all I could do was stare at Ramsey's face leaning over me. Voices called my name but I couldn't answer or pull away. The past had become reality and I was lost in it. His eyes were grey, standing out in a face pockmarked by old acne scars. He smiled, his lips wide and his tongue showing, then he turned, looking over to the side, and I followed his gaze to the figure standing watching us - doing nothing.

I struggled, knowing this was different, no longer frozen and numb, but arms stronger than they should be held me.

The face above me changed, wavered, and morphed. Images overlapped and then firmed as grey infirmary walls became pale cream. I felt the wetness of tears tracking down my cheeks at the same time as I realised where I was - and who was in my bedroom with me.

"Do something."

Daniel's voice sounded desperate, but I didn't look up. I just wanted to crawl into a hole and bury myself - hide away where they couldn't see how far I'd fallen. Someone was holding me tight against their chest, their arms wrapped around me. I recognised the strength and power in the hand that rubbed circles on my back. Teal'c.

Shit, shit, shit.

That hole was growing and the dirt was falling in on my head. I doubted I could dig myself out of this one.

I tensed and felt Teal'c grip loosen in response. An avenue of escape opened and I took it, pulling away until my back hit the wall. I huddled against it, my head down and my arms wrapped around my knees, hiding my shame.

I wanted nothing more than to have them leave. I didn't want witnesses to my humiliation.

It seemed like hours that I hid myself away, trying to deny what had happened, pretending I was alone and able to lick my wounds in private. The quiet words had faded out, but they were still there, now sitting beside me, as silent as I had become.

It couldn't last, but it didn't end the way I had hoped - with the others going, leaving me to my misery. Something had to break--other than an old general. Someone stood, Carter.

"I'll call General Hammond."

Christ - no! No. I had to stop her. My heart pulsed relentlessly in my chest, pushing me to scramble up and lurch after Carter's figure as she left the room. I rebounded off the wall, stumbling and feeling disoriented. She turned, a look of surprise crossing her face and replacing the worry for a moment.

"Sir?"

"Don't. Don't call Hammond. I'm fine."

She took two steps towards me and stopped, her eyes flickering to someone behind me. "I. . . " She paused, clearly at a loss as to what to do. I could understand her dilemma - I had given her an order, but she didn't know whether or not to follow it. Her gaze turned pleadingly to the others I could feel at my shoulder.

I straightened and composed myself. If she called Hammond now I could kiss my command goodbye, despite the promises of the President and the Joint Chiefs. And I wasn't prepared for that to happen. Not now. Not now I knew the truth.

"Please - don't call. At least until you hear me out. Then if you still feel you should, you won't get any argument from me, Carter. Okay?" I turned and met the eyes of my two friends. "Okay, guys?"

Teal'c's gaze burnt holes in my skin as it seemed to pierce me through to my soul. After a long moment, he nodded slowly.

I turned and led the way to the living room, knowing Daniel and Carter would follow Teal'c's lead.

For a few minutes I busied myself making coffee and trying to act as normal as possible, or what passed for normal these days. I gave my face a quick scrub with cold water from the kitchen faucet. When I carried the mugs and coffee pot out, the others had positioned themselves in their normal spots, leaving the single chair for me. I placed the tray carefully on the coffee table and poured myself a cup, waving them to help themselves as I sat.

While they organised their drinks, I took the chance to work out what I needed to say.

Carter was the first to speak. She cupped her hands around the mug as if drawing strength from its warmth.

"You scared me, sir."

I nodded and didn't try to smile. "I scared myself."

"This has gone too far. I don't think we can be any help to you."

I nodded again at Daniel's words. He was right to a certain extent - it had gone too far. But it had also gone just far enough. Far enough to tell me what I needed to know, what I had been hiding from for all these years.

"It was real." The words dropped into the night like stones. I pulled my gaze from my mug to their faces. Daniel and Sam's reflected the dismay they felt, but Teal'c's was calm, as if he already knew. Maybe he had. It was obvious when you stopped denying the evidence. "That last dream was a doozie."

Daniel couldn't stop himself interrupting. "I bet."

A flash of embarrassment caused me to look away again, but I pushed it down and continued. "I should explain what I found out today. Apparently I was caught in an avalanche while on a winter training exercise when I was under Ramsey's command. By the time I was dug out I had stopped breathing. They resuscitated me - gave me mouth-to-mouth." I saw them nodding in understanding as they put two and two together. Daniel was even beginning to look relieved.

"You did not remember this event?"

"No, T, I didn't. Along with several broken ribs, I had a head injury and a severe concussion. I was unconscious for days and still don't really remember much about the accident except for brief flashes, mainly of being buried by the snow."

"Then it's all explained," Daniel said, as if thankful it was all over.

"Unfortunately, no. It can't be completely explained by the accident, even though I tried to convince myself that was the case. You see, there's something I didn't tell you." I took a mouthful of coffee, letting the hot drink soothe my sore throat, and stared into the steam. Then I told them why I hated Ramsey so much. Carter looked both disgusted and relieved when I explained how I rebutted his advances. I knew, of any of them, she would feel the most indignation, hearing about how the trust of a junior officer could be so abused by his superior. Teal'c's lips turned up in a fleeting smile when I described my response to the then colonel.

"So the dreams are just some sort of warped memories of that, twisted in with the effects of a concussion?" Once more Daniel thought he had it all figured out.

I shook my head. Wrong again. "No, Daniel, I'm sorry to say the dreams have much more of a basis in reality than that." I caught Teal'c's look and nodded once, sharply. His face darkened. "Tonight. . . tonight I remembered what happened - not just the accident, but in the base hospital afterwards. Ramsey had me at his mercy, the perfect victim. I was awake enough to be aware of what was going on, but a combination of my concussion and the anaesthetic after being operated on meant I couldn't move, couldn't do anything about it. And afterwards - well, the mind does funny things. I didn't even remember being at Ellsworth, let alone the accident or what happened later."

"God, Jack, I don't know what to say. This is what your nightmares have been about?"

"The memories sort of snuck up on me, Daniel." I ran my hand through my hair, automatically pushing down the unruly strands. "I'm sorry I've put you all through so much crap these last few days. I'm especially sorry for what happened at the restaurant."

"It's okay, sir, we understand."

"Well, I'm glad someone does, Carter, because I don't."

The colonel gave Daniel what looked like a guilty glance. "Ah...Daniel and I have been doing some research into repressed memories. Mood swings are one of the classical symptoms." She looked embarrassed. "So is crying in someone who is not normally given to outward signs of strong emotion."

I felt my face color slightly, but smiled back at her. "So, I'm a classic case, eh, Colonel?"

She returned my smile, looking a bit more at ease.

"We must seek revenge on this sho'vlak."

I switched my attention to Teal'c and found him looking angrier than I had ever seen him. "Ah. . . ?"

Daniel didn't help. "Sorry, Jack, I'm not translating that one. I'm actually somewhat disturbed that I know the meaning of the word."

"I think I get the intent, thanks. And there would be nothing I'd like more than see Ramsey get what he deserved, not just for personal revenge, but for all those kids he's messed with over the years. I may not have been able to stop him then, but I can now, and I intend to do just that."

"He's a powerful man, sir."

I smiled at my friends and knew something of what I intended was reflected in my face when both Daniel and Carter sat back a little as if backing away. "So am I, Carter, so am I."

Daniel stood, pacing over to the fireplace. "I'm still not comfortable with this, Jack." He waved a hand vaguely. "I really feel you need to tell Kasanji what you've remembered and see what he thinks. I mean - do you really think it's all over now, that everything will go back to normal so easily - especially after tonight? Maybe it would be best if you called General Hammond and explain you need more time."

I sat back, feeling the cushions of the chair reassuringly soft against my spine. "I do need more time, but not to talk to Kasanji. It's like a jigsaw I need to put together when the pieces are scattered everywhere. Tonight I got the edges done. Now I need the middle, and I know where to go to find it."

"Where, sir?"

"This time there was someone else in the dream. I'd seen his face before, but didn't put two and two together until I read the report on the accident. He was one of my teammates back then - one of the ones that dug me out. That would explain his presence in my dream, except that he was watching from the doorway while Ramsey. . ." I swallowed down bile. Maybe I wasn't quite as willing to accept what had happened as I thought. "I intend to track him down and when I do I'm going to get some answers to fill the gaps."

"Do you know where he is now, sir?"

"No. I got transferred out of the unit soon after all this happened. I didn't keep in touch with any of my old teammates, but he shouldn't be too hard to trace. His name is Keith Marsden. He was a captain - a few years older than me so he's probably retired now." I gave Carter a bright smile. "Can you get on to that?"

She smiled back. "Sure, sir. But maybe it could wait until morning?"

I took a quick look at the clock. "Damn, I had no idea how late it was. Let's try and get a few hours sleep and start tracking Marsden down after breakfast." I then addressed Daniel directly. "I will give Hammond a call in the morning, and I'll cancel my appointment with Kasanji." I put up a hand as he began to protest. "Don't worry - I'm not refusing to see him again, but I really feel I'm on the right track here. I need to do this, okay?"

He nodded. "Okay, I can see that."

I turned to the others. "Sam? Teal'c?"

They both nodded in agreement.

I went to bed feeling that I was finally taking control of my life once more. I had been swept along as if in a flooded river and now my feet had touched solid ground again.

*********

I woke feeling more refreshed than I had in weeks, despite only getting a few short hours of sleep. Teal'c was already in the kitchen washing the coffee cups from our late night talk when I went in search of food. I left him to it, and taking the opportunity of some privacy, called Hammond, explaining that while I still needed some more leave time, I felt I was well on the way to recovery.

I just hoped I hadn't made a liar of myself. I knew it wasn't this simple, but I needed to take charge and do this before I could go back to Kasanji. If I was ever going to get back to work I needed answers for the questions he would ask.

It was a good forty minutes before Daniel and then Carter appeared, looking blurry eyed and ready for the first coffee of the day. Actually, to my surprise, Carter brewed a pot of tea which I happily shared, my caffeine intake already near overdose level after the cups I had drunk while eating breakfast.

"I'll get started, sir." She took the last bite of her toast and nodded towards my study. "May I use your computer?"

"Sure - knock yourself out." I led her into the small room and booted up the PC.

She eyed it appreciatively. "Is this new?"

"Yes. I upgraded a couple of months ago. The old one didn't have the memory I wanted or a fast enough processor."

She sat and started typing, then whistled and looked up. "This is very impressive, sir. It's far better than mine. What do you use it for, work?"

'No - just stuff, Carter. Nothing fancy." I hoped she didn't look too closely at what was on the computer while she was using it. I had been in the middle of writing a paper on prime focus imaging.

"I'll leave you to it, Carter."

I got nothing but a distracted nod in response as her fingers flew across the keyboard.

"Jack, we need to talk." Daniel's sudden appearance along with his serious demeanour took me a little by surprise.

"Sure." I led the way back into the living room, idly noting the empty kitchen as we passed and wondering where Teal'c had got to. Instead of taking my usual seat chose the couch, stretching my legs out in front of me. "What is it?"

He perched on the arm of the chair. "You know, when Sam told you she was scared last night, she wasn't the only one."

"Aw - come on. I admit the nightmare threw me, but I'm fine now."

"But you're not." He fiddled with his shirt button, but his gaze was fixed on me. "I was scared last night too, Jack. Scared about what you'd do."

"What do you mean - what I'd do? Hey, I'm as embarrassed about the crying thing as you are, but what can I say except sorry and it won't happen again."

In an abrupt move he leaped up and stood over me, and I'm not afraid to say I reeled back a little at his angry expression.

"It isn't the crying, you stupid son of a bitch! It's the manic way you've been acting. Do you know," he spat the words into my face, "I spent an hour after you went back to bed finding everything that could be used as a weapon in this house and hiding them."

I was completely stunned. "I'd never hurt any of you."

He didn't calm down, if anything he got angrier. "I wasn't worried about what you'd do to us. I saw what you were like after Charlie's death, when I first met you and last night you became that man again."

"I. . . wouldn't."

"Wouldn't you? The drinking, the women - what were you doing? Denying what you remembered was true? And if that sailor had been as eager to fight as you were, would you be sitting here now or would we be arranging to have your body collected from the morgue? Don't pretend to tell me you weren't looking for an excuse. Damn it, Jack - I know you've tried it before."

I sat, unmoving, hoping against hope he wasn't saying what I thought he was. How could he possibly know?

And I got my answer in his next words.

"You weren't the only one who remembered something last night. Things came back to me too. The way you were acting reminded me of something and I couldn't put my finger on it. Then it came to me. When you were in Ba'al's dungeon, you refused to ascend. I couldn't understand, couldn't understand why you felt so unworthy, so I looked, Jack. I looked inside you - and I saw what you had been hiding. You didn't just think about suicide after Charlie, you tried. You took that pistol, the one that killed your son, and you drove into the mountains. And when you got far enough from anywhere, to a place where you thought you would never be found, you pointed it at your head and you fired. But you hadn't taken into account the affect the combination of days of drinking and lack of sleep would have on your body." He reached forward and pushed the hair off my forehead. "Nice scar, Jack. A fraction of an inch either way and you would have gotten the end you planned. You weren't too happy to wake up hours later and find you had failed."

I felt as if I had just run a marathon - my heart was pounding and I could hardly breathe. I shook my head. "No." But the words were so soft even I had trouble hearing them.

He didn't give me time to argue, even if I had been capable of it.

"This isn't the first time you've tried to repress everything with alcohol. It didn't work the last time, so why would you think it would now? And Jack, none of us are prepared to sit back and watch you kill yourself."

I wouldn't. I wouldn't.

An overwhelming surge of grief washed over me as I realised he was right. I hadn't changed at all. I was still that same man who couldn't even succeed at ending his own life.

I sunk my head into my hands and sat there, wondering why I was bothering to carry on with this whole Ramsey thing. I had figured it out, it was over. He had beaten my spirit into submission back then, and he had again now.

"Oh, shit, Jack, I'm sorry." The chair cushion sank as Daniel sat beside me. "I shouldn't have said all that, but I'm so afraid of what you might do." An arm stretched across my shoulders. I stiffened for a second, then realised he needed to give comfort as much as I needed to accept it, and stayed still, feeling his warmth ease my pain just a little.

"You need to keep that appointment with Kasanji, Jack. I think you know that."

I nodded. He was right. We sat in silence, each lost in our own thoughts and I wondered where this was all leading and whether I would survive finding out.

**********

The sound of the doorbell ringing broke the quiet mood we had both fallen into. I was a little annoyed at the interruption and that I needed to put on the Jack O'Neill faade for the world. I made my way to the front door, just in time to beat Teal'c to opening it.

Walter stood there. I don't know which of us was more surprised which, considering it was my house, was a little odd.

"Walter?"

"General O'Neill. We. . ah. . . I heard you were sick." He thrust a covered dish into my hands. "My wife though you might like this, sir. It's a casserole."

"You drew the short straw, didn't you, Sergeant? Who put you up to this? Ferretti, Reynolds, Dixon?"

He colored and for the first time I caught him looking embarrassed. "Ah, everyone, sir. We were worried."

They were worried. I almost laughed, hysteria boiling just below the surface. "You can tell them I'm doing fine and that I'll be back in a few days. Thank them for me and especially thank your wife. I appreciate the thought."

I waited until he had driven away before closing the door, wondering at the rumours that must be circulating about my absence. They probably had me in a padded cell after being seen visiting a psychiatrist at Peterson. The Air Force was worse than an internet chat room when it came to gossip.

I put the dish in the fridge. Teal'c was out in the garden, and I could only hope he hadn't heard anything of my conversation with Daniel. I hurried to check on Carter. She didn't even look up when I entered the study. To my relief, she seemed to have concentrated on searching the internet for mention of my ex-teammate. She jumped when I leaned over her shoulder, giving me a quick smile without stopping what she was doing. Before long I had the information I needed. But it wasn't at all what I expected.

Turned out Keith Marsden was a resident of a veteran's nursing home in Cheyenne.

**********

Daniel drove me to my appointment, leaving Carter and Teal'c to go home and pack for a short trip. I came away from talking to Kasanji feeling worse than I ever thought possible.

Apparently I was exhibiting addictive tendencies. No alcohol, sleeping tablets, or drugs of any kind, and I had a bottle of anti-depressants and the number for the nearest VA hospital's Readjustment Counseling Service in my trouser pocket. It seemed they had a great support program. My enthusiasm knew no bounds.

The only positive was that the doctor approved of my plans to visit Marsden.

Daniel stayed quiet for most of the trip back to my house, but obviously had to ask, breaking his silence just before he turned into my street. "How did it go?"

"Good, Daniel, good."

There were some things I wasn't prepared to share. At least, not yet.

**********

TBC


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