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).
An easy day, that's what Major General Jack O'Neill--with two 'Ls'--wanted.
Nothing stressful - he had enough stress at the moment as it was. He just wanted a
day spent relaxing, kicking back a little, or as much as a senior military officer could
kick back in Washington DC, and forgetting the job for a few hours.
It felt like weeks since he had a day off. Probably because it was. He'd never had a
problem with making the hard decisions - it had been a part of his role for years as he
climbed the ladder of the senior ranks. But now he had a completely new staff to train
in how he did things and other senior officials to prove himself to. He hadn't been in
his new post long enough to feel truly comfortable, but he was getting there. He had a
totally different style to George Hammond, but the inevitable teething problems
caused by the change in leadership were surmountable and he was actually enjoying
Still, the long hours were taking their toll and no one should make the sort of
decisions he was now responsible for when at less than one hundred percent. So he
had given himself the day off.
It was mid-week and he couldn't remember the last time he had slept in when it wasn't
the weekend. Finally driven out of his apartment by the relentless sound of the next-
door's cleaning lady and her incessant vacuuming, he decided on a late breakfast at a
Brilliant sunshine had him squinting as he left his building, and he quickly grabbed
his sunglasses from his shirt pocket and slipped them on. That was one thing he
missed about his promotion to general - the chance to go offworld and get out in the
fresh air. First he had been stuck underground at the SGC, and now he was in the
world's biggest office building. Sure, he had, as befitted his position as head of
Homeworld Security, a large window, but it couldn't be opened, and the poor excuse
for fresh air that was piped through the enormous building had been breathed by how
many people before him? He shuddered to think.
He took an appreciative gulp and coughed, his throat tickling as exhaust fumes flowed
down into his lungs.
Oh well, at least it was warm.
The cafe was reasonably empty, with the office workers already behind their desks
and the fashionably early lunch crowd not yet finished shopping. Choosing one of the
tables set up on the pavement, O'Neill sat and looked at the menu, frowning a little at
the complicated selection. He just wanted something straightforward. Nothing too
heavy, but certainly not as pointless as the eggwhite omelette halfway down the page.
The solitary waitress was occupied with taking the order of some customers inside the
cafe. The general could see her through the window, talking to the two women as she
adjusted the highchair the cafe had provided for the wriggling toddler with them. He
smiled as one of the women leaned forward to hold the little girl down and placed a
fluffy toy elephant on the tray, successfully distracting her, then he turned back to the
menu, finally deciding on the easiest option.
The young red-haired waitress smiled pleasantly as she hurried out to him, her pad
and pen in hand.
"Are you ready to order, sir?"
Jack nodded, automatically glancing back down at the menu. "I'll have the breakfast
special, with an extra egg, and coffee."
Order given, he sat back to watch the passing traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian.
The cafe was on the edge of a small park and the tables were shaded by several large
trees, making the umbrellas unnecessary at this time of day, but they would probably
be welcome in the afternoon. He toyed with the blue china salt shaker, spinning it as
he thought of the numerous meetings on his schedule, running through the agendas for
each in his head.
Damn it - this was meant to be his day off. He was supposed to be relaxing.
He gave himself a quick mental talking to - a rather firm one, as he knew he wasn't
good at taking orders even when they came from himself - and looked around.
Several magazines were scattered on the tables around him, clearly put there for the
convenience of the customers, so he stood to look them over. He was pleased to find
the most recent edition of Time and settled back down in his chair, already flicking
through the articles.
He barely noticed the ice water and glass placed at his right hand, muttering a
distracted thanks as he sat, engrossed in an article on the Middle East. By the time his
food had arrived he was reading about wind farms in the UK.
His order arrived and he hooked the edge of the magazine under his plate so that the
slight breeze couldn't turn the pages while his hands were occupied with the
mechanics of eating.
Several articles later, he had finished the food and only had a few sips of coffee left in
his cup. The time had passed rather pleasantly and he felt much more relaxed than he
had when he woke. Now he just had to decide what to do with the rest of the day. He
needed a new pair of shoes, but shopping certainly didn't fit into his definition of
relaxing. Perhaps a tour of the White House - that could be interesting. He hadn't seen
a lot of the building - just the Oval Office and a few meeting rooms. Or maybe he
should take in one of the museums.
Sipping his coffee, O'Neill looked up, his gaze idly taking in the people walking by.
For a second his mind froze, completely unable to process the information it was
receiving from his eyes.
He was seeing things.
Then the tall figure across the street turned, and their gazes met.
O'Neill saw the shock in the other's face, probably mirrored on his own, and knew he
hadn't been mistaken. Still not able to properly comprehend, his body took over from
his brain, and he stood, the chair sent tumbling backwards in his haste.
All he could see now was the grey suited back of the man, one hand holding a cell
phone to his ear as he hurried away.
Jack took the first step of what was to be a sprint through the traffic in pursuit.
His body hit something hard, sending it to the ground and resulting in a loud
shattering of glass and china.
"Oh, I'm sorry, sir!" The waitress offered the automatic apology, even though it was
plainly obvious to everyone who had turned to look who was at fault. Pieces of
lettuce, swimming limply in a sea of dressing, lay mixed with coffee, tomatoes,
orange juice and very soggy bread around Jack's feet.
The general muttered an equally automatic apology, craning his neck to peer over her
He had gone.
Maybe he hadn't been there at all.
It was impossible.
"Could I get you another coffee?"
The adrenaline rush was still racing through him and he had to take a deep, calming
breath before he answered. "Thanks, yes." He moved his feet, nearly slipping on the
now slimy pavers. "Sorry, that was my fault. I'll pay..." He waved his hand vaguely
at the mess as bent to right the chair before sitting down again.
"No, no, it's all right, sir. Happens all the time." The girl's smile seemed genuine,
perhaps in response to his obvious willingness to take the blame. "I'll get this cleaned
up first though. I wouldn't want anyone to fall."
Jack couldn't bring himself to smile back, but he nodded in agreement. "No. Take
He picked up the discarded magazine, turning the pages, but was unable to
concentrate as the face of the man he had seen kept flashing through his mind. He was
aware of a band of tension tightening its grip around his head and raised his right
hand, pressing the bridge of his nose in a vain attempt to stop it from getting any
Damn it again - he needed to get a grip.
His water sat unfinished on the table, so he reached for it with a hand that was
surprising steady considering the shakiness he felt. Within two gulps it had gone, but
it had barely taken the edge off the dryness in his throat and he looked around for
more. The waitress was just coming back from inside the cafe, a broom in one hand,
while the other held a bright orange plastic bucket with several large cloths hanging
over the top. He stood as she neared him, intending to let her pass before going into
the cafe for a refill. There was no point in bothering the girl - she was right that the
priority was to clean up the now large puddle of congealed coffee and juice.
She gave him a quick smile and an enquiring look. He pointed to the empty glass.
"I'll get it for you, sir."
"No, that's okay." He was already almost at the open door, level with the women
inside in the seats at the window. "I'll get..."
The thump to his shoulder spun him where he stood, sending him careering face
forward into the window, and a second blow on his back momentarily pinned him
there like a bug on a windscreen. Pain blossomed through his chest, so strong it
stopped him from crying out. He could see the women at the table, only a few inches
from him but separated by a thin layer of glass. One had her mouth open in a scream
he couldn't hear, her eyes wide and staring straight into his, while behind her the other
was bending over the toddler.
He tried to stay up, tried his damnedest to stand, but couldn't help sliding slowly
down, leaving a red streak on the glass - red horrifyingly echoed by the spreading
stain on the little girl.
He ended up kneeing on the hard grey pavers, one hand still raised, the other hanging
uselessly at his side. He knew there should be sounds, but there was nothing but
silence as his vision greyed and tunnelled down and he slipped sideways and fell into
Running around the corner, the scene that greeted Sergeant Kelly and his partner was
one of chaos. There seemed to be at least one victim outside, a middle-aged man,
lying in a heap near the cafe door, a pool is blood widening beneath him. Screams
were coming from inside the establishment, loud shrill screams from several throats.
"Shots - from up there!" The man that grabbed his shirt was babbling hysterically
from his hiding place under an upturned table. Kelly followed his pointing finger,
seeing nothing but high buildings and featureless office windows.
"Stay down." He issued the order sharply, knowing the man had no intention of
moving. The only other person nearby, a young woman, was kneeling behind another
table, her face pale. Kelly spoke rapidly into his radio, calling it in and requesting
backup. John was already heading for the open door, hunched low, with his weapon at
the ready. Witnesses had been wrong before - this could be a robbery gone wrong, or
even a drive-by shooting with the chance of the perpetrators still being in the vicinity.
John looked back quickly over his shoulder and Kelly nodded to him, silently
acknowledging that they needed to assess the situation inside. He edged his way over,
glancing briefly at the downed man as he passed him. There wasn't much he could
see, but if the amount of blood was anything to go by, it didn't look good.
The source of the screams was evident as soon as they entered the cafe. One woman
was sobbing, while another held a napkin to the arm of a tiny girl. They looked up as
the two policemen entered, their expressions reflecting their terror.
"Help, please, Kathy's been shot."
John hurried to the little girl, while Kelly made a visual check of the interior, seeing
only other patrons, some still seated, others standing, but all looking stunned by the
events that had taken them completely by surprise.
"What happened here?"
An elderly man was the first to speak, his voice firm and steady. "There were two
shots, Officer. One came through the glass and hit the little girl." He pointed at the
large window at the front of the cafe, its glass showing cracks all radiating from a
central point. Blood splatters were flecked across the area, but the main concentration
ran down in an obvious trail to where Kelly knew the other victim lay just out of sight
on the ground outside.
"Did you see who did the shooting?"
The witness shook his head. "No, I heard the shots and pulled my wife under the
table. It's not a sound you forget once you've heard it, and I heard it a lot during the
war. It was a rifle, not a handgun - I can tell you that much."
Kelly nodded his thanks and radioed in a follow up report, requesting an ambulance
be on standby. It didn't look like the little girl was badly hurt. The bullet had grazed
her arm, leaving a bloody scratch that looked much worse than it was on the tiny limb.
Both her mother and the other woman would need to be treated for shock.
He raised a hand and waited until he had the customers' attention. "Okay, I've called
for backup and we should wait inside until sure the area is clear, so I'd like you all to
move back towards the rear of the room and behind the counter. Stay away from the
People began to comply with his order, the elderly man helping his wife to stand
somewhat shakily. Some seemed reluctant to come out from what they saw as places
of safety, but seeing the others all moving to the back, soon joined them. John carried
the toddler there himself, and was soon back, positioning himself opposite Kelly at
the other side of the large window.
Everything seemed deadly quiet, but the sergeant knew it was only the matter of a few
minutes before all hell would break loose with the arrival of the reinforcements he'd
"What about the other victim?"
Kelly peered sideways through the window, keeping low. He could only see the man's
lower legs, but there was no movement. It had only been a five minutes since they had
heard the gunshots while across the street and responded. He could still be alive.
The experienced sergeant grunted, the sound conveying a mixture of agreement and
resigned annoyance at his younger partner's unspoken suggestion. It was obvious the
man outside had been the primary target of the shooter.
"Okay, on three. You cover me and I'll grab him."
Mere seconds later, both men were back in the relative safety of the cafe, the
wounded man lying on the floor between them.
They could hear sirens approaching and the whump whump of helicopter blades in the
air over head. It wouldn't be long before help was with them, but in the meantime they
had to keep this man alive.
Kelly kept watch, looking cautiously out over the window sill, aware that John was
doing his best for the stricken man.
"How is he?" The sergeant kept his eyes on the view outside, scanning their
surroundings for any sign of the gunman.
"Not good. He's got one wound to the shoulder and another to the back that went right
through. That's probably what broke the window and got the kid. Looks like a high-
powered rifle. Could be a sniper."
"Shit!" Kelly peered up at the tall buildings across the street. "It could have come
from anywhere" He glanced back at the sound of ripping, seeing John bunching a
piece of tablecloth and holding it tightly against the chest wound as he rolled the man
on to his side.
John raised his voice, making it heard by the people now hiding behind the counter. "I
need help here."
Before Kelly could issue the request as an order, the same elderly patron they had
spoken to before came crawling out around the corner of the counter. He kept low and
despite his age was with John within a few seconds.
"What can I do?"
"I need to keep pressure on both entry and exit point and bandage the shoulder. He's
losing too much blood."
"While you're at it, look for some ID." Kelly turned his attention back to the street as
he spoke. "See if there's anything to tell us why he was targeted."
Percy Curtis had seen a lot of injured men in his time serving with the Marines in the
Pacific, but none that reacted quite the way this one did when the young police officer
reached into his jacket pocket to remove his wallet.
A hand came up and gripped his wrist, bending it backwards and making the
policeman yelp in what was clearly a combination of surprise and pain. Percy had no
doubt that if the man on the floor hadn't been weakened by his wounds the wrist
would have been snapped. As it was the officer was able to pull back and extract
himself from the blood covered hand.
"It's all right, sir. I'm a police officer. I'm just trying to help. You've been shot."
Percy had to commend the boy. He managed to get all the pertinent information out
fast enough while still keeping pressure on the gapping exit wound.
The response he got was a grunt and a slight nod, but Percy could see the hooded
brown eyes watching carefully, taking everything in.
He slipped his own wad of material behind the man's back, doing his best to stem the
blood, and heard another grunt, this one with a note of surprise as if the other man
hadn't realised he was there.
"What...?" The words were cut off, ending in a bubbling cough.
The policeman by the window scurried over, holstering his gun as he moved. "Back-
up's arrived. They're setting up a perimeter. Shouldn't be long before we're out of
"Got...warn..." The grey-haired man was moving, as if trying to get up, his face
set in a look of determination.
The sergeant put a hand out, stopping him from rising. "Don't move. You're badly
injured. Can you tell us who shot you?"
A nod. Then another eruption of coughing, this time leaving a thin trickle of red
running from the corner of his mouth.
Percy had seen it before. Punctured lung. He hoped rescue wouldn't be to long
coming. He made a suggestion. "Sit him up. It'll help him to breath."
Together they dragged him back against the wall, and Percy and the younger of the
two policemen kept him upright, awkwardly keeping their improvised bandages in
"Sir - can you tell us who shot you?"
It was obvious the sergeant felt he had little time left to obtain helpful information.
The question seemed to rouse the man again, and he opened eyes that had shut in pain
as they moved him.
A nod again. Then a shallow breath.
The words were almost too soft to make out, made even harder to understand by the
wheezing sound of lungs unable to take in enough oxygen.
Then the door burst inwards and the room filled with guns.
He was moving - fast. He knew that much, but not much more. Except -
And he couldn't breathe.
He was suffocating.
There was something he needed to tell them. They had to know...
O'Neill opened his eyes, seeing a ceiling moving by above him. He managed to turn
his head, finding figures all around him.
Where...? Then it hit him - a hospital. He was in a hospital. He didn't have much
time. He had to make them understand.
He reached up and grabbed the nearest sleeve, pulling the white clad arm down.
And looked through eyes blurring with pain into the smiling face of his enemy.
Ba'al leaned down, and whispered. "I couldn't risk you exposing me too soon. I am
enjoying your planet far too much."
He managed the one word, but it went unheard, muffled by the oxygen mask covering
Ba'al laughed down at him and Jack coughed, splatters of blood covering the clear
plastic and running back down his throat and drowning him.
"He was here for months." Daniel turned, his worried frown making him look years
older than he was. "But he must have already had agents here on Earth for years. He
couldn't have set up the organisation he had in such a short space of time." His fists
were clenched and Jack could see he was furious. "Farrow-Marshall Aeronautics even
had contracts with the Department of Defence. The bastard was probably laughing at
us. Coming here to Washington right under our noses. He'd even visited the Pentagon.
He must have panicked when he saw you - before his plans were finalized."
Jack winced as he shifted a little in the bed, his broken shoulder protesting the
movement. No matter how he lay he was uncomfortable.
He thought back to those terrifying moments straight after he had been shot. He
remembered the anger that had coursed through him, thinking that Ba'al had won, and
the desperate need to leave a warning. He even remembered his fury that his dying
words were the bastard's name. Then to see him bending over him, gloating, as he was
pushed into the operating theatre...Even now he wasn't sure if that was real or an
hallucination brought on by pain and blood loss. When questioned, none of the staff
could recall a tall doctor with a neatly trimmed beard, but...
"Well, he's dead now, right?" Jack moved the oxygen mask to one side to speak. The
damned thing was so uncomfortable, but the doctors had promised he'd only need it
for a few more days - just long enough for his punctured lung to recover properly.
"He isn't going to come and join me for breakfast again anytime soon - right?"
He tried to keep his tone light, but knew he had failed when Daniel left the window
and moved over to him, his concern plain.
"Gerak took great delight in gloating about having killed him..."
"But? I can hear a 'but' there."
The heart monitor began to beep a steady warning.
Daniel glanced at it as he put his hand on O'Neill's arm. "There is no 'but', Jack. Gerak
definitely killed Ba'al. Relax." He waited a moment, his gaze shifting back to the
readout above his friend's head. "Come on now. Calm down."
Jack saw the almost panicked look on his friend's face and nodded, taking as
steadying a breath as he could under the circumstances.
Daniel was right. Daniel wouldn't lie to him. The bastard was dead.
At last Jack was free of the presence that had hung over his head for so long.
The monitor's beat increased again.
So why did Ba'al still haunt his dreams?
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