Jackfic Archive Story

 

Breakfast Meeting

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).


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 the challenge.

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 near-by cafe.

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.

Not here.

He blinked.

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.

"Omph!"

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 head.

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 your time."

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 worse.

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 nothingness.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

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 windows."

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 called for.

"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.

Hell.

"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."

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

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 here."

"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 place.

"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.

"Warn...Karl..."

Then the door burst inwards and the room filled with guns.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

He was moving - fast. He knew that much, but not much more. Except -

He hurt.

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."

"No."

He managed the one word, but it went unheard, muffled by the oxygen mask covering his face.

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.

Epilogue

"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?

The End


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