ASAP by iiiionly
Jack found himself wracking his brain for a means of persuasion since it looked like the kid was going to call his bluff.
“I’m almost six,” Daniel muttered mutinously.
“How long have you been at Area 51?”
“What is area fifty-one?”
“How long have you been working . . . where you’ve been working?”
Daniel shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Do better,” Jack told him ruthlessly.
“Since I remember.”
“Oh, for cryin’ out loud, you’re only five. How long have you been working, Daniel?”
“I told you - as long as I can remember,” he repeated, voice losing all inflection.
“For how long can you remember?” Jack was implacable.
“I don’t know.”
This brick wall had a name and a face behind it. Jack wanted just five minutes alone with whomever it was and if it turned out to be Maybourne, so much the better.
Brightman pressed the intercom again.
“Bring me some liquid Tylenol and I need a cup and pitcher of water in here. Sir, may I speak to you outside?”
“When we’re done.”
“Now, sir. This is my infirmary.” Brightman stalked to the door.
“I want a better answer than ‘I don’t remember’ when I get back in here,” Jack advised, trailing Brightman through the door.
“He’s just a little boy, General. You cannot harass him like this; he is not a prisoner-of-war.”
Jack wiped a hand over his face. “I know exactly who he is, Dr. Brightman, and you don’t have a clue as to our history. Daniel and I worked together for three years; we knew each other pretty damn well. I don’t know what, but if that is our Daniel in there, and so far everything we’ve seen says he is, something drastic happened. It’s imperative we know what it was.”
“General O’Neill, whatever it was, it happened five years ago. If you’re imagining there’s some way to reverse what’s happened to Daniel, it’s just that – imagining, sir. The best thing we can do for Dr. Jackson now is remove him from this nightmare he’s been living for the last five years and place him in a stable environment where he will receive the care he needs.”
“And exactly what kind of care do you believe he needs, Doctor?”
“You and I both know, sir, he’ll require a great deal of psychiatric help in order to . . .”
Jack slashed a hand between them. “We’re not there yet and don’t go jumping the gun without my express permission or I’ll bust you back to private so fast it’ll make your head swim.” Man, not even eight hours on the job and he already threatened three people with demotion.
“Permission to speak freely, sir.”
“Denied.” Jack smacked a hand on the door when Brightman would have yanked it open. “Right now I just need you to do your job and let me do mine. When we’re done, you can have all the permission in the world to speak freely, Major. For now, we’re doing this my way.”
“Yes, sir,” she ground out between clenched teeth.
Clenching his own teeth, Jack kicked the door open and slouched back into the room. “Well?”
“I don’t remember,” was the even more sullen reply.
Brightman checked the still sluggishly bleeding puncture and the spreading bruise. Half the thin little arm was going to be black and blue by morning, and it was going to be difficult and uncomfortable to use. She refrained from patting him on the head, since he was still glowering.
Daniel pulled his knees up to his chest, wrapped his left arm around his ankles and laid his head down. “And you can’t make me remember.”
“Oh, but I can provide some incentive to remember.”
“I hate you. I don’t want to talk to you. Why are you here anyway?”
“I’m here because I run this base. It’s my job to figure out what’s going on and how to minimize any damage or fallout from what’s happened. Five years ago, you, Carter, Teal’c and I were on a mission when you disappeared . . .”
“I’m not allowed to go on missions,” Daniel interrupted. “Jack said I’m not big enough.”
“You were five years ago. You were thirty-five years old and a grown man.”
For a split second the blue eyes narrowed calculatingly, then widened with well-feigned surprise.
Jack stepped forward to the foot of the bed, looming over it menacingly. “What aren’t you telling us?”
Daniel only closed his eyes, though the small jaw clenched tight. “You don’t scare me,” he said, hunching a shoulder in direct contrast to his softly spoken challenge.
Jack huffed a sigh. “Teal’c, put the fear of God into him, would you?”
“Aside from the fact Danieljackson was never easily frightened, O’Neill, I will not.”
“I could just hand you over to the Goa’uld,” the General said, considering. “There’s still a price on your head.”
‘That’s it, everybody out.”
“I am not finished with him yet, General O’Neill.”
“Yes you are, put a Band-Aid on his arm and be done with it. If he wants an ice pack, he’s going to have give information for it.”
“Sir, I won’t . . .”
“Dr. Brightman,” Jack intoned. “go test; Carter, Teal’c – out.” He turned back to Daniel as Brightman calmly finished bandaging the small arm. “This door locks from the outside, plus there will be a guard on the door and a guard posted on the observation deck. When you’re ready to chat, you can use the intercom to tell the guard up there,” O’Neill pointed at the already posted guard just inside the door of the narrow surveillance area. “He or she will get me immediately. In the meantime, you think about how long you want to stay in here alone.”
Always a good tactician, he left the remainder of his threat hanging. Let Daniel sweat a little about how far he’d take it. There was a twist in his gut he ruthlessly suppressed. How the hell did you get information from a stubborn, obviously brain-washed, five-year-old, without turning into something worse than the Grinch?
“Crook your elbow,” Dr. Brightman instructed gently, “there you go; keep pressure on it and it should stop bleeding shortly. I’m very sorry, Daniel, this is going to hurt for awhile. It may be several days before you can use it normally again.”
“I want my shirt back.”
Dr. Brightman turned back at the door. Jack didn’t even bother to look around, though he did wait until he heard the door close behind her.
“What would you like to give me in exchange for it?”
The small face lifted briefly, anger flashing like lightening from eyes the size of dinner plates. “Go to hell,” Daniel growled, “but you’ll be sorry if you make me get sick from being cold.”
“Yep, you’re probably right, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Didn’t I already order the two of you out of the room?”
“Sir, if …” Carter was smoothing the tiny t-shirt over and over.
“Out, Carter. Give me five minutes; I’ll meet both of you in my office.” Jack crossed the room and swept the door open, ushering out his two team members with a wave of his hand. He stood for a moment, staring at the door before turning to amble back across to the bed, holding out on his palm, the sand sculpture pyramid he’d pulled from his pocket. “Do you recognize this?”
Daniel turned his head on his knees to watch the General approach. “No.”
“Come on, you don’t know what it is?”
“You didn’t ask me if I knew what it was, you asked me if I recognized it. You’re trying to trick me.”
“Actually, no, I wasn’t. So you do know it’s a pyramid?”
“Of course I do.”
“This is a piece of art that belongs to you.”
“That’s not art,” Daniel scoffed. “That’s not even an artifact.”
“Ahh, but you used to treasure it. Do you have anything you value a great deal now?”
“No,” the child said flatly. “And if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.”
Jack sat down on the foot of the bed. “I had a very good friend a few years ago, whose friendship I treasured greatly. He’s been lost to me for over five years now, but I never stopped looking for him. I never gave up, even though everyone else did. I believed he was still alive. I believed someday I would find him again.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Okay,” Jack said, setting the sand sculpture on the bed between them. “I’ll leave you alone to consider your options.”
“Don’t bother coming back ‘til I’m a skeleton. I’m not telling you anything.”
Jack nodded. “Okay,” he said again, patting the innocuous pyramid. He looked up and brown eyes met blue. “I missed you, Daniel. I want to do whatever I can to help, but I can’t do anything unless you’re willing to trust me again.”
The intercom overhead crackled to life and they both looked up.
“General O’Neill, your presence is requested ASAP in the Board Room, Sir. You have a visitor.”
*** Part V ***Severe Language Warnings***
“What the hell are you doing here?” Jack demanded, the moment he stepped into the boardroom. “Teal’c, who let him in here?”
“I am unable to enlighten you on that topic, O’Neill.”
Senator Kinsey took his time turning from his perusal of the Stargate below. “General O’Neill,” he said, mouth pursed as though he’d been sucking lemons.
“You have two choices here; you can walk out, or you can be carried out by my SF’s. What’s it going to be?”
“As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I am here on official business. Your presence during a formal base inspection is mandated by order of the President of the United States. As we have previously discussed, General, I am a very busy man, my time is valuable. I would like to begin at once.”
Jack crossed his arms over his chest. “Wal ….” He barely refrained from rolling his eyes as the file folder was thrust into his hands, “ter. I really wish you’d quit doing that. How long has this been on my desk?”
“Twenty minutes, Sir. It is legitimate.”
Jack skimmed the paperwork quickly. “What the hell is this about, Kinsey?”
“I believe it is self-explanatory, General; your budget is up for review.” The Senator glanced at his watch. “I’ve scheduled an hour for this process; shall we begin?” He brought his male aide-de-camp to his side with a flick of his wrist.
“Carter,” Jack greeted his 2IC genially as Carter appeared at the top of the stairs. “Glad you could join us. We’re just about to begin a base inspection with the good Senator here. You do recall he’s chairman of the Appropriations Committee?”
“Major,” Kinsey acknowledged.
“It’s Colonel now, Senator. Having been regretfully incapable of serving it’s understandable you wouldn’t recognize the subtle difference in uniform.” Sam’s smile showed all her teeth. “Yes, sir,” she replied to Jack. “I doubt I’ll ever forget Senator Kinsey.”
“Yeah; go make sure level nineteen is swept up. Wouldn’t want the good Senator appalled by our cobwebby corridors. And take T with you. We’ll catch up. Top down, Senator? Or bottom up?”
“Cobwebs don’t deter me; accompanying Colonel Carter and the Jaffa will be fine.”
O’Neill shrugged. “You’re in charge.”
“So long as we’re both clear on that, General.” Kinsey swept out a hand as if he owned the place. “After you, Colonel Carter.”
“Walter – dammit. Would you at least let me get your name out?” Jack sighed. “I need a radio. We’re headed to nineteen; send an SF up with one.”
Jack, bringing up the rear as the procession headed for the elevators, signed to Carter to lag behind and visit the armory. A couple of precautionary zats would go a long way toward controlling any excursionary side trips the good Senator might decide were necessary.
Kinsey strode off the elevator murmuring to his aide, who scurried along scribbling frantically on a yellow legal pad. “You have a complete inventory, I assume, of the ordnance kept on base?” he glanced over his shoulder at the General.
“I’ll check with Chief Master Sergeant Harriman,” Jack shrugged. “First day on the job. I’m not really up to speed on where we keep those memos.”
“That will do. What else is on this floor?”
“Research labs, storage facilities; anything else?” Jack glanced at his teammates, both of whom were much more familiar with the in and outs of the base than he was.
“Besides the armory - just labs, Sir.”
“There you go, just labs.”
“Let us proceed to the next level.”
“Up or down?”
Kinsey consulted the list his aide held out. “Down.”
“Down it is.”
“It appears twenty is a conglomeration of more research labs and manufacturing venues. I see no reason to waste time there,” Kinsey tapped the button for twenty-one.
“Twenty-one is the main infirmary level. We’ve got a couple of quarantined sites you can’t go into without risking exposure, Senator. If I were you, I think I’d skip twenty-one all together. Wouldn’t want to catch any of our alien viruses.”
“I hardly think a five-minute trip through the premises will affect me negatively, General,” Kinsey pronounced acerbically.
“By your command,” Jack mumbled under his breath.
“Senator?” Jack returned innocently. “We’ll ask the Doctor to provide you with a mask; we wouldn’t want to take any foolish risks with your health, sir.”
“I doubt that will be necessary. I don’t expect to be here long, General.”
“Dr. Brightman.” Jack pushed through the double doors into the main infirmary, catching Brightman returning to her office. “I don’t believe you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Senator Kinsey. He’s here on a tour of the base, ostensibly inspecting our facility in preparation for the upcoming appropriations hearings.”
“I’d love the opportunity to speak to any of your patients, Dr. Brightman,” the Senator smiled his oily, baby-kissing smile. “Express my personal thanks for their service to their country; that kind of thing, you know . . .” he trailed off, actually winking at the prudish physician.
Behind him Sam barely refrained from poking her finger down her throat and making vomiting noises.
“I’m sorry, Senator . . .” Brightman looked to Jack inquiringly.
“Kinsey,” O’Neill supplied.
“Kinsey,” Brightman continued as though she’d never stopped, “as you can see we don’t have any patients currently. General O’Neill runs such a tight ship, sir, we hardly ever see patients in here anymore.”
Jack’s eyes widened in amused surprise; a sense of humor was the last thing he’d expected from the base CMO, especially under the circumstances.
“Congratulations, General. An impressive record; for your first day on the job,” Kinsey intoned. “Surely, Doctor, you have one or two patients hidden away that I could speak with?”
“I do not, Senator,” Brightman tried for a matching oily smile, though on her it came out just plain slimy. “I’m so sorry we’re unable to accommodate you.”
Sarcasm, too, O’Neill thought appreciatively. He glanced pretentiously at his watch. “You only have three quarters of an hour left.”
“According to the list, there are several pieces of equipment in the infirmary of questionable use. I would like to see them.”
“What list?” Carter asked.
“What equipment?” Doctor Brightman frowned.
“What the hell?” Jack tilted the list in the aide’s hand, looking over his shoulder. “What the hell?” he repeated, snatching the clipboard out the unsuspecting hands.
In the instant it took his brain to process his suddenly aroused suspicions, his insides turned to ice. Clipped to the clipboard were grainy security photos of a miniature Daniel in too-large safety glasses, kneeling on a stool beside a counter in what clearly was a lab.
“Sir?” Brightman reached towards him.
All color drained from Jack’s face as Kinsey recognized his moment
and smiled complacently.
Carter was staring at him like he’d lost his mind. Teal’c, however, was on the same page. He whipped the zat out of the back of his belt and fired, except O’Neill knocked his arm up, discharging it harmlessly into the concrete ceiling.
“Why do you stop me, O’Neill?’
“After I’m done with him, you can shoot him. But first, I think we need to witness the affecting little scene he’s got planned for us when Daniel is reunited with the man he thinks is Jack O’Neill.”
“What?!” Carter exclaimed. “Sir, not even Kinsey would sink that low.”
“Oh, Colonel; you wound me. Sink? Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. I would sink to the very depths of hell itself to do the Lord’s work.”
“And you promised retribution when Daniel found a way out for the Tollans. You didn’t just take advantage of an opportunity, you did this to him!” Jack sucked in air with difficulty, grinding his teeth in an effort to control the white hot fury melting the ice in his veins.
His face went from bone white to purple in the blink of an eye. The long fingers of both hands stretched as though in anticipation of replacing the silk tie gracing the neck of the politician still standing smiling beneficently on the stunned group.
“I warned you, Colonel.”
“You fucked with the wrong man, Kinsey,” O’Neill said quietly. “I will take you to hell myself, even room with you if I have to, but I’ll take you down before I die. And it’s General now, Senator. But let’s just finish this little dénouement you’ve got planned. Let me take you to Daniel; he’s been expecting you.”
“The Sheriff, along with several of his deputies, is waiting in the NORAD parking lot for me, General. Quit with the posturing, give me my ward and I won’t press charges for kidnapping.”
“Let’s just be clear here, you are talking about Daniel Jackson, correct?”
“Naturally,” the Senator replied smugly. “And I assure you, he will want to go with me.”
Carter was catching up. “You made Daniel believe you were . . .”
“Carter!” O’Neill grabbed her by the collar as she flew at the Senator. “Not yet. You’ll get your shot at him, but we don’t want to damage his face beyond recognition just yet.”
“Sir?” A thin trickle of sweat was making its way down the aide’s temple. He turned a panicked look on his boss.
Jack put a friendly hand on his shoulder. “Oh, if we kill you, we’ll make it quick. You’ll never know what hit you – well, it does hurt a lot the first time you’re hit with the zat, but after the second shot – you don’t feel a thing. Third shot – not even a body to worry about.”
“Sir?” The aide stumbled and bounced off the wall into Kinsey, who shoved him away.
“They’re employed by the United States government; they can hardly kill us, Gregory.”
“What do you think, T?” Jack asked the Jaffa conversationally. “An alien incursion; we can hand over the body suitably mauled? Or should I . . . take a little longer over him and maybe in a few hours call the President and inform him that the good Senator contracted some weird alien disease when he stopped by to visit the SGC this afternoon?”
“There are witnesses . . .” Kinsey repeated, though his bravado was wearing thin in spots as he jerked a glance over his shoulder, obviously expecting back-up.
Jack wondered if the omniscient Walter had taken care of that little problem.
“Your first mistake was taking Daniel. Your second mistake was keeping him. But that’s not what’s going to get you killed, Senator. That would be your arrogance.”
To his credit, the Senator’s expression never changed, though Jack could see the wheels turning behind the shrewd countenance.
“Give me my ward and I’ll be on my way.”
Jack slid his card through the reader to open the door to ISO 3.
“Dead man walking,” he chanted softly as he opened the door and ushered Kinsey through.
Jerking a thumb over his shoulder, he sent Carter and Teal’c scurrying for the observation deck, drew Brightman through with him and closed the door in the aide’s face.
“Dr. Jackson, I’ve brought someone to see your skeletal remains.”
“Go to hell.”
“Ahhh, you’re repeating yourself.” Jack swished the toe of his boot through a pile of glittering sand that bore the vague outline of a pyramid.
“I gather we forgot to take your shoes off.”
“Go ahead. Try.”
“What’s wrong with him?” Kinsey demanded, standing well back from the huddled form under the sheets.
“Jack!” A blur of small shoulders, white bandage, and blue jeans shot from beneath the covers to launch at the Senator. “Jack!” The small blur bounced off the impervious Kinsey and landed jarringly on his ass. “I knew you’d come get me.” Daniel scrambled up and latched on to one of the Senator’s well-manicured hands. “I didn’t tell them anything. I swear.”
Like rubber, O’Neill thought, unamused. “There is one way, and one way only you’re getting off my base alive today - Robert.”
Kinsey turned his head to look at O’Neill. “Well then – Jack; we have the exact same agenda, as I was already planning on telling him.”
Daniel narrowed his eyes as he glanced over his shoulder at Jack. “That man said he was Jack O’Neill. But someone said he’s a General. I don’t understand.”
“Of course you don’t.” Kinsey freed himself from Daniel’s grasp and stepped back, folding his arms over his chest.
“They don’t know anything. I didn’t tell them a thing,” Daniel repeated, gripping his own small arms over his bare chest as he gazed up at Kinsey in bewilderment. “What did I do wrong?”
The silver head cocked appraisingly. “What did you do wrong? Where would you like me to start with your list of sins, Dr. Jackson?”
“What sins? I don’t understand,” the small blond head began to shake from side to side. “Why are you mad at me?” Daniel swung on Jack. “Tell him. You tell him I didn’t tell you anything. And I want my shirt back.”
General O’Neill shoved his hands in the pockets of his BDUs. “He didn’t tell us a thing, Senator. Wouldn’t even tell us how old he was until I threatened to have Teal’c break him in two if he lied to me again. Carter – get his shirt.”
Daniel turned expectantly back toward Kinsey, actually took a step toward him again, except Kinsey shoved out a hand as if to ward him off.
“I cannot begin to tell you how I loathe the sight of you; how it makes my skin crawl to touch you, even just to be around you.”
Daniel hitched a breath, disbelief written large across his face. “But . . . you said . . . you told me . . . I . . .” He took another step toward the Senator as the door opened behind Jack and Carter handed in the shirt. “I didn’t . . .” he began again, only to be stopped by a jeering Kinsey.
“And you believed every word of it; that’s what makes this revenge so sweet, Dr. Jackson. You believed every word of it. For five years you’ve believed I was Jack O’Neill; the great protector, the almighty provider, the defender of truth, justice and the American way. Well, I am all those things, Dr. Jackson; I’m just not Jack O’Neill. As for Captain Carter and the Jaffa, Teal’c? They didn’t abandon you on P3X-781 – they couldn’t have, because you weren’t on P3X-781.”
“You said . . .” The eyes dominated the small, pale face.
“In the interests of national security, I said a lot of things. Just as you told my emissary a lot of things when I was trying my best to secure this nation against the unfriendly Gould knocking at our door by investing a little time and effort in our new allies, the Tollan.”
“The Tollan?” Daniel repeated, confused. “But you said . . . If you’re not Jack O’Neill, who are you?”
Kinsey snorted. “I am a United States Senator and my name is Robert Kinsey. I am the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and seven years ago, Dr. Jackson, you risked the lives of every person on this Earth by defying my command to detain the Tollans in this facility until such time as arrangements could be made for their comfort and security off base while we negotiated with them for technology.”
“As I recall, Senator, the Tollans repeatedly and vocally refused all your invitations to negotiate and you were planning to hold them hostage until they caved and gave up their technology willingly or not,” Jack put in.
“You are mistaken, O’Neill.”
“You’ve called him that lots of times already. Is he really Jack O’Neill?” Daniel demanded, pointing a finger at Jack.
“Yes, as a matter of fact, he is Jack O’Neill, the real perpetrator of this little scenario playing out. I swore, when I received the news that day, I would right the wrong done here; I would conquer the injustice perpetrated on the American people; I would - ”
“Exactly how does kidnapping someone and turning them into a child conquer evil and injustice, Kinsey?” Jack interrupted coldly. “Tell him what you did.”
Kinsey eyed the General a bit warily. “I didn’t do anything. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to . . . shall we say, influence, certain parties to work toward a different end than originally intended. I probably saved his life, O’Neill.”
“I can’t even think of anything slimy enough to call you,” Jack snapped. “Come here and let me help you put your shirt on, Daniel.”
“You said . . . you told me . . .“ Daniel squeezed his eyes shut, but didn’t move from where he stood. “I still don’t understand . . .” He was quivering like a trapped wild thing.
Jack went to him.
“Don’t touch me!” Daniel whispered hoarsely, yanking his hand away as Jack grasped it to put it through the shirt sleeve. He stumbled back, away from both Jack and Kinsey, until his feet tangled and tripped him into the bed frame.
A simultaneous clang and a yelp had Brightman and Jack leaping for him as Daniel smacked down hard on hands and knees.