TITLE: De Profundis
CONTENT WARNINGS: None
SUMMARY: Hammond has questions about Jack's ordeal.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate SG-1. 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. No money has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This story may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I wrote this story after Abyss first aired. It sat on my hard drive because I didn't know if there would be a season 7 or if Daniel would be back. Since season 7 has started, I've been finding several stories I wrote but never finished. Jmas -- big thanks for betaing this story. It's greatly appreciated!
(Out Of The Depths)
Alternate title: Conversing The Abyss
General Hammond checked his watch again as he walked briskly down the hallway. He wanted to talk to Jack O'Neill before he left the infirmary, and he needed to be there before Doctor Fraiser arrived to sign the colonel's release papers.
So much had happened to Jack. A fatal sickness, a Tok'ra implanted in his body, his body being hijacked by said Tok'ra, captured, tortured, killed, revived, killed, revived... Hammond didn't know how to broach the subject about the events surrounding his miraculous escape. Something just hadn't seemed...ordinary. It was almost as if... no, those days were behind them now. No one else had ever shown the intuitive leaps of logic he'd seen Doctor Jackson have during crises. Yet, both Major Carter and Teal'c had... could it be possible? The general had a suspicion, but he needed confirmation from his second-in-command.
He walked into the empty infirmary and saw an already dressed and ready-to-go Jack O'Neill sitting on the bed, staring at nothing. He looked much better than the man that the Tok'ra had escorted back to the SGC with their proverbial hats in their proverbial hands. There were no true words of apology from the Tok'ra, but Hammond had made his displeasure known. Teal'c had given the Tok'ra "the evil eye," and not one of them dared to contradict any of the statements made by the Tau'ri. The Tok'ra had let Kanan literally and figuratively kidnap Jack right out from under their collective noses, and they had done nothing to help and had gone so far as to argue against the Tau'ri finding their missing officer. They couldn't deny it, and worse, they had lowered the Tau'ri's opinion of them even further. It was obvious to any who cared to look.
"How are you feeling, Colonel?" General Hammond asked as sat down on the chair next to the hospital bed.
Jack looked at his commanding officer and shrugged his shoulders. "Fine, sir, " Right. George knew this routine. Jack felt fine. He was tortured and murdered repeatedly by Ba'al...how many times? He got up close and personal with a sarcophagus...how many times? Sure, it took a little time for the color to come back into his cheeks, but it didn't really matter. Sure, he'd suffer through countless nightmares and PTSD, but physically, he felt fine. He was fine. He wasn't going through withdrawal since he'd been dead or hurt every time Ba'al stuck him in the damned thing. He didn't spend any time in a sarcophagus without being hurt like Doctor Jackson had...
Better not go there at the moment.
"Feeling right as rain, General. Just itching to get out of here."
"I can tell you've been a model patient," Hammond joked. "Have you driven off all the nursing staff?"
Jack looked around as if seeing they were alone for the first time. No other patients, no doctors, no nurses...oh, yeah. He' been so preoccupied with his own thoughts, he hadn't noticed that everyone had left him alone. "I asked Nurse Clark if she could round up the paperwork so Doc could sign them as soon as she got here."
The general leaned forward and spoke in a low voice, "Jack, I need to talk to you about what happened in Ba'al's stronghold. If you'd like, we can talk here or in my office or your office whenever you feel up to it."
That was a little different attitude for the general to take. Usually, everything was, "Colonel, my office. Now," and Jack would follow him and they'd talk. This wasn't one of those official discussions that would get written up and filed for all the Pentagon and Joint Chiefs to see. This was one of those heart-to-hearts that would only be between the two of them. "What do you want to talk about, sir?"
"I've seen SG-1 pull some incredible stunts in the last five years. You've saved the planet by the skin of your teeth on more than one occasion. Not counting the undercover work you did to oust Colonel Maybourne, you've always worked with your team. This time, you were taken to a planet we had no knowledge of, captured, tortured and only by some small amount of luck did we get you back. If Major Carter hadn't surmised that Kanan had gone back to rescue Ba'al's slave and Teal'c not considered sending the message to Lord Yiu --"
"They didn't, sir. Not exactly," Jack told him. "I mean, they told you their ideas, but..."
Jack shifted a bit; his stalling tactics clear indicators that he didn't want to approach this subject in the wrong way. "It was...well...sir...General, Daniel showed up"
Damn it all, Jack missed his friend. Seeing Daniel again had driven that point home. He'd believed he'd begun to accept the fact that Daniel was gone, only it was a lie. He never would accept it, couldn't accept it, because Daniel wasn't supposed to go like that...not in blinding agony, not betrayed by a thieving, self-serving coward, not... gone.
But, just like every other time Jack needed him, Daniel came through. So what if the Others wouldn't let him interfere? They still let him come and comfort an old friend.
Jack looked up at the general and saw a smirk on his face. "Sir?"
Hammond's smirk turned into a smile. "I was hoping something like that had happened. Events here were -- Jack, your team is good, but the behavior I witnessed from Major Carter and Teal'c was tantamount to Daniel Jackson at his best. If I didn't know that he was gone, I would have sworn I was talking to him. We don't know much about the Ascended, but what we do know is that they can come and go as they please. I had a feeling that he was involved somehow, helping us. I know Doctor Jackson, not quite as well as you do, but I know he wouldn't leave you alone in that place."
"He didn't," Jack agreed, “but there wasn't much he could do." Jack hoped that Hammond hadn't heard him stress the pronoun, but the general was a very perceptive man -- especially when a certain colonel and archaeologist were involved.
Lying in the infirmary, Jack had spent a lot of time considering and questioning what happened and Daniel's words to him... and the answer was one that pained Daniel at the time. Jack had seen it in his eyes, a look that he knew meant that nothing would stop Daniel from doing whatever he had to -- and then the look that clearly spoke that he wouldn't be allowed to do anything.
"Are the Ascended unable to intercede on a physical level? According to Major Carter's experience with Orlin, he couldn't touch anything until he became corporeal."
"It wasn't that, sir. Daniel said he could throw lightning bolts, but he couldn't."
"He could, but he couldn't?" Hammond asked, obviously puzzled.
"He told me that the Others wouldn't let him interfere, but by being there in that cell with me, he was consoling an old friend. The Others allowed that."
Right. Jack had figured out the answer for himself. The Others had allowed Daniel to go to Jack but kept a close eye and tight leash on him. For whatever reason, they wouldn't let Daniel help him. Who knows what they would have done to Daniel if he'd broken their rules. Jerked him out of there, leaving Jack alone? Descended him, putting him in as much danger as Jack was in? It didn't matter in the end. Jack knew -- he knew -- Daniel found a way around the Others' rules to help Jack.
"I see. So Major Carter and Teal'c's realizations had nothing to do with Doctor Jackson?" Hammond asked him.
Ah. Hammond had come to the same conclusions that Jack had. It wasn't coincidence that Carter suddenly "realized" that Ba'al's servant was female. It was no sudden "revelation" for Teal'c to think of sending the message to Yu. Even though no one saw him, Daniel had gone to the SGC, suggesting solutions to impossible situations. Just like always.
"Not really, sir. Actually, I'd say they were nudged just a bit. "
Hammond shook his head in utter amazement. "Jack, it seems to me that SG-1 worked as well as they ever have."
"Yes, sir. Well, you know, the four of us always did work and play well together. Even though it's just the three of us for a while -- "
"Three?" Hammond interrupted.
Jack realized what he had said. Little slips of the tongue weren't good ideas, no matter who was having the conversation. "Sir, SG-1 is a four-person team. Right now, we're three members and a replacement. When Daniel was there, talking to me..." Jack's voice trailed off.
For one moment in time, things were back to normal. It was him and Daniel trying to get out of another messy situation...
Damn it, they needed Daniel. Jack needed Daniel.
The moment Jack realized that Daniel wasn't a hallucination and was really there (thanks to the help of a skillfully tossed shoe), he knew that he had a chance to escape Ba'al's fortress alive. After all, that's what he and Daniel did, wasn't it? Survive no matter how bad the odds? Not for one minute did Jack believe that Sam, Teal'c and "even Jonas" had figured out a way to help him. After all, they hadn't known where he was -- not until Daniel whispered the answer in their minds -- well, Sam and Teal'c's anyway. Jack didn't miss that little barb Daniel said "and even Jonas." Yeah, Daniel had the same opinion of the Kelownan as Jack did -- very low. Unfortunately, due to Jack's distaste and mistrust for the Russians, he was forced to pick a "civilian" fourth for the team, so he picked the one he already didn't like and didn't trust and knew he never would. There was some perverse logic to it. Jack was following the old cliché of "keeping his friends close and his enemies closer."
Besides, it wouldn't be long.
Something would happen, providence would step in and Daniel would descend. Maybe he'd get bored or interfere when the Others weren't looking or disagree with the Powers-That-Be or something... anything... and he'd be solid flesh, blood and bone and back where he belonged at the SGC.
It would happen.
Jack had to believe that.
"Colonel, if you don't want Jonas on the team, I can reassign him and you can pick a new fourth." Hammond didn't like the Kelownan, but military protocol dictated his behavior when dealing with people of all categories. He had to appear as civil as he possibly could.
"Sir, no one could do what Daniel does -- uh, did. Jonas just memorizes stuff and spits it out without understanding any of the underlying cultural bases."
Hammond didn't laugh at that last sentence. Occasionally, Jack did say things in the same manner as Doctor Jackson. "But?"
"But he's better than having a Russian forced on us. Besides, I know where Jonas stands and I know exactly how much I don't trust him. Given that, I know to watch our backs because I wouldn't trust him with a sack of potatoes."
“Jack, I don’t like the idea of my first team unable to trust each other. The situations you get into forces all members of a team to –“
“I know, sir. I don’t like it either. But it’s temporary.”
“Are you sure of that?” Hammond was curious. His second-in-command seemed quite certain that the status quo wouldn’t be the status quo much longer.
Jack nodded his head. “I’m positive. Right now, Daniel’s like a kid with a new toy. He’s learned how to do all these magic tricks, and he’s having fun. Once the novelty wears off, he’ll be back. I think it’s starting to wear thin now.”
Had he heard correctly? Jack truly believed that Doctor Jackson was becoming disillusioned with being one of the most powerful beings in the known universe? “What makes you think that?’
“He’s keeping an eye on us. He’s not exactly going off on his own trying to learn everything under the sun and forgetting the time. You know Daniel, sir. Once he’s got a mystery to solve, not even meals get in his way. I think he probably learned so much during those first few months that he’s starting to get a little bored now and remembers he used to be solid. He’s heading back home to check up on things.”
That would be very Doctor Jackson-like, Hammond mused. Of course, it all made sense. The one thing that Hammond was absolutely certain of was the fact that no member of SG-1 would ever leave their teammates and friends behind. Daniel Jackson was no exception. “Do you believe that Doctor Jackson will be returning?”
“Yeah. We know those ascended folks can descend. Orlin did. Once Daniel realizes that he can have more fun our way that just floating around like a glowing energy blob, he’ll come back.”
Hammond almost smiled. It had been months since he had heard that kind of believable conviction in Jack’s voice. “He didn’t have a choice, Jack. Jacob said that he couldn’t cure Daniel completely. If he didn’t ascend, he would have died.”
How many times had Jack told himself that? What other choice had there been? Even if Jacob had been able to stop the radiation, he couldn’t have restored Daniel back to his health. Only a sarcophagus could have done that and they were painfully short on sarcophagi then.
“I know. He told me that Oma couldn’t cure his radiation sickness. And I think there’s something else.”
“I think there are other reasons he’s staying ascended other than the fact he’s having fun and he’s learning all sorts of new things. Knowing Daniel, he’s trying to find ways to help us fight the Goa’uld.”
That seemed to be a thought that Hammond hadn’t considered given the way his face lit up at that moment. “Do you think that he’s trying to recruit allies among the ascended?”
“It’s what he does, sir. And he’s good at it. I just wish….”
“He needs to be here helping us get allies, not floating around in space dodging speeding asteroids.”
Speeding asteroids? Hammond laughed silently to himself. This was starting to sound like the old Jack O’Neill more and more. “I’m sure Doctor Jackson’s reasons are sound ones.”
Janet Fraiser approached, and both man ceased their particular conversation. “Colonel, you’re free to go. I am insisting that you have a week’s down time.”
“A week?” The near complaining whine in Jack’s voice made Hammond smile.
“Yes, Colonel. A week. I want to make sure that there are no residual effects from prolonged use of the sarcophagus. Doctor Jackson’s exposure was different from yours, and I need all the information I can gather in order to learn more about how the sarcophagus affects the unblended human body.”
“And that takes a week?”
“I could make it two weeks if you’d like.”
“No, no, a week’s fine.”
Janet gave Hammond a knowing smile. Both knew that neither one could keep Jack out of commission for long.
“So, I can go now?” Jack was beginning to sound like the little kid who always asked, “Are we there yet?”
“Yes, you can go now. Just try to take it easy, and I want you back in here first thing in the morning and every morning for the next week.”
As Janet left, Jack muttered, “She just loves getting hold of us after we’ve been zatted, sarcked, snaked and ribboned.”
“SG-1 has given her ample opportunities on all counts, Colonel,” Hammond reminded him. “And I do agree that a week’s downtime would be good for all of you.”
The general watched as Jack collected his few belongings and left the infirmary. Heading back to his own office, Hammond reflected on the conversation. SG-1 were working together to attain an end, just as they’ve always done. Whatever was happening on the ascended plane, Hammond knew that the missing team member was no longer “missing,” just temporarily reassigned. Hammond chuckled at the thought of that. O’Neill never liked it when a member of his team was assigned to a new team, no matter how temporarily. And, as always, Doctor Jackson was finding ways around the rules to help all concerned.
For the first time since SG-1 was separated, General Hammond felt better. He’d have his first team back intact. He was sure of it.
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