But They're Cousins
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).
The briefing room table was stacked with mission reports and several Krispy Kreeme donut boxes. Daniel Jackson was pouring more coffee from the carafe he had claimed as his own and was making notes. Jack O’Neill had just beat Teal’c to the last multi colored sprinkled iced donut. Teal’c took the loss like a sport ignoring Jack’s little victor gesture. Carter looked at the sugared up males and sipped her Diet Coke. She eyed a chocolate éclair but thought better of it.
An S.F. arrived and handed Jack a small brown paper wrapped parcel.
“Colonel Sir, this was delivered for you, special delivery, up at NORAD. We have taken the precaution of inspecting the content’s sir. It’s clear.”
Jack took the package and inspected it himself. Just his name, rank and the address of Cheyenne Mountain, no other clues as to the sender. He set it aside and took another bite of his donut.
“Colonel?” Sam questioned softly.
“Aren’t you going to open it?”
“Come on Jack.” Daniel encouraged.
“What is it with you two? This isn’t Christmas or my birthday.”
“Come on Colonel.”
“You should open the package O’Neill” Teal’c now commented.
“Not you too?” He eyed Teal’c and then the other two. “Oh for crying out loud.” He dug into his pants and pulled out his pocket knife. Quick work was made of the outer wrapping. The small toaster size box was taped securely. A shake revealed that there was solid object within. Cutting the tape all around the edge he lifted the lid and tentatively pulled back the tissue paper. He peered inside to find a roll of duct tape. He couldn’t get the lid back on fast enough.
“That son of a bitch.” He muttered shaking his head and chewing on the inside of his bottom lip, still staring at the box like it was raw uranium.
“Nothing, nothing. I have to leave . . .” He sputtered getting up nearly knocking his chair over. ‘Dismissed.”
“But Colonel the reports?” Carter called after him.
Teal’c snagged the sprinkle-covered donut and consumed it in two bites. Some victories, regardless of the timing were sweet.
“What was that all about?” Carter addressed Daniel.
“I don’t know, and who is “That son of a bitch?” Daniel voice trailed off as he began a tally of Jack’s friends and enemy list.
Jack in the meanwhile had made it to the locker room and dressed in his civilian jeans, sweatshirt and leather jacket. His 9mm was slipped into the back of his waistband. Driving as fast as his jeep and the laws would permit he got to his home casting glances at the box which was sitting next to him. Another Jeep nearly the twin of his save for the California License plates was parked in front. His door was unlocked and his 9mm was ready in his right hand as he eased through and cleared the hallway. He stepped down into his living room.
“I helped myself to a beer.” Came a familiar voice from his sofa.
The 9mm was pointed directly at the owner. Shoulder length graying hair and thick mustache were the only difference. Otherwise, Jack was staring back at his own face.
“Damn it Mac!” Jack gently let the hammer down and clicked on the safety.
“Never did care much for guns. What’s your problem?”
“The roll of Duct tape?”
“Had to get your attention and let you know I was here didn’t I. You’re a hard man to get in touch with. “
“So how did you track me down?”
Jack had no response. The mention of his ex-wife caused too many memories to fight their way from out of the shadows where he tried to keep them.
“I know I haven’t seen you since Charlies’ funeral . . . ”
“You stayed in touch with her?”
“Yea, she told me about you. What led to the divorce and how you came out of retirement.”
“Twice.” Jack put the 9mm back in his waist band. There was an awkward silence which he filled with going to his kitchen and getting two more beers. He handed one to his guest and sat down opposite him. Both took time to appraise the other.
“Nice hair.” They both commented at the same time knowing that each was being sarcastic.
“So you picked my front door with what? A paper clip? And now what? A family reunion?” Jack finally asked needed to know why his visitor, his cousin, the famous MacGyver was sitting in his living room.
“Cute. I’m in town on business, over seeing a project. I thought it was about time I looked up my cousin Jack. You are very suspicious.” MacGyver said killing the first beer and starting on the second.
“It’s my business, besides that’s not the way it works with us. “
“So I was looking around, got yourself a mass of medals there Jack. Distinguished Air Medal, impressive. What did you get that one for?”
“Saving the world.” His reply carried a unique force. He took another sip and eyed his cousin over the raised beer bottle.
To anyone who didn’t know the truth they would have thought the remark sarcastic. While, Mac didn’t know the story, he knew enough of his cousin to know that he could be telling the truth. Jack had always been more prone to understatement.
“Seems like we both do a lot of that.” While his voice wasn’t as fierce, it held the same level of veiled bitterness he had heard in Jack’s voice.
“Yea, hard to complete with a living legend like you.”
“Tell me about it.” Mac snapped back thinking about what Sara had told him of Jack’s four months in an Iraqi prison in ‘91. He couldn’t comprehend what his cousin had endured. He’d had broken bones and some internal injuries but they were mere scratches and scrapes compared to what he had heard Jack had been through. It showed on his cousin’s face.
He was three years Jacks’ senior but he looked at least five years younger. He had put in his two years at the tail end of ‘Nam, demolitions, and couldn’t wait to get out. Jack, on the other had thrived in the military environment. He made it to Colonel before forty.
“So how is that Phoenix Foundation working out for you?” Jack asked sensing the need to communicate with his estranged cousin. After Charlie’s death and his involvement with the Stargate program he had intentionally cut himself off from what family there was left. It was best that way. He could die any time he stepped through the gate on some distant planet or because of some distant planet. His death would be explained as some horrible accident where the body could not be recovered. Everything had been neatly arranged for by himself and the Air Force. “Sorry to hear about Pete.”
“I head up Operations now. Pete was a good man. After the macular degeneration I thought we were going to lose him but the heart attack was massive and swift.”
They both tipped their bottles in a silent toast to fallen comrades.
“So what are you doing here? Working with NORAD?”
“Deep space radar telemetry”
“Bite me Jack. You’re lucky you can spell telemetry.”
“Screw you.” Jack finished the beer and headed for the kitchen. This time he retrieved only one beer but tossed back a shot of Jack Daniels before he came back into his living room.
“Sara tried to explain it to me but she just mumbled that I wouldn’t believe her.”
“Deep space radar telemetry.”
“A special ops grunt like you? Who are you trying to fool?”
“If I tell you, I‘d have to kill you. Don’t tempt me.” He tried to smile but his heart was not in it.
The ringing of the doorbell ripped through the heavy silence that hung between the two.
“For crying out loud! Now what?” Jack groused as he got up to answer the door. “You, stay put.” He hissed pointing at his cousin. He opened his front door to find Daniel and Carter standing behind Teal’c who had planted himself like a wall of Jaffa. A Colorado Rockies’ baseball hat pulled down over his golden tattoo.
“We are here to take you to dinner, O’Neill. Did you forget we have a standing reservation at O’Malley’s ’ this day each quarter?” Teal’c announced in a patronizing tone like he was scolding a child.
“Sir, you remember every quarter after we do our reports. We always go out to O'Malley’s.” Carter piped in.
“Yes, especially since they let us start coming back.” Daniel muttered remembering the armband incident. He tried to peek around Teal’c to see further into Jack’s house.
“Sir we were concerned about you. You did leave the SGC . . . ”
“Yea, yea!” O’Neill cut her off. “ Look now isn’t a good time.”
“Dinner sounds great. I am starved.” Came a voice from the living room.
To the threesome the voice was too familiar. They looked at Jack who had not said a word and back into his house. Teal’c took the initiative and stepped past Jack before he could protest. He stepped down to the living room and confronted Jack’s guest. He stood there eyebrow raised head cocked sideways staring.
Jack had no choice now, he muttered a near silent “Oy” as he gestured for Daniel and Carter to enter.
“Ahh . . . Jack . . . Who is this?”“ Daniel gaped openly. His head was swinging back and forth between the two men like he was watching a tennis match.
“Holy Hannah !” Carter gulped out.
“O’Neill I was unaware you had a duplicate sibling.” Teal’c looked back at Jack annoyed at having not been informed.
“Twin, twins.” Daniel corrected.
“Jack is he your?”
“Okay, okay, no. Dr. Daniel Jackson, Major Samantha Carter, “ he paused at Teal’c, “Murray. This is my cousin, Mac.”
“Is that short for?” Carter gushed as Mac stood up and took her hand in his.
“MacGyver but my friends and my family call me Mac. Mind if I call you Samantha or Sam?”
“Sam.” She was positively blushing now.
‘Well isn’t this cozy.” Jack remarked with some venom.
“How about that dinner invitation? I’ll drive. Sam you give me directions.” Mac said grabbing up his leather jacket. Taking her arm he winked at Jack as they walked out the door.
“Son of a bitch.”
“Daniel Jackson I believe we have discovered the identity of . . . ”
“Yes, I get it Teal’c . . . I mean Murray.”
“Not one more word. You drive.” Jack said pointing at Daniel. He needed to do some drinking tonight and the amount he planned on imbibing was not conducive for driving. Daniel and “Murray” could pour him home later.
Sam sat next to MacGyver, MACGYVER ! He was a living legend. His exploits with the Phoenix Foundation from his fights with ecological polluters, terrorist and revolutionaries and counter revolutionaries and just very bad guys were the stuff of fiction. The man who could save the world with a roll of duct tape, a paper clip and shoe strings. While not a genius or what most would officially call a scientist, he didn’t have all the degrees behind his name, his knowledge of the scientific was vast.
She felt like she was in the presence of her teen idol and in fact she was. While he had never really garnered the limelight and photos of him were few and far between she was mystified how she had never seen the resemblance between her commanding officer and the man who was driving her to dinner. Probably she rationalized that due to the Colonel’s extreme lack of scientific knowledge and sometime near phobic reactions to same that she would had never connected the two.
She was not sure if she like the long hair but the mustache was very attractive. Would it would be soft or bristly against her lips? “Where did that come from? Bring yourself back girl.” The reprimand fell on an internal deaf ear. There were crazy thoughts going through her head. He was nearly identical to Jack, the bodies were the same though Mac was just a bit leaner and more tanned, the body of a surfer. Jack’s was military tough but a little more worn.
“So my cousin is he a good officer?” Mac asked bringing her out of her fantasies.
“Oh, the Colonel, sure, yea,” She stammered. “He’s the best CO I have had the opportunity to work with.” Memories from prior missions filled her head, just flashes, and a slide show of events.
“Never told you about me did he?’ Mac teased.
“No sir, I mean Mac. The Colonel is very private about his personal life. It was months after I was assigned here before I learned he had been married and had a child. “
“Charlie. “ Mac hung his head for a moment. “Yea, that was quite a blow to the whole family. Jack lived for those two, Sara and Charlie. He was a mess for sometime afterward.”
“Yes, so I heard.” Sam was being protective. The memory of the time they nearly died in Antarctica. Jack had told her that Sara was the reason he made it out of after a blown black ops mission because of a bad HALO landing. She remembered how, knowing he was dying, she let him think she was Sara to give him some comfort in his last moments. A tear burned down her cheek, luckily, but it was the one next to the window. She managed to brush it away before it was observed.
She was however, wrong. Mac was a trained observer and a glance in his side mirror had caught the attractive Majors face and the emotions that danced in her cornflower blue eyes. Was there something more than just respect for a superior officer that evoked tears?
The rest of the conversation concentrated only on directions to the restaurant. Both had much to contemplate.
Daniel was behind the wheel of his sedan with Teal’c taking up residence in the back seat. Jack sat beside him right index finger resting just under his lip staring in the far away evil eagle look of his that secretly scared Daniel.
“So Jack what’s the story? Your cousin is THE MACGYVER? “
A grunt from the passenger’s seat and his eyes narrowing even further.
“O’Neill the similarities in appearance are quite strong.” Teal’c understated from the back seat.
‘So why didn’t you tell us?’
“Drop it Daniel.”
“Jack, look we have never met any of your family except for Sara and that wasn’t under the best circumstances. “
“Daniel just drop it.” Jack’s voice frosty enough to need to engage the defrosters.
Teal’c sensed it first. “Indeed Daniel Jackson I believe we should leave this line of questioning. If O’Neill wishes to explain he will.”
“Fine but there will be questions.”
Before Jack could lunge across the seat and strangle Daniel they pulled into the parking lot.
The restaurant manager was alerted to the arrival of what had been an infamous threesome. He ordered his wait staff to put them in the most secluded section of the dinning room. He gasped as O’Neill and MacGyver stood next to each other.
“Oh no he’s got a twin brother.” How do you hide the breakables in a restaurant bar?
“Just keep them happy and away from the pool table.” He ordered a waitress.
Finally sitting down Mac made sure he was next to Sam. Jack had his back to the wall and was quiet. Mac’s cell phone went off and he excused himself. Jack had already headed to the bar to get a drink not waiting for a waitress to take their order.
“Does this remind you of anything?” Daniel asked.
“That old Patty Duke show?” Sam smiled.
“Yea how did the song go . . . “Identical cousins and you’ll find that they . . . ”
“Look alike, talk alike and sometimes they even act alike.. Something, something and then when cousins are two of a kind.” Daniel finished. “This is even too weird for me.”
“Yea but MacGyver? I mean he is practically the antithesis of the Colonel. “
Both men returned at about the same time. Jack set down his beer and tossed back the shot. Mac explained that he had to confirm some meetings for the next day.
“So, deep space radar telemetry? Fascinating subject and Sam you would be?” Mac asked leaving it for her to finish.
“I’m a physicist. “
“She is way smarter than us.” Jack commented over his beer.
“Well, you for sure.” Mac smiled at his slam.
“Way smarter than both of us.” Jack reiterated.
“What are you doing working with the likes of him?” Mac was now concentrating on Sam and turning on the charm.
“He’s my commanding officer.”
“Well there goes that military rationale for you.” He smiled and over to Daniel. “Just don’t see my cousin working with scientist very well. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. And you Doctor Jackson, Daniel, Doctor of what?”
“I’m and Archeologist.”
“And that fits in with Deep space telemetry how?”
“Daniel, is also a linguist and has other skills and abilities that are of use in this project.” Jacks voice was devoid of emotion. To those that knew, realized this was a warning signal. Mac knew it and continued to wave the red flag.
“And you Murray?”
Teal’c looked at the Jack for assistance.
“He’s my . . . “ Jack groped. “He is head of security.”
Daniel, Sam nodded quickly, hoping that Mac would fall for it.
“Indeed.” Teal’c said simply.
The waitress arrived and the dinner was ordered. Mac eating healthy and Jack, the predator ordered steak, bloody and thick. The undercurrent of animosity Jack directed to Mac was obvious and without a ready explanation.
Dinner was mostly filled with Mac and Sam discussing scientific matters that even Daniel couldn’t follow. Jack was impressed with the direction his cousin had taken the Phoenix Foundation and more than pleased that his cousin didn’t construct a particle accelerator out of the silverware and empty beer bottles. However, it looked like if you teamed up Carter and him long enough they could probably do it.
Daniel was starting to draw a bead on Jack’s conflict with scientists. He must have had to live in his cousin’s shadow all of his life. Yes, it was true Jack’s military career was filled with a chest full of medals and his work at the SGC was legend but all so classified that no one outside specific circles would ever know of the Hero that was Jack O’Neill. On more than one occasion Jack had commented on the lack of fan fare.
Jack had quietly gotten very drunk. He was not a sloppy drunk, in fact it sometime made his more dangerous because he focused not allowing his senses to be dulled. Mac just talked and talked. It was like old times, growing up and those first few years in the Air Force when he would come home for family reunions. Mac would be there, the fair-haired boy.
He was still the one that had to go to the service to make something out of himself. He always was the other one.
“So what was Jack like growing up?” Daniel asked breaking into the conversation between Sam and Mac to the exclusion of the rest of the table’s occupants.
“Well, he was a good cousin and a bit of a hellion.” Mac started.
“We have a meeting early tomorrow kids.” Jack interrupted, subtlety trying to reminding his team that they were set for a quick mission off planet. A meet and greet with some nice people on a planet a wormhole away.
“So do I. I I’m going to be here three more days. Perhaps we can get together tomorrow night?’
“I’ll check my schedule but I think I can clear it for you. “
“Fine I’ll leave word on your answering machine. Sam can. I drive you home?”
Jack stiffened and walked away before anyone noticed. Daniel and Teal’c dropped him off where he sat with another beer and fell asleep on his couch.
Sam was charmed and giddy like a teenager in front of her teen idol. As the night had progressed, she had discovered how much the Colonel and Mac were not alike. Mac’s humor was softer and not as sarcastic or cutting as his cousin. There was none of the darkness, the heaviness that Jack carried around him like a jacket. This man was light, quick witted and compassionate even gentle. Not that Jack didn’t have these qualities it was just were hard pressed to emerge from the walls he had so skillfully built up.
They arrived at her house and she invited him in for a night cap. Thoughts of Stargate travel in the morning out of her mind. She had drunk just enough to loosen up her inhibitions. So when Mac leaned over and took the glass of wine out of her hand she didn’t resist. He radiated a vitality that drew her like a magnet. The touch of his lips on hers sent a shockwave through her body. She returned his kisses with reckless abandon. Finally giving herself totally to the inevitable outcome.
What seemed hours later they lay spooned together, naked and sated. Harsh reality arrived with the blaring of the alarm clock. The body remembers the lovemaking of the night before and the dreams of the consummation that filled her sleep. Sam rolled over and looked at the figure next to her. His back was to her but he stirred and rolled over to face her.
“Oh God!” She gasped but before she could bolt he rolled her into his arms and greeted her with a renewed passion. The hunger and the need over whelmed the knowledge that while he sounded like and looked like, he wasn’t the one that . . . She couldn’t bring herself to finish the thought. Was he just a substitute?
He left her with promises of seeing her later. She showered away the traces of him and hurried to the Mountain.
Jack’s hangover was about a category three, not the worse he had ever had but a steam would have helped. There was no time for one before the pre-mission physical. Fraiser handed him a bottle of extra strength aspirin and shook her head like a disappointed mother.
During the briefing Carter avoided him. The meet and greet went very nicely Daniel was the consummate diplomat. Teal’c, Carter and he just seemed to be along for the ride. They paved the way for SG-9 to finish the negotiations for whatever it was that had made SG-7 and Carter all a twitter. However this morning she seemed disinterested, distracted and disturbed, an alliteration which was causing the normal flow and heart beat of his team from being regular.
SG-1 returned to the SGC and Carter sequestered herself in her lab for the remainder of their tour. Daniel was going over digital images of ruins from the planet and Teal’c was in Kelnoreem. Jack had finished his paper work for the day, or at least as much as he was in the mood to do. Hammond had been nice enough to get himself wrapped up in some meetings with Major Davis from the Pentagon.
Sam was in her lab going over the same equation for the umpteenth time. It wasn’t making sense she couldn’t concentrate. She sat down in a frustrated lump.
“Hey, what’s with you?” Janet Fraiser asked walking in. “I was just coming to see if you needed a break.”
“I slept with him.” Sam blurted out.
“Okay, did I miss the first part of this conversation? Slept with whom?”
“MacGyver? Sam it’s okay to have fantasy dreams. I can tell you about mine and the Baldwin brothers but . .. “
“No, Janet the real MacGyver.”
“Sam, the real MacGyver of the Phoenix Foundation MacGyver, make an atom bomb from duct tape, shoe string and a paper clip MacGyver?”
“Shhhh.! Keep your voice down.” Sam walked to her lab door and shut it, something unusual for her.
“How? When? Tell me all about it.” Janet pulled up a chair.
“Yesterday, we, SG-1 were in our mission report meeting and the Colonel get’s this package. Well, next thing you know he high tails it out of there like his butts on fire.”
“What has this got to do with Colonel O’Neill?”
“Wait. So normally we go out to O’MALLEYS’ for dinner after we do the reports. Kinda of a tradition...”
“Sam, get to the good parts.”
“We go to pick up the Colonel and he doesn’t want to let us in. Then we hear this voice from his living room. Janet it was like he was throwing his voice or something.” Sam got up and poured two cups of coffee. “Anyway we go in and there is MacGyver in his living room drinking a beer.”
“The Colonel knows MacGyver?”
“Janet , they’re cousins. Identical cousins.”
“Cousins? No, you need a MRI or something that can’t be? The Colonel and MacGyver?” Janet was totally incredulous.
“No, look I checked it out on the web.” Sam hit a couple of buttons and pulled up the Phoenix Foundations web site. There was a photo of MacGyver announcing his promotion to Director of Operations. A couple of more buttons and she pulled O’Neill’s Air Force identification picture.
“WHOA!” Janet exclaimed. “ Other than the mustache and the length of the hair. “
“Yea, and the voices are the same. “
“So what happened?’
“We all went to dinner and Mac drove me home and.... “
“You slept with him...”
“Yea but Janet I mean look at them. They’re identical. I mean as far as I know, and I. “
“Oh God, I see if you slept with one it is kinda like.... shit!” All of the ramifications hit Janet at once. If the two men were alike physically then Sam knew, with MacGyver as a proxy, more about the Colonel and in some way had been intimate with him. Janet was also aware of the unspoken, underlying feelings between the two, Sam and Jack, doomed by regulations to never be consummated.
“Okay, so other than the physical what are the similarities?”
“Well, Mac and I talked on a level that goes way above the Colonel and Daniel. It was nice to be able to talk to someone that way. The voices are the same. Mac’s humor is softer and well he’s more refined than Jack.”
“Well MacGyver isn’t a Colonel in the Air Force either.”
“And there was something else. There was an antagonism between them. The Colonel was not happy we found about his cousins identity. There is something between them like a secret or some other kind of baggage that keeps them circling each other like badgers. Mac seems less antagonistic but.... “
“Yea, the Colonel he’s known for stirring up the hornets nest. “
“It was more like smashing it open that just simple stirring. “
“But what you haven’t told me is, well how was it?”
Sam blushed red and looked away in embarrassment.
“Oh my that good!” Janet sighed playfully. Sam put a hand to her mouth to suppress her giggles. The two women laughed like cheerleaders in a locker room.
Jack arrived home to find his answering machine message light flashing. The temptation was there to ignore. The button was pushed and he heard Mac’s voice. He would see him within the hour. There might be time for a very hot shower to steam out the residual alcohol. Jack had just zipped up his pants when his door bell rang. He went to the door and let his cousin in.
“Catch you a little early?” Mac asked handing him two six packs of imported beer.
“Nice vintage.” Jack smiled trying to hold back his uneasiness with his cousin. “Let me get these on ice.” He headed for the kitchen.
Mac ‘s eyes were drawn to his cousin's bare torso and back. It was embroidered with scars of varied shapes and sizes from long thin lines to round wounds, old bullet wounds. His right arm showed signs of surgical repair and what looked like a through wound from the front to the back . The scars were varied in age some old and fading and some still every pink and recent and there was that scar that ran through his left eyebrow.
“Jesus Jonathan what the hell have you been through?” He couldn’t hold back the emotion. The use of Jacks full name was rare if ever, only to reflect the gravity of the situation, event or the speaker.
“I’m a solider Mac. You get banged up a little.”
“Jack some of these are not that old. How do you get these doing research on deep space radar telemetry?”
“I’m accident prone.”
“Bull shit, you know better than that and so do I.”
“Mac let’s just try to keep this to family and old times okay? I’m going to get dressed.”
“Yea, well I’ll get us a couple of beers. I can’t stay long. I’m going to take Sam out to dinner.”
A drawer slammed extra loud in the other room. Jack stalked back in and opened a beer for himself and eyes his cousin darkly. He moved to the living room.
“You got a problem with me taking Sam out to dinner? You do realize what a beautiful woman she is.” Mac followed once again sitting opposite his mirror image.
“She is beautiful, intelligent and passionate.” Mac continued, trying to push the right button. There were questions he needed answered.
Jack was trying not to take the bait.
“If she retires anytime soon, I am going to seduce her into working for the Foundation.” The word seduce was intentional.
“You son of a bitch.“ Jack hissed under his breath. He stood up and paced taking quick fast sips of his beer,
“What Jack? Do you have a problem with me wanting to romance away your scientist?”
Jack was on him before he could react. One swift movement had him to his feet and plastered back against the wall. Jack’s elbow pressed against his throat.
“Did you sleep with her you son of a bitch?” Jack snarled his voice hardened to steel.
“What does it matter to you?”
“She’s my . . . Second in Command.” Jack lightened up his hold and then backed away.
“There ‘s more to it than that?”
Jack answer was to finish the beer and head to the kitchen for another. He was trying to pull it together. He could have just snapped his cousin’s neck and almost did.
“Jack answer me?” Mac was a step behind him. “ That’s it! Isn’t it? You’re in love with her.”
The beer bottle shattered across the room.
“I’m not going to drop this. You have to admit it.”
“No, I don’t. I can’t.”
“ The damn regulations. You’re a Colonel and she’s a Major and never the twain shall meet?”
“There’s more to it than that.”
“I can’t have those kind of feelings for her. It would affect the mission if I . . . “
“Mission? Jack? Deep space radar telemetry my ass. “
‘Stop.” Jack warned.
“What has happened to you Jack? You used to love life. You had a joyful spirit.”
“Shit happens .”
“What have they done to you?”
“It comes with the job. Mac I was Special Forces . Do I have to say more or can you guess?”
“Ever since Iraq . . . you’ve never been the same.”
“ I lost more than just four months of my life there, Mac. “ Jack admitted for the first time in his life to someone other than himself. “When Charlie died he took what was left of my soul . . . ” He swallowed his despair with a couple of deep swigs of beer.
“ I thought I should pity you but instead I envy you.”
“What the hell are you saying.”
“You are one lucky bastard. It wasn’t my name she called out in bed last night.” Mac’s voice a maelstrom of anger and envy.
The bottle broke in Jack’s hand. “Thanks, next time stick a knife in my heart will ya.”
“You poor bastard. I’ll break my date with Sam. She doesn’t deserve this kind of confusion.”
“Thanks for the visit. Mac we need to do this again. “
Mac knew it was time for him to leave. Perhaps another time and they could have a happy reunion but there were too many secrets that they shared and withheld from each other to salvage this visit.
“I‘ve got one more question for your cousin.”
Jack just brushed the glass shards out of his hand ignoring the blood.
“When are you going to drop the dumb act?”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Stop it cousin, I know better. When?”
“ Angus, I can’t. Not yet. Maybe never.” Jack use of Mac’s first name colored the gravity of his remark with its intimacy. He made eye contact with Mac displaying the cold resolution reflected there.
“You know when you finally do, or they find you out, you may surprise a lot of people but you’re also going to hurt and piss off the ones who care about you. “
Jack just shook his head. His cousin read the resignation in his cousin’s face and body language. Jack had been bearing the pain for some time. For all his rough edges this man, his Colonel, his relative was a real hero. He was his hero ever since Jack had saved his life, without regards for his own, a billions years ago when they were kids. Jack was always the one to sacrifice himself, the first to be in harms way. The son of a bitch probably was out saving the world. It was just a shame he couldn’t save himself.
He let himself out of Jack’s house and Jack’s life, temporarily. He committed himself to staying in better touch because blood was thicker than water and they were still cousins, identical cousins.