Jackfic Archive Story

 

One of the Good Guys

by gatenut

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).


One of the Good Guys

Jack O'Neill entered Cheyenne Mountain two hours later than his usual time on Monday morning - thanks to a dead battery and a very long wait for roadside assistance. As he signed in at the desk, the guard told him that his second in command, Major Samantha Carter asked him to stop by her lab as soon as he arrived. He thanked the guard and went to the elevator.

A few minutes later, he was knocking on Carter's door.

"Carter, you wanted to see me?" He asked from the doorway.

"Yes sir. Have you seen Daniel?"

"Not since Friday night. Why?"

"He didn't show up for the briefing we had with SG-6 this morning to pass along what we found on our last mission. We've tried every number we have for him and we just can't find him. General Hammond sent some SFs over to his apartment but he wasn't there. The General was hoping you knew where he might be."

"No, he left my house about midnight on Friday, and I didn't talk to him the rest of the weekend. He said something about a dentist appointment on Saturday morning."

"He goes to the same dentist I do, I'll check to see if he showed up for the appointment."

Jack stood next to Sam while she called the office and spoke with the receptionist. He racked his brain trying to think if Daniel had mentioned anything about what else he was doing this past weekend. They had gone out to dinner and then watched a hockey game, talking about nothing more serious than the weather. It had been a rough week and neither one seemed to want to talk about work or anything related to the G'oauld. Jack was brought out of his thoughts by the bang of the phone as Carter finished the call.

"Well?" He asked.

"He didn't show up for his appointment. They called his house, but got no answer. They just assumed he'd forgotten and rescheduled the appointment."

"Dammit, that means that if something happened, the trail is already 48 hours old."

***

After searching Daniel's apartment, they were no closer to figuring out what had happened. Hammond had rallied the troops and they'd called every hospital and police in the area - no luck. No one matching Daniel's description had been seen, admitted, or arrested, and his car had not been found. Jack ran a hand through his spikey hair in frustration and thought 'where the hell are you Daniel?'

"Okay, now what? There is absolutely nothing here." Jack said.

"I don't know sir. What do we know? His car isn't here and hasn't been found, at least not by the police. Whatever happened was sometime between midnight Friday and 9 AM on Saturday. There have been no demands from anyone who may have him."

"So basically, we got nothing." Jack summed up.

"Afraid so sir. I don't know what to do next. We've got nothing to go on." Sam agreed.

"Okay, let's head back to the base. We'll regroup there, see if Teal'c came up with something."

They arrived back at the base and agreed to meet in the briefing room in 30 minutes. Jack went to his office to get his head together. This couldn't be happening. Why hadn't he insisted that Daniel stay at his house Friday night? He'd been tired. What if he'd simply driven his car off the road? In their business it was easy to suspect something sinister, but it could be something more mundane, like a car accident. His heart felt like it was ramming into his ribs way too hard, and he took some deep breaths to try and slow it down. He had to get himself together if he was going to figure this out. He tried to occupy himself with something else for a few minutes and decided check his email.

He did have an email - it was from someone using the email address 'savethegeek@yahoo.com'. He opened the email and sat staring at the screen.

If you want to see your geek alive again, you'll keep your mouth shut and tell no one about this message. You will go to the USA Oil Refinery west entrance at 2 PM today. Come alone and come unarmed.

An Old Friend

P.S. - don't think I won't know if you tell the rest of your team, I'm watching you Jack My Boy.

Jack quickly looked at the date on the email, hoping he hadn't missed the meet time. He saw that it was dated today, and in fact had been sent only 15 minutes ago. The hammering of his heart was back, and he debated about what to do. Who the hell was doing this? 'Jack My Boy'? It rang a bell as something someone used to call him, but for the life of him, he couldn't remember who it was. If whoever sent this had a source on the base, he couldn't risk telling anyone here. He racked his brain trying to figure out how he could tell Carter and Teal'c without anyone else knowing, but was afraid to risk it. After a few minutes he came up with a plan.

He had to conjure up some symptoms to make his plan work. He turned up the heat in the shower room to its highest setting and took an overly hot shower, hoping to raise his body temperature slightly and making his face flushed. He staggered his way into the infirmary and caught Frasier's eye. She saw him and made a beeline to him.

"Sir, what's wrong?" She asked, suddenly afraid that there was bad news about Daniel that would account for his condition.

"I don't know, I feel really nauseous and light headed." He mumbled and purposely stumbled into her. She caught him and led him to a bed.

"Okay, let's see what's going on." She said, and feeling his forehead, she stuck a thermometer in his mouth. She also took his pulse, which was fast since Jack had done some jumping jacks just before leaving the locker room. After the thermometer beeped, she took it out of his mouth and nodded.

"How high?" He asked.

"How long has it been since you've been off world?" She asked, avoiding his question. His temperature was normal, but he looked like he was hoping it was high. Something was up.

"A week - I was on vacation last week."

After appearing to thinking for a moment and taking his blood pressure, she pretended to be considering whether this could be some alien bug. She was a little taken aback by the fact that he came on his own, it made her kind of suspicious. She wondered if he was really feeling sick at all, but the fact that he was here spoke volumes.

"I think you've got the flu sir. You need to be in bed." She said.

"No, I'll be fine. Can't you just give me something? I need to help find Daniel." He resisted convincingly.

"You'll do no such thing and no sir, based on the symptoms you're describing, I can't give you something that will make you well enough to do what you're intending. You will go home and rest and I don't want to hear that you've been out and about. Is that understood?"

"Doc! I can't do that while Daniel's missing!" He protested loudly, knowing the rest of the infirmary could hear him - he had to make his story believable.

"Colonel! I will get General Hammond to make it an order. I'll get a car to give you a ride home and get you something for your symptoms."

"No, I need to have my truck at home - I'll drive myself." He said, and then she was even more suspicious. Why did he need his truck?

"Oh yeah, you're light headed and I should let you drive yourself. As if I trust you would even go home."

"Fine! Then call Teal'c to drive me home, I want Carter working on trying to find Daniel." He said grudgingly.

His plan was working. She believed he was sick and word would get around base after the scene he'd caused in the infirmary. Jack waited patiently for Teal'c to arrive, but it was taking too long. After waiting for 15 minutes, he got impatient.

"Doc, I really want to get out of here, I'm gonna go."

"Sir, Teal'c is on his way down." Janet said, and Jack reluctantly sat back down.

Teal'c arrived a few minutes later and Janet pulled him aside and explained the problem. Teal'c nodded and headed for O'Neill.

"O'Neill, do you require assistance?"

"No, I don't, but the Doctor seems to think I do." He said miserably, putting special emphasis on the word doctor.

Teal'c eyed Frasier and left the infirmary with Jack putting his hand on the Colonel's elbow to guide him. Jack brushed him off angrily and they left the infirmary.

They drove for a while, and Jack watched the mirrors carefully to see if they were being followed. It was noon, two more hours until the meet time. He would need 30 minutes to get there, which meant he didn't have much time to prepare himself. When they arrived at Jack's house, they went inside so Teal'c could call a cab.

"Teal'c, make sure you keep me informed about Daniel. Got it?" Jack said.

"Of course O'Neill. Be well."

"Thanks T."

***

As soon as Teal'c left, the phone rang. Jack hoped it was whoever had Daniel.

"Hello?"

"Jack, my boy, nice performance. You play sick real well." The voice said.

"Who is this?" Jack demanded, already trying to figure out how he'd found out so quickly - that meant it was someone on the base who'd told him.

"Oh, you'll figure it out. I'll see you at 2."

"Wait, I want to talk to Daniel."

"Nope, sorry." Click.

Jack looked angrily at the receiver before banging it down. He stood there for a moment trying to place the nickname he'd used, and the voice. It was somewhere at the edge of his mind, but he just couldn't put his finger on it. He hated walking into an unknown situation. He would do what he had to do - for Daniel. Whoever this was obviously knew Jack, and had a bone to pick with him. It would be over his dead body that he would allow something to happen to Daniel because of him.

***

Jack made his way towards the meeting location. He drove slowly towards the entrance, and stopped his truck. He carefully slid out of the cab, looking all around him to make sure he wasn't going to be taken out by a sniper. Seeing nothing, he proceeded cautiously towards the building. When he reached the door, he hesitated. There was no window on the door, and no nearby windows to look into and get a read on the situation. Damn, he hated this. He could be walking into anything.

He turned the knob on the door and pushed it open from the side of the doorframe. When nothing jumped out at him, he poked his head around the frame and looked inside. He saw a large room, empty with one exception. Daniel was tied to a chair in the middle of the room, his head on his chest, not moving. Whoever had done this had better have left him unconscious, not dead.

Looking carefully around him, he eased into the room and resisted the urge to run to Daniel's side. He called Daniel's name, but got no reaction from his friend. He moved closer, listening and watching for any movement around him. When he reached Daniel's side, he tentatively touched his neck to check for a pulse. He blew out a relieved breath when he felt the strong beat under his finger.

"Daniel!" He called in a harsh whisper.

Daniel began to show signs of waking as Jack shook his shoulder and continued to call his name. He moaned a little and finally opened his eyes.

"Jack?"

"Yeah, it's me. Are you alright?"

"Yeah, but we have to get out of here. Now." He said, returning to awareness quickly and trying to wriggle free of his bonds. Jack had already started working on getting him untied and as soon as he was free of the ropes, he stood shakily.

"Daniel, what's going on here? Who brought you here?" Jack asked as they moved towards the door.

"I don't know, but whoever it is, he seems to hate you."

"Then why's he letting me walk out of here?" Jack asked as he looked suspiciously around.

Suddenly, a man appeared in front of them, seemingly out of nowhere. He certainly hadn't been there a split second ago. Jack and Daniel jumped back, startled.

"Don't worry, you won't be going anywhere." The man said. Jack looked at him for a moment before his mind made the age adjustment and he finally recognized the man.

"Collins? What the hell are you doing here? I thought you were dead?!?"

"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." He said dryly. He pointed a gun at Jack and motioned for him to move towards the wall. Two more men came through a nearby door. They pushed Jack against the wall and one of the men searched Jack roughly. Finding nothing, he pulled Jack's arm and turned him around, pushing him towards Collins.

"Besides the fact that you should be dead, what the hell is going on here?" Jack demanded.

"You're going to help me."

"With what?"

"Get my hands on some technology I need."

"I don't think so."

Collins nodded at the man standing next to Jack and he hit him full force in the kidney with the butt of his rifle, making his legs collapse. He cried out in pain, and lay on the floor, his back arched, trying to catch his breath. Daniel took a step towards him but stopped when Collins pressed a gun to his chest.

"I think you will."

The men yanked Jack up from the floor and led them to a small windowless room on the other side if the building. Daniel was shoved inside. Jack was still struggling to catch his breath and was having trouble walking as quickly as they wanted him to. The larger of the two men grabbed him by his hair and shoved him forcefully into the room, and he crashed to the floor, smacking his forehead on the cement. The room spun for a moment, and he picked his head up just in time to see the door being slammed shut. The only light in the room came from a naked bulb hanging in the center of the room.

"Jack, you okay?" Daniel asked as he reached him.

"Damn that hurts! Are you alright?" He said hoarsely as he tried to sit up. He pressed his hand to his back, trying to knead away the pain. Daniel had his hand on Jack's chin trying to see the damage to his forehead. A big bump, but no blood.

"I'm fine, this bruise on my face is two days old now. They zatted me right before you showed up."

Jack thought about where they would have gotten a zat, but decided it wasn't important right now. "Daniel, did they say anything?"

"Not much, but I heard them talking. This guy you called Collins has apparently been following your career all these years and he knows what you do. He knows all of it. Jack, this guy must have connections to the NID or the Trust - he knows stuff only those guys would know. And, he seems to hate you. Why is that?"

Jack closed his eyes for a minute, lost in the memories of his time in Special Ops when he served with Collins. Daniel waited patiently, sensing that Jack was reliving a particularly unpleasant memory. After a few minutes, he started to tell the story.

"Collins was my commanding officer for about a year when I was a Captain in Special Forces. He seemed like a great guy and a competent CO. At least at first." Jack paused as a vivid memory played through his mind. After a minute, he continued.

"The first hint of what he was really like happened when we were clearing some villages of civilians before an operation in the Middle East. We came across a bunch of women and children hiding out in a cellar. They were scared out of their minds and wouldn't leave. I tried talking to them, but the dialect was off, and I don't think they understood me. We tried forcibly removing them, but there were kids, and none of us wanted them to get hurt. We tried everything, but they wouldn't go. Collins finally got fed up and started dragging the kids out of there and he hurt one of them. The kid's mother reached for the boy, and he shot her. Shot her without even blinking. We were all pretty young at the time, most of us in our early twenties, and it kind of shocked us. She was bleeding heavily, but still alive." Jack stopped again and blinked quickly, trying to stop the tears that threatened to spring up even after all these years.

"Collins ordered us to drag the rest of them out and leave the woman there. I couldn't leave her there to die. Helping her wasn't going to jeopardize the operation, and I stood up to him."

"What did he do?" Daniel asked anxiously.

"He hit me - almost knocked out my teeth. Told me if I dared to disobey a direct order again, he'd kill me. He said if I helped the mother, he'd kill the boy. I believed him on both counts. We left her there. I never forgave myself, and I will never forget the look in that little boy's eyes as we left his mother behind to die."

"Jack, you had no choice."

"I know, but it still felt wrong."

"So that's why he hates you?"

"No, it's more than that. After that mission, I tried not to challenge him, but he kept purposely putting me in situations where I either went against him or against everything I believed in. I finally confronted him about it." Jack stopped. Daniel thought about the courage it must have taken Jack as a young captain to stand up to this man who was not only his commander and superior officer, but also physically a lot bigger than him.

When Jack didn't continue, he asked, "Jack, what happened?"

"He beat the living daylights out of me. Before he could kill me, one of the other guys saw what was going on and he stepped in and stopped him. He made a statement on my behalf and Collins was about to get dishonorably discharged. Only his service record prevented him from being court marshaled. I was still in the infirmary from the beating he gave me, and when he realized he was about to be run out of the Air Force, he came to see me. Conveniently, there was no one else around. He tried to kill me. A guard happened to see him, and he yelled for him to get away from me. Collins pulled a gun out and the guard shot him. They took him away, and I was told he had died on the table."

"I guess someone lied to you."

"Obviously, but why?"

"Maybe he was already in with the wrong crowd and they saw that as a way to use him without anyone suspecting anything."

"Maybe. I guess he's held a grudge all these years. Daniel, we have to get out of here. If he knew enough to snatch you to get me here, then he knows enough to be dangerous. He'll kill you."

"Yeah, well I don't think you're going to fare too well either."

"He still needs me to do something, he won't kill me yet. And by the way, how the hell did he do that magic trick? He definitely was not in the room until he appeared in front of us."

"Must be a cloaking device. I guess that's how they got me when I left your house Friday night. When I got out of the car at my apartment, there was no one around, I'm sure of it. Something hit me in the face like I was walking into a force field. That's all I remember until I woke up here."

"Did they ask you any questions?"

"Not one. It was kind of freaky."

"I bet."

"Does anyone else know you're here?"

"No, the email I got said not to tell anyone. It's a good thing I didn't, they've got a source on the base. They knew I had faked sick to get off base by the time I got to my house. They also knew the exact moment that Teal'c left the house. They've been watching me. I can't believe I didn't notice."

"Do you think anyone suspects that something was going on?"

"Maybe, I went to see Frasier voluntarily. That alone should have been enough to set off some alarms."

"How did you make her believe you were sick?"

Jack explained how he'd tried to fake his fever and rapid pulse. Daniel nodded his head, admiring Jack's ingenuity.

"I debated about telling Teal'c, but I didn't want to take the risk."

"Jack, he's going to kill you. I can see it in his eyes."

****

Teal'c, Carter and a team of SGC personnel watched from the ridge above the Oil Refinery. They had watched the Colonel go inside and now watched two men standing outside talking. Carter took a picture of the men and transmitted the picture back to Malcolm Barrett at the NID for identification.

Teal'c had tipped off Carter after being told by Janet that something was going on. Jack didn't voluntarily go to the infirmary unless a body part was about to fall off. When she'd called him to take the Colonel home, she told him she suspected he knew something about Daniel. Teal'c had played his part and taken the Colonel home, leaving in a cab. He met Carter several blocks away. She had made a show on base of announcing to Hammond in a public area that she'd found something on Daniel and that she needed a team to go out to a location that she completely made up.

It was a leap, but they knew that the Colonel would willingly put his life on the line for Daniel - or any of them. He certainly wasn't sick, and he was planning something. They took a chance that they could follow him and help.

After waiting about 15 minutes, Barrett called back with the identity of one of the men.

"Sam, the big guy's name is Roger Collins, and he's a ghost. The man is supposed to be dead. There's more - he used to be O'Neill's CO - a long time ago. He was brought up on charges stemming from an incident where he tried to kill O'Neill, who was a captain at the time. He was supposedly killed during another attempt on O'Neill's life - right before he was about to be dishonorably discharged."

Sam filed that information away for later. "What about the other guy?"

"Nothing on him. What can I do to help?"

"Nothing for the moment. Thanks Malcolm." Sam closed her phone and turned her attention back to Teal'c and Ferretti. Ferretti had been one of many of the other SG Team leaders who had volunteered for the mission. He had known the Colonel since the first mission to Abydos, and was one of his most loyal friends. Sam told them both what Malcolm had told her. They decided that they needed to get a better idea of the layout of the building and figure out what was going on inside.

Ferretti began contacting the city records office to get a floor plan while another team member set up a long distance listening device to see if they could pick up any conversation. Collins and the other man had now gone back inside.

When the microphone was set up, Carter put on the headphones. She heard Colonel O'Neill's voice.

"...They've been watching me. I can't believe I didn't notice."

She listened to the rest of the conversation, smiling slightly when he joked about voluntarily going to see Janet. She was relieved to hear both of their voices and they sounded alright.

"How about other people in there?" Carter asked.

"Looks like 5 other heat signatures." Ferretti responded.

"Where are they in the building?"

"Three in this room to the right of the entrance, the other two are moving towards the room where I think the Colonel and Daniel are - they're the only two not moving. How far are we going to let this go?"

"They obviously want the Colonel to do something, and they're going to use Daniel to get him to do it. I think we should at least let it play out a little longer. Teal'c, you and SG4 get closer to the building in case things start to get dangerous. We don't want either of them getting killed while we sit here and listen." Carter instructed.

Teal'c and the team made their way around the outside of the building and quickly were in position before the men reached the room.

****

Jack and Daniel looked towards the door when they heard footsteps coming closer. Jack struggled to get to his feet, wincing at the pain in his lower back. Daniel rose and stood next to him, waiting for the door to open. When it did, Collins and another man were standing there.

"Well Jack my boy, had some time to think about cooperating?"

"Plenty of time, but there's nothing to think about. I already told you I'm not helping you."

"You will."

The man with Collins walked over to Daniel and hit him hard in the face, causing him to fall back onto the floor. Jack made a move towards the man and Collins grabbed Jack by the hair, shoving him hard against the wall. He pressed the muzzle of his gun against Jack's throat so hard that he was having trouble breathing. He tried to steal a look at Daniel to see if he was okay, but he couldn't even turn his head.

"There was a time when I wanted you dead so badly, I could taste it. I would have killed you that day in that hangar. I beat the crap out of you and there was nothing you could do about it, just like I'm going to do now. I've been waiting 20 years to do this."

He pulled Jack's head forward and then slammed it into the cement wall. When he felt Jack's body begin to fall, he let go, allowing him to fall to his knees. Jack put his hand down, trying to stop himself from falling face first on the floor. He couldn't focus on anything going on around him because of the buzzing in his head. He didn't see the boot headed towards his midsection, but he sure as hell felt it. The force from the kick toppled him onto his back, and he instinctively curled his body in to protect it from another blow. The next blow hit his knee and he cried out at the intensity of the pain.

"Stop!" Daniel yelled as he tried to get up himself.

"No, Dr. Jackson, I'm not going to stop until I get what I want. I want him to know what I'm going to do to you if he doesn't do what I want." Collins went over to Jack and grabbed his hair again, yanking his head up. "Jack my boy, you will do what I want, and when you've done it, you can have your friend here back. If at any time, you deviate from the plan or tell anyone, I will kill him. You know I'm not bluffing." When he let go of his head, Jack let it fall to the floor, trying to get his breathing under control.

"I'll give you some time to think it over, then I'll be back."

***

Sam and Ferretti listened to what was going on in the room. Sam jumped when she heard someone getting hit. She didn't know who it was, and her heart was beating hard in her chest. How would she know when to make the decision to move in?

She heard Collins' warning to Jack that he was going to hurt him and she looked at Ferretti. "He's not going to kill him, he wants something from him." She reminded herself, hoping she was right. Ferretti nodded in agreement.

They listened to the remainder of the exchange, both of them cringing each time Jack cried out in pain. When they heard the men leave the room, they regrouped to figure out what to do.

***

As soon as the men left the room, Daniel flew to Jack's side.

"God Jack - let me help you." Daniel said as Jack tried to roll onto his back, his face contorted in pain. Daniel lifted his shirt to assess the damage. He pried Jack's hand away from the spot and poked around gently. Jack hissed and pushed at Daniel's hand.

"Stop Daniel - it's broken. You don't need to poke around to prove it!"

"I'm sorry Jack. Is your head bleeding?" He asked as he felt around the back of Jack's head. Finding nothing but another lump, he asked, "How bad is your knee?"

"Hurts like a son of a bitch." He forced out through clenched teeth.

"What are you going to tell him when he comes back?"

"I'm going to do what he wants. I won't let him kill you Daniel."

"Do you really think he's going to keep his end of the bargain? And even if he does let me go, he sure as hell isn't going to let you go."

"It doesn't matter, as long as you're safe."

"It matters to me! I won't let him kill you either."

"Look Daniel, it's me or you." He said simply.

"No, it's not. We need to find a way to get both of us out of this."

"Yeah right, I'll work on that." Jack said, and closed his eyes.

***

Less than twenty minutes after Collins had left them, he returned.

"So what's it gonna be Jack my boy?" He asked, kicking the sole of Jack's shoe, making the pain from his knee shoot up into his stomach.

"What do you want me to do?" He asked, defeated.

Collins smiled.

"Here's the target." He said, showing Jack a picture. It's a device that's being stored at Cheyenne Mountain - in your second in command's lab. You're to bring it to me here. You have 8 hours. When you do that, you'll get your geek back."

"And then you'll kill Jack." Daniel said.

"If Jack's a good boy, I won't kill him."

"Jack, don't do this." Daniel pleaded.

"No choice Daniel. By the way, how am I supposed to explain my injuries since you seem to have this whole thing figured out?"

"It seems that in your fevered state, you fell down the stairs."

"Yeah, whatever, your size 12 boot print on my ribs might give it a way."

"Convince your little doctor, or she'll be on the hit list too." He threatened.

"Leave her out of this." Jack snarled.

"I will, if you're a good boy."

Collins hauled Jack to his feet and handed him the keys to his truck. They shoved him towards to door and he limped out of the room, his hand held protectively against his ribs. He looked back at Daniel with a silent promise that he'd be back for him - that he wouldn't leave him behind.

He slowly and painfully made his way to his truck, and cursed as he climbed into the cab. He couldn't breathe from the intensity of the pain in his back, ribs, and knee, not to mention the throbbing of his head. He hoped he could make it back to the base without passing out. He finally started the truck and slowly pulled away from the building.

When he'd made it about two miles from the building, another car pulled up beside him. He looked over expecting it to be one of Collins' men, and almost went off the road when he saw it was Carter. Dammit! They were going to see her and kill Daniel. He continued to drive on until he saw her open the window and call to him.

"We know what's going on - please sir, pull over."

Through the haze, Jack tried to make sense of what she was saying, but finally decided he needed to stop anyway. He wasn't feeling so hot. He pulled the car drunkenly over to the side of the road, and rested his hands and forehead on the steering wheel. He heard the door opening and felt a hand on his arm.

"Carter, you shouldn't have followed me, he'll kill Daniel." He said, without lifting his head.

"It's okay sir, we weren't followed and your truck is clean. Why don't you move over and let me drive you back to the base? You need medical attention."

"Yes, I do." He said, but didn't move.

"Sir, do you need help?"

"Yeah."

Carter motioned to Ferretti and between the two of them, they moved Jack into the passenger seat where he sat with his arm pressed protectively to his ribs. His face was pinched with pain.

"Carter, when we get to the base, the story is that you saw me sitting in my truck by the side of the road and drove me in."

"Yes sir. Ferretti's going to head back to Teal'c and the rest of SG4 back at the refinery and monitor Daniel's situation. We heard your conversation and we know they have a cloaking device. We wanted to talk to you before we made a move to try and get Daniel out of there." She finished and stole a look at him. He was listing towards the door and squeezing his eyes shut so tight that the middle of his forehead was deeply creased. He didn't answer her, either focused on not passing out, or just lacking the energy to respond.

When they reached the mountain, Janet was waiting at the entrance. Sam had called ahead and alerted her. They carefully moved him out of the car and onto a gurney.

"Colonel, what happened?" Janet asked, even though she already knew. She had a part to play.

"I fell down the stairs."

"Why didn't you call 911?"

"I didn't think I was hurt that badly." He said lamely.

She shook her head and they wheeled the gurney into the elevator. She began checking his pulse and blood pressure on the way down into the mountain.

When they arrived in the infirmary, she asked the nurse to get her a portable x-ray machine and to leave them alone. She said the Colonel's pride was a little wounded at the reason he was here, and she wanted to save him further embarrassment. The nurse accepted the explanation willingly - everyone knew how difficult the colonel could be, and it seemed like only Dr. Frasier could handle him.

When they were alone, she came to the side of his bed.

"Sir, I know what's going on, so we're going to do what we need to do to get you on your feet. BUT, when this over, you will come back here and stay. Understood?"

"Yes ma'am."

"Now, where are you hurt? And if you want this to be done quickly, don't hold anything back. I need to know it all."

He proceeded to explain everything that had happened. She took x-rays of his ribs, head, and knee and then left the room to give them to a technician to read them. Within a few minutes she was back with a portable ultrasound machine to look at his kidney. After a few minutes, she shut the machine off, and the tech returned with the report on his x-rays.

"Okay, a few cracked ribs, your knee is pretty inflamed, but I don't see any breaks. Your head is hard as a rock, and there's no sign of fracture or even concussion, just a couple of big bumps. Your urine samples didn't have any blood in them, and the ultrasound looks clean, but that doesn't mean there isn't bruising on your kidney. You need to stay as hydrated as you can for the next 24 hours. I'm going to wrap your knee and your ribs and give you something for pain. Then, I want you to rest for a little while just until the pain meds kick in. This is against my better judgment, but I know what's at stake here. Will you promise to come back when it's over so I can make sure you're okay?"

"I promise Doc. And thanks - I should have known you'd see through my sick act. There's very few people I can trust today, and you're one of them." He said, laying his hand over hers.

An hour later, he was being ushered out a back entrance of the infirmary into a hallway that was not accessible to anyone but himself and Hammond, and had no security cameras. Carter was already waiting for him. She looked at his pale face with concern and asked him if he was alright.

"I'll be alright for now. Do you have the artifact? Are the teams in place?" He asked in quick succession.

"Yes sir, on both counts. The teams are in place, and here's the artifact. We've also included a stun grenade in the bag. When you get within a few feet of them, activate the grenade and then pull it out. It should give you enough time to cover your eyes and the teams to come in. If that fails, we've removed the critical piece from the artifact that makes it function, so if they get their hands on it, it will be worthless. Truthfully, we're not even sure what it is or what it does, we only know which part makes it work."

"Great, let's hope it doesn't blow up in my face."

"We'll be right outside listening. Are you set to go?"

"Yeah. Carter?"

"Yes sir?"

"I want you to make sure Daniel gets out of there. This guy's got a bone to pick with me, and I don't want any of you getting hurt because of it. If it comes down to a choice, I want you to save Daniel."

"We'll be able to get both of you out of this, sir."

"Yeah, well things never seem to go quite as planned. So if the opportunity presents itself to only save one of us, I'm ordering you to make it Daniel. Understood?"

"Yes sir." She agreed reluctantly, knowing in her heart there was no way she could make a choice of one of them over the other. She just hoped it wouldn't come to that.

****

Jack had a very visible meeting with Hammond in the hallway outside the infirmary after getting the artifact from Carter. During the hallway meeting, he'd been ordered off base by a very huffy General Hammond. He was fully aware of what was really happening, and was waiting to figure out who on his base had the audacity to spy on them and put two of his most valuable men at risk. He hid his fuming anger and slowly walked back to his office, passing orders to his assistant that Colonel O'Neill had gone home and wouldn't be back for several days, and to call another of the ranking officers back to cover for him.

***

Jack climbed back into his truck to make the trip back to the refinery. His whole body ached, although the pain medication Janet had given him had taken the edge off a bit. She couldn't give him the really good stuff - then he'd just be flat on his back. This would have to do. He only had to last a few hours. He took a deep breath, regretting it as soon as he did, and pulled out of the parking lot.

When he arrived at the refinery, he tried not to look around to make sure the teams weren't visible. He didn't want anyone to see him doing that and suspect that he'd brought help.

He slowly got out of the truck and moved towards the door he'd entered through before. When he opened the door, he reached his hand in his pocket and activated the stun grenade. He knew he had 15 seconds to throw it and cover his face. He mentally ticked off the seconds as he entered the building, but no one was there. He moved quickly towards the room where Daniel had been last and the door was standing open. It was empty.

They can't be gone, Carter had told him there were still 6 heat signatures in the building. They must be cloaked. He deactivated the grenade by pressing the button again. He moved to the middle of the room.

"Collins! I'm here with what you want. Show yourself!" Jack yelled.

As he had before, Collins appeared right in front of his face, taking him by surprise and hitting him square in the chest with the butt of a 9 mm pistol. He fell backwards hard, trying to catch his breath. The pain of the blow in addition to the already cracked ribs took his breath away. His hand slipped from the grenade in his pocket and he fumbled trying to get his finger to the button again. He wasn't quick enough and hands grabbed at him, forcing him against the wall. One of the men pulled his arm up tightly behind him, pressing his face to the wall, effectively preventing him from moving.

Collins roughly searched Jack's jacket and came up with the grenade and the artifact. He obviously didn't know what it was as he turned it around in his hand, examining it.

"What is this?"

"A grenade." Jack said calmly.

"What? How does it activate?"

"Give it to me, I'll show you." He said through gritted teeth as the two men holding him tightened their hold.

"You'd love that wouldn't you? Take me out right along with yourself. I heard what happened to you after your kid died. How you went on that suicide mission. Think you might want to kill yourself after you see what we've done to your little friend?"

"Daniel? Where is he? I want to see him." Jack said, trying to pull away.

"Bring him out here."

Two men dragged an obviously unconscious Daniel into the room and dropped him to the floor. The men holding Jack allowed him to turn around but still held onto him. Collins went over to Daniel and pushed him onto his back so Jack could see his face.

"You son of a bitch. He has nothing to do with this. You didn't have to do that." Jack said with barely controlled fury, as he struggled against the hands holding him.

"It's alright, we're leaving him here anyway, and you're coming with us. Get the car." Collins said to one of the men who dragged Daniel into the warehouse.

"Look, you have what you want, and I went to a lot of trouble to get it. Just take it and go. I don't give a crap what you do with it. Just leave us here and go."

"No way Jack my boy. I'm not missing out on my chance to kill you once and for all. But first, I'm going to have a little fun with you." Collins said, grabbing Jack by his jacket and yanking him forward. "Leave the geek."

Collins dragged Jack to a van that had been pulled into the warehouse. He looked back at Daniel and saw he was rousing. The weakness in his knee caused him to stumble when he didn't move fast enough, and he fell to his knees. He let out a yelp as his knee made contact with the concrete floor. Collins yanked him up again, but he was having trouble putting weight on his leg. Collins was getting angry and just dragged him along the floor, uncaring what body parts were scraping as he went along. 'Now would be a good time Carter.', he thought.

Just as he'd finished that thought, several SGC personnel burst into the room. The men immediately cloaked themselves. Thankfully, Carter had the forethought to equip the teams with TERs, and they were immediately visible to the team. Collins saw what was happening and pulled Jack to his chest, a gun planted firmly on his temple and an arm pulled tightly around his neck.

"Back off, or I'll kill him!" Collins yelled. "Do it now!"

"Where do you think you'll go? The building's surrounded, and if you think we're letting you leave here with him, you're nuts." Carter said.

"You've got a point there Major, I guess I am nuts. You will let me leave here with him. I've got a bomb strapped to my chest, and if I let go of the detonator, we all go. So I would recommend that the man behind me come back around to the front." He said, and Teal'c raised an eyebrow. This man was very observant. As he had been talking, he'd allowed his jacket to fall open, revealing the bomb. In his left hand, he held a detonator against Jack's neck.

"Back off, and we're going to get in that van and leave. I'll call and let you know where you can pick up his body." He said with an evil smile.

"Carter, let us go." Jack said.

"No way sir."

"Nice insubordinate you have there Jack my boy."

"She learned from the best." Jack said.

Carter marveled at how he could joke at a time like this, but she guessed it was his way of getting through a terrible situation. He looked her straight in the eye, and without words, reminded her of the order he'd given her - if there was a choice, save Daniel and leave him behind. She shook her head slightly, and he nodded his.

"Carter, stand down."

"Stand down everyone. Let them go." She said angrily, and looked at him one more time, letting him know they would find him.

"Jim, get in the van and start it." Collins said, dragging Jack backwards towards the van. "Don't follow us." He pulled him into it and closed the door. The van pulled out of the building and away from them.

Carter said a silent prayer to keep him safe until they could rescue him. He had been equipped with a tracking device inside the sole of his shoe so that they could find him without following him. They'd also installed a listening device on the back of his dog tags. It was state of the art - no thicker than a sticker. They just needed to give them enough head start so they wouldn't be seen following them.

Medics were allowed in the building to treat Daniel, and as soon as Sam was sure he was stable, she and the rest of the teams went after Jack. She could see the hatred in Collins' eyes, and she was not going to let him follow through on his threat.

****

After they were out of the building, Collins finally released Jack. He painfully scrambled away from him, already looking for a way out.

"Nice touch with the bomb."

"I thought so. Gullible team you have there Jack my boy - it's not even a bomb." He said, pulling it off the belt. "It's a fake!" He said, waving his arms theatrically. "When I'm done with you, I'll take care of your team. Can't have them avenging their CO's death now, can I?"

Jack sat back, pretending to catch his breath and taking in that last statement. Now that he knew the bomb was a fake, he could risk trying to escape without getting blown to bits. He wondered why Collins hadn't thought of that - why he'd so quickly told him that it was a fake. Was it just to take a pot shot at his team's competence? He had to make it out of this alive, at least so he could warn his team. No way was he letting this psycho get to them.

He had no time to think any more about it. Collins came over to him and cuffed his hands to a metal bar on the floor of the van. He sat down on the floor across from Jack just far enough away so he couldn't reach him.

"So Jack. I've been following your career. You've had quite the adventure the last few years haven't you? You're tough to kill. You've been listed as missing in action an awful lot. Yet somehow, you always manage to survive. Not gonna be the case this time. End of the road, Jack my boy."

"You know, I've always hated that nickname."

"Why do you think I call you that?" Collins said, and withdrew something from his pocket. He waved it around in front of Jack until he recognized it as some kind of stun gun. He came closer to Jack, waving the weapon threatening. He pressed the weapon to Jack's chest and pressed a button, activating it.

Immediately, a sharp pain emanated from his chest and he was unable to draw in a breath. It seemed to go on forever, and he couldn't even muster the breath or muscle coordination to scream. When he finally pulled the weapon away, Jack sucked in a harsh breath, and cringed from the pain it caused. He forced himself to try and breathe slowly, but his heart was hammering so hard, it felt like it was going to burst out of his chest.

"How'd that feel Jack? It's a new kind of stun gun - incredibly painful - it actually interrupts your heartbeat. How does it feel to know your heart was stopped Jack?"

Jack couldn't answer him even if he'd wanted to - he just couldn't catch his breath. He closed his eyes and tried to block out everything and focus on breathing.

***

Janet closed her eyes as she listened to the scene unfolding inside the van. Daniel had awakened while she was trying to evaluate him and assured her he was alright, that she should go with them to help Jack. She had left him in the care of the medics and joined Sam and Teal'c in the rescue van.

As they listened to what was happening, Janet could hear Jack's harsh breathing. She felt sick to her stomach at what was being done to her patient, but more so, to a man she considered her friend.

"Sam, we've got to catch up to him soon, I don't know what the effects of this stun gun are. If he uses it on him again, it could cause a heart attack." Janet said worriedly.

"We're within 1/2 mile of them. The other vehicle is closing in. We should be able to stop him within 5 minutes." Sam assured her. She had also been listening to what was going on and it sickened her too. She would not let this happen.

****

"So Jack, tell me what it's like walking through that wormhole to other planets. Must be a kick. It's a wonder that they took you in the state you were in after your kid."

Jack said nothing. He knew that if he said anything, it would just cause Collins to talk more about Charlie. It was bad enough he felt a stab of guilt and grief any time this cold-hearted bastard mentioned his son. The pain in his chest was starting to dull and he had finally returned his breathing to normal.

"You know Jack, you never really were cut out for Special Ops. You weren't cold enough - always worrying about doing the right thing. But, don't kid yourself Jack, you did some damned distasteful stuff for your country. You might think you're a righteous man, but I know what you were really like. You left that woman to die right in front of her kid."

Jack had been looking away from him, but at that statement, he whipped his head around.

"What! Me? You're the one who shot her for trying to protect her son. You shot her in cold blood. When I wanted to help her you said you'd kill the boy if I helped her." He yelled.

"Oh, is that how you want to remember it Jack my boy?"

"No, that's not 'how I want to remember it', that's the way it happened. It's what started your little holy war against me. I may be a lot of things Collins, but a liar I'm not. If you need to forget that you murdered an unarmed woman in front of her son and then forced us to leave her behind, that's your problem. My conscience is clean on that one."

"Jack my boy, again, you're wrong. You couldn't protect that boy anymore than you could protect your own. Did you ever follow-up to see what happened to that boy?"

"I tried, but I couldn't find him." Jack said with dread, afraid of what he'd hear next.

"Yeah, well that's because I made him disappear. He knew a little too much and I had to get rid of him."

"Knew too much? He was six years old!" Jack said incredulously. "You killed him, didn't you?" Jack said with disgust.

*** Janet heard the entire conversation between the two men, and knew it was escalating. She cringed the hateful things that Collins was saying to the Colonel. She could tell by the tone of the colonel's voice that sooner or later, he was going to say something that pushed the other man over the edge. She sensed it coming and went to Sam's side.

"Sam, we have to do something now. He's going to use that weapon again." Janet said, not bothering to try and hide the panic in her voice.

"I know, we're ready. The other vehicle is blocking the road now. We'll be on them in 20 seconds."

***

Collins smiled an evil smirk.

"Yeah, I did. I told him I was going to take him to his Mommy and then I took him into the jungle and shot him. You know, tying up loose ends."

"You son of a bitch, he was a little boy!"

"He was a casualty of war Jack my boy, a casualty of war."

"Don't you dare try and justify what you did, you're a murderer, plain and simple."

"And you, Jack my boy, can join me in that distinguished group. You allowed your son to kill himself with your personal weapon. That makes you a murderer too."

"That's hardly the same thing - and believe me, I have paid for that carelessness every day of my life since then. You don't even feel any remorse whatsoever for killing that woman or her little boy. You were and always will be a disgrace to the uniform." He spat out.

Collins jumped up at that and pressed the weapon to Jack's chest, activating it again. Jack jerked against the charge and again lost his ability to breathe. It seemed like he held it there longer than last time, and when he took it away, Jack still couldn't breathe. He tried to take in a breath, but he just couldn't get one. He started to panic - he was going to die.

***

As they rounded the corner, the van came into sight - they had already stopped because a large military vehicle was blocking the road. SGC personnel poured out of both vehicles and the door to the van was yanked open. Collins had been so involved in his torment of Jack, he hadn't even noticed the van had stopped. As soon as the door was open, Teal'c hit the man with a shot from a zat, and he fell to the floor. They dragged him out of the van, and Janet ran in to check on Jack.

"Colonel, can you hear me?" Janet said as she took in his blue lips. She tried to get him laying down, but with his hands cuffed, she couldn't do it. "I need the keys to these cuffs, NOW!"

Teal'c searched Collins' pockets and came up with the key, unlocking the cuffs quickly. They pushed Jack to the floor. The look on his face could only be described as one of sheer terror. His eyes and mouth were open wide as he tried in vain to take in a breath. He was dying before their eyes. After checking his pulse, Janet put her hands on his chest and began chest compressions. After a few pushes, he sucked in a huge breath and began choking. The weapon had effectively stopped his heart, while leaving him completely aware of the fact that he was unable to draw breath. She helped him sit up and rubbed his back while he rode out the coughing.

Sam handed her an oxygen mask and turned up the valve. Jack sucked at the oxygen greedily, pressing the mask to his face and his lips began to regain some color. His breathing remained harsh while Janet checked his vital signs. Jack remained quiet, leaning against Sam and focusing on breathing. Sam discretely held his hand, and he squeezed back weakly. After a few minutes, his breathing began to improve, but Janet was worried about permanent damage to his heart. She got an IV started and they began to prepare him for transport back to the mountain. Since the weapon he'd been exposed to was experimental, the less questions she had to answer about his condition, the better. They had everything they needed to treat him at the mountain. They carefully moved him to the rescue van and headed back to the mountain.

For the remainder of the ride, Janet asked Jack questions about pain and any other injuries she didn't know about.

"Colonel, does your chest hurt?"

He nodded.

"Where?"

He put his hand to his chest where Collins had hit him earlier in the warehouse and then lowered his hand to where his ribs had been injured earlier.

"Are you able to breathe alright?"

He nodded.

"Are you hurt anywhere else I don't know about?"

He shook his head.

"Colonel, can you speak?" She asked, alarmed that the weapon had done other damage.

"Yeah. Just don't...want....to." He said shakily.

"Okay, you just rest, we'll be back at the mountain shortly." She said gently, and ran her hand over his forehead.

He nodded and closed his eyes.

Several minutes later, they arrived at the mountain and he was quickly moved to the infirmary where Janet ordered an EKG and Echocardiogram, among a battery of other tests. Sam and Teal'c were chased out and they went to the other side of the infirmary to check on Daniel. He seemed to be waiting for them, and when they rounded the corner, he called out to them.

"Is Jack okay?"

"We don't know yet. Janet's doing some tests now. He didn't look so good when we got him here." Sam said. She proceeded to explain to him what had happened, and he visibly paled.

"Oh god, that sounds terrible. He must have been terrified."

"He looked it when we found him." Sam said sadly. "I just hope the weapon didn't cause any permanent damage. How are you doing? Are you okay?"

"I'll be fine, nothing a few days rest won't fix." He said, knowing that what Jack had gone through was much worse.

They sat with Daniel waiting for Janet to come and find them. She didn't have to be told where they were, she would know they'd be with Daniel.

They waited over an hour before she finally came to them.

"How is he?" Sam asked.

"He's resting. His tests all came out okay - his heart is bruised, but it will heal. He was lucky. If we hadn't gotten to him when we did and did CPR, he would be dead. His ribs that were cracked before are broken now, thanks to Collins and the CPR. He also has a pretty severe bruise on his sternum that must have happened at the refinery. He's going to be really sore, but he'll be okay. I'm going to keep him here for a few days to make sure his heart is okay, but I think he'll be fine."

"Thank god." Sam said, relieved.

"Sam, what happened to Collins?" Daniel asked.

"He's in custody, Hammond is trying to figure out which authority to turn him over to. He needs to make sure he's not giving him back to the people he works for and this starts all over again. After we told him the gist of what he'd done to you and the Colonel, he was livid. I think it was all he could do not to rip his face off." Sam said. "Janet, can we see the colonel?"

"Sure, he's asleep, but you know him, he's going to want to know that everyone's okay. Go on in for a few minutes - but not you Daniel. You need to rest." Janet said. As they were leaving, Janet pulled Carter aside. "Sam, what about the source on base that was feeding information to Collins. Do we know who that is?"

"No, and unless Collins gives him up, we probably never will."

"So doesn't that mean that the Colonel will still be in danger?"

"Maybe, General Hammond asked us to keep a close eye on him for the next few days and we intend to do just that." Sam said, putting a hand on Janet's arm.

She and Teal'c entered Jack's room quietly. When he heard them come in, he slowly opened his eyes.

"Hey." Sam said quietly.

"Is everybody okay?" He asked, somewhat breathlessly, pushing aside the oxygen mask.

"Everyone's fine. You need to put that back on." She said and gently guided it back onto his face.

"Daniel?" He asked more pointedly.

"He's going to be fine, just lots of bruises and a few cracked ribs. He wanted to come but Janet wouldn't let him. How are you feeling?"

"Like....I got hit... by a mack truck."

"I bet. Janet says you're going to be fine."

"Easy.....for her to say." He joked. "Collins?"

"In custody, here on the base. General Hammond if trying to make sure we hand him over to the right people. It's taking some doing to distinguish the good guys from the bad." She said with a sardonic smile.

He didn't say anything, and she wondered what he was thinking. "Sir, what's wrong?'

"Nothing. Just tired I guess."

"We'll let you rest. Teal'c will be right outside. Collins still has a source on the base, so he'll keep an eye on you."

"Ok." He said, and she watched him close his eyes and turn away. Something was bothering him, but now was not the time to press him. He'd been through hell today, and he needed to rest.

***

The following day had yielded no more information on Collins' source on the base until the guard called General Hammond late in the afternoon.

"Sir, I thought you might want to know that we've got an AWOL airman."

"Really? Who?" Hammond asked.

"Captain Daryl James sir. He was due in two hours ago, we've been calling all his contact numbers with no luck. In fact, his home phone's been disconnected."

"Interesting. Thank you airman." Hammond said, disconnecting the call.

He then asked his assistant to pull the file on the AWOL man and bring it to him immediately. When he looked through the file, he could see nothing that jumped out at him, but wanted someone to dig deeper. He called Major Carter and asked her to do a deeper dive into the man's background and known associates. The only good thing about this is that if the man was the source, at least O'Neill would be safe now.

***

Jack had slept most of the last 24 hours, and Daniel had been sitting with him for the last few, hoping he would awaken. He hadn't been able to see him when he'd first come in because he'd been hurt himself. Janet had allowed him to come and sit with Jack on the condition that he wouldn't stay too long. Luckily for him, Janet had been too busy to notice how long he'd really been there.

He looked towards the bed when he heard Jack moving around a little. He waited to see if he was going to open his eyes, or was just trying to get more comfortable. When he appeared to be waking, he went over to the bed and put his hand on Jack's.

Jack turned his head at the touch and opened his eyes with difficulty.

"Daniel?" He asked in a voice muffled by the oxygen mask he was still wearing.

"Yeah, it's me."

"You okay?"

"I'll be fine, how are you doing?"

"Okay. Is everything alright?" He asked, pulling down the oxygen mask.

Daniel looked at him for a minute, wondering what he meant by that, but then realized he must be referring to Collins.

"Yeah, Collins has been taken into federal custody, and an airman who went AWOL yesterday was probably his source on base. We'll probably never know for sure, and we'll never know for sure who Collins was working for, but it seems like it's over for now."

"Yeah, for now. Collins is never going to stop trying to get to me. At least I know he's out there now."

"Jack, he really hated you. That must have been a really hard time in your life."

"That's an understatement. There were times I was less afraid of the enemy than I was of my own CO." He said with a grim smile. After hesitating, Jack spoke quietly. "Daniel, can I ask you a question?"

"Sure."

"Do you think I'm a good man?" He asked, looking intently at Daniel so he could read his eyes while he answered,

"Of course I do Jack, why would you ask that?"

"Just something Collins said got me thinking - about whether I really am one of the good guys."

"Jack, I hope you know that no matter what he said to you, that he could never be half the man you are. You've always tried to do the right thing Jack, and even though you sometimes have to make some tough decisions, I know you'd never deliberately hurt innocent people, especially not with the cold hearted violence Collins exhibited. What he said about you being a murderer - it's not true, what he did is nothing like what happened to Charlie. You're a good man Jack, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise."

Jack just looked at him for a minute, as if he didn't believe what Daniel was saying. In some ways, he didn't believe him. He tried to be a good man, but he knew he'd done things he wasn't proud of. Still, he had tried to hold himself to an ethical standard, and he hoped that, most of the time, he'd been able to meet it.

"That means a lot to me Daniel. There have been some times when I've doubted that, or lost my way. I try to be a good man, but sometimes circumstances conspire against that. I hope I'm good more than not, and I have you to thank for keeping me that way a lot of times in the past few years. If you think I'm a good man, then I must be doin' okay."

"You're doing more than okay Jack."

Jack looked down, and thought about what he wanted to say. He could feel his anger rising now that he thought back to what Collins had said to him.

"You know, when he tried to make it seem like it was my fault that woman and child had died....I almost believed him. I.....almost believed that I had.....remembered the incident that way I wanted to remember it, and that I had been responsible. But I knew....I knew that wasn't the way it happened...and I won't let him...make me think it was my fault." He said, stopping to catch his breath.

"Hey, take it easy. I think you better put that mask back on." Daniel said, helping him get it back in place.

"What's going on in here?" Janet asked as she came into the room. "The monitors at the desk are going nuts. Daniel, are you upsetting him?"

"No!" Daniel said, pleading innocence with his eyes.

"It's okay Doc, it's not Daniel's fault. I'm fine."

"Take some slow breaths, your heart is racing and your O2 levels are low. Stop talking and just breathe." She said, standing next to him monitoring his pulse. When she was satisfied he was alright, she gave Daniel a stern look and left them alone once again.

"You okay?" Daniel asked.

"Yeah, sorry, I didn't mean to get so mad. I can't believe that after all these years he can still get to me."

"It's understandable. I'm glad you aren't going to let him make you believe what he said. He did that, not you."

"Yeah." Jack said, closing his eyes for a minute.

"Do you want me to go?"

Jack opened his eyes and looked back at Daniel. "No, will you stay a while longer?"

"Of course." He said, and then paused, unsure of whether he should say what he was thinking, then decided to say it. "Those few minutes in the van must have been terrifying for you. I'm sorry that happened to you."

"It was pretty scary, but it was more terrifying to think that once he'd killed me, he was going after the three of you. I couldn't let him do that." Jack said with conviction.

"Well, thank god that didn't happen to any of us. You rest, I'll be right here."

"I know you will." Jack said as he closed his eyes again, and Daniel knew he meant more than just next to his bed. "Thanks Daniel."

"Anytime Jack."

****

A few weeks later, Jack had recovered well from his ordeal, and now was limping only slightly from his knee injury. The rest of his injuries were doing well too. He seemed to be getting back to his old self after the harrowing incident. He'd gotten back to light duty and was just a week away from full active duty.

Collins was supposedly in federal prison awaiting trial, and would be put away for a good long time. The concerning part of the situation was that the airman who had been working with him had been found dead - shot in the head. That meant there was someone else involved who didn't want anyone else finding out who they were. That was worrisome - it meant that Jack could still be in danger. He, however, refused to see it that way.

"I won't live my life looking over my shoulder. I may still be in danger, but I think it's more likely for me to get shot by a Jaffa than to run into one of Collins' gang again. I prefer to move on and hope for the best."

"Kind of a dangerous approach, isn't it Jack?" Daniel asked.

"Maybe so, but it's the one I'm taking. What do you say we go out for dinner tonight with the gang?" Jack said, promptly turning the conversation.

'Yeah, okay." Daniel said, knowing he wasn't going to get Jack to change his mind.

"I've got to see Frasier for my check-in. I'll see if I can get Doc to come with us and I'll meet you guys at O'Malley's at six, okay?"

"Yeah, I'll get Sam and Teal'c and we'll meet you there. And Jack?"

"Yeah?"

"Watch your back, okay?"

"Always do, Daniel, always do. Especially when you guys aren't there to do it for me." He said with a smile. "I'll see you later."

****

A little while later, Jack entered the infirmary and made his way over to Janet. He was still limping slightly, and she gave him a concerned look.

"Hey sir. That knee still bothering you?"

"It was better until I just slammed it on the desk. Another reason why paperwork should be outlawed!" He said with a grimace.

"Well, let's take a look at the damage. How about everything else?"

"Good, I'm feeling stronger. Don't tire as easily." He answered as she examined him.

"That's good, the bruise on your heart is healing, you'll feel a little better every day. Well, I don't see anything too serious on the knee except a bruise. Do you want to do an x-ray just to be safe?"

"No, it's not that bad, I'll be fine. Hey - want to come out for dinner with the gang? We're meeting at O'Malley's at six."

"Actually, I'd love to. I'm off at 5:30 and Cassie's not home tonight. I don't have my car today though - can I ride over with you?"

"Yeah sure. That old bucket of bolts giving you trouble again?"

"Unfortunately, I think it's on its last leg. I was hoping it would last long enough to pass it on to Cassie and I could get myself a new one, but looks like I'll be getting us both one."

Jack smiled, he had the perfect solution. "Janet, I've got a friend who owns a car lot, and he owes me big time. He told me I should see him if I ever needed a car. Why don't you let me help you get a car?"

"Colonel, you don't have to do that."

"I know that, I want to help you out. You've helped me out a lot, Doc. I'd like to return the favor."

"I'm just doing my job sir." She protested.

"Oh, it's more than that Doc. You have really been good to me, and I know I don't make it easy. Please, let me do this." Jack said seriously. "Look Doc, those few minutes in that van were some of the most terrifying of my life. But when I heard your voice, I knew I was going to be alright, and even if I wasn't alright, I knew you'd do everything you could for me. That you wouldn't give up. So let me do this, okay?"

She looked at the sincerity in his eyes and tried to stop the wetness gathering in her eyes. "Okay." She said thickly, as a small tear rolled down her face. She self-consciously wiped it away.

"You're a great doctor, but you're an even better friend. No one could ask for better. Thanks Doc."

"You're welcome sir. Now what do you say we get some dinner?" She asked, finally smiling at him and wiping at another tear that rolled down her cheek.

"You bet, let's go." He said, jumping down from the exam table gingerly.

****

Ten minutes later, they were pulling out of the base parking lot, laughing about a story Jack was telling her about Daniel touching something he shouldn't. Neither noticed the car that followed them into the nearly empty parking lot. It was a Monday night, a very slow night for the restaurant. It's why they came. When he stopped the car, Jack went around to the passenger side to open the door for Janet. As he offered his hand to help his short friend down from his really high truck, he felt someone come up behind him. He spun and came face to face with a man he'd never seen before.

Before Jack could react, he felt something hard pressed against his chest. He looked down to see a silver gun.

"Don't move." He growled.

"Who the hell are you?" Jack asked.

"I'm a friend of Collins. He couldn't do it himself, so I'm finishing the job. Doc, move into the driver's seat, we're taking a ride."

"No, she stays here." Jack protested immediately.

"You have no say in this O'Neill. Now move over Doc or I'll kill him right here."

"Don't do it Janet, he's going to kill me anyway." He said, steadfastly refusing to move.

"Move now, or I'll kill you! I know Jack doesn't want that."

Jack caught her eye, motioning towards the other door, and she knew he wanted her to move over and then keep going right out the door. She needed to remove anything the man could use to threaten Jack, and that meant taking herself out of the situation. She slowly moved over, and then suddenly lunged for the door handle and quickly rolled out of the truck cab. She ran towards the restaurant door, staying low. She heard a gunshot and prayed it wasn't aimed at Jack. She kept running, hoping she was doing the right thing. She heard a struggle and kept running. She burst into the restaurant and immediately saw the rest of SG-1 sitting nearby.

"Help, the Colonel needs help!" She yelled.

When they'd seen the look on her face, they had jumped up and were halfway to her before she'd uttered the plea. "Call 911!" Sam yelled to the bartender as they all rushed out the door towards the parking lot.

When they got outside, they could see Jack struggling with a man, the gun was in the other man's hand, but Jack also had a hold on it. He was losing the fight and the gun was now pointed directly at Jack's chest.

"Stop!" Sam yelled, hoping to distract him from the fight long enough for Jack to get the advantage. It worked and the man looked up, giving Jack the chance to push the gun away from him just a little. The man squeezed the trigger and the gun fired. The sound was deafening and both Jack and the man jumped. From where they were standing, they couldn't tell who had been hit, if anyone. When they reached them, both men were laying on the ground, with Jack on the bottom. Teal'c pulled the other man off of Jack and he didn't resist. The front of Jack's shirt was covered with blood, but he was awake. Sam reached his side first.

"Sir, are you hurt?"

"I...I don't think so." He said, shaken.

"The blood?" Sam asked.

"I don't think it's mine. Check out the other guy. I think the bullet ricocheted off the ground." He said with a tremor in his voice.

Sam looked over at Teal'c and he shook his head, the unknown assailant was dead.

"He's dead sir."

"Dammit! I needed to know who he was working for, now we'll never know." He said, trying to sit up.

"Stay down Jack, I'm going to get Janet."

"I'm fine." He said and sat up, leaning wearily against the tire of his truck. Janet had been watching from the doorway, and when she saw that nothing seemed to be happening, she joined them outside. Her face blanched at the sight of Jack.

"Colonel! Are you hurt?"

"No, I don't think so - I think it's his blood." He said, weakly pointing at the man laying dead on the ground.

"Let me take a look." She said, gently lifting his shirt to see if there was a source on his body that could account for any of the blood. She saw nothing except the remainders of the bruising from his initial encounter with Collins. "Are you in any pain sir?"

"No."

Police sirens could be heard nearby, and within 30 seconds, they were in the lot with them.

"Nobody move." A policeman with his gun drawn approached them. "What's going on here?"

Sam stepped forward with her hands raised and explained what had happened. They took statements from each of them, and after an endless hour of questioning, told them they were free to go. They wearily moved towards Jack's truck.

"You okay?" Daniel asked Jack.

"Yeah." He said, sounding beaten.

"Why don't we get some take out and meet you at your house. Maybe we can figure out what's going on here." Sam suggested.

"Ok." Jack responded, but with absolutely no enthusiasm. "You riding back with me Doc?"

"Sure sir." She responded, and after telling Sam what they wanted to eat, they climbed back in the car. Janet was glad he'd asked her to ride with him - she was worried about him.

When Jack was seated, he tried in vain to wipe the blood from his shirt with a rag he had in the car. It had already soaked into his shirt and wiping wasn't going to help, but he seemed intent on trying to wipe it off.

"Sir, what's wrong?"

"There's blood all over me, that's what's wrong." He said quietly.

"I know sir, you can change it as soon as you get home. Let's go." She said encouragingly, putting a hand on his arm to stop him from wiping at the blood.

"He could have killed you." He said, as he finally stopped trying to wipe his shirt.

"Is that what's got you so upset? That he could have killed me?"

"I'm endangering everyone, I need to stay away from all of you. First Daniel, now you." He said despondently as he started the truck and backed out of the lot.

"Sir, that's not true. You're not endangering anyone, Collins is. You're just as much a victim here as anyone else. Please don't push us away sir. We can help you. You know that."

"Yeah, sure." He said, not at all convinced.

***

When Jack and Janet arrived at his house, she'd convinced him to take a shower and then discretely disposed of the blood-covered shirt. Janet shared a little of what he'd said with the others while he was still upstairs, knowing she would need their support to convince him to let them help. Sam had gotten the name of the man who'd attacked Jack from the police, and after they ate dinner, she would start researching who he was on her laptop.

Jack joined them just as Carter had finished pulling all the food out of the bags. He looked troubled, and all through dinner, he remained quiet, almost withdrawn. He barely touched the food on his plate.

"Sir, are you sure you're alright? You didn't hit your head or anything did you?" Janet asked as she approached him and ran a hand over the back of his head.

"No, I'm fine." He insisted, gently pushing her hand away.

"You've been so quiet Jack. What's going on?" Daniel asked.

"Nothing's going on. I'm just thinking, that's all."

"About what sir?" Sam asked.

"About how I'm going to convince you all to let this go. Can't you see that I'm endangering all of you? Janet could have been killed tonight and Daniel almost was a few weeks ago. I want you all to just leave this alone. Collins knows how to get to me - through you. I'm going to put in for some leave - I've got some coming, and I'm going to head up to my cabin. Get away from all of this for a while. I don't want any of you following me, is that understood?"

"No way Jack. I know what you're trying to do." Daniel practically shouted.

"Really, what's that?" Jack said angrily.

"You're trying to get rid of us, and lure Collins into coming after you again. What if you're not so lucky this time and he kills you?"

"Then at least it will be over and you'll all be safe." He said without looking at any of them.

"Do you even hear yourself? Do you think we want you getting yourself killed to protect us?" Daniel yelled.

"Daniel please..."

"Don't Daniel please me Jack - I know what you're doing and I for one am not letting you do it."

"I concur." Teal'c said.

"Me too." Sam added.

"Look! This is not your choice. I don't need your help. I don't WANT your help!" Jack yelled back and stood abruptly, storming out of the house into the back yard.

The four of them looked at each other and it was decided that Teal'c should be the one to go and talk to him. He waited a few minutes and then made his way out to the yard. Jack was standing at the edge of the yard, looking into the woods beyond.

He came up beside him and opened his mouth to speak. Before he could say anything, Jack began to speak.

"Don't bother Teal'c, you're not changing my mind."

"O'Neill, allow me to try." Teal's said quietly.

"Fine, take your best shot." Jack said, and was shocked to feel a fist collide with his face. He fell backwards, dropping his beer bottle to the grass. "What the hell was that?!?" He cried.

"You instructed me to 'take my best shot'". Teal'c said straight-faced.

"I meant at trying to convince me, not to hit me!" He said rubbing the sore spot.

"It has the same result - as you would say, I was trying to 'knock some sense into you' O'Neill."

"You're going to have to do better than that Teal'c." Jack said, not bothering to get up but instead settling down to sit in the grass. He quickly raised his finger at Teal'c and said "And don't you dare hit me again."

Teal'c eased onto the grass beside him.

"Why are you doing this O'Neill? Do you wish to hurt us?"

"What? No! I'm doing this so you don't get hurt."

"Do you not believe we are capable of helping you?"

"No, Teal'c, I don't. No one can help me until the score is settled with Collins. That's not going to happen until one of us is dead. I would prefer it to be him, but if it's not him, then I want it to stop with me."

"Do you not believe it will hurt us if you were to be killed?"

"Of course, but that's better than any of you being killed."

"I do not agree. How are we to feel if you are killed and we did nothing to stop it?"

Jack thought about this for a minute, and realized Teal'c had a point. "I suppose you're right, but it's still better than dead."

"For you it is better, you will be dead. For us, we will have to live with it for the rest of our lives."

Jack thought again about how Daniel and Sam would feel if he did end up getting himself killed. Teal'c he knew would deal with it, but Daniel and Sam would be torn up. "It's how I want it Teal'c." He said, with less conviction.

"We are a team O'Neill - we should make this decision together. You have said on more than one occasion that we are a family. Do families not make important decisions together?"

"Way to hit below the belt Teal'c."

"I have not struck you again O'Neill."

"I meant it was a low blow, a cheap shot, you know, a way to get to me."

"That was my goal."

"Teal'c, don't let anyone ever tell you that you don't have a good grasp on the finer points of earth language." Jack said with a sly smile. He stopped for a minute and thought over what Teal'c said. When he finally spoke, it was in a soft voice that Teal'c had to lean forward to hear.

"Teal'c, I failed to protect my family once, I won't make that mistake again."

"We are not children O'Neill, and it is not your responsibility to protect us - it is our job to protect each other, is it not?"

"Yeah, I guess."

"Then allow us to do what we are trained to do."

"I don't know Teal'c." He said, but Teal'c could tell he was winning.

"Allow us to help you O'Neill, together we are stronger than Collins."

"That's it Teal'c, reel it in..." Jack said with a small smile and Teal'c knew he'd convinced him.

After talking quietly for a few more minutes, Teal'c reached his hand to Jack and pulled him from the ground. They walked slowly into the house.

As they entered, everyone turned to look at them.

"What happened to your eye?" Janet asked.

"I forgot how literal Jaffa can be." Jack said, rubbing the sore spot once again. "It's fine."

"So?" Daniel asked.

"O'Neill has agreed to let us help him."

"Good." Sam said with a smile. "Sir, I've done some research on the man that attacked you and Janet. His name is Mark Jamieson." She said with excitement.

"And he is?" Jack asked.

"He is former NID, asked to leave when he overstepped the authority of the NID and almost got his partner killed."

"Were you able to find out anything else?"

"No much. Jamieson pretty much dropped out of sight after he got drummed out of the NID, and he was linked with a guy named Mitchell Howard a few years ago, but no more information about what they were doing,"

"Did you say Mitchell Howard?" Jack asked and she nodded. "He was in my Special Ops unit - he's one of the guys who would never stand up to Collins. He refused to make a statement when Collins tried to kill me. I lost track of him after Collins was killed...well you know, when I thought he was killed. He transferred out of the unit while I was still in the hospital. In fact, the unit was pretty much disbanded after Collins was gone."

"Do you think he was with Collins?" Daniel asked.

"I didn't think so at the time, I just thought he was too scared to stand up to him. He was kind of green, and I just figured he wanted to stay out of it. Now that I think of it, it's kind of funny that Collins never picked on him - he hated people like Mitchell, but he always left him alone." Jack said, finally putting the pieces together in his mind.

"Well sir, looks like he's our next best lead."

"Right. Were you able to track anything more on him?"

"Not yet, but I'm working on it. Should have something by morning. I could get access to more intel if I do this from the base, so I'm going to head back there."

"Okay." Jack said distractedly, trying to reconcile all these new details to his old life.

"Daniel, will you help me to the car with all this stuff?" Sam asked.

"Sure."

As they walked to the car, Sam and Daniel talked quietly.

"Daniel, this is much more far reaching than one man's vendetta against the Colonel - there has to be some bigger reason why they wanted that piece of technology. We've got to tread lightly here, and we're really going to have to keep an eye on the Colonel. These are some dangerous people, and I don't think they'll stop until they get what they want. Stay close, okay?"

"You got it Sam. I can practically see Teal'c thinking about how he's going to stick with Jack without pissing him off."

"And Daniel - you be careful too. We've already seen how they'll use anyone to get to him. Watch your back."

"I will Sam - that goes for you too. Call us if you find anything."

**** The following day, SG1 had gathered to go over what Carter had found.

"Okay, here's what I've got so far. Mitchell Howard and Mark Jamieson were working for Collins. There are two other guy's names, James Gardner and Steven Oliver, who seem to be somehow related, but I don't have a solid connection. They've both dropped out of sight."

As soon as she said the names, Jack began to shake his head side to side.

"Jack, what's wrong?" Daniel asked.

"Gardner and Oliver were in my unit too. That's four out of the total six that Collins had under his command. Take me out of the equation, and that only leaves one person not accounted for - I think he's our next stop. No wonder the unit broke up after Collins was 'killed', he recruited them all. Guess he thought I wasn't worth the trouble."

"Who's the last guy Jack?" Daniel asked.

"His name is Will Bowman. I'd be really surprised if he was with Collins - he's the only one who was willing to testify on my behalf. A few of the other guys made statements, but no one else was willing to testify. Do you think we can track him down?"

"I'll try sir. Give me a few minutes - if he's still in the Air Force, it shouldn't take long to track him down." Carter replied, already searching her database for his name. "Is the first name William sir? I'm not getting a match - I've got a Wilmer, could that be him?"

"Yeah, that's it. I found out his full name when he first joined the team and he made me promise not to tell the rest of the guys." Jack said with a smile.

"He's retired, but he served in the Air Force until just last year. He lives right here in Colorado Springs. I've got his home address."

"Field trip anyone?" Jack asked.

***

Jack stood nervously outside the address Carter had found for Will Bowman. He had rung the bell twice and was about to turn around and walk away when the door opened abruptly. A man about Jack's age was standing there. He looked at Jack, trying to figure out who he was.

"Can I help....Jack?" He said, stopping in mid sentence when he finally recognized him.

"Will, how ya doin'?" Jack said with a smile.

"My god Jack, it's been a long time." Will said, reaching for Jack's hand.

"Don't start counting the years, I don't think I want to know how long it's been." Jack said, laughing and pumping Will's hand. "Will, this is Dr. Daniel Jackson and Major Samantha Carter. They work with me." He said, pointing to them as he said their names. "Can we talk to you for a minute?"

"Sure Jack, come on in." Will said, waving them inside and leading them to the living room. "Can I get you a drink?"

"No thanks Will. I won't take up too much of your time. I need to ask you about Collins and the rest of the team."

Will's eyes immediately darkened. "Jack, I don't really want to dredge all that up again."

"I understand Will, but Collins isn't dead."

"What? Of course he is."

"No, he's not, and he tried to kill me."

"Twice." Daniel added.

"Jack, how could he not be dead?"

Jack proceeded to explain how Collins had faked his death and then seemingly recruited everyone on the team except himself and Will.

"Well, since I testified against him, and you stood up to him, I guess that explains why we weren't invited to the party. So what do you need from me Jack?"

"I guess I was hoping you had been approached at the time or after and maybe you could help us figure out what he's into."

"No, sorry."

"Well, in that case, I also want to warn you. I know you're retired and not involved in anything covert anymore, so you're probably safe, but you should still be on guard for Collins to come after you. Just be careful, okay Will?"

"Sure Jack. I will. So what are you into that Collins gives a damn about you after all these years?"

"Sorry Will, it's classified, but suffice it to say that Collins seems to be very interested in it. Listen, thanks for your help. If you think of anything, here's where you can reach me. We'll let you get back to whatever you were doing." Jack handed him his phone number and he, Daniel and Sam rose to leave.

"I don't think I did much, but you're welcome. It was good to see you again Jack, and watch yourself - it'd be a shame for Collins to succeed now after failing all those years ago."

"Yeah, thanks Will."

They left the house and climbed back in the car. "Well, that was a colossal waste of time." Jack said.

****

Inside the house, Will watched the car pull away and then picked up the phone.

"It's Bowman. I just got a visit from O'Neill. He's getting close, he knows the whole team was recruited, and it's only a matter of time before he figures out what we're doing. It's time we ended this once and for all. It can't be that hard to kill one man, even if he is Jack O'Neill."

"Okay, take care of it."

****

Later that day, SG1 was in Carter's lab working on other possible leads. They were all exhausted and talking about calling it a day and grabbing some dinner. Just as they were about to decide where to go, Jack's phone rang.

"O'Neill."

"Jack, it's Will. I think I may have come across something that could be important. After you left, I remembered that I had gotten a few letters from Mitchell Howard a few years ago. There's some stuff in there that might give you some hints as to what they're doing, but it didn't mean anything to me."

"That's great Will, can I come by and get them?"

"Sure, I'm not even sure why I kept them. Old times sake I guess."

"I know what you mean. Will you be home around 7 tonight?"

"Actually I won't be home. Why don't I leave them in the mailbox and you can just pick them up."

"That'd be great, thanks again Will."

Jack closed the phone and relayed what Will had told him.

"Sir, do you trust this guy?" Carter asked.

"No reason not to. You said yourself his name never showed up anywhere attached to Collins."

"I guess, just be careful."

"I will accompany you O'Neill."

"You don't have to do that Teal'c."

"I would like to assist."

"Okay, okay, I get it. You can come along. I'll meet you guys at my place around 8, bring the Chinese."

****

Jack and Teal'c climbed into Jack's truck and headed towards Will's house. About half way to the house, they were on a deserted stretch of road when they heard a loud boom and Jack began to lose control of the truck.

"Damn! I think we blew a tire." He said as he struggled to pull the truck over.

When he'd finally succeeded, both he and Teal'c got out of the truck. Jack leaned over to look at the tire, and just as he bent over, a gunshot ricocheted off the truck where his head had been just a second before. He and Teal'c scrambled for cover behind the truck, but shots seemed to be coming from more than one direction and bullets were striking the truck all around them.

"We need to get away from here - if they hit the gas tank we're toast!" Jack yelled.

He and Teal'c moved quickly away from the truck, ducking and weaving to avoid the gunfire. They made it to the edge of the woods and ducked into the trees. They kept running and Jack pulled out his cell phone as they ran. He opened it and hastily dialed Carter's cell phone. He waited for her to answer, looking over his shoulder at the same time, and ducking to avoid branches.

"Carter."

"It's O'Neill. Teal'c and I are being pursued by someone with a lot of fire power, we could use some backup." He said, his words coming in quick succession as he continued to run.

"Where are you sir?"

He explained the best he could where they'd gone off the road and the direction they'd taken off in when they abandoned the truck.

"Backup's on the way sir, we'll call you when we're close. Stay safe."

"We'll try." He said and closed the phone.

Jack slowed to a stop behind a large tree. He stood leaning over with his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. Teal'c stood next to him, leaning out from behind the tree to see if anyone was following them. He saw movement about 100 yards away and quickly ducked behind the tree. He told Jack what he'd seen and they slowly moved behind the trees trying to stay out of sight. Suddenly, Teal'c fell to the ground with a grunt. Jack quickly dropped beside him and saw that he'd been shot in the back of his thigh. He looked around trying to see where the shot had come from when a bullet whizzed by his ear. He ducked and tried to pull Teal'c to his feet.

"Leave me O'Neill." Teal'c said through clenched teeth.

"No way, get up, that's an order!"

"I cannot."

"You can and you will. I'm not leaving you behind, now get up!" Shots were hitting the dirt and trees all around them. Whoever was shooting was either far away or a really bad shot. It seemed to just be dumb luck that they'd hit Teal'c at all.

Jack staggered as he finally got Teal'c to his feet and began dragging him to an area where they could seek cover from the hail of bullets. He felt a sharp sting on his upper arm and knew a bullet had hit him, but he ignored it and kept moving. When they had reached a more sheltered area, he helped Teal'c to the ground and pulled out his cell phone, dialing Carter again.

"Sir! Where are you? We're on site, looking for you."

"I'm not sure, but Teal'c's been hit and they're getting a little too close for comfort. I'm guessing that we're about a mile into the woods. There are at least two of them, maybe more."

"We've got a helicopter flying over now, Daniel's with them. Do you see or hear the copter?"

"I hear it but I can't see it yet." He said looking up through the trees. "The trees are pretty thick here."

"Keep looking sir, they can't be far. Let me know when they're over you."

After another minute he spotted the copter through the trees. "I see it Carter, it's over us right now."

"Okay sir, the pilot says he can set down about 1/2 a mile north of your position. Can you make it there?"

"We'll get there, as long as I know they're waiting for us."

"They will be sir."

"Okay, we're moving." Jack said, and closed the phone.

Jack dragged Teal'c to his feet again, and thought he felt even heavier than he had a few minutes before. They began moving again and once more bullets started hitting all around them. Jack began to fall before he even felt the pain of the bullet that hit him in the back of his shoulder. Teal'c suddenly found a reserve of strength and stopped him from falling. Leaning on each other, they kept moving until they could see the clearing where the copter was hovering. As they approached it, the copter lowered to the ground, and Daniel jumped out and ran towards them.

As he got closer, he realized that they were both injured and yelled back to one of the other guys on the helicopter to help him. When he reached them, Jack insisted that he help Teal'c and he pushed Teal'c towards him. Once he lost the extra weight, he was able to move on his own and moved quickly to follow Daniel, waving away the man who was trying to help him. When he got close to the copter, the man offered him a hand onto the runner and he accepted it. When they were all inside, the copter took off immediately. Both Teal'c and Jack collapsed against the seat and closed their eyes.

Daniel grabbed the radio and clicked the button. "Sam, we've got them, but they're both hurt. We're going to need Janet when we get there."

"Roger that Daniel, she'll be waiting. How badly are they hurt?"

"Teal'c been hit in the leg, and Jack's been hit in his shoulder and arm."

"Okay, stop the bleeding as much as you can on the way here."

Both Daniel and one of the other members of the rescue team went to work trying to stop the bleeding. Daniel sat down next to Jack and pressed a dressing to the back of his shoulder. He looked for an exit wound but found none.

"Jack, how are you doing?"

"Is Teal'c alright?" He slurred.

"I will be fine O'Neill."

Jack seemed to be losing the battle to stay conscious. Daniel felt him sliding sideways and put his arms out to stop him from sliding off the seat. He shifted him into a laying position and the other man elevated his legs on the seat.

"Whoa, Jack, stay with me." Daniel said, but knew Jack didn't hear him, he was out cold.

He contacted Sam by radio again to let her know that Jack had passed out and that they would be there within 10 minutes. He then settled back, resting Jack's head on his leg.

When they arrived at the mountain, the copter landed topside and Janet was waiting for them. As she moved towards the copter with two gurneys and a team of medical personnel, Daniel jumped down from the copter and met her. He updated her on both of their conditions since they'd taken off and they loaded both of the men onto the waiting stretchers. They were already assessing them even as they wheeled them towards the entrance to the mountain.

*****

General Hammond paced the area outside the infirmary, waiting to hear word on O'Neill. Teal'c had already come back from surgery and was alert and healing, thanks to his symbiote. O'Neill had been in surgery for nearly two hours. He stopped pacing, realizing he was making Daniel and Sam even more anxious, and sat down.

After what seemed like an endless amount of time, Janet finally emerged from the operating room.

"He's going to be okay. The bullet hit the edge of his shoulder blade and bounced around a little, so there were some bone fragments we had to remove. Nothing that won't heal, but he'll be out of commission for some time. They're bringing him into recovery now; you can see him in a little while. Why don't you all go get something to eat, and then come back?"

Everyone nodded, relieved that he would be okay. As the three of them walked towards the commissary, Daniel finally asked the question on everyone's mind.

"Is this ever going to be over? Or is only going to be over when they finally succeed in killing Jack?"

"I don't know Daniel. But I think we can assume that Will Bowman had something to do with this - who else knew besides you and me that the Colonel would be on that road?"

"No one. We've got to get to the bottom of this Sam, before they get to him again. There could be more people on the base in on it. Do you think we ought to leave him alone in the infirmary?"

"I think you're right Dr. Jackson, I'll get Major Ferretti to keep an eye on both of them." Hammond said, and stepped to a phone to arrange it.

****

Jack once again returned to consciousness to the familiar smells and sounds of the infirmary. He slowly opened his eyes and looked around. He saw Lou Ferretti standing by the doorway. When he tried to call out to him, his voice wouldn't work, and he had to clear his throat before he tried again. By the time he'd gotten "Lou" out of his mouth, the Major was already standing by his bed and pressing the call button.

"Hey Colonel, how are you doing?" He asked.

"Um, everything's a little fuzzy."

"I'll bet it is sir." Janet said as she breezed into the room. "What's the last thing you remember?"

"Moving towards the copter in the clearing."

"Not bad, you passed out about 5 minutes later."

"Teal'c?"

"He's fine sir, already released."

"Good. How long has it been?"

"About 24 hours. I finally chased Daniel and Sam away, they were waiting for you to wake up. They're going to be mad, they just left an hour ago."

He nodded and smiled faintly, already starting to fall asleep again.

"Sir, do you need something for pain?"

He slowly shook his head side to side and drifted off. Janet checked his bandages and pulse one more time before leaving him, telling Ferretti to call if there was any change. She went back to her office to call Daniel and Sam to let them know he'd woken and to come back in the morning. She reassured them that Ferretti was there for the night and would not leave him alone.

Janet sat there thinking about how much Jack had been through in the last month, starting with Daniel's kidnapping, the injuries he sustained in the incident with Collins, the attack outside the restaurant, and now this. How much more could he take before it all got to him? She promised herself she would keep a close eye on him.

****

"So Daniel, I've been thinking." Carter said thoughtfully.

"About what?"

"About this Will Bowman guy. I don't think he testified on the Colonel's behalf because he wanted to. I think the whole thing was a setup from the beginning. I think the whole reason they did it was to create this rogue team that no one would miss."

"So you're saying that year that Jack spent with that team was nothing more than a way to make 5 of the 6 disappear into this rogue unit?"

"Well, not at first I'm sure, it was probably supposed to be the whole team. But I think when they decided to do it, they figured out early on that the Colonel would never go for something like that, so they used his integrity to set up the whole thing - make it look like Collins was being dishonorably discharged, but then faking his death."

"Kind of a leap, isn't it?"

"Maybe so, but what else explains why it appears that Bowman is with them?"

"I guess. But how does that explain that he was active Air Force until last year?"

"He was probably their man inside, which is why he had to testify on the Colonel's behalf."

"I guess you could be right. Anyway, now we've got to find him, and figure out what they're doing - put an end to this before Jack gets killed. Maybe we should contact him and pretend that we don't know he's involved, see if we can trap him."

"That's not a bad idea Daniel. Let's clear it with the General first."

****

Jack woke slowly and painfully. His shoulder was throbbing in time with his heart, and he involuntarily moaned when he tried to move and make himself more comfortable. He succeeded in getting Daniel's attention and he moved to stand next to the bed,

"Hey, you okay?"

"Hurts."

"I'll call Janet." Daniel said, and pressed the call button. "You're going to be fine Jack, just hang in there."

"What's happening with the investigation?" Jack asked, trying to distract himself from the pain.

Daniel explained what he and Sam were planning and Jack reacted angrily.

"No! He's too dangerous Daniel, they all are. They've exposed themselves now, they won't come after me again, just let it go!" He was almost yelling by the time Janet came into the room.

"What in the world is going on in here?" Janet said as she came in.

"I'm sorry Janet, I told Jack what we were planning and he's pretty upset about it. I didn't mean to upset him. I rang the call button because he's in pain."

"Colonel, take some slow breaths, you need to calm down." She said, glaring at Daniel and motioning for him to leave the room.

"Daniel, don't you go far, I want to know what's going on. Do you hear me?"

"Colonel, please. Calm down. You're not doing yourself any good getting so angry."

"Doc, I will not have them going up against these men for me. They'll get themselves killed and I will not allow that to happen!" He said vehemently and grimaced at the pain it caused him.

"Fine, I will talk to the General and ask him to come down ad talk to you, but only after you've had some pain medication and calmed down. Is that clear?"

"Fine. But don't knock me out, I need to talk to the General." He said, trying not to let on how much pain he was really in.

"Alright, I'll call him now."

A few minutes later, Hammond arrived in the infirmary and he and Jack began talking about why they were planning to do. Jack was still angry, but after being reassured by Hammond that there would be sufficient backup, he finally agreed. He wasn't happy, but he agreed. He made Hammond promise to keep him informed, and then he promptly fell asleep.

****

Daniel and Sam drove up to Will Bowman's house, with a backup team parked down the street. They were both wearing recording devices that were transmitting back to the backup van. They rang the bell and waited for Will to answer.

When he opened the door, he seemed to be trying to remember where he'd seen them before and then realized who they were.

"You're Jack's friends?" He asked to confirm.

"Yes sir." Sam answered.

"Did you find something in the letters?"

"Someone tried to kill the Colonel yesterday." Sam said seriously.

"What? Is he okay?" Will asked convincingly.

"He will be sir, he was shot twice, but he'll recover. Did you call Colonel O'Neill from your home phone?"

"Yes."

"And did you mention to anyone that he was coming by to pick up the letters?"

"No."

"Do you have the letters sir?"

"No, I assumed Jack picked them up, they weren't in the box when I got home last night."

"Well, that probably means there was something significant in them." Sam said, knowing full well that there were never any letters. "Sir, your phone must be tapped. We wanted to offer you some protection, you may be in danger too."

"I don't think so Major, if that was the case it would have happened already. People like Collins don't waste time when they want to eliminate someone. I'll be fine."

"Are you sure sir?"

"I'm sure, now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to be late for a play at my grandson's school."

"Of course sir." Sam said, rising.

"Give Jack my best."

"I will sir."

Daniel shook the man's hand and followed Sam out of the house. When they were in the car, they both let out a breath.

"Do you think he knows we're onto him?" Daniel asked. He had to work hard to hide his anger at what this man had done to Jack.

"I don't think so, but let's get out of here and wait to see what he does."

They pulled away from the house and around the block to watch from the backup van to see where he went. While they had been in the house, one of the other members of the backup team had placed a tracking transmitter on Bowman's car so they could follow at a safe distance. A few minutes after they left, Bowman rushed out of the house and pulled away quickly. Sam turned on the tracking device and they pulled out after him. They followed him for several miles until he pulled up to a school. As they looked through the binoculars, it was obvious that the school was not being used as a school. The playground equipment was rusted and dusty, and the doors all had chains and padlocks on them. There were cars in the lot, but nothing else around, it was a very isolated area. They watched as Bowman got out of his car, looked around, and then used a remote to open a large delivery door. As the door opened, Sam's mouth dropped.

"Oh my god!" She exclaimed.

"What? What is it?" Daniel asked, almost grabbing the binoculars out of her hands.

"They've got a ship of some kind - it looks vaguely Gou'ld but not really. I think it could be Ancient. How the hell did they get that?" Sam said, finally handing an anxious Daniel the binoculars so he could look too.

"Great, now what?"

"Well, the artifact I gave them won't work, I took out the power source. I think we should leave a team here to watch and head back to base. General Hammond needs to know about this."

"Okay, I'll call the base for a transport to get us back to your car."

**** After briefing General Hammond, Sam entered the infirmary to check on Jack.

"So you're telling me that they somehow got a ship to earth?" Jack asked incredulously.

"Yes sir, and I think I know how they did it. I saw a man in the building that was part of SG17. Do you remember James Theroult?"

"Yeah, he was listed MIA last year after that incident on P3X223. His team reported that he just disappeared. The search teams looked everywhere and didn't find a sign of him."

"That's because he wasn't there. I think he was working with Collins. Do you remember that SG17 reported that they had discovered a ship of some kind, but when the rescue team went back, the ship was gone? We assumed that Jim had been taken by whomever owned the ship." Jack nodded and she continued. "Jim must have taken the ship and come back to earth."

"Well, obviously they can fly the ship, what did they need that device I gave them for?"

"I've been thinking about that, and I'm not sure sir."

"Maybe it controls a weapon?" He asked, yawning.

"Maybe. I'll let you rest sir. Feretti's right outside." She said, noticing he was already mostly asleep. She smiled and gave his hand a little rub before leaving him to rest.

*****

Two hours later, Sam, Daniel and Teal'c were in the surveillance van watching the school. There had been no activity in the time they'd been at the base. The plan was to see if anyone else was going to show up, but not allow anyone inside to leave. Anyone leaving the building would be taken into custody. If no one else showed up, the school would be overtaken in two hours.

"Sam, any more ideas on what that device does?" Daniel asked.

"Not really, I've been doing some research on the translation you gave me, and I think the Colonel might be right, I think it could control the weapons on the ship. It never made sense to me before because I assumed it was a stand-alone device. I didn't think it was to be used in conjunction with anything else, and certainly not a ship."

"Why would they need a device to control the weapons on the ship? Wouldn't the controls be right in the ship?"

"Yeah, but I think it was removed from the ship - not really meant to be separated."

"So how did it get separated?"

"I don't know. We'll know when we take the school and get our hands on that ship."

They continued to wait patiently and were rewarded by the appearance of three more men - three men they identified from file pictures. They were Mitchell Howard, James Gardner and Steven Oliver. Since Collins was in Federal prison, it was time to move - everyone was inside the school.

The team moved quickly and the building was soon surrounded. As soon as everyone was in place, the team entered the building, taking everyone by surprise. Within minutes, they were all in custody, and being removed from the building. Sam got her first close-up look at the ship. Her mouth was hanging agape as she walked into the ship, checking out the instruments on the control board. She immediately spotted the device that Collins had taken from the Colonel set into a spot on the control panel. She went over and looked at it, and then called Daniel over.

"Daniel, what's this writing say around the device?"

Daniel stepped up to the control panel and studied the writing for a minute.

"It says something about throwing fire, I think it is a weapons control. Maybe they allowed it to be removed so the ship would be worthless if someone found it."

"Maybe. Can you take some photos of this writing and get me a full translation?"

"Sure. Give me a few minutes and then we can get out of here and question those guys."

****

Back at the base, the men who had been taken into custody were all being held in different cells, and they were preparing to question them. They wanted to start with Will Bowman, it was him that made them the angriest - taking advantage of the Colonel's belief that they had been friends then, and might still be now.

Sam and Teal'c took the first shot at Will.

"So Mr. Bowman...."

"That's Colonel Bowman, Major."

"Why were you trying to kill Colonel O'Neill?" She said, emphasizing his rank, as if to push home her point that Bowman didn't deserve to be called a Colonel anymore.

"He was getting too close." He answered frankly, knowing they had enough to put him away for the rest of his life. He might as well use what he knew to save himself jail time. He would not go to jail for Collins, or anyone else.

"To what?"

"I want immunity."

"No."

"Then I'm done talking. I'll tell you everything you want to know, but I want immunity."

"I'll need to talk to my superiors. I'll be right back."

She returned a few minutes later, and told him he had a deal if his information proved to be accurate. She encouraged him to continue.

"Jack was getting too close to finding out that we had a ship and were going to use it to get to other planets and get our hands on technology. We planned on selling them to the highest bidder."

Sam was somewhat taken aback by how forthcoming he was with the information.

"What made you think he was getting close?"

"I'm pretty sure O'Neill knew what that device was he gave us since he took out the part that makes it work."

"How did you know?"

"I have a source on base, they told me. I tried to convince the others that he was more valuable alive, they disagreed. He almost ruined our plans over 20 years ago by going against Collins, and he almost did it again. He's more trouble than he's worth. The others were right, we could never have gotten away with holding onto him."

Sam moved on, asking him about who his inside man was.

"Mike Sanders."

Sam exchanged looks with Teal'c. Lieutenant Colonel Mike Sanders had worked at the SGC for more than three years and headed up SG3. As team leaders of two of the top three teams, he and Jack were close. Jack was going to be devastated.

"Why did you bring the ship back here?"

"Because we were missing a piece, and we knew you had it. We watch the inventory of stuff coming into Area 51, and one of the guys recognized that artifact as the missing piece. We needed to have access to equipment so we brought the ship back here using the cloaking technology built into the ship. And, with the weapons control missing, we couldn't risk being out there with no weapons."

"Who else is involved that we don't know about?"

"No one, you've got everyone."

"So Collins is at the top?"

"Yup."

"Okay, that's it for now."

"Major, is Jack okay?"

"What do you care? You're the one who tried to kill him."

"If it had been my choice, I wouldn't have done it. Jack's a good man, he just stumbled into something. I wish things had been different, I didn't want him to get hurt."

"Yeah sure." She said with contempt.

****

Daniel had been watching the interrogation and couldn't believe the name that had come out of Bowman's mouth - Mike Sanders. The look on Sam's face must have matched his own, Jack would be devastated. How was he ever going to tell him that one of the team leaders he trusted the most and considered a friend had betrayed him and the planet?

He had been sitting in Jack's room, waiting for him to come back from x-ray. He knew the first question he asked would be about the men he knew were in custody. He heard someone coming and watched as a wheelchair carrying his best friend was pushed into the room and he was helped back into bed painfully.

"How are you doing?"

"Hurts like a son of a bitch. What's going on? Frasier said you guys took a bunch of people into custody." He asked, trying to keep his mind off the gnawing pain in his shoulder.

"Yeah, we got Bowman, Howard, Gardner, and Oliver. Count Collins and it looks like we've got the whole gang."

"What about the guys in the warehouse where they held you? I didn't recognize them."

"We found them dead at the back of the school. Looks like they were expendable."

"So we got everybody, that's good news, right?" Jack asked and Daniel nodded. "So then why do you look so concerned?"

"There's something I need to tell you and I don't think you're going to take it very well."

"Well then just spit it out."

"Collins and Bowman had an inside man on the base."

"Yeah, that AWOL airman, right?"

"There must have been two, and, well, the other guy is someone you know very well."

"Who?"

"Mike Sanders."

"What? Are you sure?"

"We're sure, he's already confessed to being involved."

"I can't believe it..." Jack said, shaking his head. "I trusted him with my life, and with yours. He's watched our backs a hundred times over the last few years."

"I know, it's hard to believe."

"Why did he do it?"

"I don't know Jack, he's stopped talking, said he wants a lawyer before he says anything else." Daniel said, and hesitated, trying to gage how Jack was taking this news. He could almost see his mind working behind his dark eyes. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah." He said, looking away. "I'm fine."

*****

A few days later, things seemed to be back to some degree of normalcy. Jack was about to be released from the infirmary, and all the prisoners had been transferred to federal prison. Daniel met Jack in the infirmary to see if he could give him a ride home.

"How are you feeling Jack?"

"A little sore, but I'll be okay." He said, sounding somewhat down.

"Are you sure? You seem a little down."

"I'm fine."

"You must be pretty upset about Mike." Daniel said, guessing at what was bothering him.

'Nope, I learned a long time ago that trusting people usually comes back to bite you in the ass." He said bitterly.

"I hope you know that you can always trust me."

"Sure." He said quickly.

"Seriously Jack, I'd never betray you."

"I know that Daniel, I really do, I'm just pissed that I didn't see what Mike was really doing. I trusted him - not the way I trust you, Carter and Teal'c, but I trusted him."

"I imagine that hurts."

"I hope you never have to experience being set up and betrayed by someone you trust Daniel. It's a shitty feeling, and it really makes you leery to trust anyone, and I would hate to see you lose that willingness to trust. It's what makes you unique."

"Thanks Jack, but like you said, sometimes trusting people bites you in the ass. We all experience that at some point in our lives. What do you say I give you a ride home?"

"Yeah, I'd appreciate that Daniel."

*****

Over the next several weeks, Jack painfully recovered from his injury. The pain in his shoulder was persistent, and despite extensive physical therapy, he was still stiff and sore. Although he was back on light duty, he was bored and irritable. He headed to the infirmary for his weekly check-up and waited impatiently for Janet to come in.

"Good morning Colonel." She said brightly, but as soon as she saw his face she knew he was not in a chipper mood.

"Hi Doc."

"How are you?"

"Ok."

"Can you be more specific?"

"My shoulder is stiff and pretty sore."

"I'm sorry to hear that. I had hoped the physical therapy would help. How about a different pain medication?"

"I'd rather not take any pain medication."

"So you haven't been taking what I prescribed?"

"No."

"So you haven't been taking anything?"

"No."

"Sir, you had a very serious injury, there were bone fragments broken off, it's going to be painful for a while. You'll feel better overall if you can at least take the edge off the pain. How about just some over the counter pain relievers? Want to try that?" She offered, seeing that he was frustrated with the speed of his recovery. He was still wearing a sling and seemed uncomfortable.

"I guess." He said noncommittally.

"Sir, is there something else bothering you?" She asked.

"No."

"You just don't seem yourself and I know for a fact you haven't been eating well. Your weight's down, and you look gaunt. I know you're frustrated with the pain, being on light duty and it won't be much longer sir, but it seems like it's more than that."

"No, I'm fine."

"You know Colonel, we're all here for you if you need to talk. You've had a rough six weeks, no one expects you to just bounce back."

"Sure Doc, I know."

"Okay, well, let me get you something for the pain." She said, giving his a squeeze on his arm. "Do you need help getting the sling back on?"

"No, I'm getting really good at it now, lots of practice." He said with a grimace.

While she was gone, he put the sling back on and sat quietly waiting for her. He knew she was right - he wasn't himself and it wasn't just from the pain. He was still reeling from the fact that Mike Sanders had been helping the people trying to kill him. How could he have missed the signs? He needed to talk to Mike - to ask him how he could do that. Ask him why he would do that. He didn't hear Janet come back and when she touched his hand, he nearly jumped out of his skin.

"Sorry sir, I didn't mean to startle you. You were a million miles away."

"Yeah, sorry Doc." He took the bottle of pills from her and thanked her. He needed to talk to General Hammond and get permission to see Sanders.

****

"Colonel, I really don't think that's a good idea." Hammond said after Jack asked him to visit Sanders.

"Sir, look, I just need to talk to him for a few minutes. I need to know why he did this."

"Jack, I can see you're having a hard time with this and I understand but..."

"General, please." Jack said in a tone that Hammond was unaccustomed to hearing from Jack O'Neill. He heard desperation.

Hammond hesitated and then finally relented. "Fine, but only if Dr. Jackson accompanies you."

"Fine, thank you General."

*****

Jack sat quietly in his seat on the Air Force plane headed towards the prison where Sanders was being held. He'd barely said a word since they'd left, and Daniel didn't push him. He could see that Jack was planning what he was going to say when he finally came face-to-face with Mike for the first time since finding out he had betrayed him.

When they touched down, Jack didn't notice and Daniel had to nudge him to get up from his seat. He slowly rose, painfully stretching his shoulder after sitting in the same position for so long. They moved off the plane and grabbed a cab to the prison.

Waiting in the visitor's area, Jack was shaking his leg up and down faster and faster as the minutes passed. After a few minutes, Daniel could stand it no longer and reached over and put his hand on Jack's leg to still it. Jack smiled weakly back at him. He looked up sharply at the sound of the door opening to see Mike Sanders shuffling in with his hands cuffed to a chain around his waist, and chains on his ankles. He sat down across from Jack.

For a moment, no one spoke, but then Jack said softly, "Why did you do it Mike?"

At first, he said nothing, but then spoke softly.

"I didn't know you would get hurt Jack, honestly, I didn't. I didn't even realize what was going on until the day they kidnapped Dr. Jackson."

"And why didn't you stop it then?"

"It was already too late."

"How long?" Jack asked angrily.

"How long what?"

"How long were you working with them? The whole time you've been at the SGC? The whole time you were pretending to be protecting the people of this country and the people under your command? The whole time you were pretending to be my friend? How long?!?"

"Jack please..."

"I want an answer Mike." He said with an anger so controlled that Daniel had to look away from the smoldering fury in Jack's eyes.

"I've been a member of the team for six years. They helped me get assigned to the SGC. Until a few months ago, they seemed to be genuinely doing things that would help us."

"You never really had any allegiance to the SGC, did you?" Jack asked, leaving the 'or me' part of the question unspoken.

"Of course I did Jack! What we were doing was only going to help us in the battle against our enemies. You have to believe me Jack."

"So when you found out what they'd done to Daniel, why didn't you come forward? You kept working with them even after they tried to kill me."

"I was in too deep by then Jack. There's no getting out after you're in as deep as I was. They would have killed me. Look Jack, I'm sorry, I didn't think they'd go that far."

"I don't believe you Mike. I think you knew exactly what you were into, and you used me and everybody else to get what you wanted. What other information did you pass to them over the last three years? Did you ever wonder if any of that information might have gotten SGC personnel killed? That they had to have been working with someone above Collins who would use that information against the SGC? You have no idea what kind of damage you could have been doing by passing classified information! You endangered everyone under my command!" Jack yelled, standing up and pushing his finger into Mike's chest across the narrow table.

Daniel was trying to pull Jack back, but when he put his hands on Jack's arms, he could feel the tightness of his muscles and knew this could get out of hand very quickly. The guard caught his eye and he nodded his head to indicate that he needed some help. The guard stepped up beside Jack and placed a hand on his forearm.

"Sir, please sit back down." Jack remained where he was, anger making his face red and he veins bulge. "Sir, if you don't calm down and take a seat, I will be forced to remove you."

Finally Jack eased his arm from the guard's grip and slowly sat back down.

"Thank you sir, and please, remain seated."

"Sure, sorry Airman." Jack replied shakily, taking a deep breath to try and get his anger under control.

"Jack, I know you'll probably never forgive me, so I won't even ask. But you have to know that I wasn't pretending to be your friend - I have a lot of respect for you, and you'll never know how badly I felt when I found out they intended to kill you. I tried to convince them it was a bad idea, but they were convinced that you were in the way."

Jack said nothing for a minute, but then in a soft voice that undoubtedly held just as much anger as when he had been yelling, he finally spoke, his eyes boring into Mike.

"You know Mike, I don't trust people easily. I trusted you. I trusted you to watch my back, and my team's. I opened my home to you. I thought you were one of the good guys. I won't pretend to forgive you Mike, because I really don't think that will ever be possible. I also don't think I can ever understand how you could betray the SGC the way you did. I just had to hear it from your mouth, to hear you try and defend what you did. Have a nice stay here Mike, you're going to be here a long time." Jack finished and calmly got up from the chair, walking out of the room without looking back.

Daniel stood and followed him out, knowing Jack needed to get out of there before he lost control. When they reached the last door that would take them out of the prison, Jack stepped outside and leaned on the wall, taking a deep breath. Daniel stood next to him quietly, trying to give him some time to compose himself.

"You okay?" Daniel asked after a few minutes.

"No, but I will be." He closed his eyes and let the sun hit his face for a minute before opening them again. "Let's go home."

"You got it. How about some lunch before we head back to the air field?"

"You buyin'?"

"If it will get you to eat, sure. You're starting to look a little scrawny..." Daniel said with a smile.

"Thanks for coming with me Daniel, and for not letting me knock his teeth out."

"You bet Jack. But to be honest, I wanted to knock his teeth out myself, for what he allowed to happen to you."

"Yeah, but there's a difference between you and me. You wanted to do it, I would have done it."

"Jack, you're not still doubting that you're a good man are you?"

Jack smiled slightly. "No, just feeling a little off kilter today. Guess finally confronting him was harder than I thought it'd be. I'll be okay."

"Yeah, you will be." Daniel said, putting his arm around Jack's shoulder and leading him towards the car.

"I think we can finally close this disastrous chapter in the life of SG1." Jack said.

"Thank goodness. Disastrous is an understatement. You've got some interesting things in your past. Every time I think I know all about you, I find out something else that makes me proud to know you Jack."

"What?" Jack said, confused.

"I know some of what you've been through in your life, well at least the parts you want me to know about. Even after the crappy things you've been through, you've managed to get past them. You're a living example of the persistency of life. I know you've probably done some stuff you're not proud of, but Jack, you're definitely one of the good guys."

"Daniel..." Jack said shaking his head.

"Jack, don't argue with me, you know you never win."

"Don't I know it..." He said with a wide smile.

The End.


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