“Colonel O’Neill.” Jack’s mind cringed even as his body instinctively reacted to the icy tone in his CO’s voice.
“Close the door colonel.”
Obeying, Jack returned to stand at attention in front of Hammond’s desk inwardly groaning when he saw his rather thick personnel file sitting under the general’s folded hands. He knew that the reprimand he well deserved for the stunt he’d pulled when he’d taken the Orbanian girl Merrin out of the mountain was about to be delivered.
“Stand at ease, colonel,” Hammond said with a sigh and shaking his head. “You’ve put me in one hell of an awkward position.” He looked Jack very seriously in the eyes, forcing him to maintain eye contact before going on. “What would you do, colonel, if a man under your command - a man you had to rely on to exercise common-sense in making decisions, had taken a child - a child from an alien planet, against direct orders and against the express wishes of the child’s father, out into our world. What would you do colonel?!” Hammond’s voice rose as his anger grew. “What would you do if a supposedly intelligent and trustworthy man deliberately defied all orders, risking not only the secrecy of the entire project, but potentially the health of the child in question as well as all the children of this planet who were exposed to her?!”
“Exposed, sir?” Jack asked, genuinely confused.
“Ever hear of smallpox colonel? When Europeans first came and interacted with the native populations here they carried a disease that the local population had no immunity for - it decimated the population far better than any other weapon could have done.”
“But Frasier checked her out...”
“Did it never occur to you that there could be something she was unable to find because she lacks the test to spot it? We take these risks every day, but we are a closed and well monitored community. The risk is minimised and controlled as much as possible. There are reasons why we have quarantine times and regulations colonel. But regardless, you kidnapped a minor child, here from another planet in contradiction of several direct orders!”
“I’d bust him sir -- what would I do?” he explained to the general’s confused glare. “To a man who’d pulled what I did. Formal report, formal reprimand and then I’d probably bust him out of the SGC. And not just because of being stupid enough not to think of the risks, but because such a man who disregards orders so flagrantly can’t be trusted.”
Hammond was silent for a long moment before sighing. “Sit down Jack.”
Frowning and uneasy, Jack obeyed. “Sir?”
“If I put a formal reprimand in your file, or I should say yet another formal reprimand in your file I’d be giving Kinsey and the NID license to drum you out and put in their own man. I don’t want that.”
“Sir?” Jack, if possible was even more confused.
“Oh make no mistake, you fully deserve the reprimand, the report, the works. But the rest of us, SG1 in particular do not.” If possible, Hammond’s glare intensified and Jack swallowed nervously. “On the other hand, I cannot and will not allow this to just pass. You are on very thin ice with me colonel. Do I make myself clear?!”
“Yes sir!” Jack straightened up in the chair.
“Now, at 14:00 hours there is a training class you will be attending. The class starts today, goes the full day tomorrow and the next day. There is a test at the end that you will be required to pass just like everyone else in the session. I will be speaking with the instructor to be clear on this. If I even suspect that there’s been any undue influence placed on him to pass you, I will reevaluate my options. Is that clear, colonel?!”
“Yes sir. 14:00, sir?” Jack looked at his watch, 12:45 - enough time to punch out the weight bag for a while to get his frustrations out, shower, eat and get to wherever the class was.
“Yes, but we are not done here yet colonel.”
Jack repressed a groan and a shudder, knowing that the reprimand General Hammond hadn’t put in his file was about to come out of his ass - in person.
SL-17... Who knew there were lecture theatres on this level? Jack grumbled to himself as he slouched out of the elevator. Hammond’s verbal, unofficial reprimand had been *thorough* - his ears were still ringing and his conscience was sore. Jack felt like a kid again, where the worst part of being in trouble wasn’t the lecture - or even as with his father, the ‘backside reminder’, but rather the worst was the feeling left from seeing that look of disappointment in the General’s eyes and knowing that he now had some ground to make up to re-earn his trust.
It was only his deep respect for the General that had him quietly accepting his fate. It was humiliating though to be being forced to take this “alien-culture sensitivity” training with a bunch of new recruits and likely taught by some weird, new-age, sandals wearing dweeb who would tell them all to “embrace the joy” or something.
17-47B ah-ha! At last, and only 5 minutes late - hell, the granola-eating psych-guy probably wasn’t even there yet anyway he thought as he slid in the door.
“You’re late,” the instructor called, not looking up from the stack of notebooks he was passing out. Jack froze in his tracks, his blood turning cold at the sight. Daniel. The instructor was Daniel.
“Our first practical example - in some cultures, arriving late may be taken as a grave insult. Don’t worry,” he added, smiling at the recruits and continuing before he looked toward the late arrival. “There’s always someone who gets lost on the way and ends up my example for - Jack?!” He stopped, a notebook halfway extended to one of the students when he finally noticed who was standing there.
“Uh, hey...” Jack tried a joking reply.
“What are you doing here?” Daniel asked, his eyebrows scrunching together in a frown. “Is there something wrong? Sam? Teal’c?”
“Uh,no - everything’s fine... uh, you teach this class?” Jack asked, trying not to sound nervous at the prospect and already knowing the answer, but hoping against hope that he was wrong.
“Yeah...?” Daniel replied slowly before, his eyes widening with a dawning understanding, he blurted, “No way!”
“He said he talked to the instructor...”
“General Hammond? Yeah, he said there’d be an extra and that he...” Daniel grimaced slightly in Jack’s direction, letting him know that the General had followed through on his threat to make sure he had to take this class seriously.
“He just ‘forgot’ to mention it was *you*,” they said in unison, eliciting a slight smile from both.
Realising he was still standing there, notebooks in hand, he turned back to the students and smiled at the now more alert postures and nervous faces of the military portion of the class.
“Ah,” he said, glancing back at Jack who was still standing uncomfortably in the door. “I see many of you have met our late arrival. For those who haven’t , this is Colonel Jack O’Neill. Jack, just a sec.” He stalled as Jack made to move for a seat. “I was just going to have everyone get up anyway.” Handing a notebook to Jack he motioned for the rest of the class to gather their things and rise.
“Alright, the first exercise of the day is this,” he instructed the class as he moved to the front of the room. “There are now three more military personnel in the class than civilian. As quickly as you can, but without any verbal communication at all, I want you to arrange yourselves so that no two military and no two civilians are sitting next to each other. -- Go!” he ordered, hiding his smile at the vaguely panicked looks before adding, “Oh, and by the way, you have three minutes to accomplish this from... now!”
“Five minutes, forty-seven seconds,” Daniel announced once everyone was finally seated again. “Outside the time limit, but not as far as some groups have gone - and you did manage to keep from talking. I’m impressed. Now...” He clapped his hands once and sat up on the table at the front of the room. “Who can tell me why I made you do that?”
“Alright,” he said after a moment in a slightly louder voice, hopping down from the table. “Rule number one. When I’m talking, you’re not reading.” He paused briefly before adding, “That means close the books folks. I’ll let you know when to open them.”
Jack was relieved to see that he wasn’t alone and that about half the class were sheepishly closing their notebooks.
“You are all educated and accomplished scholars and soldiers or you wouldn’t be here, but let me be clear: by order of General Hammond, the Joint Chiefs and the President, *no one* goes off-world until and unless they pass this course. There will be questions, homework and a couple of tests at the end. If you pass the first one, you *may* be invited to take part in the second - but only if I feel you have *understood* the content *and* meaning of what we discuss in the next few days.”
“To that end,” he added after a moment’s pause to let the message sink in. “Rule number two: if you have a question, raise your hand, if I don’t see you, shout, whistle, whatever you need to get my attention. Do *not* be fooled into thinking that this is soft touchy-feely sensitivity training with an alien flair. Not knowing enemies from allies, or making enemies from allies by not thinking about the effects of your actions in the field can be deadly. The life you save may be your own, or hell, mine. So speak up. Clear so far?”
“Okay,” he said with a smile after receiving affirmative noises. “So, why did I make you move your seats? Anyone?” He sighed when he still didn’t receive any response. “Come on people! Jack? Help me out.”
“Because we’re alien to each other,” Jack stated with a scowl.
“Exactly!” Daniel practically crowed. “Knew I could count on you. And let me tell you, if any of you think *this* is out of your comfort range - just wait until you’re sitting next to some *real* aliens!”
“Speaking of which... The Go’uld...” He pressed a button on a remote that appeared in his hand, bringing up a picture of Yu. “Our enemies. A parasite infesting a generally unwilling host. The glowing eyes and funky voice are a dead giveaway...” A second press of a button on the remote and Yu’s Go’uld voice resonated through the room. “This,” he said, gesturing to the picture of Yu is how you’re most likely to encounter the Go’uld, in their blended state, however this...” The next slide appeared, “Is their natural form. As a rule of thumb, if you see this and you are not 150% certain that it is a Tok-ra, Kill it - quickly. Don’t run first - it flies and that just gives it its favourite target...”
The lecture went on, describing their various allies and enemies with careful attention being paid to the fact that it wasn’t always easy to tell the two apart. Pictures of Teal’c and Bratac were shown with instructions not to shoot, while all other Jaffa, “unless you’re 150% sure they’re on our side”, shoot first then run like hell because they’re hard to kill.
After his initial resistance, Jack was surprised by how much he actually ended up learning - which was saying something as he’d been with Daniel when they’d first encountered all the aliens covered so far... Daniel was an excellent teacher and he was ashamed to admit that he should have known this about him.
“So,” Daniel announced, clapping his hands once for emphasis at 15:30. “Since none of you have asked any questions I can assume that you’ve all understood everything I’ve said and could tell me the differences between all the enemies and allies I’ve described so far - right?”
“Right,” he snorted. “Well, since I didn’t just fall off the mastage yesterday, we’ll take 15. Stretch, get a drink, whatever, but I want each of you to come back with one question about what we’ve covered so far. Reassemble here at 15:45.” He smiled briefly when none of the military personnel moved right away, and the civilians stalled seeing their counterparts hesitate - even Jack was hesitating. “Go on.” He smiled, making shooing motions with his hands. “Dismissed.”
Hearing the word they’d been waiting for the room quickly cleared of personnel - all but Jack who approached the front instead.
“Jack...?” he answered almost nervously.
“You know, for a soldier, you don’t make half a bad instructor.” He gave an enigmatic smile to Daniel’s confused look and slapping him once on the back, he turned and left the room.
When Jack came back in a few minutes later after a trip to the toilets, he saw Daniel talking quietly with his assistant, Nyan at the front of the room. Not wanting to disturb them, he retook his seat, watching the recruits and scientists milling about. He wasn’t surprised at this point to note, that in spite of the forced interaction during the lecture, they’d once again migrated to groups of their ‘own’ kind.
“Alright, if everyone could take their seats again please?” Jack was brought out of his musings by Daniel’s announcement. “So,” he went on as the class reassembled. “Questions, who would like to start?”
Oops, Jack had completely forgotten about that - would he really actually call on him though?
“Jack?” Daniel shattered that fantasy. “How about you start.”
Jack’s scowl was wasted on Daniel’s back as he handed slips of paper to the last few to be seated.
“Uh...” This time Daniel did see the scowl, for all the good it did - not like it was ever very effective with Daniel. Several questions went through his mind and were instantly rejected. If it’d been just Daniel, or even just established teams he had several sarcastic questions in mind, but he had to set a good example for the young recruits. He could get away with messing with Daniel - they had an established working relationship and knew when they could joke and when they couldn’t. This was definitely a *couldn’t* situation. Do you really think there’s such a big difference between Go’uld and Tok-ra? was rejected - as an officer he couldn’t undermine their allies to subordinates... Damn!
“Okay,” Daniel said with a genuine smile, letting him off the hook. “It really wasn’t fair of me to pick on Jack. He knows all of these guys as well as I do - probably because he met all of them at the same time I did.” He shrugged and gave a self-depricating smile to the rest of the class before turning back to Jack. “Uh, so then Jack, from a military, senior officer, big-wig point of view - anything you think I should have mentioned but didn’t?”
Jack saw several of the enlisted men and women goggle at the “big-wig” comment, but Jack just smiled - this was a question he could answer.
“Just that if any of them ever go off-world to *not* assume that everyone they meet are going to be friendlies - AHT! -” he added quickly before Daniel could. “Sometimes they are though, so don’t assume combatant either.”
“Right,” Daniel agreed with him. “For the civilians, you’re very unlikely to be involved with a first contact situation - it has happened unexpectedly, but we’re very careful about that. I would say to not assume either way with unknown people or aliens. Don’t assume the worst, but also, don’t assume the best.” He shrugged, offering a tired smile.
“Nothing connected with the SGC will ever again be either 100% civilian or military. The involvement of one of the other varies from situation to situation, but even in a clear-cut military arms procurement scenario, the cultural or scientific aspect of the mission is included - even if only in the planning stage prior to the mission, or in the research stage after. And similarly,” he said, winding down from his full lecture mode and sitting again on the table at the front of the room. “Even the most seemingly pure scientific mission will have a military escort at all times. We have several permanent or semi-permanent research stations off-world - all are joint operations now...” He hunched slightly, his features clouding over for a moment and Jack wondered which mission losses he was thinking about - likely several.
“Thanks Jack,” he said after only a moment, smile back in place. “Stephens?” He took a deep breath, composing himself and moving on.
“Uh,” the scientist jumped at being called on. “This really isn’t my field of expertise - I’m an astro-physicist - numbers and simulations and far away stars. I’m not sure how this is relevant to what I’ll be...”
WOW Jack may realise that the intent behind Daniel’s full glare wasn’t *really* violent - unless you’re a Go’uld of course, but these new recruits and civilians obviously hadn’t yet received that memo - most were looking decidedly nervous and those that weren’t - were hiding it well. Jack himself was surprised in this setting to find himself straightening his shoulders and sitting up under the effects of that irate look.
“Well, Dr. Stephens, until you are sure, you won’t be going any closer to any of those far away stars.” With that clear reprimand, Stephens, who had gone white under Daniel’s glare now was turning gradually red in the face.
“Okay people,” Daniel announced to the whole group. “I’m only going to explain this one more time. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to be on a first contact, or any contact, or even an off-world team. We don’t have to go to them to run into hostile and friendly aliens. The base has been attacked or infiltrated on several occasions by aliens who, I might add, couldn’t care less about the military/civilian distinction. And the base has hosted, either deliberately, or unexpectedly several friendly aliens, some of whom were already allies, and others who then became allies.”
Daniel sighed again and turned a disappointed gaze on Dr. Stephens, speaking quietly. “Don’t worry Kevin. See me after and we’ll talk about it okay?” Then turning to the next person he raised his voice again to lecture level. “Uh - Major Castles - your turn. Tell me you thought up a question for me.”
“Yes sir,” he replied. “You’re a civilian right?” he asked, but didn’t wait for an answer before going on. “So, how is it you’re involved in all these off-world, potentially dangerous first contacts?”
“Ah, well, that is rather complicated,” Daniel answered easily and Jack relaxed a bit, having rankled a bit at the question. “You see, though I’m not officially ‘military’, I’m also not officially strictly speaking a ‘civilian’ either.” He chuckled slightly, shaking his head. “Leave it to the Brass and the Politicians - they came up with a whole new category for certain personnel here at the SGC and at Area 51. When it comes to the military side of things I have an equivalency rating to keep things aboveboard.” He sat again on the table at the front and reached for the coffee Nyan had brought for him during the break. “Don’t worry though Major, it’s a pretty rarely used category and you’ll be fully apprised of the protocol should it be determined that you’ll work with any of us.”
“Okay, Dr. Mira? Lay one on me!”
As Daniel expertly directed the class Jack couldn’t help but be impressed. Sure he’d known that Daniel was a skilled speaker when he needed to be - hell he’d seen him sway a meeting room full of grunts and soldiers in the briefing room, but here - he was clearly in his element.
That wasn’t fair either, thought Jack. Just about anything Daniel set his mind to became his ‘element’ - he’d never have thought the man could make any kind of decent soldier, but with determination, he’d acquitted himself admirably - indeed to the point that Jack no longer even thought about whether or not Daniel was watching his back in the field - he didn’t have to, he just knew he was.
Sitting through this class was meant as a punishment - and was well deserved at that. But true to form and as any good ‘parent’ the General had given him exactly what he’d needed. He’d never make a great politician, nor mediator, nor negotiator... but he could get better. And watching Daniel absorb and then turn around any and all doubts and challenges from the military and scientific mindsets in the room, he knew he was learning at the feet of a master.
He could pay attention, and not make the class difficult for Daniel - it wasn’t his fault that Jack was stuck here. Not that he’d tell him that - of course. No, what else is there to know except that Jack was in hot water with the General, and it wouldn’t do to set a poor example for these new people.
|Genres:||Character Study, Friendship, Missing Scene/Episode-Related|
|Summary:||The reprimand Jack so richly deserves after his behaviour in "Learning Curve" doesn't turn out quite how he'd expected.|