"Please Daniel, come with me? You know you need a vacation as much as I do."
"But fishing, in Minnesota? Jack, please."
"I'll only be fishing some of the time," Jack said as he moved up behind Daniel and slipped his arms around the younger man's waist. "This'll be our first break since we-you know. It'll be great. We can laze by the lake, walk in the woods. Make love under the moonlight," he added lowering his voice seductively as he dropped his head onto Daniel's shoulder and nuzzled his neck.
"Jaaack, stop tempting me. You know I can't go now, I've got too much work backed up and SG7 are due off world in three days. I've still got a lot of work to do on that translation for them. You arranged this vacation weeks ago, when we weren't even very good friends let alone -you know," he said with a grin at Jack's euphemism for their relationship. "Besides, you'll only be gone a week, the time will fly."
Sulkily Jack said, "It'll go fast for you 'cause you'll work too damned hard, again and it'll drag for me 'cause I'll be missing ya."
"Stop playing the little boy lost. You need this break and you know it. Go, relax, enjoy and I'll greet you with a special gift on your return."
"Spe..c..i..al gift," Daniel replied, kissing Jack's eyes, nose and lips between each extended syllable.
"Can I have a sample now?"
Inside a darkened room the black padded rifle case was placed on the table and opened. A man wearing black gloves took the rifle out of the case.
Outside Senator Kinsey was emerging from a building surrounded by a crowd. The Senator, a smug smile on his face walked to his limo shaking hands with well wishers as he progressed.
A silencer and scope were fixed on the rifle. Bullets were placed in a clip and the clip into the rifle, one bullet was loaded into the chamber. The safety on the rifle was switched off. The rifle was set up so just the tip of the barrel poked through the curtains of the window overlooking where Kinsey was getting into his limo.
An eye looked through the scope and then the cross hairs were focused on Kinsey. A gloved finger squeezed the trigger.
Kinsey was hit in the left side of his chest and screams filled the air as he spun round and fell to the ground. Secret service men wearing sunglasses and brandishing weapons converged on the scene, looking in all directions as people fled in the chaos.
Working calmly and methodically the sniper disassembled the rifle and returned the gun to its case.
A door to an alley opened and Jack O'Neill walked out of the building. He was wearing khaki pants, a black long-sleeve shirt and black gloves. He was carrying the black foam rifle case and slipping on his sunglasses without looking back, he walked away as sirens could be heard in the background.
Glancing at Sam, Daniel raised an eyebrow finding it hard to believe the news that had been on the television all day. This was the first time that Teal'c had heard the news report that day so they were being quiet while he listened.
On the screen the reporter was announcing yet again how the assassination of Senator Kinsey had sent shock waves through the political life of Washington. Apparently with his party's national convention just weeks away, the Senator was considered by many to be their most likely choice to run for Vice President.
Just then Jack walked in and he was still wearing casual clothes, a cream shirt, with his sunglasses casually hung around his neck.
"Hey!" he said happily grinning at his friends, though his eyes lingered a little longer on Daniel.
As they all turned at the sound of his voice Sam, who was holding the remote control, hit the mute button. Not being as slow on the uptake as he liked certain people to think, he glanced quickly at the screen before he said, "I'm back. What'd I miss?"
"Sir, Senator Kinsey is dead. He was shot," answered Sam.
After a moment a stunned Jack said, "What?"
"It's true Jack, it's been all over the news for three days," Daniel said quietly.
"I've been on vacation," Jack said as if that explained everything.
"It looks like it was a professional hit. The shooter took him out from a hotel room across the street and then just disappeared," Sam reported.
Still reeling from the news, Jack wondered, "Any suspects?" It was difficult to get his head around this situation. Kinsey was dead?
Sam shook her head, "Police aren't saying anything."
Teal'c volunteered, "It is reasonable to assume that a man in Senator Kinsey's position would have a great many enemies."
Jack cocked his head on one side and stated, "Well that's a surprise!" just as General Hammond entered the room with a couple of SFs with him. Hammond had a serious look about him that rang warning bells in Jack's mind. "Colonel?" the general said briskly.
Jack replied cautiously, "General..."
"I'm sorry to have to do this," Hammond said looking Jack in the eye, "but these men are here to escort you to Peterson. From there you'll be flown to Andrews and then turned over to the civilian authorities in Washington."
For once, Jack was speechless and he was relieved when Daniel asked incredulously, "General, what is this?"
Without taking his eyes from Jack, Hammond replied, "Colonel O'Neill is under arrest for the murder of Senator Kinsey."
Eyes widening in shock, Jack asked, "What?"
Daniel's mouth dropped open and he felt as if someone had sucker punched him.
One of the SFs said, "You'll have to come with us, sir."
"I don't think so," Jack said witheringly.
Hammond said firmly, "Colonel..."
"General, I've been on vacation," replied Jack, confounded.
Hammond sighed before saying, "I believe you, Jack, but for the moment, we're going to have to co-operate."
Daniel and General Hammond were climbing the stairs to the Briefing Room closely followed by Sam and Teal'c. Watching Jack taken away under arrest had been very hard for Daniel, especially as no one knew of their new relationship, no one could know and Daniel had never felt so lonely.
"General, there's no way Jack could have done this," Daniel stated.
"I'm aware of that, son but my hands are tied."
"How could they possibly think that he's responsible? He wasn't even in Washington," Sam stated.
"Actually...it looks like he was." Major Paul Davis, the Pentagon liaison with the SGC was waiting for them in the Briefing Room.
The General nodded to him. "Major Davis is acting as liaison between the Pentagon and the District Attorney. He has a report for us. Major?" he said as they all took seats around the table.
Davis turned on the equipment that started up the presentation screen. "Thank you, sir. This was taken from a security camera in a hotel across the street from where the shooting occurred, just a couple of minutes after it happened." He paused the video on a shot of Colonel O'Neill in the khaki pants and black shirt on his way down the back stairs of the hotel. "Now, the trajectory of the bullet indicates that the shot did, in fact, come from this hotel."
"That doesn't prove anything," declared Sam.
Davis agreed, "No, but based on this evidence the FBI attained warrants to search both the colonel's house and his cabin. They didn't find anything but one of the neighbours told them that they saw Colonel O'Neill dumping something down by the lake. A diver was sent down who...came up with this." The major opened a folder and showed them some photographs. One of them clearly showed the rifle and the black carrying case. "Ballistics matched it with the bullet that killed Senator Kinsey. Well, I don't know what else to say, sir. It's certainly no secret that there was bad blood between them."
"Oh, come on...they had a few run-ins. That's hardly a motive for murder," Daniel stated. He could hardly believe what Davis was showing him. He knew, he knew that Jack couldn't have done this. Yet this evidence -
Hammond clarified. "The Senator was involved with a group of individuals who were unhappy with the way Stargate Command was being run."
"Yeah and they tried to blackmail General Hammond into resigning until Jack found evidence connecting Kinsey to their illegal activities and threatened to go public with it unless he got them to back off," Daniel continued.
"So, technically, Kinsey was protecting the SGC," Sam agreed, "even if he wasn't very happy about it."
"But that's not a motive to kill the guy, that's a motive to keep him alive," Daniel said triumphantly.
Teal'c burst his balloon. "Unfortunately, we can divulge none of this information to the civilian authorities."
"Senator Kinsey was shot in broad daylight on a public street in front of a dozen civilian witnesses. If we tried to shift this it a military court, it would be a political disaster for the current administration," Hammond said.
"With all due respect, sir, the current administration owes a lot to the colonel," Sam reminded the general.
"I'm aware of that, major, as is the President. Unfortunately, there's nothing he can do for Colonel O'Neill at this time. On the other hand, I'm not a politician." He took a breath and continued, "Which is why I'm suspending SG-1's off-world duties and assigning the three of you to get to the bottom of this. You have the full resources of this command at your disposal."
"Thank you, general," said Daniel with a nod at the man who had always backed them up. He should have known this time would be no different.
As Hammond and SG-1 left the briefing room, Major Davis remained at the table, looking at the image of Jack on the presentation screen.
The sound of the door slamming shut as the guards left him alone in his small cell jarred Jack's already shattered nerves. How the hell could this have happened to him? Why?
No, not why. Who?
It had to be a 'who' because as he was as innocent as the day he was born, well relatively speaking but, of this crime, definitely. Which meant someone had engineered this whole situation.
Trouble was he'd made quite a few enemies in his time. It would help if he knew what evidence they had against him but, of course, the authorities were keeping that information to themselves, at least, so far.
No, as usual he would have to rely on himself and, thank the Lord, his friends. SG1 would push and the general would be right with them.
SG1. Of course that brought his thoughts to Daniel and he wasn't sure he wanted to think of Daniel just then. It was difficult to get that last look of Daniel's out of his mind. His face was so expressive, his eyes. God he could get lost in those eyes. He'd been so distressed at what was happening to Jack that he'd forgotten their promise to each other to be very careful while on duty not to show too much emotion. Jack admitted to himself that it was easier for him; he'd worn a mask at work for years. It was just lucky, odd word to use in such circumstances, that everyone else was so caught up in watching what was happening to Jack to notice Daniel. Everyone but him, that is, who had eyes only for Daniel.
Damn I'm as bad as Danny. Can you blame me though?
He still found it hard to credit that this remarkable man was in love with him. After all the years they'd gone through life together as team mates, friends, occasionally butting heads, it had taken seven years to realise and finally admit they loved each other truly, madly, deeply. They had been very romantic that night - sappy actually, Jack had said. However, it had been the start of a relationship that neither had foreseen but that neither could imagine living without.
The love was soul deep and the sex had turned out to be mind-blowing, satisfying not only the body but also the heart. He'd been so happy over the past few weeks with Daniel and he believed the younger man when he said he'd never been happier. So much so that Jack had been worried at one stage that questions would be asked as Daniel was so much more relaxed at work. There had been a bit of teasing, mostly from Sam and Janet, wondering if Daniel had met someone but his usual blushing and stammering had quickly put paid to any rumours of a girlfriend. Jack's heart had slowed to its usual pace as no one even thought to suggest the possibility of a boyfriend!
Thinking now of his compassionate partner, Jack wondered how on earth Daniel was coping with this fucked-up mess. He was a strong man mentally, physically too now after so many years travelling the universe but on occasion, however, his emotions could override his self-control. It had been that way before they were together, how much worse would it be now?
Daniel had never been in a military prison before and he never expected to visit Jack O'Neill in one.
Now he wished so much that he'd accompanied Jack on his week's vacation. His reasons for not going had been valid but that didn't stop the guilt that roiled through him whenever he thought of the trouble he could have saved the man he loved, simply by doing as he'd asked.
Sam and Teal'c were waiting quietly in the visitation room awaiting Jack's arrival but Daniel was unable to stand still and was pacing.
The door opened and Jack was brought in wearing a grey prison uniform. His hands were chained together and then chained to his feet. At the sight of him Daniel felt a chill run down his spine. Jack shuffled across the room and took a seat at the table near where Sam and Teal'c were standing and they moved to sit opposite him.
Jack turned his head to look up at Daniel who had stopped pacing but hadn't moved to sit down. Jack felt his tension and one look in his eyes told Jack all he needed to know. Daniel was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders again. Jack knew all too well that Daniel was blaming himself. It hadn't occurred to him obviously that if they, whoever they were, had found a method to frame him for Kinsey's murder and if Daniel had been with him, it was likely they would have also implicated him somehow.
Daniel met Jack's eyes and nodding, sat down in the chair alongside him. "Jack...how are you...doing?" he asked. The question he really wanted to ask he couldn't because they weren't alone.
"I'm accused of a murder I didn't commit. How do you think I'm doing?" Jack was at his sarcastic best but the usual humour was conspicuous by its absence. Seeing the pain flit across his lover's eyes he apologised. "Sorry," he said to Daniel. "My temper is not at its best under the circumstances."
Daniel smiled his understanding and felt stupid for asking such a pointless question.
"When are you supposed to get transferred to Washington?" Sam asked.
"General Hammond has suspended our off-world duties in order that we may investigate this situation further," Teal'c informed his friend.
"Unfortunately, it's not going very well," Daniel said softly. He knew that wasn't what Jack wanted to hear but neither would he want to hear lies.
"There is evidence that places you at the scene of the shooting," Teal'c added.
Jack bristled. "I was fishing. Look...Kinsey wasn't exactly my best buddy and on occasion I felt like beating the crap out of him but I didn't kill him."
"They...somehow...have a video that clearly places you in Washington D.C. three days ago," Daniel said hesitantly.
"I don't believe this." Jack tipped his head back in frustration, staring at the ceiling. Did Daniel think he was guilty?
Sam licked her lips nervously. "We know you've been on secret missions before. We're not always privy to the details..."
"I wasn't on a mission, Carter. I was in Minnesota, on vacation," her commanding officer snapped before she had a chance to finish what she was saying.
"Did you encounter anyone that can verify your story?" Teal'c queried.
"I was twenty miles away from the closest town. Alone." Jack glanced at Daniel, whose guilt doubled as he sensed an accusation. "That was the point."
Teal'c gave a small frown. "Perhaps this is all part of an elaborate plan...and those responsible chose to act at a time when they knew you would have no alibi."
Sitting in the back seat of the car, ostensibly feeling tired; Daniel was unhappily recalling the conversation with Jack across the table of the prison visiting room. Nothing was said but then nothing could be in the circumstances, yet Daniel had felt the condemnation from Jack and he accepted it. One of the few complaints that Jack had about their relationship was that his dedication to his work, too much dedication Jack actually called it, kept them apart far too often.
They didn't have that much time to spend together anyway because of their crazy life style. They had to keep their relationship secret when on base, not even relaxing off world because that was far too dangerous. They could only spend time together when they were off duty at the same time and they would meet either at his place or at Jack's. If they had a weekend off they usually spent it at Jack's house, just overnight was often spent at his apartment. Too often though the precious time was eaten into because of his insistence at staying to finish off some translation or study some unusual artefact.
Daniel couldn't deny his blinkered commitment to his work was unfair to Jack and this last example was disastrous. It was true that the translation for SG7 was important and there was a time constraint but the truth was he'd done most of the work already and it could have been finalised in a few hours. Jack would have waited for him if only he'd told him that. But he'd prevaricated and led the colonel to believe he couldn't leave the mountain just then. The simple fact was that there were other things he would rather be doing than fishing in Minnesota. He wanted to spend time with Jack and he'd promised himself that he would go to the cabin next time Jack asked him but-.
He put his work before his partner for a stupid, selfish reason and now Daniel could lose him. Forever.
God what have I done?
Pull yourself together; stop wallowing, Jackson.
He took a deep breath.
"You okay back there, Daniel?" asked Sam who was driving.
"Yeah, I suppose."
"You do not sound 'okay', DanielJackson," commented Teal'c.
"I'm just so worried about Jack," he admitted. "I feel -responsible."
"Responsible?" Sam queried.
"Jack asked me to go to the cabin with him and I said I couldn't, I was too busy. I was lying," he said miserably.
"We've all used that line, Daniel. Jack knows it too. I think he just asks as a joke these days," Sam said.
"Not this time, he really wanted me to come. I should have gone. Perhaps then none of this would've happened."
"I do not think your supposition is correct, DanielJackson. It would seem someone went to a great deal of trouble to implicate O'Neill in this assassination."
"Yeah, Daniel and if you'd been with the colonel who knows what might've happened."
"Maybe, whatever. We can't let them railroad him like this. I've gotta do something to help."
"We will Daniel. Jack isn't only my CO, he's my friend too."
He might be your friend but he's my life.
Hammond called the remaining members of SG1 into a meeting in the Briefing Room for a progress report.
Sam was speaking first. "I checked the video tape to see if it had been doctored but it appears to be genuine."
"So, we're expected to believe either that's Jack or someone who happens to look exactly like him," Daniel commented.
"We have encountered duplicating technology before." Teal'c said.
"I was thinking the exact same thing but those mimic devices are under heavy guard," Sam reported, guessing that's where Daniel's thinking was leading.
It had been three years since the foothold situation at the SGC when aliens gained control of the facility by using mimic devices to impersonate and replace base personnel, including Jack, Daniel and the General.
"Because of the seriousness of the security breach, all mention of the incident was erased from official records. There are only a few people who know of the device," Hammond commented.
"Well, where are these devices now?" Daniel asked
Daniel insisted on accompanying Sam to Area 51. He needed to be doing something to help Jack and until they obtained some answers there was nothing useful he could accomplish at the Mountain. The General agreed that it would probably be a good idea as his proven diplomatic skills might be required to circumvent the bureaucratic attitude at the site.
As Sam had decided to go the whole hog and wear her dress blues, Daniel had put on the black suit that Jack liked. He allowed Sam to take the lead, her military rank opened more doors than he could, although he noted a couple of scientists seemed interested when they heard his name mentioned.
Eventually, in the company of a female scientist working on the project they were shown into a secure holding facility on the base. Opposite the door where they entered there was a wall of drawers that was protected by a grid of lasers criss-crossing in front of the wall.
"How many do you have?" asked Sam as they cautiously approached the bank of drawers.
"We recovered twelve from the SGC," the scientist replied as she placed her hand on a palm reading device and watched as the lasers shut down. "They're all stored here."
Daniel asked, "Has anyone been studying them recently?"
"We've all been focusing on the X-303." The scientist moved to one of the drawers, punched in a key code before she pressed her thumb on a finger-print reader. The drawer opened up to reveal the twelve mimic devices. "There we go. All present and accounted for."
Sam reached in to pick up one of the devices carefully turning it over in her hand. Daniel looked over her shoulder studying the device that he'd only seen once for a short time three years previously. It didn't look very much but it and other similar ones had almost caused the loss of the SGC.
"Innocuous, aren't they?" the scientist commented as Sam peered closely at the small piece of alien technology.
Leaving Area 51 they travelled directly back to the military prison. Daniel was dreading seeing Jack again. All he wanted to do was wrap his arms around the man and comfort him but they'd have to sit apart with a table between them, watched over not only by Sam but by guards and cameras. He hated this, hated it!
It was all too new this relationship with Jack. After years of being friends and on occasion being unable to even be that, they had finally stopping running and hiding from themselves and each other. They'd admitted they cared for each other much more than mere friends; they loved each other, were *in* love with each other. That revelation alone was difficult to live with but they also had to cope with keeping it a secret from the outside world. They had finally got to a place in their relationship they were comfortable with and now this -bombshell.
Jack seemed pleased to see them but he was quiet and even a little distant and Daniel wondered if the older man really blamed him for at least part of his present predicament.
Sam placed one of the mimic devices on the table in front of Jack. They were seated at the same table in the visiting room.
"It's a fake. All the mimic devices were switched."
"Someone duplicated the duplicators?" Jack quipped, attempting to lighten the situation. He didn't feel like joking one bit but he could see how upset and stressed they both were and that wasn't accounting for Daniel's self-imposed guilt trip. Jack so wanted to talk to Daniel, help him see past his own guilt to the truth but there was no way he could do that stuck in this damned place. Being a prisoner was bad enough, he'd been through much worse but he could've coped better if he knew Daniel was all right. Trouble was he knew the man too well and he knew he wasn't all right.
Sam was still talking and he knew he ought to listen but it was difficult to concentrate on her lecture mode, when all he could do was look at Daniel, who for some reason, wouldn't even meet his eyes.
"The last reported test of those devices was six months ago. They could have been taken any time after that," she concluded.
"There has got to be some way that we can use this to clear you," Daniel said.
"I don't think the alien technology defence is gonna fly," Jack replied with a touch of asperity.
"Jack, there's someone walking around out there that can make himself look exactly like you at the push of a button. That's gotta be relevant," Daniel insisted.
"It's classified information, Daniel."
Daniel shook his head in disbelief and frustration before finally raising his eyes. Jack saw the fear hidden there before Daniel hid behind a flash of hope. "But, we can use it to find the real assassin...maybe."
Daniel sat behind his desk gathering comfort from the ambience of this familiar room. Sam and Teal'c were also there trying to decide on the next course of action.
The archaeologist held up one of the fake mimic devices. "Sam run it by me, how do these things work exactly?"
"Well, it's a two part process. First you take somebody and pass them through a large scanning device which then uploads their exact image into a holographic sequencer."
"Which...this is." Daniel assumed.
"Exactly. Then you place that sequencer somewhere on your body and activate it and you instantly take on the appearance of the person you scanned."
"Was the scanning device taken?" Teal'c asked.
"No. It's still at Area 51. We checked it out," replied Sam.
"So, whoever did this can only impersonate a limited number of people? Those originally scanned." Daniel said.
"Just twelve to be precise, including Colonel O'Neill, Dr. Fraiser and you, Daniel."
"What about General Hammond?" asked Daniel.
"No, the alien impersonating him was trapped in the Gate room along with several others. They activated some kind of self-destruct and blew themselves up. And of course, Teal'c and I were never scanned."
Daniel nodded thoughtfully.
"I've requested all the personnel files on everyone who had access to these devices. We need to check them out," Sam said.
"Can you two do that?" Daniel asked with a slight frown.
"What'll you be doing?" asked Sam.
"I'm going to Washington. I need to look up an old acquaintance."
Dressed once again in his smart black suit, Daniel approached the rather insignificant office building. It looked just like any other office building in Washington yet this one housed one of the most insidious organisations Daniel had ever had the misfortune to cross swords with. This was the headquarters of the NID.
Taking a deep breath Daniel walked inside and presented himself at the reception. Some little time later he walked into one of the offices and spoke to a secretary.
"Doctor Daniel Jackson...I'm here to see Agent Barrett."
The secretary got up from her desk and showed the visitor through a door into Barrett's small office where the agent was seated behind his desk.
"Well Doctor Jackson. I was wondering how long it would be before one of you came by. I wasn't exactly expecting you though. However, welcome to NID Headquarters."
Teal'c paced around while Sam studied her computer screen.
"In three years, only eight people at Area 51 have had authorized access to the mimic devices," she reported.
"We must speak to them all," Teal'c stated.
"Hmm, most of them have been transferred to the X-303 project, so they're still living in Nevada. Wait a minute...there's something..." she said as she showed a picture and some detailed information on the computers screen to Teal'c. "Dr. Brent Langham."
"Killed in an automobile accident three weeks ago," she read from the screen.
"Given the circumstance, that would appear to be a highly unlikely coincidence," Teal'c responded.
"A good place to start," said Sam, rising to her feet.
Daniel was sitting in a chair on the other side of Barrett's desk. He looked quite relaxed and at his ease. Only someone who knew him really well would understand the tight rein he kept on his emotions.
"What exactly are you implying here, Doctor? That the NID had a hand in the assassination of a U. S. Senator?"
"Very few organizations have the resources to pull off something like this."
"And the man accused of the crime happens to belong to one of them."
Daniel's gut clenched at the truth of that statement and he simply added, "The SGC is not behind this."
"Senator Kinsey was no friend of Stargate Command. In fact, he tried to take you down more than once."
"We don't engage in criminal activity, Agent Barrett, which is more than I can say for the NID."
"If you're referring to the Prometheus incident, that was orchestrated by a handful of rogue agents."
"What about Steveston, Oregon? You sat by and watched while the Goa'uld took over an entire town of innocent civilians."
"That was an officially sanctioned operation and it would have succeeded if it wasn't for the interference of your team."
"Are you kidding me? Your agents were compromised and your organization was about to be infiltrated."
"Look, Doctor Jackson." While he carried on speaking Agent Barrett picked up a piece of paper and began to write on it. "The video tape of Colonel O'Neill clearly places him at the scene of the crime and the murder weapon was found near his cabin. So..." He pushed the note across the desk for Daniel to read. "If you'll excuse me...," Daniel read the note which said 'Stanton Park 3 pm' and raised his eyes to meet those of Barrett. "I've got work to do." Daniel nodded and got up to leave.
At 3pm Daniel walked through Stanton Park looking out for the well dressed, medium built form of Agent Barrett. Eventually he found the man seated on a bench reading a newspaper. Daniel approached cautiously and took a seat next to him.
Barrett, reading aloud from the newspaper said, "You know, it says here that by 2075 the Earth's oceans will be too warm to sustain most coral reefs and once they're gone, the entire ecosystem of the planet will collapse."
"That's a cheerful thought."
"We spend all of our time trying to protect the world from the Goa'uld, maybe we should worry a little more about protecting it from ourselves," Barrett said, surprising Daniel a little.
"What are we doing out here, Agent Barrett?"
"My office is bugged. It's standard procedure to record all conversations that take place at NID Headquarters. What I'm about to tell you, Doctor Jackson, nobody else can know, especially my superiors."
"What're you talking about?"
"There's a cancer at the NID, a shadow organization that operates outside the law. It's time they were exposed for who they really are."
"The Prometheus incident-that was the last straw. After that, I was called to the White House for an assignment."
"What exactly does this have to do with Colonel O'Neill?" At that moment Daniel would have listened to the devil if it could help Jack.
Barrett sighed, "Senator Kinsey was working for me. He was about to give me enough evidence to bring down the entire leadership of the shadow group."
"Kinsey was helping, he was what -betraying his colleagues? How did you convince him to do that?" he asked Barrett.
"Let's just say I know about a few of the skeletons in the Senator's closet-and, it is an election year."
"You blackmailed him." Why was he surprised? This was the NID after all.
"I'll do whatever it takes to bring these people down, Doctor."
Barrett suggested it would be better if they walked for a while and they took a well used path.
"So, who else knows about this?" Daniel asked.
"As of this moment, the President, a few members of his staff and you," Barrett replied.
"You're working alone?" This was a surprise.
"The smaller the operation, the less chance of it being compromised. You have no idea how far the corruption goes, Doctor. Not even the SGC is immune."
"Then you're taking a big risk talking to me."
"I need your help. Besides, I think there's more that you're not telling me. You've seen the evidence against Colonel O'Neill, what makes you so sure that he's innocent?"
Daniel smiled, having no idea of the effect of it on Barrett. Jackson didn't bear much resemblance to the quiet unassuming man he'd met during the whole fiasco of that Wormhole X-treme operation. He was more relaxed in his own skin, much more confident. Something major must have happened in the intervening time. Barrett would've loved to know what it was. Anything happening in the SGC was of interest, yet somehow he wanted this for himself.
"When you work with someone that long, you just know," Daniel said softly.
"No, there's something more than that. There's something you're not telling me," Barrett commented dragging his attention back on topic.
Daniel frowned. "Your job requires you to be suspicious of everybody, even your co-workers. Where I come from, we trust each other with our lives every day. Maybe that's something you can't understand."
"Well, I guess it's never too late to learn."
General Hammond called yet another meeting in the Briefing Room and besides Sam and Teal'c, Doctor Fraiser was also present.
Sam was standing in front of the presentation screen showing a schematic of the alien technology. "When the mimic devices were first brought to Area 51 a team of eight scientists was assigned to study them. The Pentagon was hoping to be able to adapt the devices for use in the field. However, while the original holographic images that were created by the aliens seemed to last indefinitely, those that were created by the scientists in the lab were only sustainable for three to four minutes at a time due to problems with electromagnetic interference. So, the project was scaled back and five of the original team members were reassigned. The remaining three were Dr. Singh, Dr. Healey, and this fellow...." She used the remote to change the picture on the screen to display the record for Dr. Langham. "...Dr. Brent Langham. They continued working on the devices for another six months with no new breakthroughs. Finally, the entire project was shut down and, uh, Dr. Healey and Dr. Singh were transferred to the X-303 project."
"And Dr. Langham?" General Hammond enquired.
"He was supposedly killed in car crash two days before the transfer was due to take effect," Sam reported.
Dr. Fraiser took up the narrative. "The body was burned beyond recognition. He was identified through dental records but the coroner missed something. The toxicology report came back clean, no signs of any drugs or alcohol in the victim's blood."
Hammond frowned, "Why is that unusual?"
"Well, Dr. Langham was epileptic. His condition required him to take regular doses of anti- convulsion drugs. There should have been traces of those drugs in his blood," Dr. Fraiser replied.
"The dental records were falsified. The body recovered at the crash site was someone else," Teal'c said.
"So, you're saying this Dr. Langham took the mimic device and engineered his own disappearance?" Hammond supposed.
Sam pursed her lips, glancing once more at the computer screen. "Or someone engineered it for him."
"Okay, are we suggesting then that this scientist shot Kinsey?" Janet Fraiser asked.
"I doubt it. He didn't have any paramilitary training," Sam answered.
Teal'c commented, "Perhaps Dr. Langham merely provided the mimic devices for a fee."
"But he can lead us to whoever was responsible," Janet said thoughtfully.
Hammond stood. "I don't care what it takes, I want you to find this Dr. Langham."
Driving his rental car, Daniel pulled up outside a warehouse. Barrett, who was sitting in the passenger seat, had given Daniel directions.
"Okay...we're here, what is this?" asked Daniel, looking around trying to threat assess the way he knew Jack would if he were here.
"The rifle used to kill Senator Kinsey was not the kind of thing you could pick up at your local sporting goods store. This is a one-stop shop for unregistered weapons, high-end merchandise and professional clientele. There's a good chance our shooter was here," explained Barrett.
Daniel frowned, puzzled by this revelation. "If you know they're selling illegal guns, why don't you shut them down?"
"I allow them to operate in exchange for information. Sometimes you've got to cross the line, Dr. Jackson. You've just got to know when to step back," Barrett explained as they approached the building. He waved at a security camera sited over the entrance and the door was opened by a large man. Barrett stepped through. "Hey, Leo."
Daniel followed, nodding at the strange man and said, "Leo..." When in Rome-
They continued into the warehouse, which was little more than a large concrete room filled with weapons and gear. Daniel followed Barrett as he moved towards a desk behind which a man dressed in designer clothes was sitting. Barrett calmly sat in one of the chairs facing the desk and Daniel sat next to him, noticing there were also several bodyguards present. Leo walked around the desk to stand behind and to the left of his employer.
The man said in a not-unfriendly voice, "Agent Barrett...when're you going to get yourself a new suit?"
"Black is good for any occasion," replied the agent.
"Yeah, it's also thinning. Who's your friend?" he asked eyeing Daniel up and down making the younger man squirm inwardly.
Daniel answered for himself. "Doctor Daniel Jackson, presently attached to the Air Force."
"We can talk in front of him," Barrett confirmed.
"What can I do for you?" the man asked.
"We want to know about a 700 with a customized breakdown stock."
"Yeah? I moved one last week."
Daniel spoke up. "Well, in all likelihood, the weapon you sold was used to assassinate a United States Senator."
Raising an eyebrow the weapon's dealer asked, "What's your point?"
Barrett got the conversation back on track. "Was the buyer a regular customer?"
"No, I'd never seen him before."
Barrett reached into his pocket and pulled a still of Jack from the video and showed it to the dealer. "Is that the guy?"
"That's the guy."
Daniel closed his eyes at the unwelcome news but opened them when he sensed he was being watched, to find Barrett looking at him. The steady look was somewhat unnerving and Daniel pulled his eyes from the agent and scanned the warehouse instead.
A sudden thought occurred to Daniel as he glanced around the well-stocked warehouse.
"Did he look at any other weapons besides the 700?" he asked the arms dealer.
"Yeah, as a matter of fact, he did," The dealer gestured with his head and Leo picked up a rifle. "A sound-suppressed revolver rifle."
"Did he handle it?" asked Daniel. God, this could be just what they were looking for.
One more important point. "Was he wearing gloves?"
Understanding only too well the point Daniel was making, Barrett asked, "Has anybody handled it since?"
"No, just Leo here."
"How much?" Daniel asked, not caring. If Hammond balked he'd pay the damned costs himself.
Some time later Daniel and Agent Barrett were ensconced in Daniel's hotel room in Washington DC where they were studying fingerprints on a computer screen.
"There's one full set of prints and one partial on the second rifle and neither of them match Colonel O'Neill." Daniel couldn't keep the relief out of his voice.
Barrett commented, "It's a little strange."
Frowning at the other man's comment, Daniel said, "Well, assuming that the full set matches our friend Leo; that would mean that the partial belongs to the shooter."
A little stung Daniel said, "It's the best lead we have."
Barrett explained, "The shooter probably won't have a criminal record. In fact, there's a good chance he may not exist on any database at all."
Maybe not a criminal database, Daniel realised. "Except maybe NID personnel files. You said it yourself, Agent Barrett. There's a cancer in your organization. Kinsey was going to bring them down, so they had him killed. So, did they hire an outside contractor...or use one of their own?"
This man never ceased to amaze him. From what he understood, Jackson had never been involved in a criminal case before, let alone investigated one yet he had a mind like a steel trap. Barrett stared at him for a moment before saying, "Give me the disk."
Daniel took the disk out of the computer and handed it to his colleague who said, "I'll check the files and call you in a couple of hours."
Daniel nodded and Barrett headed for the door but as he opened it he turned back and gave Daniel a half-smile. "Good call checking for a second weapon."
"Thanks," Daniel said distractedly, his mind already on the possibilities. Surely now they would prove that Jack couldn't have pulled the trigger.
"You're welcome," Barrett said closing the door behind him a little peeved at being so clearly sidelined.
Back at Cheyenne Mountain they were also hard at work trying to clear the colonel's name. Janet was seated at the computer with Sam and Teal'c crowding her.
"So, where do we start?" Sam asked.
Teal'c commented, "It is probable that Dr. Langham has assumed a new identity."
Sam loomed over Janet's shoulder, "Yeah, new name, new address, new social security number..."
"He can't change his medical condition," Janet smiled.
"Do not many thousands of people in this country suffer from this affliction?" Teal'c asked.
"Yes, but there's a wide range of treatments that vary from case to case," Janet explained as her fingers tapped away at the keyboard. "See, Dr. Langham was on a very specific combination of drugs, including Primidone and Carbamazepine. So, we can access the national pharmaceutical database and focus on new prescriptions written in the past three weeks. We then cross reference that with age and gender and we should be able to narrow down the field."
Finally understanding, Teal'c nodded his head.
Daniel was sitting in the rental car, parked on the street in Washington and talking on the phone to Hammond.
"Have Teal'c and Sam found anything yet?"
"They have a lead on a missing scientist from Area 51. They think he may have been the one who took the mimic devices," the General told him.
"Well, if it turns out the shooter was NID; we should be able to track him using the fingerprints we found on the second rifle."
"What about this Agent Barrett? Are you sure you can trust him?" Hammond asked.
"I don't know. I think so." Daniel was pretty sure he would know if he couldn't trust the man.
"You know you're not authorized to tell him about the foothold incident." Hammond reminded him.
"I know, sir. I'm hoping it won't come to that. I'll keep you posted." Daniel hung up the phone just as Barrett got in the car. "So?"
Barrett nodded, "You were right. The prints match an NID agent named Mark Devlin." He opened a folder and showed Daniel a file and after perusing it for a few minutes Daniel started up the car and drove off.
Teal'c and Sam pulled up to the curb in front of a house in a rather ordinary neighbourhood. They were both in civilian clothing with Teal'c wearing a hat to cover his tattoo. Getting out of the vehicle they walked to the house where he knocked on the door. A few seconds later a man answered.
"Can I help you?" he asked pleasantly.
"Yeah, we're looking for a mister..." Sam consulted the file she was carrying as if checking the name when in fact she was checking the photograph. The man at the door looked nothing like Dr. Langham. "David Zwydel."
"Yeah, that's me. What's this about?"
"Our apologies. You are not the man we are looking for," Teal'c said.
"Sorry, I must have made a mistake...uh, have a good day," Sam said awkwardly and the man waved off the error and closed the door.
Sam had only gone a few steps before she turned to Teal'c and asked, "That guy look familiar to you?"
Teal'c replied, "He did not."
Sam frowned, "Really? God, he looked familiar to me." Then stopping halfway back to the car, Sam said. "No...wait, wait, wait. I know that guy. He was one of the Airmen back at the SGC. I'm positive."
Without hesitation Teal'c turned and he and Sam returned quickly to the front door and knocked again. "Mr. Zwydel..." Without waiting for an answer Teal'c tried to open the door. "Mr. Zwydel!" Sam yelled.
They looked at each other and said simultaneously, "Around back."
Splitting up they ran opposite sides of the house, Sam heading towards the rear where she saw Zwydel run out of the back of his house and vault over the rear fence. She set out in pursuit. Her quarry ran down the alley behind his house, turning to see if he was being followed. He ran past a van and just as he reached the back end of the vehicle, Teal'c stepped out and sweeping his arm out at shoulder height, locking the shoulder and elbow, Zwydel made contact, the effect was instantaneous; the man dropped to the ground unconscious.
"Nice shot," Sam grinned.
Teal'c bent down and tore Zwydel's shirt open at the neck to reveal a mimic device on his chest and removing it, the hologram of Zwydel dissolved to reveal Dr. Langham.
"Dr. Langham, I presume," Sam commented.
General Hammond entered the Briefing Room and took his seat at the head of the table. Sam and Teal'c were already waiting for him.
"You found Dr. Langham?" he asked.
"He's in a holding cell on level 16," Sam reported.
"Well done. Has he said anything?"
"No, sir," Sam said. "We're letting him sweat but he did ask for a lawyer."
"That could be a problem," the General said thoughtfully. "We're not exactly following proper procedure here."
"Sir, this guy stole top-secret material and is an accessory to murder," Sam responded.
"Dr. Langham is also the only one that can verify Colonel O'Neill's innocence," Teal'c added.
"Not necessarily. Dr. Jackson and Agent Barrett are pursuing a lead that may take them to the real assassin."
"And if it doesn't?" Sam asked, clearly unhappy.
"I know how you feel. No one wants Colonel O'Neill back more than I do but this is a delicate situation." The General turned to address Teal'c; "I understand this man had some injuries when you brought him in?"
"Dr. Langham was reluctant to accompany us back to the SGC. He required some convincing," Teal'c explained looking not in the least repentant.
Hammond sighed, "All I'm saying is we have to be careful. We're operating way outside our jurisdiction and like it or not, this man has rights."
"He will volunteer the information. Of that, I am certain."
General Hammond and Teal'c exchanged a knowing look.
Dr. Langham sat at a table in one of the holding cells on level 16 under the watchful gaze of two guards. He glanced up as he heard the beep of the lock on the door being activated. Teal'c opened the door and lingered in the doorway momentarily, for effect.
It apparently worked, as Dr. Langham was visibly nervous. Teal'c walked over and slowly sat down at the table, opposite. He settled himself comfortably in the chair his eyes never leaving Langham's. The Jaffa did not blink. Leaning forward fractionally, Teal'c folded his hands on the table in front of him and continued to stare.
"Look, this is a waste of time. I got nothin' to say," Langham blustered. It was just a pity that his body language did not match his comment.
Silently Teal'c continued to stare at him and his eyes repeatedly darted away and then back to see if Teal'c was still staring.
"Okay, yes, I took the mimic devices. I switched them with the fakes but I didn't know what they were planning to do with them."
Teal'c, still as a statue, continued to stare.
"What? You think I'm part of some kind of murder conspiracy? Well, you're wrong."
Leaning forward slightly Teal'c continued to stare.
"All right, I'll tell you what I know but you have to promise me protection."
Teal'c merely stared.
Agent Mark Devlin carefully peeked between the crack in his curtains when he heard the car pull up outside. He knew Agent Barrett by sight and recognised Dr. Jackson from photographs he'd been shown when this whole plan had been hatched. He watched, a little surprised to see the supposedly gun-shy civilian pull out a 9mm handgun as the two men got out of the car. With a sly smile he slipped out the back door.
Daniel glanced at Barrett before knocking on the door and when there was no answer he knocked again.
"Now what?" he asked the Agent.
Barrett showed him by simply kicking the door in. Daniel gave him a sheepish look and followed him inside. Both had drawn their guns as they carefully checked the house. Daniel found the whole thing rather surreal. He'd never envisioned himself checking out a criminal's place; gun in hand.
They reached the kitchen and it was there they saw several cans of gasoline wired to a digital timer with only seven seconds left on the countdown. Without word or glance both men turned and ran from the house only making it as far as the bottom of the front steps before the house exploded. They were both thrown forward landing on the front lawn.
Daniel landed on his back and Barrett landed on top of him, the agent seemed in no hurry to move either.
Gasping for breath, Daniel asked, "What are you doing?"
"Covering you," Barrett answered with a sly grin.
Covering him was right as the agent was lying across his lower half with one hand resting on his chest. Daniel was very aware of the weight of the man.
"Thank you...get up."
"Right," Barrett replied with a sigh.
They rolled apart and both stared back at the burning house.
Teal'c still didn't move from his position facing Langham even when the door opened to allow the entry of the general and Sam Carter. They had been watching the interplay from the security control room.
They took seats either side of the table and Sam asked, "When you first switched the devices with the fakes, where'd you take them?"
"Washington," Langham replied, no hesitation in his attitude now. "They wanted me to take them myself because they thought using a middleman would be too risky."
"To whom are you referring?" Teal'c spoke for the first time.
"They call themselves the Committee. They run the whole show," Langham replied.
The general moved forward in his seat and stared hard at the scientist. "We're going to need names. You're looking at conspiracy to commit murder."
"I didn't know they were going to use the devices to kill anybody," Langham said panicked. "They told me that they were going to analyze the technology for possible commercial applications."
"Why would you believe that?" asked Sam incredulously.
"You don't think money has anything to do with this?" Langham scoffed. "In the last six months there have been at least ten new patents that could be traced back directly to Area 51. I'm talking industrial chemicals, metallurgy, computers...you name it."
"So, they're selling alien technology?" Sam commented pensively. There could be innumerable uses for some of the stuff that had passed through the mountain and some of them didn't bear thinking about.
"No, they're buying it!" Langham said the irony not lost on him. "The members of the Committee aren't spies or secret agents. They're businessmen. The rogue NID agents work for them. They've got hundreds of millions invested and they expect to make billions in return by incorporating alien advancements into their product lines."
"I thought this was about protecting the planet," Sam responded.
"Well, nobody said it had to be a non-profit business," Langham shrugged.
"Give us the names and we'll ensure your safety," Hammond stated.
Shaking his head a little and giving the general a wry smile, Langham replied. "Oh, well, I'm gonna need a few more details. You work for the Air Force. You don't have a witness protection program."
"But we do have the Stargate," Sam said with a glance at the general.
"What do you mean?" the scientist asked looking from one to the other, his eyes finally settling on the general.
"Well, if these people are as powerful as you say they are, there's probably nowhere on Earth you'd be safe," the general explained. "Fortunately, we have other options."
Jack paced his cell, not that he could pace far in the small cell but he needed to keep moving. He walked eight paces the long way and six paces the short, back and forth. It didn't stop him thinking but it somehow stopped him from screaming his frustration. He didn't need the guards coming to quieten him. He'd had enough humiliation already.
He'd thought he could cope; after all he'd been in prison before. This place was a hotel compared to some prisons he'd been in but at least on those occasions he'd understood why he was imprisoned there. From his point of view it had been wrong but from theirs it had been right, he was the interloper. He didn't like it but he understood.
This was different. He did not deserve this. By any definition he was not guilty of any crime. He was being railroaded and the worst thing for him was the need to rely on others to get him out of the mess he was in. He was a doer and he was never good at sitting back and letting others take care of what he saw as his responsibility. All right, this was hardly his fault or his responsibility but he felt the need to be in control and that was impossible stuck in this damned cell.
He knew that on the outside they'd be doing all they could to help him, pulling every string possible and even creating a few of their own. He had faith that his friends would leave no stone unturned but unfortunately there were no guarantees. No matter how clever Carter was or how far outside the box Daniel could think, whoever had planned this knew who the players would be and presumably took that into account. He didn't know yet, though he had his suspicions of course, who was behind this but they were clever and they had resources. That much was obvious.
He realised that a lot would depend on how far the general would back him up, back up his team. Hammond had told him that he believed in his innocence but he still had to play by the rules. He had been known to bend rules before, of course, and Jack knew the general had faith in him and he owed the man his own faith in return. He felt it was fair to assume that the general would give him every support he possibly could and probably some he shouldn't.
What it came down to was that he would be forced to do what he hated, sit and wait and let others work for him. He smiled, realising that at least Daniel would be occupied, not too occupied to worry on some level obviously, that simply wasn't Daniel's way but whatever he was doing it wouldn't be pacing up and down in a six by eight room.
Thinking of Daniel was actually the one subject he'd been trying to avoid because it was too painful knowing the younger man would be so concerned for him. At least he wasn't alone. He was surrounded by friends, good friends.
He also hoped that if things ended badly for him, those same friends would help Daniel. He feared that if he couldn't beat this trap Daniel would be the one needing support.
Almost before Daniel had closed his hotel room Barrett rounded on him.
"All right, we need to talk. Who else knows about this operation at Stargate Command?"
"Why?" Daniel asked with a frown as he took his coat off and laid it on the bed and then dropped his gun down on top of it before walking into the bathroom.
"Because, Dr. Jackson, we've got a leak."
"Oh, wait a minute..." he replied emerging from the bathroom still holding a washcloth.
"Agent Devlin was waiting for us," interrupted Barrett. "That means somebody obviously tipped him off."
Considering for a moment, Daniel gave a small shake of his head, "Not necessarily. Think about it...you used a computer to access those personnel files, right? Maybe somebody tracked you, Agent Barrett."
"Agent Barrett, Doctor Jackson! Don't we know each other now to dispose of that? My name is Peter."
Before Daniel could answer a cell phone rang and Daniel reached for his back pocket.
"Don't...don't answer that," demanded Barrett.
Sparing Barrett only a passing glance, Daniel looked at the ID on his cell. "It's General Hammond."
"If they think we're dead, it may be our only advantage," Barrett insisted.
"You trust me, you trust my team-Peter." Dismissing Barrett's concerns, Daniel sat on the bed and answered his cell. "General, what's happening? Did he talk? No, that's great news. Yes, sir...understood."
He hung up, turned and found Barrett rummaging through the mini-fridge in the room. He pulled out a couple of bottles of water.
"What is it?" the agent asked when he realised that Daniel was watching him.
"We've got the names of those responsible for the assassination," Daniel told him.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Barrett asked frowning.
"We have an inside source," he replied absently chewing his lower lip. Daniel wasn't used to all this covert stuff and found it somewhat distasteful.
Barrett was distracted by the movement wondering what the lip tasted like and took a second to ask, "Who?"
"I can't," Daniel replied with difficulty.
"This assignment came from the White House, Daniel. If you don't tell me what I need to know, I'm gonna have to make a phone call," Barrett said stepping little closer. "You're the one who's always talking about trust."
Barrett handed him a water bottle and as Daniel took it he suddenly remembered all the times he and Jack had shared water, not from a plastic bottle like this and not chilled water to be sure. But the sharing of water was indicative of how much they shared in their lives and Daniel wanted that to continue. He would do whatever it took. Including trusting an NID man.
"The man who shot Kinsey was using a piece of alien technology, a device capable of creating a flawless holographic disguise...in this case, a duplicate image of Colonel O'Neill. It was a perfect plan to get rid of Kinsey and the Colonel at the same time."
"Wait a minute," Barrett said shocked, "why have I never heard about this technology before?"
Daniel licked his increasingly dry lips and with a sigh explained. "We encountered the devices three years ago during a foothold situation. It was a close one. Kinsey was trying to shut down the Stargate program for being too risky, so the whole thing was covered up by Presidential order."
"Who's your source, Daniel?" Damn if he keeps doing that I'm never going to be able to concentrate. Who the hell described him as a geek?
"A scientist at Area 51. He's the one who smuggled the devices out." In for a penny in for a pound. He just hoped the general would understand.
"That's not enough." Barrett said firmly.
"They're on to us, Peter. If we don't move fast, they're going to disappear," Daniel replied just as definitively.
"We need more than the testimony of one scientist who made a deal for immunity." Barrett paced the small room.
"That's all we have," said Daniel not really caring about testimony or immunity.
Barrett stopped his pacing and looked at Daniel with a peculiar expression. "What?" Daniel asked.
"Senator Kinsey's not dead. He's in a coma. We've got him under 24 hour guard," the agent stated baldly.
"Why the hell didn't you tell me?" asked Daniel angrily.
"Because we needed to keep his condition a secret for his protection," Barrett shrugged. "You have to understand, Daniel, if and when he regains consciousness, he'll be able to provide us with the information we need to bring these people down."
"So we're both keeping secrets," Daniel acknowledged, knowing there was one he must keep at all costs.
"That's the way the game's played."
"Not a game I like," Daniel replied with feeling.
Needing to change the subject Daniel motioned to his cheek to indicate that Peter had something on his face, "You've got a..." handing Barrett the washcloth he had used to wipe his own face.
Nodding his thanks Peter took the cloth and he carefully cleaned the dried blood from his face. "Anyway, the, uh, Pentagon's been informed. They're sending a man over to the hospital. Did I...?" He motioned to his face, querying if the mark was gone.
"Close enough," Daniel said, suddenly uncomfortable with looking too closely at the other man's face. "So, who are they sending?"
"A liaison officer," Barrett replied absently.
A cold hand clutched at Daniel's stomach. "Major Davis?" he queried softly.
"Major Davis." Barrett confirmed.
Daniel got to his feet and began putting his gun and jacket back on.
"What?" the agent asked.
"There are twelve alien devices capable of mimicking specific individuals," Daniel explained.
"Major Davis was one of them."
Inside a hospital in Washington DC Agent Devlin walked alone into one of the elevators. After the doors closed, he pulled a mimic device out of his pocket and opening his shirt placed it on his chest. With a slight shimmer effect he suddenly took on the appearance of Major Davis. Exiting the elevator he walked down the hall and approached a room that had two servicemen guarding the door.
"Sergeant..." he said.
"Major Davis," the sergeant replied to the doppelganger.
"I've come to check on the Senator."
"Yes, sir," said the sergeant opening the door for the Major.
The doppelganger closed the door and he pulled a pistol from his inside pocket and screwed on a silencer as he glanced over to see Senator Kinsey lying in bed. Kinsey was surrounded by machines and was clearly unconscious.
Five men are seated at a table in a dark nondescript room that gives the impression of being a bunker. This was the Committee, which Agent Barrett had spoken of to Daniel. A door opened and Agent Devlin walked in and took a seat on one end of the table.
"Agent Devlin, how'd it go?" the committee spokesman asked.
"Kinsey's dead," Devlin replied.
"Are you sure? He was supposed to be dead the first time," another member asked, an edge to his voice.
"Well, he wasn't wearing a bullet-proof vest this time. So, yeah, I'm sure. There were a few complications though."
Devlin explained how he'd been in the hospital room, gun cocked and ready to fire when alarms filled the air and he heard movement outside the door. He swiftly stowed his gun in the back waistband of his pants as the doors opened and the guards came in. On their heels came doctors and nurses who swiftly moved the Senator's bed out of the room.
"What's going on?" Devlin asked in the guise of Davis.
"Fire alarm. We need to move him." Devlin made to follow and the Sergeant and his partner moved to stop him. "We're gonna have to ask you to wait here, sir."
"And why is that, Sergeant?"
Before the man could answer Devlin moved like lightning and expertly took out both men before he headed down the hall after Kinsey.
"Secondary casualties are not our concern," the committee spokesman interrupted Devlin's narrative. "Major Davis can answer for those as well."
Devlin continued his report. At the end of the hallway he saw Kinsey being loaded onto an elevator but got there just after the doors closed. He waited to see which way the elevator went and noticed it was heading all the way down to the basement. He ran for the stairs and leapt down two at a time before he raced down a long corridor to burst into a locker room.
"We still have a loose end. They have Dr. Langham in custody," another member interrupted.
"That's not important," the spokesman said. "His accusations will be little more than a minor inconvenience for us. Instead of worrying about him, I suggest we use the mimic devices to eliminate another thorn in our side."
"Someone at the SGC?" asked Devlin.
"General Hammond," the spokesman replied. "Once he's out of the way we can replace him with someone more...sympathetic to our concerns."
"If they know about the devices, they'll be prepared for something like this," Devlin commented.
"Devlin's right. Besides, now that Kinsey's dead, we have other options," a member agreed.
"I think it's time we send someone to talk to Hammond. Get him to reconsider those retirement plans."
"He doesn't seem like the type to bow to outside pressure," the spokesman said.
"Well, then, we are going to have to be very convincing."
"Agent Devlin, I would like you to pay General Hammond a visit. Impress upon him our concerns for the safety and well-being of his family," the spokesman said.
"If he still refuses to play ball?" Devlin asked.
"Then kill him," the committee spokesman said harshly.
Just then Agent Devlin's image began to shift and blink and a hint of Daniel showed through momentarily.
"What is this?" asked a committee member puzzled.
Daniel remembered that moment in the hospital locker room when the Davis doppelganger had barged in brandishing his gun. He'd taken a perverse delight in zatting the man who had caused his Jack so much trouble. Barrett had been right behind him ready and waiting but he never got a look in. Daniel had walked over and pulled the mimic device off Devlin and the Davis hologram dissolved.
Yet another hologram dissolved now, this time of Devlin to reveal Daniel standing at the end of the table instead.
"General Hammond sends his regards," said a smiling archaeologist glancing around the table at five very surprised men.
The doors at either end of the room opened and NID agents entered, led by Peter Barrett.
"All right, get your hands up. Come on, get 'em up!" Barrett ordered.
"Well, the hologram lasted six and a half minutes. That's a new record for us," Daniel commented pulling the alien device from his chest.
"You took a big risk," Barrett commented as his men herded the committee members from the room.
"I knew you were listening," Daniel said with a twist of his lips.
"What makes you think I was gonna come in here before you got them to incriminate themselves?"
"When you work with someone, you just know," Daniel replied with a smile.
"Daniel," Peter said quietly, "when you work with someone there are other things one knows, one discovers."
"Yes, I suppose," replied Daniel with a slight frown. He gave a hesitant laugh, guessing the time had come at last. "What is that you've discovered working with me?"
"Oh, that official records are not only dry, they are woefully inaccurate and inadequate."
"For example, you are described as six feet tall of medium build, light brown hair and blue eyes. I suppose technically that is accurate but it in no way describes you. What it doesn't say is what I see," Peter said, his voice dropping an octave as he stepped closer to Daniel. "I see a man who is handsome and magnetic. You are so much more than just medium build, Daniel, you are perfection."
Daniel flushed at the measuring look Barrett was giving him and was speechless at the sudden change in the man. He'd have had to be blind and deaf not to have seen the man's developing interest, but this was more than he'd expected.
"It also describes a very intelligent man, with various diplomas and letters after his name. A man whose genius intellect opened the Stargate in a ridiculously short time when the supposed best minds couldn't even get a clue. It doesn't say that you can put the intelligence to a myriad of fields and put it into practice like a professional. To say I am impressed would be an understatement."
"Thank you, Peter. I don't know what else to say." Of course, he'd seen the signals but he'd been so wrapped up in solving Jack's problem that he hadn't given it much consideration, now he realised he misunderstood the man's seriousness.
"You could say yes to a dinner invitation," said Peter, taking another step bringing him almost into Daniel's personal space.
"I could, but I'm not going to," Daniel said gently, taking a step back. "I like you, Peter, really. Just not like that."
"Ah, I thought maybe you weren't available," he said sadly.
Daniel raised an eyebrow, "Erm-"
"Jack's a lucky guy," Peter said wistfully.
Daniel fidgeted, no other word for it, he fidgeted and he couldn't help it. His hands wanted to touch Jack so badly and knowing he would soon be coming in through that door he didn't seem to be able to control their movements. Not that touching Jack would be a possibility.
Even though it had been over forty-eight hours since the Committee members had been arrested by the NID, actually getting Jack released from the military prison hadn't been straightforward. Even at this late stage it had taken pressure from General Hammond to secure his release and that was provided he was returned directly to Cheyenne Mountain under guard. Apparently the whole thing was so damned delicate it was being treated with kid gloves.
Daniel had asked, to be accurate he'd insisted, that he should be allowed to accompany the SFs who were being sent to collect the colonel. He'd argued it wasn't fair that Jack would be treated as if he was still a prisoner, at least this way he'd see a friendly face.
So he was waiting in a large empty room with two SFs to greet the man he loved, after days apart separated by prison bars and chains. So, fidgeting hands were the least of his problems, though they weren't helping him to present a calm façade; any more than he'd been able to when Peter Barrett had intimated that he was aware of Daniel's relationship with Jack.
As far as Daniel was aware he'd given no indication at all of his sexual leanings, let alone of any partner he may have. So either they weren't as good as they thought at keeping their relationship secret or Peter Barrett was extraordinarily intuitive.
Daniel had stood there with an open mouth after Peter's regretful comment, until the NID man gently lifted a finger and placed it under his chin and closed his mouth.
"Peter?" he asked carefully, not sure precisely what he should say.
"It's all right Daniel," Peter replied with a gentle smile. "I won't tell anyone. I don't approve of the military bullshit about same sex relationships any more than you do."
"But how-who else? Peter, this could ruin him."
"No, it can't because no one else knows. The only reason I know is 'cause I guessed and to be honest you've just confirmed my supposition."
Daniel dropped his eyes feeling extremely naïve. "How did you guess? Surely I didn't say or do anything?"
"It wasn't any one thing, Daniel. I'm a trained observer remember, it's one of the most important aspects of my job, the one that tends to get overlooked. It's amazing how much one can see if you really look and Daniel, you have a very expressive face and as for those eyes of yours- Don't tell me he's never told you that?" he added softly, aborting the movement of his hand as he raised it to touch Daniel's face.
"All I can say is thank you," said Daniel sincerely. "And that I'm sorry."
"For me? Don't be Daniel. I'm interested that much is blatantly obvious but you're in love with him aren't you?"
"More of your expert observation?"
He didn't answer that, he just smiled but as Daniel turned to leave he called after him, "Don't let him forget how lucky he is and I don't mean for beating the odds on this one."
Daniel was pulled from his reverie by the door finally opening. Jack entered accompanied by two prison guards. He was now in his dress blues, which Daniel had brought with him and the archaeologist felt his heart rate speed up as his lips went dry. Just the sight of his partner in that uniform was enough to get him all hot and bothered but add the cap and the shades, woof! Damn these guards! I just wanna get my hands on him. If the look in Jack's eyes was any indication it was a shared desire, in more ways than one.
In a relatively short time they were ensconced in the back seat of the car with the SFs in the front for the drive to the airbase where they would pick up a flight on the way back to the Mountain.
Of course, they couldn't talk properly in the car, not the way they really wanted, to assure each other that all was well. So, they were left with the only other form of communication they had at such times, they spoke with their eyes. It was a very personal language, short in vocabulary but long in description and they each knew every syllable the other meant. They also had a little code they indulged in. Not as satisfying but useful.
"How's everything at the base?" Jack said. In this instance the base in question was home, Jack's place where Daniel spent more time than his own apartment.
"Everything is fine, missing you of course. Your expertise is an important part of the dynamic," Daniel replied. I've been missing you like crazy, it just isn't the same without you.
"Well, I'm sure once I get back into the swing of things everything will settle down," Jack replied with a smile. Wait till I get you home, I'll show you some expertise.
"That may take a little time," Daniel said quietly, his eyes also speaking this time. "You've been ordered to stand down from SG1 until all this is finally sorted. You're ordered to remain on the base until further notice."
"Kinsey is likely to be in the hospital for a while yet and the President believes everything will be explained more believably if you and he give a joint explanation. The President wants to definitively clear your record and close the entire incident."
"Well that's nice of him. How long, dammit?" Jack's eyes also spoke but only to convey anger this time.
"I wish I knew," Daniel replied wistfully. "I'm sorry."
"No," Jack said with a wry grin, "I'm sorry. It'll be worth waiting for -using my expertise again." His gaze lingered on Daniel for a moment before he continued, "in the meantime I'll be stuck with paperwork I expect."
The hospital room looked different now, brighter somehow. Senator Kinsey was fastening his necktie in front of the mirror when the door opened and he turned to see Colonel Jack O'Neill enter. The colonel was looking his best in his dress blues but there was nothing bright about him.
"Ah...Colonel O'Neill, glad you could make it," the Senator said with a false smile.
"What do you want, Kinsey?" asked Jack coldly.
"I just thought we should have a little chat before we meet the press."
"Did you need to gloat a little?"
"Oh, don't be that way, Jack," replied Kinsey chuckling. "You need this as much as I do. The only way you're going to get public vindication is if the two of us appear on the six o'clock news, shaking hands."
"Yeah...I'm not sure it's worth it," Jack answered snidely. He knew the senator wouldn't believe him but he had seriously considered refusing to go through with this whole damned charade. Hammond had told Jack it was at the President's request and that if he refused to go through with this, it would be tantamount to submitting his resignation. After what he'd been through over the last four weeks that didn't sound so bad. The only thing that stopped him was Daniel.
They'd had quite a talk in the VIP room the general had allocated for Jack's use during his enforced stay on the base. Of course they'd not been able to do anything but talk which was hard on both of them because even though the camera was off in the room, it was too great a risk. They had, however, been able to have a private conversation.
"Jack I understand, really I do, how difficult this whole experience has been for you and how bitter you feel about having to go through with this -travesty," Daniel said resting his hand on Jack's arm, the only contact he could allow himself, "but you need to try and keep it in perspective."
"Perspective! They want me to suck up to that-that- Damn it Daniel, it's too much to ask. I'd rather walk away."
"You'd rather let him win? Give him everything he's ever wanted on a plate? You do realise Jack, that if you retire, I walk?"
"No, Daniel, you can't. They need you, more than they ever needed me. I'm expendable, any qualified-"
"Don't you dare do that! You're always putting yourself down. You know as well as I do that your expertise out there is as important as anything I impart. But even that isn't the point. My life is with you now, don't you understand that? I don't want to leave, not yet, there is still so much to do, for both of us. Kinsey has wanted us out of here since the beginning and without lifting a finger or probably even being aware of it, he's been given the means.
"If you insist then I will resign with you but I would rather we stayed, together. Kinsey is not worth it."
In the end he'd given in. He really never had any choice did he? He had always hated being choiceless.
Kinsey was still talking, "The American people don't want their Air Force officers to be assassins, Jack. They want them to be heroes," he said and much to Jack's disgust, he gave his upper arm a small play punch. "I'm gonna make you a hero."
Kinsey walked past Jack, who stood uncharacteristically silent, grimacing slightly, before he followed.
"Shall we?" asked Kinsey mockingly and Jack reluctantly followed.
Kinsey and his entourage emerged from the hospital and he waved and nodded to the waiting crowd of reporters and onlookers as he walked over to the waiting podium.
Jack hesitated in the entrance to the hospital before reluctantly he put on his hat and joined Kinsey behind the podium. His face was set.
Daniel, watching from the steps of a hotel opposite, had rarely seen Jack's stance so rigid, his expression so cold. He felt for his partner but knew his hands had been tied. They had all been trapped from the moment the shooter had fired that bullet.
"First of all, I want to apologize to you and to the American people for the deception surrounding my...untimely demise," Kinsey began. "It was an unfortunate but necessary final step in my investigation of certain anti-democratic forces that had taken root in several key government agencies. The ringleaders of this conspiracy have now been taken into custody.
"Of course, taking a bullet was not part of my original plan to bring these men down," he said with a deprecating smile, "but the success of the operation was well worth...any personal sacrifice on my part. And I want the American people to know that, if elected, I intend to bring that same determination and zeal for justice with me to the White House.
"I would also like to thank Colonel Jack O'Neill of the United States Air Force for the vital role he played in my investigation. I can't go into details for reasons of national security but I can assure you all that any evidence pointing to the colonel as my would-be assassin...was simply part of the operation."
He turned to a very uncomfortable looking Jack and reached out to shake his hand. "Colonel..."
For a long moment Jack stood unmoving and Daniel thought he was going to refuse. Then slowly, Jack held out his hand and reluctantly shook hands with Kinsey who turned and smiled for a photo opportunity while shaking Jack's hand.
With a false smile plastered over his face and still shaking Jack's hand, Kinsey covered the microphone with his other hand and whispered to Jack. "Smile colonel, you just won me the election."
Kinsey released Jack's hand and turned away slightly to smile and wave to the crowd leaving Jack with a frozen expression on his face.
Daniel had expected Jack to walk across the road to meet him at the hotel after the charade was over but instead he hadn't moved. Almost everyone else had left, just a few reporters remained apparently comparing notes. Realising that Jack was either very angry or very upset, probably by whatever Kinsey had apparently whispered to him shortly before he had left accompanied by his sycophants and not sure if he was doing the right thing, Daniel hurried over to Jack.
"Jack?" he asked quietly.
"Get me out of here, Danny."
Even though Jack had said little and those few words were spoken calmly, Daniel knew Jack well enough to recognise that his friend was teetering on the edge.
"I have a room in the hotel over there. Come on." He carefully put a hand on Jack's forearm, the only contact he would allow himself outside the privacy of their room and he was a little disconcerted to note the colonel's stiff gait. He wanted to get him inside the privacy of their room, he needed to get him to talk which was never easy at the best of times and this most certainly was not one of those occasions.
Jack walked at Daniel's side grateful for the odd passing touch on his arm, it helped ground him when he felt as if he were flying apart at the seams. He no longer seemed to be in control of his own destiny and he had no idea when he'd lost it.
He followed Daniel into the hotel and up in the elevator, aware all the time of Daniel's surreptitious glances. It was only when they finally entered the room and Daniel closed the door behind them that Jack allowed himself release.
"I don't fucking believe it! I'm as much a victim in this as that rat bastard yet he comes out smelling like roses and I get kicked in the fucking balls!"
"What the hell did he say to you?" asked Daniel as he dropped his jacket onto the chair by the door.
"That I'd just won the damned election for him," replied Jack bitterly.
"Jack, he just said what he knew would hurt and annoy you the most. I'm not suggesting this won't win him a few brownie points but on its own it's not enough." Daniel tried to soothe his ruffled feathers.
"Don't manage me, Daniel," Jack's anger resurfaced. "To Joe Public he's a hero, he took a bullet for them, the slimy two-faced son-of-a-snake!"
"I'm sorry, Jack," Daniel said softly.
"What?" Jack snapped, not really listening.
"I said I was sorry."
"Sorry? What for?"
"All this. If I'd done what you asked none of this would ever have happened." Daniel ducked his head and dropped his eyes.
"Of all the stupid-For such an intelligent man you do seem to lack a certain common sense. How many times do we have to go over this? It's probably a good thing that you didn't come with 'cause they'd most likely have-. Hang on a minute!" He shook his head in disbelief and grinned. "Not only intelligent, full of common sense but fucking devious too!"
"Well, I had to stop the tirade and get you to calm down enough to see there are more important things in our lives than Kinsey -"
"Fucking bastard," muttered Jack moving closer.
"-conspiracies, the NID, the Goa'uld-"
"-even more important than the SGC," finished Jack, putting his arms around Daniel's waist. "I'm the one who should be sorry. The first time in over four weeks I can actually touch you and I'm wasting time worrying about Kinsey." Jack swooped in and took Daniel's mouth like a starving man.
Daniel was just as hungry and lips and teeth ground into each other before they opened to allow each other access. Tongues battled each other, wrapping around and tasting before separating again to search out each crevice. Only when breathing became desperate did they separate, gasping for air and leaning against each other for support.
"God, I've missed you!"
"I thought I'd never get to hold you again, Danny," sighed Jack. "I want to touch you everywhere to make sure I remember every swirl of skin, every pore-"
"For pity's sake, Jack, stop talking and do something!"
Never one to be asked twice, Jack took a grip on Daniel's shirt and ripped, buttons flying everywhere as the two halves separated. Daniel gasped as Jack devoured his chest while his hands struggled to pull the remains of the shirt from his lover's shoulders. He wasn't helped by the fact that Daniel was desperately trying to undo the buttons on Jack's jacket but his hands were shaking.
"Wait, wait," gasped Daniel.
"No, I need you now."
"Clothes, Jack. I want these damned clothes off."
Backing off, Jack stripped in record time and Daniel finished the job Jack had started. As soon as the last item of clothing was gone, Jack pushed him back towards the bed kissing and licking his neck and shoulder as he moved.
Daniel felt the back of his legs hit the edge of the bed and allowed Jack to shove him flat against it, laughing he rolled away to the centre.
Jack stood looking down at him for a moment, a look of -almost-wonder in his eyes. Daniel's laughter died as he met those eyes. He'd seen that look before and knowing what it meant always filled him with awe.
"I almost lost you," Jack said softly, the desperate need gone in that realisation.
"I'm here, I'll always be here," Daniel said holding out a hand.
Reaching out Jack took his hand and climbed onto the bed to lie down next to the younger man. Daniel took him into his arms and held him close; closing his eyes as he accepted that for the moment, all Jack needed was to be held. Even though Daniel loved the sex, he enjoyed the love they shared even more. They didn't often express it in such a simple way yet when they did it made them both appreciate how deep their feelings went.
Jack sighed as he felt a serenity he'd forgotten even existed in the last few weeks. He needed Daniel like he needed air to breathe but sometimes even he forgot that simple fact. When he had grabbed Daniel earlier he'd thought it was sex he'd missed but of course, it had really been this vital connection.
A little later Daniel wondered if Jack might have fallen asleep and as he was wondering if it was possible to pull the coverlet over them without disturbing the older man, Jack surprised him by speaking.
"You're always right, aren't you?"
"There are more important things to think about. I'd forgotten what really mattered. I'd forgotten the real reason we're fighting this secret war, the reason we risk our lives day after day. It isn't for the SGC or the government, not for the country or the planet. It's for every single person out there who feels the way we do, who has someone to live for; someone to wake up each morning with and to do everything you can to make each day good for them."
"Daniel, let's make the rest of this day special for us. We have to go back to the SGC tomorrow and back to being good friends for public consumption. Today, we can just be ourselves, just Jack and Daniel."
"Yeah, we can order dinner in. There's a terrific bathroom with a tub you wouldn't believe-"
"-and this bed can sleep four."
"That's two too many for me!"
Jack laughed, "Yeah but think of the potential, Dannyboy!"
"If you start singing I'm leaving!"
"Oh no, my friend, the only way you get out of here is in the morning when I'm too damned exhausted to stop you."
"Ah, a challenge, never could resist a challenge."
Four hours later Jack and Daniel were lazing in the large tub in the bathroom. They'd eaten an excellent dinner, the desert of which had been consumed by an indolent colonel from the stomach of a giggling archaeologist. As it happened to be a rich chocolate mousse covered with a thick fudge sauce and fresh cream they had then retired to the shower during which Daniel had returned the favour by licking his way down Jack's stomach before taking his cock into his mouth and proving his tongue was good for uses other than linguistics.
Daniel had then felt tired and they'd retired to the bed for a nap. Jack had awoken first and ordered coffee and though Daniel had slept through its delivery by room service, he hadn't slept long once the aroma had invaded his senses.
After a couple of what even the very particular Daniel Jackson had agreed was excellent coffee, Jack had wanted to test the large sunken tub.
"Jack, the water's getting a little cool."
"We can soon heat it up," replied Jack starting to reach for the taps.
"I think I would rather you warmed me up," Daniel replied silkily.
Jack's hands slid down his flanks, "That's not a problem. Ever done it in a sunken pool?"
"No and while that might be an experience I might like to try some time, just now I have something else in mind. Something that might prove awkward in here."
"Oh and what would that be, Doctor?"
"Come and see, oh Colonel mine."
They climbed out of the tub and using the thick fluffy towels provided carefully dried each other, lingering to caress and kiss each patch of newly dried skin. It took some time to get dry but they were in no hurry.
They moved back to the bed and at Daniel's request, Jack settled in the centre of the bed lying on his stomach. He tucked his arms underneath and laid his head on them. Daniel poured some almond oil onto his hands and began a slow massage from his shoulders down his back. Jack loved this, Daniel was so good. His long fingers worked miracles and when he was finished Jack invariably felt wonderful and then Daniel made him reach impossible heights of ecstasy by making love to him. By the time Daniel reached his buttocks he was so relaxed he hardly felt Daniel's finger as it entered him.
Daniel never tired of doing this to Jack. Knowing he had the power to make Jack feel so wonderful had the same effect on him so, by the time Jack was ready for him, he was rock hard and desperate for his colonel.
He doubted that Jack was even aware of the whimpering sounds he made as Daniel caressed the ring of muscle around his opening. And when Daniel slipped the first lubed finger inside, Jack was so relaxed the second finger joined it almost immediately. There was no need for a third finger, Jack was already open enough.
"Jack, I'm ready now, gonna enter. Can you feel that?"
"Yes I can feel you. Get on with it."
Daniel grinned as he slowly pushed forward, breaching Jack in one smooth movement.
"Perfect, don't stop. Harder, come on Danny."
This was so Jack. He'd been so gone you'd think he was asleep, next second he was on the parade ground!
Daniel pulled out a little and slammed back in making Jack grunt and lift his hips a little. Expecting this, Daniel adjusted his angle so the next thrust struck home.
"That's it Danny, again-do that again. Come on-harder, you can do better than that."
So Daniel did, he slammed in again and again and each time he hit the target. Jack thrust back to meet him and soon the only sounds were moans low in the throat and the slap of skin on skin, until Daniel felt his orgasm begin to gather and he reached around to grip Jack's cock pumping in time with his thrusts.
Jack sensed that Daniel was near and as his lover grabbed his cock, he lifted his hips higher encouraging the younger man to thrust harder. Jack felt his own orgasm as it began to race through him.
"Daniel-I'm-it's near. Oh god, I can feel-Danny."
"Yeah, I -I'm coming. Jack, Jack-can't hold on-I'm coming! Jack!"
"Come on, come on. Ohgodohgod, Jesus!"
Jack came first; spurting over Daniel's hand and the younger man came just a few seconds later filling the older man with his seed. Daniel collapsed along Jack's back as the older man sank back onto the bed.
As their senses came back to them, Daniel slipped out of Jack and rolled onto his side facing the older man who turned to him. They reached for each other, arms entwining as they kissed gently.
"That was fantastic, Danny."
"Yep, that was the best yet."
"You say that every time," Jack said laughing.
"Cause each time is new, each time is the best yet."
"If ever I forget why I'm fighting, I need only to look at you."
|Genres:||Alternate Universe, Angst, Established Relationship, Missing Scene/Episode-Related|
|Summary:||There's no way that Jack killed Kinsey, and Daniel leads the search for the truth.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Some violence, language, political intrigue and nasty characters.
Thanks to my Beta, Gateroller
Thanks to my Beta, Gateroller