Understandings and Misunderstandings Part 9: Bridge Building
4 months after the events in Part 8:
The mission had been uneventful and they were nearing the gate to go home. It was pouring with rain and Jack was feeling very soggy, even in his waterproofs, so was grumbling as ever; about the weather, the trees, anything that took his fancy. He had been in a bad mood all day and what happened later did nothing to improve it.
He and Sam had had a stupid argument. It left them both grumpy, something that did not go unnoticed by the other two members of his team. This was one good reason you should never crap in your own doorstep, thought O'Neill; that's what my granddaddy used to say, and he was right. Actually he used a word that was a little more colorful than that, but it meant the same thing.
Jack couldn't even remember what the argument was about. Maybe leaving the toilet seat up? Or was it squeezing the toothpaste in the middle rather than from the end? It was inevitable that they would have dumb arguments. They had always vowed never to go to work with a cross word between them, it was one of their many rules, but this time they had. It wasn't like they stayed with each other every night, like they normally did that on a night before they were due on a mission, but this time they had done that too
They had barely spoken all day and when they did it was snippy, discomforting their team mates considerably. Daniel and Teal'c both thought about knocking their stupid heads together to see if it would bring some sense to the disorder but neither had carried through with the thought. It was a decidedly uneasy mission, the bad atmosphere clearly discernible, and they were all pleased to be on their way home.
The mission had also been a monumental waste of time. Not only were they wet and uncomfortable, but they had wasted a whole day here when they could have been doing something else. Rumour had it that there was a secret cache of weapons near the gate. Rumours were false. They had found nada.
The attack came as a total surprise. Jaffa had arrived on the planet out of nowhere; must have come through the gate while they were taking soil samples and all that other stuff Jack found so totally fascinating. Jack figured that they had heard the rumour and were also checking it out. Why the hell did they have to pick today of all days? SG-1 had been almost totally unprepared. It was pure arrogance that they thought they were unassailable; utter stupidity that Jack was not more wary. He was annoyed with his own incompetence. They were cut off from the gate.
The fight was going SG-1's way, they were running out of live Jaffa. Nothing like lots of dead Jaffa to make your day, thought Jack, unless it was dead Goa'uld of course. Hard to beat the sight of the glow leaving the eyes of a slimy, good for nothing snake head. Jack got real job satisfaction from that.
Jack had hesitated. He should have been quicker. But he had been distracted, had frozen for a few seconds, because Sam was taken.
He had watched as if it was all in slow motion, like a movie. Helpless. Powerless. The remaining Jaffa were opening the gate and trying to get away. The team couldn't stop them from dialling as there was too much cover fire. The wormhole had sprung to life and, horrified, he had seen a Jaffa get to Sam, knock her out and drag her through the gate. In the blink of an eye she was gone. Just like that. Gone.
A little before that, Daniel had managed to get himself shot. While Jack was distracted. And Sam was taken. Oh God!
General Hammond met them coming through the gate and was asking about Major Carter. Jack was dumbstruck. Since Sam had been taken he had acted as if in shock. Everything was going on around him as if he wasn't there at all but some distant observer of other people's lives.
If it weren't for Teal'c and an injured Daniel he would have still been standing on the planet; disorientated and bewildered. He couldn't believe it was happening. They would get her back, right? They would find her. She wasn't dead, she wasn't snaked, and no stinking man had laid a finger on her. She was gonna be fine. Everything would be fine.
They had dragged Daniel off to the infirmary and he realised that someone was taking him by the arm and leading him there too.
"I'm ok." He protested tonelessly, trying to shake them off. I'm thinking, leave me alone, he screamed inside. They've got Sam!
"You've been injured Colonel." Said the nurse in response.
"Wha…? I have?" He hadn't even noticed the gash over his eye which was still bleeding.
"it's only minor, Sir, but you must have it seen to." She said.
"Yeah, yeah, sure." His voice was a distracted monotone.
Teal'c was the only one capable of telling Hammond what had happened. He was also clearly shaken by the turn of events.
"And you have no idea where they took her, Teal'c?"
"No GeneralHammond. They must have been renegades, but not rebel Jaffa. More likely deserters. They wore the mark of more than one Goa'uld and their armour was in disarray, damaged and dirty. No self respecting Jaffa would embark on a mission dressed in that manner, GeneralHammond."
"Daniel will be ok but Colonel O'Neill seems to have taken it rather badly. I'm worried Teal'c."
"As am I."
Unlike Teal'c, the General did not know that anything was going on between his two officers. However, he was far from stupid and knew full well that O'Neill felt more about Major Carter than he should. This could be bad, he thought.
Teal'c prayed that GeneralHammond asked him nothing about the relationship between his two friends. He had promised to say nothing but had also vowed never to lie to the Texan man he both respected and admired. Fortunately, GeneralHammond asked no such questions.
The General merely sent Teal'c to the infirmary to be checked over and said he would debrief the team when it seemed appropriate. He asked Teal'c to give him his own debrief as soon as he had left the infirmary. Neither O'Neill nor Doctor Jackson were going to be up to it yet.
It had been three days since Sam had been taken. They didn't know where she'd been taken, couldn't rescue her. Jack was devastated. He'd been overly quiet, morose and withdrawn. They were all worried about him; Teal'c, Hammond, and Daniel, the latter of whom was recovering quite nicely in the infirmary, thank you. Jack was sitting next to Daniel's bed thinking that he probably spent more time here than he did in his own house.
"Jack? Do you want to talk about it?"
"What, Daniel? What's there to talk about?" Jack's face was ashen. He was restless, fidgeting.
"Come on Jack, don't play dense." Jack peered closely at Daniel.
"No. I don't want to talk about it, OK? I want to act. I want to do something about it. I'm tired of sitting here not being able to do anything about it!" He slammed his fist onto Daniel's bedside table and stormed out.
Later, Teal'c found him out on the mountain sitting on a rock, seemingly looking at the view. Teal'c thought that he probably saw nothing. He sat next to him, not speaking. It was a vigil. After a long while Jack broke the silence. Teal'c had found his silent treatment often provoked a reaction. Humans were strange.
"Carter and I used to sit out here sometimes. Have a sandwich. Chat a little." Jack was on the brink, reigning himself in. Teal'c nodded towards him, grasping Jack's arm softly with his powerful hands.
"We all miss her greatly, O'Neill." When Jack responded simply by saying "Indeed", Teal'c half smiled to himself.
"Can I do something for you, O'Neill?"
"Only be here, Teal'c. Only be here."
They sat in silence for a long time after that. Jack had been in a semi-dazed state since it had happened. Sam was missing… taken! His mind had gone through every worse case scenario he could think of. He blamed himself totally for her kidnapping. He'd taken his eye off the ball and hadn't reacted quickly enough. It had happened in the blink of an eye, even though he had seen it in slow motion. Acted in slow motion too, he thought bitterly. Didn't act on it at all, in fact - that was the problem.
He'd been having nightmares again and wasn't sleeping well. What would renegade Jaffa want with Sam? He could think of one or two things, none of them pleasant. Jack's recent nightmares were not about his past, like normal, but of his present and future. His worse waking thoughts came back to haunt him. He thought he could deal with the past far better than he could with either his present or his future. That scared the hell out of him.
He would never forgive himself if Sam was hurt or harmed in any way. It was almost inevitable that she was coming to some sort of harm and the longer they took to find her the worse that would be. God forbid that she be dead. How could he live with that? Bad enough being responsible for the death of your own son, add to that the death of the woman you love more than anything…? His friends were worried what impact that would have on Jack. They knew that when Jack showed his feelings, which to some extent he was doing right now, then it was bad. Really, really bad.
What showed in Jack's face and behaviour was just the tip of the ice-berg. As always he wouldn't talk about it. Daniel thought that if he cried on the outside, instead of the inside, it would help him to deal with it. However, imagining Jack crying was akin to visualising the Goa'uld as nice and fluffy. Teal'c, of course, totally understood where O'Neill was coming from. The way of the warrior and all that. Ironically, the one person who Jack might open up to a little was the woman who was lost to him.
He was going through hell and wasn't emerging from the other side. This was not one of O'Neill's usual good acting performances, despite that he was doing his best to pack it all away. He was generally such an expert at it. Sam's disappearance had knocked the stuffing out of him.
As he sat quietly on the rock his mind was in turmoil. Teal'c could see this clearly as O'Neill, though almost still, turned something over and over in his hands. It was his yo-yo. He was not playing with it as one usually would with a yo-yo, it was merely something for him to fiddle with in typical O'Neill fashion.
Jack just wished he could stop himself thinking. All his thoughts were dark, and he saw no light in his future. To distract himself further he then did start to play with the yo-yo, wielding it like an expert at first until it got tangled up in itself. He started to pull it apart and suddenly threw it hard against the ground. It would never yo-yo again.
"Goddammit Teal'c I need to do something! I hate just sitting here!"
"As do we all, O'Neill. We will find her."
"I wish I had your confidence Teal'c. It's a pretty big universe."
"With only a limited number of hiding places for Jaffa deserters."
"I can't stop myself from thinking about what they might be doing to her. She might be dead, Teal'c."
"That is indeed one possibility." Said Teal'c sadly. There was no point in lying to his friend.
"What if they've snaked her? Worse than dead."
"That is most unlikely. These Jaffa serve no Goa'uld."
"Maybe they sold her to a Goa'uld."
"Perhaps. Also unlikely."
"Well something bad must be happening to her."
"I am afraid that I cannot guarantee that this is not so, my friend."
"I know. God, I miss her Teal'c." He was not surprised that he missed her, only frightened by how much he did.
"As do I." Teal'c looked at O'Neill. The sorrow, anger and self recrimination was starkly there for him to see. "You blame yourself when it is not your fault."
"It is my fault Teal'c. I did nothing, couldn't save her."
"Then I am equally to blame."
"You don't lead SG-1. You didn't just stand by and watch the woman you love taken by the bad guys!"
This was the first time O'Neill had ever voiced his feelings for his lover. Teal'c was taken aback that he had let that slip. His friend had said nothing since that occasion, long ago, when Teal'c had witnessed their confessions during the Za'tarc testing. This was so unlike O'Neill; he was not himself, was overwrought. He said nothing in response to this new confession but tried to address O'Neill's determination to take responsibility.
"That you lead SG-1 does not make you to blame."
"I'm responsible for all the members of my team Teal'c. Each and every one of you."
"There is nothing any of us could have done. It happened too quickly."
"Yeah." Jack kicked the yo-yo across the ground, and then hung his head in sullen silence, unwilling to be drawn in further. Teal'c knew that whatever he said it would not lessen his friend's burden. He changed the subject slightly, worried for him.
"You will make yourself ill if you continue in this fashion, O'Neill. I am concerned for your welfare."
"I know Teal'c." Teal'c wondered if he meant he knew he would make himself ill, or knew that the Jaffa was concerned. "I'll be alright. I'm always alright."
"That is, as you say, crap O'Neill." This made Jack laugh. It was the first laughter to leave his mouth since she had gone. For some reason it helped. They said laughter was a good cure. It eased his tension more than the burst of anger he had taken out on the yo-yo.
"Thanks my friend." He said to Teal'c.
"What have I done that you should thank me for?" Teal'c was puzzled by Jack's outburst and even more baffled when O'Neill again laughed at his response.
"Oh, never mind T." Teal'c said nothing, only raised his eyebrows curiously.
After that they were silent again for a while. Jack took some small comfort in his friend's quiet presence. Eventually he got up, suggesting they go back inside.
"Thanks T, for being a friend." He slapped Teal'c on the back. Teal'c did, indeed, think of O'Neill as a friend but wondered, again, about the strangeness of humans.
When Jack had tried to resign, almost as soon as they'd returned from that disastrous mission, Hammond had refused him point blank.
"I don't think I'm up to it anymore sir."
"Jack, I am not going to let you resign to run away and put your head in the sand, or more likely into a vat of whiskey. I know you blame yourself. You care deeply about your team, about Major Carter." Jack looked up at that. "But running away is not acceptable. You are going to face this and you are going to stay here and help us bring her home."
"Sir, I don't think you understand." Jack was going to confess it all; he and Sam; his lapse of judgement on the mission; his failure.
"Oh, I think I understand only too well son. I don't want to hear it. Don't force me into a position where I've got to take action."
Jack was stunned. Did this mean Hammond knew? Was he turning a blind eye? Not for the first time, he admired Hammond's off beat attitude. It’s the sort of thing he might have done if he thought he could get away with it. Assuming that it wasn't affecting the team, the job. But in this case it was. It had. He had frozen. Daniel was a civilian and it was his job to protect him; he'd been shot. Sam was gone. He looked at Hammond pleadingly.
"But sir…" Hammond ordered him to shut up. He told him he expected him to obey that order carefully and said he should wait until they got her back before discussing it.
Hammond had denied him the only thing he was capable of doing to make any amends. His confession. At least he could claw back some honor, even if he did end up in Leavenworth. He left Hammond's office with a heavy heart. The upside was that he could be here to rescue her when that time came. He ardently hoped that the time would come.
Jacob had thought a lot about what Sam had said to him last time he saw her. True to his word he had avoided them since. Selmak had tried to convince him that he was wrong, that he was being a stubborn old man, and he had even started to listen. He would not admit it openly, reluctant to admit he might be wrong and have overreacted. So in their internal debate it was one of those things they had to agree to disagree on. Selmak knew, though, and bided her time.
Jacob had always had a sneaking admiration for Jack and the way he operated. Sam, however, surely deserved something better than Jack could give her. He was unstable, a maverick, unconventional. That’s what made him a good leader. Jacob was angry that he was having an affair with his daughter behind everyone's back, against the regs.
More than that, however, he was worried about how a man like O'Neill might treat his daughter. She had not faired well in the hands of Jonas Hanson. He didn't like to remember that. Jacob had liked Jonas but had totally misjudged him and regretted it. Not that Sam would have listened to his warnings then anymore than she did now. She had changed a lot since the Jonas Hanson days. Maybe she could deal with Jack. He certainly hoped so.
He had thought it would fizzle out. It was only a passing phase, a fancy. Jack would try controlling her, manipulating her, and she would get out of it. She hadn't come running to him with any stories of Jack's mistreatment though. Not that she would, given what had happened. He had been stupid to shut her out so much. He missed her and no longer knew anything about her life. Now she had been taken. This was the sort of time one started to regret ones foolish actions and words. Worse, no one knew where she had been taken, or why. The why was probably because they could take her. But Jack had let them. How could he do that?
When he hadn't come home for Christmas, apparently Jack had gone with Sam to Mark's. Knowing what had happened to Jack's own family he figured Jack wouldn't have relished that idea. He’d probably hoped Jacob would be there so he could escape that happy family stuff. Despite his own misgivings Mark had liked him and said he'd been good company; on his best behaviour no doubt. He knew that Jack had done it for Sam's sake and grudgingly admired that. So maybe he wasn't like Jonas, maybe he was. The jury was still out on that.
Seeing Jack here trying hard to control his inner chaos, only to have it writ large in his tired features and sorrowful eyes, made Jacob's heart melt slightly. He understood that turmoil. He felt it too. Sam gone. But he wasn't going to show Jack the slight thaw. He was pissed that he'd lost her.
"I thought you'd look after her Jack but you lost her, you stupid son of a bitch, you lost her! I hold you responsible. If she's dead, you're accountable to me. Got that?"
Jack had been dreading this encounter, knowing Jacob would blame him. He was right to blame him. It was his fault. He'd been too lax and he'd let her go. He knew that there probably wasn't a thing he could have done about it but he was in charge, right? And she was gone. He'd been tearing himself apart about it. He walked over to Jacob, looked him right in the eye and gestured provocatively towards Jacob's chest.
"If you think you can blame me any more than I already blame myself then you're fighting a losing battle!" It came out sounding harsh and bitter. Suddenly all the fight seemed to leave him and he sagged. "I…I'm so sorry Jacob. Yes it's all my fault, and I don't know what to do to rectify it, but I know we have to stick together now. We have to find her. We have to get her back." He sounded plaintive towards the end. Then he sat down with his head in his hands.
"Yes, Jack. That's something we can agree on too. I hope you've been treating her OK. If she's dead…if I find out you hurt her or made her unhappy…if she's dead, I'll… I'll kill you Jack." It was a simple statement of fact.
Jack was hurt that Jacob thought like that about him. That he'd got so caught up in his own feelings about them, and Sam being missing, that he couldn't see that Jack would never hurt her. Never. And he couldn't appreciate the pain that Jack himself was in. He was suffering as much as Jacob was, maybe more. It was his fault. He was her team leader. He should never have let it happen. At Jacob's words of death he leapt up.
"No! She's not dead. She can't be dead. Its not acceptable." Jack looked weary, like he hadn't slept much and had been thinking too hard. Jacob supposed he might look the same. Two men heartbroken by the loss of the same woman.
"We'll work together on this one Jack. We'll get her back." Inside he despaired that that was true, they had so little to go on.
"Jacob, I would never hurt Sam. I don't know why you believe I could, but I couldn't. I love her. I want to marry her. I want to spend the rest of my life with her, for crying out loud."
"Control her? Sam? You've got to be kidding, right?"
Jacob laughed at Jack's bemused expression and began to warm to him a bit more. Selmak nagged at him inside. 'Antagonising O'Neill is not going to help you find your daughter Jacob. You and he should be friends again, you know that deep inside. You always liked him.'
Jacob knew that she was probably right. If Jack was going to be his son-in-law, which seemed a likely prospect, he should try to get to know and understand him better. It was probably the right thing to do for Sam's sake. She would be happy to see the two of them reconciled. He wondered if Jack was willing to forgive him; and if he was willing to forgive Jack. He should try.
"How about a truce, Jack? Maybe we should try to build a few bridges here. Do you want to go for a drink?" Jack looked at him warily, suspicious of his motives.
"I never was any good at building things, Jacob. I haven't left the base since it happened. In case they… in case we get any news. I want to be ready."
"And getting yourself exhausted worrying about her is going to make you ready to rescue her?"
Jack merely shrugged. Jacob grasped his arm, looking deeply into his eyes.
"Jack you need to relax more. Come for a drink. Tell me about my daughter. Please. I've missed her."
Jack saw the need for this conversation in Jacob's eyes. So he and Sam had an argument about toothpaste or something and had parted on bad terms. This was driving Jack crazy. He would never forgive himself for not making things right with her before it happened. He wouldn't make that mistake again and fervently hoped he would have the opportunity to live up to that promise.
On the other hand, Jacob's falling out with his daughter had been far more serious and that was probably driving him nuts too. He needed to talk. Jack could see the regret in his eyes. They mirrored his own feelings. For Jacob's sake Jack would do it. And Sam's. Maybe by the time they got Sam back he and Jacob would be friends again. If he was lucky.
Jack and Jacob went to the Officer’s Club at Peterson. Both were reluctant to stray too far from the base in case there was news. The SGC were under strict instructions to call Jack any time, anywhere on his mobile if they heard anything.
Jack surprised himself by opening up to Jacob about Sam. Jacob surprised himself by listening without going off into a rant. Go figure!
"Dumb I know but we had an argument that morning and I can never forget that we didn't make up before they took her. Both of us had been pretty bad tempered the whole day. Daniel and Teal'c were fed up with us sniping at each other, or with the long uncomfortable silences. It was over something stupid and petty, nothing significant or earth shattering. But we came to work angry with each other. We broke one of our rules."
"Rules?" Jacob asked. He hadn't said a lot, only prompted Jack to talk. He wanted news of his daughter. Wanted to know what her life was like. Wanted to get close to her through Jack.
Jack explained the rules. The rules they had made when their forbidden relationship had started. There was a long list. There was the calling each other "Sir', 'Major', 'Carter' rule. There was the one about never doing anything untoward on a mission, or in the SGC confines. They had broken one; that they shouldn't part with an angry word. There was a long list of places where they could or shouldn't be seen together. They should not abuse their friends by getting them to cover for them if it was avoidable. They should not compromise Teal'c's sense of honor and truth. She would never use their relationship to question his command decisions. He would never use his command position to his advantage in their relationship. The list went on. Jack gave Jacob the highlights.
"How do you manage with all those rules, Jack? How can you and Sam ever be happy like that?"
"Hey, there's happiness and happiness, right?" Shrugged Jack.
"I wanted more than that for my daughter."
"So do I Jacob. So do I. Maybe if you understand what got us to that point; the point of no return for us. Sam wanted to tell you, but you wouldn't listen."
"Well I'm listening now Jack." Jacob felt ashamed that he had never listened to his daughter. Obstinate old man, he thought, and don’t say ‘I told you so’, Selmak, or I’ll kick your snaky little butt. She laughed. 'I'd like to see you try old man'. He could hear her in his head.
"I don’t think I can do it as good as her." Jack replied.
Jack nodded his assent and started to tell Jacob how they’d reached the point where the regulations hadn't seemed to matter anymore. Sure they were important, but so were their own private lives, their love for each other. Both of them hated living the lie but couldn't see a way out of it. They would be unhappier without each other than they would be with each other. Neither wanted to resent the other because they'd left the SGC and the job they loved. They didn't want to live their lives with those sorts of regrets.
Jacob listened as Jack told him about Sam and Bob, that night he had gone to her house. About the months they had spent in close friendship trying to find out if they should really risk it all for the big prize. About their huge argument, and his accident; yet another close encounter with death. About finally giving in to the undeniable truth of their feelings.
As Jack spoke his hand was in his pocket, caressing the photo of Sam that he still carried with him always. It had given him comfort in the hospital, and many times since. He didn't even have to look at it anymore, merely touch it. No one need ever know it was there. Even Sam still didn't know.
Jack told him about their lives together, what they did. Their trips to Denver, their days and weekends in the remote wilds of Colorado. Nothing about the sex, of course, which is how they spent a considerable amount of their time. One didn't talk about that sort of thing to one's future father-in-law. He told him of his regret that they had never managed to make it to his cabin. He had always wanted to take her there but somehow something always happened to stop them. They seemed fated.
"Jacob, I don’t think you realise that these feelings Sam and I have, they aren't something relatively new. We've felt like this about each other for… years. We were a long time waiting. Almost too long. This isn't some passing phase. This is for life, at least for me. Sam's her own woman; you'd have to ask her what she feels about it. But me? I can hardly remember a time when I didn't feel like this about her. I was married for 10 years and loved my wife very much. With Sam it is totally different. We have shared so much, lived a unique life together."
At one point Jacob noticed that Jack was fiddling around in his pocket. It drove him crazy; he just couldn't stop his eyes straying there once he has spotted it. He had to ask.
"Jack. This seems like a silly question, but what are you doing?" he nodded towards Jack's pocket.
Jack had hardly been aware he was doing it. He stopped abruptly, embarrassed by his actions. He should stop doing that; the photo would be in tatters along with his heart. Nowadays he had other photos, of her and of them both, but they were not this one. This was the only thing he'd had once. The only thing he had thought he was ever going to get and the closest to her that he had come, before all this started. Face reddening, he pulled it out and handed it to Jacob.
"I…um…I." Jack stammered, dwindling into silence.
Jacob was amused by his awkwardness. Looking at the photo he could see it was old and well thumbed; it was wearing out. Jack obviously did this a lot and had clearly stolen it from her service record. He wondered how long he had been carrying it around with him. Not one to mince words, he asked.
"Pretty long. Since before…" Jack trailed off. "I don't think Sam even knows I have it." He was looking at the floor, his shoes, around the bar, anywhere but at Jacob.
As he had listened, truly listened, and watched Jack talk, Jacob had started to realise that Sam might have made a good choice in this man. This was a man who would do anything for her. A man that loved her like no other man was ever going to. More than that, he respected her. Respected that she was her own woman. An intelligent, beautiful and rare woman, irreplaceable to both of them. Jonas Hanson had never respected Sam as an individual. Jacob had been wrong to believe that Jack might be anything like him.
He was pleased that he had asked Jack, and that Jack had shown him what was in his pocket. This photo spoke many words to him that Jack did not say. He couldn't fathom exactly why but this, more than anything, was what turned Jacob around. It was the icing on the cake.
Jack was right, he would never intentionally hurt Sam. Maybe his Sam was a lucky woman after all. He knew there was darkness hiding in Jack's core, was frightened that would destroy them, and his daughter, but was somehow less worried about that than he previously had been. He had a lot of time for Jack and had been stupid and stubborn about this whole thing. Both Selmak and Sam had been right.
Selmak was helping by nagging at his subconscious, determined to reconcile them. This was her chance and she was taking it. She had always liked Jack and thought he would be the perfect Tok'ra host. If only it had not gone so horribly wrong. She didn't blame him for despising most of the Tok'ra; some of them were despicable. O'Neill always seemed to meet the wrong ones. In an ideal Selmak world Jack and Sam would be the Jolinar and Martouf of the future. That this would probably never be so was something she sincerely regretted.
By the time Jacob and Jack returned to the base they seemed to be firm friends again. Neither would ever forget the words spoken in anger that night at Sam's place, but maybe the both of them could learn to live with it. Neither liked that Sam and Jack were breaching the regs any more than they had before, but maybe they could learn to live with that too.
The conversation had helped Jack. He felt considerably better, still worried sick, but better. He wasn't sure what had possessed him to talk to Jacob so openly, possibly the man's need for it. More likely was his own need for it. Maybe he had secretly known that it was necessary. An odd choice of person to confide in, given how their relationship had been before their conversation.
He realised it was not really a conversation. It had been mainly one sided. Jack had not exactly poured out his heart to Jacob, but it was close. He had talked about his relationship with Sam and that had eased him. It was the first time he'd been able to talk about it openly to anyone and it was a relief. The thing with the photograph had almost broken him but he had survived it.
It was a turning point, and he was much more like his old self. Jack had been thinking himself incapable. It scared him that he might not be up to the job of rescuing Sam. He'd been a mess and could never have led a team in that state. Now he could. He was still a mess, but one he could cope with. The whole experience had been therapeutic and liberating. He felt grateful to Jacob for that. There was something to this talking crap after all. He still didn't think he would be doing it too frequently though.
Had he but known it, Jacob felt better too. It had acted as a catharsis for him as much as it had for Jack. He had built a bridge that would lead him back into the arms of his daughter and was pleased with his handiwork. He knew that Sam was happy and understood more about how and why they had got into this relationship. Jack had built up a picture in his mind of a good future for his daughter. One that would be lasting and, with a bit of luck, might produce more grandchildren for him to spoil. Jack wasn't really so old. He might be lying to him of course, but Jacob knew Jack better than that. Inside him Selmak said 'I told you so' and sniggered.
"Leave me alone old woman." Jacob said aloud, sighing. "there's no need to rub it in." She laughed.
Jacob was in George's office stunned by the implication of this conversation. George had all but admitted that he knew something was going on between Jack and Sam. His friend had always been a quirky commander, but this was something that surprised him. George knew but did nothing.
"You're wrong, I don't know anything, Jacob. I do not take action based on idle speculation."
Jacob was certainly not going to confirm it. He did not want to ruin his daughter's career. Or Jack's for that matter, he had changed his mind about that. Jack was a good man and Jacob was happy that his original instincts about him had not been wrong. Not like they had with Jonas.
He couldn't even remember how this had come up. He'd just popped in to see his friend to check nothing had been heard. He knew damned well that George would have told him if they had heard anything, but he'd gone in to check anyway. As time was passing he was getting increasingly anxious about his daughter's welfare.
He remembered that George had asked him how Jack was holding up. Then he had started about how pleased he was that Jacob and Jack had 'had reached a gentleman’s understanding'. They were George's word, not his. It was hardly the way he would have chosen to describe it. He hadn't even known that George had noticed something was amiss. His friend was a much more wily bird than he gave him credit for. As he well knew, you didn't get to be a General in the US Air Force without knowing a few things. He began to wonder what he himself had known to reach that rank. His powers of judgement and observation had been below par of late. Perhaps it was because it was all connected to his daughter, so something that too close to him. Maybe his symbiote had changed him more than he thought.
"Good," Said Jacob, "I would hate to see my daughter brought before a court martial." He was keeping up the pretence of knowing nothing but noticed the sideways glance that George gave him. Yeah, very wily, he thought.
"Jack tried to resign. Did you know?" Hammond said.
"No." That was no lie. "Why?"
"He didn’t think he was up to it anymore after…" Hammond let his voice trail off. "He tried to tell me something but I wouldn't let him. I had to order him not to. It was pretty obvious what he was going to say though, Jacob." Jacob was surprised.
"Why didn't you let him?"
"Because he needs to lead the rescue mission, if there is one, and I hope to God there is. I'm not going to destroy Jack's life. I can't do that, he doesn't deserve it. Not being here to rescue her if he can will destroy him more effectively than anything else I can think of. Don't you agree?" Jacob nodded imperceptibly. "Besides, he should be a Goddamned hero, not a disgrace. He's sacrificed enough already to save our butts."
"What are you going to do George?"
"I don't know. I'll cross that bridge when it comes to it." Jacob thought there had been an awful lot of bridges to build and cross lately.
"Sam?" He asked.
"Jacob, let's worry about getting her home first, ok?"
Later on he sought out Jack to tell him about parts of the conversation. Jack nodded as if he'd guessed.
"I'll deal with it Jacob."
"I'll deal with it once we have her home."
After two weeks of waiting Jack allowed himself to go home. Except for sitting on that rock topside occasionally, and his night out with Jacob, he hadn't left the base. Hammond had tried to persuade him but Jack insisted on waiting for any news of Sam; anything that might give them a clue to Sam's whereabouts, her fate. Anything that would allow them to formulate a plan to get her back. She had to be coming back. Had to be. Hammond didn't have the heart to order him home.
Jack was relieved that Hammond hadn't accepted his resignation. Otherwise he couldn't have been there waiting, couldn't go out there and bring her back. However, thus far the waiting had been in vain.
The house smelled slightly unlived in and there was something worse looking than a Goa'uld living in his fridge. He went to the bedroom and sat for a while thinking of the last time they'd been here together. He was praying it wasn't the last time they'd ever be together. He noticed Sam had left one of her t-shirts on his bed. Had they got so comfortable with one and other? Yeah, he supposed. It had been like that almost from the start. It had been good. He picked it up and held it closely to his face. It smelled of her. He sat like that for a very long time. Then he went back into his living room and poured a very large tumbler of whiskey.
A loud ringing woke him. For crying out loud…! It was his phone. He'd fallen asleep on the couch, not drunk just extremely exhausted. The whiskey he had poured earlier was almost untouched. Picking the phone up sleepily he realised Hammond was on the other end of it and immediately shook himself awake.
"We've got some news, Jack. You'd better come back in."
"What…What kind of news, Sir?" He wasn't breathing, fearful of what he might hear. If she was dead… He couldn't even contemplate what he would do. Jacob would probably kill him and he wouldn't have to worry about it anymore.
"We think we know where she is, Colonel. The Tok'ra think they've found her." Not even waiting to hear anymore, Jack slammed down the phone. He was out of his door so fast his feet didn't even touch the ground. It wasn't until he got in his truck that he realised he was still clutching her T-shirt.