Category: Slash, Angst, Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: Beyond the Series - February 7-12, 2011
Written: May 26, 2016, November 20, December 10, 2017, February 11-12, March 9, 2018, January 12-13, 2021
Summary: Jack and Daniel face off with a previously unknown enemy who uses an innocent to get their attention.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically. Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s): “Hebetude” and “Gifts of a Lifetime”
“Aha! Beat that,” Jack challenged his husband after his latest chess move.
Daniel studied the board and looked up at Jack before asking, “Are you sure?”
“Am I sure what?”
“That you want me to, uh, beat that?”
“Impossible, Game Boy,” Jack smirked. “I've got this one in the bag.”
With a sly expression, Daniel positioned his white queen at an angle to his soulmate's black king. He reviewed the board, looked up at his opponent, and smiled smugly.
In disbelief, Jack glared at the chess pieces and how they appeared over the black and white spaces. How'd he miss that move, he wondered inwardly. His king was immobile, blocked by the queen's protective knight.
“Oh, for crying out loud,” Jack groaned. “I thought I had you this time.”
“You have me, Babe. You just don't have my queen.”
The lovers chuckled as their midmorning chess match ended. The enjoyable respite happened after their eleven children were all handed off to others. Jennifer and Jeff were at school. Brianna and David were at a scientific workshop for homeschoolers, while Lulu, Chenoa, Aislinn, and Jenny were having a girls' day with Janet, who was on downtime from Stargate Command for a couple of days. Jonny was at a local public school, serving as his friend's (Jerry Portman) show and tell exhibit for class. The Munchkin was asked to attend as being an oldest triplet. Little Danny and Ricky were together attending a homeschooling co-op class in the neighborhood.
Thirty minutes after the chess game concluded, Jack announced, “Angel, I'm gonna head out,” as he put on his brown leather jacket.
“Don't forget the hoe and to pick up two packages of sourdough bread,” Daniel reminded as he checked a message on his smartphone. “Uh, and I need to get to the office.”
“Just a disagreement on who should lead the team on the Oklahoma City project.”
“Since when do our people argue?”
“Since we lost the Grayson account and we're a little slow,” the archaeologist sighed.
“Nothing to worry about, Danny. Grayson didn't switch because he was unhappy; he switched because his new son-in-law is opening a firm.”
“I know, but it was a surprise. It's not hurting us.”
“Just a little boredom.”
“... which will end next week when the New Mexico and South Africa projects begin,” Daniel added with a smile.
The lovers kissed and Jack headed for the door. Daniel was about to go upstairs to get his briefcase and ensure the beagles were okay when the landline rang.
“Hello.” Hearing the words, Daniel raised his right hand towards his lover and called out, “Jack!”
The general turned around and noticed a look of alarm on his husband's face. He swiftly walked to Daniel's side.
“Julie, it'll be okay. I'll put Jack on.” As Daniel handed his soulmate the phone, he announced, “I'm calling J-O to tell them to work out the problem themselves.”
A confused and alarmed Jack took control of the phone and asked, “Julie, what's going on?” He listened intently to what Julie Jenkins said and asked a few questions. Then he advised, “Julie, we're on our way. *Don't* do anything. Don't contact anyone, including the police. You have to trust us, Julie. Call Dave and tell him to come home. We'll be there as soon as we can.”
By this time, Daniel was finished with his call and following his lover's conversation with their friend from the east coast.
“Don't put it away,” Jack told his Love about the smartphone. “We need to make arrangements for the brood. I'll start with the Doc since she already has the girls.”
“Jack, we can't just leave the children without talking with them. They won't like that.”
“This is an emergency, Daniel.” The general saw the unsatisfied expression on his husband's face and acquiesced. “Okay, let's make the arrangements, pack a few things, and we'll do the circuit, but it has to be quick. Danny's life could be at stake.”
With a nod, Daniel suggested, “What about Sara? I mean, uh, Sam's off-world for a few days.”
“I'm not sure if Sara's working or not this week. Give her a call. All she can do is say no.”
Not wasting more time, the couple began their calls even as they began packing a few things. They couldn't afford much of a delay for fear of risking the life they were anxious to find, so they were literally on automatic pilot, throwing in spare underwear and socks, along with a backup shirt and pants. They took only one suitcase, adding their shaving kits to the packed contents. For one of the few times in their lives, the suitcase had extra room since so few items were placed inside it.
The lost soul was Danny Hopkins Jenkins. Jack and Daniel first saw Danny while shopping in 2002. Daniel recognized the signs of an unhappy foster child and Jack, seeing Daniel in the small child, couldn't rest until he found the boy a home. He did that by introducing old friend Annie Glenn, who worked with Child Welfare Services, to Dave Jenkins, a college buddy, who was married to Julie and living in Baltimore. The happy ending was a delight to both Jack and Daniel.
Since Danny's adoption, he visited his friends in Colorado Springs and they, too, traveled to Baltimore on occasion to see him and the rest of the Jenkins family, which now included four other children. Jack and Daniel loved Danny and while their circumstances didn't allow for it at the time, each confided over time that they knew somehow Danny would have a home with them if not adopted by the Jenkins or another family.
Now fifteen, Danny just visited the family in the Springs. He flew in Friday evening to spend the weekend with the Jackson-O'Neills. After a joyful visit, Jack personally drove the teenager to the Denver airport early in the morning before returning home in time for breakfast. In fact, hearing the ringing phone, he assumed the caller would be Danny, announcing his safe arrival back in Maryland. Regretfully, that wasn't the case.
En route to the airport, the lovers discussed the situation.
“Jack, why would someone kidnap Danny?”
“I don't know. What I do know is if they hurt him ...”
“Don't get ahead of the situation.”
“Daniel, Julie said the kidnapper referenced me. That's why she called. This isn't about Danny. It's about us, or me, anyway.”
“Gawd,” Daniel sighed. “Is this ever going to end?”
Jack let out a tiny groan, but he didn't answer. He was fighting anger and didn't want to say anything that would remove his focus. That focus was the teenager, who was guilty of nothing except for being a part of the extended Jackson-O'Neill family.
“Who would be after us now?” Daniel inquired as he searched his mind for answers.
“Why? I mean, why now? Jack, all of that is over, or it should be.”
“We got the best of 'em, Danny. Revenge dies hard.”
“Kinsey's dead. He is dead. I mean, we know he's dead. Right?”
“Shot, killed, buried: verified.”
“Verified?” Daniel asked, looking at his husband with some surprise.
“Verified,” Jack repeated. “Don't ask unless you really want to know.”
Daniel nodded and said nothing in reply. He wasn't really surprised. Jack had many contacts in the world of Black Ops and he would do anything to protect his family. It wasn't unforeseen that when Kinsey was reported murdered in 2007 that the then colonel would have reached out to his dark contacts to have them verify, in some way, that the dead man was indeed Robert Kinsey and that he was actually buried as publicized. The details were unimportant to Daniel. He wasn't angry at his lover's actions or silence about what transpired. Inwardly, he was thankful for Jack's tenacity and wouldn't challenge it unless there was a reason to do so. In his mind, there was no reason to question Jack's deeds.
“Who knows where he is,” Jack returned.
“Especially if he's not on that planet where we left him, which he couldn't be if he killed Kinsey.”
“Jack, it could be anyone, from Earth or ...”
“Daniel, if it was an off-world enemy, they'd be able to get to us. They wouldn't need to involve Danny.”
“I know. I'm just ... I don't know what I'm just.”
“You're worried and trying to figure out who did this,” Jack replied. “We need to see that note. We go from there.”
“What if we need Sam and Teal'c?”
“Then we get them.”
Arriving at the airport, Jack parked the truck and the two hurried to their Meyers 200A aircraft that was referred to as Jo.
“I'll start the preflight,” Jack announced while Daniel stowed their gear and then determined their flight plan.
The general worked fast to go through the motions of making the plane ready for flight, but he hadn't taken her up in a while, so he needed to be efficient and thorough in a fast-paced style.
Similarly, it was questionable about the flight plan. Not all pilots would do it, but the lovers were crossing state lines and, more importantly, they had a family. In a worst-case scenario, a flight plan would be important. Thus, regardless of the urgency of their mission, completing the flight plan, even an abbreviated one, was necessary.
Ten minutes later, as he moved to the last piece of the check, Jack called out, “Are we ready?”
“In ... one ... two ... yes, flight plan's done.” Daniel settled into the pilot's seat and announced, “I'm starting the interior check.”
“Go for it.”
Five minutes later, Jack put down the plane's checklist and asked, “Weather check?”
“Clear except for a light drizzle this evening.”
“We might be long gone by then.” Looking around, Jack asked, “Fuel stop?”
“Quincy is the closest.”
Daniel radioed the tower to announce their departure and awaited the permission to taxi and take off. Getting the go ahead, Jo began her flight as her pilots hoped for a tailwind to get them to Baltimore faster than usual.
Some time after four in the afternoon, Jack and Daniel cautiously approached the Jenkins home and knocked on the door. Both continually looked back and in all directions as they awaited an answer to their knock.
“Jack!” Dave Jenkins greeted. “Come in.” He nodded at Daniel and closed the door, locking it. “Julie's in the living room.”
“Where are your kids?” Jack asked, needing to know how discreet he should be with his communication.
“With my mother, or at least, they’re on a plane with my sister.”
“Your mother?” Jack echoed. “Where does she live?”
“East Hartford, Connecticut,” Julie answered. “Jack, this is the note, but it doesn’t say much at all.”
Jack reviewed the note, showed it to Daniel, and then slipped into his pocket.
“Dave, Julie, we’re on it,” Jack advised. “Don’t worry.”
“You’re asking too much, Jack,” Dave returned. “Danny’s our son. Why would someone kidnap him? He’s just a kid.”
“To get to me, which is why I was threatened in the note,” the general said. “Listen, when this is all over, would you object to the installation of a really super, top notch security system?”
“Like that monster system you have?” Julie queried while also opening her purse to get her handkerchief to dry her moistened face from the tears she was shedding off and on due to worry about her oldest son.
“Yeah,” Jack affirmed. “You know Sam? She’s a wiz at this kind of thing. She did our home, her home, Sara’s, and Doctor Fraiser’s. I don’t remember if you met her or not. Car… Sam can do your home, our treat, if you’ll let us.”
“We’ve thought about a security system,” Dave admitted. “I don’t know.”
“Please think about it,” Daniel requested. “Jack?”
“If you hear from the kidnapper, contact us right away.”
“How are you going to find him?” Julie asked as she started to cry yet again.
“We’ll find him,” Jack declared firmly. “Try to … never mind. We’ll stay in touch and let you know where we settle in tonight.”
“You can stay here,” Julie and David both offered within seconds of each other.
“No, trust me on this. It’s not a good idea,” Jack responded.
The couples hugged and the frightened Jenkins couple watched as Jack and Daniel walked from their home.
“Jack, how are we going to find this guy?” Daniel questioned as soon as the couple entered their rented SUV and closed the doors. “We don’t know who this guy is. All we have is the note.”
“Some note,” Jack groaned. “All it says is I’m dead. No signature. No indication of where we met, assuming we’ve met. There’s nothing in that note that’s going to help us.”
“Then what do we do?”
After a moment of thought, Jack started the vehicle and drove onward. He didn’t want his friends being disturbed from his actions and wondering why the vehicle was still parked in front of the home. After three minutes, he pulled over, having noticed there was very little foot traffic in the area.
“I need to make a couple of phone calls,” Jack advised as he started to open the door, but his movement was stopped by his husband’s hand on his arm.
“Why can’t you make the calls from right here?”
“Do you want me to answer that?”
Daniel knew the answer before the question was asked, but the verification of the non-answer query was all the response he needed. Jack was about to contact his Black Ops buddies, ones still in the game and known to take on just about anything for a price, though Jack was still highly regarded among the elusive group and rarely paid a dime for the information or help he needed.
“Go on,” Daniel permitted. He kept his eyes on his husband, watching as the call proceeded. ~I think I’m glad I don’t know this guy he’s talking to. Gawd, why is this happening again?
“All I know is the woman lives in East Hartford, Connecticut. She has a daughter who lives nearby and just a few hours ago, the daughter arrived back in East Hartford after a quick turnaround trip to Baltimore where she picked up four of her nieces and nephews to take them to mom’s house.”
“No names?” the voice on the phone grumbled.
“Carlton, are you getting too hold for this business? How hard is it to find a woman with five kids?”
“Cool your heels, Jack. I’ll find them.”
The voice spoke, “You said you needed two things.”
“Yeah,” Jack sighed. “Someone’s after me.”
“That’s for you to find out,” Jack challenged. “Carlton, he kidnapped a friend of mine, a kid. He’s only fifteen. I want that kid back … alive and healthy.”
“None, but I can tell you this. I took the kid to the airport in Denver. We were running late, so I went with him to the gate.”
“In today’s world, you got the gate?” an amazed Carlton questioned.
“Military ID helped,” Jack explained. “I personally saw him walk down the jetway to that plane.”
Suddenly, Jack swore. He grew tense and angry.
“I went to get a cup of coffee before the plane took off.”
“So you didn’t have eyes on the whole time?” the mysterious voice asked.
“No, but he didn’t get off the plane.”
“But someone else, the someone who’s after you, could have boarded that plane without you seeing him?”
“That’s affirm,” a regretful Jack acknowledged. “Carlton, the kid’s father was picking him up. He was delayed by an accident on the freeway, ten or fifteen minutes,” Jack informed the operative. “Whatever happened probably happened then.” Intently, he insisted, “I need to know who took Danny.”
“Danny? Your hubby? I thought we were talking about a kid?”
“We are. The kid’s name is Danny, too.”
“Let’s talk reality, Jack,” Carlton stated. “You’re asking for a miracle, but I’ll do some checking, see if anyone knows anything about doing you in.”
“Yeah, do that.” Jack paused and for clarity’s sake said, “Daniel and I will check out the Baltimore airport. Can you have someone do the same in Denver?”
“Check. Be careful, Jack.”
The call ended and Jack returned to the vehicle, sitting for a moment to simply regroup.
“I don’t like him,” Daniel stated.
“Whoever you were talking to on the phone.”
“Hey, well, can’t say I like him much, either.” Jack snickered, “He doesn’t like me, either.”
“I don’t understand how you can both dislike each other and yet help each out,” the archaeologist admitted.
“Solidarity,” Jack answered. “We were both part of a unique core. You don’t violate that core. It’s forever.”
“I don’t think I want to know anymore.”
“No, you don’t, Danny.”
“Okay, so what now?”
“We go to the airport.”
“We’re not leaving?” a surprised Daniel inquired.
“No. We’re hunting information, so turn on the charm. We’re probably going to need it.”
Even with all the changes in airport security, Jack’s Air Force ID combined with the harshest of his general-ness allowed he and Daniel to get to the gate terminals without too much of a delay. They asked questions of the various airline staff until they came upon the gate where the flight from Colorado was gated and from which the passengers deplaned.
“I’d like to help you, but it would cost me my job,” the blonde woman behind the counter admitted, though she was looking at Daniel and not Jack, who was the one conversing with her.
“We just need a little information,” Jack insisted.
The airline worker smiled, not at Jack, but at Daniel and replied, “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s very important,” Daniel interjected as he leaned slightly against the counter, which put him closer to the attractive female.
“Really?” the blonde sighed and shook her long, wavy hair. “I wish I could help.”
“Jack, why don’t you wait over there,” Daniel requested.
“Sure. I’ll be right there.”
Jack wasn’t happy, but he knew what Daniel knew. The woman had information they needed and she liked Daniel. Jack’s Mr. Jealousy wanted to yank Daniel from her sights, but he knew he had to remain silent for the sake of the teenager.
Daniel smiled, one of his most innocent and alluring expressions. His blue eyes practically caused the woman to croon.
“Miss, we need information because the life of a fifteen-year-old boy is in danger. We care about this boy.”
“What’s his name?”
“Danny. Danny Hopkins Jenkins,” came the answer.
The woman wanted to call up the information. Her fingers were on the keyboard, but she couldn’t make them move.
“You don’t understand,” the staffer stated. “They’ve really cracked down on this sort of thing. I could be fired if someone found out.”
“Who’s going to find out?” Daniel asked. He leaned in closer, his body crossing the boundary of the counter. “It’s just you and me.”
“They watch. I’m so sorry.”
Daniel backed and then he got an idea. He reached into his pants pocket and pulled out his wallet. Finding what he wanted, he withdrew it and handed it to the potential ally.
“If you get fired, and if you’re willing to relocate, you’ve got a job. I own an archaeology firm. No experience required. You’ll learn as you go. Even if you don’t get fired and decide to move anyway, come on by. No appointment needed.”
“You aren’t serious.”
“I’m very serious. I need this information.”
The blonde put the card into a pocket and then her fingers went to work.
“Yes, Danny Hopkins Jenkins. He checked in in Denver. Seat 12B.”
“You were working when the plane arrived here in Baltimore, right?”
“So, maybe you saw him.” Daniel pulled out a wallet picture given to him last year. It was Danny’s school picture. “Do you recognize him?”
“He’s cute, like you.”
Embarrassed, but determined, Daniel replied with a shy, “Thanks. Do you remember him?”
“I do. He got off the plane and looked around, like he was expecting someone and didn’t know where to look.”
“Do you know where he went?”
“Well, I was working, but I did notice him go over there,” the airline employee pointed, “to the bathroom. He went inside.”
“Did you notice anyone get off the plane with him? Or maybe someone following him.”
The blonde became very thoughtful, trying to recall anything that might be of use to the inquiring man.
“Yes,” the woman answered excitedly. “There was a man who seemed to stay within a few feet of the boy. I remember seeing him go to the restroom, only he didn’t go inside. When the boy came out, the man started walking in the same direction. I don’t know what happened after that.”
“Didi,” Daniel began after looking at the woman’s name tag on her uniform, “you’ve been very helpful, but I need you to do me one more favor.”
“What is it?”
“Can you look at the passenger manifest and see if anyone bought a last minute ticket for the flight from Denver to here. It would be after Danny checked in.”
“Let me see,” Didi said as she reviewed the available data. “Danny was one of the later arrivals. Yes, there were three tickets purchased after he boarded the flight. Um, one was a mother and her son. The other was a man.”
“What’s his name, Didi?”
“Kennedy: Bert Kennedy.”
“Oh my gawd,” Daniel heard himself say.
“Do you know him?”
Not answering the inquiry, Daniel asked, “Can you describe the man you saw who was near Danny?”
“Let me think,” Didi requested. “He was a little over six-feet. I think his eyes were brown, but he wore glasses and what I saw might not be accurate. I’d guess he was sixty maybe.”
“Anything else?,” Daniel prompted.
“He was balding at the top, and he had a mustache and beard: pretty hairy. He wasn’t slim, more like you’d expect an older man to be, like him,” Didi said as she motioned toward a man who passed by the counter at that moment.
“Thank you, Didi. You’ve really helped. If you need that job, the offer is always open.”
Before the airline worker could respond, Daniel was gone, joining Jack as he stood by the wall.
“Well?” Jack questioned.
“Colonel Kennedy bought a ticket after Danny boarded the plane in Denver,” Daniel advised.
“Kennedy? Why in Netu would he want to come after us?”
“No idea, Jack, but it’s him.”
“How can you be sure?” Jack probed.
“She described him to me. Granted, we haven’t seen Colonel Kennedy in years, but it sounded like an older him. She said he was bald on top and had a mustache and beard.”
“Doesn’t sound like Kennedy.”
“Jack, didn’t you ever hear the gossip back at SGC about Kennedy’s supposed toupee?”
“Crap, I forgot about that. Walter had a pool going, but Kennedy was reassigned before anyone could verify.” Jack cackled lightly. “How about that.” After a few seconds, “Anything else notable about his appearance?”
“No, but the general description matches him. He’s older now, Jack. The glasses and beard make sense.”
“Let’s get out of here,” Jack urged. “I need to make a phone call.”
“What’s the word?” Jack asked his contact.
“Still working on it, Jack.”
“Work harder,” Jack suggested. “We think we know who it is, but it doesn’t make sense to us. I need you to get on this, Carlton, and find this guy.”
“Colonel Bert Kennedy, USAF, Retired.”
“Kennedy? Wasn’t he an arrogant prick from the Pentagon?”
“Good description,” Jack responded. “We haven’t even seen the man in, geez, decades. ‘Ninety-eight maybe.”
“This must be old history.”
“See what you can find out.”
Jack hung up after which he and Daniel checked in with the Jenkins family. He assured them they were making progress in finding Danny and the kidnapper. He also informed them that there were eyes on Julie’s mother’s home to ensure the kids were safe in East Hartford.
At that point, the lovers had nothing more they could do until they heard from Carlton. They decided to check into a hotel while they waited and get something to eat. They also made phone calls to their children and one to the current head of the Stargate Program. He needed to know about the possible Kennedy connection to a kidnapping.
It was four in the morning when Jack’s smartphone blared. This was one of those rare times when he actually kept the phone near him on the nightstand. It was infrequent even that the phone was kept on during his sleep.
The general sat up in a hurry and answered the phone.
“Eyes are on him,” Carlton reported.
“An odd place for a hideout, but he’s at a restaurant on the bad side of town,” the operated advised.
“It’s been shuttered for two years and was condemned after a fire took out most of it a few months ago.”
“What about Danny?”
“Can’t verify his location. My guys only saw Kennedy.”
“We know of one automatic. He could have more inside.”
“Thanks. Carlton, I need …”
“Full range, for me and Daniel.”
“Give me fifteen.”
The call ended and Jack turned to his soulmate to inform him of the latest news.
Waiting for the followup phone call, the lovers readied themselves for a quick exit. They were still dressed since they’d forgotten to include any type of sleepwear in their packing. Besides, they wanted to be ready to go on a second’s notice.
“Go,” Jack ordered when he picked up the phone when it rang.
“Wait five. then check your door. You’ll find a key and an address. Equipment will be there, along with the address for the restaurant.”
The call ended without warning.
“Well?” Daniel asked.
“We sit here for five minutes and then we find Danny.
Following Carlton’s instructions, Jack and Daniel found themselves at a seedy motel in that same aforementioned bad side of town. The key belonged to a room around the back of the motel. These were small rooms with outdoor egress only.
Unlocking the door, two suitcases were on the unclean bed. The lovers were eager to get the contents and leave as the stench inside the tiny space was powerful.
Not wanting to risk being seen with weapons, the couple took the suitcases with them, only opening them in the motel room to find the address of their destination and do a quick review of the equipment.
“Thorough,” Jack remarked before closing the suitcase closest to him.
Wasting no time, Jack and Daniel drove to the restaurant. They parked in the back, though not directly behind the food establishment. Their SUV was actually three blocks down. Still covered by the darkness of the sky, they opened the suitcases to retrieve the contents. Both were constantly checking their surroundings.
“Vest,” Jack said, handing the bulletproof protective item to his husband.
“Gloves,” Daniel replied as his suitcase included those items.
The assortment of weapons were bound to give Jack and Daniel a good chance of overcoming their opponent.
“It’s not your Beretta, but it should do,” Jack opined as he handed Daniel the Desert Eagle pistol and then checked out the Heckler and Koch HK416 A5 assault rifle that he would use. “Nice.”
Jack smiled in approval when he saw two knives, not unlike the one he always used while on SG-1. He put one inside his pants and gave the other Daniel, who put his in the same location, though it was never something he’d done before.
“Uh, a holster for the pistol,” Daniel stated as he put on the item, moving the pistol from resting on his abdomen to the holster. “Radios.”
“Yeah,” Daniel affirmed.
Once they were ready, the lovers locked up the SUV and cautiously began their recon. They actually walked completely around the building, peering into cracked windows and listening for sounds.
Jack mouthed, “I’ll take the front. Listen for me, then enter through the back.”
Daniel nodded and then the two once-again warriors took their positions.
Taking one deep breath, Jack kicked in the door and quickly looked around. His prey was in his sights.
“Kennedy, you idiot,” Jack called out at the man standing by the run-down bar counter. “Daniel?”
“Right here,” Daniel replied, his pistol aimed at Kennedy.
“Where’s the boy?” Jack asked.
“Out to get me, Jack.”
“Where’s the boy?” the general repeated.
“Snakes; monsters; not fair. Why are you after me?” Kennedy questioned.
“I’m not after you,” Jack spat. “You’re the one after me. For the last time, where’s the boy?”
“Pizza. Should be pepperoni. Who wants pineapple on a pizza?” the retired colonel asked in a strange non-sequitur.
“Daniel,” Jack directed, nodding with his head for the archaeologist to look around for Danny Hopkins Jenkins. “Listen, you moron, this has nothing to do with pizza. You kidnapped a kid and threatened my life. Why?”
“Life is beauty,” the man said. “You shouldn’t have done it, Jack.”
Jack was angry, confused, and growing more and more frustrated by the minute. Kennedy wasn’t making any sense. His speech was starting to slur, too.
“Are you drunk?”
“Drunk?” Kennedy echoed. “Do you see any booze in this place?”
“I want to know where the boy is, and if he’s not in one piece and breathing, I’m gonna shoot your miserable hide.”
“Threats like taking away pepperoni from my pizza. You took her, too.”
“Her? Who her?”
“Snakes. Thunder. Have to save my soul,” Kennedy rambled.
The colonel began to walk around in circles, mumbling nonsense Jack couldn’t understand. His threats to kill Kennedy didn’t get any reaction.
“Purple people eater. Can’t get me. Blood inhuman. Pineapples: ick yuck ewe.”
“What are ranting about?” Jack questioned harshly. “For crying out loud, Kennedy, you’re psycho, a lunatic, out of your mind, deranged!”
“You wish I were,” Kennedy stated as he appeared to temporarily lucid, only that only lasted five seconds. “Lucy’s fault. Too much ketchup. Get the snakes, venomous. You can’t win, Jack.”
The general let out a big breath, feeling totally lost as to how to proceed.
“Jack!” Daniel called out. “He’s in the kitchen.”
“Status?” the general shouted.
“Alive and unconscious,” David replied. “He’s tied up.”
“Untie him,” Jack ordered.
“See, the boy’s fine. He’s been sleeping for hours,” Kennedy said with a grin. “Sleepy, sleepy, sleepy.” He kept walking in circles, ignoring Jack’s order to stay in place. “It’s the end, but I win, Jack.”
“Hey, what you just do?” Jack quizzed. The general saw the man quickly reach inside of his beard and pull something out. It was shocking and something Jack had never seen before. Walking several steps towards the unarmed man, Jack questioned, “Kennedy, what did you put in your mouth?”
“Victory. Snakes. You shouldn’t have come after me, Jack. I wanted coffee, not pineapple.”
“Jack, do you think …” Daniel began to ask as he returned to the front of the restaurant, only then his attention was diverted.
Without warning, Kennedy fell to the floor and began to seizure.
“What the heck?” Jack called out and walked a few steps closer to the man.
As suddenly as the convulsions began, they stopped. Kennedy showed no movement whatsoever.
Daniel went to the man’s side and kneeled down to check vital signs. He looked back at his life partner.
“Dead,” Daniel repeated.
It took the two a minute to get over the shock, but then Jack instructed, “Call Landry and see how he wants to handle this, and make sure he knows Danny needs to get to a hospital quick.”
Daniel returned to the kitchen in order to keep an eye out on Danny while he contacted Landry. Meanwhile, Jack stared at Kennedy in total bewilderment. Finally, the general decided to check Kennedy’s body for any clue as to the reasoning for the attack on Danny and the threats against him. There was nothing. Kennedy didn’t even have a wallet on him. All he carried was a picture of a woman whom Jack assumed was the man’s wife.
The Special Ops expert decided to take a look around the restaurant, though first he secured the open front door. Again, he found nothing related to the incident or to Kennedy. He returned to the front of the restaurant to see Daniel waiting for him.
“Landry said we should hold tight. He’s sending a team.”
“I don’t know and it didn’t feel like I should ask for details,” Daniel confided.
“Okay, we wait.”
The sun was up and so were the homeless, the victim seekers, and the poverty stricken. A few cars were heard going by and someone knocked on the back door for five minutes before leaving. At last, there was a tap on the door.
“Who is it?” Jack questioned.
“We’re the team sent by Big Dog,” a man answered.
“Big Dog?” Daniel asked with widened eyes.
“Code name for Landry,” Jack explained as he went to door, took a peek outside, and then let the team in.
“That him?” the man asked.
“The ambulance is here,” another man said as he entered. He and another were dressed as attendants. “Where?” he asked simply.
“Where’s the boy?” the first man inquired.
“Kitchen,” Jack answered.
“Get the boy and take him to the hospital. Notify Big Dog on arrival,” the first man ordered, adding, “Let Lam know you’re on the way.”
“Lam?” Daniel queried, wondering if the reference was to Doctor Carolyn Lam who still worked at Cheyenne Mountain.
“Big Dog’s daughter. He said you knew her.”
“We do,” Jack confirmed. “Good going, Big Dog.”
“Gentlemen, if you’ll remove your equipment, we’ll dispose of it and you can go. Big Dog requests you contact him at the earliest possible moment.”
“We’ll do that,” Daniel sighed in some disbelief at the whole experience. He was pleased to be rid of the pistol and knife for sure. “So, we can go?”
“We’ll handle cleanup and disposal,” the man responded.
“Nice job,” Jack said, patting the man on his back. “Daniel, let’s get out of this disaster.”
The lovers called the Jenkins and discovered they’d already been notified of Danny’s rescue, though no details were given them as yet. Soon, Doctor Lam gave the boy a full examination and found him to have been drugged with a powerful sedative. He was coming out of it, but was still drowsy. Happily, Danny was otherwise healthy. There were no injuries and no sign that Kennedy harmed him in any way. In fact, the worst fact was that Danny hadn’t had any food since leaving Colorado Springs. Lam suspected Danny was sedated immediately upon being kidnapped and remained that way until waking at the hospital. Even the ties that bound the boy, while secure to keep him from escaping, were unusually loose for a kidnapped victim.
The next day, the Jackson-O’Neills returned to their home, feeling secure about leaving the reunited Jenkins family. All the children were back with their parents and Jack did have a few minutes alone with Danny to ensure he was okay. Doctor Lam would stay in Baltimore for a couple of days to oversee the boy’s health as well.
At home, the lovers goal was to spend the rest of the day and evening with their children and beloved zoo. They broke away only to touch bases with Landry and confirm their appointment for Friday morning. They really wanted to get the situation handled so they didn’t have to think about it anymore, but Janet needed time to do a thorough autopsy on Colonel Kennedy, whose body was immediately transported to SGC right after the incident concluded.
Jack and Daniel were with General Hank Landry in his office at the Mountain. Landry was standing near the window with Jack opposite him, while Daniel was half seated on Landry’s desk with his arms crossed in front of him.
“That’s what happened, Hank,” Jack spoke. “I was ready to take him out, but he suddenly dropped and began going into seizures. He was gone before we could check his vitals.”
“What about this conspiracy?”
Jack shrugged as he remarked, “Beats me. I’m tellin’ ya, Hank, he was talking crazy, rambling, mumbling. I couldn’t make out his words. How about you, Danny?”
Shaking his head, Daniel answered, “No. All I knew was that he wanted to kill us because apparently we were out to get him. He never said who or why we wanted to do that.” He thought for a moment and concluded, “He was unintelligible for much of the time we were there.”
Landry sighed as he walked around for a moment and then asked, “How’s the boy?”
“That’s the good news,” Jack responded with a light tone. “Danny doesn’t remember a thing, except for someone coming up from behind and putting something over his mouth.”
“Apparently, he passed out and Kennedy kept him that way the entire time,” Daniel added. “He was … lucky.”
Landry acknowledged the status and then let out some of his frustration when he expressed, “I don’t understand why Kennedy did this. Thirty years in the Air Force with no issues.”
“Maybe he had a grudge about his re-assignment away from SGC,” Jack proposed. “We had nothing to do with it, of course.”
“He did try to undermine us,” the archaeologist pointed out. “He kept mentioning snakes.”
“So?” Jack queried.
“Snakes: the Goa’uld,” Daniel stated. “Remember, he was willing to let Kawalski be a host so he could study the symbiote and he almost succeeded in turning Teal’c into a scientific guinea pig.”
“That I remember clearly,” Jack said. “You think it’s possible?”
“Jack, I don’t hear the word ‘snakes’ without thinking about the Goa’uld.”
“This is neither her nor there really,” Daniel began, “but did Colonel Kennedy ever admit to being part of the NID?”
“Of course he did,” Jack responded. “Didn’t he?”
“No, he always said he was a part of military intelligence. I mean, why hide it?” There was a brief pause before he noted, “Maybourne replaced him and he had no problem saying he was with NID.”
“You think that’s related to what happened this week?”
“Probably not. I was just curious.” The archaeologist gave off a mild smile before returning the purpose of the meeting which was to figure out what caused Kennedy to kidnap the Jenkins boy and threaten Jack. “What did his wife say about him?” Daniel asked, aware the woman was questioned by the military within the past couple of days.
Landry communicated, “She said Kennedy was a happy man, enjoying his retirement. They were living their dream, until a couple of months ago when he started to change. She became worried and tried to get him to see a physician, but he said she was imagining things and refused to go. The big moment was just two weeks ago. He hit her, a slap on the face, when they argued about him going to the doctor. According to her, that was the only time in their decades of marriage that he ever raised a finger to her. After that, he packed his bags and left. She never saw him again.”
“Another mystery?” Jack wondered.
“The mystery is solved, General,” Janet interjected as she entered the office, the door having been slightly ajar.
“What have you learned, Doctor Fraiser?” Landry questioned as he walked closer to her.
“Follow me and I’ll show you.”
The four went to the infirmary, the three men noticing the body of Colonel Kennedy on a nearby table just as a sheet was being pulled over his corpse.
“Look,” Janet requested after putting up a series of X-rays.” She pointed and advised, “That, gentleman, is a tumor in the brain.”
“Large sucker,” Jack responded in amazement.
“It’s the location that hurts, Janet said as she pointed to the second tumor. “It’s in the frontal lobe.”
“… and that controls behavior,” Daniel responded in understanding.
“Yes, as well as a person’s personality and emotions.” Janet advised, “That’s a pretty big tumor. It is my opinion that Colonel Kennedy had no control over his actions or emotions in recent months. This conspiracy you mentioned earlier was something he couldn’t fight. I don’t believe he intended to kill either of you,” she said as she looked at the soulmates, “but he couldn’t stop himself or what his mind was telling him. If he’d gone to the doctor, the story would have been different.”
“Cause of death?” the current SGC commander inquired.
“Ingestion of three cyanide capsules with complications from the brain tumors.” Janet sighed, “Any idea where he got those? Our analysis says they were pretty potent pills, which is why he died so swiftly.”
“Suicide pills,” Jack sighed, knowing all-too-well the intent of anyone taking even one of the deadly capsules. He looked at Janet and answered, “No clue where Kennedy picked them up; old contacts maybe.”
“We’ll probably never know,” Daniel put forth.
“Thank you, Doctor,” Landry stated. “What about …” he motioned over at the body.
“If there is no objection, I’m releasing the body to his widow in the morning.”
Jack, Daniel, and Landry left the infirmary and continued discussing the tragic events of the past week.
“Hank, we’re off. We promised the Jenkins we’d drop by and explain what happened,” Jack stated.
“Good luck with that, Jack.”
Goodbyes spoken, the couple headed for the elevator while Landry returned to his office.
Once in the elevator, Daniel asked, “What are you going to say to Julie and Dave?”
“Daniel, I have no friggin’ clue.”
The discussion ended and the lovers remained lost in their own thoughts for the entire drive to airport.
The lovers headed for the Jenkins home in their private aircraft with Jack in the pilot’s seat.
“What are you going to tell them?” Daniel inquired a bit more directly than he did at Cheyenne Mountain.
“What kind of story?”
“I don’t want Danny looking over his shoulder the rest of his life, thinking some lunatic is going to hurt him or his family. Whatever the story is, it’s going to have an ending.”
“Jack, the note Julie received. It only mentions you, right? I mean, there’s no reference to me.”
“Not a hint. I was his main target,” Jack reminded.
“Okay then. Why not just tell him the truth, without the Stargate part?” the archaeologist proposed.
“The truth?” Jack echoed uncertainly.
“The truth. A man who served a full career in the Air Force and who retired with grace was sick. He had a brain tumor that caused him to become delusional and in that delusion, he began to believe their was a conspiracy. We don’t really know the depth or extent of the conspiracy or what was going through his mind, but you were his … target because you two crossed paths during your Special Ops days and clashed. Then he killed himself.”
“That might work.”
“Well, there could even be a small benefit to this, if we tell it right,” Daniel opined.
“Julie and Dave have often talked about how Danny hates going to the doctor. He despises needles, hates pills, and it gives him the, what does he call it?”
“The heebie-jeebies,” Jack mused.
“Those things,” Daniel completed. “Babe, if we stress that Kennedy refused to see a doctor, even though his wife wanted him to, and that led to his thoughts of conspiracy and his death, maybe Danny will see going to a doctor differently. Maybe he’ll think about his family more and go when he’s not feeling well. I don’t know, but it’s a chance he might remember this as a warning to visit a doctor when something is off. If Kennedy had, none of this would have happened.”
“Okay. We’ll go the modified truth.”
It was a cool cloudy day when Jack, wearing his Air Force uniform, and Daniel, attired in a navy suit, solemnly approached the gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery. The service was over, but a few people still remained, including the woman the lovers came to see.
“Excuse me, Ma’am,” Jack said quietly.
The woman turned around, a look of curiosity surfacing upon seeing the two men and having no idea who they were. She was adorned in black with a simple gold locket hanging around her neck. Gray was forming in her otherwise black hair. Her brown eyes were red from her tears, which moistened her rouge-covered cheeks. She appeared to be dignified in her demeanor.
Removing his cap, the silver-haired man explained, “Mrs. Kennedy, I’m General Jack Jackson-O’Neill, United States Air Force. This is my husband, Doctor Daniel Jackson-O’Neill.”
The woman’s mouth opened in surprise and she took a moment to look into the eyes of both men. A smile formed on her face.
“I know who you are. My husband used to speak about you from time to time.” The new widow laughed, “He said you two were pains in the butt.”
Daniel bowed his head, trying not to smile, and then affirmed, “We were.”
“That was such a long time ago, when you knew him, wasn’t it?”
“It’s been some years, yes, Ma’am,” Jack replied using every bit of military diplomacy he could find within himself.
“Bert was so different then.”
“Different?” Jack and Daniel questioned in unison.
“Ah, how different?” the general questioned.
“In the early days of his career, he was so desperate to succeed. He was very focused and I’m afraid my dear Bert was, to be truthful, on the arrogant side.”
Neither Jack nor Daniel showed any facial response. They remained silent, almost afraid of what they might say if they did reply.
“But then we had our family and he began to look at life differently,” the woman in black recalled. “That’s why I think he could laugh about those old days at the Pentagon. He was so much happier when he left that tension behind and took assignments away from Washington.”
“I see,” Jack acknowledged.
“Did …” the woman paused, suddenly seeming nervous, but she gathered her nerves and continued, though her voice trembled. “Did you see my husband before he … died?”
“Briefly,” Jack answered.
“Don’t remember him that way,” the widow pleaded. “The person he was in the last few months is not the man I married. He’s not the father of my children. He was a stranger, one I’d never seen, not in all the many years of our married life. Think kindly of him.”
“We’ll do that,” Daniel promised.
The woman nodded and said, “Thank you for coming,” before turning and walking very slowly to the open grave in which her husband lie inside a silver coffin.
Jack and Daniel watched for a minute before they began to walk away.
“Do you think she knows?”
“She might suspect, but no way does she know for sure,” Jack stated.
“How do you know?”
“Landry said the decision was made not to tell her about Kennedy’s recent activities.” Jack glanced back at the widow and questioned, “What good would it do to tell her what he did?”
“Because it wasn’t him,” Daniel stated. “We know from my experience with a brain tumor that personalities do change.”
“Yeah, I don’t question that,” Jack replied. He let out a huge sigh. “Danny, it’s been a long seven days. Let’s go home.”
Jack put his arm around his husband and they casually headed for the military vehicle where their driver was waiting for them.
“I’m glad we came.”
“Me, too, Love, but I’m not sure I can remember Kennedy … kindly.”
“Remember her then,” Daniel put forth with a look over at the grieving widow.
“That I can do.”
As time went by, the incident became part of the past. Danny Hopkins Jenkins was seemingly unaffected by the experience. To him, he’d had a long, long nap and nothing more. He knew he’d been kidnapped but with only one moment in his memory, that being of a man sneaking up from behind him and then covering his face, he was able to heal. He did go to counseling for a short while, but he discovered he wasn’t scared of the bad men. Essentially, he recovered quickly from the ordeal.
The Jenkins agreed to installing a home security system, one like the Jackson-O’Neills had. They fought it at first, but with five children and the possibility of more, they decided to accept the gift, especially since they were not about to let Jack and Daniel disappear from their lives, something that was subtly indicated as a possibility in order to protect the safety of the Jenkin’s children. Sam traveled to Baltimore with a personally selected team and had the home protected in short order.
No one was able to decipher the odd comments about pizza and snakes made by Kennedy. SGC personnel agreed with Daniel that it may have had some relation to the Goa’uld symbiotes. Kennedy’s wife, in some followup interviews with the Air Force, offered more examples of her husband’s strange shift in personality that may have actually begun months earlier and not just during the past two months. There were little things, like no longer being a football fan and hating foods he used to love, including, interestingly enough, pineapples. The brain tumor link to the personality change was confirmed by two other leading experts. So, while the mystery of Bert Kennedy was not completely solved, it was agreed that all that could be learned at this point had been learned. The case was officially closed.
Jack and Daniel did remember Kennedy’s wife fondly, sending her flowers on both Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.
The soulmates weren’t happy about the incident, but they were pleased that in the end, no one was really out to get either of them. Rather, it was a deranged attack by a sick man. They put the event behind them, although their senses were heightened from then on about family and friends who visited their home. They couldn’t become paranoid, but they knew they had to continue to be vigilant in order to keep those they loved safe.
When they returned home from Arlington, Jack and Daniel relaxed. Tomorrow was Valentine’s Day and it included a party at Janet’s house. They were looking forward to the festivities and to spending time together afterward in their own special way. Right now, they were enjoying cuddle time on the sofa in the living room. A fire was blazing, the lights were off with a few candles lit to provide visibility, and the stereo was singing out operatic promises of love.
“I love this,” Daniel sighed as his head rested on his lover’s shoulder.
“Me, too,” Jack responded with a soft tone. “This makes everything worth it.”
“You’re not talking about Kennedy?”
“I’m talking about everything, Danny. Our time together, our life, is what I live for. This nation of two of ours beats in my heart twenty-four/seven. All the crap we have to go through to keep this alive is just that: crap. Being here with you is all I want or need.”
“Gawd, I love it when you talk like that,” Daniel sighed in happiness. “It’s a lovely fire.”
“I worked hard making it perfect, just for you.”
“Oh?” Jack asked in surprise. “What’s wrong with my fire?”
“Well, as long as it’s going, we have to stay here.”
Brown eyes met blue eyes in full awareness. Jack loved the fire in the fireplace, but there was fire burning within him that was more intense. The need was growing at a staggering pace.
“Fire’s out,” Jack announced as he nearly flew away from the sofa.
Daniel chuckled as he stretched and then stood up. He watched his Silver Fox extinguish the beautiful blaze. He felt so loved and happy. He was truly satisfied in life. More than that, he was blissfully joyful.
“Babe,” Daniel said when Jack finished his task. “My fire’s burning.”
Both in dire need of the other, the soulmates retired to their bedroom where a more intense fire roared for hours.
Life in Colorado Springs might not always be stress-free or even without danger, but whenever conflict threatened their paths, Jack and Daniel simply united their hearts and souls, their synergy outlasting any obstacle. On this night, and most nights, life was one long thrilling ember that never went out.
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