AN: I'd really like to thank my co-authors GWhite and MRKRZHRSE for both pushing me through part three and helping write so much of it. MKH was a godsend for the fight scenes and I couldn't have gotten Gibbs just right without GWhite. As always special thanks to my BETA Justafan8 for putting up with my erratic submissions and sometimes really sloppy pre-edit review process.
In our last story Jack was cleared of all charges albeit conditionally regarding conduct unbecoming. Jack expects to be quietly shuffled off to retirement but the powers that be have other plans for the leader of SG-1. Is he ready for what's coming? Is he ready to face his soon to be father in law who doesn't even know what happened yet?
Shards of Glass Part III
"Have a seat, Jack." Hammond told him as Jack walked into his former's boss' office. Jack technically still was not reinstated. Immediately after the hearing was adjourned, he'd been released and sent home, as had Sam. Jack smiled a little about their first night at home with their little family. Somehow, with everything happening with the case, his SGC colleagues had cleaned out his cluttered guest room, painted and set up a nursery for Nugget. Sam had still been in no shape to indulge in anything more than heavy petting but they had fallen asleep tangled in each other's arms anyway. At least until Gracie woke them up at oh three hundred for her first breakfast.
"Sir?" Jack asked him as he sat. He was under the impression he was now retired though Hammond had not said anything either way. He had come in with Sam this morning anyway, leaving the baby safe at home with her nanny. If nothing else, he figured he had paperwork to file but that wasn't something he needed to see Hammond for.
Leaning back in his chair almost absently, George started to talk. "Kirkja was your deciding vote. He's a real stickler to the letter of the law regardless of how things look. Hickerson took a bit of persuading." Hammond leaned forward in his chair, placing his elbows on his desk. "Jack, I have a proposal for you."
"I was under the impression I was being forced to retire, sir."
A corner of Hammond's mouth quirked up. "Not quite yet. I have a job for you and a request."
"Oh?" What now, Jack thought. He could hear big honkin klaxons going off in his head.
"I want this hole plugged, son, and I'm willing to call in whoever you need to help me do it. We know that Kinsey is involved in this somehow. And we know that this isn't the first time Kinsey has meddled, and I doubt it will be the last."
"You're probably right, sir."
"At any rate, we haven't heard the last of this so I want what's left of the Trust quashed."
"Sir, we took down the Trust years ago."
"Apparently all we got was a slimy tentacle. I have it on good authority that Bauer is heading it up currently at Kinsey's behest. He's been playing the 'by the book' routine to throw off any suspicions that he'd be mixed up in any of it but we have intel that he had his fingers in it all along."
Jack frowned. "Is Sam in danger?"
George knew what Jack was really asking was: is his daughter in danger. Sam could take care of herself. As for Janet Grace… well… that has been handled as well. "Steps have been taken to ensure she is not."
Jack let out a slow sigh. "All right. I'm just spinning my wheels right now anyway. What have you got?"
Two Weeks ago…
"Sir, have you got a moment?" Harm said, knocking on Hammond's door after checking with Sergeant Harriman if he was free.
"What can I do for you, son?" Hammond asked him, looking up from the report he was reading.
"I'm not sure how much you have talked to Colonel O'Neill about the current situation but I think I have some information that needs to hit your ears first."
"Oh?" Hammond said with interest, the harsh white lights of his office making his bare head gleam slightly.
"Sir… are you familiar with an operation called the Trust?"
Hammond looked at him and frowned a little. "Close the door, Commander Rabb." He told the tall younger man.
Back in the present…
"So, Bauer is up to his eyeballs. Somehow I'm not surprised. Sam was so glad I was home she didn't even chew my ass out for the crap I said to her before I left." Referring to his little jaunt with black ops to hobble Kinesy the last time.
Jack waved him off though. He really didn't want to relive the argument he and Sam had about his bad attitude when Bauer ended up as CO at SGC a few years back. He didn't want her out in the field with that maniac running things and told her so. Bauer had almost gotten Teal'c killed trying to steal Naquadah from the Goa'uld. The last thing Jack had wanted was to have to worry about Sam while he tried to get Hammond off the hook. The vendetta against his team was pretty personal.
The fight they had that night had almost landed them in the situation they were in currently. Jack suppressed a rather foolish grin at the thought of making love to his now fiancé.
"Be that as it may, this needs to be plugged." Clearing his throat, Hammond took a long look at Jack which caused Jack to brace himself for the next piece of news. This had to be big, judging by the way Hammond was looking at Jack. "The Joint Chiefs want to add a new division entitled Homeworld Security."
"Sounds pretentious." Jack quipped.
"They want me to head it."
"Better you than me, sir." Jack said with amusement. He supposed things were shaping up that he'd take this one last mission then be forced out. Jack was fine with that.
"There is still the matter of who will head up the SGC once I leave, son."
"I'm sure you will find someone competent, sir."
"I already have." Hammond said to him smugly.
Jack went very still. He couldn't possibly be serious.
Hammond looked at Jack expectantly.
Crap. He was serious. "Sir… with all due respect after what happened, I'd assumed this was my last assignment and then I was out for good."
Hammond however gave Jack a bit of a sly smile. "Much to, I am certain, your immeasurable disappointment, Jack, no. Not only does the Air Force still want you… they want you here."
Jack shrugged and pretended not to understand. "They already have me here."
George chuckled. "No, Jack. In my position."
Jack sighed. "Sir, with all due respect… are they nuts?!"
Hammond just chuckled though. "Think it over. Talk to your team about it, but the offer is very serious, Jack. They know I was grooming you all along and they want you in the chair when I move upward. I'm sure you could use a little more money now that you have a baby to provide for." He'd have said now that Jack was a father again had the subject of his son not been such a painful topic. "Why don't you go find your team, Jack?".
Realizing he was being dismissed, Jack's shoulders drooped as he got up.
"Oh, and one last thing, Jack…"
"You and Sam will need to get married before her maternity leave is over if you take the advancement."
"Right." Jack's mouth firmed as he walked out.
Jack sat with his elbows on his desk and rubbed his face, his expression midway between frustration and panic. Sam was not going to like this at all. He didn't care about a promotion, but he knew he had no choice in either of the two matters Hammond had discussed with him. First of all, they had to take out the bad guys, and he didn't have a lot of time to do it. He was going to need SG-1, Maybourne, and all the help he could get. He had a call to make, then he had to find his team. The other matter can wait a few more minutes.
He picked up the phone and dialed a number from memory. "Hey, Gunny."
"Hello, Campers!" Jack said, finding SG-1 congregated in Daniel's lab.
"Well, Jack, am I talking to a newly retired USAF colonel?" Sam asked. They both assumed that was the reason General Hammond had called Jack to his office. Frankly, neither one of them could see any other outcome, even if Jack had not been found not guilty.
Sam wasn't expecting his "Not exactly," as he leaned against the wall.
"What does that mean, Jack?" Daniel asked, leaning forward in the chair he was sitting in. "Are you back on SG-1? Wouldn't they let you retire?"
Jack bit the inside of his jaw. He really didn't want to do this. He wanted to take Sam and go home to their daughter. He would be more than happy to just live his life with Sam and raise their daughter together. The job didn't matter to him, but he knew that he wouldn't have the life he wanted if Kinsey and his buddies were still around. "The General had a proposal of sorts, but I need the three of you to agree to the idea."
Jack took a breath. "Here's the deal. General Hammond is leaving the SGC and is going to head up a new department. They're calling it Homeworld Security." He paused, giving them time to absorb that the man who'd been their CO, mentor, and friend, was leaving.
"O'Neill, are we in danger of having General Bauer return?" Teal'c asked, putting words to their first fear.
"No, it's worse than that." Jack replied, looking down.
Daniel stood abruptly and paced the small room, running his fingers through his hair. "What do you mean worse? Kinsey's behind this, isn't he?"
'Umm, no, Daniel. It isn't Kinsey. I think General Hammond is behind this one, and apparently Hayes is on board."
Sam had a sinking feeling she knew what was coming, or at least part of it. She met Jack's eyes and raised a brow. Jack answered by raising a brow of his own. Sam said, "You're kidding?" incredulously, then, when Jack didn't respond, "So, not kidding."
"Not kidding? He hasn't said anything yet." Daniel huffed then stopped pacing. "Okay, Jack. Who is it?"
"Me... with a promotion. Brigadier General Jack O'Neill." He paused, his expression a tad bemused. "General Hammond says the job is mine if I want it. But it comes with conditions." Jack had to smile at Daniel's gaping mouth. "You're gonna catch flies, Daniel."
Sam touched Jack's arm, redirecting his focus from goading Daniel. "What are the conditions, sir?"
Jack took her hand, smiling at her, and kissing her knuckles. "First, we have to get married before your maternity leave is up, but we're good on that." He didn't release Sam's hand as he looked each of his teammates directly before saying out loud one of his biggest misgivings about the new job. "Sam, guys, I've spent my whole life sticking it to the man. I'm not sure I can be the man, or if I even want to be the man."
"Nobody knows better than you do about how the SGC should be run, Jack." Daniel pitched in.
"Besides, if you don't, we might get someone worse, sir." Sam said, then bit her lip as Jack stared at her. "Umm, that didn't come out right."
Jack was secretly amused but gave her an injured look.
"You can do anything you want," Daniel said into the silence.
"Yes, O'Neill. Your orders must be obeyed." Teal'c continued Daniel's thought.
"But there's more than that to it, isn't there, sir? There are other conditions." Sam tilted her head. She had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.
Jack took a breath. "Before I take over, I need to bring down Bauer and his buddies. I can't do that if I'm riding a desk running the SGC. That's where SG-1 comes in, and Maybourne and Rabb. We need to get these guys. We're all still in danger as long as they're out there."
"So we're doing this?" Daniel said.
"I don't see how we have any choice in the matter, Danny. If we don't handle this, it's just going to keep chasing us until it catches us or kills us." Jack told him.
"It is the only way we will end this difficulty," Teal'c agreed.
"Exactly." Jack said. He glanced at Sam who had remained quiet. He didn't like that. Quiet was not Sam's default setting during mission planning. "Carter?"
"Don't we have a logistics issue?"
"Nope. You and Danny will stay behind and dig into Maybourne's intel. Teal'c, Harm, and I will go track down the Trust members floating in space." Jack thought for a moment. "On second thought, I might have Harm run interference if you have to gallivant off to parts unknown." Jack said to Sam.
"Yah, and I'll be watching his back too. Hi Sam." Came a familiar dusty voice from the doorway to Daniel's lab where they had congregated.
"I know... I know… but it's his lead and he knows where to look. I'd just be guessing."
Sam sighed dramatically at him. Jack gave her a 'who me' sort of look.
"Anyway, a buddy of mine will be joining you to track down the Trust," Jack told Sam and Daniel. He had nothing against Malcolm Reynolds but he wanted his own people that he trusted on this. Something about Reynolds worried him. "Why don't we all head back to the house? T, stop and pick us up some steaks would yah?"
"It will be my pleasure to do so, O'Neill." Teal'c told him.
"Am I invited or should I sneak in through the roof?" Harry asked Jack with an amused smirk.
Jack gave him a flat unfriendly look. "Cute. Carter, make sure you count the silverware after he leaves tonight."
"Yes sir." Sam said and bit her lower lip trying not to laugh. It was hard to continuously dislike Harry regardless of his periodic idiocy.
Sam and Jack were absorbed in showering their daughter with new parent attention when Harry came in and gave the nanny an imperceptible nod. Teal'c, however, cut his eyes back to what he was doing after Harry's entrance, remained silent. He would not say anything on the matter to O'Neill, but he was reassured now that baby Grace would be in safe hands during his absence.
Harm came in as Jack was putting the steaks on the grill. "Don't burn mine, Jack." He admonished his former client.
"Whaddya mean?" Jack groused, giving him a slight glare.
"I've been warned." It was Hammond himself who had told Harm if he didn't like his steaks vulcanized to speak up early.
"Fine, fine. Everyone's a critic." Jack grumped and moved one of the steaks further away from the flame. Behind him, Sam bit her lip in amusement.
Things almost felt normal. A barbeque at Jack's... except now she was living there as well and sleeping in his bed with him. For about the hundredth time today, Sam cursed her body's failure to snap back immediately. She was still bleeding a little four weeks after giving birth and she was frankly sick of it. Then Jack had invited someone to help with the op as had Harm. Sam went inside to put out plates and napkins on the dining room table only to find Daniel finishing up the job.
"You didn't have to do that," Sam told him with a smile.
"I wanted to," Daniel said simply. "How are you feeling? Still sore?"
"Only a little. Jack has been pampering me the last couple weeks even on base."
"He should after everything you went through for him. Why do you think he called in one of his old buddies instead of tagging Mal?"
Sam shrugged. "It's Jack… so who knows. Could be someone he trusts with this…"
"Or he could have noticed Mal thinks you're pretty."
Sam looked at Daniel oddly. "He does?" She said in confusion. She'd never noticed.
Daniel just shook his head in amusement. And Jack thought he was oblivious. "The only thing I didn't put out yet was the fruit salad."
"I'll get it." Sam said.
From outside, Jack yelled "Steaks are done!" and kicked the doorwall open instead of asking for help in spite of the long suffering look Teal'c gave him for it.
Jack slung the plate with the steaks, charred to perfection with the help of his own favorite beer "marinade", on the dining room table next to the baked potatoes Sam had just taken out of the oven. The huge salad, in all its crisp, green veggie goodness, sat in front of Teal'c, who was eyeing it with as much hunger as he was the overdone steaks.
Jack pulled out the chair next to Sam and sat down. He looked down the table at his friends, Harm, and even Harry. "Well, don't just sit there. I'm hungry. Dig in." He grabbed the plate of steaks and pulled one off the top before turning to Sam, who looked at the small burnt offering Jack was sliding onto her plate. "There's no marinade on this one," he winked. "Betcha didn't think I'd remember."
Sam smiled, but sighed inwardly. She'd fight the "yes, I can have a beer" battle later when they were alone. Besides, she wasn't sure it was going to help anyway, even if Jack swore by it as a tenderizer. Jack always cooked the steaks over the fires of Mordor, no matter how good the cut.
The rest of the food made its way around the table, helped along with a little elbow jostling, and a few words of caution aimed at Harm.
The doorbell rang just as Jack was lifting his first bite of steak toward his mouth. He dropped his fork to his plate and rolled his eyes at Daniel, the usual culprit.
"That'll be my contact," he said as he threw his napkin on the table and stood. "I'll just go …" he motioned vaguely at the door as he headed out of the room.
"Or mine," said Harm, following him.
They reached the door at the same time. Jack indicated Harm to stand back, as he opened the door, standing just behind it so he could slam it shut if he had to. Harm didn't question the man's paranoia at this point of the game.
A slender, gray-haired man with brilliant blue eyes stood near the step. "I see I'm at the right place," he said, grinning.
Jack turned to Harm. "This is Agent..."
"Jethro Gibbs," Harm finished.
"I see you two have met," Gibbs said with a smirk then walked through the door like he owned it. "I'm here. Where's the steak?
"Just leave the dishes," Jack leaned back from the table and rubbed his stomach. "I'll clear up later. Let's go to the other room. We have…" He was interrupted by Gracie's crying and Sam heading up the stairs.
"Go ahead, Jack," Daniel said, nodding toward the doorway. "We'll clean up while you check on Gracie."
Teal'c and Daniel, as the most familiar with Jack's house, took over the kitchen while the others cleared the table and brought the dishes to the counter. They finished and were just sitting in the living room by the time Jack returned, holding Gracie, freshly changed, on his shoulder. Sam was just behind him, carrying a manila folder.
Sam sat in the comfy chair placed by the fireplace. Jack placed Gracie in her arms and took the folder before getting a chair from the kitchen and setting it next to her.
"Gibbs, there's something we need to do here before we start talking," Jack said, sliding the folder across the coffee table toward. It stopped sliding as another folder dropped on top of it.
Gibbs picked up both folders, opening them one at a time and shaking his head. He had to meet the person who prepared the documents. He raised two Non-Disclosure Agreements.
Jack and Harm looked at the identical pieces of paperwork, then at each other. Jack sighed. "Walter probably got a kick out of that."
"Indeed," said Teal'c and everyone started laughing.
Harm reached over and Gibbs silently handed him back the second folder. "There's no need for two of these," he said. "Jack, I called in Gibbs because he's the best there is and I trust him with my life, but I see you already know that. I've done what I was sent here to do. We're on your turf now." He'd talked to A.J. last night about the ongoing situation and the older man had agreed his docket was less important than taking down a dirty General was.
Jack nodded. He and Gibbs went back to Kosovo and the Gulf. "Okay. My turf. I'd say my problem, but this one involved all of us." He turned to Gibbs.
"You need to sign the Non-Disclosure Agreement before we can go any further. All I can tell you at this point is it's going to be dangerous and it might get dirty. But it's one of the most important things you'll ever do. And you cannot ever talk about it."
Gibbs glanced over the Non-Disclosure agreement, which Hammond had already signed. There was no way he would have heard from both these men at the same time if it wasn't as serious as it could get. The first time he met Harm, he'd saved his butt. He'd never been anything other than the most honorable and truthful man he'd met. Jack O'Neill. That was different. They'd been deployed at the same time in Kosovo and in a special operation in Kuwait. He'd trusted him with his life then, and knew he would now. He took the pen Jack had dropped on the table and signed.
After putting the signed document back in the folder, Jack leaned forward and stared Gibbs in the eye. "Jethro, before we get down to the current problem, you need some background so you'll have a better idea of what we're dealing with. What I am about to tell you is classified under Section 11-C-9 of the National Security Act.
"In 1928 in Giza, Egypt, archaeologists uncovered an ancient device capable of instantaneous transportation to other planets by means of a sub-space wormhole. A team was assembled to make it work. Captain Doctor Samantha Carter," he grinned and nodded toward his soon-to-be wife, "wrote the program that dials an address on the transportation device, what we call the Stargate. Doctor Daniel Jackson," he nodded toward Daniel, "decoded the address hieroglyphs on the device. Both of them together, along with Catherine Langford, made it possible for a team to travel to Abydos, another planet, in 1994. Abydos was controlled..."
Gibbs listened, trying to keep his astonishment from showing. He glanced at Harm for confirmation as Jack continued. Harm's nod might have helped him believe what he was hearing, but it didn't do anything to stop the tightening in his gut. He was only a little distracted by the baby who was starting to fuss.
Sam had tuned out as Jack started explaining the details Gibbs would need. She could recite the program history in her sleep herself and she had a fussy, hungry baby to accommodate. She listened with half an ear though because she still needed to be involved. She settled Gracie in her arm and threw the baby blanket over her shoulder, and unbuttoned her blouse. She released the drop down cup and waited for Gracie to latch on before she moved the blanket away from Grace's face and turned her attention back to the room, ignoring Gibbs raised eyebrows and Maybourne's grin. She was going to be part of this team, and they'd just have to deal with it. So was Jack.
"Do you have any questions?" Jack asked Gibbs, ignoring Sam's maneuver. This wasn't his first rodeo with her pointedly asserting her right to be where she was. He stopped himself from grinning about memories of an offer to arm wrestle. He had no intention of letting her live that one down. Ever.
"Let me be sure I have the basics. We found a way to travel around the universe, but the bad guys want control. They also want to make you, Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c, go away permanently. They just tried to do that, but Harm made sure that didn't happen. Now you have to take the bad guys out before they come after you again. But the bad guys are high up in the government and it isn't going to be easy. It also doesn't look like there's much choice. Have I got that right?"
Jack nodded. "Yep. I would say that's it in a nutshell. Guys?"
Sam shrugged pragmatically with a lopsided frown. Teal'c nodded and Daniel put up his hands in an 'it is what it is' gesture.
Hearing no disagreement, he continued. "Harry and I found some info on Kinsey several years ago. Recently, Harm sent him out to find out what he could about what's going on now."
Harry grinned and waved a USB drive.
Jack knew he was about to repeat what he'd discussed with them earlier, but Gibbs wasn't there at the time. Repeating it meant bringing Gibbs up to speed, but it also meant reinforcing it for his team.
"We're going to have to split up to cover everything. So, I'll be in charge of the overall op, but specifically, the offworld team. That'll be me, Harry, Teal'c. Gibbs will be in charge of the earth-side investigation. His team will be Danny-boy and Sam. Harm will be our intermediary between the teams. We'll all coordinate through him."
Gibbs was silent, listening to Jack, but still watching the interplay among the group. He knew Jack and Harm, but didn't know the others. He didn't trust Harry Maybourne, but Jack seemed to, at least to a point. Still, he was a smarmy little worm, and Gibbs just didn't like him. He didn't know Sam at all, but from Jack's briefing, she was as trained as any special ops operative and smarter than any of them, a National Treasure, he was told, remembering the pride in Jack's voice as he described her. She was also a new mother, and Gibbs wasn't at all sure how that would work out. Jack also trusted Jackson, the archeologist. Gibbs wasn't sure what they needed an archaeologist for, but he hoped that particular skill would pay off.
Teal'c? Jack said he was the head of an army on his planet. He was obviously a man of few words, but his eyes took in everything going on, constantly assessing and reassessing. Gibbs was sure Teal'c knew everything he needed to know about him before they'd finished their steaks.
Sam and Daniel didn't know him either, but he felt if Jack trusted him, they would too. He also didn't think that they would follow him without questions though. Jackson seemed to question Jack on everything, but Jack seemed to take it in stride. That was telling, too. For whatever reason, Jack wanted the archaeologist's opinion. He did seem to ask good questions though, so perhaps that was the whole point.
"Any questions so far?" Jack asked. "No?" He looked around the group again, pausing only momentarily on Sam, a small smile gracing his lips as his daughter moved a little against the blanket over Sam's arm. She had adjusted it after Gracie latched as she didn't like nursing under a blanket and would bite.
"So, Harry, what's on that thingy you brought?"
"Anyone got a laptop?"
"You aren't getting anything you own near my laptop, Maybourne." Sam said to him. Harry had the nerve to look hurt and disappointed.
"Oh, plug it into mine. God knows it's toast already anyway." Jack said of his laptop that he abused more than worked on it.
"Good point." Daniel told him and fished the laptop out from behind the couch to hand to Harry.
Harry used his sleeve to dust it off and set it on the coffee table. A few moments later everyone was gathered to look at the documents he pulled up.
"Told yah." Jack said to him.
"I've seen some dirty brass but that's way up there, Jack. He never should have made General."
"Be a real shame if JAG had hard evidence of that, wouldn't it." Jack told Harm with a feral grin.
Harm grinned back. Jack's instincts had been dead on. Bad life decisions when Bauer was younger made him the patsy of a particularly dirty Senator. They probably couldn't get at Kinsey but they could neuter the Trust and take Bauer out of the equation. Harm started pondering the situation tactically. He suspected Jack already had that covered though. There was a reason the brass wanted Jack running the SGC after Hammond moved up. He was able to skip over all the plodding methodical planning steps and get right to the op and how best to handle unexpected situations.
"So what are we doing here?" Harry finally asked Jack.
"You're coming with Teal'c and me to start nabbing their offworld contacts. Jethro is going to get proof Bauer is dirty and then we'll all sing Kumbaya and have a beer in Kinsey's honor." Jack said with a dark smile.
Gibbs snorted in amusement.