story by Cjay.

(Sequel to Hard Candy Colonel.)

Captain Kris Martin pulled into Colonel Jack O'Neill's driveway, checking her watch. They had a full hour before they needed to report at the SGC. Jack had an appointment with Dr. Frasier, for a follow up on his injured arm. It had been two full weeks since the harrowing night she had been called out in a blizzard, on a mission of mercy by the base commander, General George Hammond. A strange occurrence at the base infirmary, had led the good General to have reason to worry about the possible danger, his Second in Command could be in. Ten members of SG-3 and Sg-4 had experienced respiratory arrests, one young member of SG-4 a Marine, had died. The nine other team members, a mix of Airmen and Marines, had narrowly escaped a similar fate.

An investigation had pointed to two new medications as the possible culprits, one of which had been given to the Colonel. He had dislocated his left elbow saving another member of his team. As his injury was not life threatening, the Colonel had been sent home to recuperate. The infirmary was quite full and Dr. Frazier knew he'd be much happier, without a bunch of "Napoleonic Power Mongers dictating his every move".

Unfortunately, unbeknownst to her, the prescription for anti-inflammatory medication she had given him had endangered his life. Luckily, Kris had arrived in time. Her many years of Air Force nursing and expertise in critical situations, had served her well; disaster had been averted. Now she and the Colonel were friends and until Dr. Frazier allowed him to drive once more, travel buddies.

Kris had received a commendation from the General for her quick thinking, in what she and Jack liked to called the snowbound O'Neill affair. Dr. Frazier, noting the Colonel's trust and comfort around Kris following the incident, had transferred the competent R.N. from the night shift to the day shift. It was a reward for a job well done, as well as a responsibility. She was now officially in charge of making sure a certain uncooperative Bird Colonel followed his Doctor's orders to the letter. Kris was Jack's chauffer and private nurse, as well as assistant physical therapist. At least until his arm healed enough for him to return to active duty.

It was not the usual situation, but then Jack O'Neill was anything but usual. At best, he was a cranky curmudgeon when ill or in pain. He'd driven many members of Frazier's elite medical staff crazy to the point of distraction in the past. Frustrating the good Doctor, with his refusal to cooperate with the plan of care she'd dictated, acknowledging his pain only when it was pure agony.

But, Kris had a knack for getting Jack to take better care of himself. She had a similar wry sense of humor and enjoyed his sarcastic view of life. More importantly, she'd earned his trust the night of the blizzard as well. The result was, that they now had a comfortable rapport. While many people would have pushed Jack to open up about his past, desperate to unearth just why he kept things to himself, she respected his need for privacy. She understood that need all too well. Life had not been a bed of roses for Kris Martin either. Jack somehow knew that too. They gave each other space, while maintaining a friendly banter. Making his recuperation more bearable for both of them.

Hence, she now arrived on his doorstep hot coffee and fresh bakery goods in hand, to get him ready to meet a new day. A day that included, another round of the tests he so despised. Before she could knock, the Colonel himself, opened the front door. He was looking as handsome as ever, despite a slightly sour expression and disheveled appearance.

"Kris, lets play hooky. I'm in no mood for Frazier, or her dictatorial crap today."

"Rough night, Sir?" He must have skipped his pain meds again and had little sleep, she thought.

"I've got just the pick me up you need. Strong coffee, along with those hot cinnamon pastries you love so much."

"Thought we agreed you'd call me Jack when off base, Captain." He sniffed at the bag, his dark expression lightened slightly.

"You are too good to me ya know that Kris?"

"I'm a sucker for a man in a sling Jack, even a cranky one. Now lets eat. We've got at least half an hour to forget our ultimate destination."

Moving past him into the kitchen, Kris opening the bakery bag so he would have a good sniff of the wondrous aroma and handed him his coffee. Hot cinnamon rolls she'd found, tended to improve his outlook and smooth over a rough morning start. They ate the pastries in silence sipping the coffee contently. Kris understood that Jack would resume the conversation once he was fully awake and feeling more in control.

He thought her easy acceptance of his silences had to be one of her best qualities. Quietly, she pushed two extra strength aspirin over for him to take once he'd finished his roll. After a heated debate on the matter, they had come to a mutual understanding about just what he was willing to take for both his pain and the persistent swelling, that the injuries to his arm had caused.

Jack was willing to take aspirin, but nothing stronger. Especially after the fiasco associated with the last prescription old Doc Frazier had given him. Kris was savvy enough to accept the concession and not badger him to take more than he felt he needed. But, even he had to admit he needed the little magic pills today. His arm was still very painful, the physical therapy only aggravated it further. But he stubbornly pushed on, anxious to heal, so he could get back to work.

Once he'd finished breakfast, he tidied up a bit. Then they were on their way up Cheyenne Mountain, to the SGC hidden deep beneath Norad. The roads had finally been cleared of the last remnants of the blizzard, making the journey a fifteen or twenty minute commute. Jack was feeling more like himself, now that he had a full stomach. The pain in his arm had lessened to a dull ache, thanks to the aspirin. Jack was quiet, concerned about the new barrage of tests, that Doctor Frasier had insisted on. The MRI she'd performed less than two weeks ago, had confirmed her worse fears.

She'd reluctantly had to tell him, that it would be several months, before the torn ligaments and tendons, surrounding his elbow joint could regenerate. There was gross damage, she had informed him. Much more than she had expected. He had known it would not be a good report; that was clear to him from the very start. He had enough experience with the pain caused by injuries, to gauge which of them would prove to be more serious. But, Jack had still held out hope he was wrong.

He had hoped, the repeated battering his fifty plus year old body had taken made his tolerance for pain lower. Hoped that it was this intolerance, not extensive damage, that was the reason it hurt like hell. But, he was very much mistaken.

Jack, ever true to his stubborn nature, had insisted on beginning physical therapy as soon as possible. Despite her doubts, Dr. Janet Frazier had capitulated. He had begun therapy last week. It was rough; at times excruciating, but he hung in there. Kris had kindly massaged the aching muscle tissues, every night when she had brought him home.

The massage and ice, had helped a great deal. But, he knew the arm had made little progress. It was that knowledge, which made his normal reluctance to undergo tests, greater today.

Sensing his mood and the reason for it, Kris decided to try and get his mind to focus on other matters.

"So Colonel, any news as to just how the chemicals got into those new meds, that were given so freely to both our infirmary and the Academy Hospital?"

As Second in Command of the Air forces most top-secret facility, Jack was privy to all that went on, despite being on sick call.

Everyday, after his therapy sessions, while he waited for Kris to complete her reports and other duties, he headed down to Hammond's office to get the lowdown.

Jack gave his answer careful thought. Kris had a high level of security clearance, but not as high as his own. Still, what little they had uncovered was probably already on the SGC grapevine, or would be soon enough. Every one of the base personnel had been questioned several times by the Air force, the CIA and the NCIS. Everyone that is, except him. Since he had been off base, recuperating at home, they had dismissed him. A fact, which both pleased and annoyed him.

To date, it was all a mystery. Jack had felt there were just too many fingers in the pie, too many agencies vying for jurisdiction in the case for anyone to make any real progress. He had voiced his opinion to General Hammond. As it turned out, this was an opinion that both Hammond and the President, shared. A marine had died, while several more had narrowly escaped death. As a result, the President had assigned the task of finding the culprits exclusively, to the Naval Criminal Intelligence Agency.

Neither George Hammond, nor the more senior Air Force officers were exactly thrilled with that decision. However, the President was the ultimate Commander and Chief of their great nation. So they all would follow the orders he gave, albeit grudgingly in this case.

Jack was frustrated with the small bits of information that the NCIS had been willing to share with Hammond.

"Got to wonder just what those Special Agents are keeping to themselves. From what little we've been told so far, they have little to go on. I suggested to General Hammond that he ought to put SG-1 on it. We'd have it cleared up in no time. Carter and Daniel, have a penchant for ferreting out information."

"They've solved bigger puzzles in the past seven years." He sighed. "But the NCIS lead agent is one stubborn SOB, he refuses to see reason."

"He is obviously unaware of your exemplary record Colonel. SG-1 is the SGC's premiere team. Especially, with one stubborn "never say die" Colonel Jack O'Neill, as leader to guide them."

She meant every word.

It was common knowledge that Jack O'Neill was the glue that kept SG-1 together. The unusual foursome was something of a legend around the SGC. They had saved Earth more times than they would ever admit. Although, she had heard Teal'c was keeping score on that one.

"Ah Kris, flattery will get you everywhere. You are so very good for my ego." He laughed bitterly.

"But, I have to admit I'm feeling rather useless lately." He uttered half to himself.

Kris heard him loud and clear. Her worry over his state of mind, should today's tests reveal what she suspected, grew tenfold. Jack O'Neill was not a patient man at the best of times. He was most impatient with himself. He cut himself no slack; allowed himself few mistakes. He was a man of action. Inaction, or the loss of control over his life, were his greatest enemies.

Kris hoped she was capable enough to help him battle those very personal enemies, now.

"Even with a bum wing, you are still one hell of a Bird Colonel, Jack O'Neill and don't you forget it!" She scolded.

Jack was touched by her words; amused by her tone. Kris really had a talent for making him feel somewhat less of a failure, he thought. Smiling, he decided to go along with her, saluting her smartly with.

"Yes Ma'am, Captain Ma'am!"

He sat back and tried to relax. Whatever today's test showed, he had his team and Kris in his corner; which was more than he ever thought he'd have.

Arriving at the SGC, Jack was informed that the rest of SG-1 was off world on a mission. He grilled the duty sergeant for details, till he was satisfied they'd be safe without him covering their six. Although he'd never admit it, Jack was hurt. Not one of his team had informed him, that they were going off world on a mission without him. He knew it was irrational. After all, they were still on active duty and Carter was fully capable of leading SG-1 in his stead. Still it stung; he felt left out.

Pushing his wounded feelings aside, he squared his shoulders and headed to the infirmary level to undergo the hated tests, grateful he at least had Captain Martin to watch his six.

Jack sailed through the repeat MRI without complaint. The EMG was tolerated with similar stoicism, despite the excruciating pain it caused him. But, when the new occupational therapist put him through a new set of tests, designed to examine his fine motor skills, Jack became increasingly frustrated and angry. His left hand, was not responding, as he would have liked. His first three fingers were weak and he was unable to fully extend them. Worse, he was having trouble performing fine actions with that hand. The needle like pain was almost intolerable and it was numb all the way along the palm, from the side of his thumb to his third finger. He had been aware that the hand was not one hundred percent, but had not truly faced the extent of his impairment.

For the most part, Jack was able to cover his growing feeling of resentment toward the new therapist. Until that is, she had stretched his fingers a little farther and faster, than she would have, if he had been totally honest about the level of pain he was feeling, right from the start.

The resulting agony pushed him past his breaking point. Quickly pushing back his chair, causing it to fall to the floor with a crash, he rushed from the room. Before, the urge to "knock her into the middle of next week" overcame his good sense.

Kris had been waiting for him just outside the open door. Noting that he fairly vibrated with barely restrained anger, she let him go without comment. She then went inside the therapy suite to speak with Lieutenant Susan James, requesting a full explanation.

Enlightened, she went in search of him twenty minutes later. She tried all his usual haunts. Finally, she tracked him down in the gym, finding him knocking the stuffing out of a punching bag, with his good right arm. Wisely, she made no comment. She took a seat just outside the gym and waited for him to expend his anger and regain control.

It wasn't that she feared he'd take his anger out on her physically, Jack was not that type; she knew that type all too well. Her ex-husband had been the sort of man who took all his anger and frustrations out on women. No, Jack just needed some time and space to expel his anger and regain his usual control. Any interference would only cause him to burying his emotions once more. It was time for him to "let it out". To release all his pent up anxieties, fears and feelings of loss. Then maybe, he could find a way to move on.

Jack O'Neill was a smart man. Smarter than many people realized. Kris knew he had read between the lines today. Jack was totally aware that his worst fears regarding his injury were about to be laid bare and explained to him in detail. He was getting ready to face it and to fight in his own way. Kris knew that. Today he needed her to be his friend first and his nurse second. After another twenty minutes of hearing his hand punching away, everything went quiet.

She knew, now was the right time to approach him. So, she ventured inside the gym and sat down on a workout bench near his hunched over figure. Except for his labored breathing, the room was quiet and still.

The stillness stretched on for another five minutes. Jack finally looked up at her and spoke. His voice was empty and his expression was equally so.

"Guess I am headed for retirement once again, eh Kris?"

She had never seen this side of Jack O'Neill, the truly dark side. There was so much smoldering anger and desolation in those deep brown eyes. Intensity of this level would frighten the average person; it made Jack O'Neill a warrior to be feared. But it did not frighten her; instead her heart went out to him.

"Colonel… Jack, I know it looks bad right now. But, Lt. James has assured me, that most of the difficulty you are experiencing, can be traced back to the continued swelling around the radial nerve in your elbow. With continued therapy and time, things should improve."

His expression remained bleak. Fearing she was using the wrong tactic, she too became angry.

"Where is the stubborn SOB who never gives up, who never leaves anyone behind, today? Come on Jack, snap out of it! Together we'll lick this, if you'll just hang on!"

He heard the rising anger in her sharpened tone of voice and appreciated its source for the concern it was. He had her in his corner. At the very least, he could fight! Squaring his shoulders, he gave her a wry smile.

"O.K. You win. Lets go face Frazier and her minions. Maybe, it's not as bad as it looks."

Dr. Janet Frazier had been informed of the Colonel's reaction to the tests Lt. James had put him through.

Knowing he'd want her to cut to the chase; to give him the bottom line, she'd quickly gone over his other test results with her expert technicians. Then, just to be sure, she had faxed the test results to two specialists at the Academy Hospital for their opinions.

So, when Jack O'Neill came knocking on her office door, she had a plan all mapped out to go over with him. Taking in his expressionless countenance, she understood he expected the worst. She glanced behind him, to see Kris nod in confirmation of her suspicions.

Indicating he should take a seat, she launched into an abbreviated explanation.

"Colonel, all the tests indicated that the nerve that supplies those muscles, ligaments and tendons, which stimulated extension of the fingers in your left hand have been damaged. We are not sure however, whether this is a permanent situation, or not. There is still a huge amount of swelling surrounding the nerve, which may be the reason for the findings. If so, this is a temporary condition. The swelling, may be impeding the nerve's ability to send the proper impulses to your hand, in general. I won't lie to you, Sir. There is still a chance the nerve will never regenerate fully; you may never again have full use of that hand."

Jack refused to see the glass as half empty. It was not his style.

"Cut to the chase Doc, what can we do?"

Her explanation had given him renewed hope. Jack wanted to get started ASAP.

"Well first, we need to address that swelling with strong anti-inflammatory medication. That means more than aspirins. Second, we continue massaging the area with ice. Third, Lt. James and Kris will come up with an abbreviated therapy plan till you've healed a bit more. Fourth, you need to rest that arm Sir and last… we pray. A lot."

"Sweet. Lets get started then. Just be sure the anti-inflammatory we use is safe this time!"

He couldn't resist rubbing it in. Last time he had done what she'd asked, he almost died. He appreciated Janet's continued care and concern. But, he hated giving up any control over his own life. Her dictates constituted controlling to him and he never missed an opportunity to let her know it.

"Don't remind me."

Janet was still relieved that he had not obeyed her immediately. She still had trouble sleeping, over loss of the young Marine.

It was only Jack's consistently stubborn refusal to obey medical advice, along with Kris's quick interference, that had saved the Colonel's life. She was not offended by his rubbing it in. In fact, she had expected it. It was so Jack O'Neill; man in need of full control. But, she would make it clear he needed to abide by her medical dictates this time; whether he liked it or not.

"The medication I'm thinking of is very strong, Sir. It can be hard on the stomach, so you'll need to eat properly; no pizza and no beer!"

"For crying out loud Doc!"

Realizing he was in no position to argue, he conceded.

"Alright, I can live without them briefly."

He did have that fine Irish whiskey to fall back on, he thought.

Seeing the gleam in his eye, Janet knew what he was thinking.

"Kris will confiscate your fine Irish if necessary. No liquor of any kind Mister! I will not have a bleeding ulcer added to the Jack O'Neill file."

She looked to Kris for confirmation.

"Colonel, if you want to recover quickly you will need to follow my instructions to the letter. No seat of the pants flying on this mission. Is that understood?"

He shot her a look of injured dignity, but nodded his consent.

"Good. I'll get you the prescription. Then, I want you to go home, you've been through enough today. Kris will give that arm of yours an ice massage. Later in the week, Kris will meet with Lt. James and myself, to devise a new care plan for you. Lets see how the swelling is in one week. If it is improving, we'll restart therapy. We can always adjust the plan as needed, alright?"

Realizing he had little choice but to try things her way, he decided to be a good patient.

"Sure thing, Doc." Turning to Kris he added, "Lets blow this pop stand, Captain."

Kris noted the exhaustion he was trying to hide and smiled. There he was, her Hard Candy Colonel; in control once more.

"Yes Sir, Colonel, Sir. May I have a quick word with Dr. Frazier?"

"Fine. I'll just check in with Hammond, to see if anything new has come up. I'll meet you topside in thirty minutes."

Nodding to Janet, he left the two women alone.

"I am so relieved there is still more that can be done, Ma'am. The Colonel seemed so discouraged, by the tests Lt. James ran, I was concerned."

Kris was careful not to reveal too much to the good Doctor. Jack deserved his privacy.

"I've been through something like this with him before, Kris. I know he goes all "dark side" as he calls it. But, he always bounces back, once there is a possibility he'll recover. Hope is a powerful tool. Stubbornness of the kind Jack O'Neill specializes in is another. If it is possible to beat this, he will."

Janet was grateful, that Jack had Kris in his corner. With SG-1 off world, he needed someone he could count on. Chances were nil he'd confide in her willingly, but Kris had a great capacity for empathy. So far she had "tuned into" the Colonel's unspoken needs, almost as well as Daniel.

"Try to think of some alternate forms of therapy for him, will you? Something that gets him to use his fingers but seems more like relaxation than work. The Colonel is very easily bored. He hates being confined to the SGC medical level." Janet added, handing Kris Jack's new prescription.

"I'll give it some thought, Ma'am."

Wow that is a tall order, Kris thought. She was still exploring the world of Jack O'Neill. She wished Daniel Jackson were here, he might have some ideas on the subject.

"How long is SG-1 going to be off world?"

"I'm not sure."

Janet followed Kris's train of thought.

"When they do return, I'll see if Dr. Jackson has any ideas as well."

"It would help Ma'am, if I had the clearance to read the Colonel's file. I might gain more insight into his interests."

Doubtful that such a request would be granted, Janet assured her she'd talk it over with the General at the first opportunity. As Kris left, she reflected on just how close the Colonel had allowed the Captain to get to the real Jack O'Neill, in such a short time. It gave her renewed hope.

Jack, proceeded down to the General's office, but from the raised voices coming from within, his C.O. was not alone. At his knock and the General's "Come", he ventured inside.

Once inside he found the NCIS investigator, engaging the General, in a staring contest. Jack kept his expression carefully blank, amazed by the sight. He had rarely seen George Hammond this angry. The General's eyes flashed like lightening bolts, his cheeks flushed.

Jack's instinct to defend the General from this man caused his hackles to rise. Turning to glare at the man who dared to upset his friend and C.O., he chose sarcasm to make his point.

"Ah Sir, I so hate to break up what sounds like a love fest. But, if I could, I need a moment of the General's time."

He smiled with feigned innocence, knowing his point had been made, by the returned glare of the NCIS Special Agent.

"Is this matter important Jack?"

General Hammond was grateful for an excuse, to end this annoying confrontation with Special Agent Gibbs.

"Yes General, Sir. It is. A matter, which concerns the future of one of your top ranking officers, Sir."

Jack turned to gaze at George, allowing his worry over today's findings to register in his eyes.

Seeing the dark look in Jack's eyes, George knew the news was not all they had hoped for.

"Please excuse us, Agent Gibbs. We will talk again soon. Keep me informed."

His tone, made it clear to the other man that he had been dismissed.

Once they were alone, George gestured for Jack to take a seat and asked kindly. "What is wrong son?"

"Well George, the news the Doc gave me is not the best."

He went on to quickly relay all that Janet had told him.

"But, if I am a good boy, maybe we'll beat it yet."

His tone sounded lost and uncertain, even to him. There were few men Jack would open up to like this George Hammond was one them.

"Jack, if anyone can regain full use of an injured arm it's you. You've almost died on me a dozen times over. God knows you've survived far more devastating injuries than this before. You have a guardian angel, all the luck of the Irish, or something, behind you. Not to mention, the entire SGC."

This man had endured so much, he thought. How many more times could he beat the odds? George Hammond intended to help him anyway he possibly could.

"Whatever you need, Jack."

"Well Sir; Frazier says no therapy for at least a week. Which means I have nothing to do but heal."

He looked at his C.O., willing him to say yes to his next request.

"George, I'd like all the information we have compiled on this whole chemical in the drugs fiasco. I want to be the liaison for between the SGC and the NCIS."

"Jack, as much as I'd like to allow that; Dr. Frazier may say otherwise. You know as well as I do, that when it comes to the health needs of the personnel of this command, she has the last word."

"I know that, Sir. Would you please talk to her? I'm going nuts here with nothing to do, but rest."

And try to ignore the pain, he admitted to himself silently.

"Makes it hard to maintain a positive attitude." Jack looked beseechingly at his C.O., noting with satisfaction, the precise moment when George caved in.

"Alright Jack, I'll speak with Dr. Frazier. But, remember she has the last word on the matter. Frankly, you are much better suited to handling Agent Gibbs's tactics, anyway. The way he maneuvers, you'll swear that the man has to have been in special ops. He's as closemouthed as a certain hard nosed Colonel I know!"

Relieved that George was willing to try to get around the Doc's Mother complex for him, Jack stood and saluted smartly with a smile.

"Thank you Sir."

As Jack rarely saluted anyone unless it was necessary, George was amused. Laughing lightly, he dismissed the overgrown rascal. As soon as Jack had gone, he phoned Janet Frazier, requesting a meeting ASAP. It would be good therapy for Jack, he thought. But Lord have mercy on the NCIS!

Jack, found Kris, waiting for him topside. The twosome walked silently to her Jeep, for the ride down the mountain to his home. The guard at the gate saluted as they exited. Lost in thought, Jack didn't notice. Before he knew it, they were pulling into his driveway and neither had said a word. Funny, he thought, Kris did not seem to mind his silences. He'd only really gotten to know her in the past couple of weeks, yet she was more in tune with him, than folks he'd known since the first mission to Abydos. Still silent, they entered the house. Jack headed for the shower, while Kris made them both a quick supper.

Once he'd showered and dressed in his sweats, they sat down to an equally silent supper.

It was clear to Kris that Jack O'Neill was done talking for the day. Understanding that he needed his space, in order to deal with all he'd been told today; Kris left as soon as she had finished massaging his arm.

But, not before she had handed him his new prescription, along with a cold glass of milk. Jack complied with her silent request and tossed the pills back, downing the milk in one long gulp. Smiling smugly, Kris left him to work things out on his own.

After Kris left, Jack realized he had come to rely on her a great deal. He wondered how she felt about him? It had been sometime since he had cared what anyone, beside his team thought of him. Cursing himself for an old fool, he put the matter aside, flipping on the sports channel. He must have dosed off, as the ringing of the telephone woke him. Picking it up, he heard the General's voice.

"Jack? Dr. Frazier, will agree to your role as liaison while you recover. But, only if you allow Captain Martin to assist you."

Jack snorted, "You mean baby-sit me Sir."

"Jack, Captain Martin is a competent …" The General began.

"I have no objections General. The Captain is already a great help. I'm aware that I need an assistant. But, will Kris consent to the added responsibilities?"

He already had her looking after him, he admitted to himself easily. Conceding it, didn't cramp his style too much. He could be stuck with worse assistants.

"I wanted to run it by you first, Jack. I'll call the Captain next. If she has any objections, we'll modify the situation."

"Understood Sir. I'll be in first thing…"

"Ah, Jack… Dr. Frasier insists you take tomorrow off."

Ignoring Jack's angry whisper of "Napoleonic Power Monger", he continued.

"I'll send over all the Intel we have so far, in the morning, for you to study while you rest. Oh and Jack? Thanks."

Jack's emotionless reply of "Yes Sir." Made it clear that he'd obey the Doctor's orders, but not happily.

George breathed a sigh of relief. That went well, he thought. Next, he placed a call to Captain Martin. Once he had explained the nature of his call, the Captain had practically volunteered for her expanded role as assistant to the Colonel. She said it would help her figure out an alternate plan of therapy. Slightly puzzled by just what she meant, he thanked her and instructed his aide to gather the information Jack would need.

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs was frustrated. His team had made little progress in the murder of the young Marine. The whole case was a frustration. General George Hammond, Commander of the top secret base known cryptically as the SGC, made it very clear that there were very few places in his base he - or his assistant Agent Kate Todd- would be allowed access. He had been informed, oh so politely, that they did not have high enough clearance. That was made clear over and over verbally, as well as with the constant escort they had of an Air Force SF. Actually, Todd as an ex secret service agent, had higher clearance than he had, but not high enough for the tough old Commander.

Anytime he had met with the General in his office, a barrier over the glass-viewing window just outside, was in place. He therefore, had been privy to a limited view of the facility.

Gibbs and Todd had only been allowed on certain levels of the subterranean base. They had grudgingly, been given rooms in the VIP suites on the Infirmary level. But, had a constant guard outside; to insure they did "not become lost."

Despite the various ploys used by both Agents to try to shake off the SF's, they'd been blocked at every turn. These folks were well trained. So well trained in fact, that he didn't buy the cover story about deep spaced radar telemetry, one iota.

So, at 2400, Gibbs, was still reviewing the few facts they had by Internet link, with the members of his team working back in Washington; when a knock interrupted him. Going to the door, he found the General himself waiting outside.

"What can I do for you General?"

Gibbs, was intrigued, as so far, the General had avoided him like the plague whenever possible.

"Special Agent Gibbs, I just got off the phone with the President. From now on, Colonel Jack O'Neill will be the official Liaison between yourself and the SGC. I trust you will cooperate in this fully."

The General's expression was carefully polite.

"Any further questions, or problems, should be directed to him."

His tone clearly indicated this was an order he expected to be obeyed.

"The Colonel, will be available the day after tomorrow. I will send him all the data you have shared with me so far, for review. Any questions?"

"None, General. We had planned to spend the day tomorrow at the Academy, so that will have to do." He replied, keeping his facial expression deliberately blank.

So, the old man was calling in his war dog. He had not missed the look in the Colonel's eye earlier today, or the tone of his voice. O'Neill was no desk jockey; despite what the official records he'd been given said. So far they had not questioned him, as he was off base incapacitated, during the whole incident. Gibbs had also taken into account that the Colonel had been a victim himself and was therefore an unlikely suspect.

"Fine, then I trust things will move smoothly from here on." Hammond added, making it clear that O'Neill had his full support. Nodding, he left swiftly.

Gibbs pondered the reason for the change. Returning to the Internet link, which he'd left open, he asked, "You all hear that?"

Glancing at the silent Agent Todd sitting opposite him, he noted her thoughtful expression.

"See what you can dig up on O'Neill there in Washington, then get back to us." He stated flatly severing the Internet link.

He looked inquiringly at Todd. Kate Todd had been one of the elite Secret Service Agents, who had the privilege of protecting the President himself. Until that is, she had been dismissed, due to her assisting Gibbs in a murder investigation and therefore breaking her chain of command. An act, she did not regret, nope not in the least.

The name Jack O'Neill was familiar to her. But, she knew relatively little about the man.

"I believe, he was the Colonel involved in that whole Kinsey shooting affair about a year back. Came off as the hero in that. But, the whole thing always seemed a bit off to me."

Noting Gibbs's raised eyebrow, she elaborated.

"First, he was accused of the shooting. Then later, Senator Kinsey said the Colonel, had allowed himself to be used as bait, to nail the real shooter. It just didn't track. I covered the press conference for the agency. The Colonel's body language, at that time, clearly showed his distaste for the Senator."

"Kate, I dislike any number of the people we work for; still do the job. O'Neill does not strike me as the type to shoot a Senator. The story may be incomplete, but it does track."

Gibbs had been a Marine long before NCIS. He knew all about Officers like the Colonel, men who were capable of doing almost anything in the service of their country.

"Still, the guy is an enigma. He is no desk jockey. You'll find that out when you meet him. Lets see what we can dig up here and at the Academy."

Kate had already pulled up the Colonel's official file on her hard drive. 'Whoa!' she thought, 'he is a hunk.' This guy must be candy to the ladies.

"Oh, I think I know just where to start." She smiled to herself. 'We girls do so love candy…'

Captain Mike Forrester was a lab rat by definition. He had been instrumental in the initial investigation of the drug tampering incident, working along side Dr. Frazier and Major Carter.

General Hammond summoned him at 0900, requesting he fill the Colonel in on all he knew. Handing him a thick file and cautioning him that the contents were for O'Neill's eyes only; he'd dispatched Mike to the Colonel's home.

Mike arrived at 1000 knocking smartly on the door. He'd figured O'Neill would be waiting for him. But, it was Captain Kris Martin who opened the door with a smile of welcome on her face.

"Hi, Mike. The Colonel is expecting you." She gestured him inside.

"How are you, Kris? I wasn't aware you'd be here."

'Guess I should have known though,' he thought. Kris had been like the Colonel's right hand, or should he say left hand, the past week or two.

Mike lowered his voice


"How is the Colonel taking the news about the arm, Kris? Is he driving you crazy yet?"

O'Neill's fate was already a hot topic on the SGC grapevine.

"The Marine's have started a betting pool; on just how long before he loses his patience. We all know he'll beat the odds, it's just a matter of when."

The whole SGC was pulling for their favorite officer.

"Everything is just peachy, Mike." Colonel Jack O'Neill quipped, as he appeared at the end of the hall.

Sweet little grapevine, he sighed.

"Gives me time to straighten out this whole drug tampering mess. Kris is my assistant on the case. So come on into the living room. You can debrief us both on what you know. Hammond called this morning, to inform me you were on your way."

Slightly embarrassed, Mike followed him, taking in the way Jack guarded his left arm. Oh heck, me and my big mouth. He should have remembered the Colonel had the hearing of a bloodhound, when he chose to.

"Sorry Sir, I was just concerned.."

"No sweat, Mike."

Jack wasn't disturbed by the Captain's concern. If anything, he was touched, although he'd never show it. But, he was anxious to dig into the information.

Changing the subject, he requested, "Fill me in, Mike. But do me a favor; leave out all the scientific mumbo jumbo. I get enough of that from Carter."

Mike relaxed and smiled. He was no stranger to the Colonel's intolerance for minute details. He concisely relayed all that he and the Major, had discovered the night of the blizzard.

Although, Jack knew most of it, it was a good review, from a scientific perspective. But he was confident, that the thick file Mike had handed him, would fill in more of the blanks.

"Anything new from the NCIS?"

"Nadda. They do not share." Mike said, with disgust.

"But, I had coffee with several of the nurses this morning. They told me that Agent Kate Todd, the head guy's assistant, was pumping them for information about you Sir. Seems an SF had escorted her to the infirmary, where she complained of a headache. Then, she proceeded to subtlety question every woman on duty. As it was shift change, there were quite a few still around."


Jack expected they'd want to find out as much about him as they could, before dealing with him. But, why pump the nursing staff?

"Any idea as to why she'd target them, Mike?"

Mike blushed to the roots of his sandy hair. Damn, now he was caught. He'd have to spill about the general "admiration", the women of the SGC had for the Colonel. He felt awkward. He wasn't sure just how to begin. He glanced at Kris pleadingly.

Kris took pity on him. Most junior officers would have a hard time telling their C.O. that he was an object of lust for the women he worked with; especially an officer like Mike. Mike himself was just as completely oblivious to his own affect on the ladies.

"I think I can fill you in about that later, Sir." Kris said, giving Jack a slight headshake.

Seeing the obvious discomfort, his request had caused Mike, he nodded acceptance.

"Well, if that is all Captain, I guess you'd better report back to the SGC. Kris and I, have a lot of information to digest."

"Yes, Sir. I'm glad you are on it now, Sir. Maybe we'll get a few answers." He said letting the confidence he had in O'Neill color his voice.

Mike saluted Jack, then left quickly.

Jack turned to Kris.

"What the heck was that all about? By the look on his face, you'd think I asked him to dance or something?!"

Kris laughed. She looked at Jack thoughtfully. Could it be, he really was so unaware of the way most of the women, including her, felt about him? It looked that way. This was intriguing. The more she got to know him, the better she liked Jack O'Neill.

"Well, Sir. You see…"

"Just spit it out Kris! I can take it."

Most probably, they called him a Stubborn Pain In The Ass SOB. He was not unaware what a bastard he could be, when on the mend and bored out of his skull.

"O.K. Sir. Just remember you the one who asked me. They… we, call you the Hard Candy Colonel."

Jack had not expected that! He choked on the sip of coffee he'd just taken.

Kris knocked him on the back, trying to help him clear his airway. She couldn't help but smile broadly at his reaction. It was nice to know, he did not have a huge ego.

"Are you alright, Jack?"

Dragging in a strangled breath, he asked the old patented O'Neill, 'you got to be kidding me question,' complete with incredulous expression.


"They call you the Hard Candy Colonel. I'm sure the agent, being female, got wind of it and figured she could use it to her advantage." She added sagely.

Jack was not amused.

"That is not funny Kris." He said sourly.

Realizing he thought she was teasing him, Kris took pity on him.

"Jack, come on you are a good looking guy. Not to mention, you've save the world a time or two. In addition,you are the SGC's Second in Command. Those attributes alone send out signals." She informed him seriously.

He looked plain horrified, she noted.

"Add in your sterling personality, charming wit,.. Viola, instant hunk status!"

Oh my God, he thought. He'd never live this down if the guys on his team ever got wind this. After all his hard work building a reputation as a hard ass! First, the news about the arm and now this.. life sucked sometimes!

Kris thought she understood the continued look of distress and discomfort he wore.

"Frankly Sir, I'm amazed no one has told you before. Everybody knows about it at the base."

Jack closed his eyes, composing his expression into one of careful indifference.

"Makes no difference to me, Captain."

Opening his eyes, he could see from her carefully blank expression, and the twinkle in her eyes, that she was not buying it. 'Gad!' He thought wincing.


"Yes, Jack. In fact, Daniel has remarked on it several times. He finds it "endearing", was I think the word he used."

Jack groaned.

"Enough Kris, lets forget it and move on."

If Danny boy hadn't used this Intel yet, chances were he never would. Teal'c might be amused, but would refrain from tormenting him and Carter was too military to use such tactics.

At least, he hoped so.

"Not another word about it, understood?"

The pain in his arm had just gotten worse, he realized. Another horrifying thought assailed him. How would he ever be able to face the infirmary staff again, armed with this new information? That is it! He vowed to himself. He was never dropping his pants in that infirmary for the required post mission needle in the butt, again!

"Yes, Sir. Colonel, Sir." Kris bit back her smile, attempting to compose her face into a blank mask.

"The subject is closed, Sir."

They spent much of the day going through the file the General had sent. The Pharmaceuticals Company continued to deny any knowledge, as to how, a top-secret synthetic chemical had been added to both, an anti-inflammatory pill and an injectable pain medication. One, by itself was lethal enough. A mix of both chemicals would slow the impulses the brain sent out, impulses, which stimulated spontaneous respiration. The young Marine had received both, within twenty minutes of his respiratory collapse. The lethal mix, seemed to work at varied lengths on each of the victims, depending on the dosage and timing of administration; coupled with each victim's own unique response.

Area 51, where the formula, the chemical, was derived from was supposedly locked away, had also denied any knowledge of just how a civilian company had gotten their hands on it. Jack's suspicious side took over.

"I smell a rat. Kris, how much do you know about the NID?"

The SGC grapevine had enlightened her somewhat and the General had increased Kris's security clearance, for her role as Jack's assistant in this investigation.

"Well Sir, I do know they enjoy stealing technology, then selling it off for development, with the excuse of protecting our nation from its enemies."

Kris had heard how the Colonel, had played along some years back, apprehending quite a few of the bad eggs, as well as an SGC mole.

Interrupting any further comment, Jack interjected.

"We need to find out, just how soon SG-1 is returning from their mission."


Kris was puzzled by the apparent change in topic.

Alerting Jack that he needed to fill her in on a bit more information.

"Carter, has a friend in the NID, Kris. He has helped her with an investigation, before. Unlike most of them, he is a straight shooter."

Well Carter, at least had trusted him. A leap of faith, which had helped SG-1 prove that Jack O'Neill, had been framed, in the supposed murder, of that Rat Bastard known to the world as Senator Kinsey.

"Meantime, we'll see what we can pump out of the NCIS."

He grinned. Now he was getting somewhere. The constant aching pain in his left arm lessened somewhat, as he concentrated on planning out a strategy.

"Jack O'Neill, the Hard Candy Colonel, has an idea, Kris."

He planned to use this agent Todd's fascination, with his reputation against her. Ah, Special Ops! Colonel Jonathon nee Jack O'Neill, was in full combat mode. 'Jack old man,' he thought, 'it has been a long time. It would be good to stretch his abilities once more.'

Kris noted the sudden change in the Colonel. His face took on a hard, no nonsense expression, his eyes had becoming lifeless and cold. Kris had seen that look once before, on the frontlines in the Gulf War. She had been involved while posted there, in the evacuation of wounded, by Chopper from an overrun position. The look in the eyes of the Commander of that lost position had had the same deadly emptiness. She'd seen it as they'd flew off, with the Chopper fully loaded, leaving him and the uninjured behind to fend for themselves. Jack O'Neill was taking no prisoners. Glad, that she was on his side, Kris shivered.

"Just what do you have in mind, Sir?"

0700 the following morning, found Kris, in the commissary innocently sipping on a cup of coffee. She had chosen a seat with her back to the wall, allowing her full view of all the entrants to the room. She did not have long to wait.

Agent Kate Todd came in, followed at a discreet distance by her SF escort. She grabbed a cup of coffee while scanning the room. Seeing Kris, she ambled over and asked, "Mind if I share your table?"

Carefully schooling her features, Kris replied in mock surprise.

"Oh… not at all, please have a seat."

"I'm Captain Kris Martin, I don't believe we have met?" Smiling, Kris kept her tone friendly.

"Hi. I'm Agent Kate Todd, NCIS. You are one of the nursing staff, aren't you?"

At Kris's nod, she continued.

"You're assigned to special duty, looking after the SGC's Second In Command, Colonel O'Neill, right?" Todd intended to mix just the right amount of honesty with subterfuge, to pump the woman for information. As O'Neill's watchdog, she must have the inside track on the mystery man.

So far, she had gleaned little from the other women of this base. Oh, they were happy to extol the physical attributes of the hunky Colonel; even sharing his nickname and the reason for it. But, they'd carefully left out anything of real value when discussing him.

"So he's not on duty this morning?"

Boy, Jack was so right about this chick, Kris thought. Secretly elated, she delivered her lines like a seasoned actress.

"Oh, he is with the General at the moment." She gave Todd a conspiratorial look.

"He can be such a trial sometimes. Cranky and stubborn, you know, when he is under the weather. It's all I can do to keep him in line."

"Must be tough, him being your C.O. and all." Kate replied sympathetically.

"Oh, don't get me wrong. Jack is…" Kris blushed, striving to appear embarrassed by her slip.

"That is, the Colonel is a great military officer. Even if he can be a Devil at times, he is really an Angel underneath." She allowed her eyes to take on a dreamy expression.

Oh ho, pay dirt! This one has it bad, Kate thought. Maybe there was more here than a nurse-patient, relationship.

"I hear the other nurses call him the Hard Candy Colonel. Sounds like you agree with them. They say under that hard nosed veneer, he is very sweet."

O.K. here goes, take it slow Kate, she cautioned herself.

"Seems strange, that a desk officer like the Colonel, would be injured in a training exercise. From what my boss and I have read in his file, he seems to have a lot of similar accidents. He must be quite a klutz."

Kris bristled, giving the other woman an irritated look.

"He is far from clumsy, I assure you Agent Todd."

She smiled, a look of undisguised lust in her big blue eyes.

"The Colonel is.."

She pretended to catch herself and look guilty. She looked around, lowering her voice and leaned in toward the curious Agent.

"He isn't the sharpest tool in the shed. But, he is such a man, ya know what I mean."

She winked and sighed. Leaning closer, she confided.

"I keep begging him to keep his nose out of things. To just walk through the last few months before retirement."

Biting her lip, she allowed her eyes to mist over.

"I'm afraid he'll really get hurt one of these days. Then what will happen to.."

She left the last word hang in mid-air, hoping Agent Todd would finish the sentence with the inferred "us."

From the quickly hidden look of triumphant glee on the woman's face, she had assumed just that. Kate Todd thought she had a patsy; it showed in her fake sympathetic smile.

"I see. You are not the first to be in this position; I hope everything works out for you two. Must be tough to keep things.. Professional."

"Oh thanks, Kate. I'm so glad you understand."

A look of worry clouded her face as she added. "I sure hope you will keep this under your hat. Jack would not be happy. Both he and I, would be in serious trouble if anyone… you know, misunderstood our working relationship."

"Your secret is safe with me, honey. We women have to stick together."

Kate smiled sweetly.

"You know, I might be able to help you keep him out of trouble. That is, if you filled me in on anything he pokes his nose into that may look dangerous; I could discreetly keep an eye on him."

"Oh you are such a doll!"

Kris gave Kate, her most vacuous smile.

"I'll do just that."

She pretended not to notice Jack O'Neill quietly enter the commissary, silently approaching them. As Agent Todd had her back to the door, she was unaware of his stealthy presence.

"Who is your companion, Captain?" Jack said in an irritated petulant voice, which startled Agent Todd.

She jumped slightly. Jack couldn't help enjoying her gasp of surprise. Ignoring her, he rounded on Kris.

"You were supposed to meet me ten minutes ago, with my coffee, outside General Hammond's office. If you aren't too busy, do you think you can go and get it now?"

"Yes Sir!" Kris, smiled affectionately, obviously unmoved by the Colonel's tone; thereby, reinforcing Agent Todd's impression of their relationship.

"This is Agent Todd, Colonel. Excuse me, Kate. I'll just run get that coffee now, Sir." She hurried over to the large pot against the wall.

Jack nodded at the woman politely, then hurried after Kris feigning a slight limp, carefully cradling his arm in the sling. Kate Todd quickly headed back to the VIP quarters. She was in a hurry to fill in her own C.O. on her new contact and the nice little bit of information she had just acquired.

Once they had closed his office door, Jack turned a questioning gaze on his co-conspirator.

"Well, do you think she swallowed the bait?"

"Hook, line and sinker! Now I understand, the fishing analogy you used, Sir."

Kate laughed lightly.

"Is this what it feels like to be in Special Ops?"

Jack's own smirk, faded with the question. His eyes took on a haunted look.

"I hope to God you'll never have to find out Kris."

He shook himself slightly.

"Now I want every detail, spill it."

Kris repeated the entire conversation, complete with the full range of expressions. Jack couldn't help but admire her acting prowess. She was a natural covert operator, he thought. But, he intended this to be her only venture into that shadowed world.

"I don't think her boss will be that easily fooled, Kris. Gibbs is a tough one. The General and I have been discussing our next move, he's behind our plan one hundred percent."

He hesitated, a look of concern crossing his face.

"I think it only fair to warn you. That there may be.. well… repercussions if the base personnel get wind of our supposed relationship."

"I can handle it, Colonel. There are worse things I could be accused of, you know. I have always wanted to be the scarlet woman." She admitted, in a teasing tone.

"Scarlet woman! I think you've read too many romance novels, Kris!"

He laughed, enjoying the banter.

"Oh? Just how is it you know so much, Jack? Read a few Harlequins yourself?" She teased him.

Feigning wounded dignity, he sniffed.

"Duh! I wasn't born yesterday ya know. Besides, T' reads that crap. Likes to ask me all sorts of questions about Earth's moral values, generally tormenting me. Even quotes passages! Don't know why he doesn't just bug Daniel with all that and leave me blissfully ignorant."

He indulged in a long-suffering expression, making Kris giggle.

"Alright, lets get serious. SG-1 is due back at 1000 hours tomorrow, so we don't have a great deal of time to get Operation Inept Colonel off the ground."

Kris couldn't help it, she laughed louder. He was so not inept! Noting his playful frown, she took a gulp of coffee attempting to regain her composure.

"Phase two Sir?" She questioned him, in her best military voice.

"Affirmative, Captain. Let the games begin!"

Jack gathered up his borrowed eyeglasses. Then both of them headed off to their meeting with the NCIS Agents, scheduled for 0930 sharp.

Kate arrived back at the VIP room, which the NCIS had been using as an office, just as Gibbs made an Internet connection to the rest of his team in Washington.

Agent Tony DiNozzo grinned cockily, launching into the information he had so far gleaned, about one Colonel Jonathan "Jack" O'Neill.

"His file has so many classified areas, it's unbelievable. The Deputy Director attempted to get more info, but was informed that the President himself had sealed most of the file. One thing for sure, this guy was deep covert operations." DiNozzo said, clearly impressed.

"His file, lists Special Forces operations from the Southeast, to Iraq, over more than twenty-five years of service. He was a P.O.W. in the Gulf, Gibbs." He said with sympathy.

"Spent four months in an Iraqi hell hole. Most of what he endured is classified, but it's clear he was tortured."

Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard, Medical Examiner, interrupted.

"I remember the case of a chap who endured the same. I examined the remains, once they'd got him home. The things those Bloody barbarians did to the poor fellow, made even me squeamish. I had a look at the medical portion of the Colonel's file Jethro; he was pretty much a basket case, when they finally shipped him stateside."

"But?" Gibbs asked intrigued, although he'd never show it.

"He recovered, to continue his classified service. That is, until his young son accidentally died.."

"That's in our copy of the file Ducky." Gibbs said, a tad impatiently.

Unruffled, Ducky continued.

"Yes, well as you know he retired and by all accounts was suicidal. Until, a General West, apparently a distasteful fellow, called him back for another classified mission…"

"A one way mission, Gibbs." Tony DiNozzo interjected, cockily.

"But, he came back." Gibbs added.

"Yes, only to retire again. Spent a year stargazing on his roof."

Tony read, his eyes on his own computer screen.

"Until, General Hammond called on him, to be the Second in Command of the SGC, seven years ago. A top secret base dedicated to the research of deep space telemetry." Tony said, with obvious disbelief.

Kate Todd interrupted.

"Some of that would explain a few of the things, I was able to ferret out about the Colonel. The Nursing staff is very protective of him. We won't get much information from them, Gibbs. They have closed ranks. In fact, all the women of this base seem to have a general attraction, to the man."

"However, I've managed to gain the trust of his "assistant" Captain Martin.."

"I thought she was a nurse, Kate." Jethro questioned.

"She is, but she is assigned exclusively to the Colonel while he recuperates. She is currently acting as his aide."

She looked pointedly at her boss.

"I think they share much more than a professional relationship."

"That Kate, is strictly against regulations, you know that." Gibbs replied doubtfully.

Kate was adamant.

"I'm telling you, after seeing her with him this morning, it is quite obvious she is in love with him. Even if it is a one way affair, she'll be useful. The Captain voiced her worries O'Neill might poke his nose into something dangerous, or sustain another injury, before he can retire. So, in the interest of protecting her "Hard Candy Colonel-"

Kate rolled her eyes in disgust.

"-the Captain is willing to keep me informed. Which should help us, keep him, out of the way, until we can solve this case."

"Kate, do you really think O'Neill, an ex-special forces veteran, is that dense?" Gibbs stated disgustedly.

"Captain Martin, made it quite clear he was not the sharpest tool in the shed. Frankly, I don't understand why General Hammond tolerates the man. There is something very off here."

Attempting to drive her point home, she tried reason.

"Look Gibbs, he is a desk officer; yet amazingly enough, despite that fact, he is in charge of training the new recruits! Hence, the Colonel has been a guest in the infirmary more times than a combat platoon! From all accounts, he is either mighty clumsy, or just plain dense!"

She was becoming defensive now. Gibbs, however, was one shrewd operator. He doubted the cover story about radar telemetry. Further, he knew O'Neill was not just a desk officer; the whole training thing blew that cover. This was a top-secret military instillation. He expected to be fed misinformation. He accepted that fact up to a point. But, he did not have to like it.

"Look Kate, these people are protecting a very secret agenda. They want to find the perpetrator of this crime, just as much as we do." Gibbs advised her impatiently.

"Just don't expect anyone of them to be helpful, unless it proves useful to their needs."

Maybe Gibbs was right. But no, she knew the relationship between the Captain and the Colonel, was more than professional, had to be. She had seen this kind of thing before. In fact, she had indulged in a similar relationship herself once. A fact, no doubt that Gibbs, was remembering right about now, damn!

"But, the Captain will keep us informed, I am sure of that. Some women find protecting empty headed macho hunks like O'Neill, just to irresistible."

"Do you Kate?"

Jethro smirked at her. Her red-faced indignation amused him mildly. It also, made him doubt her normally objective analysis of a situation. His memory of her involvement with an officer, not so long ago, was still fresh in his mind.

"Maybe you are a bit prejudiced, eh Kate?"

"Gibbs, you really are a bastard." She whispered.

Hearing her, he sorted.

"Alright, I have a meeting with the man of the hour, in five minutes. We will reconvene afterward."

He severed the Internet link, sitting back thoughtfully. He didn't miss Kate's irritated glance, as she struggled to calm down. Maybe he wasn't such a bastard, after all. Maybe, he had hit more than one nerve with his sarcastic comment. Maybe, Kate did find the macho type extremely irresistible.

Meanwhile, Jack and Kris had stopped off to fill in Janet Frazier, on Operation Inept Colonel. They would need her help, once SG-1 returned from their mission. Janet was not a happy camper. Although, she had reluctantly agreed to O'Neill's role as liaison, she'd had a more limited role in mind, than the Colonel obviously did.

"Colonel, I thought you understood that rest is crucial to your recovery. I've given in to your requests before, to begin therapy, despite my better judgment. Now it seems, I have repeated the mistake all over again. What will it take to make you listen?"

Jack had had enough of her meddling. He was not doing anything strenuous, for crying out loud!

"Doctor Frazier," He said tightly, "as I have repeatedly informed you oh so many times, I am a big boy, and…."

Noting Jack's rising color and rigid stance. Kris stepped in, hoping to defuse the situation, before it got out of hand. It would not help matters if these two could not compromise a bit.

"Dr. Frazier, the Colonel is taking it easy Ma'am."

She now had their full attention, so she continued.

"Trust me Doctor, the Colonel does. He has been following your orders. This matter is important, but not physically strenuous. You have my word. If things do become physically demanding in any way…"

"Come on Janet, Kris knows her job. She has been looking after me. I've been a good boy. Took all my meds. I am eating "correctly". Give me a break will ya?"

Jack was not about to relinquish this opportunity. Janet needed to see reason.

"Look, so far the NCIS hasn't been forthcoming with any of the details, regarding this case. Now, our little plan may just work. In which case, we may find out just who the Rat Bastard is that killed young Smith. So lighten up and give me a hand, alright?"

Noting Janet's closed expression, he decided to appeal to her compassionate side.

" Look Doc, this could very well be my final mission. You of all people should understand that little irony. If my arm does not heal properly and you know that's a possibility, I will have to retire. I'd like to end my career in a positive way if I can. I'd appreciate your support in this, Janet." He added softly.

Janet hadn't realized, that Jack O'Neill had such a handle on his possible future. Usually, he was a glass half full kind of patient, always expecting to fully recover. Now, she was more worried than she had been before. She was sure he was keeping something vital to himself. He was never forthcoming about just how rotten he felt, till it was almost too late. Janet looked him directly in the eye and asked.

"Are you quite sure there is nothing else you'd like to tell me, Jack?"

"Janet, I promise I am not keeping a thing from you." He replied, returning her intense stare.

"On the contrary, I need your help for my plan to succeed. So, will you please listen to the whole scenario?"

His sincerity told her two important facts. One he needed her help to pull this off and two, no matter what she said, he was not going to back down. She also realized that she was overreacting. It was all so frustrating. She wished he would understand, just how important rest was to his recovery. Oh lord Janet, she told herself, just who are you kidding? This was Jack O'Neill she was trying to pin down. The best she could hope for was that he would at least slow down a bit. Well, as long as Kris was watching over him, she could relax a little.

"Alright Colonel, fill me in. Oh and Kris, if he does not listen to your advice, I want to know STAT. Both of you would do well to remember, that when it comes to medical matters, I am the C.O. of the SGC."

Jack, sensing that any further remarks, would only prolong his suffering at the hands of his own personal little Napoleon, quickly filled her in on her part in his plan. Janet promised to do her part without voicing any further reservations. Relieved, Jack noted the time was 0924. Bidding Janet a quick goodbye, they proceeded to their appointed meeting with Agents Gibbs, and Todd.

Jack, with Kris in tow, arrived at Gibbs's temporary office at 0930 sharp and rapped lightly at the door. Agent Todd opened the portal quickly, ushering them inside with a smile.

Jack moved forward and into the room slowly, with an exaggerated limp. With his arm in a sling, favoring his right knee, he appeared less formidable than he had previously.

Nodding at the silent senior Agent, Jack gingerly took the empty seat at the meeting table, across from Gibbs. Kris assisted him, making a show of being solicitous to his needs. Then she pulled up a chair beside him, opening a folder and laying it out carefully for the Colonel. Jack feigned irritation with her fussing, sending an icy glare her way. She returned his look with a sweet, tolerate smile. Gibbs noted the exchange with interest. He wondered just where Kate had gotten her impression, that this relationship was more than professional.

So far, it appeared the Colonel, just barely tolerated the Captain. Noting that the Colonel was now looking his way with the icy stare, he returned the scrutiny, with similar intensity. After brief contact, the Colonel's gaze faltered and skittered away. Now that was interesting, Gibbs thought. Maybe the man was less formidable then his first impression had allowed. Clearing his throat, he opened the meeting.

"Colonel O'Neill, I understand that you are now the "Liaison" for the SGC in this investigation."

Jack was in full special ops mode. His goal was to appear burnt out and inept. He kept his voice deceptively soft.

"That is correct. And as such, I would appreciate being kept fully informed, Agent Gibbs. So far, you have been less than forthcoming with my C.O. General Hammond. I assure you Agent, I am not such a push over."

Pulling the borrowed eyeglasses from his pocket, he made a show of donning them, pretending to have difficulty focusing on the papers before him.

"According to the minute information you have so far shared, you have few, if any, leads. Seems to me, you should have something to go on, by now."

He peered over his spectacles at Gibbs, raising his left eyebrow sardonically.

Gibbs wondered just where this was going. Keeping his expression carefully blank, he responded flatly.

"No, frankly we do not have to keep the SGC informed. This is strictly NCIS jurisdiction."

"That may be the hard fact, Gibbs. But, one of my Officers was murdered; I take things like that rather personally. I expect to be kept in the loop."

Jack's smile did not reach his eyes.

"Or, I could launch my own investigation."

Gibbs decided to change tactics. Smiling boyishly, he replied, "Well Colonel, just what is it that you think we are keeping from you?"

"You don't mention much in the report I have here. I assume, you questioned the Pharmaceuticals Company representative, who gave the drugs to the SGC and the Academy?"

Noting Gibbs slight nod of confirmation he added, "Well?"

"The normal representative was on sick leave at the time. A Miss Harding, a new and very green rep. was handling things. Evidently, the drugs were only meant to go to the SGC. Miss Harding sought to glean favor, by dividing the shipment between the SGC and the Academy."

"So the tainted drugs were meant for the SGC. A fact, you decided to keep from us Agent?" Jack responded without inflection.

"I wonder why, you felt it unnecessary, to inform the General, that a plot may have been perpetrated against the SGC alone? At the very least, Dr. Frazier should have been informed. Other drugs may also be tainted. Are the lives of the personnel of this base of so little consequence to you?"

"On the contrary Colonel, we wanted more concrete evidence of a plot, as you so aptly put it, before alarming anyone here at the SGC." Gibbs responded tightly.

"I find that odd, Agent." Jack said expressionlessly.

"Really, Colonel? I would think as a Commanding Officer, you'd understand the possible panic, that such an unsupported theory could cause."

Gibbs lowered his voice to drive home his next point.

"Could it be Colonel, that this is not the first time your base has been a target of a plot of this kind? A fact, which you have kept from us?"

Bingo, Jack thought. He swallowed the hook, now lets reel him in. Feigning embarrassment, Jack glanced sidelong at Agent Todd and then leaned towards Gibbs, as if to draw him into a private conversation.

"Look Gibbs, as I am sure you are fully aware, I myself have personally been party to a plot, or two. I am in charge of the base security. By keeping me in the loop, you help me do my job. Help me and I will cooperate with you fully."

Was the Colonel trying to make a deal here, Gibbs wondered and if so why? Was his job on the line? Had Gibbs fallen for a hard ass façade?

Maybe, the Colonel was as inept as Todd inferred. He would not be the first Officer to become a burn out. Perhaps confiding in O'Neill would prove beneficial. The guy might just spill some valuable information. Or be satisfied enough, not to get in the way.

"Look Colonel, if we fill you in fully on what we have so far, will that be enough to keep you from interfering in our investigation?"

"It's a start Gibbs." Jack stated flatly. "I will make no promises. But, if I am fully apprised, I foresee no reason to intervene further."

"Good enough for now, Colonel." Gibbs conceded, grudgingly.

He planned to feed O'Neill, just enough information to get him to back down. If the guy were the burn out they suspected, it wouldn't take much, just enough to pacify the General.

"Kate, connect us with DiNozzo in Washington."

Once the connection was made, Gibbs introduced the Colonel to DiNozzo. DiNozzo, had worked with Gibbs long enough to read his unspoken cues. Following a protocol they had set up a long time before; they fed O'Neill partial information.

"Tony, I have filled the Colonel in about Miss Harding. Want to update us on the sick leave taken by the original rep?"

"Sure thing, Boss. Seems the rep. a Donald Dial, was found dead of a drug overdose three days ago. He had just undergone surgery for a broken nose he'd received in a car accident. The same accident, which prompted his sick leave two weeks before. Looks like he took too many pain pills, mixing them with booze."

Noting O'Neill's questioning expression, he added, "I checked Colonel, not the same drug sent to the SGC."

"Did this Dial have any history of drug abuse, or alcoholism?" Jack asked.

"No Sir, Colonel. He was clean, no criminal record either. The Police of Colorado Springs ruled it accidental." DiNozzo responded.

"Anything on the chemists, the Pharmaceuticals Company employed, to produce the formula for the drug?" Captain Martin whispered to the Colonel.

Jack shot her an inscrutable look. Then repeated the question louder, so that DiNozzo would hear him. A little tidbit, Gibbs did not fail to take in.

"Yes well, he checks out clean too, Colonel. But, he did have a temporary assistant, who has since disappeared. The company has no record of the man. They have since fired the chemist, for allowing an unknown into the lab to help, without properly verifying his credentials."

"Any description of the "assistant"?" Jack questioned.

"Yes Sir, Colonel, I am faxing it right now. Nothing in the data base so far. He is not on the wanted list. We did get a partial print off a test tube. Abbey is still working on it."

"Abbey?" Jack raised an eyebrow as a dark haired young woman, whose tattoos indicated an obvious affinity for Gothic style, came into view.

"Abbey is our forensics specialist." Gibbs introduced the Colonel and Captain, all the while discreetly using sign language, to communicate with Abbey.

Jack did not fail to notice the silent dialogue going on. He chose to pretend he was unable to understand it. But, not wanting to appear totally dense and thus, over play his hand, he asked, "Is she deaf, Gibbs?"

Gibbs shook his head to the contrary.

"Then, what is the signing about?"

"They do that all the time Colonel; drives me crazy too. I've learned to ignore it. They are just practicing. I don't think they are even aware they do it anymore." Kate interjected, hoping the Colonel would buy it.

Jack, sticking to the dumb Colonel routine, merely nodded his acceptance of the hasty explanation. Further validating, Todd's estimation of his lack of intellect and reinforcing Gibbs's own renewed estimation of O'Neill. Abbey meanwhile, had launched into her spiel about just what techniques she was using, to try and determine whose partial print they had. Jack allowed his eyes to glaze over. A technique he had used numerous times on the scientific members of his own team; prodding them to get to the point. Gibbs noticed the Colonel's vacuous expression and signed Abbey to make her point.

"So it will take a little time as yet, Gibbs."

Abbey then proceeded to recount her own analysis of the tainted drugs. Adding her theory, on just how the chemical may have been added to the formula.

The faxed composite drawing of the missing "lab assistant" finally spewed out. Kate Todd handed the paper over to Kris, who set it before Jack.

Jack gave the image a cursory perusal, hiding any reaction behind a carefully bored expression. While Gibbs, Todd and DiNozzo, reviewed other bits of information. All of which, O'Neill had previously read in the file he received from General Hammond.

One hour later, Gibbs noted that the Colonel appeared satisfied. Vowing not to interfere as long as he was kept informed, O'Neill and the Captain left. Leaving Gibbs to wonder if he'd made the right choice. Still unsure if the Colonel was truly as dense as he had appeared.

Jack was ecstatic. Kris had proven herself not only to be a consummate actress, but also a natural born manipulator. She had handled herself in the meeting with the NCIS like a pro.

"That little display, of feeding questions to the inept superior officer, was perfect kiddo!" He praised her, once they returned to his office.

"Me, Sir? I think you are the one who missed his calling. Do you think they all bought it?" She asked him.

"Todd is totally taken in. But, is Gibbs? No, Gibbs is still keeping his options open. The man is no push over. The General is right. Gibbs must have a history in Special Forces, he is just too cool about all this." He responded, sinking wearily into his chair.

"Can't tell about the others yet."

"Doesn't help that Gibbs, was so damn busy, making sure none of them revealed too much information." Kris added archly.

"Noticed that did ya? Guess it's lucky for us Kris that I read sign language." He informed her with a wry smile.

"The tattooed lady, is still running the partial fingerprint, with no luck as yet."

"You never cease to amaze me, Sir. What other talents are you hiding?" She said, raising an inquisitive eyebrow.

"Are you going to share?"

"Naturally, just promise me one thing." Noting her nod of consent, he continued.

"You'll keep my additional talents to yourself. Danny likes to think he is smarter than me. I'd hate to disappoint him." He cautioned her, winking.

Pushing the faxed composite image over to her, he asked, "Does this guy look familiar to you at all?"

The long faced man appeared to be in his early twenties. Other than that, he had one of those bland, non-descript faces, which would blend easily into a crowd. Yet something nagged at her.

"I am not sure, Sir." She looked questioningly at Jack. "But, something tells me I've seen him somewhere before. I just have no idea as to where."

From Jack's carefully bored response in the meeting, when she had first placed the paper in front of him, she suspected that the Colonel did have an idea as to where.

Jack smiled at Kriss.

"Ya know Captain, I'm thinking you'd have made one hell of a special forces operative."

His expression quickly shifted into a cold icy stare as he added.

"I have a very good idea as to just where I've seen this character before. Things just got a little less murky."

Once the Colonel had filled her in completely, he made a quick call to the General's office, updating George Hammond.

After ending his call with the General, Jack sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose with his right thumb and forefinger. Kris, noting his pallor and obvious fatigue, insisted Jack call it a day.

"Don't make me make it an order, Sir." She pleaded, with a playful grin.

He'd been absently rubbing his injured arm, throughout their conversation.

"I promised Dr. Frazier you would not over do it. It looks to me like you are in need of something for pain and a nap."

"A nap Captain?"

He snorted with contempt.

"Are you going to tuck me in too?"

"If I have too Colonel."

To emphasize her point she moved toward the phone.

"I did promise to fill the Doc in, should you resist advice."

"Benedict Arnold!"

He reproached her with a glare.

"Fine, we order lunch, then go back to my place. I'll rest, but no nap!"

"You'll take something for the pain?"

Noting his irritated nod she continued.

"I don't like playing the heavy, Jack. Try to cooperate, will ya? How about a game of chess?" She added, in her most cajoling voice.

"Sweet." He said brightening.

Sometimes he was such a big kid.

"Loser pays for the take out for the next two days."

'Some kid,' she thought, realizing she had been had.

Noting his fake smile of innocence, Kris muttered.

"Why do I get the feeling I have just been played, Colonel?"

Crap, Kris thought, Janet will kill me if she finds out. "No pizza! You promised the Doc."

"She never said anything about Chinese." He informed her triumphantly. "Nor did she forbid me a burrito or two. In fact, the only things she did forbid food wise, was pizza. That leaves oh so many possibilities…"

He continued his long list of junk food, as they made their way up and out of the mountain. Making Kris laugh, despite her resolve to be firm.

Mike Forrester was frustrated. He had spent the night, personally meeting the entire night cleaning crew of the SGC. When that failed to reveal the man in the fax, he'd started in on the files of the off duty members. Finally just after dawn, he found the file he needed. Only to discover from the chief SF, that the guy was AWOL and had been for the past 24 hours.

He was so not looking forward to informing the Colonel. He hated to disappoint his hero. Worse, he hoped he was not the unlucky Airman, who would have to tell General Hammond.

The General was usually the most patient of men. But, the recent events had made him a bit short tempered. Picking up the phone, he sighed with resignation, stealing himself for the upcoming conversation before dialing the Colonel's cell number.

As they burst through the wormhole at 1000, Sg-1 was surprised to find, Dr. Janet Frazier and General George Hammond, waiting for them at the bottom of the ramp. The stern no nonsense look in the General's eye, brought Major Sam Carter up short. Wondering just what could be wrong, her first reaction was to worry that something had happened to Colonel O'Neill.

Daniel and Teal'c were alarmed as well. But, before they could utter a sound, the General ordered them to "report to the infirmary STAT!" Just doesn't seem right, George thought irritably, SG-1 without Jack O'Neill. He sighed, well I might just have to get used to it.

A serious Janet Frazier motioned for SG-1to say nothing, as she led the trio to her domain. Once there, she dismissed her usual medical team. With a vague reference to possible contamination, she herded them into an isolation room and closed the door.

Soon after, the SGC grapevine was a buzz, with the rumor that SG-1 was on stand down and isolated till further notice.

Jack eased his way into the isolation suite at 1500. He'd used his considerable special ops expertise, to make his way there undetected. If his team was surprised to see him, they did not let on. Janet had already filled them in on the events of the past several days.

She had also made it very clear, just how displeased she was, that none of SG-1 had informed the Colonel they'd be going off world without him.

Stunned by Janet's obvious displeasure and the unhappy news, that Jack's injury was far more serious then they all had first believed. Daniel was feeling guilty. His excitement over the mission to PX8678 had blinded him, he realized now. He should have made sure Jack was kept in the loop, even if he was supposed to be recuperating. Daniel knew Jack would hate it, that they were off world without him to watch their sixes. Somehow he'd have to find a way to communicate his regret to Jack. But, from the look on Jack's face, now was not the time.

Sam was also feeling guilty. She had hoped they'd be back from the relatively simple mission, before the Colonel missed them. But, a slight glitch with the DHD, had delayed their return.

Now that they were back, military bravado would forever mask the Colonel's true feelings on the subject, and her own military armor would further prevent any discussion of the subject. They'd grown apart somewhat in recent months. Ever since that fiasco of a mission involving that rat Maybourne, she had felt awkward expressing herself on any personal level with the Colonel. She missed the camaraderie they'd used to share. These days, she had difficulty reading him and today was no exception. If he was as hurt as Janet indicated, it did not show in his demeanor now; he was all business.

Teal'c felt regret, that he had not been there to support his warrior brother. But, he had every confidence O'Neill would triumph over adversity once again. Teal'c would endeavor to make it so.

"So guys, Janet fill you all in?" Jack asked with studied nonchalance.

"She has indeed, O'Neill." Teal'c bowed his head slightly in respect for his leader.

"But, I am confident that the good Doctor is not fully aware of your plans. She made it quite clear, that you are to rest as much as possible."

"Just how bad is it Jack?" Daniel couldn't resist asking.

"What Daniel? The situation with the NCIS?" Jack replied, deliberately misunderstanding Daniel's question.

"That's why I have had you isolated. Tonight, you'll all be removed to the Academy Hospital for treatment. Seems you've all contracted scarlet fever."

"Scarlet fever, Sir?" Sam asked incredulously.

"Why the Academy?"

"Oh you'll never actually arrive at the Academy, Carter. All three of you are booked on a fight to Washington at 2400." He informed them, using his no nonsense command persona.

"Carter, you have an 0900 meeting at NID headquarters with an Agent Malcolm Barrett."

He gave her shocked hiss, a knowing smile.

"T', you and Danny boy, have some undercover investigating I need you to perform."

"Why do I get the feeling you are not going to be getting the rest Janet intends, Jack?" Daniel inquired with a knowing grin.

Choosing to ignore Daniel's outburst, Jack continued.

"While you all were off on PX whatever, Captain Martin and I, have been running interference with the NCIS. I think the whole tainted drug incident, was a direct assault on the SGC. Seems the drug rep. was new. The regular guy died under questionable circumstances. She split a single shipment, which was intended only for our infirmary, with the Academy. On top of that, the lab assistant who helped prepare that shipment has gone missing."

"So someone here at the SGC was the intended victim." Teal'c summarized.

"Perhaps the entire SGC was the target, O'Neill."

"But, it seems a pretty poorly thought out scheme." Carter interjected.

"They would have no way of knowing just who would be treated with the tainted drugs, or when."

"Unless, someone here at the SGC is involved and leaking that kind of information." Daniel added, remembering the last time they'd had a mole here at the SGC.

"The NID would be the first and most likely suspect. But, I thought we'd rounded up all the bad apples, Jack."

Jack nodded, looking him directly in the eye.

"I think we have another suspect Danny."

Seeing Daniel's dawning recognition. Jack grimaced with distaste, confirming his suspicion.


"But, why would Senator Kinsey risk involving himself in such a poorly planned venture?" Carter wondered out loud.

"Well Carter, which team spends the most time as guests of Dr. Frazier in the infirmary?" Jack asked her smugly.

"But Sir, despite the fact we do spend an inordinate amount of time in the infirmary, he'd have no way of knowing when that would be likely."

"Unless, as O'Neill suspects, we have a rodent here in the SGC." Teal'c advised sagely.

"That's a mole Teal'c." Daniel corrected him smiling.

"Indeed." Teal'c smiled, raising his eyebrow with unrestrained humor.

"Is that not a rodent Daniel Jackson?"

"He's got ya there, Danny boy." Jack teased him, laughing lightly.

"Looks like we are going to need a rather large mouse trap."

"I still don't buy it, Sir." Carter argued.

"After he used you to his advantage in his bid for the White House, why go after us?"

"I'll give you one clue Carter. He is grayish brown and has enormous eyes." Jack stated smugly.

"Not to mention, a definite affection for Colonel Jack O'Neill," Daniel added.

"Thor made his preference for Jack and SG-1, quite clear to the Senator, as well as to the Chinese, French and the British delegates, at the summit last year."

"Hence, not only securing control of the SGC by Hammond, but making an ass out of Kinsey." Carter agreed.

"With SG-1 out of the picture, or more accurately Jack, he would have a much easier time of usurping the General's position." Daniel continued, crossing his arms around himself with chagrin.

"Aren't politics grand kids?" Jack stated archly.

"Indeed." Teal'c concurred.

"Just exactly where are Teal'c and I, doing all this undercover investigating Jack?" Daniel asked, hoping his suspicions were wrong.

"Danny, you are just going to love this!" Jack crowed sarcastically.

"Somehow, I doubt it Jack." Daniel said, with equal sarcasm.

"NCIS headquarters Washington D.C." Jack informed them with a twinkle in his eye.

"Ah, I wish I could tag along boys. But, I've got to stay right here and continue to run interference."

Teal'c raised his eyebrow with irony.

"We shall indeed miss you, O'Neill."

He had no qualms about the mission. If O'Neill was confident, then so was he. Noting that Teal'c was now in full Jaffa combat mode, Jack slapped him playfully on the back. Then he proceeded to fill his team in fully, on the roles assigned them in Operation Inept Colonel.

Carter's wry smile and Daniel's snort, when he'd informed them of his plan's code name, had warmed his heart.

"Dr. Frazier, the General, Captain Martin and I, will be covering your tracks."

If this was to be their last mission together, the least he could do, was watch their six.

At 1800 SG-1, minus their Colonel, were carried out to awaiting ambulances for the transfer to the Academy Hospital. They were each encased in isolation transport containers for the journey. A very concerned Colonel Jack O'Neill, Captain Martin and Dr. Frazier, walked alongside the orderlies entrusted with the delicate transport.

Jack noting the additional curious presence of Agent Gibbs, at the exit to the mountain, stopped to have a word.

"Agent Gibbs, what brings you out here?" Jack kept his voice weary and disheartened.

"The health of my team, factors in your investigation how exactly?"

Gibbs was just covering all the bases. He was still not fully convinced, that O'Neill was the burn out he seemed.

"Just curious Colonel. Heard they contracted scarlet fever, seems odd they'd need to be isolated in this manner for a childhood ailment."

"My peoples health concerns are far from your business Agent Gibbs."

Janet Frazier played the irate, overbearing Doctor, part to the hilt, Jack noted with hidden pride.

"I suggest you stick to the investigation our esteemed President assigned you to."

Pushing past the stunned Gibbs, she climbed into one of the waiting ambulances.

"Lets get this show on the road Sergeant!" she ordered, slamming the door.

"She just loves to take charge. Has lots of really big needles, she relishes poking us all with." Jack informed him, with an exaggerated grimace.

"I'd stay out of her way, Gibbs. She is little, but very feisty." Jack added with a shudder.

Gibbs glanced at O'Neill, taking in the grimace and shudder. So, the little Doc intimidated the tough hard ass Colonel. How far the mighty are fallen. Gibbs returned to the mountain in disgust, without comment.

Kris Martin watched him go stifling a smile. Jack really should have been an actor. Realizing Gibbs was still within earshot, she chided Jack.

"Now Colonel, we really must getyou home and into bed. It has been quite a long day for you. Dr. Frazier cautioned you not to overdo it." Taking his right arm, she led him toward the parking lot.

Jack let her lead him along exaggerating his limp, guarding the left arm, still in it's sling.

Out of the corner of his eye, Jack noted that Gibbs had stopped to watch them go, a look of undisguised contempt on his face. Deciding to really play it up for the Agent, he responded with a whine.

"Between you and that Napoleonic power monger, one would think I was an inept ninny!"

Taking her cue from Jack, Kris added, "Now Sir, no one thinks any such thing. We are just concerned, that's all…"

Kris continued the platitudes all the way to the car. Once they were safely ensconced within the vehicle, she burst out laughing.

"This could be addicting, it's so much fun!"

Jack made sure Gibbs was no longer in view and then gave vent to his own humor.

"Ya sure you betcha snookums!" he chortled.

The ambulances stopped halfway down the mountain, discreetly releasing Sg-1 from the suffocating isolation containers. Then, they quickly sped on toward the Academy, lights flashing, just in case they were being followed. Teal'c, Sam and Daniel, found the transportation, which Jack had arranged for them, parked in the dense woods. All the windows, of the late model black sedan, were darkly tinted. Inside they discovered, three small carry on bags containing civilian clothing, identification, money, side arms and ammunition, for each of them. The mission was a go.

Continued in part two DANNY THE GOTH