Chapter Three The Centre of Lies
Daniel woke up in the infirmary. Seemed this was beginning to be a habit. The bed was comfortable against his bruised body and he snuggled down before he remembered what had brought him there. Jarod, his new neighbor, had been attacked; well, both of them had. He remembered names: Lyle, Centre, Raines, and Sydney. They had thought he was unconscious as well. He should have been.
"Why was all this directed towards Jack?" He wondered out loud, which brought him the attention of a nurse. Daniel recognized her as Denise Kenny. "Hey, Denise I need to talk to Jack, ah, Colonel O'Neill."
"Sorry, Dr. Jackson. We have strict orders to keep you in bed. Besides, I heard that the Colonel has flown to the Pentagon." Denise checked on the I.V. lines and brushed a stray lock of hair out of Daniel's eyes. She really liked his blue eyes.
"How about Janet?" Daniel asked, Denise shook her head, "Teal'c?" Another shake of the head.
"I have been ordered to keep you quiet." Denise fluffed his pillow.
"I got to get a message to Sam." Daniel tried to sit up but pain pinned him back to the bed. Sam was in San Diego with her father at her brother's home. She had left shortly after they had come back from their last mission, what was about twenty-four hours ago.
"Doing better, Dr. Jackson?" Dr. Warner asked checked the chart that Denise handed him, wrote in, and handed back to him. "You need to sleep now, Dr. Jackson. You took a pretty mean beating." With that Warner administered another dose of Demerol.
Daniel sputtered a protest but the drug lifted him and carried him back into sleep.
Jarod woke to find he was now secured in a chair. His first vision was that of himself in the large plasma screen TV that was installed on the wall opposite him. He found the camera in the corner of wall just below the ceiling. Suddenly the picture changed and he was now seeing an empty room identical to his. Instead of a chair, there was a medical bed with restraints.
The door opened inward and Jarod watched Lyle and Raines enter the room. Lyle smiled directly into the camera then turned his attention back to the doorway. A limp figure between two of Lyle's stooges was secured on the bed.
"John!" Jarod let the one work anguished cry escape his lips. John Doe #1 was laid out, blood pouring from nostrils, his eyes already discoloring, and the result of a broken nose. He was wearing a flight suit and the material of the left leg was black with fresh blood.
Another figure entered the room. Sydney looked in the camera fully cognizant that Jarod was seeing all of this playing out on the TV screen. There was a look of guilt in Sydney's eyes, but just for a flash.
"If you want to be able to get any information from him, Mr. Lyle, you will need to insure he lives long enough to answer your questions." Sydney was looking at the leg wound. "This needs medical attention. John could bleed to death."
"Do what you have to, Sydney; keep him alive, for now." Raines croaked out in his strained voice. "Keep him pumped up with the drug. I want him to remember who controls him." The bald headed man left wheeling his oxygen with him, yet no one could doubt the pure evil that emanated from the man.
Mister Lyle pulled out a silver case and slapped it against Sydney's chest. "One injection every four hours, to keep our long lost sheep docile." Lyle's gaze penetrated to Sydney's soul. He flicked a look at the four cameras in the room. "I'll know, and here are a list of questions I want you to get the answers for." Lyle slapped a white envelope into Sydney's hand.
Left physically alone with Jack, Sydney did what he could to staunch the blood. He would have to come back with a better medical kit. A hand wrapped around his wrist and squeezed.
"Don't do this, Sydney." Jack whispered. "Jarod, get him out. I don't matter...." Jack swallowed his own blood and gagged but was unable to move.
"Forgive me, John." Sydney opened the small silver box and pulled out a pre-filled syringe.
Jarod watch the needle disappear but the spasm of John's body told him the injections had been given. Jack/John thrashed about for a few moments but then he relaxed. Sydney backed away and one of the four views, a close up of Jack's face revealed the laxity and how his pupils had dilated to nearly eclipse he brown irises. John Doe was stoned.
The door to his cell opened and Mister Lyle entered. Sydney was a step behind.
"Thank you for leading us to John Doe #1, Jarod. We had lost track of him. Besides, he did actually convince me he was this O'Neill; well, at least my gullible predecessors. I would not have made the mistake of letting him leave alive." Lyle's voice was oily with his own smugness. "I would have sent a Sweeper team to eliminate him. But you had to find him, show him you had gotten away, too, and you were out traipsing around the country being the little hero. "
"There were other things to consider." Sydney added looking directly at Jarod.
"Well, yes, there was that. Why go after damaged goods when you had a new Golden child, right Sydney." Lyle taunted.
"What do you mean "damaged goods?" Jarod was focusing, using the pain from his prior beating to clear his mind.
"Your hero, this role model, he's the damaged goods. He has deluded himself into thinking he is better than we made him. He thinks that he is a real person one who can function in the real world. Don't you get it? Don't you understand why he enlisted into the military? It was because he couldn't make decisions for himself. He needed the structure of the military to run his life. The Air Force was just a diluted version of what he had been raised into." A sardonic laugh punctuated the explanation from Lyle as he pulled out a remote control from his pocket and pointed it at the TV. One of the four images filled the screen, Jack's head lolled to one side; his mouth open, the drugged stupor was painfully obvious.
"He liked- no, correction loved - the Dilaudid. You know what that is? It's artificial heroin. JD1 is a junkie. He'll be begging us again for a fix, lying in there in his own waste, begging us." Lyle continued. "And this formula is very addictive."
"You have me, why are you doing this to John?" Jarod demanded in a low threatening way.
"He's here to remind you not to escape again. Stay with John, and we'll keep him, alive. Or if necessary give him a painless death."
Jarod could see through the lie. There was no intention of keeping the Colonel, John Doe 1, alive for any length of time. Jack was already as good as dead and it was his fault. The guilt was gnawing away at him but his mind was running scenarios, ways to free JD1. He owed him that much.
The Centre's Gulf Stream landed at the private airstrip. There was no greeting party waiting them but the T-37A was still on the tarmac. Before they got off the plane, the realization hit Janet. They were without a plan. If Jack, the Colonel, had been here, he would be leading them. She had the rudimentary training but she was a healer. Janet looked to Teal'c for guidance. The Jaffa raised an eyebrow and inclined his head towards her.
Miss Parker looked from one to the other of her captors. "Amateurs." She spat out and dug for another cigarette. "Are you two even capable of doing something like this? You don't have a plan to get your Pretender out? "
The cockpit door opened and all looked up to see a rather distressed pilot with his hands in the air. Behind him was another figure, the polished nickel of the automatic glinting in the cabin lightening.
"They may not, but I do." Said the soft yet stentorian voice.
Both of Teal'c eyebrows shot upwards but there was an amused smile to his full lips. Janet, on the other hand, sighed in great relief as she recognized the voice and the face.
Pain roused him. It was the beginning of nausea, the feel of ants crawling over his body, the need, the hunger for the drug, the physical need. Jack's mind struggled with his body's desires. He was weak, his leg felt like it was on fire, and the headache from the broken nose was blinding. All of this was secondary to the knowledge that he was back at the Centre. Full circle directly into horror, a horror he was not sure he could endure.
The Goa'uld were a tangible enemy; obvious, clearly defined evil with a distinct agenda. The plans to fight them were unusually easy - pull out the P-90, grenades or C4, blow them up, kill them, eliminate them; no negotiations. The Centre was different; the agenda to sell the results of scenarios to the highest bidders was based on the thought processes of Pretenders and didn't have any other agenda than making money. No world domination or power, at least not at first. Jack had always suspected that the Centre, like Rasputin, had longed to be the shadowing figure behind the powers.
Why would they want him now? Jack listed the reasons: 1, to keep Jarod in line, 2. to teach him a lesson, 3. to restore their tarnished track record by recovering their first experiment. 4. And perhaps to utilize the knowledge that he had acquired living in the real world. All were plausible but there was one more possibility: 5. to destroy the evidence. Jack figured Mister Raines had every intention of acting on at least four of the five. Mr. Lyle, on the other, wanted to act only on number 5.
A wave of nausea seared his stomach, followed by a chill and the knowledge that he was probably starting to sweat.
"You should have never come back, John," the soft timid voice drifted to him. Jack opened his eyes and blinked back the painful brightness of the room. They had remembered; he had been light sensitive even as a child. There was a shape just outside of the light. It approached and there was no mistaking the wild red hair.
"Angelo." Jack gasped; it was truly old home week.
"You, you shouldn't have come back, John. You were free..." Angelo shuffled over beside him and crouched down next to him staring into Jack's face studying it. "You got old."
Jack laughed but his ribs protested and his laugh turned to a spasm of pain and coughs which only created more pain. "Don't make me laugh, Angelo, please."
"You do remember me?" Angelo was surprised withdrew afraid to say anymore not wanting to hurt Jack any further.
"Angelo, listen to me. You have to get Jarod out of here." Jack was doing his best to hold on. A spasm of pain hit him and he strained against the restraints, his left wrist suffering the most, but he channeled the pain into a way to focus. "Get him out. Others may be coming. Get Jarod to them."
"What about you John?" Angelo was now leaning over him inspecting the leg wound. While he had been unconscious someone had done a quick patch job but there was still a bullet lodged somewhere in the quadriceps.
"Angelo, I don't matter. Jarod does. He still has a chance for life." Jack coughed up the blood from his broken nose that was draining into his throat. "You go with them, Angelo, never come back."
"I have to get you out too." Angelo touched Jack's face. "They're going to hurt you more, like before." Angelo was getting agitated.
"Angelo, get Jarod out and yourself and if there is anyone else? Is there? Any others new like Jarod?"
"No, have to get you out, too, John." Angelo was pacing the room but suddenly froze, the sound of footsteps in the hallway coming closer.
"Angelo, please forget me. Get Jarod; get out of here, " Jack snapped as the addicts need punished him for more drugs with pain.
"No one gets left behind." He said in a clear and calm voice. Angelo seemed to melt back into the shadows just as the door opened.
"Awake already, John?' Sydney asked the small silver case in his hand. As he approached Jack, he looked up at the cameras. The red lights were on, all four were active. He took out one of the syringes and leaned down over Jack.
"This can't continue," Sydney whispered. "Can you make it with out the drug?"
Jack was surprised, relieved, and hopeful. Sydney had finally come to his senses or it was a duplicity he was about to fall for? His answer to Sydney was a brushing of his fingers against the man's hand. Sydney made to give Jack the shot slapping a vein but pushed out the contents into the material of the flight suit.
"Why?" Jack croaked out in pain, but it was pain that he had begun to control. He used the spasm from withdrawal to make it appear it was from the drug hitting his system again.
"We need you to admit who you are, if only to yourself, John. Tell me what have you been doing with yourself these last twenty years?"
"Killing sons of bitches like you." The answer sarcastic, Jack tried to laugh to add to the illusion but it was weak. "I'm going to kill all of you... just like those snaky bastards...I promise you I am going to kill you."
"That is very nice, John, but I don't think so. You remember this part, don't you? The delicious high of the drug coursing through your veins again, stopping the pain, the hunger. Remember, we who you are threatening to kill are your only family, and we control the drug."
"Not this time, Sydney." Lyle announced as he entered the room. He took the silver case from his hands. "I told you I would be watching." Lyle drew out another syringe and this one he jammed into Jack's arm. Jack convulsed.
"You'll kill him with an overdose!" Sydney tried to stop him but Lyle backhanded him. "Stupid old man," and slapped the case back into Sydney's chest. "Next time do it or suffer the same fate. Your usefulness here is coming to an end. "
Sydney waited till Lyle left the room before he wiped the blood from him mouth with a white handkerchief. The subject on the bed was convulsing, John Doe 1 was fighting a losing battle against the drug. He stepped over to the bed and looked into the brown eyes that still had a hint of forgiveness in them for him. He left Jack alone and succumbing.
"No one gets left behind, Angelo; him, too." Jack said out loud as he felt himself being washed over with the narcotic effects. One of his last lucid thoughts was a hope that Angelo had heard him.
Angelo's next stop was in Jarod's cell. He stood looking at Jarod and then the TV screen which showed John Doe. He stood next to Jarod and waited till the young man opened his eyes.
"John is back."
"I know, Angelo." Jarod didn't even ask Angelo to undo his restraints; there was no need to involve him.
"No one gets left behind." Angelo whispered as he patted Jarod's right hand. In the same motion he slipped a small penknife to Jarod. In a flash to twenty years ago when he had done the same for John. He started work on the first restraint.
There was high and being stoned. Jack was a little of both. He did not anticipate his next visitor. Miss Parker sauntered into the room, cigarette in her mouth and air of superiority.
"Not so brave now, are you, fly boy?" She demanded as she leaned down and yelled into his ear. Jack jerked in pain at the intense sound.
"Not the way to get brownie points." Jack snorted through the pain.
"Just admit it to us now, handsome, that you are John Doe and this can all go away." Miss Parker lowered her voice to a sultry alto.
"Get them out, Miss Parker, all of them; Jarod, Angelo, even Sydney because I am taking this place down." Jack whispered to her, turning his head to face her.
Miss Parker smiled and made it appear that she was giving him a kiss on the cheek. "How's this for brownie points - the three stooges are already here, with some stupid rescue plan for you." To camouflage her action she reached down with one hand and pressed on the bullet wound. Jack screamed in agony; however, his hand closed around the knife that Miss Parker slipped him and the assault on his leg a painful misdirection.
"This is what you were worried about?" Miss Parker questioned with disgust as she turned to the door where Raines and Lyle stood. She walked passed with a look of total distain.
"Handle her. Her usefulness is over," Raines commented to Lyle.
"It will be a pleasure. "
Broots was looking into the business end of a Zat; a desk chair had already been disintegrated as an example and he was willingly cooperating.
"Burn to disk everything that you can about the operation of The Centre, " Janet told him as she began to go through cabinets, looking for files or what she didn't know but would recognize when she laid her hands on it.
Broots continued to shake like a nervous lap dog when Angelo and Miss Parker entered the room. Miss Parker looked at Broots with an ugly disappointed look.
"Not those, you ass, these." She began to load blank disks into the computer and was highlighting the files to down load. "All of these." She directed continuing to point directories. "The last cabinet - only the files labeled in red." She tossed the direction over her shoulder.
"I'll show you." Sydney said as he and Angelo entered the room. "Miss Parker?"
"This is the end game, Sydney." She answered not wanting to face him.
"We are doing the right thing." Sydney informed her.
"Yes, well, I am not used to that, so you better just...."
"I believe the term is less talk more action." Teal'c announced turning all eyes to him. Janet snickered.
"Angelo, get something for us to carry this stuff out with." Sydney requested in a gentle guiding voice. Angelo nodded and scurried off.
"And you must be John's friends." He finally acknowledged Janet and Teal'c, "interesting."
"You have no idea..." Miss Parker quipped as she continued to copy files.
Jarod had made it through the restraint and now had his hand free. The other three were quick to undo. While his body ached he had to get John out. The door was not even locked; they had been that arrogant to think that watching them torture John would prevent him from taking any action if he had the chance. He was in Jack's cell a moment later.
Jack had nearly finished cutting through the thick leather when another figure entered his room. Silhouetted by the bright lights and fuzzy from the drugs Jack was ready to ram the knife into any part of the intruder's body.
"John, its Jarod." Jarod announced barely above a whisper.
"Get out of here before they catch you."
"Don't think so." Jarod was manipulating the restraints off and was pulling Jack upright. He held the battered Colonel as Jack heaved on the floor. "Better?"
"Been worse," Jack threw an arm around Jarod and prayed they would make it out. They had made it down one corridor when it happened. Sometimes drugs don't always dull the senses, sometimes they heighten them. Jack heard the slide on an automatic being pulled back and the hammer cocked. He instinctively pushed Jarod to the ground, spun, taking the weight on his good leg, and launched himself.
Mister Raines had indeed under estimated Jack. Jack had him disarmed and in a headlock, the automatic was now pressed against the bald man's temple. The instincts, training and years of torment erupted in a savage cry as Jack pulled the trigger. Raines head exploded. "For Catherine." The words were on his lips as Raines died.
There was no time to react as another shot was heard. The bullet pierced the now dead Mister Raines and buried itself into Jack's left arm. Jack looked into the eyes of Mister Lyle who now was opposite him, the Glock still smoking.
"Good bye, JD1." Lyle smiled and his finger began to tighten on the trigger. He jerked twice convulsively and then looked down at his chest His crisp white shirt was covered in blood. Raines fell to his knees and then onto his face dead before he hit the floor.
Jack let the inert body of Raines slide out of his arms as Jarod rushed to his side. They both turned and looked behind them; another figure came out of the shadows.
"The United States Air Force is not quite done with you yet Jack." The figure took a step out of the shadow and smiled.
Jack looked into the eyes of his Commanding officer, General George Hammond. The warm blue of the Texan's eyes were thawing but he had seen the icy detachment in those eyes, the look he knew. There was a gelid flatness of those capable of cold-blooded murder, those able to perform the deed and allow another chunk of their souls to be lost.
"General." Jack smiled and felt his knees give way and darkness descend over him. Jack fell into Hammond's arms.
"I got you now, son." Hammond commented as he strained with the surprising weight of his lanky 2IC.
Jarod had been witness to the looks in both men's eyes. He had not anticipated it; he could not relate to it. He could do many things, but there was no pretending in the eyes of the two men. They were warriors, and that he could never achieve or wished to emulate.
"We have to go now." Hammond directed as he slipped under Jack's arms and pulled him upright. Jarod took the other side. The welcoming committee outside the Centre was an Air Force Special Ops team, a favor called in.
"Two dead unfriendlies inside, clear the building of all others. Eliminate with prejudice if you meet with resistance." Hammond gave the command.
Jack snorted weakly. How many times had he followed those orders, given those same orders? His drugged mind suddenly landed on another matter. "My plane, sir, can't leave it here."
"We'll get it back for you, son." Hammond had already made arrangements for its return to Peterson.
Jack was losing all threads of consciousness and didn't recognize the Major who headed up the team. Raymond Bellano, who had been a second Lieutenant in Desert Storm, and who had been the FNG replacement on the mission that stole four months of Jack's life. Fking New Guy
"This one's for you and Cromwell," the Major muttered under his breath as he led his men into the Centre.
Jarod and Hammond helped Jack onto the Gulf Stream into the anxious arms of Janet. The healer displaced the lover and she began to attend him. Sydney was calming Broots and Angelo and Miss Parker smiled uncharacteristically at Jarod as he stepped aboard.
"Teal'c, can you fly this thing?" Hammond asked aware of Teal'c abilities with the death glider hybrid that had almost cost him and Jack their lives.
"I am well acquainted with this type of craft, it was necessary preparation for the..." he paused, "other craft that we have developed." Teal'c smiled and nodded.
"Good you're my copilot. Doctor, keep these two together untill we can get them back to the mountain," Hammond pointed at Jarod and Jack. "The rest of you are coming with us to Colorado Springs. You will then be put into isolation until we can determine what will be done with you." Hammond put a hand on Janet's shoulder. "Was the other matter dealt with?"
"Yes, it was." It was not Janet but Sydney who answered. Hammond paused. "We have much to talk about General Hammond. For now, I can only thank you for assisting in getting my boys out." Sydney was looking at Jarod who was sitting with Miss Parker both of them were searching each other's faces. There was huge potential for an emotional outburst of epic proportions from Miss Parker. Well, at least from her, it would have been a tear or a genuine laugh of joy.
"Yes, sir. There will be much to discuss when we get to where we are going." Hammond assured Sydney as he and Teal'c moved up to the cockpit.
Janet was struggling with Jack's flight suit to get at the wounds. Angelo crept next to her and started to help. She motioned to her bag which he retrieved it along with a blanket.
Angelo lifted Jack's right hand and examined it. The blood on it was still fresh.
"For Catherine." Jack spoke lucidly looking forward in the cabin at Miss Parker. She chose that moment to make eye contact with him. Understanding crossed her face and Jarod held her as she shuddered with total comprehension.
"Colonel? How are you doing?" Janet asked Jack. He was shivering, and from the other signs and the two puncture wounds in the inside of his arm, she had a suspicion as to why.
"Going to be rough night, Doc." His smile was forced.
"I'll get you through it. We're taking you home." Janet leaned down and kissed him on the forehead.
"Home?" Jack questioned wistfully and let her treat him as he had so many times before, as he would again. The one comforting thought that would see him through the coming pain was with her, with Janet, he was home.
The headlines hit the Washington Post the three days later and then all the news networks picked it up. A shadowy corporation that stole children and raised them for nefarious reasons had been discovered and raided. What was left of the Centre and its personnel were in custody and facing a plethora of charges ranging from kidnapping to treason. Special Forces from the United States Air Force became involved due to issues of national security. There were only two fatalities, apparent suicides of the two men who were identified as the chief operators, a Misters Raines and Lyle. Little is known of their identity. The CEO, a Mister Parker, had been allegedly lost in a plane crash sometime earlier.
Jack put the newspaper down and rubbed his right hand over his now broken left wrist, which had broken during the throes of withdrawal. The bruising from the broken nose had faded mostly, but it was hard to tell under the metal guard and bandages that Janet had placed over his nose and face. He'd had worse playing hockey. The bullet wounds to arm and leg were healing nicely and some therapy was planned. Just another day in the office for him. Jack had to limp because it was hard to wield crutches with an arm in a sling.
The worse part had been the withdrawal. Jack had refused to let Janet give him any drugs to ease the effects. He had to do it again cold turkey. It was his way to fight and win against an old enemy.
Daniel had been impossible to shut up upon his arrival and had hovered with Teal'c at his side during the withdrawal. While it was a sign of weakness, Jack didn't mind Daniel there; it had actually been a comfort; yes, and a comfort to know he had such friends. Now Daniel knew why Jack had understood and helped him through his sarcophagus withdrawal. Daniel was going to be left out of the loop as to Jack's real identity, if you could call John Doe #1 an identity, and his life at the Centre and only was to be told that Jack intervened due to the prior attempt on him and the attack on Jarod. Daniel had learned that some secrets were meant to be kept and would only be explained when they decided to become known. It was just so "Jack O'Neill."
Jack had to applaud Hammond. Leaking it all to the press had been a stroke of pure genius. He could still remember the look in Hammond's eyes as Lyle died. They had more in common that both had realized and secrets yet to discover. Though there were not enough years between them, Jack would have prayed for a father like Hammond. The loneliness that gnawed on his heart like his own Serengeti lion for nearly all his life, only sated during his time with Sara and Charlie, and eased with his growing relationship with Janet, took another bite of him. Jack O'Neill was still John Doe #1.
Hammond sat at the head of the conference room table and looked at the five refuges from The Centre, Broots, Angelo, Miss Parker, Sydney, and Jarod.
"You all understand that what you have been made privy too is a national secret. There are only two options for you now."
"General Hammond, you have been gracious to us and perhaps too kind, but I think I can speak for my fellows here, none of us would like to live the rest of our life in confinement." Sydney began. "This secret of yours, this gate, is our way out?"
"General, I know these people, Lyle and Raines may be gone and my father but there were more people, others behind The Centre." Miss Parker played nervously with an unlit cigarette.
"They will never let us live knowing we know what we know. They will come to kill us, send out sweepers." Broots got up and began to pace.
"There is no place safe on this planet," It Jack O'Neill who made the comment as he limped into the room.
"I can't believe that, This planet?" It was Jarod who snorted scoffing.
"Jarod you're the genius; yes, other planets." Jack's look caused Jarod to believe.
"We have a beta site and an off world training area. Your combined abilities, as a Pretender, a Sweeper and psychological manipulation for lack of a better description could all be very useful to our troops and off world allies. If that doesn't work out, we can also arrange for you to be settled into a nice little planet where you can truly disappear and create new lives." Hammond looked at Jack who nodded in agreement. "People, the gate opens in one hour you have that long to decide." Hammond rose and approached Jack. They left the other five to decide.
The agreement was easy and unanimous.
Jarod stood at the bottom of the ramp of the Stargate, next to him Miss Parker. Both were dressed in BDU's ready to go through the active gate. Behind them, Sydney was at the top of the ramp looking down on the three people yet alive who meant more to him than he had ever know. Sydney looked up at the control room and caught Hammond's soft smile and brief nod.
"John, I mean Jack, I don't know what to say about all this. You've given me a life." Jarod stammered, feeling his throat tighten with emotions still foreign to him.
"Jarod, you want to right wrongs, make things better for people. You've been doing it one at a time, now you can do it on a really really big scale." Jack smiled through the pain of standing.
"On a galactic scale, Jarod," Janet touched the young man on the arm.
"Fine, just send me cigarettes." Miss Parker tried to be her usual callous self.
"You're quitting." Three voices harmonized.
"Oh, for crying out loud," Miss Parker snapped and nudged Jarod. Love was blooming for the two; it had been destined, as they had been childhood friends and almost sweethearts. Jarod was man enough to let several years of being hunted by the object of his affection, and Miss Parker was finally able to smile.
"Jack, this is the only way Sidney and I can try to make up for everything."
Jarrod handed Jack a small envelope.
Jack opened it up and read the yellowed newspaper article. Janet felt him slump against her. She looked in his face in disbelief. There was a single tear trailing down his face.
"Sweet" Jack whispered and carefully gave Jarod a hug. Overcome with emotion, Jack limped out of the gate room.
Janet hugged Jarod and then quickly followed Jack. He was in the third floor conference room. The article in front of him and he was pressing it flat. Janet stood next to him as he handed her the article.
"I have a family." Jack looked up at her and wrapped an arm around her waist.
Janet read the article from dated in the early sixties from a local Minnesota newspaper.
"Today an entire neighborhood attended the memorial service for a six year old boy. The child was one-half of a set of twins known to be precocious and gifted. Both had been tested at an early age and found to have genius IQ's. However, while doing schoolwork on a level more than twice their ages the boys always seemed like your normal average grade-schoolers.
"They enjoyed all sports, especially Hockey, Curling, and Ice fishing. The latter brought grief to the family. It was a typical January day; the boys went out to their favorite lake with their father to ice fish. The boys had wandered away from the ice shanty. The father found one of his two sons nearly frozen to death laying next to a large hole in the ice, his brother gone. While Herculean efforts were undertaken, the missing twin was never found and it was determined he had fallen through the ice and drowned. The conditions made it impossible to search for his body.
Jack was free now, because he knew who he was, had been, and had become.
Hammond entered the room and Janet passed the article to him. Jack was staring at the gate unwilling to make eye contact with either of them. His hand had slipped from Janet's waist.
"Son, take some time off, Call it "Family leave." Doctor, I think his physician ought to go with him. " Hammond set the article down in front of Jack and rested a hand on his shoulder.
Life was a circle. A gray haired stranger from the future who he had helped escape in 1969, and the Air Force Captain he had found brutalized in 77, the defiant smart ass emotionally crippled retired Colonel of 1997, who helped him reopen the gate was coming to terms with the forgotten darkness of his life and had taken his first steps to true recovery and freedom .
It was an odd place to live, well, for those used to military housing and barracks, but Jack and Janet approached the front door on the address they had been given. Both were dressed in civvies. Jack still had his left arm in a sling but had forgone the cane and there was barely a trace of bruising on his face.
Janet knocked on the door. Jack stood out of the direct vision of any who would open the door, covering his nervousness with a quick recon of the houseboat and the marina. He was nervous and barely able to contain it.
"Can I help you?" A young man in his mid twenties asked when he opened the door. He looked to Janet and then to Jack. His face went white as he stared slack jawed as Jack turned to look at him directly. "Dad, oh G-d dad! You got to come here." There was an almost panic to the boy's voice.
"Oh, for crying out loud what is it, Sam?" Came a voice from the interior. A body followed the voice and the door was flung wide.
Janet and the young man named Sam both gasped as the two men looked and recognized each other.
Angus MacGyver looked at the face of his twin brother, Ansley, for the first time in four decades.
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