"General Hammond, we have a situation."
Hammond hated announcements like that. He hurried from his office and walked quickly with the young captain. "Brief me again."
"Stan Greyson has infiltrated the base. He has Doctor Jackson with him."
"Yes sir. "
"Engaged and ready to use force if necessary. Awaiting your orders."
"Where was Greyson headed?"
"Best we can tell, the Gateroom, sir."
"Best you can tell?"
"He was spotted by one MP but they were unable to apprehend him, due to the risk to Dr, Jackson's safety. After that we lost track."
"I want any and all available security personnel teams activated, and three extra teams stationed in the gateroom."
"You know guards are going to be there. You can't just kill a man and take his weapon, they'll know. You work here, you know what's its like. . ."
"Shut up." The gun was pressed to his temple.
"We aren't going through the gate."
"I said shut up!"
"You were right about needing my help. You're gonna to need it to get out of this."
Stan merely tightened his arm around Daniel's neck as he used his fist to punch in the code to the gateroom and slide the card. Daniel shuffled, feeling himself pulled into the room and seeing the door close, then felt Stan freeze. He managed to turn his head to see the room filled with weapons aimed at him and his captor. General Hammond stood in the center, and he had never seen such anger on his face. Jack stood just to the side. Teal'c was near him, to Stan's left, and he managed to meet those dark eyes. The large, comforting presence eased his tension slightly. A quick glance upwards showed Carter, safe, in the control room. He felt his body ease. Oh, thank god.
Stan tightened his grip once again, and it was all Daniel could do not to grunt. "Stand aside, General. I've already talked with Dr. Jackson here and he's agreed to take me through."
"I don't think so, Dr. Greyson," the General said, angrily. "Not to mention, having a gun at his head doesn't look like an agreement to me." He took a step toward the man. "Now we've humored you by allowing you to get this far. Release Dr. Jackson and surrender yourself."
"Not on your life." Stan surprised everyone by doggedly pushing his way to the gate, pulling Daniel alongside him, the gun still poised. Jack planted himself between the two men and the gate.
"No," the Colonel said coldly, "not on your life. Nor my friend's here. End of the line, Stan, now let him go. You know you can't go through that gate."
"Jack, let him," Daniel croaked.
"Let him through. Let me talk to him."
"Unwise, Colonel," Stan said, jamming the small firearm painfully underneath Daniel's jaw. Jack just managed to catch the look in his friend's eye, not quite pleading, but clearly he wanted the ordeal to be over. Stan slowly backed up the ramp. "Now open the gate."
A single shot rang through the air and caught Stan in the arm. The gun fell with a clatter and both men pitched forwards, Stan landing heavily on Daniel's back. Jack pulled him away, then pulled Daniel to his feet, steadying the dazed man, who looked back at Stan, now surrounded by the MP's that weren't busy apprehending the person responsible for the single shot . . . .
"He turned himself in," Hammond said. He folded his hands on the two-toned tabled of the briefing room. "Turns out he was the one initially responsible for the explosion, and for getting Dr. Greyson into the SGC."
"He was working for the Chinese?" Daniel asked in disbelief.
"As were two others. All have been apprehended."
"What was his reason?" Jack asked.
"He just said it was wrong. That's all he would say, over and over."
"Trying to get an out?"
Hammond shrugged. "Who knows. The point is, a lot of information is floating around out there, and we don't know what has been said, and as of this moment we aren't entirely sure of the recipient. As a result, security measures will be tightened for the next six months at the very least, until we have a clearer idea as to what is going on." He turned to Daniel. "Dr. Jackson, you realize that due to your connection to Dr. Greyson, you'll be a key witness to this investigation, and there is a strong possibility that you will be under surveillance for a time."
"I understand," Daniel said quietly. He hadn't said much during the debriefing, which wasn't surprising. "How is Stan?"
Hammond wasn't surprised by this either. "Sore. Damned lucky. He'll be shipped out of here within a few hours."
"Sir, I know this isn't exactly standard procedure, but may I see him before he leaves?"
Daniel flinched. "Please, General. I'm not vouching for what he did, I just have some questions, some things which may be pertinent to this investigation."
"You can't go in there and question him unless there is a legal authority to supervise."
"Then let me question him as a friend."
"They were friends, sir," Jack interceded. Daniel gave him a grateful look, which Jack caught and rebuked. "Though I still can't imagine why."
Hammond thought for a moment. "I guess I don't see what it could harm. You can have five minutes, and five minutes only. And there will be a guard in the room."
"Of course." Daniel sent Jack a withering glance and stood. "Thank you."
"Need company?" Jack stood as well, and his expression left no room for a discussion. Daniel merely gave a nod and excused himself. Hammond gave Jack a stern glance that overlaid his concern. Jack nodded in understanding, then caught up with Daniel.
Daniel kept walking. "Happy now, Jack?"
"You were right. You wanted this pinned on him, and you were right, I was wrong, and you should be happy."
Jack stopped and jerked Daniel around to face him. "I can't believe that just came out of your mouth."
"He's responsible for five deaths and counting. You gonna defend that?"
"I didn't say he was right!"
"Then what are you saying?"
"I'm saying. . ." Daniel gritted his teeth, "I'm saying I should have seen it coming. I'm saying I overlooked the obvious. I'm saying I feel played, and used, and it pisses me off!" Daniel jerked away and started back down the hall, then turned. "What if it had been you?"
The look in his eye was desperate. "What if for some reason you did something wrong, betrayed your country or the SGC, you think I would have stood up for you? Or would I let you rot?"
"Daniel. . ." Jack shook his head in confusion, "what are you talking about?"
"He was my friend, Jack." He held the gaze for a moment before tearing it away and starting down the hall once again. Jack followed.
Two large guards blocked entrance to the hall, while two more stood before the door. Credentials were flashed, calls were made, and the door was opened. Daniel hesitated outside. "You coming?"
Jack started. "You sure?"
"He's my friend. But you are too, and I need someone in there that I can trust."
Jack was speechless for a moment, then he nodded.
The room was plain. So was the expression on Stan's face as Daniel entered. Not a flicker of emotion passed. He just watched, impassively. Daniel stood before him, hands deep in his pockets, and the door open behind him with Jack in its path. He cleared his throat and wiped at the tip of his nose nervously, signaling for Jack to close the door. There was a chair in the room, and Daniel sat. Stan hadn't moved. He sat in his own chair, pushed to the table.
Daniel sniffed and clasped his hands together. "I guess you know why I'm here.
Not that I think you'll talk to me or anything, I just need. . .I wanted to see you before you left." There was no response, and after several moments of silence Daniel pushed against his knees and stood. "I can't condone your actions. But I think I understand why you did it, I mean, from an emotional standpoint." He faced the seated man. "What did they promise you, Stan? Were you really that bad off?" Stan continued to stare, but allowed a blink. Daniel pushed a bit. "I was told you couldn't get any grants. They thought you were getting paid, but your accounts showed no change. What was the payoff? Chinese national notoriety?" Sarcasm didn't pull anything from the man.
"Give it up, Daniel," Jack muttered. "He obviously doesn't give a rat's ass."
"You're wrong." Stan cut his gaze to the man behind Daniel.
"Then what were you thinking?" Daniel pleaded, returning to his seat and pinning Stan with a demanding look.
"They offered me work. They offered me a place to stay, steady pay to do what I enjoyed. No grants. No living hand to mouth."
"Stan, everyone starts out like that! Why do you think you deserved better?"
"Because I do!"
"You have a funny way of going about it," Jack muttered.
"It made sense to me. They said the Stargate program ought to be a world-wide project, and they're right. They're right! It's totally selfish of us to keep it to ourselves."
"You realize the kind of international incidents we'd have if it were made public?" Jack asked.
"You see the kind of international incident it causes when it isn't?" Stan snorted. "Don't give me that high and mighty American bureaucracy. There was a power source that could have done so much for the Chinese, not to mention third world countries, people below you, that could benefit. Can you even imagine what worldly issues that source would have resolved?"
"Can you imagine what would have happened if it were placed in the hands of someone who knew nothing about it? Dammit, it wasn't stable here, you know that!"
"And we knew why. Don't be so daft, Daniel." He sighed. "I was sent to retrieve the power source. Those Chinese are actually NID agents. I was supposed to retrieve the artifact, but you sent it away right under my nose, and I had no way of getting there."
"But. . .what about the first one? Why did you blow it up, if you needed it?"
Stan rolled his eyes. "Think, Daniel. It had the capacity to blow the entire mountain off the bloody map." He slowly shook his head at Daniel's bewildered expression. "It was faulty, mate! It didn't work. It was arranged for transport, and it blew. It wasn't supposed to, believe it or not. But I knew there was another, only I'd never seen it."
"And I wonder why that is," Jack muttered.
"Enough," Daniel grumbled, his eyes fixed on Stan's. "So," he said to him, "when I sent it back to the planet, it threw your plans for a loop. You needed to find a way to go back, but couldn't since the SGC was grounded for so long, and with highly monitored, restricted travel afterwards. You panicked. Your time was running out. But what about Brooks?"
Stan apparently felt no need to hold anything back. "He suspected. I was hanging around the vaults too much, asking all these annoying questions. I meant to throw him off his game by getting him to ignore me by way of babbling, but I discredited him. He was a smart man."
"And the note?"
"Planted by me. He was suspecting, I had to. . .you know."
Jack was leaning against the wall, watching the exchange with growing anger. "And what about those photos of Daniel leaving his house? Planted as well?"
"My associate took those. I was hoping to give Daniel something different to worry about, to distract him. Take the angle from me."
"One more question," Jack inserted. "What's this about a third gate?"
Stan looked confused, and it was the most truthful expression he'd held since the two of them entered the cell. "I don't know anything about a third gate. Where'd you hear that?"
Jack studied him. "Like I'd tell you." He waved away Daniel's inquiring glance and gestured for him to continue.
Stan was starting to look panicked. His breath hitched and he sent a sorrowful look to his friend. "I'm sorry, Daniel, really. I never meant . . .look, I told you I was into something big, and I needed help, but you wouldn't help."
"Talking to me about it would have been the way to get help, Stan, not by waving a gun at me and threatening my friends." Daniel had heard enough. He stood.
"You'll speak well, of me, right? I'm a good scientist, Daniel, you know that. I have a head for facts. You'll speak for me, won't you? Daniel?"
"Head for facts, but his planning sucks," Jack said as Daniel turned away from Stan and headed for the door. He did stop once, at one final plea, then forced himself out of the room.
Jack followed. "Daniel. . ."
"Shut up, Jack. Just. . .I don't want to talk right now. Just. . .don't talk." Daniel plowed on, then suddenly stopped and slumped sideways against the wall. He wasn't even aware of Jack easing him to the floor as the aftereffect of recent events took hold.
"Easy . . ." Jack knelt before him. He braced the man, holding his arms, trying to look him in the eyes.
Daniel forced back a sob, slamming his head back against the wall in frustration. "God, I hate this. I hate this!"
"There's not a damn thing I can do. If he had just . . . he knew where I was, why didn't he just call me instead of being such an ass?"
"Because obviously he isn't as intelligent as you gave him credit for."
Daniel's eyes narrowed in anger. "No. He was more desperate than I thought he was." He sighed and let his head roll against the wall, closing his eyes. "That could've been me, you know," he said softly. "If Catherine hadn't found me when she did, I might have done something similar. I had nothing, Jack. No place to live, no money, I had a duffle bag and a theory. After a month or more of that, who knows what I would've done. I got lucky." He raised his head. "I need to go back in there. I can't leave it like this, he has to know . . ."
Jack frowned. "Know what?"
"It's between me and Stan. Let me back in."
"Daniel, Hammond said five minutes."
"And I still have one. Please, Jack."
The colonel sighed and gave Daniel a hand up. "One minute."
"You can't come in."
"Daniel, if there's something I need to know . . ."
"There isn't." Daniel's eyes were burning.
Jack stepped in his way as he reached for the doorknob. "This isn't something that's going to come back and bite you on the ass, is it?"
"No." Daniel had his hand ready to push the door open. He waited for Jack to move.
Stan was still in his chair. His eyes were fixed to the table in front of him. He didn't move, and Daniel didn't expect him to. He sighed and paced around the room before standing behind the chair he had occupied just moments earlier. "Look. I'll do what I can for you, and you know why. You also know what I mean when I say I understand, and if I were in your shoes, hell, I don't know." Daniel's eyes sought the ceiling. "I can't tell them, Stan. I can't tell them what went down between us, why you really left for England." Daniel tucked his hands into his pockets. "Even if it would get you out of this mess. I know the real reason why you did this." He took a step around the chair. "But I'll see that you get the best council, okay? Just . . . don't ask me to tell them the truth. I can't do it." He waited, but Stan didn't move. He just stared at the table, studying the pattern of the wood grain. "You know there's too much at stake, for both of us." Daniel sigh, his posture drooping. "Stan?" He leaned forward. "Stan!"
He darted around the table and placed his hand on Stan's shoulder. The head, off balance to the body, pitched forward, and Daniel yelled out.
"Cyanide. I have no idea where he kept it, and quite frankly, I don't want to." Dr. Frasier snapped her gloves off and gently pulled the sheet over Stan Greyson's body.
"As morbid as this may sound, he's really dead this time, isn't he?" Daniel asked softly.
Janet turned and took a hesitant breath. "Yes. And don't ask about the last time, because I don't know."
"I do. Goa'uld technology." Daniel leaned over the body slightly, waiting for the chest to move. But there was no movement. Or was there?
"Life and death is not a game. I can't believe an entire race would make it into one." Janet pushed past, but not before giving Daniel a sympathetic pat on the arm.
He stared at the sheet for a while. Nothing moved, nothing happened. It was over, at least his chapter. He would still be under surveillance, grounded from gate travel indefinitely. So, he could catch up his work. And slowly go nuts. And wonder just what the authorities would find.
He slowly reached out and put his hand on Stan's still chest.
For now, there was a red truck to be washed, parked in the upper lot of Cheyenne Mountain. He knew Jack wouldn't let him off that easily.