Once Daniel recovered from his bout with pneumonia, the worst seemed to be over. Or at least he started bitching again about being unable to work, about not being given coffee, about being watched by a group of testosterone-laden mother hens. Jack was relieved to see it. He didn't say anything, but he watched Daniel grouse at Fraiser with pleasure.
Days passed, and finally Fraiser came in with the attending physician, who happened to be Dr. Patterson again today. Jack was sitting with Daniel, playing chess, so Patterson walked around to Daniel's other side and started looking at the monitors and other exciting medical machinery.
Daniel raised his eyebrows. He'd argued for and gotten his glasses back, so he looked much more himself despite the technicolor bruises. "So, Janet, anything new?"
"Actually, I'm hoping to take you back to the SGC today," she said cheerily. "I've asked Dr. Patterson for a second opinion on moving you."
"You know my opinion already," Daniel replied sardonically.
"And you're certainly not ready to go home," she snapped.
"No, I'd say not," Patterson said, raising his eyebrows incredulously. "Unless you've got IV drips and someone to monitor your medication."
Daniel grimaced. "Janet, I'd really like to be someplace with windows."
She sighed and gave him a sympathetic smile. "As soon as I can release you, I will, Daniel, you know that." She patted his foot and he glowered at her ungratefully. Jack was just as glad Daniel hadn't tried to pull him into it. When Daniel and Fraiser pulled at him from both sides, things got really uncomfortable.
After a little more contemplation of the monitors, Patterson nodded. "I agree, Dr. Fraiser," Patterson said. "He's ready to be moved, so long as you have a facility that's up to the level of care he needs."
"Oh, we have that," Fraiser said firmly. "I'll send for an ambulance."
"If you're in that much of a hurry, we have plenty of –"
"Your drivers don't have clearance," Fraiser said, shrugging.
They moved away, still discussing logistics and Jack leaned down. "Once you're off the drip, maybe she'll let you come stay at my place," he suggested.
"Maybe we should just turn your spare bedroom into a medical facility," Daniel said dryly. "Then it wouldn't matter."
Jack snorted. "It's not big enough, but I suppose I could build on . . . the Jack O'Neill Home for Battered Archeologists."
Daniel narrowed his eyes. "You keep that up and it will be the Jack O'Neill Memorial Home for Battered Archeologists. I'm not the only one of us who gets hurt on a regular basis."
"Now that's hitting below the belt," Jack said. "Besides, so far as we can tell, this isn't work related."
"Hey, what's that supposed to mean?"
"Stop getting my patient riled up," Fraiser said. "All right, colonel, please get out of my way so I can prep Daniel for travel."
"What kind of prep could you possibly need?" Jack demanded. "He's just going to be riding in an ambulance."
Fraiser hurried him out nonetheless, and he spent the time calling Carter and Teal'c to let them know that Daniel would be coming to the mountain. It would be a distinct relief to get Teal'c off his back.
After seeing Daniel ensconced in the infirmary, Jack left him to his extensive stream of well wishers and returned to his own job. Mindful that they still didn't know who had attacked Daniel or if the attack had been ordered by someone somewhere, Jack and Hammond had mounted a more discreet guard detail in the infirmary. Point man, naturally enough, was Teal'c. After all, he'd been unable to visit Daniel in the hospital so no one would be very surprised by his constant attendance now that he could visit. A couple of other trusted officers would spell him, and Carter had suggested Rothman and Balinsky as additions to the detail. Jack knew they could be trusted, and on base they didn't have to provide someone who could overpower an attacker, just someone they could trust to hit an alarm button.
Back in his office, he reviewed his accumulated e-mails with irritation. Why couldn't people have more sense? Hammond had gotten someone to deal with all the important issues, which left him with a boatload of minor peccadilloes and the idiots responsible for them. Given the median IQ at the SGC, it occasionally astonished him just how many idiots they had anyway.
Roughly fifty percent of the e-mails required nothing more complicated on his part than an e-mail to the idiot's supervisor, followed by placing the reporting e-mail in a folder where his assistant could log it and whatever else he did so that trends and recidivism could be tracked. Maybe another ten percent were his serial complainers. They got reviewed for possible seriousness of the current complaint. If the complaint was unwarranted, he moved the e-mail to a different folder where they, too, were logged and tracked. If the complaint was warranted, he dealt with it and then filed copies of the e-mail in both folders. Jack sighed. Serial complainers were a major burr up his butt. Anyone who could complain that much clearly didn't have enough to do.
He was just starting to look into the remaining forty percent when Msgt. Tennyson walked in, carrying several file folders. Jack raised his eyebrows in polite inquiry, though he found the sergeant's arrival a bit alarming in the "more work" direction.
"Welcome back, sir," he said. "How is Dr. Jackson?"
Jack shrugged. "Very uncomfortable," he said. Tennyson was the general assistant for the various department heads and was, in fact, the fellow who was in charge of logging and tracking Jack's e-mails. Since he rarely actually saw Tennyson in the flesh, his sudden appearance could only portend bad things. "What can I do for you, sergeant?"
"Sir, you asked me to keep you apprised if I found any patterns in the complaints I log for you?" Tennyson paused in apparent expectation of a response. A nod seemed to satisfy him. "Well, I've found one, and I don't think you're going to like it."
Jack grimaced, seeing his hopes for an evening spent tormenting a helpless Daniel fade in the face of unpleasant reality. "Shoot."
Tennyson held out a sheet of paper on which there were charts and graphs. "This is a graphical representation of complaints from and about the records department."
"As you can see, sir, there is one department that Records complains about more frequently than the others, and the same department generates the most complaints against Records." For a moment the bar graphs and pie charts were just collections of colored shapes, but then the meaning sank in. He pursed his lips irritably. Tennyson was right. He didn't like it. "I've brought you all the complaints for the last six months." The sergeant held out the files and Jack took them with a grimace.
"Thanks, sergeant," Jack said. "Care to summarize them for me?"
Tennyson pursed his lips. "Major Tolliver of Records claims that the anthropology department loses records and misdirects the files on a regular basis. The members of the anthropology department claim that the problem lies with Records."
"Daniel?" Jack asked.
"That's the interesting thing, Dr. Jackson has made no complaints, but some of Tolliver's more recent complaints specify that Dr. Jackson hasn't done enough to resolve the problem. One of those came in today."
"Today?" Jack flipped open the file and glanced at the top.
"It's the second one down, sir," Tennyson said.
Jack closed the top file and looked into the second one. He scanned the top e-mail and frowned. All very polite, all couched in the right terms, but for crying out loud, the man had been in intensive care for weeks now. "This came today?" He blinked at the screen. "Why didn't I notice it?"
"Look at the 'to' line, sir," he said.
"Hammond?" Jack muttered. "He's not sending them to me?"
"He was, sir, but he started sending them to Hammond two months ago."
"And Hammond sends them to you?"
Tennyson nodded. "Today he asked me to come to you with it."
"Thank you, sergeant," Jack said, and Tennyson left. Sighing, Jack scanned through the complaints. A lot of the ones from the Anthropology department were from Robert Rothman, which didn't surprise him. He'd tagged both Rothman and Tolliver as serial complainers. He recalled sending a few e-mails on this subject awhile ago. However, given the personalities of the two men and the fact that both were squeaky wheels, he had undoubtedly put the continued complaints down to workplace friction.
It appeared that there were only two e-mails to Hammond on the matter, and both of them mentioned Daniel by name. There were a smattering of e-mails from Tolliver to Jack in between the two e-mails to Hammond, but none of them mentioned Daniel. All were couched in vague departmental terms.
When he felt he had a basic understanding of what he was looking at, he closed the files, picked them up and headed to Hammond's office. The general looked up from his own reams of paperwork when Jack knocked on the door.
"Come in, colonel," he said, gesturing towards one of the chairs in front of his desk. "I suspected I might have a visit from you."
Jack walked in and sat down. He looked down at the files in his lap. "What's your opinion, sir?"
Hammond pursed his lips. "The Tolliver issue?" Jack nodded. "Honestly, I'm concerned that the man would choose today of all days to register a complaint against Dr. Jackson. I presume he has contacted you?"
"He has, though he seems to have been careful to avoid citing Daniel as the source of the problem when contacting me."
Hammond's brows drew together. "Is that so?"
"It is," Jack replied. "This is the last six months worth of complaints. I can see why I missed it, but it can't go on."
"Which is why I sent it to you."
Jack grimaced. "Sir, what do you think of the fact that he hasn't brought his complaints about Daniel directly to me?"
Hammond raised his eyebrows. "Because you're always so receptive to complaints about Dr. Jackson," Hammond said with a wry look.
Jack stared at him. "Sir, are you suggesting that I play favorites with . . ."
"I am implying that you are naturally protective of your team members," Hammond said. "And those rumors of a relationship between you and Dr. Jackson continue to resurface from time to time."
"For crying out loud!" Jack exclaimed. "What do I have to do to stop those? Kick him? Grab female office's asses on a regular basis? What?"
Hammond sighed. "There's nothing you can do, Jack. All you can do is ignore it. Anything you try to scotch the rumors will simply call attention to them."
Jack glowered at the files. "Fine. I'm going to take care of this in my best objective manner."
Hammond started to look alarmed. "Jack?"
"Don't worry, sir, no one will even get bruises," he said with a nod and left the room.
He immediately headed to Rothman's office where he found the man absorbed deeply in a pile of old bones. Jack looked down at the tray. "Hip bone connects to the thigh bone," he said.
Rothman looked up, eyes abstracted. "I don't have any hip bones," he said. He scanned the tray again. "Or do you see . . ." His eyes focused and he saw who he was talking to. "Ha ha ha. Very funny, colonel. Is there something I can do to help you?"
Jack had armed himself with a clipboard and pen. "Actually, I've come to ask you about your complaints regarding Major Tolliver."
Rothman's eyes widened, then he stood up straight, putting his hands on his hips. "Well, it's about time!" he said truculently. "What are you going to do about it?"
Jack repressed an immediate surge of irritation at the man's manner. "I'm investigating. Tell me exactly what the problem is."
"Tolliver's a jackass," Rothman declared pithily.
Jack took a deep breath. "Could you be more specific?"
Rothman raised his eyebrows. "He's an incompetent jackass," he amplified.
And the man wondered why Jack hadn't gotten into this with him before . . . Jack sighed. "I need details. In what way is he incompetent?"
"He consistently misdirects files, so that files I request go to Daniel's office directed to Daniel or even to something like the Linguistics Department."
Jack blinked at him. "We don't have a linguistics department."
"I'm glad you know that!" Rothman exclaimed, clearly exasperated. "Tolliver apparently doesn't, and that's my point exactly. Also, if I go in and request a file at the same time as some military goon does, he gets his file in five minutes, but mine might take two days, no matter if mine is on an urgent project or not."
"And if Daniel's gone, we all have to go to Daniel's office to find our files, because his idiot assistants just drop them all off there, and since they almost never fill out the transfer forms completely – or correctly for that matter – it might take three or four days after it's delivered here before the person who needs it gets it, and then he blames us because we have the files 'too long' and he doesn't know what happened to them. He once actually accused me to my face of going into the archives and pulling files myself without permission and without filling out paperwork. I handed him the inaccurately filled out transfer form that he'd signed, and he blustered about something unrelated, took the file and the form and left before I could stop him. I had to fill out a new request for the file, and I waited three days before I got it back."
Jack nodded. "Okay, if you think of any more details that might help me figure out what the problem is, please e-mail me." He started to leave, but thought of something else. "And if you get any more poorly filled out transfer forms, please make copies and send them to me."
Rothman let out an irritated sigh. "Pay Daniel's office a visit. We haven't had time with the crisis that came up last week to look through the files that aren't urgent. I'm sure you'll find lots of evidence there."
"Thanks," Jack said, and he followed Rothman's advice. When he got into Daniel's office, he stared in shock at the sheer size of the pile of files. He started looking at the transfer forms and was appalled to see plenty of evidence, as Rothman had said. None of the forms he looked at were filled out correctly, and four of them were directed to departments that didn't exist.
He'd been looking for several minutes when Balinsky came in behind him. He stopped when he saw Jack. "Is something wrong, sir?"
"How long has this been going on?" he asked, gesturing around at the files.
"What, sir?" Balinsky asked.
"He's actually looking into my complaints," Rothman said, coming around the corner and diving into the pile without a pause. "Can you believe it?"
"Why hasn't Daniel said anything to me?" Jack demanded.
Rothman paused in his sorting. "If you haven't noticed, colonel, Daniel's nice." Jack blinked at this succinct and accurate summation. "He doesn't like getting people in trouble, so he just tries to get along."
Balinsky shrugged. "I think he just figured that's the way things go on a military base."
Jack nodded grimly. He'd been afraid that was the case. When was he ever going to convince Daniel that he didn't have to take that kind of crap? Stupid, pointless hazing . . .
"Gentlemen, if you would please take the files you need, I'd appreciate it if you would then make yourselves scarce. I plan to have a little meeting in here." Both men nodded and hurriedly grabbed what they needed. As they left, Jack started sorting the files, not by subject or urgency, but by error. He stopped when he had a fair sampling, long before he'd finished going through the whole pile. By this point, anger was simmering. Was Daniel supposed to come off his recuperation to this mess? How often had Daniel already come off recuperation to similar messes?
Once he was ready, he called the Records Department and requested Major Tolliver's presence in Daniel's office immediately.
Tolliver arrived in five minutes, which, given the distance between the two offices, spoke of some alacrity. The major reported, then his eye seemed caught by the piles of files on the desk and table behind Jack. "There!" he exclaimed. "Do you see what I have to contend with, sir?" he asked, gesturing at the files.
Jack had been planning on asking him a few pointed questions to make him understand the error of his ways, but at this immediate launch into the offensive, his plans changed. He'd give the idiot as much rope as he wanted and see how thoroughly he hung himself. "Go on," he said, sitting down behind Daniel's desk.
"They request an inordinate number of files, and then they let them sit here for days, gathering dust." Jack merely raised his eyebrows and waited for him to go on. Tolliver walked right up to the piles and looked down at one. "Look here, this one's been here for two weeks, but it was requested with high urgency." He shook his head, looking irritated. "Don't worry, sir, I'll get these files back where they belong. When these civ boys figure out what they want and when they want it, they can send for them again."
Jack raised a hand as Tolliver started to take a pile, and the major paused. "As it happens, you've mistaken my reason for calling you here."
Tolliver put the files down, knitting his brows. "Sir?" he asked uncertainly.
"Would you pick up that top file and tell me what's wrong with the transfer form?"
Seeming a bit taken aback, Tolliver did as he was asked. "Well, the date is –"
"Not the date. The basic form. How it's filled out."
Tolliver blinked at him, then looked at the file. "This is how Dr. Jackson asked me to fill them out."
"Really?" Jack would have to check on that. "And did he ask you to deliver all the files to his office?"
"Yes sir," Tolliver replied with complete sincerity.
Jack could think of a half a dozen reasons why Daniel might ask Records to bring all the files to his office, starting with the issue of frequently misdirected files. "Fine, I'll look into that. In the meantime, please start filling out your transfer forms according to standard procedure. If Dr. Jackson has a problem with it, I will make it right."
"Thank you, major," Jack said, and Tolliver got the message. With one look at the files, he left. Jack glanced back at the files himself and sighed. Then he headed for the infirmary. He had a feeling that Daniel was going to find some of his questions puzzling at best.
Daniel was lying in bed, a weird looking game board on the over bed table, playing with Teal'c. "Jack!" Daniel said with a smile. "How's your day going?"
Jack shrugged and commandeered a chair. "I actually need to ask you a few questions."
Daniel blinked at him. "About the attack?"
Jack shook his head. "Nope, about records, actually. Specifically, the Records Department."
Teal'c actually glowered, and Jack blinked uncertainly at him. What did Teal'c know that he didn't? He thought again. About this specific issue . . . there were lots of things Teal'c knew that he didn't.
"What about it?" Daniel asked, sounding puzzled.
"Okay," he said, glancing down at his clipboard. "Tell me, have you asked the Records Department to deliver all the files to your office?"
Daniel stared at him. "Why on earth would you ask that?"
"Don't worry about why, Daniel, I just need to know."
Daniel shrugged, and then bit his lip. "That was so not good," he gritted, and Jack could sympathize – broke ribs tended to take issue with that kind of movement. Wincing, he made a face at Jack. "Yes, I did. When I couldn't convince Tolliver that the problem of misdirected files lay on his end, I asked them to just get them all to me and I'd sort them out. It's not always the greatest solution. I'll bet there's a pile on my desk right now that rivals Mount Everest, but at least the guys just have to go to one place to find their files instead of turning the entire department upside down."
Jack nodded. He thought that also answered his second question, but he really needed a clearer answer. "So, did you ever tell him to fill out the forms in any specific way?"
Daniel snorted. "Did I ever . . . I asked him why he didn't fill out the forms according to his own memo, but he just said he thought my department had less standard requirements."
"Really? And what did you say?"
"Nothing. I think I shrugged. I was busy and didn't have a lot of time for nonsense."
Daniel avoiding confrontation. What a surprise. Now for the important question. "Why haven't you mentioned this issue to me?" he asked.
Daniel looked a bit startled. "I think calling it an 'issue' dignifies it too much, Jack. Tolliver just doesn't seem to care a whole lot about getting the forms filled out correctly for us. I've gone back and forth with him on it a few times, but it seemed pretty pointless after awhile."
Daniel's brows knit. "He never seemed very interested in working with me. I didn't see much point in breaking my head against a brick wall. So long as he's not actively obstructionist, and I can get my work done, I'm not going to raise a stink."
"Daniel! That doesn't make sense!"
"And if I raised a stink, there's a good chance he would get obstructionist."
"If you thought that, you should have said something."
Daniel shook his head. "Did you miss what I just said? If I'd said something, it might have caused the problem I was trying to avoid."
"Okay, anything else? More specifics?"
"Jack, I can manage it. Why is this coming up, anyway?"
Jack stood up. "Don't worry about it." He pursed his lips. "Where's Fraiser?"
"Her office, I think," Daniel said. "Jack, what is this about?"
Jack squeezed his shoulder and headed on to Fraiser's office. She looked up as he walked in, and he shut the door. "How soon are you going to release Daniel for work?"
Fraiser stared up at him, jaw dropped. "Are you seriously asking me to . . . what on earth are you asking that for?"
Jack shrugged. "I have my reasons, and no, I'm not trying to get you to release him for work soon. I'm more likely to ask you to keep him off duty longer. I just need to know."
Still seeming dubious, she pursed her lips. "It will be a week or two before he comes off the IVs, colonel. After that, two weeks additional at least."
Jack nodded. "So, I have some time. That's good to know."
"Time for what?"
"To deal with a problem that's arisen." Jack shook his head. "Thanks, Fraiser. Keep me apprised of his condition, could you?"
"Of course, colonel," she said, looking puzzled.
Jack was almost all the way to the elevator when Teal'c caught up with him. "O'Neill, I have a concern."
Jack raised his eyebrows. "What's that?"
"Nyan has told me that he feels that Major Tolliver does not treat the archeologists with sufficient respect."
Jack had to suppress a surge of irritation. "And why haven't I heard this before?"
"Nyan was not certain and did not wish to make billows."
Billows? Jack wrinkled his brow. "Make waves?"
Jack nodded. "Okay. Thanks. I'll get back to you." Teal'c gave him one of his solemn bows and turned to go back to Daniel. Jack glowered at the elevator doors. Unfortunately, he could see how Tolliver could claim to believe – or even actually believe – what he'd told Jack. He headed back to his office and started making notes on what he'd learned.
He'd been at it for about forty minutes when his phone rang. "O'Neill."
"Colonel, can you tell me why the hell all the files are gone from Daniel's office?" Rothman sounded livid. "I went looking for one I knew was in there, something just came up as urgent when SG-3 came in and I went to grab the file and it's gone. They're all gone. Ones that were open on Daniel's desk – waiting for him to come back – they're gone."
"I didn't give any such order," Jack replied. "Okay, I don't know if you have that ironic memory that Daniel has, but –"
"Ironic?" Rothman repeated. "Yes, colonel, I have an ironic memory, and I'm sure this little moment is going to be added to it."
Jack blinked at the concrete wall above his desk. "No, I mean where you remember everything you see. If I'm going to ask for the files back, I'll need a list of all of them."
There was silence at the other end, then Rothman cleared his throat. "Eidetic memory," he said slowly. "Yeah, I can do that. I'll have it for you in an hour."
Within minutes, Jack stepped into the Records Department and walked straight back into the archive room. Amazingly enough, he found Tolliver standing there with his assistants and a huge stack of files. "Major, what are these files doing here?" Jack asked.
Tolliver seemed floored by the question. "I . . . sir, I was just . . ."
"Getting the files back to Dr. Jackson's office?" Jack finished for him. "I think that would be a good idea. I'll have Dr. Rothman check them to make sure they're all back, and he'll get you the list of others that need to be returned."
"Sir, you saw that most of them weren't being used. There's no sense in leaving them gathering dust in . . ."
"It's better that they gather dust here?" Jack demanded. "If I have to make it a direct order, I will." Tolliver straightened, turning into a stuffed soldier. "I'll check with Rothman in two hours. If the files aren't back by then, you and I will have a more serious talk."
"Yes sir," Tolliver snapped.
"And, just a note, Dr. Jackson was injured two weeks ago, so files he requested as urgent have not ceased being urgent, but he may not be able to get to them for a little while. However, he'll need them immediately available when he returns to duty." Tolliver nodded, but Jack felt the need to be more specific. "Or if a crisis arises and we have to press him for some help in the meantime. Or any number of other possibilities. I shouldn't have to explain to you just how important Dr. Jackson's department is to this command. Do I have to?"
"No sir," Tolliver said.
"Good. Get on with it, major."
And now Jack had to find a longer term solution.
Daniel hated the infirmary. He hated being stuck in bed for extended periods of time. He was grateful that Janet was finally letting him get up to walk a bit, but he loathed how weak he felt and how quickly he had to lie back down. Jack and Sam came by every day, and Teal'c spent the better part of most days there. He took a few phone calls from Axner, but he had the feeling that the police didn't know where to go, that they had no real leads. After the first day, the overwhelming stream of visitors had trailed off, which made life a little quieter. Teal'c had gone off to take care of business, even Jaffa had to eliminate after all.
Daniel opened yet another get well card. He had piles of the damned things. They hadn't forwarded most of them to the ICU, there simply wasn't space, and he was taking his time about opening them. Janet wouldn't let him have a laptop or any work, so he had to keep something to do. The thrillers and spy novels Jack brought him only kept him occupied for so long, and no one seemed to think he could read anthropology journals without wanting to work. He couldn't seem to explain to them that it wouldn't make him want to work any more than he already did.
He gazed down at the card. This one had a teddy bear on the front, with a band aid on its ear and one arm in a sling. The motto read, "Get Well Bear-y Soon!" It looked like a child's card, which was odd. He flipped it open and stared in vague consternation. Eyes had been drawn in pen on the inside, many of them, on both sides of the card, and words were written where the signature would usually be placed. "Don't worry, Daniel, my eyes are on you all the time."
Returning from the bathroom, Teal'c leaned towards him, worry in his eyes. "Is something amiss?"
"Would you call Jack for me, please?" Daniel asked.
"What's he supposed to call me?" Jack asked cheerily as he came into the room.
Daniel looked up at him. "What's got you so happy?"
Jack shrugged. "What's got Teal'c looking so worried?" Wordlessly, Daniel closed the card and handed it to Jack. He looked at the front and said, "Cassie?"
"I hope not. Look inside."
Jack opened it and his eyes widened. Then he whistled. "Who the hell is this from?"
"I don't know," Daniel said. "But is it as creepy as I think it is?"
"It's creepy," Jack replied. "Shit, I'm going to have to give this to Axner, aren't I?"
"Axner?" Daniel exclaimed. "Why would you need to give him my creepy get well card?"
"This is seriously odd, Daniel," Jack said. "And do I need to remind you that you just got beaten half to death?"
Daniel drew his brows together. "Thank you, Jack, that's just what I wanted to hear."
"It matters, Daniel."
"No kidding!" Daniel said. "I just don't see . . ." He took the card back. "It doesn't look like a threat."