Esprit de Corps
Disclaimer: I don't own and will not profit by this story.
Colonel Jack O'Neill was sitting on his rooftop platform looking through his very sophisticated telescope at the stars and his laptop was on the small makeshift desk beside him waiting to have data input as he took some more readings. The last month had been a whirlwind of activity as he had worked hard to gel his unorthodox team into a combat and exploratory unit. He was also getting used to his new commanding officer, Major General George Hammond, who as far as he could tell was one of the better general officers in the Air Force. The man had really gone to bat for Teal'c and that went a long way in Jack's book. It was also strange to be on active duty again. A year ago he had resigned himself to being a battered old retiree with nothing to look forward to, yet always looking up at the stars wondering if there wasn't something else left to do.
Then there was Captain Sam Carter to consider. From the first moment she had captivated him with her ballsy approach and determined attitude. Challenging him to an arm wrestle had been the icing on the cake. He would never admit it, but her incredible intelligence, coupled with her kick ass combat skills was a major turn on. Jack scowled as he thought about that. Damn frat regs! He'd never really agreed with them in the first place, but he was once again a serving officer and he had to maintain the standard. She was a damn good officer and he was privileged to consider her a part of his team. The real kicker was that he couldn't get beyond the feeling that there was no way she would ever be interested in a washed up old Black Ops soldier like him. She was what, 15 years younger than him? Yeah, there was no chance for him. It sure made for some nice fantasies, though. Maybe he could convince her to wear that sweet little tank top number again sometime. Or maybe that blue Shahvadi dress? Now that was a hot outfit on the straight laced Captain; even if she did look about ready to kick her teams' asses when they saw her in it.
Noticing he was out of beer, he got up and went down the ladder and over to the sliding glass door to head into the kitchen to grab another six pack of Guinness out of the fridge to put in his cooler. The ringing of his doorbell prevented him from heading back outside right then. Sighing deeply, he went and opened the door, shocked to see his whole team outside with pizza and beer in hand. Teal'c appeared to be carrying a movie in his hand.
"Hey guys," Jack said with obvious surprise in his voice. "Come on in." He caught Daniel's arm and held him back for a moment. "What's going on, Daniel?" he asked.
"We noticed you weren't yourself the last couple of days and wanted to see if there was anything wrong," Daniel answered.
Jack felt glad his team was worried about him. It showed that they were developing the kind of closeness that a team should have. "Thanks, Daniel," he said with a grin. "I guess seeing that, whatever it was, show up as Charlie, and then seeing Sarah really shook me up a bit."
"You could have talked to us Jack," Daniel said, a slight bit reproachfully.
Jack sighed. "That's not my way, Daniel," he finally answered. "Like I said when you were here that first night back: I can never forgive myself."
Daniel just nodded in sympathy and walked into the living room where his other friends were sitting down and getting into the pizza. He took a beer for himself and grabbed a piece, biting into the hot slice and watched as Jack came in and sat with them. Even though the coarse and jaded soldier was a complex man in his own right, Jack O'Neill had become one of the only friends Daniel Jackson had ever had, and easily the best. Sam and Teal'c had also become part of that very small group.
"What were you doing this evening, Sir?" Sam asked after a bit of chatting with Daniel and Teal'c.
"Up looking through my telescope," he replied as he took a long swig of Guinness. "I spend a lot of time up there," he added with a shrug. He then talked about his hobby and the equipment he had to pursue his interest.
Sam listened in rapt fascination as her simple commanding officer revealed a very complex side of himself and a genuine intelligence that was carefully hidden. She rattled off questions about his computer system that was hooked up to his telescope and offered to add some analytical and tracking programs to the ones he had. Astronomy was also a hobby of hers, but she hadn't had a chance to set up a platform for observation yet, so her system was in storage until she got a house of her own.
"You're welcome to use mine whenever you want, Carter," Jack said with a smile. "In fact, that reminds me of something." He got up and went to the drawer of the end table by the couch. He fished out a small manila envelope and emptied the contents out into his hand. Somewhat sheepishly, he handed each of them a key. "It's the key to my house," he explained. "I want you guys to each have one. Think of this place as a getaway spot."
"Are you sure you want us to have that kind of access, Sir?" Sam asked, somewhat stunned.
Jack made his way to the sliding glass door. "You guys are family to me," he said simply. "I need to shut down my laptop and bring it in after I cover up my telescope. Then we can pop in the movie Teal'c brought."
Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c just sat and looked at each other in shock at the statement that Jack had just made. Daniel knew that Jack cared for each member of the teams he led, and had proven it by his actions the two times he had been on Abydos, but he had not expected the depth of caring that had just been revealed. For Sam, it had been a serious wake up call for her. She had instantly liked Jack O'Neill when they first met a little over a month before, and had spent a lot of time before that reading up on the man and the first Abydos mission. He had not seemed the type to get close to people, though. Now he had just made the statement that he considered three of them family. It was also hard to sublimate her feelings of love, for lack of a better word, towards Jack. Unfortunately the regulations forbade the type of relationship she secretly would like. Teal'c was also surprised, but it pleased him that his feelings of O'Neill as a brother were returned in equal measure. He would have to spend more time learning about this particular human.
Sam made a decision and walked outside to see Jack's astronomy equipment. She found the ladder and made her way up to the very well built and comfortable platform. He was sitting there, not having turned off the laptop, or covered the telescope.
"Hi," she said a bit awkwardly.
"Hey, Carter," he said a bit morosely. "I'm sorry I took you guys by surprise like that. I should have been a little bit more tactful."
"Are you alright, Sir?" Sam asked, clearly concerned by his mood.
"I had to think about making those keys an awful lot, Carter," Jack finally replied. "In the last 18 months I lost my son, then my wife when she divorced me, and then Kowalski. I just don't know about letting people in like that anymore."
Sam digested that and thought for a bit. "Then why give us keys?" she asked seriously.
"Because somehow, you guys became something more to me than just my team," he said without looking at her. "Daniel's like my kid brother, Carter. Teal'c understands me when it comes to my job."
"What about me?" she asked him.
Jack chuckled. "Honestly? You make me believe that I have something worth waking up for every morning," he told her shocked expression.
"A close friend?" she squeaked out, hoping to keep this on the safe side of regulations.
"You know better than that, Sam," he said with a raise of his brow. "What did I say in the locker room when you asked me if I wanted you when you tackled me to the ground?"
Sam's mind instantly remembered. "You said 'not like this'," she quoted. "You're in love with me?"
"Aint life a real kick in the ass?" he asked rhetorically. "I've never broken the frat regs, Sam," he continued. "Yeah I do love you, but I won't endanger your career. If this is something you ever want to pursue, let me know. I'll either retire again, or we'll think of something. I may have made some enemies in my career, but I've also made some powerful friends." He didn't even tell her that Jack O'Neill was simply a deep cover that one Angus MacGyver had taken a number of years ago to get out of the game. His close friend, the current President, had helped him get all the arrangements made and he had quietly slipped into the role of a simple, but potent Air Force Colonel who was in Special Ops. He'd gotten over his extreme aversion of guns and now used them with lethal skill against an enemy he could honestly fight and kill when the need arose. Sam would probably kill him for keeping the fact that he had a number of PhD's adorning his curriculum vitae, especially since he was the major starting point for most of her work. Daniel would be pissed, too. Jack wondered what Pete Thornton would say if he could see him now.
"I have the same feelings, Jack," Sam said, deliberately using his name to underscore that this was definitely off the record for now. "But it's too soon to try and start something. I'm not saying never, but I need time to think about this. Can you live with that for now?"
"Yeah," he said with a small grin. "For a scientist, you're not half bad, Sam, especially in the sweet little tank top number."
Sam groaned. "I was crazed from disease, Jack," she said with exasperation. "Do you plan on razzing me about that till the end of time?"
"Thinking about it," he said slyly. He tapped a sequence of commands on his laptop with quick efficiency which startled the brilliant astrophysicist beside him, and then closed the top and put it in the carry pouch. Taking the insulated cover for the telescope, he lovingly covered the device and picked up the computer. "Ready to go back inside?"
"Ready," she nodded. "Teal'c brought over Star Wars to watch."
Jack groaned. "How many times has he watched that already?" he asked in a defeated tone.
"93 by last count," Sam grinned.
"We've created a monster," Jack said shaking his head. "I wonder what he'll do when he discovers there are two sequels."
"Probably have a Star Wars marathon for the team," Sam said, still grinning.
Jack chuckled, but put his hand out when she made for the ladder. "Thanks for coming out here and talking to me," he told her kindly. "It really helped, Sam. I'll be waiting for whenever you're ready for that other conversation, too."
Eight Years Later
Brigadier General Jack O'Neill was a happy man. For three months he had been in command of the SGC and watched as his 2IC, and current commander of SG1, spent time romantically with that rat bastard Pete Shanahan. He could have gladly beaten Carter's brother, Mark Carter, to a pulp for setting the two of them up like he had. Just when Jack was getting ready to finally bring up the subject of an 'us' with Sam, she came to work one morning humming in the elevator. Right then Jack's carefully planned future shattered. He'd hid it well, but inside he was ruined. He began to lay careful plans to reclaim his long abandoned life as Angus MacGyver, and had even started talks with Pete Thornton about returning to the Phoenix Foundation as an agent. Pete had been thrilled to get his best friend back, and had even confirmed that Murdock was indeed dead. Pete had had it confirmed by the experts, and Jack had had Thor do a complete check for him. It was true.
That was until today. This morning Sam had come in and told Jack that she and Pete had broken up. The son-of-a-bitch had actually had Sam tailed and then tried to hit her when she had showed up from work late because of a last minute briefing. He hadn't reckoned on Sam's incredible combat skills and she had sent the jerk to the hospital with a number of broken bones, including a broken jaw in multiple places. The piece of shit hadn't even been able to lay a hand on Sam. She was pressing charges and Jack had surreptitiously went to the hospital and informed the errant detective to plead guilty or he would have the pleasure of sending the man to a Goa'uld infested planet with a sign proclaiming him to be Jack's best friend. The horrified look on Pete's face let Jack know he'd be pleading guilty to any charges under the sun just to get away from anything remotely related to the SGC and one very pissed off General Jack O'Neill.
He was now sitting in his office speaking on the phone with Pete Thornton. "I know I promised, Pete, but it's not going to happen now," he said to his long time friend.
"But Mac, we need you," Pete pleaded. He desperately wanted Mac back in the fold. His work on any number of projects would send the PF years ahead of the competition for government work.
"I'm needed here more, Pete," Jack replied. "I have approval for you to come here and see what we're doing."
"Pretty damn difficult for a blind man, don't you think?" Pete teased.
"Actually there might be something we can do about that," Jack said, cleverly baiting the hook. He'd talked to Thor about his friends condition and been assured that the Asguard could cure the blindness.
"It's cruel to joke around about something like that, Mac," Pete said in a very hurt tone.
"I'm not joking, Pete," Jack said, dropping all tone and pretense of fooling around. "We can cure your blindness, but you have to come here to get it done. All of the science and procedures are classified beyond anything you've ever seen before. And while you're here, I'm General Jack O'Neill. MacGyver ceased to exist a long time ago."
"Will he ever come back into the land of the living?" Pete asked with a sigh and a deep longing for his old friend.
Jack thought about the news he had been graced with that morning and considered for a minute. "I don't think so, Pete," he answered slowly, yet deliberately. "Murdock killed MacGyver a long time ago, and Jack O'Neill is needed for something a lot bigger than the Phoenix Foundation. That's nothing against you and the Foundation, Pete, it's simply a reality. Come and see me, Pete. You'll understand what I'm talking about then."
"Alright, Mac," Pete said finally. "Would next Monday be a good day?"
Jack smiled widely. "Perfect, Pete," he said with a happy voice.
That evening Jack was looking through his telescope and watching the stars. He did that often anymore and had developed some interesting computer programs for his system. Sam had never seen them, of course, since she would instantly know that they were years ahead of anything currently available, even to her. Tonight, though, he was waiting for her to show up so they could have 'the talk'. He'd cornered her in her lab after he got back from his little 'chat' with Pete Shanehan, and told her that if she was still interested after all these years, he was still waiting for their 'conversation'. He also let her know that he was going to be doing a bit of 'stargazing' that evening if she wanted to drop by and see his new system. The happy smile she'd flashed him could have lit up the whole base. He planned on telling her everything that night, including who he really was. The only concern he had was that she might castrate him for keeping his brilliance hidden like he had. He had noticed she had all the books that MacGyver had written on her shelves, both in her lab, and in her home. 'Thank God I never allowed my picture to be on the dust jackets and inside flaps,' he thought as he focused in on a barely visibly star cluster in the Origami system. He heard steps on his deck.
"I'm up here, Sam," Jack called down. A few moments later he heard her coming up the ladder. He'd put a second cushioned chair up here that evening in the hopes that she would show up. He turned and saw a six pack of his favorite beer, Guinness, in her hands as she opened his cooler and then offered him one. "Thanks," he said cheerfully.
"I thought I could contribute to the Cause," Sam said with a smile. He'd always referred to his unbelievable supply of Guinness as 'the Cause', as if this was Ireland and they were in the IRA.
He focused in on a particularly interesting star in the cluster and motioned her over as he tapped a control on his laptop in order to record it and begin a baseline analysis. That was something a normal system was not supposed to be able to do since the software wasn't written for such low key computers. That hadn't bothered Jack in the slightest, as he simply wrote the software for it himself. It had yet to give incorrect analyses when compared to the larger systems at SETI and JPL, in addition to large observatories.
Sam put the beer in the over sized cooler, noting the large quantity of cold cuts, and a good supply of blue jell-o. Maneuvering next to him, she glanced at his laptop and froze. 'What the hell?' she said to herself as she took in the very sophisticated program running. Looking closer, she saw that it was an analysis program that she had never heard of before, which she would have thought impossible since she had written the ones currently in use by the larger observatories and astrophysical labs, and this one was more complex than those.
"Before you ask, I wrote the program," he said without taking his eye off the eyepiece.
"You, Sir?" Sam said skeptically. She knew that he was very intelligent, but he had trouble programming a VCR to record the Simpson's, for Heaven's sake.
"There's a file there on the tabletop," he continued. "Look through it and if you hate me, then feel free to leave. Or, if you like, we can discuss it. It's up to you, Sam."
Sam sat down heavily on the empty chair and picked up the thick file. The cover was littered with Top Secret identification stamps which told her that this file had been so buried that no one but the President and maybea few Joint Chiefs had ever seen it. Opening the front cover she gasped in shock. A picture of a younger Jack O'Neill was staring up at her, smiling like always, but the name next to it was "Colonel Doctor Angus MacGyver".
"It's true, Sam," Jack said simply without looking at her. "Just read the file and I'll answer any questions you have."
'Jack O'Neill is the MacGyver?!' Sam thought to herself, clearly thunderstruck. She spent the next hour reading the extensive file, including the change of identity paperwork that was done by then-Senator Taylor. The reasons for the deep cover were thoroughly explained and then classified more thoroughly than anything she had ever seen. Finally she closed the file folder and set it down next to her, trying to digest what she had just found out. MacGyver had been her idol when she had grown up and reveled in the sciences. She had all of his books and continued to refer back to his articles for reference. The analytical program she had just seen on Jack's computer now made perfect sense. If something wasn't invented, or created for what the famous McGyver wanted, he would simply invent it himself and then keep it to himself. His books were brilliant in that they broke no new ground, yet pointed the experts in the right direction for further research by holding out tantalizing possibilities with the beginning theoretical work.
"Why are you telling me now?" she asked finally.
Jack turned around and carefully looked into her expression and found that he couldn't divine what she was thinking. "Because, if we're going to have the conversation we've been avoiding for eight years, then you deserved to know the truth," he replied.
"What about Daniel and Teal'c?" she demanded.
"I'll be telling them tomorrow," he admitted. He grabbed a fresh beer and twisted off the top, throwing it over the side of the platform. Jack took a healthy pull from the bottle.
"You could have been such a great help to the SGC if you'd have been honest with us," she pointed out.
"Not and still be the combat officer I needed to be the last eight years," he countered. "I don't blend my talents, Sam. I do the job that needs to be done. For the SGC, that was leading SG1 in combat. Besides, you're the best scientific mind I've ever known. You leave me in the dust on theory, and I'm not much more ahead in practical application."
"But you're legendary for thinking on your feet and coming up with solutions to problems with things that should not work," she protested. "You may have had to be the soldier in most instances, but you surely could have dropped the act in a pinch if needed."
Jack gave her an impish grin. "Who says I didn't," he asked somewhat rhetorically. "Remember all those ideas you came up with off of some off the wall comment I made? I know how your mind works, Sam, and I know how to nudge it in the right direction."
Sam's jaw hung precariously. "You manipulative weasel!" she exclaimed with a low growl, but a smile on her face when the situation became clear in her mind. "Any one of those times we could have been killed, or the planet destroyed!"
"Nah," he said with a dismissive gesture. "Couldn't happen with you heading up the rescue efforts."
Sam looked at him incredulously. "You don't know that," she said slowly.
Jack got a serious look in his eyes, but also a very tender one at the same time. "Yeah, I do," he informed her. "I have faith in you Sam. I always have. When you boil it all down, that's what science really is; faith. Faith in those who are using the science, and those who develop it. You do both, Sam, and I have faith in you."
She was frozen at his comments, not so much because she felt he wasn't serious, but because she had never had anyone state such confidence in her like that. She watched him as he simply sat there looking at her while she wrapped her mind around the compliment. His eyes betrayed nothing, yet she could feel an emotional warmth radiating out from him somehow. Sam had the feeling that that was part of what made the legend of MacGyver so powerful. His abilities with the sciences weren't his only calling card. He was also an incredibly passionate man when it came to people, and the inherent good he tried to find in them. The fact that he had fought the Goa'uld and Jaffa so ferociously pointed to his ability to recognize evil when he saw it, as well.
"Thank you," she acceded finally. She sighed in mental exhaustion. It never ceased to amaze her what could make her feel like that. It usually involved Jack in some fashion, whether it is frustration at his off the wall antics, or anger at his attitude. This time it was the seemingly simple task of merging fact with fiction, in this case the fiction of the Jack O'Neill image and persona. "Will you help me out in my lab every once in a while?" she ventured with a smile.
Jack grimaced. He still had a problem with scientists for the most part, but he had over the years become somewhat enamored with this one. Finally he sighed and bowed to the inevitable. "Yeah," he said with a shudder. Then he wagged a finger at her. "This doesn't mean I am over my problems with the science geeks, though," he warned. "So where do we stand?" he asked her, wanting to get to the major point of their get together.
Sam suddenly was lost in her own thoughts. Pete was history, and after the severe ass kicking she had given him the previous evening he wouldn't ever be back, especially since he was under charges. His days as a detective were definitely over. Unfortunately, though, her relationship with the man had also damaged her extremely close friendship with Jack. She'd had casual flings with men during the last eight years, but never had she gotten seriously involved with someone. The timing for her and Jack had never been right, and she refused to live like a nun. Now the time was here, but the same problem existed: the damn frat regs; that, and her damaging of their closeness.
"I don't know," she admitted honestly. "I know where I want it to be, but I also know I hurt you with my involvement with Pete. We also have the same problem with the regulations, Jack. In that regard, nothing's changed in eight years. If anything, we're more important to the program than we ever were."
"What if the regulations aren't a problem?" Jack queried. "What if I told you that just because you got involved with a complete asshole, it didn't change the fact that I still love you?"
Sam grinned. This was so like the Jack O'Neill she knew; always trying to stretch things into hypotheticals to get an answer. "Then I'd say it's about time we did some things for 'us'," she answered as directly as she was willing to at that point.
"Then I'd say the timing is finally right," Jack said with a widegrin. "I talked to the President today and asked him to remove the frat regs from the regulations affecting the SGC. When I threatened to retire again, he caved."
"I don't think we have a lot to talk about, Jack," Sam said to him. "I say let's give this a try. After so many years of making each other miserable by being apart, we've got to get it right by being together."
The Following Monday, Cheyenne Mountain, 1030 hours
Brigadier General Jack O'Neill, and the rest of the former SG-1, was at the main entrance to the Cheyenne Mountain Complex waiting for Jack's friend, Pete Thornton, to arrive. Jack and Sam were in their blues, and Daniel and Teal'c were in suits, though Teal'c looked noticeably uncomfortable in his.
The previous few days had been exciting, to say the least. Jack had revealed his real identity to Daniel and Teal'c the day after his confession to Sam. Daniel, predictably, hadn't been very happy about being deceived, especially since the archeological exploits of MacGyver were also legendary. He kept mumbling about all the help Jack could havebeen when he was stumped, but instead had gotten teasing and harassment. What Daniel hadn't said was that the very same teasing and harassment had spurred him to work harder and come up with the solutions. He just wanted to give back some of what Jack had dished out over the years.
Teal'c had had to be physically restrained from going after Pete Shanahan when it was revealed what had transpired on that front and the fact the Jack and Sam were now a couple. Shanahan had acted dishonorably and Teal'c wanted to make him know just what he had unleashed in a very physical and painful way. That was when Jack had admitted his own visit to Pete's hospital room and what he had threatened if Pete didn't plead guilty on all counts for the full sentence. Jack had also called the prosecutor and let the man know that the military would be extremely pissed off if the maximum sentences weren't part of the express deal for a guilty plea for what the shit had done. There were even a couple of Federal charges thrown in for abusing his office by asking for FBI background checks on Jack and Sam. He was facing just about ten years in prison for his transgressions.
"How did you get permission to let a civilian on the base?" Sam asked as she stood by Jack as a military limousine was seen entering the gate.
"Same way I convinced the President to drop the frat regs," Jack said from the side of his mouth.
"You didn't!" Sam said, clearly shocked at the brazenness of Jack, even though he had been pretty blunt and forward since she had first met him.
The limousine pulled to a stop right in front of them, and Jack nervously rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet. The Command Chief Master Sergeant of the SGC got out from behind the wheel and went to open the door where the VIP was located. The long time enlisted veteran had been more than happy to do a favor for General O'Neill, especially seeing that O'Neill worked damn hard to make sure that everyone on the base, especially the enlisted personnel got the respect and credit they deserved for the work done there. Before opening the door for the passenger, he stopped and saluted O'Neill and Carter smartly. Once the salute was returned, he opened the door and carefully helped the blind man out of the vehicle and assisted the man in opening his white cane.
"Will there be anything else, Sir?" the enlisted man asked, both of Mr. Thornton and General O'Neill.
"I think we can handle it from here, Sergeant," Jack said with a smile. "Go get rid of the vehicle and then you can have the rest of the day off. Thank you for taking the time for doing this favor for me."
"Anytime, Sir," the man replied honestly.
"Mac?" Pete asked when he heard the voice. "It's really you?"
Jack was smiling as he stepped up to his longtime friend. "It's really me, Pete," he said as he gathered the older man into a hug. "I'm just sorry it's been so long."
"It was never the same after you left, Mac," Pete said as he returned the hug ferociously. He felt the shape of the man who had been his friend for over thirty years and was shocked. "God, Mac, you're in as good a shape as you ever were. What the hell are you doing?"
Jack laughed. "You're about to find out, Pete," he said a bit cryptically. "First, though, I'd like you to meet three friends of mine. At your right is Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter. She's my 2IC here and commanding officer of SG-1, the premier team. To your left is Dr. Daniel Jackson, a member of SG-1 and the expert archeologist of the facility. To his right is Teal'c, the other member of SG-1 and a pretty impressive warrior."
While Pete couldn't see them, he could sense them and liked what he was sensing. "It's a pleasure to meet any friends of Mac's," he said graciously. He turned to face Mac squarely, even if he couldn't see him. "Now can you please give me some explanations?"
"Come on everyone," Jack said. "We better head downstairs and give up some secrets or Pete here will go on a real rampage. He makes George seem like a pussycat."
The group made their way through all the checkpoints and took the last elevator down to the lowest levels of the mountain complex that housed the SGC. No one stared or thought anything of the blind man being escorted into the top secret domain, and Jack beamed with pride at the casual way in which his people acted, yet carried on their duties as well as anyone could hope for. He made sure to stay close at hand for Pete, and even kept the older man's arm linked in his own as they traversed the corridors to the infirmary.
"It's standard procedure, Pete," Jack explained a bit sheepishly. "Everyone who comes onto the base has a brief physical and blood draw. The reason for it will be explained as soon as we get to the briefing room."
"You're the boss, Mac," Pete said with a shrug. He was simply happy to be with his friend again.
"Give a holler when he's done, Brightman," Jack ordered firmly with a look that brooked no dissent. "I have to get to my office and make a couple of calls."
"Yes, Sir," the new Doctor said to her commanding officer. She and O'Neill didn't get along very well, but she respected him a great deal, and he'd made clear that he felt the same back. That was why he'd given her the job in the first place. The man had made the transition a lot easier for her, especially in light of how well loved the late Dr. Janet Frasier had been. "If you'll give me your arm, I'll take you back to an exam room, Sir," she said politely to the blind man the General had aided into the infirmary. It was obvious he was very important to General O'Neill.
"I'll be back for you in a bit, Pete," Jack said with a pause to make sure everything was alright.
"No problem, Mac," Pete said as he was led away. He knew that Mac wanted him to call him Jack, but he couldn't get his mind around that concept. Mac would simply have to live with it.
Jack madeit back to his office and slumped in his seat. He'd known for years that Pete was blind, but he hadn't been completely blind the last time he'd seen him. Now he was and it was difficult to deal with. Picking up the phone, he called Hammond and let him know what was going on, and that he would be having the Phoenix Foundation work on the security systems for the SGC from then on. Since the President had already approved it, Hammond had no problems, especially after he had been informed that his former 2IC was in fact the legendary MacGyver.
"Are you alright?" Sam asked from the doorway as she saw him put the phone down. Moving over to him she hitched herself up on the edge of his desk.
"I guess," he replied, still a little shook in the change in his friend. "I knew he was blind, Sam, but I'd never seen him that way. It took me by surprise."
"He won't be that way for long, though," she pointed out.
Jack smiled. "He's in for one hell of a shock when he meets Thor," he quipped.
"I think anyone would the first time," Sam shot back with a smile. "When is Thor going to be here?"
"In a couple of hours," Jack said, finally relaxing. "So did you have a good time this weekend?"
Sam smiled at him. She knew he was nervous about this whole relationship, especially after revealing who he was. Shuffling herself onto his lap, she wrapped her arms around his neck. "I had a very relaxing, wonderful time," she told him confidently. "I should have taken you up on your fishing offers years ago."
They had spent the three days of their down time at his cabin in Minnesota, only getting back the night before. Most of the time had been spent talking on the dock while Jack fished, surprising her by actually catching a number of large fish. Apparently Teal'c's pronouncement that the lake had no fish had been a bit premature, as Jack had taken him at a bad time of year for fishing. Jack explained that the cabin had been his Grandfather's and he had inherited it from him about ten years before when Harry had died of cancer. The location allowed for the restless nature that Jack had to have an outlet of sorts. They spent some time hiking, bird watching, and working on the small rock garden that Jack maintained on the property.
"I invited you plenty of times," Jack said with a faint smirk. He knew exactly why she had never accepted his invitations, but he was going to spend some time needling her about it anyway. The small glare he got from her was enough to make all the turn downs worth it. Before she could reply, his phone rang. The light on the face showed that it was the infirmary.
"O'Neill," he said firmly.
"Mr. Thornton's physical is completed, General," Brightman said cheerfully. "Everything checks out, Sir, and I have no reason to keep him here."
"Have an airman escort him to the briefing room," Jack ordered. "Also contact Daniel and Teal'c and have them meet us there."
"Yes, Sir," Brightman said as she hung up.
"Pete's on his way down here, and Danny and T should be here any minute," he informed Sam, who already had a good idea what was happening from his side of the conversation.
"Who's going to give the overview?" Sam asked with a wicked gleam in her eyes. The members of the team traded off on the explaining bit for the program since each hated to do the facile jobs. Explaining the complex program fell into that category easily.
"I think Danny should have the honors this time," Jack mused. He knew full well that it was Sam's turn, but she wore the pants in the relationship as far as he was concerned and ticking off his kick ass girlfriend was definitely something he was going to do his damnedest to avoid.
"You are so evil," Sam said with a wicked chuckle.
"Maybe, but Danny Boy needs shaking up every now and again," Jack said with a smile. Before he could add anything to his teasing, they heard some people entering the conference room. Jack and Sam looked up and saw that it was all three of the needed participants. Standing, Jack walked into the conference room with Sam just behind him.
"Sorry about the inconvenience, Pete," Jack said as he took a seat at the head of the long table, right next to his old friend.
"I got used to doctors a long time ago, Mac," Pete said nonchalantly. "So what is this place, and what do you do here?"
Jack smiled widely as he looked over at Daniel. "Daniel here is going to explain it all right now, Pete," he said as he winked at Sam when he shifted his gaze momentarily.
Daniel's jaw fell slightly. "I thought it was Sam's turn to brief a guest," he said with a disgusted look at Sam, and threw in a glare at Jack, too.
"You said it yourself, Danny Boy," Jack said with evident good humor. "Since I'm the 'Man' I can do whatever I want, and I want you to let Pete here know what the SGC is and what our jobs are."
"That's low, Jack," Daniel said, though he turned to face the newcomer. "I think it's best if we go back to the beginning and start at the Giza Plateau in 1928…."
It took nearly an hour and a half for Daniel to go through the whole explanation, as well as a brief summary of the work they had done in the last eight years. Pete Thornton just sat there with a shocked expression on his face the whole time. He didn't doubt the truth of it for one minute, since, while Mac like practical jokes, he wouldn't joke around about something like this.
"You were right," Pete admitted, shaking his head. "This is a whole lot more important than the Phoenix Foundation, Mac."
Jack shifted uncomfortably. He knew that his friend had put his heart and soul into the Phoenix Foundation, and he had put it down, even if that wasn't his intention. "I would like the Foundation involved in some things around here, Pete," he stated firmly. "I've got approval for a contact covering base security systems to be awarded to the Foundation, if you're interested. It would also require an on sight liaison to work as a go between for any problems and testing that needs to be continuously done."
Pete's jaw was now hanging a bit. "Are you kidding?" he said in near shock. "A contract like that for a facility such as this is worth about 50 million dollars a year or more."
Jack smiled. "Actually we estimated closer to 60 million considering all we want to add to the existing framework and also the upgrades to a Phoenix system," Jack informed his old friend. He knew that the Phoenix Foundation pulled in about 30 million per year in various contracts and projects a year currently, so this was a huge increase in their working capitol and would allow for permanent expansion of PF activities and facilities. It would be the realization of Pete's dream in a number of ways.
"I don't know what to say, Mac," Pete finally managed to stutter out.
"Don't say anything for right now, Pete," Jack said kindly. "First we're going to get your eyes fixed, and then later today, we'll go over the contracts to see if you want to do this. If not, we understand. But if you do, then we can begin laying the groundwork out before you leave in a week."
"Just how are you going to get rid of the glaucoma?" Pete demanded. He'd been checking up on all the latest eye care in the world, and even though he knew that the work done here was incredibly classified, it was hardly medical research.
"We aren't going to do it, but a friend of mine is," Jack responded, noticing the smiles on his other friend's faces. "He's Thor, the Supreme Commander of the AsguardFleet. When I told him of your condition, he said it would be no problem curing your blindness. It should only take an hour or so once he gets here."
Before anyone could continue the discussion, a bright flash erupted in the room and with a sharp noise, Thor beamed in sitting in his usual chair.
"Thor! Buddy!" Jack said with evident glee.
"Greetings General O'Neill," Thor said in that slightly metallic voice. "I apologize for the delay in my arrival, but a meeting of the High Council was called and I was needed for some time."
"Don't worry about it," Jack shrugged it off. "We were just finishing up the explanation of things to Pete here," he added with a gesture to his old friend.
"It is an honor to meet you, Mr. Thornton," Thor said graciously. "General O'Neill has spoken of you highly. I am Thor, Supreme Commander of the Asguard Fleet."
"I wish I could say that I had heard of you before now," Pete said, dying to be able to see an actual alien. "General O'Neill says that you can cure me of the glaucoma which has blinded me."
"That is correct," Thor said immediately. "With your permission we will go to my ship, the O'Neill III, and begin the procedure." Without waiting for a reply, he slid a control device along the arm of his chair and the six of them found themselves on the Bridge of Thor's ship.
"I think you need to practice on the whole waiting for permission thing, Little Buddy," Jack said just a bit sarcastically.
"Please come with me, Mr. Thornton," Thor said as he gestured for Jack to assist. "Colonel Carter, there are some queries that the Science Council wishes to have your thoughts on regarding replicators. I have directed them to the main screen for your consideration."
"No problem, Thor," Sam replied. She moved over to the console and began to look through the material which had been translated into English, thankfully.
The science and medical section of Thor's ship didn't look like much to Jack, but then nothing on an Asguard ship had ever looked like much of anything to him when he'd been on them. Thor led Pete over to a chair with a number of control consoles next to it and an overhead device. He placed Pete in the chair and tilted it back. Moving to the controls, Thor began to do an examination of Jack's friend and created a holographic display in thin air for Jack to see. Jack made out the glaucoma and the surrounding optical elements of the eye. On Earth any removal procedure would be too invasive to remove the glaucoma without permanently damaging the retina.
"The procedure should take approximately fifteen Earth minutes, Mr. Thornton," Thor said finally when the scans were complete. "I will induce a period of unconsciousness and begin the removal of the glaucoma from your eyes. The process is self healing at the time of the removal, so there should be no recovery period needed. Is this satisfactory?"
"Very satisfactory," Pete said in wonder. A week ago he never would have imagined any of what had been revealed to him this day outside of some outlandish science fiction novel or movie. Now it was real and he was about to see for the first time in a decade.
Thor blinked and then activated the controls which put Pete to sleep on the chair. The overhead device moved into position and encased itself around Thornton's head. A light on it activated and a low humming sound emerged.
"Your friend will be fine, General O'Neill," Thor said in his best bedside manner.
"I appreciate this, Thor," Jack said as he kept an eye on his friend. During the procedure, Jack didn't take his eyes away from Pete and the machine covering his face. Finally, Thor manipulated the controls again and the device retracted from Pete. He didn't look any different, though Jack had not expected him to. "Did it work?" he asked.
"It did," Thor stated simply. "The glaucoma has been removed and his sight is 20/20, if I understood your system of labeling the level of eyesight. He should wake up momentarily and not notice any discomfort or side effects."
"Excellent," Jack said with a grin. A low moan alerted him to the fact that his friend was waking up. He quickly moved over to him. "Pete?" he said softly. He saw Pete's eyes flutter open.
Pete Thornton woke up a little disoriented, but comfortable. He opened his eyes and saw a bright light for the first time in more than a decade. Then a man with white, short cropped hair appeared before him. "Mac?" he gasped in surprise. The face was the same with a few wrinkles, but the hair!
"It's me, Pete," Jack said with his old smile. "What do you see?"
"I see my old friend has gotten old on me," Pete said with a grin of wonder. "My God, Mac, it worked!"
"Told ya," Jack said with a wink. "Come on, Pete. There's something I want you to see."
Pete stood, and with Mac, made his way through the large ship. He took in all the sights of the alien technology, and continually looked over at the short grey alien who Mac continued to talk to about something called replicators, which Pete didn't know a thing about. It was quite a shock to be seeing this as the first sights he'd experienced in over a decade. That was nothing, though, compared to the sight that awaited him when they finally arrived at the Bridge and he saw the view of Earth from orbit. He stood stock still and stared at the incredibly beautiful sight.
"As many times as I've seen that sight, I still get pretty choked up," Jack observed as he stood next to his friend. "That's why MacGyver can't come back, Pete. Mac can't fight for that sight, but Jack O'Neill can. I'm sorry."
"The Phoenix Foundation will accept any agreement you want to make for those contracts," Pete said as the awe still swept through him. "As for the other part, I'm just glad I got my best friend back."
Jack put a hand on Pete's shoulder. "You never lost him, Pete," he said softly.
"There's one person who thinks she did," Pete remarked as he continued gazing out of the view port. "Kate Lafferty said to tell you she expects a phone call sometime soon. She mentioned something about a promise to stay in touch a long time ago."
Jack smiled, remembering the brilliant young girl who had had a real self-esteem problem when he met her. "How's she doing?" he asked.
"She's doing great, Mac," Pete informed him. "She got divorced a few years ago, but she has custody of her two kids. She works for me now at the Phoenix Foundation."
A light bulb turned on in Jack's head. "How would you feel about me offering her a job at the SGC in the computer R&D section? She would be a great help and would fit in great as the PF rep on security consulting," Jack negotiated.
Pete chuckled. "You're bound and determined to steal one of my best, aren't you Mac?"
Jack smiled widely. "Of course, Pete. I just gave you a 60,000,000 a year contract. I got to get something out of the deal," he whined in typical MacGyver/O'Neill fashion. That was something that he had carried over into his second identity.
"If she agrees," Pete said with a dramatic sigh. He still was riveted to the viewscreen. To recover your eyesight to see this was amazing.
"How's her Mom doing?"
Pete smiled. "I hired her a few years ago as my executive secretary," he informed Mac. "It was a perfect fit."
Jack was pleased that his friend had seen fit to make sure that Kate had a place to work that was a good fit for her personality.
"You know Kate Lafferty, Sir?" Sam asked as she came up to them. "I've e-mailed her a few times with some programming questions over the last few years. She's brilliant!"
"Mac was involved in a case when Kate was a teenager and in trouble with the then ODI," Pete supplied. "He helped build her self-esteem and they've been good friends ever since. It seems, though, that one half of the friendship has neglected to stay in as close a contact as he promised the last few years." He said that last with a very pointed look at Jack.
"I'm going to offer her a job with us, Sam," Jack replied, clearly ignoring the look Pete had given him. "And I will explain and apologize about my distance, Pete."
"That should be an interesting conversation," Pete remarked with a smile.
Thor came up to them and waited patiently for O'Neill to acknowledge him. When Jack looked at him, he began. "The procedure was a success, General O'Neill," Thor stated. "Unfortunately, I am needed elsewhere. Do you wish me to transport you back to the SGC, or some other location?"
"The SGC, please," Jack said without hesitation. He crouched down beside his friend. "Thanks, Thor. I owe you one, Buddy."
"I will keep that in mind, O'Neill, though it is I and the Asguard who owes you and your team a great debt," Thor replied. "If ever we may be of service to our allies, please contact us." Without waiting for another response, Thor activated the transport device and the five of them found themselves back in the conference room.
One Week Later
General Jack O'Neill was kitted up and waiting for his team to show up in the Gate Room. His P90 was clipped to his vest and he had his alternate weapons ready as always. This was a special trip since it was Pete's last day at the SGC before heading back to the Phoenix Foundation to begin work on the contract he had signed the other day with the SGC. Naturally, Walter hadn't been too keen on the idea of the General heading out on a little excursion, but Jack had firmly shut him up by saying he was in charge of the base and if he wanted to go through the Gate, then by God he would.
Kate had arrived the day before and really tore into him for not staying in close contact for the last eight years. When he'd explained why, and what he wanted her to do, she had forgiven him. He'd had the pleasure of introducing her to Sam and the two had began to speak in pure technobabble which they both knew he understood, but he lived up to his image and stalked off in frustration. He knew that Sam would be getting a lot of good blackmail info on him from Kate, but he didn't care about that considering his friends from both worlds were now with him.
"Where the hell is everybody," he griped under his breath, though the Marines on duty heard him clearly enough and chuckled, though they maintained their duty stations handily. Finally the main door to the Gate Room opened and Sam, followed by Kate, Pete, Daniel, and Teal'c filed in and took their places next to Jack. Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c were fully armed with their usual weapons, and Pete and Kate had sidearms and Zat guns. "Well it's about time," Jack bemoaned to his friends.
Pete simply stared at Jack for a minute and shook his head. "I never thought I'd see the day where you were armed to the teeth, Mac," he said with a chuckle.
"You haven't seen Jaffa and Goa'ulds before, either," Jack said simply. He looked over his group with a practiced eye and liked what he saw. Everyone was ready. It was only a simple trip through the Gate to the new Beta Site so that Pete could have a chance at Gate Travel and see another world, but for Jack it was more than that. SG-1 had always been a very close team, and everyone on the base had felt it. Jack had too, to some extent, but now with his past life standing beside him with his current one, he finally felt that true esprit de corps that everyone else had always felt. The Gate whooshed open and he enjoyed the shocked expression on Kate and Pete's faces. He smiled widely. "Let's move out, Campers!" he said happily, and led the way as the group entered the Stargate.