Thanks to the girl on Jackfic who came up with the idea…and the girls in chat who fed my muse
Jack leaned back in the chair, smiling smugly as he propped his booted feet up on the oak desk. He closed his eyes and listened to something that was all too rare in the SGC…silence.
Normally, quiet would bug him. The SGC wasn't what one would call a peaceful place, an oasis of tranquility in an ocean of chaos…they were usually the chaos in an ocean of peacefulness.
But this was no normal time, even the SGC had to give way to the simple fact of the whole universe not following the Tau'ri calendar. While they did scale things back during the holiday season, the SGC couldn't exactly turn on the answering machine and take a three-day weekend. They needed to be staffed 24/7…even Christmas Eve.
With no teams off world during the holiday, it was enjoyable to just kick back for once. Leaning back in his chair, he gave a slight smile as he thought of the gathering planned tomorrow at his house. Nothing elaborate, just his team, Janet and Cassie all joining him for a quiet night of family time.
The harsh trilling of the phone shattered the calm of the room and Jack sat up, his feet thunking on the floor as it sank in which phone was ringing. Specifically, which RED phone.
It rang again and he lurched for it, his hand knocking the receiver off its base and clattering across the desk and onto the floor. Muttering some very un-colonely comments he bent down and snagged the cord, pulling the phone towards him. It clanked against the side of the desk and he grabbed it, desperately placing it against his ear. "O'Neill," he barked, hoping against hope that there was some secretary on the other end. "O'Neill," he said louder when the other end stayed stubbornly silent.
"Umm…Santa?" a small voice said.
"I wanna know where Santa is," the voice said, obviously being coached from the background.
"The North Pole," Jack said, rolling his eyes. Crank calls on the red phone? Fantastic. Just what he needed, fifteen forms in triplicate reporting it. Only the fact that about six people in the whole world knew this phone number…all of which could declare nuclear war, kept him from slamming it down.
"Put your dad on the phone, son. Tell him that Colonel O'Neill said 'Not funny Ferretti," he said.
"Daddy, he wants to talk to you," he heard the child say. Steeling himself for Ferretti's cackling laugh he was unprepared for what happened next.
"Hello. Tommy, you heard him, Santa's coming, now go to bed. Sorry," the man said into the receiver. "Thank you so much for doing this. He just wouldn't listen to us. You guys are doing a great thing. Keep it up."
The line went dead and Jack stared at the phone, his eyes darting around the room as he looked for the camera. A joke, great. Yeah, this was fantastic. The general takes the evening off to attend his granddaughters' Christmas pageant and the normally well-trained officers of the SGC regress to the mentality of a frat boy.
Didn't those idiots realize that every single second of every single phone call on this phone was logged and recorded?
Growling slightly, he set the receiver back in its cradle and reached for the other phone. Before he could pick it up, the red phone rang again. He grabbed it, steeling himself for the tongue-lashing he was sure to get. "O'Neill?"
"I'm in Texas," he heard a child say.
"Good for you," he said, at a loss.
"Jimmy told me that because I spilled grape juice on the carpet, Santa's not gonna come," she said, her voice breaking.
"Jimmy's wrong," Jack said. "Trust me on this."
"Really. Now go to bed," he ordered.
"Ok. Are you sure Jimmy is wrong," she asked quietly.
"Yes, he's wrong. Now hang up the phone and go to bed."
"K mister, Merry Christmas" she said. He heard the phone click signaling the connection had broken. What the hell was going on here? One phone call was bad enough, but this was just too spooky.
Suddenly, the phone rang again and he jumped slightly. "O'Neill."
"Where's Santa?" the voice on the other end asked. Jack just sat there for a few seconds, staring at the receiver with a look of total confusion on his face. "Hey mister, where's Santa?" the voice demanded, his voice a little louder, the strident tones breaking Jack from his stupor.
"Um, he's in his sleigh over the Sea of Japan at the moment" Jack replied back. "Little boy, would you mind putting one of your parents on the phone?"
"OK". Jack heard a voice yelling through the receiver. "Hey Mom...this man wants to talk to you."
Jack waited for a few moments then he heard an inquisitive voice on the other end. "Hello?"
"Ma'am, this is Colonel Jack O'Neill, United States Air Force. Would you mind telling me how you came about getting this number?" he asked firmly.
"Oh, this is the number that was published on the Santa tracking website for NORAD", she replied.
Jack felt his stomach drop, landing somewhere on top of his boots with an audible squishing sound. Dropping the crimson phone back into its cradle he snagged the handset of the other phone, savagely punching the keys to set it for intercom. "Carter, Hammond's office, NOW!"
Sam ran down the corridor, her boots pounding on the cement floor. "Move!" she heard Teal'c shout from behind her. Fortunately for both of them, there were just a few people in the halls, all of which had the presence of mind to move out of their way.
She dashed up the circular stairs, the metal grates clanging loudly. Hurrying across the briefing room, she literally skidded to a halt, grabbing the doorframe to halt her flight.
"Sir?" she gasped, the sight of the red phone in his hand signaling the direness of their situation.
Much to her surprise, he raised his hand, silencing her. "Michael, I think it's really great that you want a pony but …do you really think he'll be happy living in an apartment?"
She turned to Teal'c, frowning as she fought to catch her breath. The large Jaffa simply shrugged, obviously as puzzled as she was. "Yes, I'm sure," the colonel said. "Now go to sleep."
He raised his head, rolling his eyes. "Some nimrod published this number on NORAD's site. Fix it," he ordered as the phone rang again.
"Oh crap," Sam muttered.
"The most secret phone number in the world and someone put it on the internet. This is not good," she said.
"No, son, I don't think Santa would bring you a P-90 to play with your friends"..."Although I'd like to turn one loose on the idiot that published this number," he muttered, covering the mouthpiece.
"Indeed," Teal'c agreed, sighing heavily.
Major General George Hammond stalked down the corridors of the SGC, his black boots keeping time with the gentle jingle of the bell dangling from the tip of his hat. He stormed his way into his office, stopping short at the sight of the people gathered there.
"No, Tommy, Santa can't bring you a baby brother," Jack said, running his fingers through his mussed hair.
"You know, we have a legend on Kelowna, although I think it's just an euphemism," Jonas said.
"Oh, we have something like that too, but we just call it the milk man," Daniel said.
"You know, someone that delivers milk," Daniel explained.
"Humans can get pregnant from consuming milk?" the alien asked, setting down the glass in his hand with an audible thump…white liquid sloshing across the desk.
"Yes, I'm sure. Nope, don't even…trust me on this one. Santa will not give your mommy a baby. He's just…. look, Tommy, he's an old man. Yes, old, very old. Wrinkly and crinkly and…too old to be making babies. Now if you don't go to bed, I'm going to call Santa up and—" Jack raised his head, his eyes growing wide as he met Hammond's gaze. "And, and…D'oh…just go to bed!" he said loudly, slamming the phone down as he got to his feet. "General, sir."
"Do you realize that two Federal Marshals tracked me down at Kayla's and Tessa's Christmas pageant to inform me that the President has been attempting to call this facility for the past two hours?" he raged.
"This is NOT our fault!" Jack insisted, looking down as the phone rang again. He looked helplessly up at the general who continued to glare at him. He snatched up the phone. "Look, the sooner you go to sleep, the sooner Santa will get there. So be a good little boy or girl and get off the phone."
As George watched, the colonel's face paled, his mouth falling open. "One…one moment please." He held out the phone. "It's for you, sir," he said.
George stepped forward and took the phone from the colonel. "General Hammond here. Yes, Mister President. Yes, sir. Everything's fine sir. Yes, sir. You too, sir. Oh I will, sir, you can rest assured, I'll take care of it." He hung up the phone and turned to study the three people in the room.
O'Neill self-consciously stepped away from the desk and George gratefully sat down in the chair, relieved to get off his feet. The rented shoes of his Santa outfit were at least two sizes too small. "What precisely happened here tonight?" he asked tiredly.
"Some idget typo'd the number. Instead of the NORAD Santa hotline, they plastered the number of the red phone all over the web," Jack said. "It's been ringing off the wall for the past three hours."
George looked down at the silent apparatus. "It's not ringing now," he said needlessly.
"General, it's…it HAS been ringing. You can ask Heckle and Jeckle there," he said, jerking his thumb at Daniel and Jonas.
"Hey," Jackson protested.
"Heckle and Jeckle?"
"Colonel, I got great news!" Carter appeared in the doorway, her face flushed. "General," she faltered and her face fell.
"Please, how did you fix it?" he asked.
"Oh, it's really not that important and…"
"Major," he interrupted.
"O'Neill, did you not swear to never ask Major Carter 'How' again?"
"Well, I just…I tried to contact the CO of NORAD and get him to tell his Webmaster about the mistake but…"
"He was not available," Teal'c supplied, coming to stand behind her.
"1900 on Christmas Eve, fancy that," Jack quipped.
"Yeah, right he wasn't there so…it really doesn't matter, sir."
"Do I have to make it an order?" the general asked tiredly.
"Well, sir. It might be for the best if you don't know," she said slowly.
"Let me decide that."
"Carter," Jack said.
"Major Carter facilitated the alteration of the erroneous material," Teal'c reported.
"Sam?" Daniel asked.
"You know, for a secure website, they're really not very secure," she said sheepishly.
"Major Carter?" Hammond asked, the sudden ache in his head dwarfing his pinched toes.
She sighed. "I…sorta, kinda, hacked into the site and changed the number," she admitted, looking down and rubbing the back of her neck.
"You did what!"
"Carter! For cryin out loud, I wanted you to fix it, not commit a felony," Jack exclaimed.
"I tried. No one was home; no one would answer the phone. If I didn't do something, it wouldn't get changed until morning, and that would be too late," she said.
"Hacking?" Jonas asked. "I thought you told me that was illegal."
"It is," Daniel said slowly. "Unless I'm remembering something wrong."
"Major, do you have any idea how much trouble you can get into for altering that site?" Hammond asked.
"General, how can she get into trouble for fixing their mistake?" Daniel asked.
"Umm...Daniel…I didn't exactly fix it," she admitted grudgingly.
"Major Carter did indeed alter the telephone number on the website," Teal'c said.
"Whose number did you use?" Jack asked, getting a sinking feeling in his stomach.
"No one important," she said, again looking anywhere in the room but at the other people.
Hammond opened up his laptop and turned it on. He quickly signed on and brought up the NORAD site.
"Carter?" Jack asked again, turning to look at the general who started to laugh quite loudly. "Sir?"
"Major…It both warms my heart and scares the hell out of me to know that you inherited Jacob's evil streak," he said.
Jonas walked around the general's desk and shamelessly read the man's screen. "Wow," he said. "Sam, you changed this?" She nodded.
"Sam, whose number did you use?" Daniel asked.
"Just…Senator Kinsey's," she admitted, her face flushing.
Ten floors up, dozens of phones stood silent and one or two airmen frowned, wondering if it really was laughter they heard filtering up through the ventilation shafts.