High school wasn't like he remembered it. Ok so some things had changed since the last time he'd done the high school thing: if anything, in the 60s the skirts had been shorter (or at least more closely monitored), there hadn't been computers in every classroom and even high schoolers had been at least vaguely aware of the international political climate back then, but for the most part it was the same. The jocks dated the cheerleaders, the vote for class president was still a popularity contest and no class could compare in the mind of the students to their own personal dramas. It was nostalgic, sweet in a way to see all these kids playing out the same games, trying to find their place in the world.
Jon managed to enjoy that feeling for about a day before the reality of his decision hit him. These weren't "kids", they were his peers now and he could tell dealing with their hormones was going to get old fast.
For a split second as he thought about just how tormenting it was going to be he considered quitting: just taking his nice little reduced salary somewhere with good lake fishing and clear night skies and waiting out the next three years till he could re-enlist. It certainly had its upsides as an idea, but there were reasons he had decided to come back to high school. He'd told his older self that he wanted to come back because they hadn't really embraced high school as a teenager, and that was true. He had been so desperate to get out and join the air force, to finally get away from home, that he'd done the bare minimum to get the grades he needed and spent the rest of his time getting stoned and staring up at the sky, dreaming about flying.
This time it was going to be different. Next time he went through that gate he wanted to understand what the hell was going on. No more faking interest in briefings and zoning out when the eggheads started talking: he wanted to understand what his options really were for once. He'd enrolled for the advanced sciences classes, though he barely got enough on the enrollment test they'd given him in maths to get into the advanced physics class. He'd also picked latin classics and ancient history, and practically had to beg the principal to let him take a computing class instead of study hall.
A couple of weeks in, he was handling the workload just fine. In some ways it was harder than working at the SGC cramming all this new information into his brain, but it was still better than dealing with the Tok'ra, or the constant alertness needed on off-world missions.
Yeah, the workload was the least of his problems. The one that was bugging him at the moment was stood at the other end of the corridor, pointedly ignoring him and safely protected by a wall of her friends. He'd tried to speak to Cassie over the past couple of weeks, but she'd done everything she could to make it clear she wanted nothing to do with him and apart from when they shared a class (which didn't happen often) he never saw her without a gaggle of girlfriends.
Jon sighed and slammed his locker shut more forcefully than he needed too. He wasn't going to force her to talk to him, but he had hoped for a chance to at least explain.
"Hey Jon, you coming?"
Jon jumped, startled by the sudden appearance of a bespectacled face.
"Latin," Neil said, drawing it out as if Jon needed it simplified. "We're going to be late."
"Sure, I'm coming."
Jon hurried to catch up with Neil, already powering down the corridor and fell into step beside him.
"Do you have a thing for Cassandra?" Neil asked in a stage whisper.
Jon recoiled. "What? Oh god no! Why would you think that?"
Neil's eyes widened in surprise at his outburst. He shrugged. "You're just always looking at her, is all."
"Is it that obvious?"
Neil shrugged again. "Probably not to them. Uncool people don't even register on their radar."
So much for special ops. Jon made a note to try and be a little more subtle in future. They settled themselves in the tiny classroom, only four other freshmen and the teacher present, and started getting their books out.
"Cool!" Kelvin enthused from one side and grabbed Jon's notebook for a closer look. "What language is that?"
Jon grabbed for his book and hastily flipped to his Latin notes. "Nothing."
Neil grabbed the book while Kelvin had his attention and flipped to the page showing the translation into Ancient he had been working on. It had been harder than he thought it would be. Even before the whole time loop escapade he'd had the archive of the Ancients downloaded into his head: he thought he'd remember more of the language than he did. Or then again, maybe Ancient just didn't have a good translation for "Deathly Hallows".
"Is it a construct language?" Neil asked, poring over his notebook in a manner that reminded him far too much of Daniel. "It looks like it might have latin roots, except this," he pointed, "and these make it seem almost eastern in origin." He looked up at Jon, pushing his glasses back up his nose with a smile. "Very cool."
"It's just something I've been playing with," Jon said hurriedly and took the notebook back.
"If you're quite finished?" The boys immediately quieted. "Then let's get started with today's lesson shall we?"
"Sure you got enough books there?"
He supposed since they were obviously trying so hard to be masculine he should think of their giggles as "snickers".
"Bobby." Jon said in acknowledgement. "I see your cheering section is still going strong. Good for you."
"Hey!" Bobby shoved a meaty hand into his shoulder. The other boys formed up around him. He wasn't going anywhere.
Still, after facing more Goa'uld than he could remember it seemed a little tame on the intimidation stakes.
"Cassie says you've been bothering her."
"Haven't been anywhere near her," Jon said truthfully. He hadn't been able to get close.
"Well she says you have and if you know what's good for you you'll stay away, you got it?"
Jon eased the pile of books into his left hand to snap a mocking salute. "Yes sir, mon Capitan."
Bobby sneered. "See that you do. Come on guys."
Jon couldn't help rolling his eyes as they lurched away and continued on his way. Quick footsteps hurried up behind him to stop at his side.
"Are you ok?"
He turned to see Neil's greasy mop of dark hair. "With what?"
Neil looked incredulous. "With Bobby and the football players."
"Them? Pussycats. Wouldn't know a decent threat if it smacked them round the face."
"Are you kidding?"
He looked over at Neil's worried face. "Really, it's no big deal."
Neil didn't seem to believe him. "Try not to piss them off too much ok? I don't want to have to identify your body." Jon dumped his books in the back seat of his car to the sound of Neil's low whistle. "Your parents let you drive their car? Do you even have a learners permit?"
"My parents aren't around: I life on my own."
"Whoa. So, this is your car? How'd you get it?"
"If I told you I'd have to kill you."
Public transport had been where Jon had drawn the line. Strings had been pulled and though technically he didn't have a license, if he was ever pulled over by the cops any record of the fact would mysteriously disappear.
"Need a ride anywhere?" He offered.
Neil shook his head. "Nah, I've got astronomy club later so I'm going to hang out for a bit."
"There's an astronomy club?"
Jon slapped his alarm clock to silence and rolled over with a groan. It was still dark outside, but he was determined to get himself back into shape. Loki may have made him forty years younger, but even with his DNA fixed it was still a long road to get back into shape enough for the air force.
Didn't mean it was any easier to get out of bed in the morning, especially after the late night he'd had with the astronomy club, looking at the stars.
Once he was up he went for a run, the cold morning air helping to wake him up and he pushed himself a little faster. Back at his apartment he worked over the bags in his spare room, and forced himself to pay attention to how much shorter he was now as well as how his reach had changed, the difference between how he was and how he thought he should be jarring in his head. A few quick passes through some of the martial arts forms he knew to keep his memory fresh and a quick shower later and he felt ready for the day.
He'd been trying to wean himself off coffee, convinced that he shouldn't need it at his current age, but so far hadn't had much success and poured himself a mugful black enough it risked warping the space around it to have with his bowl of fruit loops. He read a couple of chapters for history while he ate, and he had to admit that having met some of the civilizations he was reading about certainly made them more interesting. He was really starting to see what Danny was on about all those times when he started going nuts over meeting the peoples he'd studied. It was pretty cool.
He dumped his dirty bowl in the sink and headed to school, glad the car meant he didn't have to leave early to catch the bus. As it was he almost didn't make it in time (who knew ancient history could be so interesting?) and practically had to run to class to make it before the bell.
It meant he missed the posters that had suddenly appeared around the school, but he found out about them quick at the first break between classes.
"Um…" A pretty blond who almost looked too young to be in high school cornered him on the way out of class. "Have you seen the posters about the Spring Fling?"
"The what?" Jon asked, honestly baffled.
"The Spring Fling? Well I was wondering whether you had someone you wanted to ask already?"
Jon backed away slowly. "I think I'll skip it. Thanks, I mean sorry, I mean…gotta go."
"Was that Amy?" Neil asked in awe.
Jon scratched the back of his neck nervously. "Uh, yeah, I guess."
"And you turned her down?!"
"There's no way I'm going to a school dance," Jon said. Just the thought creeped him out. His body might have been sixteen, but his mind was over 50 and the thought of dating a high schooler was just far too gross to imagine.
Neil snorted. "Doubt I'll have much choice."
"What are you talking about?"
Neil hunched his shoulders, pushing his glasses up his nose, though they didn't need it. "It's not like anyone's going to go with me."
Now it was Jon's turn to snort. "Why not?"
Neil looked at him incredulously. "Are you insane?"
Jon looked at him. He wasn't a bad guy. Ok a little on the greasy side, and he could do with not letting his mum pick his clothes out, but he wasn't a troll and Jon told him so.
"Yeah like any girl would want to go out with a guy who likes to create new languages in his spare time."
Maybe it was the adult perspective, but Jon couldn't see what the big deal was. "I used to have a crush on a girl who studied the effects of solar flares in her spare time."
Neil choked in a way that Jon took to be a laugh. "Yeah, but you're an even bigger geek than I am!"
"It's a complement. What? You'd rather be like them?" Neil nodded in the direction of a gaggle of popular people crowded round one of the posters while they preened at each other.
Like anyone would care whether they were geeks or not in high school in a few years time. Try and tell that to these kids though. He settled for a shrug and turned away quickly as he noticed Cassie in the group by the poster.
"Jon?" A girl taller than him that he'd never spoken to before was waiting for him outside his next class with giggling back up. "Have you got a date for the Spring Fling yet?"
This was going to be a long week.
"What's with that guy?"
Bobby took a slurp of his coke and glared at the boy a couple of tables over. Jon had been rejecting girls left and right all week. Sure, Bobby had landed the first girl he asked, of course he had, but why was a nerd getting so much attention?
Sheryl sighed almost wistfully. "I don't know, there's just something about him. He's so self-assured you know?"
Jake snorted. "He's still a geek."
"You know he's taking an extra class instead of study hall?" Another of the team added.
"I know!" Bobby said, his drink sloshing over the edge of his cup and he slammed it onto the table. "So how come everyone likes him?"
"Who are you talking about?" Cassandra asked as she joined them with Gemma.
Bobby cocked his head in Jon's direction. "The new kid."
If he didn't know better Bobby could have swore Cassandra went a little pale. She sure turned back to her food pretty quick.
"Hey," Jake said, looking pleased with himself. "He's not asked anyone right? And he's turned every girl down right? Maybe he's gay."
Bobby would have liked to believe it, but the way Jon was looking at Cassandra made him think that wasn't it.
"You've got to come with me!"
Jon shook his head. "No way. I told you there's was no way I'm going to this thing."
"Which is weird by the way considering you could have had just about any girl as your date," Neil ignored Jon's shudder of revulsion, though he filed it away to think about later, "but you have to come. She would never have agreed to go out with me if she didn't think you'd be there."
"You're selling yourself short. You're a good guy. Trust me, you'll have a great time with Tania without me in the way."
"Please! Please come! What if I screw up and say something stupid?"
Jon grinned. "You're pretty much guaranteed to say something stupid. I haven't had a single date where I haven't said something totally bizarre, you've just got to relax and make a joke of it. And have a good time. The point is to have fun you know?"
"You sound like my dad," Neil sighed and missed Jon's grin widening. "Please, I've never had a date before. I don't know what to do."
Jon sighed and Neil knew he'd won. "Fine. I'll come, but I'm just going to stand on the sidelines and act as chaperone ok? A safety net and nothing else. And for every girl who asks me to dance you owe me a buck."
Neil grinned. "Deal."
Jon straightened his collar and sighed. He felt old: far too old to be going to a damn high school disco for crying out loud. The gym had been decorated with crepe paper and with the coloured disco lights it almost didn't look like complete crap, but the kids seemed to be enjoying it. He picked up a glass of punch and swallowed thickly at the throat grabbing taste of too many artificial sweeteners and a total lack of alcohol. Of course: everyone here was underage. What he wouldn't give for one of the frosty cold beers waiting for him at the back of his fridge at home. That had been another stipulation on the whole "you're a sixteen year old now" thing: a ready source of alcohol. Hammond had arranged a delivery every couple of weeks and Jon blessed the General every time he opened his front door to see the crate there.
But no beer, no wine, not even an alcopop at this thing.
"Hey, do you want to dance?"
The girl looked slightly hurt as she walked back to her friends and Jon added another buck to Neil's tally. At this rate he was going to need to take out a loan to pay him and it wasn't like the kid needed any help. A trip to the mall had taken care of the clothes and hair cut and Neil and Tania seemed to be having a good enough time. The same couldn't be said of some of the other couples he'd seen as he watched from the sidelines, but then what did they expect? They were still learning: they couldn't expect the perfect date straight off, but try telling them that.
Cassie seemed bored with her guy for the evening already. Jon thought his name was Tom or Tony or something. They had been dancing together for a while, which Jon supposed meant at least they didn't have to talk to each other and while Tom (or possibly Tony) seemed only too happy to watch his writhing dance partner, Cassie had pretty much looked anywhere but at him.
The song changed and Jon tried to make himself unobtrusive as they made their way over to the punch table next to him. Another girl asked him to dance and he declined as politely as he could and tried not to feel bad as she walked away.
"Dude, why did you bother coming if you're just going to stand there?" Tom addressed him. His wide grin made Jon think he was just making conversation rather than making fun of him.
"Moral support. A friend of mine didn't want to come on his own."
"That's some good friend."
"He's paying me."
Tom threw his head back and laughed and Jon caught a glimpse of Cassie's scowling face before a popping sound made them all jump. A glass on the table had cracked, leaking punch onto the white crepe paper that served as a table cloth and slowly melting it into a pinkish mess.
Jon glanced from the glass to Cassie and her wide eyes as they met his told him everything. She turned suddenly and started walking towards the exit and Jon followed, just barely resisting the urge to call out to her, but wanting to avoid a scene at all costs. Tom said something as they left, but Jon ignored him: this was not good.
Cassie stopped abruptly once they were out of the gym.
She didn't turn, but he got a couple of strange looks from a few kids who come out into the corridor to get some fresh air. He ignored them and grabbed Cassie's elbow, steering her gently towards the nearest classroom and shutting the door behind them.
"Jack I'm sorry I've been avoiding you-" she started, but he cut her off with a gesture.
"Oh I think that can wait." He paused, letting exactly how unhappy he was sink in. "How long?"
"How long since you've had those powers back?"
She sighed, her shoulders slumped in resignation. Even her hair seemed to fall flatter as it poured over her shoulders. "About six months."
"I'm guessing you haven't told anyone at the SGC?"
"With Heru'ur dead there's nothing they can do. Besides, they haven't really come back. It's only happened a couple of times, like in there. When I get really angry sometimes things just happen."
"Ok first off – last time this happened you almost died so you might want to take it a little more seriously, and second, why are you angry at me?"
"There's nothing to take seriously. Nothing's going on, not really."
"Oh I'm sure Sam would agree with you."
Whatever Cassie would have answered was cut off by the door opening.
"You ok Cassie?" Bobby said as he barged in, Tom looking apologetic behind him. "This guy bothering you?"
"Excuse me," Jon herded him back towards the door. "This is a private conversation."
"Ah!" Jon put up a hand for silence.
"Ah-bup!" He shut the door in Bobby's face and twisted the lock home for good measure.
He sighed. "So why have you been avoiding me? And how come I make you angry enough to break something ten feet away when I'm just stood there?"
Cassie frowned. "Because you are "just here", as if you're just a normal teenager when you're not normal at all."
He took a step back at the frown on her face, not wanting to be the next thing to get broken, but it seemed like whatever mojo had escaped earlier was used up.
"At least I'm not old enough to be my own father! It's sick Jack! – why did you come here?"
"Hey - I wanted Loki to screw up my DNA? Think I want to have to go through being a teenager again? And this dance? How creepy is it that these kids keep asking me out?" He shrugged. "I'm stuck like this so I figured I might as well make the most of it. If by the time I get recalled to the air force I can be a little more prepared than Jack was it'd make things a hell of a lot easier."
"You never seemed to have any problems."
Jon chuckled. "Are you kidding? I was making it up as I went along. When that gate opened Danny knew the people on the other side, Sam knew the science and Teal'c knew the enemy – what did I know?"
Cassie twitched a smile. "You're smarter than you think Uncle Jack."
Jon winced. "Hey kiddo, no more calling me Jack ok? You've still got your Uncle Jack, but I'm not him. I may remember his life, but I'm not him."
"Better not call me 'kiddo' anymore then."
Jon laughed. "Ok, you got me." They considered each other. "You promise you're brain's not going to suddenly explode?"
"Will you stop acting like I'm a total leper?"
She cocked an eyebrow. "You're a total geek, Jon." She said, putting mocking emphasis on the last word, before turning serious. "Besides, it's hard to pretend to be normal with you right there."
Jon nodded. "Ok, so we don't have to hang out, but friends?"
She took his outstretched hand. "Friends." She took her hand away. "Just not in school."
He laughed again. "Fine, fine."
They turned towards the door and Jon was momentarily surprised by the crowd on the other side.
"Hey geek, get your butt out here now!"
Jon sauntered out, leaving Cassie to her girlfriends who fluttered over her with concern.
"Prepare to die geek!" Bobby announced and threw himself at Jon, which Jon easily sidestepped.
"Are you serious?" Another charge, which he sidestepped again and he had his answer. "Ok, but I have to warn you I've been trained in unarmed combat."
One of the other boys sneered. "Yeah, right. Paste him Bobby."
Jon shrugged. "I don't make the rules." Bobby started to throw punches, which he dodged and blocked easily, the bigger boy's mass making him slow, and finished with an uppercut to the football player's solar plexus. He tried to pull the punch, but the wheeze that came out of his opponent made him think he might have overdone it.
That was Cassie's voice, and he turned to answer.
"Hey I warned him-" was all he managed to get out before he was tackled from the side. He'd wrestled in high school and the air force the first time round, but right now he was about ten inches and a hundred pounds short of what he was used to. Luckily most martial arts favoured the little guy and he'd made sure to focus his training on those since being given this body. Jake was a little surprised to find himself pinned by the nerd, but stopped thrashing pretty quick when he almost broke his own arm against Jon's hold.
"What is going on here?!"
Jon backed up off his opponent at the biting voice of authority and went from smug to feeling like a first year cadet in about half a second. He put his hands up in surrender and had to stop himself from coming to attention.
He needn't have worried: the teacher was so surrounded by students each telling her their side of what had happened there was no way she could see whether he had come to attention or was sticking the boot in. He stayed frozen in place regardless, though he let his hands come down to his sides and waited for the teacher to break through the crowds.
"You three! Principals office, now!"
Bobby was still bent over, one hand wrapped protectively around his stomach, but Jon decided not to offer him an arm to lean on: he didn't think Bobby would take it the right way.
He was proved right. "You better stay away from Cassandra."
"Or what?" Jon said, unable to resist. "You'll bruise my hand with your guts again?"
Jake flicked the lights on as they entered the principal's office, the man himself absent at this time of night. Jon hadn't seen him in the gym chaperoning, but didn't like their chances that that would mean they would get off lightly. Not that he really cared. Once you've disobeyed a direct order, been on the run from the law and threatened a senator he didn't see how anything Miss Sharpe could do to them would be anything more than an annoyance. A sentiment he didn't think the other two shared as they tensed when she entered the room, Cassie on her heels and not looking too happy about it.
"Now then," Miss Sharpe began, "I think I've got a good idea what happened, but let's hear what you have to say for yourselves. Jon."
He stood up straighter. "I was talking to Cassie in the classroom. These guys obviously thought we were doing more than talking and were looking for a fight when we came out."
"And you felt the need to oblige them?"
He shrugged. He wasn't going to dignify that with a response. What did she expect? For him to just let himself get pummeled?
"And you two? What do you have to say for yourselves?"
Bobby spoke first. "He's crazy. He practically dragged Cass into a classroom, wouldn't let us see if she was alright and beat the crap out of us!" Jake nodded vigorously along as Bobby spoke. Jon just sighed and slouched against the desk.
"It was just a private conversation. Big deal."
Bobby glared at him. "You don't even know Cassandra. You've been hanging around her ever since you transferred, but you've never said a word. What could you have to say to her?"
Cassie stepped forward. "It's not like that!" She cowered a little under Miss Sharpe's sudden stern regard. "Jon's uncle is a friend…of my mum's. He asked me to help Jon get settled at school, but…well…"
Miss Sharpe sighed. "I think I see. All three of you have detention for the next three weeks and if I catch any of you fighting again you will be suspended immediately. Do I make myself clear!"
Jon didn't salute: wouldn't want the nice teacher to accuse him of being a smart ass, but he really thought Miss Sharpe had missed her calling as a drill sergeant.
Detention wasn't so bad: the three weeks just flew by. He was kind of annoyed that it meant he missed astronomy club, but he could live with it. Being stuck in the same room with Bobby and Jake on a regular basis though got old fast. Just about everyone knew that the two big footballers had got their asses handed to them by the cool new nerd and it had made them surly and they took every opportunity to remind him of it. The name calling and threats when no one else could hear were to be expected, as were the attempts to trip him, steal his things and play keep away, though luckily they hadn't succeeded in the latter options yet. He could handle the jibes and the slander campaign, but when that didn't have any effect they started on Neil. Never when Jon was around, but Neil had gone home with new bruises to his body and his pride more than once. Jon tried to stay close to Neil, but he couldn't be around the whole time.
It was ironic, but he wished everyone would shut up about it as much as Bobby and Jake did. He'd put years of air force training into beating up a couple of teenagers: some heroic colonel he was. And now just about his only friend in this school was in the shit because of it and there was nothing he could do without making things worse.
Jon stretched and breathed out a sigh of relief as he left detention for the last time. Still, the three weeks were up now. Maybe everything would calm down: people would start to forget and they could all get on with their lives.
Bobby and Jake had left before him and Bobby looked pissed off already. That boy really needed some anger management training.
And then the someone he was arguing with pushed Bobby to one side and made a beeline straight for Jon.
"Cassie?" He asked, putting a hand on her arm unconsciously at the look on her face. "What's wrong?"
Her eyes darted from side to side, trying to watch everyone in the hall at once. "I need to talk to you. Privately. Now."
"Hey Jon!" Neil called out as he came over. "Could you give me a ride?"
"Sorry Neil, not right now. You can wait for me if you want, but I can't guarantee anything."
He didn't hear Neil's answer as he guided Cassie back into the, now empty, classroom they had been in for detention.
"What is it?"
Cassie swallowed, her breathing short and too quick. "I felt a Goa'uld. Two of them. A couple of my friends have parents who work at the mountain and when they came to pick them up..."
This was really bad. "Cassie are you sure?"
She nodded jerkily. "Positive. I'll never forget what it feels like. I was going to call Sam, but if people from the base are infected…I didn't know what too do!"
He put his arms around her, holding her close while his mind spun through his options. "You did the right thing Cassie. It'll be ok. Tell me everything you know about the two you felt were infected. Did you see any other base personnel you knew who weren't infected."
Goa'uld in base personnel walking around off base. Ok, so they were security forces, not officers and not scientists with access to the really fun explode-y stuff, but this still went so far beyond bad it didn't bear thinking about. There was no guarantee that there weren't more of them infected. From what Cassie had said the whole base wasn't infected, but that hardly mattered when anyone could be and the damn things could switch bodies whenever they felt like it.
Oh yeah this was going to be fun.
"Jon? What are we going to do?"
They had left the base. That meant he couldn't assume that only base personnel were infected. If he reported this higher up (assuming he could get anyone to believe he was who he said he was) he could play right into their hands. He needed some way to tell who was who.
"Ok, I have an idea, but it's risky. And I'm sorry, but I'm going to need your help."
She nodded stiffly, determined, but eyes wide with fear.
"Cassie," Jack said with a smile. "Long time no see kiddo. So what's up?"
Cassie stepped forward hesitantly, still too far away to tell if this was really the man she knew, but not wanting to feel the alien presence inside him. She had known Jack as long as she had known anyone on this world. She didn't want to see his eyes glow.
"Cassie? Is everything ok? Why did you want to meet me at school?"
She couldn't make herself get any closer.
She heard a electronic sound and froze.
"Hi Jack." Jon said from behind her.
"Hi…mini me. Care to share?"
"Just a sec. No sudden movements. Cassie?" She turned and took strength from Jon's confident look. Plus the zat he had pointed at his older self was kind of reassuring. "Yes or no?"
She took a deep breath and stepped towards the older Jack. Nothing. She held his hand for good measure. Not a thing. She breathed a sigh of relief and turned to Jon.
"Nothing. He's not a Guld."
Jon visibly sighed and lowered the zat. "Sorry old man, but had to be certain."
"For crying out loud! What is going on? And where the hell did you get a zat?"
Jon snorted, his footsteps echoing in the empty corridor as he came closer. "Right, like you won't take at least one when you leave."
Jack couldn't say much to that. "Still waiting to hear why you wanted to check I wasn't a Guld."
"I felt two around school," Cassie said quickly. It felt good. Jack would fix it, he always fixed it.
Jon and Jack shared a look.
"Crap." The older man said.
"Just what I thought."
"We have people on leave, off world."
"I can vouch for SG-1."
"Really? They've infected our team before. And the two infected are security forces."
"How would they have got infected if they never went off world?"
"Any interesting guests lately?"
"Considering lack of bodies piling up at your door, I'm guessing pretty recent."
"Nothing. Interesting though. We only check personnel who've been off world."
"More interesting is what the hell they want if they've been here for a while."
Cassie watched the two Jacks as they bounced ideas back and forth and couldn't help wondering whether this was what it felt like to be inside Jack's head. After all: he was essentially talking to himself.
"I'll sort out the quarantine and the recall. As long as Hammond is clean that should be easy enough."
"Think the procedure will hold up?"
"Sure. As long as the doc is clean."
"Via con dios."
"Yeah thanks. Try and stay out of trouble."
"You remember I'm you, right?"
"Good point." Cassie let herself be pulled into Jack's hug. "Take care of yourself kiddo. You did good."
"Jon?" Jack looked from his clone to Cassie.
Jon met his eyes solemnly. "You know it old man."
Whatever they knew stayed between them as Jack left. Cassie waited for the feeling that everything would be alright now, but she couldn't kid herself. She had seen her whole planet wiped out before: sometimes things just didn't work out for the best.
Jon hoped the zat wasn't too obvious in the front pocket of his bag, but there was no way he was letting it get buried in the main compartment when he might need it. It wasn't like anyone this side of Cheyenne mountain would know what it was if they did find it, but he was not in the mood for awkward questions. He walked through the crowds of parents and students in front of the school that morning alive for any threat, but parents, teachers and students were all the picture of normality.
And that was what made it so scary. Any of these people could be infected, the Goa'uld using the host's memories to act just the same as they always did. There were less parents around today, a good sign that Jack had managed to get the recall working, but there was no telling whether the damn things had been jumping around until they made their move or Jack found one of the abandoned hosts.
Someone clapped him on the shoulder and he managed to only flinch rather than jump.
"Hey," Neil said, looking at him with concern, "what's got you jumpy?"
"Not jumpy, I didn't jump."
"Right." They stopped at their lockers and Neil nudged him in the ribs. "So what's going on between you and Cassandra?"
"What?" Jon asked, trying to focus on what books he needed rather than the fact that his back was now exposed to the corridor. "Nothing."
"Come on." Neil said. "She suddenly comes up to you asking for an urgent private talk and Bobby stomps off over whatever he sees through the window and you're saying there's nothing going on there?" He paused and turned away with a shrug. "Course if you just don't want to tell me that's fine…"
Jon slammed his locker. "It's not like that. Cassie's mum and my uncle were friends for years before she died. Cassie found out some bad news, personal family stuff, and knew I'd understand. That's all: no big deal."
Neil pushed off from his locker and they walked towards class. "Well Bobby doesn't think it's nothing. He looked ready to kill someone when he stormed off yesterday."
Jon smiled to himself at how dramatic everything seemed to teenagers. "I doubt he'd go that far."
Neil shrugged. "Well he's planning something."
Latin class went the same as it always did, physics bent his brain enough to help him forget that there might be Goa'uld around any corner and Phys Ed actually managed to challenge him for the first time, though he didn't think anyone else was quite so pleased with that. He was just starting to feel like maybe he'd get through the day, check in with Jack and everything would turn out ok.
Then he went to lunch.
It was a nice day out so most people had taken their lunches outside, which was a small mercy he supposed, though maybe Bobby wouldn't have followed him if there had been more people around. His hangers on arranged themselves around Jon and Neil's table, making it clear that no one was going anywhere until they said so, but keeping a discreet distance, while Bobby sat next to Jon and leaned in close.
"Bobby. Always a pleasure."
Jon hadn't been expecting that and for once in his life stayed quiet.
"Because," Bobby went on, "I followed you and Cass yesterday. I heard you talking to him and it made me wonder who he might be and who the hell you are."
"What's he talking about?" Neil said, before Jon gestured for him to stay quiet.
"I'm a highschool student: Jack is my uncle and Cassie is a friend of the family. That's it."
Bobby leaned even closer. "I don't think so. And I'm going to prove it."
"Bobby!" Cassie's voice rang out across the cafeteria. "Will you give it a rest?!"
Bobby leaned back in his seat, but looked unrepentant. "What do you care? I thought you didn't even like this nerd?"
Jon was the only one who didn't jump when the salt shaker cracked, spilling salt all over the table. He did wince though. It could not be good for Cassie's brain when she did that.
"Is everything ok here?"
Mr Lester, their English teacher, reminded Jon of Daniel, but that didn't make him feel any better towards the guy right now.
"Cassandra?" The teacher asked, reaching out a consoling hand.
As he got closer Cassandra flinched away, her eyes widening as she stared at the teacher and then looked pleadingly at Jon. It was a reaction the Goa'uld couldn't miss and Jon was diving for the zat in his bag even as the thing's eyes flashed.
"Cassie! Fire alarm!"
He didn't wait to see whether she did it, but pointed the zat at the Goa'uld and tried to ignore exclamations from the boys around him. The alarm sounded and Jon thanked whoever was listening that he had one ally who understood what was happening.
"What the hell is going on?!"
Bobby as quick as always.
"Can't you hear the alarm? Get the hell out! Now!"
"Jon," Neil sidled up next to him. "What is that? Why are you pointing it at Mr Lester?"
"Yes, Jon," Mr Lester said, his smile no longer one Jon recognised. "Why don't you put that away?"
"You, can shut up." Jon half turned to speak to Neil but kept a close eye on the parasite. "I need you to help clear everyone out ok? Get everybody out of the building."
"Neil, trust me on this. Bobby, you help him."
"Not the time for arguments!"
His concentration slipped and the snake made it's move, dashing forward to knock the zat out of his hand and send it skittering across the floor. Jon responded automatically with an elbow to his teacher's face and swift left cross to send him sprawling. A burst of electricity from the other side of the room and suddenly Mr Lester wasn't moving.
Jon looked up to see Cassie standing with the zat in her hands and quickly relieved her of it, just relieved she hadn't panicked and hit him twice.
"Where did you learn to use one of these?"
"You taught me." She said quietly.
"I don't remember that."
"Oh…must have been after, you know."
"Oh my god is he dead!" Jake exclaimed.
"He's not dead," Jon said, with a sigh. "Why are you all still here? Fire alarm remember?"
"What's wrong with him?" Neil asked, "his eyes…"
Jon patted him on the back. "If you're not going to leave just watch him ok? If he shows any sign of waking up yell. Cassie, keep an eye on the door, make sure no one comes in here."
Bobby muscled up to him. "Hey! Who do you think you are?"
Jon was tempted to shoot him with the zat and just barely managed to restrain himself. He flicked open his phone and hit speed dial.
Cassie tried to watch the corridor, but her eyes kept flicking back to the Goa'uld lying prone on the floor. The zat could wear off at any time: would Jon risk shooting Mr Lester again?
"Cass! What's going on?"
She really didn't want to deal with Bobby right now.
"You should go…"
He looked like he might explode. "Like fuck!"
"Jon O'Neill," she heard Jon say into his phone. "Two l's. Ring any bells? Get Jack on the phone right now. Yes I'm well aware that there is a situation at the moment: I have one of them on floor right now and I need to speak to Jack! I don't care if he told you not to let through any communications through from outside agencies: I'm not an outside agency! Now stop screwing me around and tell him his alter ego is on the phone and see if he wants to talk to me…yes I'll hold. Jack? Yeah, I've got one here. As secure as he can be in a school with one zat as the only weapon in the place. Yeah, and do you mind picking up the pace?"
"See?" Bobby said. "That is not normal? Who is this guy? What was that gun thing? What happened to Mr Lester?"
Cassie sighed. "Bobby? Just go. This has nothing to do with you."
"And leave you with that guy?"
"I'd rather be with him than with you! Get it through your head – you are not helping! Let Uncle Jack sort this out!"
"Uncle Jack?" Bobby asked incredulously.
Cassie saw Neil watching them closely and cursed.
She heard Jon's phone snap shut behind her and turned.
"Don't worry about it kiddo. Jack's bringing the cavalry." He sighed. "Why did I come back to high school?"
He walked over to the prone form the Goa'uld and kicked it. "Give it up I know you're faking."
The thing's eyes flashed as it opened it's eyes. "You will not risk shooting this body again."
Cassie shivered at the sound of the thing's voice. She didn't want to see Mr Lester like that: it had been bad enough when Sam had been infected, but at least Jolinar had been a Tok'ra. She didn't want to have to face Mr Lester in class everyday knowing he had seen what the Goa'uld had seen.
"Wanna bet? I know exactly how much one of you can take. I reckon I'm safe, and even if I'm not." Jon shrugged. "Better that than being trapped in there with you. Now, want to tell me how many more there are of you what you thought you were going to accomplish?"
The thing smiled and stayed silent.
Jon snorted. "Fine. Goodnight."
He shot him again and Cassie jumped at the electric sound. She turned and saw him convulse with the jolt of electricity.
"The fuck dude!" Bobby said rushing towards him. "What do you think you're doing?"
Bobby tried to grab zat, but Jon shook him off and pointed it at him. Bobby put his hands up.
"I am not having the best week ever ok?"
"Jon!" Neil said. "You're not going to shoot him are you?"
For a moment Jon looked as if he were considering it, but Neil looked so earnest he caved quickly.
"Of course not." He went back to his vigil over the fallen English teacher. "Can you imagine the amount of paperwork I would have to fill out?" he shuddered.
"You work at for the mountain don't you?" Neil asked hesitantly.
Jon shook his head and Cassie couldn't help but notice the hint of sadness in his face. "Nope. High school student."
They all looked up as sirens sounded close by. "Come on Jack," Jon said under his breath, "now would be a real good time to show up."
The situation was bad. It was a bad situation. Risky as hell: one zat between a Goa'uld and his goal? Sounded risky to Jon. And yet this one hadn't made a move from the floor. So either it was supremely confident of back up or…
It twitched, and Jon helped it back to wakefulness with his foot.
"Can you even move that body you're in?" He asked, and tried to ignore all the ways he was breaking secrecy orders.
Doubt flickered across the thing's face, but that was all he needed. "You're not even mature yet! Cassie's reaction shocked you into consciousness and now there's not a thing you can do because he's still awake too."
Neil came closer. "Jon? What is it?" He looked down at his English teacher warily.
"It's a pain in my collective ass is what it is," said an older voice from the doorway.
"Uncle Jack! Sam!" Cassie rushed over and threw herself into Sam's arms.
Jon put his zat away as SG3 rushed past them to secure the Goa'uld. He turned to meet himself. "Jack."
"Jon." His older self acknowledged him. "Little public don't you think?"
"Give it a rest."
Jon and Jack glowered at each other as they both answered, then Jon sighed.
"My mistake." He picked up his bag. "I'll let you get back to it then."
"O'Neill," Teal'c said as he passed with a little bow.
Jon shook his head and threw the big guy a wave over his shoulder as he wandered off down the corridor.
So much for high school. Maybe he could learn by mail…that cabin by the lake was looking more and more appealing.
He turned at Neil's voice and waited for the kid to catch him up. "Hey you should really go back there. They'll need to talk to you about what happened."
"The guy with the glasses said it was ok…"
Jon shook his head. "Danny…Ok then. What's up?"
"Don't go there."
"How about that language?"
Jon thought about it for a moment. Neil was smart and had a real gift for languages. They always needed more linguists who could understand Ancient.
"If I taught you what I know about it will you not ask any questions until you're 18?"
Neil looked surprised but nodded mutely after only a moments thought.
Jon sighed. "Ok. I'll teach you what I can, but I doubt I'll be around for very long." He rubbed his forehead. "I kind of screwed up."
It had been a whole week since the incident. Jon had made his report to General Hammond in person which had been a far weirder experience than he remembered. Just being in the mountain in this body had been surreal.
Jon took a deep breath and slammed his locker shut. As strange as it must sound he found it easier to be at school. He didn't fit in here any more than he did there, but at least here no one else knew.
So far there hadn't been any word of transferring him. Bobby had had the fear of God put into him and though Jon couldn't see them becoming friends any time soon at least the kid showed him some respect now.
Mr Lester had recovered with the help of the Tok'ra, but unsurprisingly had chosen not to come back to school. The Tok'ra had managed to "persuade" the Goa'uld to talk. Seemed the juveniles had been used on purpose: less detectable. They had been targeting the school: word of his condition had got out to all the snake heads looking for their very own Jack O'Neill to torture and question without the pesking security at the mountain. They still had no idea how many were still at large. He'd have to be more careful from now on.
Cassie too. Her little ability had not gone unnoticed by the other Goa'uld apparently. He'd keep an eye on her.
"Hey!" Neil said, startling him. "We're going to be late. You promised to go over those verbs with me before astronomy club too."
Jon smiled. It could be worse, he thought.