Why Me? By Layton Colt

I can see him watching me. He doesn't look happy. Jack is the only person I know who actually looks *scarier* while he's smiling.

You see, I've just been appointed the temporary leader of SG-1 . . . and Jack's blaming me.

I don't know how exactly, I forget his reasoning. It was pretty elaborate though, considering he had to blame me for him getting his leg broken on an off world mission whilst I was home in bed.

But the look he's giving me now, his lips frozen in a grin that promises retribution and his eyes are locked on mine, it's enough to make me feel guilty even if I'm not responsible.

Jack and I are always teasing one another . . . that's the way things are when you've got to face the kind of things we do day in and day out.

But I'm beginning to think he's really blaming me this time. I should really ask him to explain to me again how any of this could possibly be my fault.

"Major Ferretti,"

Uh, oh . . . was off in dreamland again while the General was giving his report. Mental note: Start paying attention during briefings.

Heh . . . yea, right.

"You and SG-1 minus Colonel O'Neill will be heading to PX459. The planet appears uninhabited but Dr. Jackson believes the ruins we discovered with the MALP may contain writings of the Goa'uld. Your mission is simple, you are to make sure that there are no threats and then examine the ruins. I'd like you to return in two days."

Daniel didn't seem to like being on a time limit. He was holding up his finger again and concentrating on finding the words that might get the General to lengthen the time frame.

I'm crossing my fingers under the table and hoping the General ignores whatever he says. Two days of doing nothing is more than enough, thank you.

"Two days? Sir, with all due respect exploring this temple correctly would take years. Now I understand that we don't have the time or resources to properly excavate every temple we discover but if I'm going to even scratch the surface and try to find something that might be of use I'll need more than two days."

Damn linguists.

The General's going to cave. I can see it in his eyes.

"A week then," he says reluctantly. Surprise, surprise. The General giving in to Daniel. How novel.

That's the thing I hate most about Daniel, how he's always right. Making us think about things we'd rather ignore.

What was it Jack said? That Daniel was our conscience?

Change that to god damn annoying moral voice and you might just be on to something.

Don't get me wrong, I like Daniel. Most everyone does once they get to know him and get passed that whole geek thing. But Daniel has a habit of disagreeing with everything you say. And coming up with these arguments to prove you wrong.

And now I'm supposed to be his temporary team leader.

Oh, yea.

Jack is still smiling. God it's creepy.

He's probably thinking about all the things he'll do to me if I don't bring his team back intact.

Normally this wouldn't be a problem. I'm good at what I do, I go in, get the job done and then bring my people home.

But working with SG-1 is never normal.

I don't know how many times I've volunteered to go rescue them after they'd gotten themselves captured or killed or because they've just disappeared.

Suffice it to the whole team is filled with jinxes.

Every last one of them. And I'm going to PX- whatever with three of them.

I could very well be walking through the gate to my death.

But I don't believe that the others are in any real danger. You see, it's a rule that SG-1 can't be killed. Not permanently anyway.

This rule does not apply to me. I'm just a temporary replacement.

I'm on SG-2. People from SG-2 can die . . . I've seen it happen more times than I'd like to remember. It especially happens when SG-2 is working with SG-1.

"You'll be leaving in fifteen minutes. Dismissed."

I look up surprised. The briefing was over? What'd I miss?

Daniel and Carter both have that excited scientist glow about them and they're talking a mile a minute as they follow the General out the door.

Teal'c is stoic as ever. He gives a slight head nod to me and O'Neill and then leaves the room.

At this point I'm scrambling from my chair and trying to get away from Jack.

I don't like being alone with him when he's in this kind of mood.

I've seen him break a man's arm wearing that smile.

"Ferretti," he's talking very softly. He knows how much more effective that is than yelling. Shivers crawl done the spines of people who hear that voice. And I'm no exception.

It's just not fair, I didn't break his leg. I didn't push him down that ravine. What makes me everyone's perfect scapegoat?

"Stay awhile, let's . . . chat."

'Chat?' Oh, god. He's going to kill me. I know it.

"Chat?" I say casually. I'm trying not to appear scared since Jack is my friend and my superior and you aren't suppose to be scared of the good guys.

But sometimes Jack can make you feel ten years old with a look. I've always tried to pick up the technique but it usually ends with my wife in hysterics making me promise not to use it on my team.

She said she'd hate for them to lose my respect so I'm guessing I didn't do so good when I tried to replicate the look he's giving me now.

"What about, Jack?"

"Oh, just about you stealing my team."

Stealing his . . . oh for Christ sakes. "Pardon me?"

"You heard me Ferretti. I told the General and Frasier that I was perfectly fine to go off world and you didn't back me up. You just wanted a chance to lead the premier team."

Lead the team of doom? By choice?

"Jack, your leg is broken and you think you're fit to go off world?"

"Go sit and watch Daniel play with rocks? I think I could handle it."

Okay, the man had a point.

"But what if it turned out the planet was inhabited?" I reminded him. "You wouldn't be able to get your team out of there quick enough if you couldn't run."

"I've got crutches."

He's got crutches. That would be effective when running from a group of screaming natives with cross bows.

"Yes, but there are just too many factors, Jack. It's only for this one mission. I'm sure you'll be back on your feet in no time."

"Try a month."

A month? God have mercy on us all. Jack not able to do what he wants for a whole month.

Jack's attention span is approximately 34.5 seconds. Doc Frasier must be out of her mind to force him to spend a month off his leg.

"A month, huh? That's not so bad."

He's smiling again.

"No, I suppose not. As long as when the month is over I've got my team back. Just don't let them get killed, Ferretti. They've grown on me."

Letting one of SG-1 get killed is suicidal. Everyone knows this. If you let one of them get killed, the other three kill you. It's that simple. Nobody messes with SG-1.

"Of course, Jack," I say while I try to inch my way to the door.


Okay, that tone caused me to stop. This is one I haven't heard before.

Jack . . . serious?

"I know this isn't your fault,"

I actually had to grab onto the door way to keep from falling. What did he just say?

"I just hate feeling helpless . . . I don't like my team going out there without me to defend them."

Jack, helpless? He's admitting this to me? What the hell kind of drugs did Frasier give him anyway?

I sigh and come back to sit down with him. "Don't worry, Jack. I'll take care of them. They've kinda grown on me too."

He's smiling again but I think it's actually genuine this time.

Jack gets up on his crutches and heads out. I'm still sitting here. We leave in about ten minutes so I know I need to go get ready.

I just pray this mission is as cut and dry as it seems. I don't know if Jack could survive anything happening to his team. I know he won't let me survive it.

As I head to the lockers I hear someone shout my name. I stop and turn around.

It's Captain Bentley. This is the last thing I needed. Don't get me wrong, Bentley is a great gal, she's nice as can be. But I'd rather stick a needle in my eye than hold a conversation with her.

Captain Bentley was one of those perpetually happy people. You know the type, their voice raises and lowers giving it an annoying musical quality. They giggle at every pause.

I *hate* those people. Someone that happy all the time is downright creepy.

"Yes, Captain?" Be polite. She hasn't done anything to you. Don't snap at her. Don't ask her to pull her head down from the clouds.

Just be . . . nice. I can do that.

"I just talked with the General," I wonder if maybe she smiled too much as a kid and now her face is stuck that way. "He said that I need to get in some experience off world."

No . . . god, please don't let . . .

"So I'm coming with you!" Anybody got a needle?

"We leave in less than ten minutes, I suggest you suit up." I tell her.

Why me? Is what I really want to know. This mission was going to be bad enough without having to deal with Pollyanna.

"I'll be ready," she says before she turns around and darts off.

I try to hold back a sigh and continue my on my way to the lockers.

I just want this week to be over with. One week. Seven days.

How does Jack do it?

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