Disclaimer: I own nothing, and I'm sure not making money
AN: This is set during season four of Sentinel after Alex Barnes drove a wedge between the guys, specifically during the episode Murder 101 when Jim is NOT a particularly nice person. Stargate is set near the end of season three when the original team is still acting like the original team.
Teal'c walked behind his teammates, watching the growing exasperation evident in every line of Daniel's body.
"This is not my fault."
"Yeah, sure," O'Neill responded. Daniel turned to Carter, clearly looking for some sort of support. Carter gave a small smile and shrugged.
Sometimes, he still had difficulty not thinking of Daniel as cha'til, a young man before his first battle. He'd never before met someone who could walk through the sorrows of war and retain so little of the horrors. His grief tore at him, but when the pain passed, Daniel was again whole. His enthusiasm and conviction that people were essentially good just never wavered. Teal'c himself could not claim to have remained unscathed by the horrors he had witnessed. Sometimes, in kelno'reem, he did not know himself. As a young man, he had been convinced of his own power, determined to challenge an unfair universe and bring it to its knees. These days, he sometimes wondered whether he made any difference at all.
Teal'c pushed that thought aside as he scanned the room into which O'Neill had led them. Perhaps O'Neill's recent deception had created this sense of discord within him. When O'Neill had fled Earth, pretending to turn against his own team in order to infiltrate the NID, Teal'c had been disturbed at both the reactions of his team and his own thoughts. But now was the time for attentiveness.
Daniel had often chastised him for approaching every situation as though some great danger approached, but this room seemed to warrant suspicion. Enforcers—police officers and detectives—wandered the room, some with individuals who were restrained by metal cuffs. Teal'c quickly spotted the man with whom they wished to speak—Detective James Ellison. He was leaning over a desk talking with a younger man who had long hair pulled back into a ponytail. Teal'c had questioned such hair when he had first come to Earth, but these people thought nothing of providing an enemy with an advantage in hand-to-hand combat.
"I know. Where else can we look?" the young man asked as he jabbed at the computer with great frustration.
"I don't know, but, uh... anyplace other than right here." Detective Ellison pushed the younger man out of his way, physically shoving him to one side before pulling up a chair to take over the computer station. Teal'c limited himself to raising an eyebrow. He thought he might have misunderstood the interaction, but O'Neill and Daniel exchanged an equally concerned look.
"What's going on? What are you doing?" The young one demanded, obviously upset, and yet no one in the room responded. Perhaps Ellison was in charge of the young one's training, but if that were the case, he did not deserve the title of tec'ma-te. The young one would be better choosing another for his teacher.
"Look, Chief, what would you like me to do? Kid's got no charge. I got names to run in a murder case. I'd love to help you out, but my hands are tied with nothing else to go on. It's just the law." Ellison turned his back on the young one, but now Teal'c was even more confused. "Chief" was a term indicating authority, but yet Ellison dismissed the other from his presence by focusing all his attention on the computer. If he insulted Teal'c in such a manner, he would have found himself paying for his insult with a lesson in humility and manners. The young one only stared at Ellison with a lost expression that Teal'c rarely saw on adults. It was an expression of loss and pain that Daniel would sometimes wear, which was one reason why Teal'c still sometimes thought of his friend as cha'til rather than fellow warrior.
"Maybe this is a bad time, sir," Carter said softly.
They had not taken more than a few steps into the crowded room, and based on what he had seen so far, Teal'c agreed with Carter's assessment. If Ellison were having difficulties, they should seek his assistance later or perhaps just avoid him altogether.
"It's just the law?!" The young one demanded incredulously; however, Ellison had already looked up from his computer, not toward his outraged companion but toward them. His eyes narrowed. O'Neill moved forward, immediately sliding into that casual façade that had deceived so many into believing that he was not a threat.
"Hey, you're Ellison, aren't you?" O'Neill said as he cheerfully offered his hand in greeting. Standing quickly, Ellison took the offered hand suspiciously.
"Do I know you?" Ellison asked. As soon as possible, he withdrew his hand, and Teal'c noticed that the young one immediately moved to Ellison's side. Whatever the conflict between them, the young one did not lack loyalty to his teacher.
"Jack O'Neill. We crossed paths at Fort Bragg about a million years ago. I had a little problem in the area—" O'Neill paused just long enough to give Daniel a disgusted look, "and I thought I might call on a little local help."
"Colonel O'Neill?" Ellison asked, his eyes focusing on Teal'c for a long minute. The young one was now pressed closely to Ellison's side looking very much like a kal'ma who had found himself in the middle of fighting adults. Certainly O'Neill had said nothing to create such alarm.
O'Neill smiled and turned to give Daniel a smug look. "I told you this was a good idea, Danny. He remembers me, but then how could anyone forget me?"
"I never said it wasn't," Daniel quickly shot right back.
"Ah, but you implied," O'Neill chastised him. "Ellison, this is a friend of mine, Dr. Daniel Jackson, and this is Samantha Carter and Murray." Teal'c nodded at the appropriate time, but Ellison actually looked more aggravated after the introductions. The young one at his side shifted his weight, and Ellison managed to bump into him in such a way to push him back. Teal'c wondered if the gesture were one of protectiveness or annoyance.
O'Neill, however, pushed on. "We have a little problem. One of Daniel's friends called him because she's in a little trouble. It seems like she was digging around in some computer files where she shouldn't have been... which is not surprising for one of Daniel's friends. Anyway, she riled up the wrong people, and we can't seem to find her." O'Neill laid the problem out so simply. The reality was far more complex involving computer security breaches of both SGC and the NID. A former friend of Daniel had become obsessed with the belief that the government had acted maliciously toward him, perhaps kidnapping him. In her search for evidence, she had unearthed far more secrets than it was safe for her to possess. Teal'c had no doubt that the NID would eliminate her given the chance, and Colonel O'Neill and General Hammond both agreed that the woman needed protection, assuming, of course, that she had not already been assassinated or kidnapped by others.
Ellison cocked his head to the side, clearly still uneasy with their presence. This time O'Neill and Carter exchanged a confused look.
"Elizabeth would not have just disappeared," Daniel jumped in, obviously sensing the growing unease in the room and attempting to resolve it with his smile and enthusiasm. Teal'c often watched children do the same in their parents' homes—charming adults into forgetting disputes. This was a skill at which Daniel excelled. "I haven't been around much lately, but we talked three days ago, and she was supposed to meet me today. I'm really worried."
Unlike most of the universe, Ellison did not seem charmed by Daniel. "Missing persons? There's a good detective on the second floor. I'll—" Ellison started to say.
"Ah, proper channels," O'Neill nodded wisely. "I'm not good with proper channels... or proper channels aren't good with me, one or the other." He shrugged dismissively. "But Daniel's friend is in a good deal of trouble, and I was hoping you could give me a hand, one old soldier to another."
"Jim?" the young one asked. He had been sick recently, severely enough that he still had the lingering effects of a hard fatigue clinging to him.
"I'm sorry," Ellison said. He was shaking his head and still ignoring his companion. "I'm really quite busy, but I'll call down to missing persons." Ellison reached for the phone on his desk, and Teal'c noticed that the companion's hand was actually reaching for him, fisting his shirt. Ellison gave him an unpleasant look, and he withdrew his hand and physically backed up a step.
"Ellison!" a loud voice commanded from across the room. Ellison tensed. A large man approached them, one who clearly expected and had earned respect. The eyes of all those in the room followed him, men checking their commander to see if his orders were for them. But this new man walked directly toward their group, his gaze for Ellison. O'Neill shifted his focus from Ellison to this new man.
"You're already here," the new man sighed. "I'm Captain Banks. The commissioner said you needed some help finding someone." Banks shook O'Neill's hand with far more warmth than Ellison had. "Is this your team?"
"Sam Carter, Daniel Jackson, and Murray," O'Neill quickly introduced them. "I'm really concerned that we could have a problem, so I appreciate your department giving us a hand."
Banks tensed slightly at that. "Yes, well it seems that you have some friends in high places."
O'Neill did not bother to deny that charge, and Banks turned toward Ellison. "Jim, you're on the case."
Rather than follow that order, Ellison glared at his commander. "Simon, I'm on the Chung murder."
"Put it on hold," Banks ordered, his voice a clear warning. The young one shifted uncomfortably, his eyes going from one male to the other, but he remained silent.
"That's an order straight from the top, Jim. Colonel O'Neill, we do have a lot of work around here. I assume that your business won't tie up my best detective for too long."
"If he's your best, hopefully not. Our goal is to get out of town as fast as we can," O'Neill agreed cheerfully.
"Oh man, not fast enough." The young man barely breathed the words. Teal'c had much better hearing than the others, and yet he had to struggle to make out what the young one had said. Ellison, however, immediately turned a disgusted glare to the other. Banks did not seem to notice.
"He is my best. Jim, just get this wrapped up so you can get back to the Chung murder. Joel can handle it on his own until you get this cleared." Having delivered the unwelcome news, Banks retreated across the crowded room. Many of the detectives were now watching with thinly disguised interested, not even bothering to avert their eyes as Teal'c looked around the room.
"Blair Sandburg," the young one offered, moving around Ellison to offer his hand to them without being introduced. "I’m an observer with the department, and I guess Jim just sort of adopted me along the way. They couldn't get any of the other guys to put up with me." The words were pleasant, joking even, but the tone was wrong.
"An observer?" O'Neill clearly did not like the idea, and Ellison moved forward, his hand landing on Blair's shoulder, stilling the nervous movement as Blair shifted from foot to foot.
"He's getting a doctorate in anthropology," Ellison offered.
"Anthropology? Really?" Daniel's voice brimmed with enthusiasm.
"Awww, ya had to go and use a geek word, didn't you?" O'Neill complained, his tone far more indulgent that his words would imply. Daniel just glared at him for a second.
"I have a doctorate in archeology, I specialized in Egypt," Daniel said after offering O'Neill that malevolent glare.
"Oh man, no way. I did some travelling in Egypt but the best archeological sites were totally verboten," Blair's face lighted like a child who has seen a parent return from war.
"I was on digs in Hierakonpolis and Abusir." Daniel's face was equally enthusiastic.
"Cool!" Blair again bounced, and O'Neill rolled his eyes at both of the young scientists.
"What's your area of specialization?" Daniel asked, and both Ellison and Blair immediately stilled. Ellison's hand tightened on the young man's shoulder, and the energy and vibrancy appeared to drain from Blair, leaving behind the tired shell of the man he had been only seconds before. O'Neill stiffened, clearly unhappy with the reaction and the threat Ellison appeared to pose to the young scientist, emotionally if not physically.
Blair's voice had grown quiet, and he shrugged as he offered an answer. "Biological anthropology with some dabbling in socio-cultural... the mythology of South America mostly. But I'm working on the police culture... the whole in-group dynamic and thin blue line. You know."
"Social identity theory," Daniel agreed after a long pause. He appeared as confused as the rest of them about this sudden shift in tone. "That's a little more on the sociology end of things, isn't it?"
"It's a little cross-curricular, but I'm into the culture supported by the individuals, not the actual psychology or sociology of members of the group. The individuals are totally not the focus. It's the group as a whole. Everyone." Blair gestured toward the whole room, and now he had started to color, pink leeching into his face.
"Maybe you two could be geeky later," O'Neill said, stepping into the void when both Daniel and Blair appeared to unexpectedly abandon their conversation. "I'm looking for Elizabeth Canarsee." O'Neill set his briefcase down on the corner of Ellison's desk and retrieved a file. "She's a computer expert. She went to school with Danny at the University of Chicago and then obviously lost her mind."
"Jack," Daniel immediately protested.
"Danny, she decided that if you took a government position, that must mean you were kidnapped. She's a fruitcake."
"She just..." Daniel paused, obviously struggling to make a counterargument. "She's just a little anti-government."
Ellison pulled Blair back, and stepped in front. "So, what is an archeologist doing working for the government?" The suspicion was clear in the tone.
Daniel gave a sheepish grin. "Trying to make a living doing archeology is not easy, especially when you've burned a few bridges. I had to fall back on my PhD in linguistics, and I do cryptology and translation." Ellison did not appear placated.
O'Neill again attempted to move them back to the task at hand. "Look, Danny and his inability to play nice with others is not the issue. Ms. Canarsee finally reached him three days ago, nearly hysterical because of her wacky belief that he had vanished and because she believed that she had breached security at a few fairly secure sites."
"You want to arrest her," Ellison said flatly as he finally took the file.
"Not particularly," O'Neill answered. That made Ellison tilt his head and study O'Neill in a way that was most unusual. O'Neill shrugged. "I actually have a job offer for her. She's good. And if she breached the security of the people I believe she might have... she's going to need a job with some very good fringe benefits in the way of armed security details."
"NID, NSA or CIA?" Ellison flipped through the file without even looking up.
"Shit. No way, the spook brigade?" Blair asked. That earned him another withering look from Ellison.
"Look Darwin, maybe you'd better stay here."
"But—" Blair started to protest.
"Besides, don't you have a big, bad cheater to track down?" Jim asked. While the words meant little to Teal'c, he could see the way that Blair took them as though being hit in the gut. The young man backed up until he stood near the chair where he had been sitting when they had first come. Slowly, he sank into it, watching the rest of them as might a child who has been exiled from an adult conversation. O'Neill grabbed the edge of the desk, and Daniel moved to his side, obviously able to sense that the Colonel was about to say or do something highly undiplomatic.
This time Carter leapt into the awkward silence. "Detective, if you have a computer forensics department, I could use a terminal to try and track her on-line. We know she hasn't been using her computer, but she might be leaving traces in one of the systems we know she's hacked."
For a long time, Ellison studied her, but then his gaze slid slowly back to Teal'c. The man was excessively suspicious, especially since Teal'c had offered no word to inspire it. Then again, Daniel had suggested that his silence was sometimes very prominent.
"I shall accompany you, Major Carter," Teal'c offered graciously. Ellison's eyes widened a bit.
O'Neill sighed. "Ya, you two do that. Meanwhile, maybe Detective Ellison could show me some of his infamous tracking skills. After all, a guy doesn't get to be cop of the year without having a few tricks up his sleeve, does he?" O'Neill had that tone of voice that he would so often use to goad Goa'uld, but it was clearly just as effective on humans. Detective Ellison turned a darker shade, his face reddening with anger, but Blair appeared to lose all color entirely. "Danny, maybe you could just sit tight until one of use gets a lead," O'Neill suggested, his eyes on Ellison as he practically dared the man to contradict him.
For a second, Teal'c though Ellison might issue a challenge right there. Blair looked from Ellison to O'Neill and back with obvious panic, and even Carter moved unobtrusively into a better position for covering them in a fight. Teal'c remained impassive. He had already positioned himself to cover the room when he walked in, and if something happened, he had no doubt that he would be equal to any who might attack.
"Detective?" O'Neill asked. "Where would you start a missing person's investigation?"
Ellison's jaw was tight and his fists clenched, but he appeared to consciously relax both. "We should probably check out her home. If she went to ground, she may have left behind some clues, and if she was taken, there'll be some trace." Ellison glanced over at Blair. "Stay here, Chief." His words were sharper than needed, and Blair appeared so pale that Teal'c feared he might be ill. Instead he just nodded.
Stiffly, Ellison walked out of the room. Teal'c waited as O'Neill and Carter followed, watching as Daniel moved closer to Blair before he turned to follow Carter. They may have come to Cascade to rescue Daniel Jackson's friend, but clearly there was more here than a missing computer hacker.