TITLE: What's in a name?
AUTHOR: Hilton K
X-OVER: Highlander and Stargate SG1
SERIES: Set in the same 'verse as 'Curiosity Killed the Cat' and 'Getting to know you'. Not essential to read those first, but they set the scene.
SUMMARY: A mission goes wrong, forcing Methos to reveal his most well-kept secret.
DISCLAIMER: They're not mine I'm just having fun. Thanks be to the creators of Highlander and Stargate SG1.
EXCUSES: Better call this AU. Anything I've watched is fair game, history and canon subject to change :0) I have a short attention span so this is my little universe with a number of short stories: plot holes and inconsistencies to be expected!
Thanks to RevDorothyL for the beta. All remaining errors and typos are mine, all mine.
Methos rose, wincing as his spine popped. Immortal or not, crouching over inscriptions for 4 hours without a break was painful. He rubbed his eyes.
They’d come to this planet on a purely archaeological mission but Carter had managed to talk the General into allowing her to field test some new gadget. He chuckled as he recalled O’Neill’s expression when he realised that he’d have to contend with two archaeologists and a physicist waxing lyrical over their discoveries for 3 days.
He had to admit that despite the risks, rules, and regulations, getting involved with the SGC was the best thing that had happened to him in several millennia. The mountain complex was as good as holy ground when it came to avoiding challenges, and he hadn’t had a chance to stretch his mind this much for many years. The mental challenges posed by deciphering finds, rediscovering how to speak lost languages, and puzzling out problems created by alien artefacts breathed life back into an existence that had grown stale despite his recent friendships.
Methos kept in touch with Joe, who was still recovering from the shock of his bill being settled. Hammond had nearly had a fit when he’d discovered how much it was but had paid up, none the less. He’d been even less impressed when Jack had let slip that Adam had just bought a new apartment outright and furnished it from scratch.
He looked around for Daniel who’d been working on a later part of the structure. The other man looked as engrossed in what he was doing as he had been. He walked over.
“Daniel.” Methos smiled at the lack of response. “Daniel!”
“5 more minutes, Jack.” Methos laughed out loud.
“I’m wounded that you’d confuse me with that uncultured lout.” Daniel looked at him sheepishly.
“Hey! What have I told you about talking about me when I’m not here to defend myself?” Jack O’Neill wandered into the complex with impeccable timing.
“I apologise, Colonel. Allow me to reiterate, the savage tribes of the eastern steppes had a greater sense of culture than you,” Adam replied with a mocking bow.
“No, it’s just you who won’t accept that you’re out of touch in the modern world and that 'The Simpsons' represent a modern-day 'Iliad'.” Methos choked, nearly having a fit at Jack’s ridiculous declaration.
“No more, please, you two. We can’t take another quarrel between you about the hidden meaning in 'The Simpsons'. Please!” Daniel looked between them before settling on Adam. “Sam has sworn she’ll hack into the Springs Microbrewery and blacklist you.”
“She wouldn’t!” Jack continued to extol the virtues of his beloved show before Methos decided that Daniel wasn’t joking. “Enough. I yield. Matt Groening is the reincarnation of Homer.”
Jack looked put out at his favourite dispute being nixed. “Daniel, when are you and Carter going to stop ruining all my fun? And how does he know who Matt Groening is?”
“When your ‘fun’ stops involving the rest of us hearing you two yell at each other for hours. Besides, Adam has the entire series on DVD in his apartment.”
Jack stared slack-jawed at the Immortal, before slowly reaching for his sidearm.
“I may have healed by the time we return, but how are you going to explain my torn and bloodied BDU’s? Think of your record, Colonel.” Methos backed away from the furious man. “I never said I didn’t like The Simpsons. I just find your arguments amusing.” Realising it was entirely the wrong thing to say, he beat a hasty retreat to find sanctuary with Samantha.
Jack was left glaring at his archaeologist.
“Aw, come on, Jack. You’ve been round his place a couple of times now. It’s not my fault you didn’t see them.”
“For all your complaints about our arguing, you could have stopped this weeks ago,” Jack pointed out.
Daniel gave him a cheeky grin. “Yeah, but he’s right about your attempts at justification being amusing.”
They’d gathered back at their campsite for the evening meal. Jack still wasn’t talking to Adam, but nobody seemed to mind a bit of peace for a change.
“I want you two packed and ready to go by eleven hundred tomorrow.” He shut down Daniel’s attempted protest: “You’ve had your time, and it’s a fair hike back to the gate. Eleven, Daniel, and not five minutes more.”
“Fine.” Jack didn’t miss the glance that Daniel shared with Adam after his sudden capitulation. He’d have to keep an eye on those two. Pierson’s sneakiness was starting to rub off on Daniel, and he didn’t like it one bit. For one thing, Daniel was proving remarkably adept. However, he couldn’t pin anything on them at the moment; he’d just have to keep his eyes open.
They’d settled down for the night fairly early. Carter had a tent to herself and he and Daniel were sharing as usual, while Adam shared with Teal’c, as he slept like the dead and claimed he found Teal’c’s meditation calming.
Jack was rudely awoken from his slumber as Daniel attempted to pull the groundsheet out from underneath him.
”What the hell do you think you’re doing! Have you any idea what time it is?” he hissed.
“4:30 a.m., and I am attempting to pack as per your instructions. Once I’ve finished here I’m going to head over to the site to finish my recording and be ready for your inspection at 11 a.m.” With a final tug Daniel succeeded in freeing the sheet and began to fold it up meticulously. Fuming, Jack watched in silence, refusing to rise to the bait. He’d bet a month’s pay this was Pierson’s idea.
Daniel left the tent and, after a brief period of rustling as he packed the last of his camp gear, left for the site. Jack sighed heavily, realising there was no way he was getting back to sleep.
Exiting his tent he nodded to Carter, who’d had the last watch. He glanced across to the other tent.
Sam frowned as she saw the evil smirk grow on her CO’s face. She’d had to stifle her grin at Daniel’s antics when O’Neill had been forced to get up too, but she was also aware they’d have to tread carefully or Jack would be in a bad mood all day. She watched him as he gazed into the fire.
Eventually Jack decided it was worth the risk of irritating the Jaffa in order to get proper revenge on Pierson. After all, Teal’c was his buddy: he’d understand that Jack’s honour had been slighted. Well, kinda.
Picking up one of the metal pans he took a quick glance in the open tent to see which side Pierson was sleeping on before edging round the outside. He shot a look at Carter, who shook her head slowly, before he started to make an ungodly racket.
Looking back he should have realised that after a couple of thousand years the survival instinct would be extremely well honed. As the sword blade pierced the tent wall with, he’d grudgingly had to admit, a perfect aim considering that Pierson was operating blind, he had only just managed to throw himself backwards out of harm’s way.
The whole tent had then been pushed over, blanketing him completely. He let out a yell as what he could only assume was Teal’c’s weight came crashing down on top of him. His protest was quickly cut off as he felt the edge of a blade nick against his throat.
All his senses focussed on the blade, and it took a moment for Carter’s frantic shouts to filter through.
“It’s the Colonel! Let him up. Pierson, let him go. Adam!”
“AdamPierson, I believe MajorCarter is correct. This is indeed O’Neill.” Teal’c had backed off but daren’t tackle the other man for fear of causing more harm.
Methos blinked owlishly for a moment before suddenly relaxing and stepping back. Jack extracted himself, then sat up cautiously while rubbing his throat.
“Holy crap, Pierson, you nearly killed me.”
“‘Nearly’ leaves you a lot better off than the last person who tried to rouse me at such an obscene hour.” Methos realised Daniel was missing. “I assume this was some childish form of revenge.” He watched silently as Jack sought for a witty reply before he finally gave up and just grinned at him.
Methos couldn’t help himself and began laughing.
Sam felt the tension leave her body in a rush. These two were going to be the death of her. Although she had to admit that the Colonel was looking a lot more relaxed than he had in recent years. He and Pierson, while seeming to dislike each other on the surface, actually got on well, at least she believed so. It was hard to tell when they erupted into arguments and, as this morning proved, physical violence in the blink of an eye. Each man saw and relied on the other for his strengths as well as for sources of comic relief. She’d never seen the Colonel accept someone to watch his-- and more importantly, his team’s -- back so quickly.
The pair of them had settled beside the fire and focussed on brewing more coffee, Daniel having finished off the last of her batch. Teal’c had left to do a sweep of the area as was his normal morning routine. Now that every one was up she left her post and joined the others.
Methos enjoyed the silence that came with working with a closely knit team such as this. They all worked together to make breakfast, which was ready as Teal’c returned. All things considered, despite Daniel’s complaints, he found the rations whilst off-world palatable, although he did always make a point of spoiling himself with a gourmet meal upon his return. During downtime he and Daniel often cooked their favourite delicacies for each other, having gained an extensive repertoire from their travels.
He rose to pack up his gear and join Daniel for a last push on the ruins before they had to leave.
“See you in 4 hours 47 minutes, O’Neill, and not 5 minutes sooner.” Methos shouldered his pack and head off down the trail before the other man had a chance to retort.
He loved being off-world. There was so much to see that was different. There were times when he’d felt he’d seen every type of tree, plant and animal there was to see but these past few months had shown him there was so much more in this universe. It was these little things that kept him engaged as much as the experience of a world with two suns or worlds with advanced technologies. He’d yet to meet any truly alien beings aside from members of the Tok’ra, but just interacting with the displaced cultures from earth was an eye-opening experience.
Methos approached the ruins as dawn broke over the horizon and took a moment just to simply admire the setting. His eye was drawn to an unusual feature highlighted by the shadows. He mentally reviewed what he was seeing compared to the floor plan they’d surveyed. Hurriedly he went inside to find Daniel.
The younger man was in an almost identical position to the previous day, and Methos had a wry smile on his face as he disturbed him.
“Adam, I didn’t expect you so soon.” He took one look at his friend’s face and guessed the cause. “Jack.”
“Indeed, as our hulking friend would say.”
“Any blood spilt?” Methos shrugged.
“It was a close thing, but fun. That’s beside the point.” Ignoring Daniel’s disbelieving look Adam described what he’d seen in the changing light.
“So according to the outer walls this anteroom should be larger, expanding in this direction.” They both moved to study the walls where Methos’ newly discovered chamber should be.
“I’m not entirely sure I would have noticed it normally.” They moved along the wall looking for a clue as to the position of the entrance.
“Look here,” Daniel pointed to an incongruous set of text. “This section makes no sense, and is it just me or do they seem more deeply inscribed?”
Methos’ self preservation instincts kicked in as the archaeologist’s questing fingers delved into the section he’d described.
“No!” Methos made a grab for the other man as a large section of floor and wall slid rapidly back but he only succeeded in getting them both dragged down into the yawning black chasm.
Jack watched as Teal’c suddenly stiffened for no apparent reason. “What’s the matter, T?”
“I heard an unexpected sound.” Jack waited expectantly for more from his alien friend.
“Well, what sound? Carter?”
“I didn’t hear anything, sir.”
“I do not know what it was but it came from the direction of the ruins.” Teal’c’s gaze travelled over in the direction the archaeologists had left.
“Aw, crap.” Jack felt a chill run down his spine. This was the kind of thing that happened when he let Daniel out of his sight. He just hoped that Pierson could take care of it until he got there.
“We don’t know for sure anything’s wrong, but I want us packed and ready to go in fifteen.” The other two nodded curtly and sprang into action.
Glancing at his watch Jack was impressed that they were ready in less than ten minutes, and they headed off at a brisk pace to find whatever had disturbed Teal’c.
Daniel groaned as he slowly came round. He had no idea how long he’d been out, but from the way his head was pounding he had a sneaking suspicion he’d gained another concussion. The doc was going to be pissed. He remembered the feel of Adam grabbing his arm and realised his friend must have fallen with him.
“Adam! Can you hear me, Adam?” He tried to sit up but cried out as his leg erupted into agony. Raising his head gingerly he was sickened to see a smooth wooden spike had pierced the fleshy part of his right thigh. He swallowed hard and fought the urge to throw up. Shifting cautiously he looked about him trying to see Adam in the poor light.
There was a faint moan to his left and he focussed his attention there. “Adam?”
As his eyes finally adjusted, he realised with horror he had indeed found the other man who had not been as lucky as he had with his landing. Adam had been impaled on two of the spikes, having landed further toward the centre of the chamber. One of his legs had been pierced in a similar manner to Daniel’s, but the second was jutting out obscenely from just beneath his sternum. Again Daniel had to fight back the urge to vomit.
“Adam. Please talk to me.” He desperately wanted to reach the other man but couldn’t find a way without causing himself considerably more damage.
“’M okay, Danny.” Daniel snorted at the other man’s absurd declaration. “Immortal.” The last word was gasped out and he shuddered before becoming completely still.
Despite the part of his mind that was calmly telling him that his friend would recover, he couldn’t hold back the sheer terror as he realised Adam wasn’t breathing anymore. Sobbing harshly he fumbled for the radio he’d had clipped to his belt.
He could only raise a static hiss, and after a frustrating few minutes he threw the useless item into the wall. He bit back a scream as the motion moved his leg and he felt a warm trickle run down his flesh. Tearing the bandana from his head he fashioned a crude bandage.
Despite his efforts he found his gaze repeatedly drawn to the ghastly tableau across the room. How long was this supposed to take? Maybe something had gone wrong, maybe this time Adam would not be coming back. Maybe it was all a delusion: sure, he healed fast, but coming back from the dead? Oh God, he’d watched his friend die and he’d done nothing!
As the panic rose he found his vision swimming and it felt like a vice was being steadily tightened around his chest. He was snapped out of the spiralling loss of control as he heard a gasp from across the room.
There were muffled curses in a dozen languages before the other man managed to pull his thoughts together.
“Danny, you still there?” Methos groaned as the extra effort it took to speak aloud moved the spike impaled through his chest.
“Adam.” Daniel could barely choke out the word as his relief at the miraculous recovery overwhelmed him. “Thought you weren’t coming back. I’m so sorry.”
Methos winced at the fear and anguish in the other man’s voice. He wanted to offer more comfort but each breath he took moved the pole that had speared him. He realised with a growing horror that he probably didn’t have long before he’d die again and would continue the cycle until the shaft in his chest was removed.
“Don’t worry. You hurt?” He listened with relief as Daniel took a few deep breaths to pull himself together.
“I got a spike through the leg too, but I’ve managed to stem the bleeding.” Methos frowned; he was unhappy at the slight slurring of Daniel’s words. Was it loss of blood, or had the other man not told him everything?
“Hit your head?” He ground the words out from between clenched teeth.
“Have you been talking to Jack?” There was no response from Adam but Daniel could see the lines of pain etched on his face. Dragging his gaze away his eyes skittered passed the chest wound and dropped lower. Daniel couldn’t restrain a gasp as he realised how much blood was pooling beneath Adam.
“Adam, you’re still bleeding!” Methos couldn’t hold back a soft snuffle before tensing as he tried to warn the other man.
“Will keep dying till spike removed. Can’t heal. Back soon.” There was a horrible gurgle and Adam stilled once more. Daniel’s head dropped back to the wall behind him.
How was he supposed to cope with this? How many times would he have to watch his friend die? He had no idea how long they’d been down here, hopefully Jack and the others would be here soon. He had no doubt they’d find them. It was what SG1 did best, looking out for each other.
Trying to keep himself calm he tried listening out for sounds of people searching, that or Adam taking another breath. If he didn’t look he could almost convince himself the other man was simply sleeping. Despite having now witnessed his friend’s resurrection there was still a kernel of fear that the outcome would not be repeated.
Once again the sound of an indrawn breath roused him and he looked to his friend once again.
“I’m glad you’re back, Adam.”
“Dead hurts less.” Daniel suppressed a shudder at the longing in Adam’s voice. “Talk to me, Daniel.” Methos knew he’d have an easier time coping with the pain if he had something else to focus on.
Realising what his friend needed Daniel began to tell him of his wife and his search for her, of friends and allies gained and enemies gathered. Methos was pleased that he had managed to stay conscious longer this time; he didn’t like the idea of Daniel having to cope with his repeated death. There were times that even he found it hard to wait for a friend’s revival, despite his intimate knowledge of immortality.
Feeling himself start to fade once more he readied himself to try and move the shaft to a position that would prevent him from bleeding out so quickly next time. “Daniel. Can’t hold on. Be OK.” At the last Daniel watched in shock as Adam deliberately shifted against the pole that ran through him. As his pained scream rang out Daniel flinched reflexively ripping the wound in his leg open further. Unable to do more he curled up, attempting to apply pressure to stem the bleeding.
Methos woke with a gasp once more. Relieved he found his breathing a lot easier this time.
“Daniel, you okay?” Worried by the lack of response he managed to turn his head enough to be able to see the archaeologist. “Daniel?” he called out to other man’s hunched form.
“Adam.” Daniel’s voice was weak, which worried Methos. At least he could come back from blood loss. Hadn’t Daniel said something about being speared in the leg too?
“Come on, Danny.” He could see some movement in the other man but the light was too poor to make a proper assessment. “Daniel, you’ve got to stay with me.”
“You left me.” The voice was small and petulant, but frankly Methos was just glad to hear him talking
“Yes, well, I’m older and wiser, so it’s ‘do as I say not do as I do.’” He frowned into the silence. If only he could free himself he could administer some first aid at least. Unfortunately being pinned in two places he simply couldn’t find a way to do that alone, even if it meant dying again.
“Talk to me, Adam,” Daniel responded a little more strongly. Methos felt a smirk twitch at the corner of his mouth. He couldn’t be in that bad a way if he could still answer back.
“Where would you like me to start?”
“You ever married?”
“63 times, last count.” Methos tried to keep his voice steady but he was tired and in pain and his emotions were far from under control.
“Oh, Adam, I’m sorry.” Daniel’s voice carried a wealth of understanding.
“There’s no need to be sorry. I wouldn’t give up a moment shared with any of them, despite the pain from their loss. Except maybe Merial: she was a harridan.” Daniel groaned as his chuckle aggravated a whole set of muscles he hadn’t even realised were injured. “But we raised three beautiful kids.”
“Don’t make me laugh. It hurts. You have children?”
“Immortals can’t have their own children, but I’ve been blessed with many adopted offspring. Hell, for all I know you could be my great-great-great-step-grandson.”
“Did you not keep in touch?”
“I did with some, but not all my wives knew about my immortality, and the same applied with the children.”
“Did you ever tell them your real name?”
“Will you ever tell me?”
“Is that a proposal, Dr Jackson?” Daniel shook his head, which sent a fresh wave of nausea through him.
“God, I wish Jack would hurry up.”
“You place a lot of faith in him.”
“He’s rescued me more times than I can remember. I’m his trouble magnet.”
“From what he tells me you’ve returned the favour nearly as many times yourself.”
“Jack’s mouth gets him in trouble, no magnet required.”
“He’s not a natural diplomat, is he?” Methos bit back groan of his own as he felt his quickening attempt to heal his wounds once more despite the instrument of harm still being in place. “He tells me you bait Goa’uld for fun.”
“They’re an easy mark. They’d be no challenge for you.” Daniel smiled at the thought of Adam and Ba’al facing off.
“I’m flattered, I think. How are you holding up?”
“Things are going a little grey at the edges. It’s just a concussion. I’ll be fine.”
“Janet mentioned you were an expert on that particular injury. Of course, I’m sure the spike through your leg is irrelevant.” Methos tried to keep things light, but it was clear that Daniel was weakening.
“What happened to doctor-patient confidentiality?”
“I believe she told me as a warning that your precious mind is subject to repeated beatings. Besides, telling another doctor doesn’t break privilege.”
“Doctor? What are we talking here, leeches?”
“Danny, I’d expect a comment lacking creativity like that from Jack maybe, but you can do better.” Daniel didn’t manage more than a grunt in reply. “I was a doctor several times in the last couple of hundred years. It’s an area I’ve kept up with. Always comes in handy.” Methos tried to twist round again at the lack of reply.
“Daniel!” He was relieved to see the other man start at his shout.
“I’m sorry, Adam. I don’t think I can hold on much longer.”
“Stay awake and I’ll tell you my name.” Daniel managed to raise his head.
“You must be worried about me.”
“I’m worried about what Teal’c, Sam, and Jack will do to me if I let anything further happen to you.”
“Always looking after your own head, eh?”
“That’s right. I like it exactly where it is, thank you.” Methos managed to sound indignant despite his current predicament.
“I’m saving that until the situation warrants it.”
“That’s not fair.”
“Never claimed it was, but for now the promise is enough to keep you with me.”
“You’re a cold-hearted bastard.”
“You have no idea.” They lapsed into silence and Methos cursed himself. That wasn’t the plan. He was meant to keep Daniel focussed.
“What’s the first thing you remember?” Daniel’s curiosity prevailed for now.
“That’s kind of hard.” At Daniel’s sigh of disappointment he hurried on, “I’m not avoiding the question. It’s just after so long things get jumbled. One of my earliest memories is living with a nomadic tribe. We roamed between our summer and winter camps trailing game. Life was simple, driven by survival and family. The strong prevailed. When I was killed protecting the tribe but returned to life I was driven out, considered a cursed one.” Methos glanced at Daniel, relieved to see him a little more alert, and continued with his tale.
Jack sighed as he examined the ruins once more. They’d arrived in good time but had found no trace of the other two. Teal’c had left to scout the surrounding area. He and Carter were re-examining the interior.
Sam sighed in frustration. They’d found Daniel’s equipment along a section of the wall and Adam’s gear by the door, but there was no sign of either of them. She looked up as Teal’c joined them.
“I do not believe they have left the area on foot, nor can I find sign of anything else approaching the area.” O’Neill looked ready to kill someone.
“They can’t have just vanished.” He watched as Teal’c moved determinedly to an area to the right of the door. “Whatcha got, T?”
“There appears to be some disturbance in this area.” O’Neill joined him. It wasn’t clear to him, but there were a few marks that could be scuff marks and a disturbed area of dirt nearby at the base of the wall.
“Carter, what do you make of this?” Knowing a fresh set of eyes often spotted different things he was hopeful that between them they could figure it out.
“Sir, it looks like someone may have cleaned up the inscriptions here.” Sam pointed to an indented area.
Jack paused, forcing himself to try and think like his archaeologist for a moment. Knowing his friend, his first instinct on being presented with something like this would be to further his examination with pushing and prodding.
“You think it’s some kind of activation device, Carter?”
“Possibly, Sir. There’s no way to tell without tripping whatever may have taken Daniel and Adam.”
“Teal’c, you think you can activate it from back here?” Jack pointed to an area beyond the area of disturbance. At Teal’c’s nod Jack moved behind him and took a firm grasp on the larger man’s belt. “Just to be safe.”
Teal’c reached out and pushed the area Major Carter had indicated. There was an abrupt rush of air and deafening roar as a large section of floor and wall disappeared. Jack threw himself backwards and for the second time that day ended up with Teal’c’s not-inconsiderable weight on top of him.
They all moved to the edge of the drop. “Anyone see anything?”
“I believe I can hear voices, but they are very faint.”
“Daniel! Pierson! That you?” At Carter’s glare he shrugged and concentrated on trying to hear a reply.
“Did you hear that?” Daniel’s head shot up before looking back to Adam with hope flaring in his eyes.
“It may have sounded like an ill-conceived attempt to disturb any unknown nasties laying in wait at the bottom of a mysterious and possibly dangerous shaft.” Adam layered his tone with disgust, but Daniel was able to hear the relief in his voice. “The only possible source of such stupidity would have to be a DIM-WITTED COLONEL!” The last was shouted, and Daniel’s face broke into a grin at the reply.
“When comparing IQ’s, you might want to consider who fell down said mysterious and possibly dangerous shaft.”
Neither of them had the energy to continue a shouting match, so they waited for their friends to come up with a feasible way to communicate. They didn’t have long to wait before a radio was lowered on a thin cord. Adam was able to snare it before it swung out of reach.
“You guys OK?” They both shared a smile at the relief and exasperation in the voice.
“Good to hear you, Colonel, even if you did take your own sweet time getting here.” Methos retreated to mocking as he tried to clamp down on his surging emotions at the rescue team arriving.
“Adam.” Daniel’s pain-filled exclamation caused him to sober quickly.
“We’re both injured. Obviously Daniel’s more of a concern, but I’m unable to free myself to help either of us.”
“OK, any sign of another way down there?”
“No, you won’t be able to drop down, either. The floor is littered with spikes.” They could hear the indrawn breath of those above.
“You’re both impaled?”
“Daniel has one through the leg and he’s lost a lot of blood. I think he may have a concussion too.”
“What about you, Pierson?”
“I’m not the worry, Daniel is!” Adam’s concern and helplessness over the other man’s condition caused him to lash out at the only outlet he had available.
“Adam, I need to know the status of my entire team to enable me to make my decisions. Stop questioning me, and damn well answer!.” Adam grunted in acknowledgement and took a calming breath.
“I’ve got one spike through my leg and the other is through my chest. I’ve died three times already but have managed to at least delay the inevitable fourth. I can’t get the leverage to free myself from the spike, so I can’t heal properly.” There was utter silence from the other end as they tried to take it in. This was the first real demonstration of his immortality since their meeting.
“OK, Pierson, Carter’s gone to the gate to get reinforcements. We’re trying to jerry-rig a pulley and harness so T can lower me down.”
“No. Send Teal’c down. He’ll be able to lift me off the spikes. I’m medically trained and can tend to Daniel once I’m healed.” There was another pause as those above discussed his suggestion, and Methos took the time to check up on Daniel. The adrenaline rush from their discovery was wearing off and he could see the other man was fading again.
“You’ve got to stay awake, Daniel. The Colonel would be most upset if you didn’t make the effort to be conscious when he swoops in heroically to rescue us.”
“I thought you said Teal’c should be the one to swoop.”
“My superior intellect merely pointed out the benefits of sending our alien friend down; it doesn’t mean that Philistine will accede to my request.”
“I can still hear you, you know.” O’Neill’s voice crackled over the radio.
“Oh my, is it still transmitting?” Methos smiled at Daniel’s snigger. Anything to keep him with him. At his current rate of decline he may actually have to tell Daniel his name soon.
Methos had been surprised to discover that he really wasn’t that concerned over admitting his true name to this select group of people. The only reason he hadn’t told Daniel so far was that the promise of that disclosure really was helping to keep the other man hanging on. He realised that he included Hammond and the diminutive doctor into that trusted group, confident that both would keep the information secret from the powers above them.
His one minor concern was how they’d react to the revelation, literally, of his past. He had no doubt Daniel would figure it out; it was just a matter of time. It was tempting to keep his position secure with these people by not revealing his true name, and hence his history. But secrets had a way of getting out, and a shock exposé would fracture the bonds of trust that had begun to form between them. He had to admit to himself that that was one thing he really didn’t want to happen. He liked and respected these people and truly believed he could help them in the defence of the planet.
“Has the bleeding stopped yet, Daniel?” He watched the other man’s eyes flicker between his own injury and Methos’. Typically, even as critically wounded as he was, he was still considering other people. Adam simply raised his eyebrow to get his point across.
“It’s slowed but I don’t think it’s stopped completely.”
“And your head?”
“That was a given.” Anything further was interrupted by Jack coming back on the line.
“Okay, guys, Teal’c’s coming down with a few essential items that you seem to have forgotten to bring with you to your chosen holiday destination. Give me a shout as soon as you see him. I doubt you’ll appreciate him landing on your head.”
Methos acknowledged the instructions and they both focussed on the black shaft above them.
“Any minute we shall see a vision, our very own angel. Come from above to free us from our enslavement to these spikes from hell.”
“Teal’c will have to believe me now.” At Adam’s questioning glance, Daniel qualified his statement: “I’ve always told him he was my guardian angel.”
Methos laughed lightly as an image sprang to mind of Teal’c adorned with wings and harp.
Unexpectedly the feet of the man in question swung into view, their conversation having drowned out the sounds of his approach.
“I see him, O’Neill. He’s directly above me and about five feet from the ground.”
“Do not move and I shall drop to your left.” Methos snorted, wishing he could move.
The big man landed gracefully and immediately crouched to examine him.
“How may I assist you, AdamPierson?”
“Get me off these bloody spikes.” Methos couldn’t summon up the will to be reasonable with the Jaffa. The anticipation of the pain that would be incurred when he was lifted from the poles embedded in his body was too much. He saw the hesitation in the warrior’s eyes.
“Just be quick about it. I’ll die, heal, and be free of pain. Do it.” Teal’c gave him a quick nod before placing his hands beneath the injured man.
Without warning he shifted his grip and snapped Adam’s neck. Daniel cried out in shock but the tender way in which Teal’c laid the other man’s head silenced him. In the stillness that followed he realised that his friend had done Adam a great service in killing him before removing his body from the stakes. With one giant heave he slid the body up the poles and laid it carefully down. Teal’c took a brief moment to arrange Adam’s limbs comfortably before moving over to Daniel.
“It is good to see you, DanielJackson.”
“You too, Teal’c, you too.” He winced as Teal’c gently examined his head. The big man gave him some much needed water; it wasn’t until the first drop touched his lips that he realised how thirsty he was. Daniel leant back against the wall and watched quietly as Teal’c reported the situation back to O’Neill. After a moment he returned his watchful gaze back to Adam, waiting for his rebirth. He couldn’t let go until he knew for sure the other man would revive once more.
Teal’c joined him in his quiet vigil, his silent support giving Daniel an unaccountable measure of strength.
Methos sucked in a deep breath, realising almost instantly that he was free. He was not surprised to find tears springing to his eyes as the relief overwhelmed him. He turned to the others in the little torture chamber and captured Teal’c’s gaze.
“Thank you.” Nothing more needed to be said, and the three of them had a moment of reflection before Methos pulled himself together and shuffled over to Daniel’s side.
“Allow me to present myself. My name is Dr. Benjamin Adams and I shall be your physician for the foreseeable future.” He peered into Daniel’s eyes, a small frown crossing his face. “You look terrible.”
“And you have an appalling bedside manner.” Daniel felt strangely comforted by the brisk and efficient way that Adam--or was it Ben?-- examined him.
“I’ll have to get lessons from O’Neill.” Daniel moaned as the laugh he’d been unable to restrain sent waves of pain through him.
“Don’t do that.” His breathing had become more shallow, yet another concern for Methos. He turned his attention to Daniel’s leg. The area around the wound was inflamed, a sure sign of infection-- yet another thing to add to the list of worries. However, he was confident that the spike was far enough away from any major vessels that when the time came, they would be able to free Daniel without too much further harm.
“Let me look through the supplies you brought down, Teal’c.” His perusal was interrupted by O’Neill’s demands to be updated on the situation. He listened absently as Teal’c reported back his release before finding the radio pushed in his direction.
“Pierson, talk to me: how’s Daniel? You said you were a medic.”
“That’s correct, I am. However, even our favourite petite practitioner of the medicinal arts would be hard-pushed to do much down here with the supplies at hand. The bleeding is under control for now, and I’m confident that when the time comes we’ll be able to free him without too much concern. He does have a bad concussion and the beginnings of an infection to boot. There are some broad spectrum antibiotics in your kit that I’ll administer, but that’s a stop-gap measure. What we need is to get him out of here and back to the infirmary.”
“Understood. I’m having trouble reaching Carter from within the chamber so I’m going to head outside to try and get an E.T.A. I’m pretty sure what I’ve rigged will keep this thing open, but don’t panic if it closes.”
“We’ll try and keep our heads.” Daniel rolled his eyes at Adam’s pun but regretted it instantly.
“And I thought Jack had a morbid sense of humour,” Daniel grumbled.
“We’re going to have a serious falling out if you persist in comparing me with that man.”
“It is a great honour to be measured up to a warrior such as O’Neill.”
“Don’t you start, Big-man. I have enough trouble with him.” Methos ran a critical eye over his patient. Daniel’s breathing was rapid and shallow, he had no colour in his cheeks, and yet still his eyes were full of life.
It was times like this that Methos envied mortals. The closest he came to that feeling of being so alive was in the heat of combat during a challenge, but now, in his old age, even that was tempered by the knowledge of the pain and disquiet caused by taking a quickening. In recent centuries he felt that he was surviving rather than living, but the Highlander had changed all that. For all his complaints and the trauma of recent years, he could not deny it was a change for the better.
He started with alarm as Daniel’s eyes began to flutter closed.
“Daniel. You need to stay awake.” Methos took the other man’s hand and pinched the back roughly.
“Ow. Damn it, Adam.”
“Yes, yes, you can sue me over the bruise when we get back to earth. Now, stay focussed.”
“Talk to me, *Adam*.” Daniel gazed at him, challenging him to answer with the one subject that had remained taboo.
“It’s not time yet. Clearly, you’re with us enough, seeing as you’re still seeking answers to those things best left hidden.”
“I thought you were meant to be encouraging me to stay awake?” Methos looked at Daniel in puzzlement.
“Teal’c, back me up, didn’t Adam just say that he’d tell me his true name only if I was about to pass out?”
“That is correct, AdamPierson.”
“Traitor.” Methos glared at the Jaffa. He looked down into Daniel’s eyes.
“Does it really mean so much to you?”
“I like to know my friends.” Methos sighed in resignation at Daniel’s reply. Despite the fact he had already made the decision to tell these people, there was a still a part of him that screamed at him to keep silent, keep safe.
“Do you want to try and guess first?” Methos smirked at Daniel’s grimace. He watched as a form of silent communication passed between the two men before him, before having to back away swiftly as Teal’c reached out menacingly.
“Hey, no tag-teaming! Alright, alright, I’ll tell you.” Now or never, he thought to himself before taking a deep breath.
“My name is Methos.”
“That’s a stupid name,” Jack’s voice crackled back over the radio as he rejoined them.
“Nice come back, Jonathan.” Methos smiled at the faint growl. He returned his attention back to Daniel and was alarmed to see the archaeologist had paled even further and was now slumped against Teal’c’s side. “Daniel, what’s the matter?”
Methos tuned out O’Neill’s frantic calls to be told what was happening in order to concentrate on his patient. He realised with a sinking feeling that Daniel’s reaction was due to the revelation of his name, rather than due to his injuries. He hadn’t accounted for the fact that this man’s brain was a sponge, and given time could usually recall most things he’d read.
“Daniel.” Methos found himself holding his breath waiting for the denunciation of his past. Finally Daniel looked up and locked eyes with him.
“‘And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.’”
“Pierson, why is Daniel quoting Revelation? Is he delirious? Somebody tell me what the hell is going on!” O’Neill’s frantic cries finally broke the tableau.
“He’s Death.” Daniel hadn’t dropped his gaze from Adam’s eyes and so didn’t miss the almost imperceptible flinch.
“Okay, because that helps. Someone shut up the sick man and report!”
“I believe Daniel is referring to AdamPierson.”
“What?” Jack fell silent for a moment. “We’ll talk about this later. First, is Daniel alright?”
“He’s stable for now, Colonel. How long before the medical team gets here?” Methos kept his tone even, praying that the subject would be dropped for now.
“Carter had already made the gate when I radioed her. The rescue gear should be here anytime, now that the search and rescue teams have those nifty little quad bikes prepped and ready to go. The med team will be on foot, so we’ve a while to wait for them.”
“Understood.” Methos moved away from Daniel, unable to face the inevitable accusation in his stare. At least he’d fallen quiet for now, and he could deal with Teal’c’s questioning gaze.
All in all, that had gone a whole lot worse than he’d anticipated. He never in a million years suspected that Daniel would recognise his name so quickly, let alone associate it with his Horsemen days.
Methos glanced up at his two companions, sighing softly as he turned his gaze inward and began mental preparations to leave his current life.
O’Neill paced impatiently as he waited for the rescue crew to arrive. Teal’c had taken over communications and reported no change in Daniel’s condition. Apparently Adam, or Methos, was hardly speaking, except to check on Daniel’s condition periodically.
Finally there was the sound of movement outside. “Kirkland? That you?”
“Yes, Sir. We’re unloading the winch gear now.” The leader of the search and rescue team, Major Kit Kirkland, entered the temple, his large bulk filling most of the entryway as he came in to assess the situation.
“Do we know the condition of your team, Sir?”
“Pierson and Teal’c are uninjured, but Daniel has been impaled on a wooden spike. He’s lost a lot of blood and is barely conscious.” Kirkland nodded briefly before updating his team.
“Pierson is a medic,” Jack added, watching the other team move swiftly into position and begin to set up the winching equipment.
“That’s good to know, Sir. Can I speak with him?” Jack wordlessly handed the radio over, feeling reassured by the professionalism shown by the other squad.
“Mr. Pierson?” Kirkland continued at the affirmative reply, “We have saline drips with us which may be beneficial to Dr. Jackson. Would you like to set it up, or would you prefer to wait until one of my team can come down?”
“That’s good news, Mr. Pierson.” He handed the radio back to Jack before barking out a series of orders, watching with pride as his team sprang into action.
Methos unhooked the bag that had been lowered down to them and began to prepare the drip and Daniel’s arm. He couldn’t bring himself to look into Daniel’s eyes and face the fear that was sure to be there. He was turning into a coward in his old age. Swiftly he inserted the needle into his patient’s arm and instructed Teal’c to keep the bag raised, before retreating back to the other side of the pit.
Returning to his brooding, he admonished himself for allowing the opinion of these mortals to worry him. He’d faced it before. His experience with Highlander alone should have shown that this kind of revelation never went well. He just thought that he would have time to explain. Nothing could excuse his past, but he had hoped to have a chance to make it clear that he was no longer that man.
Silently he watched as their rescuers lowered down a cradle and operator, and finally a medic who had at last arrived with Sam. They made quick work of securing Daniel’s limb before cutting him free. With Teal’c’s help he was loaded into the cradle and winched out of sight, thankfully unconscious at last.
Methos barely acknowledged the praise he received for his tending of Daniel’s injuries once he was raised back into the temple.
The teams made swift progress in returning though the gate. Methos found himself breathing a sigh of relief as the General excused them all from debriefing until Daniel’s condition had been stabilised. It would make his escape easier, once he was sure that Daniel would be alright.
Jack paused in his pacing outside the infirmary as he looked over Pierson’s hunched form. The guy had been unusually quiet since the disclosure of his true name and Daniel’s descent into delirium. He could only assume it must be the effect of watching pretty much everybody you knew die. Jack repressed a shudder that ran through him at that thought. He knew he should talk to the Immortal, but with his worry over Daniel it wouldn’t help either of them at the moment. He was thankful that he’d never be in this position worrying over Pierson’s injuries. The waiting was always hell.
After what seemed like an eternity Janet finally emerged.
“He’s going to be fine. There’s a mild concussion and he lost a lot of blood, but he’ll regain full use of his leg with some physical therapy.” She always took delight in the pleasure on their faces when she had good news. “Nice field work, Dr. Pierson.”
Methos graciously accepted the congratulations from the others and watched in silence as they all rushed into Daniel’s room, waiting for the young man to wake.
Taking one last look at the people he’d come to think of as friends in such a short amount of time, he slipped quietly away.
They had all taken up their usual positions in the infirmary as they waited for its most frequent visitor to come round. Jack was the first to notice as Daniel began to stir.
“Good to have you back, Daniel.” Sam leant over to give him a gentle hug as the others looked on beaming.
“As soon as Janet told us you’d be OK, he left. Dying takes a lot out of you, apparently,” Jack explained. There was a rush of emotions across Daniel’s face as the memories of watching his friend die ran through his mind.
“Oh my God. Methos!”
“Apparently. We never got a chance to discuss it after you went loopy on us.”
“I did not go ‘loopy,’ Jack.” Daniel pointedly ignored Jack’s raised eyebrow. “I know who he is, who he was. I’ve read that name before.”
“Well? Care to enlighten the rest of us?”
“Not right now, Jack. You have to find him. He told me he’s only revealed his past to a few others, and the last one reacted really badly. He thinks that I’m the same. He thinks I hate him.” Daniel fell silent, horror etched upon his features. He reached out and grabbed Jack’s arm.
“Please. We have to find him quickly. If we lose him now we’ll never find him again. He’ll disappear.”
“Daniel, what are you talking about?”
“Just find him, Jack. He’s a lot older than we thought, at least 5,000 years old, and right now he’s hurting.” Seeing the older man begin to relent, he added softly, “Jack, please. Find him and we’ll explain everything. Trust me.”
That was it, those two tiny words that had come to represent so much between them. The past didn’t matter: what was important was the here and now and how they were going to kick ass in the future. Jack threw a quick glance at Hammond, who nodded his approval, and SG1 swung into action once more.
According to the guard on the gate Pierson had left the base already. Teal’c reported that Adam’s quarters had been stripped of those possessions that he knew Adam considered personal but the rest had been left behind.
Jack headed out to his truck to get it started while he was waiting for Sam and Teal’c to join him. He was pulled up short as he found Daniel leaning against his car, a pair of crutches beside him.
“No need to ask what you’re doing here.” He unlocked the door nearest to Daniel before helping him in.
“You’re not going to argue?”
“Will it help?” Jack moved round to get in the car. “I’m assuming Janet doesn‘t know?” Not bothering to wait for an answer he continued. “If anyone asks, you held me up at gunpoint.”
“Don’t thank me yet. Janet’s going to kill you.”
The rear doors opened and the other two got in with only the barest hesitation.
“When Janet finds out, I’m telling her you ordered me to go along with this, sir.” Jack shot Sam a look of betrayal in the rear view mirror.
“I, too, do not wish to incur the Doctor’s wrath.”
“I’ll deal with Janet.” Daniel looked hurt at the snorts that came from the others. “This is important! We need to hurry, Jack.”
Jack waved his pass at the guard on the gate as they headed down into the Springs.
“Are you going to explain what this is all about, Daniel?”
“I’d rather wait until we find him.”
“You’re asking us to take a lot on faith, you know.”
“I know, and I appreciate it.”
Jack was a little surprised at Daniel’s reticence, which only made him more nervous. It had to be pretty big to stop Daniel giving them all a history lecture. He’d been mulling over all that had been said since Pierson had revealed his name to them. It didn’t make any sense: how bad could a name be? Okay, ‘Methos’ was kinda weird, but it was just a name after all. From what he gathered so far from Pierson, he’d had a lot over the years. That was another thing: how could Daniel possibly know that Pierson was so much older just from his name? Names got reused over and over again. Just because the name was weird didn’t mean he was the only one to have been called it. He glanced over to his friend , who was gazing out of the window with a thoughtful look on his face. It had to be real serious for him to risk Fraiser’s wrath. The Doc was going to string them all up for this.
They made it to Pierson’s apartment in record time. Jack and Sam headed up immediately, while Teal’c helped Daniel.
Jack let them into the apartment using the key that Pierson had given him on the understanding that it was only to be used if he turned up without a head. They did a sweep of the rooms, which were empty. Just like the quarters on base, there were only a few personal items missing and a safe that had been left open and bare.
“This guy sure knows how to leave in a hurry.”
“He’s had a lot of years to practice, sir.”
“Let’s get back down to the others.”
Outside Daniel had insisted that he and Teal’c head round to the garages. He tried to ring Joe. Adam had given his number as an emergency contact. Leaving a message for Joe to call him back, Daniel hung up feeling despondent. Adam no doubt knew that Joe would be the first place they’d check, and therefore would most likely avoid him.
His head shot up as he heard the throaty roar of Adam’s one extravagance, a 1969 Buick 400. Not knowing how else to stop him, Daniel stepped out into the road.
Methos sighed in pleasure as he turned over the engine, listening to the thrum of power that was harnessed beneath the hood. Of all the material things he had gathered in the last few months this was the one thing he was going to regret having to give up. It wasn’t exactly inconspicuous, after all.
Pulling out of the garage he looked over to adjust the radio, and by the time he returned his attention to the road he was horrified to see Daniel in front of him. He slammed on the brakes, coming to a stop inches from his crutches.
For a long moment nobody did anything, their gazes locked on each other before Teal’c finally broke the stalemate by moving to support Daniel.
“Most people would be satisfied with just the one near-death experience per day.” Adam turned the engine off and reluctantly left the car.
“I didn’t want you to leave without talking.” Methos pointedly ignored the subject.
“I assume the good Doctor is unaware of your escape. No wonder she threatened to tie you down next time you came in.” Methos looked away from him as the other two approached.
“Pierson, glad we caught you! Daniel was driving us nuts. Claims you were about to vanish from the face of the earth. That true?”
“Something like that. Save you the task of dragging me off to Leavenworth, or wherever.” Jack looked surprised at his statement, making Methos turn back to Daniel. “You didn’t tell them?”
Daniel simply shook his head. Methos sighed, unsure whether this was an improvement or not. He did have to admit that it would appear that Daniel wasn’t currently condemning him. However, he still had to face that risk with the other three.
“Tell us what?” Jack snapped, his patience finally wearing out.
“Come inside, I need a drink.” Moving off he didn’t bother looking back to see if they’d follow. “We’re all going to need one,”he finished under his breath.
They’d all settled comfortably in the living room. Methos had spent a few moments fussing over Daniel, making sure he hadn’t worsened his condition, on the pretext of not wanting to anger Janet further.
“Do you want me to tell them?” Daniel offered, seeing his friend didn’t want to start.
Methos felt a minor flush of guilt for thinking that Daniel would have rejected him like that in the pit. The man was a soft-hearted fool who’d forgive the animal that bit him. Not a fool -- a good man, he amended. It was instinct that made him lash out, push others away before they could hurt him.
“Adam, do you trust me?”
“I don’t trust…” He stopped at the look on Daniel’s face. “Daniel, I know that you would not knowingly lead me astray in something like this, but--”
“Pierson, just spit it out. We’re big girls and boys, we can handle it.” Methos looked around at their faces once more before waving at Daniel to carry on.
“When Adam told me his name, Methos, it took me a moment, but I remembered I’d seen a reference to it before. It was just a bit of a shock, and what with everything that had happened I didn’t handle in the best way. I’m sorry.” Methos shook his head, dismissing the need for an apology, and downed another glass of whisky.
“Don’t leave us in suspense any longer, Danny.”
“The text was a copy of a much earlier manuscript. While scholars have debated its validity for many years, it’s generally agreed to be a reliable source in most circles. It describes the, er, rampages of a band of men several thousand years ago, which have inspired myths and stories that still resonate through to modern times.” Daniel paused, again gathering his thoughts. “One of those riders was named Methos. Thinking back on it, the description’s quite uncanny.” Methos snorted into his fourth glass.
“What our erudite friend here is trying to tell you is that I was one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.”
There was total silence in the room. Sam and Jack looked stunned, while Teal’c simply seemed puzzled. Eventually Jack pulled himself together-- well, a little, at least.
“Horsemen of the Apocalypse?”
“As in, whole chapters of the bible dedicated to you?”
“Like, ‘Death on a white horse’ or something?”
“Good guess.” Sam choked a little.
“Pass me a glass.” Wordlessly Methos handed Jack a full glass.
“One of THE four horsemen of the apocalypse?”
“Jack!” The exclamation burst forth from several people around the room.
Methos stared open-mouthed at the statement.
“What? The lone horseman of the apocalypse doesn’t sound so scary. Oh, unless they were all like you? They’re not gonna turn up on our doorstep and demand you ride again, are they?”
Methos shook his head slowly.
“My brothers are dead.”
“Brothers? I thought you were foundlings?” Daniel queried.
“Figuratively. We rode together for hundreds of years. We were family.”
“Psychotic, but family.”
“Jack!” Daniel hissed at him.
“Come on, Daniel, they raped, murdered and pillaged. Struck fear into the hearts of any that stood before them. It’s all there to read between the lines.” Daniel looked outraged, but Methos simply nodded.
“He’s right, Daniel. There is no sugar coating for what we did.” Methos looked slightly surprised to find the whisky bottle empty. “Now that’s all out in the open, can I continue with my departure, or are you going to lock me up without trial?”
“One: drunk driving is still illegal in this state. And two: I think your past predates the statute of limitations bill by several millennia,” Jack stated.
“You’re taking this surprisingly well.”
“We travel to other planets on a daily basis. Most surprises have lost their edge. If you’re desperate for that kind of thing, take heart: I think Carter is about to have a coronary,” O’Neill deflected everyone’s attention.
They all looked to Sam who had paled alarmingly and was currently slumped in the chair, staring blankly at Methos.
“That’s more like it,” Methos added morosely.
“Sam, are you OK?” Daniel made to move over to her but groaned in pain as he disturbed his leg wound. Fortunately, it helped Sam snap out of it.
“I’m OK, Daniel. I just need. . .,” Sam looked back to Methos. “I know you told us you were thousands of years old, but it’s hard to truly grasp. And now this. I don’t know what to say.”
Methos was silent for a moment.
“I must admit I was expecting more condemnation, horror, and cries of ‘get out of my sight’.”
“We’ve all got things we’re not proud of in our past, Pierson.”
“If a person can’t change in several thousand years, there’s not much hope for the rest of us.” Sam smiled timorously at him.
“Your actions prove you are no longer that man, AdamPierson.” Methos was completely stunned by the people in this room. He could see that they weren’t entirely comfortable with this latest piece of his history, but they were willing to accept the man they were faced with today rather than judge him on the actions of his past. He felt truly humbled.
“See? I told you to trust me.” Daniel gave his friend a smile.
“And you can wipe that smug look off your face, Daniel. Don’t forget you still have to face the Doctor,” Methos added pointedly.
“That wasn’t nice, Adam,” Daniel pouted.
“I keep telling you, I’m just a man. Besides, everyone knows nice guys finish last.”
“I thought that was the point of your little game: to be the last one standing?” Jack grinned at him.
“You really are an irritating man, O’Neill.”
“That’s why they pay me the big bucks!”
That’s all folks. I did start writing a fourth story but after 2+ years it’s still not finished. Doubt I’ll ever be in a position to post it. But thanks for reading anyway :)