Maybe it's the real world.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to review. Reviews inspire me!
“Angel?” asked Connor. Frank Roberts grinned up at him from the chair.
Frank really hadn’t expected the young man to recognize the name. Nothing about the kid suggested he knew anything about the supernatural, but of course, there had to be a reason that Mr. Angel had him under surveillance.
Before either could say another word, a sudden wind howled through the apartment and a bluish light seemed to surround the circle.
“Connor. Slowly. Step out of the circle… Don’t break the chalk marks.”
It was Bobby’s voice.
Connor did as he was told. As he did, the wind seemed to pick up and the circle glowed brilliant blue. This continued for almost a minute before stopping abruptly.
“What the hell is that?”
“Magic,” said Bobby.
“I thought you said…” O’Neill began.
“Had nothin’ to do with me,” said Bobby. “This is someone else doing magic. Someone a whole lot more powerful than me.”
“They’re probably going to kill me,” said Frank.
“Not if I can help it. I’m going to add bloodroot to the circle,” said Bobby. “It has protective properties. It will buy us time.”
Even as he spoke, Bobby was working on the circle again.
“I thought you said you were immune to magic,” said Sam.
“Wolfram and Hart can do pretty much whatever they want to do,” Frank said, shrugging. Now Wolfram and Hart were trying to kill him, he decided he owed them nothing. “I’m sure they’ll find a way around it. The best I can do is try to slow them down.”
“Wolfram and Hart?”
“My employers – well, from the looks of this, my ex
“Wait, aren’t they that big law firm in LA?” asked Sam. “The career center had brochures from them.”
“A law firm?” said Jack. “You gotta be kidding me.”
“Nope,” said Frank. “They’re the most dangerous law firm on the planet.”
“Dangerous?” asked Jack. “A law firm?”
“Yeah. They own politicians; businessmen – all the important types… Rumor has it one of their clients even has the patent on cancer.”
O’Neill said nothing, though he felt a profound sense of shock. He decided that an investigation was needed… If what this man said was true, Wolfram and Hart were a definite threat to National Security. He suspected he was going to have to tread very carefully.
“A patent on cancer?” said Carter. “You mean a cure, right?”
“Nope. The disease,” said Frank.
“That’s ridiculous. The patent office wouldn’t accept a patent on a disease. That would be immoral.”
“There’s a lot you don’t know, lady,” said Frank.
“Major,” Carter said automatically.
“Major,” Frank said.
“What would be the purpose of a patent on cancer?” asked Daniel.
“Well, whoever has the patent on something that powerful…” said Carter.
“…would make money hand over fist,” said Frank.
“That’s sick,” said Carter.
“Are you sure you don’t work for Satan?” asked Daniel. “I mean, if he existed…”
“He exists,” said Bobby, Dean and Frank at almost the same time.
“You people are insane,” said Cassie.
“Ri-ight,” said Frank. “All the evil in the world and you don’t think there’s a Satan?”
Cassie stared at him, her mind suddenly going back to that day on her planet so long ago when everyone except her had been exterminated. She remembered all the bodies everywhere, lying in the sun on the side of the road like so much litter… everyone she’d ever known or loved and according to Jack and the others, everyone else on the entire planet. She swallowed hard, but said nothing. Carter gave her a sympathetic smile.
“Next thing, you’ll be telling me you believe in God too,” said Carter.
“Not sure about God,” said Frank, shrugging. “I pretty much gave up on God back in Somalia.”
“How about you guys?” asked Carter. “I mean, you’re using all sorts of religious symbols…”
“I believe in God,” said Sam quietly.
Dean made a derisive grunting sound. Ellen rolled her eyes and Rufus’ mouth simply tightened.
“He’s Jewish,” Bobby said, indicating Rufus. “You’ll have to ask him if that qualifies.”
Rufus said nothing. He gave Bobby a disgusted, fed up look.
“You don’t sound as though you have much use for religion,” said O’Neill.
Rufus and Dean both shrugged.
“I would have thought that if you believed in the supernatural, you would believe in a supreme being of some kind,” said Jackson. “I suppose you must see some very ugly things?”
“And you don’t?” asked Dean. “What? Too busy playing professor to fight your own battles?”
Dean’s tone was insolent. Daniel was clearly furious, but he said nothing.
“Appearances can be deceiving,” said Carter, a steely note in her voice that didn’t brook any argument.
Dean couldn’t meet her glower.
“You speak without information, Dean Winchester. I have entrusted my life in Daniel Jackson’s hands before this. I will do so again with confidence,” said Teal'c haughtily, his voice was soft, but the menace was unmistakable. He gave Dean his most intimidating stare.
“Better you than me,” said Dean dismissively, but he’d lost his bluster.
Teal'c’s expression did not change significantly, but his anger was unmistakable.
“Dean! Quit while you’re behind,” said Sam, feeling the quiet rage emanating from the very large, heavily muscled stranger.
“Shut the hell up, boy,” said Bobby.
“I’m tired of this,” said Dean, sounding petulant.
“You should have thought about that before you and dad brought the wrath of god down on Connor, Dean,” said Sam unsympathetically.
“Wuss,” said Dean softly.
“Jackass,” said Sam, his response was quiet but venomous.
“Men,” muttered Ellen.
Cassie and Carter both chuckled.
“Would you all please be quiet,” said Rufus. “This ain’t over and we gotta figure out what we’re gonna do.”
“He worked for Wolfram and Hart. He gets what he deserves,” said Ellen coldly.
“Maybe, but Connor doesn’t need to have anyone die in his apartment,” said Jackson.
“Daniel Jackson is correct,” said Teal'c. “Moreover, he may have made the mistake to work for evil, yet I do not believe his has proven himself irredeemable.”
Ellen didn’t know what to say to that. She just stared at Teal'c, trying not to feel shame, but feeling it in spite of herself.
“I’m not letting him die,” said O’Neill. “Whoever these people are, they can’t just go around killing people.”
“You might want to learn a little more about them before you pick a fight with them. Much as it’s my neck on the line… you have no idea who you’re dealin’ with… sir,” he added the honorific instinctively, surprising even himself. “They’ve got all kinds… You know Senator Brucker? She’s one of theirs… She isn’t even human.”
“Helen Brucker?” asked Connor. “Damn. I think my dad voted for her. Not human?”
Frank nodded. “Wolfram and Hart has a necromancer… had a necromancer.”
“How about Robert Kinsey?” asked Jackson. He decided not to ask about the necromancer… at least, not for now.
Frank grinned at them.
“You folks catch on quick.”
“So, he’s not human?” asked Jackson, ashamed that he was hoping the answer would be no. “Because that would explain so much!”
“I don’t know if he’s human. I just know he’s one of Wolfram and Hart’s most important clients. He’s responsible for keeping a lid on undesirable government programs,” said Frank. “At least, that’s what they say. I don’t know much… just hear talk, you know?”
The four members of SG-1 exchanged glances. This was not what they wanted to hear.
“Just how powerful are these people? Can they affect you if you aren’t here?” asked Carter.
Carter was thinking it was time to cut him loose. He’d told them everything they could hope to learn and she didn’t see what good it would be to hold him.
“They can locate people anywhere in the world. Certain elements make it harder and certain people just aren’t worth the trouble…”
Carter looked dismayed.
“Well, crap,” said O’Neill.
“Don’t worry,” said Frank… “If I make it out of here… there are ways to make yourself invisible to them.”
“Really?” asked O’Neill. “How?”
“Tattoos,” he said. “A little ritual. I have it at home… but… damn! I can’t go back there…”
“You people know what he’s talking about?” asked O’Neill.
Rufus nodded. “I’ve heard of it.”
“You’re not gonna help him.”
“No,” said Rufus. “I’m with Ellen on this one. I’m not helping anyone who would work for Wolfram and Hart.”
“Not even if they only took the job because they were gravely injured?” asked Carter.
She put her laptop on Rufus’ lap.
“Shit,” he said.
Bobby and Ellen were transfixed by what they saw on the screen. There were photos of the same man – same square jaw, dark brows, large, straight nose and high and tight haircut – except in the photos, his body was mangled. He had tubes draining blood from his abdomen, IV’s hooked up and EKG wires were attached to a monitor. Although he’d only lost one arm and one leg and the stumps were bandaged, the rest of his body was peppered with lacerations and contusions of various sizes. He was a mess. The side of his face not covered by a dressing was covered in barely scabbed over lacerations and one eye was swollen shut. Even his scalp was full of staples.
“How are you even alive?” asked Dean.
“That was what the doctor asked me before they put me under,” said Frank.
“You were conscious?”
“Yeah,” said Frank. “And from the time of the blast to when the man from Wolfram and Hart showed up at Walter Reed Hospital six months later, there wasn’t a moment I wasn’t in pain.”
“Did you know what you were signing?” asked Bobby.
“I knew it couldn’t be something good. I never really believed the supernatural stuff was real until after… until my surgery.”
“They did surgery?” asked Ellen. “You didn’t sell them your soul?”
“No. I would never have agreed to that, not even then,” said Frank. “I just agreed to work for them until they retired me. They told me they would own me for at least twenty years. Most Wolfram and Hart security personnel have a much shorter shelf life than that though. If you last five years, you’re pretty damn senior. I’ve been looking for an out for a while… That’s why I found out about the tats… but you have to understand… even looking into stuff like that can get you killed.”
“So, the rest of your security detail… are they wounded vets too?” asked Rufus.
“Not all of them. Most of them are people with something… unsavory in their background.”
“What’s your secret?” asked O’Neill.
“I killed someone,” said Frank.
“You’re confessing?” O’Neill’s question was skeptical.
“No, I’m not. In high school. He raped my sister. He was the star quarterback in our little town. No one would listen when my sister and my parents went to the police. I went to talk to him. He just laughed about how many other times he’d scored. I punched him. He attacked me. He went off the roof. It was ruled an accident.”
“I could have probably saved him,” he said. “I was hated by all the football fans and everyone in town thought I’d murdered him. It didn’t help that I thought he deserved it. I still think so. One of the girls… She never went to the police… she committed suicide after her boyfriend blamed her for what happened -- called her a slut. Turned out she was a virgin just like my little sister. We only learned the whole story after she was dead. She killed herself the night before the bastard went off the roof.”
“You blame yourself for her death?” asked Carter.
“It could have been my sister,” said Frank, shrugging.
“What happened to her – your sister – I mean?” asked Carter.
“My parents got her counseling. She went to college, but she never did date much. I haven’t seen her since I was at Walter Reed. My family doesn’t remember I exist.”
“What do you mean?” asked Connor, feeling fear grip his gut. “How could they forget you?”
“Magic,” said Frank. “Either they don’t remember us, or they think we’re dead. Wolfram and Hart likes it if we don’t have ties other than them.”
“That’s wrong… Wait, either?” asked Jackson.
“Some people don’t like the idea their family will forget them. I didn’t want them to grieve,” said Frank.
“So, you don’t exist?” said Carter.
“Not as far as they are concerned. Apparently, the spell doesn’t cover military records,” said Frank. “Maybe I wasn’t important enough for the big spell – or maybe the government has magical protection or something. Maybe that’s why they changed my fingerprints.”
“You’re joking, right?” said Jackson. “You really think the government knows about this?”
“You really think the government doesn’t know about the supernatural?”
The members of SG-1 said nothing. If they could hide something like the Stargate program, in spite of some truly spectacular security messes, there was no telling what could be done with magic… especially if there were practitioners as powerful as Bobby had hinted.
“I think I want that anti magic tattoo Ellen has,” said Jackson drolly.
“I’m thinking the same thing, Danny,” said O’Neill.
“Me too, sir,” she said.
Teal'c simply inclined his head.
“Welcome to the real world,” said Dean.
“I’m not sure I like it very much,” said Jackson.
“We feel that way a lot,” said Sam. “It’s why I wanted out.”
“How’s that workin’ for ya?” asked Dean.
“Shut up, Dean,” said Sam.
“Just sayin’,” said Dean.
The magical wind that had whipped through the apartment earlier began to blow again, this time, it was much harder, swirling and picking up bits of paper and blowing everyone’s hair hard enough for it to sting. Then all the cutlery in the kitchen drawers began to rattle with an ominous metallic clang that got faster until the sound was like a metallic rain shower.
“Get down,” cried Bobby and O’Neill at the same time.
Everyone hit the ground. Sam, who was nearest to her, pulled Cassie down with him. Ellen yelped as her broken ribs were traumatized by the sudden motion.
Almost like one enormous metal organism, every knife, fork, tool or other metal object in the apartment flew at Frank, who just stared at the silvery mass, terrified, but stoic. In the few seconds he had to think about it, Franklyn Roberts debated throwing himself to one side, but that would mean throwing himself out of the protective circle. Since he was still bound to the chair, his choice was to topple to one side or to sit there. Sitting there turned out to be the best choice as all the metal objects hit the magical barrier and fell harmlessly to the ground with a loud clatter. It was over. The winds stopped.
“Thank you,” Frank said to Bobby, as Bobby sat up.
“You’re welcome,” said Bobby.
“My God, Jack! This is insane!” said Jackson. “What are we going to do?”
“I need to make a call. Carter, you’re with me,” said O’Neill. “T, Daniel – get him untied.”
“Are you sure…” Jackson asked.
“I’m not goin’ anywhere,” said Frank. “But sir, are you sure you want to do this?”
“I’m sure,” said O’Neill, clearly furious at what had just happened. “These people can’t just go around murdering and kidnapping people.”
“You’re not going to be able to take them down,” said Frank. “They’re bigger than you think.”
“I don’t care if they’re world wide…”
“Try pan dimensional,” said Frank.
“Pan who?” O’Neill stared at him, startled by the statement.
“I think he’s talking about different dimensions, sir.”
“I got that part, Carter,” said O’Neill. “Just not the part where there’s a law firm with offices in other dimensions.”
“They’re a lot more than a law firm, sir,” said Frank. “That’s just… the most useful form on earth… in some places they’re the priests, the teachers, the rulers…”
“Is there anything they’re not willing to do?”
“Probably not,” said Frank.
“Not really what I wanted you to say,” said O’Neill.
“So, you’re gonna let it go?” asked Frank.
“No,” said O’Neill.
“Jack…” Jackson began.
“Daniel?” O’Neill responded. “We’re dealing with this! So far, they’ve tried to kill Roberts here twice and they’ve kidnapped Winchester and taken him god knows where…”
“Probably the LA office,” Frank interjected.
“Thanks. Look, Danny, somebody’s got to stop these people, they’re a threat to – well everything. That’s not—” Jack was obviously ready to argue some more.
“Jack!” Jackson said sharply. “I was just going to say, ‘be careful’. If he’s right, we don’t know who we can trust.”
“Oh. Thanks,” he said. “You’re right. I was just going to talk to Hammond.”
“I think we can trust him,” said Carter.
For a moment none of the three spoke.
“Let’s hope so,” said Jackson quietly.
O’Neill and Carter left.
A/N: Yes, I changed Roberts' first name. I decided I didn't need to have two Freds in my story and I like Franklyn better anyway.