Chapter 15

Jack's eyes widened as he realized that he and Carter had an audience. “Woah!” He reared back, nearly losing his grip on Carter in the process. “Who the hell are you?”

The typical Asgard blinking began - it wasn't the first time that the blinking made Jack wonder if it was a defense mechanism for the entire race. “I am Frazer,” the Asgard calmly announced. “I am here to assist Major... Colonel Carter in repairing her leg.”

It was a statement that didn't make the least impression on Jack; he was too annoyed. “Do you mind?” he caustically said, his scowl firmly intact as he was marginally aware of Carter smoothing her hand over her lips in a sly attempt to hide a smile. He wanted to kiss Carter. She was as amenable to that idea as she'd ever been... for an aware Carter, that is. He wanted to grab this opportunity while he could. “We're busy - give us a few.” Jack dismissed the alien with as little interest as he had given its words, turning more fully back to Carter.

But a second throat clearing interrupted him again. Jack's patience was reaching his dangerously short limit, even though the alien was a friend of Thor's. “What?”

Frazer continued, still blinking furiously. “I do not mean to intrude, but I was under the impression that Commander Thor's mission is of vital importance. As his mission is dependent on the completion of my mission...” Frazer let her voice trail to silence as she gave Jack a look of disapproval, blinking the entire time.

Jack groaned loudly into the quiet corridor as Carter finally let herself go, and laughed. “Ok!” he finally barked, very reluctantly acceding to fate. He hefted the giggling Carter more firmly, then under his breath, muttered, “I finally almost get to kiss the girl, and I'm stopped by Thor's demonic look-alike.”

“This way,” Frazer was saying in a businesslike tone now that she had succeeded in getting the human's attention. She clearly expected Jack to follow.

But Jack only gave a huff of peeved, put-upon annoyance, which made Carter laugh even more. When he glared at her, she protested, “You have to admit this is funny, Sir!”

All Jack said was, “Don't call me 'Sir,'” before giving into his fate as gracefully as he could (not very gracefully), and grumpily following Frazer into the Infirmary.

“Then don't call me 'Carter,'” she quipped in response.

Jack muttered, “Whatever you say, Carter,” as Frazer led them over to the pod-like Asgard response to a sarcophagus.

“Just drop me in, Sir,” Carter replied, all business now that they were faced with the cylinder that would change her life - she hoped. And she wasn't exactly upset that Frazer had interrupted that scene with Jack just now. She needed to think about what he was proposing first - she always needed to think about things. But she endeavored to hide these thoughts behind a businesslike veneer. It was what she expected of herself, and what Jack expected, and... but she was supposed to be doing what wasn't expected.

“Stop thinking, Carter,” Jack whispered to her in severe exasperation as he helped her to lie down. “You want to overthink things again - don't.”

As Sam lay down and visibly stopped thinking - grumbling the entire time - Jack noted that this medical pod had a lot more buttons and doohickeys attached to it than the pod in Thor's chamber that had repaired his broken arm. “When you come out, we'll talk more about the... our um... almost...” He indicated himself, then her. “You know,” he inelegantly whispered in Carter's ear, telling her without telling her that he would be right there waiting for her to wake up - he wasn't going anywhere.

Her eyes met his. “Can't wait,” she quietly told him after a silent moment, telling him without telling him that she understood exactly what he wasn't saying.

“Good,” Jack whispered back, and the pod slid closed. “Ok, Frazer, I'm trusting you to make this quick. Thor's...”

Frazer interrupted. “Commander Thor has spoken about your impatience, O'Neill, but this is not the time to be rushed. I have already done what I can to speed the process. You must give me a few moments.”

It was strange to hear the Asgard version of his words thrown back in his face. Jack did his best to ignore the little alien even as he inquired, “Just what is it that you're doing to her?”

Frazer was blunt and to the point. “I am cloning her lost leg...” At Jack's look of antipathy, added, “Her leg, not her body. Then I intend to attach it to her existing tissue. I only hope that there has not been too much tissue damage that her body rejects the cloned leg. From what I have ascertained thus far, rejection should not be a concern, but I wish you to be prepared for anything to occur.”

In spite of Frazer's assurances, Jack winced each time the alien said the word 'cloned.' He knew how Carter felt about the whole cloning thing - he wanted her along on this mission of Thor's badly enough to know that he shouldn't tell her a thing about this procedure. She had probably already guessed, anyway. “Just hurry it up, will ya?”

Imperturbed, Frazer's eyes never strayed from the pod's control board as her gentle reminder rang out. “As I told you before...”

“You can't hurry,” Jack finished for Frazer on a grimace. “Just... do your magic.”

Frazer argued, “It is not magic, but a process of...”

“Just..!” Jack's grimace deepened. Friend of Thor's or not, he was beginning to have a deep dislike of the Asgard medical professional!

“I will,” Frazer conceded, as if she could read Jack's mind, and blinked furiously.

Jack wondered how she could see with all the blinking she was doing, and blew out a breath he hadn't been aware that he was holding. “Good.”

It grew quiet in the medical bay as Frazer moved stones, pushed buttons, and otherwise magicked the pod into repairing Carter's lost leg. The amount of concentration the Asgard was showing obviously said that Ba'al wasn't going to have the last word where Carter was concerned as long as she had something to say about it.

The little alien really did remind him of Fraiser in an odd sort of way.

Carter had only been in the pod for awhile when Pete suddenly hurried through the door and began speaking a mile a minute - he reminded Jack of Daniel. “Thor - the little guy - says to hurry it up in here - you're taking too long.”

“Don't rush Frazer!” Jack acerbically shot back at the man.

Frazer paused for a moment in her movements to shoot her own assessing glance at Jack, but remained silent. She went back to her pod monitoring unasked, but it was pretty clear what she was thinking.

Pete threw up his hands in exasperation at Jack's apparent dark mood. “I'm just repeating what the gray guy said. Don't shoot the messenger!”

Jack's look darkened even more to become positively thunderous. “Are you saying that I should shoot Thor, instead?”

Pete's expression was the one to darken this time. “Look, you and these alien dudes work that out among yourselves. I just came down to see how my wife's doing.”

Jack could have spit fire at Pete. “She's not your wife!”

Pete didn't back down. “I have a wedding license that says differently.”

It was Frazer who halted this line of argument. “Silence will assist me in hurrying.”

That sentiment was clear - either shut up, or get out. Jack recalled all the times he had been thrown out of an Infirmary before, but as he'd already promised Carter that he would be there when she emerged from the pod, he decided that shutting up was the better part of valor at this point. Frazer was beginning to resemble Fraiser more all the time.

An uneasy silence fell on the medical bay, broken moments later only by Pete's subdued voice. “So, we going to blow this joint and storm that cloning castle, or what?”

Jack's look was now nothing but feigned confusion. “What's this 'we' stuff? There is no 'we.' There's me, and there's Carter, assuming Frazer can do her thing. I'm not taking some yahoo cop with me on a mission like this. So forget it - once we get to somewhere with a Stargate, you can Gate home. But plain and simply put: you're gone.”

Surprisingly, Pete latched onto the one piece of information in that short speech. “So you admit it - you plan on going someplace specific first, I assume to get help - that is, since you plan to go somewhere with a Stargate. I assume that a planet that has a Stargate on it will also have help on it. But none of that even matters - again I point out, we're in something of a rush here!”

“Not that big of a rush!” Jack growled, still trying to keep his voice down per Frazer's orders. However, his mounting anger at the cop's denseness was making it hard. “What part of 'we work alone' don't you get?” And he motioned between him and Sam. “My team and I don't need any civilian enthusiasm mucking up our system!”

Pete gave a huff of air. “You've got you, and maybe a walking, working Sam Carter. But even you've said at the Home that the Jackson guy is a no-go clone. And you don't know where the big guy is. Maybe you'll find him, maybe you won't. So you really only have half a team. The point I'm trying to make is I'm here right now - and I'm volunteering!”

“I don't care what you do!” Jack quietly exclaimed. “I'm not stupid! You don't know what we're dealing with on this mission!” He gave a disdainful curl of his lip. “You're not coming - end of story.”

Pete's glare became more arctic yet. “I'm as trained in combat as you are.”

“Street combat, not Jaffa combat,” Jack pointed out. “These guys aren't petty criminals - they're warriors who would as soon kill you as speak to you. This is the big league where people get killed if you mess up just once. I've got to know that I can count on you, and right now, the only thing I really know about you is that you like to infiltrate this country's military operations, then lie about why you did it.” Jack was beginning to breath hard as he recalled that onworld mission between Osiris and Daniel where only his affection for Carter had kept him from beating Pete to a pulp for interfering with SG-1's mission. “The answer is no.”

Pete's glacial stare bored into Jack, belying the man's earlier comment on his ability to lie about why he had been where. “Yeah, well... then you're an idiot, O'Neill, and not this great commander that Sam keeps telling me about.”

“I don't care what you think of me, Shanahan!” Jack retorted. “My team's still alive, after eight years of battling Jaffa - I wouldn't be a very good team leader if I caved in to stupid commentary like yours!”

Pete was almost beside himself with anger, but it was a controlled anger. “In case you don't get it, I'm volunteering, O'Neill! I'll probably get killed! But I want to go, and only a stupid commando dude turns away free help, no matter what shape it comes in!” He paused to regroup before starting on a new tangent. “Besides, I bet you're pretty well known to the System thingies.”

“System Lords!”

“Whatever! The point is, I bet this Ball guy knows all about you! I got the impression that you and him go way back, as if he'd recognize you right off. And if he'll know you, he'll know Sam, and Jackson, and that tall guy. But me - he don't know me from anyone. I could waltz right in there and...”

“And what? Blow the joint right under his nose?” Jack sneered. “Ba'al's not stupid! He would never let you do that! And even if he does, I won't!”

Pete gave a sneer of his own. “And it's cop rule number one that if you don't want to be detected, you go into a mission looking as much like the bad guy as possible! If you're such a great team leader, how come you don't know that?

The query made Jack pause for just a moment. It was a good question - why hadn't they gone in looking like Jaffa before now? It instantly gave their chances of success a positive boost.

But Jack was willing to die before telling Shanahan that he'd made a good point. He opened his mouth to make another retort.

“I am done,” Frazer said from her spot on the dais, unknowingly (or knowingly - you could never tell with those Asgard) cutting off Jack's reply.

Done? Already? But Jack hadn't said half the things he wanted to say to Pete yet, or about his screwy ideas on the camouflage issue.

And they were screwy, weren't they? He pictured them storming Ba'al's Cimmeria facility as themselves, making it ten steps before getting captured, then juxtaposed that idea with them slipping in undetected as Jaffa wearing concealing head gear, clanking so much that they fit in with everyone else, and being free to blow the joint at their own convenience.

Jack had to agree that this idea had merit enough for a good commander to consider. It might even work.

Yet, he just couldn't get over the fact that a good idea had come from Shanahan. That just made him... ugh! If the cop ever found out he was considering his ideas, he might just have to be sick right here in the Infirmary.

Which would end up putting him in Frazer's care, and somehow, Jack just knew that he didn't want to do that. If Fraiser had been The Napoleonic Power Monger, then Frazer was probably the supreme Power Monger, Asgard style. The idea of being at the mercy of a Napoleonic Asgard... ACK!

Chapter 16

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