Disclaimer: Still not mine - maybe it's better if I just say 'No ownership, no money, thus no problems' and leave it at that - ya think?

Invasion 'Threads' - Interviews

by Linda Bindner

A/N before the A/N - so this is an Invisible A/N - like Invisible numbers (that's what comes from having a husband who is a math professor in real life) Please excuse this story taking so long to write - My beta reader kept saying 'I just don't buy it' causing me to rewrite this story something like TEN times!!!!!!!! Hopefully, her persistence in refusing to accept a mediocre story didn't cause you to pull your hair out in frustration. (There's already one General Hammond, after all...) Please accept my most humble apology.

Okay - enough scraping - on with the show!

A/N (the real one): A brief synopsis so far: The 'Threads' Communication Series:

story one - Mark and Carter have a conversation on the phone

story two - Mark and Jack have a conversation on the phone

story three - a Jack and Sam email conversation with very unusual consequences

story four - Carter receives a concussion when she interrupts meeting between Jack, the VP (Kinsey), et all. She then spends time in ICU while Jack anxiously waits for her to wake up. It's hard to have a face-to-face chat with an unconscious person

story five - Carter learns secrets - from Mark and Daniel, and from Jack - and on a side note, someone is trying to kill her - but who?

story six - codes, letters, and more secrets

story seven - What every man dreams of, but rarely gets - a cliché in the making

story eight - Sometimes it's what isn't said that's important

story nine - Earth is invaded? On the evening news?

story ten - The Aftermath: 'Public knowledge' is handled - SGC style

now on with the series:

Prologue

Jack and Sam broke suddenly out of their hug when the off-world activation alarm blared through the SGC. Not wasting a second now, even on caresses in the dark of the lab, they gave in to the tug of the alarm and jogged all the way to the 'Gate Room. They both wondered what could possibly be happening now, since they had seen the daily schedule, and noted that no SG team was due back until later that afternoon. They briefly saw the film crew run to keep up with Julia Donovan as she entered from the other side of the room, but they only had time to note the crew's nosy presence before they clearly heard Walter's dramatic announcement, Repeat, this is not a drill! before the Stargate activated.

Soldiers wearing vests and carrying wicked looking weapons bumped Julia and her film crew out of the way in their hurry to take their positions below the 'Gate, a typical reaction to any unknown 'Gate activation. They cocked their weapons, the sound cracking through the quiet room.

Close the Iris! Landry hollered in the next instant, and the big slab of metal whirled closed at the same time that Jack and Sam came to a halt near the blast door leading into the room. They stood well back from the potential activity that could erupt in the room at any moment. Sam noticed that Julia Donovan was standing a little too close to the soldiers trying to do their jobs, and was about to yell at her to get back when Walter's second call set her much more at ease. It's Teal'c's IDC!

Jack's brow furrowed. Teal'c? I didn't know that he was coming through today, he said as he moved forward into a more welcoming position.

Neither did... Sam's speech was cut off as the Iris crashed open so the visitor could come through the 'Gate. She hurried forward beside Jack to take up her usual position next to General Landry as he joined them. Now Julia Donovan and crew was standing at a discreet distance behind General Landry, clearly astonished by the fast motions of the SGC personnel, fear showing on their faces at the unexpected activity.

No one had time to explain what was happening to the civilians before a slurping sound heralded the arrival of Teal'c, dressed in the desert robes of Dakara, followed closely by two more individuals whose visit was even more of a surprise than the former First Prime's.

Sam's features slid into a beaming smile as she said, Rya'c! Kar'yn! What are you..? That was when she noticed the bundle of cloth that Rya'c was carrying, as well as the wide smiles that all three adults wore as they walked down the ramp. Teal'c - smiling? Then this had to be important! You have a child with you, she inanely stated.

Teal'c bowed in agreement with her assessment of the situation, then announced, ColonolCarter, O'Neill, I wish you to meet my granddaughter, Kar'rya.

Sam's smile grew to match Teal'c's. A baby?! Rya'c and Kar'yn had had a baby? No one mentioned anything! She turned to Jack, who was just as happy as she was, even though his reactive grin seemed more tempered than hers. Did you know anything about this, Sir?

Jack threw his arm around Teal'c's shoulder - or as close to the right height as he could get. You know those close-mouthed Jaffa... nary a word.

Sam barely heard him as she peaked into the blanket that Rya'c was carrying, revealing the sleeping baby hidden under all the material. How adorable! she smiled. She had all but forgotten the presence of the film crew behind them.

A grinning Kar'yn was the next to speak. Perhaps you should hold her now, while she sleeps. Her cry is so loud that you may not want to hold her when she wakes!

Sam held out her arms to take the child, and without thinking about what she was doing, slid across to stand next to Jack, making him hold half the girl baby with her while she held the other half in the process. How old is she? Sam's following question rang through the suddenly silent room, and only then did she belatedly think that perhaps handing even half a baby to Jack to hold might not have been such a good idea.

But Jack acted like he didn't have a care in the world as he shared the holding of the bundled baby with Sam. Only by the slight tension in his body did she know that this unexpected requirement of him was emotionally difficult for him to handle.

Teal'c's answer to Sam's question covered up some of the tense silence. She is three weeks of age, ColonelCarter.

Sam held her breath for a second. So young! Then she asked the baby's parents, What were you doing on Dakara so that you could all come here?

Kar'yn's smile split her young face. We were visiting the new Grandfather after the baby's birth, as Teal'c could not leave his duties on Dakara to be there when Kar'rya was born. So we went to visit him when the baby was old enough to withstand 'Gate travel. When DanielJackson contacted Teal'c a few minutes ago, asking him to return to Earth for a short visit, we couldn't resist coming along to see everyone.

Jack's head popped up as puzzlement clouded his eyes. Daniel contacted you? he asked Teal'c. About what?

As if on cue, Daniel jogged into the room to come to a stop beside Sam. Teal'c! he said. You made it! Then he noticed the others standing with Teal'c on the ramp. Kar'yn! Rya'c! What..?

DanielJackson, came Teal'c's sonorous tones. I am here - what did you wish to see me about?

Distracted from asking his own question, Daniel's face bloomed into sudden comprehension. Oh! he said, General Landry let me call you on the radio...

Yes, Teal'c said, as if to stop his friend from getting sidetracked, as if he had a lot of experience with Daniel's tangents, and felt one coming on right now. Go on, he instructed.

Daniel then grabbed Sam's left hand and held it out to Teal'c so that he could see. Her hold on the baby fell away as Daniel jerked her aside with his impetuous action, and it was only luck that kept her from dropping the baby altogether. Jack's hold on the child grew tighter as she let go of Kar'rya.

Look! Daniel yelled up to Teal'c in an excited tone. A ring!

A second silence greeted this movement.

The hush heralded Teal'c's flat statement of, It is indeed a ring, DanielJackson. He then cocked his head more to the side as he continued to gaze intently at Sam's finger, and Sam began to intently blush. Teal'c said as he gazed at the blue ring, I fail to grasp the significance of...

Daniel interrupted. It's an engagement ring! He was so excited that he was dancing in place now as he continued, As in, Jack and Sam are getting married!

Sam's blush raged across her face at Daniel's words, but when she looked at Jack, it was to simply find him grinning from ear to ear, as if now that he could finally display his feelings for Sam through such an open medium as an engagement ring, he didn't mind that display being for the benefit of those currently present in the 'Gate Room. At the sight of Jack's infectious grin, Sam's blush cooled, and she couldn't help grinning as well. Oh, she admitted to herself, she had it baaaad!

Teal'c's reaction to Daniel's news was his typical reaction to any news: his eyebrow rose. Indeed, he said, but there was so much astonishment and delight in that one word that it perfectly illustrated his feelings on the matter. My congratulations, O'Neill, ColonelCarter, he intoned, now sporting his rarely-seen Jaffa smile. This is indeed a time of celebration.

It was as if Daniel suddenly became aware of the cloth in Jack's arms. What's that? he asked in a childlike voice of curiosity just as Master Bra'tac swept into the room.

DanielJackson, the Jaffa master chastised in a loud tone. All eyes in the room swung to meet his. You ran so quickly out of... Then he spied the visitors. Rya'c, Kar'yn! It has been too long!

Sam was busy wondering how it could have been very long since the three must have seen each other when they had all just been on Dakara, when Walter suddenly appeared at their elbows. He said, Excuse me... Then he turned to Jack. General O'Neill, General Hammond wishes to speak with you on the phone.

Jack quickly handed over the baby in his arms to Sam, all the while glancing at Landry. Can I use the phone in your office?

At the exact same moment that General Landry was saying a polite, Of course, Sam's eyes abruptly widened just as a realization struck her. Holy Hannah! she blurted in credulous amazement.

All eyes turned towards her. What? Jack asked, his voice a confused tone of anxiety, as if he was expecting her to tell them where it hurt after her sudden announcement.

But Sam only blinked. Then she unceremoniously thrust the sleeping baby into Daniel's arms. In the same movement, she shoved her hand into her trouser pocket and drew out the little black box with a sense of reverence. I think I know what this does! she declared.

Again it was Jack who barked a, Carter... What?

But by then, Sam had regained her natural hesitancy in a basically untested scientific situation. I'm not certain. I need to run some more tests... off world. She then turned from studying the box, pushing the two buttons, seemingly at random, and stared at Landry. Permission to perform tests on Dakara, Sir.

Jack screwed up his eyes before Landry could answer her. Wait a minute! he exclaimed. You want to what?

But Sam went on, still staring at Landry. Scientific tests on Dakara are no threat to anyone - it's perfectly safe for me to go there... Sir, she said as an added persuasion for him to let her go through the 'Gate, even though she wasn't on an SG team any longer.

Julia broke in from her position near the door, reminding, Sir, she said to Jack, I discussed with General Landry the idea of the crew and I tagging along on a mission off world... A scientific mission would be the perfect opportunity...

Things were moving too quickly for Jack. He instantly had a bad feeling about sending civilians offworld, even on a scientific mission. Wait a minute! I..!

And that was when Walter again interrupted him to gently remind, Sir? The General?

Right! Jack whirled to go out the blast door on his way to Landry's office, but he stopped for a second to murmur to Julia, We'll discuss your request at a later time. Then he was gone.

DC Interview #1

Jack grabbed at the receiver to the black phone on Landry's desk. Trying to ignore the jab of eerie familiarity that ran through his frame at this action, he settled into the leather desk chair and greeted, General, Jack O'...

Before Jack was able to finish, George Hammond's voice boomed out of the receiver, Jack! Long time no see... or hear...

Jack chuckled. Actually, it was only yesterday after you got 'reactivated' that we spoke about 'the Kinsey Object,' he said, referring to the official name given to 'the little black box' that Carter was currently studying. And how do you feel about being yanked out of retirement? Did they interrupt a nice fishing spree, Sir?

Hammond sighed a sad sigh. Now I have a lot more sympathy for when I did it to you, Jack, he admitted.

Weeeell... Jack said in a casual tone, as if his own reactivation hadn't mattered to him. And it hadn't... the first time. Nothing had mattered then. But the second time, the one that Hammond was talking about... that one had been a bit more jarring. Anyway, Jack said in order to interrupt his memories. I hear that you wanted to speak to me?

The 'little black box' is the reason I'm calling, Hammond told him. Have you shown that box to Colonel Carter yet?

Jack leaned more comfortably into the leather chair. I have.

Does she know what it does? Hammond anxiously inquired.

Jack grunted a laugh again. She's had it a whole fifteen minutes, and she already has a theory. But you know how scientists are... She wants to test her ideas off world. She just now mentioned something about wanting to go to Dakara.

Hammond didn't comment on her fast assessment of the device. Instead, he asked, Did she say anything more specific?

Jack happily gusted a breath - he loved talking about Carter, even in such a professional capacity, but even he didn't fully understand that scientific mind of hers. Thus he was forced to concede, No, but you know how she is... always wanting to be sure of something before telling anyone about it.

Hammond's next question surprised Jack. And there's no way that you can speed her along in this investigation?

Speed her along? Wasn't she already working fast enough for the Washington goons... eh, people? Jack's brows lowered. Um... He hesitated, doing his best not to lose his temper, and found that he needed to swallow his emotion... hard. But swallow it he did. When he had cleared his throat of any residual emotion, he was able to casually inquire, What's the rush, if you don't mind my asking, Sir?

Hammond's sigh of repressed aggravation easily transferred over the phone line. I've got half the country, the Joint Chiefs, and the President breathing down my neck, wanting answers about the Goa'uld, what they were doing on our planet, questions of how can we tell them apart from 'regular' humans... He sighed again. Frankly, they all keep asking why the hell the Colonel could 'feel' Kinsey's Goa'uld, why they couldn't, and should they be worried about a future attack from her because of it.

An attack - from Carter? Jack yelped. But she's... she... He was unable to formulate into words the thoughts he was having. The idea of Carter having 'delusions of grandeur' about a Goa'uld takeover was simply too ludicrous to even mention! There's nothing to worry about, Sir.

I know, Jack, General Hammond placated. It's preposterous to me, too, but you and I know the Colonel well. The rest of the country doesn't know her from Adam. You have to understand...

Jack interrupted the man for the first time in his life. I don't 'have to understand' anything! That's my fiancé...

Jack, calm down! Hammond ordered in a half angry and half amused tone.

Jack tried to remember who he was speaking to, and to take the man's advice before he got court-martialed. Carter would kill him if he did!

Hammond continued, That's why I granted Miss Donovan's request when she asked to do several interviews about how the SGC works, what happens there on a daily basis - if we don't want this entire 'going public' situation to blow up in our faces, we need to be as open and honest about the Program as we can be. When I became aware of how many people are worried about Colonel Carter's 'Goa'uld radar,' I decided that we needed honesty more than more secrets.

Jack was still not quite able to completely keep his enmity at bay, but he was finally able to respond to Hammond's comments. But what about me? the General in Jack next forced him to inquire in a harder voice. These people don't know me, either, yet no one has insinuated anything about a 'Goa'uld radar' in me.

But that's just it, Hammond argued. You didn't announce that you can 'feel' an alien on National television, Hammond gently noted. There's an awful lot of suspicion about the Colonel right now, not to mention the entire Program, if I can judge by the amount of emails that I've been getting over the last day.

This announcement surprised Jack anew, though he reflected that it shouldn't have. Have you really gotten a lot of emails, Sir?

Hammond gave another tired sigh. We had to hire a whole slew of new people just to read all the mails. He paused. We even got some emails that mentioned you in particular. Hammond paused again, then spoke with amusement coloring his voice. There are several women around the world who think that you're mighty good l...

Jack quickly interrupted him. They've been brain-wiped, I'm sure. Jack was feeling the beginning of the twists of embarrassment shoot through his stomach - it wasn't the General's responsibility to take personal emails about his subordinates. Of course, his 'subordinates' was practically everybody in the entire country... except for the President...

Hammond's grin wormed it's way over the line. Jack, he gently chided. I can't keep track of you and all your women...

It was a reply that made Jack smile. And speaking of women... Carter still wants...

Tests off world, Hammond summed up.

Jack continued, And that film crew wants to join her on Dakara. Then he wrinkled his forehead. But I don't know if I'm comfortable with that. His voice trailed off.

Hammond filled in the following silence, That is an idea, however. He continued in the same pensive tone, Just think of the PR possibilities. SG-1 could go with Colonel Carter as backup, and they could take a camera with them off world, and then we can show the public what it really looks like on another planet.

Jack halted the General's growing enthusiasm before it 'ran away with him.' But I remind you that the last time Carter got together with Julia Donovan, they were kidnapped by her film crew and held at gunpoint while a slimy political wannabee flew the flagship of the US to parts unknown. He reminded, If it hadn't been for the Asgard...

But General Hammond wasn't deterred from the possibilities of this suggestion. Jack, when did you become so cautious? he jibed in his best 'let's go save the world anyway' tone of voice.

It comes with the stars on my collar, Jack quipped back. I still don't think this is a good idea...

Okay, okay, Hammond sighed. You're probably right... I must be thinking like a politician again. Then he added, Would you give in a little if one of the SGC people carry the camera through the 'Gate?

What - like shoot a home movie? Jack asked. A home movie of Free Jaffa - how interesting! He hadn't considered that idea. He now puffed out his lips, thinking. Okay, he hesitantly agreed. I'll suggest that Reynolds go with Carter and SG-1... but only if Carter has Mitchell, Daniel, and Teal'c along with her as backup. It's not that I don't trust Miss Donovan's film crew... but I don't trust her film crew.

We did background checks on all of them, Jack, Hammond gently reminded. They checked out.

So did the last crew, Jack immediately riposted. And this is Carter's life we're talking about...

Jack, give me some credit, will you? Hammond laughed into the phone. The Colonel will be perfectly safe.

Jack immediately felt chastened, but couldn't quite banish his misgivings about this mission, either, not even for the General.

Jack was about to give a reminder of his reluctant consent when Hammond spoke first. Alright, I'll make a deal with you.

Jack groaned. You intimated that you're turning into a politician, Sir... All politicians are good at making deals - I've yet to meet one who is good at keeping them...

I'll ignore that comment, Hammond said as if Jack hadn't spoken. Then he went on, The President has been getting some heat from CNN to have you interviewed...

I hate interviews, Jack instantly said, almost overriding his old friend.

I know. It was obvious that Hammond was remembering the last time Jack had been forced to be interviewed for a film...

Jack groaned again at the thought of what else Hammond might have remembered about that time. Now General Hammond went on while Jack was lost in his thoughts. Send Colonel Reynolds through with Colonel Carter... and as a concession, you do an interview for Inside Access at the same time, as a way to sort of ease the public into knowing about the SGC.

An Interview? Jack instantly protested, Sir, isn't there..?

But Hammond was adamant. Take it or leave it, Jack.

Jack winced. This whole 'outing' of the Stargate Program was asking more of him than he had first realized that it would. Why did he feel like he was already being nibbled to death by piranhas? This was a political move, Jack just knew it. No possible chance of a last minute negotiation? he asked in a joking manner.

General Hammond gently reminded him, Without the money that Kinsey was promising...

Jack gusted a huge sigh. Blackmail - every Washington type's coup de grÉce. Alright.... I'll do it, Jack grumbled. But you owe me for this. Yet... How did one convince someone on the President of the United States staff that he 'owed one?'

As a final incentive, Hammond added, Will coming to the wedding be payment enough?

Jack gave an irritated growl. I feel like a manipulated dog...

All in the name of public SGC approval, and world peace, Hammond cheerfully reminded.

Hammond knew just what to say... Jack actually growled into the phone. At last he... sort of... conceded. Will the President officiate at the wedding? he next asked, just throwing that idea out into consideration. He didn't even know if the President of the US could marry anyone...

And he never did find out, either. At that moment, Walter entered the office and politely informed in a low voice, Forgive the intrusion, Sir - Miss Donovan is ready for you. He took one look at Jack's glowering face, and added, Sir, just for good measure.

Jack narrowed his eyes. Why do I smell a rat here? Yeah, one with the name 'George Hammond' clearly stamped on it.

It's for the sake of the Stargate Program, Jack, Hammond persuasively added.

Jack just growled in response.

It's for a good cause, Hammond next reminded him.

Jack sighed, irritated that he'd been so easily manipulated. And all because of Carter! It was infuriating... if in a nice way. Alright... but... I'll spill my guts because of Carter.

It's a deal, Hammond quickly replied. I'll tell the President. It sounded like he knew which buttons to successfully push on Jack O'Neill!

Jack sighed - he really hated TV interviews. But he hated the idea of sending an unknown film crew with Carter even more. He didn't need to practically invite something bad to happen to her, not now. With SG-1's luck, something bad was sure to happen to them even if he sent Reynolds along with them instead of a dubious film crew! Alright, you got me. I'll give them their fifteen minutes...

Hammond laughed outright once more. You won't regret this - you'll be a hero.

I don't want to be a hero, Jack grumbled. I hear the pay is lousy.

Hammond's laugh carried over the phone line. You won't regret this, Jack.

Yes I will, Jack thought, but was smart enough to keep his mouth shut... for a change. He sighed. First, let me see Carter off, then I'm all theirs, he gave in.

Jack slowly hung up the phone, putting off his interview for as long as possible.

Just when had he become such a Carter sap?

TV interview of a... Very... Reluctant Hero

Jack moved from Landry's office and into the Briefing Room, where Julia Donovan and her film crew were seated around the large Briefing Room table. They were here already? Jack looked at them in suspicion. It was as if they had known about his and Hammond's deal... all along.

Sudden realization stormed through Jack's mind. He really had been set up! Oh, Hammond would pay double for this!

General, Julia said in greeting. I...

Jack cut her off with a finger held up to indicate that he wished a moment, then hurried down the stairs to the Gate Room, where SG-1, along with Colonel Carter, was already geared up and ready to go, as if they could also read his mind. The problem was that Reynolds seemed able to read his mind as well - he was geared up, too, juggling a large TV camera on his shoulder. Jack did his best to ignore the knowing smiles they all sent his way as he eyed Reynolds. Then he seemed to recall that he had a team - a very special team - waiting. Landry and I will keep the lights on for ya, he said, though he knew that it was basically unnecessary. He again gave Colonel Reynolds the 'evil eye' when he glanced up at a grinning General Landry standing in the Control Room. Even the General looked as if he had known what was about to happen - how infuriating! Jack gave another mental growl.

The team hadn't been gone thirty seconds before Julia was beside him - pestering.

Jack grimaced, Yes, yes... He fancied that Julia Donovan gave him her own version of the 'evil eye.'

Jack purposely strode out of the 'Gate Room, and back up to the Briefing Room, where he fell into one of the chairs around the Briefing table, and Julia didn't waste any time once he was there. She sat across from him, then immediately said, General O'Neill...

Why did he get the feeling that this was going to be a long interview? Call me 'Jack,' Jack instructed. It's shorter. Might as well make this interview as painless and short as possible.

Undeterred, Julia continued, Jack... Tell us what you really think about what's been happening these last few days.

Jack heaved a long suffering sigh. It was only because he'd been asked as a 'personal favor' by Hammond that he was even in front of the camera now. Jack sent one glare in the camera's general direction, then sighed again. He was caught - might as well make the best of a bad situation. He pondered that idea, and couldn't help but to mentally liken the situation with Miss Donovan and her crew to the many times that he had been held prisoner by the Goa'uld, and been forced to make the best of a poor situation. But he didn't think he'd mention it just now!

He paused, and finally said, I don't want to... But he couldn't say that... he might get someone in trouble. I think... But he couldn't say that, either. Look, he said at last. I know that there's a lot going on here that you don't understand, and it must seem like no one will explain...

Julia shrugged and using a light voice, invited, The people would love to know.

I bet they would, Jack injudiciously thought. But all he said aloud was, Okay... The SGC in a nutshell: Goa'uld equals 'bad.' Our allies equals 'good.' He smiled a bright smile. Any questions?

Julia gave him a hard stare at his attempt at a sarcastic joke. General, you might as well tell us about the Program, as I'll just get my information from someone else if you don't. She gazed at him in a more cajoling manner. From what I understand, you've been at the SGC the longest. You have the most experience of any person on base, including General Landry. But if you want someone else to...

What was he - a kid to be 'persuaded?' No, that's alright... Someone else 'talking' would just screw up all that information for sure, Jack realized. Julia Donovan was good at what she did, Jack also reluctantly realized. Giving in to her 'request' would be a lot easier in the long run than dodging the inevitable.

So... what did he really think? Jack pondered the recent events for a moment, and when he spoke, his voice was very hesitant. But he opted for honesty... this time. I think... that... this is... part of the plan? he hesitantly guessed. Turn the Stargate Program from 'secret' to 'public...' Sort of subtle, but nothing is too good for the Goa'uld.

The Goa'uld... the alien race that the SGC is fighting, isn't that right? Julia ascertained. Our public needs...

The Goa'uld... as in Ba'al, Jack said to her, hiding his shiver of revulsion at his own mention of the alien's name.

Julia wrinkled her nose. Ba'al? I thought we were dealing with the Goa'uld?

Ba'al is a Goa'uld, Jack corrected. We've managed to defeat the Goa'uld... for the most part. Ba'al is one of the few System Lords left. So we figured this governmental takeover must have been his idea from the beginning.

'System Lords?'

Crap. They didn't even understand that simple reference? He was too busy for this! He may owe General Hammond for his 'new lease on life,' when he had been reactivated all those years ago, but even expressing his gratitude was not worth this! Get the basics down first, then call me, he suggested as politely as he could. He rose from his chair prior to leaving the Briefing Room.

In desperation at the threat of the General leaving her without an interview, Julia pulled out her one trump card that she had obviously heard would work to freeze General O'Neill in his tracks. I understand that you once had a son? she went on to hurriedly inquire. Why don't you tell us about him.

Jack froze all right. The words fell flat in the Briefing Room as Jack momentarily rocked on the balls of his feet. How had she found out about Charlie so quickly? He didn't breathe.

Then Julia looked guilty as she made a confession to Jack's unasked question regarding Charlie. I admit to doing some research on you... then on your wife... ex-wife... on the Internet this morning before coming here. Jack glared at her, the silence shrouding the room in an evil pall. Julia finally added, I had the feeling that you would be hard to pin down on camera... and when your own military files say little besides 'classified'... I knew that I needed to take another angle with you. Her expression of guilt, mixed with her pride in the knowledge she'd been able to utilize in digging up useful information on him, clearly warred with each other on her face. I noticed, however, that your file did indicate that you had once been married to a 'Sara Peterson...'

What was this - Jack's past come back to haunt him?

After another quiet moment fraught with tension as Jack tangled with his memories of his last moments with Charlie, he turned a dark face to Julia. Don't make me mad, he quietly suggested, giving the indication that he was much more dangerous than he had so far appeared when angered... and he was on the verge of growing more and more livid now.

Julia tried her best to defuse the situation that she had unwittingly created. Purposely making you angry isn't my intention, she now said to him in a gentle voice, and added, Please sit.

Slowly, Jack did as he was bid, remembering that he was now on camera, and he had no control over what Miss Donovan chose to use in her 'finished interview' that she planned to show on National television later that day. How she presented him - as a bitter, aging General best ignored, or as the 'reluctant hero' that Hammond had already tried to create when they had met in DC to discuss the recent events depended on how he behaved now.

But as always, good behavior was difficult for Jack. His head swam with his effort to keep a lid on his temper. Thinking about Carter, and the ring she even now wore on her finger, helped to calm his tight nerves. But even the thought of Carter had its limits.

Julia stared at him for a moment, looking as though she were sizing him up, but actually giving him the time he needed to collect himself.

When she was certain that he would be able to remain calm and coherent, she began, Okay.... General.... just so you know, we can edit that last part out, or not, depending on what you want...

Above all, Jack did not want his private past to be paraded over national air waves. You seem to have done your homework, Miss Donovan, Jack finally conceded. You want an interview... let's interview.

Julia sighed once, as if she was used to dealing with reluctant interviewees, but still glad that the tactic that she had chosen to use to convince General O'Neill of her sincerity with this interview hadn't backfired to bite her in the butt. General... Jack, she said, changing his name as he'd earlier requested. What can you tell us that is a bit more detailed than simply 'Goa'uld equals bad, and Allies equals good?'

By repeating his words, she let him know that she intended to cut out their entire conversation about Charlie... as long as he delivered what she wanted, which was the interview of hero of the 'Goa'uld sidewalk incident.' And the entire nation had clearly decided that he had been chosen to be that hero, if he understood Julia's silent signals correctly.

Jack sighed, but it was a gesture of acceptance more than of annoyance. If he was going to be 'hero of the SGC,' then he might as well put the SGC in the best light possible.

Knowing that he was selling the Stargate Program to the public as much as giving basic information, Jack tried to choose his words with care. Um.... Jack paused. Such a start wasn't particularly auspicious.

But before he could either gather his thoughts, or let his mouth run away with those thoughts, Walter suddenly crept hesitantly into the room. Fifteen Walter-less minutes had gone by - Jack figured that it was time for a Walter-interruption.

Excuse me, the aid politely coughed. Then he turned to Jack and said, Sir, the President is on the phone and asking to speak with you.

Jack automatically rose at the sergeant's words. It was as if those magic words could draw him away from anything.

Jack gave a sudden grin, remembering what he and Carter had been doing only that morning, and wondered if he would allow even that to be interrupted by a Presidential call or not.

But Jack had one final comment to make to Julia before disappearing with Walter out of the room. He stared at Julia and said, Had Kinsey managed to do what he planned, the System Lord Ba'al would seem like a walk in the park by comparison. He grinned a charming smile. Now... Can't keep the President waiting... And he walked out of the Briefing Room without a backwards glance.

DC Interview #2

Jack mouthed, Thank you! to his one-time aid, who simply smiled a secret little smile, and nodded, then indicated Landry's office. The General offers the use of his phone.

Thank you, Walter, Jack said, aloud this time, then entered Landry's office from the corridor. He ignored the eerie sense of familiarity that again washed over him as he crossed to the desk scattered with papers (some things don't change, he noted) and grabbed the receiver to the red phone. Mr. President, Sir, General O'Neill here... you called? he jovially greeted as he again sat down in Landry's leather chair.

Jack! the familiar tones of Henry Hayes flowed over the line. I have new orders for you, he announced.

New orders? Already? Jack was peripherally aware of seeing a member of the film crew moving to the drinks table in the Briefing Room to get a drink, probably to stave off the boredom of waiting for him... again... but Jack was far more focused on what the President was saying than on what a piddly film crew member did with his free time. Do you want me back in Washington? Jack naively asked. As he asked, he was also aware of the squeezing in his chest that meant he didn't want to be reassigned, that he had only just arrived in Colorado! Carter wasn't even back yet from her jaunt to Dakara. Jack groaned, but softly, so that the President would never hear him.

No, not quite in Washington, Hayes told him. The IOA and the Joint Chiefs met with me this morning, and we all agreed that it would be to the country's benefit if the government has a representative at the SGC to coordinate things from that end, what with the Program public knowledge now - sort of a PR person. And that representative would be...

You mean me? Jack blurted. When the President didn't say anything to negate his fast assumption, Jack sat back in Landry's chair, stunned. But I'm hardly the right person for representing... And what would happen to Homeworld Security?

Hayes cut him off, anticipating his question. The IOA disagree with you, General, and have already made arrangements for General Hammond to temporarily head Homeworld, not to replace you, he emphasized, but to free up your time. We're aware that in this situation, we need someone like Hammond at Homeworld, someone who knows what dealing with Stargate disclosure, and with the public, is like. And don't sell yourself short, either. We also need someone who intimately knows the workings of the SGC there, in Colorado. We need someone who understands this war with the Goa'uld, who has been there from the beginning, who has personally dealt with the Stargate on a planetary scale... and that's not Landry. They want you. Hayes paused, and in what sounded like a cheerful voice, especially for a man who had just had the most classified secret in the entire country uncovered the day before on public television, made another addition, And according to our recent influx of emails, the public wants you, too. This couldn't be a better solution than if I had ordered it myself!

Jack frowned. If he accepted reassignment to the SGC... that meant... he and Sam would be, not exactly in a direct chain of command, but assigned to the same extended chain of command as well as assigned to the same base. A typical engagement between two people in that kind of a situation was definitely more than the military could or would overlook, Jack knew.

He felt that he should point this tiny hitch in the President's plan out to him. With all due respect, Sir, that leaves me and Colonel Carter...

Hayes's tone moved from jovial to resigned the minute that Jack spoke. I know, and I understand your frustration, he assured.

I don't think you do, Sir, Jack said, feeling that frustration that the President had mentioned rising to the boiling point in a second, making him speak more plainly than he otherwise would have. Sam and I... We've been waiting for over eight years to do something about our personal situation, he argued. We did our duty, we...

It's out of my hands, Jack, Hayes sadly told him, interrupting his protests, as if he didn't want to hear them... or was afraid to hear them. The IOA, the Joint Chiefs, and even the American public has already made the decision. His shrug of defeat was loud over the phone. All I could do was point out this problem of yours, but they wouldn't be swayed from this recommendation. And this year is a party election year... For the sake of congressional elections, I had to agree.

But, Jack protested. But, he said again.

'But...' In reality, this was his commander in chief giving him a direct order. What could he say?

He could say a deadened, 'Yes Sir.'

Or... He could say...

No, Jack softly intoned over the phone, a move that made his heart pound, and bands of nervous sweat to bead on his forehead.

This reaction took President Hayes by surprise, according to his incredulous questioning response, No?

Jack felt his his heart flutter again at the idea of declining his new orders. He gripped the receiver a fraction tighter in his hand to stop his fingers from quivering.

But with his firmer resolve came a firmer voice. No, Jack said again.

Hayes paused for a telling moment that was tight with tension. When he spoke, it was slowly and distinctly, yet admirably displayed his angry disbelief. Care to explain your reasons, General?

Jack took a deep breath, but it only made a dent in his nervous quaking. It wasn't the first time that he had considered breaking orders, but this was the first time that he was doing it for himself, and not for an exalted belief that he could make the country a bit better place to live in if he disobeyed orders. The differences in how he felt while he was actually doing that disobeying wasn't something that he was prepared for.

Shaking like a leaf buffeted by a typhoon, Jack knew that there was no hiding his feelings anymore, and that scared him to death.

Yet... no hiding meant no hiding.

Jack swallowed his nervousness, and in that same firm but soft voice, started to explain, Be... Being stationed at the SGC means that... that by being engaged to be married to Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter - having a true relationship with her - we would, in effect, be breaking the military's Fraternization Regulations. According to the Frat Regs, an officer cannot engage in a... There, Jack paused. How was he supposed to say this to the President of the United States? He didn't know what Hayes's opinions were about these types of relationships...

But Jack finally threw full caution to the wind - he was already implying that he planned to defy direct orders... What did it matter how diplomatic he was as he did it? So he brokenly went on, The Frat Regs warn... warn against a possible... sexual... sexual relationship... one between an officer and a subordinate... you already know that. And as I have every intention of having... a... sexual relationship with Sam - any kind of relations with Sam - especially if we get married - hopefully sooner rather than later - then with all due respect, Mr. President, I... Here Jack paused again, asking himself if he truly understood what he was doing.

The President's quiet yet forceful inquiry bit like an enraged Jaffa across the phone line. Do you really know what this means?

Jack breathed once, twice, then firmly said, Yes Sir, I do. It means court-martial... it means dishonorable discharge for a soldier unwilling to follow orders... it means... Jack paused again to allow himself to fleetingly think of Sam, for just once split second. That nanosecond was all it took to make him remember how they'd gotten engaged, and for an answering grin to crease his lips. In a stronger voice than he'd used before, he added, It means that I'm finally getting my head out of my butt and putting Sam first. He sighed. My job is important to me, and fighting the Goa'uld is always a great thing to do, and I'll miss that feeling of giving it to the bad guys where it counts, but Sam is... Jack hesitated, then went on. Waaaaay worth it! He grinned a grimace after finishing his words - there was definitely no hiding his feelings now!

Jack sighed once more, a sound full of determined regret. Do what you feel you have to do, Sir, he continued. I won't pretend that this puts you in anything but an awkward position, but I won't ask Sam to give up a relationship that we've waited over eight years to start. I can't follow orders this time, Sir, so I'm going to have to say 'no.'

Orders aren't a negotiation, Jack, he chastised himself as he finished speaking. You've really done it this time.

Yet, even as he was having these rambling, tortuous thoughts, he quietly, softly, hung up the phone.

To Be Continued in:

Invasion 'Threads' - Cleanup


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