Disclaimer: Don't own them... Never did. No money made, either. Damn, I need a financial adviser.

Oh, Brother, Wherefore Art Thou?

Thou... er... Thy?... Thine?... Art right here.

by Linda Bindner

Mark Carter made his way into his garage, and opened the door of his light blue Ford Sentra, after first wading his way through the two bikes belonging to his children, left just beyond the garage steps, and several boxes stacked off by the side wall. Those boxes had been in his way of the open car door since he and Andrea had moved into this house... at least for ten years. He vowed to himself once again to clean out the garage once and for all, but as usual, it would have to wait for the weekend. He just didn't have time for...

Mark suddenly felt something press firmly against his lower back muscles, in a direct line with his kidneys. One wrong move, and you'll be another smear on this concrete floor, a cold voice that he didn't recognize told him from behind.

Mark did the first thing that came to mind. Heart pounding erratically, he raised his hands above his head, his briefcase dangling from his left fingers. Please don't do anything.., Mark began.

A sound hissed out from the area behind him, interrupting Mark's plea. Keep you voice down! came the harsh order. Do what I tell you, and no one will get hurt, the voice said next. Now, slowly, open the front car door, then unlock the back door and climb in after handing the keys to me.

Mark thought it slightly odd that he wasn't also instructed to open the garage door, too, as a car would certainly not get far with the heavy door in its down position. But, he was also not going to argue in the middle of a carjacking, as he was fairly certain that he was in the middle of one, now. Don't shoot me, he pled over his shoulder in a tone that shook. I have two kids, he next informed.

I'm not gonna shoot ya! came the irritated voice again. Didn't I say that no one would get hurt if you do as I ask? Now, the keys, please, nice and slow.

Slowly, with exaggerated motions, Mark unlocked the front door with the set of four keys that he already held in his fingers, flipped the lock for the back door, held his keyring over his shoulder so that the disembodied person behind him could grab them, then moved to the back door and climbed into the rear seat. As soon as he was settled onto the long, rarely utilized bench seat, he peered out of the corners of his eyes through the side windows of his vehicle. He was fairly astonished to see a gray-haired man toss the keys over his car to a short-haired, blonde accomplice standing on the other side of the garage. Whoever the blonde was deftly plucked the keys one-handed out of the air, fit the key into the passenger lock, then stepped into the car just after the gray-haired man had slid behind the wheel.

You in? asked the man... whoever he was, and the blonde nodded once, brusquely, before she quietly pulled the passenger door shut behind her.

It was then that the blonde turned her head around in order to face Mark in the back seat. Hey, Mark, how ya doin'? asked his little sister, Sam.

Mark gaped like a fish, his mouth open into a wide 'O' for half a second as he stared at Sam. Uh.., he stuttered, not knowing if he should show his surprise, or act like this was a normal way to greet his sister. Uh...

That was when the man behind the steering wheel smiled a huge grin. His face transformed to one belonging to a man ten years younger, and his gesture grew to show much more happiness than the scowl of concentration Mark had seen adorning the face until this moment. Yeah, he said of Mark's stuttering. Speechless... She kinda has the same effect on me, too. He faced Sam across the seat from him. Nice to know that you have that effect on every man on the planet, he joked.

Mark gave another start. Joking? How could that man be joking at a time like this? Sam! Mark breathed. Then he gulped, and tried to answer Sam's original question. I... uh... I'm doing fine.

Andrea? The kids? she politely asked next. They're okay, too?

Mark blinked. This 'carjacking' seemed awfully civilized to him. Uh... They're... They're fine, too.

Good, she said, and smiled. That's great to hear.

Listen, Mark... Can I call you 'Mark?' inquired the man, who had turned around to face Mark in the back seat as he stared at Sam and... whoever.

Um, yeah... Sure, Mark quickly replied. Call me whatever you want... But... What should I call you? he asked in a strangled, confused tone of voice. Um... Who the hell are you?

Oh, the man said, and stuck his hand between the two front seats for Mark to shake. I'm General Jack O'Neill, your...

Your brother-in-law, Sam blandly finished for him.

Jack continued with what he had been saying, not giving Mark time to react to Sam's last astonishing statement. He took Mark's proffered hand in his, and gave it a firm shake. Nice to meet you, he said. Then he turned towards Sam with a snap of his head. You know, he doesn't look a thing like you, Carter. I wouldn't have even pegged him for your brother if you didn't say that's who he was. Then his brow puckered in puzzlement. You sure we got the right guy here?

Sam nodded. Oh, yeah, this is Mark all right, she answered.

That was when Mark finally remembered enough of Sam's statement in order to react. His mouth fell open again. You're married?! This guy's my..?

Brother-in-law, the man... Had he said his name was Jack O'Neill?... finished for him. And, yeah, I am your brother-in-law, and it's real nice to finally meet you and everything, but we gotta do some talking with you first, if you don't mind.

Uh.., Mark spluttered, completely confounded. No... I don't mind at all, I guess... He sounded thoroughly hogwashed, totally befuddled by too much information delivered too quickly.

Sam, fortunately, chose that moment to say, It's all right, Mark, we'll explain. She wriggled around again until she faced him more completely, then said, Mark, what I'm about to tell you... You can't tell anybody about it... Not the kids... Not even Andrea...

Jack broke in then. Not even the stranger you meet in the line at your favorite deli...

Sam smiled at Jack's joshing tone and words, but repeated, No one. The repetition emphasized their point.

Got it, Mark nervously told them. You've got the gun, after all, so...

Jack broke in again. He held up his right index finger, pointing it at the sky. We don't have a gun, he said. Just a finger and a really authoritative voice.

What? Mark barked. No gun?

Nope, he said at the same time that Sam handed her brother a packet of papers.

Mark took the packet from her, his confusion showing loud and clear on his shocked features.

A Nondisclosure Agreement, she told him when he just looked at her in an even more stupefied way. You need to sign it before we can tell you any details... You know how the Air Force works.

Mark was only able to stare at his little sister. Was this decisive woman the person whose Barbie dolls he used to steal and whose hair he would then cut off?

Mark? Sam prodded.

Slowly, Mark nodded. There's a pen in my briefcase...

Jack flipped the case open, and found the pen sitting in the corner of a nicely stacked group of papers. Neat... Tidy.., Jack commented. To Sam, he asked, Is he always so clean?

Sam responded, He was a military brat, same as I was, so of course we were taught to always be neat as a pin.

Jack's brows rose over his brown eyes. How neat is a pin, anyway?

Sam looked as if she couldn't help grinning. Very neat, she said. Even neater than you are.

Ah, Jack grunted. Anal, he announced.

Sam cocked her head to one side. Well, you know the man who taught us everything...

Jacob taught you that? Jack burst out asking, then he turned to Mark. That reminds me... Sorry about your dad dying, and all... He wished he could think of something more profound to say about Jacob's death than that, but he couldn't think of anything he hadn't already said to Mark at the funeral.

Thanks for your sympathy, Mark said in a voice so hurried that it almost sounded as if he were reciting a well rehearsed speech. He glanced between Jack and Sam, then. Uh... Maybe you know some things... Aren't you Sam's CO?

Yeah, Jack said. In a way.

Sam peered through her blonde bangs at her brother. That's why you can't say anything about any of this... Say that you were listening to something good on the radio, and lost track of time to cover this talk of ours...

Not a word to anyone, though, Mark, and I mean anyone, Jack interrupted to say. Not that wife of yours, not anyone calling you in the future from the Air Force... No one. And this is serious... As in, Sam could court-martialed for this... Lose her job... I could get thrown in prison... He faced Sam again. Think the food is any good in jail? he asked.

Sam answered, I don't plan to find out. She turned back to her brother. Mark... You done?

Mark handed the packet of papers that he hadn't taken the time to read back to his sister. Signed, dotted, crossed... Did I say 'signed?'

Jack's face split into a grin again. Sam, I like this guy.

It's not terribly important that you get along, Sam told them both, then went on, But it is an added bonus...

Mark sighed from the back seat. Sam, you gonna tell me what's going on, now?

Sam set the papers in her lap. Okay... First, we had to get you to sign the Nondisclosure Agreement...

Which you have, Jack broke into the conversation to say. Now, here's what's going on.

Mark, Sam said, explaining. Jack and I have been married for six months...

What! Mark barked. You've been married for that long, and you haven't said a word? Not even to me? I'm your brother, for Christ's sake!

Sam rolled her eyes. I knew you were going to react this way.

What way? Mark barked in a voice gruff with his astonishment, tinged in anger.

Listen, Mark, Sam said in the same tone that she had used to tell off a plethora of Goa'uld in the past. All you need to know is that I'm married, have been for six months, no one else can know about this, and...

Then why tell me now? Mark burst out. Is there something going on that I should know about? His alarmed features swung first to stare at Sam, then at Jack, then back towards Sam for a second glare.

Sam sighed. I'm getting to that part, if you would just shut up for a minute...

Sam.., Mark began protesting.

Mark! Sam ground out through her teeth in a tone that said she'd had enough.

Jack couldn't resist saying, I'd watch out for her now; She's mad...

Mark swung his gaze to Jack. Recognize the danger tone already, do you?

Oooooh yeah, Jack said. You could say that me and that tone of voice of hers has come into contact a time or two before now...

Will you two stop jawing? Sam demanded. I'm beginning to get irritated! she threatened.

Mark blinked again. Okay, okay, Sammie, go ahead, and...

'Sammie?' Jack echoed in incredulity. You even advised me not to call you 'Carter' on this trip...

Too confusing, she said. Too many Carters in this car... You'd better keep calling me 'Sam.'

No 'Sammie?' Jack teasingly asked.

Sam just sighed in answer to his question.

Guess not, Jack said.

Now, Sam said then, her tone businesslike rather than the irritated sound she'd employed before. I'll tell you some more, Mark... I can't give you details on my line of work...

Deep Space radar something, Mark said. But I know the Air Force and its top secret stuff... I never bought that cover for a minute.

But that's all I can tell you, Sam repeated. Except that, yeah, it's a cover, and that my line of work is pretty darned dangerous sometimes...

Tried to get her to give it up, Jack broke in. And she did, once...

Was that what that transfer thing was all about? Mark inquired then.

Yeah, Jack told him. But that new job didn't take... She's too damned brilliant...

Mark snorted a laugh. Brilliant? he echoed in a tone that said he didn't believe Jack for a second. Yeah, right! he scoffed.

Jack's eyes narrowed just for a moment at Mark in the back seat. This woman once changed the laws of Physics, my friend... Be nicer to her... Or I'll punch some sense into your thick skull.

Mark held up his hands in a warding gesture. Whoa... Back off! he exclaimed. She's just my kid sister... I'm supposed to be mean to her. It's in the rules!

It was Jack's turn to snort this time. Rules can be bent, can't they?

Hmmm, Sam said. The less said on that subject, the better.

If you say so, Mark grumbled. Then his head shot up to the center of the seats. But how can you be married to this guy if O'Neill was your CO for all those years..?

I'm getting to that! Sam angrily huffed. Telling you is why we're here, in your stupid car, in your smelly garage, at... early in the morning, she ended, after glancing at her military watch and deciding that, as a civilian, her brother wouldn't understand military time. Now... She continued, My job has a bit of danger added to it...

'A bit?' Jack repeated, amazed that she would understate it that way.

Sam considered. Okay... So it's highly dangerous... a lot of the time... And we wanted someone to know... about the danger...

And the 'us being married' business, Jack added.

Sam continued, In case you have to get ahold of Jack at any time... For some reason...

We have wills made up already, Jack informed him. But we wanted someone unconnected with the Air Force to know... In case... Suddenly Jack turned around to face forward. Nope, not gonna think about that...

Sam groaned a low growl in her throat. I just knew you were gonna be like this, too, she said to him in a low voice. So she did her best to just totally ignore her husband as she handed another three pieces of paper to Mark through the break in the seats. Here's some information you might need... Dad was the obvious choice to tell.., Sam interrupted herself to say. You know... he was a retired Air Force General, he knew all about top secret stuff, and what 'classified' means... Except that he's dead... Her voice sounded hollow when she said those words. Hollow, and empty.

Mark noticed that Jack's hand crept supportively around Sam's fingers on the seat between them. He must have managed to overcome his fear of Sam's mythical future demise to give her the comfort he felt she needed at the moment...

Sam took some strength from Jack's steadying grip, and went on, Anyway, you're the next logical choice... Now, Jack will probably be notified first in case something happens to me, as he is my general CO...

Not your immediate CO? Mark asked.

No, Sam replied. That's a guy named General Hank Landry... His name's in that group of papers there. She pointed at the papers in Marks hands. But what with all the switching around in the Air Force, who knows if he'll be my CO until the day I retire...

You're retiring? Jack asked, perking up again.

Sam sighed once more at the interruption. I am someday, she replied. She turned back to Mark. Anyway, his name is there, and a number you can call, in case I die in a car accident, or get mugged, or something like...

Jack broke in with a prediction. You'll never get mugged, Carter... You'll break the bozo's legs, first!

Possibly, Sam conceded with a small smile for her husband. Yet she continued talking to Mark, But you have Jack's cell phone number, my cell phone number, the number of a good friend of ours named Daniel Jackson... You can't say a word to him about us being married, or anything.., she reminded. Our lawyer's name and number... The number of the base Infirmary in Colorado Springs... I think that covers it... Any questions?

A quiet second went by, then Mark's voice exploded into the quiet of the car. Whoa! You can't breeze in here, tell me you're married, tell me I'm the information... distributor... then breeze out again! I deserve some sort of explanation first!

Jack eyed Mark for a moment. What sort of explanation do you want? he quietly asked.

Well, for one, Mark started, Like... How did you guys meet?

Jack looked at Sam, and Sam looked at Jack. Finally, Jack said, We met in a briefing... She threatened to arm wrestle me...

Suddenly, Mark burst out laughing. Yeah, that's Sam all right... Always was ready to play with the big boys...

Sam snorted. Hmpf, 'big boys' my ass...

She would have wiped the table with you, Mark predicted. Did she? he asked Jack.

Jack answered, We got too busy to get around to that arm wrestling stuff. Then he turned to face Sam. Guess I still owe you a wrestle...

Sam replied, Ten years is the limit on a good wrestle...

I can just get it in under the wire, Jack said, and grinned.

But Mark gaped at Sam from the back seat, horrified. Sammie! he exclaimed. Are you flirting?

Sam looked around at him. Um... Yeah, she said. I guess I am.

Don't flirt with my sister! Mark yelled at Jack. That's just... gross!

Jack immediately answered him, I'll flirt whenever I damn well please, and you can sit and take it, or I'll blow you up.

Jack likes big explosions, Sam nonchalantly informed her brother.

This was too much! They sounded like they were all in a sitting room in England, drinking tea together! Mark choked.

Jack took that as their cue to vacate the car, the garage, the premises... or he might really be tempted to blow up his wife's brother. Well, it was just jim-dandy to meet you, Mark, but we gotta run.

Gotta save the world, and all that boing stuff? Mark sarcastically inquired of Sam, as if he knew that work in Radar something of other was as far from saving the world as one could possibly get.

Sam answered his question, even though he wasn't looking for an answer. You have no idea, she commented under her breath. Then she turned to exit the vehicle.

Jack did the same, but turned once to face Mark again as he said, And remember... not a word... I have ways of making you disappear...

Sam was as horrified as her brother had been earlier. Jack!

Kidding, just kidding.., Jack told them, then left the car, quietly shutting the car door behind him. He joined Sam, took her hand, and together they slipped through the back door, and into the side yard.

As they left, and Mark opened the back door to climb from his car, he heard Sam brightly comment, That went better than I expected!

Jack responded to her by saying, You don't have very high expectations, do you?

Sam whacked him on his arm as she shut the door behind them. Mark heard just one mention of someone called 'Thor,' or 'Nor,' or 'feather,' or something like that, when a bright flash of light suddenly glinted through the small window in the door, heralding his sister's and her new husband's inexplicable departure.

When he had gathered together enough courage to glance in his side yard outside his garage, he not surprisingly found it totally empty.

Mark sighed to himself, then ran a hand through his hair, as Jack had done in the interview they had forced him to go through. He sighed again... If it weren't for the fact that he had personal experience with his sister's high level of martial arts skills, he'd offer to fill in for Jack on that arm wrestling promise of theirs. However, he knew better.

Mark sighed a third sigh; What a way to start the work day! Being threatened, and denigrated... Perfect. Just perfect.

The End


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