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Fanfiction: Rule Number One

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S1 Brief Candle
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Jack/Team friendships.   Mild Sam/Jack UST.  Jack/Kynthia.  Mild references to rape/adult situations.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.  Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Rule Number One


There was a part of Colonel Jack O’Neill that knew it was a nightmare, a part of him that even understood why it was that particular nightmare and not some other. Iraq was hot and dry; he could feel the heat of the air against his skin, the sweat dripping from his hair and down his face as he ran. He could hear the harsh pants of his own body, the wheezing breaths of the men running beside him, the thuds of their boots on the dusty ground. He slid behind a wall and provided cover for the rest to reach the waiting helicopter. He rattled off a final burst from his gun and then he was on his feet running full pelt. The sting of the first bullet barely slowed him; the second slammed through him like a truck. His breath left his body as he hit the ground, arms and legs sprawled. He fought against the wave of blackness and tried to move; he got worried when he couldn’t. The helicopter was rising. Panic filled him. They couldn’t be leaving him…nobody got left behind; nobody. His eyes fluttered shut as the dust rose and washed over him…

Jack jerked awake and upright with a start, his heart pounding and his breath caught in his throat. He stared unseeingly at the small room before he took a deep breath and stuffed the heels of his shaking hands in his eyes. It wasn’t an Iraqi cell, he thought determinedly, just his temporary quarters at the SGC where General Hammond had confined him until he recovered from the premature aging caused by the Argosian nanocytes.

‘Sir?’

Jack froze at the melodic voice of Captain Samantha Carter. He had forgotten he wasn’t alone. When he had fallen asleep the small space had been crammed with his three SG1 team-mates. He felt the air by the bed stir and he slowly lowered his liver-spotted hands to blink wearily at the young blonde woman beside him. She offered him a glass of water and he took it gratefully.

‘Sorry, Carter.’ He croaked. ‘Bad dream.’

Sam gave a sympathetic smile. ‘Is there anything else I can get you, sir?’

Jack shook his head and settled back against the pillows.

‘I’ll just get back to my report then.’ Sam said and headed back to the desk on the other side of the room where a single lamp cast a yellow glow over her laptop. She repressed the urge to ask about the Colonel’s nightmare. He was a private man and she doubted whether he would appreciate her curiosity. It really wasn’t any wonder he was having nightmares, Sam thought as she started to type. Less than twenty-four hours before, the Colonel had been alone on an alien planet believing he only had days to live because of the aging effects of the nanocytes.

‘Where’s Daniel and Teal’c?’ Jack asked.

‘I took first watch, sir.’ Sam replied absently.

Jack almost smiled. His team hadn’t left his side since his return from Argos ensuring that he wasn’t alone and that he had help in his debilitated elderly condition. He didn’t mind. He had sent his team back to Earth soon after contracting the nanocytes to protect them and General Hammond had refused to let them return for the same reason. Jack couldn’t blame his CO but he had missed his team and the thought of never seeing them again had been more gut-wrenching than he had anticipated. He had managed in the confusion of returning to hold onto the video message they had sent to say goodbye, not wanting to part with it. It turned out he was going to be a sentimental old man and the thought amused him.

His eyes flickered back to the woman sitting at the desk. He could only see the outline of her back in the black top, a short expanse of creamy neck and her blonde hair but he was, he realised abstractedly, simply content to watch her. He frowned at the thought before pushing it to the back of his mind. It was probably just down to his gratitude at how Sam had constantly supported him through everything that had happened on Argos but…

He cleared his throat. ‘You don’t need to baby-sit me, Captain. I’ll be fine.’

Sam smiled. ‘Doctor’s orders, Colonel, remember?’ She said smoothly before she glanced over her shoulder. ‘Doctor Fraiser only agreed to you remaining in your quarters and not being admitted to the infirmary if someone stayed with you.’

‘Right.’ Jack grimaced, the vague memory of the petite doctor’s conditions coming back to him slowly. He took another drink of water before placing the glass on the bedside table. ‘So you got stuck with first watch?’ He asked idly.

‘I volunteered.’ Sam admitted and gestured hurriedly at her laptop. ‘I wanted to finish this.’ She hoped he would accept her excuse without question. SG1 had formed a close knit bond and they all cared about each other but how much she cared about the Colonel had been something of a surprise to her and it was something she wasn’t prepared to examine too closely. Just like she wasn’t prepared to examine the tiny dart of jealousy that went through her every time she remembered the woman the Colonel had become involved with on Argos. She turned back to the laptop determinedly. She wasn’t developing a crush on her CO, she thought firmly; she wasn’t. She respected him; nothing more, nothing less.

‘What’s the report about?’ Jack asked capturing her attention again.

‘The nanocytes.’ Sam explained looking back at him. ‘I’ve been going back through the initial analysis Doctor Fraiser and I did and re-examining the data in light of what we now know about the transmitter frequencies. It’s fascinating really…’

‘I’ll take your word for it, Carter.’ Jack cut in abruptly. ‘All I’m interested in is knowing when I’ll be back to normal.’

She heard the unasked question and knew he needed the reassurance even though she had told him a couple of times already. ‘Well, as we think you’ve been aged to around ninety years old, we’re estimating you’ll be back to your forty year old body in around eight days, sir.’

‘Eight days.’ Jack repeated.

‘Yes, sir.’ Sam registered the sleepy tone. ‘You should get some rest, sir. Your body will heal faster if you sleep.’

‘I might just do that.’ Jack said adjusting his position until he was lying comfortably. He sighed and let his eyes drift shut. It was nice to hear the concern in her voice, he mused. It was much better than the disappointment he had heard after his unfortunate escapade on Argos. He felt the flush travel up his neck and over his whole face. Unfortunate escapade. It was how he had come to mentally label the whole incident with Kynthia and the Argosian nanocytes. Kynthia. The image of the lovely young Argosian drifted into his head. He’d noticed her as soon as they had sat down in the village. It was hard not to; even on a planet of beautiful people, she was a stunning woman. But a fleeting attraction was only a fleeting attraction. He would never have had sex with her if he hadn’t been under the influence of some fairly hefty drugs. When they had worn off he had found himself naked in a bed with her in a communal hall wondering how the hell he had gotten there.

The worst moment had been the rest of his team discovering him in a state of undress minutes later and jumping to all the right conclusions. Their varying levels of disappointment in him had been evident and he had barely been able to look at them. It had only been with the realisation that the cake had been drugged that their disappointment had been swiftly replaced by worry. He rubbed a hand over his face as though that would erase his deeply embedded embarrassment. Rations; they were all going to stick with field rations off world going forward, Jack determined. No more cake, especially no more marriage cake.

Poor Kynthia. She had offered him the cake in good faith believing Jack understood its effects and its significance; marriage. In theory he still was married to Sara although he had begun to think of her as his ex-wife since her visit to his house the day after their encounter with the alien who had mimicked him and their late son. Their lawyers were immersed in the divorce proceedings Sara had initiated. It was for the best, Jack thought sadly. He’d had plenty of time on Argos to contemplate his life and his failed marriage. He still loved and missed Sara; she had been a significant part of his life for far too long for him not to but the divorce was the right thing to do.

Thankfully no divorce had been required to get him out of his relationship with Kynthia. She had made no further claims on him having realised that Jack considered their initial encounter a mistake. It had been a relief. She was a sweet woman and he had grown fond of her but that was as far as his interest went. She had reminded him how important it was to make the most of every day though. Not that he could make the most of every day stuck in a room in a secret military complex hidden under a mountain. At least he had his team.

He felt the pull to sleep and didn’t fight it. Doctor Fraiser had explained that his body was slowly transforming back to normal and that he would feel fatigue as his muscles, skin and hair transitioned. His body was undergoing a significant change for the second time within the space of a few weeks and that was taking its toll. The hypnotic rhythm of typing filled his thoughts as sleep claimed him again.

o-O-o

Doctor Fraiser tapped lightly at the door and smiled at the Colonel’s call to enter. After three days of recovery, his voice was starting to regain its normal tonal quality which was a good sign. She entered and stopped amused to find the whole of SG1 present again. The room was small at the best of times but filled with three humans and a Jaffa it felt more than a little cramped. Still, after three days, SG1 had found a way to make the space work for them.

Daniel Jackson had taken position on the floor to the right of the bed. He was currently lying on his stomach, his chin propped up on his hands with his brown hair falling forward to shield his face as his nose was stuck in a book. There were a dozen photocopied and printed articles strewn around him along with several reference books. Janet had asked him what he was working on and had been fascinated by his explanation that he was trying to discover whether the Goa’uld were the only aliens to have visited Earth.

She let her brown eyes slide to the other side of the room. Teal’c had claimed the floor space on the left side of the bed. The Jaffa sat in a lotus position and surrounded by a dozen lit candles. He was totally still and his dark eyes had snapped open at her entry. Janet breathed in the faint scent of vanilla wafting up from the burning candles and felt strangely comforted by it. Her mind absently recalled that her mother used the same type of candles in her childhood home.

She smiled at Captain Carter who sat at her desk typing away on her laptop. She had enjoyed working with the other Air Force officer on the nanocytes despite the circumstances.

The Colonel had prime position atop the single bed and he greeted her as he slowly moved into a sitting position.

‘Colonel.’ Janet acknowledged. ‘If everybody else can wait outside, please.’

The other members of SG1 got to their feet reluctantly, Teal’c extinguishing the candles.

‘Why don’t you kids head to the mess for a snack?’ Jack suggested.

‘You’re only suggesting that so we bring you a piece of cake back.’ Daniel said.

‘And your point is, Daniel?’ Jack retorted waving them out of the room.

‘So how are you feeling today?’ Janet asked once they had left. She knew she could have ordered him to the infirmary but it was easier to come to his quarters and when he’d first arrived back it had been a necessity. With his long white hair, liver-spotted and wrinkled skin and general air of fragility, it had been hard to believe that Colonel O’Neill would ever return to his forty year old body. But Captain Carter’s hypothesis was proving to be correct and Janet could see the strength returning to his muscles in the way he stood, the elasticity returning to his skin and there was a new growth of hair sprouting to replace the white hair he had lost suddenly the day before.

‘I’m good.’ Jack replied automatically as she shone a penlight in his eyes. ‘I’d like more hair.’

Janet smiled at the quip. ‘Any fever or dizziness?’ She asked.

He shook his head and she scribbled on the medical file she had brought with her. She gestured for him to sit and took readings of his vitals – temperature, blood pressure, pulse – pausing to note the results in the file before she capped her pen and viewed him with a practised eye.

‘How’s the tiredness?’ Janet asked.

‘About the same.’ Jack said dismissively. He was sleeping most of the time; fatigue would steal up on him at odd moments.

‘Sleep is the best thing for you.’ Janet reminded him. ‘Your body will heal faster.’ She sat down in the chair the Captain had vacated. ‘And how are you otherwise?’ She probed gently.

Jack looked blankly at her.

‘How are you feeling about things?’ Janet clarified. It was the first time she had asked him about his emotional well-being. Her primary concern for the past few days had been to stabilise him physically and as all his vitals showed a marked improvement she figured it was time to address the psychological impact of what had happened.

Jack stiffened. ‘I’m fine.’ He repeated strongly.

Janet hesitated at the faint warning in his brown eyes but she knew they were going to have to discuss the Colonel’s experience sooner or later and it was probably best to tackle it head on. ‘Colonel, there are various aspects of your experience that I think it’s important you talk about…’

‘Why?’ Jack demanded angrily. He waved a hand at the petite brunette. ‘I told you I’m fine.’

‘Sir, you had non-consensual sex,’ Janet said bluntly, ‘and that needs to be addressed.’

There was an uncomfortable silence as they both stared at each other.

‘Sir,’ Janet softened her tone, ‘if you feel uncomfortable talking to me, we do have a good psychiatrist on staff now…’

‘I don’t need a shrink.’ Jack cut in rudely as he got to his feet and paced a little. He shoved his hands in the pockets of his trousers and stood with his back to her facing a wall for a long moment gathering his thoughts. He had a sinking sensation that if he didn’t talk to Fraiser she would recommend a psych evaluation and having been through them before he wasn’t eager to repeat the experience.

Janet waited patiently.

He turned back to her and met her eyes calmly. ‘Look, Doc,’ he gestured at her, ‘I know how it looks on paper…’

‘How does it look on paper?’ She challenged him.

‘That I had,’ he gestured awkwardly, ‘non-consensual sex.’ He mumbled. He forced himself to hold her gaze firmly. ‘Only that’s not what happened.’

Then why don’t you tell me what happened?’ Janet said softly.

Jack rocked back on his heels and considered his response. ‘The whole thing was just a giant misunderstanding.’

She continued to regard him with an even stare.

He sighed and sat back down on the bed. He clasped his hands together and leaned forward resting his elbows on his knees. ‘Kynthia’s just incapable of doing something to intentionally hurt someone else. She offered me the cake thinking I knew what it was.’

‘And presumably its effects?’ Janet murmured.

‘To be honest, Doc, I don’t think any of the Argosians even realise what is in that cake.’ Jack waved a hand at her. ‘Carter told me they made it using the same recipe that had been passed down from generation to generation since old Pelyops was around. To them it was just cake that made them feel good.’

Janet frowned. From what she had heard about the situation on Argos it made sense. The nanocytes had apparently accelerated the emotional maturity of the villagers somewhat but not at the normal rate for a human adult. There probably had been a need to introduce a chemical stimulant to ensure procreation and Pelyops had possibly created the cake to ensure villagers who were attracted to each other weren’t constrained by any inhibitions. Her dark eyes pinned the Colonel again. ‘So you’re saying that as far as the Argosians were concerned, by eating the cake you had consented, Kynthia included and that’s how you now view the incident?’

Jack fought the urge to blush. ‘Truth is, Doc, that I should never have eaten the damn cake.’ He gestured at her. ‘Are we done?’

‘For today.’ Janet agreed. She was reasonably happy from their discussion that despite his evident embarrassment he had come to terms with his experience and she doubted whether he would reveal anything further either to her or the new psychiatrist. ‘We’ll do another check on your physical condition tomorrow.’ She stood up. ‘Colonel, have you discussed any of this with your team?’

‘No.’ Jack stated firmly and with the tone of someone who couldn’t believe they had just been asked the question.

‘Why not?’ Janet asked.

‘Why not?’ Jack repeated, raising his eyebrows. ‘Because.’ He gestured weakly.

‘Because?’ Janet prompted. ‘You know your team was affected by what happened too, Colonel. A frank discussion might help everyone.’ She left before Jack could formulate a reply.

He climbed back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling. Did he need to talk about Argos with the team? He pondered the question until a hesitant knock interrupted his introspection.

Daniel wandered in at Jack’s call to enter and he handed the older man a plate with a slice of cake and a fork. ‘This is all they had.’

‘Thanks.’ Jack took the food as Daniel gathered a book from the floor and settled into the chair. ‘Where’s Carter and Teal’c?’

‘Teal’c went to do a work-out.’ Daniel responded absently. ‘Sam got caught by the gate technicians. There’s some problem with the dialling computer. She’s crawling under desks in the control room.’

Jack looked at the cake and set it aside on the bedside table.

‘Everything OK?’ Daniel asked concerned.

Jack nodded and shuffled to lie on the bed. He propped himself up with a couple of pillows. ‘I’m fine. Just a little tired.’

Daniel opened the book on the Vikings he held. ‘I’ll just sit here and read if you want to nap.’

There was a comfortable silence for a little while as Daniel read and Jack continued to turn over his conversation with Janet in his head.

Jack cleared his throat. ‘Fraiser thinks I should discuss what happened on Argos with you guys.’

Daniel’s head snapped up and his blue eyes met Jack’s across the small room. ‘Really?’

Jack nodded.

Daniel shifted in the chair. ‘And what do you think?’

‘Do you think as a team we need to discuss what happened on Argos?’ Jack countered.

Daniel closed the book. ‘I asked you first.’

‘Daniel.’ Jack glared at the younger man.

He sighed. ‘I think we all kind of figured you wouldn’t want to discuss it.’

‘I don’t.’ Jack admitted. ‘But we’re not just talking about what’s right for me. If the team needs to talk about it then we’ll talk about it.’

Daniel smiled at the determination on Jack’s face despite his obvious discomfort at the idea. ‘I don’t think we need to talk about it.’ He shrugged. ‘We’re just happy to have you back. None of us liked leaving you on Argos.’

‘You were all following orders, Daniel, mine included. I understood.’ Jack murmured.

‘I think it was worse because we all kind of felt a little responsible.’ Daniel muttered.

‘Why?’ Jack asked, the single word ringing with surprise.

‘Because we allowed the Argosians to separate you from us.’ Daniel said. ‘Because we saw you disappear with Kynthia and didn’t do anything.’

Jack felt the blush work its way across his face. ‘Because you thought I was…’

‘No!’ Daniel broke in hurriedly. ‘I mean obviously we all saw that you liked her and that she liked you,’ he fiddled with his glasses nervously, ‘but we didn’t think you were,’ he gestured vaguely and didn’t meet Jack’s eyes, ‘not until we found you,’ he looked up, ‘uh…naked.’

‘I wasn’t naked.’ Jack automatically denied.

‘I don’t think a bed sheet counts as being dressed.’ Daniel said pointedly.

Jack blushed furiously. This was exactly why he hadn’t wanted to discuss it with anyone.

There was another silence.

Daniel sighed. ‘Look, Jack, if you want to talk about what happened then we’ll talk about it but if you’re OK, we’re all OK.’

‘Really?’ Jack asked.

‘Really.’ Daniel assured him. He motioned with his book. ‘Can I get back to this?’

‘Sure.’ Jack removed one of his pillows and curled up on the bed feeling the tiredness creeping up on him again. He settled against the one remaining pillow. ‘Thanks, Daniel.’

‘No problem.’

o-O-o

Jack came awake abruptly and he frowned trying to understand what had disturbed him. For the first time in six days, he was alone in the room. Hammond had seemingly organised a series of briefings for a group of new SGC staff arrivals all at the same time. Daniel was teaching the new linguists Goa’uld, Teal’c was giving a staff weapon demonstration to the new SFs and Carter was briefing a group of scientists on wormhole physics.

Jack slipped off the bed and stretched. His body was almost back to normal. Teal’c had been taking him through a punishing exercise regime every morning and his muscles ached but they were back to their pre-Argos strength. He rubbed a hand over his face, pleased to find the contours back in a familiar pattern. His hand continued on and brushed over his short crop of hair. It was completely grey but Carter had assured him his usual brown colour would blend back in within the next couple of days. Physically it was the only part of him left to change back.

A knock at his door startled him and he called out for his visitor to enter.

General Hammond strode in and paused beside the open doorway. ‘Colonel.’

‘General.’ Jack made to stand to attention.

‘At ease, Colonel.’ Hammond said and shut the door behind him quickly. ‘I just wanted to officially let you know you’ve been cleared to leave your quarters.’

Jack broke into a smile. ‘Great. Thank you, General.’

‘I should thank Doctor Fraiser and Captain Carter. They were both very eloquent in their attempt to convince me the nanocytes that were affecting you are no longer a threat.’

‘Yes, sir.’ Jack made a mental note to thank both women.

‘You are still confined to the base and its immediate vicinity, and I haven’t authorised your return to duty yet.’ Hammond clarified.

‘I understand, sir.’ Jack said.

‘Good, good.’ Hammond said almost absently. He gestured at the chair by the desk. ‘May I sit down for a moment, Colonel?’

Jack nodded. ‘Of course, sir.’

‘Why don’t you take a seat too, Jack?’ Hammond indicated the bed with a wave of his hand.

Jack walked round to sit at the foot of the bed in front of Hammond. He always got worried when the General called him Jack. It was never a good sign.

‘Jack,’ Hammond began leaning forward his blue eyes intent on the Colonel’s, ‘I wanted to explain about leaving you on Argos.’

‘Sir…’ Jack tried to interrupt and his heart sank as Hammond held up a hand; the General was obviously committed to saying what he had come to say.

‘My decision regarding your situation was not an easy one for me to make. I still believe it was the right one but right or not…’

‘Sir, it was the right decision.’ Jack interrupted.

Hammond looked back at him nonplussed.

Jack sighed. He obviously wasn’t following whatever script Hammond had created in his head. ‘General, I take it you know I got left behind one time in Iraq.’

‘Yes. I know.’ Hammond’s blue eyes held his firmly.

‘Even knowing what it’s like to be left behind, General, I still would have made the same decision in your place.’ Jack waved a hand. ‘We couldn’t risk the nanocytes getting loose and adapting. I wouldn’t risk Earth that way.’

Hammond gave a small huff of agreement and shook his head. ‘I hate leaving people behind.’

‘Me too.’ Jack agreed.

‘Let’s make it a rule that we don’t do that too often.’ Hammond said forcefully. ‘We shouldn’t leave our people behind.’

‘I think that’s one rule I can live with, sir.’ Jack smiled.

‘I think it’s one your team will no doubt support too.’ Hammond said remembering the strength of their protests and complaints when his order had condemned O’Neill to remain on Argos alone. He was also aware that they had hardly moved from Jack’s side since his return. It spoke of the strong bond that had already grown between them all and one that pleased him enormously. He slapped his knees and stood up. ‘I’d better get back to the gate room. It’s good to see you looking like your old self, Jack.’ He had doubted Captain Carter’s insistence that the Colonel would return to his forty year old appearance when he had greeted the frail old man who had stepped out of the wormhole. His eyes ran over Jack’s hair in amusement. ‘You might want to keep the grey. It looks good on you.’

Jack ran a hand through the strands self-consciously as he rose from the bed. ‘According to Carter, in another couple of years I’ll have it for real.’

The General raised his eyebrows a little at the mortified tone. ‘Just be grateful you’ll have hair, Colonel.’

‘Yes, General.’ Jack said struggling to keep the grin off his face.

Hammond opened the door and almost ran straight into the rest of the Colonel’s team in the corridor. He smiled at them. ‘Carry on, SG1.’ He murmured gently before he left them.

Jack beckoned his team into the room.

Daniel smiled and folded his arms across his chest. ‘We hear you’ve got permission to leave your room.’

‘Yes. Finally.’ Jack grinned at the archaeologist before his warm gaze settled on Sam standing next to him. ‘Carter, I hear I owe you a thank you.’

Sam smiled. ‘Doctor Fraiser helped, sir.’

‘And I’ll thank her later.’ Jack said.

‘So what do you want to do?’ Daniel asked.

Jack’s brown eyes shifted to the Jaffa. ‘Teal’c, have you seen a sunset on Earth yet?’

Teal’c clasped his hands behind his back. ‘I have not.’

‘Then I think we should all head up to the top of the mountain and do that.’ Jack said.

‘Are you actually allowed off base?’ Daniel asked worriedly.

‘The Colonel’s restricted to the base and its immediate vicinity.’ Sam confirmed before Jack could speak. ‘We should be fine up top.’

‘Great.’ Jack said motioning them out of the room. ‘Then let’s go.’

It seemed to take them no time at all before they were all stretched out on the grass on top of the mountain watching the sunset in a comfortable silence.

Jack breathed in a lungful of clean mountain air and let the breeze wash over his face. It was good to be outdoors. He looked over at Teal’c who was watching the darkening sky with a fierce concentration and Daniel who was cleaning his glasses with a tissue as his blue eyes stared at the descending sun. Sam shifted on the other side of Jack and he angled his head to look at her briefly. Her face was lifted to the sun, her blue eyes closed as she caught the last of the sun’s warmth on her skin. Jack turned his attention back to the sky before she noticed his regard.

The sun was almost down when Jack cleared his throat. ‘Hammond and I have agreed a new rule for the SGC.’

All of his team turned to look at him.

‘Don’t allow people to get separated on missions?’ Daniel hazarded a guessed.

‘Undoable.’ Sam argued. ‘It’s more likely that we stick with rations until we find out the effects of the native food.’

‘I agree with Captain Carter.’ Teal’c confirmed in a deep voice.

‘Well, you’re all wrong.’ Jack said with a smile.

‘So what is it?’ Daniel asked impatiently.

‘We’ve decided that as a general rule, we won’t leave our people behind.’ Jack informed them.

‘I think that’s a good rule.’ Sam concurred smiling across at the Colonel.

‘I like that rule.’ Daniel said with a nod.

‘As do I.’ Teal’c said inclining his head.

‘So we’re agreed.’ Jack said. ‘From now on; nobody gets left behind.’

‘Nobody gets left behind.’ Daniel and Sam echoed as Teal’c confirmed his agreement with a sharp nod.

Jack shifted position on the grass satisfied. His team would never leave him behind willingly and as the sky turned a hazy orange-purple, he made a silent promise to each of them that they would never experience what he had in Iraq; they would never see him leaving them behind, not if it was humanly possible to get them home. A sense of peace settled over Jack like a warm blanket and he lifted his own face to the dying rays of the sun. It was a rule he could live with for thousands of days.

fin.

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