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Fanfiction: Universal Conspiracies

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Summary: Sam and Jack's plans for Thanksgiving together go awry when an old enemy shows up with a plan to take over the world.
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Sam/Jack Established. Set between SGA's S5 Enemy of the Gate and SGU but has nothing to do with either. Written for Gateworld's Shipsgiving day 2009. Spoilers for all SG1/SGA. Mention of adult situations.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Written for entertainment purposes only.

Universal Conspiracies


There were times when Jack O’Neill was convinced the universe was conspiring against him, and as he stared at the four walls of the cell he had been thrown into by the men who had abducted him from his Washington home, universal conspiracies once again crossed his mind. After all, why of all the nights they could have abducted him, did they choose the night when he was due to pick up Samantha Carter from the airport so they could enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend together?

He was marginally pissed at being abducted – and he blamed it on his slowing reflexes as sitting at a desk hadn’t exactly kept them sharp, and mostly because he was deeply embarrassed that he’d been zatted on entering his own house – but he was more pissed at the thought that Sam was currently wandering around the airport and wondering where the hell he was. He didn’t want to consider the possibility that she might be targeted for abduction too.

Why he had been targeted for abduction he wasn’t entirely certain. There was the obvious reasons given the enemies he’d made over the years that he’d been involved with the Stargate programme but he really wanted to know which reason in particular. Was it an alien abduction? Had he pissed off the wrong politician? Who knew? Jack certainly didn’t. Which annoyed the crap out of him. After all, if someone was going to abduct him, it was only polite that they tell him why.

His mind skipped back to Sam. He could picture her waiting; pacing; worrying. They had both been looking forward to the weekend. Sam had been babysitting the SGC for Hank Landry and she’d had to oversee the response to the Wraith attack and the arrival of Atlantis on Earth. He’d been stuck in Washington having to deal with the resulting debates about whether to let Atlantis travel back to the Pegasus galaxy at all. They’d both needed a weekend of relaxing and being with each other. Cassie Fraiser’s less than subtle declaration a couple of weeks before that she was headed to Aspen with her new boyfriend, and with SG1 away on a mission, it had left the door open for him and Sam to have Thanksgiving just the two of them for the first time since they had married.

Most of the time Jack didn’t mind the long distant nature of their marriage because, hell, they were married and that was the most important thing. Moreover, it was fairly usual in the military and, in some respects, given they both were used to independence and living alone, it worked well. But he missed her.

Missed her smile.

Missed the sound of her voice, the scent of her.

He missed the feel of her in his arms when he woke up; her cold feet snuggling against his for warmth when they fell asleep. God, he had been looking forward to Thanksgiving.

He’d had plans.

Not really big plans but plans. One mostly involved them staying in bed because – hey – had he mentioned he missed her? One involved the two of them cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner together; arguing over the turkey, the stuffing and pies, doing something ordinary and every day that most couples took for granted. He’d even ordered all the ingredients and he knew they had been delivered to the house. His housekeeper Mary had called him that afternoon to say she’d put them away before she’d left.

Jack mentally waved goodbye to his Thanksgiving meal with Sam. He sighed and let his head fall back to rest against the grey concrete wall. The cell was basic: a narrow bed that was going to play havoc with his back, a toilet with no seat and a cracked sink that only had warm water. The one door into the room was securely and electronically locked with no visible means of overriding it on his side of it. The only other means of egress that he had located was a vent on the far side of the room but he’d quickly ruled it out as too small.

He had nothing to help him on his person. He was still in his uniform but his small ankle holster had been divested of its weapon and the knife he carried was also gone. Someone had removed his shoes to make it more difficult for him to escape presumably. He’d taken his jacket off when he’d woken up and removed his tie. It could act as a garrotte if it came down to it but it was his one and only advantage.
No, thought Jack with a large degree of frustration. His best bet was to sit and wait for a chance to escape; Sam would raise the alarm when he didn’t show at the airport. He just hoped she was OK.

o-O-o

Sam checked her watch.

Jack was late. Very late. It wasn’t unusual for him to be late – he was a three-star General. It was likely that he’d been detained by something but...she bit her lip. He usually texted her or called her or had someone call her or had someone else show up if he was going to miss meeting her. He was too aware of her family history – her father’s late arrival causing her mother to take a cab that resulted in her death – to not ensure Sam was informed and another means of transport provided.

She looked at the time and at the passing cars as they zoomed past to pick up other travellers arriving for
the holiday weekend. She sighed and brushed her bangs back absently, grateful for the leather trench-coat she wore over black jeans and a stylish turquoise sweater. The sky was turning dark and there was a chill in the air. She was half-way pissed at Jack for being late. She’d had a good enough journey but she was tired and she’d been dreaming about a hot bubble bath and a large cold glass of white wine for the last hour. Not to mention a hot kiss and maybe a backrub from her husband. She’d missed Jack fiercely; missed his bed-hair and his grin; his quips and his griping. Starting the weekend off irate and grumpy with him hadn’t been part of the plan.

She pulled a face as she checked her watch again. A black sedan suddenly zipped around a meandering people carrier and pulled up smoothly in front of her. A young driver in a pristine uniform darted out of the front seat and hurried around to her.

‘Colonel Carter?’

‘Yes.’ Sam answered politely, disappointed that Jack was evidently unable to meet her himself. She just hoped whatever emergency had cropped up wouldn’t involve him spending the rest of the weekend at work. She had been looking forward to just being with him even if all they did was sit in front of the television and watch old movies.

The driver had already taken her bags and put them in the trunk as she assimilated the change in plan. He opened the back door of the car and Sam gratefully climbed inside. She stuffed the small rucksack that acted as her handbag on the seat beside her and reached for her laptop bag. Washington traffic was a mess and she figured she could use the time to read up on some reports.

She had just pulled the laptop out when the doors locked with an audible click. She frowned. It wasn’t unusual for the doors to be locked as a safety precaution but she hadn’t recognised the driver and a frisson of unease skittered up her spine. The driver glanced behind him and nodded at her. He pressed a button and a partition smoothly rose between the seats to give her privacy. Sam shook the feeling of unease away, berating herself for being paranoid. She opened her laptop and began working.

Ten minutes later Sam looked up and glanced out of the window. They were going the wrong way. Her unease rushed back threefold and she reached for the intercom. Maybe, Sam considered, the driver was new to Washington. She pressed down.

‘Hi, I think you’ve taken a wrong turning.’

There was no reply. No signal from the driver that he’d even heard. She felt the hairs rise on the back of her neck; something was very wrong. She reached for the intercom and pressed down again.

‘Hey. Pull over. Now.’

No response. She wondered if it was even working. She tried the button on her side to lower the partition. It didn’t work. She licked her lip and quietly stashed her laptop back into her bag. She readied herself as they drew up to a set of lights and scrabbled for the door handle. It didn’t unlock with her pull and she tried futilely to push on the door as though that would open it. She looked at the windows; they were tinted. Nobody could see in and so she couldn’t gesture for help. Her personal gun was in her rucksack; she sneaked it out and tucked it into the waistband of her jeans at the small of her back. She couldn’t use it in the car; it would likely ricochet off the partition if she tried to shoot the driver.

Sam grimaced feeling foolish. She had allowed herself to be captured with ease as though she was some
greenhorn cadet. She hadn’t even thought to ask for ID. Worry about Jack slid into her. Had he been detained for a valid reason or was his absence at the airport more sinister? Had he been abducted as she had been? Or had they taken him out some other way?

She shivered.

No.

Jack was alive and well. He might have spent the last few years behind a desk but he could still defend himself better than half the guys at the SGC. It was more likely that he’d been detained for some valid reason and someone had taken advantage, Sam mused. He would be out of his mind with worry when he realised she’d gone missing. Neither of them had ever reacted well to the other disappearing.

Her fingers twisted together nervously. She remembered only too well the first time she had been abducted on Earth. She had almost died because someone had wanted to experiment on her; investigate the physiology she had acquired after being the host to a Tok’ra symbiote who had died within her. She couldn’t go through that again, Sam thought almost panicked. She took a shallow breath.

She had to think of a way out. Her eyes landed back on her gaping rucksack and the dull gleam of an earpiece and tiny microphone. It was the way they communicated with the ships in orbit. Unfortunately all of them were not in orbit, most were still limping home after the run-in with the Wraith, but there was the Hammond which was almost finished out at Area 51...there was an outside possibility that someone could pick up the transmission on Earth. She glanced at the driver to check that he wasn’t watching and hurriedly secreted the earpiece in her bra.

There wasn’t anything else she could do, Sam realised. Her best bet was to sit and wait for a chance to escape; Jack would raise the alarm when she didn’t show up. She just hoped he was OK.

o-O-o

The corridors stank of mould and disuse.

Jack’s nose wrinkled as he padded between the two goons who’d hauled him out of the cell a few moments before. The carpet beneath his feet was old and worn. It had been green at some point but it had faded to a greasy grey. The walls were painted an institutional pale green. Jack was guessing he was being held in an abandoned office building. His mouth twisted. It didn’t really narrow the range of possible locations down any.

He was hoping that he was on his way to someone who would explain exactly why he’d been snatched.
Knowing the who and the why might help him figure some way out of his predicament. He glanced at the goons.

Both were young men; thirties, possibly late twenties – and didn’t that make him feel old – both wore smart suits not unlike those worn by the political lackeys on Capitol Hill. They were clean shaven. Their gait suggested some military background and Jack figured while they weren’t hugely muscled, they probably had some hand to hand training – maybe a martial art. One held a zat gun on him but the other didn’t have a weapon as far as Jack could see. He debated taking them; his mind already visualising grabbing the guy with the zat, using him as a shield, zatting the other goon, knocking out the guy with the zat...

It was risky.

Jack spun around abruptly and tackled goon one. His hand went to the guy’s zat arm while his other arm locked around the guy’s neck and pressed down hard on his trachea. Jack heard him gurgle with satisfaction but kept his focus to force the guy’s arm upwards, his hand closing around the zat to aim it towards goon two who was scrambling for a gun.

The blue flash discharged and hit the wall beside goon two who ducked. Jack swore and staggered as the guy he was holding sagged, unconscious from lack of air, Jack kept hold of the zat and let the guy drop to the floor like a sack of potatoes. His eyes narrowed as goon two spun around with a gun in his hand, aiming for him...

Jack pressed down on the zat even as he dived for the floor. The bullet slammed into the wall just behind him but the blue electricity caught goon two square in the chest and he crumpled to the floor with a thud.
He really was getting too old for this crap, Jack mused as he pushed up off the floor and winced at the ache in his knees and his back. He grasped the zat firmly...

‘Sir.’

He spun around at the sound of Sam’s voice and froze. His heart seized as his eyes went straight to her. She was being firmly held by a large white guy with muscles who had restrained one of her arms behind her back and held a gun to her throat. Her blue eyes met Jack’s and for a second he saw her relief that he was OK before it was hidden behind her professional mask. They exchanged a long silent look.

A smaller guy not unlike the men Jack had just disabled stood beside them with a zat pointed at Jack but it was the third figure that snagged Jack’s attention.

‘Kinsey.’ Jack muttered with disgust.

Senator Robert Kinsey had been a proverbial pain in the ass for the Stargate programme. He’d tried to get them shut down and, when that had failed, he’d tried several times to take control of it for his own ends. The last they’d heard of him he’d been Goa’ulded by his fellow conspirators and he’d disappeared into the galaxy amid an attempt to start a nuclear war. Jack hadn’t had a lot of time for Kinsey and hadn’t mourned his loss. It was startling to see him looking pretty much the same as he had the day he’d disappeared.

Kinsey clapped slowly a few times, a smug smile spreading over his pale face. ‘General O’Neill. I see you’ve managed to take out Hal and Joe. And here I thought you were going soft in your old age.’

Jack’s eyebrows rose slightly. It appeared Kinsey had control of his own body...he wondered at that before he dismissed it as unimportant.

‘Perhaps,’ Kinsey continued smoothly, ‘you should put the zat down. I’d hate for Carlos here to get nervous and kill Colonel Carter.’

Jack’s eyes slid back to Sam and he hesitated for effect before he lowered the zat to the floor. He wouldn’t risk Sam’s life.

‘Excellent.’ Kinsey nodded at the small guy. ‘Ian, why don’t you show the General to the briefing room?’

Ian moved forward and pointed with the gun for Jack to continue walking. Jack’s jaw tensed and he looked back at Sam for a moment before he began walking. He heard footsteps behind him and he surmised they were all moving towards the briefing room wherever that was.

Two corridors later, they piled into a large room with no windows. There was a large desk with a leather chair at the far end; two wooden chairs were in front of it and Ian indicated for Jack to sit on one. Carlos pushed her down onto the other and Jack watched concerned as she massaged the arm that had been held. Her eyes signalled she was OK but Jack’s darkened at the slight red mark he could see on her neck from where the gun had been pressed against the skin.

Kinsey sat behind the desk and leaned forward, elbows on the desk and his hands clasped together. ‘I can’t tell you how much I have looked forward to this day.’

Jack didn’t say anything. He folded his arms over his chest and waited.

‘You’re probably wondering how I survived...’

‘Not particularly.’ Jack replied brusquely.

Kinsey’s pale eyes glittered with annoyance but he kept his smile. ‘I was smart. I helped the Goa’uld inside of me get control of a backwater planet. The people were simple and easy to control. We accepted Origin when the Ori came; minded our own business.’

Jack waved a hand at him. ‘Good for you.’

Kinsey gave a hard chuckle. ‘The Tok’ra arrived about six months ago. They told us the Ori had been defeated by an Ark which had converted the Priors to the truth. They removed the Goa’uld from me and I escaped in a ha’tak.’ He smiled. ‘It’s far too easy to slip past Earth’s sensors, General.’

‘Well, if you let us go, I’ll get right on that.’ Jack drawled.

Kinsey smirked at him. ‘You denied me my rightful place as President but all that is going to change.’

Jack looked at Kinsey with patent disbelief. ‘I don’t think so.’

‘Oh I know so, General.’ Kinsey’s gaze slid meaningfully sideways to Sam.

‘Look,’ Jack said leaning forward, ‘you got my attention. Just...let Carter go and do what you want with me.’

‘That’s touching.’ Kinsey said. ‘But let’s face it, O’Neill, you never were the brains of the operation. You’re only here because I need your wife to do something for me.’

Jack felt Sam tense beside him and he knew he’d done the same. Their marriage wasn’t a secret but they kept the knowledge of it closely guarded and on a need-to-know basis.

‘I told Hayes the two of you were, how shall we put this,’ Kinsey smiled snidely, ‘involved? But he didn’t believe me.’

‘What do you want?’ Jack asked abruptly, impatient with Kinsey’s game-playing.

Kinsey looked pleased as though he’d been waiting for Jack to react. He waved at Ian. ‘Bring it in.’

Jack turned around and watched as the small guy left momentarily and appeared again with two more men, who he mentally dubbed Laurel and Hardy, wheeling in a crate. They levered the lid off and pushed down the sides.

The Ark of Truth sat in the middle of the floor.

‘I liberated it from Area 51 with the help of a few sympathetic guards and scientists.’ Kinsey said. ‘There is a duplicate in its place of course.’

Jack grimaced. It looked as though they had a leak in their security which was worrying.

Kinsey motioned at Sam. ‘You’re going to reprogramme this Ark so everyone on Earth accepts me as their rightful leader.’

Jack’s eyebrows shot up. It seemed Kinsey’s ambition and greed had taken on Goa’uld-esque proportions.

‘It’s not possible.’ Sam spoke up for the first time. Her voice was firm and confident, and Jack felt a momentary swell of pride. ‘This technology is far beyond anything we currently have. I examined it on the journey from the Ori galaxy. There is no way of reprogramming it that we discovered.’

‘Colonel, I know you can come up with miracles when you need to and I’m sure all you need is the right incentive.’ Kinsey responded coldly. ‘Which is why you have until the end of the Thanksgiving weekend to reprogramme the device or I will kill your husband.’ He smiled at their stunned expressions. ‘You probably want some time alone before you get started. Why don’t we give you a moment?’ He got up and swept out of the room taking the goons with him.

o-O-o

Sam heard the door click behind them and turned to Jack before he could speak. ‘You can’t order me not to do it.’

‘The hell I can’t.’ Jack shot back immediately, standing up.

‘Jack.’ She got to her feet, reached out and placed a hand on his arm. ‘Please.’

She could tell he was struggling not to argue with her but he eventually subsided. He sighed heavily and took hold of her hand. ‘C’mere.’ He gently tugged her and she went willingly.

They hugged each other fiercely.

‘This wasn’t the welcome home I had planned for you.’ Jack murmured in her ear.

‘Me either.’ Sam whispered. She shifted, pulling back to look at him. ‘I told Kinsey the truth. I don’t know how to reprogramme the device.’

She knew he knew that she was repeating it for the benefit of Kinsey as well as for him. The room was probably bugged and it was likely they were being filmed.

‘I’m worried if I play around too much with it, it could blow up and take out the whole building.’ Sam continued, keeping her voice anxious although her eyes remained steady on his conveying a silent message that she intended to blow it up.

Jack raised an eyebrow and she knew he was debating the plan. ‘Maybe we should blow it up, Carter.’ He said out loud.

Sam almost smiled; she knew he was trying to put Kinsey off the scent by admitting the plan out loud. Instead she frowned and shook her head. ‘There has to be another way out of this. Someone will notice we’re missing eventually and one of the ships will pick up our signals from orbit.’ Sam slipped her hand under the neckline of her sweater as though adjusting her bra. She palmed the earpiece and placed her hand on Jack’s chest.

‘I think Kinsey knows we don’t have any ships in orbit right now.’ Jack continued their verbal conversation as his hand moved to cover hers and he took the earpiece from her. He brushed her hair over her shoulder as a distraction. ‘He’s going to kill us anyway.’

‘He needs us if he does want the device reprogrammed.’ Sam countered gently, although her head inclined subtly in agreement.

‘He needs you.’ Jack said. He waited a beat; holding her gaze. ‘I know the feeling.’

Sam hugged him again. She knew he was telling her to be careful.

The door opened behind them; Sam felt Jack tense beneath her hands.

‘Touching.’ Kinsey sneered. He jerked his head and the two men who’d delivered the Ark moved forward with zat guns. ‘It’s time for you to return to your room, O’Neill.’

Jack shook his head in automatic protest as he wrapped one arm around her, pushing his other hand into his pocket, delivering the earpiece to safety. ‘I don’t think so.’

‘You have no choice.’

Kinsey’s men moved forward and raised the zat.

‘Jack.’ Sam cautioned him.

He sighed as though acquiescing to her wishes, and leaned over to kiss her gently. He let go of her and took a step toward the men. They waved him past and followed him.

‘I wouldn’t try another escape attempt either.’ Kinsey said as Jack got alongside him by the doorway. ‘I may need her alive but I’m not averse to injuring her.’

Jack glared at him. ‘If you harm one hair on her head...’

‘You’ll do what?’ Kinsey taunted him. ‘I’ve won this one, O’Neill.’

Jack pressed his lips together. ‘I’m so going to shoot you.’ He stalked past him.

Sam let out a slow breath. It was best Kinsey thought he had beaten them – and, truthfully, at that precise moment he had. She had no idea if she could get the Ark to blow up and it was a long shot for Jack to contact someone with only the earpiece and microphone to affect a rescue.

Kinsey gestured and a set of equipment was wheeled in including she realised her laptop that she had left in the back of the sedan when she’d been dragged out of it and divested of her weapon.

‘I would get to work, Colonel.’ Kinsey said. ‘And presumably I don’t need to remind you that I would have no trouble hurting your husband if you try anything or fail.’

He turned and left her alone.

Sam sighed and wandered over to the equipment. She bit her lip as she looked it over and catalogued what was there.

She shrugged out of her coat and walked back over to the Ark. It looked so innocuous; just another ornate chest the size and height of a small coffee table. It was mostly silver but was comprised of naquadah in the main. The lid had a raised mound with a control crystal at the centre. It was surrounded by a series of buttons each with an Ancient letter. She knew the crystal and buttons formed the lock. The right combination had to be used to get into the Ark.

She examined the outside, assessing whether it had been tampered with and frowning at the scratch marks she found along one corner. Kinsey had evidently attempted to have someone lever the lid open.
Her mind drifted back to the last time she had seen it on the Odyssey. She and Daniel Jackson had examined it...

This is incredible.’ Sam peered at the Ark intently. It was more elegant than she had imagined although maybe she could blame that on seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark one too many times.

Incredible.’ Daniel agreed.

She looked up at him questioningly.


Scary isn’t it?’ Daniel mused out loud, crossing his arms over his chest tightly. ‘You can change what someone believes, the very nature of their belief, simply by opening this box.’

Indeed.’ Teal’c said from his position by the door.

Sam held her tongue. She knew it had gone against everything Daniel had believed in to find the Ark and use it. He would have preferred persuading the soldiers of the Ori to stop worshipping them; to allow rebellions such as Tomin’s to take root and destroy the false religion from within. But he and she had known that they couldn’t afford the time it would take for those things to happen. It was cold comfort.


How do you get inside?’ Sam asked instead.

Daniel moved forward and pressed a series of letters. The box opened, light cascading out before it disappeared abruptly.


Does that always happen?’ Sam asked.

I think there’s another lock combination.’ Daniel said. ‘One that allows you to get inside the Ark but without initialising the, uh...’

Energy stream.’ Sam suggested.

Daniel nodded. ‘I could probably work it out eventually. I think Merlin...’ he twirled his finger beside his head indicating the knowledge was somewhere inside of him.


Sam examined the insides of the Ark and noticed two depressions on either side. She pressed them and the bottom slid back to reveal a stack of multi-coloured crystals. She fingered them lightly. ‘These are control crystals.’


Can you determine how the device is programmed, Colonel Carter?’ Teal’c asked.

Not without taking it to pieces.’ Sam said. Her eyes caught on a large amber crystal in the centre. ‘I would guess this is the energy source.’

Daniel cleared his throat. ‘Could you create an overload?’


Sam glanced up at him and nodded. ‘Maybe.’ She straightened. ‘I really don’t want to play with this too much, Daniel.’ They still needed to use it on the Priors in their own galaxy.


Yeah.’ Daniel sighed deeply.

You want to destroy it afterwards.’ Sam stated.

Daniel nodded. His blue eyes gleamed with regret. ‘It’s too dangerous, Sam.’


Daniel had been right, Sam mused. He’d argued for it to be destroyed but the IOA had wanted to keep it for study. It had been transferred to Area 51 before she could properly examine it further. Daniel never had worked out how to unlock it without creating the burst of energy and Sam was pleased about that. She wanted the energy surge. Although she knew from the car journey that they were in an abandoned building in the countryside just outside the city limits, and it was unlikely anyone was around to see the beam of light arching upwards, she was hopeful the SGC or Homeworld Security would pick up on it and investigate.

Sam firmed her lips and entered the series of letters. The lid clicked open and she lifted it. The energy stream burst out of it, pushing up through the layers of floor and ceiling to the sky above. Please, Sam thought desperately: please someone notice.

The light winked out just as Kinsey and his men stormed back through the door.

‘What the hell was that?’ Kinsey demanded angrily.

Sam held her ground although her heart was racing. ‘I can’t reprogramme it without opening it.’ She gestured in the direction of the Ark with her head.

Kinsey scowled. ‘Any more surprises, Colonel, and your husband is going to find out just how skilled I am with a Goa’uld hand device. Do I make myself clear?’

Sam nodded sharply.

He left again and Sam set to work: there had to be some way to make the Ark explode.

o-O-o

Jack studied the cell with narrowed eyes. He’d done as much of a sweep as he could do but he couldn’t see any evidence of a camera or a bug. He’d even dragged the bed over to the air vent and peered inside it to check. There was nothing. It underscored how unimportant Kinsey believed him to be to the whole scenario except as a way of getting Sam to do what he wanted. Jack grimaced. The ex-Senator was in for a big surprise there; if anyone could blow up the Ark it was Carter.

He fingered the earpiece inside his pocket. He could barely believe that Sam had managed to hide it or that she had managed to sneak it to him but he had to make the most of it.

The earpiece and its radio were communication devices based on alien tech although completely manmade. Apart from acting as short range radios on a base, they also allowed ship to ground communication although usually a ship had to be monitoring and patched in to the right transmission frequency. Jack knew using the device was a long shot.

If the transmission frequencies were being monitored; if someone heard him; if he could get a rescue organised before the Ark blew...

There were a lot of ifs.

Jack didn’t question Carter’s plan to blow the thing up despite the downside that it would probably take them out too. The truth was that he would have preferred to have blown the thing up after they’d finished using it. Daniel, who was usually right about these things as much as Jack hated to admit it, believed it was too dangerous. Jack actually agreed with him. There had been no choice in regards to the Ori but something that could fundamentally alter someone’s belief was too powerful. He shuddered at the very idea of believing Kinsey was a good leader.

Clearly, Kinsey was nuts. He’d always been power-hungry; always been devious. Evidently sharing head-space with a Goa’uld had driven Kinsey to delusions of grandeur. Jack shook his head. It really didn’t matter whether Kinsey was insane, he fully intended shooting him if Carter didn’t blow them all up first. A steady anger burned low in Jack’s gut at being used to get to his wife; at Kinsey’s treatment of Sam. The crazy son of a bitch would pay for it one way or another.

Jack sat down on the bed and pulled the earpiece from its hiding place. If Kinsey did have the place bugged some way Jack hadn’t checked then undoubtedly guards would come running as soon as Jack made the first attempt. He hooked the earwig into his ear; threaded the wire around it to let the thin microphone lie against his rough cheek. He grimaced. He hated these things.

He cleared his throat and tapped the earpiece to open the mike. ‘This is General Jack O’Neill. Can anyone hear me?’

Nothing.

‘I repeat: this is General O’Neill. Does anyone read me?’

More nothing.

Jack sighed and shuffled back to rest against the cold wall. He glanced at the door. Nobody had come running. That was good.

‘This is General O’Neill. Can anyone hear me? Myself and Colonel Carter have been taken hostage and need assistance.’

Nothing.

Jack’s lips firmed. He didn’t care if it took all of Thanksgiving; someone would hear him. Carter was counting on him.

‘I repeat: this is General O’Neill. Can anyone hear me?’

Six hours later, his voice was beginning to crack. It was way after midnight. He slipped the earpiece back into his pocket. He washed his mouth out with water from the sink, drank a little to stave off thirst and the hunger pangs that gurgled in his belly. Kinsey apparently didn’t intend to feed him.

The door opened and Sam stumbled inside, pushed violently from behind. Jack immediately crossed to catch her, gathering her into the safety of his arms.

‘Hey!’ He yelled as the door slammed shut. He rubbed a hand soothingly down her back. ‘You OK, Carter?’

‘He’s giving me a couple of hours to sleep.’ Sam leaned against him tiredly. Jack wrapped himself around her and felt her arms creep around him. He knew it had been a long six hours of worrying if she was OK for him but she had been forced to work; forced to find a way out for them one way or another. He pressed a kiss to her temple. He led her to the bed. They rested back against the wall; his arm around her shoulder, hers around his waist. She shivered, her leather jacket apparently left behind in the other room. Jack grabbed for his own jacket which he’d slung at the end of the bed and tucked it around her like a blanket. She rested her head on his heart. His thumb stroked her upper arm gently.

‘Have you had any luck?’ Sam whispered.

‘No.’ Jack kissed the top of her head. ‘You?’

She nodded. ‘It’s almost done. I can finish it in the morning.’

He didn’t know whether to proud of her achievement or horrified.

‘Rest.’ Jack said. ‘I’ll keep trying to reach someone.’

Sam pushed up to look at him. Her blue eyes searched his seriously. ‘Jack, if it comes down to it...’

‘I know.’ Jack said. They would blow up the Ark and themselves with it to stop Kinsey from using it. He gave a sigh. ‘There’re seven of them including Kinsey. If we’re together, we could take them.’ He’d been thinking about it in the long hours since he’d seen her.

Sam tilted her head as though she was considering the idea and nodded slowly. ‘We’ve got to try, right?’

‘Right.’ Even if it was hopeless, they had to try.

She kissed him and his hand moved to cup her face, to slide into her hair and hold her while his lips responded to hers. They slowed eventually and Sam dropped another kiss on the corner of his lips before she snuggled against him again.

‘I love you.’ She whispered.

‘I love you too, Carter.’

Jack waited until he heard her breathing even out before he took out the earpiece and replaced it. He pressed down to send. He didn’t care if it was hopeless. He had to try; he had to save Carter.

‘This is General O’Neill. Can anybody read me?’

o-O-o

Sam rubbed her gritty eyes and stepped back from the Ark. She’d slept fitfully through the night, waking occasionally to hear Jack’s voice quietly and firmly trying to reach someone...anyone. She didn’t think he’d slept at all. She’d been pulled from the room early and told to get back to work. She was hungry, tired and cold but she’d put that all aside and concentrated on finishing the job.

She’d had to reprogramme the Ark in the end; sending the power back through the crystal when the right combination was entered. She’d calculated the explosion; it would be strong enough to take out the building and probably a good few acres of surrounding countryside.

She and Jack would definitely die if they couldn’t find some other way out. It was a last resort, she reminded herself. Her lips pressed together stubbornly. They were not going to die. This was not the way it was going to end. They would take out the guards; regain control.

‘I knew you could do it, Colonel.’ Kinsey crowed with satisfaction as he swept into the room with four of the guards. She watched as he rubbed his hands together with glee. He gestured at Ian. ‘Get O’Neill up here.’ He smiled. ‘I want him present for this.’

Ian turned and left.

Sam would have argued except for the fact that she wanted Jack with her. Their plan needed them both in the same room.

‘How does it work?’ Kinsey asked impatiently.

Sam regarded him with distaste. ‘You’ll need to press down on these symbols.’ She pointed them out in order and wondered if she’d ever get the chance to tell Daniel that she’d figured out how to change the lock.

Kinsey nodded eagerly.

Sam wandered back to the trolley of equipment and idly picked up a screwdriver. She moved back to the Ark and knelt as though tightening something on the bottom. She glanced around casually noting where the guards stood. Carlos who’d restrained her the day before was to her left; his gun holstered on a belt. One of the guys who Jack had called Laurel stood protectively by Kinsey while the last, Hardy, had stayed by the door. Both had their zats in thigh holsters.

She heard Jack’s voice as he entered; he was baiting the guards, Hal and Joe, who were the same two who he had overpowered the day before.

Sam looked over her shoulder and her eyes met Jack’s. A single look of confirmation was all they needed.

Jack suddenly clutched at his chest. ‘My heart!’ He cried out dramatically, falling backwards into the path of the two surprised men behind him and taking them down like bowling pins even as he grabbed Hal’s zat.

‘Sir!’ Sam yelled out, creating a second distraction even as she leapt to her feet but instead of moving towards Jack, she whirled around and drove the screwdriver deep into the neck of the muscled man beside her.

Blood spurted out in a fierce fountain as Carlos clutched at his jugular and crashed to the ground.

Sam grabbed his gun even as she ducked to avoid a zat hit. She knelt and aimed for her assailant – Laurel. The disgraced politician was crouched behind the Ark, taking cover. Her bullet slammed into Laurel’s shoulder; the second into his chest. He went down.

She barely had a moment to take in that Jack had managed to zat Joe and Hal was down for the count. Her husband was struggling with Hardy which left...

‘Carter!’

Jack’s yell was her only warning as Ian shot at her...

...and somehow missed. She realised Ian had a bloody wound on his temple and she attributed it to Jack.
Sam sprang forward, kicking Ian’s gun from his hand. He responded and she ducked; his leg sailed through the air above her head. She came back up to punch him and stopped as a shot impacted his chest and Ian dropped like a stone. She looked over and found Jack stood by the door, his arm outstretched and holding a gun firmly.

‘No!’ Kinsey snarled. ‘You won’t stop me! I will not be denied!’ He shot up and stretched out his hand.

Sam caught a glimpse of the metallic fingers of a hand device before the blast wave from it threw her back into Jack. They tumbled to the ground. Sam tried to catch her breath as she shook off her disorientation. Jack pulled her to her feet.

Sam’s eyes widened as she realised Kinsey had entered the code to unlock the Ark. He grinned triumphantly at them and lifted the lid.

Nothing happened; no light poured out.

Sam knew the crystal was absorbing power; absorbing energy.

Kinsey looked at the Ark dumbfounded. He raised his head to glare at her. ‘You’ll pay for this!’

‘Hey!’ Jack yelled.

Kinsey’s eyes darted to Jack.

Jack fired the gun. Kinsey cried out as the bullet shattered his arm. Jack fired again. Kinsey spun back, falling to the floor behind the Ark.

Sam hurried forward with Jack beside her.

Jack glanced at Kinsey, checking to make sure he was down. He gestured at the Ark. ‘Can you stop it?’

She bit her lip. ‘If I remove the control crystal...’

‘Do it.’ Jack ordered.

Sam reached into the Ark and quickly revealed the crystals. She reached in and almost cried out as the electricity brushed her skin painfully. Removing the crystal was going to hurt. She braced herself; grabbed the crystal and yanked it out.

Her skin burned and a sharp shock of energy ran up her arm. She immediately dropped the crystal onto the ground where it broke with a loud crack; the pained cry left her lips before she could prevent it.

Jack was immediately beside her. He swore as he gently took hold of her shaking hand, her palm was a raw red and blistered badly.

‘I’m fine.’ Sam said, blinking back tears. ‘It’s just a burn.’

Pounding footsteps had Jack raising his weapon and shifting his body to cover her.

Colonel Reynolds stormed into the room with the rest of SG3 at his heels. Outside they could hear more troops securing the building.

Jack lowered his gun and gestured at Sam. ‘Carter’s injured; we need a medic.’

Reynolds reached for his radio. ‘This is SG3 to control; we have them. Colonel Carter’s sustained an injury.’

‘Copy. Doctor is on the way.’ The reply crackled out.

Jack smiled at Sam before turning back to the SG3 leader. ‘Hey, Reynolds; nice of you to show up.’

Sam breathed out in relief and pulled her hand in toward her chest. She looked at Jack who hovered beside her, relief and concern gleaming in his brown eyes.

It was over; they had made it.

o-O-o

The fire burned low and steady in the hearth. It’s yellow and amber flames flickered and wavered, casting light and shadow across the den.

Jack paused in the doorway and, for a moment, drank in the sight of his wife. Sam sat on the sofa in front of the fire. Like him, she’d changed into sweats after taking a bath to wash away their experience with Kinsey. Her long blonde hair was down, the strands covering her shoulders. Because of her hand, he’d had to wash it for her; soaping and rinsing, drying it with his fingers tangled in the gold. She was looking into the fire; its flames lighting up her pale face and imbuing it with a golden hue.

He shuddered at how close he had come to losing her. The sight of the bandage on her right hand had his stomach churning. The doctor had given her the all clear; it was a bad burn but it would heal. She was fine. He wasn’t sure he was.

She frowned slightly and suddenly turned to look at him. Caught, he smiled ruefully and walked over to join her. His knee twinged reminding him that he was a three-star General and not a field Colonel used to taking out the bad guys hand to hand on a daily basis anymore. He was beat. It had been a long day cleaning up the mess with Kinsey and the Ark.

He’d left Reynolds in charge of getting the Ark back to its rightful place even if it was broken. The control crystal was a goner. Jack couldn’t help but think that was a good thing. Reynolds would also lead the investigation into how Kinsey had gotten hold of the Ark in the first place. The SG3 leader was a good man and Jack knew he could count on him.

His spirits lifted as he remembered Reynolds’ explanation for the rescue. The SGC had picked up on the energy surge when the Ark had been opened just as Sam had hoped. Walter had correctly identified the signature as belonging to the Ark. They’d narrowed the location to the Washington area; Hank Landry had deployed SG3 to Washington to investigate and he’d also ordered the Hammond into orbit to get better sensor readings.

The Hammond had picked up on Jack’s all-night transmissions but Kinsey had apparently had some kind of jamming device which had prevented the Hammond from being able to communicate back. They’d also been unable to transport himself and Sam out despite getting a lock on their locator tags. The plan to take the building, secure the Ark and rescue them had been approved by the President. It was good to know if their own plan hadn’t worked that there had been something else in the works, Jack mused as he reached the sofa.

Jack closed the space between him and Sam, and dropped a kiss lightly on her lips. ‘You ready to turn in?’

She nodded. She stood up slowly and waited while he banked the fire and set the guard. He slid an arm around her waist when he was done and felt hers slide around his. They padded up the stairs to their bedroom.

It was cold compared to the heat of the fire. Jack stopped her as Sam made an attempt to lift her own sweater one-handed. His hands caught the hem and he slowly divested her of the garment. His eyes darkened as they caught again on the bruises she had sustained. He raised her arm and kissed one set before ducking his head to kiss the mark on her neck. Their lips met with urgency as tiredness gave way to need.

Each touch was a confirmation of life, of love, of thanks they had survived.

Jack lost himself in Sam; the feel of her soft skin around him, beneath him; the scent of her filling his head, the sounds she made as they moved together were all he could hear over his own heartbeat; the sight of her all he could see. They lay tangled in the aftermath of their lovemaking with a single sheet covering them to ward off the chill.

‘Who was on the phone before?’ Sam asked, her fingers tracing patterns absently across his chest.

‘The President.’ Jack said as he pressed a kiss to her brow and carefully placed her injured hand on the cushion of his belly. He wondered when it had become so commonplace for the President to call him that his voice held only the irritation at being interrupted rather than a sense of awe that his commander-in-chief knew his telephone number – had it on speed-dial in fact. ‘He wanted to check in.’ He smiled as something the President said drifted into his head...

Any other General would be abducted so they would be coerced into doing something. You’re the only three star General I know, Jack, who would get abducted because someone needed your wife coerced into helping them take over the world.’

Was it bad that he was insanely proud of that, Jack wondered. After all, Kinsey had been right; Sam had ultimately found a way to make it work; she had reprogrammed the Ark. He was just thankful it was broken.
He frowned.

‘What?’ Sam asked.

‘Nothing.’ Jack denied.

She shot him a sceptical look.

He raised an eyebrow. ‘The Ark is broken, right?’

‘Well, the control crystal definitely can’t be used again.’ Sam confirmed.

‘But?’ prompted Jack.

‘I could probably hook up another power source.’ Sam admitted.

Of course she could fix it; he didn’t know why he had asked. ‘Maybe we should leave that out of the reports, Carter.’

Sam sighed in agreement. ‘Yeah.’

He rubbed her shoulder. ‘The good news is the President extended our leave for a day so our Thanksgiving plans can go ahead.’

Sam nuzzled his bare shoulder. ‘You have plans?’

‘I have plans.’ Jack confirmed archly.

She raised her head to look at him knowingly.

‘They don’t all involve us and a bed.’ Jack denied.

Sam laughed and his heart warmed with the sound.

His eyes twinkled at her. ‘There was one of us in the kitchen.’

‘Oh?’ Her lips were curving with amusement.

‘Making Thanksgiving dinner.’ Jack said with a grin. Kinsey hadn’t been the turkey he had originally planned to wrestle with. At least he’d gotten to shoot him.

Sam chuckled again. Her good hand slid behind his neck and played with the ruffled strands of his hair.

They looked at each other lovingly. Jack felt the pull of sleep and fought it. He wanted to keep looking at Sam; just looking at her, alive and beside him.

She kissed him softly. ‘Go to sleep, Jack. We’ve got tomorrow.’

She was right; they had tomorrow, and they would always have a tomorrow if Jack had anything to do about it. Jack curled up around his wife; his arms filled with her and finally closed his eyes.

Maybe, Jack considered, he should give thanks to the universe because he had no idea how he’d gotten so lucky that Sam loved him; that he loved her. And maybe, just maybe, the universe wasn’t conspiring against him after all.

fin.


Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
supersleuth1
Nov. 23rd, 2009 09:00 am (UTC)
Poor Jack and Sam. They never seem to catch a break. It was good to see what happened to Kinsey. They gave us this cliffhanger where he most likely escaped and then ... nothing. Loved that you wrapped that up.

Sam reprogrammed the Ark in a day or so, I am also not sure whether to be amazed or horrified. Probably amazed.

I really loved this story. Just the kind of reaaly great S/J fic I was looking for. Great job!
rachel500
Nov. 23rd, 2009 10:29 am (UTC)
Thank you for the lovely feedback. I always thought they might have brought Kinsey back but they never did and the loose thread of it is so intriguing. Glad you loved the story! :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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