|"Bait and Switch" by Kellifer_fic
||[Dec. 11th, 2006|01:05 pm]
So, being a co-creator of this challenge, I'm biting the bullet and going first... eep!|
Title: Bait and Switch
Rating/Warning: Adult themes. (Jack/Daniel UST)
Your name: kellifer_fic
Your recipient: princessofg
Request details: Covert Ops!Jack!!! (AU)
Notes: Thanks be to _minxy_ for the awesome beta. For dark_gate
Daniel sometimes wandered up to the conference room overlooking the Gate to watch teams go off world. His question was directed at Sam, only just packing up from her briefing.
She came now to stand next to him and look down at the room below. They watched as a solitary figure waited at the bottom of the ramp. He was a tall man with a lean frame who took his cap off for a second to scrub a hand through greying hair, watching as the outer ring of the stargate span, chevrons locking into place.
“I don’t know,” she said and Daniel turned his gaze to Sam, who was rubbing her brow, a frown denting the smooth skin.
“It is always nice to see you Daniel Jackson,” the Jaffa inclined his head, managing to look imposing despite his shackled wrists.
“Hmmm? Ah yes,” Daniel nodded, digging his notebooks out of his backpack. He rarely came down into the bowels of the SGC but recently the Jaffa prisoner had refused to talk to anyone else, mostly because no one could or bothered to pronounce his name properly.
“Is there any further word on when I might be released to return to my homeworld?” The Jaffa asked, his normally impassive face betraying a hint of tension, a slight clenching of the jaw.
“No, nothing yet, but I’ll keep asking.” Daniel felt like a heel, every single time he lied to the man who hadn’t seen sunlight in three years. Daniel suspected that any intelligence he could provide was now badly out of date and pretty useless, but he hinted at the Jaffa withholding pertinent information to the higher ups, mostly because he had strong suspicions about what would happen to the man when the NID decided he was no longer useful.
“Now Teal’c,” Daniel began.
Daniel paused at the security gate because the regular two-man security detail was absent, replaced by MPs who watched him approach, faces blank.
“Ah… I forgot something from my office,” Daniel mumbled, doing his best to appear as scatty as his reputation and headed back to the elevators, just waiting for the drum of boots behind him.
When the elevator doors closed, Daniel pressed a flat palm against his belly and his forehead to the back wall and breathed deep, feeling the outline of the manila folder under his shirt.
Once a month, he and Sam went to visit Charlie Kowalski.
Daniel was standing outside the hospital, nursing a cup of coffee and keeping an eye out for Sam’s four-wheel drive when he spotted someone across the road that looked familiar. As he watched, the man lifted the cap off his head and scrubbed a hand through his hair and Daniel realized with a jolt just where he’d seen him. Daniel caught the man’s gaze and held it, knowing there was little coincidence in his life and as he watched, the man’s lips turned up in a wry grin and he tipped his head a little, a tiny nod.
A bus flew by, blocking Daniel’s view for a moment and when the street was clear again, the man was gone. A poke in his ribs had Daniel yelping and flailing, dropping his coffee and Sam stood back, hands up and blinking.
“Wow, getting jumpy in your old age there Doctor Jackson?” she mused with a grin and Daniel rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, must be it,” he conceded, looking forlornly at the puddle of coffee on the ground.
“C’mon,” Sam sighed, linking an arm through his. “I’ll buy you a cup inside.”
Daniel pulled a face, dreading the vile liquid that the NID pretended was coffee.
Daniel stopped with a forkful of lasagna halfway to his mouth when the grey-haired man sat down opposite him and started peeling a banana like absolutely nothing out of the ordinary was happening. Daniel darted his gaze around the commissary and confirmed that he was the only one actually in it apart from a frazzled looking scientist that he recognized as someone usually running out of Sam’s lab, in tears more often than not.
“Hi,” Daniel said warily, letting the book he’d had propped in front of himself rest flat on the table.
The man broke a piece of banana free and popped it in his mouth, chewing thoughtfully. Daniel waited for a few more seconds before he decided that the man was wasn’t going to say anything further and had his book up in front of his face again when the man said, “Good book?”
“If you find Ancient Mayan culture fascinating then sure, it’s a real page turner,” he replied. “I haven’t-“ seen you around here beforeDaniel had started to say, trying for small talk but his voice trailed away to nothing when the man tossed aside the banana peel, reached into his pocket and then put his hand flat on the table, gaze level and eyes dark.
“Whatever it is you’re doing, take my advice and stop it.”
“What-?” Daniel started again but the man merely smiled tightly and pushed his seat back. When he was gone, Daniel looked down at the table and noticed there were two sets of dog-tags. He looked at the names pressed into the metal of both tags and felt like he was going to be sick.
When Daniel rubbed over the face of the tag that said ‘Elliot Coburne’, something dark red, almost black, flaked off onto the pad of his thumb.
“You seem troubled Daniel Jackson.”
Daniel couldn’t help the snort the escaped him because the man asking after his welfare was sitting in a cell with his hands manacled.
“I’m fine Teal’c,” he sighed, rubbing a knuckle into his eye, trying to massage out the headache that had been a black spike in his temple for the last hour.
“We can resume at a later time if it would be more preferable. As you can see, I am available at your convenience.” Teal’c said and Daniel smiled, always surprised by the other man’s dry humour. Teal’c never let the dark walls diminish his regal bearing, but Daniel could see from the dark circles under his eyes and the weight he’d lost over the last few weeks that he might’ve finally started to see through the promise that he would once again see his homeworld for the lie that it was.
Whatever you’re doing, stop it.
Daniel, knowing that he’d been made and that people like him didn’t actually get warnings, felt time slipping away faster than he’d been prepared for.
He reached into his pocket, pulling free the device Sam had slipped him when they’d met at the NID hospital. It looked like a black pen and Daniel twirled it in his fingers lazily. “You’ve stopped Kel’no’reeming, haven’t you?” he asked and Teal’c smiled, probably for the first time that Daniel knew of.
“I know I am not to be returned to my homeworld,” Teal’c said with a resigned finality as Daniel stood, risking a glance at the surveillance camera above him.
“Yes you are,” Daniel said, thumbing a small switch on the black cylinder. It clicked, there was a dull whump and Teal’c was gone.
Daniel turned to the door, snapping the black cylinder in half and tossing it aside.
Someone grabbed his elbow when he was only two floors up and he thought, wow, that was quick when a mouth pressed to his ear and a gruff voice huffed, “You’re a dumb son of a bitch, you know that?”
Daniel turned his head so he could stare at the same grey haired man, hustling him towards the elevator, hand moving from his elbow to just under his armpit so that Daniel was practically lifted off his feet. “What are you-?”
“No talking,” the man snapped, his eyes ticking sideways to Daniel. “Do what I say when I say it and you won’t die today.”
Daniel let himself be yanked along until they were right at the elevator and then planted his feet. “Okay, this is all very melodramatic, but just what the hell is going on?”
The man looked back at him, surprise on his face as Daniel lifted his chin. “Get in the damn elevator,” he snapped and Daniel twisted out of his grip when he made to grab him again and crossed his arms, glaring.
“I’m not letting you just drag me off to some quiet room so you can shoot me in the back of the head more conveniently,” Daniel snarled. “I’d rather make a mess in the hallway if it’s all the same to you.”
“I’m Jack,” the man said, holding out his hand and Daniel raised his own automatically, too dumbfounded to do anything else and politeness ingrained far too deeply into his psyche to resist. As soon as he had he realized his mistake because Jack gripped his hand and pulled, Daniel practically falling into the lift.
“And I’m not dragging you anywhere to shoot you,” he added, thumbing the entry level button and then leaning against the back wall of the elevator, arms also crossed. “If I were going to kill you, you would have never seen me coming.”
“That’s-“ Daniel paused to meet Jack’s gaze, level and serious and he swallowed. “That’s comforting,” he amended with fierce sarcasm and Jack chuckled.
When they reached the entry level, Jack grasped Daniel’s shoulders and shoved, the MP’s watching him with identical frowns but not intervening. They were out in the parking garage before he knew it and Daniel breathed deep, only now realizing how much he had not expected to get out of the Mountain that day.
Jack led Daniel over to a truck that had a blanket over the back and he lifted it, indicating that Daniel should get underneath it. When he lifted it enough, Daniel startled backwards because he could see tied feet. Jack looked at him and grinned wryly. “Blondie kept punching me,” he said with a shrug. “You can untie her.”
“I’m just amazed you got Sam first,” Daniel said, and Jack shrugged.
“She headed me off when I was on my way to you. That’s why I was a little… late.”
Daniel crawled under the blanket and was head-butted before he had a chance to identify himself and was left to rub his head with one hand while he untied the gag around Sam’s mouth with the other.
“What’s going on?” she asked, pushing her hands up between them so Daniel could untie them by feel in the darkness.
“I have no idea,” Daniel said.
Daniel and Sam were allowed to move to the cab of the truck an hour into their trip, and four hours in both started asking where they were being taken, Jack staunchly ignoring them the entire time. When they pulled up to the cabin in the middle of nowhere, Daniel was just grateful to have stopped moving.
He took a moment to blink into the blue sky above before looking back at the worn but comfortable looking place, sun glinting off the edge of a lake he could just make out past the tree line at the back. He felt a hand grip his bicep and then Sam leaned into him and whispered, “Maybe he wants to hunt us,” with an exaggerated waggle of her eyebrows.
“This is only temporary,” Jack called as he slid from the cab of his truck, smiling when Daniel and Sam turned to stare at him. “Until I get your papers sorted.”
“Papers?” Daniel asked, eyebrows on the rise and Sam’s grip on his arm tightened.
“To get you out of the country. You’re supposed to be dead so it’ll be a little inconvenient if you, you know, turn up somewhere.”
“We’re leaving the country?” Daniel asked and Jack rolled his eyes.
“Do I need to talk slower or are you going to stop repeating everything I say?” When Daniel’s lips thinned but he didn’t say anything else, Jack gave him a can I go on? look and Daniel waved his hands. “I Have some people very interested in you,” Jack said.
“What? Are you selling us?” Sam asked incredulously, stepping away from Daniel with her fists clenched and Daniel looked from her to Jack, aghast, the possibility never even occurring to him.
“You’re not going to start punching me again are you?” Jack asked, moving so the truck door was between himself and Sam, hands up in mock surrender.
“How did you get the Jaffa out?”
Sam was showering and Daniel was sitting at Jack’s surprisingly cheerful kitchen nook, nursing a coffee, still watching the older man warily. He had his coffee halfway to his mouth when Jack asked his question and Daniel paused, setting it down again carefully.
“You’ll never find him,” Daniel said and Jack seemed to realize that his query had set Daniel on edge because he held up his hands, palms out with a disarming grin.
“I’m just curious. Lemme show you something,” he said, retreating into the hallway off the kitchen. Daniel heard the sounds of Jack rummaging around in one of the bedrooms and then he appeared again, holding a box that he set down in front of Daniel. “Go ahead,” Jack invited and Daniel carefully pushed the lid off.
Nestled inside were files, tapes and photographs, items Daniel had been carefully smuggling out of the Mountain for months and sending to a contact of his in Cairo for safe keeping. He knew it was a little cliché, but Daniel had been hoping that if he ever disappeared then the evidence of the Stargate program and the NID’s involvement in stealing from other worlds and experimenting on alien life forms would see the light of day, even if he never did again.
“That was a nice red herring,” Jack commented and Daniel looked up, brow furrowed. “I mean, I figured you were up to something else, but considering the ineptitude of your whole smuggling operation, I figured it wasn’t much.” Daniel scowled but didn’t correct Jack’s assumption. “Hell, the NID was tempted to just let you keep thinking that you were building a little rebellion or whatever it was you were doing so they could keep you.”
“But they got suspicious?” Daniel guessed and Jack nodded slowly, pulling the chair next to Daniel out and settling onto it.
“Especially with you and Doctor Carter there being friends. They got a little scared about what the two of you could come up with. They thought about shipping her off to Area 51 but they knew you’d both see through that. You especially were a flight risk.”
Jack put a hand in the box, and came back with a file Daniel hadn’t seen before. He opened it, flipping pages before closing it with a snap and handing it over. “You make compelling reading Doctor Jackson, and it all adds up to you being able to pretty much vanish if you were ever able to get out of this country.” Daniel had started scanning the file, amazed at the time and effort it must had taken to amass that kind of information about him, but looked up and met and held Jack’s gaze when he heard the small measure of awe in the other man’s tone.
“Well ,when you put it that way,” Daniel said, letting himself smile for what felt like the first time in weeks as Jack’s eyes ticked away and he cleared his throat, pushing out of his chair. The sounds of the shower died and Daniel jumped up, snapping the file closed he had in hand. “What are you going to do with this?” he asked.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Jack said, offering Daniel a small smile.
Daniel was rubbing his wet hair with a towel when he stopped short, seeing Jack and Sam standing across from each other in the living room, Sam holding another file in her hands.
“This is about Charlie,” Sam snapped, holding the file up when Daniel looked at her.
“You know, it’s rude to snoop,” Jack said lightly, but there was a hardness in his eyes.
“I hadn’t been able to figure it out, just why you would save us,” Sam continued as Daniel moved towards her. “Now it’s starting to make sense. You think we can get information out of Charlie.”
“What? It’s not possible for me to have a heart of gold under this gruff exterior?”
“Please,” Sam huffed. “If that’s not it, then tell us the real reason you have this.”
“I served with Kowalski, went through some pretty rough stuff with him. When the whole Stargate program was starting up in the first year when it was still a military operation, they tried to recruit me and they tried using Kowalski as a way to sweeten the deal. I said no and he said yes. He led the first team through the gate.”
“Daniel was in that team,” Sam said slowly, reaching out to touch Daniel’s arm as he moved within reach. “Wait, you saved us because…?” Sam was looking from Jack to Daniel and Daniel blinked.
“Yeah, some crazy kid who’d barely gotten to know his twenties stepped in front of weapons fire, saving a good man’s life.”
“Believe me, I really didn’t-“
“Way I read it, you died,” Jack interrupted, putting out a hand and Sam gave him the file back, eyes large and expression tight.
“Didn’t do much good,” Daniel said, looking at Sam. “Charlie got taken by a Goa’uld his very next time out, locked in an NID facility ever since. We go and see him…” Daniel shrugged. “Maybe it’s stupid to still believe that deep down Charlie is aware and would know we were there.”
“Ah screw it,” Jack huffed, rubbing knuckles into his eyes. “I’ve been doing pretty bad things for most of my life. Doing the right thing is merely a hiccup in my otherwise unblemished record.”
“You’re doing pretty well from where we’re standing,” Daniel offered dryly.
“Now, before we get too far along in the proceedings I want you the understand that at the end of all this, I need something in return.”
Daniel and Sam looked up at Jack from their cobbled together meal, sitting against each other on his threadbare couch. “We’re not going to tell you where Teal’c is,” Daniel said sounding both exasperated and a little amused. Jack rolled his eyes.
“I know that,” he grumbled, and Daniel quirked an apologetic smile, Sam looking between the two men. “What I want is free passage, when I need it.”
“Free passage? What does that mean?” Sam asked, twining her fingers in a few threads that had come free of the couch backing.
“I’m getting to that,” Jack huffed, holding his hands up. “You two with all the questions. It’s a wonder you get anything done.” Jack dropped into the armchair opposite his couch and steepled his fingers, resting his chin on top. “Russia has a Stargate.”
“Oh my god,” Sam said slowly.
“I don’t know the specifics but what I do know is that it’s still under military control and the bigwigs asked for you by name. I’m figuring you’ll be able to have free reign.”
“So this free passage?” Sam prompted.
“I’m getting pretty tired of this life but men like me don’t exactly retire.” Jack leaned forward to snag his unopened beer and popped the cap. “I’d like an exit strategy when and if the need arises. Preferably somewhere sunny, with a lake.”
“Fish or no fish?” Daniel asked, quirking a brow.
“Don’t really matter. I’m not much for catching, I just like dipping my pole in.”
Sam snorted and Daniel raised his eyebrows, blinking. Jack looked at them both.
Daniel hesitated on the porch, hands gripping the bag strap crossing his chest as he looked at the large and fairly conspicuous black van that had pulled up outside the cabin. “You know, you do have a choice here,” Jack said right in his ear and Daniel jumped a little, startled.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, this isn’t the only choice. I’ve helped people disappear before. If you want to go somewhere else, just say the word.”
Daniel craned his neck so he could see Sam just behind Jack’s shoulder and then smiled gamely back at the older man. “No, this is… this is right for now.” He said, his voice strengthening as he squared his shoulders. Something uncertain crossed his face as Sam moved down the porch steps and waited on the path.
“I mean it. Anything you want, I can do. Anywhere you want to go.”
“If this… if this all doesn’t work out and you do take the offworld option maybe…” Daniel waved a helpless hand and Jack felt a smile touch his face, first one in a long time.
“Can you play chess?” Jack asked and Daniel blinked.
“Ah, yes. Why?”
Jack nodded for a beat and then scratched his chin. “You won’t want to stay in one place will you? You’ll want to move around.”
“I was raised a bit of a nomad.”
“I’m used to it,” Jack half-shrugged.
“I mean, I wouldn’t want to intrude on your… retirement.”
“I like company,” Jack said, a smirk on his face.
“The Russians are waiting,” Sam interrupted, giving Jack a stern look as she stepped in between them and took Daniel’s hand.
“Are either if you ever going to tell me how you got the Jaffa out?” Jack called as Daniel and Sam moved toward the waiting van.
“Probably not,” Daniel said, turning to offer a grin just before the van door closed.
“I thought so.” Jack nodded, raising a hand in farewell as he watched the van bump down the dirt track that led away from the cabin until he couldn’t see it anymore.