|Category:||Jack/Sam, Jack/Other Female|
|Genres:||Action/Adventure, Missing Scene/Episode-Related, Romance|
|Warnings:||Adult Themes, Non-Consensual Sex Acts|
|Summary:||Powerful forces unite to save O'Neill ... or is it to sacrifice him?
Note - Read The Muse first
As Hammond turned the last corner toward O’Neill’s quarters, he froze. The General’s heart pounded and the pit of his stomach clenched. The gentle sound of a guitar, expertly played, floated softly from under O’Neill’s door. Hammond forced himself to knock. The music stopped. “C’mon in,” O’Neill called. Hammond swung the door open. There sat Jack O’Neill with a guitar across his knees and a grin on his face.
“Care to hear my latest variations on Leo Kottke, George?”
“What is this Colonel?” Hammond asked. “I thought you were cured of all this… creative energy!”
“Sit down, Sir. You look a little shaky.”
Hammond slumped into a chair, staring at O’Neill as if he had two heads. Jack looked back, trying to appear normal and pleasant, but inside damned worried that his CO had caught him playing the guitar. Last time it had nearly cost Jack his military career and then nearly cost his life.
Hammond said quietly, “I just stopped by for a chat, Jack.”
Jack set the guitar aside and fetched his bottle of Kentucky bourbon, poured and handed George a glass. This was going to be a long ‘chat’, so O’Neill set the bottle within easy reach.
“I’m fine George. I always played guitar,” Jack began.
“You did? No, Colonel you didn’t. There is no mention of it in your military file. I’ve been through it, believe me I’ve been all through it and there is not a mention of guitar playing.” Hammond hung tough.
Jack shrugged, smiled and straddled a chair, leaning his chin on the chair back, giving Hammond what he hoped was an innocent, friendly appearance. “Well, I wasn’t any good. So I didn’t tell anyone. But, yeah, I played guitar most of my life. George, think about it. Where do you think I found a twelve-string guitar in the SGC? You know I never left the base after visiting … Celeste’s planet.”
Hammond filled in, “P3X531.”
“Yeah, P3X531.” O’Neill finished and gave his Commanding Officer a ‘ya see’ sort of look. “I found it here. I played before. The guitar was here in my quarters, always has been.”
Hammond took a sip of the whiskey. O’Neill could see he was contemplating what his 2IC had just revealed. “But you didn’t play like this, Jack.”
O’Neill looked at Hammond and tried to think of another way to account for his astounding new ability, couldn’t, gave up and grinned. “No. No, I didn’t.”
Then he picked up the instrument, turned the chair around and sat fiddling with the strings and touching the frets. Hammond watched and sipped, waiting for the concert that was clearly about to begin. His patience was rewarded by two hours of the most astonishing music the old man had ever heard. Being a Texan who’d lived from Austin to Zurich, Hammond had heard a world of guitarists. O’Neill was simply out of this world.
As O’Neill concluded his serenade, Hammond emptied his glass and plunged ahead.
“Jack, I dropped by this evening to apologize to you. I hope you know that I didn’t want to relieve you of command, Colonel. I know it hurts like hell, believe me. I’ve been there myself. A military man doesn’t ever forget or easily forgive a thing like that Jack, but I hope you’ll forgive me.”
O’Neill’s sudden onset of artistic genius, a ‘gift’ visited upon him at P3X531 from a force called ‘The Muse,’ had been leaked to military intelligence. Almost immediately, NID took control of O’Neill and put him through a battery of tests, bizarre tests that amounted to nothing less than torture, trying to discover the source of his ‘gift.’
Through it all Hammond fought to protect O’Neill, first to prevent it his transfer, then to rescue him. It was Doctor Janet Frazier who’d actually found a way, not Hammond. In the end, O’Neill came through with no permanent damage and, through sheer luck, found himself relieved of the sudden creative genius, at least it had seemed that way to Hammond.
Hammond had no choice really about relieving O’Neill. He’d clearly been altered by alien contact. He was not in control of his actions. Although it was only for a short while, although he was required to act, Hammond had been deeply ashamed. The shame hadn’t lessened in the weeks that followed. The General felt that O’Neill had every right to hold a grudge.
O’Neill squinted at Hammond in a funny sort of way, like he was searching for words but couldn’t quite find them. Hammond knew immediately that O’Neill had forgiven him. The Colonel was never at a loss for words if his Irish was up.
The General waited another moment for him to find the words, and then threw O’Neill a rope, “ Jack, we’re okay, right?”
O’Neill grinned and replied simply, “Yes Sir, we are. Thanks for watching my back George. More?” he asked holding up the bottle. Hammond nodded and settled back for a chat about all the mundane details of managing the SCG: off-world missions, alien cultures, possibilities of new technology and the ever-present threat of Goa’uld invasion.
Hammond left the Colonel’s quarters mildly tipsy and relieved of guilt, but far from content. Earlier that evening as he’d walked down the hall toward Jack’s quarters, Hammond had thought everything was about to be sorted out. Now, as he walked away, he knew there were still serious questions about what had happened to O’Neill on P3X531.
A small voice in Hammond’s head whispered, “He has to go back.” Hammond tried to ignore it, unwilling to send O’Neill to P3X531, fearful of what might happen there. He could lose his 2IC forever to this … force. The voice persisted through the General’s fitful sleep. “He has to go back.” Hammond pretended not to hear.