Title: A Legend in His Own Time
Category: Some whumping, a bit of angst and human nature.
Sequel To: It's Genetic
Summary: Jack takes a fall and has an adventure of a personal nature.
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of
MGM/UA, Scifi, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Productions Etc; and not
myself. Legend is a property of Paramount UPN Etc. No cpoyright
infringement is intended. The story is for entertainment only and not
for profit. The original charaters are the property of the author as is
Story to be hosted by: Jackfic.
Feedback: All constructive comments are most welcome.
The dark heaven was sprinkled with the dazzling lights of a
thousand stars. Jack O'Neill leaned back against the railing of his
observation deck sipping a beer, drinking in the night skies. It was one
of those nights, the kind that followed one of those oh so peachy days.
After a day like today, insomnia was a given. And, as was his usual
habit, Jack sought release from its grip, up here, on his rooftop
sanctuary. Alone and still, he was free to drink in the universe, as
he'd first known it. It seemed to surround him with its tantalizing
flashes of fire nestled in inky vastness.
His shoulder ached; and if he allowed himself to be honest about
it, it hurt like hell. Dislocated shoulders were no fun at all. Neither
was a wrenched knee. Unfortunately, he was oh so enjoying both at the
After a pleasant week of paperwork, he and the rest of SG-1 had
gone on a search and rescue mission. SG-14, a geological survey team had
not reported in on schedule. When several attempts to make contact had
failed, Hammond had called on his premiere team, Jack's team, to fetch
them home. It was obvious from the Malp data that significant seismic
activity was the most likely reason behind the disappearance of the
geologists. A fact, that became all too apparent when SG-1 found
themselves smack dab in a level eight earthquake, the moment they'd
emerged from the wormhole.
Long story short, they had found the geological team battered and
trapped in a cave in and freed them quickly. Unfortunately for Jack, not
quickly enough, he had lost his footing in a rockslide and fell about
forty feet, landing in a nice grouping of car sized boulders.
For once, Doc Fraiser had reigned in her tendency to lord her
powers over him and allowed him to go home to recuperate. That is, after
her usual long litany of "do this and don't do that" was over. He had
promised to be a good boy, and so had taken a half dose of the pain
medication she'd given him. Then he'd tried, unsuccessfully, to sleep
for two hours. Finally frustrated he grabbed a six-pack in his good left
hand and climbed awkwardly up the rather steep ladder to his rooftop
refuge from the world.
'Crap!' He thought, attempting to find a comfortable position.
The only bright spot in the past week had been when he'd turned the
ribbing that his team had been inflicting on him to his advantage.
Thanks to Teal'c and his addiction to all things western, they had
ferreted out a portion of his family history. Jack was taciturn by
nature and rarely spoke about himself, let alone his family tree. It
could be especially embarrassing for a self-effacing hard ass Colonel,
like himself, to be the descendant of an old western dime novel hero.
Knowing that it would be the last thing that Jack would openly discuss,
his team had decided to use the newfound information to torment him.
He'd let them have their fun briefly and then, slyly, he'd turned the
tables on them; and quite nicely too! Both he and his commander, General
George Hammond, had a good laugh over that turn of events. It still made
him smile, despite his pain.
Jack must have dozed off,
thanks to the combination of the twinkling stars, the booze and the
medication. He awoke in the predawn light, only to find it had begun to
drizzle. Stiff and cold, he began his descent to the ground below, and
slipped. Unable to catch himself, with his dominant arm in a sling, he
plummeted to the ground and landed hard. His last thought, before
passing out from the knock to the back of his head, was that the
Napoleonic Power Monger, was oh so not going ever let him live this one
Jack smelled leather, horses
and dust. He drifted in that twilight of sleep when one is mildly aware
of his surroundings and yet, not interested enough to wake up and look
around; vaguely aware of voices close by, words unclear.
A sudden lurch threw him forward, wrenching his injured shoulder
and jarring him awake. "CRAP!"
Jack cracked an eyelid against
the bright light and took in the sight of the brim of his hat and the
tips of his dusty Calvary boots. Calvary boots? Moving his eyes up his
long legs, he noted, that he was not wearing his usual khakis. Instead,
his legs were encased in the dark blue jersey of breeches. He realized
that his uninjured arm was nestled snugly against another body. A body
that smelled decidedly feminine, due to the faint hint of perfume.
Lemon verbena. His Nana had
worn that scent to church each Sunday when he was a "little lad." He'd
not enjoyed that bittersweet memory for years now and oddly, it helped
him ignore the pain in his right shoulder. Pushing his hat up and away
from his face, he looked directly into the big and round-eyed, freckled
face, of a boy of about eight years. The two stared at each other in
'Just where in the blazes am I?' Jack thought.
"It is rude to stare Thomas.
The Colonel needs his rest. He has been through quite an ordeal and
needs to heal." Jack heard the body next to him say. The gentle
admonishment was directed to the freckled face in Jack's direct line of
Just what was the woman
referring to, Jack wondered? He felt groggy and confused. What was going
on? Last thing, he remembered was climbing down from the observation
deck on his roof and slipping. This was so not his day!
Deciding to remain quietly
observant, Jack scanned the small enclosure he found himself in.
It would appeared, he was in
the passenger cab of an old stagecoach, along with the boy, the woman
whose tone indicated she was his Mother, and another woman whose large
hat hid her face in shadows. Turning slightly to his right, Jack looked
out a rather crude window and noted the slow passage of the landscape
beyond. It looked like they were traveling a dirt road somewhere in
Colorado. That much was obvious to his sleep befuddled mind, but why in
an old stagecoach and why was he dressed in the Calvary gear? Must be
some kind of weird dream, he pondered.
'I may as well relax and enjoy it. What was in
that pain medication the Doc foisted on me this time? Maybe I should pay
more attention to her lectures from now on.' Feeling the familiar weight
of a sidearm at his hip, he noted a Calvary sword leaning gently at his
thigh and away from the ladies. Looking up once more, he spied the boy
Thomas still stared directly at him, despite his Mother's cautioning.
"What?" Jack O'Neill liked kids and usually, he
never minded their myriad of questions. However, he felt rotten and
wasn't sure he would have the answers to the kid's questions. His
confusion gave his voice an impatient tone.
The boy thrust a newssheet and pencil stub at
him. "Can I have your autograph Colonel? Please?" Thomas looked up at
the Colonel with admiration and awe.
"May I, Thomas. Do not forget your grammar
lessons." There was a smile in his Mother's voice.
"May I, please Sir?"
Jack slowly took the newssheet from the lad.
Looking closely at the heading, he read: October 22, 1878. Colonel
Jonathan O'Neill will be on medical furlough recovering from the recent
wounds, he received in the latest Indian wars. A rather crude pencil
sketch was beneath the heading.
Yeah, that'd be his face all right. O.K. In this
dream he was still a Colonel and he had been wounded.
A more pertinent question might be, just where
was he going in this relic of the old west? Glancing below the sketch,
he read on: The Colonel will be visiting his recently retired Commanding
Officer General George Hammond in the town of Sheridan, Arapaho County,
Colorado. It went on to list some of the battles and campaigns in which
he'd been involved.
Following his quick read, Jack understood just
why the kid wanted his autograph; it embarrassed him none the less. The
fact that he'd been involved in any campaigns against the original
Natives of America did not sit to well with him either. He had a good
dose of Native American blood in his own heritage; and he found what
history had done to them damned distasteful.
Not wanting to disappoint the kid, he accepted
the still waiting pencil stub a bit awkwardly, due to the presence of a
sling on his right arm. Scribbling his name across the sketch of his
likeness, he handed the items back to the boy. "There you are Tom."
He might as well get a bit of intel, from as
many of these folks as he could. It would help him maneuver in this
dream. "So why are you folks traveling on this Stage?"
Tom was excited, to be drawn into conversation
with his hero. The Colonel had been quietly sleeping when both he and
his Mother had boarded the Overland Express. "We're on our way to meet
up with my Father. He is the new territorial Marshal! Can I see your
sword Colonel? Can I?"
The innocent request caused a jagged shard of
pain to pierce Jack's carefully shielded heart. Time had softened the
pain, he still felt over Charlie's death, due to an accidental gunshot
wound, but it would never go away totally. The guilt would always be
It had been Jack's own personal weapon, his
sidearm, which had been the tool of that wasteful death.
It was this pain and frustration, as well as, an
urgent need to make sure no other child ever suffered a similar fate,
which colored his reply. "Hell No!" Reining in his temper, he continued
in a more controlled tone. "Weapons are not for children. It takes years
of study and training, as well as a bit of seasoning, before anyone
should carry any kind of weapon!"
"The Colonel is correct Thomas. However Colonel,
I would be most grateful if you would not curse in front of my
impressionable son." The woman, whom Jack assumed was the kid's mother,
smiled at Jack softening her chastisement.
It was a smile that said, she somehow understood
his pain and it lessened Jack's embarrassment. He took off his hat and
bowed his head slightly. "Yes Ma'am. You are correct. Do please accept
The boy Thomas, like all children before and
after, recovered from his disappointment quickly. "Well then Sir, may I
ride your horse? "
"My horse?" He had a horse? Then why ride in
this stuffy coach and crowd these women?
"Yes Sir. I know he is tied to the back of the
stage right now for a rest, but may I please ride him when we come to
the next rest stop?"
Jack leaned gingerly out the window of the stage
and spied a sleek chestnut gelding wearing a Calvary saddle and rig. He
thought it a bit odd that the rifle holster attached to the saddle was
empty, till his heel knocked against a rifle nestled on the floor of the
cab at his feet.
'This is one hell of a
dream!' He sighed. 'It sure does seem real.
O.K. O'Neill, it is possible that this is not a dream. I could just be
losing my mind, or hallucinating from the combination of two beers and a
half dose of pain medication!' He was so never going to make that
error again! 'Might as well settle back and
enjoy it, Jack old man,' he thought. 'Not
much else you can do.' Realizing that the kid was still waiting for
an answer, he turned to him. "Sure thing Tom." Replacing his hat over
his eyes and ignoring the pain in his shoulder, he drifted back into
The gentle rocking of the coach slowed to a halt
as the Overland Express Stagecoach pulled in to the rest stop. Here the
driver would change horses and allow the passengers a break and a meal.
The driver was already assisting Thomas's Mother from the cab as Jack
fully roused himself. Despite the sling on his right arm, he gracefully
eased himself through the door on his side and moved around to assist
the other lady passenger. As she moved to take his proffered hand,
descending to the ground in the afternoon light, her face was briefly
lit, despite the huge hat she wore. Jack froze in shock. The face before
him was one he had seen before in old family photos. It was the face of
his great, great Grandmother, Desdemona Stewart.
Realizing he was gaping stupidly, Jack swept off
his hat as he assisted her. The stunning woman's dazzling smile was his
"Thank you, Colonel." She said in a gracious husky voice.
Looking into the same sparkling deep brown eyes,
that he saw in his mirror as he shaved everyday, Jack felt a desperate
need to get to know her. "Colonel Jack O'Neill at your service, Ma'am.
May I lead you into luncheon?"
As she took his arm, he cautioned himself to
keep his excitement to himself. He didn't want to raise any suspicions
about his sudden attentions.
"I'll make sure old Zeus here is watered and fed
for you Colonel." The driver stated flatly, turning to unhitch the big
gelding from the back of the wagon. Old Bill Huntley thought it was damn
odd that any Calvary officer like the Colonel would neglect his horse.
Still, the man was injured and the lady was very attractive. Bill
shrugged it off.
Catching the man's puzzled frown, Jack realized
that he had made a tactical error. He had no desire to let on just how
out of place he was feeling. Reaching into his pocket, he found a coin
and excused himself from the Lady briefly. "Thank you. It has been a bit
difficult, what with this sling and all."
The driver accepted the five dollar gold piece
gratefully. Times were hard and if the Colonel wanted to throw money
around, who was he to criticize? This Colonel was not like any of the
others, he'd encountered before. He liked the man, but something was
definitely off about him. Squelching the errant thought, he continued
with his work.
The rest stop was on a small ranch. A large
boned woman with a sturdy constitution greeted the small group as they
approached the ranch house front door. "How do folks? Washhouse is
around back, as is the facilities. I am Emma Riggs; welcome to the Last
Chance Ranch. Lunch will be served directly. Please come on in." She
told them loudly, motioning them inside.
The house was small, but well kept. The crude
wooden table was set with six places, and a rich stew was steaming over
the open hearth nearby.
Jack's mouth watered. Making his excuses, he
made use of the washhouse and facilities, such as they were. Hands
clean, he then returned to the kitchen. The others were already seated,
so he took the empty chair at the head of the table. They all looked to
him expectantly as Emma requested, "Lead us in thanking our maker please
Startled, Jack folded his hands and recited a
long unused childhood blessing. The sweet smiles of the ladies present
seemed to indicate approval and he breathed a sigh of relief.
"Why don't we all get to know one another?" Emma
asked warmly. "You all know who I am and everyone around these parts has
heard of you Colonel. Perhaps, you ladies would care to introduce
"I am Mrs. Ester Carter and this is my son,
Thomas. We are on our way to Sheridan to meet my husband the new
territorial Marshall." The pert lady who smelled like lemon verbena
The ladies nodded to one another and then turn
expectantly toward the quiet lady with the huge hat.
"My name is Desdemona Stewart. I am traveling to
Sheridan to appear at the new Opera house. I shall be performing there
this Friday night." She replied, with a small smile. Turning her full
attention to Jack, she made a polite request. "I hope you will all
Despite, her gracious inclusion of the entire
assembly it was quite clear she was signaling Jack out. He chose to
simply nod. Who new where he'd be come Friday?
Enjoying a nice meal the small assembly chatted
politely with one another. Jack ate sparingly. The pain in his shoulder
had blossomed into full-blown agony. He tried to ignore it and not let
on, but his hostess Emma had been a nurse during the War Between the
States. She could read military men like a book. Her late husband Robert
had been much like the man before her. "Colonel, I wonder if you would
be kind enough to assist me with something in the parlor?"
Jack nodded his consent and followed her to the
adjacent room. She moved to a small cabinet in a corner and removed a
large bottle of whiskey. Pouring two fingers into a glass, she offered
it to him. "That wound is still painful isn't Jonathan? Are you sure it
is not infected?"
No one had called him Jonathan, in that fond
tone, since his Mother had and Jack found that it relaxed him enough to
be honest with her. "Hurts like hell Emma and I thank you for the
Taking the glass from her, he tossed the entire
contents back enjoying the burn as it went down and the soft glow as it
pulsed into his bloodstream.
Emma refilled his glass. "Let me have a look at
it. I was a nurse with the Northern infantry and I know a thing or two.
Then you can sack out in my spare room, least till the Stage leaves. I
will not tolerate an argument from you Colonel." Prodding him into a
chair, she removed the sling to get a better look.
Jack was curious to see the wound himself. His
memory was of a dislocation, but the pain he was currently experiencing
was more consistent with a stab wound. He'd had enough injuries to know
how each one felt. As she removed the crude dressing, he couldn't help
but draw in a shocked breath. It looked like he'd had quite a hole
punctured into his flesh, just beneath his right collarbone. Whoever had
treated it must be a quack. It was still ragged and raw, obviously
grossly infected. That would explain his exhaustion and his confusion
Emma poured whiskey into the wound; Jack bit his
lip, tasting blood in order to keep from screaming. The whiskey burned
its way along his ragged flesh.
"Sorry Jonathon, the wound is badly infected.
What incompetent simpleton treated this?"
"Emma, do you have any moldy bread?" Jack asked,
catching his breath as the burning eased.
"I'll have you know I set a fresh table
"Yes you do. I was hoping however, there might
be some in a waste bin. You see, if we scrape the mold off and rub it
into the wound it will help fight the infection." Her doubtful look
caused him to improvise. "Old Indian remedy. I've used before."
Hands on her hips, Emma gave him a searching
look. "As it happens I just discarded a whole loaf. Made too much last
Sunday. I think you are wasting your time, but I will get it for you. I
have seen stranger remedies in field hospitals."
Leaving him briefly, Emma returned with a nice
moldy loaf. Scraping off the soft gray matter, she swabbed it into the
While she was distracted with redressing his
shoulder and applying the sling, Jack ate a couple chunks of the moldy
'Doc Fraiser would be
proud of me!' he thought. 'I'm using home
made penicillin.' He hoped it would do the trick.
Once, she had completed her task, Emma led him
to a small room insisting he "Stretch out that tall frame and sleep
awhile." Jack fell almost immediately into a dreamless slumber.
He had no idea just how long he napped, but it
couldn't have been more than forty-five minutes before Emma gently shook
him awake. The driver was anxious to be underway, wanting to make
Sheridan by nightfall. The others were already on the Stagecoach waiting
for him; his horse tied to the back.
Thanking the motherly Emma once more, Jack
allowed her to admonish him to "not to ride today and undo all her neat
work!" and then, climbed gingerly into the cab of the coach. Within
minutes they were underway once more.
Mrs. Emma had scolded Thomas, cautioning him to
leave the Colonel in peace. So, the youngster silently gazed at his new
idol and didn't pester him with questions. Despite his best intentions,
Jack dozed off once more.
George Hammond, retired General, closed his tiny
establishment early in anticipation of his friend and former Second in
Command's arrival. He had known Colonel Jonathan O'Neill for almost
eighteen years, ever since they had first fought together in the War
Between the States, back in sixty-one. Knew him long before, he had
become the taciturn, battle hardened fighting man, the war had left him.
Long before, Jack lost both his wife and son in such a tragic way.
He remembered the day he had first met the young
Captain, who had been presented as a 'Cracker Jack shot.' That
description proved to be accurate, earning him the nickname by which
most of his command knew him, "Cracker Jack O'Neill." He never heard the
man referred to as Jonathon after that, unless it was formally.
Jack seemed to accept the title without much
notice, as he did with most of the changes to things the military caused
him. George could always count on Jack to be in the thick of things; and
to be the most successful of his officers in bringing his unit home as
unscathed as possible.
He was a good officer, as well as, a smart ass.
One who skirted the line of insubordination so many times that, as his
C.O., George had lost count. However, Jack was the man he would never go
into any campaign without, what's more Jack knew it. Despite that fact,
he was not arrogant, like some of the other officers and that set him
Jack's men had all but worshipped him. They
would follow him into hell itself to obey his commands. The man was a
true rarity, especially in this man's Military today. Which was the main
reason George had been glad to retire. He had received a letter from
Jack several weeks ago; a letter that had worried him. Jack had made it
clear he was fed up and was looking to retire. He was in his early
fifties and perhaps it was time. However, officers of his caliber had
been known to extend their careers, due to the events that had happened
the last few years in the western frontier. As usual, George had read
between the lines and sent Jack an invitation to come visit him on his
next furlough. He was glad it had come so soon, but not happy that an
injury had made it possible.
The Stagecoach pulled in front of the Hotel
precisely on time for a change. The sun had just set and the town was
bathed in twilight. George spied the Calvary horse tied at the back of
the coach and his worry for his friend escalated. Normally, Jack was
more comfortable in the saddle, not inside the coach. His wound must be
severe and as usual, he'd down played it in the telegram he'd sent
letting George know that he'd been on his way for the visit.
Jack was the first one to leave the cab of the
Stagecoach. He caught sight of George, smiled and nodded, then turned to
assist two ladies from the cab followed by a young boy of about eight.
"You promised I could ride your horse Colonel. Now that we are here, may
I." The child piped up eagerly.
George smiled. Jack was always popular with
youngsters; his grand daughters adored the man. However, Jack's weary
posture alerted his friend that something really was wrong and he
stepped forward. "It is late son. The Colonel will be here visiting for
a good while, you'll have your ride another day."
The child accepted the older man's authority and
waving to Jack, scurried after his Mother to the Hotel lobby.
George heard Jack's quite sigh. "I never could
hide anything from you Sir."
Turning, in order to give Jack a scrutinizing
inspection in the light pouring from the Hotel lobby, George took
command. "Come with me Jack, I have a nice suite here at the hotel. You
can rest, then we will have a nice quiet supper in the rooms and talk
about old times."
After a nap and fine supper, the two old
campaigners and friends, adjourned to the saloon for a nightcap. Jack's
pain had been steadily increasing. And thus, he looked forward to the
numbing benefits of whiskey. The two found a quiet spot at the back near
the poker tables, where a friendly game was already in progress.
A fellow with his back to Jack appeared to be
winning, much to the chagrin of a rough looking character directly
across the table.
The rough cowboy was fed up with his losing
streak. Pratt had to be cheating! He wasn't that bad a card player. The
man was a card sharp and he'd had enough of him. "Pratt you are a
cheat!" He bellowed pulling his gun.
The saloon became deadly quite. Jack's hand
rested on his sidearm.
The man with his back to Jack laughed softly and
raised his hands for all to see. "Now Red, you know I do not carry a
gun. Nor do I cheat at cards. It has been a fair game all around, right
Looking over the other players, the man coolly
continued. "Lets just settle down and play another hand. Bar keep, get
my friend Red here, your best whiskey and put it on my tab." With that,
he calmly ignored the nonplused Red. Taking a sip of something from a
teacup at his elbow, he went back to his card game.
Seeing that he had not succeeded in drawing the
other man into a gunfight, Red sat back down and nursed his fresh
Jack relaxed his gun hand. It couldn't be, he
thought. Well why not? After all, he was in the right town at the right
time. He had just met his great, great Grandmother, why not his soon to
be, great, great Granddaddy too? He had to admit, the man had guts to
have so cavalierly handled a very dangerous situation; and with such
overblown theatrics. "Who is that man George?" He already knew, but just
to make sure he had to ask.
"That Jack, is the famous writer Ernst Pratt,
alias Nicodemus Legend. After sundown when the children and most of the
respectable folk are tucked in their beds, he let's his true nature
loose here at the Buffalo Head saloon. You see, Legend does not curse,
drink spirits, smoke cigars or chase women. Ernst Pratt excels at all of
those endeavors. That is, when he is not assuming his role as Legend."
George's smile made it clear, he found the rogue amusing and that, he
considered him a friend.
Jack was intrigued. He knew most of that
information. Ernst Pratt's personal history was no secret to his family.
But, to actually meet the man whom his family had considered quite a
character was quite another thing entirely. "Introduce me to him, would
"As soon as the game is over. Ernest will most
likely wander over here, as he does most nights, to share a nightcap.
I'll be pleased to have you get acquainted." The two would hit it off,
George thought. It would be a pleasant distraction for Jack to witness
all Ernst's shenanigans.
Not long after, the poker group called it a
night. As he watched the figure with his back to him rise, Jack wondered
if their similar features would be remarked upon.
The man who would one day become his ancestor,
turned toward them, spotted George and smiled. With a twinkle in his
eye, he came over to their table teacup and cigar, in hand.
Ernst was slightly shorter than Jack's own six
foot two frame, but he had the same lanky build. He was in his early
forties and still had the familial light brown hair and deep-set eyes;
although, his were umber instead of deep brown.
Deep eyes that had seen a great deal, and yet,
choose to view the world with ironic humor; wise eyes, belonging to
someone much older and without a trace of naiveté. He sported a thick
bushy mustache that could use a trim, as could, his collar length hair
and walked with the same naturally athletic grace, which O'Neill had
also been accused of.
The teacup did not contain tea. The strong smell
of liquor, made that patently obvious. No, Ernst employed the teacup to
conceal his consumption of fine whiskey. Despite having imbibed
throughout the card game, Ernst was unaffected and clear eyed as he took
the chair George indicated. "How does George?"
George nodded politely in return.
Turning to Jack, Ernst looked him over. Smiling
a wry smile, he inquired with a stage whisper. "So is this Colonel
Jonathan O'Neill, war hero and old friend?"
When Jack merely nodded, he continued, "George
here has told me a great deal about you. Actually, I do remember bits
and pieces of newspaper articles written regarding your exploits, from
my old war correspondent days. Glad to finally meet you."
Ernst's carefully polite perusal was none the
less, thorough. He saw before him, a man of about fifty with the
weathered features of an outdoorsman. His hair more salt than pepper and
eyes that had seem too much of the real world to allow him easy
'Odd,' he thought,
noting their marked similarities, 'Despite the
age difference this man could be my older brother.' Intrigued, he
looked directly into Jack's deep brown eyes and captured a moment of
unguarded interest and something more, something intangible, which he
could not quite fathom, quickly hidden behind a façade of cool
indifference. 'The Colonel, is a man of hidden
depths.' Noticing the slight flush to his cheeks, despite an
underlying pallor, he wondered if his wound, indicated by the arm in the
sling, was more severe than this rugged and obviously proud man would
The sudden penetrating and deep perusal made
Jack uneasy. What did the man see? It was as if he could see past Jack's
carefully constructed and comfortable armor of indifference, into his
very soul. "Ernst."
George had noticed Jack's discomfort, although
he couldn't fathom the reason for it. Jack usually was a center of calm
in a storm. Perhaps, it was the lingering fever from his infected wound.
He'd tried without success to persuade Jack to see the local Doctor, but
the O'Neill rock solid pride was in the way today and so, he had
relented. He would try again in the morning. For now, he would ease
these two into friendship if he could. They had similar temperaments
after all, and should understand one another. Each hid his true nature
behind a façade and a wickedly sarcastic sense of humor. Both Jack and
Ernst spent a great deal of time and energy, denying a large and
compassionate heart. Both men protected the innocent and sought to bring
justice to an unjust world, each in his own way. Yes, he thought, they
had a great deal in common.
"Your cigars have arrived. You can pick them up
in the morning." George told the unusually silent Pratt. Turning to
Jack, he explained. "Ernst is my tobacco shops most valued customer. You
might say, he keeps me in business and I dare say, Ernst is a very good
judge of a fine cigar."
Ernst redirected his gaze away from Jack's and
shrugged off the compliment with a light laugh. "Ah George, I am most
happy to oblige. It is positively shameful that our great nation's
retiring military should receive such a paltry pension, thus requiring a
side business to make ends meet."
"Ah, yes." George replied glancing at Jack, he
wondered if he had put more aside than this old General had. He hoped
so. "But thanks to you and your friends, I am happy to report that I am
doing quite well these days."
Just then, the barkeeper arrived with a demure
china teapot and proceeded to refill Ernst's teacup. Ernst grinned up at
the man and thanked him with more bravado than was necessary. "Oh thank
you Grady! I do so love my chamomile tea before retiring." With that,
Ernst placed a light hand on Grady's arm to forestall him. Then, he
tossed back the cups contents. "So what are you gents having? Grady, a
refill for my stalwart Calvary friends, if you please." He said with a
George took one look at Jack's rapidly graying
features and flushed cheeks, and decided they should call it a night.
"No thank you, I think it is time we retired. Big day tomorrow you know.
Jack has had a long trip and must be weary. Come by in the morning
Ernst." Rising, he shook his friend's hand.
Jack bid the smiling man a quiet goodnight.
Moving to follow George with shaky legs, he was overcome by waves of
dizziness and felt himself collapse toward the rough plank floor.
'Damn!' he thought. 'I still must be running a
fever. I had hoped my homemade penicillin would do the trick.'
Ernst had noted the Colonel's swaying even
before he'd collapsed. Ignoring the last of his liquor, he hurried to
catch up to the two old warriors. Thus, he was able to support Jack's
crumpling form, just before he hit the floor. He and George carried the
stricken man to his room at the Silver King Mines Hotel. Then sent
Skeeter, the hotel steward, for the doctor.
They'd barely removed the sling and undressed
the feverish man, when Skeeter returned with Dr. Daniel Ballard. The Doc
moved swiftly for a man with one permanently stiffened leg. After asking
for and receiving an explanation of recent events from the two worried
and hovering men, he proceeded to remove the now soaked dressing
covering the Colonel's wound.
"Gad!" The Doctor expounded, as he eyed the
Ugly and poorly stitched, the wound was covered
with some sort of gray matter, as well as, the purulent and bloody pus
all Doctors expect with an infected wound. Unfortunately, he'd seen its
like before. Whatever had penetrated the Colonel flesh had left part of
itself behind. "The wound will have to be reopened and probed. I believe
whatever incompetent quack tended this failed to properly remove a
portion of the weapon, which may have broken off on impact."
Noting that each of the other men paled
slightly, the young Doctor continued, "I'll need you both to hold him
down. He looks to be a very strong man. And if my memory serves me, the
equivalent of a Viking berserker when aroused."
"You know the Colonel?" Ernst asked, moving to
brace the stricken man's shoulders.
"If not for Captain "Cracker Jack" O'Neill and
the young woman who became my wife, I would not be standing here on two
legs. No gentlemen, I would be hobbling around on one. A permanently
stiffened knee is much preferred to a stump!" Opening his black bag and
scrubbing his hands thoroughly, the Doctor got to work.
It took Ernst and George, as well as Skeeter, to
hold the fighting and very confused, Jack O'Neill down. Once opened, the
wound gave up quite a quantity of purulent drainage. Probing proved
fruitful. Swearing softly, the Doctor pulled forth a significant piece
of a flint spearhead and dropped it into the basin. Checking the
collarbone for fragments, he then cleansed the wound with disinfectant
and applied new stitches to the angry flesh. Now it was up to O'Neill's
stubborn strength and determination.
'I pray he'll pull through!' Daniel thought. 'I have much to
thank him for.'
Three worried men pulled up chairs. Each
determined to watch over and tend the enigma, who was Jack O'Neill. Few
men would inspire such devotion and concern, but he was one of them.
Desdemona Stewart had slept deeply after her
long journey. Quickly tending to her morning ablutions, she proceeded
sedately to the Hotel dinning room, finding it a buzz with chatter and
activity. The irrepressible Skeeter seated her, and then took her order.
Unable to repress his excitement, he regaled her with the previous
nights events. Listening with alarm, Desdemona felt concern sweep over
Her own Indian heritage warred with her modern
woman's independent nature. She had taken an instant liking to the
handsome and gallant gentleman known as Colonel O'Neill. It was more
than just his good looks, which attracted her to him. She felt a need to
sooth and protect this obviously much abused man. Finishing her light
breakfast quickly, she gently demanded that Skeeter escort her to the
Colonel's room; as she wished inquire as to his progress.
Jack had tossed and turned in the grip of
feverish delirium for a great deal of the night. The three new comrades
at his bedside did the best they could to sooth him, without much
Dr. Daniel Ballard was concerned. One could
easily dismiss the ramblings of the stricken patient, despite the
fantastic details, however, his patient had shown no improvement so far;
this was not something he would tolerated. Of all the patients Daniel
had treated in his career, this one was perhaps the ONE he had to save.
This man's compassion and stubborn honor had saved him from a life that
could have been a nightmare of uselessness, and instead had sent him on
a path of self-awareness and healing. He realized that medicine still
had a long way to go before miracles could happen, but he wished for one
now. A knock on the door halted his frustrated self-flagellation, and
awoke the other two comrades from their own fitful slumber.
Ernst, as he was closer to the portal opened the
door to a vision of beauty. One, he had never seen before; and he had
seen every such vision possible in Sheridan. She had thick chestnut hair
artfully coiled into an elaborate upsweep, huge deep brown eyes with
flawless tawny skin and lush pink lips.
He'd never felt quite like this about any woman.
Oh yes, he had flirted and admired every woman in his path since the day
he had gotten long pants. He had bedded many women but always treated
them with discretion and respect. He more than liked woman, he loved
woman - all woman. Yet, this heart clenching, breath-stopping state, had
never assailed him before. Frozen Ernst was unable to speak.
George, noting the extended silence came to the
door to see just what had caused his affable friend to become mute. He
recognized the lovely vision in the doorway as one of the woman with
whom Jack had traveled the day before. "I regret, we have not been
properly introduced Miss. I am George Hammond, this is Ernst Pratt and
the Doctor is Daniel Ballard. How may we be of service?"
Glancing past the three men in her immediate
view and spying a rumpled figure sprawled on the bed, she replied, "I am
Desdemona Stewart I am an acquaintance of the Colonel's. I have come to
offer my help in caring for him. The steward Skeeter has informed me of
Dr. Daniel Ballard had known many gentle women
who'd uttered similar statements, but in his experience few had the
stamina to deal with what lay before them. Looking deeply into the
woman's eyes, he thought he had found one of the rare ones. "Do you have
any experience in caring for a man with infected wounds Miss
"Unfortunately Dr. Ballard, I do. My Grandmother
was a full-blooded Cherokee healer and many warriors sought her help
while I was growing up in her care. I was taught many things in those
years." The look on her face made all three of the men concerned for
this beauty. She had not had an easy life it seemed. The plight of woman
such as herself was wrought with mistreatment and prejudice. "The wound
is badly infected?"
"Yes, and I fear, I am unsure as to how best
treat it. It had some form of gray matter clinging to it, as well as,
the usual purulent drainage. Probing it and opening the old stitches
revealed the spearhead from a war lance, which caused the wound and left
behind a good sized fragment."
Noting the dawn of anger in her eyes, he
continued, "That, and the obviously gross negligence of whatever hack
treated him initially, may cost him his life. I do not have a magic cure
for an infection this far gone." So saying, he stepped back and motioned
her into the sickroom.
Stepping fully into the room, she began rolling
up her sleeves. "I will look at it. Many of my Grandmother's herbal
remedies are very effective in treating infections."
Desdemona carefully washed her hands with soap
and water at the basin. "I think I can explain the gray matter. We
stopped at a weigh station just before Sheridan and the woman there
coaxed the Colonel into allowing her to cleanse the wound. She told me,
he'd requested she smear the mold from bread into the wound, stating
that it was an old Indian remedy. Guessing that he knew something she
did not, she obliged him." That information had further endeared the
Colonel to her. He had obvious respect for her ancestors' ways, which
was indeed a rare thing in her world. All business, Desdemona moved the
dressing aside and examined the wound. "I will need a few things
Ernst, quickly regaining his tongue, offered his
own, as well as his friend and partner's, assistance in gathering the
items she listed. "My partner Janos Bartok is a scientist and most adept
in procuring most items. He may even have what we need in his lab. May I
escort you there for a look around?" While he genuinely wished to help
the embattled Colonel, assisting her in this way would give him time
alone with the lady. Desdemona had unknowingly, made quite an impression
on his long protected heart.
Gazing up at the man with a smile, she noted
that he looked a great deal like the Colonel, a man whom she had so
recently allowed to invade her affections. This man is more than he
seems, she thought. She admired his good looks, as well as his concern
for the stricken man. "I would be most grateful for your assistances,
sir. Are you quite sure your partner will oblige?"
"Janos will be pleased and excited. He is
forever seeking to add to his knowledge and enjoys experimentation. I
will freshen up quickly. Then return with a conveyance to bring us to
his lab. Allow me twenty minutes dear lady?" When she smiled and nodded,
he turned back to the other two men. "George, Daniel, be easy. We will
return posthaste to assist our valiant warrior."
"I will go to my room to collect my things and
meet Mr. Pratt. We will hurry gentlemen, rest assured." Desdemona patted
Her confidence and their previous knowledge of
Professor Bartok's own intellect, reassured the two. The Doctor shooed
George along to locate the errant Skeeter for room service, instructing
him to eat a meal and freshen up as well. He then redressed the ugly
wound and bathed his patient's brow will cooling water. Praying the
lovely woman might have an answer and the infection that was tormenting
this brave soul would be eradicated quickly.
Jack was fighting to pull himself out of sleep.
His body was on fire and his eyelids seemed to weigh a ton. He was
vaguely aware that someone was gently washing his face with cool water.
Cracking his eyes open, he looked into Daniel's concerned face. "Ah,
Danny boy what's happening? Are we in hell again? I feel like I am on
Daniel looked into the fever confused eyes of
the Colonel and wondered if he truly was cognizant of just where he was.
Did he remember the seventeen-year-old wounded young man that he'd
pulled up on his horse in the middle of a battlefield? He would never
forget that day. Daniel had thought he truly was in hell:
It was November 24th 1863 and the Battle Above
The Clouds raged around him. He took a bullet in his left knee and fell
screaming for his mother to the blood soaked earth. The screams of other
dying men heightened his fear. And, he had thought that he would be left
for dead as the Union line briefly retreated, but he was lucky. A
certain battle hardened Captain had other ideas.
"Cracker Jack" O'Neill had a reputation for
never leaving a man behind. He had heard the boy cry out. Kneeing his
mount close enough to grab the youngster by the scruff of his uniform,
he'd pull him up in front of himself. Battling his way through the
throng of embattled men, he had taken the lad to the field hospital.
Taking in the carnage spread before him in what one laughingly referred
to as a hospital, he refused to allow the orderly to take the boy
directly to the surgeon. Knowing all too well that such an action would
buy the boy one leg. So instead, he had found the young battlefield
nurse who had dressed his own wounds that morning. She had a gift, he
had found, for handling the overworked field surgeons and tending wounds
It was into her compassionate hands, that he'd
placed the young soldier's care and Daniel would be forever grateful.
That young nurse had become his wife. She was a great nurse to him and
to all his own many patients over the years. Had times been different,
she would have been his colleague as well. He wished Jan were here now,
instead of back east visiting with her folks. "You are suffering from
fever Jack. The wound in your shoulder is infected."
"Guess my home made penicillin didn't work.
Janet will be disappointed. Where is she Danny?"
Surprised Jack still retained such a clear
memory, Daniel responded, "She went back east with our son Jack. She's
visiting her folks."
"What? When did you two marry … just where am
I?" Jack was getting really confused. He did not hear any of the usual
SGC infirmary sounds, which he was used to hearing upon awakening.
Actually Daniel looked different too. This Daniel had brown eyes and
black hair, shot with premature gray streaks. What the hell! He was
still in the dream!
"You are in Sheridan, Colorado Colonel. You are
resting in the hotel suite of your friend George Hammond. Do you
remember anything about last night? I took a fragment of the spearhead
that caused your wound out and retreated your infected shoulder."
Seeing Jack's eyes droop closed once more he
soothed "Rest Jack, you'll feel better soon." He hoped that his
statement was indeed the truth. Homemade penicillin? Just what was that?
He had not heard of such a remedy? Perhaps the lovely Desdemona might
have that answer.
Desdemona had at first been unsure she would
ride in the "conveyance" that Mr. Pratt neatly pulled up in front of the
Hotel. It looked somewhat like a miniature steam engine. He called it a
velocipede and informed her that Professor Bartok had invented it, after
Ernst had described such a device in one of his books. Ernst referred to
it as a land rover.
When she had remarked on her ignorance of his
having been an author, Ernst had spent the time it took to drive outside
the city to Bartok's lab regaling her with his stories, filled with the
exploits of one Nicodemus Legend. She had heard of Legend, but had
assumed he was a myth. Ernst, as he insisted she call him, had merely
smiled and set about informing her of the nature of his partnership with
It was through his fictitious character's
exploits that he had, at first hesitantly, accepted the assistance and
interventions of Professor Janos Bartok. The Professor had been a fan of
the fictional hero Legend and had elected himself inventor of all the
wondrous gadgets, which Ernst had so whimsically described. Seemed that
Legend preferred inventing gadgets to thwart evildoers. Finding that the
inventions did indeed work, the two had teamed up to become Legend! And
had ever since fought crime wherever they found it.
She was impressed. She enjoyed Ernst
storytelling style, as well as, the fact he had chosen to be a true
"Palladian of the Prairie" and "Knight of the Rockies." Thus, the
journey flew by quickly.
They found the Professor hard at work with his
assistant Ramos creating another gadget. After introductions all around,
the four set to work to collect the various herbs and wild flowers,
which Desdemona insisted she would need?
Luckily, Ramos was an avid botanist and chemist,
for he had actually stored many of the more obscure items, intending
them for his future experimentation. The diligence of all four, led to
quick progress and within the morning they had a poultice and a tea
ready to "eradicate the offending organism causing the infection," as
the Professor put it.
The foursome had further agreed that once the
Colonel had made a full recovery they would all go on a picnic to
celebrate. And of course, the gentlemen would be in the front row of the
opera house for her performance Friday night. After that, she and Ernst
drove the land rover at top speed back to the hotel and the awaiting Dr.
Desdemona applied the poultice directly to the
angry wound in the Colonel's shoulder. Explaining the ingredients and
their healing properties to the Doctor, she sought his assistance in
getting their patient to drink the tea.
Jack came around slightly when the tea was
poured into his throat. Instructed to "swallow it all" by a husky female
voice, he thought it was Janet Fraiser and drank as much as his sick
stomach could hold. At first, he thought he'd heave it up again, but
slowly it settled, and he drifted back into the oblivion of fevered
"We must make sure he drinks as much of the tea
as he can hold. It contains willow bark, cattails and a form of fungi
that has worked to eradicate many infections before." Seeing the look of
interest on the Doctor's face Desdemona continued, "Over the years
Indian medicines have saved many warriors from such infections. White
men could learn much if they would only look beyond taught prejudices
and see that the native peoples relationship to nature has brought great
"If this works Miss Stewart, I will be very
grateful. I hope you will be kind enough to teach me all that your
grandmother taught you. I am always looking for more answers to my many
questions. No matter where those answers may be found." Dr. Ballard said
"It will work, but only if we do our part,
Doctor." She smiled. "I will be most happy to teach all I know to a man
who seeks wisdom."
Another new friendship had been forged.
Twenty-four hours later, Jack's fever finally
broke. The poultice had done its job and drawn the infection out of his
wound. The Doctor, George and Desdemona, each took shifts to watch over
him. Ernst had had a speaking engagement in Denver and so; a telegram
was forwarded to him enlightening him on the Colonel's rapid
Some ten hours later, a slightly lightheaded
Jack O'Neill woke up. Only to find he was still, by the look of things,
a visitor in the old west. The woman who would one day be his great,
great Grandmother was asleep in the chair beside his bed. Gazing
blearily around the room, he noted the obvious signs.
Signs, which indicated she had been the husky
voice that had encouraged him to drink that foul tasting tea. It had
made him feel better, so he'd forgive her. Not wanting to startle her
awake, he took in her sleeping features, committing them to his memory.
She was far more beautiful than her photographs revealed. He knew,
because he had quite a collection packed away in his attic, along with
other items of memorabilia. 'Well,' he
thought wryly, 'If I have to be here in this
dream, this hallucination, at least I am getting to know my
The door opened and the man who was and wasn't
Daniel, walked into the room. Taking in the sleeping woman, he smiled.
Swinging his gaze toward his patient, he was surprised to find Jack
awake. "It is good to have you back amongst the living. You gave us
quite a scare. If it were not for the herbal medicines of this dear lady
you may not have recovered at all." Seeing the lack of recognition on
Jack's face, he continued, "Do you remember me sir? I am Dr. Daniel
Ballard and you are in your Hotel room in Sheridan, Colorado."
Jack decided that honesty was the best tactic to
use in this situation.
"I am confused Doc. Last thing I remember,
George and I were leaving the saloon."
Noting the slight disappointment on the other
man's face, Jack realized the other O'Neill must have known this Daniel
before. "Do I know you Doc?"
Shaking his head at his own naïveté Daniel
responded, "Fever will rob many of clear memory sir. Yes, we did know
each other, but I am not sure if you would remember me. We met in the
midst of a battlefield. I was wounded and you pulled me up on your
horse, taking me to safety. I am happy to finally be able to express my
gratitude for all that you have done for me Colonel, Sir."
Sensing that this young man had a need to tell
him more about it, Jack prompted, "So where and when was this battle
"Lookout Mountain Tennessee Sir. November
The dawning recognition on Jack's face, led
Daniel to tell his hero everything that had happened that day; all about
his struggle to recover, his marriage to Janet and their son, whom they
had named after his father's hero.
Daniel Ballard not only thanked Jack once again
for saving his leg and quite possibly his life, he informed him that it
had been O'Neill who had been instrumental in his having become a
healer. He had wanted to save others just as "Cracker Jack" O'Neill had
saved him all those years before.
When the man had finished, Jack was impressed.
He knew a great deal about the battle this man described. Tactics was a
must for any officer and he had studied many of the Civil War battle
plans. The Colonel O'Neill of this time was a good egg. He would have
liked to serve with him. The man who stood before him now, with such
open admiration, deserved some kind of response to all he had imparted.
"I am very happy to have helped you out Doc. It would appear you have
done the same for me."
"I cannot really claim full responsibility, sir.
This lady," he pointed to the sleeping Desdemona "as well as your
friends George and Ernst, played a pivotal role. They will be most
gratified you have recovered."
"Just what day is it Doc? I promised the lady
there I would attend her opening performance at the opera house on
"Not to worry sir. Today is Thursday and if you
rest quietly, we may well have you up and around to attend. I think she
would like that." Daniel smiled, thinking Ernst would most likely be
sure that he too was in attendance. Looks like our Mr. Pratt has
Just then the lady in question awoke. Seeing the
Colonel awake, she smiled a dazzling smile. "Jack you are awake! Praise
be to the Lord! The herbs worked. Doctor, he should continue the tea for
another five days in order to fully recover."
"I understand that I have you to thank for my
recovery Miss Stewart. My deepest thanks." Jack whispered
"You may call me Desdemona. It is with great joy
I take my leave of you gentlemen. Now that our Colonel is awake, it
would not be considered good taste for me to remain in his room. I will
inform George that you are awake Jack." Leaning over, she kissed Jack's
lightly bearded cheek. Both men watched her with open appreciation as
she took her leave.
Following a profitable morning in his tobacco
shop, George returned briskly to the hotel, anxious to check on Jack. As
he ascended the two flights of stairs, he caught sight of Miss Stewart
just leaving Jack's room.
Desdemona noted the kindly retired General's
presence, motioning him forward with a smile. "He is awake and his fever
has broken. I must rest now. I have a five o'clock rehearsal to attend,
in order to prepare for my performance tomorrow. I do so hope you will
bring Jack along to the opening if he is able?"
George was relieved to hear his friend was
recovering. "Jack will most likely expect for us to be seated in the
front row. I will check in on him and then hasten to the Opera house and
procure our tickets."
Sobering, he took the dear lady's hand in his
and bowed slightly, "I am forever in your debt Miss Stewart. If not for
your kindness I may well have lost a very dear old friend. Thank
"I am most happy that all our care has proved
fruitful General and I am gratified to have made several new friends as
well. I shall look forward to your presence in the front row tomorrow.
Friendly faces will help lessen the butterflies I usually get whenever I
perform in a new place." With that, she took her leave of him.
Entering the room, George noted that Jack looked
almost his old self.
Now that his patient was no longer in danger,
Dr. Ballard was packing up his black bag and preparing to take his
leave. "Remember Sir, you are to rest. Take several more glasses of the
healing tea each day for another five days. There is a large pitcher of
it on the dresser. I will bring more when I check your dressings again
in the morning. If you need me, please do not hesitate to send for me."
Nodding a quick hello to George, he left knowing that the General would
be more than capable of looking after the Colonel.
Jack soon realized that this dream General
Hammond was just as formidable as his own. He had insisted Jack not only
drink the foul tea, but consume a large bowl of broth. Jack so hated
broth! It was patently clear, he would be allowed few options and so, he
finished the whole bowl. Feeling stiff he'd wanted to get up and stretch
his legs, but the General would have none of it. Instead insisting Jack
was to take another lengthy nap. So it was well after 1700 that his
former C.O., escorted him down to the main dining room for a light
Jack refused to admit that the nap had been
necessary; he still felt rung out from his fight with the infection. The
hotel dinning room was a buzz with conversation, at least till he
stepped into the room. The sudden silence grated on him. Jack so hated
to be the center of attention.
Young Thomas Carter rushed forward and snagged
his hero around the thigh, almost toppling him over, squealing "Oh
Colonel I knew you would be alright! I told Mother you would be. Didn't
Much to Jack's dismay, the entire dining room
erupted with fond laughter, as the boy's Mother gently pulled him off
his hero. "Thomas let the poor Colonel take his seat, he must still be
weak from his experience." Smiling up at Jack she continued, "Thomas has
been beside himself with worry, Colonel. It was all I could do to keep
him from hounding Dr. Ballard and the General to death, whenever they
left your side. We are all happy you have recovered. Come Thomas and
finish your supper." She scolded gently, leading the reluctant
eight-year-old back to their table.
Skeeter appeared at Jack's side with a request
that he and George join Miss Stewart, at her table near the window.
Consenting, they followed him a short distance to a cozy table set for
four. Desdemona was already seated facing the entry so she could catch
sight of all who entered the room. She smiled at the two men. Jack and
George each took a seat facing her. "Ernst will be along shortly. He was
most happy to hear you have recovered Jack. And, he insisted that we all
must celebrate at once." She smiled fondly. It was quite obvious to both
George and Jack that the lady was already very fond of the errant
Jack was aware he had much to thank Ernst for,
as well as the Professor and his assistant Ramos. George had filled him
in on the events, which he had missed while in the "clutches" of fever.
Suddenly, he was looking forward to the supper. After all, how many
people get a chance to observe their great, great grandparents courtship
first hand? This dream or whatever it was, sure was event filled. He
realized, he had to be very careful not to say anything, which might
reveal just how much he really knew regarding the events about to
unfold. Silently praying this was not a result of sudden insanity,
Jack's musings were interrupted by the arrival of the ever-gregarious
"Desdemona you are a vision." Bending to kiss
her hand, Ernst took his seat at her side. Turning an attentive gaze
upon Jack, he covertly noted the Colonel's continued pallor and signs of
residual fatigue on the man's face. "So glad to see you are progressing
Jack. We will not linger over our meal. I'm sure all of us will wish to
retire early after our event filled week. Personally I want to be in top
form tomorrow. Wouldn't want fatigue to prevent my full enjoyment of the
Opera, or Desdemona's performance."
Ernst graced the fair lady with his most
dazzling smile. "When I stopped at the opera house in order to procure
my front row seat, I was privileged to hear only a small portion this
afternoon and yet, I was transcended to a heavenly plain by the glorious
strains of her lovely contralto voice."
"Flattery seems to be one of your many gifts
Ernst." Desdemona laughed lightly. "George, were you able to obtain
tickets for both Jack and yourself?"
"I did indeed. The ticket seller informed me
that I was the lucky buyer of the last two, dear lady. It seems, that
someone had just bought up the remainder of the aisle." He looked
pointedly at Ernst, a wry smile on his face. "Do you really need so many
"Now George, you know I purchased tickets for
the Professor and Ramos as well. The Mayor snapped up the other three
front row seats. In fact, I just ran into the Mayor; he confirmed that
it is a sold out performance! You are already a hit here in Sheridan,
"Indeed she is." George agreed. "The whole town
is a twitter with expectation. We've not seen an artist of your caliber
in many weeks Miss Stewart. It is rare for anyone to garner such
attention, and so quickly. Your generous care of the Colonel helped
further your reputation. Along with Ernst bragging over your…talents."
'Oops,' he thought. 'It wouldn't do for him to let on that Ernst had
been listing her various 'attractions' to
the patrons of the Buffalo Head Saloon. She was a lady after
Noting George's sudden discomfort, Desdemona,
being a woman of the world and already well aware of Ernst's roguish
nature, hid a smile, feigning innocence. "Oh how kind you are! Ernst, I
hope all your exaggerated praise will not lead to disappointed in my
Raising his eyebrow with exaggerated affront,
Ernst denied such a possibility. "After hearing you this afternoon my
dear Desdemona, I assure you, I will be accused of withholding praise.
You are a superb talent, my dear. Now let us order our supper and begin
our modest celebration."
Throwing a concerned look Jack's way, he added,
"The Colonel must be famished!"
With all eyes now turned upon him, Jack
grimaced. "I'll confess: The broth I was forced to consume for lunch did
little to satisfy me."
"Waiter, bring us your finest champagne and a
menu, if you please." Ernst instructed the hovering Skeeter. "Dinner, my
friends, is my treat. What do you recommend tonight, Skeeter?"
Dinner progressed pleasantly for the four new
friends and they found they had many shared interests. Music was the
foremost topic of the evening, much to Jack's relief. He knew quite a
bit about opera and was himself, a bit of a connoisseur. Despite his
lingering fatigue, he found himself looking forward to his lovely
companion's performance tomorrow.
The evening moved along quickly and soon Jack's
eyelids began to droop. He was exhausted, although, he would never admit
Desdemona had been keeping a close eye on the
gallant Colonel and she noted his waning attention. It was obvious to
her that he was struggling to stay awake and so rising from her chair;
she bid them all a fond goodnight.
Promising to arrive early the following
afternoon to escort her to the opera house, Ernst also departed.
As the dining room was all but deserted, Jack
felt relaxed enough to admit his fatigue to his friend. Together, he and
George mounted the two fights of stairs to Jack's room. Shortly
thereafter, following a draught of the medicinal tea, Jack succumbed to
the oblivion of sleep.
The sounds of the bustling town woke Jack and he
gingerly stretched his stiffened muscles. The pain in his shoulder had
lessened into a dull ache. The effects of the fever and his days in bed,
had left his normally athletic body somewhat weakened, so he decided to
take a walk and drink in some fresh air before breakfast.
Meeting up with George in the hall, the two
proceeded to the hotel lobby. George was still concerned. And worried
that Jack, was as usual, over estimating his strength, but agreed a
morning walk would go a long way in helping Jack to regain his usual
As they walked out into the bright sunlight, a
small tornado named Thomas barreled into Jack, almost knocking him off
his feet. Luckily, he was able to snag the hitching rail with his good
arm and saved himself from a fall into the dusty street. Feeling the
familiar popping of stitches ignite new agony in his shoulder, Jack
attempted to ignore the pain. "Whoa there Tom where is the fire?"
"Oh, Colonel." The boy wheezed out. "Mr. Titus
sent me to ask what you'd like him to do about old Zeus? He has been
stabling him while you were ill and wants your permission to shoe him,
Sir. He says his shoes are all worn out."
'Ah youth,' Jack
thought. 'Always in hurry.' The kid reminded
him of another, a big eyed blonde lad whom Jack still missed greatly
everyday. "Lead on Tom, we will address this urgent matter immediately!"
As they walked along, Jack remembered his promise that Tom could ride
old Zeus and knew that he would have to fulfill that promise soon.
As they approached the stable, Jack spied a
small curly haired blonde girl of about seven, trailing along behind
them. Nudging George, he stopped and turned to fully look at her. The
little gal seemed familiar somehow.
Thomas, realizing he was trudging on alone, as
the two adults had stopped, turned to see why. Catching sight of the
girl, he rushed over and pulled her in front of the two astonished
She was a lovely child with all those golden
curls and huge sky blue eyes. "This is my friend Samantha. She wants to
ride old Zeus too. I told her only boys can ride such a big horse and
that girls can only ride ponies. She always wants to do what I do,
Colonel." Thomas complained. "She says she is going to marry me
someday." The look on his face was one of disgust.
Jack fought to contain his smile. 'Oh someday young fella,' he thought, 'You'll enjoy this kind of attention.' "Well
Tom, we gentlemen have to be kind and considerate with the ladies. I
don't see why your little friend cannot ride up behind you. After all,
Zeus's saddle is big enough to carry both of you."
Thomas was not sure he really understood just
what the Colonel meant by considerate. But if his hero wanted him to
look after Samantha, he would. He took her hand in his and the four
continued to the stables and blacksmith shop.
As they entered the shop, the ringing of metal
against metal greeted them. A heavily muscled black man was busy forging
horseshoes over an open forge. Jack almost forgot that he was still in
the dream. Luckily, he bit back a greeting just in time as George said,
"You remember Titus Jack? The best blacksmith our post ever had, I was
surprised myself when I retired here and found old Titus had set up
'The man is a ringer for Teal'c. Except for the
full head of thick white hair, a few wrinkles and the lack of a tattoo,
it is Teal'c,' he thought. "Titus, I want to thank you for looking after
my mount for me."
"You are most welcome O'Neill. He needs new
shoes. I sent the boy to inquire if you would like it done."
"I would indeed, sir." Reaching into his pocket
Jack extracted two five dollar gold pieces and handed them over to the
man. "Will this cover it?"
"Indeed. Zeus will be well cared for O'Neill."
He sounded Just like the big Jaffa. It was difficult for Jack to
believe, that this man would be long dead in Jack's own time and
"Once he is ready, I promised Tom here, he and
the little lady could ride him. Would you mind making sure they don't
wander too far?"
"I will make sure they are kept safe O'Neill,
never fear." Titus spoke with the same understated dignity, Jack was
used to hearing from his warrior brother.
Smiling Jack nodded, some things never
Despite the fresh air and morning constitutional
Jack still felt worn out and slightly nauseated. Trudging along wearily,
he and George returned to the hotel. After consuming a light breakfast
of toast and coffee, he headed back to his room to rest and await the
arrival of Dr. Ballard. Assuring George that he was fine, he insisted
his friend go and open his shop for business.
Doctor Ballard arrived promptly at 0900 and
knocked on Jack's door. When he received no immediate answer, he checked
and found the door unlocked. Venturing inside, he found the Colonel
asleep. Waking him gently he was relieved to see the Colonel
Jack was mildly embarrassed he'd dosed off.
"Guess I was sicker than I thought Doc. I wouldn't normally admit this,
but I am exhausted."
"That is to be expected. Actually, most men
would still be recovering in bed instead of strolling around town well
before breakfast." Ballard reassured him, with a bemused smile.
"So, who is the spy?" Jack wondered just where
the Doctor got his intel.
"Ah. A number of admiring citizens have been
kind enough to regale me with your exploits. You see Colonel; you are
somewhat of a celebrity. We haven't had a true military hero in Sheridan
since Custer came to meet with Legend, about two years back. I was
informed about your supper celebration last evening, as well. The fact
is, everything you do while here will be the subject of gossip, I'm
grapevine,' he thought. Jack was far from thrilled with this news;
he would have preferred to keep a low profile. "Gee Doc that is just
Daniel Ballard laughed, understanding written on
his features. "Try to handle it gracefully, sir. I realize it is
unwanted attention, but the folks mean well. Now lets have a look at
Removing Jack's shirt, he was displeased to find
fresh blood and drainage on the dressing. Discarding the now useless
dressing, he noted the torn stitches and asked, "How did this
When the Colonel merely shrugged, he continued,
"You need to take greater care, sir. This wound will never heal if you
do not give it time and proper care. I don't think you fully realize
just how close you came to meeting your maker, Colonel."
Unfortunately, those were words Jack O'Neill had
heard at least a dozen times before, from another Doctor in his own
reality. It wasn't that he thought himself invincible; he just figured
his time wasn't up yet. Seeing the distress on the well-meaning Doc's
face, Jack promised to rest the rest of the day. However, he informed
the man that he would definitely take in the performance at the opera
house. "I promised Desdemona I'd be there and I will be. No arguing
"I don't see the harm in that, Colonel. I have a
front row seat myself. Mayor Brown was kind enough to purchase my ticket
as a gift from the town council, in thanks for my part in your recovery.
So I'll be there to keep an eye on you."
Noting Jack's look of disgust, Dr. Ballard
redressed the wound without further comment, and then left the Colonel
to his rest.
'I'll just close my eyes
and rest a bit,' Jack thought, covering his eyes with his good arm.
Before long, he was soundly asleep once more.
The small Opera house was packed. Not a seat was
empty. Jack scanned the program he'd received at the door. The concert
tonight would consist of several arias and some old standards. Most of
Desdemona's credentials were familiar to him. He'd been aware that in
her time, she'd been considered an artist of some renown. He had been
unaware however, that she had recently entertained the President and
Mrs. Grant. The lady was quite down to earth; one would never have
imagined from her demeanor that, she had traveled in such lofty circles;
a fact, which caused him familial pride.
Ernst was beside himself with anticipation. He
had introduced Professor Bartok and Ramos to Jack, allowing that without
their help, he could never have assisted Desdemona with her herbal
curatives. Jack thanked them warmly, and the gentlemen chatted politely
till the first curtain call. Then they had hurried to their seats.
Jack tucked the program in his shirt pocket and
sat back to enjoy himself. Desdemona was lovely in a pale blue and ivory
creation. At her waist, she wore the nosegay of fresh violets that Ernst
had sent all the way to Denver for. She had an angelic voice and
incredible range. Jack, as well as the entire assembly, was impressed.
'This fantastic,' he thought 'I'm hearing a voice that had been stilled for over
a hundred years.'
The crowd gave Desdemona a standing ovation. As
a result, she had at least a half dozen encores. Afterward, she bid her
admirers a polite goodnight. Then it was off to a quiet supper with
Ernst in a private dining room at the Hotel.
Jack, his shoulder giving him trouble once more,
accepted a nightcap of hard whiskey from a concerned George. And then,
took himself off to attempt sleep.
Sleeping the sleep of the dreamless, he awoke to
a pounding at his door. Staggering to his feet, he opened the portal to
reveal a hysterical Mrs. Carter. "Colonel have you seen my Thomas? His
bed has not been slept in. I have looked everywhere for him and cannot
find him. I thought he might have come to see you. You are all he has
talked about lately. Colonel I am beside myself with worry. My husband
is due on the ten o'clock Train and he will be most displeased."
The fear in her voice was mixed with dread.
Causing Jack to wonder if the Marshall had little tolerance for his
son's high-spirited ways and just what his "displeasure" would entail.
He liked the kid. If he could help Thomas, as well as his Mother, avoid
the Marshall's wrath by finding him, he would.
After hastily donning his rumpled uniform, Jack
strode down to the stable following a hunch that the kid was there.
He wasn't. And neither was Jack's horse. Titus
informed him that the boy had offered to walk the tense gelding around
town to give him some exercise. As Jack had already given his permission
to the boy to ride Zeus, Titus saw no harm in it. After reassuring Titus
that it was fine with him, Jack started to look around the small town
for the errant boy.
It was almost ten before he finally found
Thomas. The lad was sitting proudly astride his horse, showing off for
little Samantha and a group of boys, near the railroad station. Catching
a glimpse of Mrs. Carter, who was already walking to meet her husband,
he waved to her. Looking his way, she followed the extended finger Jack
pointed her son's direction and nodded. Just then, the train blew it's
whistled as it pulled into the station. Unhappily, the shrill blast
spooked the already nervous gelding and it took off at a gallop.
Terrified, Thomas clung to the saddle horn.
Jack reacted quickly. Snagging a nearby
stallion, he vaulted into the saddle and took off at breakneck speed.
Despite the sling impeding his movements, he managed to catch up to the
boy at the end of town. Pulling Thomas from the saddle, he held him
close as he slowed the borrowed horse to a trot. Breathing a sigh of
relief, he returned the child to his frightened Mother.
Easing the weeping youngster down from the high
saddle into his Mother's embrace, Jack was surprised when someone pulled
him from the saddle. Before he could react, his assailant punched him in
Jack staggered, but somehow stayed on his feet
despite the blow.
"Damn horse thief I'll teach you." A voice
filled with anger and hatred said drunkenly. "You soldier types think
because your wearing a uniform, you own the world."
Jack was still reeling from the blow he'd taken,
when the angry man shoved his six-shooter into his chest and fired. The
searing pain forced Jack to his knees and the world spun out of focus.
The last thing he saw before tumbling into total darkness was the tear
stained face of young Thomas. 'Please don't cry
for me Tom,' he thought. Then he knew no more.
Cassandra had been sitting at Uncle Jack's
bedside for almost a full week now, desperately hoping he would wake
Last Saturday morning, she had awakened
screaming from a nightmare about Jack, her heart pounding in her chest
with fear. It had seemed so very real. She'd been frantically looking
around her room trying to locate him when her Mother Janet burst in.
After a sobbing discussion, Janet tried to reassure her that it had been
a dream. Unconvinced, Cassandra had insisted that they hurry over to
Jack's house at once and check on him. Janet had at first tried to
soothe her, but Cassie was relentless. She was sure that "Uncle" Jack
was in very real danger. So Janet, just to calm her, tried to phone
When her attempts to reach him at his home and
by cell phone failed, Janet herself become worried. Since he'd been
instructed that due to his injury, he was not suppose to drive, she
phoned the rest of SG-1, one after the other hoping that he was with one
of them. Each had expressed concern, but had no idea where he was.
Alarmed, they'd each headed to Jack's to check up on him.
Janet's was the closest to the Colonel's. Hence,
she and Cassie arrived first, with Daniel close on their heels. Jack's
truck was parked in the drive. His front door unlocked. Spreading out,
they searched the house for him without success. By then, Sam had
arrived with Teal'c in tow. Janet hastily filled the two in, while
Cassie ran out onto the deck.
The youngster resisted the urge to scream when
she found Jack sprawled beneath the ladder that led to his roof top
refuge. She reached out to touch his pale face anxiously calling his
name and found it cold. Despite her fear, Cassie quickly checked his
carotid pulse just as she had been taught in CPR class and found he had
a steady rhythm. Crying tears of both fear and relief, she screamed for
her Mother and the rest of their extended family.
The others rushed outside and were met by the
sight of Cassie cradling Jack's bloody head in her lap, weeping loudly.
"I told you Mom I knew he was in trouble. I saw him get shot right in
Kneeling beside the two, Janet began a quick
assessment of the injured man. "Honey I told you it was a dream. I don't
see any gunshot wounds. I think he lost his footing and fell. With his
right arm in the sling it wouldn't be easy for him to catch
Continuing her exam she noted he was wet to his
skin, cold, and had a gash on the back of his head. "He must have laid
here quite awhile in the morning rain. The bleeding has all but stopped.
Unfortunately, it looks like he may have done more damage to that
shoulder. We need to get him to the SGC now. Daniel alert the base and
get the medics to bring out a backboard and neck collar. I don't want to
move him until then. Teal'c, we need to wrap him in blankets right
"Oh no, Mom I moved his head. Did I hurt him
more?" Cassie asked through her tears. If she had hurt Uncle Jack, she
would never forgive herself!
"No honey, no. Everything feels intact. I just
want to be extra careful till I can run a few tests. Jack is a tough
man, he will be fine, he just had a hard knock to his head." She hoped,
her little speech to calm her daughter down was indeed the truth.
Less than twenty minutes later, the medics had
carefully placed Jack's inert form on a backboard and applied the
collar. They'd rushed him by chopper to the base and then down to
En-route they stripped him of his wet jacket and
tee shirt, started an intravenous infusion of warmed saline, and bundled
him in warmed blankets. His temperature, despite hours in the cold
drizzling rain that morning, was only a few degrees below normal. She
was amazed to find after all the tests had been run, that he had only a
small laceration needing eight stitches, a mild concussion and had
indeed, once again dislocated his right shoulder. These were minor
injuries for someone as tough as the Colonel and Janet was baffled when
he'd remained unconscious. Usually he would rouse sometime during an
exam complaining that she was a Napoleonic Power Monger, or make some
other wiseacre remark, all in an attempt to make light of her concern;
but not that day, or the next.
After twenty-four hours with no response from
him, she'd run an EEG to determine what, if any, damage had been done to
his brain. It came back normal for someone deep in REM sleep. In fact,
he had been in the REM state for the remainder of the week, a finding,
which was highly abnormal. Usually human beings stayed in the REM phase
of sleep for a few minutes, or perhaps at most a few hours, not
They'd tried everything they could think of to
wake him up.
Daniel tried lecturing on the most boring of his
subjects at the top of his lungs for hours, without success.
General Hammond and Janet each tried ordering
the sleeping man to "REPORT AIRMAN!" no response.
When no one else was around, Sam tried begging
him to "wake up and look at me please, please Jack", but he slept on.
She even tried lying to him that Earth was under attack by the Gould, to
Teal'c seemed to realize that O'Neill would wake
up when he was ready. So, he merely stayed by his side attempting to
protect him in his sleep. Cassie came everyday after school. She'd sit
by his side, holding his cool hand and talked to her Uncle Jack about
her day. Her Mother said if Jack would wake up for anyone it would be
her. Disappointed when he'd slept on, she had maintained her vigil.
In a few hours it would have been a full week
that Colonel Jack O'Neill insomniac, had slept in a constant phase of
REM sleep. His only voluntary movement had been that of his eyes, moving
sporadically behind closed lids.
Cassie was sitting beside him, silently crying
tears of fear and frustration. The only sounds in the small room were
those made by the monitors that he was connected to. He looked so
peaceful lying there; she had never seen him so silent before.
In the past when she had visited him while he
was recovering from injuries, he was always moving in his sleep, or
awake. This was so disconcerting! Cassie was at a loss, as to how to
handle it anymore. 'He is never going to never
wake up!' she thought. 'Whom will I talk to
about the things Mom doesn't understand?' Jack had been a surrogate
father to her for almost seven years now. 'Who
will protect me when I am in trouble or afraid?' "Uncle Jack Please
wake up!" She pleaded once more. Just then, the monitors he was
connected to began to alarm loudly.
Dr. Janet Frazier was in the middle of a phone
conference with a sleep disorder specialist, when the alarms went off in
the Colonel's room. She rushed to the infirmary, arriving at the same
time as SG-1. Several nurses had also responded to the alarms and were
busy placing a backboard under Jack's back in preparation for CPR.
"He has gone flat line Dr. Frazier." Captain
Kris Martin said with obvious shock.
Cassie was still at Jack's side. That
announcement, along with the knowledge one gains having a Medical Doctor
for a parent, increased her tears. One huge tear slipped heavily down
her cheek and dropped onto Jack's still face. It rolled along, and
slipped into the crease where dimples had once resided.
Janet applied protective gel to Jack's exposed
chest. "We have a code blue people! Charge the paddles to two hundred
Jack felt the warm teardrop slide along his
cheek. He struggled to wake up. His chest hurt and it was hard to
breath. Hearing a sobbing voice calling his name, he put everything he
had into it and opened his eyes. As he did so, the monitor above him
started to sound a steady beat, indicating a normal heart rhythm.
Expecting to see young Tom, he took in the crowd hovering around him,
with confusion. Hadn't he just been shot point blank in the chest?
Hadn't he just died? Wait a minute this was the SGC. He was home! He
gazed around at the faces surrounding him, the shock and concern in
their expressions clearly evident. His search stopped abruptly, when he
took in Cassie's tear stained and sad smile. "Hey honey what did I
Despite the gel and his almost naked state,
Cassie threw herself on Jack's chest, hugging him with all her
considerable teenage might. "Oh Uncle Jack, I thought I'd lost you! You
had us all so worried! How could you sleep so long?"
Wincing slightly, due to the sudden weight on
his tender shoulder, Jack hugged her back with his good arm, and a sigh
of contentment escaped him. Looking toward Janet, one eyebrow raised
quizzically, he requested, "Fill me in Doc."
Janet Frazier relaxed and smiled. At last, this
was more like the Colonel O'Neill they all knew and loved. She proceeded
to regale him with the past week's events. Refusing to minimize the
concern he had caused his friends and teammates…his extended family.
At that precise moment, General George Hammond,
Commander of the SGC arrived. Taking in the scene, he felt relief rush
through him. 'Finally,' he thought, 'Our invincible Colonel is awake.' His fondness
for the man, as well as his relief colored his inquiry; "So Jack, where
exactly have you been for the past week?"
Knowing he had an audience, Jack schooled his
face into one of innocence as he remembered his time in the dream of the
old west. "I was having one sweet dream, Sir." He replied with his usual
sarcastic humor. "And you where there," he said turning his head,
smiling at each one of the participants in turn "…and you where
'Oh Jack, don't be such
an ass!' Daniel thought. He had no way of knowing that the quote,
was in fact, so appropriate. It was just like Jack to make light of such
a serious situation and it irked him somehow. He looked around to see if
the others felt the same way. And noted Sam's attempt to hide a grin.
Teal'c quietly raised his left eyebrow, with a humorous gleam in his
eye; The General was openly smirking, while Janet laughed lightly. 'Well at least Jack is awake! From the sound of it,
he's his old self once again.' Oddly touched, Daniel realized that
his irritation was really just his worry and fear. He'd been afraid that
Jack would never be himself.
Daniel succumbed to his genuine relief and his
own sense of irony. "Is that all you have to say for yourself Jack?"
During this discourse, Cassie who was still
hugging Jack possessively had curled up on the bed beside him and
snuggled up against his side. Her soft snores alerted the group that she
had fallen into an exhausted sleep.
Apparently, the long week of worry had caught up
with the still growing young girl's body.
Jack smiled fondly and placed a light kiss on
her head, then shifted her inert form to a more comfortable position,
whispering, "There is no place like home."