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Repercussions From The Interview
by Dinkydow

graphic by JoleneB

General Jack O'Neill sighed contentedly as he propped his feet up on the ottoman and grabbed the TV remote. With a practiced flick of his wrist, he took aim, pressed the button and fired at his target. His TV reacted by clicking on, filling the room with the voice of a local television news commentator. He was about to turn the station to the sports channel when something caught his eye.

Intrigued now, he stayed his hand and turned up the volume. Clips of the outside of a familiar building were shown, along with brief flashes of frightened faces. It seemed that the local military lock-up had been the site of a riot, and hostages had been taken. The reason the building looked familiar was because he'd spent time there as a resident several years ago, when he'd been wrongfully accused of the assassination attempt against Kinsey.

Setting down the remote, his feet came off the ottoman as he leaned forward to better watch the events unfold. According to the report, inmates from the prison had taken over the medical unit that morning, and were holding several of the staff as hostages. He waited patiently, hoping that the half-recognized face wasn't one he knew. When they replayed the clip, he groaned. He hadn't been mistaken after all.

"For crying out loud," he muttered, throwing his Homer Simpson pillow in anger at the screen. "She's one of the good guys. Don't you morons get that?" The pillow hit the screen and fell to the floor. Homer's smiling face seemed to mock him staring up from its position on the carpet, as he eyed the screen with a baleful glare.

He was watching the news report so intently that the ringing phone startled him, making him jump. Without taking his eyes off the screen, he picked up the phone, put it to his ear, and growled into it "O'Neill here. And it had better be good," he warned.

The caller paused a moment before continuing. "I was going to invite you out to eat at O'Malley's with the rest of the team, but now I'm not so sure. What's with the snippy attitude, Jack?" asked Daniel Jackson.

"What? Oh, sorry Danny. You caught me off guard. I'd love to go out with you, but I'm afraid I'll have to give you a rain check this time. Sorry," he repeated as he grabbed the remote to turn up the sound.

The conversation forgotten, he set down the phone. Shots of the news commentator segued into figures being led out of a fortified concrete building. He sighed again, as he viewed the faces of the released hostages. His worst fears were confirmed and he slumped back onto the sofa cushions with a dejected groan.

He scrubbed his face with both hands. "Crap!"

A tinny voice reminded him of the forgotten phone conversation. With a guilty look on his face, he picked it up and was rewarded with the shouted sound of his name. He held it away from his ear and winced.

"Jack! Are you all right? Talk to me, Jack!"

"For crying out loud, Danny, will you hold it down? You don't need to get your shorts in a wad, I just got distracted by what Homer was telling Marge, that's all."

"Jack?" asked Daniel in a voice laced with concern and anxiety.


"What's going on, Jack?"

"Nothing is going on." Jack tried to listen to the live news commentary and talk to his very meddlesome friend. "Can't a guy want to have some quiet time ALONE without his nosy friends going ballistic on him? Everything doesn't have to be an NID plot, ya know."

"I understand your message. I'll be right over with Sam and Teal'c. Try to stall them until we get there," Daniel informed him in a whisper laden with conspiracy.

"Stall who? No one's here but me and there's no freaking plot!" yelled Jack, but he was only talking to a dial tone. He looked in disbelief at his phone before hanging up.

"Crap," he muttered again. "So much for spending a quiet night at home. I give the kids about thirty minutes before they come busting in my door."

His eyes strayed back to the television screen. According to the news report, the injured hostages were being transferred to a local hospital. Evidently, the inmates had been taken into custody after the building was stormed by the military's equivalent of a SWAT team. Reports were sketchy at this point concerning the identity of the people involved, but Jack already knew more than he wanted to know.

His brief glimpse of one of the hostages' shocked pale face was all he needed to recognize the face of the counselor who had befriended him while he'd been an inmate in that very facility two, or was it three years ago. Miss Kay had only visited him a couple of times, but her laughing eyes and sympathetic face had remained etched in his mind as one of the few good memories that had come out of a very tense and uncertain episode in his life. He hadn't seen her since that time, but still remembered her, and what she had tried to do for him along with all the crap that had been dished out to her by the other inmates.

In the brief glimpse from the televised report, she looked shaken up, and was cradling one arm as she and her fellow former hostages were escorted out of the building. Well, it wasn't surprising that she looked like she'd been through the mill. In all probability, she'd been given a rough time, and he wouldn't have been surprised if the convicts had especially targeted her because of what her job entailed. He shook his head to dispel his own demons that events like these always recalled for him.

In an attempt to get his mind onto safer topics, he arose and headed for his kitchen and a beer. Grabbing one from the refrigerator, he popped the cap, and took a sip, letting the liquid burn its way down to lie in his empty stomach. Justifying a second sip with the thought that he wouldn't want the first one to feel lonely, he tipped the bottle back, swallowing gustily, until half the bottle was gone. Smacking his lips in appreciation, he headed back to the sofa and the television. Maybe watching 'The Simpson's' wouldn't be such a bad idea after all, he thought. Even if it was a rerun. Almost anything would be better than the morbid, evil thoughts that seemed to crowd into his brain.

The doorbell rang before he made it to the sofa, so he changed direction and headed for the foyer instead. Opening the door, he was initially surprised to see the worried faces of Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c staring back at him. Oh, okay, if you wanted to be picky about it, Teal'c didn't look worried, but the raised eyebrows were indication enough that the big Jaffa had some questions to ask, if you knew 'Teal'c-speak' well enough. He glanced casually at the watch on his wrist. Hmm, they were slowing down a bit. It'd taken them thirty-five minutes instead of the usual half an hour. He'd have to speak to them about that. Later.

He positioning himself in the door, leaned casually against the frame, and smiled at his friends with a quirked eyebrow. "Whatcha doing, kids?"

He raised the bottle to his lips, tipped it upward holding it delicately with the fingers of one hand, and took another swallow. Damn, but it tasted better all the time.

Daniel was the first to close his gaping mouth and speak. "You don't have to say anything. We know you've got visitors, but we just wanted to drop by for a chat. You know, to see how you're doing?" He waggled his eyebrows in a suggestive manner, some sort of semaphore code that only he was capable of deciphering. In stark contrast Teal'c smiled and raised his box of donuts.

"We have procured the necessary items needed for such times, O'Neill. May we enter?"

"Donuts, Teal'c? Uh, sure, come on in." Jack shrugged, stepped back, and allowed his friends to enter.

"You mean we can just come in?" Daniel asked in disbelief. They all trouped inside while Jack shut the door behind them. He followed them into the living room and looked at them all with a smirk on his face.

Sam and Daniel still looked wary, as if expecting hidden assailants to jump out of the closet or bathroom. Teal'c, however, calmly strode into the living room, and deposited the box of donuts carefully on the coffee table. With an air of reverence that only he could pull off, he opened the box and pulled out a jelly-filled pastry.

"The jelly donuts are mine, however, you may partake of any other varieties that remain," the big Jaffa said as he bit into his sugary confection with savage relish. Jack grinned and reached in to snag a long-john covered in chocolate icing and pecans.

"You mean you're not in trouble?" Daniel looked furtively around the room. Sam, in the meantime, had grabbed a glazed donut and was devouring it.

Speaking around the remains of the donut in his mouth, Jack shook his head. "No, Daniel, I am not in trouble, and I really AM alone here. There is no plot, no NID, at least for the moment, and I really just wanted to spend some time alone. You know for a linguist, you can be as dense as one of your rocks, sometimes, Danny-Boy."

"Artifacts, Jack, they're artifacts, not rocks. I'm an archeologist, not a geologist," he corrected automatically. Then he grinned, as he realized he'd been had. Again.

"I was just worried about you. It's no crime to be concerned about your friends, is it? By the way, don't hog all the donuts, guys," remonstrated Daniel. He attempted to snag a jelly donut until he saw Teal'c's eyebrow shoot up in warning. Wisely, he chose a honey bun instead. "You know these would go really well with coffee, Jack. Mind if I make a pot?" Daniel was already headed for the kitchen.

Knowing he might as well make the best of it, Jack wisely waved his hands in surrender, before heading back to his seat on the sofa. "Sure, Daniel, make yourself at home." He added under his breath, "not that I could stop you if I wanted too," and wasn't sure whether or not he wanted anyone else to have heard his disparaging comment.

"Oh, and by the way. It took you thirty-five minutes to get here this time. You're getting slow, kids," O'Neill warned.

"We were worried about you, Sir. Daniel called me and said you needed our help, so I grabbed Teal'c, and well, here we are," Sam concluded with a sheepish smile. She settled back on her seat, and finished her donut. "Teal'c how did you know he was okay?"

"O'Neill is a cunning warrior, and would not have presented himself to us in such a manner if there had been any danger," Teal'c replied enigmatically, as he finished up his first donut and grabbed a second.

"Anybody want a beer?" asked Jack with a grin. He hadn't been surprised when T had been the first to catch on. Not much got past that guy. When Sam nodded her head, he called out to his friend in the kitchen. "Hey, could you bring out a beer for Sam and a soda for the T Man?"

In the meantime, Jack had his eye on Teal'c. Knowing him as he did, he could tell that the Jaffa had been studying his friend's face, and body language. He knew that his warrior brother would pick up on his own underlying uneasiness, and the uncharacteristically loud news program would convince him that there was more to the story than what Jack was portraying.

In addition, Jack realized that Teal'c was also very familiar with his friend's desire and habit of keeping his true feelings to himself, and covering them with the camouflage of sarcastic wit. From their long association together he knew the T man would already be planning how to his approach his quarry and extract the information from him, he mused.

Teal'c's first exploratory probe into his opponent's territory was to acquire the remote and aim it at the television. Even though O'Neill knew why he was doing it, he was unable to contain himself.

"Whatcha doing, Teal'c? I was watching that," protested Jack, leaning forward anxiously, his reflexive response a telling betrayal.

"I wish to view the History Channel, O'Neill. The tactics utilized by Rommel are being reviewed, and I am interested in reviewing the strategies of this renowned Tau'ri warrior."

Jack feigned an unconcerned air as he forced his body to resume its former lax, 'nothin' wrong here' pose. "No reason, I was just watching the news is all. Something about some hostages over at the Air Force Brig."

He tipped his bottle to his lips again, hoping they would buy his story. He had the uncomfortable feeling that his Jaffa friend was on to him, but he wasn't ready to share this with his friends. Nope, brought back too many bad memories. Besides, Daniel wasn't even around when it had happened, as he was doing the glowy bit.

O'Neill's unsolicited explanation caught Sam's attention and she jumped on it like it was a new, never before seen naquada generator. "Wait, isn't that the place where they held you, Sir?" she asked, pointing to the stock footage that was being shown of the military prison. "You know, when you were accused of assassinating Kinsey?"

By now, Daniel's interest had been piqued and he'd appeared with a beer and soda in his hands for his friends. He seated himself by Sam and looked across the coffee table at his friend.


"Daniel?" Jack replied as he saluted him with his bottle before downing another swallow. "Isn't this Jack/Daniel thing of yours getting kind of redundant?"

When presented with a puzzle of any sort, Daniel could be annoyingly single-minded, mused Jack. And as predicted, the archeologist refused to be easily diverted and continued his line of inquiry.

"What's going on, Jack? And don't tell me it's nothing, because I don't believe you, and I have the suspicion that Sam and Teal'c don't either. Do you?" He looked at the other two members of SG-1.

Sam leaned forward, concerned. Teal'c raised one eyebrow, seemingly content in the fact that his opening gambit had produced results. Another chink in his armor. Jack groaned inside and awarded the opening skirmish to Teal'c.

"Yeah, that's the one all right. There's nothing wrong with wondering about the hostages, is there? There were some good people working there. Now could we just drop it?" Yeah, as if that would happen. And Ba'al was taking up knitting and Kinsey was president of the Jack O'Neill fan club.

Daniel's eyebrow crawled up his forehead in an imitation of a certain Jaffa as he exchanged dubious glances with Sam. Rock Boy was definitely hanging around Teal'c too much, reflected Jack.

"Could somebody please fill me in? I'm kind of lost here?" asked Daniel in a plaintive tone. When Jack shook his head and eyed the label on his bottle intently instead, the archeologist turned to his partners. "Sam, Teal'c?"

Samantha Carter was the one to give in. "It's one of those things that happened in that year while you were ascended, Daniel. A rogue unit of the NID framed General O'Neill for the assassination of Senator Kinsey. It would've worked too, except that we found out that they'd used one of those alien mimic devices to make the hitman look like the general. That was how I met Agent Barrett," she explained. "He uncovered the plot and helped us get some of the bad guys who were behind the whole thing."

"O'Neill was initially incarcerated in the local prison before being transported to your nation's capital, Daniel Jackson. He appeared to have been treated humanely while in their custody. However, it was distressing to see a fellow warrior wrongly blamed for a crime he had no part of. Even though the killing would have been quite justifiable," commented Teal'c as he studied his adversary's face while he opened his can of soda and took a swallow.

"Perhaps O'Neill was befriended by someone employed at that facility."

The beer on an empty stomach had already weakened his emotional armor, but O'Neill recognized Teal'c's comment for what it was and parried it with one that was designed to mislead and muddy the waters. "Yeah, they all treated me pretty well, considering that they thought I was a crazed killer and locked me up in solitary confinement."

"The prisoners staged their takeover in the prison medical section, did they not?" asked Teal'c. By now, Daniel and Sam seemed to have caught on and had settled back to watch two masters of tactics and strategy battle each other in a game of wits and deception.

"I guess so, T," answered Jack noncommittally. He raised his bottle to his lips again and swallowed the last of it. When he started to get up to replenish his supply of beer, Sam protested immediately.

"Let me get it, Sir." She made her way to the kitchen. "You're supposed to be relaxing."

Jack huffed out a breath, realizing he'd been outflanked. He raised his empty bottle in salute to Teal'c. Teal'c acknowledged the admission with a regal bow of his head.

"One of the staff members there really helped me out," Jack admitted, as he concentrated his nervous energy on methodically stripping the label off the bottle. "You've got to understand. They put me in a special unit for potentially dangerous high-risk criminals, and I seemed to fit that description. So, there I was, cooped up in a box all by myself wondering if I would ever see the light of day again. Miss Kay was the only name that I knew her by. Part of her job as prison shrink was to check on the welfare of the prisoners who were confined on that unit. We only met a couple of times, and both of those took place with a steel door between us, but talking with her helped. Plus, she put up with a lot of crap from the other prisoners, and I didn't like that. She always treated me with respect though, even called me by my rank. Made me feel like I was still human, if you know what I mean."

"And Miss Kay was one of the hostages?" asked Sam and winced as she hugged herself and crossed her legs tightly in a reflexive response to the implied threat.

"Yeah, I recognized her face when they showed some of the hostages in an earlier news clip. They were using her as a bargaining chip. Later, I caught a glimpse of her when they were released. She looked like she'd been roughed up pretty bad."

"Is it your wish to speak to her?" asked Teal'c perceptively.

Jack stopped cold, as he considered the Jaffa's words. Did he want to see her? Did he really owe her anything? After all, she was just doing her job, wasn't she?' He flashed back to their conversation when she'd asked if he was a former POW, and he'd taken out some of his helpless rage on her with his bitter answer.

Did he owe her anything? In a way, he did. As a former prisoner himself, he knew some of what she'd be going through right now. His mind made up, he looked at his friends.

"Yeah, I'd like to go talk to her," he answered flatly, his lips compressed into a firm line of resolution. "Since it's a military lock-up, the hostages were probably taken to the Academy Hospital. Anybody want to go along with me?" he asked, conceding victory to his opponent, Teal'c.

"Indeed," answered Teal'c with a bow and a smile. He rose with graceful ease from his seat and boxed up the remaining donuts. "I think it would be most advantageous if we were transported in a single vehicle. Do you not agree, Samantha Carter?"

"Yes, I think that would work out best. Especially since Daniel hasn't had anything to drink and we all came in his car," she agreed.

Knowing he'd been bested, Jack raised his arms in mock surrender. "All right, all right, we can all go together since you kids seem to be ganging up on an old man," he grumbled good naturedly. Inwardly, he smiled, relieved that his friends were so willing to help him with this onerous task.

An hour later, they found themselves in the waiting room of the high-security ward at the Academy Hospital. Only his ID announcing his status as a general had allowed them to bully their way this far. To be fair, the way Teal'c had loomed larger than life over the staff didn't hurt either. 'Damn, but that man had looking scary down to an art!' thought Jack.

His initial scan of the room revealed several people, obviously family members of the hostages. Several armed guards from the prison were standing at strategic spots in the room. Clearly, they took the incident as a personal affront to their family of prison staff. Spotting a nurse, Jack walked over to her, while the other three headed for the obligatory coffee pot sitting on a table in the corner.

"Excuse me," Jack said as he got the nurses attention, and gave her his best 'I'm a general' glare. Can you tell me anything about Miss Kay?"

"Are you a family member?" she asked, matching him stare for stare.

"Umm, not exactly," he stalled.

"Then I can't tell you anything, Sir." She frowned, and turned back toward the nurse's station in a clear dismissal.

However, Jack's question had drawn the attention of an older man standing by the coffee pot. With the air of a man who is defending his territory against any invader, he advanced on his next victim.

"Who the hell are you, and what do you want with my wife?" He planted himself belligerently in Jack's face.

Although O'Neill stood several inches taller than the man, he had the grace to back down. He took a moment to study the angry man. He looked grizzled and walked with a limp. However, his eyes blazed with an impotent fury, and the muscles in his face were as tightly clenched as the fists at his sides. He looked dangerous. When Jack saw Teal'c moving to his aid, he waved him away.

"I'm General Jack O'Neill, U.S. Air Force, and when I heard that your wife was one of the hostages, I wanted to check on her," Jack explained quietly. He seemed to buy Jack's explanation, and relaxed his aggressive stance.

"Oh, sorry, General, I didn't know who you were, and what with all that's happened today . . . " his voice trailed off. He allowed Jack to steer him to a couple of empty chairs.

"Thanks," he said absently.

"And your name is, what? I feel silly just calling you Miss Kay's husband," Jack finished with a half-smile of apology. "And you can call me Jack."

The man reacted to his question automatically, sticking his hand out to shake Jack's. "Joshua, I'm Joshua Dow, Kay's husband. But then, you already figured that out, didn't you?"

Joshua's handshake was firm, without turning it into an alpha male contest, which told Jack a lot about the man. He had the feeling that Joshua hadn't backed down just because of his rank either.

"So, how is she?" Jack asked quietly.

"They haven't let me see her yet," Joshua said in a fretful voice.

He changed topics abruptly. "You one of her clients?" When he saw Jack's blink of surprise, he smiled grimly. "I'm used to this. She can't talk about her work or anyone she sees because of confidentiality issues. So when strangers come up to her in public, I've gotten used to just backing away and asking no questions. You know, it happens more than you would think."

"Let's just say that we had a working relationship and leave it at that. Shall we?" answered Jack.

Joshua nodded knowingly and took another swallow of his coffee.

"Damn, I wish they'd let me see her," he admitted. "I had to call her folks. Do you have any idea how hard that was, Jack? Well, it broke my heart to have to tell them. But better me telling them than if they'd heard about it on the news. That would've killed them for sure."

About five minutes later, the same nurse from Jack's encounter appeared in the waiting room. "Mr. Dow?' she called.

Joshua's head jerked as he jumped to his feet, all thought of his conversation gone. "Yes, that's me," he answered, striding rapidly toward the nurse. Jack followed at a discrete distance in order to give the worried man some privacy.

"You can see your wife, now, Mr. Dow. But only for a few minutes. We've got her cleaned up, but she's still in shock from her experience." She started back down the hall, still talking to Kay's husband. "We'll be taking her to x-ray in a few moments."

By this time, they'd reached the door to her room. Opening it for Joshua, she followed him inside. She might as well have been invisible for the attention the man gave her. He headed in a beeline for his wife's side.

Kay was lying on the hospital bed, already dressed in one of those backless hospital gowns that everyone loves to hate. By now, bruises were beginning to show on her face. One eye was swollen shut and the rest of her face looked like she'd been used as a punching bag. Her hair was a mess, sticking up at odd angles, giving her the look of someone who'd been through a cement mixer, which probably wasn't too far from the truth. She was lying on the bed with one wrapped arm laid across her chest and had her eyes closed. However, at the approach of her husband, they snapped open.

"Josh?" she asked in a tremulous voice. She tried raising the bandaged arm to encircle her husband, but stopped as she remembered her injury.

"I'm here, honey. I'm here," Joshua repeated as he put his arms gingerly around her. When she stiffened in his arms, he withdrew them, and pulled up a chair so he could sit next to her.

"I'm so sorry, Josh. It was my fault, I should've been more careful," she mumbled as tears leaked down her red-purple cheeks.

"There's no need to say you're sorry, Kay. It wasn't your fault. Nobody's blaming you. The important thing is that you're safe now, and no one is going to hurt you," he promised grimly.

"What about the others? I was so scared for them, Josh. They were beating up Allie, and I was so afraid for her, so I told them she had a heart condition so they'd stop." Her words tumbled out of her mouth and left her panting for breath.

"You defended Allie?" Joshua asked in wonder. "That must've been a sight to see. A little bitty thing like you who doesn't eat enough to keep a bird alive defending someone who would make at least two of you," Josh said proudly.

"Is she okay?" asked Kay in a worried voice.

"I don't know for sure, but I think so. They aren't letting many people into this section right now," he admitted. He reached out to pat her arm tenderly, obviously wanting to do more.

"The kids?" Kay asked squirming around to find a better spot where she didn't hurt.

"They're all right too. They're staying with their Uncle Bob for right now. In fact, knowing them, they're probably splashing around in his pool." Joshua stroked her arm tentatively. She seemed relieved at his words, as if one more worry had been lifted from her petite shoulders.

"I was worried about you, Kay. When they told me the news, I was so afraid I'd lost you," he revealed, the way his voice cracked betraying his fear. "I don't know if I could bear that. You mean too much to me to lose you like that. You do know that, don't you?" He asked used one hand to wipe away the moisture that suddenly appeared in his eyes.

"By the way, I think I met one of your clients out in the waiting room. He wouldn't admit to it, but I could tell. A tall guy by the name of Jack O'Neill. Says he's a general," he reported dubiously.

Distracted, she furrowed her forehead, as she seemed to rummage through the long list of people she'd seen in all her years as a counselor.

"No, I can't remember that name off-hand, but I've seen so many people," Kay admitted. The adrenaline was finally draining out of her system, and she felt her eyelids drooping. Her husband as well as the nurse noticed immediately.

Giving her hand a final squeeze, he bent over to brush a kiss on her cheek, and tried not to notice when she cringed. "I think they're kicking me out of here, honey. But, I'll be right outside. I'm not going anywhere."

His eyes on the form of his wife, he followed the nurse out the door. However, once the door closed, he turned to her angrily.

"Just what the hell happened to her?" he asked.

"The Doctor will talk to you about that in a moment," she said in a calm voice, patting his back with her hand.

"When?" he growled. "And don't try any of your counselor tricks on me. I'm married to one and can spot them a mile away." He shook off her hand and stepped toward her.

"Mr. Dow, if you would just come with me, I'm sure the Doctor can speak to you," she said again, attempting to lead him down the hallway away from the waiting room.

Mr. Dow seemed somewhat mollified at her assurances that he would be able to quiz the Doctor on his wife's condition. Although, judging from Kay's responses to his touch, he had a nasty suspicion he already knew what had happened. Dammit! He screamed inside his head. Just let me get my hands on the bastards that did this. Just five minutes, that's all I would need to snap their filthy necks! Trembling from his suppressed fury, he followed the nurse into a private room with chairs. Unable to sit still, he paced while he waited.

About five minutes later, a balding, older doctor made his way into the room. "Hello, Mr. Dow. I'm Dr. Holden, the doctor who has been attending to your wife. I understand you would like to know the extent of her injuries," stated the doctor as he led the Joshua to a chair. He sat down beside the agitated man and opened his mouth to speak.

Before he could say anything, Josh held up his hand to stop him. "Don't dress it up with fancy words, Doc. Just give it to me straight. I want to know what those sons of bitches did to my wife. I'm her husband, so I do have the right to know this," he asserted heatedly.

Dr. Holden nodded and looked him in the eye. "You want it told to you straight, that's what I'll do, Mr. Dow. You wife was assaulted pretty badly. We believe her right arm is broken, but don't think she has any facial fractures. She's being taken to x-ray right now to determine the extent of the damage. Your wife's a pretty courageous lady, Mr. Dow. The other hostages say she tried to protect some of the others from the worst of the abuse."

"And? Come, on. We both know you haven't finished yet," challenged the furious husband.

"Yes, you're right, I'm not finished yet. She was sexually assaulted, Mr. Dow. I believe you already figured that out. Emotionally, she's pretty fragile right now, though. She's going to need all the emotional help she can get from you, you know."

"Yeah, I know." Josh felt dispirited as his anger drained out of him, leaving him feeling like a limp dishrag, and just as impotent.

"Do they know who did it?" he asked.

"Yes, Kay was able to identify him, and he's in custody right now," assured the Doctor.

"Too bad they didn't cap his ass right off the bat. Would've saved the taxpayers a bunch of money if they had," Josh muttered.

He was interrupted by the sound of a beeper going off. The Doctor looked apologetic while reaching for it. He took a look at the message, and then up at the man sitting in front of him.

"I'm sorry, but I've got to go now. I'll keep you posted on your wife's condition, though."

By this time, they were both walking out the doorway into the hallway. "You should be able to visit your wife again once she's back from x-ray. I'll tell the nurses to let you know when she's ready for visitors again." Then he turned and scurried down the hallway, in the opposite direction of the waiting room.

With nothing better to do, Joshua sighed, and limped back toward the waiting room. He made a pit stop in the latrine first, more as an excuse to gather his thoughts together than anything else. He stood in front of the sink, washing his hands mechanically, without really noticing what he was doing. He felt numb, like all this crap coming down on him and Kay was some kind of sick movie. A reality that had no business happening to them. To her. Kay. His wife. His rock. He looked up into the mirror and was shocked by the haggard old face with the haunted eyes that glared back at him.

"God damned bastards," he muttered, his anger growing. "God damned mother fucking bastards!" he said more loudly as his right fist shot forward to impact on the mirror's surface.

The sound of breaking glass echoed loudly in the small confines of the bathroom. Josh seemed mesmerized by the now-fractured, distorted reflection that gazed back at him from the cracked mirror. A small part of him reflected that the deformed picture was an apt picture of his life right now. When his thought automatically reminded him that Kay would think it hilariously ironic that he was analyzing shit like that, he laughed without humor. Nope, she wasn't going to be laughing for a while yet. Those bastards had seen to that.

When the door burst open, his already adrenaline-heightened senses spun him around, already in a crouching attack position that had saved his life so many times back in 'Nam. The faces he saw in the doorway were strange, until he recognized the uniforms of the prison guards. Those were familiar. They knew Kay. They were family. They would understand his need for revenge, and probably wouldn't stop him from killing the bastards that had hurt his wife, he thought with cold deliberation.

"Is there a problem here?" Jack and his Jaffa friend elbowed their way through the clog of people in the doorway. When O'Neill saw it was Josh, he turned to the others standing there. "All right. Show's over. Let's break it up here and give the man some room to breathe." With the aid of Teal'c's glower, the crowd melted away.

Jack took in the wild-eyed look of the man in front of him and reflected that he really wasn't surprised by his reaction. Hell, he'd probably react the same way if it'd happened to his wife, back when he still had one. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what was going on in that man's head, nor what his immediate plans were. From the looks of things, he didn't even realize he'd cut his hand when he punched the mirror.

"Do you have immediate need of my assistance, O'Neill?" asked Teal'c, still watching his six.

"No, I don't think so, T. Just make sure we aren't disturbed for a while. Mr. Dow needs to do a little venting right now, that's all."

"Very well," agreed Teal'c, as he closed the door, leaving Jack and Joshua alone in the bathroom. The general knew without a doubt that Teal'c had already taken up his station outside the door, and he felt sorry for anyone who was foolhardy enough to try to get past him.

Moving slowly, keeping his hands in full-view of the enraged man standing by the sink, Jack took a step toward him. "Joshua?"

Joshua jumped and blinked his eyes looking around in seeming bewilderment, until he centered on the intruder. "What? Who are you?" he asked in a shaky voice.

"I'm Jack. Remember me? We met in the waiting room. I'm a friend of Kay's." Jack kept his voice calm and low as he took another step bringing him closer to Mr. Dow.

"Jack? Oh yeah, I remember now. They hurt her, Jack, and they have to pay. I've got to kill them now, so just stay out of my way," the man warned, his voice getting louder as his face contorted with rage.

Jack stopped in his tracks, wisely getting no closer to the man in front of him. He watched as Joshua's craggy features hardened, and his lips thinned into a lethal line.


"I've got to kill that bastard, Jack. So just get out of my way!" he said as he advanced on Jack's position. Jack didn't move. When he tried to shove his way past him, O'Neill flipped him, took him to the floor, and pinned him there. It was no contest, really. Josh was so out of his head with rage and grief, he couldn't even think straight. No surprise there.

Josh struggled to escape Jack's hold, but no matter how much he twisted or bucked, he couldn't get out from under the man on top of him.

"Let me go, you son of a bitch." Joshua Dow growled, like a very dangerous animal that's been cornered and has nothing to lose by it's own destruction.

"Nope, Joshua. I won't let you go until you calm down." Jack refused to release him, knowing the consequence of such an act would be death. He kept his voice calm, and low.

His wrestling partner was now lying on his back on the bathroom floor, with Jack straddling him, holding his arms down. Joshua continued to struggle, the adrenaline in his system giving him more stamina and agility than was normal for him. Jack was undeterred though, and refused to let him loose.

He knew from his own grim experience what a man half-crazed with grief and rage could do. And if he had anything to do with it, he would do his damnedest to prevent Joshua from doing something that he would regret later. He also recognized that the last thing that Josh and Kay needed was more tragedy in their lives.

While he could sympathize and even agree with the man's sentiments, he knew that if Josh were to carry out his intentions, he'd just end up in jail. And that was the last place he needed to be. Trouble was, while he could think all this out, he knew Josh wasn't able to do that yet. Although, given the chance to calm down, Jack had the feeling he would be able to do more thinking, instead of just reacting to his situation. Of course, that was easy for him to say, removed as he was from the hellish circumstances this couple suddenly found themselves mired in.

Joshua continued to twist and struggle beneath him, as he cursed and threatened him, but Jack refused to let go.

"I told you to let me go, you bastard!" Josh raged between clenched teeth.

"Nope, ain't gonna happen. As in no way Jose, nada, Elvis has not left the building, and the fat lady hasn't even opened her mouth yet, so it's a huge honkin' no-go to that request." Jack smirked and leaned his weight on Joshua's arms.

The adrenaline began to drain out of Dow's body leaving him feeling weak and shaky.

"Please, Jack? You've got to help me. They've got to pay for what they did to my Kay," he pleaded.

"You're absolutely right. They do have to pay for what they did to Kay," he reassured the trembling man. "But your killing them won't solve anything. What it will do is land your ass in jail. Away from Kay. And, Joshua, she's going to need you to be there for her. You can't do that if you're in jail. Can you?" Jack could tell that the man he was quite literally sitting on had finally heard what he had to say. He waggled his eyebrows at him in question.

Joshua seemed to deflate as he nodded his head with weariness. "Yeah, you're right. I've got to be there for my Kay." He rolled his eyes and took a deep breath. "So, you gonna let me up now? I don't want your buddies to get the wrong idea, and I'm already married," he quipped.

Without relaxing his grip, Jack looked him dead in the eyes. "You gonna behave yourself?"

Dow didn't say anything, just held Jack's gaze and nodded. He looked tired. And old.

Jack gave him a reassuring smile, and released his arms first. Then he rose on shaky legs, to stand with legs splayed, like a newborn calf, as if uncertain that he would remain standing. Crap, kneeling on that tile floor had played hell on his knees.

Joshua just lay there, rubbing his wrists where Jack had pinned them to the floor. O'Neill offered the prostrate man his hand, and was relieved when Dow grasped it and allowed him to assist him from the floor. Once upright, O'Neil turned Dow's hand over, they both took in the bleeding cuts on the knuckles caused by the impact with the mirror.

"You might want to get that looked at," advised Jack with a half smile.

"Think the hospital will add that broken mirror to my bill?" asked Josh with a rueful grin, as he straightened his back. From the way he was hunched over, listing to one side, he'd probably twisted it.

Jack stood aside and gestured to the door. "Shall we?"

He'd already decided he was going to have a talk with the staff about why they'd left Mr. Dow alone after giving him such devastating news. He sure as hell was no shrink, but even he knew better than to do that. It had been just pure luck, and his own gut instinct that had prevented another tragedy from transpiring.

"Sure. I don't understand why security hasn't been busting down the doors already. I must have sounded like a dying cat in a hail-storm," Josh commented in a tired voice. When he opened the door, he came face-to face with a solid mountain of human flesh. He tipped his head up to look at the glowering face directed toward him with widened eyes.

"It's okay, T. We're ready to face the world again. You can let us out now," advised Jack with a smile at his Jaffa friend.

"Indeed," boomed Teal'c, who backed away, pivoted and walked back down the hallway toward the waiting room, moving with the lithe grace of a black panther.

In the meanwhile, Jack was steering Joshua toward the nurse's station. When they arrived at their destination, all the nurses seemed to be busy. Rapping on the counter, Jack cleared his throat. That did the trick, as the nurse sitting right behind it looked up.

"I've got a man here who cut himself on some broken glass. Could somebody see to it? Oh, and you might want to check the men's john down the hall. There's a broken mirror in there, and I wouldn't want anyone to cut themselves on it accidentally. Could be one hell of a lawsuit, if you know what I mean," Jack said.

The nurse's eyes widened, and then she jumped up and began issuing orders. About an hour later, Joshua's hand had been cleaned up and bandaged. He hadn't broken anything, if you didn't count the mirror, and the cuts only needed a few stitches.

And as for the seven years of bad luck for breaking the mirror… Well, Dow considered that he was used to that kind of luck. Seems that was the only kind he ever had. But hey, Kay could've died today, so he guessed he was still ahead of the game in that department. So, with his right hand painted in Betadine and swathed in white gauze, he and Jack made their way back toward the nurse's station so they could check on Kay. He could tell he'd hurt his back. Again. Oh, well, he was getting used to sleeping on a heating pad anyway, he thought.

As they walked side-by-side down the hallway, Joshua Dow, retired Army, looked sideways at the man walking in step next to him, trying to figure him out. Why did a total stranger, if not to Kay, at least to him, care anything about them? Not only that, this stranger had stood by him and helped him through a particularly ugly episode in the bathroom, and then stuck by him afterwards. Why would he do something like this for him? After all, he was a high and mighty wing nut general and Josh was a lowly Army 'retardee', the kind that wandered around lost looking for their vehicle in the PX parking lot. Since he'd never been accused of keeping his opinions and questions to himself, he decided to start finding out some answers.

Reaching out to touch him on the shoulder, Josh stopped and faced the enigmatic Air Force general. "Before we go in to see Kay, I have a few questions I'd like to ask, Jack," he advised.

"I was wondering when you'd get around to that," admitted Jack with a half-grin. "How's about we grab a cup of java and cop a squat over in the corner of the waiting room?"

"Roger that shit, partner," Josh replied with a grin. They'd just exchanged a code of sorts, letting each other know that they were part of a brotherhood. The kind that only those in the military could understand.

They both made an automatic about-face and headed back down the hallway into the waiting room. When they walked in, Jack waved to and advanced toward them with the seeming expectation that his new friend would follow his lead. Josh decided he had nothing to lose and would go along with Jack's wishes. For now. He could always bail out later, if he needed to. Besides, he recognized the human mountain from the bathroom. Damn. Where did they 'em grow that big?

"Hey campers, I've got someone I'd like you to meet," Jack said. "This is Joshua Dow, the husband of Miss Kay, the shrink I was telling you about."

The welcoming smiles Josh saw coming from these strangers' faces were enough to keep him from bolting. He stuck out his hand to Teal'c first.

"I believe you've already met Teal'c," Jack said with a grin.

"Nice to meetcha." Dow gingerly gripped the hand that was offered him. "Just remind me never to piss you off, okay?" Joshua was pleasantly surprised when the walking mass of muscle didn't rip his hand off or break any bones.

"Indeed," replied Teal'c with dignity, as he gave a little bow of his head.

"And this is Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter," continued Jack with his introductions.

Joshua stuck his hand out to shake hers also, and winced when the stitches in his injured knuckles pulled a little. He began to feel a little overwhelmed, and wasn't sure what to say to the knock-out blonde who was standing in front of him without making a total asshole of himself. Besides, from the looks of her, she could rip his arms off and ram them down his throat if he pissed her off.

"It's okay, Mr. Dow. It looks like your hand isn't exactly in any shape to be using to shake hands," she said with a smile as she came to his rescue.

"Be careful, she likes to arm wrestle," Jack said to Josh in a stage whisper, fully audible to the other three members of SG-1. Josh didn't miss Carter's blush or the way she bit her lip nervously.

"It's nice to meet you, Ma'am," Josh said lamely with a grin. "And if you don't mind, I'll pass on the arm wrestling for now. I've had my fill of that for today. Wrestling, that is. Right Jack?"

Jack just grinned and continued with his introductions. "And last but certainly not least, is Daniel Jackson, our coffee fiend."

You're my kind of man, Mr. Jackson," Josh acknowledged with a grin. He stuck out his hand again, but Danny waved it away with a smile of his own.

Jack continued on his mission of finding respite and comfort for his new friend. "Speaking of coffee, we were just looking for some. That is, if there's any left. Danny swills the stuff like it will be outlawed at midnight," Jack explained with a smirk, leading Joshua toward the table holding the coffee urn. "So if you don't mind, we've got some talking to do." Jack looked into the faces of the members of SG-1. They blinked and then backed away, the message received.

Both nursing their Styrofoam cups full of the liquid mud, they took chairs facing each other, as if they were opponents, squaring-off.

Jack took a moment to glance at his other friends. He couldn't help but overhear them as they spoke amongst themselves. Their words were predictable. But the again, he'd known them for quite awhile. Hadn't he?

Daniel shook his head. "Uh, oh. Don't look now, but it looks like the two alpha-males of the pack are getting ready for a showdown."

Teal'c, however, did not seem perturbed. "I do not believe you are correct in your assumption, Daniel Jackson. O'Neill seems to have found a kindred spirit in Joshua Dow. I too believe this man to be an honorable one."

"I hope you're right, Teal'c. Because the last thing this place needs is another battle royale," Daniel answered.

"I have to agree with Teal'c, Daniel. I think those two are birds of a feather." Sam flashed a bright smile at Jack, and blushed again when he smirked back

Then he tuned them out in order to better focus on the man in the chair in front of him. Jack let the other man start, since he'd been the one to request their little tete-a-tete.

"So who are you really, Jack? And why are you bothering with Kay and me? You seem to be some high-powered flyboy general, who certainly doesn't need to concern himself with the crap that us little peons are wading through," asked Josh, getting right to the point. "Let's face it, we both know that it's not everyday that someone like you shows up out of the blue to help out a couple of total strangers. And I don't believe in Santa Claus, little green men, or the tooth fairy."

Jack's face split into a grin at the last remark and had to mentally zip his mouth shut. Although, with people like Kay and Josh in the program… Mentally shutting off that thought, for now, he set about trying to answer the man's questions in a way that wouldn't reveal classified information.

"A couple of years ago, your wife met up with me while I was in a bad spot," he began. "At the time, I was being sold up the river for something I hadn't done and was locked up in Solitary Confinement because of certain, ah, shall we say skills, I've acquired over the years. So anyway, she came to check up on me as part of her job, to make sure I hadn't gone totally bonkers from sitting in that box of a room. She noticed right off that I was having a rough time of it sitting in that confined space and pegged me for a former POW. Well, she talked with me a bit, got me calmed down, and in general, gave me some food for thought. Plus, I'd seen the crap that she had to put up with from some of the other inmates, and didn't like it one bit. But, through it all, she didn't seem to let it bother her. No matter what they dished out, she remained cool as a cucumber. That impressed me, and I never forgot it. Or her. So when I saw her picture on the local news and heard what had happened, I thought I might be able to help her out. Kind of as a way of repaying a debt I owe her," Jack finished. 'Whew! There it was, all out on the table,' thought Jack. Now the ball was in Joshua's court and he couldn't help but wonder what his reaction would be.

Joshua was silent, taking in all the information and mulling it over inside his head. Crap, this guy sounded like a spook, one of those guys that he used to take out and drop off on secret missions way back in Vietnam when he used to pilot a Huey. He remembered those guys, hard-eyed and silent types. He figured this guy was someone he didn't want to piss off or meet in a dark alley somewhere. Come to think of it, hadn't he seen his face on the news a couple of years ago?

"Wait a minute. Aren't you the guy they thought had shot that slimy politician Kinsey a couple of years back?"

"Yep, one and the same." Jack ducked his head and stared at his hands.

Josh took note of them for the first time. The fingers were long and elegant as they drummed an impatient dance against his thighs. He had the feeling that they could be lethal when they needed to be. Still, if his Kay had taken a shine to this guy, he couldn't be all bad. Could he? Plus, he knew that he wasn't exactly a choirboy himself. You couldn't be, and survive all those years in the military.

"My Kay saw you then? Damn, she never said a word to me about it. Not that she would, but still . . . So, now that you're here, you planning on bugging the shit out of my Kay? Because if you are, I may have to unload a big can of whoop-ass on you," Joshua said with a grin. They were both interrupted by the sound of a nurse calling Josh's name. His head immediately whipped around, looking for whoever was trying to get his attention.

"That's me. I'm Mr. Dow," he said as he jumped up, pivoted, and headed over to the waiting nurse.

"Your wife is awake and asking to see you, Mr. Dow. The Doctor said you can sit with her for a while," she said with a smile, as she turned to lead him back to her room.

"Ma'am? Is it all right if Jack pays her a visit? He's been waiting for quite a while to see her, and I think Kay would really like it." Joshua motioned his new friend to join him. Yeah, he'd decided he liked the guy.

"I don't see why not," answered the nurse.

Both Jack and Joshua followed her to the door of Kay's hospital room. When they entered, it was Jack following Josh through the door. Josh took the time to glance back and figured the guy was wondering if it was such a good idea after all now that he was finally going to get a chance to talk to her.

"Kay?" Josh sat down in the chair beside her bed, filled with anxiety. She had her eyes closed and looked like she was asleep. Her right arm was wrapped and in a sling laid across her chest. If anything, her pale thin face looked even worse than before. The colors of the bruises on her faces, coming into all their morbid glory. Her left eye was nearly swollen shut, and it looked like she'd be eating oatmeal for a while from the way her bottom lip was swollen and split. Rage toward the animals who'd done this to her threatened to boil over again, but, remembering the words of both the doctor and his new friend Jack, he ruthlessly tamped them down.

"Josh? You're still here?"

Her sapphire-blue eyes stopped him cold, just like they always did. He studied her again and drank in her scent. Damn, but she smelled good. Her long, salt and pepper hair must have been washed, as it was lying haphazard on the pillow in a crazy quilt of silver and black. It was frizzy, sticking up in places, and he knew this would drive his wife crazy. As usual. He reached out with a tentative hand to brush the hair away from her face, and smiled when those certain strands wouldn't behave.

"Of course I am, silly. Where else would I be?" he answered with a mock scowl.

"I just thought you'd need to pick up the kids, that's all," she said with a worried frown.

"The kids are taken care of, and are having a great time splashing all the water out of their Uncle Bob's pool. Don't worry about them, honey," he reminded her. "By the way, there's somebody here that would like to talk to you." Josh motioned for Jack to come farther into the room.

O'Neill obeyed him, but stopped to watch him greet his stricken wife from the doorway. He felt very out of place and felt as if he wanted run off and hide somewhere. He was already having second thoughts and figured this whole thing had been a huge honkin' mistake.

Kay's eyes followed her husband's motioning hand and she squinted in a vain attempt to make out the face of the man that stood at the foot of the bed.

"I'm sorry, but my glasses were broken when . . ." she gulped and paused before she continued. "I can't see who you are. Could you come a little closer?"

Jack did as she requested, feeling like he was stepping into an emotional minefield. Though whether it was hers or his, he had no idea. "Is this close enough, Miss Kay?" he asked as he neared the chair where Mr. Dow was sitting.

Kay's face was still blank; obviously she didn't recognize him. Jack decided to give her some more information. "You may not remember me, but my name is Jack O'Neill. You were the shrink that checked up on me a couple of years back when I was in that special unit. I was a colonel back then."

"I think so," she said slowly. "You'll have to excuse me, I see so many people. Let me think. Colonel Jack O'Neill… Oh yes, now I remember." She squinted again. "You look different with your clothes on," she blurted.

Too late, she realized how that must've sounded. Jack's mouth was hanging open, but Josh just grinned and acted like that sort of thing came bounding out of his wife's mouth on a frequent basis. His bemused grin seemed to say that was just one of the things that he loved about her.

"Oh, my gosh! That's not what I meant at all!" Kay stammered, her face and neck turning a bright red.

"I should hope not," protested Jack, who was still in shock. "And I would certainly hope that your husband doesn't think that either!"

"What I meant was that you look different dressed as you are now. When I see my clients, they're usually dressed in a uniform of some sort. So, when I see them outside that environment, dressed in a different way, I usually don't recognize them right off the bat," she explained.

"And you can bet she analyzed the hell out of that explanation too," added Joshua with a smirk. Kay responded with rolled eyes. Clearly, this was an ongoing inside joke of theirs.

"Well, now that we've got that settled, I was hoping you wouldn't mind if I stopped by to tell you thanks for helping me out like you did back then. It really meant a lot to me at the time." Jack shifted his feet and wondered why the floor felt like quicksand.

"Of course I don't mind, Colonel O'Neill," she continued. "But I don't understand what you mean. What did I do to help you out? I don't remember meeting with you that many times. When we did, we only talked for a little bit."

"Please call me Jack," answered O'Neill.

"All right, Jack. Don't change the subject on me. What is it that I did that was so special? After all, I was just doing my job," Kay continued.

Josh leaned back in his chair, enjoying the show. He'd seen this happen before and had grown used to it over the years. People that his wife had worked with years or months ago would come up to her in public and thank her for helping them out. Her reaction was always the same, bewilderment and wonder at what they said. In anyone else, he would've suspected false pride. However, he'd learned over the years that she truly didn't realize the effect she had on the lives she touched. Damn, but he was so proud of her gift, he just wanted to bust. Sometimes it made up for all the crap she had to put up with, but not always.

He wondered if she would be able to bounce back from this setback. She was one of the strongest people he knew, but everyone has a limit. He just hoped that she hadn't reached hers, yet. The sound of voices jerked him back into the conversation.

"You may not think you did anything really special, Miss Kay, but actually you did. If you ask me, anyone who can put up with the crap those guys dish out to you every time you set foot in that unit is more than just doing her job."

Kay opened her mouth in protest, and Jack raised his hand in order to silence her.

"I'm just saying that I think you're a pretty gutsy broad, Miss Kay," he asserted.

"Wait a minute here. Number one, if I have to call you Jack, then you better start calling me Kay. Got that?"

Jack nodded quickly in agreement and looked like a child that was being scolded. Josh grinned again. Yep, his Kay was in fine form.

"Now, for number two, you may think I'm this wonderful person who goes around spreading joy and light to the world, but you would be wrong about that, mister. Sure, I put up with all that crap at work, but I don't like it. So don't go putting me up on a pedestal, because I can assure you that I won't stay up there. For one thing, I don't belong there. I'm a human being who gets pissed off and irritated, just like everyone else. And if you don't believe that, just ask my husband." Kay flashed Josh a grin.

Jack raised his hands in mock surrender and turned to her husband who had a shit-eating grin on his face. "Is she always like this?"

"Yep, pretty much. Except when she has a really bad day. Then, she's even worse. And as for PMS, we won't even go there. At least, not without a flak vest, " Josh answered as he ducked his head to avoid his wife's awkward swat with her left hand.

"So, exactly why are you here, Jack?" asked Kay point-blank.

From his position in the chair, Josh took note of Jack's reactions to his wife's very pointed questions. He seemed caught off-guard at her question, and shifted his feet uneasily as he thought about his answer.

"Well, I guess I remembered how you picked up about me being a former POW, and how you'd helped me out back then. So, when I saw that you'd been, you know, held hostage at work, I thought that I might be able to help you get through it. It was probably a really bad idea, though." O'Neill shoved his hands in his pockets and looked down at the floor.

Josh's attention switched to watch his wife as she took her time to think about it. To her husband, it was clear Jack's words bothered her, but she was trying to work it through too.

Her answer wasn't long in coming. "No, it wasn't a bad idea. It's just that, oh, I don't know. I'm supposed to have my shit together and know how to deal with crap like this. After all, I'm the shrink. Don't you see? I'm the one that's supposed to help other people get through this very thing all the time." Kay seemed anxious and gave a nervous laugh. "That's why this will be so hard for me to deal with." She looked down as her nervous fingers pulled at the edges of the blanket.

Josh patted her on the shoulder, and tried not to notice when she flinched away from him again. "Yeah, but it's you that was held hostage, not everyone else, Kay. You know yourself that you're going to need to talk to someone about this. I think Jack just wants to help you out, that's all. You'll still be seeing some other professional to get your head shrunk. He just feels like you helped him out once, and now he wants to repay the favor. Am I right, Jack?" asked Josh.

Jack raised his eyes up off the floor, looked up at Josh, and then Kay. "Yep, that's it exactly. So, if you ever want to just talk sometime, you can call me. I would consider it an honor it you would," Jack finished with a half smile. Then he fished his wallet out of his back pocket, removed a card and handed it to Josh. A quick glance told Josh that it held Jack's name, home phone number, and address in the Springs.

Kay looked at her husband, who nodded his encouragement. "Well, if you're sure it wouldn't be an imposition," she added in an uncertain voice.

"For crying out loud, Kay. No, it would not be an imposition, and I really do want to sit down with you and talk about this. As friends," Jack said in mock anger, and then he waggled his eyebrows to show he was kidding her. For himself, Josh was relieved at his actions. The poor woman had been through enough in one day for him to scare the crap out of her now. Besides, if Jack did, as her husband, he would probably hunt him down and hurt him severely.

"As friends?" Kay asked in a tremulous tone.

"Yeah, sure yabetcha," Jack replied with a smile. "Now, I'm going to get out of here and leave you two love-birds alone before nurse Bertha throws me out. You call me now," he warned, "or I'll sic Teal'c on you." Then he smiled, patted Josh on the back and turned to leave.

"Thanks, Jack," Josh called out, rising from his chair. "For everything."

"No problem, friend. Take care of that wife of yours. She's special," Jack ordered, then walked out of the room.

Joshua smiled, leaned back into his chair, and murmured to himself, "Oh, I know, Jack. I know she's very special."

The End