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The Interview
by dinkydow

graphic by JoleneB

From his position on the floor, Colonel Jack O'Neill leaned his head back against the concrete cinderblocks that made up his jail cell. He'd been stuck in this hole for about three days now, and he was beginning to wonder if the world had quite literally and figuratively locked him up and threw away the key. His one-man cell in the Special Confinement Unit was nothing to write home about, but he wasn't complaining. Yet.

Although he didn't like the idea of solitary confinement, the alternative could be much worse, he mused. Having a roommate named Bubba who thought he would make a nice girlfriend was definitely not on his list of fun things to do. Since he'd been here, he hadn't seen anyone except the guards. They seemed wary of him, and weren't a particularly chatty bunch, but he knew they had a job to do. Still, they hadn't beaten him up or anything and treated him decent. Evidently they hadn't gone to the same school that his former Iraqi guards had attended. At least, the cell walls weren't yellow, because he wouldn't have been able to handle that. Nope, he wasn't going to go there either, he resolved silently.

That still didn't take away the fact that he was cooped up in a box for a crime that he hadn't committed. True, he had considered offing the slime ball, Kinsey, plenty of times, but knew better than to cross that line. Too bad he couldn't shake the hand of the guy who'd done what he'd only dreamed of doing though. He rubbed his wrists, remembering the feel of the cold steel of the handcuffs he'd worn and shivered. What a crappy day this was going to be.

He cocked his head to listen as the sound of clanking metal doors being unlocked resounded up and down the short corridor. He'd come to recognize all the sounds of his new home. The skittering sound of another note being shot across the floor, the clanging and scraping of a meal tray being pushed through the small opening in the cell doors, and of course, the less than complementary comments about the food and everything in general were an integral part of his life here. Yep, it was official now. This was so going to be another crappy day in the slammer.

The first time he's heard the skittering sound of paper skidding across the floor, he'd wondered if this jail had a problem with rats. However, when he'd investigated it by peering out the small rectangular window in his door, he had noted that a piece of paper weighted down with an empty toothpaste tube and attached to a string made of torn bed sheet had been propelled underneath the crack of the cell door to lie waiting in the center of the aisle. Soon, another kite, as he later learned they were called, shot out from beneath a door on the opposite side of the aisle, tangled with the first string, and was rapidly pulled back to the inmate in the second cell.

"Cool," he'd muttered as he realized that he'd discovered the latest in prison underground communication. Well, it certainly beat the hell out of tapping out a message in Morse code on the cell walls, he supposed. Not that he'd sent any kites, or attempted to capture any that had obviously been sent his way. He just didn't feel sociable. Nor was he here to make friends. And he hoped that if he hadn't been totally sold down the river, he wouldn't be here much longer anyway.

The sound of catcalls jerked his attention back to the present.

"I want to talk to you. Come here to my door!"

"Hey bitch, let me give you some of this!"

"Come here, baby, you know you want it."

"You stay the hell away from me! You hear?"

The footsteps of someone walking down the corridor seemed to be getting nearer. Funny, they didn't sound like the shoes worn by the usual guards. He was startled when he heard the sound of banging on his door. Jerking his head up in surprise, he noted the face of a woman peering in at him.

"Colonel O'Neill?" she called.

Not bothering to get up off the floor, he turned his head to answer. "Yeah, what do you want?"

"I'm from Psych and need to ask you some questions," she replied. Curiosity and the chance to talk to someone at long last made him get up off the floor and approach the door.

"What do you want to know, Ma'am?" he asked when he stood next to the door. Now that he was closer, he could make out her features a little more clearly. She appeared to be short and thin, with salt and pepper hair tied back in a bun. Her blue eyes were framed by glasses and looked like they'd seen too much, belying the fact that her pale face looked unlined and innocent.

"You've been in this unit for several days now, and I have to ask you some questions, Colonel O'Neill," she explained as she checked the list on her clipboard.

"Hey, Psych Lady, I want to show you something," someone called down the hallway. This was followed by raucous laughter, which the woman studiously ignored. The fact the she was able to accomplish this raised Jack's estimation of her character a couple of notches. 'Hmm, maybe she isn't all bad, even if she is a shrink,' he thought charitably.

"Sure, OK," Jack replied.

"Do you have any history of Psych problems?" she asked. When she saw the look of disbelief and anger on Jack's face, she drew back a moment before replying. "That would be a yes, I take it."

"Yeah, you might say that. Say, what's your name?"

"You can call me Miss Kay," she answered as she checked an item on her list.

"Are you having trouble with depression?" she asked getting back to her checklist.

"Ya think?" Jack replied as he rolled his eyes toward the ceiling.

"I mean besides the obvious," she explained with a crooked grin. When Jack just shook his head, she tried again.

"Seeing any dancing green elephants, or things you shouldn't be seeing or hearing?'

"Nope, no elephants doing the cha-cha or otherwise," Jack wisecracked back at her.

"Any thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself?"

Jack paused a moment before puffing out a breath. "That would be a huge honkin' no, Miss Kay."

"Good, listen, these are questions I have to ask everybody. Contrary to popular belief, we don't mistreat our inmates and if they have problems, we do try to help them," she clarified.

"No, I haven't been beaten up or anything, just thrown into this hole and left to rot, that's all," Jack said angrily.

"I'm sorry, but I can't do anything about that. But if you need to talk to me, just let the guards know and they'll help you fill out the request for Psych Services," she said again.

"Listen, would I be able to see you in your office?"

"I'm afraid not, Colonel. Not while you're in here," she apologized. "That's the rules."

Yeah, well, I'll keep that in mind," Jack replied tartly. "Maybe you could do something for me though. Could you get a note to some of my friends on the outside?"

The counselor's face took on an incredulous look as she shook her head. "You are crazy aren't you? You know I can't do that, Colonel O'Neill. When you see the JAG officer assigned to your case, he might be able to help you out, but I can't do anything like that."

Jack grimaced as he banged his head softly against the door. The thud sounded like a muffled rifle shot and echoed through the cell. "Sorry, just going stir crazy cooped up in this box, that's all," he confessed. "Brings back too many bad memories."

"You're a former POW?" she asked shrewdly. As his brown eyes turned to stone, she continued. "I figured as much. You have all the signs."

"What would you know? You ever been crammed into a steel box that's so hot that it fries the skin off your back and legs? Or beaten every day, and that's just when the goons in charge are in a good mood? And as for what happens when they're in a pissy mood, well, we don't even want to go there." Jack turned his back and leaned against the door, scrubbing his face with his hands. 'For crying out loud, where had that come from?' he thought. He barely heard her answer, muffled as it was by the steel door that separated them.

"No, I haven't and I'm not going to insult you by saying something stupid like I feel your pain or that I know how you feel, because I don't know how you feel, Colonel O'Neill. I can listen though, if you want to talk. And you might want to ask the guards for some reading material or something to distract you. I've often found that reading a good book is a way to escape from stressful situations." She chuckled a little, before continuing. "And I would say that this qualifies as a stressful situation. Wouldn't you?"

Jack turned back to watch the woman standing on the other side of the door and laughed in spite of himself. "Just my luck to get a shrink with a twisted sense of humor," he retorted sarcastically.

"I've learned that you can either laugh or cry about bad times. As for me, I would rather laugh. It's easier on the eyes, and keeps people wondering what you're so happy about," she explained with a smile.

"Hey, you're not bad for a shrink, lady," Jack offered as he grinned back.

"Why, thank you, Colonel O'Neill. I'll take that as a compliment," she acknowledged with a grin. "Well, I gotta go now. Just keep in mind what I told you."

"Yeah sureyabetcha," he said. As he saw that she was about to leave, he called out. "Hey."

The counselor stopped and turned back to peer into the small window with a questioning look on her face.

"I just wanted to say thanks," Jack asserted. "I mean it."

"You are welcome, Colonel O'Neill," she replied gravely. Then she turned and walked away from his cell. Jack stood for a moment listening to the sound of her footsteps as she walked to another cell.

The End