Fourth Time Lucky
by Suz

Disclaimer - MGM/Gekko/Double Secret own them.

Spoilers for 'The Broca Divide', 'Cold Lazarus', 'Fire and Water', 'Seth', 'Point of View' 'The Devil You Know' and a vague allusion to 'Upgrades'.

Set about three months after the events in 'Under The Microscope', and a few days after the events of 'The Devil You Know'. Assumes that more happened in 'The Devil You Know' than we actually saw.

I think I must have taken on my own challenge to get them to kiss as many times as I could and keep it in canon. Sure is fun though!

Swearing ahoy!


He didn't think he'd ever been this nervous.

Okay, okay maybe he had - but the only time he could remember feeling this nervous was when Sara went into labour. And that was an entirely different kind of nervous.

This was...this was something else. He was about to be royally screwed for something that wasn't his fault!

Hammond had actually had two chairs placed outside his office against the wall. Jack had been sitting on one for the past twenty minutes, all too aware of how much it felt like waiting outside the Principal's office.

Shit, this wasn't his fault!

Standing up he kicked the wall opposite him. His foot throbbed in agony but it was worth it to distract his mind away from what had happened for even a second. What wasn't his fault. What wasn't his goddamned fault!

Swearing again, he repeated his hostility towards the wall. He wished - just for a moment - that he was strong enough to kick right through.

Yeah, he muttered internally. Like *that* would ever happen.

"It's a good thing that wall's made of concrete. Otherwise you might actually hurt it."

Jack didn't look up, still focused on the wall. "Go away, Daniel."

As expected, his 'friend' took no notice whatsoever. "You know, if you keep kicking the wall I'm gonna have to get Janet down here. You're going to end up hurting yourself."

"Really? And just exactly how will good ol' Doc Fraiser stop me?" He finally looked up, throwing Daniel a dirty look. Sighing, he quickly looked away. He knew quite well that Janet was more than capable of kicking his butt. That woman was downright scary with a needle in her hand.

Daniel decided on another approach. "Look, it wasn't your fault-"

"I know damned well it wasn't my fault!" Jack shouted, his voice far louder than he intended it to be. Catching himself, he lowered his tone. "There's nothing I could have done to stop it, but I could at least have gotten out with my dignity intact. Did that happen? Of course not. 'Cos *somebody* had to give a full and extremely detailed description of exactly what happened."

"Jack, I *had* to keep a detailed report. You know how much my journals mean to me - it's like a duty for me now. I mean obviously I didn't think that anything like this would happen..."

"Since when do you give a rat's ass about duty?"

"Since meeting you,"

The sudden admission caused Jack's anger to dissipate immediately. Mostly. "Oh...well...glad I could be such a good role model." Shaking his head, he collapsed back down onto his chair.

Daniel closed his eyes tightly. "Jack..."

"Save it Daniel," He cut the younger man off, waving his hand in the air. "It's not your fault, it's not my fault and it's certainly not her fault. The only person to blame for this is maybe whoever gave Hammond copies, and that scum-sucking snakehead who - hopefully - is now dead and will stay that way. I'm sure Hammond realises that," Even to him his last words sounded particularly pathetic. Shit...

"I did make it clear that neither of you were in your right mind," Daniel told him hopefully.

"That's putting it mildly." How did things get so complicated?

The door to Hammond's office clicked open.

Jack was up in an instant, not sure who would come out first and standing to attention just in case. Either way, he knew he wouldn't be cheered up by whoever it was.

Carter. There she was. Not looking much happier than he felt. He searched her eyes for the few moments they maintained eye contact searching for...something. Reassurance maybe.

All he received was a vague smile that was in no way reassuring.

Damn. "Carter,"

"Sir," She nodded before stepping around him and walking away.

He thought he heard Daniel say something to her, but his attention was already focused on the man who had stepped into the doorway.

"Colonel," Hammond began, holding a hand out towards his own office. "Shall we?"

Resigning himself, Jack nodded and stepped into the office, strangely aware of the door closing behind him.

Once seated, Hammond steepled his fingers together on his desk, regarding his subordinate.

Jack did the best he could to match his gaze but he couldn't help it; his eyes flicked down briefly to the few sheets of photocopied paper that Hammond's hands were resting on. He moved his gaze back as soon as he realised, but he knew it was too late. Hammond had seen.

What he couldn't tell was if he was bothered or not.

The General visibly relaxed, then sighed. "This is getting to be a habit, Jack."

There was nothing much he could say to that. He couldn't deny it. Damn. "Yes sir,"

Hammond began listing them, and each time he mentioned one Jack's already thin hope of getting out of this unscathed grew thinner and thinner.

"The alien virus you were both infected with, the incident with Seth, the Sam Carter from the alternate reality, and now this," He moved his hands, picking up the pieces of paper briefly before letting them fall back to the table. "I know - technically - that the Carter from the alternate reality wasn't *our* Carter, but the fact remains that it happened."

Damn. There went his one argument. "Yes sir." He had a feeling he wasn't going to say a lot more than that in this meeting. And - of course - he was more than a little worried that Hammond knew about *all* of them.

"Now officially only two of those happened, and the only evidence of this latest incident are Dr Jackson's journal and these papers I have on my desk right now. Have you read them?"

"Uh...actually, I haven't sir. Strange as that may seem."

Nodding, Hammond held them out to him. "Look them over."

Of course. To corroborate Daniel's version - and no doubt Sam's, too. Taking the papers, Jack cleared his throat and began to read. Daniel's scrawl was only slightly easier to understand than his own, but he got the gist. It was nothing he didn't already know.

When he and Carter had been given the blood of Sokar and then had that damn memory device put on them, apparently one or both of them had given something away. Let something slip. Not about Earth, the Tok'ra or any of their secrets, but about the fact that they had kissed. More than once.

Apophis had - apparently - thought he could use that information to his advantage. He'd brought them all in this time - well, Jack, Sam and Daniel in any case. Making sure Carter and Jack were both saturated with the blood of Sokar and with judicious use of the memory recall device, it hadn't taken much to get them to kiss. Maybe it took even less effort than Apophis expected.

Not that it said it didn't take much for them to kiss in Daniel's journal. Thank God for small favours.

And Daniel's presence? Aside from Jack's personal humiliation, he was forced to watch while his friends did something they really, really shouldn't be doing.

The only silver lining: they hadn't actually gone *that* far. And Daniel had only described it as a kiss. Another bonus. Hey, maybe things were looking up...

"That seems accurate sir," Jack handed the papers back, thinking how easy it would be to screw them up and run out of the room screaming.

Studying the papers again himself, Hammond sighed. "Jack, I've been doing this for a very long time. I've heard the gossip. Everyone has. Anywhere where men and women work together, there is going to be gossip - you know that as well as I do."

That he did. "Yes sir."

"And...there have been questions. By those higher up the chain of command than I am."

Wow. Really? "Yes sir." That was worrying. How the hell did they hear about these things?

"Of course I've always denied it and strenuously explained the bizarre nature of our work at the SGC, but still people have doubts."

"Yes sir,"

"Can you say anything other than 'yes sir'?"

Only one thing came to mind. And he wasn't about to say "Whoops!"

"No sir,"

Hammond smiled, mostly to himself. "I don't know how these papers ended up on my desk, but Dr Jackson has already promised to be more careful about where he leaves his journals lying around. He has also agreed to remove the sections referring to the incident from his journal. If any other copies mysteriously turn up, we can easily claim they were faked. So, all that remain are these," He held up his own papers. "The only evidence left,"

Without saying anything else, Hammond swivelled in his chair and fed the 'evidence' through the paper shredder.

The relief was an actual physical pain. He felt as if his life had just been given back to him, as if he had been given a second chance. Jack finally had something else to say. "What do I owe you for this?"

Hammond smiled maternally. "I'm sure you'll find some way to repay me in the future. Although - as nothing happened - I have no idea what you're talking about, colonel."

God, he felt as if he could fly! "Yes sir, thank you sir, I'll never forget this sir." He was struck by the bizarre urge to hug him. Thankfully he managed to resist it.

Hammond just shook his head. "Dismissed,"

He didn't need to be told twice. Leaping up from his chair, Jack only paused when Hammond seemed to rethink something.



" careful. Be judicious."

Umm... "Yes sir. And thank you again."

Now utterly confused, Jack stepped out, closed the door firmly behind him, and wondered why he didn't feel as delighted as he should be.


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