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Background Check

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“Close the door, Jack,” General Hammond said as Jack entered his office, glancing for a moment longer than was natural at the corner of the room above Jack’s left shoulder.

Jack’s eyes narrowed slightly. He swung the door shut behind him, and turned to the left so he could look at the corner too. The camera mounted to the ceiling had a steady yellow light instead of the normal blinking red. An off-the-record meeting, then, and an off-the-record personal meeting to boot.

“What can I do you for, sir?”

“Doctor Jackson underwent the polygraph for his background check earlier today.”

“So he said.”

“There were some items of interest on the report.”

“I’m sure there were,” Jack said slowly. He’d told Daniel to tell the truth, that the background check was less about if he’d done any unsavory things and more about if he could be blackmailed about the unsavory things he’d done. But Hammond wouldn’t have turned the cameras off or called Jack Jack about the drug use or the post-doc sexual escapades.

Oh, fuck, Jack thought.

“One item was of particular interest to the examiner,” Hammond said.

Jack exaggerated a cringe so Hammond would be absolutely sure to get the message that Jack was on the same page. It was awful enough that they needed to talk about this at all; nobody needed to say anything out loud.

“It’s my understanding that Doctor Jackson passed the test.”

“Yes, sir.” Jack stared hard at the bookshelves behind Hammond’s head and tried to think. “Well, sir, last year, springtime maybe, I don’t recall the planet designation,” Jack said slowly as he mentally rifled through past mission reports for a scenario that could be augmented a little. “We were inadvertently involved in a local fertility ritual. Daniel was drugged and fairly suggestible.” Hammond said nothing. Jack very much did not want to be obliged to invent more than the bare minimum. but if Hammond was going to push him... “The locals wanted Daniel and me to…” he trailed off, letting Hammond fill in the blank himself. “Before Teal’c and I stopped by. Maybe…”

“He told what he believed was the truth about what happened there. Yes, I’m sure he did. Unfortunate that we can’t use the za’tarc detector for standard polygraphs,” Hammond said, visibly relieved to not have to deal with this more formally.

“Yes, sir,” Jack said. He hoped the relief in his voice would read as thank God that didn’t actually happen and not thank God he bought that lie.

“Thank you, Colonel. Dismissed.”

Jack didn’t waste any time in turning on his heel and getting the hell out of Dodge.


Jack pounded his fist against Daniel’s apartment door. “Open up, Daniel!”

Daniel swung the door open mid-pound. “What’s the emergency, Jack,” he said flatly.

Jack pushed Daniel aside and slammed the door shut behind him.

“You told -” Jack shouted, cut himself off, and continued at a harsh whisper. “You told the polygraph guy we slept together!”

“You told me to tell the truth!” Daniel said.

“What the fuck did he ask that you couldn’t avoid the question for the sake of my career?

She wanted to know if I’d ever had sexual relations with a superior or supervisor. What was I supposed to say, no?”

“Yes! No! You were supposed to say yes!”

“That’s what I did say! Then she asked under what circumstance, and I told her!”

Jack pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes. His day had only gone downhill since he woke up. “What did you tell her?”

“That we slept together, twice, years ago, and it wasn’t a problem.”

“And nothing else?”

“Nothing else. You should have seen her. Her eyebrows were in her hair. I didn’t get that reaction from anything else, not even the mushroom farm.”

“You had a mushroom farm?!”

“I haven’t told you about that? I needed money during my doctoral program, my roommate had the connections, and I had the walk-in closet. Lasted a good two years.”

As the saying went, you learn something new every day. Jack could do with a day off once in a while.

“So did I pass?” Daniel asked while Jack tried to will his blood pressure down to the normal range.

“Yes, Daniel, you passed. Somehow.”

“What were they going to do, rescind my clearance? It was a post-9/11 rubber stamp. I was surprised she asked me about more than my morning routine,” Daniel said flippantly. “Glass of wine, since you’re here?”

Jack scrubbed a hand over his jaw. “If you don’t have bourbon.” If God wasn’t willing to remove this particular shortcoming, Jack felt he was justified in indulging in another.


“Make it a double.”

Daniel waved Jack toward the living room, where the TV was frozen on some old guy’s face. Jack hit the play button on the remote, and the guy started speaking in Italian.

“Whoever translated for him did an awful job. He makes more sense in Italian,” Daniel said from the kitchen.

Jack read the subtitles for a few seconds; something about international relations. He didn’t make sense in English, but Jack doubted the original was much better.

“Thanks for asking, Daniel. My day was pretty shitty," Jack said loudly. "Hammond called me to his office to explain my civilian consultant’s polygraph test answers. Apparently my civilian consultant thought it wise to tell the interviewer I slept with him, even though that is illegal in about a thousand different ways.”

Daniel handed him a wine glass, and Jack took a generous sip.

“You’d be in a lot more trouble if your civilian consultant failed the polygraph,” Daniel said. “It’s a good thing you and your civilian consultant have been on literally hundreds of totally unsupervised missions where you have been asked to do all manner of things illegal on this planet.”

Jack grunted. He hated when Daniel was right.

“It isn’t a problem for you, right?” Daniel asked, sitting down on the opposite end of the couch.


“That we slept together.”

Jack resisted the urge to drain the wine glass. “No, Daniel, it’s not a problem for me.” Stop talking, please stop talking.

“Okay. Good.” Daniel paused to listen to the TV guy. “See, there’s an example. What he’s saying is that he thinks this other scholar is dead wrong, but the translator is softening it. And he shouldn’t, the other guy is dead wrong.” He sipped his wine. “Do you ever think about the quantum mirror universes?”

“I try not to.”

“I was thinking, there’s probably universes out there where we didn’t decide the risks weren’t worth it.”


“I wonder how they’re doing.”

“Are you trying to make some kind of point here?”

“No, no, just thinking out loud. I think we made the right call. It was good sex -”

“Daniel,” Jack warned.

“It was! If there were no strings, I’d do it again, but there are strings.”

“Big fucking hawsers.”

“Exactly. And I - ”

“Did you bring this up because it’s a problem for you?” Jack interrupted.


“Then why are we still talking about it?”

“Did anything more interesting than your conversation with Hammond happen to you today?”


“Me either. And we haven’t ever talked about it, other than to say it wasn’t happening again and we weren’t going to talk about it. I thought it was time.”

“It’s not. How about those Cubs?”


“Sosa just keeps setting records.”


“If they can get over that embarrassment last month, they could make the playoffs.”


“A hell of a year to break the curse if they can pull it together.”

“Fine! Have it your way!”

“Would be nice to get to the division series, even.”

“I’m not going to bring it up again. Consider it forgotten about.”

“Consider what forgotten about?’

Daniel groaned.

Jack took a sip of wine.

“It was good sex,” Jack said.