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Welcome to my page and the stories that I have written.

Writing for me is an escape from the real world and where I get to decide what happens to the characters.

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Chapter One – A Second Chance

Harry Potter – A Life Lived

By Jules 6

Author Notes –

My very first and only AU story that will follow the books, movies and have a good dose of original ideas mixed in. There will be new scenes, spells, events, places, people, animals etc and my interpretation of why some things happened or will occur. Some of it will interweave with what is already on screen and written, other times it will not. Some scenes will move time frame from when they occur in the book and movies or who it happened to, or a different result. I don’t want to give too much away yet.

This story will explore what would change to all events and characters if Sirius Black returns much earlier, BEFORE Harry goes to Hogwarts. And to my way of thinking, Harry would take just a little longer to get used to a magical world that he doesn’t understand how it works, or the role he or anyone else will yet to play in it. And continue through until the last book but the path may not be as direct or known yet.

I was going to add more to the synopsis, but for know I will leave you to read along and find out what happens along with Harry and the rest of the cast as I take them out of the box. I promise to put them back when I am finished. If you think you know what might happen throughout and the ending, hopefully I have created enough twist plots and changes.

Strong friendship only – no slash. Very little romance (I am no good at writing that) – And plenty of angst, hurt/comfort. For those don’t know my previous work – this won’t be a Disney version.

This will be a very very long story, with many chapters, and many of those being long as well – just the way I write. And I usually try and describe from the viewpoint of multiple characters for any one scene. As well as describe every rock, tree branch and blade of grass along the way.

I have a very complicated plot planned, and some many not agree how I have altered the course of things, or that I introduce them and Harry differently than the books or films. Hopefully you will continue to follow and read as the story progresses. If it hasn’t happened yet, or there isn’t enough information about something yet, that is usually deliberate on my part. Sometimes there are subtle clues that I put in chapters, other times I don’t.

This first chapter is mostly setting up for what is going to happen later. There is usually method to my madness, but other times there is no method.

If you don’t particularly like how I have written this, that is okay, no harm done, feel free to write and share your own version of events.

I have taken information from a number of sources, some canon, some not, and a lot my own interpretation of why thing happen the way they do.

A new fandom for me, but to my other readers please know that I have been writing all of my other fandoms too and a lot of rewriting of those chapters and stories to come in addition to the new chapters and stories.

This story is going to slow building so things will take quite a while. Harry’s experiences, emotions and reaction will change with his age, time and as things slowly progress.

Please Note: My one big change at the beginning is the time Sirius has spent in prison, being closer to 10 years rather than 12 years.

Disclaimer: all rights and characters belong to J.K. Rowling.

Chapter One – A Second Chance

The silence of early morning in the kitchen of a house was punctuated by a burst of green flame erupting within the fireplace. The stone mantel was set a little lower, and the unannounced visitor was forced to duck his head as he stepped out. An older man grabbed the tails of his robes as he exited only to be met with a wand being pointed directly at him, for a few seconds but then lowered.

“Good morning, Remus,” Dumbledore greeted the occupant as he whispered a small spell of scourgify to brush the ash from his long attire.

The expression of mild surprise and embarrassment were hard to mask, as the wand of cypress and unicorn hair was tucked into the inside of a well-worn jacket, “Please accept my sincerest apologies, Albus.” almost making the mistake of addressing the older man as Headmaster. Strange how it had been many years had past since his schooling years, but the passage of time had paused for a moment.

“It is I who should have advised you of my early arrival,” Dumbledore offset as a lapse in proper etiquette.

“One cannot be too careful in such uncertain times,” Remus gave as a partial explanation. “I find myself being on edge more often than not lately.”

The thin young man walked over to the stove, turning back towards his guest to bring back a steaming hot kettle, “Can I interest you in a cup of tea this morning?”

A smile was shared between them, “Only a small cup if you please. Sitting down at the table, two lumps if I may,” he added as tea was poured into two waiting cups with milk and sugar added. “I regret that I have other important matters to attend to this morning after leaving your company,” Dumbledore added cryptically.

The Headmaster reached into his long silvery robe and withdrew two items, Remus watching with keen interest, but waiting to see what they were. The first was a small long vial of potion. The next a small bundle of folded newsprint. He placed them in front of him, but gave no further explanation for a moment.

Remus had already recognized the vial for what it was, his gaze drawn to it, something that brought both relief and misery at the same time. He made no attempt to reach out for it. The newspapers held his attention a little longer though.

“I bring your wolfsbane potion as arranged for this month, courtesy of Severus,” Dumbledore answered for the unspoken question of the potion.

Remus gave a brief dry laugh at such a statement, “Must have been like chewing glass for him,” but inwardly knowing that being without it when needed was too much to even contemplate.

“To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?” knowing that there was a reason behind such an impromptu visit. Whatever the subject matter, it certainly wasn’t for small talk.

“This is the first time I have been in your new home, Remus, care to give me a brief tour?” Dumbledore stood peering through into the next room in anticipation, entirely changing the subject and flow of the awkward conversation.

Remus now joined the man, switching on an electric light to illuminate the sitting room, “I have only been here a few months as you know. It is not very large. The last remaining materialistic possession purchased with the money left over from the estate of my dear parents,” he elaborated, using his hands to point. In total three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, a small kitchen we are standing in right now, the cosy sitting room there adjoining it on the ground floor. And a private cellar occupying most of downstairs,” his voice trailing off hoping that the short jaunt wouldn’t need to go down there.

“A nice simple room,” Dumbledore declared as he stepped into it and took in the sparse wall decorations. The embers in the fireplace had burned low, but a soft glow emanated from them enabling one to feel the gentle warmth.

“I suspect you must feel a little lonely at times with all of the extra bedrooms?”

“I have been living on my own for quite a long time, Albus. Even before coming to this house,” Remus pointed out, not sure where this series of questions and off-handed comments was leading to, but able to sense the under lying tones were more than mere curiosity. “Some of the space is currently taken up with a number of boxes of old useless objects and sentimental memories that have no need to be displayed at this time. He didn’t want to admit that quite a few of the boxes belonged to some very dear friends.

Dumbledore had been attempting to peer out of a raised curtain covering one of the windows facing out of the sitting room, but stood up at detecting some slight avoidance towards him and a request for plain talk. Out of any of his former students, this young man was probably one of the most underestimated for his intellect, intuitiveness and his guardedness.

Before speaking again, the older wizard turned away from the small square window, an unspoken question showing on his expression. The man’s face appeared upon first glimpse to be fairly young, but the flecks of grey through his tawny brown hair were the distinct signs of torment. But perhaps it was the way he stood, too-thin shoulders forced to carry an unseen burden for too long and its toll almost too costly, that held his gaze.

“No word of regular employment now that you have a more permanent place of residence?” Albus enquired, walking back towards the kitchen.

Remus looked down at his hands, “The wizarding world has not changed in an age. Pickings are slim and opportunities for someone like me almost non-existent.”

“For that I am truly sorry my friend, I wish the wheels would turn a little faster at the Ministry of Magic for a number of urgent issues, but since Cornelius has been appointed, it seems that some matters are not given the correct attention, nor any in a timely manner.”

“The witches and wizards who oversee the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures are still arguing over which division should be handling our classification,” Remus added with a barely disguised scoff. “And then there are others within the Ministry trying to make a name for themselves and would like to decree even tougher laws.”

Dumbledore’s eyebrows raised in surprise at this, having heard such whispers in long corridors himself but not having divulged them to anyone.

“The teaching position of Defence Against the Dark Arts became under review at the end of the last school term, and I have spoken upon your behalf, but alas it appears that the School Board of Governors have granted reappointment to a man by the name of Quirinus Quirrell.”

“Thank you for all your efforts, they are appreciated,” Remus mentioned in a humbled tone. “Reappointment? What qualifications does he bring to Hogwarts?”

“Much like yourself, a young teacher who showed great promise when he first joined the teaching staff at Hogwarts,” Dumbledore began detailing. “Very bright and enthusiastic on the subject matter in his first year, though there was some discussion and offer of taking the position of Muggle studies. I stepped in at this point and recommended that such a workload of both subjects was too much for one person. This position is adequately filled by Miss Charity Burbage.”

Lupin could hear the ‘but’ that wasn’t said out loud, and was rewarded for his patience, “Then he took leave for a year to travel, submitting that he wished to gain more experience away from a teaching environment. Speculation from other professors remains just that, but there was mention of him being in Albania. Any other personal reasons for needing to go there remain quite mysterious.”

“Why was there a need for a review by the Board of Governors?”

“Complaints from some of the sixth and seventh year students reached their parents about his manner of teaching. Whilst on the surface he seemed quite capable of relaying the theory of defensive magic to students wishing to complete their exams, when it came to the practise of the precise skills, wand movements and incantations he was less adept and challenging. Some of the students received less than pleasing marks and their results were far lower than expected for those interested in pursuing sought after careers.”

“So this year he will be under a fair bit more scrutiny,” Remus surmised, not being able to help but consider how much conjecture someone like himself would be under.

“I have spoken to him about this very matter, and deem it necessary from myself as well, as only a Headmaster should when considering the academic performance of all students. If the Board or I decide that a change of teacher is warranted after this year, then once again I would be willing to submit your name as a willing and most suitable candidate.”

“Once again, I appreciate the vote of confidence.” By now the conversation was being held back in the small kitchen. Lupin wanted to know the real reason for such an early visit. It certainly wasn’t to relay the discussions of the School Board nor their choice of teacher for Defence Against the Dark Arts.

“Thank you for this and last weeks editions of the Daily Prophet as well. I am sure they will give me a few hours of amusement in keeping up with what is currently occurring in various circles. Though I usually find myself a week or two behind most everybody else,” Lupin commented, picking up the bundle of papers and skimming through the few pages of newsprint.

“Which reminds me, do you have any plans for 10am this morning?” Dumbledore enquired as though he had almost forgotten to mention it.

“Ten o’clock this morning?” Lupin exclaimed, looking down at his watch and see that the hands signifying the current time to be 7.30am

Pulling the bundle away for a moment, before identifying a newspaper date two days earlier. “I think the article on page nine will be of significant interest to you.”

“I apologize for keeping you too long already this morning, Remus,” Dumbledore apologized before walking back into the fireplace. “Remember page nine and thank you for the tea.”

“Ministry of Magic,” the wizard stated clearly before being engulfed in the familiar green flame of the floo network.

Remus Lupin stood puzzled for a moment, looking over at the cup of tea that still showed some steam rising from it. The place of destination for the Headmaster didn’t escape him either, as he looked at the newspaper in his hand. The man could be irritatingly and deliberately evasive.

Putting the other papers aside on the table, and turning to the suggested page. Across the top a few simple advertisements. The announcement of the birth of a child to a wizarding family whose name he did not recognize, but showing a photo of beaming faces and a proud set of parents holding a fussing infant. It wasn’t until he reached the bottom of the page that he was grateful to be sitting down as he read a small article bearing a capital “M”.

Chief Warlock To Open Old Case

A review has been requested in relation to a ten year old matter. All interested parties are required to attend. The Ministry of Magic advised that Cornelius Fudge himself was unavailable for further comment or clarification. The details are sketchy at best, but the matter will commence tomorrow morning at precisely 10am. The Daily Prophet has learned from a reliable but unsubstantiated source, that the matter involves a certain prisoner who was sent to Azkaban Prison almost ten years ago for murder. This reporter will keep her quill poised for an update as soon as further information reaches her ears.

Rita Skeeter.

Remus was reading it again for a third time before the words written on the page began to form cohesive sentences. There was absolutely no doubt in his mind what the “case” was about or who exactly the prisoner was, even without a name. Sirius Black. He could scarcely believe the article had been printed by the Ministry. The fact that it was printed below everyday mundane information where it could easily be missed, said a lot about how secretive they were attempting to be.

Dumbledore was playing with fire, but did he realise just how many people remembered and who could easily be burnt even after all the years that had elapsed? There was much more at stake.

At 9.00am, Remus Lupin picked up a small tin box from his table. An ordinary looking, some might describe as rusty and old metal box that no longer held the contents advertised on the faded and torn label stuck to the top. It was a portkey, one that was yet to appear on the Registry of Proscribed Charmable Objects. Nor had its presence been detected or tracked by the Portkey Office within Department of Magical Transportation.

Lupin could have use the floo network, but decided against it, wanting his appearance to go as unnoticed as possible. Dumbledore hadn’t even mentioned where he was supposed to go once he had arrived. He didnt travel by this method very often at all. There had been only one other occasion that he could remember being in the high profile building, and that had not been by choice. Without knowing if there were any unfriendly spells or enchantments from stopping him entering a little more secretively, he didn’t feel comfortable apparating either.

A distinct pull from behind his navel, and Remus found himself standing on Level Eight of the Ministry of Magic. The Atrium, for those who had not been here before, or for a long time like himself, the re-introduction was a visual and sensory overload. Witches and wizards came into the expansive hall, arriving and carrying briefcases on their own, others in group of four to five, muttering and talking loudly that all the voices became one large drone of noise.

Remus removed himself to the outer edges of the corridor, trying to dissolve into the crowd and remain inconspicuous. For a moment, he was certain that a wizard dressed in a long coat and a hat concealing his identity had noticed him standing to one side. Just when he though the man was going to approach and ask if he was lost or needed to go somewhere in particular, a larger group of people had passed by, obscuring his direct line of site with the fellow. When the assortment had cleared, the man was no longer there.

Lupin was just about to remove himself from the area in case the man returned, but was startled by a hand tapping him lightly on the shoulder from behind.

Thank you for coming, we haven’t got much time,” Dumbledore uttered before starting to walk towards one of the elevators. For an older wizard, Albus certainly kept up a good pace as the two of them headed towards the golden security gates at the end of the corridor.

A wizard sat at a desk reading a newspaper, but looked up with disinterest at the sound of quickly approaching footsteps. There was a moment where Remus could have sworn that the man was about to speak to them. A demanding question to know their business forming across the furrows of his brow.

Dumbledore raised his hand in gesture at the man, “Good morning, Eric, so nice to see you, ” the older wizard greeted him cheerfully.

The man’s facial expression changed from a sour scowl to one of bewilderment and perplexity, as though he had forgotten what he was about to ask. He resumed his seat and picked up his newspaper, “Morning,” was the only word returned before he started reading again.

Remus never saw a wand in the Headmaster’s grasp and he didn’t hear an incantation, but would put good money on the bet that said Dumbledore had just cast a Confundus Charm on the unkempt watchwizard.

Both men stepped into another small hall beyond the gates, waiting for an elevator before climbing into a cage with others. Remus curtailed his tongue on demanding to know what exactly they were both doing here and why it was deemed necessary to use spells on unsuspecting Ministry officials.

Going down one level, if you please,” Dumbledore politely informed the witch closest to the door, who nodded her acknowledgement at the direction they wished to go.

Once the doors were closed, and with a sudden jolt that caused the life to descend to the floor below. The jangling of the doors echoed with them opening and allowing them to step out. No sooner had they done so, did the lift rattle back up towards the atrium where they had just come from.

Level Nine” came the clear announcement of their current location, but Lupin noted that the purpose of this particular division had not been included. He had not been in this part of the building before and couldn’t quite put his finger on the cause of his growing unease.

I originally wanted you to wait in Arthur Weasley’s office, Remus, but his office is too far away,” Albus conveyed as they approached a single door. “Unless you wish to consult with the Support Services part of the Beast Division,” he added in whisper.

A frown and clear displeased look from Lupin was all it took for that thread of conversation to abruptly end. Remus knew which support services Dumbledore was referring to, but this was not the place to voice his opinions where anyone could hear his scathing rebuke.

Why are we using a set of stairs?” Lupin asked assuming they had been intending to go through the door.

This level cannot be reached as others in this building,” Albus answered, starting down the stairs.

Remus couldn’t help but notice the dark stone walls, almost reaching out to touch one of the large cobbled blocks, but withdrawing his hand before doing so. The air was becoming much cooler on his face, signifying how deep they now were. Once they reached the bottom of the staircase, they were met with another short but dark and claustrophobic corridor and a set of large thick double doors at the end which read Courtroom Ten in stark white lettering.

The double doors were swung open by a wizard of small stature, who did not introduce himself.

It was a courtroom Lupin gasped inwardly as he took stock and looked around the room. There was a large gallery of seating wrapping around the back wall, dimly lit with evenly spaced torches. He was brought out of his inquisitiveness by Dumbledore whispering at him.

I said it would be best if you seated yourself up towards the back,” Albus repeated, “Please trust me,” he implored, a tone of voice seldom heard from the well-known wizard.

Lupin nodded without further query or argument and did as he was asked. From where he chose to sit, he could see the balcony where those presiding over any proceedings could plainly be seen. The area was quite large and would be able to accommodate a large number of member from the Wizengamot he calculated. In the centre of the room, sat a single high-backed seat. Chains could be seen dangling menacingly from the back of the chair.

With his watch now reading 9.45am, the quiet respect that such a room expected was shattered by the two doors re-opening for a second time, and a loud voice to be heard complaining. “I tell you I have no idea why this is even necessary,” came the shout.

Remus didn’t need to turn around to recognize whom it belonged to. Cornelius Fudge, the portly man wearing a pin-striped suit and his bright lime green bowler hat, making their way over towards Dumbledore. If he was perturbed by the outburst in any way, it didn’t show it as he reached out to shake hands with the Minister.

A flustered junior wizard followed Fudge, holding a briefcase and looking as though this was his first day on the job as assistant to the Minister of Magic.

There was a desk for each interested party positioned in front but to either side of the prisoner, allowing them to see him and for him to see them as events unfolded. There was no other assistant seated with Dumbledore, giving Fudge the viewpoint that he already had the Headmaster outnumbered and the upper hand.

Two other men now entered the courtroom and took seats towards the back as he had done but on the opposite side of the gallery. Lupin recognized one immediately, and perhaps the second as well, but couldn’t remember a name or place where he had seen the man before.

The doors to the courtroom where now closed and it seemed as though there would be no-one else attending.

I demand to know what this is all about, Dumbledore!” looking down at the extended hand, but choosing to ignore it.

I thought it was made quite plain in the application that reached your office, Cornelius,” Dumbledore countered.

Your application didn’t make anything quite plain,” Fudge argued. “I should have thought it………,” but he was interrupted before the sentence finished.

The application is not mine to make any kind of assessment based on its merits,” Dumbledore pointed out, “I merely act as advisor and counsel in this matter this morning. Have you had him brought here?”

Lupin could hear everything being said, with the acoustics of the room doing what they were designed to do, and couldn’t help but applaud Dumbledore’s unyielding pleasantness towards the Minister. Although on this occasion his calm nature and simple answers appearing to only fuel Fudge’s outrage.

Now see here, that is another area where I say you have overstepped your mark, Albus. Interfering with Ministry business and affairs far too much I suspect, without sufficient warning and”

I promise you that I have given no cause or intentions of interfering……?” now it was the Minster’s turn to infringe before Dumbledore had ended his explanation.

Sirius Black has been brought here. And most definitely not under my authority I assure you,” Fudge hissed. If the Daily Prophet gets word out to the public about this it could be very damaging for all involved. “A full investigation into who allowed such a dangerous person to be brought from Azkaban……..”

Any further veiled threat from the Minister ceased as a set of doors set on the other side of the room were opened. A man hunched over in his stance, finding movement difficult and impeded with heavy chains lashing his ankles. His walk was no more than an undignified shuffle. An Auror stood on either side of the prisoner, each with a hand grasped around an arm and a wand in the other. A third wizard followed them into the courtroom.

The three Aurors were unfamiliar to Remus, giving them an appraisal of suitability the position and such a task from a distance. The two on either side of the prisoner were tall, one wearing a long cloak that almost reached the floor. The other wore a hat that was a size or two too large, and was positioned lopsidedly to compensate, sitting on top on top of a nest of straw coloured hair. The third wizard was probably the least suitable upon first assumption, being considerably shorter and wider.

Not all that long ago, the werewolf would have thought himself fortunate to have good contacts within this department of the Ministry. Inside informants as it were, that would relay vital information as required, on a completely unbiased and secretive basis of course. But the tides of time had caused many changes for a great many wizards and witches and now those trustworthy sources had all but evaporated and dried up.

Visiting Azkaban prison was certainly not a viable option that he had ever considered since Black’s imprisonment. He had certainly heard of family members of other wizard inmates doing so for those considered of a lower security risk. But for one accused such as Sirius had been and a proverbial ‘feather in the cap’ of the Ministry’s self-proclaimed list of achievements, those privileges were never afforded to nor considered.

Many a night had seen him fearing a similar dreadful fate, through wrongful implication. Being found in the company of his old school chum, and Remus himself could easily have ended up a cell-mate. Despite this, it would be something that he never fully come to terms with and always regretted.

Nothing could have prepared him for the events beginning to unfold before his eyes today.

Lupin’s mouth went completely dry as he got his first glimpse of a friend in ten years. To believe that a decade had taken its toll would be the most erroneous understatement. His eyes went to Dumbledore who too seemed a shocked at the appearance of the man known as Sirius Black. For a moment he averted and closed his eyes, before returning his attention to the centre of the room, forcing himself to quell his anger and fixating an unseen glare at the back of Fudge’s head.

Remus could scarcely fathom that this dishevelled figure, with grey and torn striped thin fabric rags hanging from his lithe frame, wearing no shoes on his feet, was one of the closest friends he had ever known. The ever present wolf part of his sub-concious, wanted to release a foul discord of malcontent at the mere thought that a lifetime of loyalty and friendship had been reduced Black to this shadow of a man.

Under obvious duress, Black was directed to stand in front of the prisoner’s chair. A flash of defiance for the briefest of moments had the two Aurors, altering their grip quickly to maintain a good hold on him and to physically coerce him. Once seated, the prisoner was magically bound to the chair.

Even from the public gallery, Lupin saw a pained expression flick across his friend’s pale features as the cuffs at the end of the enchanted chains reached out and bit viciously around his wrists. Black was using his shoulder muscles to pull his arms away from the back of the chair, attempting to lessen the tauntness of the manacles and allow some blood circulation and colour back to his hands and fingers.

There was no evidence of the youthful expression, or enthusiasm, quick wit and fun-loving playfulness that was once associated by the mere mention of his name. If one didn’t know better, it would be fairly easy to assume that Sirius had allowed incarceration to beat him into submission.

Unshaven and with long knotted matted hair falling down and hiding his face, Sirius was not able to bring his hands upwards very far. Instead bowing his head downwards towards his chest, in what emerged as abject defeat. Considered dangerous and manic and a serious threat, and having every available method of restraint being used to demonstrate this mindset from those in the wizarding world who followed the Daily Prophet or listened to the word according to the Ministry of Magic.

Dumbledore cleared his throat, causing Sirius to raise his head and turn in the direction of the voice he heard.

At first Black didn’t give any indication that he was fully aware of his surroundings. His gaze flitted back and forth from the front of the courtroom, to either side and then back again, never staying long enough to acclimatise, nor turning his head too far in any one direction. The torches along the back wall barely gave off enough light, but the centre of the courtroom allowed sufficiently more awareness. Sirius closed his eyes, opening them and blinking rapidly a number of times as though light-sensitive. Being a long time prisoner of Azkaban, there wasn’t any chance of seeing sunlight and one could assume that the symptoms he was displaying currently were a direct result.

A hoarse croak gurgled from the back of Sirius’ throat, as though he wanted to speak. He made a second attempt, but still no definable words escaped his lips. His raised his arms as much as the restraints would allow and began clawing at his neck, the chains clinking at the jerks from Black’s cuffed hands. A silent plea.

Fudge made a motion towards the Aurors, as though instructing them into subduing the prisoner before any unforseen spell could be cast. Dumbledore, frowned and with a simple wave of his wand and uttering of the words ‘Urceus Cylix Aguamenti’ as an incantation, summoned a pitcher of water and a metal cup. The pitcher filled the cup with clear drinking water without further assistance.

It is merely water, for goodness sake, Minister. He is still a human being.”

Fudge looked ready to argue that point, but closed his mouth, seething inside that the Headmaster chose to put on a display of arrogance and self-righteousness in front of ministry staff members and others to make him look like a fool.

The cup drew close enough for Sirius to seize it desperately with both hands, bringing it painstakingly to his parched lips and all in the room watched the man drink the water with a frenzied desperation, some of it dripping down his chin.

As the cup was lowered, Black held it for a moment, his eyes coming to rest upon Dumbledore and Fudge. He allowed the metal vessel to fall from his hands, watching it intently as the two wizards saw it land at his feet.

Any previous sign of befuddlement could be belayed, as he fixed the two men with a stony-faced stare that would have caused lessor men to run or cower with fear.

Fudge’s junior assistant was about to move from his position and pick it up, but was held back by the Minister. A curt nod to the Aurors prevented them from needing to use their wands.

A small grin appeared on Black’s face, that Fudge and Dumbledore had indeed picked up on the underlying tones of his dare. The politician was afraid of his notable reputation. His former Headmaster, recognising the perceived threat and choosing not to antagonise.

Just so we all understand one another.

Sirius looked away from Cornelius and towards Dumbledore, but his expression was nearly unreadable, even to Remus some distance away. It certainly wasn’t friendly or one of respect for being brought before the courtroom. Barely concealed animosity was a more apt description.

Black’s cheek bones were sunken and his face pale, wan and tired. The lines attesting to someone who had gone for many nights and days without sleep or refuge. His fingers that had been trembling slightly when holding onto the cup of water, now lay listlessly across his lap, the fingernails chipped and broken.

His dull grey eyes looked haunted and heavy, but for Remus, what shone through from the shadows and lurked behind them was an intense and piercing gaze with shrewd attention to detail. A characteristic trait that had shown itself to be invaluable on many occasions during his youth. There was a look of sharpness and intelligence to them that didn’t come from learning second-hand magic from a book. Boldness, brashness and sometimes recklessness, but forever watchful.

A second set of doors to the courtroom were opened and the announcement of the commencement began with the introduction of Amelia Susan Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Those already in the room watched as a witch with very short grey hair approached the bench. Following behind her was a particularly tall, but very thin middle-age witch with dark hair, Eunice Parks. She was recorded as being the court scribe, and was wearing thick glasses that did not sit well on her face.

The woman had barely had time to sit down in her chair and adjust her plum coloured robes when Cornelius spoke out of turn.

Forgive me, Madam Bones, but were you planning to conduct such an important and serious matter such as this on your own. Instead of the full Council of Magical Law being utilized.”

I have not even had a chance to determine the full extent of today’s proceedings as yet, Minister. This particular courtroom has not been used in many years, and is too dark for my liking. There have been many changes to the Council and how matter are conducted, as you have no doubt been made aware. But please enlighten me as to why you feel that I am unsuitable to conduct any matter on my own as deemed necessary?” she challenged in annoyance.

The Ministry feels a little like yourself this morning, Madam, in that we are in the dark as much as you as to why we have been called here today.” He didn’t pursue the issue of only one member of the Wizengamot hearing the application. Chances were it held very little caliber, at least to his way of thinking.

Then lets get on with it shall we?” she declared, not intending to give the man any further time to grand stand. “Please let me it be known that today’s proceedings are closed to the public unless I deem it in the interest of the parties involved to be made public.”

An audible sigh of relief escaped Fudge’s lips at this comment, as his junior clerk could be heard rifling through sheets of paper. Several pages were handed to him. The court scribe could be seen doing the same, though only one page was handed to her.

Introductions if you please,” Amelia requested, pointing to the Dumbledore for going first.

Good morning, Madam Bones, if it pleases the court, my name is Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. Though my capacity today is as representative, counsel and advisor.” A number of other bestowed titles had been deliberately omitted as was the mention of friend.

Advisor and counsel to whom?” Madam Bones queried, her own quill in hand, poised and ready to write notes of her own.

To the Applicant, Sirius Black, Head and Heir to the family of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black,” Dumbledore put forward, standing up as he addressed the court.

Madam Bones shifted her gaze to the Minister, trying to ignore the garish purple boots adorning his feet, as he too stood and took a step forward, puffing out his chest, “Cornelius Oswald Fudge, recently appointed Minister of Magic, Order of Merlin, and here to ensure that justice is upheld for convicted murderers like Sirius Black and they are given what they deserve,” he finished with emphasis on the last half of his speech.

Without the embellishments of your personal achievements if you please, Minister,” Bones instructed, as she adjusted her monacle and looked down at Fudge as though carrying on like a spoilt child.

Dumbledore hid a brief smile with courteous professionalism as he continued, “Madam Bones, unfortunately I am here today upon the request of Mr Black to ask for a review into a matter, that if proven in any manner to have occurred, would be a most grievous miscarriage of justice.”

Miscarriage………,” Fudge shouted out of turn, “This is an outrageous and most slanderous……..,” he was halted by a raised hand.

You will have the opportunity to put forward any remarks or questions you may have, Minister. But for the moment, it is for Mr Dumbledore who is speaking. This court will and all those who conduct themselves within these walls, observe the correct procedures, implied structure and decorum at all times.

Fudge folded his arms across his chest, looking contrite and suitably chastised, but scowling in Dumbledore’s direction. The Minister wasn’t used to being spoken to in this manner. Like some errant child who needed to be scolded and told to behave himself.

Ten years ago, Mr Black was sent to Azkaban prison alledgedly for several heinous crimes. But it would appear the administration within the Department of Law Enforcement and those acting within that office, took it upon themselves to ignore proper protocol and basic rights afforded to every witch or wizard, even if they are accused of such acts.”

The evidence against Black was overwhelming at the time…… I think this is some kind of farce and poor stunt being pulled by…….,” Fudge rambled, without hearing Bones’ call to cease on the first and second occasion. Clearly put off balance by the scandalous statement just presented.

Minister Fudge,” Madam Bones called out sternly, “That is a second warning, there will not be a third. Control yourself or you will be asked to leave these chambers until such time as you can listen.”

Black, silent and taking stock of everything that was being said, but the expression on his face revealed little more.

It is at the request of the applicant, that all evidence, statements and other materials be presented here today so that they can be examined by an impartial party and proved beyond reasonable doubt. There appear to be many inconsistencies during the original apprehension of Mr Black and what occurred that night. I leave it to him and his office to bring forth what overwhelming supporting documents they have,” Dumbledore concluded, resuming his seat.

Now Mr Fudge, you may respond,” Madam Bones directed to the Minister.

What happened that night to the Potter family is a matter of tragic history, I am sure we don’t all need to revisit here today after ten years,” Fudge began, he was beginning to feel more than uneasy about where Dumbledore was leading to.

Remus and Black both gasped inwardly a little at the mention of the Potter name. Sirius’ quiet demeanour remained, but the pain from the mention of his best friends names clearly visible now.

If it is Dumbledore’s position and intention that he wants to waste the court’s time and spend the rest of today dragging up old matters then I must object strongly to this application being heard. Especially since it is now a matter of public record and has been for quite some time.”

Madam Bones considered the opening rebuttal of Fudge for a moment before speaking, “I would have to agree with the Minister on that point, Dumbledore, if that is indeed the reason for this application appearing before me today. This is a most serious accusation against this Department and the Ministry of Magic, and I sincerely hope you can substantiate your reasoning.”

The reason for the application, Madam, is not only to assess the actions taken of those responsible immediately before and following his arrest on the night in question, but new information has been brought to my attention which I could not find myself ignoring in the interest of justice. The most troubling being that Mr Black was denied a trial of any kind before his imprisonment.”

New information? How and by whom?” Fudge stammered absolutely dumbfounded.

At the mention of the latter, Madam Bones sat up a little straighter in her seat and adjusted her monocle, “Denied a trial?”

Fudge found the paperwork in front of him a little more interesting despite such an allegation, something which didn’t escape the keen eyes of Amelia. She could see him pulling as the collar of his shirt, fidgeting with the top button as though constricting.

Is this true, Cornelius?” Madam Bones asked, briefly forgetting about proper name etiquette by the sheer impact of what she had heard, her tone of voice demanding nothing but a straight simple answer.

I am afraid I could not answer that question myself, Madam, as I was not the Minister of Magic at that time, and have little knowledge of what materials were kept or whom was spoken to,” he replied, but wanting to avoid what he already knew to be true. “Twelve muggles remain dead, as well as poor Peter Pettigrew. Any wizards or muggles who may have been interviewed on that particular night or thereafter, are certainly not going to appear in person here today.”

A short, barely detected growl could be heard coming from Black at the mention of Pettigrew’s name.

Remus could scarcely contemplate what Dumbledore meant by ‘new information’. The revelation was just as much a shock to him as others in the court.

Fudge looked up towards the bench and saw an astonished and displeased manner. He could see this day was about to become a lot more complicated and embarrassing for the Ministry and his office. He looked back towards Black and scowled at the very notion that he needed to prove that the right choice had been made all those years ago.

Then I suggest Mr Fudge, that you call upon whomever you need to, and very quickly. The suggestion that anybody, from a half-blood or pure-blood family having their rights diminished or denied in any capacity, must be dealt with forthwith and is very unsettling,” Amelia stated.

That would require that I call another Ministry official, Barty Crouch to this court, Madam. It could take some time, his position is now with the Department of International Magical Co-operation,” Fudge offered, as though it was going to be a lot of effort to carry out her request.”

We have all day, Minister,” Bones countered, not phased and rather annoyed for his nonchalant attitude. She turned to the junior wizard sitting at the desk, “What is your name young man?”

The junior wizard got to his feet, shocked and clearly nervous about being addressed, “Eugene, Madam. Eugene Bigmore.”

Mr Bigmore, please hurry to Level 5 and inform Mr Crouch that his presence is required immediately. Do not take ‘no’ for an answer, and tell him to bring with him ‘all’ materials and paperwork pertaining to the matter of Sirius Black.

The junior wizard gulped and swallowed the ball of fear in his gullet at the prospect of having to firstly find someone like Mr Crouch in such a large building, and then demand that he come with him. But he nodded dutifully and scurried towards the doors, the corridor on the other side and the stairway.

This court will convene again as soon as Mr Crouch arrives,” Madam Bones announced, not intending to leave the room.

May I approach the prisoner and confer with Mr Black whilst we are waiting?” Dumbledore queried.

Madam Bones considered his request for a moment before answering, looking at the security in place. “You may, the Aurors will remove themselves further towards the back of the room to allow you privacy, but the restraints will remain,” she granted with conditions, having read about Black’s reputation herself and knowing of his Family name notoriety.

Thank you.”

Fudge was clearly against the removal of the Aurors as he saw the elderly wizard approach Black and begin whispering to him out of earshot. A curt nod or shake of the head from the prisoner was all he could discern from this distance before he would be accused of eavesdropping.

Forty minutes later, with an anxious Fudge barely able to sit still any longer in his seat, the two main doors re-opened with Eugene Bigmore leading the way in, carrying a large cardboard box. Another taller gentleman strode in behind him, burdened with two equally large boxes clutched in his hands.

Approaching the desk, first impressions of the man were certainly very different to those observing Cornelius Fudge. A long grey coloured cloak draped over a dark pin-striped suit. A toothbrush shaped moustache situated above his upper lip. Leather shoes on his feet and a dark coloured hat of a much more appropriate style for someone in a position of authority.

Fudge’s sense of style could be described as comical and his character over bearing and pompous compared to Crouch whose presence drew attention and held respect. Setting the boxes on the table, Eugene handed him a long black cane and retreated to the gallery, but close enough if the Minister or his associate needed any further assistance.

With Crouch’s arrival, Dumbledore concluded any talk he had been having with Black and moved back towards his own desk. A nod of acknowledge at Barty was given as Fudge turned to his counterpart and began filling him in on what has transpired so far.

Crouch’s face turned a few shades paler as Fudge informed him for the first time who was sitting in the prisoner’s chair. Two broad steps around the portly Minister and Barty turned take a look at the person. A man whom he had tracked every waking moment a decade ago, but had paid little heed about since.

Sirius Black

Black glared back with narrowed and hardened grey eyes, daring each other to openly speak first.

Crouch and Fudge exchanged worried glances, with one of them realising that this issue was about to become very messy and complicated. Cornelius sat down leaving Barty to somehow salvage the argument about such an application. There had been some conversations and directions given that this Minister was not privy to.

If you are quite ready to continue, gentlemen?” came the question from Madam Bones, “I know it is not possible to apparate into this courtoom, otherwise your journey may have been much quicker,” she added, indicating that enough time had been wasted already.

Madam Bones, I have with me here today……,” Crouch began, after removing his hat as good manners required he do, and putting on his best diplomatic face.

An introduction if you please,” Bones reminded him, her quill once again making a number of notes in front of her.

Forgive me,” Crouch smoothed over, “Bartemius Crouch, currently employed with the Department of International Co-operation.”

Amelia was pleased to note that he too had left off any previous ministerial positions or achievements that didn’t need to be taken into account for this matter.

Before you go any further, you have been summoned here this morning upon my request, to address a most serious accusation made here by Mr Dumbledore as part of the application for a review of Mr Black’s imprisonment and subsequent sentence,” she warned him sternly.

She paused a moment before speaking again, making sure she had everyone’s undivided attention. “This is not a place for playing games.”

This review is not a trial, and because of the high profile positions each of you three gentlemen hold in the wizarding community, I shouldn’t have to ask but I will. What I have heard here this morning, in under the first hour alone, brings me to needing to make this point crystal clear. That everything you say here in these proceedings today will be the truth to any question and to the best of your knowledge.”

There certainly are methods that can be employed or devised to make you do so. For if not, and it can be proven, such an act would be deemed most grievous indeed and the consequences would be most severe.”

Yes, Madam Bones,” was the resounding affirmation given by those sitting at the desks. It could also be heard from Eugene Bigmore still seated in the gallery.

Mr Crouch, in relation to the matter of the imprisonment, it is alleged in the application by Dumbledore that Mr Black has not received a trial of any kind in relation to the crimes he was arrested on, including the murder of twelve muggles and a Mr Peter Pettigrew. I don’t want a long winded speel, a simple answer would suffice.”

Unfortunately it is not quite that simple, Madam, Bones,” Crouch responded, his hands firmly grasping the front of his jacket, ready to justify his actions at the time.

Yes or No, Mr Crouch,” Amelia demanded.

Barty was taken back a little by the bite in the tone of voice from the small woman. “No,” finally came from him.

No?” she repeated back to him, the quill in her hand moving quickly across the page showing her displeasure.

Not unlike yourself, I have sat as Head of various councils in this very courtroom where we are now, and determined matters upon their merit with the material presented at the time and statements made by witnesses,” Crouch offered in explanation. “However, might I remind someone like yourself, Madam Bones, that we are talking about a very dark time in our history, where some of the usual protocols were not always upheld due to the savagery of what was going on in the streets,”

No you certainly may not,” Amelia cried out hotly. “May I remind you Mr Crouch that I too have lived through such uncertain and troubling times as well. But that doesn’t give me, you or anybody else the permission to deny basic rights to anybody. Even in times of upheaval and discord.”

But Sirius Black isn’t not just any ordinary wizard or prisoner, Madam Bones,” Cornelius jumped up in defence.

Amelia was about to reprimand the Minister for speaking out of turn once again, but decided against it. It was just part of the man’s nature to be rude and interrupt.

Remus was aware that Sirius had received no fair trial, but because of what he was, long established prejudices and other factors prevented him from coming forth at that time to help his best friend. He had not known of Dumbledore’s intentions before today, but what he was hearing and witnessing cemented that there were still some who believed Sirius was not responsible for Peter’s death, or the muggles that had perished in that busy street all those years ago.

The person who remained silent during all of this confrontation, was Sirius. But one look at him could see that he was listening very intently.

Minister Fudge, your predecessor from my notes was Millicent Bagnold? For all intents a witch held in high esteem for at least a decade,” Bones addressed Cornelius. “Whilst she has made some rash statements very early in her career as Minister of Magic, she is recorded as being most prolific in dealing with breaches of the International Statue of Secrecy following the attacks on the Potter family.

Yes, Madam Bones, she was required to answer to the International Confederation of Wizards on a number of occasions during that time, that I can recall,” Fudge agreed.

She was a Ravenclaw during her days at Hogwarts, so I find it highly improbable that a Minister of that distinction would allow such blatant and biased judgment to occur under her management,” Amelia inferred.

Crouch reluctantly nodded in agreement at the assessment of her character. She had been someone he had followed well during his career and had hoped to take over from. But alas, that had not gone according to plan.

Mr Crouch upon your own admission here this morning, and with the support of your colleague Mr Fudge, you both leave me with very few avenues than to grant Mr Black his application to review the material from the time of his arrest and to hear any new information that Mr Dumbledore may wish to introduce on his behalf.”

Barty and Fudge both looked as though they had just swallowed something very unpleasant on their faces, their mouths drawn into thin lines of indignation.

There is no need to change the day for this, all relevant parties are here and the prisoner himself has been brought forward. There is no need to delay this matter any further,” Amelia stipulated.

Dumbledore looked suitably pleased with the outcome, whilst to Remus, Sirius appeared to have conflicting expressions on his face. The first being avid relief that some version of the truth may very well be heard, and secondly, a shadow of fear that exactly that might just happen.

Mr Black,” Madam Bones called out addressing the prisoner, “Please note that today will not be a full scale trial as should have been your right.”

Sirius gave a slight nod of his head to signal he had heard her talking directly to him.

Now turning to Dumbledore, without ignoring the protocols of the court, she was prepared to give a little leeway into which way the material would be examined. “In which order did you wish to present your information?” Bones questioned.

Dumbledore stood up as he spoke, “If you please, Madam, I believe there are a few steps which I believe should be followed here today to find out exactly what happened before, during and after the truly sad loss of the Potters. Firstly, I would like to ask Mr Crouch a few lingering questions concerning the arrest of Mr Black. And secondly, I have with me today, a number of witnesses to give testimony.”

This was the first time that Crouch and Fudge actively took the time to look about the room and peered objectively at a few unannounced visitors sitting in the gallery.

You will be allowed to ask your questions in a moment Mr Dumbledore. Mr Crouch do you have any witnesses to call upon today to give evidence?”

No Madam Bones, but I have in these boxes, a large number of first hand statements from both wizards and muggles who give a clear description of the chaos and horror that they were forced to endure on the night in question,” Barty answered.

As I mentioned Mr Crouch, this is not a trial, and therefore although I will in good-faith allow the submission of the statements. However, without the witnesses here themselves to corroborate what is contained within those pages, they may not hold much weight on their own.”

Duly noted, Madam,” Crouch delivered, but aware most other material used to convict Black was circumstantial.

Fudge motioned for Eugene to approach the desk, and instructed the young wizard to take bundles of paper towards Eunice Parks, the court scribe.

You may begin with your first question, Mr Dumbledore,” Bones directed.

During your capacity as a Ministry official, were you ever in a position to direct other staff about their duties?”

Nearly every day,” Barty claimed proudly. “It was my responsibility to apprehend dark wizards, not an easy task at any time.”

Did you ever extend the bounds of your position during that time?”

I don’t understand the question?” Barty asked, growing tiresome already of the focus being on his choices and commands rather than the crimes of Black.

Which members of your staff arrested Mr Black after it had been assumed that he killed the muggles and Pettigrew?”

AFTER it was clearly established that Sirius Black had committed murder,” Crouch ground out through clenched teeth, “I sent a number of highly trained and skilled wizards to apprehend him, at any cost.”

At any cost?” Dumbledore quoted, “After you hired a gang of Hit Wizards to hunt him down, no matter what little information you had at the time. And by granting them unparalleled permision to use spells that are usually preserved for Death Eaters themselves, even Unforgiveable curses.”

Crouch turned his face away from Dumbledore’s accusatory gaze, but then looked back at the older wizard again, knowing that there had been some wizarding families thankful that he had taken the stern and harsh methods that he was being accused of. “Yes, if that was what it took during times of unrest and pandemonium. Many people were looking to me to identify and fix the problems. Fullstop.”

A quick gasp of surprise echoed in the large room from Eugene Bigmore. He had never in his life thought a man like Barty Crouch would have authorized and sanctioned such methods.

Looking over at Fudge, the man looked as though he had just eaten a large chicken dinner, feathers and all. The man was in damage control, trying his best to soften the large blow that his Ministry and others were taking from within its own walls.

The questioning from Dumbledore continued along a similar unyielding path.

During your capacity as a Ministry official, were you acquainted with Sirius Black?”

The question seemed out of place and hardly noteworthy to Crouch, be he did answer, “The Black Family has been known in the wizarding word for hundreds of years. Many of them are skilled in the Dark Arts and a number of them have questionable backgrounds and have even been Death Eaters.”

You cannot give heresay evidence, Mr Crouch,” Bones interjected.

Turning back to Dumbledore, he rephrased his reply, “I did not know him personally, no.”

After his arrest, what happened once he was brought and placed into a cell of the dungeons in this very building?”

He was sent to Azkaban prison as we all well know by now, Albus.”

Was he searched before being placed in the cell?” Dumbledore queried.

The expression on Black’s face changed a little, the man clearly trying to dig through his own memory banks to recall what he had been carrying in his pockets.

Yes, and all possessions on his person were confiscated as is usually the practice for any convicted wizard for any serious crime.”

Including his wand?,” with anticipation hanging from the end of the short rhetorical question. Dumbledore was now at the very point of his questioning he had been trying to reach.

His wand?” Fudge interceded, not fully understanding what Dumbledore ploy was.

I believe that in cases where other wizards have been sentenced to Azkaban, their wands were snapped and destroyed.”

Usually yes, but not for Sirius Black,” Crouch informed, reaching into the last remaining box beside his feet and withdrawing a long, thick wand and placing it on the table for all eyes to see. He had meant to destroy it, time and time again. But something made him treasure it as a souvenir of sorts for capturing a man who had betrayed many.

Black’s attention was certainly drawn to it. He had not seen his wand for a very long time. There had been a time when he knew every minor notch or splinter, but despite being out of his hand for so long, there was an unfamiliar and undeniable hum ringing in his ears at seeing it again.

Looking up at Madam Bones, Barty knew that he could not give a believable excuse as to why it was still sitting in a long forgotten box.

For now, I have no further questions of Mr Crouch, Madam Bones, but may the wand remain in your custody until a later time?”

Yes it may, please bring it to me, Mr Bigmore,” Amelia directed Eugene. The junior wizard was only too happy to do as instructed, giving an apologetic look to Barty, as he removed it from the table and made his way to the front of the courtroom.

Whom are these witnesses you wish to give testimony, Mr Dumbledore?” Madam Bones queried.

Crouch and Fudge listened keenly to the names about to be introduced.

The first, a Mr Remus Lupin, please Madam. He has knowledge before the arrest of Mr Black that will prove most helpful.”

Fudge could be seen about to jump from his chair and object due to knowing about his condition, but was prevented by doing so by a restraining hand from Crouch, and a firm negative shake from his head, indicating he wasn’t to interfere.

Lupin had risen from his distant position at the mention of his name, and navigated the gallery seating to reach the middle of the courtroom.

Black’s mouth dropped open at Remus’s name, and his face grew a little paler at the first sight of his friend. Time, pain and torment had not been kind or forgiving to either of them.

Remus didn’t speak to Sirius, but a disguised smile reached to his eyes.

A chair was conjured and positioned in the middle of the courtroom so that all would be able to see and hear the witness.

You may remain standing for a moment and give your full name please,” Amelia requested.

In a hoarse, but audible voice, “Remus John Lupin.”

Fudge rose in front of Crouch, wanting to be the first to ask, “Can the witness please advise all here today of his current living arrangements and employment status?”

Dumbledore signalled for Remus to allow him to answer first. “I am afraid that Mr Lupin currently resides at an address which is under the protection of the fidelius charm, Madam Bones. It is a very complex form of magical concealment as no doubt you are aware, and the location cannot be revealed.”

I have employment at present, but live on my own and carry out odd jobs as they come along,” Lupin stated, answering the second half of the question.

That line of questioning will now cease Mr Fudge and the court is not here on a fishing expedition for you, Minister,” Amelia chastised and silently applauding his ability at insulting tone directed at him.

Mr Lupin, you may be seated, and then please tell everyone here in your own words where you were on the night when the events which occurred at Godric Hollow,” Dumbledore directed.

Looking towards Sirius briefly, Remus gave brief apology for what he was about to reveal, and no doubt the pain it was going to cause both of them. He looked down and began rubbing the palms of his hands together as emotions that he had tried to quell for a long time, bubbled to the surface.

On the night, Potters died, I wasn’t in the area, nor anywhere close to be of help to them or anybody else,” Lupin explained. “I was in the north of the country on other business.”

What other business?” Crouch demanded sharply, but his question was ignored.

By the time I had gotten back, no more than two days later, my whole world had been turned upside down. James and dear Lily were dead. Peter was missing and declared dead, and Sirius had been taken into custody, or so I managed to read in the Daily Prophet,” he uttered with a mixture of raw grief and disgust. “I lost four of my closest friends during that time and lived through some of the worst days of my life.”

This may be a most painful question, but please tell the court whom you believe the Secret-keeper to be for Lily and James Potter,” Dumbledore asked.

I believed the Secret-keeper to be Sirius Black,” Remus stated truthfully.

Crouch and Fudge could scarcely hide their triumphant smirked that the Headmaster had just given them the upper hand.

I have no further questions for this witness, Madam Bones.”

Barty stood up and prepared to ask one of his own, “Mr Lupin, can you give me a valid reason why you didn’t come forward even after being away on business as you claim, to help your friend?”

Lupin frowned deeply, knowing what Crouch was demanding he reveal about himself. “Because I am a werewolf, and at that time, Lord Voldemort might have been defeated and vanquished, but there was still much mistrust amongst folk. I was accustomed to such treatment and ridicule that others like me are subjected to every day. People have treated me as vicious and dangerous and no better than an animal, who should be hunted down and killed, virtually all of my life.”

Exactly, so why should we believe you here today?” Crouch punched home that statement.

Madam Bones, the witness has answered all questions as required. We are not here for mere character assassination as my colleague, Barty over there would have us all conclude today.”

I disagree,” Crouch argued sharply.

Well, I don’t Mr Crouch, the witness has already given his testimony. You, on the other hand, have done nothing to disprove anything he has put forward except to have us fear for our lives because of petty innuendo and scaremongering. I will not stand for it in this courtroom.”

Please call your next witness, Mr Dumbledore,” Madam Bones addressed, “Mr Lupin, you may step down and return the the gallery.”

Before I can bring out the next two witnesses, Madam Bones, I must asked Mr Crouch a question that I forgot to ask earlier. It is of a most sensitive nature though.”

Crouch turned towards Dumbledore, wondering what the blazes the old fool was up to now, still stinging from his failure to discredit Lupin further.

Mr Crouch, can you please advise what happened to Peter Pettigrew’s body after Sirius Black was arrested?”

What happened to his body?” Fudge demanded angrily. “Nothing but a solitary finger was left of the poor fellow, that is what happened to him. I had to present his poor dear mother with that finger and the Order of Merlin for Bravery that was posthumously awarded of course,” he continued to rant.

Black’s face had taken on a particularly darker shade at the Minister’s admission of how Peter had been found. Good Riddance would never be heard from his lips. Though it never did quite seem enough of a punishment.

I apologise once again, Madam Bones, but in lieu of we have just heard from the Minister, I now call upon my next witness, Dedalus Diggle.

The man made his way to the front of the courtroom where the vacant witness chair sat, nodding politely to Dumbledore as he passed by him. The man was wearing a top hat, which he promptly removed after a gesture from Amelia. He gave her a rue smile and unspoken apology for his lack of manners.

Would you also remain standing for a moment and give your full name please,” Amelia requested.

Dedalus Diggle, Madam,” he answered quickly, though his speech sounding a little too rushed. As though he had run a mile before talking.

Mr Diggle, can you please tell the court, why you felt it necessary to contact me at Hogwarts recently,” Dumbledore asked plainly.

Right sir, well as you know, I live in Kent now, and I read all those stories years ago in the Daily Prophet with the downfall of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. As well as that fellow which you just mentioned being dead. And like many I believed it for a long time too, thinking it was a terrible way to go.”

Which fellow do you mean?” Crouch asked the witness.

Pettigrew. I don’t remember his first name,” he added sheepishly, playing with the brim of his hat to hide his embarrassment. “And all this time, here was everybody thinking he was already dead.”

Are you saying that you have seen someone resembling Mr Pettigrew,” Barty asked, thinking it was the only logical explanation.

Not a look-a-like, it was him I saw. A little older now and balding on top and a bit more weight around the middle, but it was definitely him. I don’t do good with names you see, but I remember faces, even after years. Friends think I am barking mad sometimes.”

You saw Peter Pettigrew?” Fudge said in outright disbelief. There was no way what his man was saying could be true.

I used to see them quite regular in London, when they were at school you see. Sometimes just that one there,” he pointed to Sirius, “And the other good-looking one with glasses.” They used to come to London and sky-lark about, getting into mischief. Then there were other times though that there was four of them. Those two and two others, the long skinny one who was just sitting here a few moments ago and the much shorter one, Peter Pettigrew.”

That thin one might have gone a bit greyer on top now, and I haven’t seen that one again before today, and the one always wearing glasses, I haven’t seen him for a long time now. But Pettigrew I have seen twice, just in the last couple of months.”

The testimony from Diggle could scarcely be believed by anyone sitting in the courtroom. Remus had made a point to move to a closer seat, looking over at Sirius, who looked as though someone had just slapped him viciously across the face. Peter alive ;- neither of them wanted to believe it either.

Remus did recall times when they had all travelled to London. Just as Diggle mentioned, sometimes it had been just Sirius and James because a full-moon had been approaching or had just past, and Remus was too exhausted for the journey.

James usually persuaded Sirius to come with him outside of the wizarding world where they could just be themselves, few rules, parents, professors or homework. Even once or twice after they graduated, there had been occasions where they would reminisce and share a rare chance at freedom, trying to quell the fear they had been experiencing with war on their very doorsteps.

Diggle could see the scepticism and tension thickly blanketing the room and decided to speak up for himself, “So that is when I decided to contact Dumbledore at that Hogwarts school. I knew he would know who the boys were, especially since I couldn’t remember all their names. I keep to myself most days now and don’t meet a lot of other wizards, if you know what I mean.”

Crouch and Fudge were still conferring with each other, clearly having quite the heated discussion.

Crouch stood up, thinking how to word a question to the most preposterous idea he had just heard, “When you say you saw Mr Pettigrew in London, what was he doing?”

Well that is the strange part about it, isn’t it,” the pace of his speech making it difficult. “He wasn’t in the best parts of London. I am not sure if he fell on hard times or such, it looked like he had been living rough for a bit. But I did see him go into a few stores, a package or two tucked under his arm when he left.”

Did you manage to trail him for any length of time?” Crouch enquired.

No, but once I did try to. I started following him down the street thinking he might be a bit lost. I know I get like that myself in London sometimes. But by the time I walked around the corner, he had disappeared. Not sure if he knew a back route to where he was going, or if he ducked into one of the other stores, but I didn’t see him after that.”

Crouch was struggling to regather his own composure and any kind of shred or sense of normalcy after such unfathomable testimony was just exposed to everybody. Unsubstantiated no doubt, Peter Pettigrew was dead. But the stunned reactions from everybody in the courtroom in one form or another was enough for a very uneasy feeling to grow.

After a gap of time had elapsed, a subtle throat-clearing sound from Madam Bones brought Barty back out of his own thoughts, “I have no further questions for this witness,” he said discouragingly.

Thank you for your time today, Mr Diggle, you may step down and leave this courtroom, using the same path you arrived by,” Amelia said, “Mr Bigmore, you will see to it that he returns safely back to the visitor’s entrance.”

Yes, Madam Bones,” Eugene replied, waiting for the wizard to reach his position in the gallery, and proceeding to lead him out.

Not intending to give Barty or Fudge any chance to relax, Dumbledore started speaking once more, “My next witness, Madam Bones, is Tom,” turning to gesture at an elderly gentleman in the gallery.

With a extra nod of encouragement, the heavy set man stood in front of the chair. Despite his bulky size, the balding man appeared much more out of place in this setting than the previous witness. His gaze kept flitting about between Dumbledore and the two Ministry officials, as though he was very unsure of why he was there in the first place.

Would you remain standing for a moment and give your full name please,” Amelia requested a third time.

Tom,” was the soft spoken reply, barely audible.

Could the witness please speak up a little and repeat his full name to the court?” Crouch requested.

My name is Tom,” the elderly gent offered a second time, though barely louder than the first time. He gave a pleading look towards Dumbledore.

The witness is a muggle known as Tom, Madam Bones, and I am not aware of any witch or wizard who has ever come to know his full name.

Fudge gave a raised eyebrow and unappreciative scoff that Albus had dared bring such a person into the wizarding world.

Surely he must have a second name, Dumbledore,” Amelia questioned, surprised herself that he was introduced as a muggle, but not holding any preconceived ideas about such people.

Do you have a surname, Tom?”

Not that I rightly recall, no,” the man said, looking towards the floor. “Nobody ever asked me before now, and I have been around too many years to remember you see,” he added looking up at Amelia.

Eunice, let the record show that the witness has no known surname,” Bones instructed the court scribe, but muttering under her breath with irritability that she had never known anyone to go by just one name. “You may take your seated, Tom.”

Perhaps it might be better for Tom to identify what he does for a living,” Dumbledore suggesting, knowing it was of crucial importance.

What sort of nonsense is that frivolous piece of information?” Crouch challenged.

Please answer the question, Tom, in your own words,” Dumbledore asked politely, ignoring any glares he was currently receiving from the Ministry.

I am the inn-keep of the pub that leads to your world,” Tom answered somewhat cryptically. “The Leaky Cauldron” he named, “Located on Charing Cross Road, London,” breathing a sigh on relief that everybody in the room showed some degree of recognition and all had at least heard of the place.

Dumbledore repeated the same question that he had previously asked, “Tom, can you also please tell the court, why you felt it necessary to contact me at recently.”

Just like you heard, Dedalus there told you before, I saw Pettigrew too. Diggle came along to me before he came to see you, asking if I had seen him in my establishment,” continued as though talking to Dumbledore personally.

You also claim to have seen Peter Pettigrew alive?” Fudge shouted out of turn again. It was beginning to appear like some convoluted conspiracy that Black had somehow elaborately cooked up. And Dumbledore was helping him orchestrate it by going along with every concocted line of it.

The inn-keep jumped a little at the hostility directed towards him, but answered, trying to raise his voice and appear calm, “Over the years, I have seen him on quite a few occasions.”

On quite a few occasions,” Crouch parroted back with distrust. “This I am most eager to hear, please continue,” he added with a sarcastic tone.

Mr Crouch,” Madam Bones scolded, demonstrating her patience was running thin with the way he and the Minister were conducting themselves.

Well your lot go through my place on a regular basis to reach Diagon Alley don’t they,” Tom began explaining. “When he was just a lad, I used to see him coming through to get his school things. I don’t recall seeing any folks with him back then. But when he was a few years older, I remember seeing him with other boys.”

Can you name those other boys, Tom?” Dumbledore asked.

No, I cannot,” the man said knowing it was the truth. “Sometimes I do remember people, and names, but that was too long ago.”

What about claiming to seeing him recently?” Dumbledore prodded.

Oh yeah, I remember those times real well. The first time I couldn’t be too sure you see, as he was wearing a dark cloak, and had the hood covering most of his face. The next time, he dropped something on the floor, and the hood of the cloak fell away as he bent down too quickly and then stood up again. I only got to see him briefly, but I swear it was definitely him.”

I have no further questions from this witness, Madam Bones,” Dumbledore declared, retaking his seat, and satisfied that he had created enough doubt about Peter Pettigrew.

But I most certainly do,” Crouch stated a-matter-of-factly, standing up and rebuttoning his jacket as he scanned notes he had written on pieces of parchment.

Let me start by asking something a little simpler for a muggle like yourself to understand,” Crouch began, though there was no mistaking the underlying condescending tone. “How large is this building you refer to as a ‘pub’?

Not big at all, quite small some folk would say. Other regular people like me that are not wizards don’t seem to see it.”

Crouch nodded in acknowledgement, not giving away that he had certainly been to the ‘Leaky Cauldron’ on more than one occasion during his lifetime.

How many rooms does it contain?”

There is an upstairs and downstairs. The bar and tables are downstairs where I work. Sometimes I have a helper or two to wash the dishes and a maid to serve the patrons. Head up the handsome wooden staircase and that will lead you up to the guest rooms. More than five rooms to choose from. All containing comfortable beds, and a couple that have a fireplace.”

More than five?” Crouch queried, “You mean you don’t know the exact number of rooms you have?” This revelation was playing into his strategy very nicely if you please.

Tom looked down at the floor again, not sure what to say in admittance to his inability to count. He was certain that at least one of the rooms moved on a regular basis, although he had never been able to pinpoint exactly which one. There was that had a mirror on the inside with the ‘wheezy’ voice. Could be that one. And sometimes the brass numbers on the doors changed in order all by themselves, he had definitely seen this happening himself. But he was not about to public air any of these notions or strange occurrences.

Crouch decided to ignore the unanswered question, the next one should help to clarify just how addled the man was, even for a muggle.

How would you describe the inside of the bar-room downstairs?”

Very welcoming to all,” Tom said with conviction. He had few complaints about his service or the food. Misunderstandings were quite uncommon.

That is not entirely what I meant,” Crouch resumed, “Business is good on a regular basis? Plenty of people inside enjoying your hospitabilty?”

Yes, very good. Some days it can get quite over-crowded in there, and sometimes folk might have to wait a few minutes for a table if they want to share a meal with friends,” Tom gave with pride.

At what time of the day do you say you saw the person resembling, Peter Pettigrew?”

Late evening,” Tom replied.

At night, in a tiny, two-story building, which could be described at best as ‘dark and shabby’, you claim to have spotted a man who you claim to have seen on no more than a handful of occasions,” Crouch exaggerated.

A usually reserved man, Tom did take offence at the Ministry official’s insult at this house-keeping skills and was about to stand up from the chair and defend his business, but lowered himself back down with a gesture from Dumbledore.

In such a poorly lit room, did you manage to see what is was that he dropped on the floor?” Crouch asked, continuing his barrage.

At that time of night, there wasn’t so many folk about ordering drinks. I didn’t get a good look at it, but it sounded like something made of metal when it hit the wooden floor, that is all I can honestly say.”

Not a resounding or startling piece of deduction is it? And hardly helps give any real identification to the man you say you saw.”

Plain enough for me,” Tom stated without hesitation.

Do you have any further questions that you wish to badger this witness with, Mr Crouch?” Madam Bones asked, curbing her dismay at the ill-manners the Ministry was prepared to demonstrate.

No, Madam Bones, I do not.”

Thank you for your time today, Tom, you may step down and leave this courtroom, using the same path that Mr Diggle did earlier,” Amelia re-iterated, “Mr Bigmore, you will again see to it that the witness returns safely back to the visitor’s entrance. I am sure he would prefer being back at his business, serving friendly customers.”

Yes, Madam Bones,” Eugene replied once more, this time allowing a little more time for the elderly muggle to reach his position, and proceeding to lead him out to the staircase.

Madam Bones, I wish to call my final witness, Sirius Black, the applicant and prisoner himself,” Dumbledore declared.

I protest,” came from Crouch, and

I object,” from Fudge simultaneously as they both rose at the same time and carelessly allowed their emotions to show just a little too much.

Object and protest to what, Minister and Mr Crouch?” Bones demanded sternly. “Dumbledore has the right to call any witness he sees fit, within reason, and upon my approval, not yours gentlemen.”

Be that as it may, Madam Bones, Dumbledore has just presented three witnesses to this court that together, who collectively hold very little credible weight in my experienced opinion.”

Explain!” came the one worded direction as Amelia forced herself to remain calm and unbiased standpoint.

The first witness, Remus Lupin, whose very nature, according to this Ministry, is that of a recognised aggressive and dark creature. Who is unable to control the changes to his body and mind that occur frequently. And is a known long time friend and associate of the prisoner. His testimony is not only a fractured conflict of interest, but also a very flimsy alibi provided for his whereabouts at the time the events took place.”

The second witness, at least of of the wizarding community, admitted openly to not being able to remember names and prone to becoming lost in the very city he lives in, but apparently is able to match recent faces to those he could recall from years ago.”

The third, a muggle, not able to remember having a last name, nor how many rooms he has for rent. But by some unknown miracle, also able to identify people he has only seen inside his dimly lit, and over-crowded pub at night.”

So with those points fresh in mind, I protest against someone like Sirius Black, who comes from a known dark family, being able to give testimony against a persons and group of people who cannot speak for themselves because of his deeds.”

How are we going to ensure that he will be telling the truth?” Fudge questioned incredulity, tacking and voicing his own objection onto the tail end.

Mr Black is under the same onerous conditions as you are, Minister, and anybody else giving evidence in this courtroom today,” Madam Bones responded. “Probably even more so when chained in his seat.” She had wanted to suggest that the same could be done to Fudge but refrained from commenting further.

That is not good enough in my eyes either, Madam Bones,” Crouch broached, but stopped short when he saw Amelia adjusting her robes and trying to appear more formidable.

Before the woman could give Barty the tongue lashing she thought he so richly deserved for demonstrating such disrespect to her position, Dumbledore offered a simple suggestion.

Madam Bones, three drops of Veritaserum administered to Mr Black correctly should quash any need to doubt the answers he may provide.”

Crouch glanced over at Dumbledore, assessing and looking for any reason to doubt him.

Fudge had that ‘stuffed fat canary’ look about himself again, spluttering as though still trying to find a way to discredit anything Black had to say before he even opened his mouth.

The use of this potion is managed by very strict guidelines according to the Ministry,” Crouch retorted.

So there should be no problem with it being administered with the Minister’s approval,” Dumbledore reciprocated.

And Mr Black is prepared to undergo this drastic measure?” Bones interjected. She had never seen it used before, but knew why the strict controls were in place. Use on those under the age of seventeen was strictly forbidden, but the prisoner was well past that age of being considered a full consenting adult.

He is, having discussed and explained it with him earlier today,” Dumbledore assured her.

Fudge scowled in Dumbledore’s direction at this statement, somehow the older wizard was always one step ahead, predicting what he thought the Ministry would do. Before Crouch’s arrival in the courtroom, he now knew what the topic of private conversation had been with Black

In the gallery, Remus was surprised Sirius had agreed to swallow and submit to such a vile and powerful truth serum. He knew with his condition, that the poison used to derive the bitter potion would kill him, rather than force him to speak the truth.

The court awaits your approval, then Minister,” Bones casually motioned, knowing that Fudge’s hands were tied and he had no other option.

Crouch too was aware that his colleague had no choice, sitting down again whilst Fudge spoke, providing written authority to his junior wizard, Eugene Bigmore, and giving instructions on how to procure the required vial of potion.

Twenty minutes later, having doubled his efforts, Eugene returned with the small vial, holding it out at arm’s length, not wanting to place it carelessly in his pocket, or worse have it fall out of his hand and break on the floor, spilling its contents.

Ordinarily, I would have a potions master administer this, Madam Bones, but seeing as how that would delay proceedings even further today, might I be permitted to give it to Mr Black? I have been correctly trained how to do so.”

You may, Mr Dumbledore,” Amelia agreed, watching with intent as best she could from her elevated seat.

It was quite an amusing sight to see, Barty Crouch and Cornelius Fudge both clamouring to get behind Dumbledore, but being mindful of just who the prisoner was, and not wanting to get too close.

I regret that I cannot supply you with any water or other fluids at this time, Sirius,” Dumbledore informed Black, as he removed the stopper from the vial. “I have been told by others that it is definitely not the most palatable potion ever devised,” he added.

Sirius obediently opened his mouth, allowing the two Ministry official’s to see the three precious drops fall onto the tip of his tongue.

The reaction to the overwhelming and unavoidable after-taste, was unavoidable and almost immediate as he turned away and screwed up his face with revulsion.

Fudge was the first to speak, “It looked like the water from that jug and had no smell to it. How will we know when it is working?”

The effects should be almost instantaneous to anyone who consumes it. The liquid is both colourless and odourless,” Crouch relayed, his voice laced with tediousness, having seen it used successfully before. No sign of remorse on his face at requesting such a harsh method of interrogation.

Black, still shackled, brought his hands up to his face swiftly, the chains clinking noisily, each individual link straining from the exertion. The action had been so sudden and frantic that it had startled both Crouch and Fudge enough to take two defensive steps backwards.

A predatory smile reached his lips, as he slowly scratched at the side of his face with his fingers and then lowered them again.

His eyes should be bright and clear,” Dumbledore explained, though years of insomnia has caused dark circles to settle under Black’s eyes. “Ask him a simple question if you wish to test it out.”

What is your full name?” Fudge questioned.

Sirius Orion Black,” came the hoarse reply through cracked lips, his teeth stained.

No no, that is too simple,” Crouch insisted. “Something he could normally lie about.”

Please give your date of birth,” Dumbledore suggested.

Crouch was about to object once more to such a mundane question, but Black answered first.

3rd November,” Sirius replied quickly and concisely.

And the year if you please? Sirius Black has his school records recorded with the year 1960, to match the year of most of his friends.”

Giving Dumbledore a scathing look for revealing this piece of information about him, “1959.”

By my calculations, actually making him older than all of those friends except Peter Pettigrew,” Dumbledore announced too cheerfully for quite a few in the room.

A brief bubble of laughter escape from Lupin, at a memory that just randomly presented itself from one of the happiest times he had ever known in his life. ‘The baby of the group’ he said out loud for only himself, but it had been loud enough for others to hear. Their small band of friends had heard Sirius quote that title many times during their schooling years. He still wasn’t certain now that Lily had ever discovered or found out his correct year of birth.

Black turned his head and gave a small grin and nod of his head towards Remus.

Can we please get on with this instead of rehashing random facts about the prisoner,” Crouch uttered impatiently, “I believe that the potion is working correctly, but not because Dumbledore chooses to drag up useless piece of trivia,” he added, sitting back down and picking up his quill, preparing to listen to Black’s excuses.

Sirius Black, I know this will be very painful to recount, but could you please inform all of us here today, who was the secret-keeper for Lily and James Potter,” Dumbledore asked, noting the guilt that immediately spread across Black’s face.

For a moment, Sirius closed his eyes, opening them as before answering. The lack of moisture in his throat making the words sound strained, and clipped, almost catching in his vocal cords, “At first it was me, that is what everybody believed.”

Two days before that night,” Black began to explain, looking directly over at Lupin, keeping his attention focused, and the tears at losing someone he called ‘brother’ refusing to show. “James came to me on his own, scared for his family and wanting to protect them at any cost.”

It wasn’t done to hurt you, Remus, please believe that James was just trying to do his best when his family was the most at risk. He never wanted to deliberately leave you out of the small circle we had created, but it was imperative that only a few were aware of the switch. Only James, Lily, and I knew,” Sirius implored, hoping that his friend would understand. Maybe not forgive, but at least accept the truth.

What did you and James Potter do without Remus Lupin’s knowledge?” Dumbledore questioned.

“Changed the secret-keeper from myself to Peter,” Black answered, and in one short sentence, revealed a secret that had been his burden alone for the past ten years and had cost him more than he could ever have imagined. If he could have moved better without the chains and shackles, he would be on his knees at this point.

Looking over at Crouch and Fudge, Dumbledore could see that this shocking news was hitting home for them as well for the very first time.

“Why was it changed to Peter Pettigrew?” the Headmaster forced to continue, knowing that this dreadful day was becoming way too long for everyone involved.

“Why?” Black gave a hollow, self-depreciating laugh.

Dumbledore nodded sadly, at he could see how much damage was being inflicted upon someone who had once been so full of life and vitality.

Black decided since he was being forced to tell the truth, then he owed Remus a more complete version.

“There had been others, close to Lily and James who offered to be secret-keeper, and whilst they were considered at the time, I convinced James to use someone that very few people who suspect.” Dumbledore knew he had been one of those ‘other’ people.

“When we were at school, Peter was considered the weakest link of Gryffindor House, our graduating class, and even our select group of friends. He was always asking you, Remus, for extra help with homework, and asking James how to answer transfiguration questions that might be on exams. I was always helping him in a futile attempt to try and improve his duelling skills.”

“There was a time when many doubted he would ever be able to cast anything more than basic spells or mediocre magic. Back when professors and classmates thought he was harmless, and just needed a little encouragement. He was our friend. Lily even used to call him ‘little Peter’ and cook extra food for him when he came visiting.”

“We were all so wrong, Remus, so very wrong,” Black admonished, his voice thick with regret. The betrayal ran so deep and wide it had left wounds that may never fully heal, and scars that were a constant reminder of his own selfish overconfidence and pride.

“I was the one to blame! Foolishly trusting Wormtail and suggesting to James who the new secret keeper should be. Here I was thinking that I could take on the whole world. When the threat was right along side us the whole time.”

Without the prior consent of Madam Bones, Dumbledore ignoring protocol, placed a supportive and apologetic hand on the thin shoulder of Black, feeling the shudders and tremors that wracked his body.

“That concludes any questions I have at the moment, Madam,” Dumbledore mumbled quietly, taking in what he had heard himself and sitting heavily back down in his seat.

“Madam, I implore the court to show a little mercy and compassion, and not to have Mr Black recall the events of that night when he found Lily and James Potter. The outcome would prove very little and only cause more pain and anguish,” Dumbledore pleaded on behalf Sirius’ behalf.

“Let us hear what Mr Crouch has to ask of Mr Black first, before I make a final decision,” Amelia compromised. “If such details are not necessary for these proceedings to continue, then I will make a further ruling at that time.”

Crouch, who had appeared quite subdued during Black’s emotional answers, wasn’t about to let up on the man just because everybody else in the room was feeling sorry for him. The court scribe Eunice looked like she had been secretly wiping away tears. The fact that the man was under the effects of the truth potion was not lost on him though and what it could mean for the outcome determined by Madam Bones.

“On the night Lily and James Potter were killed, you went after Peter Pettigrew didn’t you?” he grilled sharply.

Black looked up at the man, the level of hatred and loathing towards him clear to see, “Yes I did.”

“After leaving Godric Hollow and the Potter house, you intended to confront him didn’t you?”


“And kill him?”

“If I had gotten my hands on him that night, yes,” Black admitted with little remorse.

“And did you find him?” Crouch prompted.

“Yes, I found him, and was about to hex him into oblivion.”

Silently, Sirius was surprised that the Ministry official had neglected to ask about what mode of transport he had used that night to leave to chase after Peter. But Crouch hadn’t asked yet, and he wasn’t about to offer any further information about his motorcycle. He knew who he had seen with it at the time, but nothing since that night.

“And why didn’t you?”

Black looked away angrily at the question, but then turned to face Barty once more as he spoke, “Because the little ‘bastard’ had picked up a few tricks from who knows where, and was somehow able to creep up behind me and stun me.”

Amelia Bones frowned at the language released, but because he was under the influence of the truth serum, erred on the side of caution, and chose not to reprimand Black.

“You were telling the court only a short time ago, at how inept he was at even the simplest of spells,” Crouch challenged. “And that you doubted someone like him would even be able to cast a much stronger spell. At least one that would be responsible for the deaths of twelve people.”

“All I can tell you is that there were other people in the street that night. Muggles, so I had to be careful and kept my wand in the back pocket of my jeans, hidden by the back of my long coat,” Black answered matter-of-factly. “I cannot give you an explanation as to how he outwitted and over-powered me.”

“Did you use Peter Pettigrew’s wand that night?”

“No I did not! His wand always felt too thin and brittle to me. Chestnut wood and Dragon Heartstring core, quite short from what I remember.”

“And what happened after that?”

“The next thing I remember, is waking up behind a trash bin, down a deserted side street, with a very large headache, and missing a few hours.”

“You didn’t see Peter Pettigrew?”

“No, he was nowhere to be found when I woke up. My wand laying beside me a few feet away, and out of plain sight.”

“And for curiosity sake,” Crouch trifled, “Why didn’t you ever tell anybody about these details before today?”

“Because you never would have believed me!” he accused Barty, knowing the man had done nothing in all these years to hear his version of events.

“Was Mr Pettigrew’s wand recovered at any time, Mr Crouch?” Madam Bones enquired.

“No, Madam, it was never found, along with the rest of his body. It must have been destroyed in the explosion.”

“I have no further questions to ask of the prisoner,” Crouch spoke with finality, sitting back down beside Fudge.

“Do you have any any further witnesses, Mr Dumbledore?” Amelia enquired.

“No, Madam Bones, but with Mr Black still under the effects of the Veritaserum, I would ask him to identify that the wand still in Mr Crouch’s possession, on the desk in front of him, is indeed his own.”

Crouch stood and used his full height to object strongly, “I refuse to allow any prisoner to have access to a wand of any kind, Madam Bones.”

“For identification purposes only I assure the court,” Dumbledore submitted.

“The Aurors seated in the back may resume their previous positions,” Madam Bones instructed, “Once they have done so, I have no objection to Mr Black being ‘shown’ the wand only. He is not to have it in his hand.”

Fudge signalled the three Aurors to stand behind and on either side of the prisoner. Crouch walked around to the front of the desk and picked up the wand that had been produced earlier.

Crouch positioned himself in front of the prisoner, holding out the long wooden wand, but close enough so that he could determine the detail. Black in colour and quite thick in circumference, signifying that it could be wheeled with immense power by the right wizard or witch.

For a moment, the urge and desire to reach out and grasp it was very real. “It is my wand.” Sirius agreed.

“Let the record show the prisoner identifying the wand as he own property,” Amelia directed the court scribe. “Please pass it into my custody, Mr Crouch.”

Without being able to think of a valid reason, reluctantly, Barty did just that, passing it to Amelia Bones. She looked at it briefly, ready to set it aside beside the growing mound of parchment notes.

“Please, Madam Bones, I believe a strong case that has been conducted for Mr Black today, will be heightened even further if you will allow a very old but reliable charm to be used on that wand.”

“And what charm would that be, Mr Dumbledore?” Amelia asked before Crouch could do so himself.

Prior Incantato” Dumbledore said plainly, looking over to see if there was any reaction on Barty’s face.

“What will such an incantation do?” Fudge asked, not wanting to admit his lack of knowledge. He had heard it before, but was not aware of the full implication.

“It will force the target wand to demonstrate the last spell that was cast from it, Mr Fudge,” Bones stated, wanting to show her own comprehension. “It is a spell born from ancient magic, Minister. The results will speak for themselves, whatever they may be. Please indicate your consent to such a spell being cast.”

“Well that is settled then, it clearly should show what Black used to cause that explosion, and we can be done with this whole mess,” Fudge blurted out.

The brief flicker of confidence fell when he looked over at Barty and saw that he too fully understood.

“Will one of your Auror’s please step forward please, Mr Crouch,” Amelia requesting, wanting a experienced third-party to carry out the task.

Remus had tried to move forward in his seat to get a better view of what was about to happen. His own stomach was all tied up in knots, he could imagine how his friend was feeling right at this moment. This action by Dumbledore could either assist Sirius or sink any chance, in his quest for the truth to be known.

Sirius was trying to think back at what the last spell would be that he cast all those years ago. He was drawing a blank.

Almost everyone in the courtroom was holding their breath, as Crouch gestured for the tall Auror directly between him and Sirius Black to step forward towards Amelia Bones, and retrieve the wand to perform the spell.

Prior Incantato”the Auror said clearly and loudly for all to hear.

The wand in his hand started to move about, rising up from the palm of his hand and turning in a complete circle until the spell was complete.

‘Stupefy’ reverberated from the wand. The stunning spell.

Silence echoed throughout the courtroom. Such a simple spell. Shock and surprise was upon every face.

Fudge was the first to splutter any kind of response, “That can’t be true. The spell must have been done wrong.”

“The incantation was correct,” Amelia said sternly, but the ramifications of what it exactly all meant, was hanging heavily in the air.

“If it may be permitted that we be able offer a last comment before you,” Dumbledore said in conclusion, knowing that the spell had done more for Sirius than even he could have anticipated.

“You will have your opportunity to respond afterwards, Mr Crouch,” Madam Bones affirmed. “Following your closing statement, I will leave this courtroom to consider what has been presented by both parties and make a ruling pertaining to the application.”

“I don’t think there is much more that I can add, even after Dumbledore has spoken, Madam Bones,” Barty admitted. “However, can only assume that for someone who has been mere acting as “advisor” during these proceeding, his own personal interest in this whole matter is highly circumspect.”

Crouch resumed his seat, bringing his hand to his mouth and hiding his thoughts behind a calm, but rigid expression.

What once used to be a simple closed case of a mass murderer and madman being caught and put behind bars where he belonged in a place he could never possibly escape from, was quickly turning into a debacle. And his name was caught up in it all. Just like before, the tide of favour was beginning to turn against him.

“Madam Bones, despite the arguments from Mr Crouch and Minister Fudge about the character of my witnesses today, I think it is obvious to all, that some startling information has been put to this court. Mr Black was arrested, sentenced to a place of incarceration, that most of us dare not think about,” Dumbledore proclaimed.

“No less than two people have given evidence that they have seen Peter Pettigrew alive. That fact on its own is shocking enough. He was believed to be dead all this time. They are both respectable people, and would not benefit from any false testimony. Both have had connections with the wizarding community over an extended length of time, even Tom from the Leaky Cauldron.”

“Mr Lupin, who has been a life long friend of Mr Black, and he himself has faced scrutiny about his possible involvement. He is as shocked as anyone else here today, myself included, to learn that Pettigrew may still be alive.”

“A lengthy prison sentence such as the one Mr Black has been forced to serve and endure without a trial, was unwarranted, is unjustifiable and undeserved.”

“By any standard of fairness and decency that can be applied, if Sirius Black was allowed back then, to have his version of events heard. To have to undergo the miserable effects of Veritaserum. And have a spell cast on his wand, like has just been done earlier. Then we may very well have not needed to be here today, ten years later.”

Dumbledore sat down at his desk, his glasses falling forward to the end of his nose as he peered over at the two Ministerial officials, giving a polite smile.

“I thank you all for your time today, I will now take the notes I have made during the proceedings, and make an informed decision. I cannot give you an accurate time frame on how long that might take, but I ask that you be patient and the room remain civil during my deliberations,” Madam Bones concluded.

“Mr Dumbledore, you may provide Mr Black with more water during my absence,” Amelia granted as she rose, with Eunice Parks standing gathering her transcripts, ready to follow her out of the courtroom.

“The Aurors may once again take a position towards the back of the gallery,” she directed as she left the room.

Remus Lupin moved from his position in the gallery to speak quietly with Dumbledore. His presence was no longer a secret.

“You can begin repacking up all of this paperwork, Eugene,” Fudge called out to his junior assistant, fidgeting and scarcely able to sit still.

There wasn’t anything that they could do except to wait for Amelia Bones to return and give judgment.

Sirius Black remained silent, having refused any further water from the enchanted pitcher and cup with a shake of his head. He abhorred that the strength of his character was being based on people who claimed to have known him years before, but were virtual strangers to him. And the one person, Remus, who was known as one of his closest friends, had drawn suspicion to himself, been ridiculed and downright cast as nothing but a foul, dark creature.

What he had heard today had shocked him to the very core, and he didn’t know quite what to do with the mix of emotions that were swirling around inside him. Part of him wanted to scream from the top of his lungs, shout until he lost his voice at those who had allowed this all to happen to him. But the other half of him, wanted to lay down on the floor, crawl into a ball of abject pain and misery from all that he had suffered and lost.

More than two and a quarter hours later, Amelia Bones made a re-appearance, followed by her court scribe, taking her seat once more and looking out over the courtroom at those still gathered within its walls. The expression she wore on her face was one of professionalism and dutifulness. But it masked just how unsettled and dissatisifed she was feeling on the inside.

It was her original intend to give her determination first, but upon sitting down and glancing down at the prisoner still shackled in his chair, she changed her mind.

“Aurors, you may step forward please, and remove all shackles and restraints from Mr Black immediately,” she proclaimed.

Fudge looked ready to jump up and object again, but one swift stern look from Amelia was all it took for him to remain sitting at the desk. Crouch had responded by shielding his face with his hands, as though trying to avoid the impending onslaught that he could detect beginning to boil and overflow. Before she even gave her reasons why, he knew that his efforts to keep Sirius Black behind bars had been completely thwarted.

Remus couldn’t dare to hope what he had just heard Amelia Bones say in open court. He found himself wringing his hands tightly just to prevent himself from showing a completely inappropriate ‘whoop of joy’. He couldn’t even imagine how Sirius was feeling right at this moment.

The Aurors did as they were asked, approaching Sirius, pausing with hesitation for moment, and unsure if he would react and lash out at those who had kept him chained.

In a surprising act of acquiescence, Black held out his hands, palm sides up, waiting for one of the Aurors to produce their wand and complete the spell that would allow them to unlock. A stronger spell was needed for the shackles around his ankles, but they too soon released their grip.

There was a distinct amount of pain that came as blood circulation recommenced from weak muscles. Sirius flexed his fingers and raised one foot at a time, trying to help the process. The skin around his wrists clearly marred by red welts and he could feel deeper ones etched around his ankles.

“You may join Mr Dumbledore at his desk,” Madam Bones informed him, noting the shadows that still plagued his features.

Black turned towards Dumbledore and saw the wizard gesturing at a second chair that had been conjured for his used. The first step, unsteady, shaky and his gait measured, even for such a short distance. Once he did reach the desk, he clung to the armrest, sinking onto the unforgiving wooden seat.

He brushed the long tendrils of shoulder length hair away from his eyes, looking up towards Amelia and gave one word filled with gratitude, “Thank you.”

Madam Bones now focused on the important task at hand and she wasn’t about to allow any further delay or interruption.

“When I first came into this courtroom this morning, there was no way I could be prepared for what I have heard, seen and had demonstrated in front of me. In all my years of being appointed to the Wizengamot, I have never had to determine such a matter. I am dismayed, shocked and appalled at what has witnessed.”

“Mr Fudge, I can see on your faces, the displeasure that you feel towards my letting the prisoner be released before I have given my reasons. Mr Crouch I see the resignation. Both of you have recounted colourful portrayals of his involvement without any real substance or proof.

“Somewhere, the real possibility exists that Peter Pettigrew may be alive. He must be found and held accountable for his actions against Mr Black and ultimately the Potter family. All attempts to find him must be doubled and the wider wizarding population forewarned of his treacherous character the real danger that he poses until apprehended.”

“Mr Crouch, your actions are inexcusable. They were back when Mr Black was first accused, and they have been up until this point, where you have not only ignored basic rights of someone accused of a crime. But it would seem that you have deliberately turned a blind eye to procedures and practices this Ministry has prided itself on for a personal vendetta that you wanted to see through to fruition, no matter the damage.”

“A lie doesn’t become the truth, just because it is accepted by a majority. Right doesn’t become wrong, and good doesn’t become evil, based on a distortion of the truth, or by the deceit of a few.”

Madam Bones words were damning, scathing and unapologetic.

“Mr Black, any sentence you received due to these prejudices and grossly negligent actions are hereby set aside forthwith.”

“Do you require the services of a healer?” she asked in a softer tone of voice, watching him rubbing at his wrists, and then pulling down the cuffs on the end of his sleeves. Covering them to hide what he was doing so, when Dumbledore took a little too much interest.

Nobody had bothered for the past ten years. Sirius wasn’t ready for people to pity him or feel sorry for him.

A hoarse reply and slight nod of his head in acknowledgement that she had taken the time to ask. “No, thank you.”

“I will not go into the details of what compensation might be forthcoming from the Ministry or any other remuneration here this afternoon. That will be discussed in my office at a time of my choosing. Within a short space of time I assure you. You have been kept waiting for far too long. Nothing that I do here today, or at any other time can ever make up for the hardship after a decade. you have been forced to endure.”

“I hope to never be in the position or have to determine such a matter again during my appointment. What I will ensure is that I will be diligent in my efforts to endeavour to work towards putting safe measures into place that will prevent anything like this from happening. Starting with my own Department, and working with as many others in this building as necessary.”

“New procedures will be recommended to the wizarding community. And for those accused until proven guilty, there will be protections put into place before their freedom is sacrificed because of personal, narrow-minded actions and intolerant views.”

Amelia Bones gathered the pages of parchment that she had prepared, and looked directly at Sirius Black as she gave a closing statement.

“What is being done here today is of little comfort after what you have been force to endure and I can only wish that this all could have happened much sooner. Your liberty should not have been taken away so quickly without the relevant evidence. Today, I am giving you a second chance.”

Sirius wished he could have spoken a few words of gratitude, or shown his appreciation in some other method. Right at this moment, there was no feeling, only numbness and an emptiness that he couldn’t explain.

Dumbledore rose from his seat, and gave a brief bow of thanks. Remus was now standing at the end of the gallery and not wanting to intrude into the centre of the room, but still trying to take everything in.

Crouch and Fudge stood, flabbergasted at what had occurred in the past several hours. Sirius Black had been released from prison. And Peter Pettigrew was assumed to be alive.

“Mr Bigmore,” Amelia called out to the junior wizard, “Is there a way to provide a clean and more suitable set of clothes to Mr Black once he leaves this courtroom?”

Eugene thought for a moment, almost ready to give a negative shake of his head, but then he remembered something. “Madam Bones, there is a few sets of clothes available from the wizard who served the Minister, Mr Fudge before me. I am not certain of their sizing, but I found a bag at the bottom of a disused cabinet a few weeks into my employment. I haven’t had a chance to find an alternative use until now.”

“Splendid,” Madam Bones said with a smile. “I would like for you to locate this bag, and direct Mr Black to a bathroom together with anything else he may want or need.”

Up until this point, Sirius hadn’t even considered things like clean clothes and a chance to wash. He was drawn out of his own thoughts by Amelia speaking to him again. She could see the impact that his newly found freedom was having.

“Madam Bones, there are matters that I would like to discuss with you and Mr Black, in your office,” Dumbledore addressed, noting the confused look on Sirius face at what more there could possibly be to discuss. “These matters are most urgent, but also of a private nature. I do not wish to delay Mr Crouch or the Minister any further today.”

“Please attend my office on the second floor when you and Mr Black are ready to do so,” Amelia commented. And with that, waited for Eunice to gather together her transcripts and notes, before leaving the courtroom.

Fudge’s face turned an interesting colour. How dare the man stand there and declare that anything else was private about Sirius Black. He was the Minister of Magic after all.

Eugene found himself in an awkward and unenviable position, and receiving a scowl from the Minister as he walked towards the door with Barty Crouch. Listening to all the facts today, he couldn’t help but feel that his loyalty to Mr Fudge had been shaken from his foundations. And that maybe he wasn’t so infallible as people believed.

“What do you think that topic of conversation will be?” Crouch asked in frustration. With his reputation being drawn into serious question, he could be assured that Madam Bones would keep her word and insist on an investigation. He was going to have to work hard to regain any ground he had made.

“I have no idea. But I can tell you this,” he said with certainty, “Next time there is a matter involving me and Dumbledore in this courtroom, I will insist on a full Council of Magic with all the members of the Wizengamot court.”

Eugene Bigmore kept his distance for a moment, as the older wizard and Black remained at the table. He couldn’t hear any words being spoken between them, but they were communicating with body language and facial expressions

Sirius turned, looking at Remus, his long time friend. The silence between them deafening until neither could take it any longer. Both taking small unsteady steps towards each other. With one final desperate stride, they embraced each other fiercely.

Sirius let go and pulled back nervously from his friend, unsure of how others around him were going to react to him.

The former prisoner placed his own thin hand on Remus’s jacket, giving the smallest hint of a smile. Not daring to open his mouth at the tide of words that wanted to spill out. A large lump had formed in his throat, and he quickly swiped at the unshed tears.

We will talk later

Remus placed a hand on his trembling upper arm, looking at him with conviction, “Together we will fix this. I will always help you, no matter what.”

The journey back through the dimly lit stone corridor towards the stairway, felt longer for three of them, as they followed the junior assistant. He perceived the poor physical state of Mr Black and tried to slow his pace to match. Climbing the stairs proved more difficult, and soft grunts of discomfort could be made out at various intervals.

“Once you have changed clothes, Sirius, I will wait for you outside Amelia’s office,” Dumbledore informed them, “I want to stop by and talk briefly to Arthur Weasley.”

“We will meet you there,” Remus replied, keeping close to Sirius in case he stumbled, but knowing that he would not want anybody clinging to him and recognising his need for space. During past years, Sirius had developed and then openly displayed a strong sense of independence, and he could only hope to see that begin to emerge as time allowed it to do so.

The two of them watched Dumbledore head in the direction of the elevators. Talking to a number of other people whilst he waited.

“This way gentlemen,” Eugene urged nervously. As he guided them past the waiting elevators, he noted the questioning look from Remus.

“You don’t need to be afraid of us,” Remus said calmly, as the young wizard’s gaze kept switching between them.

Eugene tried his best to relax, thankful that the path he had chosen was not currently clogged with other people. Some parts of the building were busy and intimidating to anyone not used to the constant influx of wizards, witches and visitors.

“I know of some less crowded corridors in this building,” he explained, leading them through a closed door. “I am sure the last thing you are wanting at the moment Mr Black is an audience.”

Sirius opinion of the young assistant went up quite a lot at the consideration being given despite who his boss was.

“Right through this door, there is a private bathroom. It has everything you could need. Hot water, soap, clean towels. I will go and fetch that bag of clothes. Is there anything else I can bring back for you. Some food or refreshments perhaps?” he enquired, opening the door and standing back to allow them access.

Remus and Sirius were a little awe struck with the lavishness of the room that they could see from the door frame. The walls were constructed from slabs of intricately carved marble. The floor decorated with a contrasting but equally grand large tiles.

“There are several of these bathrooms throughout the building. Each has a different colour scheme or theme. They are usually reserved for special guests of the Ministry, or Mr Fudge himself,” Eugene disclosed.

“Thank you, for your kindness and understanding after such a difficult time,” Remus uttered politely. “Some water perhaps when we meet with Madam Bones. But don’t got the trouble of any food at this time.”

“I will be back as soon as I can,” Eugene promised and heading away from them towards his own office.

After the junior wizard was gone, the two friends peered into the bathroom. And then silently back at each other.

“Come on, Padfoot!” Remus encouraged gently. Ensuring the door was closed once they both entered.

Sirius paused at the use of his nickname. Nobody had called him that in a very long time. Such a simple act. He grinned and clapped Remus on the shoulder with genuine friendly affection.

It had been a long time. Too long for either of them. Remus willingly returned the gesture with relish.

Eugene Bigmore had returned shortly thereafter as promised, knocking on the door and handing the bag to Remus as he opened it. “Thank you.”

“I will wait outside until you are ready and escort you to Madam Bones office,” the young man stated.

Their footsteps echoed in the vastness of the large room. The soothing sound of running water came from a cascading waterfall on the right hand wall. In the centre of the room was slightly sunken with a seating area. Large leather and comfortable long settees were the furniture of choice.

On rows of shelving sat neatly stacked and folded towels, mostly white, but other shades mixed in. There were ceramic bowls with candles and sticks of incense spread throughout the room.

The opulence and richness radiated from every surface. The there were four large square pools at the back of the room. A constant plume of steam rising from the heated water. The ceiling was high, allowing an intoxicating and aromatic scent to infuse with the heated air, enticing anyone in side to relax.

Along the left hand side of the room was a row of large basins. The tapware adorning them made from brass and decorated with many different creatures and myths from the wizarding world.

Sirius slowly made his way over to the end basin. When you held your hands under the tap, the water flowed. Enchanted by a spell. He winced out loud as his knuckles stung from where the skin had worn away. Any other skin was cracked, discoloured and marred.

Remus approached, setting the bag aside on the bench. “I doubt even the Slytherin prefect bathroom is so richly decorated,” he jested.

Sirius tried to give a laugh at the comment, but it fell flat and sounded hollow. Like some kind of badly twisted dream, everything that had happened still felt too surreal.

Now that he was much closer to his friend, and close enough to be touch him, Remus couldn’t hide his sadness at the terrible toll confinement and neglect had inflicted. Taking one of the towels and dampening it in the warm water, and gently rubbing it over his friend’s torn hands. Cake dried blood smeared onto the fabric, revealing bruising and a number of shallow cuts which had gone untreated.

When he looked up at Sirius’ face, he saw his friend’s eyes were closed tightly. He didn’t know where to begin trying to help. Being in such a vunerable state and fragile state of mind, it would serve no purpose to go bombarding him with too many questions there wouldn’t be answers for. Explanations, recriminations and anything else could wait a little longer.

Remus was starting to think the offer of a healer might not have been such a bad idea. There were no potions, salves or spells in this bathroom to soothe or tend to any injuries. Somehow he knew Sirius would not agree to most offers of assistance. For now he was content enough that his own help was not being refused.

Putting aside the soiled an bloody towel, Remus reached into the bag and rummaged around the contents, pulling out random articles of clothing. They were covered in dust and smelled musty. “There isn’t much choice,” he gauged with disdain.

Black didn’t answer, but took a pair of trousers and a shirt, and started walking towards one of the heated ponds. Picking up two more towels with him.

Waiting on one of the leather couche, Remus was prepared to give Sirius as much privacy and time a he wanted to soak and remove some of the stench of Azkaban.

After fifteen minutes though, wet footsteps approached from behind, the wet and bedraggled figure of Sirius Black stood beside him. There were no shoes on his feet. His knotted hair had been pulled back away from his face into a makeshift ponytail.

Remus took a minute to look him up and down, almost wanting to hide a bubble of laughter from escaping. It was prevented from doing so from the deep exhaustion and paleness of Sirius’ face. For someone who was tall, the thinness of his body from lack of nutrition and good care made it appear as though he was wearing the clothes of someone much larger. The trousers hung low around his waist and the shirt was tucked in to keep them in place.

The way the fabric sprawled over his shoulders, Remus was able to see his collar-bone jutting out and count every rib down his torso.

Sirius broke the uneasy silence with a self-deprecating grin, “I look almost as thin as you, Mooney.”

Remus ignored the barb at his own lack of weight, taking the prison garb from his friend and shoving it into the bag Eugene had provided.

“Let’s get out of here.”

Sirius nodded in agreement, and the two headed towards the door.

“Oh, sirs, I wasn’t expecting you quite so soon,” Eugene stammered as he took the offending bag that was offered by Remus. He briefly looked inside, and tried to hide the revulsion on his face when the smell wafted up to him.

“What did you want me to do with this?” he asked innocently.

Sirius’ reply was brief and succinct, “Burn it!”

There would always be reminders of his imprisonment, that was a given. But he wasn’t about to keep the rags that he had been forced to wear as some kind of abhorrent souvenir.

The young wizard pulled back slightly at the venom in the man’s voice, but nodded in confirmation that it would be done.

“Allow me,” Remus stated, taking out his wand and pointing it at the bag.


The bag and its contents was quickly reduced to a smouldering mound of ashes.

Sirius gave a nod of thanks to Remus.

Eugene has not been expecting the such a drastic measure to be taken, and scanned the corridor, thankful that it was deserted and there was nobody else around. He had been planning to get rid of the bag in an innocuous manner, but understood why that particular spell had been chosen instead.

“I will now lead you to Madam Bones’ office,” he said. “This too is a much shorter and less used path,” he explained, guiding them.

‘The whole building is one giant rabbit burrow’ Sirius thought to himself. He doubted even the Minister knew all of the different corridors and doorways.

Sure enough, they had soon climbed higher in the building and came to a wide hallway. This is were this lessor known corridor met up with the one that wizards would normally use. The number of employees had now increased, some rushing about their duties, others talking in small groups.

Sirius felt very uncomfortable as they walked, and Remus was certain that at least one person had stopped to look closer at the both of them suspiciously.

Dumbledore was seated outside a large impressive looking door, with a gold name plate that read: Amelia Bones. He rose to meet the two men as they approached. He took a good look at Sirius and the ill-fitting clothes.

“Most unfortunate,” he offered in brief apology.

“This is where I will leave you, gentlemen,” Eugene said in parting.

“Goodbye,” Remus returned, but Sirius remained quiet.

Dumbledore stood in front of the three of them and knocked politely on the door. Opening it when they heard the invitation to enter.

“Good afternoon, gentlemen,” Amelia greeted them. She walked over to an open window behind her desk, bushing away some snow and a beetle from the ledge before pulling it closed and locking it.

She turned and resumed her position on the other side of the desk, facing her visitors, “Please be seated.”

Dumbledore accepted, but Sirius Black remained some distance back, refusing to do and his posture rigid and obstinate.

Amelia Bones sighed at the display, not really expecting the man to come in and wanting to have tea. “I understand your reluctance, Mr Black.”

She paused to take a good look at the man, noting the exhaustion coming from him in waves. She had meant to carry out some further discussion, but saw in all likelihood, that wasn’t going to happen.

“I can offer a healer again, Mr Black, if that is your wish?” she asked with compassion in her voice.”

“I respectfully decline,” Sirius answered sharply, but his hand betraying him and wrapping around his wrist and rubbing at the concealed welts.

“Before we go any further, this belongs to you,” holding out the wand and offering it to the man.

Sirius was almost hesitant for a moment. But then his expression changed to one of determination, and he accepted and reached out his hand

It was released into his grasp. And despite the years that had past, there was an unexplainable familiarity when the wood touched his skin.

Amelia could see that Black was going to be understandably difficult to deal with, and decided to be plain with him. “Mr Black, I made an error earlier when I spoke about having meaningful talks. You are clearly very tired, and in need of good food and much rest. Can I please suggest that we meet again in a couple of days?”

Dumbledore appeared to be disappointed with the suggestion, but failed to voice an objection.

“Madam, there are other matters that I would still like for you and I to discuss,” Albus advocated strongly.

“I will come by tomorrow after you both have had time to rest,” he said with that all knowing smile that they had seen before.

There was something that he wasn’t telling them, that was clear to both of them. Something important. Neither of them were in a mood to play games.

Sirius didn’t verbalise a response, but indicated with a nod of his head that he was willing to comply with her request.

“Do you have a safe and suitable place for him to stay for the immediate future?” she directed at Dumbledore.

It was Remus who spoke up, “Sirius is welcome to stay at my residence for as long as is needed.”

“Any may I ask the location of your home, Mr Lupin?”

“I am afraid not, Madam Bones, for his house is also under the fidelius charm for its whereabouts,” Dumbledore interjected.

“Very well then. Do you require transportation to return to it?”

“No, Madam, I travelled here by use of a portkey this morning. Into the Atrium of the building,” Remus answered, “I would ask that we both be allowed to use it once more from within the confines of this very room?”

“A portkey?” she sounded intrigued and apprehensive, “Highly irregular I must say. And I don’t likethat method of travel myself,” she went on to explain. “I had a bad experience during my senior year at Hogwarts, and have never tried it again. But this is no time to reminisce and you have my permission.”

Remus pulled the small metal box from his pocket, allowing Dumbledore to get a good look at it, and showing it to Sirius.

“Together my friend,” Remus said, holding it out within reach.

Sirius put his own hand over the top. The box glowed blue momentarily, and the two men vanished from the room.

The discussions continued in private between Dumbledore and Amelia Bones.

“Are you sure, Mr Dumbledore?” she demanded, shocked by the revelation he had just made to her.

“Quite sure,” Albus responded.

“I think I have had one too many surprises today,” she said forthrightly. “And this last one is certainly the biggest of them all.”

“Everything must be done to the best of our ability,” Dumbledore foreshadowed. “You now understand the need to act now, and ensure all possible safety measures as put into place.”

“I do understand, completely and agree with you,” Amelia stated firmly.

“Forgive me, but I must return to Hogwarts now and begin to set things into place.”

Once he had left her office, Amelia Bones sat down in her chair heavily, going over everything in her mind that had happened today. She would need a strong calming draught before the end of the night.

Making quite a rough entrance into his own house using the portkey, Remus made sure that he had a steadying hand on Sirius. The landing wasn’t always smooth, even for wizards who used this method of transport on a more regular basis. The sensation was difficult to describe, and could be alarming. He had known others to fall flat on their faces.

Sirius blinked a few times, looking around the room and trying to take in what he could see close by. Not everything he saw was registering with his brain. He felt as if there were large chucks of time missing from his memory.

“This is your place?” Sirius asked, knowing he had not been here before.

“I know it is not much, but it is all I need right now,” Remus conveyed with embarrassment. “I will give you a tour a little later.”

“Would you like to take advantage of a full shower?” Remus asked, not knowing what need Sirius would want to take care of first. The wash he had allowed himself at the Ministry of Magic had been too rushed.

“I have some of your clothes in a box, I will go and find it. I am sure you don’t want to stay in those over-sized garments any longer than you have to.”

Sirius had moved slowly towards the sitting room, and lowered himself into one of the comfortable arm chairs. His brain was working very slowly, feeling like it was stuffed full of cotton wool.

“You kept my old clothes even after all this time, Moony?”

Remus shrugged his shoulders, looking at the floor, and then back up again, “I couldn’t bare to throw them away, Sirius,” his voice thick with emotion. “They gave me hope that one day you come back. I boxed yours up after James and Lily………….” unable to complete the sentence, the realisation that they were dead being very painful to accept.

“I did the same for some things belonging to them, but for different reasons. Deep in my heart I knew they were not coming back. I couldn’t bare to throw anything away, for any of you.”

Sirius was about to pull himself out of his chair, but Remus motioned for him to stay where he was. “I will get some food on the table. But first, I will find that box,” trying to distract them both from the hardships and losses that neither of them were ready to face tonight.

A short time later, Remus returned with the required box, his friend’s upper body was sagging into the corner of the sofa. Lupin was reluctant to wake him, but knew that Sirius needed to eat before he slept. He would need to hurry up.

By the time he managed to move Sirius to the kitchen table, a delicious smell was wafting from the oven. Although he owned a wand and could use it with some skill, sometimes simplicity was best, especially when it came to food. Cooking was something he enjoyed, even though it was just for himself. It allowed him to forget all the troubles about getting a job, or find money when it was difficult to come by.

Putting a piping hot dish of lasagne in the centre of the table, Remus could see that his friend was fighting a losing battle to stay awake. The adrenaline and pure Black stubbornness that had been keeping him going through the day had evaporated, leaving behind only fatigue and dehydration.

Taking a plate and placing a serving of the creamy pasta onto the centre, he then set it in front of Sirius. He repeated the same for himself and poured glasses of cool water. Although they had shared a few sentences with each other, Remus couldn’t help but feel the yawning divide that had been created between them by Azkaban. He wasn’t sure how to cross it, but knew that it wasn’t going to be easy or tonight.

Trying not to watch his friend eat, Remus couldn’t help but mind the tension lines on his forehead and around his eyes. They stood out against his pale waxy skin. Sirius was too tired to think about anything more right now, even eating and drinking.

At first, Sirius had attacked the food with great enthusiasm, his taste buds craving anything with rich flavour and heavy in calories. But all too quickly, his appetite had waned even before he had managed more than a half-dozen fork fulls. He began twirling the fork around in his hand, his eyes darting back and forth around the room and now beginning to droop.

Remus took pity on his friend, and there was no further conversation as he gently pulled Sirius to his feet and placing a secure grip on his upper arm, manoeuvred them both down the hallway to the guest room. Apart from his own small room, it was the only other one in the house that wasn’t cluttered by storage boxes and mix-matched furniture.

The change of clothes would have to wait until the morning. Sirius had barely looked up at entering the room, his eyes already at half mast, and his body growing heavy. He laid on the bed before Remus had a chance to pull back the covers, his bare feet still exposed. The chafed and painful looking welts around his ankles visible.

Sirius was almost asleep, but it was anything but peaceful. His friend had not stirred, and he hoped that he wouldn’t feel any of his administrations. Remus took the opportunity to fetch a jar of healing salve, and tend to the raw, sore marks around his ankles and wrists.

Exiting the room, he left the door slightly ajar in case Sirius awoke during the night or needed anything. Remus returned to the kitchen to finish his own uneaten dinner. His muscles were too tense, and knew it would be many hours before he would be able to relax. It was still difficult to fathom that Sirius was no longer in prison, and was only in the next room, sleeping as he had left him barely ten minutes ago.

In the quiet, perfectly normal suburb of Little Whinging, London, the stillness of the night sky was interrupted by the sound of a motorcycle engine. The residents of this street were all tucked up safely in their beds, and didn’t bother to look out of their large and square houses to see what or who was making all the noise.

The night air was quite cool for this time of the year, and would grow colder in coming weeks.

The Dursley family who lived at Number 4 Privet Drive were sleeping soundly as well, except for one.

A small, thin boy with a crown of messy black hair, wearing glasses. And his name was Harry.

Right at this moment, he was having a battle with himself. There wasn’t anybody else to talk to.

He had really done it this time. He had heeded the warning Uncle Vernon had sternly given him about his meals before getting in the car on Dudley’s birthday. The one time he had been allowed to go with the family.

He still hadn’t worked out why they had agreed to that. Normally he didn’t get to go anywhere. His usual routine was to cook and complete chores for them and get locked away in his cupboard and ignored as though he never existed.

To the zoo, a most unexpected place. Somewhere exciting and full of mystery.

The very long python bred in captivity and with no family had been nice to talk to. Nobody else ever did, unless it was to yell at him for doing something wrong. He had felt sorry that it was locked up behind the enclosure, day after day. He didn’t know how the glass panel had disappeared allowed the snake to escape. But from the moment he had seen Uncle Vernon’s bulging features looking down at his mirth at Dudley’s predicament, he knew it couldn’t end well.

For the longest time, they had been threatening to send him to an orphanage. Telling him that he was worthless and would never amount to anything. They had instilled in him that he was abnormal and not like other children. They used fear to threaten him about such places who took in children, and didn’t have families of their own, or had been abandoned. He didn’t know which category his Aunt and Uncle could be apply to him.

Aunt Petunia had wailed all the way back to the house, about her poor, wet son. Uncle Vernon had parked in the driveway, gripping Harry too tightly as he climbed out of the back seat, demanding to know what had happened.

Harry had pleaded with his uncle that he didn’t know what had happened. But his explanation had not been sufficient, and he found himself being thrown roughly into the cupboard. Almost a week had passed since the 23rd June.

Inside the house, a small amount of light could be detected coming from the cupboard beneath the stairs. A grumble of hunger came from the boy. Wrapping the thin blanket around his shoulders, he huddled in what little warm it offered. He moved about trying to get a little more comfortable within the confines of the closet, but winced as he felt pain from the bruising he could feel on his shoulder. Even his hair still smarted and left him with a dull headache for the majority of a day from being nearly yanked out by the roots.

The dark-haire boy had almost fallen asleep, when he had been startled by someone pounding forcibly on the front door. Who would be calling at the Dursley’s house this time of night?

Heavy footsteps could be heard from Uncle Vernon as he descended the stairs, complaining about waking good honest folk from their beds in the middle of the night.

The door to his cupboard was normally locked most of the day and night, but on this occasion, Aunt Petunia had forgotten to do so when he had finished the dishes. Very slowly he pushed the door open a crack. From here, he could see to the front door. He switched off the small light so that he wasn’t seen.

Uncle Vernon could be heard shouting and demanding to know who was at the door. There was another voice on the outside, but the young boy couldn’t quite hear what was being said.

Harry could see his Aunt Petunia standing behind her husband, and his grossly overweight cousin, Dudley huddled up next to her.

Uncle Vernon continued his unyielding tirade.

“I told you there is nobody living here by that name. Now I must insist you leave at once, Sir!” shouted his Uncle, refusing to open the wooden door to the unannounced visitor.

All of a sudden, the front door was thrust open and was left barely hanging from its hinges. A large dark, figure moved through the door frame, into the house. He was not only tall, but easily twice or thrice as wide as Uncle Vernon. Harry had never seen such a large person before and couldn’t see the man’s face from his concealed position.

“Dry up, Dursley you great prune,” the man snarled back, shoving past him, walking down the narrow hallway towards the sitting room. The floor groaning under his large bulk.

Once in the sitting room, the heated discussion continued, but Harry was only able to work out odd words. Did he dare to move closer out of the cupboard and hear more? If he was caught, the punishment would be most severe. But the appearance of such strange and large person intrigued him.

Being as extra quiet as he could, Harry took a few careful measured footsteps out of his cupboard, keeping out of site. He would have to run back quickly before he was discovered.

“You don’t understand, I have orders from the Headmaster of Hogwarts himself, no less. Telling me to come and take Harry with me,” the large man tried to reason. His accent made it difficult to understand what he was saying.

Harry closed his eyes, knowing that the stinging words about a ‘brat’ were about him.

Cautiously looking back into the room, he could see the large man waving the pointed end of an umbrella at Uncle Vernon, “Never insult ……. in my presence.”

“Didn’t you tell him everything in that letter that came with him from Dumbledore?” the man demanded to know.

“Of course not, we burned all that rubbish,” Petunia stated in a high-pitched voice.

“I will not be listening to anything that crazy old crackpot has to say anymore,” Vernon declared, the cords of his neck standing out. “My family has been out of pocket and a whole lot more ever since the useless brat was left on our door step.”

Harry had missed the name given twice, sounded like, Elvis Dumpling.

The man looked around Uncle Vernon, fixating a smile at Dudley, “I haven’t seen you since you were a baby Harry, but you are much more further along than I would have imagined, especially around the middle.”

Harry’s heart jumped a little in fright when the man mentioned his own name. How did this man know him?

The man’s face was covered in a full thick beard and moustache, but his eyes looked friendly, as the boy dared to take a step around the wall, revealing his presence for the first time.

Dudley edged even closer to his mother, “I…. I’m not Harry,” he stammered, turning body around so that his ample backside was protruding.

“I am. I’m Harry,” the boy, announced with as much courage as he could muster to come forward.

“Well, of course you are,” the large man declared cheerfully. Seemingly genuinely seemed happy to see him.

There was a distinct scowl from Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia, the expressions on their faces demanding to know why they could see him out of his cupboard.

“Excuse me, but who are you?” Harry asked.

“Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts,” the man gave honesty and with pride. “Sorry I didn’t introduce myself proper.”

“What is Hogwarts?” the boy queried innocently.

“That’ll be where you are going to of course, when you get your letter,” the man answered, looking back a little confused at the boy’s lack of knowledge about such an institution.

“I will not pay for some freaks to teach him nothing but magic tricks,” Vernon yelled hotly.

“Tonight, you will be coming with me, Harry,” the large man stated, his tone not about to accept any refusal.

Harry nodded his head, accepting that the Dursleys had made some kind of arrangement with this man was here tonight. He was here to take him to the orphanage. They had chosen a time in the night so that the neighbours wouldn’t see him leave. No doubt some excuse would be given to them by his Aunt and Uncle for his sudden absence.

“Better not stay too long, getting a bit late and all,” Hagrid spoke. “Anything ya wish to be taking?”

Harry thought for a moment about the small number of trinkets back in his cupboard. There wasn’t anything that he wanted to remind him of this place. He carried enough bad memories, but didn’t want to tell that to the man sent from the orphanage.

“No,” came the timid short reply, his face flushing red with embarrassment.

The man must have thought this was rather odd.

The boy looked over at his Aunt, Uncle and cousin. Would there be a last minute reprieve or change of mind? He guessed not by their snobbish expressions down at him with upturned noses.

“Come on then,” he encouraged, leaving through the splintered door.

Outside, Harry shivered from the sudden change in temperature.

Assuming there would be a black sedan or similar car to drive him to the unknown orphanage, the sight of a faded blue motorcycle parked beside the curb was definitely not what he had been expecting.

Harry had never seen a motorcycle so large. Not even in books. The width and breadth of the vehicle matched perfectly with the man’s enormous proportions.

The large man must have thought it might be an impracticable mode of transport as well, looking back at him for a moment before straddling the over-sized leather saddle.

“Ain’t like I can travel any other way,” he offered sheepishly in explanation.

“Sit here in front where I can see yeh,” the man instructed. “Wouldn’t want ya fallin’ off half-way now.”

Harry nodded, and nervously climbed in front and sat down on the seat, having no intentions of disobeying. He was yet to be convinced that this was safe. He wasn’t sure where to put his hands. The handlebars were too far away for him to hold onto.

He didn’t what it was made from, but the fabric of man’s extra large coat was ticking the exposed skin on his arms.

The man seemed to notice his awkwardness, Harry letting out a squeak of fright, as a large arm pulled him backwards against his large bulky chest.

Looking upwards and watched a pair of goggles being put into place. Harry only had his own glasses, and he had no idea how effective they were going to be at shielding him during their trip. A light breeze started blowing onto his face.

The powerful engine roared into action, the boy feeling the thrum of the machine underneath them. Goosebumps appeared on his forearms. Indescribable sensations of trepidation and anticipation assailing him all at once.

Harry was tempted to look back at the only house he had ever known, but focused his attention ahead as the bike lurched suddenly to one side. The kick stand had been released and the tyres were rolling forward.

The bike had only travelled a short distance down the street, the butterflies in Harry’s stomach growing. His heart jumped into his throat, when he felt the rubber wheels leave the surface of the road, lifting the entire motorcycle into the air.

Surely they were about to crash.

But to his utter amazement the bike continued to rise higher and higher into the dark sky. The large man wasn’t panicking or showing any signs that they were in danger.

He had no idea how a motorcycle came to fly.

“Alright there, Harry?”

Fear had robbed him of his voice, and he shook his head vehemently.

The man’s coat offered a crude sanctuary for his much smaller body, protecting him from the worst of the cold wind as they picked up speed and altitude. It was still chilly though being up this high, and another shiver of cold ran through him.

His thoughts were too jumbled and mixed-up. What he was seeing made no sense. Where they were headed, he had no idea. What this new life would bring, he couldn’t say.

Approaching their intended destination, Hagrid looked fondly down at the precious cargo in front of him. Somewhere over Bristol, and halfway through the journey, the boy had drifted asleep, curling into the warm folds of his coat. His position didn’t look very comfortable, but he was loathed to wake him.

“No too long to go now, and yeh be back home where you belong,” he promised.

Ensuring this decent and landing was a little smoother, he kept a protective hand on the boy’s shoulder until the motorcycle to a complete stop.

Just when it looked like he would have to carry the boy as he slept, Harry jerking awake on his own now that the engine was once again silent.

He held onto the seat momentarily as he got off, his legs turning to jelly. The man was patient enough to wait until he was ready to walk again.

The street was too dark for Harry to determine where exactly they were. There was a house in front of them, but he couldn’t distinguish any of the details.

He was about to ask the large man if they were still near London, as they followed a path towards the back door.

Harry stood as close as possible to the large man as he used a large hand to knock loudly.

On the inside of the house, Remus had been dozing off in one of his comfortable arm-chairs when the knocking began.

Sirius let out a startling yell, and came stumbling out of the guest bedroom, his hair wildly sticking up all over the place because of its length. It was clear that he had been asleep.

Remus withdrew his wand, and Sirius retrieved his from the kitchen table where it still laid. Both of them exchanging worried glances at who would be coming here unannounced in the dead of night.

Without warning, and before they could identify their late visitor, the door burst open with force. The wooden structure failing to be much of an obstacle after the pounding from Hagrid’s beefy arm, falling to the floor with a horrendous crash.

“Sorry about that,” came the apology as the large figure leaned down and picked up the door, putting it back into place as best he could.

“Hagrid?” Remus asked, unable to keep the surprise from his voice.

“Dumbledore didn’t want me waitin’ til morning and such. He said he would meet me here to explain it all.”

Black was is no mood to see that man again quite so soon. Sirius was unable to mask his irritability, “Wait for what?”

“It is 3am in the morning,” Remus answered a little bemused. He had not seen the gamekeeper for a number of years, but remembered him fondly. He lowered his wand. It took a little a second or two longer for Sirius to do the same.

Both of them failed to notice the second pair of legs. He lifted up one side of his overflowing coat, reaching for the small figure behind him, “Come on now, where are yeh,”

He urged his young charge forward out of hiding with a gentle hand on the small head. The boy was nervous and frightened about meeting even more strangers.

“He is still a might shy and kinda skittish.”

Remus, feeling like he had just been punched in the stomach, stared in absolute astonishment

The wand in Sirius’s lax grasp, was forgotten as he collapsed on his knees to the floor. Neither of them prepared for the shock or wave of emotion.

A small pale face and bright green eyes beamed back at them……………………..Harry Potter.

To be continued………………….

Author Notes:

Description of the Ministry of Magic and Sirius’ memories from the night Lily and James died have been deliberately truncated for later on in the story. As was the newspaper article for the review, I was trying to keep some pieces of information secret from Remus and you as the reader.🙂

Don’t worry this isnt the last time that the Dursleys will make an appearance. And explanations about the blood protection haven’t happened just yet for a few important reasons. There are enough clues in this chapter to choke a Hippogriff – but many more to come throughout the entire story.

One of the closing speeches by Amelia Bones was derived from a quote by Rick Warren and full credit is given. Words were added and subtracted to make it work for this story.

Whilst I tried to stick true to the characteristics and mannerisms, for some characters, others are merely my own interpretation with a dash of imagination about them.

The “question” to Sirius whilst under Veritaserum is still not to my liking. I wrote a whole different scene with Sirius and a long-winded Dumbledore, but removed that and may us that further on in the story.

Not much of Harry I know in this chapter and I changed where Hagrid took Harry from and have also been deliberately lacking in some details and altering others. And it wasn’t on his birthday. But there will be plenty to come I assure you. If you don’t like an over-protective Sirius and a caring Remus – this may not be the story for you. But it much longer and more complicated from this point.

Of course with Sirius set free this early, this changes a lot of events leading up to the “Prisoner of Azbakan” book and his escape from Azkaban wont happen. Don’t worry plenty of things to occur instead to the characters.

Any grammar or spelling mistakes are unintentional- apologies in advance. Some changes that go against what you may already know of the Wizarding World of course are deliberate.

I hope you have enjoyed it so far and will keep reading.


Carefully Laid Plans


By Jules 6

Ben Krieg thinks that he has everything planned for a few members of the crew to have a good time when the beginning of a new long tour is only a few days away.

Author Notes – New parts for my outstanding stories are slowly being written and I haven’t been around for a long time, but I hope to get some more writing done once more, completing the stories that need to be and putting up some new ones. This short one shot wouldn’t leave me alone and kept writing itself in my head, and I had to change the title.

Chapter One – Carefully Laid Plans

Current time:

Three wet and very bedraggled looking figures were marched from the launch bay towards the Moon Pool. Two of them, dressed in civilian attire were wearing damp towels draped across their shoulders and the third was still wearing a very sodden, partly torn Hawaiian patterned shirt. O’Neill had removed his glasses and was trying to wipe away the excess water from the lenses.

Following in their wake with very serious expressions on their faces was their second-in-command, Commander Jonathan Ford who was covering the remaining night shift and dressed in his usual smart black uniform. And the Captain of the SeaQuest, Nathan Bridger, who was wearing a royal blue robe with his own reading glasses folded and hanging around his neck. It was 3.20am in the morning.

The three men stopped in front of the Moon Pool, a few feet apart from each other, stealing glances at each other, wondering who was going to speak first.

By now they had expected Captain Bridger to be going ballistic at them, declaring that at the very minimum, they would all have stiff penalties and extra duties coming their way. But it was the silence that was causing the trio the most apprehension.

Ford was perturbed by the Captain’s lack of outrage and anger as well, “Captain, do you want me to outline …,” he started to ask, but Bridger held up a hand to him, asking him to wait whilst he struggled with the information he had heard from a number of sources, before the men had been returned to their custody for further investigation and punishment.

O’Neill was trying to get Krieg’s attention, turning side on and glaring at the Morale Officer, before facing forward once more and trying to figure out how in the hell he had been caught up in this whole mess. Krieg was either too worried about Ford and the Captain to return the stare or he was totally ignoring him and Miguel.

Ortiz stood to the right of O’Neill, his expression a little harder to read, but none too happy nevertheless, leaving Ben standing on the end, his focus directly at the floor in front of him.

Krieg rubbed the back of his neck, lifting his head and wincing as he did so, signalling that he had a substantial headache. A darkening bruise on his cheek also bore witness to undisclosed misfortunes having taken place earlier in the evening.

“Do you need medical attention, Lieutenant?” Ford forced out, showing his disappointment in someone, who recently and before this incident, he had begun to gain a little more respect for.

“No, Commander,” Krieg hissed out, wincing again as the echo from his words bounced off the inside of his skull and amplified his discomfort, knowing the the sequence of events of the night were more than a little hazy.

Krieg took a moment to look at his two superior officers, and then glance down the line at his two fellow crew members, noting their displeasure. The day had started out normal, and the afternoon should have been uneventful and the evening could have been a good time for a number of people.

Drowning out the voices in his head reminding him of his impending doom, he made himself to start thinking back. What about all the careful planning that he had put into place? Where had he gone so wrong to find himself in the current predicament? He wanted everybody to believe and understand his originally good-natured intentions.

Earlier that day:

Krieg was walking at a brisk pace towards the Bridge of the SeaQuest, just having exited the Mag-Lev, pausing to allow the large domed doors to part, before entering and making a bee-line for Miguel Ortiz. He was just about to talk covertly to the Cuban crew member about his plans when he felt someone standing behind him.

Turning and trying not to hide that he needed to talk to Miguel out ear-shot, standing up straight, he clamoured, “Commander.”

“Krieg,” Ford greeted him. “Will you be ready to depart on time this afternoon as scheduled?”

“Yes, Sir, as promised, about 3.00pm. I was just going to go over the inventory I am going to be bringing back with my volunteer Ortiz here,” Ben answered, giving Miguel a roll of his eyes to signal that he didn’t want to jeopardize what they had already talked about.

Ford looked down at some paperwork on a clipboard he was carrying in his hands, turning a few of the pages over, “I didn’t know you were planning on taking anybody else upworld with you. I do appreciate that you are using some of your own personal time to complete the job.”

“It wasn’t something that I had put on the report to you earlier today either, but after going over the amount of boxes and stuff, I approached Ortiz here, and he agreed to come along.”

“Now that Doctor Westphalen will be absent until very late night or early tomorrow morning, I need to keep a check on what other launches will be arriving and departing. Captain Bridger is planning to retreat to his cabin after dinner before the chaos of the new crew members tomorrow.”

“I didn’t know that Kristin was planning to go anywhere?” Ben scrambled in haste to query that tid-bit of news, trying to get as much information about the impending movements of those two people as possible.

“Well as you know a lot of the new members will be part of her science department, and I guess she wanted to get a head start on introducing them to life aboard a vessel such as this, before they do actually step foot in here tomorrow. She was planning to check on Lucas before departing.”

“All the more reason for me to go and complete task to take the pressure of anybody else. Both she and the Captain have both been worried about Lucas for the past week. It’s the least I can do for them,” Ben added. It wasn’t a complete lie; he had known that their resident computer geek had been sick with a bad respiratory infection for several days. He had been visiting the teenager himself as time allowed.

Ford nodded in agreement at the comments about Lucas before responding, “If anything else changes between now and when you leave, be sure to let me know.

“Sure thing,” Krieg promised, leaning on the top of Ortiz’s chair and inwardly sighing in relief when he saw the dark-skinned Commander walk to another area of the Bridge that required his attention.

“Are you sure you got this? If the Captain finds out…” Ortiz hissed without finishing the sentence, still facing his monitor to cover up any conversation they were sharing by using his hands and nervously adjusting his headset.

“Just be ready with your little bag of clothes to change into once we are on dry-land, and I promise to take care of everything else,” Ben replied. “And don’t tell the whole story to O’Neill until we get the launch going. The last thing we need on this little trip is panic or indecision, and with Tim, we get both.”

“I still cannot believe you are not going to tell him until afterwards,” Ortiz scoffed, a knot beginning to form in the pit of his stomach. What they were doing seemed harmless enough, but there was that little annoying voice starting to poke holes in that theory.

“Hey, Tim could use a little relaxing time like the rest of us,” Krieg said non-committedly, walking away and off the Bridge happy that he could keep everything under wraps.

In another part of the SeaQuest, another conversation was about to take place in one of the smaller rooms of the vessel.

Red-headed Doctor Westphalen knocked on the hatch door, and waited patiently for the occupant to open. She was carrying a few small items with her.

The distinct meshing of the inner workings of the hatchway door could be heard turning, and as soon as it was open wide enough, she looked around it and smiled, “How are you feeling today?”

Lucas left the door open and went back to his bunk, knowing that he wasn’t going to be able to get away from her scrutiny. He hadn’t answered her question yet, not wanting to lie to her. Kristin could often tell if he wasn’t being upfront with her, which irritated him to no end when he was normally such a private person.

“Talkative today again, I see,” Kristin started the discussion and seating herself on the edge of his bed, “Open up,” she instructed, slipping a thermometer into his mouth when he complied with the request.

“Have you eaten since breakfast?” she asked, “No of course not,” she added with a little frustration in her voice.

A shrug of his shoulders was his comeback to acknowledge that she had been correct in her guesswork. The bland soup menu had done nothing to encourage his already poor appetite

“I know you don’t feel like eating much, Lucas, but you need to keep your strength up now that you are on the home stretch to recovery,” she softly rebuked him, removing the thermometer and looking at the reading.

“Temperature is normal today, so that is excellent progress,” she praised. “Anything else you are not telling me?”

Lucas felt too guilty after the care that the doctor had given him during his illness, not to be truthful. He still wasn’t used to having someone care quite so much about how he was feeling, and if he was warm enough or needed anything multiple times of the day. But secretly he had revelled in the new sensation of having someone wanting to know if he was alright. Captain Bridger had been around just as much as she had, but their approaches were different.

“I couldn’t sleep at all last night, and I have a nagging headache,” he admitted.

“Yes, I know you haven’t been sleeping very well lately. Your throat and the constant coughing during the night didn’t help at all in that regard. Do you need some medication for it?” She took a stethoscope and placed it on his chest to listen to his breathing. “Your lungs definitely sound a lot clearer, today.”

“No, it’s nothing much, more annoying than anything and probably only there because of the lack of sleep.” A wide yawn only served as evidence to such a statement.

“Well I don’t know if you know or not, but now that you seem to be on the mend, I am going to be leaving soon to go up-world and carry out some work,” Kristin informed him. “You won’t be alone and I should be back very late tonight. Nathan is here on-board if you need anything, as well as the rest of the crew. I am sure he will be by later to talk to you anyway. I will give you a number where you can contact me.”

“I will be fine, thank you,” feeling like that he had lost some of his independent streak whilst he was sick.

“I am sure you will, but just for good measure, I am going to leave these with you in addition to regular dose of antibiotic,” Kristin said, handing over two small white pills in a small plastic sealed bag. “These are similar to the ones you have been taking during the day, but these are a night-time blend. If your headache becomes worse, they should help with that and allow you to rest a little easier tonight.”

“I won’t need them,” Lucas stated with a touch of defiance, having had enough forced pill swallowing this week.

“Humour me, please, I won’t be around until much later tonight if you do decide to need something,” the doctor said, opening the pocket of his shirt, placing the bag inside and re-buttoning the flap.

Getting up from her temporary seat, “It goes without saying, that although you may be at the tail end of this, I expect you to take it easy for a few more days,” she motioned in mock sternness with a pointing finger. “Make sure you eat, keep warm and don’t stay up late working.” She started smoothing out the creases in the blankets and smoothing them out, but then ceased what Lucas had come to openly name her OCD tendencies.

Lucas tried to give her a mild look of surprise and offence at her accusation, but they both shared a brief laugh as Kristin gathered her belongings and prepared to leave the cabin. She looked back and gave him one last warm smile that said so much without the need for words.

After the door was closed, Lucas sat up on his bed for a few seconds, smiling to himself before turning back wards the aqua-tubes and attempting to find Darwin. He hadn’t seen too much of his marine friend and had missed being able to take a daily swim with him.

Nathan Bridger was currently near the Moon Pool, having seen Kristin depart for the surface for a few hours to sort out her new batch of people. But not before she had given him a running report on Lucas’s health.

With a very long and busy day scheduled for tomorrow and the coming week, tonight was hopefully going to be a relaxing one in his cabin. Jonathan was on the Bridge tonight, so he could afford to relax for a few hours.

Before intending to retreat to his own cabin and not do anything more stimulating than reading a book, the Captain swung by the mess hall, picking up a cylindrical item before heading back down the corridor in the opposite direction.

After a short walk, he too was outside knocking lightly on the hatch to Lucas’s small cabin.

Inside, Lucas had almost drifted off, propped up against the aqua tube running through it, when he heard the tapping on his door. “Come in.”

Bridger opened the door, looking to see if anybody back out in the corridor, saw him entering before resealing the door. “Shhhh, don’t tell Kristin, or we will both be in trouble,” reaching into the pocket of his jacket and pulling out the concealed cylindrical object.

“Oh you are a life-saver, Captain,” Lucas exclaimed at the small can of soda that was being offered. It might not have looked like much to anyone else, but to the teenager it was contraband that the doctor would not have approved of. “I promise I won’t tell a soul.”

Bridger smiled as he watched Lucas take the lemonade out of his hand, open the can and take a mouthful of the cold contents. To someone who had had a sore and scratchy throat for a number of days, it felt like a soothing balm and the relief was evident on the teenager’s face.

“Kristin tells me that you are slowly on the mend,” Bridger said as he took to sitting on a chair in the room. Lucas was readjusting the tangle of blankets on his bed for the umpteenth time today. “That is great news.”

“What else did she tell you?” Lucas asked as he paused briefly from what he was doing.

“Oh she gave me a whole list of symptoms that I am supposed to look out for whilst she isn’t here,” Bridger teased, knowing it would invoke a reaction.

“Yeah, yeah, I am sure she did,” the teenager grumbled half-heartedly as he punched his pillows and lay back against them. “She knows I haven’t been sleeping well.”

“Just looking at your face, Lucas would tell anybody that you are more than tired,” Bridger remarked truthfully, silently trying to think of any other reason apart from illness that would keep the boy from sleeping. It wasn’t unusual given his almost nocturnal habits to see his sleeping patterns become affected.

“The brain has felt like it was full of cotton-wool for days. I will go stir-crazy if I just sit here for too long like she wants me to do.”

Bridger was one of the privileged few, all too familiar with the teenager’s unspoken need to keep himself stimulated and thinking on an almost continual basis.

“Well I won’t nag you as much as she does,” Bridger pledged, “But for my sake as well as your own, please eat something before you go to bed tonight.”

“I tried at lunch time to have something, but everything tastes like cardboard, when it wants to go down at all,” Lucas sulked, rubbing at his throat signalling that there was some residual inflammation.

“I don’t think she would mind what you eat, within reason,” Bridger suggested, “So long as it is something in your stomach. I don’t think she would object to you getting out of this cabin and walking to the mess hall either. Might help clear your head to move about more than you have been able to do for the past few days.”

Lucas mulled over what the man was proposing. The chance at some fresh air outside of his own cabin was very tempting.

“If she asks, or you are apprehended, I will avoid all knowledge for my own safety and well-being,” the Captain joked. “Just think about what we both said. You are old enough to take care of yourself.”

“Thanks!” Lucas beamed in genuine gratitude; it wasn’t very often that someone said that out loud. “Maybe in a few hours I will feel tired enough to sleep.”

“Please just take it slow,” Nathan cautioned, “You don’t want to end up right where you started from.”

“You know where I am if you change your mind and decide that your need some company,” the Captain offered as he went to give the teenager some peace and quiet. He knew from his own experience that when you were on the home stretch after being sick for any length of time, being surrounded by people, even those who cared, was the last thing you wanted.

Bridger left the small cabin and Lucas was once again left to his own devices and the solitude of his room.

In the Launch Bay, Ben Krieg was making the last few preparations to leave for the mainland. Miguel was discreetly stowing a bag under one of the seats that he could easily retrieve later. Communications Officer, Tim O’Neill was currently seated in the pilot’s seat, completing a systems check before their departure. With O’Neill doing everything by the book, Krieg knew he still had more than a few minutes that he required.

“Finish this up, and I will be right back,” Krieg informed Ortiz.

The Cuban man looked back at the man, “Did you forget something?”

“Sort of…,” came the response as Ben jogged away to avoid any further scrutiny. He liked Ortiz, but like O’Neill some small pieces of the night’s festivities had deliberately left until the last minute to avoid any ugly confrontations. And spoiling the intended fun for all involved.

A minute later, and Lucas was considering locking his hatch door and putting up a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the outside given the number of unannounced visitors, as he detected yet another knock upon his door.

He called out for the person to come in, but when he didn’t receive an answer and the knock was repeated a second time, he got up and opened the door, ready to make his annoyance known. His headache had increased up a notch in the last hour, and any energy that had returned earlier in the day with his health improvement was now gone.

“What!” he demanded, yanking the door open. Any other sharp bite was lost when he recognised his friend standing in the corridor.

“Is that anyway to greet your rescuer?” Krieg chastised, “Quick we haven’t got much time.”

“Quick time for what, Ben?”

“I am headed up-world in a few minutes with O’Neill and Ortiz in a launch for some supplies and a little extracurricular activity, and thought you might want to tag along.”

Lucas gauged his friend sceptically, especially at the last part of his explanation, “You want me to come?”

“Sure, I do, if you are up for it. I heard the Doc talking to Bridger earlier, more or less giving you a clean bill of health,” Krieg answered, “Well maybe not in so many words. You are feeling a lot better though aren’t you?” he asked, knowing that the teenager had definitely been under the weather.

The teenager nodded, but didn’t elaborate further. He didn’t want to admit about the headache or how tired he was to Krieg.

“Did you see Bridger today?”

“Just a while ago. But he did suggest that I should get out to get a little fresh air,” Lucas let slip, omitting that the Captain had meant within the vessel.

“Kristin wanted me to take things easy for a bit longer,” the teenager complained but nodding in the affirmative to his question, “And she is nagging me to eat more, no surprises there.” The idea of going up-world, even for a short time, was becoming more appealing by the minute. Surely they wouldn’t be gone long and he wasn’t a prisoner.

A knowing smirk from Krieg could almost see the wheels of Lucas’s brilliant mind slowly kick into gear. The kid could use a little fun, and there would be three of them to watch out for him. They would all be back before anyone was missed or unwanted questions could be asked.

“I think I can accommodate you there, my young friend, and solve your food problem,” Krieg relayed, playfully grabbing the teenager gently by the shoulders and ruffling his blond hair. “Where we are going, there are lots of good food places where you can take your pick.”

“Quick, change clothes and grab a coat and lets be on our way,” Krieg suggested, trying to keep to the short window of opportunity that they all had.

Krieg waited outside the door for his young friend to change, frowning a little when Lucas emerged wearing jeans, his regular favourite baseball shirt, minus any warmer jacket. “Far be it from me to be any kind of fashion connoisseur, but are you certain you will be warm enough in just that?”

“Says Mr I-own-four-Hawaiian-shirts, if we are doing this, let’s go,” Lucas shot back not about to let his friend become another mother-hen aboard the SeaQuest, closing his hatch door, and heading towards the launch bay.

“Ready to go gentlemen?” Krieg shouted as he boarded the launch, knowing that he was about to throw a major spanner into the works.

“I guess so,” Miguel announced, but anything else he wanted to add died on his lips, as he and O’Neill got a glimpse of another figure joining them.


O’Neill looked back over his shoulder at sound of Ortiz calling out a familiar name.

Right that minute, all three other members of this make-shift crew were aware that Krieg had not disclosed everything about this little intended jaunt.

The teenager himself took place on one of the long seats along the side of the launch while Ben busied himself with closing the door and preparing to leave.

“What the hell is he doing here?” Ortiz blurted out, looking back in a brief apology, sounding harsher than he had intended, but recognizing that everything had suddenly gone from simple to very complicated in the blink of an eye.

“What! Kid has been cooped up for days. He needs to get out for a bit,” Krieg retorted, feigning that he didn’t know why there were protests. This was Lucas after all, the crew’s unofficial mascot, even though he wouldn’t openly tell say that out loud so that his young friend could hear such a title.

“Have you told O’Neill yet?” Ortiz demanded, thinking that they were not all on the same page.

Lucas sat a little too quietly on his own, ignoring the bantering sitting with his head leaning against the back of the seat, his eyes closed. Ben motioned for Ortiz to come closer towards the cockpit, so that all three of them could talk without the teenager becoming too suspicious. He was going to use what little information he knew to appease those who were beginning to doubt his plan.

“Tell me what?” O’Neill questioned, swivelling in his pilot’s chair to hear what was about to be said, “The Captain and Westphalen have been worried about Lucas,” he began, knowing that such a general statement was the truth at any time, but not stopping when he saw he had a captive audience.

“They gave him the all clear today, but they cannot persuade him to eat much yet. Bridger himself said that Lucas needs a little fresh air, so I made a last minute decision and thought that while we were headed up-world, I would do them and Lucas a favour an entice him with some real food.”

“Are we getting this bucket of bolts under-way or not? And there better be good food, Ben.” Lucas grouched, as his headache spiked for a moment but then settled.

“You heard the man,” Krieg announced in triumph with a new sense of vigour, figuring that neither of the other two men had the heart to deny the teenager or have the guts to tell him to leave now.

Krieg took his place in the co-pilot seat next to O’Neill, when Ortiz leaned over and spoke in his ear, “You still haven’t told Tim what you have planned.”

“Later, later, I will,” Krieg ground out in a hushed voice, before giving a flashing smile towards O’Neill, who was looking over at the whispered conversation. O’Neill had been sure he heard his name mentioned, and the Morale Officer was using his usual look of over-confidence to mask what he was thinking.

Miguel took up a seat near Lucas, fastening his safety harness whilst the craft’s engines roared into gear and they began to move out of sanctuary of SeaQuest. Most members of the senior crew were aware that the teenager had been sick, but until today, hadn’t seen a whole lot of him. Even on the Bridge, which was a regular haunt for him. Westphalen had promised those concerned that she was treating him with a dose of antibiotics and rest.

“Okay there, Lucas?” Ortiz asked, noting that the tall youth was much more subdued at the moment than normal, especially with Krieg present.

Lucas opened his eyes, rubbing at them and trying to deny how much they currently burned from tiredness. He had heard someone call his name over the launch engines, and guessed that it must have been Miguel. Not wanting to admit he didn’t hear the entire question, he gave a thumbs up gesture with one hand, before closing his eyes and going back to his previous silent position.

The same knot that Ortiz had been feeling a little while ago on the Bridge was now growing larger, and the puzzled expression that had seen beginning to blossom across Tim’s forehead, signifying that this “ordinary” trip to get supplies was about to become anything but ordinary.

Back to current time:

Tim O’Neill had spent the last five minutes, trying to gain the confidence to speak up, “Sir, if I may…,” he managed to get out with as much conviction as one could muster, taking half a step forward whilst looking like a drowned rat.

“No you may not,” came the sharp response from Jonathan Ford, cutting off any further defence on his own behalf, and causing Tim to step take that half-step backwards.

“If you please, Commander,” Bridger signalled, taking several pages and glancing through them, and peering over the top to make sure that the three men were watching. He inwardly smiled as he took stock of their condition and how each of them was presented.

“Three thousand, four hundred and sixty-nine dollars, and twelve cents,” Bridger read out from the bottom of the final page.

“Sir, that can’t be right…,” stammered out of Miguel Ortiz, before he could scarcely think properly, shocked by the large amount quoted. He looked right and then left and saw the same look of couldn’t be right splattered across Tim and Krieg’s faces as well.

“Three thousand, four hundred and sixty-nine dollars, and twelve cents,” Bridger repeated, a whole lot louder this time, standing much closer to them all. This is the voice they had been originally expected.

“Indecent comments made against person or persons of the opposite sex,” he read out loud, punctuating each accusation with emphasis. “Evading a full taxi fare and hurling insults at the driver. Causing disruption and breakages in a local supermarket that have yet to be paid for. Setting off a fire-safety system in a licensed establishment, inappropriate touching of a staff member of said licensed premises and assault of a patron inside, unlawful damage of property.”

“And this is just the beginning, gentlemen,” Ford interrupted as Bridger took a breath. “None of you provided your U.E.O. Identification available when requested. And we expect communication with local lawful enforcement within the next half an hour.”

A audible groan from Krieg as his shoulders slumped and put his hands to his head and rubbed at his temples. He wished the floor would just swallow him up. He could scarcely remember any of the events that were alleged, and was sure there was a very bad misunderstanding about the involvement by all three of them in anything even remotely as bad as Bridger was griping about.

Ortiz couldn’t seem to stand still, moving back and forth from one foot to the other, struggling to take everything in. Poor O’Neill looked like he had swallowed something disgusting and had taken on a very odd colour to his face.

“I don’t know everything that went on tonight, gentlemen, and I use that term very loosely.” Bridger informed them as a group, his voice lower but that didn’t mean it didn’t have any of the same sting when being on the receiving end.

The Captain look the time to look at his watch, “Tomorrow, forgive me today is one of the most important days for this vessel in quite a while. In just a few hours from now, a batch of fresh faced science personnel and seamen and women are going to be arriving, expecting us to be at our best.”

“So from now until then, I don’t care if we have to remain here until sunrise, but we are going to start right at the beginning. And one by one you are going to each tell me your version of events, without leaving anything out,” Bridger instructed them.

Bridger turned away from the three men briefly, trying to think how they had arrived at this point. At least the three of them seemed to look contrite and ashamed enough as he turned back around to speak. “Surely three of my senior crew members, can offer an explanation of why a simple supply run turned into this.”

The Captain had turned away again to think of his next sentence, “I am going to give you all a minute to think of anything you want to tell me and own up to before we continue.”

Krieg and the two other men had heard the last sentence well enough, but it was the one before that caught their attention the most. Bridger had said THREE of them.

“Kristin is due back any minute now, and I have no idea what I am going to tell her. She has already had enough on her plate lately,” Bridger paced back and forth. “I guess I am just grateful that there hasn’t been enough time for rumours to spread yet. And be grateful that Lucas is still sleeping in his cabin and hasn’t awoken up and gotten wind of this fiasco.”

With that statement, their worst fears had just multiplied tenfold. Ortiz and O’Neill both turned to Krieg, scarcely able to get the words out that they wanted to shout without Bridger and Ford finding out. And Kristin didn’t know about their little joy-ride yet either. It was hard to work out who was going to kill them first.

“You said he was somewhere safe,” Ortiz said through gritted teeth, clenching his fists, daring Krieg to deny what he had told him and Tim at the supermarket. Everything seemed to go downhill after that point very quickly and they didn’t get the chance to ask more questions again before now. They had just assumed when Ben had meant ‘safe’ it meant he had returned to SeaQuest, perhaps with Kristin on the other launch. Up until the Captain’s comments, they didn’t know that he wasn’t on-board.

“Queue the firing squad,” O’Neill squeezed out, and Miguel couldn’t help but nod in helpless agreement. Ben was desperately trying to think back through all of the unfolding chaos of the night. His head ached abominably, but that was nothing compared to how bad his insides were beginning to feel.

And for the first time since coming back aboard SeaQuest and standing there, Ben thought he was going to be physically violently ill. The launch had left with four people inside it.

Krieg knew in less than one minute, Bridger was going to turn around and demand what else had happened. And Doctor Westphalen… he visibly shivered at what her reaction would be. He could hear her yelling ringing in his ears now, and this time, he couldn’t deny that he deserved it.

Lucas was still out there missing. The one person who meant the most to them all. Somehow he had lost Lucas.

to be continued…

This story was supposed to be one piece, but took a little longer than I thought. Will only be one more chapter. I know I haven’t been around for a while again, but trying to get more writing time. I write a few other fandoms now. More writing has been done to Seed of Doubt – and planning to fix errors in previous stories and improve them – as well as write all the ones I have planned.

Thanks for those still reading.


False Witness – A New Extended Edition


By Jules


Heavy gray clouds overhead promised more snow before the end of the day.   The temperature had dropped noticeably since starting out from Virginia City.  Despite the ominous forecast, the return journey was at slow pace as the horse team was guided through the increasing snow drifts that hugged the narrow trail.  For now, visibility ahead was still fairly good, but no doubt in a few hours the good light would be begin to fade.

The wagon continued to meander along under the watchful look of the driver back towards the Ponderosa.  The bottom of the buckboard had been lined in mattresses to stop the rising cold from the ground penetrating through the timber floor boards and kept the meager amount of heat within the folds of the blankets that covered the occupants.

This arduous journey back home could have waited a few more days, even a week.  Lord know there were enough offers of accommodation in Virginia City if they had all thought staying was the best course of action.  The local hotel and a number of other establishments would certainly been glad to offer him and his boys any rooms that were deemed necessary.

Paul Martin would have quickly agreed that undisturbed rest and his family’s support were the best methods to begin Joe’s long recovery period.  Deep down inside, watching his son throughout the past few awful months, he knew in his heart that the healing, in all its forms, needed to start at home.

Ben Cartwright turned his face away from the cold biting breeze, reaching out and pulling the collar of his jacket more tightly around his neck and praying that they could make it home before the temperature dropped too much more.    He shuffled slightly to one side, mindful of not disturbing the nest of warmth too much before looking down and keeping his attention firmly fixed on the figure lying beside him.

The gentle fingers of a hand carded through the dark loose soft curls, not wanting to wake his fifteen-year old son, a practice used since his younger years that had brought comfort to Joseph when he was sick or injured or a soothing sensation when on the cusp of relaxing deep sleep.   Ben continued to caress the boy’s forehead and temple, but his son didn’t respond to his touch. It was like a brick wall had been built between them, and it was getting harder and harder to reach in and find the real Little Joe.

A gesture seldom shared now unless it was just the two of them and Ben had no doubt if Joe was awake and a little more alert, he would be openly protesting that he was older now and didn’t need to be treated like a baby.   The passage of changing seasons had turned into years as his sons grew, but what Joseph didn’t know was that his father still needed that tactile sensation with him, despite desperately needing to rest.

Picking at the corner of the very top blanket, Ben tugged on the woolen covering, tucking the edges in around Joe’s slim shoulders, and frowning at little at the slight tremors he could feel even through the many layers of fabric.   The back of a hand placed against a pale cheek gave a little relief with the natural warmth that he felt.   Paul had given the whole family a list of different symptoms to look out for.

Forty-eight hours earlier had seen Joe still in the grip of fevered confusion and constant pain.   Brief moments of restlessness had been noticed since the horses took their first steps, with a muttered word or a grunt of discomfort escaping his lips, before he was lost in the folds of sleep once more.

The sleep was not a natural one, however.  Paul had prescribed laudanum since mending the wound, but had lowered the dosage this morning so that the risk of the medication building up in his system was significantly reduced.  Sleeping powders and other milder pain relievers were suggested until tomorrow afternoon when the doctor would visit at the Ponderosa and make another assessment of Joe’s pain levels.

Physical pain and discomfort from the injuries he had sustained was one thing, but what about the emotional and other scars left behind that were much harder to detect or treat.  What about them, Ben asked himself.  How long would they take to heal? Would they ever fully heal? Would his young son ever recover from the torment that he had suffered at the hands of Butch Thomas over the last few months?

Butch Thomas, the name left such a bad after taste in his mouth.  He could not honestly say if someone asked him right at this moment how he feel or what would he do if he was standing face to face with the man, that he would be able to give them a satisfactory answer.    His time and efforts were needed by someone much more important.

If only he could have turned back the hands of time over the last few months and foreseen some of what would befall his youngest son, Ben would have taken the boy out of harms way. He could have simply packed up Joseph and one of his other sons, Adam or Hoss, and ensured that Joe was kept safe in another town away from the dangers that lurked too close.

The family could no longer deny how much that the boy had changed within the past few months.  Little Joe had begun to grow into a confident young man, full of energy and laughter who filled the house with love and joy.   His mischievous and cheeky smile could worm its way into Ben’s heart no matter how much he openly denied it.

The smile had faded to be replaced by tiredness, frustration and fear.   During the day, vitality and enthusiasm had been replaced by dullness, lethargy and hisses of pain from still healing injuries.   Nightfall and evenings came with nightmares, flashbacks and avoidance of what had happened.

Ben couldn’t put an exact date that it had all changed, but now Joseph was sullen and withdrawn and rarely spoke unless asked a question, and then it would be a one-sided battle to get some sort of answer.   Replies now came with a shrug of the shoulders, a shake or nod of his head and on very seldom occasions, one worded guarded truncated responses.

A solemn vow had been sworn that no matter how long it needed to take, that he, and his two eldest sons, Adam and Hoss would be there every minute of the day and night.   To bring Joe back from the brink of depression, guilt and self-doubt.   To instead provide encouragement, support and understanding but allow enough time for Joe to be trust himself again and to be comfortable around those that loved him unconditionally.

The distinct snap of a leather resign brought Ben back from his thoughts, as he felt the wagon lurch to the right briefly and then back in the opposite direction, adjusting the position he was seated in.   Whilst he wished to be nowhere else right this moment, his back was protesting loudly and looking forward when he would be sitting back in a saddle rather than riding passenger.

“Joe, alright back there, Pa?” Hoss asked, guiding the wagon team as slowly as he could over the rough dirt road back to the Ponderosa.  Stealing a worried glance or two over his shoulder at the unmoving mound of blankets lying beside his father.

Ben replied in a voice that held very little emotion at all, “As well as can be expected I guess, son.  We will just have to keep a close eye on him and see how your brother fairs until Paul comes to see him tomorrow.  It is going to be a difficult time for us all.”

Hoss nodded, feeling his gut twist that little more just thinking of what his young brother had been enduring.  He looked to the clouds and prayed that they held off for a few more miles.   A silent prayer of thanks was upon his lips as he saw the familiar gates of the Ponderosa looking back at him in the distance.

Guiding the team to a much slower pace as the buckboard pulled up outside the ranch house, the large man was grateful to see Adam, followed by Hop Sing coming out to meet the travelers.     Another few meters, and the horse came to a complete stop.    Hoss ran his hand through the mane of each animal, briefly patting each in gratitude before applying the brake and looping the reigns over the stick loosely.

Adam had volunteered to ride ahead of the rest of his family to make sure that everything would be ready in time for when his father and two young brothers arrived.   There was hot water boiling on the stove in the kitchen out back, plenty of warm blankets had been arranged on the chair in the bedroom upstairs.

Supper had been prepared and kept warm as well by Hop Sing, but right now food seemed furthermost from anybody’s list of priorities.

The head ranch foreman had heard the returning wagon, and ran over from the bunkhouse, grabbing a hold of the bridle of the horse on the right-hand side, trying currently kept the team as calm as possible for the men two men getting down.  “Thanks, Charlie, I reckon you are plum right on time,” Hoss voiced in  gratitude.

Adam took a look at his father, noting the tightness of his jaw, and the tension across his shoulders.   Whilst Adam hadn’t shared the ride back to notice the unspoken thoughts that plagued the eldest Cartwright’s mind, nor had he heard the discouragement in Ben’s tone of voice answering Hoss a few miles back. The tiredness etched on his face now, and the worry embedded deep into those brown eyes was unmistakable.    The past few months had slowly started eating away at the man’s soul and sense of justice.

Whilst it certainly wasn’t fair to label Ben a broken man, his inner strength was shining through because of the person currently laying still and wrapped in blankets on the floor of the wagon.  A few days ago, Adam had scarcely wanted to contemplate how his father would cope and continued on if Joe had not made it through thus far.   That assessment had changed when seeing it was his love for Little Joe, tethering him to faith and hope, and allowing him to keep a constant vigil despite his own weariness.   He doubted that he could have put into words how he felt right at this moment.

The look on Hoss’s large exterior was one of determination, and his unspoken role of protector was also shining through, daring any danger or threat to come near his family.

One fifteen-year old boy held the magical golden key to all their hearts and was continuing to keep those who cared around him united.   When this same boy had fallen along the way and was slowly withdrawing into himself and away from his family, it was up to all of them, to make sure Joe could turn to any of them for help and reassurance.

Despite the difficult times the boy had been forced to experience and the secrets that he had deliberately kept from them when he felt that there was nowhere else to turn;  now he could come and talk to any of them at any time.  That together they would help repair his sense of trust, and get past this terrible chapter in his young life, and that they all still loved him.

The first few delicate white snowflakes floated down from the clouds, causing everyone to shiver slightly and to make haste and double their efforts before the dusting gotten heavier.    They needed to get Joe inside quickly and into his warm bed.  The last thing he needed was to get sick from the chilly weather.

Hoss was beginning to lower the back board on the wagon, whilst he discussed with his father, the best method for safely removing Joe without causing any further pain.  The medication in his system should be enough to prevent him from waking.

“Take it easy,” Ben implored his second-eldest son, knowing that he was aware of Joe’s injuries.   A muffled weak groan of protest could be heard coming from the mound of blankets when Hoss had first lifted his shoulders from the mattress.

“Paul wanted us to check those fresh stitches on his side are still in place once we have him settled upstairs, Adam.  Heaven knows what that rough road had already done,” Ben asserted, knowing that there was a significant risk of the doctor’s handy work from being pulled and causing fresh bleeding.  And not to forget the pain from his older but still healing injuries.

Ben managed to move the still sleeping Joseph into a half-sitting position towards the end of the wagon, but the blankets had shifted in placed despite their best efforts to buffer against the cold.  An involuntary shiver ran through Joe’s body.     Adam moved his left arm underneath the covers, placing it carefully under Joe’s knees, and wrapping his right arm around the slim shoulders, in one fluid motion, he lifted the fragile boy out of the wagon.

Immediately, Ben had jumped down from the wagon, picking up one fallen damp blanket and hanging it over his own shoulder.   A hand resting carefully against the cotton shirt that Joe wore, could detect a little warmth emanating through the heavy padding and bandages.  He quickly adjusted one of the remaining blankets to cover up any extremities.    This time Joe remained quiet and still, not even reacting to a cold hand checking for signs of fever.

As Adam started took two steps backwards away from the buckboard and then turned towards the house, he couldn’t help but voice his frustration out loud at the far-too thin frame that he was conveying, “You need to start putting on a little weight again, Joe.”

The boy had lost so much weight from injury and stress his brother noted with dismay.  The never-ending war to get his younger brother to eat sufficiently decent meals on a regular basis had been fought, lost and won on many occasions before going to Virginia City.   But it looked as though, that fight and victory had been short-lived and the battle was about to be reignited.

Ben picked up the tails of the blankets from behind Adam and followed his eldest son, as Joe was carried into the homestead.

Hop Sing opened the door widely, allowing Adam to enter the large room and head towards the staircase.   The small Chinese man lead the way up the steps, making sure that there was no obstacle or tripping hazard.   The warmth of the house was welcomed by all, and noticeable as the family reached Joe’ room.

Carefully, Adam laid his sleeping brother on the clean sheets, as the bed clothes were pulled back briefly, shifting Joe’s upper body until he was resting comfortably on the pillows at the head of the bed.   Ben began taking off his boots but left the socks, laying the shoes on a chair near the fireplace to keep them warm for later.

Adam unbuttoned Joe’s trousers now that the boots had been removed, and had to keep his own anger in check as he saw the bruises and scratches that still marred the boy’s pale flesh. The trousers had been a little stubborn at first due to the thick bandages still adorning the boy’s left shin.  The bandages would remain on for at least another month or two, Doc Martin informed them, before they could be removed and Joe be allowed to attempt putting full weight back on that leg.

Hoss stood guard by the bedroom doorway, both Adam and Ben knowing that turmoil and guilt was beginning to eat the larger Cartwright up inside to see his younger brother hurt and so still like this.   Injured again, when he had barely begun healing in the first place.   It went against the very grain of thing to Hoss’s way of thinking, just like everything else that had happened to his brother.  He despised the men who had done this to Joe.  He had a strong dislike for the Judge who had put the boy through so much humiliation in front of everyone.   He didn’t understand a justice system that put its sole trust in the opinions of a few unreliable witnesses.  And most of all, he hated himself for being so angry.

He muttered a brief word about returning to help Charlie with the horses and gather everything else out of the wagon and left the room to go back downstairs.

Joe appeared to be sleeping peacefully and was probably due to stay that way for several more hours to come.  Adam had managed to get one of Ben’s shirts over the boy’s head and bandages, the two of them tucking the blankets back in around him.

Hoss returned to the house, and came into the bedroom once more, carrying the other reminders of Joe’s injuries.   Crossing to the other side of the room, he propped the two wooden crutches up against the wall in the far corner.    It was doubtful that his brother would be leaving his bed anytime soon in the next few days.

The crutches told the story that Joe needed more than his family’s love and caring at the moment just to stand. The boy had stumbled a number of times whilst trying to manoeuvre back and forth from the witness stand.  To Hoss and the rest of the family they only seemed to confirm their fears about how badly Little Joe had been hurt.

There had been a discussion about Joe’s hat before they had left Virginia City, which was now placed on a bedside table.   There had also been a question about his favoured green jacket, but that had been left back at Doc Martin’s due to the damage caused to it.  Ben had declared the garment beyond repair or salvage and could no longer bear to look upon it and see it stained with his youngest son’s blood.

Knowing it was going to be a long night for all, Adam suggested to Hoss that they both go downstairs and get some coffee and the hot food that Hop Sing had downstairs.    Hoss started to voice objection, but looking at his father and receiving a silent ‘work with me’ plea from Adam, reluctantly nodded in agreement, recognizing that their father needed some alone time with his son.

No doubt they would need to rotate between them, including Hop Sing, to take care of Joe during the night, none of them feeling comfortable enough to leave him unattended.   One step forward and two back seemed an apt description lately for everything.

“We will bring you a hot cup of coffee, Pa,” Hoss promised his father.

“That sure would be welcome,” Ben admitted, grateful for the warmth within the room from the fireplace.   Drawing the larger arm chair closer to the bed and removing his thicker coat, laying it beside the already discarded gloves, intending to occupy it later in the night.   Even with its gaudy floral fabric, the comfortable chair had almost become a permanent fixture to the room, but after sitting in it for hours at a time, Ben’s back had been thankful.

Joe had not awoken as such, but for a brief moment his quiet slumber was disturbed and he seemed to be having a battle against unseen shadows again.   Demons that had probably been created from the memories of the real monsters that had stalked him and then caused him so much hurt and pain. Suffering and fear that he had hidden from his family. A deep gnawing fear that bit into the boy’s very soul and stole his spirit with it.

Ben sat on the edge of the bed, for now, the only real important thing was to let the Joseph know that his family was right here with him and that he was safe and loved.   He spoke softly to the boy, reminding him of how much his family had missed him and how proud they had been of him over the last few days.

He continued to talk soothing words to his son as he slept, caressing his face, almost too afraid to touch the bruised cheek until all sounds of distress had ceased.

Ben’s mind started to take him back to a time about a month ago when everything seemed to be going fine. If only he could go back there now.

To be continued ………………

Author Notes:

Rewriting – a great many will probably ask why when there are lot of new ones to write.   Whilst this true, I felt that I needed to go back and fix the many mistakes that had been made when trying to finish in too much of a hurry.   But this extended story will be more than a mere going back to fix errors, this story is about to double in size, with much more new content to be added.   None of it having been seen yet, and hopefully enough twists to keep you reading, but not taking away from the original story that many liked to read.

This chapter didn’t have a lot of new content, but the next few chapters will be longer and more involved.

I hope you will continue to read all of my work.   I have a couple of new fandoms I write now, and plan to rewrite and add to a lot of my stories, because as readers, you deserve it, but as a fan of the characters, feel that I haven’t quite ended these pages enough just yet.

Thank you for reading.


Fixing The Damage


By Jules

Author’s Note:    This little story came about as I watched the Deleted Scenes from the episode “Nothing But the Truth” where Kristin was telling Lucas about how worried she was and about his room being destroyed by the hijackers.

In this story, it is assumed that Tim and Miguel were not present at the time of the SeaQuest being taken over.

and so the story continues:

Commander Jonathan Ford was walked towards the launch bay area, ready to greet the arrival of Captain Bridger and Doctor Westphalen.   A few of the other crew members were returning also, but only to help with the repairs that were necessary until they reached Pearl Harbor.

Ford had changed clothes from the black jumpsuit he had taken from one of the hijackers.  It had been almost 12 hours since Colonel Schrader had stolen a launch. The man had ignored Katie Hitchcock when she warned him the maximum depth that the vessel was and had paid the ultimate price.

As he turned the corner, he spotted Lucas standing near a bulk head, looking intently at some instrument panel that had been damaged by Schrader’s men.

“How’s it going, Lucas?”

Lucas jumped slightly at the Commander’s voice, not hearing anybody come up behind him, “Oh sorry, I didn’t see you.”

Ford could see from his stance, the remnants of tension across the teenager’s shoulders, “You don’t have to do this now.”

“I don’t mind helping out.  Everybody else is busy cleaning up.”

“You should be getting some sleep,” Ford pointed out, knowing that the Captain would be worried.   Tiredness was plainly visible, as well as a few other emotions that the teenager was trying to mask.

“Nah, I am good,” Lucas replied casually, pressing a few of the switches to see if they still worked, raking a hand through his messy blond hair, which only emphasised the fatigue even more.

Aware the strong independence streak that Lucas possessed, the Commander knew that the direct approach wasn’t going to work, but didn’t want to drop the subject entirely.

“So what’s the damage bill?” he asked, still trying to figure out the boy’s mood without arousing suspicions and keeping the tone of the conversation casual.  A difficult thing to do with a teenager who was often too secretive and intuitive.

Lucas was taken a back for a moment, looking up briefly with guarded interest, before giving a crooked grin.  He was generally chuffed that Ford was asking for his opinion, but he wouldn’t openly admit that to the Commander or anyone else.

“This panel doesn’t look too bad.  I wasn’t able to get a complete read out yet of what they were doing on the Bridge, but Katie said she would give me the run down later,” he explained.

“Lucas,” Ford prompted, waiting for the youth to look at him.  But he instantly recognized the pause in his own voice and knew the teenager’s suspicions would be raised.


The one word answer and the reluctant to turn and face him confirmed that the boy somehow worked out what Ford was going to say even before he did or the words left his mouth.

Ford took a deep breath, hoping the right words would come even if they sounded flat to begin with, “Lucas, I am proud of you………..”

The teenager stopped what he was doing, refusing to acknowledge the change in the Commander’s voice nor the few words of praise.   Ford was not expecting his sentence to be interrupted:

“Proud of what?   That I couldn’t handle it and cracked under pressure.” Lucas said with reproach and self-doubt, recalling how Ford had needed to talk to him and reassure him when they were trying to get back to his room to contact Bridger.

“There is nothing more you could have done, Lucas.  You did your best.   You were scared and had every right to be.”

“I really didn’t do anything, Commander.”

“Lucas,” Ford began to say, “That’s not true and you know it,” wanting to talk more

Lucas closed the panel that he had been working on, “I’m going to try and find Kreig and give him a list of the parts I am going to need,” cutting off the conversation.

“Looks like we still have plenty of need of our Chief Computer Analyst for a while,” Ford commented, trying to lighten the teenager’s sullen mood.

“For a while.”

Ford watched as the teenager walked away, silently thinking that Lucas was still trying to deal with what had happened on his own.  He made a mental note to talk to Doctor Westphalen when she arrived.


Commander Ford continued his way to the launch bay, arriving just in time to hear the loudspeaker:  SeaQuest MR-5 has arrived at Docking Bay Number 3.

 “Captain onboard,” came the announcement. Some of the enlisted crew members were waiting by the doors, each proceeding with a smart salute to Bridger as he walked out.

“As you were, gentlemen,” Bridger said, returning the salutes.

Kristin was behind him.   Miguel Ortiz and Tim O’Neill had also returned with them on the launch.  They been fortunate enough to make it off SeaQuest before Schrader’s men attacked.

“Damage report, Jonathan?” Bridger asked plainly, wanting to assess the situation as quickly as possible.

“Levin is currently looking after Chief Crocker in Med Bay.  There were a few other minor injuries that will still need attending to,” Ford answered, looking at Westphalen as he spoke.

“I will be there in a few moments,” Kristin informed him, gathering her belongings together, “I talk further with you later, Nathan,” she added and then headed off in the direction of the medical area.

Ford continued with his report, “Crew are cleaning up E Deck as I speak, the water levels have dropped, but there is still a hell of a lot of mopping up to do.”

“Have you gotten any sleep yourself since this all ended?” Bridger asked, knowing that the majority of the clean-up and other urgent matters had fallen directly into Ford’s hands with neither of them having any control over the outcome.

“Yes, Sir, I did get a few hours of sleep.  I insisted that Commander Hitchcock got some rest too, and we have both worked together with the rest of the crew as best we could.”

“You two really did a terrific job, Commander,” Bridger commended, “The situation could have gotten a lot more out of hand if you and Hitchcock hadn’t kept your cool.”

“There are other people that need mentioning too, Captain,” Ford stated.  “Up until now I had seriously thought about not approving Krieg’s credentials, but he really pulled through when I needed him most.”

Bridger had a small smile on his face as he heard Ford’s report.  It was no secret that there had been some tension between him and Ben recently.   Ford must have thought he was chewing glass when speaking about the supply officer in such a positive way.

“The other person is Lucas, Sir.”

“Where is Lucas now?” Bridger asked.   The teenager was one of the first persons he had hoped to see upon arrival.   He had been assured that the boy wasn’t injured, but he wanted to check he was alright.

“I was talking to him just a few minutes before you arrived, Captain.  He seemed okay.”

Seemed okay?” Bridger prompted, noting a little hesitation in Ford’s statement.  The Captain could be just as intuitive when the situation arose.

“He was looking a one of sensor panels that had been damaged.  I told him that he had done a great job, but he tensed up and walked away, ashamed that he had felt scared.”

“Thank you, Commander, I will go and find him.”

“It’s me that should be apologizing to you, Sir,” Ford said, needing to say a few things to the Captain.

“You don’t have anything to be sorry for, Jonathan.”

“I was worried enough, Captain, when I first found Lucas and Schrader’s men still controlled the boat.   Together we managed to subdue a couple of them and get to his room to contact you.”

“I can’t help but think I was to blame for Lucas getting captured, Sir.   We got to his room and he managed to send you that signal through the W.S.K.R., even though it was risky.”

“I am sure that you did everything you could to keep him safe, Jonathan, and I am very grateful.”

“You don’t know how bad Ben and I felt, hearing Lucas calling out for help when those guys found him.  They dragged him from that room and were fairly rough with him.”

“One of the clean up crew informed me earlier just how bad his room looked.   I know how important his computer equipment is to him.  If he needs any money…………”

Bridger interrupted him, “Thank you, Commander, that won’t be necessary.  I will go and find him and assess the damage to his room.”

The Captain couldn’t help but feel his stomach begin tying itself into knots at the additional details he had just heard.   Schrader’s men had used guns and everything could have turned out completely different.  He couldn’t help but feel guilty himself for not being onboard and able to protect the boy.


When he had walked away from Commander Ford, Lucas could have gone in any direction, but suddenly found himself standing outside his own cabin.   He had yet to see the damage for himself, but slowly pushed the door open.

For a moment or two, his held his breath, too afraid that someone might hear the audible sigh he released from his throat, or the dismay written across his face.   Not physical pain, but he certainly felt like he had been punched in the stomach, surveying the destruction.

The room was eerily silent, but as soon as he put his foot through the hatch, the first sound he heard was the distinct breaking of plastic covers from his music collection.  He owned boxes and boxes of disks that had everything he listened to, hundreds of tracks.  Mostly original artists, but some that he had mixed together on his computer.

Instead of the rows of boxes that had been carefully stored and categorized in the most used, there was nothing but piles of broken and shattered disks.  Some had been splintered to pieces by the bullets that had torn through his room.  He bent down and picked one up, but it was mangled beyond repair and he let the half piece of disk fall back out of his hand again.

He couldn’t think of a coherent sentence that would explain just how much damage there was.  Nothing was untouched or undisturbed and his room was unrecognizable.  There were indiscriminate blackened char marks across the walls that demonstrated just how random the gunfire had been in hitting any object in the room.

Walking over to his music sound board, setting his jaw and refusing to allow emotions to dominate his thoughts, running a finger along the top, but seeing that it too was beyond repair.  The switches were damaged, cables in the back had been severed by the bullets and deep gouges had been made on the front where the control panel was.  There wasn’t even anything to salvage from it.

Lucas turned at the sound of footsteps behind him on the broken plastic covers, to see Captain Bridger standing inside the hatch way.  The shock on his face was evident too.

“Oh, kiddo, I am so sorry,” Bridger said softly, seeing through the mask on the teenager’s face.

“What’s to be sorry about?” Lucas said as he looked away, “There is nothing left.”

Lucas sat on his bunk, the slumped posture a testament to just how empty he was feeling at this point in time.   The Captain had no idea of just how much Lucas felt like giving in to the unspoken question of “How are you feeling?” between them.   The teenager was determined not to crumble and was not going to show weakness;  he was capable of keeping it all together.

“We will fix this, Lucas.  At least you are safe.”

Bridger walked over, sitting down beside the teenager and placing his hand on the thin shoulder, trying to offer what little comfort he could, and wasn’t surprised that the teenager’s brave resolve.   He had hoped that over time enough trust had developed between them to speak honestly with each other, but stubbornness was a shadow that often came to the forefront.

“It is all gone.  It will take me months to catch up on the programming I was doing.  Everything I ever owned was in this room.”

Bridger sat quietly, knowing that there wasn’t a lot he could say, his own anger beginning to grow at men like Schrader who didn’t care about anybody but their own cause.

“All my clothes are ruined,” Lucas said, picking up a shirt that was no longer good for anything but rags.   “I haven’t even got a bed to sleep in,” he said glumly, running a hand across his tired face.

Bridger could see the strain on the young man’s face and noted the defeated expression and was about to offer his own quarters to let Lucas rest for a while.  But before he could say anything, Lucas jumped up from the bed, needing to escape the confines of his debris littered room.

“I don’t want to deal with this at the moment,” he stated and ran out the door before Bridger could stop him.

Bridger wanted to go after him, but knew that the boy was hurting and probably looking for some space.   Still seated on the bunk, he idly picked up Lucas’s pillow, a stab of fear running through his spine as his fingers found two bullet holes in the fabric.

Lucas wasn’t ready to face what had happened to him yet, that much was certain.

Bridger left the room, closing the door behind him.  He would have to talk to Krieg later on, but perhaps Kristin first.


Lucas had travelled quickly from his room towards the Moon Pool.  He stood beside the tank, trying to get his emotions under control.  With everyone else busy cleaning up, for the moment he was left alone with his thoughts and feelings.

He put his hand in the water, letting the coolness soothe away some of his frustration and anxiety.

Darwin surfaced a few minutes later, swimming up to his young friend and nudging his hand with the top of his head.

The dolphin let out a number of clicks and whistles which were deciphered through the vocorder sitting in its bracket against the pool; “Lucas, play.”

“No, not now Dar,” Lucas responded, his thoughts miles away.

Lucas hadn’t noticed Kristin Westphalen watching him from a stairway across the deck.  She had walked out of the medical area, satisfied that everything had been done as much as possible for those injured.

The doctor had not had a chance to talk to the teenager yet since she arrived back.   She was unaware of what had transpired between Lucas and Ford earlier in the day, or just a few minutes earlier in his own cabin with Captain Bridger.  As she watched, her motherly instincts kicked in and she could see that he was troubled and upset.  His face looked tired and perhaps still held a little trace of fear that he must have experienced.

“Hello, Lucas,” she greeted him, smiling at him, and hoping to put her own worry about him to rest.

Lucas turned at the voice, “Hi,” he said, but went back to playing with the water.

“I heard they destroyed your room?” she said gently, knowing that the computers were very important to him.

“Yeah,” came the one-worded response.

“Do you want to talk about it?” she urged.

Lucas turned sharply, ready to give an angered response, but the words died on his lips as he felt her fingers gently caress his cheek, “I was so worried about you.”

Lucas could feel the emotions in him beginning to swell again, and he tried to squash them down again, “Thank you,” he whispered, giving her a quick embrace.

“I have to go and find Ben,” he said too quickly, pulling away from her and walking away.  For a brief moment, wanting to surrender to her comfort, but the independent streak in him made him want to escape her company just as it had done with Bridger.

Kristin decided to talk to Nathan, concerned that the teenager was putting up the usual defensive walls and shutting out the people out that cared about him.


Lucas walked from the Moon Pool, towards the Mess Hall.  He couldn’t stomach the thought of food, but a hot cup of coffee sounded good.  Within a few minutes, he was sitting at one of the small tables, holding the steaming cup in his hands, his mind wandering back and forth over Schrader and his unannounced visit.

He remembered how bad he had felt for accusing Commander Hitchcock of helping the hijackers too much.   She had been doing her job, and carrying out a direct order from Ford.  It took guts to do what she did and he hadn’t helped things very much.

The teenager sipped at his hot drink, hoping it would help him keep alert.  His body was worn out and he hadn’t slept since it all happened.  He had tried, briefly, to lay down and sleep, but too many images had plagued him, and he had quickly given the idea away as a bad joke.

“Hey Lucas,” came the cheerful greeting from Miguel Ortiz as he and Tim O’Neill entered the Mess.   They had been helping the clean up crews, and were taking a well earned break.

Lucas gave them a tired smile in return, but didn’t think he would make very good company at present.   He left them both looking a little bewildered when got up from the table and left his steaming cup of coffee unfinished.


For the last half an hour since leaving Lucas’s room, Bridger had found himself talking to a number of people and overseeing the clean up operation.

Kristin found him standing in a corridor, reading some schematic drawings with Commander Ford, showing where the water level had reached to.

“Nathan, I need to talk to you, please.”

“Sure, what is it, Kristin?” Bridger asked, handing the map back to his second-in-charge.

“Have you spoken to Lucas today?”

“Yes, I have.  I went and seen the damage to his room,” Bridger’s answered.  “You should have seen it, bullet holes riddled through every part of it.”

“I spoke him by the Moon Pool just a short while ago, but I don’t think he is coping very well with this whole incident,” she informed him.

“I think he was lost about the destruction to his room, I tried to offer and talk, but he ran off,” Nathan explained.   “I know he is hurting at the moment.  I planned to talk to Ben later and talk about what he will need replacing.”

“At the moment, I am more worried about Lucas then what needs replacing in his room.”

This statement certainly got Bridger’s attention and he focused his attention solely on Lucas.  Inwardly, he kicked himself for not talking to the boy more.

“Where is he now?”

“I don’t know where he went to after the Moon Pool,” Kristin responded.

“Let’s try the Bridge, maybe he had some fool idea about doing some work to keep his mind off things,” Bridger suggested.   “Commander, we will have to continue this later,” he said to Ford.  For now he was satisfied that things were progressing as best they could, given the crew restrictions and the length of time that had elapsed.

All three of them began walking to the Bridge to see if they could find the teenage computer whiz.


Lucas left the Mess Hall and had roamed aimlessly down a number of the corridors, passing a few of the enlisted crew members.

He was just about to pass by the gymnasium, when he ran into Katie Hitchcock.  She too had been trying to deal with the emotions of what had happened, but her approach was to sweat it out and use the punching bag to get rid of her frustrations.

“Hey, Lucas,” she greeted friendly manner.

“Um, Hi,” Lucas returned, not wanting to be rude to her.    He didn’t stop to talk though and kept walking.

She could see the boy looked distant and sullen, but surmised he was still fairly worked up over becoming a hostage.  She was thankful that things had turned out the way they did, and he hadn’t ended up being hurt.  Although she had been scared for him when Schrader intended to take them both off the SeaQuest.

At the time she had been trying to figure out a way to help him, and had been mildly surprised when instead he had stomped on the captor’s foot and told her to get away.   She had yet to give praise to her ex-husband for being at the right place and letting the situation grow even more dangerous for her and Lucas.

Katie headed towards the shower room.  She was due on the Bridge to begin her shift soon.


Lucas put his hand on the hatch, still thinking of where he could go onboard without running into anybody for a while.   He knew they cared about him, but at the moment he wasn’t ready to answer their questions or have them tell him that everything would be alright.

The door was locked, but he knew the access code, and quickly punched it in.   A green light signalled that it had been accepted and he walked in, closing the door behind him.   The usual occupant wasn’t there and wouldn’t be back anytime soon.   That suited him just fine at the moment.

He sat down on the bed and ran his hand through his unruly blond hair.  God he was tired.  Maybe he could keep himself awake a while longer and start writing a list of what stuff he needed to get fixed in his room.

Everything was trashed, and he knew he wouldn’t be able to afford to do it all at once, but he could do it a bit at a time.   He didn’t have any money that he could get access to straight away until the tour finished.

He managed to find a writing pad and a pen, and began scribbling his list.  He picked up the pillow at the foot of the bed and placed it behind his head and leaned against the back wall of the bed.  The thought of being without his computers and music that long depressed him even more.

Ten minutes later, the tired teenager barely noticed his head nodding towards his chest.


Captain Bridger together with Kristin Westphalen were talking to Ortiz and O’Neill on the Bridge when Katie Hitchcock arrived to begin her shift.

“Have either of you seen Lucas today?” Bridger asked.  They both had been looking for the teenager over the past twenty minutes without success and beginning to become concerned about his state of mind.

“He was having a cup of coffee in the Mess,” O’Neill answered.

“But he left when we came into the room, the cup was only half finished and still hot,” Ortiz continued.

“Have either of you seen him since then?” Kristin enquired.   Both men shaking their head with negative responses.

“What’s going on?” Katie Hitchcock asked, walking up the grated floor and approaching the group standing next to O’Neill’s communication station.

“We are trying to find Lucas, Commander, have you seen him?” Bridger asked.

“Yes, he walked past the gymnasium about half an hour ago.  He didn’t say much, just kept going,” she confirmed.

“He can’t have gone far then,” Ford suggested, trying to relay any fears that were growing about the youth.

“Is something wrong?” Katie wanted to know, seeing concern on the faces of the Doctor and Captain.

“We are worried about him,” Kristin commented.  “He has been avoiding everyone.”

“Katie, when he was with you, Colonel Schrader and his men didn’t hurt him did he?”

Hitchcock understood where the concern was coming from, “Not that I can recall.  They handcuffed him to the railing over there with me, but I didn’t see them physically hit him.”

“Nathan, maybe that is what he is hiding, apart from his being unhappy about his room,” Kristin said with worry in her voice.  “I couldn’t see any marks on him, but he did pull back rather quickly from the hug I offered.”

“He did look pretty worn out when I saw him,” Ford commented.  “He said he was fine, and brushed off any comments about him some sleep fairly quickly.”

“Don’t jump to any conclusions just yet,” Bridger remarked, trying to convince himself that Lucas had not been attempting to keep any injury a secret.  “He has to be somewhere.  We can’t use his PAL communicator to contact him, as it is still in pieces on the floor in his room.”

“I suggest we split into small groups and trying to find him, but quietly,” Kristin said, “If he is trying to avoid us, too many confronting him at once might just make the situation worse.”

“Commander Ford, you and Katie, you two remain here on the Bridge, but keep in contact.   O’Neill, you and Ortiz cover the science labs and Mammal Engineering.  I don’t think he would have gone back to his room, but I will check just in case.  Kristin and I will check the crew quarters and my quarters and make our way back to the Moon Pool,” Bridger instructed.

The crew members standing in the group nodded their agreement.

Bridger addressed Ford once more, “Jonathan, see if you can find Lieutenant Krieg, he might have seen Lucas as well.”

“Will do, Sir.”

The four of them now left the Bridge area, trying to find the missing and possibly injured teenager.


Bridger and the Doctor began their search at Lucas’s destroyed room.   Kristin had gasped out loud at the sight before her, understanding why the teenager had been sullen.

There was no sign of him here though, so they moved onto the next most probably place, the Captain’s quarters.   There had been a few times where Bridger had returned to his room late at night after shift, to find Lucas in his room.

Bridger opened the door quietly, hoping that they would find the missing teenager curled up on the couch in the room catching up on some much needed sleep.

Kristin stated the obvious, “He is not here either, Nathan,”

“Where else would he be?” Bridger asked out loud.  He knew that Lucas had a number of little secret hiding places on the boat.  Secluded areas that were out of the way from the usual noise and chaos of the crew.  Could this be where he was now?

Kristin chewing her thumb, thinking logically about what she knew of Lucas and his moods.  She had to be honest and admit that this was how she thought they might find Lucas.   “If I didn’t feel like talking to anyone and wanted to feel safe, where would I go?” she whispered quietly.

“I have a hunch,” she declared and walked quickly out of Bridger’s quarters and down the hallway, with Bridger following.

“Are you going to share it?” Bridger prompted, but they hadn’t gone far before he found both of them standing outside a door labelled A119 that he recognized.

“Do you think…..,” he began to asked, but Kristin put her hand on the door and pushed it opened it.   A little surprised when the hatch opened easily.  On any other day, this door would be secured and required a code to unlock it.

Westphalen stepped inside the room, knowing that she had rarely been afforded an invitation to enter.   Bridger followed, recalling being here a few times, but usually for official reasons.

Kristin turned to Nathan and signalled for him to come further into the room, but she held her fingers to her lips in a gesture for him to be as quiet as possible.

The Captain gave an audible sigh of relief when they looked towards the bed and their eyes fell on a most heart-warming, almost comical scene.

“I better let Commander Ford and the others know,” Bridger whispered, leaving the room for a moment to use his PAL communicator.

“Ford here,” the man responded to the Captain’s page.

“You can stop looking, Commander,” Bridger informed him, proceeding to explain where they had found Lucas.

“Will do, Sir,” Ford said, pleased that they could all relax again and continue the clean-up duties.


Ben Krieg was just walking onto the Bridge to give his final report of the day on the clean up to Ford.  The bottom of his trousers were soaked from the mopping operation on E Deck, and there were scuff marks on various parts of his black uniform.

“Still another couple of hours, but we are making progress,” he started to say, but then became aware of some strange looks on the faces of the few crew members present, “What?” he demanded, daring them to call him out on the state of his clothes.

“Nothing Krieg,” Ford suppressing a laugh at the expression of suspicion coming from the usually unflappable Moral Officer, “You did a fine job.”

Krieg was certain that Ford was about to be chastise him over something until he heard the comment.  He thought the Commander must be thanking him for his efforts during the take over.

“Don’t mention it, Sir,” but he had no idea what was going on.

“You did great, Ben,” Katie said from behind him.   She was giving him a genuine smile of appreciation, and the fact that she called him by his first name, in front of other crew members didn’t go amiss.

“Katie, don’t mess with my head right now, huh.  I am wet and want to change my clothes and get something to eat.  If you are going to hit me with an anvil, do it now.”

“I am not messing with you, Ben.  Everyone here appreciates what you did.”

Calling me by my first name twice in the same hour.

“Ah-huh,” was the only comment he could come back with.  He couldn’t work out what her game was, and was definitely waiting for the sucker punch to come out of nowhere.

“Don’t act like you don’t know, Krieg,” O’Neill taunted, thinking the guy was trying to pull some kind of gag himself.

Ben gave Tim the strangest look.  This was a guy that normally didn’t pull any practical jokes, but at the moment, he had the distinct feeling that they were all setting him up for something.

“Commander, what is going on?” Ben asked plainly, not wanting to beat around the bush anymore.

“Bridger talked to me just a few minutes ago and wanted you to bring him a spare blanket and pillow from your store,” Ford told him.

“A blanket and a pillow?” Ben repeated, not getting the punch line at all.   Krieg began walking from the Bridge, still stumped as what they were all up to.


Ben was still trying to work out what Ford and the others were up to as he meandered his way back to his room.  Upon reaching his quarters, he was surprised to hear whispers coming from inside.

He paused at the door, listening for who it might be.  Usually his door was locked due to the amount of stores he held and was responsible for.   Once inside he was greeted by Captain Bridger and Doctor Westphalen standing inside, talking quietly to each other.

“You did a wonderful thing here today, Ben,” Kristin exclaimed, giving him a big smile.

“She’s right, I can’t thank you enough,” Bridger now added.

Ben was a bit puzzled for a moment, until he looked over at his bunk and saw Lucas.   He hadn’t had a chance to talk to the teenager due to all the clean up.

Kristin saw the expression, “You really didn’t know he was here, did you?”

“Um, no,” Krieg answered truthfully, not that he minded.   The conversation on the Bridge began to make a little more sense.  The crew thought he had found Lucas and taken care of him.

“Is he okay?” Ben asked, noticing the kid’s slumped posture.

“Four of us just spent the last half an hour combing this place upside-down for him,” Bridger told him.  “We were worried that he had been hurt and was trying to hide it from everyone.”

“Do you have that blanket and pillow?” Kristin enquired.

“Yeah, sure,” Ben responded, walking over to one of his larger supply cupboards and grabbing out a large pillow and thick blue woollen blanket.  “He looks really uncomfortable sitting up and with his neck at an odd angle like that.”

Bridger reached over and carefully took the writing pad back out of Lucas’s sleep limp hand.  “Looks like he is putting together quite a list,” showing Ben what the teenager had scribbled.

“Nathan, will you help lay him down.  He knows your touch and you are not likely to wake him,” Kristin spoke.

Putting aside the wish list, Bridger helped Kristin lean the slumbering teenager forward, the blond head coming to rest on his shoulder.   There was a slight incoherent mumble, but nothing more.  With the two pillows in place, Kristin nodded her head and watched as Lucas was gently laid down.   Nathan lifted his feet onto the bed and removed his shoes, showing great care the whole time.

Kristin and Ben gave a smile at each other, seeing the Captain share such a tender moment with the sleeping teen.  No doubt Lucas would blush bright red and declare hotly that he wasn’t a baby if he was awake.

The doctor wanted to examine him for any signs of injury, and laid her hand on his chest.  She pulled back at seeing Lucas stir, not wanting to disturb him further, telling herself that any other examination could wait until morning. Another incoherent mumble and he was lost to the land of dreams again.

Usually the teenager was a very light sleeper   “He really must be tired,” Ben commented, noting the lack of response from Lucas.

“No, he is just truly exhausted.  All the emotions and events of the last twenty four hours have finally caught up with him, Ben,” Kristin said, taking the blanket and laying it over him.  She briefly laid a hand on his forehead, but could only detect a natural warmth to his skin.

“Sleep well,” Kristin whispered, her voice filled with caring.

“Good-night, kiddo,” Bridger said softly to the slumbering teenager.


Krieg saw the Captain and the Doctor to the door so that they wouldn’t wake Lucas with their conversation.

Bridger spoke to Ben before they left, “I want to talk to you in the morning about the wish list that is here.  I think Lucas will want to add more to it.  Once it is complete, see how quickly you can get the equipment here.”

“All of it, Sir,” Ben asked, noting how much dollars they were talking about.

“Don’t worry about the bill, I will be paying for it.  It’s the least I can do when I wasn’t here to protect him.   I will add some extra cash and you can take him with you up-world to pick out what he wants.   If you have to use any of your own free time, just let me know and I will put a little bonus into your pocket.”

“You don’t have to do that, Sir, I’ll be happy to take care of it.”

“Sorry to take your bed for the night, Lieutenant,” Bridger whispered.

“Not a problem, Sir.  Lucas is welcome here anytime.”

Bridger smiled at this comment.  Krieg was notorious for not allowing anybody into his quarters.  Even going so far as challenging Crocker when the Regulator had been onboard about how much valuable equipment he had in the room.

“If he needs anything………,  Bridger began to say, “I am sure you will know what to do,” was the final comment as they walked away from Ben, grateful that Lucas was safe and in capable hands getting some much needed rest


Ben Krieg closed his door and sat back on a chair for a moment, looking back at his sleeping friend.

“Maybe I should keep you around here for a few more days.  Then when everybody starts missing the Lucas-man, I will be a hero all over again,” Ben started to scheme.

On a more sobering thought, there was no denying that he had been worried about the teenager when Schrader’s men had taken him hostage.

“I will always be there for you, Lucas.”

As if in response to the comment, the teenager stirred briefly enough to turn his head.  His soft blond hair fanning out over the pillow.

Lucas looked peaceful when he was sleeping, showing his age and vulnerability.  Any stress that might have been present had been temporarily replaced by calm serenity.

“No wonder the crew fall all over you, buddy,” Ben said with a chuckle.  “All I have to do is keep you looking as cute as that for the rest of the tour and Ford will be choking on the admiration and praise that I receive from Bridger and the Doc.”

The End.

Just a little piece.  Probably too sappy at the end.

Any reviews are very welcome.  All updated and added to.     I am slowly updating and writing as time allows.  Thank you to anybody who is still reading my stories.

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Onto the next story…………….


Rewriting Stories

Hello to all of those who have continued to support my stories and writing – very much appreciated.

I have decided to embark on a most onerous journey in that a lot of the completed stories need a lot of reworking and rewriting – to make them better and to add a lot more content to them all.

Please bear with me as this is done.

I will mark any chapters or stories plainly as this process takes place – so if you have read a story or chapter before now – you might want to take a look again at the new content.

Hopefully my writing has improved sufficiently since the early days to improve what is already on the pages of some early works.

Please know that any stories listed on the front page will be written – and they should be marked as to whether they are completed, a work in progress or a story that is planned and titled.

I hope you will all continue to follow my stories and enjoy reading them.



Chapter One – An Invitation


By Jules

Synopsis – Lucas receives an invitation to a reunion at Stanford University. After being persuaded to go at the last minute, Lucas embarks on trip of rekindled memories, old classroom friends, bullys, and reliving some of his darker moments before SeaQuest.

Author Notes: Sorry – but there are a few – this plot is going to take a while to take shape. The beginning of the story has changed a number of times. The first parts are supposed to be full of fun, some angst, but mostly good times and enjoyment rather than some other stories that I have written.

Don’t worry, the baddies are coming, but not until much later in the story, so please bear with me.

Please note that I do not know anything about University life. I have not been and most of my information comes from looking up resources, and talking to friends who have. Some of my ideas and scenes may seem more high school orientated rather than a college or university environment, so I apologize in advance if that is the case.

Most of the plot is completely original except for a couple of scenes that I look from TV shows and movies that I have watched. I did take some clues about his life at University from various episodes where it was mentioned briefly – and other pieces I took from my own stories that I had already made up.

Most importantly – this for anybody who has already read my story FRIENDSHIP, of course I introduced the crew to an original character Joshua Shepherd or “Shep”. So this story should precede that one because of its ending, but you will just have to suspend the idea that crew of the SeaQuest had never met any of Lucas’s friends before then.

 I am going to have him in this story as a major character again in addition to that of “Wolfman” from Node 3. I have given Nick the actor’s real surname as it wasn’t stated in the script anywhere what his surname was – unless I missed it. Same goes for Juliana’s surname.

 In this story, I am writing Shep’s character in a way that Lucas talks to him more freely to him and Nick about how he is feeling or anything that is going on. More so than Bridger and the crew that I have written in other stories.

 I am making a very brief mention of Mr Henry Woodcock, the teacher that I used in FRIENDSHIP but he will not be making an appearance – just talked about – sort of trying to keep the stories all together in some kind of cohesion for my work.

 For this story it is assumed that Lucas is seventeen and three quarters – 3 months off 18 or so. In the show – it is stated that Lucas graduated from Stanford at the age of 14 years. For my plot line – I want it to be that Lucas did 3.5 years at University – missing the graduation ceremony and a few other things – for reasons yet to be explained in the story itself.

 For my story, Juliana is not a genius like she was on Node 3, neither is Nick. In this story Shep was with Lucas from the very beginning, but Nick only spent the last year with both of them. There will be a cast of other people that will be introduced as time goes on.

 Also in this story, I have gone back to the idea that the SeaQuest crew don’t know what happened on NODE 3 – including the World Bank and other hacking, or Lucas being choked by Clemens. I have already done that in my other story “A Perfect World”. There will be references to the hacking and the electoral fixing – but not in great detail.

 Nick’s character I intend to write as the more cheekier and daring of the three friends, coming up with the wrong comment at the right time, and quick to say or act before Lucas and Shep.

 Unfortunately because of the way I am writing this, Bridger, Kristin and Ben will appear not much more than a third wheel for quite a lot of the story, merely watching or being on the sidelines rather than having a lot more involvement than that until much later in the storyline.

The rest of the SeaQuest crew will make cameo appearances during the story, and a little bit more towards the end only.

Oh – and Bridger and the crew really need to stop listening in on Lucas’s vid-link calls – a bad habit that I have at the moment that I need to cure in a few stories. But I have this fettish about Bridger and the crew having to see it or hear the things that happen rather than just told later.

Sorry – but the vid-link call being overhead is quite long and involved. I need to set up some of the issues for Lucas before the main part of the story begins.

Enough waffling on – lets see if I can write this to read…………….


Commander Ford was just about to hand over command to the Captain. His shift was ending for the day and Bridger’s was just starting and wouldn’t end until midnight or so.

“Good Evening, Jonathan,” Bridger greeted his right-hand man. “Everything in order?”

“On the Bridge, and in the ocean outside the SeaQuest, Captain,” Ford answered cryptically. He wanted to talk to his Senior Officer about their young computer genius and his contribution to the staff lately.

There hadn’t been any incidents lately or complaints about the young man’s work, and even today Lucas had proven himself adept at his duties. Ford couldn’t help but notice a distinct change in the teenager’s demeanour, more so today than any other day.

There may have been hints of something troubling him for a couple of weeks now, but during the last eight hours, Lucas had barely spoken to any of the other crew members on his shift, and seemed sullen and reserved. Ford knew that the Captain would want to hear any concerns he had, but he needed to word it correctly.

Bridger was an astute man however, and picked up on the Commander’s attempt at subtly, “Let’s hear it, Commander,” he said, expecting a full and honest answer.

“Sir, is there anything wrong with Lucas over the past few days. Have you or Doctor Westphalen noticed anything?”

This statement certainly made Bridger take notice and he knew that Ford wouldn’t have brought something to his attention unless he didn’t know how to handle it himself. For someone of rank and experience like Jonathan, that was fairly rare aboard the SeaQuest.

“I haven’t seen him for most of the day,” the Captain replied. “I tried to talk to him in the Mess Hall this morning at breakfast before he started his shift here on the Bridge, but he looked like he was in a bad mood.”

“Well, I can’t vouch for him being in a bad mood, Captain. He didn’t appear to be angry at anything to me here during the past eight hours, but he certainly wasn’t being himself.”

“What do you mean?”

“His work cannot be faulted. He was watching two screens for most of his time on the Bridge today. When I asked him about the W.S.K.R.S. security updates, he had already completed them, but he seemed distracted about something.”

“Because you requested that he get as much experience as possible during his time on the Bridge, I had him checking some sensors as well. At one point it looked as though he wasn’t watching them at all, but focused on another screen he was completing something else on.”

“When I asked him about a particular co-ordinate, he gave me the answer straight away, but he hadn’t bothered to look at the first screen where he should have gotten the data from. I reminded him that he needed to be looking at the screen.”

“What was this something else?” Bridger interrupted briefly.

“I don’t know, Sir,” Ford answered. “He appeared quite perturbed that I was trying to look over his shoulder at what he was doing. When he gave any answers about the sensors, they were all accurate from what I could tell, but he just didn’t seem to be taking any amount of interest in what he should have been doing.”

“Did you say something to him?” the Captain asked, trying to think of a logical reason for Jonathan’s description of Lucas’s secretiveness and disassociation with the task at hand.

Lucas had been working on the Bridge now for quite some time. When the Captain had first made the offer, it was only to be a couple of hours a week, just to include him in the day to day operation of the vessel and give him time with the other crew members.

Now, that he was more confident about his duties, Lucas’s shifts were now eight hours a day almost every day, like the other crew members. At first Ford thought the length of time might have proven too much for someone so young, but to his credit, Lucas had adapted to the longer hours and showed up on time on most occasions, and had become a real asset to the crew.

At times Bridger thought the teenager spent way too much time on his own with his computers and his programming. Most of the time he ate at different hours to the crew and didn’t attend many of the social activities that were organized unless Krieg dragged him along.

“No, Captain. Like I said, I couldn’t fault his work, he does everything I ask of him, without complaint or questioning, but today he appeared distracted, withdrawn. He barely said two words to anybody else the whole time he was here.”

“Its coming to the end of a very long tour, Jonathan, maybe he is just waiting to get off the boat for a couple of weeks,” Bridger suggested.

“I have already got this great vacation with him, and Kristin planned, and he specifically asked if he could invite Ben along. I am just waiting for him to tell me the destination.”

“You might be right, Sir, I was just making an observation,” Ford offered, but wasn’t convinced that this was the real problem with the youngest crew member.

“I thought he would be too busy planning this trip with Ben to even worry about anything else. I told him almost three weeks ago about wanting him to choose the place to go, but he still hasn’t told me where he is thinking about,” Bridger explained.

Ford smiled a little, trying to picture in his head the choices of destinations that Lucas and Krieg could come up with together to spend a holiday. The Commander knew that the Captain had been more than grateful over the past few months about how much attention the Supply and Morale Officer had been paying towards Lucas.

The pair of them could usually be found together, and although he was loathe to admit it too much, Lucas was more relaxed and confident in Krieg’s presence. The man had an unorthodox approach to their friendship, and Ford didn’t necessarily understand it completely, but be couldn’t deny the positive results that everyone noticed onboard.

So in reward for those extra efforts, that Ben never mentioned, but Bridger certainly noticed, Krieg had been told that he could come on the holiday with the teenager, together with the Captain and Doctor Westphalen if that is what Lucas wanted.

Lucas had readily agreed to the idea of Ben coming with the other two adults, but he had not given any hints or suggestions as to where he might choose. None of the crew was any wiser though, most of them speculating that if Krieg and Lucas were involved together, then it would probably involve a trip to a theme park.

Apart from Lucas’s age, there were a lot of things different about him than other crew members, not to mention his intellect. He was a complex person and rarely let others know how he was feeling or thinking unless he specifically wanted them to.

Ben was probably the closest friend that the boy had apart from the Captain and Bridger. The rest of the senior crew always had time for him and enjoyed his company, but today Lucas had practically ignored Krieg and made a particular point to carry out his work unaided and without consulting anybody else on the Bridge during the entire shift.


“Do you know where Lucas is now?” Bridger asked.

“Not since he left the Bridge,” Ford replied.

It was now that Ben Krieg entered the Bridge, and saw Ford and the Captain talking together and then looking back at him with interest.

“Something I can help you with, Sir?” Krieg asked, walking up to the two of them.

“Have you seen Lucas since his shift ended, Ben?” Bridger enquired.

“Um, no actually I haven’t. Did you want me to go and find him?”

“Yes, please if you don’t mind,” Bridger replied with gratitude.

“Is there a problem, Captain?” Krieg asked. If Bridger was asking him to check up on Lucas, there must be a reason for it. And when it came to Lucas, Ben wasn’t willing to take a simple ‘no’ or ’it doesn’t matter’ approach.

“No, Ben,” Bridger said with a laugh, almost able to read Krieg’s thoughts. “Jonathan thought he seemed a bit pre-occupied today whilst doing his shift on the Bridge.”

“Pre-occupied?” Krieg prompted, not having heard any of Ford’s comments to the Captain.

“I thought maybe he was still trying to think of where to go on the vacation that I spoke to you about,” Bridger suggested.

“Maybe, but since you asked me, he hasn’t really spoken to me about it,” Ben admitted candidly.

“At all?” Bridger said, sounding a little more concerned about Lucas’s evasiveness of the whole idea.

“No. I did try and ask him one night when he was in his cabin, but he was reading something and I couldn’t keep his attention for very long. I wanted him to enjoy the holiday, so was leaving the choice of destination entirely up to him.”

Ford exchanged curious looks with Miguel Ortiz and Tim O’Neill at this statement, but at the same time pleased that Krieg was willing to let Lucas lead the way for a change in relation to their on-shore plans.

“What was he reading? Something on the computer?” Bridger surmised.

“Not that I recall. Some piece of paper,” Ben informed him. “I didn’t see what was written on it.”

Bridger tried to think what the teenager might have been reading. Perhaps it was what had been causing his distraction over the past couple of weeks. He had always tried to ensue in Lucas that he could come and talk about anything that was bothering him.

But as usual with Lucas, the boy played his cards close to his chest and occasionally it took the other crew members, like Jonathan Ford today to bring their concerns to the Captain’s attention. More often than not, Bridger was able to gauge the teenager’s mood swings, though it had taken some practice.

Bridger knew from experience that if he tried to push too much, Lucas would accuse him of hovering around him for no reason and the real reason would never be revealed.

“I will go and find him,” Ben said, walking towards the large clam doors.

“Keep me informed,” Bridger called out, and a brief hand gesture from Ben signaled that he had heard the request.


The first place that Ben looked for his young friend was Lucas’s cabin, located on the Mammal Engineering level of the SeaQuest. Ben briefly knocked and waited for a response, but when he opened the hatch door, the room was empty. From the looks of it, the boy hadn’t been there for most of the day.

Ben left and headed to the next logical place to find the teenager, the science labs. Perhaps the teenager was working with Doctor Westphalen on some project.

“Good Evening, Ben,” Kristin greeted the Lieutenant when he entered the labs. “Can I help you with something?”

“Um, no, Doc, I told the Captain I would come and find Lucas,” Ben answered.

“Lucas hasn’t been in here all day today,” Kristin informed him. “I haven’t seen him since last night.”

“Hmmmm,” Ben responded, thinking it was odd that the doctor hadn’t had much contact with Lucas that day. Usually she could be counted on to be wanting to check on him and make sure he was eating and taking care of himself.

“He isn’t with Nathan on the Bridge then,” Kristin surmised from the statement that Krieg had come looking for the teenager at the Captain’s request.

Krieg shook his head in a negative response.

“Ford mentioned to the Captain that he seemed a bit funny on the Bridge during his shift today,” Ben explained.

“Funny?” Kristin prompted, assuming that it had nothing to do with making a joke.

“Distracted,” Ben offered as a better word. “He didn’t talk to anybody almost the whole time, including me.”

Kristin stopped what she was doing and thought for a minute. Much like Jonathan Ford, the comments about ignoring Ben sounded the most out of character for Lucas. Now her concern was beginning to grow.

“Come on, lets go and find him,” Kristin said, knowing she wouldn’t be able to concentrate on her own work until they found Lucas. “I bet he hasn’t been anywhere near food today,” she added, knowing the teenager’s poor dietary habits.

Ben and Kristin made their way through the corridors looking for Lucas. After a few minutes, they could hear the distinct sound of splashing and a brief laugh coming from the Moon Pool.

The two of them exchanged a look of relief and a smile thinking that Lucas was spending time with Darwin swimming and probably playing their favourite game of splash football.

When they approached the Moon Pool, Lucas wasn’t playing about in the water as much as they expected. Actually almost the opposite, he was leaning heavily against the edge of the pool, looking rather tired.

Lucas play,” the dolphin chirped through the vocorder.

“No, Darwin, sorry, not today.”

Ben and Kristin though that to be odd that the teenager was refusing to play. Normally the Moon Pool was the first place Lucas came to relax and wind down.

The splashing they had heard a moment or two ago, was the slap of the dolphin’s tale in the water. The mammal was still trying to get the boy to play.

“Sorry, Dar,” Lucas said and started getting out of the pool. He grabbed a towel that was hanging nearby and started drying himself off.

Darwin swam off down the aqua tubes, probably going outside the SeaQuest to feed. Lucas watched the dolphin go, but was too tired to call out to his animal friend and try and make amends.

“Hey Lucas,” Krieg said from behind as he approached the Moon Pool.

Lucas jumped out of his skin at the voice, not having heard anybody approach, “Geez, Ben, did you have to do that!”

“Sorry, buddy, I didn’t mean to scare you,” Krieg apologized.

Kristin walked into the area, but tried to hide her intentions of checking up on him by working at one of the nearby science stations. She kept her attention focused on what she could hear being said between Lucas and Ben, without interrupting.

“What are you doing here?” the teenager asked not really looking at his friend when he asked. He was waiting for Ben to say something about what he had been asked to do earlier that morning.

Lucas didn’t go looking for approval from Ben very often; it was one part of their friendship that was an unwritten thing. Ben had always been a supporter of his work. But after such an early start to the day, it would have been nice to hear a ‘thank you’ from his friend for the job he had done.

“Coming to find you, actually,” Ben said with a smile, hoping to cheer the kid up. He seemed a little bit down about something.

“And?” Lucas prompted, waiting. He wasn’t going to deliberately ask for the thank you, but would give a subtle hint or clue if necessary.

“And what?” Ben said, a little confused. “Bridger sent me to find you.”

“Oh, is that all,” Lucas said dejectedly, rolling his eyes at the cotton wool treatment he always got from the Captain.

It wasn’t as though he didn’t like it sometimes. Quite the opposite, but there were times that he felt smothered and not enough room to breathe.

“What’s with you today?” Ben asked plainly.

“Nothing,” Lucas said too quickly, beginning to walk away from his friend. “Glad I could be of so much help,” he added as he exited the Moon Pool area.

“What was that all about?” Kristin walked over and asked.

“You tell me and we will both know,” Krieg replied.

“Let’s go see Nathan,” Kristin suggested. “His shift should be finished in a couple of hours. Maybe he can talk to him.”

Ben nodded his head, still a little concerned that Lucas thought something was his fault. He had no idea what.


When Lucas left the Moon Pool, still a little miffed at Ben, he headed towards his own cabin, but only stayed long enough to change into clean clothes.

The teenager then went to the Mess Hall, and grabbed a hot coffee, ready to start his other work. He needed the coffee, knowing it was going to be a long night again. The swim had rejuvenated his tired body a little, but no where near what he had hoped for. ‘God he was so tired.’

Lucas started walking back to his own cabin, but then thought against that, hoping to find somewhere a bit more secluded so that he wouldn’t be disturbed in the next few hours.

The Captain was doing his shift on the Bridge he thought to himself, and wouldn’t be back in his own quarters for hours. None of the other crew members would dare to go in there; it was the perfect place to work uninterrupted for a while.

Briefly he did go back to his cabin, grabbing his laptop, some disks and a bunch of papers that he was working on and headed for the Captain’s quarters.

It was now 9pm at night, and he had hoped to get at least another six or seven hours of solid work in before getting some sleep, but three hours was probably more realistic.

Bridger’s shift would end about midnight. Then he would be forced to go back to his own cabin because otherwise the Captain would be chewing him out about working until all hours of the night.

Once entering Bridger’s quarters, he smiled at the quietness, exactly what he had been looking for all day. There wasn’t many places he could go on SeaQuest for any length of time before someone came looking for him.

Setting up his laptop on the central console, Lucas connected his email and call system up so that any incoming messages would be diverted to the Captain’s quarters. He was expecting Shep to make his usual vid-link hook up tonight. They did it every few days, and sometimes more frequently to discuss the work he was doing and the projects he had been given.

The coffee cup he had brought with him was now completely empty, but he could feel himself growing more tired. He left the room and went back to the Mess Hall and grabbed two fresh cups of coffee. Thankfully nobody else was about this time of night to query why he had two cups or why he needed so much caffeine.


Whilst Lucas had been getting more coffee, Ben and Kristin had gone to the Bridge to talk to the Captain.

“Did you find him?” Bridger asked Krieg, but seeing Kristin entering with the Lieutenant, he couldn’t help but worry about what they would tell him.

“Yes, I found him. He was with Darwin in the Moon Pool. He has left now, headed back to his cabin now I guess,” Krieg stated.

Kristin could see Nathan looking at her, waiting for her opinion, “He did seem distracted by something,” she admitted.

“Lucas was annoyed at me for some reason,” Ben told the Captain. “Almost as though he was expecting me to say something.”

“About what?” Bridger questioned.

“I have no idea. I have barely spoken to him today,” Krieg remarked.

“He looked a little tired,” Kristin noted.

“Lucas has been looking ‘more than a little tired’ for weeks now,” Bridger stated matter-of-factly. Even he had noted the boy’s peculiar sleeping habits and the odd hours that he was keeping. To his credit though, the teenager hadn’t complained about anything or snapped at anybody enough to rouse suspicion that he was overtired.

By now, some of the other crew members on the Bridge were listening intently to the conversation about Lucas.

“Do any of you know what is bothering him?” he asked them all.

The crew members present shook their head. They were none the wiser either, but each of them confirmed that they noticed the teenager being distracted and withdrawn earlier in the day.

“Okay, I think its time I go and sort this out now,” Bridger said firmly, about to walk off the Bridge and find Lucas.

Before he could do that, Tim O’Neill spoke up, “Captain, there is a vid-link call being diverted to your quarters.”

“My quarters?” Bridger repeated, thinking it sounded odd. “But I am here. Who would………..,” but he didn’t finish the thought.

“At least we know where he is now,” Kristin whispered to Ben and the other crew members.

“What would he be doing in there this time of night?” Ben queried. Lucas liked the solitude of his own cabin, and usually only sought Bridger’s quarters when he wasn’t feeling too great.

Commander Ford was returning to the Bridge just now, wanting to ask the Captain something, but was filled in about what was going on by Ben when he heard O’Neill’s comment about a call in Bridger’s quarters.

A few minutes earlier, Lucas was fighting the urge to fall asleep at the centre console. His head was leaning against his folded arms and he knew that the coffee wasn’t going to keep him awake much longer.

Instead, the teenager got to his feet and walked over to the couch, spreading out some papers but then returning to the console and sitting down once more. The short period of activity did nothing to keep him alert and as much as he wanted to deny it, he couldn’t do anything about how heavy his eyes were becoming.


The next sound the Captain and crew heard was the voice of Lucas as he answered the vid-link call. When he answered the call, he had not lifted his head to check which button on the console he was pressing. The vid-link did connect, but he had also enabled the call to be heard on the Bridge.

With his mind halfway between sleep and awake, he didn’t pick up on his mistake or the fact that everything he was about to say could be heard by others.

“Yeah,” came a very tired sounding response from Lucas. Even without being able to see into the Captain’s quarters, Lucas’s family and friends could hear the fatigue in his voice.

Kristin was about to say something to Nathan, when he signaled for them to be silent for a few moments. She didn’t like it, but could see the Captain’s point. She could see the worried looks on all of those present about whether Lucas was alright, especially Ben.

“We might just find out what is going on,” Bridger whispered to them. The crew remained quiet, listening to the call, but feeling just a little guilty about listening in on one of the teenager’s private conversations.

Before they could work out the identity of the caller, the person on the other end of the vid-link confirmed their concerns about him physically.

“Man, you look totally wiped……….,” the voice stated simply to his friend.

“Thanks very much, Shep, nice to hear from you too,” Lucas shot back, lifting his head up and looking at his friend.

At hearing the name ‘Shep’, Bridger now knew the caller to be one of Lucas’s close internex friends. He hadn’t met the boy face to face yet, but he was in constant contact with Lucas. Every couple of days, Lucas would always share something new that he had heard from his friend upworld.

Bridger informed the other crew members who the other boy was. Lucas had mentioned once that his real name was Joshua Shepherd, but the Captain had rarely heard the teenager call the other boy anything but ‘Shep’.

“You look like you could sleep for a week…..,” Shep jibed playfully.

In truth, a little worried about just how tired his friend did look. He was aware of Lucas unusual sleep pattern and workload, but couldn’t miss the disheveled look and dark circles of fatigue.

“What are you my mother?” Lucas said in self-defence.

“Please, comparing me to her is an insult,” Shep responded in an over-dramatic tone of voice.

Bridger certainly raised an eyebrow at this exchange between the two friends. During the short time he had gotten to hear about Shep, the Captain learned that Lucas could often related a lot easier about things that had happened in his past.

Ordinarily, any comment about family, especially his real family from any member of the crew aboard the SeaQuest would earn the responsible party the silent treatment or worse. But somehow, because it was Shep that hurled the comment, Lucas barely blinked at any offence, but instead took it in his stride.

“Come on……. what’s going on with you?” Shep asked.

“You don’t really want to know,” Lucas replied.

It was time for Bridger to look shocked again at the casualness of the teenager’s response. Here they were, the friends and family that spent most of the time living with him, pleading with him to talk to them about any problems he might have.

Ben had asked the same question only hours earlier and the teenager had clammed up and refused to talk to him.

Kristin was happy to see that Bridger’s comment about finding out what was going on might be about to come true. They all waited patiently as they could for the conversation to continue, hoping that Lucas wouldn’t realize his mistake about linking the call to the Bridge.

“Not sending you too much work am I?” Shep asked.

“No, no, nothing like that,” Lucas answered truthfully, “And don’t you stop any of it coming either. You know how important it is to me.”

Ben looked questioningly at Bridger, wondering what work Lucas was doing for his friend. It was no secret that Lucas could be counted on to be working on innumerable projects at any one time for SeaQuest, but none of them knew about any other outside work that he was doing.

What was it for? What was so important to Lucas?

“I know its important to you Lucas, that’s why we teamed up,” Shep said to his friend.

“I don’t know Shep, I guess it’s a lot of things lately, getting me down.”

“Like what?” the other boy asked, unaware that the crew on the Bridge were thinking exactly the same question.

“You sure want to hear it all?”

“Pull up a chair then, it may take a while,” Lucas said, sighing audibly as he tried to get his thoughts in order.

At least by telling his friend how he was feeling, he might be able to put off falling asleep for just a little while longer.

When it came to Shep, there was no one else, except maybe Captain Bridger that knew him better. He at least felt like he owed it to his friend to tell him the whole truth.


The crew on the Bridge who were not already sitting at their stations, now took up the vacant chairs and waited for Lucas to tell his friend what had been bothering him.

If they all knew, perhaps they could help more on SeaQuest without alerting Lucas to the fact that they knew. The teenager was usually very private and they respected that he might find it difficult to come out and voice any problem.

“I guess I am feeling a bit tired lately,” Lucas admitted openly to Shep. “I mean for the past three months since the tour began I am still getting my usual three or four hours sleep a night. Up until now it has been enough.”

Kristin frowned at the teenager’s admittance of just how few hours of sleep he was getting on a regular basis. She had tried to find a solution to the problem many times, and even used threats when she became frustrated with him.

“How many hours do you do on the Bridge now?” Shep asked.

“Only eight hours, five days a week. Those hours haven’t been a problem. I finished today at four, and then did a few hours for Kristin in the science labs.”

“It sounds like a long day.”

“I went for a swim earlier with Darwin, trying to keep myself awake. I wanted to take a look on that new work you sent me. You should have the first one back by now, the others might take a bit more time.”

“Already?” Shep announced sounding surprised. “I thought they would take you a little bit longer.”

“Like I said, just one. I don’t know what that jerk was trying to achieve, but that program is never going to work. May as well give him the bad news early.”

“What about the others?”

Other what’ Bridger and his crew were thinking, but kept listening.

“One or two of them sound okay and there is one that looks like it might actually be of use.” Lucas said cryptically.

“You are going to have to get tougher with the company before they send such rubbish to me for you to check, Lucas,” Shep suggested.

“I don’t mind the work, like I said, don’t stop sending it. But I just wish they would do a little bit more background work before they waste my time and their money.”

“I guess that is part of the reason why they ask you in the first place,” Shep commented.

“Maybe, but this is getting off track a little,” Lucas interjected. “I want to talk to you in a few days when we arrive back about some of what I have worked on. We have to set up some guidelines.”

“Anyway, between all of that today, and half the stuff that I am doing for the crew, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.” Lucas spoke candidly.

“You might have to start saying ‘no’, Lucas,” Shep remarked.

“I don’t know how you do it anyway. Stuck under the ocean for nine months of the year with 200 adults telling you what to do.”

“It’s not that. I guess I never really thought of it like that,” Lucas answered, lacing his hands behind his head. “I don’t mind helping any of them out, except maybe one person.”

The crew on the Bridge all began to feel a little guilty at the small jobs they had been asking to do lately. Individually, they didn’t sound like much, but it wouldn’t take much for the number of them to pile up. And Lucas usually didn’t say no.

Bridger and Ben wondered who the one person was that Lucas wasn’t so keen on helping out.

“I like helping them,” Lucas continued, “They are my friends. But just once in a while, you know, it would be nice for them to come knocking on my cabin, just as friends.”

“To come and say, ‘Hey Lucas, great to see you today, did you catch the game last night. Do you think they will make the playoffs.’ or ‘What music are you listening to today Lucas?’ Just simple things.”

“Not to want you just for your brain,” Shep finished off, knowing it must be difficult for someone in his friend’s position.

“Yeah,” Lucas said quietly.

“What about talking to that Captain guy,” Shep suggested.

“Bridger, oh yeah, well he’s great and all,” Lucas started to say, unaware of the smile that he invoked in the Captain at such a simple few words. “The Doc too, when she isn’t chasing and hunting me down to eat properly.”

“Nice to know we are held in such high regard,” Kristin whispered with a smile on her face to Nathan.

“But they already have enough to do instead of listening to me whine about my problems.”

“What about that goofy fellow you keep telling me about?”

Lucas laughed a little at Shep’s statement, “No, Ben is great. I couldn’t ask for a better friend. But he did have me ticked off a little today though.”

“Goofy fellow!” Krieg whispered indignantly, sending the rest of the crew on the Bridge into fits of quiet laughter at the description of his personality.

“Could it have killed him to say ‘thank you’? I mean not many of the other crew members say it either when I do stuff for them, but it would be nice to hear every once in a while.”

Ben’s smile disappeared as he tried to rack his brain and figure out what he was supposed to be saying ‘thank you’ for. He now understood why the teenager had been so short with him by the Moon Pool, but was no closer to the reason.

“I haven’t asked Lucas to do anything today, or yesterday for that matter,” he said in his own defence.

“But I guess it wasn’t Ben who did the asking in the first place,” Lucas said to Shep.

Ben was clearly more confused now and could see the questioning looks he was receiving.

“I guess that is why I am a little more tired today,” Lucas began explaining to Shep. “It took a little longer than I planned last night to finish off that stuff you sent, so I didn’t get to bed until about 4.00am this morning.”

“What time did you get up?” Shep asked.

“I didn’t wake up on my own accord. Do you know what time that asshole was pounding on my hatch door this morning?”

“Luckily my cabin is a fair way from the rest of the crew quarters; otherwise he would have woken up somebody else apart from me. Maybe even the Captain or Kristin and that wouldn’t have gone down well.”

Bridger and the others looked at each other, wondering who had would have been beating on the boy’s door at any time of the early morning.

Kristin agreed with Lucas that anybody banging on his door without sufficient reason was asking for trouble. Especially after hearing the awful long hours that the teenager had already been keeping for the majority of the current tour.

“Five thirty!” Lucas practically yelled at his friend. “Now I am normally a really nice guy, but that Cooper was banging on my door so loud.”

“Cooper?” Shep asked, interrupting Lucas’s train of thought, but not recognizing the name.

“Yeah, that’s the one guy that ticks me off to no end on this boat. We just agree to not get along if you know what I mean.”

Bridger and Ben exchanged puzzled glances, not knowing of any past between Lucas and Cooper. They knew who the crew member was, a little weasel of a guy that only did what he had to whilst onboard and nothing else. Ben didn’t like him either.

“So why didn’t you tell ignore him pounding on the door. Or better yet, tell him to rack off and take a hike?”

“Well I did ignore him at first,” Lucas explained. “But he kept knocking and thumping, so he was determined to make sure that I wasn’t going to get any more sleep anyway. I opened the door ready to give him a mouthful, but then he barges his way into my room, telling me that Ben wanted some help with something urgently.”

“No I didn’t,” Krieg said, getting cranky himself that Cooper would not only disturb the teenager so early, but outright lie about wanting something done on his behalf. He was going to have some words to say to this Cooper.

“Anyway, Ben doesn’t even need to ask. He knows I will do anything for him. So I did it. Finished the program that Cooper said he wanted about 7.50am. Enough time to grab a coffee and head to the Bridge, ready to start my shift for the day.”


Lucas yawned loudly, “Sorry, so I was doing okay until this morning,” he said sheepishly.

“So you have been surviving most of the day on an hour sleep,” Shep taunted him, understanding a little more why his friend looked like hell.

“Something like that.”

“Well that covers today and yesterday, but you said other things have been getting you down,” Shep pointed out. “That can’t be the whole story.”

“Can’t put anything past you, Shep,” Lucas said with a small smile of gratitude. There had been many times in his life when he couldn’t have thanked his friend enough for looking out for him.

“You better not try, Lucas,” Shep warned, but he too was smiling as he spoke.

“Well the rest of it is a little bit more complicated, Shep. I don’t exactly know how to tell them,” Lucas offered as the beginning of an explanation.

“Tell me first then,” he said to Lucas.

“I don’t even know if I have it all worked out in my own head, let alone be able to explain it to anyone.”

“Spit it out,” Shep ordered.

The crew on the Bridge were also wondering what the teenager was having so much trouble with saying.

“It’s this place,” Lucas announced point blankly. “SeaQuest.”

“You don’t like being on SeaQuest?” Shep asked, trying to guess what the problem was.

“No, no, that’s not it at all. Like I said, hard to explain,” Lucas said, exhaling sharply and blowing the hair over his forehead in exasperation.

‘I love being here, please don’t get me wrong,” Lucas began.

At this statement Ben and Bridger relaxed a little more. Afraid for a moment what Lucas might be trying to say when they first heard him mention about the boat.

Lucas hesitated for a few more seconds, trying to get the words exactly right for Shep.

“How do I tell them that I feel like I am drowning here, when all of the water is on the outside?”

“Drowning?” Ben mouthed silently to Bridger, thinking that it was an odd form of metaphor. Bridger shrugged his shoulders, not able to offer any information either, but worried about what the teenager thought he couldn’t tell them.

“You mean holding you back, because of your age. And thinking that you don’t have enough experience yet,” Shep surmised.

“Partly,” Lucas said, noting that Shep didn’t quite get the whole picture.

“Take for instance my shifts on the Bridge,” Lucas continued. “Ford treats me like I am a moron.”

Jonathan Ford looked up sharply at this admission from Lucas, thinking that he had done everything he could to teach the teenager his duties on the Bridge correctly.

“He asked me today to tell him about some stupid W.S.K.R. diagnostics, whether I had updated them or not. And then some spiel about how important they were.”

Ford and Bridger were both trying to figure out why Lucas thought such duties were not for someone who was just starting out in a Naval career. Both of them had to spend a lot more time doing much menial checks when they went through their respective stints in the Academy.

Shep laughed a little at Lucas’s explanation, beginning to understand what his friend was feeling. “Do they know that you wrote the program that allows for the updates?”

“Yeah, well I don’t know, probably not,” Lucas answered. “He thought because I was doing my work on the Bridge today that I didn’t know what was going on with the other screen.”

“Please, I have three screens going in front of me now,” Shep said to his friend, knowing that Lucas could handle any number of screens more than him.

“Heh, yeah, they don’t understand I have done up to six screens at a time before,” Lucas said with pride. It hadn’t been for long, but computers were something that was natural to him like breathing.

“I don’t do that here, because Bridger would have a coronary if he saw it,” Lucas added with a laugh.

The crew on the Bridge could only looked shocked at each other with the information they could hear coming from the teenager.

“I thought my little tantrum before NODE 3 would have made a difference,” Lucas said. “They didn’t believe me when I said that I keep everything running.”

“Do they know that Noyce has got you writing the entire security program for the next tour?” Shep asked.

“No, no. Noyce asked me just as the tour was starting, whether I could handle it or not, together with the rest of my workload, but he wants to keep it all under wraps until we dock in a few days. He wants to have some big party or announcement or something to make it all official.”

“Bill hasn’t said a word to me,” Bridger spoke, seeing that Ford was looking just as uninformed as he was. Neither of them knew anything about Noyce asking the teenager to complete something so complex as the security system for the SeaQuest.

Giving such an important task to someone so young was almost unheard of, not that they thought Lucas couldn’t do it. The teenager was obviously convinced that he could.

“Well, its all finished now. Testing is complete too; I just have to wait for Noyce to tell the Captain. I don’t even know if he will tell him that I created it. I only told you because your not part of the crew, so my secret is safe with you, Shep.”

“But you did get your share of the cash, didn’t you. I hope you didn’t do it out of the goodness of your heart?” Shep asked a little worriedly.

“Oh no, I got my share of the kitty,” Lucas said with a laugh. “Cost the Admiral and the UEO a pretty sum it did, but he told me from the beginning that I could name my price.”

“I have some spending money for a change,” he added proudly. “Will continue to have too as I negotiated a maintenance package into the agreement for as long as I am aboard SeaQuest.”

“You will have to tell me how much later,” Shep taunted. Lucas had never been one to openly discuss money with.

“Just keep adding zeros,” Lucas replied with a small grin of pride, but offered no further information.

Bridger and Ford tried to guess at how much Noyce would have allocated in the budget for a new security program. If it was even half of what they were thinking and Lucas had been promised any sort of percentage from it, then the teenager would be looking more than a nice bonus in monetary terms.

Bridger could scarcely believe that somehow Noyce had coerced Lucas into taking on such an enormous project on his own, and had the teenager promise to keep it secret all this time on the tour.

If Lucas had been keeping this sort of thing secret for this length of time, what else didn’t any of them know about. The teenager had certainly kept his end of the agreement, not only completing what had been asked apparently, but had not breathed a word of it to any of them. Neither achievement was any small feat.

“Do they know anything about what you achieved at NODE 3, or why Mycroft asked you to go there in the first place?” Shep asked his friend. He had not attended himself, but had gotten feedback not only from Lucas, but from mutual friends Juliana and Nick.

“No, they never asked what happened there, and I didn’t offer any information,” Lucas replied casually.

“Lucas you wrote a program that monitors the electoral results of a foreign country, Brazil,” Shep reminded him.

The crew on the SeaQuest looked at each other, stunned at what they were hearing and learning about NODE 3. They were a little disappointed at Lucas’s statement of them not wanting to know or not asking.

How was someone as young as Lucas able to create something like that and why? they silently asked themselves, still listening to the two friends talk.

“Did Nick get back to you on how that is working?” Lucas asked, genuinely interested.

“He says its working fine, Lucas. It will send up a red flag the minute any cheating is detected. You made it a better place over there Lucas. You stopped greed and corruption, even if it is only in a small area.”

“Juliana tells me that she still doesn’t know how you did it. There were like five major bridges for you to hack, man. I know none of us would have been able to do what you did.”

“I didn’t do much over there, Shep,” Lucas said with a little humility.

“Didn’t do much!” Shep said in shock. “Lucas you are the only person that I know living or dead that was able to hack into the World Bank database. No one has ever done that, not even Mycroft himself.”

“Yeah, well I didn’t exactly have a picnic over there like everybody thinks,” Lucas stated, getting off his chair and walking about the area for a minute.

“But you can’t tell anybody about what happened there, remember. Part of the Hackers Code.”

Nathan frowned a little, remembering what he could about the couple of vid-link calls that he had shared with Lucas while the teenager was visiting NODE 3. At the time, the teenager seemed to be having a blast, even going so far as to mentioning wanting to stay longer.

Bridger had reminded Lucas that it was his responsibility to tell his parents, even though the strong parental part of him didn’t want Lucas to go anywhere away from SeaQuest.

“This is all what I have been trying to say, Shep,” Lucas said, sitting back down.

“That you don’t want to do the Bridge shifts anymore?”

“Not that I don’t want to do them,” Lucas tried to explain. “I look at two screens during my shifts, just to keep my brain functioning. I can’t just sit there like Ford wants me too and play act all of the time. I need to keep thinking. Its just part of who I am.”

“I use all the extra work that I have for after my duties on the Bridge, so that I can feel useful again and solve more complicated problems than just writing and running simple diagnostic sweeps that I usually write in my head at night.”

“Why don’t you just quit doing them? I mean there are plenty of other things that you can do on SeaQuest.

“That’s where most of the problem is, Shep. The Captain asked me to do them, so I do them, out of respect to him…..”

“Because you feel that you owe him something,” Shep finished.

“Kinda, I guess,” Lucas shrugged, thinking it was the most plausible answer. “I want a challenge. That’s why I have been doing all that other work.”

Lucas was clearly battling with himself with every passing minute, thinking more about what Shep said about confronting Bridger about his duties aboard the SeaQuest.

“How do I tell them that I am bored with it all?”

“I don’t want to go to Bridger and have to tell him that I have let him down and just want to quit the whole idea. I can’t be the military person that I think most of the crew assumes I am aspiring to be. I am not looking for a career in the Navy.”

“For now, SeaQuest is my home, one of the best I have known……..,” Lucas began.

“But you think that one day soon, it has to end abruptly,” Shep finished for him again.

Makes sense doesn’t it? Everything else in my life has turned out that way so far. Bridger and the crew can’t wet-nurse me forever.”

“I can see it from your point of view, Lucas,” Shep agreed. “But I don’t even want to pretend to tell you how to fix the problem.”

Bridger and the crew couldn’t believe what they were hearing. Lucas wasn’t kidding when he said that the problem bothering him was more complex. None of them had any idea that this is what was troubling their young friend and crew member.

Ford had no idea that was how Lucas felt about his duties on the Bridge. Given his intellect, he guessed the teenager could adapt quicker than other crew members.

Kristin could hear the insecurity and apprehension in the young man’s voice about his future both aboard SeaQuest and his relationship with Nathan.

“You know, I have even been tempted to look at some of the offers that you have been sending me lately……….,” Lucas said in a softer voice, not knowing what sort of reaction Shep would have to such an admission.

“Well, when you are on shore leave next week, why don’t you take a closer look at them?” Shep prodded, knowing which offers Lucas was talking about.

“I don’t know, Shep, it makes me feel a bit like a traitor,” Lucas responded.

“Its not being a traitor. Like you said, you could name your price. I get offers nearly every day to send to you, but I only forward the really good ones to you. Actually I didn’t think you even to bother looking at them.”

“What sort of offers is he talking about, Captain?” Ben asked with concern. More secrets he thought to himself, but also getting an uncomfortable feeling at hearing the stress that Lucas had been placing on himself during the tour.

“I have no idea, Ben,” Bridger answered, liking it even less than Krieg.

“Don’t write them off completely, Lucas,” Shep suggested. “Like you said, you have to keep your future in the back of your mind sometimes.”

Lucas stopped talking for a minute, knowing that he had admitted a lot more about what he was feeling lately than he had wanted to.

Shep could see that Lucas didn’t really want to continue that line of discussion right now either.

“Time’s up,” he poked in fun, looking at his watch. “I declare the meeting of the Sigmund Freud Association officially closed,” he added with a laugh. Lucas smirked at his friend’s quick wit and sense of humour.

“How much do I owe you this time,” Lucas joked.

“Well you know, just like you, my services don’t come cheap anymore,” Shep said in mock seriousness.

“What, $2.00 or $3.00 dollars?” Lucas offered in jest.

“Make it $3.00 and we will call it even.”

“Done,” Lucas said and the two boys laughed along with each other as they played around.

Lucas was relieved that he had gotten his point of view across to Shep and that his friend had been willing to listen long enough to the whole story. He might not have found a solution yet, but some of the burden was lifting from his shoulders.


Now it was Shep’s turn to completely change the topic of conversation. “Speaking of how to you are going to tell Bridger and the Doctor, have you gotten your invite yet?”

“Yeah, I got it three weeks ago, like you.”

“So………… have you thought about it?” Shep asked with anticipation.

Kristin looked at Bridger to see if he remembered Lucas talking about any kind of invitation. Lucas hadn’t made any mention to her about it.

The crew wondered what sort of event it was an invitation to and why like everything else they had heard secretly about tonight, Lucas hadn’t mentioned or said anything about it.

“Yes, I thought about it……..,” Lucas stated, leaving the sentenced unfinished.

“Well………… a decision?”

“I don’t know if I am ready to go back, Shep,” Lucas said in complete seriousness.

“Come on Lucas, you have to go. Its not like you have anything better to do, especially after what you told me tonight.”

“It is not that, Shep and you know it.”

“I know how you feel about going back……. how it scares you a little,” Shep said, trying to convince his friend without forcing him.

“A little,” Lucas scoffed. Maybe more than a little, Shep he thought to himself.

“I am not scared because I am afraid of going there, Shep. I just don’t want to have to remember that’s all,” Lucas tried to explain.

Bridger thought about Lucas’s response to his friend’s questions, thinking that Lucas did sound apprehensive about something. With his open admission that he didn’t want to remember, the Captain’s curiosity grew considerably.

“Nick is going to be there, Juliana is going to be there, I am going to be there. It won’t seem the same without you.

You can’t wimp out on us, Lucas.”

A small smile crept over Lucas’s face at the thought of Juliana being there. “I don’t even know if Juliana is still talking to me at the moment.”

“Oh, she’s talking alright,” Shep taunted him. “Something about……….,” he continued, knowing that his friend would automatically know what his next few words would be.

“Don’t you dare!” Lucas warned his friend, but laughing as he spoke. “You say anything and your dead.”

“You got to decide soon, Lucas. Replies have to be back in a couple of days. Do you know how many times Nick has already contacted me today asking if you are coming?”

“How many?” Lucas joked.

“Too many! If you don’t promise me you will come, I am going to put down your name on his sister’s visitors list.”

“You know, Eunice is always asking about you, Lucas,” Shep taunted further. “I could tell her how to contact you.”

“No!, No!” Lucas pleaded in mock fright. “What sort of a friend are you anyway. Nick’s sister, Oh My God, Shep are you nuts? I would never survive something like that!”

Shep could be heard laughing heartily at Lucas’s discomfort when it came to mentioning Wolfman’s sister. The girl was nice enough, but had never been too subtle about the idea that she thought Lucas was cute. Nick and Shep were known to rib their friend about it endlessly.

“Who is Eunice?” Miguel Ortiz asked in a quiet voice, trying to follow the conversation, but none of the crew sitting with him had heard her name mentioned before.

Those listening to the conversation between the two friends, noted a marked difference in the exchanges from Lucas and Shep. The Bridge crew could hear Lucas loosening up after the more serious discussion they had just heard earlier.

The mention of Lucas’s girlfriend Juliana made them all curious too. The teenager had always appeared too shy when it came to mentioning her name, and rarely divulged any information about any of the time they had shared together on a few occasions.

Ben Krieg smiled to himself that he knew a little more about the developing relationship between Lucas and the young girl. He was one of few who knew about the teenager sneaking off to the Sanger Institute to attend some party being thrown by Biff Pickering.

Bridger gave a wry smile as well, at what he knew about Lucas’s secret rendezvous with Juliana. After all, it had been him that received the late night call from the police when the teenager was picked up for speeding back to the SeaQuest in the stinger. But, he hadn’t received a full run down of what happened at the party either.


“Did you actually read the invitation and the itinerary and see what they have cooked up for us all?” Shep asked, still trying to convince his friend that going was the best idea.

“Yes, I did. I was looking at it the other night, but Bridger came in after that, so I to put it away. I haven’t had a chance to look back at it in the last couple of days.”

Bridger now knew that the piece of paper was that Lucas had been reading them he had gone to check on the teenager.

“Its only for ten days, Lucas,” Shep kept prodding. “You are going to be on shore leave for three weeks. Still plenty of time to do other things afterwards.”

“Yes, Shep, ten days. And if I did decide to go, then I would be very happy for the Captain and Kristin to come with me. I just don’t know if they would want to stick around for all that time being dragged around the place.”

“There are lots of things for them to see too,” Shep pointed out. “They won’t be the only family and friends there you know.”

“Yeah, I guess there would be some great stuff to show them. Ben might have a good time too,” Lucas agreed, starting to be persuaded that going was a positive thing. Deep inside though, he still had that niggling feeling about reminiscing down memory lane.

“The Captain has been at me for weeks to decide on somewhere to go for a vacation,” Lucas said quietly, thinking how he could word his idea to the three of them.

“Can’t hurt to ask, Lucas. The worst they can say is no. But even if they do, you still have to come. I will drag your ass kicking and screaming if necessary.”

“So who are you bringing?” Lucas asked casually, knowing that Shep didn’t have any siblings or parents to invite.

Shep sounded embarrassed as he answered truthfully, “Grandpa Ralph……..,”

Lucas burst out laughing at that admission from his friend, “Grandpa Ralph! Is this the same grandfather who used to show up and tell everybody some insane story about when he was in the war?”

“The same.”

“And despite this knowledge, you willingly invited him?” Lucas teased.

“Not like I had any other choice to put on the reply, Lucas,” Shep said, but knew that his friend was aware of his grandfather’s antics.

“Braver than me, is all I have to say. Does he still own that stupid bottle green van that he used for the car pool?” Lucas asked.

“Um, no Lucas, he doesn’t drive that van anymore……..,” leaving the answer short, not quite sure how his friend would take it that he was now driving the dilapidated vehicle instead of his grandfather. He had been intending to use it for the trip with Lucas and Nick.

“So who is Nick going to ask?” Lucas questioned.

“Well, you know when it comes to Wolfy, its not a question of asking anybody. His mother told him to put her and Eunice, and I am fairly sure Cassie was giving him a hard time about it too.”

“Boy, is he cornered on all sides,” Lucas said, feeling a little sorry for his second best friend.

“You said it. Me and him both have signed our death warrants.”

“Makes he kinda grateful that I am thinking of asking the Captain and Kristin to come.”

“Hey, that’s not fair to us either. You have to at least bring your real bastard parents along once and we can all be miserable together on that day. Why should you miss out on all the fun?” Shep jibed.

“There is absolutely no chance of that, Shep,” Lucas said, but refused to say anything further. The teenager knew that Shep was aware of his past and about Lawrence and Cynthia, but mentioning them at anytime was never a pleasant experience for him.

Bridger was surprised as he had been earlier at how well Lucas had accepted a second mention of his parents during the last hour or so.

By now, Lucas was again yawning frequently, and Shep was about to call it a night and give his friend the chance to get some sleep. He was surprised that Lucas had stayed awake now as long as he could, but he had enjoyed what they had talked about.

“So………. you going to tell me you are coming or not?” Shep asked one final time for the night, looking at the time and noting it only a few minutes before midnight.

“I will think about it some more and let you know,” Lucas replied, not wanting himself to commit to any more of an answer than that.

“Tomorrow……….,” he added tiredly as he folded his arms on the table again and resting his head on the crude pillow.

“Talk to you then,” Shep said, preparing to finish the vid-link call.

Lucas didn’t say anything further but lifted his arm up briefly and gestured a goodbye wave with this hand, terminating the call on his end, including the link to the Bridge.


“Where do you think this invitation is to, Nathan?” Kristin asked.

“I don’t know, but I am going to go and try to talk to him, if he will let me. Hopefully about more than just the invitation,” Bridger said as he thought about the other more worrisome topics of conversation that had been brought up.

“I don’t want to come right out and asked him about it, or anything else we all heard. Or he is going to be mad that we heard everything.”

The crew present could only nod their heads in agreement at that statement, knowing that none of them could mention anything they had heard between the two friends.

“Captain, what did you want me to do about Lucas’s shift on the Bridge scheduled for tomorrow morning, Sir,” Commander Ford asked, having taken note of what the teenager had said.

“Oh, I think Lucas is entitled to a bit of a sleep in tomorrow morning, don’t you think, Commander.” Bridger replied. “After that, we will just take things one day at a time.” he added, meaning any discussion about future shifts.

“Absolutely, Captain, but did you want me to find someone else to take his place?” Ford queried.

“I don’t think you need to worry about replacing him on the Bridge, Jonathan. I think everyone here is capable of taking over those duties,” Bridger began to answer, “But I do believe our Mr Cooper deserves to have a little ‘extra work’ don’t you? Seeing as how he is so adept at handing it out to other crew members without permission.”

“Understood, Captain,” Ford said with a smile, knowing that Cooper was in for a bit of a surprise over the next few days before they docked.

”I can deliver that message personally if you like, Captain,” Ben offered, balling one hand into a fist and signaling the ‘discussion’ that he intended for the little weasel.

“That won’t be necessary, Lieutenant. But you have it on my authority to make sure that he doesn’t do something like that again,” Bridger told him, hoping that Krieg would be responsible enough not to take his displeasure out on the man, no matter how they all felt about his early wake up call to Lucas.

Ben knew what the Captain was getting at and reluctantly agreed.

“I am going to talk to Lucas,” Bridger said, getting up from his central console. He looked at Kristin and Ben before walking away.

“If he does decide to come and ask us about this invitation tomorrow, please just listen. He might be right, wherever it is might be worthwhile.”

“It sounded like his friend almost talked him into agreeing anyway,” Kristin said. “He might get to spend more time with people his own age.”


In the short time that Bridger took to finish talking to Kristin and Ben on the Bridge, and then walking the few corridors to his room, Lucas had made himself get up and pack up his computer and other belongings.

He had resigned himself to the fact that he wasn’t going to get anymore work done in the Captain’s quarters that night, knowing that Bridger would turn up soon after his shift.

With everything piled up and sitting on the central console, ready to pick up on his way out, he briefly went back to the couch that he was using as a desk earlier in the evening, and sat down. He hadn’t meant to stay but a second or two. There was no more coffee left.

The softness of the cushions as he sat down was very inviting, and before he could string another coherent thought together about getting up and moving back to his own cabin, Lucas’s head leaned back against one of the side arms.

Another breath, and he was asleep, still seated and slumped awkwardly on the couch.

Bridger opened the hatch door, and noted that the lights in the room were still on. They were dimmer, and the room was bathed in a softer hue.

The Captain could see the holographic image of his friend Professor Matheson, “Good Evening, Nathan.”

“Hello,” Bridger greeted back. “What is with the lights?” The Captain could see Lucas’s work material piled up on the desk in front of the image. The vid-link screen was now dark.

“Forgive me, but I took the liberty of turning them down so as not to disturb the young man,” Matheson answered.

It was now that Bridger walked over to the couch and his attention was drawn to Lucas who had curled up on one end. The teenager was sound asleep and had not heard anyone enter the room.

“How long has he been like this?” Bridger asked, thinking that it couldn’t have been to long because of the call with Shep.

“Only a few minutes,” Matheson replied. “I don’t think it was his intention to fall asleep there.”

“No, probably not,” Bridger said, smiling at little at the peaceful look that Lucas held in slumber. He could see the faint signs of fatigue that they had heard in his voice earlier.

“Lucas,” Bridger called softly, brushing the back of his hand on the boy’s cheek.

If the teenager had only been asleep for a moment or two, he might be successful in getting to move to a bed, even if it was his own bunk. He would be more comfortable. But he received no response.

Bridger was loathe to disturb him any further, and instead, walked over to a small closet in the room, retrieving two pillows and a blanket. Lucas hadn’t stirred at all with his touch.

He lifted the boy’s shoulders slightly, and placed the two pillows against the arm rest, lowering his head onto them. Lucas mumbled something briefly, but then buried his face deeper into the fabric, giving a contented sigh.

The Captain now lifted the boy’s legs and stretched them along the couch and then covering the youth with the blanket. It didn’t look like Lucas was going to wake for the remainder of the night.

“After a nice long sleep, Lucas, you and I are going to have to have a talk,” he whispered to the sleeping teenager.

to be continued…….

Chapter One – Disturbed


By Jules

Synopsis – Daniel Jackson has been trapped on his own inside the Gateroom by the incoming invaders. The staff of SGC and his own team are unable to see what is happening to him or help him in any way.

For Daniel… his pain has only just begun… and they haven’t even begun to hear him scream yet.

Author Notes: Takes place after the death of Daniel’s wife. Includes mentions of what happened in episodes “Fire and Water” and others.

Disclaimer: Stargate SG1 and the characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money has been exchanged. No copyright infringement is intended. Entertainment value only.

Strong friendship bond between Jack O’Neill and Daniel Jackson only – no slash.

All medical facts are entirely made up and used to the benefit of the story only in a fictional world.

This is my first attempt at a Stargate story.


on with the story:

The weather was pleasant for mid-morning as the four team members walked along a well beaten path back to the Stargate. If one took the time to stop at look at the landscape one might have even been persuaded to comment about the lush vegetation and pleasing scenery.

There were no clouds in the sky to speak of but one could have been mistaken for believing that a little darker mood had settled over at least one of them.

Sam briefly glanced back over her shoulder at her friend and saw him deep in thought and his brow creased in concentration. She had offered to listen to him back in the city about what he was thinking, but he hadn’t offered any plausible explanation.

After four days of intense negotiations and talks, unfortunately they were no closer to gaining the trust or a treaty with the people of this planet than they were before they walked through the event horizon.

Daniel had bore the brunt of the workload, being the only one able to establish a connection with the people and their language. He was courteous, polite and studious and never complained over what was required of him.

Upon arrival, SG1 had been afforded comfortable accommodations and given adequate food and water. The room they had been given was large and split into a number of smaller sleeping quarters by partitions.

This allowed for privacy but also ensured that the team knew where each other was at night and that was something that Jack was definitely thankful for.

The bedding was simple, but warm and there was plenty of ventilation within the room itself to allow the breeze to flow through, giving a sense of openness and freedom.

The first evening saw them join in repast with the city leaders, although the meal provided had appeared as a little unappealing.

Daniel had graciously taken a few mouthfuls of the overly salty dish so as not to displease their hosts, but a bitter oily after-taste had been left on his tongue and he had not eaten any more.

Jack, Sam and Teal’c didn’t object to the taste nearly as much and had calmly consumed what was offered. Daniel had been expecting Jack to make some lame comments about the cuisine, but was grateful when the Colonel ate without talking much.

For the remainder of their time on the planet, Daniel went through the motions of joining in meal times, but kept his consumption to a minimum, using their own food rations away from the hosts at night to keep up his strength.

When meal times were finished, then he had tried to negotiate more with the leaders of the city about working with the people of Earth and establishing another ally against the Goa’uld.

However, thus far all of those efforts had only served to be unfruitful, with the leaders adamantly refusing to meet even halfway on any point of discussion that Daniel introduced.

It wasn’t for lack of trying though and the talks continued for the majority of the time during their visit and on a couple of occasions late into the night. When Daniel retired to their guest quarters, he found that he couldn’t sleep, the conversations that he had shared swirling around in his mind.

Jack had been alert for any signs of trouble and thankfully none had presented themselves, but he couldn’t figure out why Daniel was getting so wound up. It wasn’t his usual stance when it came to meeting new cultures and secretly it had him wondering what else might be going on.

He tried to goad Daniel a little at night with playful remarks about the city to try and draw some comments out of the man, but so far he had remained fairly tight lipped. Another sign that was highly unusual for their archaeologist.

On most missions, you could bet that with any such negotiations, Daniel would come back and exuberantly tell his team what a great chance they had with this culture and how much they might be able to gain in learning their customs and language.

Daniel had been the only one permitted to represent Earth at the talks, closed away for a number of hours until meal breaks. Jack had made it abundantly and clear that he didn’t approve of one of his team being anywhere on his own.

His protests fell on deaf ears for the most part and he had to hold his tongue on several occasions to avoid saying something more harsh and hence foiling Daniel’s already tenuous attempts at a peaceful co-operation.

There had been a few tense moments and the rest of the team had become concerned about the toll that the extremely long hours had been extracted from their friend, physically and mentally.

Particularly when it seemed like despite the best efforts they were all for nought.

“So………….,” Jack prompted as he halted his pace a little and began walking in step with Daniel.

Carter had taken point and Teal’c now remained at the rear of the group, allowing the two men to talk a little more casually.

“I don’t know what else to tell you, Jack,” Daniel announced, his voice betraying his sense of exasperation and his fatigue.

Jack was sorely tempted to remind Daniel that he hadn’t in fact revealed very much at all about the discussions and why he didn’t think a treaty would work, but he was beaten to the punch by the Major.

“What makes you think we cannot trust them, Daniel?” Carter interjected, hoping that she could run between the Colonel and the archaeologist and they could understand his point of view.

“I would gladly tell you, Sam, if I knew,” Daniel said, still walking slowly towards the Stargate, exhaling wearily. “There was just something ……………… Not what they said, but …………….”

“How they said it,” Jack finished the sentence with a smug look on his face.

Daniel stopped walking for a minute and gave Jack the best exaggerated roll of his eyes that he could muster. He was just too tired at the moment to want to argue any further.

It was the same line that Daniel had repeated to his team on at least six occasions since they had left the city, ready to head back home.

“You’ve been telling us that for the last three clicks back to the gate, Daniel,” Jack taunted.

“Sorry for being so boring,” Daniel shot back, sounding a little more abrupt than he had meant.

“Carter, dial us home,” Jack ordered as the team got close to the DHD.

“Yes, Sir,” Sam responded automatically, pressing the symbols in the correct sequence.

Daniel removed his backpack and set it down with an audible sigh, taking off his glasses and rubbing tiredly at his eyes. He tucked them into the pocket of his jacket for safe keeping.

“Look, I didn’t mean it that way, Daniel,” Jack said, the tone of his voice clearly changing to one of concern as he took a good look at his friend.

The slumped posture and the signs of a headache were not what he wanted to see. He could see the tiredness and the frustration oozing out of every pore.

“Nobody tried harder than you back there,” O’Neill voiced in praise, “But they just weren’t willing to come to the party.”

“But what I don’t understand is why, Jack,” Daniel responded, frowning again as certain phrases that he had heard came back into his head. He could feel the slight tension in his temples and knew that if he didn’t stop thinking soon, he would have a full blown migraine before the day ended.

“Maybe they are just like the Tollans and the Tok’ra and not willing to share,” Jack suggested, walking over a little closer to his friend.

Teal’c had been listening to the two men as they waited for Carter sent the remote access codes through to Stargate Command, letting them know they were coming through.

“What is the main basis of your concern, Daniel Jackson?” the Jaffa queried.

Daniel paused a minute before answering, looking back at the dark-skinned man and then to Jack, trying to think of an alternative word that would sound more correct for what he could feel in his gut.

Picking up his backpack upon seeing the event horizon now engaged and ready for them to enter the wormhole.

“Not concern exactly, Teal’c,” Daniel offered, “More like disturbed…………..,”

Jack, Sam and Teal’c exchanged worried glances between each other for a brief second, before heading through the horizon themselves.


Upon hitting the ramp, Jack had to side-step a minute as he came across Daniel still standing at towards the top.

“Watch it, Dannyboy, coming through,” Jack joked, but his words barely extracted a glance from his friend.

Within the embarkation room, General Hammond was standing waiting for them, together with the usual armed security detail.

“Close the iris,” Hammond ordered, “Welcome back, SG1.”

The metallic clang of the iris echoed within the walls as it meshed together, sealing out any possible hostiles or threats.

Jack, Sam and Teal’c continued their way down the ramp and stepped off, ready to go through the usual post-mission procedures and protocol.

“Doctor Jackson?” Hammond enquired as he saw the younger man still standing at the top of the ramp, with a puzzled almost pinched expression on his face.

Jack pointed to his head and silently mouthed the word “headache” to his commanding officer, whilst still looking up at his friend.

Hammond nodded his head in acknowledgement, and could see the young man was troubled by something. He lacked the usual vitality that he had come home with on previous occasions and he looked rumpled and tired.

For the moment Daniel seemed to be still deep in thought, as though wrestling with himself, barely hearing the General’s question.

“I think we can scratch any idea of those people helping, General,” Jack said, giving some detail on how the mission had faired poorly. “They didn’t want to know us.”

“Any reason for that, Colonel?” Hammond asked, keeping one eye on Daniel and noting that the young man had still yet to move further down the ramp.

When they had first planned out this mission, Doctor Jackson had been quite eloquent and persuasive in his methods and how he thought they may be able to achieve co-operation between the two worlds.

“Not for lack of trying though, Sir,” Jack continued. “Danny gave them the best speeches and played nice guy for days, even into the night. Worked himself ragged, mostly for nothing,” he added, hoping to drag his friend out of his slump and accept his efforts had not been worthless.

Upon looking up, Daniel could see everyone looking back at him, waiting for him to answer. “Um er what?” was the best response he could get out taking one step forward.

Sam was prepared to walk back up the ramp. It wasn’t too often that her friend was stumped in reporting to General Hammond and his obvious confusion worried her.

“Are you alright, Daniel?”

Daniel was about to give his standard reply of “I am fine” to the blond Major when something else entirely different happened.

Without warning, the archaeologist felt what he could only describe as a powerful electric surge running from beneath the ramp through his entire body. Through his boots and feet, and jolting through all of him.

His body jerked forward and he almost lost his balance, aimlessly reaching out to grab a hold of one of the side railings until he could correct his equilibrium.

What he hadn’t heard was the sharp loud gasp of pain that escaped his lips.

From where everybody else was standing at the bottom of the ramp, what they saw and heard was Daniel inhale acutely as if he was in pain and almost fall flat on his face. They could see his body spasm violently and then freeze in a rigid stance and go completely still for a moment or two.

“Daniel!” Jack shouted, diving up the ramp almost as quickly as Teal’c and Sam, all of them forgetting that they may at risk from whatever was attacking their teammate.

“Doctor Jackson!” Hammond called out, before quickly heading towards an emergency phone and calling for a medical team.

Daniel’s face had lost colour and he was trying to draw and gulp breath into his lungs to offset the sharp intake of pain that he was experiencing. He went to take a step forward, but his legs felt like jelly and began to betray him.

By the time Jack reached out with a steadying hand, Daniel had fallen to his knees and was still trying to regain his composure and counteract the effects of the electrical current.

“What the hell happened?” Jack asked, his voice a little louder than necessary, earning him a rebuking glare from Carter for the outburst.

Daniel felt someone calling out to him, and turned towards the voice, very much like a minute or two before, not having heard or comprehended the question demanded of him.

He looked up at Jack and then turned to face Sam with a pale, wide-eyed expression, licking his lips to moisten them before speaking. “Felt……”

“Felt what, Daniel?” Sam asked in a gentler tone of voice, none of them any the wiser to knowing yet what had happened.

General Hammond was still standing at the bottom of the ramp, and the defence team who had relaxed slightly a short time ago, were now back to being on full alert, with weapons raised, and waiting for any invading force through the iris.

It took a few more seconds before Daniel spoke again, his voice a little stronger, “felt like electricity …………… flowing through me.”

“WHAT!” Jack cried out in alarm, thinking that somehow his friend had received some sort of electric shock.

Jack now looked down at his feet and realized that all four of them were standing on the metal alloy ramp and they too might be shocked, but for the moment, he couldn’t admit to feeling anything like that. Not even a small flicker.

“For crying out loud, Daniel we just got back a few minutes ago,” Jack said too quickly. “Could you at least let us get over that mission first before you do anything else crazy.”

Teal’c inclined his head slightly, raising one eyebrow and gave a warning and displeased look towards O’Neill as if to say that this was not the time to be chastising Daniel Jackson when their friend needed medical help and understanding.

O’Neill looked back and immediately thought “Some weird Jaffa revenge ritual” in store for me at some point in the very near future.

Carter had scrambled to grab Daniel’s forgotten backpack and quickly jumped off the ramp herself to avoid further potential risk.

“Getting off here now, Danny,” Jack said, his actions careful and cautious as he and Teal’c stood either side of Daniel and pulled him to his feet. He gave no resistance at being helped to stand, his face displaying pain.

They didn’t know if he had sustained any injuries, but he was still too pale and the two of them could feel small shivers running through his limbs as they supported most of his weight.

“General, Sir?” Doctor Janet Fraiser asked as she and two orderlies came racing into the room, ready for anything, but not entirely too sure what they were facing yet. All they had heard was an emergency request for medical assistance in the gateroom.

Janet was almost ready to put her foot on the ramp when Jack yelled out, “STOP!” “Daniel says he got an electric shock from the ramp,” he informed them.

Fraiser stopped where she was and impatiently waited as she saw the Colonel and Teal’c leading Daniel towards her.

“Do any of you feel anything now?” Hammond asked, worried that more than one of his main team may still in danger of being injured.

“Nothing that I can feel, Sir,” O’Neill admitted, looking at the other two for their confirmation. Both Teal’c and Sam shook their heads in a negative response to having felt any form of electrical current on the ramp.

Jack was getting a little anxious at the deliberately slow walking pace of his friend and was tempted to throw him over his shoulder and dump him into Fraiser’s waiting capable hands, but something about the expression on Daniel’s face stopped him from doing that.

“Daniel?” Fraiser questioned as the young man neared the end of the ramp and was guided off by his team. She could see the slightly dazed look in his blue eyes and the pinched lines on his handsome face.

“Are you having any pain right now, Daniel?” Janet asked, putting her hand on his shoulder and detecting the tremors that Jack and Teal’c could feel.

She put the palm of her hand on his cheek, hoping to gain his attention. There was a distinct coolness to his skin. She could see the tiredness from lack of sleep.

Daniel closed his eyes for a moment and drew in another deep breath before letting it out very slowly, before opening them again and looking back at the doctor. He was about to say something to her when he felt his legs weaken again and his body swaying slightly.

Teal’c released his hold and allowed O’Neill to support his friend more closely. Jack immediately looped a much stronger arm around the younger man’s waist, in case his friend was in danger of collapse.

“Let’s get him to the infirmary,” Fraiser said firmly, keeping a careful eye on her patient the entire time. She took one of his hands as he was lead from the room, reaching for his pulse point on his wrist and noticing a distinct raciness to the rhythm.

Jack carefully guided his friend down the corridor towards the elevator, worried when Daniel failed to even protest at the efforts of his friends and Fraiser.


Samantha Carter was still standing in the gateroom with General Hammond as they watched Daniel and Fraiser leave with Teal’c following behind.

“Major, seal off the gate and the ramp until the proper testing can be done to make sure it is safe before any more teams leave or come back,” Hammond ordered.

“I will get Sergeant Siler onto it immediately, Sir,” Samantha affirmed.

She too wanted to go to the infirmary and check on her friend, but knew that they had to make sure the gateroom was properly sealed off before anybody else was hurt.

It might take a little while before Janet had an accurate diagnosis about Daniel anyway.

“Major, I would like to debrief as soon as possible, but given what has just happened to Doctor Jackson, I can leave it a little longer. I have a meeting in two hours, the rest of your team can meet with me after that.”

“I let the Colonel and Teal’c know, Sir,” Sam promised.

“Keep me informed on the progress of the testing and of Doctor Jackson, please,” Hammond requested.

“Yes, Sir,” Sam saluted as the General walked out of the room towards his own office.

In all the time she had worked at Cheyenne Mountain, she had never heard of something like this occurring in the gateroom itself. They had just returned safely from a mission, and it didn’t make any sense that Daniel was the only one attacked.

Sam started co-ordinating with a few of the marines left to bring out some barricades and warning tape to place around the ramp and gate.

Once that was in place, she would have to join forces with Sergeant Davis in the control room and contact any of the off-world teams that were due to come home and delay that return until the testing was completed.


Back in the infirmary, Jack led a still unsteady Daniel over to the corner bed and waited until his friend sat down slowly on it before releasing his supportive hold.

Daniel’s head was hanging low and he seemed to be taking in very little of the chaos and confusion going on around him.

Janet is still standing close by but was currently talking to one of the nurses and giving some directions as to what is to happen.

Jack had his attention firmly focused on Daniel, his thoughts drifting a little as to what might have happened, but was brought back to reality when she turned and spoke to him.

“Colonel, why don’t you come back in an hour or two. I am sure Doctor Jackson will be ready for visitors then,” Janet suggested.

“You sure you want me to leave him alone?” Jack asked still concerned about the lack of animation of his best friend.

O’Neill knew that Daniel was tired and had seen the drawn features as they approached the ramp, but the concept that he had received an electric shock of some sort just scared him silly.

“I am sure, Sir,” Janet smiled, knowing that it was rare for the military man to let his guard down for anybody else but his team who were considered as close as family.

Jack cared deeply about Daniel and the friendship was one that had seen them through a lot of battles. She knew that Daniel was equally as thankful to have such a great friend as Jack O’Neill, even if they baited each other and fought like combative siblings most of the time.

It was when either of them was sick or injured that the other put aside their differences and was just there for the other, weathering each other through whatever storm presented itself both off-world and when back on Earth.

Janet was thankful to share a very strong friendship with Samantha Carter, but both of them had agreed on more than one occasion that they had rarely seen two best friends like Jack and Daniel.

Both women were equally as grateful to have each of the men include them in their tight knit little family, that also included Teal’c, General Hammond and a few select members of other SGC personnel.

“Okay then, well I better go and check if Carter needs a hand,” Jack said, glancing back at Daniel who was watching them both, but neither of them thought he was following the conversation that was taking place in front of him.

“I will be back soon, Daniel,” Jack promised and left the infirmary with Teal’c.


“Right now, Daniel, let’s see if we can find out how to start making you feel a little better,” Janet said warmly as she turned her full attention back to her patient.

“Janet, can I take a shower first please?” he asked softly.

It was the first coherent sentence that the young man had been able to string together since the gateroom. He lifted his head expectantly, his hair hanging over his forehead a little as he looked up at her with tired eyes, giving a shy smile.

“I am not sure that is such a good idea at the moment, Daniel,” Janet said soothingly, trying to maintain some amount of professionalism but feeling her heart strings being tugged by his boyish charm.

She placed a hand on his arm, checking for the trembling that she had been able to detect earlier and was happy to feel that they had subsided completely. This gave her a little hope that perhaps he had not received as much of a shock as first thought.

“Please?” Daniel pleaded.

“I still have to examine you post-mission and I will have some tests to run on you about the shock that you said you received,” Janet reminded him, taking the inside of his wrist again and counting his pulse.

She was pleased to note that it was at a nice steady pace once more. Perhaps Daniel had been extremely fortunate on this occasion and just needed a little TLC.

“Any pain or headache?” she prompted, looking directly at him and wanting a straight answer.

Whether it be because of his fatigue or something else, she found that the young man had very little energy reserves to put up his usual “brave” act of being fine and answered truthfully.

“Still a little dull ache in my head, but no pain,” Daniel gave in explanation. “Just tired………..” he said before yawning, putting his hand over his mouth and his head drooping a little towards his chest once more.

“Are you going to be awake long enough to take a shower?” Janet prodded him in mirth.

Daniel just gave a small nod of his head and that was all it took for the usually tough physician to crumble and allow him his small request.

“Rebecca, can you make sure that everything is prepared in the private shower room for Doctor Jackson,” Janet asked.

“Right away, ma’am,” the stoutly nurse replied and hurried away to complete her task.

“When you are finished your shower, I want to complete those tests, Daniel,” Janet spoke, making sure she had some of his attention for his own good.

“Even if you only received a small electric shock back on the ramp, I need to keep you under observation for a few hours and monitor your heart rate and other vital signs for any abnormality.”

“I don’t want to stay in the infirmary overnight,” Daniel tried to argue glumly, but regretting a little of how petulant his complaint may have sounded to Janet. He just wanted to go home and sleep for a few hours.

“Let’s just take one step at a time shall we?” Janet responded, not wanting to pre-empt anything until she saw the test results.

The nurse Rebecca had returned and informed Janet that everything was prepared and ready for Daniel.

“Watch him carefully from here to the shower room and remain outside the door,” Janet informed her staff member, being cautious without overbearing. She had seen how unsteady he was when being brought here.

Daniel did seem to have made a miraculous and significant step forward since being led here to the infirmary, but experience told her to make sure first. Especially with a special patient such as Daniel Jackson who came with his own set of rules when it came to illness and injuries and how to treat both and generally taking care of himself.

“When you finish your shower, I can begin the tests and we go from there,” she said, trying to perk up his spirits a little. He did seem a little pre-occupied about something, but intuition told her that it may not be the shock that was causing his current level of docility.

“Let me know when Doctor Jackson is finished please,” she whispered.

The doctor left her patient in the good hands of the middle aged nurse and went to her office to take care of some other matters.

On any day, when he was feeling well, Daniel was one of the most gentle, caring men she had ever had the pleasure to meet. He was completely different in personality to a lot of the marines that ruefully graced her infirmary with their boorish, brash and downright aggressive selves at times.

He came with his own fair share of secretiveness and mysteriousness and vulnerability that he often didn’t admit to, but portrayed regularly. Sometimes she wished that there were more people in this world that saw things so passionately as he did. But then again, that would take away the special-ness that was all Daniel Jackson.


Daniel forced himself to appear more alert and slowly made his way into the shower room, giving Nurse Rebecca a shy smile in appreciation and then closing the door behind him.

He adjusted the temperature of the water until it was fairly hot and steam filled the small cubicle, allowing it to swirl around him. The hot water on his tired and aching muscles felt incredibly good and soothing.

As he leaned his head against the cooler tiles and stood under the massaging streams, his mind was taking him back to the meetings he had on the planet and the conversations that had bothered him the most.

To the untrained eye there had appeared to be nothing of consequence to report, and there certainly had been any direct demonstration of anything wrong or threatening. Their manner had been more standoffish and aloof.

There were just odd subtle words or phrases though that at first appeared odd. The language had been difficult to decipher and it had taken nearly the first full day to have any real grasp of being able to communicate sufficiently with the elders of the city.

We do not believe that the resources of an individual matter’

As a whole our nation seeks to renew itself’

Peace cannot always be achieved, even by those to desperately seek it’


Divine Rule’

The words and phrases becoming more consistent in his brain and not wanting to shut off. He was tired and didn’t want to think anymore today, shutting off the water and quickly drying himself, hoping to shove the voices in his head back into his sub-conscious for a few hours.

Daniel was almost startled by a small tap on the door which brought him back to where he was.

“Doctor Jackson, are you alright in there?” Nurse Rebecca asked, having heard the water stop a few minutes earlier.

“Fine, thank you,” Daniel said as he opened up the door and exited.

“Doctor Jackson,” the nurse said, looking at his attire and frowning a little, thinking that Janet Fraiser was not going to be happy.

Daniel looked back at her calling to him, but wore a puzzled expression on his face at her questioning glances to his clothing. He was wearing a standard black t-shirt and his army green uniform trousers.

“I don’t think Doctor Fraiser meant for you to be dressed in your civilian clothes just yet, Daniel,” the Nurse pointed out, deciding to be direct. She knew that Janet wanted to carry out some testing on the young man.

“I won’t tell if you won’t,” he said, placing an index finger to his lips and looking back her over the rim of his glasses.

Knowing that Fraiser was usually fairly strict about proper patient care whilst they were in her custody. That usually correlated to patients wear hospital gowns until they were declared fit and discharged, Nurse Rebecca walked away thinking that she would let Janet argue with him,


“Doctor Jackson is ready for you, ma’am,” Rebecca informed Janet as she stood in the doorway of her office.

“Thank you, I will see him straight away,” Janet responded. “Is he displaying any symptoms I should know about?” she asked, hoping to pick up on anything that Daniel might try to disguise.

“Um,” the nurse stammered at first, not knowing how to brooch the subject easily. The staff of the infirmary knew that if there was one patient that Fraiser worried about more often, it was Doctor Jackson.

The man had a known medical history of injuries and allergies, but the young man’s gentle sweet disposition drew out the strong mothering syndrome in most of the nursing staff, including Janet.

“Let me guess, he is already demanding to go home,” Janet assumed with a knowing smile. Daniel had already admitted to wanting to escape as soon as possible.

“Not exactly, but he is dressed in his normal clothes,” Rebecca stated, ready to assist Fraiser setting up the monitoring equipment that would be required.

“Oh is he now,” Janet smirked, “Well we will just have to disappoint the good Doctor Jackson for a few hours at least,” she added heading out into the infirmary.


In the few minutes that Nurse Rebecca and Janet Fraiser had been talking near her office, Daniel had sat back down on the bed designated as his and patiently waited for Janet to come.

He knew that he wouldn’t have to wait long before the petite red-headed Doctor would appear and begin her usual regime of tests. She had said something about wanting to do some other testing, but his head was still thumping from the headache.

The hot water from the shower seemed to have aggravated it a little, to a more noticeable level and he rubbed tiredly at his eyes once more, the frames of his glasses lifting with the motions of his hand.

The bed that he was sitting in was the closest to the corner of the infirmary, and had always been an inside joke with various members of the SGC and nursing staff. They all insisted that this was his bed when he had to be here.

It looked no different to any of the other lines of beds most days, but he did notice looking down now that there were two pillows at the head of the bed. The bottom one firm and flat, the one on top, much fluffier and softer.

There was a blanket folded neatly at the foot of the bed and the sheets felt nice and cool under his fingertips.

The tiredness that he had been feeling before coming through the gateroom and before his shower began to roll over him again in large crashing waves.

He barely realised that he was laying down instead of sitting up and the softness of the pillow was so inviting that he sighed audibly when his head sank gratefully into it. The headache was still present, making him rub at his temples in a circular pattern, hoping to gain some relief.

Sleep beckoned and he could no longer resist the urge to let the swirling thoughts in his head fade away. Daniel didn’t even feel his eyelids begin to flutter close.


Janet strode purposefully towards the bed, ready to do battle with Daniel about any of his pre-conceived ideas that he was going home immediately. Nurse Rebecca was close behind, wheeling a heart monitor and various pieces of cabling that would be attached to the patient.

Fraiser was about to open her mouth and say something, but froze when the two of them spied the heart-warming site before them …………. Daniel laying on his side, his legs drawn up onto the bed and sleeping.

It seemed that any notions Daniel had about going home in the next couple of hours had been thwarted by his own body’s demand to rest.

She looked back at Rebecca and both of them had to smile at such a pleasing site. Daniel portrayed the perfect picture of innocence as he slept. The lines of his face smooth and relaxed.

Nurse Rebecca tiptoed as quietly as she could around the patient’s bed, hooking up the heart monitor to a power source whilst Janet did some brief assessing of the patient himself. Both of them were loathe to wake him.

Janet gently removed the thin framed glasses from his face, carding one hand through his dampened hair and brushing it back off his face. She used the back of the same hand against his cheek, surprised that he didn’t stir at her touch, but pleased to note that the skin felt warm and of a natural temperature.

One hand was laying silently outstretched beside his face and Rebecca carefully attached the small peg-like clamp electrode to his index finger that would relay all necessary information back to the heart monitor.

Janet knew she would have to extract a blood supply, and thought that Daniel may wake with the procedure, but cautiously noted that he had failed to react to any of their administrations. Even the small pinprick from the needle point extracted only a brief pause in his steady breathing.

Rebecca reached over and turned the dimmer switch on the lights over the bed, giving the patient the chance to get as much rest as he needed without interruption.

Although she didn’t like the idea of Daniel sleeping in his clothes, she wasn’t about to disturb him now that he looked so comfortable and peaceful.

“That will do for now,” Janet whispered pulling the blanket from the bottom of the bed and spreading it over the slumbering form.

They both stepped away from the bed, leaving Daniel to sleep.

“I want to monitor him for a few hours because of the electric shock, but the readings appear to be within the normal range so far,” Janet spoke. “I also want hourly monitoring of his blood pressure, please.”

She would wait until Daniel was awake to complete any more of the post-mission procedures.

“I will let you know if anything changes, ma’am,” Rebecca replied.


About an hour after Janet had left her patient in the capable hands of Nurse Rebecca, Sam and Jack approached the infirmary, looking for any information on their friend’s condition.

Janet met them at the door, motioning for them to be very quiet before leading them over to the corner bed and pointing at the still sleeping Daniel with a satisfied smile.

“He must have been very tired, Janet, are you sure he is okay?” Sam asked looking at Daniel and smoothing out an invisible crease in the blanket.

“Wore him out with your devious little tools did ya?” Jack enquired, pleased to see that his friend was safe and taken care of.

“General wanted to know when he might get some information out of him,” Jack stated casually. He thought he had used a relatively quiet voice, but took a step back when both Sam and Janet turned on him and shushed him.

“Hey, I was just asking,” he said in his own defence, but stopped talking when Daniel gave a small sigh and turned his head on the pillow a little. The two women glared at him again.

“He fell asleep before I could do much testing on him at all,” Janet offered in diagnosis, “but his pulse and breathing all appear to be much better now than they were in the gateroom.”

“Right now he is displaying the usual signs of fatigue, but no symptoms that could be attributed to receiving any kind of electrical shock. He didn’t stir at all when I took the blood sample.”

“Maybe he didn’t really receive a shock on the ramp. Perhaps he was just tired and confused after coming back through the gate,” Sam suggested in explanation.

Jack took two small steps closer to his friend, looking down as though making his own assessment of Daniel. He went to reach out his hand towards the bed when it was vigorously slapped away.

“You wake him up, Colonel, and so help me,” Janet warned in a whisper, stepping closer to Jack to emphasis her intent to do him bodily harm if Daniel woke.

“We can come back later, Janet,” Sam said. “I will let the General know that Daniel is getting some rest.”

“Sleep well, Daniel,” Sam said softly, giving him a gentle kiss on the forehead.

Janet and Sam shared a small laugh at the Colonel as he looked most perturbed that Carter was allowed to kiss Daniel, but he was threatened within an inch of his life for making any kind of sound or touching and making sure he was alright.


In the briefing room, Jack and Sam were meeting with Teal’c and General Hammond and giving what brief details they could about the negotiations on the planet.

“Doctor Fraiser thinks that Daniel may be just a little overworked and tired and not suffering from any kind of electrical shock from the ramp, Sir. But she is keeping a close eye on him for the next couple of hours at least,” Carter reported to Hammond.

“That’s good news to hear, Major,” Hammond responded, relieved to know the young man wasn’t suffering any adverse affects.

“Indeed,” Teal’c commented, pleased to hear that his teammate was resting.

“She wants to keep him quiet and just let him sleep,” Carter added, giving Jack a sharp look as she spoke.

“What!” Jack declared indignantly, “I wasn’t going to wake him up.”

“You almost did, Sir,” Carter accused lightly, which had him draw stern looks from both the General and Teal’c.

There were few occasions where Major Carter could be seen or heard pointing out any of O’Neill’s mistakes or indiscretions, but anything to do with Daniel Jackson was the obvious exception.

Most staff on Cheyenne mountain were aware that Sam treated Daniel like a brother and was usually fussing about his health and general well-being. She would take anyone to task who was seen to be disrupting his routine or bringing harm to him, including the Colonel.

Whilst not all the marines on the base understood the sibling like relationship between the two, and thought that Daniel was quite capable of handling himself in most situations, very few of them thought about crossing that line.

Carter had proven herself on more than one occasion of being the best combat soldier she could be and she had the skills to take on most of them in a good scrap. A few of them secretly wished she would show them even the slightest amount of concern and unconditional friendship that she showered Daniel Jackson with.

Jack was about to say something else, but was pulled up by the General now speaking to all of them as a group.

“What can you tell me about what you experienced on the planet, Colonel?” Hammond asked, changing the focus of the conversation altogether as they sat around the large central table.

“Not much to tell, Sir,” Jack answered. “They didn’t want the rest of us in the room when talking to Daniel. None of us understood what was being said as usual.”

General Hammond smiled to himself a little, knowing that his second in command didn’t like it when he didn’t have all the information before him. Jack was military trained and having all the facts was what he liked to achieve for any mission, but it wasn’t always possible.

“Did Doctor Jackson indicate any reasons as to why the elders of this city didn’t want to work in co-operation with us?” Hammond questioned.

“No Sir,” Carter responded, “That’s what was unusual about this whole mission. Daniel worked harder than us all, but at night when he asked him about what they said, he clammed up.”

“It does seem a little out of the ordinary for Doctor Jackson not to voice his concerns,” Hammond agreed.

“General Hammond, I did enquire with Daniel Jackson on our way back to the gateroom, the reason for his concern,” Teal’c stated.

“And what was his answer, Teal’c?” Hammond asked, knowing that the large man rarely spoke in de-briefings unless he felt it important. Usually Major Carter or Colonel O’Neill would back up the more detailed outline from the archaeologist.

“The word he used was disturbed” Teal’c said in a flat tone of voice.

“Disturbed……….,” Hammond pondered, thinking it was a strong word to be using when describing potential new allies.

“Well, I guess we all need to wait until Doctor Jackson has had a little more sleep and tells us his new theories about why the negotiations broke-down,” Hammond suggested.

“If you don’t mind, Sir, I plan to go to control room and help oversee any necessary testing on the ramp in the gateroom,” Carter requested. “With your permission of course?”

“You have it, Major,” Hammond affirmed. “Co-ordinate your efforts with Sergeant Siler.”

“Jack and Teal’c keep me informed about Doctor Jackson whilst he is in the infirmary,” Hammond asked, getting up from the table and heading towards the door and his own office.

“Sure youbetcha, Sir,” Jack said cheerfully.


A little over an hour later, Jack was leaving the commissary and heading towards the infirmary once more, bored out of his skull and wanting to check on Daniel again.

He had met up with a number of other SGC members including Lou Ferretti, enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee and chatting about sports.

Word about Doctor Jackson being in the infirmary again after a mission had spread like wildfire, and Jack found himself having to assure all that Daniel was going to be just fine.

Daniel had little comprehension of just how many people at SGC admired him not just for his intellect, but were drawn to him because of his endearing nature. Half of the female staff at the base had asked him out on at least one occasion and some had tried more than once.

Approaching the doorway quietly and looking out for any sign of Fraiser or her staff, Jack looked smug as he crept quietly over to the corner bed without being noticed.

Daniel had rolled over onto his opposite side in the bed, with his face turned towards the wall and away from everybody else, the blanket having slipped down from his shoulders a little.

“Don’t want you to get cold in here, Daniel,” Jack whispered, pleased that his friend was still oblivious to his presence. No doubt if he were awake, his friend would be protesting about the mother-hen treatment from everybody.

Jack prided himself on the ability to sneak up on most people undetected within the base. Years of covert training coming in handy on many occasions. What he hadn’t factored in was the ability of a much too large Jaffa warrior being able to make less noise than a mouse.

Jack went to put the blanket back over his slumbering friend, when a number of things happened all at once.

Firstly, the Colonel had failed to hear the approach of Teal’c from behind.

“You were advised not to wake Daniel Jackson, O’Neill.”

“JEEZ TEAL’C!” Jack exclaimed loudly not having heard the Jaffa until it was too late. Unfortunately when he had jumped at the larger man’s voice, he had inadvertently placed his hand on Daniel’s left shoulder, still holding the edge of the blanket and had accidentally dug his fingers in a little.

Daniel had been in a deep sleep but suddenly felt someone grip his shoulder tightly and he had startled badly, jumping up in fright at having awoken and still trying to work out where he was. Someone had shouted loudly near his ear.


Jack and Teal’c both looked with dismay at the sound of Daniel’s panicked shout, in time to see him sit up and scramble back against the head board as though expecting some sort of imminent attack.

Jack swallowed guiltily at the look on the tired face of his friend as Daniel looked back and tried to work out why he had just been scared half to death.

The two of them watched him rub lightly at where he had felt the fingers gripping as he worked out who belonged to the voice and who had grabbed a hold of his shoulder, “Jack, what are you doing……….?” Daniel asked in a weary voice.

His glasses looked back at him from the bedside table, and he reached over and placed them back on his face, looking back at his alleged assailant and wanting to know what the emergency was. He had no idea of how much time had passed since his shower.

“Sorry, Daniel, I didn’t mean to grab you like that, I was just pulling the blanket back up over you,” Jack explained in apology.

O’Neill was about to say something else when he heard the distinct sound of Janet Fraiser’s shoes approaching at a rapid pace at hearing one of her patients in distress and raised voices within her infirmary.

“COLONEL O’NEILL!” Janet protested a little too loudly, wincing herself as she realized that she too was disturbing Daniel’s sleep.

“Sorry, Daniel,” Janet said, seeing the young man wave his hand in haphazard acknowledgement of her words, but watched as he rubbed tiredly at his eyes and began massaging his temple area again, indicating a headache.

“I didn’t mean to wake him, Fraiser,” Jack offered, knowing how lame it must have sounded. “I was just putting the blanket back over him,” ducking a little behind Teal’c to ward of his impending punishment.

He finished by muttering under his breath about putting a bell on the much larger man first chance he got. Ferretti would never let him hear the end of it when word got out.

For a moment, Janet looked back at the Colonel, and displayed a small smirk at the suggestion that Teal’c had been able to get the drop on him.

“Jack probably didn’t mean it, Janet,” Daniel said, looking up briefly, but continuing to rub his forehead at the dull throb. “Hey Teal’c great to see you,” he greeted his second friend with his usual friendly manner.

Teal’c gave Daniel a small smile and bow of respect.

Fraiser’s scolding words soon withered under Daniel’s defence of his friend and her voice and eyes softened at his willingness to accept that his friend had merely been concerned about him.

“Teal’c take the Colonel out of here, please,” the doctor said, hoping to get her patient back to sleep quickly.

“And don’t think I will forget this, Colonel,” Fraiser forewarned, smiling like a Cheshire cat as she spoke. “I haven’t completed your post-mission examination yet and plan to do so before you leave the mountain today.”

“Ouch, Jack!” Daniel said with a half amused grin, knowing what the doctor was planning.

“Yeah!” was the only response Jack could think of, a plethora of painful scenarios running through his head at what she might subject him too.

Teal’c and Janet shared a brief laugh at O’Neill’s moment of uneasiness, but noted that Daniel had fallen silent again.

“You going to be alright?” Jack asked Daniel as he felt Teal’c beginning to crowd around him, making him take a few retreating steps towards the door.

“Never better, thanks” Daniel replied, though nobody in the room was fooled by his statement.


Daniel and Janet both watched as Teal’c all but manhandled Jack out of the infirmary.

“How about you try and get some more sleep, Daniel?” Janet suggested, hoping he would just take her word on face value.

“Yes, but I think it would be better in my own bed, don’t you?” he answered with a question of his own, looking back at Janet with a hopeful expression. He pulled himself over towards the edge of the bed and prepared to stand.

Janet picked up the chart that was hanging on the end of the bed and silently read the readings and measurements that had been accumulated over the last two hours, looking for any reason to be concerned.

“You still have a headache,” she pointed out matter-of-factly, calling him on what she had seen over the past few minutes. “But all of your other readings seem normal. Your blood work hasn’t come back from the lab yet.”

“Yes, but I am sure that it would only take you a minute or two to make sure that there is nothing out of the ordinary in me,” Daniel challenged astutely without wanting to argue with the doctor.

“Please Janet, its been a long four days, I just want to get out of here and wind down for a while,” Daniel pleaded, his voice soft but expectant of an affirmative reply.

“Let me go and check on the blood work and I will come back. You are already mostly dressed, but I want you to promise me that if I do let you go home, that you will take care of yourself and sleep.”

Half an hour later, after taking Daniel’s blood pressure for the final time and noting that the readings of the heart monitor still showed normal, healthy and strong readings, she released him.

Janet had offered some medication for his headache, but Daniel had told her that it wasn’t quite that bad. He was wary to admit how bad it was throbbing at the moment, in case she changed her mind about allowing him to go home.

Once he made it back to his apartment, he would be able to take a couple of aspirin, close the curtains and darken his bedroom and shut the world out and allow sleep to cure his aching head.

She had made him promise to make sure that he got home safely and avoided too much caffeine for the remainder of the day, reminding him that he wouldn’t be able to rest well with too much coffee in his system.

“I don’t want to see you back here before tomorrow morning for your debriefing with General Hammond, Daniel, after you have had a good night’s sleep,” she chastised lightly.

“I just have one thing to do before I leave, and then I am out of here,” Daniel promised, not alerting further as to what he intended to do.

“Just don’t take any work home this evening, Daniel. Any cultural revelations that you are going to make can be discovered tomorrow,” she said, knowing that the man was a known workaholic.

“Cross my heart,” the archaeologist said, making the action with his hands in front of her and giving her a genuine smile of gratitude. “Thanks for everything.”

“All part of the service, Daniel,” she smiled back, watching him leave. Janet made a note to herself to inform the General and the rest of his team of his intention to head home for some rest.


After escaping the infirmary and Janet’s ever watchful eye, Daniel headed to the locker room and grabbed out his jacket, getting ready to head home.

He didn’t understand why, but he had a strange urge to make a quick stop at the gateroom, which was what he had told Janet. The young man vaguely remembered mentioning something about receiving an electric shock and that was why Fraiser had hovered around him.

“Doctor Jackson,” Lou Ferretti greeted him as he walked into the room, surprised to see the archaeologist on his feet and dressed in civilian clothes.

“Hey, Lou,” Daniel said warmly as he put his arms through the sleeves of his jacket.

“Just heading home,” he offered in explanation as he saw the questioning look on the Major’s face.

“Good to know, Doc. Jack said you might have been spending more time in the infirmary.”

“Not if I can help it,” Daniel replied. “See you tomorrow, Lou,” he said and gestured with a wave of his hand, exiting the room.

On his way to the gateroom, Daniel had forgotten all about Janet’s request of no caffeine, and grabbed a dark blue ceramic mug from the commissary, filled it and carried it with him, savouring the hot bitter taste on the back of his throat.

Upon reaching the gateroom and casually walking inside, Daniel was surprised to see all the yellow and black warning tape that had been erected around the bottom of the ramp.

“Wow, a bit of action happening in here,” he said quietly to Sergeant Siler who was standing with several technicians, watching some computer monitors. There was a large array of various cables and equipment hooked up to the ramp and the railings.

He noted that the large security door on the opposite side of the gateroom was currently closed and most likely sealed, making the door he had walked through the only entrance and exit.

“Doctor Jackson?” Siler greeted the young man, as surprised as Major Ferretti to see Daniel walking through the door, holding his usual cup of coffee, his other hand casually hidden away in the pocket of his jacket.

“We have orders from General Hammond and Major Carter to make sure everything is safe before the next teams off-world are due to return,” he informed Daniel.

Siler was tempted to tell Daniel that he probably shouldn’t be in the gateroom either, especially when it had been assumed that he had been the casualty of the electrical spark in the first place. But he didn’t voice his concern out loud.

“Don’t worry Sergeant, on my best behaviour and promised Doctor Fraiser that I would head home very soon,” Daniel said as he saw the man’s almost apologetic expression.

Daniel seemed genuinely interested in what was happening, peering over his glasses at the readings on one of the monitors, but making sure that he kept out of the way of the technicians.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t pretend to know what most of the numbers indicated. He was sure that Sam would know if she was here. He had yet to look up and notice the audience gathered in the control room.


In the control room, just before Daniel walked in, General Hammond had entered to gather the latest report on the testing of the gateroom.

“General, Sir,” Davis saluted along with Major Carter and other staff present.

“As you were people,” Hammond greeted them, returning their salutes, but focusing on what was appearing on the computer monitors before them.

“Colonel O’Neill,” the General said as Jack walked into the room followed closely by Teal’c.

“Doc Fraiser wanted me to inform you that Daniel was still sleeping…………,” he began to report when the Jaffa stopped him in mid-sentence.

“He is not, O’Neill,” Teal’c said in total seriousness.

Jack had hoped that the man would give him a little lee-way and not throw him to the wolves, but obviously knew now that it would not be the case.

“Not, Teal’c?” Sam picked up much too quickly for Jack’s liking. Her blue eyes turning towards her commanding officer and silently demanding further explanation.

“Daniel Jackson was sleeping adequately, Major Carter, that was until O’Neill sought to disturb his rest,” Teal’c explained.

“You woke him up again, Sir?” Carter asked incredulously, a little shocked as much as the other people in the control room, including General Hammond.

“Janet Fraiser was not pleased to hear Daniel Jackson cry out in alarm and awaken when O’Neill grabbed him without warning,” Teal’c continued.

Jack hung his head a little, knowing that there would be no reprieve for him. He looked back at Hammond, seeing the ‘what did you do’ look and tried to defend his actions as he had done with Janet.

”It would have been alright if you hadn’t snuck up behind me, Teal’c,” O’Neill declared hotly, trying to deflect some of the blame.

“I did nothing, O’Neill.”

The people in the control room watched the conversation unfold between the two teammates, knowing they would soon find out most of what had transpired in the infirmary.

“He was sleeping okay, I just walked in there and made sure that he wasn’t getting cold,” he said, not noticing a few sly smirks at his admittance of worrying over his best friend. None of them were quite so brave or as willing to mention it to his face however.

“I merely reminded you that you were supposed to be quiet,” Teal’c recounted.

“Yeah, and made me jump about six foot in the air,” O’Neill shot back before he realized what he was saying.

“O’Neill reached out and grabbed a hold of Daniel Jackson without warning,” Teal’c told them. “And at the same time, yelled out loudly above his bed.”

Sam Carter and General Hammond now sighed inwardly, seeing how one event had led to another, and spiraled out of control of all involved.

“I am sure Janet was less than happy with you, Sir” Carter said with a small amount of sympathy creeping into her voice, knowing that the Colonel would have Daniel’s best interests at heart.

“Daniel must have been pretty mad too,” she added, thinking of what her friend’s reaction would have been to being grabbed and yelled out with little warning.

“Yes she was, Sam,” Fraiser agreed as she walked into the Control room, making everyone turn at the new voice. “I am afraid I was a little too loud for Daniel too.”

“Daniel was a little more forgiving than most at having been woken up like that, but I think he was pretty much out of it still anyway. He had only been asleep a short time,” Janet relayed.

“General Hammond, I came to tell you that I have instructed Daniel to get some more rest and released him from the infirmary. He promised me he was headed home for the rest of today,” Fraiser informed.

“Thank you, Doctor Fraiser,” Hammond responded, satisfied that an amicable compromise had been reached between them both.

“You checked him out first right though?” Jack asked, surprised that Janet wasn’t insisting he stay. She had indicated earlier that Daniel needed to have a few more tests.

“As soon as you are finished your duties here, I will be seeing each of you in my infirmary to complete your own post-mission examinations,” the doctor told them, not intending for them to argue about it.

“Other than admitting to a headache, and not being able to get any restful sleep yet,” Janet said, eyeballing Jack with that particular comment, “Daniel is just fine and hopefully on his way home by now. All his tests came out normally and I can’t see a reason to keep him here.”

Whilst still listening to Janet’s detailed report on Daniel, Jack found himself wandering over closer to the large view window of the control room. He quietly looked down and took note of what was going on within the gateroom, and smiled to himself as he recognized a familiar face amongst the technicians.

“Um, Doc, where did you say he was again exactly?” Jack asked with a smug tone to his voice, pointing to the window, making the others take a look.

Dannyboy you are playing with fire.’ he thought to himself with a grin.

“Tell me Teal’c, who do you see down there?” Jack queried, quite pleased with himself that Janet’s needles of torture were quickly changing direction from his butt and headed for Daniel instead.

“I see Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c answered truthfully.

“What!” Janet Fraiser said, scrambling to look for herself. “And what exactly is that mug doing in his hand,” she said to nobody in particular with a touch of exasperation in her voice.

“Does that man ever listen to me?” Janet said, concerned more than angry at the young man. But her determined speech was halted by General Hammond talking over the loud speaker system down to the people gathered in the gateroom.

“Doctor Jackson, nice to see you on your feet again, son,” he said, leaving any harsher comments about taking care of himself to Janet Fraiser.

“Thank you, General, Sir,” Daniel replied though the microphone, giving a quick wave to the control room. “Don’t worry about me, I am fine.”

“Just on my way home, but wanted to check that everybody here was safe first.”


Before they could speak further, Daniel walked away from the microphone and walked directly towards the bottom of the ramp, his gaze seemingly fixated on the iris.

“What is he doing?” Sam asked quietly, but everybody else in the control thinking exactly the same question. There was something about his deliberate body language that made them all take notice, including Sergeant Siler and the technicians standing nearby.

“Doctor Jackson?” Siler asked, seeing a complete change to the young man’s demeanour from a few minutes ago.

“Are you alright, Daniel?” the sergeant queried, reaching out and trying to gain his attention.

All of a sudden Daniel twisted and whirled away from Siler and the technicians, taking two giant steps backwards and losing hold of the mug in his hand.

To everybody else watching, it was like watching in slow motion as the almost full mug fell and then shattered on the concrete floor, splattering over Daniel’s shoes and the bottom of his trousers.

Daniel though hadn’t taken his eyes of the iris, oblivious even to the noise of the mug breaking, his hands lifting to in front his open mouth and his face growing paler with each passing second.

“Sergeant I am coming down there,” Janet Fraiser announced over the speakers, thinking that something was happening to Daniel. She couldn’t see his face up close, but his mannerisms and strange behaviour were ringing alarm bells loudly enough.

Before Janet could take any steps though, the next sound they all heard was the panicked shouting from the archaeologist.

“Daniel, what is going on down there?” Sam asked, hearing her friend’s frightened voice. She exchanged growing worried voices with all in the control room at what might be causing such a sudden shift in mood.

It was not only the volume of Daniel’s voice but the underlying tones of outright fear on his face that had Sergeant Siler motion to the technicians to do what Doctor Jackson was telling them.

It was very rare for Daniel to raise his voice ever and certainly not to SGC staff unless there was a damn good reason. Even when there had been some hairy moments in the past year or two, Daniel was known for usually portraying a composed exterior when others did not.

They had all started slowly tracking towards the doorway, convinced that Daniel was somehow able to sense something about to happen that they couldn’t.

“GET OUT OF HERE NOW!” he yelled, pushing Sergeant Siler towards the doorway, still keeping most of his attention on the Stargate.

“RUN!” Daniel emphasized.

As Daniel neared the doorway himself, he found himself literally picked up and thrown backwards approximately ten metres, dumped on his back hard enough to have him gasping in surprise.

The archaeologist got gingerly to his feet, and saw Sergeant Siler ready to re-enter the gateroom to help him escape, but without warning, the same unseen forced that assaulted Daniel, pushed Siler and the technicians out the other side of the doorway.

The large steel doorway to the gateroom began to close, ready to trap Daniel on his own. The young man saw what was about to happen and scrambled to his knees as best he could.

“DANIEL!” Jack shouted as all those in the control room saw their friend tossed like a paperweight for a second time.

“General I can’t get the door to unlock from this side,” Siler shouted through the speaker system on the wrong side of the gateroom door. “Something is jamming the manual override. I can’t get to Doctor Jackson.”

“Major, set these controls to manual override,” the General ordered quickly, getting ready to enter the necessary double command into the computer system.

“The system has locked us out, Sir,” Carter cried out in alarm. “We have lost all automatic and manual controls. Something is taking over our own system.”

The surveillance system for the gateroom that was showing on various monitors suspended from the ceiling, sudden switched off, leaving only screens of snowy pixels and static.

As if to verify her concerns even further, the blast shield began to descend effectively cutting off any view they had of the gateroom and Daniel’s fate.

“I can’t get the shields to lift up either, Sir,” Davis informed the General, knowing it wasn’t what everyone wanted to hear.

“LET ME OUT OF HERE!” Daniel yelled into the speaker system.

“Screw this, come on Teal’c,” Jack ordered in a dangerously low voice, headed towards the stairs and ready to use brute force to get the doors open and get to Daniel.

General Hammond was already on the phone ordering a security detail to the gateroom and a team to help cut into the door if it became necessary. It might take a little longer to reach Daniel with such a crude method, but right now it was about their only option with all other systems virtually inoperable.

Jack was halfway down the stairs with Teal’c when the distinct sound of the klaxon alarms and sirens began blaring loudly overhead.

“Unauthorized Off-world activation,” came the announcement from Davis. “Incoming Traveller…….I repeat……… incoming traveler.”

Jack and Teal’c hurried as fast as they could to the gateroom door, impatiently waiting for the oxy-cutting team to arrive.

“Daniel can you hear me?” Jack said into the intercom.

“J-Jack………,” came the crackled reply.

Jack visibly sighed in relief at least being able to hear his friend.

“They are c-coming J-Jack……… got to g-get out of h-here.”

“Who is coming Daniel? Who?” Jack shouted but received no further reply.

Somehow Daniel had been able to sense someone trying to come through the Stargate without being detected, but now he was trapped in there with whoever or whatever the threat was.

“Colonel, I tried to get the door to open, but something pushed me back before I could get to Daniel,” Siler said, hoping that O’Neill wouldn’t blame him personally for anything happening to one of the most important people to the Stargate programme.

Jack nodded his head in acknowledgement, looking at Teal’c and trying to think of a way to get the door open quickly. He was trying to hear any sounds from behind the door, but the thickness of the door prevented them from hearing anything for the moment.


“Sergeant there is nothing showing on our systems up here except for the alarms,” Hammond pointed out with his own fear growing.

“Nothing is showing on our computer screens, Sir,” Carter affirmed, “But with the surveillance cameras out of action we can’t even tell what is coming through,” she said, genuinely worried about her teammate.

“Are we able to tell if the Iris is still intact, Major?” Hammond asked.

“Iris is still showing as holding, Sir,” Sam answered, rechecking the limited systems they were able to see. They had no way of accessing these controls, only seeing what was being displayed.

“Maybe it is a false alarm?” Sergeant Davis, trying to think of why the klaxon’s would go off without any real valid threat presenting itself.

General Hammond looked towards Major Carter for any chance that what Davis was saying might be true, but the fear and worry that was reflected in her eyes quickly quashed any chance of it being so.

The fact that Daniel Jackson was the person trapped in the gateroom only signified further that something was dreadfully wrong. The young man was a trouble magnet at the best of times off-world, but it only served to make them all more nervous when they were unable to help him on their own base.


Janet Fraiser had reported back that the blast shield covering the large thick window of the briefing room was also lowered and impenetrable at the moment. They were effectively blind to everything that was going on in the gateroom to Daniel Jackson.

“Have your medical team ready and standing by for anything, Doctor,” the General ordered, not knowing whether they would be waiting minutes or hours to reach the young man.

Major Carter had already tried a number of times to talk to him, and had been thankful that Jack had reported back limited success in being able to reach Daniel downstairs.

Jack had repeated Daniel’s short and vague warning, but confirmed that he could no longer get his friend to respond further to his calls through the intercom system either.

The loud speaker system crackled with static again, allowing those standing in the control room and those standing outside the entrance door to hear Daniel’s panicked and fearful voice.


“NO! GET AWAY FROM ME!” Daniel shouted.


“LET ME GO! LET ME GO!” he screamed in absolute fear.

to be continued…………………..

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