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Aberrant: Stargate Universe - A Smile for a Favor [Complete]

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October 5, 2004

Olivia took a deep breath, touching her hair once. She wasn't serious about looking nice for him, but that didn't stop her from dressing in a flattering blouse and skirt. She had checked her face and hair before leaving her room. She was being silly; she knew she was. She still couldn't stop herself.

"Hey," she said, standing in the open door of his office and knocking on the frame. "Got a moment?"

The focus of a years-long crush looked up and smiled warmly at her. "Sure," Daniel Jackson said, waving her inside. He watched her approach and started to chuckle.

"What?" Olivia said, panic rising as she imagined an embarrassing clothing mishap or maybe a dreaded, terrifying booger.

"You want something," Daniel told her, shaking a finger at her in mock-chiding gesture. "Women don't smile at me like that unless they want something."

"Oh, I'm sure that I smile like this at you all the time," Olivia said, then felt the blood rush up her face. Oh, god. Oh GOD! I did not just say that! I didn't! But she had, and there was no way to take it back.

Daniel was a little flustered; laughing a bit, he crossed his arms and scratched at his chin with his thumb. "Well, uh, I guess," he said, and the awkward grew wings and flapped about the room like a retarded chicken.

"But you are right," Olivia said, bulling past the mood in the room and setting her file folder down on his table. The folder was depressingly thin at the moment, but she knew it would grow, hopefully with Daniel's help. "Major Caine feels I need some wargame experience, though of the mental kind, not the physical. He wants me to select four people and conduct research on them as if they were an enemy cell. For that... I need access to personnel files, and you're one of the people who could get them for me." She leaned forward on her hands and pleaded, "I can owe you one for later. You know I can help you when you get swamped with cataloging again." She smiled winsomely, hope shining in her eyes.

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Daniel smiled back at Olivia, always happy to be useful for such an attractive woman who shared his interests in history. "I'd love to help, but I will have to check with the Major to verify the assignment before I give you any data from those files. Regulations." He had one of those half smiles that made him look boyish. "I hope you don't mind."

Olivia smiled and shook her head. "Not at all," she said, glad that his discomfort seemed to be waning. "If you call him now, you should be able to catch him before he boards his plane. He's heading out of base for a bit. I'm supposed to work on this while he's gone, and I don't want to push, but if you could take a moment verify right now, please?"

Daniel nodded as he picked up the phone. He asked the switchboard operator to put him through to Major Caine. "Major, this is Daniel Jackson, I've got one of your team members in my office..." He chuckled at whatever the Major said. "That's right. I just needed to confirm her orders. Have a good flight, Major."

He hung up the phone and nodded to Olivia. "He confirmed. Like I said, I had to check for regulation's sake." He got a serious look on his face and started accessing his computer. "So who are you needing information on?"

Olivia grinned at Daniel, realizing the smile was just because he'd been chuckling at her Major. As he grew serious, so did she. "Actually, for the first one, you can't get it that way... let's do the other three." She paused, biting her lip, then said, "I am to pick a long-term member of SGU. My first choice was you, because you'd be a dangerous threat. But if that makes you uncomfortable, I can pick Major Michael Griff of SG-2 instead."

Daniel blushed slightly, "Uh, yeah. Let’s go with Major Griff, if that's ok." He did seem a little uncomfortable, but it was just his self-depreciating nature more than any discomfort.

Olivia frowned. "Sorry," she murmured, before moving to stand next to him, looking over his shoulder. Some people would be uncomfortable with that, but as researchers, she and Daniel were both used to people doing this to them. "It was a compliment," she added, feeling that retarded chicken sensation again. "Your brain being on our side has saved Earth more times than anyone can count."

Daniel gave another slightly embarrassed smile, "Thanks." He started tapping keys and quickly brought up Major Michael Griff's personnel file. "What information are you specifically looking for?"

Olivia leaned in, engrossed by the screen. "Coursework at the AFA, or what specialties he's trained in. What he seems to be good at, and what he's not done well. Blanks in his history when he could have been taken and brainwashed. Where he's officially gone, and any other information about where he might have taken leave. Any marks, positive or negative, on his file." She blinked, pursed her lips and said, "I think that's it."

Scanning the file, he didn't look at her as he said, "Well, you are taking the assignment seriously. Not that I would expect anything else." He pointed out Griff's regular trips home to visit his aging father as opportunities for him to be compromised. That was the easiest thing in the file to see. Beyond that things were pretty typical for what would be expected of an SG team leader, including very high marks in all of his Military training. The only piece that deviated from the norm for an officer in his position was that he had taken three special courses in counter espionage. Perfect, I couldn't have asked for a better subject.

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"Ok," Olivia said, nodding and handing him a zip file for transferring the data. It wasn't that she needed to have it, but it would save her from having to type it up again. "Alright. Declan Perrault is next."

Daniel encrypted the file and sent it to the thumb drive she had given him. He pulled up Perrault's file and whistled at what was there. "Poor guy. I knew he'd been through a lot but jeez."

"Yeah," Olivia sighed, wondering what Daniel would think if he knew the full truth, "he's not had an easy time of it. But his history does make him really suited to this experiment just because of what he has gone through."

"I can see that. How is he doing now? He seems to be getting along better, I haven't heard of any issues recently."

"I've been working with him," she said, fighting a blush as she remembered the rumors circulating about the kind of help he was providing; the current favorite rumor was that she was draining his extra aggression through regular sex. The 'Beauty and the Beast' jokes were getting excessive. Daniel blinked, and Olivia was suddenly the uncomfortable one, wondering if he'd heard of the rumors, and she had just confirmed them. "Just having someone sit with him and talk to him like a person has done wonders." And she had been talking to him.

Daniel nodded understanding, then reached over and initiated a transfer of that file as well. "So who else?"

"Staff Sergeant Carl Hatchins," Olivia said, mentally cursing at herself when she heard the tremor in her voice. "He's new," she added, trying to sound natural and knowing that she wasn't quite succeeding. Her flush was receding rapidly, and she locked her hands around the edge of the desk to keep them still. "The theory is that he's the last member of the team, and finally got the transfer in, and now the cell can activate." Shut up, Livy. You're babbling.

He couldn't help but note the quaver in her voice and how her knuckles whitened where they were gripping the desk. He kept his mouth shut and pulled up the file, curious to find out what that was about.

To his credit it took less than a minute for his eyebrows to start going up at what he was reading and after two minutes his face was reddening. "Ok, what's this about? This guy shouldn't be in the SGC. You know something or you and Caine wouldn't be poking around. And you are going about it in a very round about way."

Olivia frowned and her skin flushed. She should have realized that Daniel would see through this. He was way too smart to not notice the discrepancies in Hatchins' record. And he'd tell O'Neill. He'd have to. "You're right," Olivia said, "there's something going on." She paused as Daniel's eyes bore into her, and Hatchins' smug black and white gaze stared at her. She had to tell him something, despite what Caine may have wanted him to know. "We think he's an IOA plant, and we're quietly investigating it. But we're not really sure, so we don't want to raise any flags, and if he is, we might cause IOA to cover their tracks. If we gain conclusive evidence, we're taking it to the General."

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"Ah." That one word was heavy with understanding. "Jack told me you were approached by the IOA recently. They are always trying to dig up any dirt they can in here to use as leverage to push whatever their current agenda is."

"Yeah," Olivia sighed. "So this exercise is a cover for that. And I do need training like this. So it's all good." That was not true. It wasn’t good. None of it was.

Daniel chuckled, "I understand, killing two birds with one stone is something of an art form around here."

Olivia relaxed finally, as it seemed that Daniel had taken her personal reaction to Hatchins as offense that the IOA was pulling this trick. She wondered how long it would take him to realize that the IOA could have found a much less obvious spy than Hatchins and start asking about that. "Can you pull the same stuff on him, please?" She peered closely at his record. You have been a bad, bad man... and hopefully, I'll get a chance to see you pay for all your crimes.

It only took a few seconds to transfer his file as well but then Daniel spoke up, "Olivia, I know you've had issues with the IOA, but are you sure it was the IOA that arranged for him to be here and not the NID? With his record he looks more like an NID thug than a snoop."

"I... guess, he could be," she said, frowning. "We didn't consider that, to be honest." She chuckled. "I have IOA on the brain, I think, and since I spotted him, I went that route." Lying was hard; obfuscating the truth was only slightly easier.

"He could be a serious threat, would it bother you if I brought this to Jack?"

Her heart jumped into her throat and she asked nervously, "Brought how?" A second later, she realized this might be the way to inform the brass about Hatchins' threat without revealing their personal ties. Her fingers ached to see if she were mentioned anywhere in his file, even while she knew she wasn't.

"I'll just put a bug in Jack's ear. You and Major Caine can keep poking around, but if he's not IOA then he could be a real threat and he needs to know. Besides he has connections to find out who pulled the strings necessary to get him in here. Should be pretty easy to tell if it was the IOA or someone else."

"I'd like to know that too," Olivia said, even as she knew that it probably wasn't her 'need to know'. She disagreed on that, but convincing them of that without telling them why she should know was awkward at best. "Will you let me know, if you find out?" She'd been pleading with him before, for the favor, but there was a deeper need in her eyes as she asked him for this favor.

Daniel was curious about why it mattered to her so much but decided not to ask. If she wanted him to know she would tell him. "If I can I will, or if I can't then I'll let you know that too."

"Thank you," she said, relaxing a little and smiling. Another thought came to her, and she realized that if he was talking to O'Neill, then she had a chance to prepare more defenses against Hatchins. Part of what scared her about what they were doing was that her silence would allow Hatchins to attack another woman. Not on the base; that'd be too difficult to hide. But off-base - well, there were a lot of young women in Colorado Springs who might be susceptible. "Daniel, I don't have any proof, but..." she felt her throat closing as she took this risk, "I think he's dangerous to women. More than men." Please get what I'm saying, you're smart.

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His eyebrows drew down in concern, but he thought twice before saying anything and just nodded. "I'll pass that on to Jack as well. He won't be allowed off base unwatched."

"That's good," Olivia said, relaxing still further. "I had a chat with him at breakfast yesterday. He gave off that predator vibe."

"Ah." Again that one word conveyed a depth of understanding.

Part of her hated lying to Daniel, but she hadn't, not really. "Thank you, Daniel." She gave him a warm smile, feeling like they were past the worst. "The next file probably won't be online. Steve Courier."

Olivia got an eye-roll in response to that as Daniel stood up. "Lets take a little walk to the personnel office." he pulled the thumb drive out and passed it back to her.

"So you're aware of his effects?" she asked, giving him a rueful smile. "He's told me what he does. I'm more than a little annoyed by the idea. Knowledge just disappearing is unnerving and somewhat offensive."

She got a smile in return, "I couldn't agree with you more!"

Olivia let Daniel take the lead at the personnel office. It was his influence that would gain them the file, not her.

The woman in the office batted her eyelashes at Daniel and handed over the file without argument. Daniel said a few polite words and made a copy then handed back the original. Once out of the office Daniel handed the file to Olivia. "That needs to be shredded after your assignment is done."

Olivia watched the woman make an idiot of herself. Then she remembered her own idiocy from earlier and blushed. She watched Daniel pass the file back and they walked out together. When she glanced back, the woman was staring at her in an unfriendly way. She snapped back to awareness at his words and nodded. "Yes, of course," she said, clasping the precious record to her chest. "Thank you so much for all the help you've given me," she said to him, smiling. "Is there anything I can do in return?"

"No, I'm good. But thanks to you and your Spidey sense we are alert to a potential threat to the SGC. That's good work." He was more right than he knew, just not in the way he would have suspected.

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Olivia's smile disappeared. "Daniel..." She looked down, embarrassed that he thought so highly of her and her powers of observation when it was much dirtier than that. She grabbed his arm and pulled him down the hall, shaking her head at his protests. She pulled him into the first storage room she found and shut the door. "It's... I knew him before," she blurted, letting go of his arm and hugging the folder to her chest. "I'm sorry, but I couldn't let you keep thinking I'd done anything special when it was just... simple recognition." As if I could forget him. "That's why Major Caine and I think it's the IOA - their way of telling me I should have been a good little girl and taken their offer." She looked up at him again and this time, it was pure begging as she said, "Please don't tell the General that part. I don't like people knowing that."

For the third time Daniel said, "Ah," imparting the word with a mountain of understanding. He got a sympathetic look on his face and Olivia could tell he was doing the mental mathematics and that the pieces were all falling into place. "That was very bad of them, Olivia. I won't tell Jack, but if you change your mind I'm sure we could have him out of here inside of an hour."

And there it is, Olivia thought sadly. The Look. The one that people get in this situation, when they change the way they see you. The thought that Daniel saw her differently hurt, but she shoved it down, way down in her heart. "I don't want IOA to send a mole we don't know is a mole," Olivia said softly. "At least he was obvious about what he was. Besides, he's not worth the fight General O'Neill would have to get into over him. I'd rather him spend his political credit elsewhere."

"You should let Jack worry about that. Just like the IOA used round about channels to put him in here Jack can find many ways to put him right back out. Besides, if you are right and they only put him here to mess with you then he's not a real mole anyway."

Olivia blinked and considered that. It was likely true, but there was a piece she was waiting for. "Daniel, to be honest, I'm putting up with him being here in hopes that the IOA will contact me and offer to get rid of him in exchange for my cooperation. Then I'd have a chance to hurt them. Without... without having to tell anyone why he was here."

"I understand. I'll keep that between us then and just tell Jack that I'm very sure it was the IOA. It will be up to him to decide what to do however, since it is his responsibility."

He didn’t understand. He didn’t know the whole story. She shoved that away, taking the pity she didn’t deserve over the disgust she feared he’d show if he did know what she’d done. "I know." She managed a smile, thankful that Daniel was smart enough to not make her say any of this. Not to mention he was probably as uncomfortable knowing about it as she was sharing it. "I trust him, though. He'll do whatever is best, and I respect that."

There wasn't much else he could do but that. He suspected it must be a very sore spot in her past if they IOA put him here as a punishment, perhaps even... He let that though go, it was too much to contemplate, but she had said he was dangerous to women. He had to be a rapist, there just wasn't another answer that fit all the facts. That meant that the IOA had really sunk to a new low, but more than that, it mean Olivia must be one hell of a strong woman to be facing it so calmly and rationally. Being a man he couldn't imagine what it must be like for her, but from what little he could imagine, he was surprised that she wasn't letting some of her male friends create an 'accident' for Hatchins to have. "Well, I have a meeting in a few minutes, but can I walk you somewhere before I go? If you would like the company I mean."

Olivia smiled sadly. He’d figured it out. One more guy hovering worriedly over me. She didn't mind, not right now, and not with this gentle offer. "Thank you, I'd appreciate that. The gym would be great - I have to meet Declan there for some training. If that's not too far out of your way?" As she spoke she opened the door to the storage room, startling an Airman standing there, looking through a stack of papers on a clipboard. "Excuse me," she said with a smile and moved past him.

"Not at all!" It was in fact nowhere near where he was headed, but that didn't matter, if it would make this brave woman more comfortable he was happy to help.

As they headed for the elevator, Olivia tried to think of a way to get things back on track. Her mind found what she needed, as always, and she asked, "Did you and Colonel Carter ever figure out what the deal was with that Artifact that SG-15 found on PX-1881?" He nodded and started to tell her what they'd learned, and Olivia kept up the distracting conversation. By the time he left her at the gym, she felt almost like they were back to the old relationship: two sharp minds working together on puzzles. It was better than sympathizer and victim.

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